“WHY does he keep DOING that?”
My question was asked out of a sense of confusion and dumb-founded presumption. Oh, I already knew what his problem was. [Even I couldn't see that I had the same problem. More on that later.]
I was on the phone with my mom only a few short years ago as we were sadly pondering my little brother’s stupid behavior, mistakes, and mess.
The Answer? My brother had what I like to refer to as “the Savior complex.” I invented it just to describe him.
At the time I thought this “syndrome” was unique to HIM and him ALONE. Surely he was the only person in the world who suffered with the stupid idea that you can save people without dying for them. In fact, he had it so bad that at one point he was supporting his EX-girlfriend by
1. Allowing her to live with him (in his one-bedroom apartment)
2. Buying her groceries (she didn’t have a job…she said nobody would hire her because she was ugly) and
3. Supporting her afloat financially (if he kicked her out she would kill herself)
4. Enabling her to date other men
He knew that if he kicked her out she would fall hard, so really, he was akin to Jesus himself. Keeping her alive by the power of Stupidity.
But this is not a rant. It’s an analysis of how easy it is to judge and how easy it is to fall into this trap. What? Not you. Certainly not you. Well, for the sake of understanding stupidity, let me explain.
Would you like to be able to see these things coming, IN ADVANCE? That’s why I post today. I didn’t see it coming. You see, I knew that my brother had it. But what I didn’t know was that he wasn’t alone. I set and walked into the very same trap when I had my Affair. This is how it began…
Me. The hero. Come to save the day.
Disclaimer: I have mentioned different aspects of my story before, but it’s been a while. I only bring up what I think is necessary in order to bring enlightenment to the human race on things that help us to discover WHAT WORKS and WHAT DOESN’T work. I don’t bring it up to reminisce OR spank myself OR even to warn myself of what I am capable of. I bring it up because I believe it may bring understanding to your journey.
I wouldn’t have even considered the Other Man and I friends for the longest time. We were just partners in our kickboxing club once a week. I had lost my previous partner due to an injury (not inflicted by me!!), so I needed someone who was “safe.” He was 23 years older than me, so I deemed that as safe.
Every once in a while he would overhear a conversation I was having with someone else and express a concern to me about my eating habits. I was shocked that he would care, but learned later that this was because he had a very sick daughter. I said I would keep her in my prayers because I’m like that. It was rarely brought up. Once he forwarded me an informational document on Eating Disorders that she had sent to him. I noticed her email address was there (in the forward). More time passed.
One day, I was listening to a song on the radio, and become overwhelmed with compassion for this girl. I remember that I had seen her email address in that forward. When I arrived at work, I could no longer just “pray for her” but I was overwhelmed with the need to do something more. I needed to help on a more noble level with the chance that her recovery perhaps was right around the corner. Perhaps it was in my hands. I’d say that was about the time when my “Savior Complex” kicked in. [Had I just prayed quietly, none of this would have happened.]
That day, I sent her an email filled with encouragement and a link to the song I had listened to that made me think of her. She wrote me back saying I was an Angel (she had no idea who I was). I had affected her, influenced her. Not God, it was ME. I had taken matters into my own hands, and it felt noble.
It sounds so innocent doesn’t it? But the fact is that I had NO RIGHT to cross the line like that. I had no permission, not from God, not from her dad, nobody. I didn’t even have experience with her disease.
Well, it got complicated after that. The next months involved me confessing what I had done to the Other Man. Then, the two of us began to conspiring together to keep her from knowing who I was (because she hated him and I would have NO influence on her if she knew I was his friend). At times he would include a personal tidbit of information or let me know if she was having a bad day, and I would anonymously email her again. She couldn’t figure out how I kept getting it right. That didn’t last long. Eventually she did. Not only did she figure out who I was and how I had found out about her (increasing her hate for her father), but she felt manipulated and it caused her health to be made worse. To add to fuel to the fire, she hacked into his Facebook account and discovered our budding relationship, keeping it a secret until she could stand it no longer. This betrayal broke her already fragile relationship with her father, and tainted her already brittle faith.
“We are heroes in error.” [Ahmad Chalabi]
My hero [me.] died that day.
It began with innocence. The misguided desire to help someone who was hurting. That someone happened to be outside my realm of influence. I had forced it. The idea that I could influence, encourage, and strengthen someone I didn’t know was so appealing. I’m not saying words of encouragement aren’t for everybody. I’m saying you need to stay within the lines of your authority. The power of your words is incredibly important. Even more important is to know who is okay to touch and who is God’s alone. This one wasn’t my personal fish to fry. In hindsight, I could have done MORE by praying. So little, yet so big.
HELP WANTED: I need a new hero.
Whether you are out to rescue others or yourself, be careful when you take matters into your own hands. You can change someone’s destiny for good or evil, but not everyone is yours to influence. Some people you just need to keep your HANDS OFF. Certain things you must own, other things you can’t do on your own...