Episode 49: Learning How and How Not to Save a Person from Themselves
We want so badly to save our partner or family member from themselves and their choices. It doesn’t work like we want. We end up losing ourself and our sanity when we exhaust everything on their behalf. But there is a way to offer love, tools, and everything, in a way that heals us and helps us get stronger.
Today we're going to be talking about why it doesn't work to try and save somebody else, what our role can be in helping them and then what it needs to not be, so that we don't sacrifice our own well being whether it's emotional, spiritual, physical, any of it because what we do takes a toll. And so we have to do it clearly and with really strong, grounded intent. We have to really look at what it is we are doing and why, so that we do it in a way that can be helpful if the person chooses, but doesn't sacrifice who we are as a person.
I know that's a big topic, but it's an important one, because we tend to go the saving route. We tend to throw ourselves all in, and then we're laying on the ground feeling like we're gonna die, exhausting ourselves to the point where we can't even barely function where every hour every minute of our day is spent trying to figure out how to do this. I don't know how many times I, I said to myself, I said in prayer, I said to count my counselor, I don't know how to do this, I don't know how to do this, I would grab my head with my hands just like this, I feel insane. I don't know what I'm doing. And it was because I was trying to save the whole situation.
I was taking on the entire role of a person and their choices of saving a marriage and keeping a family together. I was putting all of that on myself. Like it's somehow I would have the ability to do all of it. And if I could I was going to. And if not, then I was going to go down trying. I thought that was a noble cause. I thought going down trying is the best thing you could do for a person. Now on one hand, I don't regret the things I tried to do. I don't regret praying my guts out for my husband. I don't regret working so hard. But in that time, I also gave so much of me away. I lost so much of myself. I had to then repair the damage. And it has taken years to do that. And it was because I took it all on as if it was mine to carry.
Had I learned some of the skills earlier of how to help somebody and pray for somebody. But at the same time allow them to decide and choose not try to force somebody not try to go Oh no, they didn't do it this time. So what can I do now to get them to do it? They're just not remembering. They're just they just don't know. They don't know what they're doing. And they don't know how and so I better do it for them. All the amount of things that I did try to make somebody else see, the way I saw; didn't do anything. It doesn't make a person see it doesn't make them choose differently. All it does is put you where you are.
It makes you feel crazy, emotional, depressed, full of anxiety, constantly on edge and hyper vigilant to do it exactly the right way. If there even is a right way, which there really isn't a right way so that you feel like you have some sort of control. I've done it the exact right way. So this is the outcome I want. And then when it doesn't happen, we fit we feel so upset. I was so distraught that my efforts didn't work in the way that I thought. So right now I'm going to read you a portion of my book cutting ties. This is from chapter two, called rise above. And I'm going to share this because this is where I learned to start seeing it different, where I couldn't take the control anymore where I had to learn to let go. So it was pretty powerful. And I thought instead of just telling you about it, I will read it straight from the book.
You can rise above all this. This was the answer I received in a dream. It had been two and a half years since that night in 2012 when my daughter and I discovered my husband's locked office door. At this point we had been attending 12 step recovery groups we found a new counselor certified in treating sex addiction and my husband had completed a 90 day inpatient treatment program. We learned that that we could only control our own personal healing and recovery not each other's. It was hard. In fact Most days were hard. Surprisingly, there were also beautiful healing days. I recall days when we felt more in love than ever before. There was something about going through hell with someone and coming out on the other side, a deep connection formed through experiencing something so painful together.
It binds you to one another. However, it only becomes a foundation if you both want to heal together. During this recovery process we had been in and out of this connection. It was pretty unsettling. One day it felt like we had arrived. And then within 24 hours, we were back to hell. I couldn't make my husband choose us, I couldn't force him to take his foot out of the other door. And at this point, I was not ready to walk away from him either. I was still fighting for us, for him, for me for something. The unknown of what leaving could look like felt too scary.
