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At what point do you give up on a person?

Can you harden yourself enough to ignore the obvious signs that they need help?  Can you ignore the voice inside saying you have to try?

After all, we all have scars, we all have damage.  But we all have potential.  Some can’t reach it without help.  Should you keep trying and trying or do you have to back away?

I suppose it probably matters how close the person is to you.  Friend, family, co-worker, random person on the street.  The easy answer is to say you never give up because that just seems wrong.

But what if you can no longer separate fact from fantasy in what they tell you?  How about when you realize that the problem is way beyond your ability to deal with.  Or if the person stubbornly refuses to admit that there is an issue and turns down all opportunities for help.  Would it matter that they may not be capable of making the right decision.

Or should you back away when you realize that you are being drawn deeper and deeper into the quicksand that this person really represents.  When you realize that they are draining the life out of you.  Is that selfish or self-preservation.  Would either be enough of a reason to give up on someone?

I have compassion.  I have empathy.  Does it make me a bad person when I realize they aren’t limitless and that I am empty right now.  Or is that just another sign that I can’t continue to try to help because I am no longer capable of even the minimal effectiveness I’ve had before.

Can you cut someone loose even if you know it might not end well.  Can you walk away and hope that they see the light and get what they need.  When do you give up on a person?  And is it ever right to do so?  In the end, I hope for the best but fear it will not be a happy ending.  But I have done all I can do and must back away.

(Author’s note:  Having read this, I apologize for the darkness of the tone.  For many reasons, this post must remain a little vague but it paints in broad strokes what I’ve been dealing with for the last two weeks and really on and off for the last couple of months.)

One comment

  1. There was this cat I met, one who had a rough childhood. She was found abandoned in a box in the middle of a highway, covered in mud and oil. I was told that when they brought her in to wash her off, she had given up her will to live and just hung limply under the running water. Because of this, and the fact that one of her previous owners thought it was funny to chase her around the house while yelling, she was terrified of every noise and would only come out from hiding under the bed when it was quiet and dark.

    It took me months of sticking my head under the bed and talking with her quietly and letting her smell me to convince her that life was OK, and she didn’t have to hide all the time. But I could only do 90%. She had to make that final decision to come out from under the bed – I couldn’t force her to do that.

    You can’t do everything. You can only help so much. People still need to put some effort into helping themselves, even if it’s just that last 10%. Lucky for me, I now have a very vocal kitty friend who never hides under the bed anymore, and only occasionally runs off when loud noises happen. I hope it works out just as well for you.

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