Magnolia Gardens; Charleston SC
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“Detach with love.” - Anon
“I didn’t cause it, I can’t control it and I cannot cure it.” - Anon
It is difficult when someone close to us is engaging in destructive behavior and there seems to be nothing we can do to stop it. A friend is cheating on their spouse, a sibling is abusing prescriptions, a business affiliate that is cheating the system, a child is drinking excessively – there are many varieties. Inevitably they drag us into their negativity and try to have us cosign their nonsense. It may be that they expect us to protect them from the consequences of their actions, we may face legal liability by just knowing what they are doing and our silence makes us a co-conspirator, or they may just try to get us to rationalize it along with them. It is natural for us to feel that we are responsible to some degree for those we love, but in reality we have no control over their behavior. It is easy to get to a point of frustration that we threaten to cut them out of our life or expose them for their behavior – and thus we end up spiritually and emotionally sick along with them. These situations are more common than we would like to admit.
We must find a way to distance ourselves without burning bridges or putting ourselves in an emotional state that we become so harsh that we cannot reverse course later. The first step is to realize that we have no control over them – these natural feelings of being “responsible” for the consequences of others behavior is an illusion which is easily exploited. For our own emotional health, we have to believe that everyone is doing the best they can with what they have. So, the only remaining option is to create some distance.
First, we need to stop rescuing them from the consequences of their actions – this causes more harm than good because we “train” them that they can continue in their negativity unscathed, which causes nothing but escalation of the behavior. Second, we can draw clear boundaries without bringing threats or intimidation into the equation, and stick to these as long as the behavior remains unchanged. We also need to make clear that we are not going to accept latent liability for their actions - regardless. Then we need to extract ourselves from the relationship as gracefully as possible without taking on false feelings of guilt or shame. Much more can be said about this, and when in the situation we need to educate ourselves. By doing so, we save ourselves much unnecessary grief in life.
Have a great Wednesday !!
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