Thursday, March 17, 2011

Passing the test

My brother passed his stress test today.  They released him from hospital around noon, and he is staying with an uncle nearby until he can be driven back to Mom's tomorrow.  The doctors told him that he needed to lose weight and to walk every day - for his own health.

Yet, the blockage near his heart remains ... a ticking time bomb, to be set off at a stressful moment when the timing is just right.  Or wrong.

So much is unresolved.  Family members are trying to convince him to go against his kidney specialist's advice and risk his life by having the dye test done to find out where the blockage is.  This only raises his stress.  And now other family members will try to nag him into watching his diet and getting out of the house to walk - to the point of coercion.  The more they push, the more resentful and stressed out he could become, and that is a toxic cocktail.  

Perhaps it is the experience of the last 2 years that is clouding my perceptions, but trying to make someone - anyone - do anything he or she has not bought into ... is like trying to herd cats.  It's fruitless, wastes valuable energy and only upsets the cats!

I spent so long justifying trying to control people by saying, "I'm only trying to help."  It took me nearly 50 years to realize that there is nothing I can do to make anyone do anything he or she doesn't want to do.  

All that lifestyle did for me was reap me a heap of resentment  - that is, coming from other people who I tried to control through my "concern" and "speaking the truth in love."  So when I see other people doing it, I know how frustrating and insane it all is for them: after all, (the mind-set is) if people only did things my way, how much easier their lives would be!!  And I also know from experience how such an attitude can so very easily backfire because - people don't like to be told what to do.  Unless they embrace change for themselves, they'll only want to resist all offers of "help" in SPITE of the fact that they know it's best for them. 

The choice must ... MUST remain with the person whose life it is.  I can't live others' lives for them.  I can't take responsibility - or credit - for their choices.  Nobody can.

It's really so simple, but I lived in complete denial of it for decades.  I only realized how much stress there was on both sides of the control equation after I started the healing process and began to be free of all of those destructive compulsions - destructive for me AND for those I was trying to manipulate.  

Letting go is so very important. When I let go and let people be who they are and bear the consequences (good or bad) of their own actions, I feel as though I have passed a test. 

Letting go frees not only me to care and be there for people I love, but it also respects them enough to encourage them to choose for themselves. It's a win-win situation.

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