The compulsions of helping someone who can’t help themselves
I have a relative who I have never liked very much. I made a vow over the past year to try harder to just be able to talk to him. I had put that into practice and had made some progress.
Now he is facing the end of his life and I have a choice of how I want to behave. I want to be helpful, but I struggle because of my feelings about him.
My two temptations are to be judgmental and to be controlling. His situation has been brought on by the choices he made in life, choices that seem really bad in retrospect. If I am judgmental, that doesn’t help anyone except to make me feel good. It won’t change the past but may create more bad feelings between us. That isn’t what I want.
The other temptation to be controlling is to attempt to tell him what to do. Because of both my education and my work, I do know some things that most people don’t about what he will have to deal with. It’s tempting to me to tell him what to do. And his response when I make suggestions encourages my controlling behavior.
But I need to remember that he needs to be in control of his life, that these are his choices. I don’t get to decide for him.
I’ve decided that what I want to do is to learn how to love him. It’s hard because of who we both are and because of our history. But that’s the person I want to be, so I am going to try. I keep thinking about the post that I wrote a while ago about how love is action. I need to hold onto that.