I had to be willing to put myself on the line and risk being rejected, and that was the hard part. That's where vision and faith came in - and a belief that the end result will warrant whatever messiness comes in the middle.
Once I got over this hurdle, there was no turning back. Logically and intellectually, I saw the solution long ago (along with others in the family). The timing just had to be right to present it - back to that concept of communicating things in a way that they can be "heard" by those in crisis.
Whatever the fallout is, I'm confident I did the right thing. What a process, though - and, as I said, the jury is still out.
I've definitely drawn on some life lessons in this ordeal, like the ones from Dr. Wayne Dyer, the psychologist:
As I've mentioned before, I do pretty well with those first two. It's that third one - detachment - that often gets me.
It's like the timing involved in certain types of cooking. (although this isn't one of my strong suits, either!). A friend of mine does a lot of Cajun cooking, and it's so important to get the roux, or broth, just right. You can't rush it, or the dish will be ruined. Yet, it needs to be tended (like the at-tention above). (Note to self: Maybe that's why the terms "simmer," "boil" and "broil" are involved in cooking - and life situations.)
In our family situation we had all been simmering for quite a while about the self-destructive behavior being played out on the extended family scene. And we'd all rushed in to help.
While support and encouragement are certainly helpful, rescuing someone who is actively practicing an addiction of some kind is actually enabling the behavior to continue, according to Robert Burney, author of "Enabling & Rescuing vs. Tough Love."
And addictions run the gamut. We tend to think of the more common examples of alcohol and drug abuse. But there's a whole laundry list of addictive behaviors, including overspending, eating disorders, sexual addictions, gambling, inability to hold a job and many others.
A person who is acting out self-destructively has no reason to change if they do not ever suffer major consequences for their behavior, according to Burney. If they are continually rescued from the consequences, they're allowed to continue practicing their addiction.
And here's the kicker: Helping someone continue to self-destruct is not support. And it's not loving.
Linda Arnold, MBA, is the founder and chairwoman of The Arnold Agency, an integrated marketing communications firm in Charleston. Reader comments or questions may be directed to Linda Arnold, The Arnold Agency, 117 Summers St., Charleston, WV 25301, or e-mailed to livinglifefu...@arnoldagency.com.