photo-3When you’re awakened in the middle of the night to clean up after a sick child, or in my case, a dog with indigestion, you’re suddenly granted all those groggy thoughts that cut right to the chase and refuse to mince words.

Last night was such a night. Here’s what I thought: Support System. We have support hose, support bras, hell, even suspension bridges. But how much thought do we give to our own personal system of support? I’m talking here about the people who show up when you need them.

Years ago, I stayed with friends for a couple weeks. Anytime I walked in the door, they’d stop what they were doing and ask me how I was. They’d ask how my day was. And what’s more, they’d ask specific questions about my day—how that important meeting went, how my friend liked the birthday present I got her, etc. They knew what was happening in my life, and they asked me about it. Sometimes we’d open up some wine and sit down together to chat for a while. Other times, they’d invite me to look at the newest artwork they were creating. I was spoiled; they even made sure to have some of my favorite cheeses or cookies on hand. I felt very, very welcomed. And very supported, even though money never changed hands. Support system: Something of a patchwork quilt made up of family, and friends who’ve become family.

Last night I handled the mess myself, like a big girl. And I didn’t begrudge it–too much. Instead, I thought about those late night talks, and I thought about how, this week alone, I asked a friend for a really silly favor. She did it, and never thought twice. She laughed, of course, but made the favor happen. The very next night, a neighbor asked me to care for his pets while he’s gone. I now have my very own key, which made me realize that on my key ring right now, I have four keys that belong to friends’ houses.

When I didn’t have a support system, I didn’t miss it. I didn’t think about it. But once it was in place, those friends and family members who would lend an ear, lend a hand, or simply remember you, even, well, life changed significantly: It stopped being so damn hard.

Don’t wait. Take a good, hard, groggy look at your own support system. First of all, make sure you have one, and then make sure there aren’t any holes in the fabric, any patches missing. Then take a good, hard, groggy look at the support systems of your friends and figure out if you’re a patch missing to them or if you’re sewn in. Again, don’t wait. The middle of the night comes every night.

My first book, Upside Down Kingdom, is available on Amazon.