I’m going to digress from my usual writing related topics today to talk about an observation of a self-destructive behavior or set of behaviors that some people exhibit.
Life is not consistently easy or pleasant. In fact, it can be very hard. It can challenge you to the core of your soul and dare you to make a wrong move that could throw your life into chaos or crisis. Very few of us walk around with a “black cloud” hovering over our head, guaranteed to rain on any good thing or potentially good thing that could happen. So that means that most of us have those blissful times when things are going smoothly, when all is right in our world. And hopefully, we can appreciate those times and revel in them.
Not so with the segment of the population who are addicted to crisis. When things are going well for them, they create a crisis by doing something they logically know is destructive or wrong or even illegal. They take risks that could result in their world being upended if caught and/or if maintained long enough. They are addicted to most things that are bad for them – alcohol, cigarettes, sugar, etc. – and can’t stay away from those behaviors even when they are destroying their lives. And when things are going well in spite of their self-destructive habits, they can’t tolerate it. They think they don’t deserve it.
So they create a new crisis. They call in sick to work even when they have no time accrued. They have problems with co-workers. They spend money they don’t have, unleashing a barrage of collection calls and inability to pay their essential bills. They take on other people’s problems as their own. Maybe they resume their life-threatening addictions. Maybe they create new ones.
Often, they can’t tolerate any feelings, good or bad. They want a pill to manage any feeling. They look for the pill fix that will make them stop drinking, stop smoking. One that will put them to sleep at night and rev them up in the morning.
It’s painful to watch, especially when the person you’re watching is a friend. It seems like there is nothing you can do to help them. You know them well enough to see their core, and that they are good people, kind, compassionate. But, without fail, every time they seem to be heading in a safer and healthier direction, they create another crisis.
How can you help someone like that when you care about him/her? When a string of therapists haven’t been able to help? When age and physical condition are not in their favor with the passage of years like this?
I know about tough love and detaching and all the teachings of such organizations as AL anon. No, I’m not getting sucked into thinking I need to fix a self-destructive friend. But I can’t help wishing I could find a magic wand that would help a friend I care about to fix herself.