I clearly still had more to learn about how to actually submit all to God. I prayed for weeks about how to make it through this inconsistency of my husband showing so much love one day and hate so quickly after. After pouring out the feelings of my heart, realizing I had no way out, I received my answer. It came in a dream. I haven't had very many dreams, I wouldn't consider this my spiritual gift. But this is how heavenly father wanted to reach me at this time. In this dream, the Savior had his arms outstretched. My husband was with me and I looked at him and said, Take his hands. My husband took the Savior's hands. I told my husband all that I saw and wanted him to feel I said to him, look at his hands that you're holding and how strong his arms are. Look at his face. He loves you so much.
Look in his eyes. Can you feel it? Can you see his love? My husband turned from me, then back to the Lord. And then back to me again. My husband had a joyous calm expression on his face full of wonder. He said, oh, wow, I didn't realize that he loved me this much. I didn't know that he is right here, wanting to help me each and every day. I didn't know I was worth this much. He kept repeating that over and over. I didn't know. It was extremely beautiful to see the light in my husband's eyes. Throughout the dream, I joined the hand holding and we formed a circle. But I wasn't supposed to stay there. I kept moving back and letting him have this moment.
I feel that it represented that I couldn't do this for him. It was between him and the Lord and the Lord was ready and willing with each step he took. During this time, I observed from the side at eye level. But soon after I viewed the scene from above my husband's head. I kept trying to get myself to my original view. I had that feeling like when you're in water and you're trying to sink yourself down to the bottom of the pool. But you float back up anyway. I couldn't stay down at his level. I asked God, why am I above my husband's head? Why am I looking down and can only see the very top of his head yet I can still see you out in front of me?
His answer was clear. You can rise above you can rise above the pain, sadness and destruction. The prayers in your heart have been heard. It goes on to talk about some experiences I had with lying and what I could do for myself and what I could learn from that. But as it kept going. I wrote my fear has always been that if I didn't pressure my husband, he wouldn't choose recovery. What I've learned is that if he is living in recovery, he will gain all these things that I want for him on his own. He will get to a place of empathy and understanding. He will know that his actions affect others he will feel the joy of the Savior's Atonement and understand the destruction of his addiction.
Over time he will see see himself see me and see the Lord. His life will be filled with mercy, love and overflow with blessings. I knew all this could be his if he chose recovery. When I am in full save mode, I am not rising above I am not looking at it from an outside view, trying to decide in a very calm way what I'm supposed to do. When I am trying to save somebody, I am frantic, and I am looking looking looking looking. It's like I wake up every morning. It's like okay, what am I going to do today? How do I do this? Okay, where's my list I need to do is I'm going to start with prayer. And then I'm going to do this and then I'm going to I mean, it's just crazy, right?
I remember printing off pictures and putting them out so he could see them so he could be reminded of how great our life was and how great I was. And all he did was smile almost laugh like mock a little bit like he didn't even care at that moment about those pictures. He wasn't gonna remember the love that we had for each other because at that moment, I was against him. I wasn't with him in his mind. I was the enemy. And so when we're trying to save somebody, when we want the best thing for somebody, we don't just back away and do nothing, obviously, right. We look at Christ's example of going after the one or or teaching people.
We want to do that but we have to do it in a way that lets them choose for themselves. And the only way we can do that is learn to step back and not control the outcome. Hard, hard, hard, hard. I know, I know, because the outcome was so scary to me. I couldn't even imagine him letting the outcome be divorced. I couldn't imagine that that's what he would end up choosing. How could he? How could he not choose me? How could he not choose the kids? Until I learned more about addiction and how it robbed you and how you truly have to choose into recovery? I thought that that was just a crazy thing, how could he even even think about not choosing our family?
