It Crushes Me To Keep Watching This…

It’s so hard to be in the world, in community, in family with people you love and to watch them continuously make destructive emotional decisions. I’m not going to offer any specifics here, and I’m certainly not interested in increasing any drama, but I’ve gotta say something about this feeling, because it’s got me so wound up. As I watch people in my life repeatedly fall into patterns in their conflicts with other people, repeatedly wrap themselves in denial and anger to protect themselves from what really are self-inflicted, insecure fantasies, I feel like I’ve run out of things to do. I start to shake quietly as a crawl into bed, I feel helpless and childlike…sometimes I just wish I could step out of this life completely and play carefree like when I was little. But I can’t, and so I try to act, to state my case, to share my advice for best courses of action…to set boundaries and ultimatums in order to influence behavior…and sometimes I think it works…and then it all just falls apart again.

I’m tired of watching this same car crash into the same wall dozens and dozens of times. I’m tired of seeing people I love hurt themselves like this, and so often so pointlessly. But when you love them, and you want to accompany them, what do you do? I’m not a tough love person, or a cold shoulder person. I have zero interest in losing more people from my life. But what are the other strategies? What do you when the survival strategies, the coping strategies, the defenses of people who you love go in strong contradiction to your own beliefs and values?

I feel like the answer from so many people in the activist community is distance. Space. Boundaries. Self-care. Because that’s my own cultural context, I tend to jump to these ideas first, too. But they are so wrapped up in individualism, detachment, entitlement, privilege, isolation…those solutions feel so incomplete to me. I’ve responded to so many issues in my life with detachment and distance, and lately I’ve found so much more hope and happiness with presence and engagement…but what do I do when my engagement get’s met with hostility one minute and warmth the next? What is the line between presence and accommodation or enabling?

I think I’ve said enough. I don’t know if this is even a useful post or just venting…but I think enough people have similar struggles that I hope you at least feel a little less alone with your own problems when you read it.

P.S. Don’t worry…I’ll be okay. Just frustrated right now.

Currently Reading:

-Dispersing Power by Raul Zibechi