By Ali G.
Today in chapel, Father Liz read us a fable. It was a story by Rabbi and psychotherapist Edwin Friedman and it went as follows: a man was walking across a bridge. He had a very important place to be, a place that would fulfills all of his ambitions and make all of his life’s efforts worthwhile. However, when he on the bridge, a man throws him a rope and commands “Hold on!” and then jumps off the bridge. If he lets go, the man on the other end of the rope will die. But if he holds onto to the Other, he will lose this opportunity.
So what does he do? What do we do when we have an emotionally codependent person sucking the life out of us?
The protagonist makes the decision to give the Other a last chance. He offers to help pull him up, but he can’t do it. He doesn’t have the leverage. He knows that if the Other helps by wrapping some the rope around him while he pulls, he’ll be able to get him up on the bridge safely, but the Other refuses.
In these situations, it’s hard to know what the right thing is to do. At the school, when a girl is struggling and leans on me, I don’t want to be cold-hearted or uncompassionate, but I also can’t let somebody drag me down with them. After all, if the main character stayed there and let the codependent Other control him, he would have starved to death supporting the Other.
At the end of the story, the man releases the Other, after giving him every possible chance to climb to safety—a controversial ending—and continues on with his own life. The story made me wonder whose rope I was holding. Am I giving them the chance to save themselves? Am I being held emotionally hostage? And what will I have to give up before I realize that it’s time to let go?