By Judi Light Hopson, Emma H. Hopson and Ted Hagen
Tribune News Service.
WWR Article Summary (Tl;dr) How many of you would classify yourselves as people pleasers? If so, you may overlook your own happiness by constantly trying to look out for others. More importantly, if you are not careful, you could be vulnerable to relationship sabatoge. As empowered women, we must remember our value.
Have you ever suspected a co-worker, in-law, or adult step-child trying to rip a hole in a relationship you cherish? This person may be jealous and plotting to destroy what you’ve taken years to build.
If so, take needed steps to protect yourself.
Keep in mind that a relationship is a “structure” between two people. Creating that relationship was an investment of your time, talents, emotions, and perhaps, finances. Destructive people can have various agendas as to why they want to hurt what you’ve built.
For example, a co-worker may be jealous of your closeness with your supervisor. Or, a step-daughter may be jealous that your marriage is working with her dad, when her mom could not make it work.
Nice people can get hurt in these situations, if they don’t accept what’s truly going on.
“Being a decent person, I’ve forgiven more scoundrels than you can imagine,” says a woman we’ll call Anne-Marie. “While forgiveness is good, I wish I’d known how to distance myself from hurtful people a long time ago.”
Anne-Marie made the mistake of moving down the street from a vengeful step-daughter. Anne-Marie’s husband thought living close would heal old wounds with his daughter, now 35. We’ll call the daughter Priscilla.
What’s worse, Anne-Marie also worked with her stepdaughter, both of them being teachers in the local school system.
“Priscilla began a campaign to tell people I was cheating on her dad,” says Anne-Marie. “She did this while my husband was in the hospital battling leukemia.”
The daughter actually told people she had videoed Anne-Marie going on dates, while her father was in the hospital fighting for his life.
After about six months of this pressure, Angela finally told her husband what was going on.
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“Thankfully,” Anne-Marie says, “my husband told me his daughter had always had a problem with lying. He said she’d been a pathological liar for years. But, he was upset that she had gone all over the county trying to destroy my character.”
If you have someone sabotaging one of your relationships, try these steps:
-Document your situation on paper. Write down your feelings, the dates, and all details you can think of. This way, you can show it to your Director of Human Resources or an attorney. After all, if someone is trying to hurt you, this is potentially libelous. You can sue the person.
-Put some physical distance between yourself and your tormentor. While this can be difficult in some situations, it’s usually possible to do so. This might mean moving across town, turning off the phone at times, or eating lunch in another location. Do not let the enemy keep track of you, if at all possible.
“It’s amazing how people can read character,” says an attorney friend of ours. “Innocent people often feel ashamed when they are attacked, but the public is smart. Your friends and neighbors know deep down what’s actually going on.”
Yes, the truth is powerful and it always has a way of coming out to heal your pain. For example, the character-slaying stepdaughter of Anne-Marie’s ended up divorced herself.
“Priscilla’s husband got sick of living with someone so vindictive, and he left her,” says Anne-Marie. “She fell into the pit she was trying to put me in. When her husband filed for divorce, he actually mailed me a hand-written note of apology. He was sorry for the trouble she had caused.”
(Judi Light Hopson is the Executive Director of the stress management website USA Wellness Cafe, Emma Hopson is an author and a nurse educator. Ted Hagen is a family psychologist.)