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 a problem.
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. Oh yes, dependable me, once I was committed, I was adamant to make things work. After stringing together bits and pieces of our conversations and witnessing some uncalled for, explosive incidents, I began to feel an eerie discomfort around him. I concluded he was manic-depressive, only he wasn’t aware of it. I studied his patterns of anger escalation, especially volatile when fueled by alcohol. And my stubbornness only led me to becoming trapped without an expensive exit. This story is a book in itself – one I have a dire need to write about to be of help to those women who are trapped with their abusers, but unfortunately, I’m still living in the fear he is out there somewhere, which was the original inspiration for taking a pen name.
I lived through countless ‘I love yous’, ‘I’m so sorrys’, ‘I promise I’ll changes’, until I heard ‘If I can’t have you, nobody will.’ I knew by the first year I had to leave, but sadly, it took me six more to put it in action. I learned a lot about psychological intimidation – as both, a receiver then a player, and how to use it to my advantage. But it turned out I was far from equipped to handle the mess I’d grown myself into with that relationship. And quite frankly, from that chunk of my life, I learned the scary repercussions there could be from trying to fix a volatile volcano.
In the end, what I learned after narrowly escaping with my life, there is no magic potion to fix all the people we wish to fix. In fact, depending on the issues our loved one is dealing with, we can actually, sometimes, be putting our own lives in danger.
We can be loving and supporting by trying to help people get the proper help they need. When it comes to immersing ourselves into trying to help someone whose issues are beyond our medical education, the best thing we can do for those who suffer is find them the appropriate help and be there to support, not fix.
Do you find yourself being a ‘fixer’? I’m all ears if you’d like to share. 😊
Debby Gies is a Canadian nonfiction/memoir author who writes under the pen name of D.G. Kaye. She was born, raised, and resides in Toronto, Canada. Kaye writes about her life experiences, matters of the heart and women’s issues.
D.G. writes to inspire others. Her writing encompasses stories taken from events she encountered in her own life, and she shares the lessons taken from them. Her sunny outlook on life developed from learning to overcome challenges in her life, and finding the upside from those situations, while practicing gratitude for all the positives.
When Kaye isn’t writing intimate memoirs, she brings her natural sense of humor into her other works. She loves to laugh and self- medicate with a daily dose of humor.
I love to tell stories that have lessons in them, and hope to empower others by sharing my own experiences. I write raw and honest about my own experiences, hoping through my writing, that others can relate and find that there is always a choice to move from a negative space, and look for the positive.
“Live Laugh Love . . . And Don’t Forget to Breathe!”
“For every kindness, there should be kindness in return. Wouldn’t that just make the world right?”
When I’m not writing, I’m reading or quite possibly looking after some mundane thing in life. It’s also possible I may be on a secret getaway trip, as that is my passion—traveling.
Books by D.G. Kaye
One of the recent reviews for Twenty Years After “I Do”
Jane Sturgeon rated it Five Stars.
A gift for anyone who lives and loves….
This special book is full of warmth, love, laughter and much wisdom. It tackles difficult topics with Debby’s lovely, open style and has many nuggets of advice that are helpful. It is a beautiful anniversary gift to her husband Gordan, a loving testimony to how they are together and a gift for us all. This wonderful sharing, so well written, connects us with a deep understanding of how love can overcome many challenges. Thank you, Debby, for sharing your life and your gifts.
Read all the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US
and: Amazon UK
More reviews and follow Debby: Goodreads
Connect to Debby Gies
My thanks to Debby for taking on the challenge this year of exploring the complexity of relationships, and sharing strategies to improve the way we manage those important to us. As always your feedback is very welcome. Thanks Sally