Joe was mesmerized when he saw the new hire at work. Lenora was tall, blonde and without any makeup. A whiff of vulnerability glazed with competence wafted up from her body. But what really got Joe hooked was her voice. It oozed of innocence sucking him into her orbit.

Like a cat starved of ...
Joe was mesmerized when he saw the new hire at work. Lenora was tall, blonde and without any makeup. A whiff of vulnerability glazed with competence wafted up from her body. But what really got Joe hooked was her voice. It oozed of innocence sucking him into her orbit.

Like a cat starved of milk, Lenora lapped up Joe’s attentions. She enjoyed being spoilt. Joe anticipated and catered to her every need and desire. Lenora became suspicious about Joe’s motives. Doubts seeped into every crevice of her waking life. There was not one air pocket of trust left. She acted fast and frenetically - dating several others, spending money recklessly, and placing herself at risk of being evicted from her apartment. Better to take charge now than to risk being abandoned by another man who reneged on his promises to take care of her.

When Joe discovered Lenora was lying his fantasy was decimated. Gone was that sweet innocent girl who treasured the hand that fed her. He saw a 30 year old woman who behaved like a spoiled ungrateful teenager. A volcanic tantrum spewed from Joe. Hot streams of painful lava spilled out, burning the bridge that once connected him to Lenora. She felt the searing heat of the lava and melted into a confused and scared mess. Worn out and empty, Joe’s tantrum subsided leaving cooled hard rocks of rage strewn around the scene of the singed relationship.

Like two siblings vying for the attention of a sacrificial parent they hurled those rocks of rage at one another. Both 'children' screamed in pain unable to soothe themselves or each other. Joe and Lenora both wanted moms simultaneously. Lenora longed for a hug of forgiveness, reassuring her that she was still loved. Joe craved the response of a flawless, totally devoted mother figure committed only to him at all times. Their unwritten contract was in shreds.

Joe retreated into his original pact by taking on the father/teacher role once more. He lectured Lenora on his rules of conduct. Relief spread over Lenora. She had been spared the axe, and she promised Joe all he asked of her. They were back on track. Joe was the parent, and Lenora the obedient child The relationship was working again.

Joe’s bargain specified that Lenora play the child he didn’t like in himself. He hated the whiny, ravenous demanding child in him. So he gave it to Lenora and controlled it by killing her with kindness. It worked so long as she was ‘good.’ Lenora gave Joe her adult careful, controlled, problem solving self. She managed it by being a “good girl” so Joe would continue indulging her. That way she could avoid the adult burden of costs and consequences. Then the eruption happened. Joe’s child became naughty and he couldn’t control it. Lenora’s adult became angry and punitive and she went to pieces.

There is a chance that Joe and Lenora could learn to be interdependent on one another in a mutually satisfying way. A new contract needs to be drawn up, involving the children and adults that co-exist inside Lenora and Joe. Below is what they need to consider to create a realistic and workable agreement.

Advice for Joe
1. Welcome your naughty child. Don’t give it to Lenora and then hate her when she acts the part.
2. Have fun and play with your angelic and evil child. When you do, Lenora can do the same and you can both tolerate the good and bad parts of yourselves.
3. Love a whole person, not a wished for stereotyped image of a child/woman. That means making room for all parts of Lenora - the cute and innocent as well as the manipulative and frustrating parts.
4. Be consistent with Lenora. If you are treating her like an irresponsible financial manager one minute, don’t expect her to be an accountable housekeeper the next.

Advice for Lenora
1. Ask yourself why it is so hard for you to accept being treated as special.
2. Check out your suspicions with Joe before acting on them.
3. Ask yourself why you cannot trust Joe, and who he reminds you of.
4. Tell Joe how painful it is when he erases half of you from the page and only sees the other half.
5. Find the child in Joe and give yourself a playmate. Don’t put Joe in a straight jacket of being the responsible adult. See all of him if you want him to see all of you.
6. Ask yourself what you would be afraid of if you chose who you wanted to be. What would you be afraid of losing if Joe didn’t call the shots?

Copyright Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Jeanette Raymond is a licensed psychologist and psychotherapist. She has a doctorate in clinical psychology and a masters degree in child, adolescent and educational psychology. She has 20 years experience working with adults, couples, adolescents, children and families. She is the author of 2 books for teachers in the UK.

Dr. Raymond believes that the most important relationship you have is with yourself. She sets the stage for you to begin taking care of your most precious gift and ally - yourself. When you can do that, all else falls into place.

Her specialties include distress that shows itself in the body, feeling unsatisfied and unfulfilled, fear of intimacy and loss, anxiety, eating disorders, and self-sabotage. If you mask your unhappiness with food, alcohol, drugs, or sex you abandon yourself. If you try to control it by working all hours, with excessive exercise, being busy, cleaning, and over-achieving you are ignoring yourself. Dr. Raymond helps you speak the turmoil that makes you want to go numb, and helps you find the fertile soil to plant your true seeds and flourish.

Dr. Raymond helps parents and children understand one another, and provides adult couples with a platform for having their conversations out loud rather than silently in their individual heads.

Dr. Raymond runs groups and conducts workshops on dream interpretation. She enables individuals to find their voice so that their bodies don't have to speak with back pain, gastric complaints, hair loss, skin breakouts, panic attacks and sleep disturbances. While emotional wounds can debilitate and prevent you from living a full life, Dr. Raymond collaborates with couples, family members and individuals to gain strength from it. She offers the opportunity to rewrite the internal dialogue that may be self-sabotaging and putting obstacles in the way of having meaningful relationships. She honors you and teaches you to honor yourself in a non-threatening environment, allowing you to unfold.