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Just Show Up

by Julie Fischer, MSE, Licensed Professional Counselor -

Loretta LaRoche, a comedian who mixes humor with life wisdom really struck a cord with me when last she appeared on television for a PBS fund drive. The profound kernel of truth amidst her hilarious stand up routine was this --- Life is about showing up for one another. When all is said and done, when all the clutter and chaos dissolves into the background, life is really all about being there for each other – supporting one another -- sharing the joys and pain of each other's lives.

This has never been truer for me than during the birth of my second child. My daughter, Avalon Celeste, was born on July 23, 2003. And while this was just an ordinary day for most people, it will live in my memory as one of life’s "best ever" days. There are many reasons I consider it one of the best days of my life -- a natural childbirth in the peacefulness and familiarity of my own home, no frightening or last minute complications, and of course the end result --- a beautiful, healthy daughter. But what really made all of this possible and memorable for me were the people surrounding me during the birth of my daughter – my support system during my labor and delivery. My husband was there, saying and doing all the right things to encourage me through the most difficult phases of labor. My sister, a family physician, left her busy medical practice and went through the stress and hassle of booking and catching a last minute flight to fly in from Florida to be with me. My mother came to watch my then 6-year-old son, Logan, so that I knew he would be well attended during the birth of his sister. And my midwife and her assistant were there with their calming presence, wisdom and competence to make this home birth a reality.

All of these people played an integral role in the birth of my daughter. All of these people were there for me. They left jobs and homes and entire states to "show up" for me when I needed them. They struggled with me through the painful contractions and encouraged me not to give up. They celebrated with me through tears of joy and happy shouts of "It's a girl!" Together we raised a glass after my daughter was born in celebration of life...a life that began in a natural, harmonious and glorious way because each of these people were willing to show up for me.

And the support continued to flow. Co-workers, relatives, family members and friends showered my family and me with gifts of flowers, cards, food, baby clothes and toys. They gifted us with their visits, their phone calls and most importantly their time. They each stepped aside from the busyness of their lives to show up and celebrate with my family and me. I will be forever grateful for the wonderful support system I have in my life.

A client recently said to me that she felt like a failure because she couldn't handle life's problems on her own and had to come to counseling. She didn't understand the concept of a support system – of people being there for one another. Unfortunately, this lack of understanding is widespread. We are raised in a society that places an almost unhealthy value on independence. A person is considered strong and heroic if they are able to do things on their own, while someone who requests help or support is considered weak and less competent than the "rugged individualist." Anyone who has been brave enough and wise enough to seek support through counseling knows the power, the lifelong impact and the healing potential that lies within the counseling process...a process in which one of the essential components is having a counselor who consistently "shows up" for clients, being there for them physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually as they journey toward understanding, feeling and healing.

Take a few moments to consider your own support system. Do you feel like you have an adequate support system? Who is there for you when you experience life's difficult times? Who is genuinely happy for you and will celebrate with you during life's joyous occasions? Who is it that will consistently "show up" for you?

If you find your support system lacking ask yourself these questions. Do you give yourself permission to ask for help when you need it? Does it feel ok with you to request someone's time to listen to you, comfort you or celebrate with you, or do you feel like you should be able to handle everything on your own. Then ask yourself, even if you could manage to somehow handle everything on your own, why would you want to? Can you imagine the emptiness of life without people to show up for you in both good times and bad?

And finally, consider this; how often do you show up for other people in your life? Do you take the time necessary to show up for others, or do you use time as your excuse not to be there for others? Do you make people a priority in your life, putting them before work, chores, money and possessions? Do you "show up" and take a supporting role? Do you express your joy and happiness for others when their life is abundant and sweet? Can you sit with someone in pain, without having to fix things or make things better?

If not, I submit to you that you are missing out on the real essence of life --- the connectedness that joins us all together and the love that grows from that connectedness. Commit today to "showing up" for yourself, for others and for life.

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