Ah, the joy of post break-up soul-searching…
Wailing why, Why, WHY at your indifferent bedroom walls wondering what happened, where you went wrong, and what you should to do better next time. Stopping to retch a bit at the mere suggestion that there may be a next time. Vowing to remain celibate for the next 20 years…
In come friends and well-meaning people, flooding you with looks of pity, advice and self-help books. You smile weakly, and wish they’d opted for strong alcohol instead.
One lonely evening, as sleep eludes you once more, you reach out for the nearest book: Reinventing your life by Jeffrey Young and Janet Klosko. The title alone
smacks of pure self-helpish bollocks sounds ominous, but after the first few pages, something unusual happens: You are forced to admit that actually, it is quite interesting, and even that you kind of want to know more.
Now, rest assured that my general attitude towards self-help literature remains one of barb-wired caution, but still, I am currently enjoying a little journey through the various patterns -also called schemas- we develop in childhood, and which tend to
ruin our lives perpetuate themselves into adulthood.
There is something for everyone on the book’s menu: From exclusion, to distrust and abuse, vulnerability to high expectations. There are 11 to pick from, and if you’re particularly lucky, the battery of little tests will reveal that you are personally plagued by half a dozen of those delightful patterns.
Subsequent chapters guide you towards understanding why patterns form, how they affect your life, and what you can do to free yourself from their destructive side-effects.
Much of what I read about my patterns was new and rang true. I realised why I do find being single so uncomfortable, feel attracted to men who offer a mixture of hope and doubt, but never the certainty of stability. Why I harbour a ridiculous, but firmly-rooted belief that no-one could love me if they truly knew me.
The strength of the book is to acknowledge the patterns’ variety of origins (it is possible to suffer from an abandonment pattern, even if you were brought up by two well-meaning parents who never really abandoned you), and the difficulty of breaking them, but at the same time offering an encouraging, baby-step kind of approach to succeeding.
Its down-side is what I probably unfairly see as being over-simplistic: The examples presented tend to focus on individuals who are only -and quite extremely- affected by one pattern at a time, when in reality most of us drag not just one mammoth-sized piece of luggage, but a variety of assorted carry ons that manifest themselves in specific circumstances.
So mine’s a large Abandonment, with a side of Imperfection and Dependence, what’s yours ?
I’m going through a bit of a Lilly Wood phase at the moment:
Lilly Wood and the Prick – Where I want to be (California)