How do you help someone that doesn’t want to be helped? How can you help someone who doesn’t listen to you? The person is your best friend, a brother or a sister, a boyfriend or a girlfriend, someone you share a deep, personal connection with. You want to be there for them always, to have their back, to let them know that everything will, in fact, be all right contrary to everything they might think or believe in that moment. You want to help them understand that while their life has taken a bumpy, gravel side road, it is an often traveled road and they are not alone. They are not the first to stumble in life, and they certainly won’t be the last. You want to help them get back on their feet, find their footing, and climb out of that hole they feel they fell into.
You never answered my question. How do you help someone that doesn’t want to be helped?
Yes, I understand that the little things help and it’s your never ending support and faith that they need. I’m not saying you can’t do that. What I’m saying is that every once and awhile you need to put your foot down and make them realize they have find the happiness in themselves that they deserve to have. They need to learn to fight for themselves rather than you helping them through it all the time. Otherwise, how will they learn to get back up after each fall? They’ll come to rely on you for everything, and in the beginning that might be all well and fine, but before long, it’s going to take its toll on you. But that’s not good for them. They need to realize they have the strength in him/herself to pull themselves up out of that hole. Their feet still work to keep them moving, they can, indeed, see the good in the world if only they choose to open their eyes. They can open their ears to songs of the world that nature chooses to sing. They can feel the warmth of the sun, the love of those closest to them and know their heart will heal in time. They just have to open themselves up to the possibility that is life.
It’s hard for someone who has never experienced such a thing to really understand. Take me, for instance. I’m not a crier nor am I an emotional person. I don’t get attached to people easily. I tend to be a bit naive and believe nearly anything people tell me to be true. I want to believe in the good of everyone, and I have no trouble giving people chance after chance to redeem themselves. This makes it easy for people to push me around and walk all over me. I started getting used to the idea that I’d never really get what I wanted in life because I was too busy trying to keep everyone else happy. Love? As if I’d ever get that. I was too used to the guys I hung around telling me what I wanted to hear in the hopes to get in my pants. And when I wouldn’t let them, they moved on to greener pastures. I figured I was worth more than some pretty words. But as I got older and everyone else around me had fallen in and out of love so many times, I wondered what was wrong with me.
Before this summer, I had never been depressed in my life. There are a lot of different stimuli in my life for such a thing to happen to me, but I found an abundance of happiness from my own heart and love from those around me that I never lost sight of what was most important. It wasn’t until I fell in love that I experienced a pain unlike anything else I had ever experienced.
It happened quickly enough. I fell hard and fast. I knew in the first week that he was special. He was different from all the others. I’m not going to talk about the dating life we had. That’s not important to the story I want to tell. What I want to talk about is the break up.
I will say that he was a depressed person. And before him, I hadn’t ever really experienced it first hand like that before. My brother is depressed, but he keeps everything to himself as he always has. He doesn’t like to talk to us about his feelings because he thinks it’s burdening us. No matter how many times I tell him that or call him up to talk about how he’s doing, he refuses to open up. I keep hoping that the next time I talk to him, that’ll be the day he finally lets me in. My best friend is also depressed. But it took her awhile to let me in with it, too.
With him, it was different. He warned me about it right away. Told me what I was getting into. That he’d hurt me. I wasn’t deterred at all. I could handle it. I wanted to be that support that I felt he needed. I didn’t know if he had anyone else to lean on, so I tried to be understanding when he’d tell me how he was better off alone, how he wanted to just pick up and leave, never look back, and never tell anyone. Not even me. I tried not to let it show how much it hurt when he told me I deserved better. Who was he to tell me what I deserved. Didn’t I have a say in what I wanted? I hadn’t most of my life, so why should that be different, now? Besides, no matter what I told him, it didn’t seem to change his view. I never let him see the tears that would fall the moment he told me he tried to overdose on some pills after we’d fight. I don’t think he ever really understood how badly that cut me. For me to feel like I was the cause of him trying to OD. What if he had succeeded and killed himself? I’d be thinking it was because of me. But I didn’t want to tell him how much any of these things hurt because that would only add more negativity to his plate. So I swallowed it, bit back my pride, and smiled. I smiled when I hurt so badly on the inside, but as soon as I’d see his face, the hurt and pain would melt away, and I’d be filled with such love. I can’t describe properly how much I loved him, and it was because of that love that I let him hurt me. I wanted to be his support. And I felt as though I wouldn’t be supporting him if I told him to suddenly stop telling me what he was really feeling. I texted him every day just to make sure he was still here since I didn’t get to see him more than day or two per week.
