When Saving Them Is No Longer An Option

“You’ll be all right.  I know you will,” I whispered, but even as the words slipped past my lips, I knew it was a lie.  I didn’t know if she would be all right and the uncertainty plagued my thoughts, even as I slept.

Each time she called, her words would peel layers of my heart away, leaving it raw and exposed, and inviting a whole new intensity of pain.  We sat on opposite ends of the phone, each of us suffering in our own way.  She desperately reached out.  I desperately pulled back.  Yet overcome with guilt, I would offer CPR, breathing life into her and willing my heart to beat for two.  Later, exhausted and torn, I would hang up, praying my efforts would sustain her life force for one more day.


The months passed, coated in stormy grayness, with the bullets of her despair pelting onto my shoulders, until it was too much effort to stand up straight.  I would drag my feet underneath me, forcing my body to go through the motions, attempting without much success to allow myself the smallest bit of joy.  Those days were long, and I went under more often than not.

I finally decided I had to let her go.  After too many months of trying, saving her wasn’t an option anymore.  I finally admitted things would not get better and she would slowly pull me under until I could no longer breathe for either of us.

What hurt me more? Hearing her desperate and pain-drenched words or fighting my determination to once again protect her from herself?   She was being pushed to the very edge, possibly to slip over into darkness, but I wrapped my arms tightly around myself instead of reaching out.

My decision was a long time in coming, and it was not one made lightly, but no matter how painful letting go was, I knew her life was not mine to live.  Her challenge now was to find her footing on the horribly rocky path before her, and whatever decisions she made, they had to be hers.

We met on the street some time after that.  She told me that the sun had finally broken through the clouds.   Not much, but enough for hope to take hold.  And everyday that hope grew until she saw that the storm had passed and her path was clear.

Only then, after what seemed like forever, I could say that I knew that she was going to be all right after all.

How about you?  Have you ever had to walk away from a dysfunctional or co-dependent relationship?  At what point does our generosity become a crutch for others?  Where do you draw the line?  Please leave a comment because I love hearing from you!

About Diana Murdock

California-grown, writer of contemporary and YA paranormal with enough energy to write, raise two boys, run, and dream.

Posted on July 27, 2011, in Relationships and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Letting go is one of the hardest things to do. I think as a society or even as women we are trained to hang in there, be there, and show selflessness for our friends and family; even to our own demise. That’s what a “good” person does. To me, in actuality, we can never really save anyone from themselves. And the risk is often in helping too long/too much, we can end up serving as a crutch for someone to continue on destructively; because they know you’ll always be there. I’ve had to let go and walk away more than once. Sometimes, down the road, we’ve reconnected on more even and equal footing and sometimes not…but either way, my responsibility is always to my own inner peace and health. Great post – it was so heartfelt – thank you for sharing so intimately!

  2. Very hard to do. Just recently had to do this and I think it was harder on me than on the other person.

  3. Thanks for sharing such an emotional post.

    Yes several timed with people fighting varying demons. Like Natalie said, at some level we are trained to stay and help. And I have found that small pockets of hope will also hold me.

    A few years ago someone shared with me that you can give a person a car, the keys, directions and gas, but you can’t make than drive. It is there that I have leaned to walk away.

  4. There is always a second layer (and third or even fourth) in every relationship. That’s why it’s so hard to just end what might not be the ideal situation. Sometimes we see things in a really dark way, darker than it really is. Sometimes we are scared that making that extra step will hurt even more than staying – financially, emotionally etc. Sometimes others are involved (children) and, for their sake, we suffer so they feel safe and are not confronted with a new and maybe unstable… sometimes we just don’t want to change anything…

  5. Beautifully said. And sadly, I can relate.

  6. Your windows are open, welcomed fresh air filtering through, cleansing. Love, Claire

  7. Only once. Four years ago, after six years of giving support and when, like you, I was being dragged under. My friend was sunk in depression, and hated everything and everyone (and most of all hated themselves) with a passion. Except me, they saw me as ‘the one good person,’ and that became a great burden. Eventually, I said “I love you but I don’t know how to help you.”

    My friend, in anger and hurt, said “@&*% you and your cult of positivity,” and walked away from me then and there, on the street. I’ve never seen them since and often wonder how they are (if they are), but I’ve resisted the temptation to reach out because the hard truth is, I am not the one who can help them.

  8. Had to walk away a few months ago. I did everything I could, but in the end I have no idea if it helped or not. Haven’t heard from them since. I’ve been much more stable since cutting that tie, though.

  9. I am having to walk away now. I’ve had to do it off and on my entire life. There comes a point when I can’t fix them anymore and I know it and must disconnect. It’s disheartening when I must do that, but, alas, it must be done.

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