But trying to force it to can destroy you
He was killing himself, day by day, Xanax by Xanax, and bottle by bottle.
It wasn’t the kind of suicide you see in the movies, but it was suicide nonetheless. It was just a slower, more torturous and painful suicide — one he likely believed he deserved.
He knew it was only a matter of time. Death wasn’t scary though. He welcomed it.
Anything would be better than the darkness of his world, the darkness of society, the hopelessness, and the defeat. There was no light left in him, he thought, and he certainly could not find light in the world.
Everything appeared dark. Even when he looked into his own soul, all he saw was blackness. There seemed to be no use — no hope.
At least, that’s how he explained it to me.
“But what if you are wrong?” I asked as he took an array of crushed pills up his nose.
“What if there is a solution? What if there is hope? What if you just can’t see it? And what if you give up before the miracle happens?”
I saw something, though. I saw a light still inside him. It was way far down, and it was dim and cloudy and hard to see. But it flickered down there, beneath the darkness, the malice, the self-loathing and the despair. I could see it. It was there.
It didn’t matter, though — not one little bit.
I tried to show it to him. I tried everything I could think of and said everything in my heart.
It didn’t matter, though — he couldn’t see it.
He was going to die. And I knew he could die any day now or a thousand days from now. But the meantime wouldn’t mean anything, for emotionally and spiritually he was already dead.
How do you watch someone die like that? Slowly, needlessly, excruciatingly. Not to mention someone you love.
It’s like watching someone drown in slow-motion while the life preserver is right next to them, but they cannot see past a blindfold of darkness. You try to tell them that it is there. All they have to do is grab it. But they cannot hear you, and you cannot reach them.
You know that all they need to save their own life is one moment with themselves — one moment with the real them, the one that lives in that far away flickering light.
I went to my mentor, and I cried. Desperate, I pleaded for answers. There had to be a way. Something. Anything.
“Holly, have you ever been in a deep dark hole of despair and hopelessness?” she asked.
“Yes”, I said.
“Have you ever been so deep down in that hole that it’s cold and lonely, and you cannot reach beyond the darkness because there’s no light in sight?”
I started getting choked up. “Uhhuh…”
“Well, that is where he is. And you cannot reach him right now, let alone pull him out. The only way to reach him is to go in that hole with him. And then, you’ll both be stuck.”
Sobbing hysterically, I pleaded, “What? What do you mean? There’s no way to help him? There has to be something I can do.”
“There’s only one thing you can do to help him right now, Holly, and that is to stand outside of that dark hole, in the sunlight of the spirit, where he can see you.”
And so it was.
I would stand in the light of my spirit, knowing that he may never leave that death hole. But if he ever did reach up looking for a light, I would be there. My light would still be shining.
It was the best thing I could do. For if I went down there to pull him out, I might get stuck too.
She was right. And he did come out, eventually. He did live. He did find his light.
Sometimes we love in such a powerful way that it feels like our love could bring light to even the darkest of places.
It feels like our love could move mountains. And in some ways, it can. But in other ways, it cannot. It is our inability to accept this that leads to toxic relationships and self-deprecation.
When your loved one is spiritually and emotionally ill, addicted, or demoralized, your love cannot save them. When your loved one doesn’t love themselves, your love cannot save them. When they are drowning in a sea of their self-created crisis, your love cannot save them.
Many of us have made terrible choices in the name of saving others from self-destruction. Going far beyond our boundaries, we harm ourselves and others in vain attempts to save the ones we love. We think if we just love them enough, our love can save them. But it does not. It cannot.
The pain that accompanies our failure is crippling. And the stronger the love, the more unbearable the pain.
But that pain is nothing compared to the torture that comes if we continue to pervert our love — if we demand it be something that it’s not. When we twist our love to do what it can’t, it crumbles.
The love is there but is tainted by fear, guilt, pain, and resentment. Love becomes destructive instead of constructive. Where healthy love builds, tainted love destroys. The power in this love is the same power that erupts like a volcano to tear apart your heart.
When you love someone who is destroying themselves, the only way to stop that from destroying your love is to accept that it cannot save them.
Written by Holly Kellums