The 7 Most Important Relationship Lessons

#3

This episode is my personal favorite.

Warning…

As you’ll see, this episode is emotionally hard.

It’s not my favorite because I enjoy it…

But because I think it really gets inside Amy’s mind…

Her cloud of confusion…

Her blindness.

As you read, please don’t judge Amy.

We all have our blind spots…

Foolish behavior that is only TOO obvious to everyone…

Except ourselves.

Besides, you might be surprised by how common Amy’s behavior is.

You might even be surprised to find — in part or in full — yourself in Amy.

Maybe your behavior would differ from hers…

Maybe — hopefully — your ex wasn’t as bad as Carter…

But maybe…

Just maybe…

You were also blinded by love.

Amy’s Story

Lesson 3

“It was all a blur…”

Amy would often repeat this during her sessions with me.

Her relationship with Carter began as an emotional whirlwind…

First twisting with dizzying lust…

Soon spinning with dazzling love…

But the blur really picked up speed one day when — too early to be evening, too late to be afternoon — Amy’s apartment door slammed so hard, dust blew up…

Carter stormed in.

“Amy! Come here!”

“What’s wrong?”

“They fired me! Can you believe it?!”

He lunged his briefcase…

It flew across the room with hurricane force…

Amy didn’t see it crash. Or hear it.

Her heart fell as Carter fell to his knees.

“They freakin’ fired me, Amy!”

“Sweetie, everything’ll be fine. Talk to Scott. He’ll fire the people who fired you and you’ll get your job back.”

“IT WAS SCOTT’S IDEA TO FIRE ME!”

“Oh, crap…”

“I was betrayed, Amy! All those years of sacrifice! For nothing!”

He paced around the apartment…

Quickly at first…

Then quicker…

Screaming like a mortally wounded animal…

Amy had never seen him like this before.

Even before books that collected dust over years were thrown off the bookshelf…

Before dishes she washed minutes before were smashed…

She knew her world changed.

Because she could see Carter changed.

Amy didn’t care that he began punching her walls…

It just hurt her to see his knuckles bleed.

“Don’t worry, Carter. Everything’ll be fine! You’ll find another job in a week.”

The weeks began to blur by…

In the mornings — applications.

In the afternoons — interviews.

In the evenings — shouts.

Carter always had limitless energy…

But now it was all exploding out with volcanic force.

He couldn’t sit still for one second.

Months after getting fired, he was still fuming about it…

“Can you believe the nerve of Scott? He thinks he can just fire me!” His face was on fire. “He’ll be lucky if I sue him, because I swear I’ll kick his—”

“Carter, sweetie, let’s go to the club. You liked going there, remember?”

“I’ll go! You’re boring, Amy. You stay home.”

“Sure. Whatever makes you happy, sweetie.”

Amy hoped dancing would burn off Carter’s energy. With any luck, he’d finally be able to fall sleep.

How badly she craved one moment of long overdue silence.

When Carter left for the club, she expected it to come…

It didn’t.

Instead, Amy’s heart pounded louder with every passing second…

Minute…

Hour…

Carter came back late. Drunk.

The next night, he left for the club earlier. Came back later. Drunker.

This pattern repeated for weeks…

Or was it months?

One Saturday morning, Carter came home with an open bottle of alcohol. He tried to hide it…

But she could smell it.

It smelled like big trouble.

She blocked his path. “Please don’t bring that inside—“

For the first time ever, Carter hit her.

Maybe it was a slap…

Perhaps a punch…

Amy doesn’t remember.

“Don’t ever tell me what to do, Amy. Ever.”

What she remembers is how she felt…

“Debbie, it’s strange,” she’d tell me years later. “I wasn’t angry. Or scared. I just felt…disappointment…in myself. For letting him down.”

For letting him down.

The blur was in full force.

Carter’s drinking got worse hour by hour…

Or was it day by day?

So did Amy’s bruises.

One day, her best friend Sarah noticed a bruise on her left cheek. Amy had tried to mask it with makeup.

“Amy, what’s that?”

“Oh, that…” Amy stared into space. “I…I…started boxing with Carter.”

“I didn’t know Carter boxed.”

“Um, yeah. He doesn’t like to share it.”

