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We Can Only Do What We Can Do

By Ox Drover

I was thinking about a blog post and reply that had gone on between another poster and myself on Lovefraud about trying to “help” others see the “light” and get away from their own personal psychopath.

I mulled over what I had done in my life in trying to “fix” others by coming up with a solution that they could take to ease their pain from their prior bad choices. I would wrack my brain up and down, left and right, to try to come up with a “plan” that would help these people “fix” whatever mess they got into of their own free will.

Some people would call this “co-dependent” and others would call this “enabling.” Whatever term you want to apply to it, I called it “helping,” but the bottom line is that this behavior on my part was not “helping” these people, it was me trying to take responsibility for the consequences of their bad choices or bad behavior.

Many times these people would say “That’s a good idea, but …” and would not take my very best suggestion that I was sure would work. So, as a consequence, I would get frustrated at them or angry with them for being so stubborn or stupid! (How arrogant of me!)

Other times, they would take part of my wonderful solution and it would not work because they didn’t use all of it, and then they would get mad at me for giving them such bad advice. It was all my fault because it didn’t work and they were still hurting.

The point is, that they got into the fix in the first place, and it is not my responsibility to get them out. I am not “helping” them by trying to take over running their life. I can, if they are willing, support them by saying “Boy, you must be feeling bad/sad/mad about that situation.” That is validating their feelings and is a true statement and is supportive.

Suggestions on Lovefraud

Even here on Lovefraud when we give “advice” about what we would do or what idea we think would work, it should be on our part, a suggestion if asked, or noted as our opinion. We all must make our own choices, our own decisions, and live with the consequences. Lovefraud is a supportive place, and the people here are very validating because they too have lived through the chaos with a psychopath in one way or another.

Sometimes we have bloggers come here for advice and we freely give it, and those bloggers do not take our advice, they make excuses for their dysfunctional relationship with a presumably dysfunctional or psychopathic person and stay with or go back to that person, or in some cases, go into another dysfunctional relationship. Of course we are disappointed that that was their choice, but it was their choice. We have not failed when they do not take our advice. It is not our fault that they did not get away from the danger.

We can still feel empathy for these people, but we should not feel that we are failures because our compassion and/or advice was ignored. We can only do what we can do.

Can’t save the unwilling

Back “before enlightenment” I used to feel really badly if my advice was refused or didn’t work, but I think I have turned a corner in my compassionate nature and in my desire to assist or help someone in their recovery from entanglement in dysfunctional relationships. I no longer feel that it is my responsibility to “save” someone if they are not willing to give it all they have got as well.

To use an analogy of swimming, my late husband was a very experienced swimmer and a lifeguard certification instructor. He had a situation once where he had a victim trapped inside a turned over helicopter in the water. Every time he would swim down to try to rescue the man, the man was hysterical and kept trying to pull him under with him. My husband quickly saw the situation and went back to the surface until there were no more bubbles coming out from the water. Then he went back to get the unconscious man and brought him to the surface. If my husband had tried to rescue the man while he was still consciously fighting him, they would have both died. By waiting until it was safe to do so, my husband saved them both.

When we are trying to “save” someone who is floundering in the flood waters of a miserable and dysfunctional relationship and they are asking for help, yet fighting that help at the same time, sometimes we can only wait until they are no longer fighting the help we offer them. We must firmly set a boundary that “I will not allow your problems to drag me under as well.”

My late husband wanted to rescue that man, but he was not willing to let the man pull him under as well, and he set a boundary. “Until you stop fighting me, I am not going to come back.” What would my husband have felt if after he did pull up the man and the man could not be revived and he was dead? I don’t know, of course, for sure, but my bet, knowing my husband, is that he would not have spent the rest of his life grieving for not having rescued that man in time. He would have said, I think, “I did the best I could, but I couldn’t let him pull me under and drown me as well.”

