Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Some People Have To Learn The Hard Way

For years I was doing everything for my ex while I desperately tried to hold him together during the height of his drug addiction. Getting him up for work, getting him in the shower, setting out his clothes, making his breakfast, packing his lunch, and the list just goes on. Every ball he dropped I tried to pick up and hand right back to him before anyone noticed it was rolling away.

It didn't work.

I will never forget attending marriage counseling with my ex. He didn't want to be there, he was more or less forced into it due to some factors outside of our marriage, but to my surprise he did show up. It was our very first appointment and the counselor pulled my ex out of the room and said to me "this guy is going down. You have tried to hold him together for long enough and you can see that it isn't working. You have two choices here, you can let him go down on his own or you can let him take you all down with him."

I stupidly didn't take that advice and when he took me down with him, I almost drown.

After my post "Watch What You Say To Your Mother" a lot of you had questions as to when the right time is to cut the cord and stop saving someone from their own bad decisions.

You know what? That's a tough question and as you all can see, I'm still learning the answers to that one myself. It's never easy to step away from a situation where you know that another person will probably falter and possibly fail without your help, but at what point does your help become more harmful than helpful?

The first rule in saving a drowning victim is to not jump in the water if you can't swim. This is due to the fact that a person's chance of rescue go down when other people have to divide their time and resources to save two drowning victims.

The hard truth is, you simply cannot be responsible for saving everyone yourself, no matter how badly you want to help them.

I will never forget a demonstration that a youth group leader showed us in high school. The leader had one kid stand on a chair and one kid stand next to him on the ground. The leader told the kid on the chair to pull the other kid up onto the chair with him, without any help from the kid on the ground. After struggling for a while the kid on the chair realized that there really was no way for him to pull the kid up from the ground without any help. Then the leader told the kid on the ground to pull the other kid down to the ground with him and at the same time instructed the kid on the chair to try to stay where he was. With one arm the kid on the ground easily yanked the kid off the chair.

The moral of the story? It's a lot easier for someone to pull you down to a lower level than it is to bring them up to a higher one if they aren't willing to help themselves get there.. You can't pull someone up to where you are unless they want to help themselves get up there with you, but it's a real possibility that they will be able to pull you down to where they are no matter how hard you try and resist.




So when is it time to cut the cord and let someone go? When should you stop helping them and allow them to either fail or succeed on their own terms?

I'm sorry, I can't tell you that.

I can however give you some points to consider when making your decision;

*Are they making any progress on their own?

*When you stop helping them, do they continue to move forward because of their own motivation and efforts or do they go backwards in terms of their progress?

*Do they expect or rely on you to help them in a context that is more than the occasional helping hand?

*Are you protecting them from themselves?

*Is helping them affecting you negatively?

Like I said, I can't tell you what the appropriate boundary lines are in your specific situations, but those questions should at least get you thinking in terms of whether your assistance has turned from helpful to enabling or possibly even detrimental.

Stepping back and allowing someone the opportunity to help themselves is never easy. It doesn't mean that you have to say "see ya later, I'm outta here" it just means that you need to redefine your roll in helping them.

For example, I have a woman that I've been helping who while I love her, I've realized that my help was no longer helping her. My help was continuing to allow her to not have to help herself and something needed to change.

I helped her relay her fears to her counselor, connected her with the daycare assistance department, single mom student loan advisers, and the local benefit assistance department. I encouraged her to get a financial advisor and helped her get set up with a great attorney. Once I knew that she had the appropriate resources available to her, I then stepped back my assistance from "handling everything" to "just a friend."

When she calls, I answer. When she needs to talk, I listen. When she cries, I hug her. What I no longer do though is jump in to save her. I help her facilitate her questions to the people that I have set her up with and then I allow her the opportunity to advocate for herself. She is not alone without my help, she is with people who are not only more equipped to help her, but are better equipped to teach her how to live her life.

I simply realized that I cannot be two people. I cannot be me and at the same time be her.




I can be her friend, but I cannot live her life.

If you feel like you are living your life and helping someone else live theirs, it might be time to step back.

Most importantly and above all, don't lose yourself to someone else. My ex pulled me off the chair and I nearly drown in the muck trying to save him.

I can't tell you when it's time to stop helping someone, I can only remind you that they only way to have a successful life is when each person is living their own.

A person will never have to learn to live their own life if they can sit back and watch someone else live it for them.

There is a reason that children grow up and leave their parents; it's because eventually everyone has to learn to live their own life.

If you never learn, you never grow. To not grow, is to be stunted forever.

We all deserve to be better than half of our potential.

Don't lose yourself in a life that isn't yours, for you were never meant to be half of someone else.



Photo Credit
Tug-of-war
Double Person

20 comments:

  1. Great post very insightful

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  2. Love this post, Eden. I think you nailed the important questions right on the head. They're many of the same criteria I used when I decided to cut the cord on my ex. Thanks for sharing!

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  3. I applaud you for speaking out. You are a quiet inner voice for women who aren't just in positions that you were in, but in other situations as well. You are that voice that whispers to them "It doesn't have to be this way, it SHOULDN'T be this way. You are worth more than this. Get out." Keep it up, hon!

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    1. Thank you :) I really appreciate your kind words!!

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  4. I've had issues with helping people to the point where I was harming myself. The best thing I've learned is to offer empathy and advice (if it's asked for), and then let that person figure crap out on their own.
    Romantic relationships are a bit harder, but I've found that not lying to myself at the beginning usually helps me the most. Y'know, like: Oh, he'll get less angry as he gets older. Maybe if he has kids he'll mature up a bit more.

