Happy Mothers’ Day?
I always wonder about the glorification of Motherhood. Is that a trap for women? Is it a protection? Is it a condemnation of women who choose not to be mothers? Is it an assertion that being a mother is “enough” and a rebuke of those women who think and act otherwise? Is it a justification for men who prefer to avoid the responsibilities of parenthood?
Then there are those whose mothers were psychopaths or molesters, whose destruction transcended generations. How are we supposed to feel about glorifying them?
Yes, it’s relevant. In untangling the web of what all people are self-medicating, familial relationship, past and current, often arise.
As children, we may be confronted by situations over which we have no control and from which there is no escape – and that doesn’t just apply to priests and ministers abusing boys. Girls and boys alike find themselves subjected to “attentions” from which they have no recourse.
Nor do these conditions end with the escape into adulthood. Even fleeing proximity with significant geographic change isn’t enough to eradicate the ingrained responses and reactions triggered by years of actual powerlessness.
All this is by way of saying, learning to cope with the results of actual victimhood, not replicating it with ongoing victim behaviors, and learning to defend oneself now that defense is possible, go a long ways towards alleviating the need to self-medicate.
As we have noted before, Assertiveness Training goes a long ways towards changing relationships. So do, particularly for women, strength training, kick boxing, pistol shooting, and other activities which help to shatter the victim profile that predators are so good at spotting.
Yes, standing up for yourself feels good, and also will free you from unwanted and destructive relationships. That frees you to develop real relationships that do not replicate the past.
Many have, in one form or another, had to raise themselves. That works out in various ways, and is a good reason to understand ourselves better. For an excellent extreme example, I recommend the current best-selling Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.
Then it’s time to allow yourself to create you own healthy relationships, activities, choices, and life.
Understanding Assertiveness Training
It occasionally helps to look at one aspect of eliminating your reliance on alcohol as your coping mechanism of choice.
Many of the clients we see suffer from passivity in their relationships whether personal, marital, familial, professional, or social. Alcohol use has become a way to provide themselves with a “protective bubble” which others cannot penetrate. It’s also a good passive-aggressive weapon against those same others, and in some cases, allows acting out aggressively and destructively.
So, nothing changes, nothing gets better, and situations invariably deteriorate.
It is hard to change passive, or aggressive, into assertive. It’s difficult to give up passive-aggressive and its ineffectual satisfactions. But it’s not impossible, and this is where both effort and patience are required. It takes time to ramp up from passive to assertive with scaring yourself and provoking aggressive responses in others.
The guide to this change is what we refer to as the “responsibility/authority” index. Simply stated, it means that whoever has the responsibility for something has the authority to decide how it’s done. The commonest, real, everyday example is the wife who complains that the husband isn’t doing his share around the kitchen. He agrees to do the cleanup after meals and is immediately met with the assertion that he’s “doing it wrong” – especially in loading the dishwasher.
You know how this plays out.
An assertive wife will grit her teeth, not look, and allow the husband to learn for himself – or she may learn that his way works just fine. The assertive husband will calmly continue to do cleanup his way – and he will do it.
Assertiveness means insisting on balance, and balance means not having to resort to either isolated passivity, passive-aggression or aggression. No need to play the “drunk, disabled, disorderly” card.
It’s surprising how much better you will feel, and how little time it will take to replace resentment with pride in yourself.