You cannot save anyone.
You can be present with them, offer your groundedness, your sanity, your peace. You can even share your path with them, offer your perspective.
But you cannot take away their pain. You cannot walk their path for them. You cannot give answers that are right for them, or even answers they can digest right now. They will have to find their own answers, ask their own questions or lose their own questions, make friends with their own uncertainty. They will need to make their own mistakes, feel their own sorrows, learn their own lessons.
If they truly want to be at peace, they will have to trust the path of healing that reveals itself step by step. But you cannot heal them. You cannot diffuse their fear, their anger, their feelings of powerlessness. You cannot save them, or make things right for them. If you push too hard, they may lose their own unique way. Your way may not be their way.
You did not create their pain. You may have done or not done some things, said or not said some things, triggering pain that was already inside them. But you did not create it, and you are not guilty, even if they say you are. You can take responsibility for your words and deeds, yes, you can grieve over a past, but you cannot erase or change what happened, and you cannot control the future. You can only meet them in the here and now, your only place of power. You are not responsible for their happiness, and they are not responsible for yours.
Your happiness cannot come from outside of you. If it does, it is a dependent happiness, a fragile happiness that will turn to sorrow so quickly. And then you will get caught up in a web of blame and guilt, regret and persecution.
True happiness is directly related to your presence, your connection with your breath, your body, the earth. Your happiness is not small, and cannot be removed by fear, or anger, or the most intense shame. Your happiness is not a state, or a passing experience, or even a feeling that others can give to you. Your happiness is vast, ever-present, the boundless space of the heart, in which joy and sorrow, bliss and boredom, certainty and doubt, loneliness and connection, even fear and longing, can move like the weather, like the rain and the sunshine, all held in the hugeness of the sky.
You cannot save anyone, and you cannot be saved if you are looking to be saved. There is no self to save, no self to lose, no self to defend, no self to make perfect or perfectly happy. Let go of every impossible ideal. You are beautiful in your imperfection, outrageously perfect in your doubts, loveable even in your feelings of unloveability. All these parts have been given, all are parts of the whole, and you were never less than whole.
You are breathing. You know you are alive. You have a right to exist, feel what you feel, think what you think. You have a right to your joy and a right to your sorrows. You have a right to doubt too. You have a right to walk your path. You have a right to be right and a right to be wrong, a right to this giant happiness that you knew when you were young. You are breathing, and you are inseparable from the life force that animates all things, knows itself as all beings, discovers itself in every moment of this impossibly wondrous existence.
Your self-worth is not tied to what others think of you. It is tied to the moon, to the infinite expanse of the cosmos, to comets blazing towards unknown destinations, to the forgetting of time and the love of solitude and this unspeakable gratitude for each new dawn, unexpected, given.
- Jeff Foster