Note: my use of they/their pronouns is in the interest of discretion.
I had a challenging weekend.
I have a loved one who has chronically made bad choices. While this person is an adult and the consequences of those choices are theirs to bear, they do have children, and that left me feeling compelled to intercede.
The one child in particular is a senior in high school, ideally capable of doing the majority of their own self care. That said, it hadn't been being done. With one parent being my loved one who chooses poorly and the other parent deceased, the child is a victim of neglect:
Neglect to teach, to take care of, to empower, and to advocate for.
I know whatever I do to intercede is a short-term fix. Sure, the child can stay at my house for the weekend while my sons are off at a soccer tournament, but that isn't the long-term solution.
At 17 years old, this child has to save themself.
There is no Swooper Man.
I can "swoop in" and give them a clean bed and several square meals for a weekend. I can clean their home so that it's habitable when they return. I can encourage them to put in the work to pull up their grades for graduation...but that's just one weekend's worth of interaction. They have to save themself.
There is no Swooper-Man that is going to come and rescue any of us. No one can swoop in and make everything better. It's up to us to make our lives what we want them to be.
So that was my message for this child over the weekend:
What brings you joy?
What makes you proud?
And does what brings you joy do that short-term (let me not throw this trash away so I can keep playing my game), or long term (let me wake up tomorrow morning in a clean room)?
Do you know that if you want things to be different for you, it's on you to make that happen?
I have a spoiler alert for all of you: you are not going to win the lottery, the person you love who makes terrible choices isn't going to suddenly stop doing that, and your boss isn't going to walk in today and offer you 20K more a year for doing the same job.
That doesn't mean what people do to help along the way doesn't matter. It truly does. Small acts of kindness push us forward and urge us along our path. I'm not writing this to say don't intercede and be kind or helpful to others, not at all. I've been the beneficiary of a million acts of kindness from others and am grateful for each time someone believed in me or gave me a hand. All those things made a difference, but I had to make the change. No one swooped in and saved me. I had to save myself. I had to build the life I wanted for myself, and the first step was realizing that Swooper Man wasn't coming.
And until we each know Swooper Man is not coming with their flowing cape to save us, we're stuck right where we are...
So I'm asking, are you where you want to be?
And if not, what is one small thing you can do today to set yourself on even a slightly different course?
It can be as simple as throwing away a piece of trash or making your bed.
It could be big, like going to get help with a class after school or finding an AA meeting.
Swooper man isn't coming.
You can save yourself.
I know it.