Would you let go of the rope?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Nomad, Aug 2, 2012.

  1. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    A friend recently sent me this story about a Bridge and a Rope. It is a fable, according to the internet, written by Rabbi Edwin Friedman....and told in a book about changing lives.

    The story talks about a man crossing a bridge and encountering another person, causing a very difficult and conflicting situation and eventually a powerful decision.

    It really hits home about things discussed on this forum relating to boundaries, painful, but important decisions, detachment, etc.

    Hope you read the story and post a few lines about what you think. If this link doesn't work, I'm sure you can find it by just putting into google something like "bridge and rope story."

  2. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful


    That was excellent.

    And yes, I'd have let go of the rope. I was just a teen when I settled within myself that someone else life was not my responsibility, literally. Their choice to live or die was theirs to make, just as it was mine to make. At first it was just with accepting or refusing medical treatment for a terminal illness, then it was with suicide, then it moved on to life choices of adult children as I grew older. I admit the latter was the hardest process, and I most likely still stumble and fall on occasion.

    Self destruction in any form is a slow form of suicide in my opinion. (I don't expect or need others to agree)

    Just as you can't rely on others for happiness and well being, you can't force those things onto another person.

    You can be there for support & help if they are willing to help themselves, but there is no forcing.

    I never really had issues helping Nichole because she was working to help herself, same with Travis. Any help with Katie was strictly limited because she was not actively (might still not be) trying to help herself. When she is ready, I'll be here (hopefully) and I'll support her. But until then life goes on and I have my own life to live.

    I also like where it shows that as long as the man held the rope, the person on the other end made no moves to help themselves. That was a major point being made, and it's true.
  3. 1905

    1905 Well-Known Member

    As someone on another post said...Let go or get dragged. I think it was in reference to an al-anon saying. It's good advice. I agree Hound, self-destructive behavior is slow suicide.
  4. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    A therapist said this to me about Oldest years ago when I made the comment that I didn't think Oldest was suicidal. It was painful to hear, but I think it's very true.

    This story is powerful. I know that letting go of that rope is the right thing to do, and I've done it, so to speak -- but it's not easy.
  5. Calamity Jane

    Calamity Jane Well-Known Member

    You know what I see in the story? The man and the stranger are really 2 aspects of the man's own character, because in one of the early paragraphs it said they looked alike and were dressed alike. I interpret the story to also mean that we have a destructive side to our own personality, and we must let that go to pursue our best life.

    That's a great fable. Thanks.
  6. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Thanks Nomad, a very powerful, thought provoking article. I agree with what everyone else has said. Having just let go of that rope with my daughter, it is especially poignant for me right now. As CiV mentioned, it's the "right" thing to do but it isn't easy. And in many ways not only does it go against one's idea of 'mothering' it can be looked at as going against a religious perspective of giving and "love thy neighbor." For me, it has been a very painful experience and at the same time I understand that the other has to be willing to help themselves and I am not certain my difficult child can or will do that. It is what it is. Thanks again!
  7. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    If it were anyone but my child - yes.

    My own child? My initial answer is no; but after days, hours, months, years on that bridge -- it could turn into a yes.

    I realize that's a cop out and I am sorry...

    It reminds me of the Kite story we were sharing on the SA board in March:

    A kite analogy used to describe the process of "letting go" -

    we must release not only the body of the kite itself, but also let go of the
    string. It does me no good to let the body of the kite rise away from me, if I've still got the string wrapped in a stranglehold around my neck.

    This, as so often happens, is precisely what I most needed to hear right now. I've been watching myself trying to turn something over, and even though I sincerely desire the freedom I know I'll get when I achieve this, I can't quite manage to let go of that string. Or I let go, it falls from my hand to drag along the ground right in front of me, and I stoop to pick it up "just for a moment," and pretty soon, I'm in that same uncomfortable position of having my arm yanked up, with my shoulder aching from the constant pull.

    Letting go of most of something, or almost letting go, or partly letting go,does not work.

    I must release my (fearful) grasp, and watch the kite sail out of my reach, body, tail, string and all, come what may. I must be willing to lose sight of it completely, trusting that my HP will look after me. I must be willing to stop straining to see it - resolutely turn and walk in the opposite direction, opening my heart to gratitude. I pray for the willingness to relinquish my illusion of control. to let go of that string
  8. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    Thank you everyone...thought provoking, huh?
    Calamity Jane...That is a really interesting observation!!!!
    Signorina....I really like the kite story too! I actually posted a similar story about a tractor along time ago and if I can find it, will try to post it again. They are all insightful, good...and powerful. For some reason, this bridge/rope story hit me hard.

    Sometimes, when I try to make some sense out of this painful and non sensical situation we find ourselves in, grasping at straws, I wonder if this was the lesson we were suppose to learn...a lesson about setting boundaries and limits. And, letting go of the "illusion of control," particularly when it comes to others (even if that 'other' is our own child).

