07 July 2013

Help: The Friendly Critic

Oh, I am in a tangled mood! If you read those words and immediately began devising a remedy to offer, please accept my firm rejection without taking offense. I do not want to be fixed. Please.

Photo: Don't Try to Fix Me

By: Rossen Nickolov

We can't help it (or can we?):  Something in us seeks to name or explain or categorize everything we encounter. All of our experience seems to require a label or comment. That man is mean, that woman is kind, that book is offensive. We don't easily find it in us to simply witness. To let a thing be and refrain from putting our stamp or fingerprints on it.

A related compulsive urge in us seeks to resolve or erase anything that looks like a problem or an obstacle to "fun" and "happiness."  There is a mostly unchallenged assumption among us that everyone should be happy all the time and "problems" are illnesses that must be avoided or eradicated. "Oh, Alex, you sound sad/angry/frustrated. Here's what you need to do..."

For me, no matter the ostensibly benevolent intention underlying such comments, there's an underlying message that grates my tender heart:  you are not OK. Do not feel the way you're feeling. Do not view things the way you're viewing them. You need to change. You need to be some other way than you are.

Help offered without first asking if I want or need help doesn't feel like help. It feels like a knife blade pulled slowly along an old scar, reopening an old wound.

And, in instances where I find my voice while staunching the flow of new blood from an old wound and say, "I don't want to be fixed" and the Fixer, offended by this reply, says "Well, I'm just trying to help you..." or accuses me of resisting help (the implications being that a) "resistance" is a "bad" thing and b) resistance is proof that my not-okay-ness is more acute than previously believed), I am brought close to absolute despair. We have reached a place beyond and my suffering begins in earnest. There's nothing more to say but it is likely that more will be said, by both of us.


I am grateful that this time several tasks and routines are already securely in place on my life calendar:  there's music to practice and a house to clean in preparation for a CouchSurfing guest; invasive weeds have returned to the side yard, demanding extermination and I have a submission to prepare for this week's Writers Circle. I have distractions to engage while this mood passes...as it will...as all moods do. I don't need to be fixed. I am, just like you, enduring the Weather of Living. We'll be OK. We are OK.