. . . and it’s not always a pretty picture, is it?  I have said on many occasions, in many books and at many workshops, that the relationships we have attracted are perfect for the growth we are destined to have in this life.  Perhaps that seems farfetched to you.  It did to me when I first heard it, but I decided to believe it for lack of any other reasonable explanation for the myriad relationships I endured in the many avenues of my life.  I can see now, (hindsight is so revealing) that every single relationship offered me slices of the education I have needed to make me successful in the work I now do.  What I share with others, on the stage and in books, is based wholly on what I have gleaned from my own experiences within a host of relationships; some very difficult, some joyful to the core.

A former boss comes to mind when I think about past relationships that educated me in significant ways.  It’s an understatement to say he was a difficult man. He seemed to take pleasure in humiliating others and I was at the top of his list.  But for every time he put me down, he also praised me, generally in a back-handed way, but it was offered, nonetheless.  I grew strong working for him and I came to understand that what others say and do doesn’t have to define me.  I had been introduced to this idea in 1971 in a book by John Powell: WHY AM I AFRAID TO TELL YOU WHO I AM?  How it surfaced in that book was in a conversation between Powell and a good friend.  His friend, journalist Sidney Harris, strolled down a New York city street quite often in the early morning.  Harris was prone to buying his daily paper from the same vender day after day.  The vender was always gruff and Harris was always polite and even tipped the nasty fellow on a regular basis.  Powell was uncontainable.  “Why do you tip him?  He is rude.”  Harris simply stated, “Why should I let him decide what kind of day I’m going to have?”

Bingo.  My behavior in my relationship with my boss, with many ex-boyfriends as well as my first husband, my dad, and many good as well as casual friends had all been influenced by my perception of what I thought they were thinking of me.  I discovered how fearful I was.  I was a shell for years but can claim, at last, to be a whole person.  I enjoy having the praises of others.  For sure.  But I am not reduced to simply seeking them.  I am pleased with who I have become.  I certainly hope your journey has allowed you to come to this same place of self-acceptance too.  Just remember, where ever you are right now is the perfect place to be for the next stage of your education.