But that's just not how it works. When you forget. And it's a choice. The addiction becomes something that owns you. I get that part. But you still are going to choose whether you seek the help that you need, so that you can see clear or you're not. And so our part, because we want to talk about empowering ourselves, we want to talk about learning ourselves and being able to be safe, and Okay, and feel at peace in the most we can while going through something hard or while watching someone go through something hard. And since we can't control the outcome, how do we do it, so that we can learn for ourselves what we need to do and how we need to go about it so that we feel okay in the process and so somehow, we don't lose ourselves.
One of the main key things to do is know that whatever they choose is their, right. They get to decide for themselves what they do and what they don't do. We can make them all day long. And they will appease us at sometimes you know, some things they will that's why it's like such a fluctuation of it's the worst day. And then it's the best day Oh my gosh, he finally saw and he noticed me and he loved me and he we were with each other tonight and it was so great. And then the next day, it's the same and you're like where did that person go?
We can't be riding that wave. of Oh, good, good, good. He's back. Oh, no, now he's not what are we gonna do? Oh, good, good. He's back. That makes you crazy. And we've all done it if we've, if we are a spouse of an addict or have been a spouse of an addict. We all have done that codependent behavior, where we are bonding to the pain where we can't seem to let go so we want the pain. Trauma bonding, some some people don't like the word codependent, I don't care either way. It's more about a behavior that I'm wanting to change or learn whatever word you want to use for it is fine with me. But we want to get to the point where we can notice and observe. Where we notice, oh, they're being so great, okay, that feels good, I'm gonna let that feel good in my heart. But I'm not going to go all in that that means everything's better.
I'm going to just take it for what it is and I'm going to watch and wait. As we give the opportunities with boundaries or say this is what I will do, this is what I'm not going to do. When we set those boundaries, they may make decisions that go against us or feel hard. That doesn't mean you shouldn't be setting the boundaries. All that's doing is showing you the choices they're making. And in the end, we want to know we're safe. And if we want to feel good and stable while we try to work on a relationship, we want to know that they're in it. We want to know that they're going to do the work. We want to know that they value themselves enough to keep their commitments, and to do things that are healthy. We don't have to be in an unhealthy relationship.
I know it's like so deep ingrained in us, maybe childhood, maybe just society, maybe so many different things where we cannot imagine our life being different. We think that life will end, we think our children will suffer, we think we will suffer, we think we'll never be happy again, or we'll never find somebody that's good. Or we won't be able to financially support us. That's that's all fear based beliefs. And if we're making decisions based on our fear, then we're not keeping ourselves safe. Because we are strong, and we are courageous and we are smart. And we know deep down in our core, who we are and what we want.
We have to learn to let go of the fear part. We don't want that ruling our brain we want to be objective, and we want to be able to say, Okay, this is the way it would need to look in order for me to feel okay, in this relationship. I'm going to state if you need to, if you haven't already, to my partner, these are the things that I need. This is what I want in my life, to be able to be a happy family and a connected couple. That's all we need to do. We don't need to remind Oh, but they might have forgotten. They might forget that that's the thing I wanted. Maybe they don't remember that. I told them that I better tell them again. If they want to remember they'll remember. This is the hard part.
It's the hard truth when we hear something like they will do it if they want to. And I'm so sorry. Because it stabs in the heart it punches in the gut when you think oh, they didn't remember because they don't want to remember. Oh my goodness. I know that that's hard because it puts you not at the top of their priority list. But we're going to learn to stay objective so that we can stay healthy. When we're healthy, we make really good decisions. And we can see clear. So we want to say what we want, we want to have that known, and just watch and see what they do.
This isn't about controlling what they do, it's not about telling them to go to their meetings or telling them that they need to spend time with you or the kids, that they need to give you a break or do their responsibilities around the house or go to work and keep their job, whatever it is that the struggles are, it's not about you telling them anymore. It's about watching and seeing and then taking in as Okay, this is what they're choosing. They are grown people. So when we look at them, like they're a child, or a teenager that we have to keep telling, then we're not giving them that opportunity. And we're not treating them as an adult of someone who's totally capable of making a healthy decision.
