Over the course of many years, I’ve reduced the options available to anyone when it comes to making changes to three (3) 1) Stay in a situation; 2) leave the situation; or, 3) Pretend to make a change, all while staying in a situation. Now, staying in a situation may be the best option, if the situation provides healthy payoffs, there’s probably no reason to make a change. Likewise, leaving a situation may be the best option available, if the path towards the change is both clear and the change provides healthier payoffs that remaining in a situation.
But in my experience, it’s the third option that most people take and that becomes the most confusing to me. To illustrate, if a person is frustrated with someone in their life who’s addicted to say, alcohol; that person can continue to act as though the addicted person is well and become frustrated when the addicted person doesn’t act “well.” The person who wants to reason with the addicted person in an effort to “bring him to his senses” will probable become very frustrated because really, the addicted person doesn’t have the capability to snap his fingers and not be addicted anymore. Well, the person who’s not addicted could choose to stay in the relationship and remain frustrated (option 1). The person who’s not addicted could choose to leave the relationship in some form or fashion (option 2). However, the person who’s not addicted will probably take the third option.
How does this look? Well, the non-addicted person will probably look for treatment programs for the addicted person and offer “advice.” And it is in those actions where the non-addicted person is pretending to make healthy changes. You see, trying to change someone else NEVER works. I’m a licensed counselor and I can assure you that there’s no way i can change anybody else (any therapist who says otherwise is pretending). Yet, people offer “advice” and treatment options as a way to pretend that they themselves are making changes. They’re not.
If the non-addict chooses to stay, that’s the choice. But staying with the addicted person and pretending to make changes through “research” is nothing more that offering some illusion of change — the non-addict can only own her own life’s circumstances. Really, she could choose to leave the relationship and become healthy (dealing with an addict on the addict’s terms is asking for suffering). But is she chooses to stay and not make a real change, then she really can only choose to do so and accept the suffering that that choice will bring.