The line between helper and savior

I have a savior complex. I always have. I love to help people; I feel the need to save them.

And I know, intellectually, that people don’t need me to save them. But sometimes I feel like I can offer a simple solution, and if it’s so easy for me to offer it and it helps them so much, then what’s the harm, right?

I had my three-month review at work last week. My boss says that I’m a problem solver. I am. I see a problem, and I need to solve it. Even if it’s not my problem, it becomes my problem. I become obsessed with finding solutions. And I’m proud when I do, usually.

I think my savior complex is what attracted me to the nonprofit sector in the first place. I want to help everyone. My problem — with respect to parenting and relationships and life in general — is finding the line between helper and savior.

I found myself in a weird predicament. A predicament that I’ve been in before.

Here’s the toughest thing about the savior complex: All you want to do is help people. So you give, and people take, and then people (not all people) want to see how much more you’ll give, so you give and you start to resent them for it. It doesn’t make them bad people; maybe it just makes them rational. Maybe they really need the help, and they’ve found a solution because you’ve provided it, so they’re just dipping into that solution again, and the solution runs out as the savior starts to get frustrated and feel taken for granted.

Or at least that’s been my experience.

So I have to find the line. I have to create boundaries. I have so much trouble with boundaries. I’ve always liked the honor system. And sometimes it works so well. Sometimes people see how much I’ve given, and all they want to do is reciprocate.

But sometimes (read: usually) it doesn’t work that way, and I get stuck in these weird situations where I end up feeling like the bad guy because I have to draw the line somewhere so that I don’t end up allowing someone to take advantage of me, again.

Being a savior hurts everyone. I know this, intellectually, but I always find myself back in this position. What I want to do is better empower people to help themselves. I want to be kind and giving, but not at my own expense. I want to treat people with dignity and respect, so I can acknowledge their capabilities, close accessibility gaps where they exist, and give in a way that transforms people’s lives rather than providing a quick fix.

I may not quite be there, but I know what I have to do, so I think that’s a great first step.

In other news, Christmas is almost here, y’all. I am so excited. It’s Max’s first Christmas – DO YOU REALIZE THAT IT IS MAX’S FIRST CHRISTMAS IN HIS LIFE, EVER?

OK, so I realize that I have historically not been much of a fan of Christmas and/or holidays in general, but having a child – having a family – means that I have an opportunity to create new traditions and make them awesome.

And I intend to do just that.


Oh, hey, Santa left me a gift under the tree!


It was a Cheerio – thanks, Santa!


At some point, these outfits seemed like a very good idea.


…follow the hat…


right in the face!


shh…you love Christmas.


How many days ’til the Christmas carols stop? It’s 6am, mom.



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