Confessions of a Fixer: Does a Warrior Lurk Within?

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Warrior is not a concept that has ever described me for I have lived my life as a fixer. Now in my sixties, I can only hope that fixer is a permanent past tense characteristic.

It is not as if I was not aware of the warrior concept—I was introduced to Buddhism over 25 years ago–but as a committed fixer, I cared little for clashing or “going a-warring, not that a bodhisattva or Buddhist warrior does either.

“Those who train wholeheartedly in awakening unconditional and relative bodhichitta (“enlightened mind”) are called bodhisattvas or warriors…of nonaggression who hear the cries of the world. These are men and women who are willing to train in the middle of the fire…[who] cut through personal reactivity and self-deception [through] their dedication to uncovering the basic undistorted energy of bodhichitta” (Pema Chödrön, The Places that Scare You).

Admittedly, I did not care for the word warrior and was not  comfortable with bodhisattva but I admired the warrior’s way and still do. For me, it has been amazingly easy to confuse fixing myself with the warrior’s way. It has taken decades to discard the cloak of the fixer.

As a fixer, it never occurred to me to consider maitri, the complete acceptance of one’s self as one is. “Only when we relate to ourselves without moralizing, without harshness, without deception, can we let go of harmful patterns” (Chödrön). Yet, for the warrior maitri is essential. The warrior understands her inner self is her guide, her greatest strength.

“Lasting transformation occurs only when we honor ourselves as a source of wisdom and compassion” (Chödrön). As a fixer, I did not consider acceptance or surrender. That was giving up. No, I was determined to change my fundamental nature–as if I could–that was my fixer’s guide to true transformation. Yet, everywhere I went there I was, no matter how many different paths I took.

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In the way of the warrior, there is no clean slate, just the self that is. The warrior knows her strength is in accepting all of the patterns and behaviors that have been her life. They are the open road to her heart, free of any sign pointing to one feeling or another. The warrior is open to the energy that is.

“There is nothing wrong, nothing harmful about that underlying energy. Our practice is to stay with it, to experience it, to leave it as it is” (Chödrön). As a fixer, I “dealt” with my feelings and thoughts by putting them where I did not have to see them. It was enough to know they were there. Maybe they would just go away for I had no intention of staying with that kind of energy. I was too busy trying to fix my life.

The warrior has the courage not only to look within herself but to stay with the energy, regardless of its outcome. Essentially, she “touches the bubble [of emotion] with a feather” (Chödrön). The warrior goes beyond the reactive demands of the mind chatter to the energy that is fueling all that emotion.

She stays with the energy for that is the warrior response, to experience. Sometimes, the response is silence but regardless, the warrior does not cling to whatever outcome occurs.

Always, the warrior is as compassionate with herself as she is with the world, not trying to fix either one. The quest of the warrior is staying in present moment awareness, and for a fixer from the past, that is quite a quest.