I have tried unsuccessfully to rescue my psychopathic offspring and my enabling maternal DNA donor, and for years let them pull me under the “water” until I nearly drowned in the process. Every time I would “fail” to rescue them because they fought me tooth and nail, I felt guilty, I felt inadequate, I felt that I had failed, and threw myself right back into the water of despair. Now, I realize I can’t rescue them against their wills, and I am no longer willing to risk my own life to try to do so. I can’t help them, and they won’t allow me to rescue them. I no longer feel disappointed, sad, grief-stricken or inadequate because of that. They have the choice to swim if they want to, and I have the choice not to risk my life in a futile attempt to save them from themselves. The best part of it all now is, though, that I no longer castigate myself for “failing” to rescue them. I no longer feel guilty or inadequate for their choices. I can let them be responsible for themselves and I am responsible for myself. That is freedom; that is peace. We can only do what we can do.



89 Comments on "We Can Only Do What We Can Do"

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  1. OxDrover says:

    Dear BoPeep,

    I do know making the decision to leave is a monumentual one, and I had to give up everything I had worked for for the last 25 years…I have since been able to return to my home in RELATIVE safety, but still live with CAUTION.

    I don’t know how old your children are, and how your P gets along with them, etc. but I can guarentee that living with him won’t do them any good turn. It also may be that he will use the kids as a battering ram to hurt you, that is a frequent trick of the psychopaths if you discard them.

    I DO know that FOR ME, the price was TOO high to continue to play “let’s pretend we are a nice normal family” when in fact we were ANYTHING BUT! My youngest biological child is a full blown psychopath in prison for murder, and at one point the ONLY family I had supporting me was my adopted son. My oldest biological son has now (after his P-wife and her P-BF tried to kill him) come around to realize that I was not out to make his life miserable and that his wife was indeed DANGEROUS (more so than even I knew). So at least I have salvaged two of my three sons. There was no guarentee that any of us can end up with ANY family though, sometimes we lose even that, but still I don’t think the price is too high to get PEACE and CALM in our lives.

    It turns out that those we “lose” are generally either not worth keeping in the first place, or they are just duped by the Ps and we cannot make them see the truth because it is too painful for them to accept it and they stay in denial.

    DO stay around here, please. There is so much great information and support here. This place saved my sanity if not my life! (((hugs))) and always prayers



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  2. Easy says:

    Before you get a Flu shot check this out ! You will notice a N word used that we use here all the time! Spread the Information as you will not see this on TV. except in the comercials!

    http://www.wanttoknow.info/summaries

    Under Health, The title should have been WEALTH



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  3. banana says:

    Why would someone supossedly well-meaning say, “As long as this a88hole is in your life you will never have any friends or reationships, theyw ill not want to deal with him.”

    I asked this “friend” of mine and she said “Its the truth, you are so used to people telling you what you want to hear.”

    I beg to differ, I take the construction criticism well. I may not apply it the next day, but I take it in and mull it around, mix with other advice and use it when I can or when the situation begs.

    But this, this comment I don’t get…it’s like I chose to marry a S/P!!!!



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  4. shabbychic says:

    banana… I suppose “well-meaning” would be the key words here. My sister gives me advice and I feel like she is bashing me in the head. They just don’t get it. I think the part about “you are so used to people telling you what you want to hear” is a strange thing to say, that is really out in left field! All in all it sounds like a very mean thing to say, but I don’t really know all the circumstances involved.



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  5. ANewLily says:

    Banana, I can give you one answer from my own experience. This person was trying to warn you of a possible consequence of your decision to stay with him. I sure wish someone had warned me like that. I only heard of this warning AFTER I had left and people apologized for not tellling me sooner what they thought. I can’t tell you how many people told me “after the fact” that they had always liked me but their husbands would have nothing to do with him. But, I sure did wonder why we were rarely invited to weddings or other gatherings that included couples!!!!!!

    I would assume this person is well-meaning friend. She was being brave enough to tell you what she knew you didn’t want to hear.

