Imagine me, at a hardware store. I politely approach a hardware store employee, let’s call him Bob, and I say, “Can I have a gallon of milk, please?” Bob says, “I’m sorry, but this is a hardware store. We don’t sell milk here.” I snap at him and say, “Unbelievable. I SAID I want a gallon of MILK!” Bob looks baffled and repeats, “I’m sorry miss, but again, like I said, we don’t sell milk here. This is a hardware store.” Now, imagine that I flip out. I start swearing at Bob, and threatening him. I start throwing and breaking things. The security guard grabs me and forcibly removes me from the store, and I am told to never return.
In this scenario, who’s the crazy person… me, or the hardware store employee? Clearly, it’s ME. And yet, every time I would go to my rageaholic boyfriend asking for sanity, kindness or compassion, it was like going to the hardware store for milk! “Guess what, Suzanne? He doesn’t SELL that there. So, I have an idea. Stop going there for it, okay?” I guess I kept hoping the hardware store would magically turn into a grocery store someday. I guess I found the awning was misleading, and perhaps it was trying to pose as a grocery store, but once I walked inside, I knew it was a hardware store.
For six years, I kept going to my rageaholic boyfriend with all kind of expectations of how he should be. And when he would disappoint me, I would lose MY temper and appear to be way crazier than
he was. If you were watching a silent movie of our interactions, I would be the one who looked like the total nutbag.
I first heard at a 12-step meeting that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results. If that’s true, then I have been a certifiably crazy person many times. I had a toxic pattern of choosing the angriest guy in the room and trying to show him how great life is. Breaking that pattern was easier said than done, but as soon as I did, I felt spectacular.
The good news is that now when I want milk, I have a lot of grocery stores in my life. That list would include my sponsor, my therapist, and some wise 12-steppers. I’ve learned that it’s much healthier to not expect the person you’re dating to fulfill every one of your needs. So I have developed and nurtured healthy relationships with my family, friends and colleagues that satisfy different parts of my mind, body and spirit.
So let’s all make a pact. Let’s stop choosing romances with someone who “has potential”, and then trying to change him or her. Let’s either love someone for exactly who they are right now, or keep moving until we find someone to love unconditionally. Let’s keep driving past those hardware stores, and remember that there are grocery stores… everywhere.