Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Fixer

A friend of mine told me once “you can’t fix everything.”  These words still ring in my ear like I am just hearing them today instead of 7 years ago.  Maybe it is just me repeating it over and over, like Rainman.  I didn’t sleep well last night thanks to the shock of how much it cost for my child to play AAU basketball.  My mind was trying to decide where the money would come from in the midst of other things that needed those funds, like our vehicles that seem to be forever running on empty thanks to the fact that gas prices are going up as quickly as the numbers on my scale.  So I found myself headed to the kitchen at 4 a.m. to work on the dishwasher that seems to be dying a slow death.  It was a desperate moment.  I needed to fix something.

I always thought being a fixer meant I just wanted to help… that I was just a good problem solver.  If I saw a problem between two people as maybe a misunderstanding or just lack of good communication, I couldn’t help but want to offer up ways to make it better.  I remember talking to a friend about his marriage one time and for every negative I would come back with “well, at least she does this or that”.  Trying to get him to look at the positive.  In retrospect, he was right, she was/is a crazy bitch.  However, I just wanted him to be happy.  There was a time I even sacrificed that friendship in the hope that would fix it… it didn’t.  I know now there was nothing I could do to fix it, because although it wasn’t my problem to fix, I was believed to be the problem, but when the problem is within a person, they are the only ones who can fix it and the only person who can help them fix it is God. 

I came across an article:  http://www.livestrong.com/article/14696-overcoming-the-need-to-fix/  and was surprised to realize how much my need to fix seemed to be a need to control.  I have always seen it as a desire for peace and happiness for others.  Not every point in the article stepped on my toes, but a few did.  Most importantly, the realizations were things that I had already come to see.  They were lessons I had been learning since the day my friend told me “you can’t fix everything.”

As I have gone full blast into my 40’s I have become proud to look back and not see the mistakes I made, but what I learned… the difference in me.  I recently lost all my photos (over 16,000) I had saved on my laptop.  When I told my husband the next morning, he could not believe that I had not had a come-apart and woke the whole house up with my distress over it.  He just stopped and looked at me like who the heck are you, when I said “There’s nothing I can do about it but try to fix it.  Getting upset isn’t going to change it.” I’m calm.  My feathers don’t ruffle quite like they use to.  I think before I act or speak… most of the time.  Sometimes I don’t even recognize myself!  I still offer advice and “fixes” to my children on their relationships and decisions.  I can’t help but give it to others too, when they ask and sometimes when they don’t.   But now I know, I can’t fix it.  All I can do is tell the lessons I learned and let it fix itself, because by now I know, in time, it always does.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

True Friend?

So I am one of those moms that will accept friend request from my children’s friends and classmates because I want to know about them.  I want to know about the people who are part of my children’s lives day in and day out.  It is an eye opening way to see whom you want and don’t want your children hanging around with.  I have seen so many post these days about “true friends” and the lack thereof.  It makes me sad for them and makes me wonder what happened.

Have we risen this generation to be so competitive, self-centered or untrusting that they don’t know how friendship works?  Are their requirements so rigid that they are not accepting of others personality traits that may be dissimilar to their own? 

A “trust no one” stepfather influenced my husband during part of his youth.  You can’t trust anyone has been a resounding theme I have heard often over the years.  Truthfully, as we age, it is easy to understand why we feel that way but is it fair to put those feelings on our children?  We want to protect them and keep them from making the mistakes we did, but haven’t many of those mistakes made us who we are today?  We tell our children, a real friend wouldn’t do such and such.  But they are all kids learning how to be real friends and some of them learning from people who never learned how to be one themselves.

I love that I have been blessed with more true friends than my fair share and I hope that they would say I have been a true friend to them.  I wish there was a tried and true method for friendship, but it is a gift, not something that happens because you want it.  I want it greatly for some of the youth in my life and pray that in time it will come to them for there is nothing better than a true friend.  They are everywhere you look, looking for the same thing.  I don’t know how we as parents can help, but I hope we are indeed helping and not hurting.

Just a thought. 

