My Lifeboat Has Limited Space

I recently watched Titanic with my 11-year-old son. It really is a magnificent movie.

Famously, the Titanic did not have enough lifeboats. And once the evacuation started, many of the lifeboats launched only half full. As they drifted away from the doomed vessel, those in the lifeboats could hear the cries of drowning passengers. But they did not turn back because they were afraid the drowning victims would swamp their small lifeboat and kill everyone.

It’s a moral dilemma: Do you save yourself and leave others behind? Or do you take on as many other victims as you can and possibly capsize yourself?

If there is a middle-of-the-road solution, it is easily lost in the chaos of the event.

In sobriety, my lifeboat is sturdier than its ever been. And smaller than its ever been. I’m learning not to take on a lot of other “victims” because most people are not “victims” – they are adults making their own choices to drown in alcohol or self-pity or whatever their chosen self-destructive woobie is. As my priest-friend Cynthia once told me, if someone is in the gutter, it’s usually their choice to be there and they need to work that shit out with Jesus.

Still, I feel I need to find a doable middle-of-the-road solution. The problem is that I am really only familiar with 2 options. I know better than to put self-destructing adults in my lifeboat (Option #1) because it will capsize. But offering them an empathy sandwich (Option #2) seems heartless. These folks don’t want empathy, anyway. They want someone to feel sorry for them, or do their job for them, or just not hold them accountable for their decisions.

So, I am working on expanding my options to help those in need. I am hoping that I can come up some middle-of-the-road solutions that I could not see before because I was drowning, too.

Any suggestions?


One thought on “My Lifeboat Has Limited Space

  1. I wish I had some words of wisdom for you, but I think I have to agree with Cynthia. Until one is ready to get out of the gutter on their own, nothing you do will matter. But, when they’re ready you can offer a lifeline for them to hold on to, but they have to make the choice to grab on and hold steady. It’s a moral dilemma and there aren’t always happy endings.

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