• Mona Cooley

Rescue or Heal?

“You can’t heal the people you love

You can’t make choices for them

You can’t rescue them

You can promise that they won’t journey alone

You can loan them your map

But this trip is theirs”


Laura Jean Truman


This was sent to me from a participant in the 10-week peer group session, who said it resonated because this was exactly what she learned in the course of the 10 weeks. She realized she couldn’t heal, make choices or rescue her loved one who struggled with challenges, be it mental health, addiction or depression. Letting go of what wasn’t her stuff changed the dynamics of the relationship, turning it into a healthier one for both of them.


Loved ones need to know you are there for them, not doing for them. I learned that from my daughter, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, when she said “mom, you don’t listen. And, by the way, don’t tell me what to do to help me problem solve”.

I took a hard look at myself and it was not pretty. I was frustrated, angry, and reactive to situations. As a result, nothing seemed to be going well. “Oh Woe Is Me” ; I was stuck in the victim place and it didn’t help me move forward but helped me stay stuck in my mess.


She had her journey, while the rest of the family each had their own. At first, I was so busy trying to fix the situation, telling her what to do. But I changed. I started listening, asking questions to get more clarity and asking her “what do you think WE need to do”? The “we” was telling her that she was not alone. Through this process, she learned how to problem solve. Hearing her thoughts, I was able to offer options and then say “whatever you choose to do is up to you”. And I meant it. I had handed the decision making back to her. As a result, she was able to take ownership of her decisions and gain strength from it.


Be aware of attempting to rescue. Don’t jump in to fix the situation. If your loved one is letting you do it, it probably means they haven’t learned how to work through their challenge. By attempting to rescue them, you are helping them to believe they are not capable. The more incapable they get, the more frustrated you get because they don’t think they can do anything to help themselves.


Having Laura Jean Truman’s saying sent to me validates the works we do in the 10 week session. It works- participants are living in a better place, as are their loved ones. What will you choose to do: listen to the saying and learn from it or keep doing the same thing, expecting different results? The choice is up to you.


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