I’ve been reminding myself at least 50% of my responsibility at the infinite Mind D.I.D. Conference was to be the support person for my wife. I belive I acquitted my self very well in this area. It was important for me to help Susan stay grounded, offer encouragement, and help keep her safe. While there may be some few exceptions, I believe no person with D.I.D should attend a D.I.D conference without a knowledgeable support person.
I was there for myself, too. Support people need, well, support. There are so few resources for us. A few books, some better than others and few people we can commiserate with, share stories, frustrations, anger, hope, and generally emotionally vomit.
And laugh. Laugh, because there can be some humorous things with D.I.D.
(Did you lock the cat in the laundry room? No, I didn’t. Did you? No, I’m sure. Well who….)
I searched for applicable sessions for my situation on the conference schedule. The keynote address had great possibilities, and the session with the keynote speaker and his wife were can’t miss. A third session, presented by a support person, was circled on my schedule.
After that, I looked carefully in the session descriptions for words like partners, support people, and family for things that may apply directly to coping as a support person. If I didn’t see those types of descriptors, I looked for sessions that might apply to my own bag of shit I drag around with me. Relationship, intimacy (non sexual), depression, and vulnerability were some words I looked for in this second group.
I did not see much in specifics for support people, but I went in thinking positive.
Except for the three sessions noted above, I came away thinking if I had not gone to the other 5 sessions, I would not have missed anything. In no way am I disparaging the people, most of whom were experienced professionals (and with D.I.D to boot) for their preparation and presentations. I would rate them good to excellent. They just didn’t do much to help me in my situation.
In one session, I left in tears, due to the subtle man-hate I felt from some comments during the Q&A time before time for the session ended. I don’t think it was intentional, but I heard it and felt it within.
This is where the conference really, really let me down.
Last year, there was a meeting for support people Friday evening, actually before the actual conference started. There were about 18 support people in the group. That a lot of people for any kind of group therapy session, but we each got to introduce ourselves, where we were from, give a snippet of ourselves as individuals and tell a little about the person they are supporting. Then when we met at over lunch both days, we would at least be familiar with each other. Of course, we got into specifics of our situation.
Then as I went about the conference, I would see the other supporters, either in sessions or between. We might approach each other or just nod and smile knowing we were in this together.
There was also a second group session on Saturday evening where we would meet and carry on previous conversations and comments. While the group may have been unwieldy, if nothing else, the supporters met as a whole.
This year there was no Friday evening support group session. There were two scheduled for Saturday evening when the conference is essentially half over. Participants decided which of the two to attend. The lunch sessions were the same as the year before
This year when the Saturday lunch time came in the optional meeting, there were a more than dozen strangers talking about their specific problem. I knew nothing about them. How could I frame a comment without knowing more about them? Well, I could not.
Saturday evening, I attended the first supporters group session with 5 other people. Three people were at the previous conference, three first timers. We were just asked to give our names and started in on what we wanted to get out of the conference and all. I don’t know how many supporters went to the second session. The group at lunch on Sunday still had a lot of strangers in it. Can you show anything more than superficial sympathy to someone you know nothing about? I can’t and I missed it if any was offered in my direction.
I have a couple of ideas how to remedy the supporter situation for next year, if I attend. Right now it’s a very big if.
Maybe once the swelling goes down.