Cheatham County Exchange

Susan Steen: A solid base from these three little words


“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’ ” — Mary Anne Radmacher

It’s been a season, hasn’t it? The sun is shining as I write, the groundhog’s shadow was in hiding, thankfully, and I am feeling hopeful for warmth, sunshine, and those sweet buds that form on the branches.

I have thought a lot about Radmacher’s words. It takes courage to get through tough seasons — seasons of weather and seasons of life. Quietly, I wonder how many of us are saying we will try again tomorrow. My hand is raised.

“I got you!” Those three words might be the most comforting words I’ve ever heard spoken to me or to someone else. In my ongoing journey back to good health, I saw an interventional pulmonologist, also named Susan. Looking at my CT scan and listening to my account of the previous few weeks, she announced I was a winner and would have a bronchoscopy and lung lavage for my prize.

With tears in my eyes, because the procedures sounded very scary, she reached for my hands and offered those three words. I think those words are actually more powerful than “I love you.” In that moment, I knew that whatever was on the other side of the procedures, she had me, she was going to stay with me, and it would be OK.

Who has you? When I thought about how this ties in with the idea of “enough,” I considered the sufficiency and security of our support systems. Do we feel supported enough? Those words, “I got you,” left me feeling secure in a moment when I was teetering a bit on the edge of uncertainty.

Perhaps it’s the friend who shows up in a text message to say, “Thinking of you,” or the colleague who pops their head in your cubicle to say, “Great job on that project.” Either way, it leaves a threadbare soul feeling patched up.

Support systems come in all flavors — practical, emotional, and professional.

Practical Support. Think hands-on. Cooking a meal for someone (or sending a meal via a service), picking up someone’s kids from school, walking someone’s dog, sitting with a colicky baby, or offering to pick up groceries while you’re out. These are practical ways you and I can give and be given practical support, very definite “I got you’s!”

When I felt I had nowhere to turn once upon a time, someone reached out with assistance that I needed, and that kind of support gives a person courage to say, “I’ll try again tomorrow.” See someone who is having a hard time raking leaves or cleaning gutters? Offer to help.

And if you are the one needing a hand, it’s tough to admit you feel you aren’t enough on your own, but just because others don’t publicize it doesn’t mean they aren’t in the same spot. Don’t be afraid to let someone know you could use a hand. They will most likely “leak it” to the right party.

Emotional Support. Maybe it’s your dog or cat and the way they curl up knowingly when you are having a hard day. Faith and spiritual communities offer a wonderful sense of comfort and guidance along with shared beliefs and practices. Family and friends know us and can sometimes be the safest place for a listening ear or a hug, but when they aren’t safe, there are professional therapists and counselors.

One thing we might not think of as our “I got you!” is creative outlets. For me, writing is a huge support, and I think for many in my circle painting, weaving, drawing, dancing and singing would be their places of  self-support, as well as opportunities to connect with others. And unless a person recognizes their own feelings of needing support, they’ll not likely get there. So, go you when you get it.

Professional Support. When was the last time you went to the doctor? I don’t want to be pointing fingers, but lots of you avoid seeing an MD or DDS. It isn’t fun, and it is rarely affordable. I know this firsthand. But there are more affordable options out there for most professionals. Sometimes, an online help group can grant a person a reprieve until they are able to catch their breath or figure their finances. 

Other professional support options would include a financial advisor, an attorney or a career counselor/life coach. If you think you can’t afford these “I got you’s” most of the time, you can. You might have to show them that you really have spent it all at the grocery, but the support is there.

What gives us a sense of “enough” in our picture of support systems? It’s different for each of us and different at various times in life. 

When my friend shows up in the middle of the night for a conversation, she is saying, “I got you!”
When my child/in-law shows up when I’m not doing well putting food on the table, they are saying, “I got you!”
When my mother hugs me, and says she is so glad I’m OK, I know she needs the next thing I do to say to her, “I got you, too.”

People need to know we are here, we are there, for them. And we need to be here and there and everywhere for ourselves. Sometimes, we are all we have, and at the end of the day, when we only have a little bit of courage, we can utter, “I’ll try again tomorrow.”

Susan Black Steen is a writer and photographer, a native Tennessean and a graduate of Austin Peay State University. With a firm belief that words matter, she writes and speaks to bring joy, comfort and understanding into each life. Always, she writes from her heart in hopes of speaking to the hearts of others. She can be reached at (

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