I’m a fixer. Insert gasp of shock and surprise!
My whole life has been built around the need and desire to help others. In my career, my family and my day to day interactions with others, I am constantly looking for ways to help fix. Whether it is with a coffee and conversation, a simple hug or a text to a friend, it brings me joy to help. In my career, I work diligently and with a sense of honour that my clients trust me with their health, and I try to do everything I can within my scope to ensure they get the best possible care and attention they deserve. Because it is my goal to help fix whatever it is they brought to me to deal with. This desire to fix everything is what has brought me so much destructive and negative emotion into the last several years of my life. Trying desperately to fix my marriage, to fix my debt, to fix my addiction, my anxiety and my depression, seemed to continually bury me deeper and deeper into a grave of constant turmoil.
As I sat this week in my counselors office, we talked about small change. Taking a step back from trying to solve the seemingly daunting and insurmountable issues I’m dealing with, and to try and focus on the small daily tasks that invoke a change, so I can begin to see small steps forward in my healing journey. I couldn’t help but get stuck on the idea of healing versus fixing; that there is a big difference between the two and we often confuse the notion that our deep hurts and scars can be “fixed” when in fact, we need to “heal” to become whole.
When I consider the last few years, I have tried to fix my problems; I’ve tried to fix my high blood pressure, anxiety and depression, with medication. I’ve tried to fix my addiction with self help books, strategies and counseling. However, the fix is merely solving a temporary symptomatic response. It can seem quick and can give a sense of false security. I know this too well, because I have slid back into my depression and addiction on a few occasions because my fix isn’t addressing the root cause of the symptoms. It is the same way when a client presents limitations and impairments due to pain and dysfunction. Treating the symptoms might result in temporary relief, but until we unveil and begin to treat the root cause of their dysfunction, the symptoms will continue to return…and that is frustrating for everyone.
Don’t get me wrong, when it comes to mental, emotional and physical health, symptomatic relief is important and can drastically improve quality of life. I’m not going to stop going to counseling, I’m not going to stop taking my medication, and even though I don’t get there very often, I will continue to go to the gym… I need them all to survive my days. But the realization is – I won’t heal if I’m simply trying to fix.
Healing is long and Healing is difficult. There is a vulnerability and openness that comes with the healing process that is more often embarrassing and uncomfortable. It’s a deep dive into the dark places that we don’t want to go, in order to uncover the root of our symptoms. It’s facing the broken relationships, the past traumas, the hurt and the pain, giving them space to matter, acknowledging their presence and finding the ways in which to let them rest in the past and not effect your present. This is not easy, it takes work. I am not there yet…As I said, I’ve been trying to fix everything instead of facing the demons that won’t allow me to heal the way in which I need to.
For me, being able to make small daily changes will allow me the opportunity to begin to heal. I have the tendency to become easily overwhelmed when there is too much to do and I can’t seem to figure out how to fix the big problems. When this happens, I sink into my negative narrative and allow the helplessness and hopelessness to invade my thoughts and nothing gets done.
This speaks into the concept of living with the attitude of “What is Next”. Knowing that I want to be debt free; knowing I want to free of my destructive mental health; knowing that one day I don’t want to be a slave to my situations and to be eventually healed.
So knowing these things, having written them down in a journal and acknowledging that there is a place I need to get to, a destination at the end of this journey where I will hopefully find peace and an absence of this current suffering, what can I do now and how can I make the small daily changes that will begin to put one foot in front of the other? This is where my journey is now. I am in the process of figuring our what is next and where I need to go from here. I will continue to have days where I will have taken a step backwards, but I will consistently ask the question of what is next? What can I learn from the process that will enable my healing to begin to take place.
For now though, I will leave the band-aid on my soul and find the path towards healing. It is going to take a long time, but I will choose to heal not just fix.