One of Helen’s adult daughters was forcing her to choose between her daughter and her second husband.
That’s not the real choice.
Helen had three girls with Ed before she finally summoned the courage to divorce him when the girls were in their early 20s. He was angry, demanding, selfish, manipulative, bullying and abusive. However, she thought she had to stay because the girls needed a father and she always wanted to give them everything they wanted.
Ten years later she met Sam. Helen never thought she’d ever meet someone who would love and care for her the way Sam did. Also, he was wonderful toward her daughters and their young children. He had a big heart which he opened to them even though he wasn’t their biological father. After three years they decided to marry.
One of the Helen’s daughters, Mary, was furious. It was a slap to her father Ed, it was wrong and she was going to stop it. She cajoled, she threatened, she used emotional blackmail and intimidation. She tried everything she could to get her sisters not to go. Even though Helen pleaded and begged, Mary wouldn’t budge.
Helen went ahead with the marriage, saying that Sam was so wonderful, eventually Mary would be won over.
But Mary never changed. For eight years she wouldn’t allow Sam near her or her children. She organized big Thanksgivings and Christmas celebrations, big birthday parties for her children and her sisters’. Helen was invited but Sam was never allowed to come. And Mary would never go to Helen’s events if Sam was there.
All that time, Sam was still wonderful to Helen and the other two daughters and their children. He kept asking Helen to stand up to Mary but Helen kept waffling. Maybe she did feel a little guilty for remarrying. Maybe Mary was right that Helen was driving a wedge into her family.
Helen kept attending Mary’s functions in hopes that Mary would eventually relent. She kept begging Mary and reasoning with her. She kept minimizing the damage she was allowing to her marriage.
Helen’s other daughters said they couldn’t do anything because they didn’t want to destroy the family. They said Mary was always this way. Even when she was a little child, if Mary didn’t get what she wanted she became furious. She yelled and screamed. She threatened and manipulated. She sulked and wouldn’t talk for months until everyone gave in. She was relentless. They thought that was just how she was. So Helen and the rest had eventually given in to her.
We need a Code of Conduct, Standards of Behavior that are greater than individual personality and ego.
We pledge our allegiance to a Code of Behavior first, just like the law is above the King, Queen or President. We recognize dictators and tyrants because they want their whims and personalities are above the law.
Supporting and enabling trashy behavior is not helping Mary.
Helen had to stop wanting to be forgiven and loved by Mary for the wrong reasons. Mary’s love was not kind, considerate and compassionate; it was selfish, bullying and abusive. Helen had to challenge Mary to love her for the right reasons and to love in the right ways. Helen needed to take a risk and break the glass ceiling that she’d accepted. She needed courage and inner strength to take the risk of standing up for the Standards she held so dearly.
The choice was about which standards of behavior Helen would allow in her personal space and the family she wanted.
Helen though Mary was behaving horribly, like some sort of trash. Or, Mary was dumping toxic waste into Helen’s family. She’d always done that and Helen had not stood up to protect the rest of her family from pollution by one daughter.
Helen finally saw clearly. This was the same choice she had to make when she divorced Ed. Mary was the one driving the wedge. Mary was the poison serpent in the family. Mary had the heart and Soul of a raisin.
Looking at it that way, the choice was clear for Helen. She couldn’t allow the bullying, temper tantrums of a five year-old take control of her family, especially when the five year-old was in a mid-forty year-old body and should have learned better.
There never is “the family.” There is only, “What specific behaviors would Helen allow in the family she wanted.” It was a horrible choice to have protect the rest against one daughter, but it was the choice Mary was forcing on Helen.
Helen was the mother and she had to set a good example for all the younger people.
Helen chose the standards she wanted to live with the rest of her life.
She chose the happiness and joy she felt with Sam; she chose the way she and Sam treated each other. At first, her other daughters didn’t back her because they thought she’d never have the courage and endurance to resist Mary. But after they saw Helen’s determination, they also insisted they didn’t want manipulation, bullying and hissy-fits around their families.
Of course, there are many complications depending on your situation. The best way to learn how to take power in your life and to be the person you want to be is to hire Dr. Ben for personalized coaching and counseling so you can:
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