Just call me Olivia Pope (from “Scandal”). Yup, I’m “the fixer.” I’ve been known to swoop in & spend every waking moment (and sometimes in my dreams) trying to fix other people’s problems. I’ve kept myself awake at night trying to come up with a solution to help someone through their situation. I’ve prayed and I’ve cried for them. I’ve spent countless hours listening to someone’s problems only to have them stab me in the back later. I’ve made phone calls on someone’s behalf to people I thought cared and could help; only to be turned down. I’ve lent money I knew I wouldn’t get back. I’ve put more mileage on my car than an Uber driver to take someone to appointments or to be there for them; when they never even said “thank you” or offered to put gas in my car. I’ve worked myself to exhaustion only to find the person right back in the same situation I “saved” them from time and time again.
It wasn’t until a very close friend got tired of seeing me worried and upset about someone else’s problems that it hit me. She said very emphatically “not your monkey; not your circus”. At first I was taken aback but I quickly realized what she was saying. It wasn’t up to me to “fix” other people’s problems. And she was right. I needed to learn to walk away. And not make their problem my problem.
As a mother, that’s not always so easy for me. I often feel like I’m everyone’s mother and try to fix whatever I can. But when you realize you are being taken advantage of it hurts. I literally spent hours a day (over a matter of years) listening to someone confide in me about their problems and asking for my motherly advice. Only to have them turn their back on me and blame me for their problems. At first I was hurt and then I got angry. Because I realized it wasn’t me who had the problem it was them. They needed a scapegoat for their misbehavior and I was an easy target because I never saw it coming. My first reaction was “I am NEVER helping anyone again”. But that’s not the solution either. Once I calmed down, I silently said a pray for them; wished them well in their future endeavors and removed them from my mind and my path. Because where I am going they will not be coming with me.
We all have the responsibility to help someone in need in any way we can but we must set limits. Help can come in different ways…pray for them; give them a reassuring smile; say words of encouragement; donate a limited amount of your time or even donate a limited amount of money. But set the limit! Do not let yourself be taken advantage of by professional victims. Those who take advantage of good natured people who are eager to assist.
Remember there is a difference in helping someone and being their enabler. We need to know when to walk away from the problem or even at times the person. If we are always trying to help, they will never learn how to fix things on their own. And if they do the actual fixing maybe they won’t slip back into the “bad” situation so easily.
There is also a chance that they will never come out of it. But as harsh as it sounds, that is not our problem. That’s why I’ve learned to pray for them and wish them well. I have my own life to live. I have my own responsibilities. My own goals. My own hills to climb.
There are still times where I am tempted to help more than I should but when that happens I hear my friends voice in my ear and I remember I am not the Ring Leader for anyone’s circus but my own.