Control freaks

Joey Garcia

I allowed my low self-esteem to judge and criticize my last two girlfriends about not matching my ideals. I even belittled or emotionally abused them. I also have a habit of not being honest. I leave out details or lie in order to “keep the peace” because both of my ex-girlfriends would blow up with anger or jealousy. Can you guide me? I want and need to change!

Are you sure? Most people are ambivalent toward change. They say they want it but are hesitant to invest the time, and often money, to learn how to make different choices. And frankly, transformation, not change, is the key. You want to be a new creation. In most religious or mythological stories of rebirth, the person who is transformed is so different that others do not recognize him or her. But that heroine or hero knows who they were (and often still carries a wound so they never forget) and who they have become, even if others doubt it.

The choice to judge and criticize your girlfriends is a choice to remain in control. You don’t want to be influenced by love. You think (subconsciously? Or not!) that by controlling their ability to bond with you intimately, you can avoid being hurt. But, hey, that’s not how love rolls. We will be hurt, disappointed, angry and scared at times in romantic relationships, because those emotions demand our attention and can (if we’re willing) lead us to become more authentic people. How? By making us so miserable that we reach out for the help we need to be different. Self-help books can’t do this. A book can provide information, even an insight or two. But ultimately, what you learn remains in your head, not your heart. Insights give the ego confidence, but insights are not the journey. And it’s through your personal journey (guided by a real person who can call you on your blind spots) that you surrender the caterpillar life and learn to fly.

One more thing: I don’t believe that you leave out details or lie to avoid the anger or jealousy of your girlfriends. You side step honesty to provoke your girlfriends. The resulting chaos creates distance and invites the insecure relationship pattern: tension-building, explosion, reunion. Combat this drama by making a commitment to yourself and your God to be honest. When you are dishonest, fess up immediately to the person whose trust you dissed. Do it often enough and your ego will be so humbled it won’t even lie when a sales clerk asks, “How are you?”

My daughter has three small children by three different men and keeps making bad relationship choices. Her current boyfriend uses drugs and works part time. He doesn’t have much of a future, but she says she is in love. How can I get her to see that she needs a hardworking man with the right values to help her make a better life for her children?

By biting your tongue when you want to nag or tell her all about how she’s messing up her life and the lives of her little ones. If she’s convinced that her man gives her good loving, nothing you say will get through her “my mama don’t understand” filter. Instead, look to your own relationship history to find the seeds that grew into her confusion about what a healthy relationship entails. Then have compassion for her re-enactment of whatever she learned from you and any other adults she grew up around. That way, when she cries over the next breakup, you can admit your sorrow over the failure to provide her with better relationship skills. That will definitely pinch you both awake.

Meditation of the week
“Please let something good happen,” I prayed. Later, when my tire blew, I was grateful that I wasn’t on the freeway, the tow truck arrived quickly, and Jesse at Big O Tires offered to put my groceries in the employee fridge. So many kind people … such good things happening!

Our content is free, but not free to produce

If you value our local news, arts and entertainment coverage, become an SN&R supporter with a one-time or recurring donation. Help us keep our reporters at work, bringing you the stories that need to be told.


Stay Updated

For the latest local news, arts and entertainment, sign up for our newsletter.
We'll tell you the story behind the story.