Let them drown.

(Confessions from a recovering codependent)

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Have you ever watched somebody drown? Watched them kicking and screaming and splashing and waving? Did you jump in? Did you stand back as the waves crashed over them, over and over as they called out for you? Or did you wait for someone else, someone more qualified, to jump in?

Or maybe they came to you? Maybe you were the one that was drowning and they jumped in to save you. Maybe you were so caught up from the exhaustion of your last attempted (and failed) rescue that you didn’t notice the tide slowly taking your further and further away from the shore. Maybe they noticed and jumped in to save you. Maybe that’s how it started. So for a while you’re not really sure of what’s happening. You don’t really feel. But then you realize you’re safe and you start swimming against the current to get back to shore. And so you swim, day in and day out. Some days the current is stronger than others and you fight to keep afloat. Other days you just let the waves bring you in.

All of a sudden you realize that you’re the one struggling. You’re the one fighting. You’re the one doing the saving. You’re exhausted and you don’t even know how you got there. You wonder if things had started differently, you would have even jumped in at all. Would you have turned your back and walked away? Ignoring the person pleading for you, maybe letting someone more qualified jump in?

But still you fight. Then you have another realization; not only are you the one doing the saving but the person you’re saving is fighting you, letting the current take them away, even swimming with the current. Swimming against you. They want to be taken away. And so for a while you keeping fighting and swimming and pleading. Asking them to help you save them. They don’t listen. They won’t let go and let you get to the shore safely. They keep pulling further and further away, taking you with them.

One day you stop fighting. When the struggle is over you realize that you were close enough to the shore to reach the bottom all along if you just stopped and stood up. So are they. And for another while you stand there and you pull, you tell them to stop fighting. You ask them to stop struggling and just stand. But they don’t. They keep fighting. They keep letting the current take them away, still reaching for you.

And so you slowly pull yourself away and simply walk to the shore. You sit safely at the shore, the waves crashing against your feet every so often. You’re too exhausted from the struggle to get up and walk away. You still can’t breathe. So you sit there, watching them drown, calling out to them with the frequency of the waves that are crashing against you. As you start catching your breath, you watch as they drift further and further away. Sinking deeper and deeper. For a moment, you think about jumping back in but you’re still too exhausted to move.

You realize you’re not alone. You were never alone. You didn’t pull yourself out of the water. The same hands that formed you were there all along just waiting for you to come back. Reaching out, ready to save you.

Slowly you start to feel again. Only now you’re afraid of the water.

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