Tuesday, May 08, 2007


Yesterday was a day filled with more drama with V. Drinking. Passing out. More excuses. More broken promises.

I broached a subject with D that I've avoided in the past because somehow I felt the need to give her hope, to always make her "feel" better.

I told her yesterday that until V accepts personal responsibility for his condition, it will never change and until she accepts her responsibility in enabling him to continue on this way, it will never change. It isn't what she wanted to hear and she didn't take it very well.

A year from now, it will be the same recriminations, the same drama, the same patterns. Over and over and over again. Finally, she will be broke and broken and there will be no final answer, no epiphany, no discovery of an ultimate meaning. Just a tragedy.

In my mind, that is what tragedy is all about. It is people being blown by the wind in all directions with no answers. It's people not telling each other the truth, even when it may not be what someone wants to hear.

When I look back on my own life, I've made a lot of mistakes. I feel no urgency to reveal all of them here but there are enough to allow me to see my own complicity and to ultimately have to take responsibility for having created many of the circumstances.

I remember when I really got it that I get to choose. Due to a multitude of conditions, I never really believed in my own ability to choose anything. I felt victimized by the tides, by the vicissitudes of life itself. I'd become fairly comfortable with that role.

My best friend in Minneapolis walked me through one of my dramas several years ago and finally said, "You know, you can choose to do things differently." It was like being hit in the head with a hammer. At first, I wanted to argue with her, to tell her that I wasn't stupid enough to be choosing these things that surrounded me. I wanted to believe that she was just being irritable or nasty with me because she, like everyone else, didn't really understand.

She understood a lot! And she told me the truth whether I wanted to hear it or not.

The more I thought about what she said, I was able to see a panoramic view of my own past and the results that came from the choices I'd made. Granted, some things just happened. They had nothing to do with anyone's choice. Life. Sometimes it sucks. And I'm not one of those who believes that we choose everything. Most things though.. well... we do.

I finally found the freedom I have now by being willing to take a hard look at what choices I make and how they've impacted my life. Some of my choices I stand by, even though the results are not optimal. I do know that knowing the power of choice is something that gives my life a meaning and a texture that it wouldn't have otherwise.

I know this is also true for V. He is going to have to own his circumstances one day. There will be no change until he is willing to be responsible for that. It's easier to be a victim. I know that from experience. It's less work, less soul-searching, less choice-making, fewer consequences. It's not that hard to sit still. There's no growth in stasis.

From now on, I'm not buying into this drama around here. If V chooses to change, if he chooses to do things differently, I'll break my ass to help him.

Until that time... I choose to detach from it.




Tabba said...

Wise decision, Chani. So true...that if you are not part of the solution...

Anonymous said...

I think it was brave of you to risk telling V something that you knew she wouldn't want to hear. Friends that tell us the truth are the ones we really need.

And sometimes, for some people (like me), a little support is a necessary part of the process of change. Because I'm finding that it's really hard for me to break patterns, to change the neural pathways and break the old, addictive ones.

thailandchani said...

Tabba, I don't think I can be part of her solution. Maybe she'll think a bit though.


De, I think support is absolutely essential. Anyone who says they don't need it is lying to themselves. So many of the choices we make are a result of habit rather than consideration. That's where the challenge comes in, I guess. It's a willingness to break habits that no longer serve us well.




Anvilcloud said...

It's always hard to tell someone the truth and even harder to hear it. I'm glad you heard it and maybe D will. Can you share your story with her like you do with us? If she truly understands that come form a similar and aren't just preaching ... Well, you never know.

thailandchani said...

Anvil, probably not. One of the characteristics they share is a high degree of self-involvement. They are not that interested in other people. The best I can hope for is that she grasped the principle. :)



jen said...

good for you.

choice, that bastard..always lurking around and waiting for us to notice he's there.

waiting for us.

MsLittlePea said...

That is a good choice. It's one I've had to make myself because of my friend's alcohol problem. Only a real friend has the ability to really tell the truth. And sometimes we are put off by it-like you were, like D was. But what you said, she'll remember and hopefully take it to heart and mind. I think you did the right thing. D must already know the truth anyway, it probably shocked her to have someone just say it out loud.

meno said...

I wonder if V will ever be forced to accept the results of his choices, or if he will kill his mother and them himself first.

How sad, how utterly sad.

You are a god friend. I hope D can hear you, but i am not hopeful.

Citymouse said...

wise, hard, good

Anonymous said...

I recently realized that I have choices, choices with regards to my anger and how I express it, my mood, what I think, how I feel, everything really. It's scary and liberting all at the same time.

