I realize that not everyone is capable of dedoublement*, and I don’t know if it can be taught. What I do know is that there would be an significant decrease in drama, wasted time, pain, and anger if it could. I would wager that only roughly 45% of the people I know are capable of detaching themselves from situations to look at things from a cold, factual, objective point of view. Those people tend to achieve whatever goals they set for themselves. Sometimes they’re also considered cut-throat or heartless, but it’s not necessarily a requirement.
I have watched family, friends, and even public figures nearly, if not completely, destroy themselves (careers, relationships, friendships, you name it) because they refuse to even attempt to remove their own emotions from the equation and look at facts. I don’t just mean personal feelings, as in how you feel, but how society plays into your understanding of circumstances as well. If people were more honest about facts, behaviors, and their contributions, people’s lives would be a hell of a lot more different.
It seems like every year I get word that someone I know ODs, and, unfortunately, they’re usually very young. Last night I was informed of yet another friend of my cousin’s who ODed about two weeks ago–one year and a day from his own friend who ODed. Yes, addiction can be hidden. I don’t deny this. But how long can the people closest to an addict turn their heads from obvious problems and signals? I don’t buy that people just “don’t know.” That might work in your own head to help justify the circumstances, but everyone–including you–knows that’s absurd. I fought for years with a friend who refused to admit her boyfriend was an addict. It was always the fault of his friends, or his family, or stress. Eventually, after he ODed, she admitted that it wasn’t anyone else shoving needles in his arm. She blamed herself. Honestly, it broke my heart. When there are problems with the people closest to you, somewhere–even if it’s that little voice in the back of your head nagging and casting doubt–deep down you know. It’s that same little voice or feeling you get when you know that something is wrong in a friendship. You know.
I’ve never understood why people shy away from doing the hard things, the things that may be painful at first, or embarrassing, or difficult, in order to help someone they care about. Isn’t the ultimate goal to live happy, healthy lives and help those you love to do the same? I’ve known people who looked the other way for decades of abuse and addiction because they didn’t want people to “talk” or to feel like “a failure” in the eyes of the people who mattered most to them. Newsflash! You and the ones you love are the only things that should matter. When you’re faced with the disastrous consequences of sticking your head in the proverbial sand, you won’t get any pity from me. Maybe that’s cold. Maybe that’s heartless. But when given days, months, years, even decades to right a wrong or intervene when someone can’t for themselves, and you choose, instead, to go about your merry way pretending everything is just fine, I just can’t help you. In fact, if you bring that to me the first thing I’ll do is lay the cards–all the cards–on the table. It’s not an attempt to make you feel worse, but an effort to help you see what actually happened. That’s not to say I won’t be there to help.
I’m aware that not everyone feels the same. I’m also aware that there are plenty of folks who don’t believe that their friends or relatives are their responsibility. To each his own. Personally, I find that to be colder than brutal honesty. I just know that I’m tired of attending funerals for people I’ve coached, taught how to swim, or taught in a classroom because no one wanted to upset or embarrass them (or themselves or their family). Problems are problems and everyone has them. No one is perfect. Once we all can admit that to ourselves, maybe our roads will be just a little bit smoother and filled with the people we care most about. I have enough stops at roadside cemeteries to make through this life, I’d like to avoid adding any more.
*Dedoublement, in this sense, is not the direct translation of “split personality,” but the psychological/literary concept discussed by French author Andre Gide. In essence, “dedoublement” is the ability to split oneself in two–one aspect that interacts and feels the world they live in, and the other to stand back and observe. The second “self” is responsible for the detached analysis of the facts of the world around the individual. Without this second self, it becomes inherently more difficult to act for the greater outcome or good.