Saturday, May 18, 2013

When you feel powerless to help.

It has been a very, very difficult month or so around here.  One of those roller coasters that never seems to end.  It took some time but at this point I have made peace with the situation, knowing I have done everything I can.

It's hard to watch someone you care about spiral out of control.  Even harder still, at least for me, is knowing that there's nothing that you can do to help or to stop it.  It leaves you feeling angry, sad, frustrated and more.  Then there are those moments that they seem much like their old selves.  It gives you a glimmer of hope, which is quickly dashed when they jump back into the pit that they have dug.  Those instances show you just how powerless you are in all of the madness.  So what CAN you do in those times?

1.  Be loving but firm.  Love doesn't come with an on/off switch but just because you love someone does not mean that you have to tolerate their bad behavior.  It's good to let them know that while you love them, you won't be a party to their self destruction.

2.  Support without enabling them.  This can be harder than number 1.  You want to be there for them.  You want to help them through their tough time.  The key is to find a balance.  Something like "I am here when you need me, but I can not allow you to ____________ in my home."

3.  Say a prayer- or a hundred.  Whether you call to God, Buddha, Allah, Mother Earth, Yahweh or another deity, keep this person in your prayers.  If you are an Atheist or Agnostic, spend time just thinking of this person and sending them positive thoughts.  Whether you pray, meditate or just send your thoughts into the universe, keeping it positive will allow you to lessen the pain that you are feeling.  I often use the first part of the Serenity Prayer to get me through the day.  It goes like this:

God grant me the serenityto accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

4.  Step away from the drama.  Who needs it?  When a person is in a downward spiral, the feed on the drama.  You don't need the angst and you don't need to feed into their spiral.  It's important for your own positivity to step back and distance yourself from all the negativity that they are creating. There's a wonderful article here on Tiny Buddha that talks about how to minimize the drama in your life.  

5.  Forgive them.  By no stretch of the imagination do I mean that you have to accept or condone anything that they are doing.  You certainly don't have to TELL them that you have forgiven them. This is for you, not for them.  By opening your heart to forgiveness, you allow yourself to make peace with this person.  Not their current actions, but the person that you know and love.  That peace will allow you to more easily deal with the myriad of "stuff" they are throwing around.  Forgiveness will also give you a clarity to see through all of the "bull" and to know when/if it is time to step back and when/if it's time to step away.

None of these steps are easy and they may not all be for everyone.  They are just what has helped me over the last weeks and I hope they can help you when faced with a situation in which you feel powerless.

I leave you with this:

“It does not take a great supernatural heroine or magical hero to save the world.
We all save it every day, and we all destroy it -- in our own small ways -- by every choice we make and every tiniest action resulting from that choice.
The next time you feel useless and impotent, remember what you are in fact doing in this very moment. And then observe your tiny, seemingly meaningless acts and choices coalesce and cascade together into a powerful positive whole.
The world -- if it could -- will thank you for it.
And if it does not... well, a true heroine or hero does not require it.”
                                                                                     ― Vera Nazarian


Remicade Dream said...

I'm sorry you're going through this. I have been in a similar situation. Thank you for your words - they are helpful to me as I go through this. I have really come a long way in learning to back away from someone else's mess, but it's definitely challenging and I still have days when I'm tempted to jump into the fray. Anyway, just wanted to let you know that you're not alone in this.

reasonscheerful123 said...

Hmmm a very heartfelt post. I really sympathise. I've had a few cases similar to what you describe recently and it's not easy when you can see the way out but they can't and won't be helped.

Julie Faulds said...

Thank you both so much for your comments. It makes a huge difference to know that I am not alone.