They're capable of making a good decision, they just don't want to. So even if they seem like your teenager, or like your child doesn't mean that you need to fall into that pattern of treating them that way to where it becomes that sort of dance where they do what they want, and then you get upset, and then they kind of do something a little bit to make you feel better, but then they're doing it again, because they don't really want to change. You want to know that your partner wants to change. You want to know that they're willing to do what it takes to be a good person in the relationship and to treat the family right.
So that's one of the hardest things that is kind of like you're rising above what you've always done. You're rising above the destruction, the chaos, all the pain that they have caused by either their actions or addiction, or abuse, neglect, whatever it is that you suffer with, or are trying to work through. You want to rise above it so that you can look at it as it's like placed on a table. So you're looking at it in pieces. Okay, this is an issue right here. This is where I'm feeling sad or upset or neglected. This is what is totally not okay, infidelity, pornography, gaming all night, not going to work in keeping a job not helping with the kids, whatever. You can have those things as these don't work, this is not how a relationship is.
Those are the things you can know and you can look at from above and then you can start taking action and then noticing. And when the things don't happen, when you start seeing that the choices they're making go against everything that you have stated, that feels good in a healthy relationship, then you just start taking that in and just saying, Okay, this is the choice he's making. Wow, okay, can I live with that without changing him? Then you have a decision to make. And as you start noting those things and realizing which ones will they work on which ones won't they, you will have better a better idea of what you need.
Because when you look at it objectively, you start healing, you start letting go of the grasp. So you're not grasping and grasping, Oh, I can't I can't let this happen. I can't let this happen, then then when we let go of that fear, we're like, okay, I didn't want it to be this way, but I can do this. Or maybe you'll notice that they're doing part of it, but just not the other part. And so you're like, Okay, I see that there are some improvements, and there's some change, and that feels good. And the ones that haven't changed yet, I can still watch a little while longer and see. And maybe that'll that will totally be all it takes.
The other thing that's important is to stay doing your work consistently. Whether it is meeting with a counselor, attending an online group or a group in person for 12 step or for a women's group have some kind of support group for what it is that you're currently going through. Whether you are working with me or someone like me, whether you are attending retreats, or any sort of thing where you're getting support from people that get it, people who are actually trying to heal from hard things, then you will be able to continue to create the space for yourself, have the tools that you need, so that you can change.
Because even though we want them to change, nothing will get better, nothing improves if you don't change as well. In relationships like this, it's not just the one person. Both of us have to figure out what it is that we believe in what we think how we feel, the false beliefs we have about ourselves, or what we're supposed to do our role in saving somebody, we have to change those things. We have to learn new ways of doing things if we want the outside to change, otherwise nothing changes. And if we're here right now saying I want things to change, I want to feel better. It has to start within you. And when you do that, that's when you can make the list. That's when you can set the boundaries. That's when you can let go of the outcome because you're healing you so much That you don't want it any other way that you can no longer live the way you have before.
There's nothing wrong with that. It's okay to change we're supposed to change we're supposed to grow. You think about reading, you think about learning how to read when you're a child, right. And, how fun it is and how but it's hard, and it's stressful. And it's, it's scary. But if you were learning how to read right now, as an adult, you would be furious, it would be like, this is the hardest thing I've ever done, it would be frustrating and overwhelming, and there'd be a lot of tears and like a lot of throwing of books or turning off computers, because it's like, I can't even do this, there's no way I'm going to learn how to do this. But learning it opens your entire world to new opportunities.
You know already that knowing how to read is a huge eye opening experience. It expands your life so much more than if you never learned. So it's the same type of thing. We're learning something new that we've never done before. It's a new language, it's learning to read a new way. So of course, it's going to be hard and frustrating. And of course, you're going to go backwards. And of course, you're going to do it, do it wrong sometimes and mess it up. It's okay, you're going to open the book again, and you're going to start reading again. You're going to learn it, because the world outside of it the world right past it is open, so big of opportunity. And you don't want to miss out.
