My friend Suzanne Stabile often says, “Later is not a point in time.” Her point is that we need to pay attention and notice that just because we think we are DOING, it doesn’t mean we really are DOING.
Threatening is not doing. Punishing is not doing. Relenting is not doing.
“Half measures,” as the big book says, “avail us nothing.”
I was sitting at my desk a while back following the Facebook buzz over Scott’s Facebook Page and potential removal from Facebook. A person called who I did not know and told me that he was going to “do an intervention” on his sister that afternoon. His sponsor suggested he give me a call before proceeding and he wondered what advice I might give him in the next five minutes. Well of course, I did not have five minutes of advice. I had weeks and weeks of educational meetings for him to attend, maybe some coaching. But not five minutes. Predictably, he called back twenty minutes later, barely enough time for me to scroll through the comments section on the current facebook drama, with word that it had been an utter failure, and he supposed she just hadn’t hit her bottom.
I would say his tone sounded very….self-righteous. He thought he had done his part. Now he could be done with her. He felt, or at least seemed to express that he felt vindicated in his judgment of his sister. I felt really sad. I had this sneaky suspicion that his failure was in the doing, not in the disease. He simply didn’t have the tools in his toolbelt to invite his sister into recovery. I sat quietly, trying not to cry. He finally said, “Well, I’ve done all I could. Thanks for your help. Those suggestions you made were terrific and this is all on her.”
Before he could scoot off the phone, I asked if I might give him some feedback and he readily agreed. (I told you he didn’t know me!) I said, “What if the problem isn’t simply that your Sis isn’t ready for recovery? What if you were not fully equipped to effectively intervene?” I hastily added, “If that’s the case, it isn’t your fault! No one is prepared to effectively intervene against such a baffling and cunning disease without a LOT of support. I appreciate your kind words, but five minutes isn’t enough time for me or anyone to actually be helpful to you. Can I make it up to you? Would you be willing to give me one more try at helping you help your sister?”
He agreed. The next time he intervened he did so after a lot of preparation. She still refused his offer. But you know what? He was at peace. This time, he too was able to feel his sadness, because he had no need to be defensive. He knew that he had done all he could.
Are there problems in your life that feel hopeless? Could it be that you simply need more tools, maybe a bit of coaching?
To be continued…