We are going through a rough time with quite a few of our extended family members right now. At least three or four of them are going through very serious struggles - some with health issues that we know now will not be healed, some have problems caused by very bad choices they made, consciously or otherwise. At least one or more has issues they've dealt with all their lives but are now intensified to an almost unbearable level.
One problem has the potential to break up a young family and destroy an individual, another has pushed a caregiver almost to her wit's end. Still another has offers of help all around, yet literally cannot figure out where to begin to fix a life that seems out of control, they are too afraid of making a wrong move - almost paralyzed by fear.
The situation I learned about yesterday has just knocked all the wind out of my sails. I ache for this person and the series of choices that has led up to this point in their life. I hurt for what it means for them and others close to them. I want to place blame on another person who I think was selfish and mean and the cause of many of the problems. But I know I shouldn't. These people are all adults and should be accountable for their actions.
Just because someone is basically a good person doesn't mean they won't make terrible mistakes, out of spite or by slowly getting into dangerous situations, one little step at a time. I literally feel sick to my stomach thinking of all that has happened and all that will need to happen in the next few months or years to help repair this sad situation.
And through this, I am now starting to realize that there is not much I can really do. That awful helpless feeling is just devastating.
I've always tried to help "fix" other peoples' problems. I would give what I thought were good, rational suggestions as to what they could do. Now I realize that it is not my job or even my place. I need to be there to love and support, lend a listening ear where needed and keep my mouth shut. Instead of saying, "You should....", I need to say, "What are you going to do?" or "What are your plans?" and then possibly follow up with, "What specifically can I do to help you accomplish this?"
Some problems will only be helped with time, some can never be "fixed" back to what they were before. Some can hopefully be made better once a decision is made and then followed through on.
Until then I can only love these individuals and pray for them as much as I can. And try to learn from some of their mistakes. And also not repeat some of my own, for I've had my share of personal pain, both from circumstances and also from situations I've put myself in. That's why I feel so badly for the ones who are going through it right now.
It's true, nobody gets through this life unscathed. I know this was supposed to be the plan but that doesn't mean that it doesn't hurt.