photo courtesy of reigatedancestudio.com
This week we’re eavesdropping on a dinner conversation I had with friends—Regina and Abraham. Regina recently started yoga classes and was struck by how similar her new teacher and her husband are. She then described her work environment which bore equal similarities to both life with Abraham and her yoga class.
These are the kinds of observations that usually pass us by. Most of us don’t take the time to analyze the similarities among the various arenas of our lives. Even at first glance one is not necessarily struck by the fact that a work environment is a carbon copy of a marriage. Our spouse might be a caring, thoughtful, responsible partner, and our supervisor at work might be cold and aloof. What’s to compare? Especially if one is male and the other female, they seem to be polar opposites in every way.
In a scenario like the one just described, I would simply ask the question: What would you say is the overriding atmosphere in each environment? In Regina’s case, she and I have discussed it, so I already know her answer: “Abraham is wonderful, but he’s serious to a fault. Many times his earnestness has come to our rescue when he has been aware of a potential problem that would have gone right by me. But I do wish he’d lighten up now and then.” Then: “And as for my supervisor, well, she doesn’t much care about any of us as human beings. For her, it’s all about the business at hand. My work environment is unfriendly and almost mechanical. It gets depressing sometimes.”
Step back from both descriptions and it’s easy to spot the commonality: Both environments are overly serious, excessively focused, and lacking in joy. If you now add Regina’s analysis of her yoga teacher, you see that the same description applies to him as well.
For me, the most telling of all Regina’s comments is this one: “The old supervisor left and I was hoping that would lead to a new person in charge who would offer a refreshing change. But no such luck.” Even with a switch in the cast of characters, the atmosphere remains.
Social workers and counselors who deal with battered women and other types of abuse victims are depressingly familiar with this scenario. Any one of them could tell you multiple instances in which a battered spouse is removed from the abusive environment, assisted and rehabilitated in various ways, and then proceeds to attract a nearly-identical, brand new abusive relationship. “Oh no. This one’s different. He’s so nice, and he really cares about me and my little daughter.” Unfortunately, in all too many cases, it won’t be long before the victim is right back in the care of social services.
What’s going on? Is life really that cruel? Does it never give anyone a break? Although Regina is in a strong, committed marriage, is gainfully employed, and even has an absorbing, gratifying avocation, she, too, experiences the commonality in all the arenas of her life. This is because her overriding description—of people in her life being too serious—is a description of no one but herself!
To be continued on Friday.