I am a fixer. Up until recently my motto has been, “If it’s broken, fix it!”
One thing I have learned, however, is that some things need to repair in their own time…and others may never repair at all.
For example, I recently got my first official sports injury – I pulled a hamstring while doing the splits. Immediately I wanted to fix it. I wanted to get a physiotherapist on it, do stretches, and make it right again. I didn’t want to be limping. I didn’t want to be broken.
To my dismay, I was advised that it was far too soon for anyone to massage my leg – I had to sit and simply let it be.
So I gave it a few days and then I went to the physiotherapist and my first question was “What stretches can I do to fix this?”
My physiotherapist replied that it is far too soon to be doing stretches of any kind – maybe in a week, but for now I just have to wait it out, give it time.
Of course there are subtle things I can do to aid in the healing – ice packs, heat, anti-inflammatories – but for the most part it is just a waiting game; I can’t take any real action until my leg is ready. It is out of my control…And that sucks!
I want to fix it NOW. I want to be healed NOW. I want to go back to normal again.
But there’s nothing I can do and allowing it to bring me down or frustrate me will not speed up the healing, it will only make the healing process unbearable.
For now I have to accept that it is injured.
Recently I have been troubled by my upcoming arrival home to Canada. See, while I’ve been away visiting Zambia for the summer a person from my past (whom I did not have the most peaceful ending with) has become acquainted with my tight-knit circle of friends.
Right from the start, this put a great amount of pressure on all of those involved (including myself). Everybody knew it was only a matter of time until I was home and we’d all be sitting at the same table – avoiding eye contact with the big purple elephant spitting peanut shells at us from across the room.
As the days pass by and my arrival gets closer I have been anticipating the reality I am about to enter in to. This person and I never sorted out our issues; things were left broken and jagged and now I see the potential that those sharp edges have of cutting into me and my friends.
As I was pondering what to do the other day, naturally my first reaction was “I need to fix this”. I began planning my attack – I will make smoothing things over priority number one when I got home even if it means acting out of turn. I didn’t care whether or not I’d be prepared to do this or if they would be ready – all I knew was that if things remained broken that would bring stress into my life and the last thing I need is stress right now – I’m in recovery for crying out loud!
And then it hit me – what is it that I am trying to achieve through this journey?
Am I trying to prevent any sort of stressors from ever arising because ‘I just can’t handle them’, or am I trying to rise above life’s stresses and learn how to handle them in a healthy way?
Clearly, I find it difficult to live with things being broken, however, is the solution to spend the rest of my life fixing every crack, smoothing out every jagged edge, because I fear anything that is damaged?
In life, it seems like every time you fix something, two more things end up shattered on the floor. Do I keep fixing? At what point will I burn out? Maybe the answer does not lie in learning how to fix things, maybe the answer lies in learning how to live with things being broken.
If I learn how to live with things being broken, then brokenness will no longer hold power over me – I will no longer feel the pressure to bandage, tape, or glue everything back together.
It is not unlike the concept of teaching a man to fish rather than giving him free food – it’s a long-term solution.
See, the thing about the ‘need’ to have things OK is you will always be running around with your toolkit trying to fix things: repairing the damage, preventing the hurt, mending the broken. But if you learn to leave things be, to live with the reality that some things may just need to be damaged for awhile, then you can step back and give it (and yourself) time to breath. If it gets repaired, then you are at a gain, if it does not, then you still haven’t lost anything; you will carry on with life just fine because you no longer need to play the handyman – you no longer need to be a fixer.
What a relief!
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