Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Get out of the way!

During the past few days I must have thought a hundred times about one of my blogging buddies. I’ve never met Barbara, and I know only as much about her as what she posts on her blog. (I think about my virtual friends as if I know them in real life--see this post from back in September.)

Barbara's been telling us lately about the heartbreaking effects of her son’s drug abuse. I can relate, having been close to someone with a similar struggle, someone who was the most incredible person on earth. Until about his thirteenth beer.

Like many of her readers, I left a comment on Barbara’s site, hoping my words would somehow help. I shared the most important piece of advice I heard back in my own dark days when I first came to Las Vegas, and I want to post those words here as well.

One night, about six months after I’d blown out the last candle of hope for my marriage, I attended a free lecture by a spiritual teacher named Bijan. He explained that people are either going up, going down, or they're hovering where they are in life because they can’t decide where they want to go.

When people are on their way up, he said, you want to support them to help their energy rise, to help boost them to where they need to be.

People on the way down, however, must reach the bottom before they can go back up, and so you have to get out of their way; they can’t go back up until they experience the lessons they need to learn at the bottom.

We want to help them—it’s human nature—and it has to be especially hard, as in Barbara’s case, to watch your own child struggle so. But we can’t learn anyone’s lessons for them, and sometimes by helping, we get in their way. We prevent them from learning the lessons they need to learn, and so it will take longer for them to head back up.

Sometimes a path is wide enough only for one person; some legs of a person’s journey must be walked alone. We just have to get out of the way so they can get to where they’re supposed to go.

Easier said than done, but I know from experience that it works; my ex and I have enjoyed a loving relationship since our divorce over five years ago. Looking back, I realize I could have saved myself untold turmoil had I not resisted so much, had I not been so goddamn hell-bent on jamming the square peg into the round hole, had I accepted the simple fact that—guess what?—people don’t always act the way you want them to.

You can always love the person during their hard times, just know when to get out of their way.


Lilly said...

This was truly fantastic and very sage advice. It's so true we think we are helping them and all we are doing is enabling them. Its so hard to sit back and watch but we have to see the bigger picture. Its tough when you are a parent because no matter how old your children get its natural to want to protect them from all the pains of the world. And do all you can to help. We can't. Thanks for posting this.

travel girl said...

God, this is so true!

My Mom wasted so much time, money and energy enabling my brother to continue destructive behavior with methamphetamines. She truly believed she could help him out of his addiction. Trouble was that you can't help those who can't or won't help themselves.

As painful as it is, just have to let go.

Julie D said...

Good advice....

And when Travel Girl and I meet in Vegas, we are so hooking up with you!

CarmenSinCity said...

I'll have to check out your friend barbara's blog. I also struggle with addiction so I'm sure I'll be able to relate.

Bar L. said...

Linda, thanks for this post...thanks for your wisdom and compassion. You are funny and smart and warm and wonderful...not a bad combo. I think I will make a trip to Vegas once things are better with my son, its only a 5 hour drive!

Vegas Linda Lou said...

Oh, how I would love to meet all you gals in person!

We're all sending positive vibes to you and your son, Barbara.