I am not sure if it is my inner (and not well hidden) control freak, or maybe it is the common experience of the majority of people, but I am honestly not sure if it is worse to go through my own personal pain, or watch those I love endure suffering. My own pain has a personal intensity that can be paralyzing, but watching someone else suffer comes with a feeling of added powerless, in addition to the intense emotional experience of remembering what it is like to be in similar pain, as I empathize with someone I love.
I understand why it is so hard to walk alongside others as they struggle through suffering either of their own making or that has been imposed on them. It is hard to feel, hard to watch, hard to not get pulled into the rollercoaster with them and let my own progress be detoured by another. It involves having a strong sense of my own personal boundaries and being realistic with myself, and the other person, about what I can and cannot take on.
Like most things in life, this is a delicate balance of trial and error, and often involves failing more than succeeding as I try and learn to walk the tightrope. Sometimes I try too hard to pull someone back, and I crush them with my will and my way. Other times I go the opposite way and do not intervene in a situation where I later wished I had. But the more I have gone through myself and the more stable my own life has become, the more I find myself able to simply be and let people have their process.
It is often the most challenging with the people I love the most. It is often easiest to stick through the most with the people to whom I have the least emotional attachment. My own need to control the situation seems easier to manage when I’m walking with someone to whom I have looser emotional connection. Perhaps it is because with people I am closest to, they are also carrying some of my load and the ownership of baggage gets confused in our walk.
But I do my best. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I fail. But today my goal is not to fix but to be. I want to walk steady with people and allow them their process and trust the responsibility of the outcome to my Lord.