The Inner Bottom Line ®
A Column on Personal Choices & Ethical Dilemmas by Olive Gallagher
Yesterday, I honored my own Inner Bottom Line. I got a divorce.
I ended an abusive, one-sided long-term relationship. No, it wasn’t easy, and yet, in a way, it was simple. But to do it quickly with clarity, and without hesitation, I knew I had to face the facts and rely on the tools and premises I created so many years ago for my clients of The Inner Bottom Line.
First, I asked myself those four, hard, tried-and-true questions - what’s at stake, who’s in control, how long has this been going on, and what price am I going to have to pay to resolve this problem? Then, after paying attention to my answers that reflected how lop-sided and unsatisfying this long distance, internet-based relationship has been from the start, I walked my own talk and ended things once and for all.
C’mon, who’s kidding who? I’ve known for far too long that it wasn’t working. My closest friends knew it, too. And while I imagine down the road I may experience a sense of loss, even regret, at throwing in the towel, I know it was the right decision, the only decision, I could make in order to face my clients as well as myself and live with integrity.
How could I continue to advise others to have the courage to honor their values, make good choices, and ask the hard questions that always bring painful, even uncomfortable, answers if I didn’t live my life in the same fashion? So I ended a relationship that has never really worked for me and from which I never received an ounce of appreciation, acknowledgment or respect.
If I’m totally candid, this relationship, if one could even call it that, was wrong from the start. One that brought me little value over time and returned far too much aggravation, frustration and stress. And yes, I also admit I own a large portion of responsibility for its dysfunction.
The unhealthy patterns were established from the beginning. Like a foolish schoolgirl, I was too enamored with the fantasy to notice. Whenever withdrawal, mistrust or repetitive questioning would begin, I’d earnestly reach out to try and sort it through, spending much too much time and energy attempting to understand why this constant breakdown between us was happening. That’s my old pattern. Trying to fix, appease, please. Obviously, I still have yet to fully learn that lesson.
So endlessly, despite insults and silence, I took it on the chin, stayed constant, extended a hand in peace and offered respect, following the boundaries and rules we had both agreed to in the beginning. And over and over again, I got nothing back. No response when I needed support or affirmation. Nada when I asked for help.
No matter how many times I tried to connect to sort out what appeared to be simple misunderstandings, the other party would erect iron-clad walls and boundaries, often locking me out and refusing to respond to any attempts I made to establish contact. As time went by and the problems became too evident to avoid any longer, I was astounded to discover that I couldn’t call or reach them via email. Desperate, I even tried writing and sending an old fashioned letter through the post. Nothing.
Not only could I not communicate one-on-one, but perversely, as soon as I’d surrender, throw my hands up in disgust and ignore them, going about my day and minding my affairs and not engaging for days, even weeks on end, they’d start to question me, telling me I didn’t have the right to things that belonged to me, and testing my limits by accusing me of not being who I was. Oh, it’s been a bloody mess from the start.
Why do any of us do that? Why do we choose to stay in a sick, abusive relationship that doesn’t give us what we need, and in some cases, even costs us, and yet, remain devoted, day after day, hoping things will get better, sharing and revealing all kind of intimate details about ourselves, only to experience disrespect and arrogant avoidance all over again in an endless cycle.
There’s a breakpoint in any toxic situation. Yesterday, I reached mine. It all became too much, even absurd, and I broke. I’d finally had enough. And so, I pushed the button.
I know I’m not alone. I’ve been assured that a number of other foolish folks, just like me, have been in the same kind of relationship and stayed in it far too long for all the wrong reasons, as we are wont to do. It’s hard to give up things when it means change. When it holds risks that you may have to sever ties with mutual friends or miss out on special moments with those you love. But somehow, even though the central tie is cut, those other relationships, if they’re real and valued, will find fresh, new ways to knit back together again.
It didn’t have to be this way.
I divorced Facebook yesterday and I’m proud of it. It got what it deserved.
It doesn’t care about me. Or anyone else, for that matter. We’re dispensable. I’m sure it thinks, like so many arrogant dinosaurs that came before it thought, “we’re on top” and that the roll in popularity and dough is never-ending. Like so many of the pathetic has-beens who populate the shady side of LA’s streets, still bragging about their last big hit from twenty years ago, Facebook’s demise will come, too.
No entity can abuse, neglect and ignore its cash cow for too long. Sooner or later, it will find a new pasture.
And it’s not necessary to behave or operate this way. Other online entities have found a way to have a heart and conscience and still make bundles. One of the reasons Amazon has been so incredibly successful is because it has a human presence attached to its code.
And it’s what keeps me loyal and satisfied with the experience. If I have a problem, question or frustration with anything I ordered, bought or am even considering, I can call a telephone number and promptly speak one-on-one to a person who’s more than happy to help me.
So don’t worry about my heart. I’ll get over this. It may take a while and a bit of adjusting, but I’ve been hurt before and survived. Even so, thanks for the kind messages on my twitter account. It’s comforting to know someone out there still cares.
You can submit your questions, book consulting appointments or private phone coaching sessions with Olive at www.theinnerbottomline.com, and call into her blogtalkradio.com show, “The Inner Bottom Line” at 661-449-1425 with your questions. All letters and calls can be anonymous and confidential.
Kindle and audio versions along with the hard cover of Olive’s book, The Nude Ethicist: A Simple Path to The Good Life™, are now available on amazon.com.