“The problem with a victim mentality is we forget to see the blessings of the day. Because of this, our spirit is poisoned instead of nourished.” – Steve Maraboli, author
“They planned to have kids…but not yet.”
Addison’s boyfriend, Breck, has called to make the appointment. He said she had a serious collision on her motorcycle six months earlier, was still off work, and has started drinking, again. He was worried about her, and wanted to see if I could help. He also said he was getting frustrated with her approach to her recovery
Addison limped slowly into my office with the help of a cane. She looked like she had just climbed out of bed. Addison was an attractive woman about 30 years of age with curly, dirty blond hair. But, she was unkempt, her hair messy, and her clothes looked like the rejects from a gymnasium garbage can. She took few seconds to park herself in my chair, seeming to be working the event to exaggerate the extent of her discomfort, for the sake of the viewer.
She said, for the past ten years, she had been an IT trouble shooter for a large software company. She and Breck had been married three years, and he was a construction foreman. They planned to have kids…but not yet.
When I asked about her collision, Jennifer told me a car pulled out in front of her at a take out, and she he’d ended up with a broken leg which was refusing to heal as quickly as her physician thought it should. When I asked her if she was angry at the driver she replied, with a hint of reluctance,
“No…someone had waved the driver out into the traffic, thinking it was clear, I guess. I’d probably feel better if I did have someone to blame!” she added, almost as an afterthought.
“Why is that, Addison?” I asked.
“What if, it was not anyone’s mistake…”
“Well, if I can’t blame the driver, that only leaves me to blame…and, I don’t know what I did wrong…I have always been a carefully driver, especially on my bike…I have always followed that saying… you only get one collision on a motorcycle!”
“What if, there was no one to blame? What if, it was not anyone’s mistake…just a learning opportunity for all concerned…you, the other driver, and even the person who waved the other driver out into traffic?” I asked.
“Well, if that’s the case, I’m missing the learning, because I have been laying around for six months depressing, feeling sorry for myself, getting fat, and driving Breck up the wall.” she said, her frustration and confusion reigning over her face.
“Tell me about your life before your motorcycle collision. What were the best and worst parts of it, Addison?”
She thought for a moment, and then replied with a flippant air, “Well, things were OK. I’m well paid in my job, and with no kids I can afford the adult toys, like the 30 grand Harley I wracked up, and a cottage at the beach. I have a close family and good friends nearby, and really, my biggest challenge is minimizing my taxes.”
“That sounds a little one sided, Addison…what were your three biggest challenges before your wracked up your bike?” I asked.
Her face took on a serious tone, her eyes flushed slightly, and as she turned her eyes to meet mine, she said, “Truthfully, I want a baby, but Breck isn’t ready, my job is boring but I need it to pay my debts, and I’m afraid if I push getting pregnant, Breck will leave me!”
“And, I suspect having all this time on your hands, since your collision, has given you lots of opportunity to worry about your challenges…is that a good guess, Addison?”
“Yes, it is!” she replied.
“What’s the most pressing one of the three?” I asked her.
“We live in a society of victimization, where people are much more comfortable being victimized than actually standing up for themselves.” – Marilyn Manson, musician
“Do you want him in your future or need him to have a future?”
She paused for a moment, and then replied, “I don’t want to lose Breck…that’s the most important one!”
“Do you want him in your future or need him to have a future?”
Again, she paused…and then said hesitantly, “I need him to have a future! I’ve been waiting a while for him to be ready to be a dad…I can wait longer…I guess!”
“Addison, are you ready for the truth of successful relationships?” I asked.
“What do you mean?” she asked with a confused look.
“Do you want to know the key ingredient for a long term, successful relationship with Breck?”
“Yes, I certainly do!”
“A successful relationship with Breck demands you be independently dependent. Since you need him that indicates you are mostly dependent, so not independent enough for your own well being…the relationship cannot work over the long term because it is out of balance with nature.”
“You lost me, Ken!” she said, interested, but confused.
“Addison, human adaptability, or flexibility, is the keystone of our survival as a species. We learn, and adjust, to our environment very quickly. This especially applies in our relationships!. A successful partner, in a relationship, must be able to act both independently, and dependently, to survive. This ensures their own well being.”
“Nature provides the learning challenges we require for our survival.”
“Are you saying I’m too dependent on Breck?” she asked, with an air of frustration.
“One part of you knows, you would survive without him. Another part of you knows, if the relationship was over, you would experience the pain of missing him. But, which part are you focusing on?”
“I guess the last one…but, how is this connected to my current situation?” she asked.
“Nature provides the learning challenges we require for our survival. So, if we are not acting in our own best interest, within our own values, we experience events to remind us to act decisively for our own future, first.”
