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The Caring Together Art Journal Project

Mental health carers as partners in recovery

Learning to sit with things I cannot change

“I’m a fixer. That’s what I do.”

I was telling my friend about my latest journal page at lunch, and that was her immediate response. She’s a carer too, and we were talking about how incredibly hard it was to just let things “sit”.  Especially when you just want to be able to jump up and DO something. To fix things. To actively make things better.

Obviously, she’s a kindred spirit. But unfortunately that desperate need to fix things – especially for our kids – makes life hell for us.

Because sometimes there are things that just can’t be fixed. Sometimes things are taken out of our hands. And we just have to sit with it. Let it go. Somehow.

It’s not like the days when we could pick a child up after they had fallen over, and with a bandaid and a kiss and a cuddle the world was all good again. Sometimes we can’t stop someone else from crying and hurting inside. We can’t do anything to make them feel better. And sometimes they don’t seem to want to feel better – which is really hard to understand. They don’t want our help. And sometimes they will go to extremes just to make sure we won’t help. Even if that means hurting us in the process.

At that point we have no choice but to step back and leave things as they are. Even if we can see what we feel might be a solution – if they could just open their eyes and reach out for it a tiny little bit.

Sitting with that inability to act, that inability to help, that inability to fix things, is hard. Really, really hard.

Someone else in my art group saw my page as I finished drawing, and immediately shared words that she said helped her through hard times. I discovered the same ones too, recently. Together they form “The Serenity Prayer”, and they go like this:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.

I’m not religious in the slightest, but that prayer really speaks to me. I’m working on that serenity bit. But I am definitely getting more courageous. And I’m slowly working out the difference between what I can and cannot change. One day maybe I’ll even be able to pull them together.

But it’s not going to be easy. After all, I’m a “fixer”. It took me a long, long time to get the courage to become a “fixer” – a courage that I really only gained when I had to stand up for someone else. And now, I have to learn to sit.

Bugger. Don’t you just hate that?

Written and illustrated by Helen Wilding, 2012

Cite as: Wilding, H. (2012). Learning to sit with things I cannot change. The Caring Together Art Journal Project. Retrieved from https://caringtogetherproject.com/sitting-with-things/

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