No Matter What


CW: Addiction
Years ago, when it was still on Netflix, I would occasionally watch the show Intervention. Do any of you remember that show? It was originally on A&E.

On the show, families worked with interventionists to implement an intervention to address and confront the addiction of a particular family member. Family members and close friends would gather together, express love for their family member, name the ways that the addiction had harmed them personally, and share what they were going to change in relationship to the addiction. Then, ultimately, they tried to convince their family member to go to treatment. That very day, in fact.

The interventionists often helped the larger family choose wellness for themselves. Too often, they had let their health go by the wayside. They needed to get well for themselves. Their wellness might also create conditions for their family member to choose the same. I remember Jeff VanVonderen, one of the interventionists, encouraging the families to take a particular posture toward their member with an addiction. He modeled this statement for them, saying,

“I want you to get well, but I’m going to get well whether you do or not.”

This is a helpful decision — in cases of addiction, yes — but also in regard to many kinds of challenges or conflicts.

“I want you to get well, but I’m going to get well whether you do or not.”

Years ago, I did a lot of studying of Family Systems Theory. This area of study explores the ways that communities function — families, workplaces, religious communities, schools — and considers how self-differentiated members can impact the larger health of these communities. This doesn’t involve internalizing the need-for-health of the whole organization. This doesn’t involve staying unwell, holding the stress of the organization, or continuously trying to convince the community that it needs help. It often involves prioritizing one’s own health.

“I want you to get well, but I’m going to get well whether you do or not.”

When we do this, we definitely move toward health. Sometimes, others will never choose it, and we need to choose it for ourselves. But sometimes, a surprising thing happens too. That choice adds additional health to the family, community, or organization (not saving it, or taking it on, but a healthy side effect) and sometimes, others begin to choose it too.

So I wonder, what ongoing stories in our lives need this posture from us?

“I want you to get well, but I’m going to get well whether you do or not.”

Renee Roederer

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