What I'll say is that when someone hurts, I tend to go all in on acting as The Fixer. I make that person and their dilemma my project. I also get into this space where I can't feel good unless they feel good.
Now, this is a recipe for constant anguish. I will never, ever, tie up every loose end, make every bed, Swiffer every dust bunny into submission. I need to set down my tools.
I am trying to consider a different move right now, when my husband is in terrible pain due to something going on with his shoulder, and my mother is in constant pain as her body breaks down. B's pain manifests as anger; Mom's manifests as depression. I am trying to remember that I want to be of use, and hand-wringing isn't useful. I can't switch off my feelings like a spigot, but I can opt not to marinate in them, I can decide not to set up camp there, in Empathy Land. In a way, I'm asking myself to take all this a bit less seriously, to realize that This Too Shall Pass.
Mirroring my husband's anguish is not solidarity, it's the hight of no boundaries. I cannot (forgive the pun) shoulder his burdens, just as he cannot shoulder mine.
I could feel myself reverting to Control Mode this morning when I saw him so angry and frustrated. I started to find things to do, to feel scattered and to run about trying, trying, trying. This is so obviously from my childhood, when an electric atmosphere of angry, mostly from my brother and father, drove me to a performative stance, total perfectionism. It's all a losing game. I need to know, in my bones, that even if I relax, the ceiling won't fall. Being at the ready in this extreme way is NOT the key to my success. What a lie I've told myself all these years. Suffering is perhaps not a requirement or a prerequisite for success.