Hello Madame Olivia:
First I’d like to thank you for the weekly messages: they are always on point. I’m writing because a certain situation has been lingering on my mind for some time now and I have not been able to make a decision as to what I need to do, whether I confront someone or keep going. I really feel I’ve been taken advantage of but I don’t want to be weak or a pushover yet I still feel like sometimes I don’t want this person or people to feel they have the best of me. I don’t want to feel stagnant any longer. Any advice on how to go about trusting myself to make a decision would be very welcome.
Madame Olivia would like to thank you for your patience with her. She is sorry it has taken so long. Madame Olivia deeply understands your quandary and has several thoughts. First, might it be useful to think of another word besides confront? It sounds scary. Perhaps initiate a conversation with? Not to quibble over words but just to lessen the all-or-nothing, do-or-die sense of it. If you think of it as a conversation, you could explain yourself in a little narrative and ease into how things could be different and how you would like them to be different. Secondly, try not to attack. This is hard since you are clearly the injured party or suffering the injustice but it will make things go better and provoke less defensiveness. And finally, you might as well expect defensiveness because this is the human reaction. To prepare yourself for this, make up a mantra for yourself to fall back on, like “I’m sorry you feel that way” or just “Yes, I can see that.” That way you’ll have a little something ready to say if they come back at you with anger. Then you can repeat your main point, in a gentle but insistent way.
You are so obviously a good and patient person who deserves to be treated well. Madame Olivia would love to hear how things work out. Just leave a comment below.
With very best wishes and confidence in you,
Dear Madame Olivia:
I love your readings and the last really has me puzzled. You said I have something to my dark side that I’ve been hiding and that I’m going to have to basically tell the truth about. Do I need to feel guilty?
Please do not worry! Madame Olivia was merely alluding to the fullness of human personality. We are all bundles of motives and complexities, lightness and darkness. You have nothing to reproach yourself with and in fact it is clear that you have a scrupulous moral sense.
Rest easy and enjoy the new year!
Dear Madame Olivia:
I’m married to a guy (twenty years now) who treats me badly and never tells me he loves me and in fact tells me point blank he’s not in love with me and doesn’t desire me. I suspect he’s seeing someone else and wants to be with her but wants me to blow the whistle on the relationship so he won’t look bad. My heart really hurts. I hope you can help me.
Your situation sounds painful and Madame Olivia’s heart breaks for you. The picture you paint of your husband is of somebody who is half out the door and of a relationship that is unsalvageable. The obvious question is why you stay with him. Madame Olivia suspects finances play a role and maybe love, too, but if he’s treating you this way you are being hurt. Divorce may be unthinkable right now but if you take some action you will begin on the road to empowerment.
You can do three things: first, document the way he treats you. This means keep a daily private journal and also confide in someone, not just your feelings but evidence you have, like his staying out late or overnight or whatever makes you suspicious, like particular things he says. The second thing you can do is figure out how you could live apart. This may start as just thinking about it and imagining it though it may well turn into a plan. Try to put together a fund to keep you afloat and also figure out who your allies are among friends and family and even co-workers. Hang on to your job and if you are between jobs, find one. Look around to see where you might live on your own. Thirdly, find a lawyer you can talk to, at legal aid if necessary. Some states have desertion laws that restrict your leaving with the kids (you don’t mention them but Madame Olivia suspects they exist), if such a thing looms as a possibility for you. Don’t confront your husband or move before you consult a lawyer or understand the relevant laws.
This all probably sounds terrifying. Take one tiny step at a time and get yourself on your feet so you are not at the mercy of this person. You are ultimately going to feel so good and so powerful. Stay calm, OK? Even if he’s nasty. Try not to let him get to you.
Madame Olivia sends you strength. You’re going to be OK. You just need to get in your own driver’s seat, one little step at a time.
All the best to you, dear Hurting.
Dear Madame Olivia:
I am a middle-aged woman with a burning desire to be a country singer, a real one, with recording contracts and everything. Though I have a decent but boring day job, I sing when I can and have gotten a few local gigs. People tell me I’m really good. Not to be immodest but I look pretty good for my age and have long blond hair so the externals are OK too. I’ve saved some money and my partner has been supportive so far but I think I really need to give this a go in Nashville. My friends tell me this is a midlife crisis and that it will pass and that I’m crazy to drop everything. Should I ignore them and make it happen?
Madame Olivia is going to be unequivocal here: YES, you should do it! And as soon as possible. You say you think you could swing it financially and that your partner has been supportive “so far.” Those are two crucial elements. Madame Olivia suggests putting a time and/or money limit on the enterprise for your own sense of safety. It will be essential to stay open with your partner and in touch throughout with periodic arranged meetups.
Professional help will be well worth it: a coach to navigate you through the waters in Nashville; someone to help you produce a fabulous demo CD; maybe even a stylist. Give yourself every advantage. You will of course do as much research and connecting as you can before you go. And don’t forget Madame Olivia’s famous dictum: one thing leads to another. Madame Olivia envisions you for example going to a small venue to hear somebody sing in Nashville and discovering that you’re sitting next to a record producer. This really does happen.
Your adventure may work out exactly according to your dreams and Madame Olivia ardently hopes so. It may also work out positively though not exactly as you dream. Or it may lead you down an undreamed-of path! Whatever happens, you can’t lose. You will have done this marvelous thing.
Sending you supreme energy and confidence!
Dear Madame Olivia,
I love my work as a psychologist. My private work has decreased this summer. I applied for a part time hospice job and I am awaiting a formal offer. If this is where I am meant to be I gladly accept. If not, where and when? I hope you can tell me what I need to know.
In Need of Knowing
Dear In Need:
You wrote this some months ago and Madame Olivia has thought about your question for all this time, even though she didn’t manifest an answer. She sends her apologies but at the same time wants you to know she never forgot you or your question.
Here are some thoughts. First, if you got the job offer, congratulations to you. If that didn’t happen, then consider this: you say your private work decreased this summer. This suggests that your energies were not directed toward marketing and beating the bushes for new referrals. Madame Olivia wonders if this reflects a weariness, conscious or unconscious, with your practice. The hospice job sounds perfect for you and Madame Olivia hopes that the offer came through. If it did not, however, ask yourself how strongly hospice resonates with you. If the answer is “strongly,” then keep trying. Go to workshops and conferences on hospice. Explore online. Take a class. Subscribe to newsletters and blogs. It really doesn’t take a huge and steely resoluteness: merely following a lot of leads and putting yourself in the stream of hospice news and jobs can lead to wonderful results.
Sending very best wishes and warm and activating energy to you.