A couple of years ago I did an intervention with a couple, Marcus and Janie. During the entire three days, they both fought with each other—and with me—to be the most right and the most wounded. That does not make for happy lives or relationships.
By the time they left, they were communicating much better, but within months they were right back to acting like victims and insisting on being right. Marcus became completely deaf—emotionally speaking—but I thought there was some hope that Janie might listen to the principles that would enable her to climb out of the pit she'd wallowed in all her life.
She finally told me that she just couldn't hear me when I was "mean" to her. I explained that I was simply the only person in her life who would tell her what she needed to hear. She chose her friends precisely because they participated in her dance of Getting and Protecting Behaviors. They enjoyed all the Imitation Love she gave them, so they would never tell her the truth about what she was doing. They were also engaged in similar behaviors themselves and were far too blinded by fear to help her.
Janie quit communicating with me, and she divorced Marcus. For more than a year, she continued to participate in Real Love groups, but she continued to feel victimized by her ex-husband and others—including me. She would not entertain the notion that her own behaviors caused her misery and the conflicts in her relationships.
But then Janie called Sylvia, a Real Love coach, and began to tell her story—the same old one. Sylvia didn't argue with her. She simply told her own story. "I spent my entire life manipulating people to like me, and I was pretty successful, but it was all a lie. No matter how many people I fooled, I found myself alone. And I continued to do this in my personal life even while I was coaching others. I was so good at manipulating people that nobody saw what I was doing. They actually enjoyed my behaviors, so I was really stuck. And then I talked to Greg, who very firmly showed me what I was doing, while loving me the whole time. At first I thought he was being harsh or mean, but I realized that nobody else would ever do this for me, and he had nothing to gain by being cruel. He was trying to help, and he kept trying, even though he knew I would be irritated by what he was saying."
Janie called me and said, "I finally understand what you've been telling me all along. Everything you said was true, but I had created a world where people either agreed with me and liked me, or they were enemies, trying to hurt me."
"To be fair," I said, "YOU did not create that world. Your parents did, and you merely continued a pattern you were taught."
"That is so true," she said, "and thanks for saying that. Because of the way I saw the world, I could not hear you tell me the truth. Now I see what my parents taught me, which were lies–even though they didn't intend to do that to me. I've been living lies all my life. I've been a phoney, doing nothing but earning Imitation Love. I'm tired of it, and I want to really live instead. I need your help, because I can't see what I'm blind to. I just can't."
Janie came to Georgia for her own intervention, which required only a single day, because she was willing to genuinely listen. Sylvia came with her for support. What a beautiful experience it was to watch a human being transform from being afraid, manipulative, protective, and angry to being calm, peaceful, accepting, and even joyful. It was a privilege to be there.
"I'm sorry it took me so long to understand what you were doing," she said.
"It takes what it takes, kid," I responded. "All that matters is what you're learning now, and that you're happy. Now that you're seeing clearly, and willing to continue growing, you'll discover levels of joy you never imagined."
It takes what it takes. Some of us need to hear the truth in certain ways. Sometimes we're not ready to hear the truth at all until we are so humbled by pain and misery that we become willing to give up our old behaviors and do anything different that will stop the pain.
If you're not happy, don't give up. Keep telling the truth. To as many people as possible. Until you are consistently healthy and happy, do not associate with people who either promote your old behaviors or sympathize with them. Talk to people who have the courage to tell you what you're doing. Then listen to them.