One of my nurse friends, who is going through a divorce, is relying heavily on appointments with her therapist at the moment. She's the one initiating the divorce, the one totally upsetting the apple cart, the one who is feeling the wrath of virtually every family member she and her (soon to be ex) husband have. She is a woman outnumbered, and it's starting to take its toll. Never mind that her husband actively started this process with his wandering eye (soon followed by other parts)...he's playing the innocent victim.
It all starts with the way he's behaving. In a word, he's behaving quite badly. He's thrown major fits in front of the kids, begged and pleaded with her for hours on end, called everyone he could think of (including her mother) in an attempt to get her to change her mind, attached himself to her with velcro and cried to anyone who would listen for months. When none of that worked, he escalated it, threatening to hurt himself if she left him. Well, she did leave him and he didn't hurt himself, but it was pretty stressful there for a while.
Another casual friend, married longer than the FX and I, actually attempted suicide recently when her husband said he was leaving her. Coincidentally, she's a nurse too, and her stability (both in job and temperament) has enabled her husband to do the Peter Pan routine for the better part of his adult life. She's held everything together while he follows his dream. Now he's found his dream...and she's not in it.
I bring up these two separate stories for a couple of reasons. One is the response of the people who got left. I've clearly spent my life with the wrong person, because the idea of killing myself over the FX never, never occurred to me. Sure, it sucked. Yes, it was a brutal year and the residual effects are still very much with me. But suicide? Over a man? Are you kidding me? There's only three men in the world who mean that much to me - and I gave birth to them.
Also not happening in my life is the whole begging and pleading business. I'm the first to admit that I'm stubborn, and I've realized over the last year that my pride can be a real sticking point, but the day I beg someone to stay with me will be...almost impossible to imagine. From that point of view, I made it very easy for the FX to leave, since I have no interest in being with someone who doesn't want to be with me. What's the point in that? And where's the joy?
The second point is something that my friend's therapist said to her yesterday. She was venting about her husband's behavior and the therapist made the comment that it all came down to personality. Nurses are caregivers, he said, who nurture compulsively and have a burning need to take care of everything for those they love. And the large percentage of them, he continued, are in relationships with narcicissts who have to be the center of someone's universe, who have a burning need to be taken care of and are unable to nurture themselves in any way. It's like two pieces of a puzzle, he explained, and until you figure out how dysfunctional it is, you'll just keep being attracted to the same type partner forever.
Wow. Just frickin' wow.
I know a lot of nurses read this and I'm very curious to hear their take on this. Do you think this is true, and if so does it apply to your life? Did you outgrow this little trap or are you still in it? Or do you think it's just flat out BS? Would this apply to other "nurturing" fields too? Teachers? Social workers?
It's not something I'd ever really thought of in those terms, but I got it immediately. And I have to say that it sums up my life perfectly. And the lives of the other two nurses above, for that matter.
Now the question is - how to make sure to not repeat that particular pattern.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Posted by the rotten correspondent at 12:02 AM