Then, I added, “Did you ever wonder if your collision, and depressing about it, gave you the time to think about your present and future, so you could act more effectively, to ensure your future is based on your values…not on the values of others? Your survival demands you not be a victim of another’s values, but rather, be a victor with our own values! ”
“Are you suggesting my motorcycle collision enabled me to evaluate my life, and especially my relationship with Breck?”
“What do you think, Addison?”
“It kind of makes sense to me…especially, given what’s happened since the collision.”
“What are you thinking of specifically, Addison?”
“Ken, the time I spent in hospital, and at physiotherapy… as I watched Breck deal with it…was very eye opening for me. I kept trying to imagine him as a father…and, I realized he has very little awareness of what that would mean for him, and us…and, I started wondering about our future together.”
“Addison, that’s not love…that’s…infatuation!”
“It sounds like you have very high value on being a mother, but, you think Breck doesn’t share that value. Since, you are afraid of a life without him, so you are waiting for him to change his values. And, in the meantime, you frustration, with yourself, grows. It that close to where you are, Addison?”
“It’s very close, Ken! And, I just don’t know what to do. I love Breck and want a future with him!” she replied with a sudden, child-like, smile crossing her face.
“Addison, that’s not love…that sounds like infatuation! True love is an equilibrated combination of support and challenge…the fact you hesitate to expect Breck to respect your value of being a mother now, indicates you are mostly supporting him, and not challenging him, equally.”
“But, if I push him on it, I will lose him…that terrifies me!”
“So, you could say, nature is challenging you to learn to be more independent…to learn you don’t need Breck for your survival. But, to learn that, requires you to take the risk of believing in yourself and your own values and survival skills…to stop victimizing yourself!”
“But, why do I need to learn to be independent? I practice independence in all kinds of ways in my life!” she said, clearly frustrated.
“Addison, I’m sure you exercise independence in your life, in many ways. It seems to me riding a motorcycle is very much about independence. But, in this area of your life, you must be needing more practice because of your previous experiences.”
Then, I added, “My best guess is you have other relationships, in your past and present, where you also struggle with putting yourself first, struggle with honouring your own values, first. Would that be true, Addison?”
“Life is not compassionate towards victims. The trick is not to see yourself as one.
It’s never too late!” – C. JoyBell C., author
“Breck kind of reminds me of him, actually.”
She paused, thoughtful for a moment as her eyes got glassy, then she replied, “It started with my Mom, who I have felt so disconnected to, for so long…and, then there is my last boyfriend. He dumped me, and I was depressed for over a year trying to figure out what I had done wrong. Breck kind of reminds me of him, actually.”
“Addison, there are no mistakes, only learning opportunities in your life. I think you are being challenged to honour your own values, first…otherwise, you cannot be OK with Addison…which only leads to additional, similar challenges. It is said, nature sends us the same lesson, in different forms, until we learn it.”
“Ken, this makes so much sense, it explains so much of my life. Can I think about it until I return next week?”
“Certainly Addison! However, I want to offer you, one caution. Nature is so determined for you to learn and survive, if you decide not to act on your new level of awareness, you will experience one, or more, of the following four events: as I mentioned before, additional similar challenges or distracting low priorities or humbling circumstances or even tragedies. This is to remind you that learning is required for your survival.”
“Are you saying, I should expect more pain in my life, if I don’t use what I have learned?”
“Yes, pain is one of our best motivators…if we ignore our pain, whether physical or emotional, it increases, which motivates us to act. If we ignore a toothache, it can move to infection to abscess and even to poison our entire body. The same process happens mentally.”
“OK…I will see you next week, thanks!”
“…each of us, must learn, to save ourselves…”
Three days later, Addison left a message on my machine cancelling her scheduled appointment and saying she would contact me when she was ready to continue. Addison needed more life experience to prove to herself the truth of what we discussed. She needed to victimize herself further by deferring to Breck’s values, for a while longer, to create enough pain to motivate herself to act. Each of us learns, when we are ready, not when someone tries to teach us…genuine respect is acknowledging this truth…each of us, must learn, to save ourselves, and not expect others, to do it for us!
“What’s good about talking about being victimized is that it is the beginning of being
able to stop it.”– Teri Hatcher, actress
Until Next time…
Now you know your job is to live within your own values, not your partners! Otherwise, you can’t have a healthy relationship. Living inside your partner’s values will destroy your relationship because you end up demeaning yourself by diminishing your own values. Respect your partner’s values, but, live within your own. The difference between yours, and your partner’s values, are the fuel for learning to be an independent person and the foundation of a long term relationship.
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Namaste, (I salute the grandly organized design of the universe, manifested in you!)
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