I’ve been in therapy for a few weeks now. I think it’s going well, though of course it’s early. I really like my therapist, which is good.
Early on, she said that along with fight-or-flight, psychologists and sociologists now recognize freeze and fix as immediate responses to various stimuli (like fear stimuli).
I went home thinking about that and realized that yes, that probably does fit me pretty well. My first response any time anything goes awry in my world (or the worlds of my loved ones) is usually to try to fix it, whatever that may look like. Sometimes that’s listening, sometimes that’s doing or saying something, sometimes that’s writing, sometimes that’s protesting, etc.
And it can be healthy, to a point, just as can fight, or flight, or freeze. It’s a self-care response just as the others are.
But it can also be destructive (as I imagine the other can be, too).
I’ve talked about this ‘being a fixer’ bit with a few friends, and the general response is, “Oh, but you’re fixing things, so that’s good. That’s a good way to be.” Which–sure, it’s a good way to be if I’m actually helping the situation. But the ‘fix’ may not actually help.
The thing is, ‘fixing’ can also be toxic. I have to ask myself, when I have that inclination to jump in and ‘fix’ a thing–why? Why am I doing this? Why do I feel this urge? What is it that I want? What motivates me here?
I can’t ‘fix’ things like racism and sexism and misogyny and cisnormativity and heteronorativity on my own. I can’t fix rape culture by myself. And I can’t ‘fix’ them because I’m seeking approval and validation, pats on the back, to feel good about myself because others feel good about me.
I have to be able to separate out the wounding of people I love by other people from the wounding caused by systems of oppression. I have to be able to make sure I’m not slinging arrows at the wrong targets–because misfires and friendly fire still hurt, still wound, and sometimes make everything much much worse.
And if I’m centering myself instead of the people who need the care in XYZ situation, then I’m taking away from their care (given situations in which I am not one of the ones in need of care). I’m then furthering oppression by ‘fixing,’ and often I’m silencing at the same time.
I must watch myself. I must recognize my ‘fixer’ instinct, recognize and accept it, and be sure to query it as much as I query everything else. Only then can I move forward.