Everything Can’t be Fixed

November 25, 2016 Barbara Ballinger & Margaret Crane

This blog wasn’t going to be about the election. However, it is in part. It deals with the fact that we have to live with the outcome of the election and many other situations in life that we lack the power to fix. 

The idea for this blog gelled weeks ago when Barbara was engaged in a conversation about the topic with her first boss over lunch. Subsequently, she mentioned it to Margaret, but we were busy at that point writing about other topics. Then the Presidential election took place, which also included federal and state Senate and House races, as well as local level ones and propositions. Not everything may have turned out to your thinking and liking. Although many readers may be tired of celebrating or crying, we felt this was the propitious time to touch on the outcome. 

If unhappy with the results, as we are, can we fix them? We are fixers by nature. Get on a situation and make it better. We can research answers. Dig and dig. Bring up solutions. However, we have learned—not to our liking but through our age and experience, not everything can be fixed. 

Yet, there are still steps you and we can take to try to alter different situations or soften the blows. In the case of the Presidential election, we can focus on the fact that mid-term elections are only two years away. If Michael Moore is correct, Trump may not last four years, or even if he does last out his term maybe there won’t be a second. So, there’s an inkling of hope here, even if things can’t be fixed right now.  

We think we can fix things with our kids. You can raise your kids with great values, as we tried to do, but you can’t always fix--or alter--how they act. Say they routinely show up late, don’t RSVP to certain events, neglect to write a thank you note, or have friends you don’t like for whatever reason, it’s their issue not yours. You did your part. You must step up and shut your mouth if you want to keep the door open to a good relationship. Sure, you can speak up once or twice but after that you’re wise to observe more than act. You just can’t fix the situation to your liking. 

Equally worrisome is trying to salvage an unsalvageable relationship.  Friends and even family members sometimes disappear from our lives because the chasm is too wide and even a familial connection won’t provide enough glue. A spouse who doesn’t love you anymore can’t be convinced otherwise, and just one person in the relationship can’t salvage the marriage. It takes two. Same goes for some other familial relationships and friendships. You can try and try, but that’s exhausting. You go round and round in circles. Sometimes it’s best to step away, not angrily, but gingerly, and make clear, if you want, that the door remains open to conversation and maybe to mend fences about whatever was the cause for the unraveling. 

Even worse than losing a relationship is an illness. Not all illnesses can be contained and may go into some form of remission or reversed. This is what happened to Margaret’s husband despite all the efforts they took to keep him alive. Consider the heart attack a young woman of 31 had in the Dominican Republic, which killed her and left a three-year-old child motherless. This happened to a car-park attendant at a favorite garage Barbara uses when she visits her aging mother in New York City. They were chatting about the election and bemoaning the results together, but then he shared something even worse had just happened to him and his family. His daughter died and leaves behind her young child. Nothing can bring the daughter back and there’s no active father. 

So how do we deal with the misfortunes we’ve experienced but can’t fix? We can rant and rage, stomp our feet, be prudent with our opinions, cry, remember the better times, and keep that person locked in our hearts and brains forever. We can take the attitude that things happen for a reason, according to the plan of a God or some supernatural being. We can try to stop that illness from hurting or killing others by doing our part to fund research or volunteering our time in some way. Volunteering and getting outside yourself can be healing. As in the case of the political election, we can only hope that our President-elect may change and surprise us with thoughtful decisions and care for all citizens of the world and our planet. We can also hope that he won’t act on many of his ill-informed campaign promises. This mindset might provide a little comfort. Of course, we can always take several deep breaths and move on. 

No, not all can be fixed is a good concept to keep tucked away when you’re struggling emotionally and intellectually with challenges. However, knowing that should also not render us hopeless and stuck but forward thinking in how we keep trying to fix what we can. That usually starts with ourselves.

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