Sometimes in the name of love, we seek to control. We may do this because we can see a loved one is about to head into a brick wall, and we long to save them from getting hurt. Parents do this all the time, especially with their firstborn children. It’s a natural instinct to want to protect your children from pain; if you don’t have that instinct, I worry for you and your little ones, but if a parent is always there to say “no!” and “stop!” and “don’t!”, what results is a fearful child. You don’t want to scare the curiosity out of your kid, or rob them of any sense that they can trust themselves. Eventually, we all have to learn that if we run too quickly, we’re probably going to trip and fall, and it’s going to hurt. That’s how we learn.
Sometimes we see a friend stuck in a painful cycle, and we throw our hands in the air. What are they doing? How can they not realize they’re repeating this destructive pattern? How many times will we have to be there when it all falls apart? I’m not saying we shouldn’t kindly hold up a mirror when someone we love is hurting themselves, but you can’t force a person to see something they aren’t ready to see. You can’t manage another person’s journey, and you never know what someone else needs in order to learn and grow and strengthen. Sometimes we need painful lessons over and over again before we get it. Sometimes we have to have our hearts broken badly and repeatedly, until we finally say, “That’s it. Enough.”
You can’t save anyone, anyway. Communication is beautiful. “I love you, and it hurts me to see you treating yourself so badly. It hurts me to see you in such a self-loathing place, because I see you so clearly, and you’re beautiful.” Say it, go ahead. Maybe, hopefully, some part of that will seep in there. Maybe a tiny little root will grow, and one day the person will start to see themselves the way you do. If you’re dealing with someone who’s harming themselves, of course do everything you can to get them help, but understand, ultimately, everyone has to do their own journey. Healing is inside work. A person has to be open to help, or no help is available.
Also, try not to judge. None of us knows the interior world of another person. We only ever know what someone is willing to show us. We all have pain. Some people do a better job managing their pain than others. Some people have more pain handed to them, that’s a fact. Sometimes a person is up against so much grief and despair they reach for anything to numb it, anything to avoid feeling that abyss. Desperation and loneliness and a certain kind of personality, along with possible trauma, a person’s resiliency, and so many other factors can lead to the kind of numbing that’s hard to comprehend. No one wants to be addicted to something that has the potential to ruin or end their lives. Addicts are prisoners of the object of their desire. They get hijacked by it. Their pain owns them, and the agent that numbs the pain owns them, unless they find the enormous will and strength and tenacity and love for themselves to fight back, and even then, it takes a Herculean effort, a lot of support, and a decision every day to choose love. To choose health. To choose freedom. Sometimes people just don’t win the fight. They get tired. It’s heartbreaking. Addiction robs us of so much beauty.
Have you ever been in a destructive, abusive relationship that you wanted to end, but you just couldn’t find the strength? You just weren’t feeling good enough about yourself to say, “F&ck this. I don’t deserve this”? Maybe you tried to end it a bunch of times, but the pull was so strong, you found yourself dialing that number, even when every part of your being was screaming, “No!” It’s not easy being a human being. It can be gorgeous and beautiful and wildly interesting, but it isn’t easy. Love the people in your life. I mean, really love them. Honor them, cherish them, see them, hear them, support their growth and their joy. That’s all you can do. Sometimes, you’ll have to do it from afar if someone you love is hurting themselves and won’t be stopped. Don’t ever think a person is choosing between you and a drug, and that you must not mean much to them if they’re choosing a drug over you. You’re not even in the fight. You’re not in the mix. It’s not about you, so don’t get confused. You’ve been left on the shore. They’re out to sea with this thing, fighting for their lives. You’re outside the thing, so try to grasp that. How much they love you has nothing to do with it. It’s how much they’re able to care about themselves. May all beings be free from suffering.
Sending you love,