Ripples in a Pond

“‘Cause and effect, chain of events
All of the chaos makes perfect sense
When you’re spinning round, things come undone
Welcome to Earth 3rd rock from the Sun”
Joe Diffie (singer), Third Rock From the Sun

I wasn’t gonna write this up… honest I wasn’t.  But I’ve got it stuck in my head and now I’ve got to get it out one way or the other.  Cause and Effect.  It’s a complicated damn phenomena, isn’t it?  Toss a rock into a pond and watch the ripples spread outwards.  Toss several rocks and you can’t always predict how the ripples are gonna effect each other.  Y’ever wonder if maybe the very people trying to make something better are the ones making it worse?  Sometimes you don’t know how those ripples are going to react to each other.

You’ve got a friend, and they’re struggling, physically, emotionally, mentally, whatever.  You can see it.  You ache for them and you want to help.  It’s your friend, after all, and you care about them, want them to be happy more than anything else.  You want things to get better and you just know what the problem is.  You know what they’re doing wrong and you know exactly how to fix it.  Thing is, they won’t do it.  Your friend stubbornly insists on going down a fruitless road when you know the answer to everything.

Hell, you may even be right.  Hard telling some days.

So you do what everyone thinks is the best thing to do when someone you care about is hurting.  You confront them.  Pull the “tough love” thing.  Tell them that they have to do what you think is best.  Then you close the door and wait, secure in the knowledge that you were right and that it’s the only way to save them.

Your friend gets worse.  Bad worse.  It hurts like nothing else, but you hold the line.  They didn’t do what you told them to do and now they’re paying the price for it.

Ever wonder if you just caused that?  If maybe, just maybe, they were coping with whatever the problem was before you pulled the rug out from under them insisting that you knew better than they did how to deal with something?

What if you’re the one with the problem?  What if you’re the one just barely holding on with all ten nails and the help of your friends when you get told that it’s their way or the highway and then get shut out from the support that was all that was holding you above the maelstrom?  How do you tell someone that you still honestly care about that they are the reason that you’re worse?  How do you tell someone that it doesn’t matter if they’re right or not, that by trying to fix something, they broke it?

On the other hand, standing outside the fire of a given problem does give a certain amount of insight.  Sometimes a person might be too close to their own issues to see them clearly and sometimes a person just isn’t going to get the help they need until they’re given no other choice.  Or maybe it just takes them longer to take action.  Maybe they just aren’t the type to go rushing into getting help, even if it’s in their best interest, even if they know you’re right, even if it’s the only way.  Then again, maybe they’re so all-fired certain that they know the best answers to everything that they aren’t going to listen to you no matter what you say.

Sometimes things just aren’t clear.  Sometimes the ripples are complicated by the mud the stones stirred up from the bottom, mud that would have remained where it was, doing no one harm, until it was disturbed by something outside itself.  Y’never can tell sometimes how things are going to work out.  Life’s complicated as hell and sometimes we just don’t need more ripples tossing us about like a ship in a storm.

A whole lot of forgiveness can help.  A willingness to listen.  Trying to see things from the other side.  But that means talking, on both sides, and that’s not easy with some people, particularly if you’re so damned certain that you already know the answers, or the hurt’s already been done and neither side feels like they have the right to speak up, even if they’re your friend, even if you’re their friend, even if you both still care about each other and want to see the other happy, for their own sake.

How in the hell do you help your friends without making things worse for everyone?  Damnit, I wish I knew.  I really wish I knew.

Note: Chapter Eleven is finally making progress, but it might be a day or two before it’s written.  I’m working on it.  By the way, the Joe Diffie song is a great one.  Give it a listen sometime.  It’s well worth it. Here’s a YouTube Link.

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