Stop this roller coaster!

Joey Garcia

After 1-1/2 years of living together, my boyfriend’s moodiness and silent treatments drove me crazy. I bought a house, but didn’t even tell him that I was looking because I was afraid he would get very angry and kick me out before I had a place. When I did tell him, he was very upset and asked me to leave by the end of the month. He stopped talking to me completely for the next three weeks. That was our relationship: two weeks of joy, then two weeks of anger. I just couldn’t handle the roller coaster anymore. I sent him a Valentine’s card, told him I was sorry about the way it ended and wished him the best. He responded with two-pages of insults. I read four sentences before tossing it out. I still feel like I should apologize for the way I handled things. Should I go to him in person or just let it go?

Feeling guilty, eh? Recognize your guilt as a sign that you knew you were behaving badly, but chose to continue that behavior anyway. Here’s one example: you disliked it when your boyfriend gave you the silent treatment, but you felt justified giving him the silent treatment about the house. This unconscious mimicking of the ways in which you believe that he did you wrong, along with the overwhelming desire to apologize, suggests that you have adopted an unhealthy model for romantic relationships. Perhaps you grew up in a household where emotional or physical abuse was routine or maybe you’ve invested in the skewed views that permeate most examples of intimate relationships in our culture. Either way, the script you describe: tension building, explosion (behaving physically or emotionally violently toward the other person), honeymoon (a brief period of getting along) is the pattern for infatuation, not love. The product of this behavior is a roller coaster relationship.

Your interest in apologizing (again) to your ex-boyfriend is worrisome. It appears that you haven’t forgiven yourself, but you want him to forgive you so that you can feel better. Don’t apologize now. Wait until your words have no strings attached.

I’m a 45-year-old woman who has always dreamed of working in natural resources. I studied forestry, but I’ve been a county social worker for two years. I enjoy helping people, but I want a job in natural resources, even though I know that it’s hard for women to find permanent jobs in that field. Years ago, a Native American elder told me to follow my heart. Still, I think dreams have to be realistic. At my age, I need to think about retirement plans. What is your advice?

Open your eyes wide enough to see that you already work in natural resources—the human division. As a social worker, you are teaching people that they are precious, unique and worth saving—just like the redwoods or the wetlands. When you meet people that encourage you to follow your heart or dreams, understand that you are being given an opportunity to review your life and determine what you really want. If you sift around inside yourself and determine that having a retirement plan is integral to your happiness, so be it. My favorite Sufi saying is, “Trust God and tie up your camel.” You might also consider the possibility of including both careers in your life by volunteering with an environmental group now or after you retire.

Meditation of the week
“Wisdom is the attitude of seeking God,” says Camilla Burns, a spiritual teacher. Do you have the capacity to seek God in all things? The traumas as well as the treasures of life?

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