It’s hard to watch someone in pain, and I think that’s probably normal. I don’t think it’s supposed to be easy to witness someone in a state like that. What’s even more difficult is to watch someone who has been in so much pain, for so long, that they’ve developed unhealthy methods of dealing with it. What is absolutely unbearable, though, is to watch a human being, who has been in so much pain, for so long, and who has learned to deal with it in ways which destroy their own soul…
…And who has begun to enter into the world of lying to themselves about the reality of what is happening…
Let me illustrate. I used to drink as hard as I could, as often as I could. It worked up to a sort of crescendo, and then I didn’t miss a night for maybe five years, but as much in-between as I could get away with, too, was part of the overall plan. I knew at first, when the drinking started, that what I was doing was very bad in multiple ways. I knew that I was throwing bits and pieces of my life away, and parts of my family’s lives, too, and I feared that perhaps the snowball would end up getting too big…but I kept that fear in the back of my mind, and I kept on going.
I kept on going because, even though I knew better, I didn’t have any confidence in my ability to handle the pain properly. I didn’t think it could ever heal, and I couldn’t live in a world where feeling that way was just something that you had to do. The alcohol took away the immediacy of those feelings. It made me feel whole again. It made me feel like I was worth something. Never mind the fact that it was killing me, and wasting my life, and slowly unraveling my personal relationships in ways that I simply couldn’t understand at the time…
Jessi loved me so much. She gave me absolutely everything. How did I not understand what that meant? How could I take someone so perfect in every way…for granted? Somehow I did, and that once perfect love died the slow, excruciating death of neglect and starvation.
My children looked to me for fulfillment of the most basic, primal needs of the human organism, and I was not there to provide it. Not really. I was physically there, but I was far, far away. I was either intoxicated or upset that I wasn’t able to be intoxicated at the moment. And they grew up with me being like that, instead of being their dad.
By the time the momentum picked up to the point where I really, actually couldn’t stop, though, I had built up a wall of lies around my mind, and to me it seemed that I was doing the only thing I could do to survive. That wasn’t reality, but to me it was.
And that’s what’s unbearable to watch. A person in a state like that. You want to help them, but you can’t. They have to learn the hard way. Just like I did.
The one thing you can do is to love them in whatever way they are able to receive, in the hopes that one day they will wake up. Mind you, this is when the person is past the point of being able to wake up without losing everything. Under normal circumstances, if you have a friend who is doing something incredibly foolish, you should always (in my opinion) err on the side of attempting to provide cautionary guidance.
Some people are beyond being able to receive it, though, and all you can really do is to watch.
And that’s really hard.