Welcome to my Realms of Relationships Column I write monthly for Sally Cronin’s Smorgasbord Blog Magazine
In this issue I’m discussing my thoughts from my own experiences on the topic of ‘Fixers’ – when we feel empowered to fix issues of those we care for, often beyond our scope.
Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – D. G. Kaye Explores the Realms of Relationships – July 2020 – Calling All Fixers!
Welcome to the July edition of Realms of Relationships Calling All Fixers
Are you that person who has a dire need to fix the people you care about? Are you that person who thinks nobody can fix things like you can? Let me tell you, I was one of those people, and I learned that there are definite limitations when it comes to thinking we can repair others—despite how much our hearts truly wish we could.
Our compassion and love fuel our desire to want to help our loved ones when we sense something is off. But it’s a fact that some issues are better left for the professionals—psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, etc. Yet, sometimes our overwhelming desire wins out, and we just can’t help but feel emboldened enough to think we’re capable of taking on the task, because, after all, we know that person intimately. We love them and take care of them, so obviously we should have no problem setting things right. But no. We cannot. And we shouldn’t feel as though it’s our job to do so either. Seems I was born with the ‘nurturing gene’ so, I’ve spent much of my life learning the hard way.
We cannot fix those who don’t wish to be fixed, nor those who even deny there’s
As I’ve mentioned in the beginning of this series, I have no PHD, but the one from life, so everything I write about is from the lessons I took in myself and any research I’ve done to confirm to myself what I learned. I’d read plenty on personality disorders, spirituality, and self- improvement since my teens. My curiosity has always been people and what makes them behave the way they do. There’s always a reason – a spark, an aha moment that can set someone off – a trigger. But diagnosing doesn’t mean we’re equipped or qualified to control or heal someone. So, I don’t write as a medical expert, but just an educated and experienced gal from the school of life.
For some of you here who may have read one of my books, you will know that I grew up observing my narcissistic mother, even though I knew nothing about the word or condition of a narcissist when I was a beginner in my quest to analyze her. I just figured it out as I got older and read books to satisfy my curiosity, then followed through learning more about them and discovered she was that.
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When someone we love isn’t well, our natural instincts as carers is to try and fix what’s wrong. There’s nothing wrong with trying, but issues dealing with mental imbalances, such as bi-polar, manic depression, and other deep-rooted issues requiring clinical assessment are typically beyond our league. Just because we love and care for that person, doesn’t mean we have the proper experience or training to deal with such issues. Another factor could be that the affected person doesn’t realize how deep their issues go or may not even be aware they even have a problem – which should be a huge flag our loved one needs professional help.
Now, certainly we can do our best to help fix a bad attitude by offering consoling and by making best efforts to uplift our loved ones when a bad moment arises. We may offer discussion, remind them they are in a safe place to vent, reminding them we love them and care and we’re there for them, but for serious mental afflictions, it’s best they get the proper medical attention. Unless we have the medical training for some tough issues, all the talking and uplifting in the world just may not be enough.
As I wrote about here in my last article on Empaths, for those of us who are uber compassionate people, we can sometimes become a little too eager with our desire to help those in need. Sometimes we may feel our compassionate abilities, our gift to help others, is a magic one-size fits all. But sadly, it isn’t. Because I’m not a certified therapist, I know I don’t have all the tools to fix everyone I wish to, despite my best efforts and intentions.
I’ve collected many broken people flocking to me since I was a young girl – starting with my father, who, incidentally, did do his best to follow my advice, although, love and broken hearts have a will of their own, and with that, I’ll just say that at least I could still be there for his heavy landings when my mother would once again make him feel small. His hurt held a space inside my heart that ate away at me for my entire childhood and beyond. Those were my early days of becoming the parent to my father. And even at the tender age of seven, my great need to stop the hurt and stand up to my mother for the love of my father were the beginnings of my desire to become the fixer of everyone’s unhappiness.
I inherited my empathy from my father whose giant heart was smitten, and consequently, ensnared by a beautiful girl with opportunistic intentions. It was that one day when my dad dropped me off back at home after our Sunday visit that my desire to be a fixer was born.
My dad pulled up around our circular driveway, put the car in park and hugged my younger siblings goodbye as I stayed an extra few moments in the front seat so we could have our alone time for a little longer. When he hugged me goodbye, he had tears in his eyes and asked me, his seven years-old little girl, if I would please ask Mommy to take him back. Just like that—just like I wasn’t seven. He was broken, and it broke me. Not surprising I grew up with a strong desire to fix people. I was also empathetic toward my mother. Despite my resentments toward her, I continued to do things to please and appease her—even when my own heart wasn’t in it.
I tried so many times through the years to offer her ideas to better her health. I offered to buy her supplements I knew would benefit her, approved by my own naturopath, but she’d mock me with her usual derogatory names, the same old lines—“You think you’re so goddamned smart,” a common and familiar phrase. ‘Hocus pocus bullshit’ was how she referred to anything she wasn’t versed in because if she wasn’t informed, or advised by her trusted drug- pushing doctor, her Narcissistic self would not tolerate being outshined. I didn’t know it then, but it took a few more decades of mental anguish to learn she suffered a superiority complex of grandeur, she couldn’t tolerate it if someone was smarter, better, prettier, than her.
I found this so weird because my mother never even graduated high school, but nobody would have known the better because she’d deny it to your face even though she knew the truth. Yup, that was my mother, and as my patriarchal ancestors would say, she ate my kishkes’ out‘. (This is a Yiddish cliché expression. In direct context, ‘kishke’ is comparable to Scottish haggis.)
There was no fixing my mother, but eventually, I learned why. There was no fixing her like there was no fixing a man I wasted seven years of my life with before I met my own husband. Yes, seven crazy years – I stayed wayyy too long at that prom—to the point I was risking my life.
It didn’t take me seven years to figure it out. All the signs were apparent in the first year, but I was sure I could fix him. . . Continue reading at Smorgasbord