You don't want to miss out on who you are, who your family is who you're going to become. You don't want to miss out on the good things ahead because you decided you don't want to learn how to do it because it feels too hard and too scary. You will miss out on so much if you stay stuck in your own head in your own heart in your own space. You want to be different. That's why it's so important. That's why you can do the work that can hopefully lead to somebody saving themselves. But you can't actually save them. You can't do so much when they won't. It's awesome when we have somebody that wants to do the work. And we're supporting them. So we're doing our work and they're doing theirs. And we're supporting them when they do it. Because we're healing ourselves and your healing together. That's the whole goal.
But we don't get to decide if somebody else chooses to heal. We only get to decide if we do. It's the best thing that I ever did, is learning to heal. Doing my own work, even if my husband at that time wasn't. Mine led to divorce. And I know many of you are like, not happening. I'm doing that. I promise you I said the same thing. This is not going to happen. I will not be somebody that's been divorced. I will not, that will not happen to me. It's impossible. That's a really strong belief. And that kept me hanging on for longer than I should have, because I couldn't let go of that belief that it had to be that way. I am so free now. Are there heartache? Yes. Is it hard to split up kids? Yes. And holidays. There's things.
There's opposition and everything in life. But to feel so good, in my own self and my own soul waking up every day is so worth it. It's the reading concept. It's like I had no idea I could feel this way. That's what I want for you. I want you to feel good and learn how to take care of you so that everything you offer to somebody else you can put there. But then you can let them decide you don't have to be in control of that. Because it's a busy, busy job, just healing yourself. So if you're trying to, to take care of you, and another adult, trying to manage them, as well as nurturing your children, if you have children, or having a career, whatever it is, it's a lot.
We need to let go of things that are not our job. And just take on the things that are. It's going to be complicated when you first try to let go of saving somebody. It's going to be scary. But just know that as you get stronger, you'll be able to see how to do it and how to do the next step. But you've got to keep going. It is totally worth it. Don't you ever just go oh my gosh, I just want to feel okay, I just want to feel peace. I just want to feel good again. Maybe you are divorced already. And maybe you don't have another significant other or in a relationship at this time. And it feels so lonely. Of course it does. Of course it does.
Do your healing work, keep doing it. As things and tools come into your life that you're supposed to take part in, whether it is counseling again, whether it is a group or working with me or whatever, whatever nudges you. You have to take the opportunity you have to open up that book to learn something new so that you can free yourself. You don't always have to feel this heavy burden on your shoulders. And this heavy pain in your heart and soul that you don't know how to do this or you don't know what to do or nothing will ever get better. If you don't keep going and keep walking and keep learning, then it can't get better.
It takes work and effort, but everything in life does. It doesn't have to consume you. But you do need to take the time every day to take care of you. Take care of your emotional needs, your spiritual needs, your physical needs. Remember that you're worth it. Take care of you in a way that you are the greatest vessel and person that you have, and take care of you in a way that is like you would take care of someone or something that you love more than anything in the world. Take care of you that way. Even if you don't quite like yourself right now. Take care of yourself as if you did. Even state those affirmations that I love that I love myself so much. This feels so much better loving myself than when I did it. Wow. I love this.
This is so amazing to love myself so much. It feels so good. Remember when we did that last week? Just put your hands on your heart and be like, I love myself so much. I love that I made it this far. I can't believe I'm past this. I'm over the bridge, I made it through the trauma. And here I am free. Visualize yourself as that person that you already made it that you already did it and it will help you. It will help you take the steps every day. Say that to yourself as many times as you need to in a day. You're doing it. I'm so proud of you. You keep going you keep trying and you remember to take care of you. There's nothing more important right now than taking care of you and healing you. Because when you heal you, you can help those around you. Try hard this week to do that and I'll see you next time.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai