Human beings need support of each other: physical, emotional or financial, whatever kind, but we cannot exist in isolation.
For the first 25 years of my life, I felt the on and off support of many people in my life - my parents, aunts, uncles, my brother and of course my friends. But this support did not come with love or dedication. It came as a responsibility and duty and that is where it ended. There was no heart or love in it. I always knew I had a home somewhere in this country or the other, but I did not feel that I belonged anywhere. Every home was a stop to somewhere else. I was like a gypsy.
After 25 years when I graduated with my PhD I really did start to become isolated. I started living on my own and without revealing too much...its been a loooong time. The first three-four years were hard, since I was moving so much and settling in new places. It is hard to make friends and develop a support system.
I became financially independent since 25 (actually since 21, but graduate student living was below the poverty line - no savings!). I have not needed money from anyone since then. And that I am really happy about. I will never give up this independence.
Emotional and physical support have been hard to come by.
At home it has been hard to find support. There were challenges on every turn - especially where my marriage was concerned (which is a big deal for any girl). Whether it was - when to get married or to whom to get married to, or what kind of a guy was right for me, and then later after I gave up and got married to the next guy I met (big mistake!) then....staying married or getting divorced. There was no support from my old friends or family when I was getting divorced. During the hunt for a guy, during the marriage, during the divorce, everyone was thinking only about themselves. No one was thinking about me. I felt completely isolated. The couple new friends who helped me through those tough times will forever have my gratitude.
My friends have been my strength for me in all my gypsy years. I have managed to make good connections wherever I have lived and I still have maintained some of those connections (some get lost in time). I can count the number of my close friends on one hand. It is hard to trust anyone these days. People have their own motivations for making friends. I will not hang out with a group of 15 people and call them my friends - I need my 2-3 close friends who I can talk to heart to heart over a cup of tea. I can usually tell in a few meetings whether I can trust a person or not - although my heart and trust have been broken a couple times.
Work has been equally challenging. Every place that I have worked at - there has been a female chemist colleague who has sabotaged me - once an american Caucasian and once a Vietnamese, once a Chinese-Nicaraguan. WHY? I don't know. I knew it was happening and I would go to my bosses to ask for their support, but nothing happened. No support. It got so stressful for me that I had to change my job each time to get away from these females. But there is no running away for me. I just don't know what it is about me that makes them hate me so much. And yet again, I have a boss who does not have the guts to support me.
And then.....*cue in the angelic music*....a male colleague stands up for me. For the first time in my life I feel vindicated. I did not realize that this is how it feels when someone believes in you and stands up for you. No one has ever believed in me for anything. All the time when I was crying out for support at so many times in my life - no one was there. But now - someone believes me. I don't know what the outcome will be, but it felt really good to have someone on my side, for once in my life.
I think all this lack of support for so many years, compounded by living alone (in so many places) for so many years has made me different person. I look inward to solve my problems. I don't talk easily to people about my problems - what is the point? No one understands my situation like I do. Most people are also not interested in listening - they have their own issues and most people don't have time for anyone.
But I know the value of support. I hope I have stood up for people when they needed me to, I hope I have supported my friends in whatever way they needed - financial, emotional, mental, professional :-)
When I think about what I would want in a good friend or from a person I trust - it is unconditional support. And usually unconditional support is packaged with unconditional love, trust and honesty. Of course it has to be reciprocated. I will not break anyone's trust and faith they have placed in me. That is the ultimate betrayal.