What's the very best thing to do if your toddler is laying on the floor, kicking, screaming and thrashing in a full-blown temper tantrum? Ignore them...utterly. Why? Because if you take it seriously, you give their tantrum and them power and they'll keep repeating the behavior that moved you to action...and emotion. But if your toddler's huge expense of energy and emotion achieves precisely nothing, if it's not even noticed, well then! They may just "straighten up and fly right" as the old song goes. Hmmmmm, I wonder if that wisdom also pertains to narcissists. After all, we've been told they have the emotional intelligence of a toddler. Like a coloratura sorprano warming up, their favorite song is "me, me, me, me, ME, me, me, me, me." What if we were to ignore them and their drama, their grown-up sophisticated versions of a toddler's temper tantrum? What then? Would it take away all their power?
This is for you, the husband watching his wife in the last throes of dementia. It's for you, the mother watching her six-year-old so weakened by chemotherapy that he can't even open a door. It's for the soldier's wife, watching her patriotic hero husband suffer constantly from...what!? It's for you. It's for me. The caregivers who watch their loved one suffer, day in and day out, almost wishing we could take their physical pain — because the emotional pain of watching them suffer almost seems to hurt worse.
Codependence may be my Waterloo. The dysfunction so interwoven in my DNA, the fabric of my being that it will haunt me to the grave. But when that thought discourages me, I think of Liesl.
Enough is never enough. If you were raised by a narcissist, a perfectionist or some version of a "tiger mom/dad," then you probably live a life dedicated to achieving, achieving more and then achieving even more and more. And more. You're always trying to be a better person. Always trying to be a more accomplished person. You set yourself new challenges and then judge yourself by your success or failure in achieving them.Your identity as a failure or success as a person rides on your newest self-assigned challenge. It's never "an ever fixed mark" set in stone. Believe me...I know about this from experience.
Sometimes, life changes. Overnight or in a split second. Nothing is ever, ever the same again. You begin to date your life "BC" and "AD." Before the life-changing event and after it. Life has splintered. Shattered. It's rather like my parents' generation asking each other, "Where were you when you heard Kennedy had been shot?" For my generation it's "Where were you when the towers fell on 9/11?" For some, they'll never forget where they were when they heard that the Big Bopper, Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens had perished in a plane crash, an event that inspired one of my favorite songs, American Pie. Bye, bye Miss American Pie Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry And them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye Singin' this'll be the day that I die This'll be the day that I die
Once upon a time, now about thirteen years ago, I joined an Italian-owned medical device company as their afternoon receptionist. I spent my mornings as a graphic designer and my afternoons answering the switchboard. My predecessor, who'd recently been promoted, was responsible for training me on how to properly direct each incoming call. I felt very intimidated by her. She oozed superiority. Behaved condescendingly. Her shoulders were heavy with responsibility and importance. She exuded the very essence of "professional," knew all the right words, the hip office clichès. Her career star was on the ascendant. Frankly, she intimidated the crap outta low self-esteem, homespun, aw-shucks-it-weren't-nothin' little ol' me. I felt very inferior to her.
"Follow your heart" people advise when you're struggling with a difficult decision. "What will give you peace?" they prompt. Aye, but that's the rub. As codependents, peace lies precisely nowhere. If we choose the path that we secretly want, we risk displeasing other people and that will make us miserable. If we choose the path that will please others, we'll also be miserable. Damned if we do, damned if we don't.
This Autumn found me in a periwinkle blue funk. Life is great and I'm incredibly blessed, but in a funk I was nonetheless. Of course, Seasonal Affective Disorder runs in my family so I blamed it on that and scarfed Vitamin D. Then we adopted two adorable little kittens, Cuddles and Snuggles (Cuddly and Snuggly for short) and suddenly, voila! My funk was a thing of the past. To quote Phil Robertson, I was "happy, happy, happy."
In the movie All Passion Spent based on the book by Vita Sackville West, Lady Slane's children automatically assume they will take over control and management of her life after the death of her Prime Minister husband. They receive the shock of their lives when they discover their mousy, submissive mother has other plans.
Blinky-blinky-blinky! My heart fell when we arrived home on Thursday to be met by the unwelcome sight of the flashing red light on our answering machine. Experience has proved a blinky red light means only one thing: someone wants me to do something for them.