Trying to Help From the Outside

The recurring theme is “How do I help others without getting sucked in?”

I have some friends that have gone over the edge. The mental health crisis is real. People without human companionship can lose track pretty easily of what is normal and healthy versus what is not. Quarantine can be just plain ugly. I don’t know how to offer support from a distance. My going over the edge with them benefits no one.

And then there’s my relatives. They would love to have me back “in the family.” There is role for me there. The problem? The role is worthless. I play the game by their rules and the game is not worth the time and energy it takes to play. They are energy vampires. Not intentionally or deliberately, mind you, but energy-sucking nonetheless. I simply do a whole lot better without them than with them, and that is a painful admission.

When it comes to addictions, all 12-step groups tell you the same thing: you have change your playgrounds and playmates. It is not reality-based to think you can go to the bar and drink lemonade. Eventually, you will have a beer in your hand. You have to find alternative ways to spend your time (read: “life”). You must be selective as to where you invest your time, energy, attention, and money.

Because of my time in Alanon and Barry’s three decades in AA, I know from personal experience that a system cannot be changed from within. New members of Congress discover this all the time. They think they are going to change the system; instead, the system changes them–and not for the better. I have belonged to a few different churches and found the same thing. When your time, energy, attention, and money are invested in something, you cannot see it realistically. You have too much invested. It is not until you have fully extricated yourself emotionally, energetically, and financially that you get a clearer perspective. That clarity is not possible from within. You have to be outside the system for a time before you see your former contribution more truly. Systems do not start to collapse until people begin removing their emotional, energetic, and financial support. Fighting a system from within is futile. What you resist–persists. You have to walk away from the battlefield altogether, allowing the other side to have the last word as they talk meaninglessly to themselves. For you, the conversation is over and has been over for a while.

Loyalty must be to truth and reality, as much as you can discern it for yourself. But make no mistake, this hurts. Everyone wants a sense of belonging. Nobody wants to reject/be rejected by everyone. What I am talking about is grief-inducing. The hopes and dreams you had for that membership die agonizingly. You have devoted a chunk of your life energy to these people and you find yourself cutting your losses. But think about it: How much is it worth to belong to a group {or relationship} more interested in its own survival than in what is good for its own members? My answer? Nothing.

About cdhoagpurple

I live in Michigan. I was Greek Orthodox (and previously Protestant), but now am more Buddhist than anything. I am single now (through the till-death-do-you-part clause of the marriage contract). My husband Barry was a good man and celebrated 30 years in AA. I am overly educated, with an MBA. My life felt terminally in-limbo while caring for a sick husband, but I am free now. I see all things as being in transition. Impermanence is the ultimate fact of life. Nothing remains the same, good or bad.

One response to “Trying to Help From the Outside”

  1. Ninasusan says :

    Wow. Everything you said is true. Very eloquently stated also!

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