“And you box with him?”

“Yeah. Great exercise.”

“Hmm…” Sarah was staring at the bruise. “Seems a little…dangerous. Be careful, Amy.”

Amy nodded as she made a mental note to use more makeup.

That evening, she rushed to Carter.

By this time, he had already quit looking for a job.

He needed something to pass time…

Burn off energy…

And she needed something to explain the bruises.

“Sweetie! I’ve got a great idea! You should start boxing!”

Thus began the era of Carter’s boxing.

And so it went for months…

Or was it years?

In the mornings — drinking.

In the afternoons — boxing.

In the evenings — shouting. And more drinking.

Boxing did help Carter pass time.

But when it came to burning off his energy—

Well…

Amy learned it simply was not possible to calm an active volcano.

As he pounded away at the punching bag in the garage, Amy’s heart pounded away inside.

He continued to hit her…

Hit just about everything inside the apartment…

Amy accepted the hitting.

The way she looked at it, it wasn’t personal. Everything inside the apartment was fair game.

But he only shouted at her and no one or nothing else…

The shouts hit her harder than the hits.

Sarah visited one evening. Witnessed Carter shouting at Amy.

Later, over coffee, Sarah was shaking her head. “Amy, wow. I can’t believe Carter yelled at you like that. Don’t put up with that crap. Seriously.”

“No offense, Sarah, but it’s none of your business! YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND, OK?!”

Everyone in the cafe looked at them.

Sarah was shocked.

She had known Amy for many years…

Too many to count…

This was the first time Amy shouted.

Later — when exactly, Amy doesn’t remember — Sarah proposed Alcoholics Anonymous for Carter.

Amy’s eyes bulged. “No. No way. How can you recommend AA for Carter? That’s for people with serious problems.”

Sarah’s eyes bulged even more than Amy’s. “And Carter’s problems aren’t serious?”

Amy won the bulging eye contest. “You don’t know Carter! He’s a good guy! It’s not his fault his company screwed him over!”

Sarah was not shocked by Amy’s shouting. By this time, she was all too familiar with it…

And Amy — sadly — was all too familiar with Carter’s drunken behavior.

He couldn’t make her flinch anymore.

But his punches hurt.

He punched so quickly, it’d all be over in a flash…

And yet…

As his fist moved towards her…

She still found time to look into his caramel eyes…

And see the pain in them.

When the punch landed, her body didn’t feel the pain physically. She was too overwhelmed by his suffering. And her inability to help him…

His punches really hurt.

At one point — Amy isn’t sure when — she began avoiding Sarah altogether.

No point in wasting time with a “friend” who couldn’t listen to her…

Who failed to understand Carter.

She had already been avoiding her brother for years.

Her sister, too.

They judged Carter too much.

True, Carter preferred her to stay away from them — told her to stay away from them — but anyways she didn’t need distractions from other people now.

She needed to focus on the BIGGEST, most challenging task of her life…

Restore Carter to his normal self.

Only she understood him.

Only she could fix him.

She’d hide his alcohol…

But Carter — drunk enough to believe he drank it all already — would simply go buy more.

She’d hide his car key…

But Carter would call a taxi.

She’d hug him…

Kiss him…

Embrace him all night…

But Carter’s empty caramel eyes stared off into darkness.

And when he hit Amy, she’d try to hide her disappointment in herself…

But Carter wasn’t paying attention, anyway.

She’d often hear him pacing around the apartment in the middle of the night.

One morning, she woke up and saw it…

A hole on the hallway wall.

A hole so big, it’s a mystery to this very day how it got there.

When Carter was out in the evenings, she’d stare at the hole for hours…

Screaming like a mortally wounded animal…

The longer she stared at it, the more her emptiness swallowed her.

Never in her life had Amy felt so invisible…

So lonely…

Carter would make love to her every night…

But from what she could see in his eyes, it wasn’t passionate…

It wasn’t personal

There was no love in it.

She hated to admit it — he was likely just using her body to burn off his endless volcanic energy…

Night after night…

Time was a blur…

It was all a blur…

And then—

One night, Carter woke up screaming.

“What’s wrong, sweetie?!”

“Amy, I had the craziest nightmare!”

