Alexis is a kind, considerate individual. At work, she is viewed as totally willing to please - in fact, overly so. As a result, most people take advantage of her.
It shouldn’t be surprising that her intimate relationships are fraught with emotional upset. They are often abusive, both physically and emotionally. Her most recent marriage included seven years of abuse before she finally filed for divorce. Still, it caused her tremendous conflict. Her husband played on her sympathies, used every excuse to justify the past and promised it would never happen again. It was a statement she had heard before, on too many occasions. This time, she stuck to her guns.
A month later, Alexis met a man she described as “A good person, who treats me like a lady, takes me out and pays the bill.” He was constantly there to support and nurture her, until the day she filed for divorce. Then, he suddenly disappeared. He didn’t answer his phone and was unavailable for days. Her reaction was to beg and plead. Eventually, she left him this message, “Just tell me if you don’t want to be with me. I need to know, one way or another.” Still, her phone failed to ring. Finally, she became angry and left another message. “Don’t call any more. I’m through.” This time, he answered. He begged forgiveness, said he cared and that it wouldn’t happen again. As you might predict, she caved in. Once again, she became emotionally vulnerable and things appeared on the right track.
Not too long after, he pulled his disappearing act again. That was when she said, “Dr. Ed, why is he doing this to me? I love him and I’ve done nothing to hurt him. Yet, when he’s in my life, I wind up going up and down like a yo-yo. I don’t know what to do.” She repeated these words over and over again, all the while blaming her depressed feelings on her on-again-off-again lover.
At that point, I said, “Your lover or boyfriend, whatever you want to call him, isn’t the problem. If you want an explanation for his behavior, it’s simple. He’s scared to death. He was there, committed and caring, until you filed for divorce. When you became available, he ran. He’s acting out of fear. Knowing that, however, doesn’t help you, because you’re the problem, not him. You’re barely out of an extremely hurtful marriage and, once again, you’re in a relationship in which you’re the victim. I know you feel he’s the cause of your upset and that, if he would only stay around you’d be okay. But I think you’d still be a troubled soul whose whole sense of identity and worth stems from the person you’re involved with at any given time. Their behavior totally determines how you feel. That’s an awful lot of power to endow someone with, especially a scared, frightened individual. Perhaps if you could deal with him in a healthy manner, he might be able to be the person you’re looking for.”
“But, right now, you shouldn’t be looking for anyone. You first need to be able to stand on your own two feet because the most important criteria that determines how well you can live with someone else is how well you can live with yourself. The world is filled with a myriad of activities, events and interests that can provide a source of interest and challenge, but you’re blind to all of them, because you’re narrowly focused in on how the next man in your life is going to treat you.”
“If I could draw a picture of your situation, it would be something like this: there is a man in a field, practicing archery, shooting arrows at a target 300 feet away. A woman runs across the field, jumps in front of one of his arrows, falls to the ground, wounded and shouts, ‘Why did you do this to me?’ That woman is you. You always wind up the same way, taken advantage of and hurting, physically, emotionally and financially. All because you jump in front of everyone else’s arrows. If there is one thing I can convey to you, it would be that you can’t make someone else’s insecurities your realities. You’ve got to determine your reality by what you do, by what you want, by what you think and by what you feel, not by what others do.”
Alexis is a real person. The situation I’ve described is an accurate picture. Unfortunately, there are far more Alexises out there than you can begin to imagine. It may well be that one of you reading this article, or someone you know is an Alexis, a good person who always seems to come out on the short end of the stick. You can’t help but let your heart go out to them. They tug at your heartstrings and cause you to somehow feel a failure because you can’t fix them. But, the truth be known, they have to help themselves. Therefore, if you are one of them, please recognize that your hurts are of your own making. Stop jumping in front of arrows. Learn to live for you, not selfishly, but with a rational self image. Give, do and care for others, but expect something in return. You don’t have to keep a tally, but you do need to expect others to give back to you. If they don’t, you have to learn that most individuals are either balcony or basement people. Balcony people lift you up. Basement people pull you down. When you push the elevator button, it’s your choice whether you go up or down. So, if you’re constantly giving without receiving and getting hurt for no reason, don’t deceive yourself that you’re a good person who is victim to others. You’re a martyr who is looking for others to pity you for the plight you’re in, when in fact, you’ve unconsciously chosen the direction your life is taking. So, if you don’t like where you are, you have to press the button that will take you where you want to be.