Living Life from Crisis to Crisis
Why do some people seem to live life from crisis to crisis? Well, it’s stimulating, for one thing. You can’t get bored when all your energies are concentrated on fixing the current crisis. And you won’t have to think about your own pain because you’ll be focused on the problem at hand.
I’m afraid I’ve been easily seduced throughout my life into fixing the crises of people around me. In fact, I probably have sought out the company of those likely to have them so that my services would be needed.
Adrian, for example, is always having a crisis over one or more of his four sons. We have spent enumerable hours and emotional energy over the years on behalf of these crises, and I have willingly joined him in the struggles. For years, number three son was our focus, and understandably so since he was taking drugs, stealing money from us, and ending up on the street or in jail. There were calm periods, however, when he was in recovery. Then we’d focus on another son.
All four “boys,” who are now in their forties, are really living fine lives now. They have their problems, but don’t we all? Yet I can still count on Adrian to regularly obsess over one or the other, which includes long talks to his shrink about them, bouts of anguish, disturbing telephone calls, and efforts to “fix” things. I’ve always gotten involved in these efforts and done everything I could to help. It was like participating in a soap opera, and as we know, soap operas provide great escapes from real life.
Well, lately I’ve decided I don’t want to participate emotionally in these soap operas. It is too draining. And I don’t think my participation ever really helped solve anything. I am, after all, the stepmother, and I think my involvement sometimes made things worse. I can be sympathetic to all parties and listen compassionately to Adrian’s pain. But I don’t have to join the crisis mentality.
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Lynne is an abstract painter and writer from Ithaca, New York. She wrote for HealthCentral as a patient expert for Anxiety and Bipolar Disorder.