    I would hazard a guess that if you are still with him, you are still in the FOG and probably can’t hear what is really going on yet. That is NO reflection on you or any fault of yours. It’s just the condition these “bad guys” put us in to keep us confused and controlled. Often it takes distance from them to have the “light” turn on. It did for me. Can you get away for a few days — 3 nights at a hotel or something — to sort things out with a clearer mind?

    As far as your taking this last comment as an accusation that it was your fault you “chose” to marry him. Is it because you might have some unwarranted guilt that it is your fault you chose him? I ask because I went through that stage.

    However, we DIDN’T chose them. They chose US because they wanted our goodness for themselves. Pure and simple.

    I pray I have not been too bold to say these things. My heart is breaking for you — because I’ve “been there, done that.”

    Love and blessings to you!!!



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  6. ANewLily says:

    Shabbychic, we must have both been typing a response to Banana at the same time.

    I sure didn’t mean to counter your opinion! Banana’s “friend” may indeed have just been being nasty or mean.

    What I wrote is just my own experience concerning her questions. I guess I’m reminded that perceptions are indiviual and usually are not right or wrong.

    What do you think?



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  7. ErinBrockovich says:

    Bananna:
    I don’t think this friend is doing you an injustice by telling you this.
    I do believe it’s the god honest 100% truth that only she is willing to step up and say.
    It’s true…..no one like drama, conflict…..(Aside from S’s)….but normal people….think of the people in your life that always have a problem…..ou just can’t get away from it.
    Human nature states that people do disappear from our drama filled S lives when they have had enough. They are no longer interested and WE are NOT doing anything about it.
    Even when we do leave, people drop like flies.
    People don’t wish to be involved. It tends to be long term.

    When i was sick, and the S wasn’t around….support came from far and wide…….the minute the S showed back up…..My phone stopped ringing and door stopped knocking…..
    No one wanted to be around the S. It was uncanny how this worked…..
    I needed support and help, as I was ‘hostage’ in my home and body……but it was just too much, too stressful for anyone to take, so they all allowed themselves to believe teh S was taking care of me.
    Not the case……BUT…..none the less…..it’s just human nature…..
    No explanation, no changing it……
    We will lose friends if we have chaotic and drama filled relationships……WE tend to live in a fantasy and think others dont see it….but they DO!
    My BEST FRIEND, watched all 28 years of my bad decisions with the S…….she remained my friend, but it was apparant at certain times in our relationship that she pulled away…..she would tell me over and over….he’s not going to change, Are you going to wait until your 60 and then see it? I heard it for YEARS… I did hear it…..but I hoped ‘she didn’t know him like I DID”……
    One day……I heard her words and they meant something….I heard them verbatum…….
    She was right……..I am so glad she stuck with me, but I know it was so hard for her to watch the abuse and my denial.
    In fact, during the times when I would call her and say…..I’d had enought….
    she would say back…..no you haven’t…..your not going to leave him…..
    She says now….it was a challenge.
    Now and only now is she convinced, there is no going back!
    But…..I believe your friend is not being mean to you……I think they are being a true friend and I would heed the advice.
    It’s the truth as I have lived it.
    Good luck…..
    XXOO



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  8. ErinBrockovich says:

    Oh yeah…..
    What NewLily said was so true…..
    People said to me (after the fact) the same thing….
    We really like you erin, but your husband just creeped us out.
    All the while, I thought everyone LOVED him! That was sure the appearance they gave.
    I have heard all sorts of stories about what poeple thought or saw him do……and no one told me……
    BUT…..I’m pretty sure if they had of told me, I would have defended him like I always did…..they probably knew this…..and kept quiet.
    Again…..not to get involved……not to make waves….etc….
    I had so many people in the past 3 years tell me about his ‘other lifestyle’, and say…..WE THOUGHT YOU KNEW……
    UH, NO…..I had no idea!!!!
    But yes…..your friends do disappear, no couples adventures/dinners/gatherings……because no one wants to be dominated by the S’s.



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