You can know what a person needs, but not be able to get them to accept it.  You can know what would resolve a person’s problem and not be able to fix it for them.  You can be ready and able to help, continue to provide help and support and love, and yet the person never seems to get ahead or get better or get what they need.   It can feel so confusing and frustrating and exhausting because nothing you do makes it better and yet they are always in need and if you could just give a bit more it would get them over the hump and then they would be ok.

But at some point hopefully it dawns on you that the issue is about you or about how much you give or do and it isn’t about finding the right solution, the fix, or the ‘help’ that will make it all better.  Because the person doesn’t want to get better.  We assume that people who aren’t doing well or who are struggling or who have a hard time want that to stop and want to get better.  And that if we help them things will get better and they will stand on their own two feet and become self-sufficient only marginally dysfunctional members of society like all the rest of us.  But there are people who don’t want that.  Whether that is because they have an addiction that is controlling their lives or they need to feel miserable to feel normal or their identities are wrapped up in being the victim…whatever it is, they work hard to keep their lives constantly in lack, in drama, and in need.  So no matter what you do, they are never going to get over that hump.  They don’t want to be only marginally dysfunctional so they aren’t going to be no matter what you do.

So what do you do when you realize that?  It’s complex because loving someone causes you to empathize with them and want them to be happy and healthy.  Which they aren’t and they don’t want.  But they seem to want and need your help.  What do you do when you realize that loving them has become repeated negative experiences that have developed into systemic abuse?  What happens when you realize that love is not enough?  That your love for them is not enough?

It’s something that families with members who deal with addictions face every day.  Because you can’t enable the addict, you can’t allow the abuse in your lives, yet you love the person and want to help them.  But many times the only kind of love that actually helps is to show them that you can’t and won’t share in the fallout from their behavior.  You are willing to demonstrate mildly dysfunctional yet healthy choices and boundaries and lifestyles by living your life without drama and abuse.  You are willing to demonstrate healthy love by not tolerating or supporting victimization for yourself or the rest of your family. Which is a very difficult, emotional, and life altering choice.  But it can also save multiple lives, yours, your family’s, and the addicts.  Because once they realize they have to deal with the consequences of their actions directly, they may find that it’s not worth it and make other choices.  They may actually move to get real help to resolve their issues.  And, because you love them, you can cheer them on.

Because it’s not that you don’t love them, it’s that sometimes love is not enough.