Ask Joey: Ditch the victim act

Joey Garcia

My wife of 30 years and I have nothing in common except debt. I want a divorce, but I can’t afford one because we are upside down on our house and have a second mortgage, plus huge credit-card bills from living far beyond our paychecks. I hate coming home because I don’t want to deal with my wife. She either nags or ignores me. I can’t see my way out of this mess.

Divorce yourself from the belief that you are stuck. Peeling off the victim persona takes courage and persistence. It’s well worth the effort. Once you free yourself from the lie that you are powerless to change your attitude or behavior, you are empowered to see your circumstances as an opportunity and not just as crisis.

Begin by finding qualities to appreciate in who you are, in who you have in your life and in the things you chose to surround yourself with. Be grateful for your debt, because it is the path you chose to educate yourself about money and possessions. Be grateful for your habit of living beyond your means, because it reveals how easily you buy into illusions. Be grateful for your wife. Whatever you dislike in her exists in you when you are honest enough to admit it.

Consider, for example, her tendency to nag. Isn’t that what you do to yourself? Your brain raises hundreds of complaints daily; your wife utters only a handful. Please don’t dismiss self-criticism then act surprised when she points out something unkind about you that you have repeatedly whacked your own brain with.

Yes, I know criticism feels different when delivered from someone else. And, yes, I understand how scared and angry you feel. If you take responsibility for the world you created and take action (generate a debt payoff plan, sell what can be sold, consciously work on establishing consistent communication with your wife, etc.), you will feel less like a victim and more like a man who knows how to thrive. You can do this. Believe in yourself. I believe in you.

My husband cheated and got some woman in his office pregnant. I am proceeding with a divorce. He plans to take a job transfer out of state with her. I know this man: He will disappear on me, because that’s what he did with his former wife when I got pregnant. My problem is our son attends a university that I cannot afford on my own. I need to tell him that he cannot continue. How can I do this? What can I say to my son so he understands?

The truth. But when he learns that his parents are not who he thought they were and that his future is not heading in the direction he imagined, expect explosions. His world has come to an end. Your son will be angry and hurt and likely collapse into a depression, temporarily.

You cannot save him from his feelings; do not try. These emotions are expressions of grief and need to be aired and experienced. If your discomfort with his reaction is excessive and obvious, he will take care of you and stop tending to himself. That delays the healing process, and his growth may be affected for years, even decades.

So don’t put your own needs for reassurance above his. It will be important for him to receive counseling during the remainder of this school year. Help him to access a counselor on campus. You will need a network of support, too, and your son should not be a part of it. Do not rely on him to soothe you. It’s your job to ensure that his transition is as natural as possible.

Meditation of the week
“The world is round and the place which may seem like the end may also be only the beginning,” said Ivy Baker Priest, former California State Treasurer. How do you view transformation?

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