I Keep Reminding Myself My Job Isn’t to Fix You

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You are miserable. So miserable. It’s a small thing that’s set you off this time, at least from my perspective, but to you it doesn’t seem small. It seems immense. A minor setback is connected in your mind to a cosmic map of backsliding, hopelessness, helplessness, and fear.

Look, there’s been a pandemic going on for a couple of years. So I get it. And you’re hitting midlife like every other one of my friends and doing the requisite existential crisis. I double get it.

But in your focus on the small negatives, you completely miss the bigger picture of how far you’ve come in the time I know you. And I can see clearly — so clearly — that you’re not done growing or improving. It’s just not happening on your schedule.

To be fair, it’s a pretty unrealistic, self-punishing schedule. You’re the first to admit that you’re too hard on yourself. You admit this with a laugh and a bit of levity, ignoring the part where it half-kills you and make you miserable.

And anyway, regardless of how unrealistic this schedule is (very), everything is moving more slowly in the pandemic. We’re all in some degree of stasis. Even the folks who think this is all overblown and that freedom is throwing caution to the wind and pretending everything is normal are slowed down by those who are exercising more caution.

No one gets to move at full speed basically, regardless of how they explain the slowdown to themselves.

I try to be there for you as best as I can. Sometimes I succeed in cheering you up for a few moments before you remember you’re supposed to be sad. That you want to be sad for a bit. (You say this.)

I remind myself that the best thing I can do is be there for you. To hold some space for you while you do what you need to do. That my job isn’t to fix you.

I do all of this. But it’s hard.

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