My friend’s getting divorced again. I met her when she was newly-married to her husband, both late-20s. He was selling real estate while she was training for the same firm.
She was soon selling more than he was, yet he was the showy, confident one. They seemed very happy but after two children, she rose in the business and he levelled off. He had an affair. They split up.
My friend was devastated. But she’s very attractive and plenty of guys were eager to date her. When I met her future second husband, I saw that he wanted her to be at his side every minute. I thought it must feel overwhelming but said nothing.
My friend became more successful while also raising two very nice kids. But this husband complained about her work hours and became suspicious about other men even though she worked from home. He recently moved in with his ex-girlfriend and my friend started divorce proceedings.
When I asked why she put up with his jealousy and demands for so long, she answered, “I thought I had to be good at everything including marriage, but I wasn’t good enough for him.”
I know that her (alcoholic) mother was divorced by her father, then lived awhile with an abusive partner. I also know that she told her daughter (then 18) to “never trust” a man.
But she’s now a smart and successful woman! Is there a “pattern” of being affected by a mother’s mistakes? What you do you think about this?
Second Strike Out
Everyone is affected in some way by their parents’ examples.
Adult children of alcoholics are particularly vulnerable to long-term effects from this “family disease” which often results in offspring having issues of abandonment, among others.
Says psychotherapist Ann Dowsett Johnson who has an online women-only practice with Ontario-based clients, “This is a complex issue that can only be ‘unpacked’ in therapy.”
It’s not clear why both men left your friend. She may be good at the courting stage but may have some “buttons” that can be pushed in a marriage such as being overly sensitive, retreats from issues, or, conversely, is overly demanding.
Johnson urges counselling for this woman but says people should choose a professional whom they feel is a “fit” for them.
As a close friend, raise the suggestion gently without any hint of wrongly blaming her.
You can also offer suggestions specifically for people who’ve been affected by alcoholism, such as your friend attending meetings of Al-Anon groups for family and friends of alcoholics, or Adult Children of Alcoholics, and/or Alcoholics Anonymous.
Mention, too, She Recovers Foundation, an organization seeking to empower women in their recovery regarding mental health issues and addiction.
I particularly liked Johnson’s metaphor for therapy helping people see they’re “stepping on a rake” in midst of problems, until the handle hits them on the head with helpful changes they can make.
Dear Readers - A moving response regarding how we’ll face “2021 and Beyond” differently from life before the COVID-19 pandemic:
“I never thought I’d live through a pandemic, or be diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. They both seemed to have come out of nowhere in 2020. They woke me up to my mortality, aware that I’m living on borrowed time.
“So, I consciously look for ways to give back to my Community, mostly through the arts. I realize I can pay it forward right now with my volunteer work, trying to help others where and when I can.”
Reader’s Commentary “I went to a small local store for a curbside pick-up recently. I hadn’t been there in a while and looked forward to seeing the owner whom I’ve known for years. When she came to the door, I gave her a warm greeting but was met with indifference.
“When I asked how she’s doing, she muttered, “Not good, not good.”
“She then coldly asked what I wanted. If I hadn’t had any loyalty or compassion, I would’ve just walked away, causing her even more lost business than the lockdown’s affected.
“She needs to realize that if she stays open for curbside, she should be welcoming to her customers. I certainly don’t feel like shopping there again.”
Don’t give up on loyalty OR compassion. Small business people are on their knees with fear that they can’t afford their rent much longer and will lose their livelihoods. Blame the pandemic not desperate shop-owners.
Tip of the day:
It’s not uncommon for adult children of alcoholics to require help from therapy.