4.03.2013

The Fixer.


 “Now and then it is good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.”
-Guillaume Apollinaire

When I was a kid, I had a beautiful antique dresser. During one of our moves, the movers had placed another piece of furniture on top of it and it had crushed a small circle in the top- showing through to inside one of the top drawers. But, being the financial scrappers that we were, we kept it.

My sister and I would hide things in the “secret cubby” of our dresser- almost as if it were a place for buried treasure. Mom eventually patched the hole, but you can still see where my secret hiding spot once was. I don’t remember the dresser any other way.

Sometimes, in life, there are going to be broken things. Things that no matter how much you patch them up- are going to remain unfixable. Now, for me, I’m a fixer. “A woman of action,” according to one of my friends. I have a difficult time understanding why things can’t just be better. I forget that some things are not mine to fix.

But there is beauty in the broken.

Broken things are labeled as imperfect, but they are no less stunning than something whole. My cubby in the dresser became a secret treasure trove… without that, it was just another dresser.

People are much the same. We are all broken in some way, and that is what makes us beautiful. We are all unique in our scratches and cracked bones. And other people, of all things, are not ours to fix. And we are not another’s to fix.

I’ve known so many fixer-uppers in my life. I guess that, as a fixer, I tend to gravitate toward them. I far too often find myself trying to change people, not understanding why they can’t just be better. Especially as a writer, I tend to overanalyze and overcompensate with conversation. “I’ve got the answer!” I scream, pen in hand.

But it’s a bit selfish, really. What makes me think that I know everything? That my answers are the right ones?

I recently spoke to a friend of mine one who knows me better than anyone else. I was seeking counsel on a particular problem of mine, trying to make a judgment call on what my next step should be. Initially, he laughed at my solutions (most of them being kneejerk reactions) and told me that he found them admirable and ballsy. But once the joking was done, he came to a truth. “Just because someone else is being a jerk- doesn’t mean that you have to lower the standard of the person that YOU are.”

I was trying so hard to figure out ways to “fix” the problem- that I wasn’t allowing it to settle, embracing the imperfection and the beauty in the broken-ness that it was.

I once dated someone who, for 2 years, was an alcoholic. He still is. He won’t read this, but I would say these things to his face because we have that type of friendship now. I spent YEARS trying to fix him. I would drive him places and take him to meetings. I’d cave when he messed up on his sobriety and forgive him, figuring that together we could “fix it.”

If there’s one thing that dating an alcoholic will teach you- it’s how little control you have over other people. They can’t even control themselves, so how will you? Even after the split, I continued to try to fix him. I cared about him, and still do to this day. Even though the dynamic of our relationship has changed completely- I’d still love nothing more than for him to stop drinking and get his life together.

For the longest time, everyone I knew would say the same thing. “Man, if he could get it together, he would be THE GREATEST. Everyone loves him; he just needs to stop drinking.” And for a long time, I chimed in and agreed. Especially as a fixer, it’s almost an impulse to hear that and brainstorm solutions.

Now I just nod my head in agreement. “Definitely. But if I had a dime for every time someone said that to me…” It’s not that I have no faith in him. I’ve seen him through confrontations and rehabilitation and bouts of genuinely trying to be better. I’ve done everything I can, and after that I just have to love him and allow him to be broken until he can fix himself.

Some things are not yours to fix.

Being a fixer is an admirable quality… when people ask for help. I find that I am often the person my friends call for advice. I am the one in my house who others come to for home repair solutions. At work, I am the in-between for everyone who wants problems resolved. And it gets heavy, when I’m not in the mood. But I also feel a sense of responsibility toward answering a cry for help. It gives me a sense of purpose.

But unless you’re asked, leave the fixing be.

There is one thing in this life that you can control. And that is yourself. The way other people treat you is evidence of THEIR character. It has little to do with you. The way you react, or choose not to react, speaks of YOUR character. Let the broken be broken. Find the beauty in the flaws, and love them just the same.

It has never been about perfection. It has only, always, been about love.

2 comments:

Brandon Hann said...

Great post! I've never had to be around anyone that was addicted to anything, but I am currently in a situation that is causing me to feel like a fixer too. I'm one of those people that has always had an answer for everyone who needed it, but now I'm faced with the reality that I don't have any answers to give.

At first I was upset by this, but after reading your post, you're right...some things are really not ours to fix.

Brandon Hann said...

Great post! I've never had to be around anyone that was addicted to anything, but I am currently in a situation that is causing me to feel like a fixer too. I'm one of those people that has always had an answer for everyone who needed it, but now I'm faced with the reality that I don't have any answers to give.

At first I was upset by this, but after reading your post, you're right...some things are really not ours to fix.