Truths in a Cupboard

My name is Heather and I’m a fixer.

Pretty much any broken thing will do but I particularly like to fix people.  I can get caught up for years in fixing someone before realising, fuck, I’m at it again; I’m down the rabbit hole of fixing someone because it’s part of my cycle of learned behaviour and my controlling streak which, goddammit you slacking bastards, wants RESULTS.  NOW.  SO DO AS I SAY, RIGHT?

Further, while I’m confessing anyway… (ten dysfunction bonus points inbound here) I’ve realised my ‘helping’ people has paralysed them inadvertently, because until we each identify our own bullshit and start joyfully dissecting it, every interaction we have is just enabling the pattern we like to knit with the yarn of our daily reality.  So, I’ve realised, when my helping gets too helpful it’s basically complicit in the very shit-show it was trying to undo.

I was reading some of my teen and early adulthood diaries yesterday.  My multiple commitments to fixing people jumped out at me and made me cringe for the paradox of the god complex mixed with the insecure neediness.  Then, the cringe deepened as I realised I WAS STILL AT IT.  That very morning I’d emailed a friend with a huge solution to a huge problem.  I guess the good thing is that now I truly know and can start to marry up the theory properly with the lived experience.  I bloody knew that box of diaries was calling me for a good reason…. There’s nothing like a good cringe in a cramped cupboard to drive a point home, after all.

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I have to get better at meeting people’s problems with an ear and a question rather than a solution.  Listening, followed by, ‘what do you want to do about that?’ would be, I reckon, so much healthier than listening followed by, ‘what you should do is…..’.

I know myself that when I’ve had tough stuff to deal with I’ve craved someone giving me the answers.  I have even felt entitled to people delivering the answers to me, so convincing was my inner victim story telling.  I’ve asked people to tell me what’s in my blind spot to save me time and energy and hurt trying to work it out.  Better for the planet that way, right?  And the result?  I’ve never truly taken in what I didn’t learn for myself. Shit for the planet, actually.  The opposite of emotional fuel efficiency.  Twatfuel, if you will. Fully leaded.

I remember watching my Dad wallpapering a room when I was about 11.  Afterwards, I knew a little about wallpapering.  Years later, I attempted to wallpaper a room and it was an unmitigated disaster in which I almost stuck myself permanently to a dado rail.  Watching during learning is helpful, but it’s not enough.  How something looks and how something feels are two completely different things.  Wallpaper paste, it turns out, is  cold, soggy and slimy and makes different papers behave in different ways.  You have to get your hands in there to find that out.  It can’t be learned from lying on your single bed farting and alternating between watching your Dad and staring at your George Michael poster on the ceiling.

Someone who tries to teach without allowing the learner to really touch the experience is short circuiting too. They’re ensuring that their words and actions have resonance only in that moment rather than allowing them to time travel in a memory of tactile experience and how it changes our awareness.  That’s what I’ve been doing with my fixing – I’ve been providing solutions off the peg without getting my friends to try the clothes on before they buy.  I’ve been so intent on fixing that I’ve forgotten what I’ve learned: change and learning comes from within, so by all means help but for fuck’s sake, give someone the space to create and grow it for themselves beyond that, even if it’s infuriating to watch.  In fact, especially if it’s infuriating to watch. Hands. Off. Of. Over. Fixing.

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In the last year I’ve noticed how much negative space in art really speaks to me.  CreativeBloq.com describe it well here;

“Negative space is, quite simply, the space that surrounds an object in a image. Just as important as that object itself, negative space helps to define the boundaries of positive space and brings balance to a composition.”  

I’ve been letting the concept of negative space slide in assuredly to my writing and also how I arrange things at home.  The effect has been one of realising that it’s often what is omitted or removed that really accelerates a story or mood.  Sometimes more is more, but, the older I get the more true it becomes for me that less is more; that if there’s no space left around something then that thing is by default constricted and limited.  I think the same is true of personal change.

I thought a lot recently about an argument I had with someone years ago.  We were both adamant we weren’t going to bend to each other’s will.  In the heat of the moments, no one gave ground.  Afterwards, with time and space airing out the thoughts, we both went on to make changes which conceded each other’s point pretty significantly.  Slowly, we were able to admit to each other that change had taken place and we’d both been right and wrong.  We hung on in there because the relationship meant a lot and we knew each other to be well intentioned, non game-players, despite really pissing each other off.  Negative space and time saved the day.  And learning.  Funny old world when you consider where positivity can grow from, isn’t it?

PS. If you spot me fixing anyone, tazer me. Ta. clearing40logo

 

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Author: wordathlon

I'm Heather, I'm a writer and I live in Edinburgh. I like laughing, reflecting, getting lost in music, discovering great people, information and places. You can find me on Twitter @betamother or email me at wordathlon@gmail.com

6 thoughts on “Truths in a Cupboard”

  1. Bloody interesting this. Very tempting to leap to solution on someone’s behalf. I became accredited as a coach a few years back. Helping me talk through a problem with someone and give the conversation structure but not giving the answers. The theory being that the structure allows the person with the problem to come up with steps or answers. It’s so hard not to just skip to the end though and tell them what the answer is!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes! What a great accreditation to have. This has made me think so much about being with tiny kids – the moment they want to walk and you have to take your hands away and encourage, resisting propping them up. Hard but necessary and, ultimately, brings joy… x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This piece has really got me thinking.

      I think I’m an Excuser as opposed to a Fixer. No sooner than someone has started to tell me something they are doing that is wrong or causing a problem I’m already forgiving and explaining their behaviour like some manic priest dealing out Hail Mary’s.

      Maybe this is what they wanted or expected and the reason why they’ve come to me in the first place. But they rarely get to the point where they can work out the impact of their actions.

      Doh! So much for coaching 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think there are validities in fixing and excusing but there may also be a good line of enquiry in wondering if what we give others, the good and the bad, is perhaps an expression of what we most want for ourselves at times too. It’s the untangling of, ‘what is my agenda’ and ‘what am I doing from a grounded standpoint of health’. I THINK. Very much still figuring this out in manner of martyred fuckwit fighting thru gorse, etc. Xxx

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Feel free to reengage with your fixing self any time you’d like to come and drink gin and tonics and help us fix the fact that double glazing has been done and the painters have been this week – at last yipeee – but now the old blinds don’t fit the window space and we need to measure and order new ones and the instructions on how to do this are f’n confusing – .

    P.S – do you think your control freak side will want to put a hold on the G and Ts until after we have measured or just say fuck it and get toasted and measure whilst drunk in charge of the measuring tape?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I drove past your very windows yesterday and went into a happy, expectant day dream about gin!!!!

      Let’s do it. We will measure first, make careful, exact notes and you will sign a release to say that nothing is my fault. Then, we’ll throw out all concept of measuring and pour gin. HURRAH.

      Liked by 1 person

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