Socrates said an unexamimed life is worth living. Some time ago, I had a friend I thought was a close friend, she sought my opinion, expressed great concern for me, I trusted her. It turns out she was not my friend, had no real concern for me, and was trustworthy. I felt hurt, betrayed and humbled by the experience, that used to happen frequently in my life, it is quite rare now.
The relationship was my fault, I had slipped back into the co-dependent ballet that darkened so many of my days, and was so hard to face, even in my long first marriage.
My friend loved to analyze me and explain me to people. She was always telling me what i was feeling, but never asking me. In one of our last conversations, I told her she did not seem aware of the complexities of her life, she could not admit mistakes or errors in judgement. She always had to be perfect, a sort of Disney presentation of the flawlelss self.
She became angry and told me she didn't care to be analyzed, and she knew everything there was to known. I guess the blinders came off.
The conversation opened my eyes to the sad reality of another co-dependent relationship, one of several that have scarred my life.
Co-dependence is not just something Dr. Phil yaks about with Oprah, it is a wicked disorder and can cripple people, they give whole chunks of themselves away to others, there can be no happy outcome in co-dependent relationships.
I do sometimes analyze people, and many of my friends love to analyze me. If someone does not care to be known or analyzed, that is up to them, I respect that, and even though my friend and I often talked about our lives and emotional histories, I stopped, and our friendship began to fray and fade.
You cannot have a healthy relationship with an unhealthy person, it just does not work.
I don't need to analyze people, although it can be fascinating, but I do need to be around people who are self-aware, who can examine their lives with some authenticity. It is difficult to do this alone, and good friends can be invaluable. So can good shrinks. I was in analysis and therapy for some years, and I was a reporter, I am pretty good at analyzing people.
Some of my friends have tried to use me as a therapist, but I know better than that. I am not a therapist, and never do the work of a therapist. The Internet has spawned home-grown therapists and diagnosticians of all kind, and I scrupulously avoid them. You do get what you pay for, and free therapy is almost always a fraud.
I learned first hand that therapy is profoundly different than friendship and people with complex and painful emotional histories can rarely come to see their lives clearly without help.
I have the most respect for people who seek help, they are the healthy ones. They are the strong ones. I believe inspiration often stems from the ability to examine our own lives, and to face the truth about ourselves and rip off the masks and the myths we use to hide and deny the truth.
Examining my life was one of the most difficult things I have ever done, and one of the most worthwhile. I left my therapist's office shaken, often in tears, sometimes in shock. I wanted to quit so many times, to say I don't wish to be analyzed anymore and storm out of the office. I'm glad I didn't. I examined my life and got it back.
I have not nearly completed this effort and self-awareness, and will never be done. This, in a sense, is the hero journey.
An examined life is not a finite process, it is never done. I have new and good friends now, I do trust them, and they trust me. I notice that every one of them has walked down the path Socrates suggested, and learning that an examined life is worth living. We talk deeply and honestly with one another, free of arrogance or defensiveness. We take what we want and leave the rest behind. These conversations are precious to me.
This, I think, is the source of my inspiration, to be willing to face the truth about myself, to hear the truth about myself – I have never told anyone I know who is close to me and knows me well not to analyze me, I want to know what they see and, if necessary, face up to it. I want to share the truth about myself, good or bad.
Since I began to truly examine my life, it has become worth living.