I too have some major FOO issues, don’t we all?
My mother was addicted to prescription painkillers and other drugs. She was mentally ill and, after years of drug abuse, physically ill too. My father, though a very hard worker, took jobs where he would have part ownership in the company, was his own boss, and/or was always on commission, never with any benefits. The “dream jobs” never worked out. Food stamps, government and family bailouts were our way of life. We were evicted from our homes left and right, running from bill collectors and scamming the system along the way because, in my parents words, “We have no choice if we want to have a place to live and to put food on the table.” They spent money on things they wanted the minute it came in, under the premise, “We deserve, we deserve, we deserve.” Then, lo and behold, when it was time to pay rent, utilities or buy food there was nothing left. My parents were always the victims, never responsible for their own choices or their own lives. There is a lot more to this story, but that is the basic frame of reference. Both my parents are dead and it is my extended family that is the more meaningful relationship to me now.
I put myself through college with no help from family. When I met MC he was this organized, disciplined, ambitious, intelligent, witty, well-spoken, and very handsome guy who was interested in me. He talks about not thinking he is good-looking. Honestly, I always thought that was just false modesty. He truly belongs on the cover of GQ magazine. But, I digress. I was shocked and happy to have found someone who was everything I thought I wanted in a partner and who wanted me just as much. I thought he was so different from my family, someone I could count on and someone who believed as I did about personal responsibility, working toward shared goals, while learning and exploring together along the way. I thought our connection was so deep and I didn’t want to lose that connection. When I thought I might because I was afraid to go as fast as he wanted to go, I decided to jump in and take my chances. It turns out things just are never that easy.
Part of my shock over everything I found out was to see just how much of this “victim” mentality MC had for his whole life. I knew it was his mom’s way of living and I thought, like me, he learned from his parents bad example. Wrong! Perhaps I was afraid to see just how deep and pervasive it was within him. Part of addressing all of this is addressing this victim mentality for him, and addressing how and why I picked a partner that, in fact, was far more like my parents than I ever realized. I do understand the victim mentality. I have faced it within myself when younger and after d-day. I don’t want to live that way.
For many years before d-day, I told myself that all the bad stuff brought me to where I am now and so, I wouldn’t change any of it. “Look what I made it through and how far I’ve come.” But, after d-day, when I saw where “I am now” was not actually a true picture of my life, I sunk down into that victim state. And, frankly, I think I needed to do that as part of the grieving process. I fight with it still. Rationally, I know that staying the victim is a very unhealthy path. I can see my parents’, MC’s and his mom’s example to see just how far off-track one can go with that kind of thinking. I want to survive. Even more than that, I want to thrive. I want MC to thrive. I want our children to thrive. I want our marriage to thrive. I want our family to thrive. Still, I fight the victim mentality, but I am working on it. Seeing MC facing that demon has been a helpful step on that journey.