Polly's pages (aka 'Donna Williams')

Ever the arty Autie

To love is to EMPOWER – by Polly Samuel (aka ‘Donna Williams’)


To love is TO EMPOWER and perhaps this is never so pertinent as when talking about someone who is in their last months in the body.

It is great to offer ‘helping’ someone to HELP THEMSELVES, for this is EMPOWERING, but to parentify (to want to play parent and glory in the babying of another adult, imagining this as ‘love’), is to fail to empower them, it is to DISempower them, which is a denial of it being THEIR life you think you are caring about, respecting or having unconditional love for.

And this applies whether the person is a child (to love is to EMPOWER), an elder, a person with even severe disabilities, or even and perhaps especially, a person who is ill or even in their last months or weeks of life, wherever possible, even to the last, to love is to empower, to care is to care enough to help in a way that empowers and never puts the person into baby mode.

Even if they are scared, terrifies, to acknowledge that, be kind to that, but empower them to remember how whole and strong and resilient and resourceful and capable of endurance and acceptance that they ALSO are. To fail in doing this is to rob them of this essential part of their own journey.

Cancer, especially metastatic cancer and even more especially those facing end of life in their last year, months or weeks, attracts many strange behaviours.

Cancer may attract narcissists who find the opportunity for admiration irresistible and so wish others to know how central, essential and important (above all others) that they are to the person who is about to leave their physical body.

Cancer may attract drama addicts, for there is nothing perhaps so dramatic than the epic nature of someone’s last months.

Cancer may attract those with a hero/saviour complex who seek to help, fix, save, rescue, carry someone in their last months/weeks of life because it makes them feel irresistibly significant (so usually is played out by those in the narcissistic/dramatic camps).

Here is one of the things that love is NOT.

“The savior complex is a psychological construct which makes a person feel the need to save other people. This person has a strong tendency to seek people who desperately need help and to assist them, often sacrificing their own needs for these people.

There are many sides to a savior complex and it has many roots. One of its fundamental roots, in my experience, consists in a limiting belief the savior person has that goes something like this:

“If I always help people in need, I will get their love and approval, and have a happy life.”

This is of course, a nice sounding fairytale.

Always putting other people’s needs first makes a savior not take care of their own needs. So while they may feel happy because they are helping others, at some level, they feel bitter and frustrated at the same time.

Here’s where things get worse: many people with a savior complex I’ve met, although they realize at some point that they have a savior complex and it is not worth it for them, they will not try to combat it.

They’re not masochistic; they have another belief that even if being a savior will not get them the recognition they want and will not make them happy, it is the noble thing to do. They believe they are somehow better then others because when they help people (albeit in such a disempowering way) all the time without getting anything back”.

In reality, any EXCHANGE involves us each getting something back… anyone who imagines otherwise is not facing that.

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