Category Archives: Relationships

Fairy Tale or a Cinderella Complex?

Excerpt from Chapter 12 of
Running in Heels: A Memoir of Grit and Grace

He pranced round the corner.

His arresting, mystifying air captivated me: suave, debonair, and oh, quite a looker. I thought, I’ll stroll on by and check him out. Quickly making mental notes: tall, dark, high cheekbones, broad shoulders–

He turned with a mischievous grin, showing dimples! I averted my eyes and sauntered on by. He whistled. A warm sense of elation swept over me as I thought: He seems older; more mature than the other boys I’ve dated. Surely, this one has already sown his wild oats. I didn’t grasp how much older until later. But at the time I didn’t care.

He was a native of West Indies, thirty-two years old and born on June 6, 1943. If he had claimed that a year after he was born they had named a memorable day on his behalf, calling it D-Day—the “D” standing for Don—I would have believed him. Starry-eyed, I hung on to his every word. He could have said he hung the moon, and I wouldn’t have doubted him.

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photo credit: Brianna Garcia

That was me in another life.

Once upon a time, I envisioned men made decisions and had more power over women. So when he came along, I depended on him for my sanity, security and stability. He would make me whole. Do you know, this theory makes women choose to stay in dysfunctional relationships?

I’ve since read that some women fear independence. Say what? Yep. Oh, they may think they’ve got it all together and are brave and self-sufficient enough, but the bottom line is they have an unconscious desire to be taken care of by others. This was obviously me!

I thought I had found myself a knight in shining armor and allowed him to whisk me away, and soon became a teenage bride to a sweet-talking, hard-hitting man twice my age. He didn’t show much love, nurturing or tenderness, but was harsh and fed on my low self-esteem. His motto: “I’m the man, you’re the woman.” He had a twisted notion on submissiveness. Before I knew it, like a doormat, I was constantly being walked on while becoming subservient to his every whim. I did not respect him. I feared him. Yet, I remained in that relationship fifteen years.

My smile hid the pain in my heart, as well as makeup did the bruises on my face. It would be years of trials and four precious children later, before I found the courage to stand on my own two feet and the courage to walk away from an abusive marriage.

A few years ago, the best help book given to me on marriage was: “Love & Respect” by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. He refers back to Ephesians 5:33: “However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” There are a lot of nuggets in this one book. Eggerichs suggested that love alone is not enough for marriage. In a nutshell: A wife has one driving need — to feel loved. When that need is met, she is happy. A husband has one driving need — to feel respected. When that need is met, he is happy.

I am happy to report that after being a single mom, I eventually re-married. For nearly 24 years, I’ve been married to a wonderful, caring and loving man. God does answer prayers! I am grateful that through all our struggles we are committed to one another, no matter what. I’m no expert, but I can say no marriage is so good that it can’t be made better. We constantly work on this love and respect thing, as well as forgiveness, because neither one of us is perfect.

So I ask you:

  • What practical ways make a healthy marriage?
  • What is your idea of how love is expressed in marriage?
  • How important is self-worth?
  • Define some unrealistic expectations.

And while we’re on the subject of fairy tales … maybe I’ll touch on my thoughts on the Peter Pan syndrome at a later date.

© M.A. Pérez 2018, All Rights Reserved

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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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“All of Business is About Relationships.”

As I journey along the way, I have come to realize that I need you. I learn, grow and I am encouraged by you.

You see, there was a period of time when I was hurting so much I didn’t have time for you. I was too wrapped up in my own little sad state of affairs to consider you. And why not? I was led to believe that I was insignificant, damaged goods, a toss away. In my bleeding heart, what could I have contributed to you anyway? Why would anyone listen to anything I had to offer? Inside I was frail, weak and torn. I felt lonely. I was a mess!

But that was then. This is now: I thrive in hearing you say that I’ve helped you. I am comforted knowing I have made a difference by a deed, a spoken word, a smile, a written word, a touch.

Thank you for allowing me to be me. Thank you for going on this incredible journey with me. You walked with me in my brokenness and pain. You rooted for me during my shame, and cheered for me because I came out sane!

I have an endless hope, not a hopeless end!

My messes became my message. My life of peril turned into a life of promise. Through it all, I have gained an astonishing insight: I know that I’m somebody – with a bright future –  who has purpose – is needed – loved.

God hasn’t given up on you, so don’t you dare give up on Him. God loves you, and I do too.

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