There is a person I know who is always in a crisis.
You know the kind.
Drama, drama, and more drama.
Every time I see this person, he is upset about something that just happened.
Nothing is ever his fault.
Nothing ever goes right in his life.
He’s always complaining about something, or waiting for something to happen, or wanting someone to do something for him.
There was a time when I used to play the game with this person, long before I realized it was a game.
The game is called manipulation and for all those people out there who haven’t gotten to the end yet, spoiler alert: you’re always going to lose.
It’s a serious subject for a “Woman on the Edge Column” - but a good one because I’ve recently reached the end of the game. Maybe I can save some parents or grandparents out there some frustration and grief.
This is how it goes:
You want the best for your children and you have sacrificed and given to ensure they have a good future. But wait…one of them seems to need more than the others. He comes back for seconds while the rest are satisfied and moving on to the next step of maturity.
At first, you give it to him, his seconds, and while the others are working hard and developing a plan for their lives, this one keeps showing up with his hand out.
When he realizes you are beginning to see through his requests for seconds, he offers stories so you will feel better about the handouts you keep giving to him.
Time passes. He’s not progressing and his stories get more and more creative. It might be months or it might be years, but eventually, if you really care about this child, you will see through his stories and his pleas and his drama.
And you finally say, “No”.
Then his stories become more desperate and more bizarre. He’s counting on tall tales to get you off-guard. While you are trying to figure out if he could possibly be telling the truth, he walks away with more “seconds”.
You will begin to realize no matter what you do, you lose. This child – who is likely in his 20s or 30s – will never learn until he has to stand on his own two feet.
Once you say “no” and mean it, you may see him go hungry; become homeless; or go to jail.
You will likely see him turn his game onto a new target who hasn’t learned his ways yet.
No more how difficult it becomes, you must maintain.
You might be criticized by family members or friends.
You will begin to see less of him.
For a while. Then he’ll come back and try again.
It may be one of the most painful things you do in your lifetime, but telling him “no” again is the only way he’s going to learn that you mean it.
Not everyone reading this will understand what I’m talking about, but if you are living it, you will.
So I’m at the end of the game with mine. I don’t know what the next chapter will bring.
But I am ready.