There’s no point trying to make someone “see the light.” First of all, you can never be certain that your ideas or opinions about how things should be are right for anyone but yourself (barring the obvious instances where something is clearly not okay, like when a situation puts someone in emotional or physical danger). We never know what other people need for their growth, nor do any of us have a crystal ball, and for most people, strength comes from having been tested. Even if you can see clearly that a loved one’s course of action will end up causing them pain, you can’t know if that very pain will be the thing that causes them to break open and love themselves at last. Sometimes we need to crash into a brick wall again and again before we decide, “Okay, I’ve got that lesson. Next!”
Some people are blinded by anger and their need to be right. It doesn’t matter what you say, your logic won’t help, and neither will your patience or compassion. If someone is determined to make you the enemy, to blame you for their unhappiness, there’s nothing you can do, except decide not to participate in the madness. If you engage, defend yourself, try to point out those instances that prove your perspective, you’re still not going to get anywhere, because if a person needs you to be wrong so they can be right, they will invent the story that backs up their point of view. Trying to communicate is futile, but you can go ahead and exhaust yourself for awhile if you must.
When people are attached to blaming others for the state of their life, they’ve made themselves powerless, but it doesn’t have to be that way. It does not matter what anyone has done to me. I take ownership of my own life. I decide what I’m going to do with what I’ve been given. I rise up, or I allow the past to ruin my present and future. It’s up to me, and it’s up to you. It’s up to all of us. Is blaming other people easier? I don’t really think so. I know it can feel that way for awhile; if we point fingers at other people, we can avoid looking at those places where we still need to heal for a bit longer, but eventually, we’re just on a mountaintop, by ourselves, shouting into the wind. People can spot bitterness a mile away. You may gain sympathy, but what kind of payoff is that? I’d take empathy over sympathy eight days a week. You define yourself as a victim, or a survivor, it’s a choice.
Sometimes a person is so hurt and so confused and so unable to face their own self-loathing, they just spew venom. You don’t help by standing there with your arms open so you can get covered in it, you do them a disservice that way, and you certainly dishonor your own tender heart. Sometimes you have to leave people on that mountain so they can spit it all out until there’s nothing left but their pain. They might die on that mountain, screaming into the ethers about how wronged they’ve been, or they might climb down that mountain eventually, ready to start again. You can’t control another person’s journey. You can love people with your whole heart. You can wish them well. You can offer tools that have worked for you if they’re even remotely open to listening, but if they’re in the blame/rage/shame cycle, it isn’t likely they’ll be able to hear you, anyway.
I know it can be brutal. If someone is close to you by blood, or through circumstance, it can hurt so much not to be seen clearly. That doesn’t even feel good from a stranger, but you know yourself. As long as you know you’ve done your best and you’re doing your best and you’ve apologized when and where it made sense to do that, as long as you know you’ve shown up with love, and in the best way you know how, then you can look yourself in the eye when you’re brushing your teeth at the end of the day. Life is too short and too precious to spend a lot of your time and energy trying to rewrite someone else’s story. You have your own horizon to look toward, and you get to choose the path as you walk toward it, and you also get to choose the way you walk it. That’s enough, and that’s a lot.
Sending you love,
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