Hello! My name is Liz and I’m a fixaholic.
But let’s not talk about me because tick-tock, time’s a wasting! You see, this is about YOU! And girl (or dude!) you’ve got a problem! Even if you don’t know it, I’m here to FIX YOU!
I get that you have a problem with substance abuse. Or perhaps it’s mental illness. Or perhaps you’re addicted to toxic, ineffective, abusive relationships. That’s terrific! Just put me on speed dial, because I have a bag of tricks at the ready, just as soon as you summon me.
Maybe your finances are out of whack because you don’t understand limits. Maybe you’re so busy doing your thing and you just need to me to run an errand or seventeen for you. Hey, how’s your prayer life? Oh my goodness, is that a frown on your brow? Perhaps you’re spiritually sick– say no more. Because I’m here to RESCUE you.
All you have to do is SHUT YOUR MOUTH and DO AS I STRONGLY SUGGEST.
Wait, huh? Thou doth protest a bit too much, no?
This used to be me. OK, it still is sometimes. See I’m a person in recovery. But not in the way most people think of.
I don’t have any exotic tales of personal terror of how alcoholism or addiction or mental illness or relational dysfunction made my own life a living hell. But I do have this: profound symptoms of trying to understand and fix those who do, who have. I’ve experienced silent PTSD and done my share of wrestling with fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) because of other people’s illnesses or choices. I’ve dealt with exhaustion and disorganization from trying to fix people and things that are NOT my responsibility at the expense of taking care of my life.
I’m learning I have a self-imposed disability at recognizing boundaries; I often misunderstand where your dysfunction ends and mine begins. I think of it as blurred lines.
Here’s a harsh truth. I may be sicker than you are.
Long after your problem’s status can safely be categorized as in progress or solved or remission, or in recovery, I still need to help sometimes.
You may be okay (relatively), but I’m still stuck in the past. I still need to fix you!
I imagine the worst if the phone rings. Like the boy in Sixth Sense, I see dead people. At the very least, I see the future….sort of.
Like an aeronautical engineer, I frantically mentally map out all possible outcomes on the Flow Chart of Possible Catastrophes when you either:
- Say something (that triggers me)
2. Do something (that triggers me)
This is how it ususally goes. Person A calls Person B (The Fixaholic) and says, “I’ve kinda got this situation here…..” and then:
I’m on it! Bam-o! Grab the phone, keys and I’m out the door like Super Woman on a mission.
But more likely, it goes like this: Person A DOES NOT call or respond to the Fixaholic’s calls or texts in a “reasonable”amount of time. (Refer to the Flow Chart of Possible Catastrophes again). Something must be wrong here! It all leads to the same net result:
I’m on it!!
Because that’s what a Fixaholic does.
- They see what isn’t visible.
- They know the future better than God Himself sometimes.
- They borrow trouble and pay the interest on the debt so others won’t have to.
- They just want to help. Oh, how they want to help!
- They’re so busy doing, then don’t know how to just be.
- They can’t seem to:
Just. Be. Here. Now.
Yes, we Fixaholics are a special breed. We’re more conditioned then Pavlov’s dogs. You provide a stimulus (of dysfunction) and faster than you can take the next breath, we jump, ding the bell, salivate, speak, or implement a plan of action before our brain can even articulate to itself what exactly that may be.
We zig. We zag. From person to person, text to text, place to place—running and doing and ruminating and collaborating (usually with those who actually do care less) regarding what needs to be done NOW!
We don’t mean to be like this. It’s just that we really care about you.
A little bit too much.
In the shock and awe of what you are going through, somewhere along the way, we kinda forgot who we were, are, or could be.
- We just love you.
- And we don’t want you to hurt.
- Or suffer.
- Or go without.
- Or harm yourself or others.
- Or die. Whoa. That’s a heavy one.
So we zig. We zag. We pay for, care for, decide and take responsibility for all that is yours until we slowly unravel. Our momentum usually fades paradoxically the exact moment we hit the proverbial:
Or as Oprah would say, we experience our “Ah ha” moment.
- We figure out we can’t do this after all.
- Or by ourselves.
- Or without your participation.
- Or here’s a good one: Without your permission.
When we finally come up for air, as we take a fresh gulp of reality, we may even listen to you, or oddly enough to our own tired body and mind and what it’s been trying to tell us:
REALITY ALWAYS WINS. Let go and let God. God is God, you are not.
Finally. We pause. We refuse to take a single step forward despite our triggered brain that defaults to any number of messages that all have the same status:
It finally dawns on us that if we stay stuck this way–always doing and doing, spending our entire existence being your fixer, we are robbing you of so many wonderful, possible opportunities that you were no doubt about to discover for yourself, just before our compulsion (misplaced compassion) took over.
We take a breath. And then another one. Perhaps even three or more if we’re really working our recovery. We remember we have our toolbox and you have yours. We can phone a friend who gets how we are, not how you are. We can stop and not decide anything right this moment, which is often the best choice. Perhaps hardest and smoothest of all, we can simply let go and trust that you’ve got this girl (dude!).
YOU ARE CAPABLE (of figuring this out!)
LIKE ME, YOU ARE FLAWED, BUT YOU ARE LEARNING AND YOU ARE ON YOUR WAY!
YOU WILL FIGURE THIS OUT, AND IF YOU CAN’T, I WILL BE HERE TO SUPPORT YOU IN YOUR RECOVERY: I will shut my mouth and just listen to your constructive ideas as to how YOU will solve YOUR problem.
I’m strong enough now to not enable you if you suggest that which is destructive. I will choose to be brave, if you implement that which I think could harm you.
I will tell you the truth (as I perceive it) in love, but I WON’T tell you what to do.
You are already more than capable.
Life is full of ups and downs, hills and valleys. The last thing you need during your trial as you figure things out is a wild ride on the Zig Zag express train.
- I’m so sorry for the times I tried to fix you.
- I know now I can’t, but I think you can do this.
- In fact, I know you will!
- In God alone, I trust.
Oh and one last thing: I just love you.
If you know or love someone in recovery, here’s a link to a place of miracles that saved and touched the lives of many I love/and have loved. Check out their podcasts for support,. Please donate if you are able! If you struggle, PLEASE reach out for help. If you love someone that struggles, please find an Alanon/Naranon/Family Support Group in your area. When you heal yourself, you will more effectively be able to support (not enable) the ones you love who are in or seeking recovery.