My marriage counselor welcomes me and I make my way to the couch. He closes the door and then finds the way to his chair. I often say that this is my personal oxymoron, ‘marriage counseling’ by myself. I am in the middle of this divorce and this is still where I seek counsel.

We chat for a bit about a topic that has come up multiple times over the years.

It seems I am overly responsible for others and under responsible for myself. What does this mean? It means that I devote myself to solving the problems of others. It also means that I don’t put enough time into myself. Not in the way that one might think by that first sentence. I am an extremely responsible person. It means that my over responsibility to others makes me put my own needs last. That is the under responsible part.

“I know we have spoken about this many times,” I say. “It’s just that when my life was balanced and happy, I was able to to be this person without it causing havoc in my life. I now realize; however, that in the problems of marriage and divorce that I have let myself go to a point of imbalance. I realize in doing so that my under responsibility for myself now may over burden my children.”

My marriage counselor sits back in his seat and nods in agreement.

Women hear this all the time and some men do as well. That while it may seem within our capacity to solve the problems of those that we love, the truth is we compromise both ourselves and the people we love by over compensating. We give away so much energy, emotion and power that we leave little for our own selves. The ones we love get their problems solved only they are not empowered to solve them on their own. So really while it seems to work for both parties, it is simply a temporary fix.

The overly responsible aspect of this person becomes depleted eventually by solving not only their own problems, but also the problems of those they love.

The underly responsible aspect of this person simply becomes lost having given away so much of themselves that they can’t find themselves.

Don’t get me wrong. I am neither Martyr nor Saint.

I’m not some superhero problem solver. I am not some creative giant.

I simply played a role. We all play roles in life. We fit into the space where we are needed. The space that begins in childhood.

I thought I was doing something good in being a fixer. I know now that certainly it is good to help others only sometimes I can’t fix and solve everything.

I also know that I wasn’t helping those I love if I was constantly solving. If I was occasionally solving then yes, that was a help, but constant solving hinders not helps.

It’s hard to grasp that what I once thought was a strength, has in actuality become my weakness.

My ‘marriage counselor for one’ once told me…”Colleen, often our greatest strength becomes our greatest weakness.”

I always listened to what he said. However, until now, I wasn’t ready to let go of my strengths long enough to admit they had indeed become my weakness.

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