Saturday, April 16, 2011

No longer coming to the rescue...

I have always been a collector of strays.  Stray animals. stray toys and stray people have made their way into my life over the years.  The animals I have fed, loved and found homes for, the toys get cleaned up and most often repurposed into and art project.  The people, well the people I would try to fix.  I've only had success with the first two.

Of course, the fact that you can't fix someone is something that is obvious to most.  We've all heard the many sayings about how people have to learn to save themselves, they have to want to get 'better'.  Those of us that are people fixers are aware of all of this, we just don't think it applies to us because we are imbued with a special super power that allows us to see just what someone's problem is AND just how to go about fixing it.  What is ironic about this is that when the person we are trying to rescue fails our response is always, "Well if YOU only did what I told you to do you wouldn't have a problem."

As I said, we KNOW that they have to be the one to do it, what we can't understand is why they don't, and so we think then that it must be us, that we must not be saying it loud enough, often enough, or we haven't used the right words.  So we keep some spinning carnival ride that we know will make us sick to our stomachs, but we get on anyway because we are convinced that THIS time it won't.

Well, I am happy to say that I think I may have finally stepped out of the line for this particular merry go round.  Twice in the past month I've encountered situations with people in my life that in the past would have made me spring into high fix it mode, and I didn't.  It isn't that I didn't feel sympathy for their situation or that I can't be here to listen if they need me to, it's that I had a very conscious realization that other than those two things, there wasn't anything I could do.

It is so hard to watch those we care about suffer, especially when it is due to what we see as their own choices or actions (like addiction or untreated mental illness).  It is so painful to be a witness to a friend's struggle and to know that we can't win the battle for them.

It is never an easy thing to do, but in the end it is not only best thing for the person we so desperately want to save, it is the best thing we can do for ourselves.

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