I came to you.
The silence we swam in that day felt like hours, in that tiny room we created tension that would last for years. Your ocean eyes were locked on the floor, my arms stayed crossed in anger.
Last week, in a room where the walls were the same kind of dull and the carpet a similar texture, I sat across from someone asking for my help.
I thought about you and I thought about how I came to you and gave you my plans. You never asked for them. You never asked me to fix it.
Confessions of a former chronic fixer: until recently, I would still apologize to you under my breath when seeing all the things that followed that day, the things that broke your heart. I’m sorry I couldn’t fix it: those have been the words to continuously rattle off of my ribcage and settle into my soul.
Then a pair of eyes your same shade, the one that Sherwin-Williams calls Flyway Blue, came to me.
I finally figured out what you’ve been trying to tell me across the years and miles. I finally heard you, over all the things we yelled and the things that I stacked there in my mind since that day. You never asked me to fix it.
It took loads of people trying to fix me, years of trying to fix myself, and a room that mirrored the one I stood crying in that day to know that my apology should be: I finally hear you.
Sometimes we don’t want someone to fix it; sometimes we just want someone else to know that it’s broken.
Another confession of a chronic fixer is that we aren’t trying to fix you, we’re trying to fix all the things that broke you. We’re trying to stop it from happening again. We are, in a far too subtle way, trying to tell you that your pain is our pain.
It can often sound like us yelling stop and please don’t go that way! Sometimes it looks like us giving harsh directions. Sometimes it us not knowing quite how to hold your brokenness because it is leading to our own.
But I finally heard you, after all these years.
And being afraid of that brokenness was on me, not on you. Letting your brokenness lend to my own heartbreak, right or wrong, was a choice that sat only with me.
As for your choice to be broken, to stay broken, that was and will always be yours. I’m sorry if it seemed like I tried to take that away from you. If it seemed like I was trying to rush you out of your pain.
Confessions of a former chronic fixer: I’m learning how to sit with questions and with pain. To let someone come to me. To offer them a bandage, but not force them into a sling. To let them cry, cry with them, swim in the silence without constructing tension. I’m learning how to lay the map and compass down, sit in the passenger’s seat, offer help only if asked. I’m learning not to yell over the radio. I’m learning not to yell. I’m learning how to not grow impatient if we stay parked longer than I expected. I’m learning that flyway blue eyes are more forgiving than I’ve believed them to be.
I’m learning that sometimes it’s enough to know someone is broken. Sometimes just knowing and staying is the most loving thing we can offer.
I wasn’t trying to fix you: the thing I couldn’t say and you couldn’t hear over my hurried riffling through my toolbox. At the end of the day, through everything I tried to sort through, that is the thing I should have said the loudest. Those were the words you were asking for and are now the thing I hope you someday hear. You were and are not your brokenness. You did not need fixing and I’m sorry if all you got from me was a girl with her hammer and nails, handing you an instruction manual. I’m sorry if you heard in my words and felt from my stance that you were the problem, that I was trying to deconstruct and renovate you.
Confessions of a former chronic fixer: Someone came to me. I knew they felt broken before they came. In the days leading up, everything inside of me wanted to chase them down, but I thought of you. So, I waited. Then, I stayed. I heard them out. I stopped shuffling through the toolbox, the clanging sound quieted, and finally I was able to hear.
Afterwards, for the first time, I didn’t have to stop and apologize under my breath for all the things I wanted to, but never had to fix.