    Getting through it all, for me, was deeply painful. I feel much better now that most of that (growth/process) is behind me. Setting limits helped a lot. But, it has been a difficult process and I still have my moments...but I am grateful that these days, they are, for the most part, brief.
    Lasted edited by : Aug 2, 2012
  9. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    I needed to type this out anyway, so here is the Tractor story I posted a long time ago.I think the story was written by Susanna McMahon, Ph.D. and is slightly paraphrased and shortened here due to space limitations:

    In a dense forest lives a depressed and unhappy swamp. One day a new, happy Tractor comes by. The swamp complains to him and says "It is a horrible day, I am stuck in this shady part of the forest where the sun never shines through the trees and I'm tired of being an old gloopey swamp."
    The tractor then says, "I wish I could help," and the swamp says "If you really want to help, you could shovel some dirt into me and then I would dry up and stop being a swamp." So, the tractor does this for many hours, but it doesn't help. The swamp complains, is even a little rude, and begs the tractor to shovel faster. Days pass, and the little tractor is getting very very tired. The swamp looks eactly as it looked before. "If you really cared about me, says the swamp, I would see results." So, the tractor speeds up his efforts even fastor, even though he is feeling weak and exhausted. He shovels dirt while the swamp sleeps throughout the night and he continues to work the next day whle listening to the swamp complain how he isn't trying hard enough and doesn't really care. The tractor literally works himself to death and slowly sinks in the wet, muddy swamp and there is no evidence at all that the tractor was ever there in the first place. The swamp remains a swamp and waits for the next tractor to come along and save him from himself.

    (Slightly different theme, since I guess a swamp can't really help itself...but tragic and revealing nontheless).
  10. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    It has helped me so much to hear the stories other parents have posted about their adult kids and their own detachment process. It is the most painful experience of my life, without exception. To hear that others have done it with the full realization of that pain, has made an enormous difference as I deal with that pain on a daily basis. As I see it diminishing in it's severity each day, I continue to be grateful for everyone's experience preparing me to walk down this strange and unexpected path and learn to live my own life entrusting my daughter into the grace of a Higher Power. That trust has been the lesson for me. And, to surrender control, or the illusion of it. And, as Nomad said, to learn the boundary and limit setting a difficult child forces one to undertake. Nothing in my former life came close to preparing me for this. Each day I learn something new and to the degree that I can stop controlling, surrender and trust, I can find a little peace.
  11. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    That story reminds me of the last scene in the movie "The Good Son". In it a women has her son and her nephew with her at a beach/lake house for the summer. As the audience, we see all the psychopathic, truly evil things her son does and tries to blame on the nephew. Mom slowly is coming to realize that it is her son committing these horrific acts but before she can truly accept that, there is an "accident" which results in her ending up lying on her stomach, dangling over a 100' cliff with one boy clinging to each arm but both slowly slipping away. It is clear that if she does not let go of one boy and use both hands to grab the other, that both boys will die. It is a very powerful scene and you feel her anguish.
  12. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    JJJ...That sounds like a VERY very very powerful scene and movie! I think you just convinced me to get Netflix.
  13. dashcat

    dashcat Member

    I'm not quite ready to let go of the rope with my difficult child. I might be tomrorow, or I might never be. But one thing I can tell you for certain is that I won't be grabbing any other rope that might be tossed my way. The ideal scenario would be not to grab the rope in the first place.
  14. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    JJJ, i absolutely hated that movie. It made me think about having to be responsible for difficult children life all the time. It was like i was always trying to prevent that dangling choice. Yuck.

    I like the stories!
  15. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Slightly Occupational Therapist (OT), but, another good movie about an evil difficult child, a mother's slow realization of what her child really is, and her agony over what to do, is "The Bad Seed" from 1956. It's very melodramatic (common in movies back then) but it's one of my favorites.

    Dash, you hit the nail on the head. Not grabbing the rope in the first place is definitely key!
  16. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    CiV, I remember that movie, it was SCARY how that girl acted.
  17. Calamity Jane

    Calamity Jane Well-Known Member

    The Bad Seed is incredible! Last time I saw it on TCM, Robert Osborne, the host said that at the end of the movie but before the credits, all the actors came out and took a bow, then the little girl came out last and the actress who played her mom jokingly put her over her knee and spanked her as a joke. He said the movie studio didn't want to leave moviegoers at that time with such a shocking ending, so they added a bit of levity to close the show. How times have changed!
  18. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    Speaking of off topic: Ok...now you have me REALLY intriqued. Stay tuned for my upcoming post on WC in the next few days re: Netflex (sp?) Probably not kidding....LOL! A friend always reminds me that truth is stranger than fiction...but probably the better movies or books are based on something the writer actually heard about in real life and that's what makes it sooo good. Scarey, huh?
  19. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    That part is actually included on the DVD (I own it!),as well as an interview with the actress who played the little girl (now grown up). It is a great movie. Hmm might be time to re-watch it again :)
  20. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I dont know that I could watch those movies even though I can watch things like LockUp all the time. When Jamie was in the Marines I read real life books about people who had been through boot camp at Parris Island and I joined two message boards specifically for that purpose. One had moms and dads whose kids started on various dates in various forums just like we have the watercooler and such but they also had a FAQ section and newbie section. Then Marine moms is just more like this.

    But I couldnt watch movies about war or things where people were getting killed. It took me until Jamie was in his last year to read Jarhead,