We all want to help people, we all care. And we all think if people would just listen we could help them, if we’re just patient we can all get to a place where we flourish.
But it’s not always going to work that way.
Kevin Smith talks about Jason Mewes getting clean and sober in his book and how Kevin, after trying everything to help him, talked to a therapist who said the best thing he could do to help was stop helping him. That for Jason, losing Kevin could be the only thing that hurts enough to cause him to want to change.
And it was a massive risk, it could have pushed Jay into an even worse addictive spiral and could have killed him. But it worked out and we got a bunch more Jay and Silent Bob movies. Thank god.
Here’s where I start to speculate. Smith’s desire to help his friend was partially driven by his own need to feel like a good person, to not have to think of himself as someone who gave up on someone in need. And I bet he said to himself that Jay doesn’t deserve to be given up on.
But the fact is that Jay did deserve to be given up on, he was a junkie and he deserved to lose his only friend. And getting what he deserved is what showed him the reality of his problem and shook off the denial and let him start to get better.
Not wanting to give up on people we care about is our ego telling us they can’t possibly get better without us, without our guidance, our nurturing, because we’re just that good of a person. It’s how co-dependent cycles come to be.
Mandi was always telling me she had abandonment issues. So whenever she was distant or even cruel I absorbed it with patience because I thought if I just waited it out long enough she’d realize I wouldn’t ‘abandon’ her and then we’d live happily ever after.
The first times she started pulling away I just tried to love her harder. I tried to fill the gap she was creating and I thought it was me being a good person, I thought I was helping.
She told me once that she was so awkward some people thought she was autistic so I started researching how people in relationships with people with autism function and flourish, for themselves and their partner. She’s not autistic I just thought I might pick up some tips.
I tried anything. I would have spent my whole life becoming everything she wanted. And when it wasn’t going to work out I didn’t want to admit because I felt like I’d failed. Not failed to seduce her, failed to help her. Failed to be a good enough.
I felt pathetic so I started acting pathetic. And it was made extremely worse by the fact that she was acting increasingly smug about it all. I was convincing myself it might all still defense mechanisms though and I’d be the selfish bad guy if I left.
When it finally ended it was because I told myself one of two things must be true:
- She’s a manipulative bitch in which case she deserves me leaving and she’ll just go on and be a manipulative bitch to others. Or;
- She’s broken and not trying to get better in which case she deserves to lose me and she’ll either learn from that loss or not.
When I force myself to think what an optimist would think I guess the best case scenario is feels she lost a great guy and tries to be more empathetic with whoever else she meets, romantically or otherwise I suppose. And when I’m normally just beating the shit out of myself I imagine she’s having threesomes with six foot two athletically built Rhodes Scholars and cringing performatively when something reminds her of me.
And I just keep telling myself it doesn’t matter to me anymore. It’s just my ego talking to itself, Mandi isn’t real anymore. There was an ‘us’ and then there wasn’t. And that if I’m wrong about every thought expressed here and I’m just some psycho she almost dated then at least I did the right thing by getting out of her life.
So no matter what, moving on is always a good option. Even if you wind up running in circles running from your pain that’s better than letting the pain catch you and wallowing in it with no plausible solutions.
That sounds like really bad advice though, this is your reminder/disclaimer that I’m the patient here, not the doctor.