    I feel we all (to a certain point) lie to ourselves in the beginning of a relationship. We're in love, the happy chemicals are flowing; why spoil it with some reality? We push off these concerns until they become Concerns.

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    1. Exactly on the whole relationship thing. I see so many people, my prior self as well, entering a relationship and thinking that something will change. Why start something the doesn't fit? I wouldn't waste my money on clothes that don't fit and just hope that they fit later, you know?

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  5. This is so, so true.

    I'm a helper by nature and it is extremely hard for me to say no to people. Even when it's putting me at a significant disadvantage or causing problems for me. I always want to jump in and help people.

    But after a few issues with some of those people, I've had to take a step back. Like you said, don't try to save a drowning victim if you yourself can't swim. I'll even take it a step further and say, with the exception of a few extremes, do what you can to not have to save a drowning victim even if you can swim but you don't have any lifeguard training. You can be a fantastic swimmer, but there are methods to save a drowning person and if you don't know those methods, the person might take you down with them.

    Not only are you harming yourself when you constantly go in and save someone, but you're not actually helping the person in the long run. You're helping them there, in that moment, but all they're learning is that they'll never actually hit rock bottom because you've pulled a safety net out under them and will catch them before they crash. Therefore they have no need to change anything because they know that painful crash is never coming.

    So sometimes it's better for all involved if you step back and actually let the person crash, even if it's painful. :(

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    1. Its the whole "teach a man to fish" theory. Don't just feed him for a day, equip him to be able to feed himself for life. Even in that though, you can't spend all your time teaching him or you will neglect yourself and starve too!

      Sometimes the crash is necessary :( Its why we give teenagers and criminals reality checks, "this is prison, this is what drunk driving looks like, this is how drugs kill you," sometimes people need a reality check and as you get older, the only way to get that might be to fall down a bit.

      Still hurts to watch though...

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  6. This is totally off topic, but I have an ex who left me in June, after trashing my apartment, stealing some of my stuff, and leaving me covered in bruises and scratches. He did push me once in a while when we were together but I was not prepared for the breakup escalation. I took pictures but the worst part is that nobody took it seriously.

    Anyway, this guy texted me last week because he was dating "a prude" and wanted to know if I wanted to meet up and have sex. :-|

    :-| :-| :-|

    (Feel your skin crawl here.)

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    1. Skin is crawling!!! Good grief. I hope you turned him down and felt damn good about it!!

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    2. I didn't bother responding but I figure that's as much like a no as possible without escalating the situation.

      This is a guy with two degrees working at a professional job (with several connections in law enforcement) who looks like any 20something bearded hipster. I don't know what most people think of when they think of "typical abuser" but he probably isn't it. I suspect he has done it before and will do it again but I can't stop it from happening. It makes me sick to think about that, but I have to take care of myself first.

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    3. Good self restraint :) I think the problem is that too many people have the image of the "typical" abuser. The "typical" abused woman, the "typical" rapist, etc. :(

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    4. That is a problem, but I can't help but think he'll get away with this stuff for a long time.

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    5. Eventually most of them do come crashing down....

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  7. IS A TESTIMONY, I NEVER BELIEVED IN LOVE SPELLS UNTIL I MET THIS SPELL CASTER CALLED DR UNITY. HE IS REALLY POWERFUL AND COULD HELP CAST SPELLS TO BRING BACK ONE'S GONE,LOST,MISBEHAVING LOVER AND MAGIC MONEY SPELL OR SPELL FOR A GOOD JOB.I'M NOW HAPPY & A LIVING TESTIMONY COS THE WOMAN I HAD WANTED TO MARRY LEFT ME 3 WEEKS BEFORE OUR WEDDING AND MY LIFE WAS UPSIDE DOWN COS OUR RELATIONSHIP HAS BEEN ON FOR 3YEARS... I REALLY LOVED HER, BUT HER MOTHER WAS AGAINST US AND I HAD NO GOOD PAYING JOB. SO WHEN I MET THIS SPELL CASTER, I TOLD HIM WHAT HAPPENED AND EXPLAINED THE SITUATION OF THINGS TO HIM..AT FIRST I WAS UNDECIDED,SKEPTICAL AND DOUBTFUL, BUT I JUST GAVE IT A TRY. AND IN 48HOURS WHEN I WAS IN MY HOUSE IN USA,SHE CALLED ME BY HERSELF AND CAME TO ME, APOLOGIZING THAT EVERYTHING HAD BEEN SETTLED WITH HER MOM AND FAMILY AND SHE GOT A NEW JOB INTERVIEW SO WE SHOULD GET MARRIED..I DIDN'T BELIEVE IT COS THE SPELL CASTER ONLY ASKED FOR MY NAME AND MY GIRLFRIENDS NAME AND ALL I WANTED HIM TO DO... WELL WE ARE HAPPILY MARRIED NOW AND WE ARE EXPECTING OUR LITTLE KID,AND MY WIFE ALSO GOT THE NEW JOB AND OUR LIVES BECAME MUCH BETTER. IN CASE ANYONE NEEDS THE SPELL CASTER FOR SOME HELP, HIS EMAIL ADDRESS IS;unitylovetemple@gmail.com THANKS DR UNITY FOR YOUR GOOD WORK. ONCE AGAIN HIS EMAIL ADDRESS IS unitylovetemple@gmail.com

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    1. https://i.imgur.com/GTAqq8b.gif

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    2. Hahaha! Somehow that made it's way through the spam filter but I'm going to leave it up only because the anonymous reply is so funny!

      (cut and paste it into your browser to view)

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