You can lead a horse to water

It occurred to me the other day while listening to a friend in the midst of some family drama, that while you may have the best intentions, and while you may give good advice and provide encouragement and support, in the end, you can't live someone else's life for them. You can suggest and you can offer, you can listen to them and you can cry with them, you can give them your hand and show them a way, but you can't make them take it or go anywhere or do anything really. Because we each have our own life to live and we each have to abdicate responsibility of someone else's life where it really belongs: to that person.

We may think we know the answer and we may think we have a clue, but really we don't and really we can't. We don't live that person's life every day. We don't have that person's worries or burdens or lifetime experiences; we don't know what motivates them to stay or go, we don't know what pushes them out or keeps them locked in.

So despite our well-wishes and despite our offers of help or hope, it's really not up to us. The only thing we can really do, and it may be the hardest thing to do, is to let go. To be there when and if they ask. To be near when and if they need help. To be a cheerleader (on the sidelines) and not a puppet master trying to force our will. Giving up the hope and the illusion of control is not easy, but it's the best thing for you and for them and, ironically and truthfully, for your relationship in the end.

Lesson learned.