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Yesterday I dissolved into tears that lasted for the better part of an hour. I really needed some ‘clarification’ and reassurances, but no one was there. Life had my support system otherwise occupied, as I realize it does and should… people can’t always be there for us.

I struggled most of the afternoon and early evening with what had been said to me… suddenly having a serious crisis as to whether my struggle to get others involved in my efforts to start a support group were my doing.

I had occasion to speak to my Sponsor’s representative for the first time in a week. I updated her on settling on a location for the group, working on the grant application, putting together an advocacy manual for the group’s proposed project, etc. She told me I was invited to have a table for my group at a ‘walk’ being sponsored by 3 Autism groups that were consolidating into one large regional group.

We talked about possible ‘fund raising’ and she suggested getting some other group members to take certain tasks on to help. I explained to her that I’ve been asking people, repeatedly, to help me out. She sternly instructed me, “You have to assign tasks, you can’t just ask people to help.” I explained to her that I had asked several people to do things and that several folks had offered to do things, I had taken them up on their offers, but nothing had come of it.

Ex: One person told me she could hand deliver a letter to a fire hall to see if we could use their space, all I had to do was write the letter and email it to her, she would deliver it as she lived nearby and the venue had been her idea, she had connections there. She thought the trustees were meeting the next day. I wrote the letter and emailed it to her. I didn’t get a response from her for 2 days, finally when she contacted me her message contained one line: “I don’t know what is going on but I cannot get this to print for the life of me!” Since I couldn’t see her printer and didn’t know what exactly the problem was, I ended up going on the location’s website and using their contact form to send the letter to them. I told her not to worry about it, I’d gotten it through.

I told her I was doing everything on my own. She informed me that she thought… “It sounds like you have a problem with letting go of control.”

I was taken aback and frankly, insulted. I have asked for help repeatedly, I’ve asked her for help many times in making certain decisions and planning, to which she’s responded, “It’s your group, it’s whatever you want it to be, it’s up to you, ultimately you have to make the decisions.”

I much prefer to work in a small group. I enjoy the process and being able to divide up tasks, having less to focus on and reducing my stress. I told her when I started this venture that I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t have someone who could help me, I wasn’t taking it on by myself.

How, exactly, is that not being willing to let go of control?

She goes on to further criticize my efforts by telling me that I’m not posting often enough on my Facebook group. She indicates that another parent posts 5-6 times a day on her group. I told her I didn’t have anything to say at this point. The only thing I would be doing is begging for help that doesn’t come and whining about what needs to be done yet. She tells me that…”That’s what support groups are for, a place to whine and complain about things you’re dealing with.”

Personally, if I were someone new to the group and I saw nothing but whining and complaining on the group page I would seriously think twice before joining the group. I use support groups for encouragement, to be uplifted. Yes, people are encouraged to share their issues so we can help one another, but I think it’s a turn off if the facilitator is using the group to vent.

The one time I did post on the group page asking for help finding a suitable location for the group to meet one person posted, “oh,,,it’s Williamsport for heavens sakes.. you should be able to find something!!!” That did nothing to be of help to me, what that did do was make me feel more insecure about the difficulty I was having finding a place and a little incompetent. This same person recently posted some disparaging stereotypes regarding different kinds of special education classes. Honestly, I don’t need ‘help’ like that!

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