It's hard to get off this particular merry-go-round. People settle into the roles of 'fixers' and 'fainters' - the former jump in to sort out and tidy up and the latter let them. They have their own language, also, developed over years of getting used to the patterns. Fainters learn quickly that by saying 'I can't do this" or by not doing it right, or leaving a job undone for just long enough, or getting sick, or playing stupid....all spur the fixers into action to rescue the situation. Fixers eventually develop their language, too. it's quicker if I do it myself. It will be done properly. I haven't got time to wait around for them. It's my fault if everything goes wrong,
While it may look as if the fixers are the more capable partners in this particular dance, each side is equally stuck. In family systems theory 'fixers' are referred to as overfunctioners and 'fainters'as 'underfunctioners'. One takes the responsibility and the other makes or lets the other take it. One tends to be seen as good and the other as bad, but, in fact, they are both cooperating to keep the situation as it is. The overfunctioning fixer can feel resentful that he/she is being forced to do all the work; the underfunctioning 'fainter' resents the fixer for being controlling. Each loses.
Sometimes we can behave like fixers in one context and fainters in another....in the Everyone Loves Raymond series, Raymond is a successful sports journalist, who becomes completely incapable of doing housework or relating to his parents as an adult. And he doesn't have to...mature and capable though his wife Deborah seems to be, she keeps him as fainter by jumping in to rescue him when she can't stand it any more.
We all have a bit of Raymond inside us and a bit of Deborah too. The trick is to be able to notice where we faint and let others take over from us and were we jump in to fix. And it's good to be aware of the level of worry or anxiety, or mess or undone it takes to get you hooked into rescue mode, ready to sort out, clean up, tidy away....when someone else needs to do it for themselves.
If you have time, watch the episode of "Everyone Loves Raymond" . . . it's aptly called "Baggage". Each of us has our own version of the Baggage, the job that sits there until the fixer gets annoyed enough to do something about it. Pick one of the 'suitcases' in your own life and, maybe just for a week, do something different. Don't jump in.
Notice what happens to your level of anxiety and how you feel about yourself. It's possible that you've been trained by past experiences to feel bad if you let others down. Rather than taking this as a sign that you've done something wrong, accept that you feel as you do. Recognise a bit of emotional baggage and remember in the Body of Christ, each part has a role to play, each part does its bit....but only it's own bit. You are not asked to do the work of other members of the Body of Christ. They also have their part to play.
If you decide to do the job, ask yourself...is my doing this bringing life? To me? To others? Is it making me/them better versions of themselves..kinder, more giving, more generous....more like Jesus.
Want to read more about this?
Are you an overfunctioner? a short article by Kathy A Henry or for a more thorough but very readable look at this and more: Family Ties that Bind by Ronald Richardson
For a little help to bring your 'baggage' into prayer and to notice and accept how and who you are...click on the button to the right