Initially, I liked my daughter’s new boyfriend. They started off as platonic friends because she was already in a committed relationship with a boyfriend overseas. However, I later found out this platonic friend made advances toward her. She started a relationship with him while she still had her boyfriend. Later, she confessed the truth to her boyfriend, which naturally caused him a lot of hurt and mistrust. She and the new boyfriend have broken up eight times in eight months because he mistreats her, cheats on her, etc. As soon as he says, “Baby, I’m sorry. I want you,” she runs back. I drilled self-esteem into my daughter with the hope that she would become self-assertive and value her body and life, but she is back with this guy. It is causing a rift in our relationship. I detest the things he does to her. This situation is turning me into an insomniac.
Why don’t you detest the betrayal she perpetrated on the overseas boyfriend? Her new beau is not responsible for her awful behavior. She is. Self-esteem takes root and grows through self-acknowledgement and support from others. If you drill it into someone, it can feel like a rule. If you advocated her self-esteem without working on your own, your efforts may have held little attraction.
Put those sleepless nights to work by considering whether your own relationships cycle between abandonment (breaking up) and return. That pattern is popular with those who fear abandonment. The neurotic ego theorizes that it’s better to abandon the other than to be left. But fear of abandonment is not actual abandonment. Until the lesson is learned, they keep reconciling. Healing arrives when the fearful person abandons the neurotic self: the self that is clingy, jealous, fearful, greedy, lustful, etc.
Examine whether, at some level, you’re playing a popularity game and wanting her to choose you instead of him. Clean up your neediness, so you can be of real service to her as a parent. If your own desires drive you, it’s easy to miss relationship-abuse patterns (honeymoon, tension-building and explosion).
Don’t obsess over what you did wrong as a parent or what may go awry in her life. Pray. Here’s a prayer I like: “I let go of my desire for power and control. I let go of my desire for esteem and affection. I let go of my desire for security and survival. I let go of my desire to change this situation.” Once you let go, you’re available to help.
I have a friend who does not like to hear the truth. He complains about how he is used and abused at work and in relationships. If I point out that he allows this to happen, he talks to as many people as necessary to locate an opinion that matches his. Then, he tells me how so-and-so agrees with him, as if that made his initial assessment right. How can I handle this?
By understanding how desperate your friend is to be right. Let him. Acknowledge to yourself that what he believes is true is his reality for now. Love him where he is. And when he complains, ask if he wants feedback or just a listening ear. Above all, don’t take it personally. It’s no reflection on your advice.
Send your favorite quote, parable or personal experience of liberation to firstname.lastname@example.org by July 14, and I’ll publish your wisdom in a future column.