Breaking up is always hard. No book, no movie, no story could prepare me for the pain and anguish that I was to face. I’ll probably remember that day for as long as I live. I went shopping at a second hand store with some friends and was trying on old lady clothes for the hell of it because what 22 year old doesn’t play dress up in the old lady clothes? I had a friend snap some pictures of me in different outfits and I sent my favorite to him. That’s when it started. That was the catalyst. For the rest of the day and through the Star Trek: Into Darkness movie in theaters myself and a bunch of friends went to, he texted me about how we shouldn’t be together anymore. It was best for me. I deserved better. All the things I had heard for ten months, only now, nothing I said would fix it. Nothing I did would change his mind. He was deadset on his decision. I sat there in the theater bawling like a newborn baby surrounded by strangers who probably wanted to kick me out. But where would I go? Out into the hall where everyone out there could see while my friends watched the movie? Yup. That is where i went.
No one is a pretty crier, but I feel I was especially ugly. It was one of those hideous sobs that go over the whole body and make you violently shake and sob and the harder you try to calm yourself down the harder you sob and the less air you’re taking in so suddenly you’re unable to breath and you’re scared you won’t ever again. Snot was coming out of my nose, and my eyes were puffy and red. I have never in my whole, entire, 22 years have ever cried that hard. I had no idea that’s what it was like. And i wasn’t even in the comfort of my own bed to wallow in my misery. No, I was right where scores of people were exiting the theater to leave or just coming in. I couldn’t go into the car or wait outside. I had nowhere to go. So my pain and agony was front and center for everyone to bear witness to.
The worst of it though was that this was all his doing, his plan, his idea and he was saying how he never felt worse, how he might not make it, he didn’t see why life was worth living. And I tried my damnedest to console him. To tell him everything would be okay. But I was crying so hard, I couldn’t get any words out. And then it was his turn to comfort me. He kept trying to tell me that things were going to be okay. That I’d be alright. But how would I ever be alright when he was the one threatening to kill himself? In the days after the break-up, I was comforting him. We talked almost every day if not every other. I had to see him at work and pretend everything was okay. I had no time to really grieve. He would come and see me and every time he left, I laid in bed wondering if that was the last time. I’d wake up every morning, and my first thoughts always went to him. Would today be the day I got the call? But I couldn’t text him. Not as often as I wanted to make sure he was still alive, that he would in fact wake up. I kept thinking he wanted nothing to do with me. But we ended up falling into a routine where we saw each other at least once every week. I couldn’t say no. Breaking up was not what I wanted. What I wanted to be with him. And i was getting it. Not how I wanted it, but beggars can’t be choosers. I was going to take what i could get.
We fell into that routine for awhile, and things were going great, and I was holding onto the belief that we might eventually get back together. But through a fight that I still, to this day, believe to be my fault, he tried to OD again. And I don’t believe I talked to him for a week or two after that. It was a long time. The few days after he told me what he had tried to do, I withdrew into myself. It was my fault. And I told him it was my fault, and he never denied it. So there was my proof. I called into work and laid in bed for two days. I didn’t eat. I didn’t bathe. I barely slept. I just sat laid there. Listening to music that could never soothe me, pretending to be fine to the people that texted me, and I thought of the different ways I could kill myself without it hurting too badly. When I realized I shouldn’t be letting myself think that way, I decided I wanted to hurt me. But a knife would leave marks that I didn’t want to have to explain later. My computer had been on for 2 days straight and the power cord was in my blankets, so it was especially hot that day. I grabbed it and put it on my arm and let it there until it no longer hurt. It sounds stupid, maybe. But that was what I needed.
After I did it, I dropped it and took a long, hard look at myself. Was this who I wanted to be? No, of course not. Why was I letting myself be controlled by someone else? Why was I letting someone else control the happiness in my heart so wholly? By me doing all this, what was I hoping to accomplish? Nothing would change. I’d never tell him about it, and he’d still be mad at me. It was time to stop this folly and move forward with my life.
So I did. It took all of the summer for me to actually get back to my usual self, and months after that for me to grow beyond that and really learn from what I had experienced.
Now, how does this story relate to my initial question: How do you help someone that doesn’t want to be helped?
I wanted to help him. And make everything better. I did everything I could. More than I thought I’d ever be able to do. And it didn’t matter. It didn’t help. He still withdraws back into hating himself and his life. The only way anything of what I did could take effect is if he really wanted to change. Sure, he doesn’t want to be the way he is, but until he starts doing something to change that, he’s just letting it control him. He doesn’t really want to change because this is all he knows and the unknown is scary. He’s so set in the fact that nothing will ever change that he actually believes that to be true, when it’s far from. But I can’t help him if he’s unwilling to accept it.
Just like you can’t help your friend, brother, or lover until they are willing to accept it and help themselves. Until they try to move forward on their own, even a little, nothing will change.
Now, I’m not saying drop them and run in the opposite direction. Be there for them when they try to move forward and all they end up doing is falling backwards. You might be that push they need to get moving again. Just don’t try and do everything for them. Let them learn and live through their own experiences.
That’s how you did it.