It's hard watching a train wreck, knowing there's very little you can do to stop it. You can tell your friend things but you can't make her believe them. It think detachment is a wise choice for you.

slouching mom said...

Spot on, Chani. I think you are being very wise here.

QT said...

I agree with mslittlepea - on some level D has to know some of this already. To hear it vocalized made it all the more real to her, I think, that she can choose to not be a victim in this instance.

And some people are very attached to their roles. I include myself in that statement.

Lucia said...

Oh. Yes.

crazymumma said...

Sometimes the best friend is the one who hold s the mirror up and makes you face the truth.

You are a brave woman.

flutter said...

I've been so incredibly proud of you these days

Julie Pippert said...

Awesome and timely topic.

You know, she is lucky in you, your support, and also your willingless to challenge. Mary at Life, the Universe and Everything just put up an interesting post that segues between this post and your female friendship post. She talks about the Celtic idea of soul friendships. One point is to present a tough idea when needed.

Maybe they will both take this opportunity.

Maybe at least one of them knows she needs to, but is held back by something even she can't explain.

Sometimes the choosing and the change is scarier than teh bad place that gets worse.

I really haven't ever gotten that.

It was always easy for me to see choice and make it. I can and will make a change.

Then I grew up more and realized changing circumstance is only altering the set. Much harder to change characters.

Excellent points you make. Good to ponder.

hel said...

It also changed my life when I realized, REALY realized that I have choice.

I sort of knew it before but I did not realise it extended to respecting myself and not being a martyr. And everyday I am grateful for that moment.

It is wonderful to be able to take responsibility for my life. It gives me the power to learn, grow and be happy and proud to be me.

I hope D makes this realization too. And until she does I hope things are not too rough for you. All the conflict must be stressful.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I fear that V will continue to destroy himself and his mother because no one is forcing him to account for himself. Inertia applies in all things; he has set this course for himself and D's actions demonstrate that she will continue to enable him to the end.

I am not hopeful for them, but I'm glad that you choose to detach from the endless drama since you can't help those who do not want to be helped.

Their dynamic was set long before you came into their lives. They have no idea how to relate to each other differently, and they apparently have no interest in trying anything new.

You have to assume, then, that this situation works for them.

Pam said...

Unless people are ready to face a situation there is nothing to be done. I think your are right in backing away. You'll be close enough to help if they really want it, distant enough to not go down with the ship.

Cecilieaux said...

Regarding captchas, I just unpassworded my blog

Snoskred said...

I think sometimes in situations like this people do not really realise what resources are out there for them. It reminds me of a friend of mine who was in a relationship where there were too many unexplained bruises. None of us really wanted to outright say to her that we thought she was being beaten up but we all asked similar questions and didn't really get clear enough answers. Until one day and one trip to the emergency room too many, two different friends gave her brochures on resources for people in domestic violence situations, she spoke to us and asked for advice, we all told her to get out, and together we all planned to show up there after her partner left for work the next day. By the time he got home, she and all her stuff were gone.

In anything in life, if we don't know better it is difficult to make the right choices. I spend a great deal of each day sending out email warnings to potential scam victims and a lot of people think it's a waste of time, people should be aware of these scams and if they fall for them it's because they are stupid or greedy - I know better. It's because they've never been told about the scams. Even very educated people who have high paying jobs fall for them.

New people get on the internet, and they get this email telling them they've won lotto, and they know nothing about computers or that this is a scam, and the next thing you know they're paying money to the scammers to get their winnings. And the way these scams work, it's never thousands of dollars you have to pay right off the bat, it might be a few hundred dollars, which sounds reasonable, right, to get millions? But then they ask you for more fees, and more fees, and once you have invested the first amount its hard to walk away from it.

I think there's a possibly lesson in that when you relate it back to the situation you are in. You've invested in this situation. You've been a good friend for a long time to D, and it is really difficult to back away from what is going on there, even if it is just a retreating behind your doors thing. But V is like a black hole you can get pulled into and once you're invested it is so hard to step back. Really the only thing you can do is be as supportive and there for D and offer her information on resources which do exist both for her and for V.

And finally just because I can, a West Wing quote which helped me to understand something I didn't understand before. Maybe it'll help make some sense of V's behaviour. It's from the episode Bartlet for America and Leo McGarry says -
"I'm an alcoholic. I don't have one drink. I don't understand people who have one drink. I don't understand people who leave half a glass of wine on the table. I don't understand people who say they've had enough. How can you have enough of feeling like this?
How can you not want to feel like this longer? My brain works differently."

Susanne said...

"I remember when I really got it that I get to choose."

That's a great moment to have. And I know how that can turn your whole life around.

Detachment seems a good thing in that situation with V and D.