Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Wisdom to know the difference

I am powerless over people, places and things.

For anyone who's ever been in a 12-step program, that's a mantra you learn and repeat daily, if not more often.

The only person you have any control over is yourself: your actions, your emotions, your behavior. You choose. And in the choosing, you create your own destiny.

But boy, oh boy, it is hard.

I want to "fix" situations. I want to "fix" people. It's so obvious to me that it only would take just this leeeeeetle bit of action or non-action, and then things would be sooooo much better.

Especially when it comes to my children. And anyone I love or care about.

Accepting another's right to act as s/he chooses is so hard for me sometimes, and especially with my daughters, I am constantly letting go and then taking back the worry and the fear for their wellbeing and their future. And then letting go again.

It is hard to accept without visible judgement too -- I try hard to keep a poker face (and am terrible at it), to keep my voice even and unemotional, to keep my words neutral and calm. And yet I know where I'd like each of them to go, which paths to choose that will help them to have good outcomes and lessen the pain and stress that I see ahead otherwise.

But oh, I am not omniscient, I am not all-powerful, and I cannot. I CANNOT. control their choices and destinies, any more than my mother or father could control mine. I made choices, a couple of ones that hugely impacted my life and who I am, and yet I'm okay. I am working to accept where they are, although it is so painful to watch them hurt and teeter on the edge of depression and actions which will have life-long implications!

I can't "fix" my daughters' problems nor their unhappiness. I can and have encouraged them to take steps to help themselves, but it's always a lack of money, time, or something else, it seems.

There is a long-time friend who is unhappy with his life -- he has always felt that he never gets a break, never has the wind at his back for very long, if at all. He has complained about his life for as long as I've known him. He doesn't like living alone, has little family left, and while he has friends, he desperately wants a love relationship, a companion. He is a good person and helps others, lives an ethical life, but yet feels unloved and as though he is of no importance to much of anyone. It hurts my heart when someone I care about feels so unloved and alone.

I can't "fix" him (I've tried, believe me).

I'm so aware that there are people who don't seem to have the ability, the desire, to take control over their lives and change what they don't like. Long ago I knew a woman, a bright, pretty, very talented children's librarian, a success in her field and loved by her colleagues and clients. She was hospitalized numerous times for depression and suicide attempts, including a terrible instance when she swallowed Drano, which left her alive and unable to eat normally. Not too long after she was released from the hospital after that attempt, she finally succeeded in ending her life.

And I guess I don't understand. I know depression -- most of us at one point or another have been depressed and paralyzed into inaction, although most of us don't make it into hospitalization and eventually come out of it or get help.

It is hard. Changing, making changes is so hard. There are days, weeks, even months that are just slogging through the crap, putting one foot in front of the other, getting through and doing it all over again the next day. But it passes.

NOTHING lasts forever. EVERYTHING changes.

I'm trying to remember that as yet again I put my worry and concern into the great universe rather than keeping it close to me. I trust that the people I want to fix will find their paths, will be taken care of, will be offered choices, just as I have been. I pray that they have the courage and the strength to follow the paths that will help them lead the kind of life they say they want.

And I pray for the serenity to accept their choices.

No comments: