Authentic support


Hi Brooke,

I get triggered by my partner’s ask for help.

I have deep seated beliefs around self-reliance and self-determination. My partner on the other hand has the core belief that one’s problems are the also the concern of one’s family and close friends. There is an implicit expectation that you will come to the rescue. It might be cultural differences at play here; she is European (and of latin descent) and I am North American. There is also difference in how we express ourselves. Let’s just say that she has no problems expressing the entire range of human emotions, including breaking into angry tirades which are culturally accepted in her neck of the woods. I, on the other hand, am more the stiff upper lip type 🙂

Just setting the general context. Here is the specific event. We filed our taxes last year through an accountant that our close friends recommended. My taxes were done and submitted correctly; hers were not. He actually forgot to submit hers (!) and she was counting on the refund. She was extremely angry. I accepted to act as the intermediary between her and the accountant. I spend considerable time reviewing the assessments as they came in, tried my best to find the discrepancies, explained these to both my partner and the accountant (who by this time I felt was a complete flake) while managing my own mind as my partner ocillated between fits of rages and bouts of depression for a good two to three months. I requested a refund from the accountant as per my partner’s request. He accepted, but did not follow through with his promise. My partner tried to reach him, but he was not returning her calls. She asked me several times to get in contact with him to get her refund. I did not. My thought was/is that I had done enough. My other thought was/is that she needs to take care of her own things. Moreover, she told me I am too soft in my approach (a reproach I heard on other things). I made it mean that I was incompetent.

This week, we had a dinner with the friends who recommended this accountant. My partner explained the situation and how she had not gotten a refund because I had not contacted him. Our friends jumped and said they would. They did, the day after. My partner called the accountant and he answered. He emailed her the refund. Just like that! I should be happy, but I got really pissed at the appearance that I am not supporting my partner adequately.

Here is the unintentional model:

C: partner asks for help
T: “She should stops reacting in the way she does and start taking action”
F: frustrated, irritated, resentful, powerlessness, incompetence
A: grudgingly provide help without clear communication
R: inauthentic support

My intent is to provide authentic support. I want to feel good about the support I provide.

I did some thought downloads around the question “what if I am wrong?” Clearly, my beliefs are just my beliefs. I can chose to see things differently. But I hold strongly to the belief of not owning other people’s problems. It’s get my into a bad state of mind when I do.

I think I need to reconcile two thoughts:
(1) what if I DO have the energy, knowledge and power to help and support her; and
(2) She needs to grow by facing her own problems; I cannot own them

Am I going in the right direction?

Thanks,
Nathalie