I was just with Squid eating a fish taco and feeding chips and scones to her kids while we Discussed Everything. (The kids behaved perfectly. A small miracle.) We tried to figure out what’s happening with our friend, and how we can be supportive. (Without derailing our own already complicated lives.)
I have to say: it’s been extremely painful, it has not been at all easy for me to hang in there and be supportive, and it continues to wrack me with despair, anger, and confusion. I often feel that I don’t know what to do, and I don’t know if what I’m doing or saying is good or bad. At moments I feel overly powerful and interfering, and then a bit later overly helpless and ineffectual. Am I being “validating”? Or “enabling”? Should l give advice, or is that always doomed to failure? I’ll say, “Well, you could think of it this way.” Or “What if the worst possible thing happens? It’ll be okay anyway. You can handle it. Go, you!”
There are things I do not say, like… well, kind of on the level of a slap and a loud, “How DARE you even THINK of killing yourself, you ass!”
This is why I am not a psychologist.
At Squid’s house, when I went to pick up a book I accidentally mailed to her instead of to me, there was a small throng of ABA therapists for her son. I had a moment of gladness that there is so much support available to him right now. Birds were chirping, sun shining, I just ate the best fish tacos ever, I can walk, no one was shooting at us, you know, all the good things in life, except our friend is in the hospital and we’re worried sick.