“Friends can help each other. A true friend is someone who lets you have total freedom to be yourself - and especially to feel. Or, not feel. Whatever you happen to be feeling at the moment is fine with them. That's what real love amounts to - letting a person be what he really is.” – Jim Morrison

Monday, February 6, 2012

Victim Mentality

You saw the title and immediately someone came to mind. We all know someone who “suffers” from victim mentality or self victimization. Wikipedia defines self-victimization as the fabrication of victimhood for a variety of reasons such to justify the abuse of others, to manipulate others, a coping strategy, or attention seeking. Typical “victims” do not seem to look inside themselves to see if they could hold any responsibility for their problems or misfortunes in life. They are so intent on looking for someone to blame they fail to understand that everyone has problems at one time or another and at some point need to accept personal responsibility for the challenges life brings. It is a self centered nature that makes one believe they are the only one with challenges in their me, me, me world.

I have one friend I have known for many years. I dearly love this friend but I believe she often falls in the self-victimization pit. When I saw the description “a coping strategy” I began to wonder if this somehow centralized her victim mentality. She had several challenges growing up that had left deep scars from which major trust and jealously issues grew. She is loving and giving to many, but never feels anyone gives as much as she does. She seems to feel everyone has one foot out the door of her life. Although this has proven not to be the case, she holds onto some and pushes some away in this manner. Her mind runs away with her as thoughts of perceived wrongdoings converge in the form of idol gossip or simple misunderstandings. She seems to lack the communication skills to simply ask someone and ease her mind. The older I have become, I have grown less patient with nurturing what often seem to be endless needs of reassurance. I know many think I am cold when I say at some point you have to cut people off and truth be known, at the heart, I never could. Still, in the day to day busy lives we lead, who truly has time to baby and reassure adults who you have proven your love and trustworthiness to time and time again. At some point, is enough just not simply enough?

On the other hand we have someone who should walk around with a flashing neon sign above their head with a list of who wronged me today. She is fed by family members who enable her victim mentality constantly. The people who dare tell them another point of view or refuse to be sucked into their pit of drama are immediate enemies. Anyone who disagrees with her is against her is just another soldier in the war she fights against all that is ungodly. Her victim mentality goes so far as make her and her minions appear the sole true Christians standing against the evils of the world. Anyone who is friends or even associates with those she deems “evil” are ungodly and must be shunned by others. Because, as you know that is just what Jesus would do. I say that tongue in cheek because the ridiculousness of this behavior is the extreme side of self-victimization yet it is a behavior that has not ceased in the 14 or so years I have known this person. Numerous failed friendships, marriages and relationships have all been at the fault or indiscretion of the other party. How is that possible? How in nearly 40 years of life have you never been at fault? In every relationship there are two people. In every failed relationship, no matter what type of relationship, there are two people at fault: The one who hurt and the one who refused to forgive; the one who stayed and the one who left; the one who tried and the one who refused. This person in particular is truly mean spirited, however, she like my friend above will find people who are truly needy and will come up with grand gestures to help them, which at heart is a great thing, but what are they trying to prove, and to whom?

People who have been true victims of crimes and acts of nature such as our recent tornados are truly victims. When I was young, my family lost nearly everything to a house fire. We did not go to bed that night without clothes to sleep in, toothbrushes and every daily necessity. Being the victim of a true tragedy will create in you a heart of gratitude. We did not expect those things to be provided for us as we watched our home burn quickly to the ground. God just provided through his people. Many are so focused on what they don’t have or what people don’t do that they fail to see anything positive or good in people, so they have no true spirit of gratitude. Yes, they may throw out a thank you, but do they truly ever realize what has been done for them… that didn’t HAVE to be done. The apology didn’t HAVE to be given, the small niceties that did not HAVE to be offered. They are a grace given to you through him, yet they are too self centered to realize it because it wasn’t in the way they wanted. I have seen a sign that says “love yourself first and everything else falls into place”. Yes, I fully believe in loving myself as I have blogged about before. But to truly love yourself you have to realize and love the ways you are not perfect. No human person is. God created every single one of us equally. His word was written for every single one of us and it applies to every single one us. Yet those with victim mentality believe they are blameless which in turn makes it hard for anyone to reach out to them. It seems impossible to help someone of this nature because of their lack of an internal compass.

I wish I knew the cure for victim mentality. I don’t have the desire to look for it as in life I have known true victims and have little patience for those who perceive themselves to be one when in reality they are people God has blessed with children, family and friends, even though the majority of them may be on the internet and not truly know them. They are just too selfish to see it… and in the end that will cost them and leave them a victim, of their own making yet again.