Posted by Jamie
I certainly identify with our beloved Veronica’s post on relationships with “fixer-uppers.” Though some of the men in my past drank too much or drugged a bit, I seem to have a history of attracting men with mental/emotional illness. From the deepest of self-esteem issues to full-blown manic-depression (as it was called in those days) if they had a little crazy goin’ on, I was crazy about them.
Most of them, for the most part, were all good guys, intelligent, with potential. “With potential,” was always my weakness. I’m an artist, an organizer, a fixer. I see a bunch of trash and make a collage. I see a tangle of veggies and make soup. I see a guy with all sorts of diamonds in the rough of severe emotional morass and think: “I know with a little time and love he will be whole and THEN we can live happily ever after.”
In the late 90s when my personal life had hit yet another low, a friend mentioned that one usually attracted the type of person with the approximate level of crazy that you had. As I had been a practicing Buddhist for a few years at that point, I stopped and thought about how that fit in with my spiritual life: Everything in your environment is a perfect reflection of what is inside of you. To change the world you have to change yourself.
Now I’m the kind of girl who wants to help everyone. . .and time got away from me and taking care of myself, learning to love and respect myself, and discovering what makes me happy somehow went to simmer on the backburner as I took sword in hand to vanquish the enemies of friends, family and fellow employees.
At 44 years old I was destined to be alone and figured I better make myself that special someone in my life. I put a lot of work and struggle into the fixing-up of me, the hardest thing I’ve ever done: Putting myself first. Asking myself what I really want. Quite the challenge for a person who has believed from birth she was put here to “help” people.
Then I cut myself some slack about five years ago when a teacher friend of mine said: “The world is not broken and we are not here to fix it. You are not broken and you do not need to be fixed. You are worthy. We are here to be joyful.” Pivotal life moment!
In a flash I realized there is no one I can “fix” because they are not broken. I’m not a savior or a saint, and a loving relationship is not about “saving” someone or them “saving” you. Attempting to change someone, fix them or please them is an eternal, merciless, and thankless impossible task. People get sane and sober because it is something THEY have a deep desire for, not because I happen to think they need fixing.
I had confused encouragement and support with (the hint of arrogant) hope that if I carried everything on my shoulders, the payoff would be a guy noticing what a good girl am I. . .and THAT would lead to true love! I began laughing at myself and have continued to ever since when the urge to “fix” becomes confused with offering encouragement.
My life has changed profoundly and in miraculous and happy ways ever since. In fact, a couple years later, after getting into a fulfilling and joyful relationship with myself, the love of my life found me. He’s an amazing person who has his own tools to overcome the demons and dangers of his life. No fixing or heavy lifting needed from me. We just fell in love and continue to love ourselves first, and then each other, happily ever after.