“Everything is ok…”

“No, it’s not. I saw it. I died. My god…it was like a horror movie. But real!”

“It wasn’t real. It was a nightmare…”

“You don’t understand, Amy. I’m done with all this crap. No more drinking. I’m done. I promise you. I love you.”

All those years of abuse…

And Amy felt it was worth it just for this one moment.

By the next morning, the blur stopped.

All that was left was soft warm sunlight bathing every corner of her apartment…

Making every delightful detail come to life.

Drinks were quickly trashed. Time began to slowly move.

Carter became his old self again…

His real self…

And she fell in love with him for the second time.

Thus began some of Amy’s happiest days…

They strolled quietly through wet luscious parks and couldn’t stop kissing.

They went out for ice cream and savored every frosty melting bite.

They went to the movies and only paid attention to the warm feel of each other’s sweaty hands.

Carter even began looking for a job again.

Amy felt redeemed.

Every breath of life gave her joy…

But her greatest joy was once again seeing joy in those caramel eyes.

One beautiful morning, Carter went out for an interview.

Afternoon passed…

Then evening…

Carter still hadn’t returned.

Amy kept calling him…

No answer.

By nightfall, her panic reached hyperventilation levels.

She called Sarah for help…

No answer.

She tried her brother…

No answer.

Her sister…

No answer.

Amy tried to sit still…

Tried to calm herself…

Carter will be home any second…

She got in her car and began searching for him.

She drove everywhere…

All night…

Screaming at the top of her mind.

No sign of Carter.

Sunlight appeared too soon.

And this time, it wasn’t warm or soft.

It looked dangerous…

Blinding-hot lava oozing over the horizon…

Hell rising…

Where the hell are you, Carter?

She drove past a graffiti sign…

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Amy didn’t see it.

She was too worried about Carter.

And that’s when she saw it—

A 24-hour bar.

She parked her car.

Sprinted to the entrance.

Threw open the door.

It was empty inside.

Except for one bartender.

And one customer.

Carter.

In front of him were empty cups…

Too many to count…

Amy was too blind to see that the smiling bartender was counting her money.

Carter had been unemployed for years.

It was always Amy’s money.

Carter looked at her. Turned back to his drink. Took a sip. There was pain in his dry caramel eyes.

But Amy didn’t see any of this.

There were tears in her eyes…

Too many to count…

It was all a blur…

Final Important Thoughts

Can you guess what Lesson 3 is?

Ready for it?

Never Carry the Burden of Your Partner’s Issues.

“Carry the burden” is an interesting phrase.

On the surface, it’s about a heavy physical load. After all, it takes hands or machines to carry something.

But look closer — dive below the surface — and it becomes clear…

It’s really about a heavy psychological load.

Much the same can be said about the Lesson 3 episode.

Amy wasn’t just a physical victim of Carter…

A man who pathetically used his physical strength to try to compensate for his psychological weakness…

She was also a psychological victim of herself.

Amy tried to carry the burden of Carter’s issues…

His anger over losing his job…

His inability to find another job…

His restlessness…

Lack of control…

Drunkenness…

Violence…

Amy didn’t just rationalize Carter’s inexcusable behavior…

She was too blinded by her love for him to see that she supported it.

Instead of reporting Carter’s physical abuse to the proper authorities…

Amy actively hid it from others.

Instead of recommending or even requiring AA or rehab to Carter…

Amy financially supported his destructive lifestyle.

Instead of seeking help from her friends & family…

Amy blocked them from her life.

Carrying the burden of your partner’s issues is blindness-induced arrogance.

And it’s dangerous.

Beware of enabling your partner’s issues…

You might unintentionally make the situation worse.

You might unintentionally interfere with your partner’s self-realization.

You might unintentionally prevent or halt their growth.

Beware the Law of Unintended Consequences.

The BIG red flag here is if you feel your partner is misunderstood and you — only you — can come to the rescue.

And maybe — like Amy — you’re the one that needs rescuing.

When your partner is physically OR psychologically abusive, please seek help…

Free yourself from the blur.

Stay Tuned!
Debbie Pask

PS
In 2 days, you’ll learn Lesson 2

The lesson will be as surprising as the episode…

(Please click or tap the smiley face on your screen.)


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