Day 8: You can’t save someone who wants to drown when you can’t swim

Today I am faced with recognizing that I cannot save the people I love. Now, I know that on a rational level but in my heart it has been hard to accept. It has been my deepest regret, my biggest sadness and greatest anger at myself. When I was 14 I went to a party with a friend. Parities to me were only fun if dancing or food were involved and this was a strictly drink only party. I was bored and so I left to get a sandwich down the street. I sat on the sidewalk eating my sandwich and waited for my friend whom I had come with. Why I didn’t just leave, I don’t know. But maybe I was watching out for her, trying to protect her or maybe I didn’t want to go home alone, either way I stayed until the cops came. I saw the cars coming down the street with their flashing lights. Curfew in Chicago is 10pm for anyone under age. I dropped my sandwich and ran to the party. I quickly found my friend and told her we had to get out of there because the cops were coming. As we got to the door, they were there blocking the exit. They stopped me and asked my age. I lied (of course!) and said 18. When they asked me the year I was born, I was caught. My friend, the one I tried to save… she walked right past them as they interrogated me. I was terrified. They put me in the back of the cop car and away we went. I didn’t know what to do. I began to cry.  We arrived at the station and they put me in a cell with some other people from the party. My mother was away out of the country (luckily!) and my friend who I had tried to save, who has a nice mother came and got me. She ended up saving me.

That experience was not the last of it’s kind. It is a pattern I have repeated throughout my life. It is a pattern I recognize in many of my clients, our self-punishment for not saving someone else. We all want to save someone. We want to save them from the pain they are feeling.  But you cannot make anyone feel better. You can support them and guide them but it is still their choice what they feel and what they do. It is something we must accept. This is not easy! But we can help but lighting the way forward, by shinning our light, by loving ourselves and inspiring others to do so. How could I have helped my friend when I was not brave enough to go home myself. How could I have helped her when I couldn’t help myself.

Today in an act of loving myself, I will forgive myself and love my friends and family with all their choices. I will accept myself as I am with all of my choices.8

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