Jilted by a philandering husband and defrauded out of my share of the assets, I made a convincing victim.
“You are righteously angry,” a friend counselled.
Perhaps so, but something niggled at me.
“A man does not stray unless there is a reason,” someone said, and I felt as if she looked right through me, could see the flaws at my core. My mother’s repeated warnings came back to me: “No one will ever love you.”
What is wrong with me? my broken heart wailed.
Urgency drove me to find answers. I never wanted to go through this again. I had to know why my life had turned out this way.
I read. I read Daphne Rose Kingma’s Coming Apart, and Susan Anderson’s The Journey from Abandonment to Healing, and The Mastery of Love by don Miguel Ruiz: all offering glimpses of insight and understanding – something I could hold on to. So many books passed through my hands and desperate to learn more, I turned to a galley copy of a book I’d received as a bookstore owner. A commercial piece, now released, but that I’d never bothered with in the past, having stashed it beside many other soon-to-be published editions.
It was Relationship Rescue by Dr. Phil McGraw.
“Too Late for this, really,” I told myself but I decided to give it a chance.
Dr. Phil wrote the words I had suspected all along: good relationships begin with the self. His advice made sense, and more than that, I felt like I was finally onto something. I attacked the book as if reading a how-to manual, highlighter in hand and pencil at the ready.
Relationship Rescue delves into the different “bad spirits” that we bring to our relationships, and as I read along, I began to recognize bits of myself in the “scorekeeper”, the “fault-finder”, and the control freak, but when I reached the eighth category and began to read, I felt as if I’d been punched in the stomach and wanted to throw up. I was the “bottomless pit”.
I told myself that I didn’t need anything so that I wouldn’t be a burden. What I was actually doing was sabotaging my partner’s chances of ever meeting my needs. “He should know without me telling him,” was another one of those false beliefs that I measured by husband against.
The spirit I brought to my marriage was ugly. I had so many expectations about what I wanted and didn’t want based on my parents failures that any partner was destined to fail.
With understanding comes change. It would not be easy, and I am still a work in progress, but Relationship Rescue gave me solid understanding so that I can be accountable and achieve a healthier relationship.
My challenge this week is to write about (or submit images of) a book that made you sit up and pay attention. What book(s) made a difference in your life?