Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Scintilla Project - Day 11

The last prompt for Scintilla, alas. After thinking long and hard about these choices, I'm writing about #1, sort of.

1. Talk about a time when you intervened. What prompted you? Did you regret it?

2. Tell a story that you haven't told yet. Give it a different ending than the one that really happened. Don't tell us where you start changing things. Just go.


Readers of this blog already know some of my intervention stories: one daughter's rescue from an abusive domestic situation, my cousin's suicidal note, another daughter's return to California.  I don't regret any of my actions in these instances, and the overarching prompt in these stories is love of family.

When I was in high school and college, I did a lot of listening: I was sort of the local "Ann Landers," and I certainly gave lots of advice to my friends, and did a lot of commiserating. My caring and that of my welcoming family back then helped one young woman to get through a terrible time in her life -- she had attempted suicide at least once, and was deeply depressed over the death of her mother. She was always a welcome guest in our house and at our family table, and many years later she told us how much that had meant to her and helped her.

But even then I knew that getting involved and helping others to solve their problems was a way for me not to have to deal with my own issues. It was much easier to be a loving friend and help figure out someone else's life than to look at my own self-esteem or other issues.

Years later I remember leaping in to help a new friend who had just joined a group of which I was a member. She called one day to ask for help -- she'd managed to cut herself rather badly and was there alone with her children. I rushed to her home and helped stop the bleeding, but she clearly was not capable of taking care of her children or herself. Her husband came home -- she had NOT called him -- and was more than a little (and very rightfully so) distressed that I was there. He assured me he could deal with the situation, and I left. I don't remember if I ever saw her again after that, but I started working more on my own issues.

There can be a fine line between being a loving, caring friend or relative and intervening in someone's life. I've crossed that boundary more than once, and probably would do so again, but never again without deliberate thought and choice. Sometimes just listening to and telling the troubled person that you care about them is enough to help them to turn a corner. Sometimes you can't do anything to help no matter what the situation. Sometimes your help will only delay a consequence. And sometimes you end up hurting yourself instead of being able to help  the person you tried to save.

While I certainly won't say that I'll never again intervene in someone's life, I have turned my attention and focus largely towards my own life, because this life is the only one that I know I can change.

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