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Just your average dumb superhero
As I stand on the top of the tall building, the wind catches my hair. My voluminous gold cape blows behind me in the cold air. To complete the picture I have on a tight-fitting muscle-hugging tee, tights, and over that - golden underwear. I watch and wait to do what is right. To help a poor soul and save them from their plight. I act in the day and sometimes at night, for I am……can we get a drum roll here? For I am…….THE SUPER HERO of your life! Yeah, that does sound rather good, doesn’t it?
It’s amazing though, we don’t look on ourselves as super heroes, or see ourselves as suffering from Superhero Syndrome. That’s the perception that other people have of us. “Look at Cindy,” they’d say, “She’s so strong and courageous, I could never do what she does.” We hear those comments of course, and feed off that, and that’s what gives us the strength to continue.
Hey, think I might save the world today...
You don’t consciously set out to be a Superhero. It’s not like you wake up one morning, and think, “Hey, think I might save the world today!” Basically, you are just a warm, caring generous kind of person who is prepared to go the extra mile to help others, and who is prepared to leave their own comfort zone from time to time in this quest.
Many people do that, it’s called compassion, and that doesn’t necessary make them Superheroes or suffer from Superhero Syndrome. What turns them into Superheroes, is when they do it time and time again, putting themselves and their families in danger and at risk, as the people they are helping are out of the norm. I am not talking about helping an elderly neighbour to carry in groceries here, or Superman flying through the air to thwart a bag-snatcher.
People who suffer from Superhero Syndrome have an addiction, like
smoking, or drugs or alcohol, or sex. Oops, did I say that? They are
addicted to helping people and it becomes a fix they need in life.
They need to be constantly helping others to make themselves feel whole
and alive. Helping others makes them feel worthy of being on this
planet in the first place. Helping others gives them a purpose in
life. It gives them a feeling of control, and it gives them an excuse
to shelve their own problems. “No time for my problems, I’m on a
mission to save someone else!”
Being a Superhero is just another form of escape from yourself. You
have no time to deal with ‘you’ or your issues, you are too busy taking
on everybody elses. The more you prove to everybody that you can solve
their problems, the more problems they’ll present for you to solve.
Rescuers constantly go places, do things, participate in activities
they don’t really want to do, rather than upset people. You tend to compromise your own needs on behalf of others.
Woohoo! Superhero to the rescue!
I can remember Rick being in tears over his problems with the IRD. They were after him for over $10 000 as he hadn’t submitted a tax return or GST return for 3 years. He was being threatened with jail and was beside himself with fear. Rick was broke and didn’t have money to go to an accountant or bookkeeper. “It wasn’t my fault,” he kept saying over and over again, “Rachel used to do my books, but when my marriage started going sour, she stopped doing them and I didn’t know how to do them, so I left them.” Well, let me tell you a little secret, I didn’t have a clue how to do them either. But I didn’t tell Rick that. So, I did what any Superhero would do, I offered to do them for him.
Rick was so relieved, and I asked him to bring all his books and paperwork around so I could do it for him. That was in the November. I hate nagging, so just dropped a subtle hint every now and then, that it might be a good idea for him to bring all the paperwork around. “No worries,” he’d say, “No rush, as I told IRD you were doing it and I got an extension until March when the court case is.” Well, 6 days before the court case, Rick brought all his paperwork around in 3 supermarket packets. None of it was filed in date order, let alone in year order. On top of looking after my family and working a 9 to 5 job, I spent just over 80 hours of my time in those 6 days, on completing 3 years books, tax returns and GST Returns. I was exhausted afterwards, but felt really good about myself. I had managed to sort out all his tax problems, get the $10 000 written off and also get him a refund! Needless to say, I did not even get a token packet of lollies or a slab of chocolate as a thank you.
The more I helped Rick, the more he needed my help. Every letter
or phone call he didn’t know how to deal with, I dealt with it for
him. When his friends had IRD problems or needed letters written, he’d
bring it round and I’d do it for them. His friends thought that he was
wonderful, as he could get so much done! However, it all just plumb
tired me out. Something had to give, and it was the time I spent doing
my own paperwork that suffered and the time I spent with my children.
Read more Cindy Vine
An enabler is a repeat offender
Looking back on my time with Jason, it was no different. He had an
aversion to work, period. I cooked, cleaned, earned the money to keep
us going and feed the family. I would do all kinds of crafts or extra
things to make more money so we could have a few luxuries. Jason would
just watch TV all the time or play games on the computer. He never
worried about how to put food onto the table, as he knew that I
would always make a plan. I remember being upset when at the end of my
relationship with him, my mother-in-law told me that his laziness and
failure to provide for the family was all my fault. She told me that I
was an enabler, I enabled him to become like that as he knew that I
would fly in as the Superhero to make everything right. He could be
lazy and do what he wanted, I’d always provide. As cruel as it had
seemed at the time, his mother was right. I’d enabled him to become
Initially, sufferers of Superhero Syndrome are expert jugglers. Time jugglers, that is. They are always busy, rushing here, rushing there, rushing everywhere. At first you can fit in and accommodate yours and your family’s needs, but sooner or later, they take a back seat as your life revolves around the poor Victim you are helping. A Superhero is a very busy person. “No rest for the wicked,” is a favourite saying I used while flying in and out.
However, all the ‘busyness’ wears you down, exhausts you and puts you into a downward spiral. As you help your Victim less and less, they move on, and leave you behind, or turn into a Persecutor and start blaming you for their demise. “If you didn't do everything I wouldn't be so dependent, so it's all your fault that I don't know how to do things.” “You never have time for me anymore, and I don't have anybody else to ask to help me, so if you don't find the time to do it, I'll get into deep trouble and it'll all be your fault.” And as Jason used to say to me quite often, “What can I say, you're a better man than I am,” when I solved problems for him and sorted things out.
You recharge your batteries, vow never to do something like that again, promise family and friends this is it - no more helping people like that, never ever ever again, and so on. I wonder why they just nod and smile and don’t believe you? And, they are right. Because sooner or later, like a junkie, you need that fix. “I have to help someone, have to save someone, have to change someone’s life for the better!” So, you dig your golden cape out of the bottom of the cupboard, iron out the wrinkles and creases and there you go! A for away!
Please don’t misunderstand me, it’s not wrong to help people, but it is wrong to do too much for people that you are actually harming them more than you are helping. The difference between helping and rescuing, is that in helping you are assisting that person. It is a joint effort and they are contributing something towards it. In rescuing, the other person is doing nothing and all you’re actually doing – is helping them to continue doing nothing. Remember, that pity generates pitiful persons.
It is also not a good idea to shelve your family and friends, and
things that you need to do while you are out on a mission to help
somebody else. Sometimes, we don’t want to spend time with ourselves,
that’s why we fall into Superhero Syndrome. Being busy all the time
means that you never have time to be alone with yourself. What are you
trying to hide from yourself or run away from? What fears are driving
you? If you find yourself trapped in the Superhero cycle, you need to
get out. I found out the hard way, that doing things for people,
doesn't guarantee their love and respect, and doesn't even necessary
make them like you as a friend. You are just setting yourself up to be
used and abused. That is a lose/lose situation, and there are no
winners in that Game.
Arachibutyrophobia- Fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth.