Using writing, and meditation, and ice cream, and reading, and dreams,

and a whole lot of other tools to rediscover who I am,

after six years living with a man with OCPD.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

My Favorite Mistake??
I Don't Think So

In Newsweek on April 17, Judith Regan wrote a piece called "My Favorite Mistake."   Regan, you might remember, was a powerful editor at Simon & Schuster.  Newsweek describes her as the biggest woman in publishing in 1986. In 2006, following her controversial decision to publish OJ Simpson's book "If I Did It," she ended up leaving HarperCollins, under something of a cloud.  Most recently she has begun a radio show, hence the publicity push.
Photo by chillihead at Flickr

I never could understand why a woman would choose to publish such a work, but then, I never understood the attraction of some women to the incarcerated, either.  Although one might reasonably argue I don't have a great track record in choosing men, I never considered, "Oooh, I want to marry one of the Menendez brothers, he's so cute and I'm sure that blasting the parents to bits with a shotgun was an accident."

So, in this short article she talks about falling in love, and what happened next.
It was in my rearview mirror that I first saw him. He was trying to steal my parking space and I flew off the handle until I took a good look at his face. He was the most beautiful man I’d ever seen, and when he jumped out of his car and came toward me, he smiled, leaned in my window, and asked, with infinite charm, if I’d have lunch … and a baby with him. I said yes, and I did, and it was wild, passionate, and, yes, crazy.
Our son was born. A year later, placenta previa ignited my labor and our premature daughter passed away. This man turned violent: black eyes, broken windows, suicide threats, and, finally, he took off. Our son was just a toddler.
photo by Creativity103 at Flickr

For years I wanted to fix him, to get him help so he could be the father I thought my son deserved. I rented him an apartment in New York so he would visit. But he drank too much, caroused too much, and hurt us too much. After years of disappointment, I let go of him. For me, he was no longer my son’s “father.” He was just “The Inseminator.”
This was actually a healthy reaction - at last.  The trying to fix him, to get him help - all co-dependent behaviors, and all doomed to failure, because we can't fix somebody who doesn't want to be fixed.  No matter how long or how hard or earnestly we try.

So, years pass, the OJ Simpson fiasco has come and gone, and her son is getting married.  She sees the abusive ex again at the wedding, only now he's sick and attended by a nurse.
<snip>He seemed not at all the image of the irresponsible swashbuckler I’d carried with me for so long. I was filled with overwhelming regret that I had turned my back on him.

I should have answered his calls. I should have forgiven him. I should have let go of the disappointment long ago. What a horrible mistake I’d made to abandon all hope, to empty my heart of any possibility of love or compassion.
This woman is kicking herself because she finally stopped laying down like a doormat for somebody who'd treated her and her children so badly, and begging him to come take another stroll.  Wipe the dog poo off his shoes, jump up and down, it's all good.

Now I think I understand why she had so much sympathy for OJ Simpson, and felt the poor man should really be able to tell his story.   I am guessing (of course, I am not inside her head) that she felt she was doing something noble by giving OJ a book deal when nobody else would touch him with a 20 foot pole.

What I find scary is the idea that other women (and men) would read something like her article and say, "Oh, gee, maybe later I will regret not giving Igor another chance.  It's true, I did give him 32 second chances, but maybe the 33rd would have been the one that did the trick for him.  Maybe I gave up too soon."

photo by Steve Snodgrass on Flickr

No.  There is a difference between "forgiving" someone, and being a sucker.  There is a difference between abandoning false hope that we can make someone change, and holding onto a grudge.  Compassion does not mean accepting whatever sh*t the other person wants to dish out, until such time as his/her arm gets worn out scooping it on our heads.

What do you think of that article?  (Click the link to read it in full)
Do you think Regan is offering a good lesson, 
or do you think her regrets are unhealthy? 
Leave a comment and weigh in.