You meet this person,your energies match and you immediately want a relationship with them,as friends or romantic partners. They are your typical alpha male/female,looks are an almost sure bet that your children won’t have to worry about them not being attractive enough. In addition to this,they have a sob story about their life experiences, and in a split second,you put yourself in their shoes. And guess what,you feel the urge to save them,fix them,or maybe just help them figure it out. Sounds familiar?
The broken wing theory uses the analogy of a bird with a broken wing, which finally gets a “saviour”. The saviour upon finding the injured bird,feels obliged to care for the bird. Nurses the broken wing by doing whatever it takes to make sure that the bird’s wing heals so that it can finally fly. The theory basically tries to describe individuals who feel the need to fix others,even at the expense of their own happiness,or interests. It’s not about the bird,but the saviour.
Ain’t gon lie,i have at one point in time, weeeeellll a number of times,felt the need to be the saviour to a number of birds with broken wings. You know,trying to fix someone who to me looked like they needed fixing and for some weird reason, i thought i was the only one who could fix them. So i made it my business to at the very least nurse their broken selves,challenge them to be better human beings,helping them face their demons and battle their battles for them,because why? i was their super girl,the fixer upper they needed for a house make over,and i believed it.
For those of us whose first inclination after meeting this kind of people is to help them figure it out,we tend to make decisions for them,which we have no business at all making. The intentions are always from a genuine place of concern or just our empathetic nature, because you feel other people’s pain and carry it as your own. Or just relate to the neediness that comes with being in a dark place as you journey through life and maybe had nobody to seek solace from,so you decide to do the universe a solid by choosing to save another human from having to experience what you had, as a result of not having help when you needed it most. Or maybe you find your life’s meaning in helping others.
Personally, i was ready to do the work for them and not with them. Little did i know that doing so much for someone was not helping them,maybe it did for a minute,but looking back at it now, everytime I was playing super hero i was not letting them make the choice to be their own person. I was the one making the decision for them to be better. We tend to want to suggest ways they can be better without asking what they really want,i mean, maybe they are perfectly fine and they don’t need fixing. It’s even worse when we decide for them the route they should take so as to find their healing. We gotta let them choose and define their own path to healing. It’s their battle after all and doing all the work for them is not helping them. We gotta let them put in the work so that they can own and relate to the hard work they had to put in, incase they think about flipping back to their old ways…
Being a fixer upper isn’t bad. It’s only human to want to help people in need. But there is no honour that comes with being a fixer upper that constantly keeps giving, and giving, and giving, all in the name of helping others. There is a limit to how much we can show up for others,because at some point, we will have to show up for ourselves. We have to be aware of when is too much when it comes to helping others. You think that’s being selfish,but guess what,at times self care looks like being selfish. By intentionally choosing not to pour into cups that don’t pour into yours. If you find that your past and present relationships revolve around you helping other people, always having to put on hold your needs so as to accommodate theirs,you might have the broken wing syndrome.
Try asking yourself this one question, if this being didn’t have this problem would I still want to be around them? Answering this will enable you to figure out if your reason for being in a relationship with the other person is feeding a need you have to save others. If the answer is no,then you are probably there for all the wrong reasons honey, abort mission. Pursuing this kinds of relationships,means that the parties involved are functioning from a role as opposed to functioning from key foundations that form the basis of healthy and mutually benefiting relationships. Functioning from a role alone doesn’t guarantee fulfilment in the relationship. It can result to codependency,where one person bears the weight of the relationship which can lead to mental and emotional exhaustion resulting from constant burn out caused by having to feed the other person’s needs,without theirs being equally met.
The most we can do for birds with broken wings, honestly i feel is just being there. Holding their hands when they ask us to,of course being aware of when it’s too much for us to give. Encouraging and acknowledging their growth. That alone goes a mile in fixing their broken wings.