Her reckless behavior continued until she met Mickey, a saxophone player. While he didn’t physically abuse her, he tried to control her with put-downs, calling her “stupid,” “bitch,” and “whore” when she strayed. This ended her promiscuity, but it aggravated her already low self-esteem. So when Mickey said he wanted to get married, she went along with it.
She left school and got a job as a secretary to pay for his education. To Erica, this new life seemed more romantic and proper. She was being responsible and making a sacrifice for love. Mickey got his degree and a few years later landed a position in the local symphony. Erica acquired administrative skills and eventually became an office manager. But throughout their relationship, Mickey continued to berate her. This eventually pushed Erica away, and she began to see other men.
Then she met Todd, who showed her a kind of love and respect she had never experienced before. After only four years of marriage, she divorced Mickey and married Todd. They moved to West Palm Beach, where he managed an upscale restaurant. In a few years he bought it from the owner and turned it into a profitable business. Empowered by that success, he bought another restaurant, and then another. In time, he became well known in the restaurant business in South Florida.
Erica used her administrative skills to help Todd manage the restaurants. Together, they made his ventures profitable. They were a good team, and the marriage was a happy one. They decided not to have children, but they traveled and became patrons of the arts. They had lots of friends.
Much later, Erica discovered that she suffered from chronic depression, caused by an imbalance of chemicals in her brain. Her psychiatrist eventually got it under control using a combination of medications, but in counseling Erica discovered that her issues weren’t all chemical. She continued to feel low self-esteem, a carry-over from her teen years and her marriage to Mickey. Her depression was aggravated by the feeling that she had never proven that she was strong enough and capable enough to stand on her own two feet. In some ways, she still felt like the unhappy teenager she once was.
This realization was so important to her that she decided to create a life of her own, separate from her husband. Todd understood that she needed the freedom to do the self-development she hadn’t done while growing up. So after 20 years of marriage, they divorced.
Erica’s unrestrained teen journey could have led to tragedy. The significant men in her teen years were selfish and abusive, even though they gave her some of the affection and boundaries she needed. She was lucky to find Todd, and with him she experienced a long period of happiness. In therapy she discovered who she wanted to be. In retrospect, she says that it was her instinct for self-preservation that helped her make the hard choices. It wasn’t easy to leave Todd. But eventually she earned the self-esteem she craved, and today she’s the confident, successful woman she wanted to be.
Erica's story makes me wonder what would have happened if she had a "heads-up" about a lot of things when she was a young teen. This is why I wrote these books...
Conversations with the Wise Aunt - for girls
Conversations with the Wise Uncle - for boys
Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., Copyright 2011. Building Personal Strength . (Permission to use photo purchased from fotolia.net)