Why can't I wish you well?

Borrowed from thewatershed.com
As a child growing up in the emotional and environmental chaos that is a hoarded home, I believed that somehow my desire to change or help my mother find her own change was enough. Psychologists call it magical thinking, and it occurs for all children to differing degrees. Magical thinking is the belief that a child has that somehow their actions initiate or stop other actions that are independent of their actual abilities. 

But many children grow up to become broken, hurt adults (as I am and continue to overcome) that have not been able to identify how their magical thinking is simply that...

M  A  G  I  C  A  L.

From all of my reading and soul-searching, not to mention Spirit-leading, I've concluded that the inner child damaged by my mother's hoarding has continued to keep me stuck in this immature thought process. I am not responsible for my mother's hoarding behaviors, nor am I responsible for the myriad of tough things that have happened because of her hoarding behaviors. I simply am not.

The compassionate, empathic part of my personality attempts to suck me into feeling sorry for her beyond what is healthy. If only I had been a boy instead of a girl, I think, maybe she would have beat it. And because I can't go back and make myself a boy (or whatever story I have told myself), I attempt over and over to make it right for her somehow. It's as if somehow I can make her brain different, make her eat differently, wish on her some larger-than-life will power and problem-solving skills by wanting it to be so. (I have figured out that this type of thinking doesn't work to change things in my own life...like weight and related lifestyle issues but somehow the knowledge hasn't completely transferred to Mom.)

What ends up being more destructive than my wasting away time, physical and mental energy is that this same tainted thinking leads to enabling behaviors on my part.

I won't take her shopping for anything because she might be triggered to acquire things she doesn't need. I will save her from herself.
Sadly, the effect of this is that she never gets the opportunity to learn how to curb her acquisition at all. Instead, I become sucked into responsibility for her once again, putting myself on the hook for every consumable she might need in the next 15-30 years. Sound like a great solution? Let me just assure you now, it's not.

As I continue to work in my community raising awareness about hoarding and its effects on individuals, families, and communities, I often find myself battling this same type of thinking and behavior. It's a bit easier to separate from clients and friends than it is from my mother, but it can still be excruciatingly difficult at times. And when I struck by the quandary to get deeply mired in someone else's destruction and disaster when they seem blind or unable to make tough changes for themselves, I must turn to the only place I know to find sense, God's word.

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:10 ESV)

Far be it from me to say that you are right;    till I die I will not put away my integrity from me.
 I hold fast my righteousness and will not let it go;    my heart does not reproach me for any of my days. (Job 27:5-6 ESV)
I can't fix anyone, even me. But I have experienced the work of God in my own life, in family members' lives, and even in friends' and clients' lives. My role is this must always concerned but strictly boundarie-d cheerleader, equipper, and encourager. I must be close enough to support and love, but to keep my life and others' lives loosely enough held that God can do the real work.

A reminder I need every day. You?


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