Alison's Insights

Making Sense of Addiction Recovery in Midlife One Slow Deep Breath at a Time

Please Don’t Fix. Just Listen.

It never fails.  The minute I point out something that concerns me with the house, my husband is out the door and on his way to a home repair store before I can even end the sentence.

He’s a “fixer.”  And I love him for that.  Even when I think there’s no way he knows how to fix something be it electrical or otherwise, I’m rendered speechless when proven wrong.

I’m grateful to be married to a man like this because quite frankly, I don’t know the first thing about tactical home repair and, truth be told, have absolutely zero interest in learning it.

However, there are moments when being married to a “fixer” is not helpful.  As a matter of fact, in early recovery, it almost tore us apart.

When I went into residential treatment my husband was upset on many levels, but perhaps most profoundly was the mere fact he couldn’t fix me.  Realistically he knew he couldn’t, but because he loves me so much, it crushed him to have been unable to do so.

At the time, I honestly couldn’t understand why he was so angry with me when I was actually showing healthy signs of recovery.  I didn’t have any idea he felt frustrated in knowing there were these seeming strangers in the rooms of recovery who were able to help me when indeed he couldn’t.  In my mental blindness, I chalked it up to him being angry that I couldn’t have fixed myself.

And when there were times when I ran into a tough situation, like feeling shaky if alcohol was present or a “fear” food being served, my husband would be first in line to tell me what to do.  When I didn’t take that action or turned to my sponsor for direction, all hell would break loose.  He’d be mad at me for rejecting his suggestion and I’d be irritated at him for thinking he could “fix” me relative to something he had no experience with.

Ugh, it was a merry-go-round of misunderstanding and feeling emotionally drained.

Yet, as we both remained open to change, we’ve come to understand that because we love each other, we only want the best for each other.  And with that comes an innate desire to do whatever we can to help.

Through many ups and downs, we’ve learned sometimes “fixing” isn’t the pathway to helping.

Sometimes, we just need to be heard.

I’ve learned through lots of experience, saying out loud what’s bothering me may be all I need to come into a solution.

Today it’s not uncommon for me to say, “I’m caught up with something and I need 5 minutes.”  We stop what we’re doing and I talk while he listens.  And I’d do the same for him if he asks me.

I’ve found that if after I talk and I’m still confused, I can choose whether or not I want feedback.  Unless I ask for it, he knows he doesn’t have to “fix” anything.

So maybe the next time you’re stuck, think about turning to someone and explaining you’re not looking to be fixed, you just want to be heard.

It may actually be just the “fixing” you need.

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One thought on “Please Don’t Fix. Just Listen.

  1. Hello Alyson !!!

    Here’s how I found myself reading your post.
    Last night I made a dream.
    The words ” Please don’t Fix ” appeared in red on my car’s dashboard.
    End of dream and I woke up at 1h55.
    So, this morning I thought to make a research with these words on Google and see what would be the results.
    To my surprise your husband and I looks alike…
    Meaning that I’m the type of person who will rapidly (without thinking) takes action in helping family and friends….
    I often do when they never asked for help.
    Last Sunday I tried to help my sister and was told by her, that she had no problems and that she can make researchs herself for help if she needs so.
    So, I just wanna thank you for your post that tells me that I should stop trying to help my little sister.

    Have a Great Day Alyson


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