Monday, March 30, 2009

Someone Else's Journey

Shut up, your help is not wanted.

Shut up, your help is not wanted.

Shut up, your help is not helpful.

Shut up, your help is not helpful.

I've been talking to myself constantly for the last two days. I know, from my experience of disability over the last three years that help not wanted can be intrusive, that help not wanted can be demeaning, that help not wanted can be anything but helpful. I know that. I KNOW THAT. But still the will to help can be outrageously strong.

Our friend spent the weekend here with us. He's been battling the demon of addiction for some time now. Has been to rehab. Has tried desperately to live clean and sober. He has the potential for such a happy life - yet that potential keeps getting smashed on the shores of bad decision after bad decision.

But he's on an upswing. He has made nothing but progress for weeks now. Not months but not days either. We're so hopeful. But we were afraid of this visit. We live in the center of Canada's largest city. We know, conceptually, that drugs are available at the doorstep of our apartment building. Just like they are available at the doorstep of every school, every office building, every grocery store in the land. We knew that this visit would be successful only if he made a thousand and one good decisions.

So we watched.

Seemingly unimportant decision one.

Seemingly unimportant decision two.

Seemingly unimportant decision three.

And I kept my mouth shut. I know that this isn't my journey, that these aren't my battles, that only he can make these decisions that only he can walk the path set before him. And that he has to walk them alone. We can cheer from the sidelines. We can pray in the dark of night. We can hope from afar. But that's all we can do, we do it with gusto, but it's all we can do.

That and shut up.

He went home feeling victorious.

I feel like I walked up 12 steps this weekend ... and the view from the top, is spectacular.


Belinda said...

It is the hardest thing--to know where the boundary of loving means to let go--stay out of it--not take over or give unwanted advice.

I've been told loud and clear to back off and I am learning (I first wrote "I have learned" but that was too good) to do so, but it is very hard. You did it.
That victory belongs you, so that he could have a taste of a victory that belongs to him alone.

I find this so easy to do at work, to understand and believe in the right to mnake wrong choices,to focus on information and education. It isn't so easy with those closer to me.

Susan said...

Woohoo, Dave! I'm celebrating with you. Having a passel of teenagers move through our house has taught me a lot about keeping my mouth shut... I know that when people give me unwanted advice, it somehow removes from me the power to change - or to even want to change - or to believe I could change. But when they encourage and let go, and trust me to make the decision, knowing that their love and acceptance will be there, no matter what, well, that's the wings beneath my wings... and I then free somehow to run right into their arms for support. And that's the kind of friend I want to be.

Good job, bro.

liz said...


rickismom said...

Good for you-- and know that if theis person HADN'T kept things, your "interference" wouldn't have helped.
Learning to "Let Go" is essensial...difficult, yes.... but unless others let go, the addict waits for others to cure him. Only when it gets dumped fair and square in their lap is there a chance for the addict to pick up the pieces.

velveteenviolet said...

Thank you for the timely reminder. My brother battles the demon of addiction too. I think maybe I should write "Only he can walk the path before him" on a sticky note and look at it every day.