I have been a helper and a fixer all my life. Whenever I saw someone who was hurting or who needed help in any way, I was quick to be there in whatever way I could. I offered help, advice, my shoulder, my time… whatever I could think of to lift another up and to provide the help that was so obviously needed… in my eyes. I never stopped to consider whether the person actually wanted help or fixing. That never occurred to me. In my mind, the person needed help, and I could provide it… or at the very least, show that I cared. That had to help, right?
Wrong. I assumed that I knew what another needed and that I would come to the rescue. I was there to fill that need, to whatever extent I could. I recognize that my heart was in the right place, but my thinking was flawed. I assumed that I knew what another needed. How could I have the insight and knowledge to truly know what another needed? How could I assume so much about me… and about someone else?
I repeated my erroneous assumption over and over in my life, believing that I was acting from the goodness and caring of my heart until recently when I realized a simple, but profound, truth. I cannot truly help anyone who doesn’t want or ask for help.
I realized that I cannot help the man I love. I know that my heart has been in the right place, but I believed that I could accomplish the impossible. I believed that my love could heal my deeply troubled partner. I know that I’m not the first person to believe that, and I won’t be the last. I had witnessed how my unconditional love and support had helped my children heal after our family broke apart. I have experienced the power of love and caring in helping my students learn to believe in themselves and begin to blossom on their own. I came to believe in the power of love to heal. I thought I could love my partner better. I knew that childhood issues continued to haunt him and that alcohol was the pain reliever he turned to when he felt overwhelmed. In his pain, he often turned on me with vicious verbal attacks. Even as I realized that I was involved in a cycle of addiction and I learned to recognize the phases of the cycle, I still believed that love was the key to healing his deep-seated scars. Even after I left him, I returned to him again and again wanting to try one more time to love him enough to help heal him.
I wasn’t wrong. Love does heal. My error was in believing that I could make the difference… that my love could soothe and heal the scars he carried within. What I failed to realize was that he had to want to heal. He had to ask for my help… and I finally realized, after years of repeated heartbreak, that he had never asked for or wanted help. That was the missing piece of the equation that I believed I had all figured out. This is his life journey, and even though, I can see the pain he imposes on himself and others, it is not for me to fix anything for him. This is his life experience, and it is up to him to find his way. Who am I to believe that I know what he needs?
I realize now that it is not for me to interfere with the journey of another… even if I come from a place of love and caring. If that person asks for my help, then I will be open and willing to assist in whatever way I can. However, if that person is not open to help or does not ask for help, then I am imposing my perception on the situation. What I perceive is subject to my beliefs and values, and it is dependent on what I have experienced on my own journey. How can I possibly know or come close to understanding the personal journey of another? It is not for me to impose my assumptions on someone else for each of us has our own life curriculum.
Even God doesn’t impose what He knows is best for us. God waits patiently for us to remember who we are and to ask for help. God waits for us to open ourselves to healing, and in that willingness, it is accomplished. That is true, unconditional Love that honours each person’s free will to experience life on his or her own terms… even if we, from our limited frame of reference, perceive that help is needed. It is not for us to decide or to impose what we believe is best on another person because that interferes with free will. However, when someone is open and willing, love does heal. And that’s where people with an affinity for helping and fixing can shine! We just have to remember… is help actually wanted?