Category Archives: Behavior

Metamorphosis

My family was poor.  As a child, by not owning four-legged friends, I grew an interest in the behaviors of tiny critters, such as insects. Curious at what lay beneath the ant piles, I liked to dig apart their colonies to watch the different activities of the workers, the soldiers, and the queen ant that I read about in books. I never developed a fear of grasshoppers, even if they spat “tobacco” on my fingers, or of handling caterpillars that pricked when they crawled on my hand, or of sneaking up on lizards that left their wiggling tails behind — I was too caught up wondering what the funny red thing on their throats going in and out was all about. My fascination for those critters was a favorite pastime.

Not all school projects were memorable, but I recall one that stuck with me for years. When the teacher assigned a report on any subject, I decided to pick caterpillars. On a large poster board, I drew the four stages of the butterfly: (1) egg, (2) larva, (3) pupa, and (4) adult. I described metamorphosis. Though it wasn’t a Picasso, my work earned a ranking on my school’s hallway wall, posted for all to see, with the highest mark in class: A+.

One sunny day at school during recess, I found a black, woolly caterpillar crawling in the shrubs and unafraid, gently placed it in my palm. A classmate asked to see what I held. When I opened my hand to show him, he whacked it so hard that the caterpillar flew out and disappeared onto a bush. And that’s when I morphed! Without hesitation, I slapped him on the face, hard. The boy stood stunned, mouth opened.

As an adult, I often thought about the word metamorphose. It means to change completely in nature or form.

I think back about how alcohol deceived my loved ones, giving them a false sense of power. After drinking, like the caterpillar many years ago in my book report, they metamorphosed into social butterflies fresh out of its cocoon. They felt invincible, glamorous or intelligent. Gone were the restraints that crippled them emotionally. They carried a false sense of bravado. It was then that they laughed wildly, conversed freely, and flirted openly.

The more attention and compliments they received from others, the less they knew the difference between genuine praise and mere flattery.

(A small excerpt taken from Running in Heels: A Memoir of Grit and Grace. )

 

© M.A. Pérez, 2016, All Rights Reserved

About "Running in Heels: A Memoir of Grit & Grace"

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Filed under Behavior, Personal

What Does Co-dependent Look Like?

Such a complex word.

Here’s what it looks like to me …

My former husband was in love with himself. His needs, desires and wants came before all else. I thought if I did everything he wanted, I’d make him happy. I believed if I agreed with his every comment and wishes, only then would I have some measure of peace. I figured if I made the peace in letting him have his way with me, then surely he’d show me tenderness and love, preferring me over his need for others – hobbies, friends or conquests. But I was merely fooling myself. I received no respect and he continued his ill-treatment toward me. Silently, I resented what he was doing to me, but not enough to do anything different. By me allowing the offenses, I was giving him permission to continue to do me wrong, as if I signed all my rights and life away. I was slowly dying inside. I felt undone, unloved, with a low-self esteem and zero self-worth. I felt lonelier with him than without him. Yet I still wanted him around. As I yearned for his approval and acceptance, I lived in constant fear with him and lived with the fear of losing him.

We think if we can control our environment, we will find peace and tranquility. But in reality, serenity is usually miles away. You might have a false sense of peace and trust me when I say it isn’t lasting. And oh, the price it comes with!

I’m no psychologist, nor am I a psychiatrist. But I also think there’s another side to this spectrum. Sometimes a person may love so much and love so deeply that they tend to do everything for another, thereby potentially stagnating and handicapping that loved one from doing anything for themselves. That person then becomes dependent on you for their needs and outlook in life. They are hindered from growth and maturity in making wise decisions or choices.  They are emotionally immature and can remain psychologically traumatized.

Such as in the situation with my mom. From her childhood early on, Mama was an introvert and extremely shy. Grandma loved her so much that she felt sorry for her. She tended to overcompensate in trying to help Mama by doing everything for her. Mama naturally grew dependent on others to do things for her all of her life. Then in my early years, I tried looking out for Mama and did everything I could in trying to protect her. Most of the time my help was unwarranted, as she sought and relied on her significant others to fulfill that need.

So, co-dependency can be a vicious circle and left untreated can fester like a sore that won’t go away.

Here here are some examples of what it means being co-dependent:

• The need to be needed
• People pleasing
• Trying to control others (aggressively or passively)
• Focusing on helping others before working on your own issues
• Being consumed with other people’s problems
• Rescuing
• Self-doubt
• Unclear boundaries in friendships and relationships
• The tendency to date (or marry) alcoholics or addicts
• Perfectionism
• Workaholism (or always being busy)
• Exhaustion

Your turn. What does co-dependency mean to you?

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Filed under Behavior, Co-dependent, Relationships