"Did you hit Hailey?" the anger-management counselor stabbed at Jason.
These govt.-mandated sessions were silly, but Jason gave Thomas his attention, knowing he was ‘just doing his job.’
"Man, it was nothing — " he explains.
"It was clearly something."
"Look, Thomas… if anything it should’ve been a ‘Hey, Jason, don’t do that’. I had total control over myself and stopped as soon as she reacted. No one in sane would lay 3 charges on someone like me. Hailey just snapped and ended up telling a whole bunch of stories. I have pages of emails & letters from her trying to take it all back. If the cops listened to her after she got to sleep on her actions, I wouldn’t even be here."
"Did you with-hold money? Financial abuse?"
"Are you kidding me? I gave her my heart and soul."
"Okay smart-guy, did you hurt her self-esteem?"
"Dude, all I did was believe in her, train her in any skill she wanted, and have faith we could succeed together. I grew her from weird hippie into model, fashionista, performer, web designer and more."
Jason yawns, bored of these Monday evening sessions. He shuffles the ugly govt. issue ‘male privilege’ worksheets they’d given him. He wonders, was it just him, or was the anger management counselor getting… angry at him?
He stifled a laugh as Thomas continued his ‘friendly’ interrogation. The other men at the table stared at Jason as if he didn’t belong there.
"Well, did you sexually abuse her?"
"Are you listening? I was like Gandhi. I inspired, uplifted, and gave, and gave, and gave."
"So you’re not taking any responsibility? Because we gotta put you back in jail if –"
Jason’s exasperated sigh had enough energy to cut off the sentence.
"I dunno how to make it clearer. I take 100% responsibility for my life and where I am. I ignored signs. I ignored her lack of faith. I tolerated her lack of communication. I don’t know what the fuck happened that night. It was nuts. I’m friends with all the concierges, but there was a rookie on duty that day. What are the chances? He saw an overly emotional damsel-in-distress, and she felt like abusing her power and spinning some webs. It’s a weird series of events not many people would predict."
Thomas frowns and makes some notes. Jason’s mind reviewed his journey with Hailey.
"I’m so sorry, Jason. It was a mistake. Look, I’ll do anything, I submit to you, please…" Hailey sobs, streaks of mascara pouring down her face.
"Shhh, don’t worry, it’s fine, babe. We did what we did. Let’s just move forward. I never blamed you or said one word against you when the detectives questioned me." Jason hugs her shuddering body close, and Hailey’s tears taper off.
"God, you’re the best, I don’t deserve you."
Jason’s grin grew proud and beaming, "Hell yeah I am."
She punches him in the arm.
"Well, we lost the condo ’cause of all this, so like, what do we do now?"
There’s a moment of fear you could cut with a knife.
With no place to sleep, no money for food, and no family to turn to, most relationships would crumble. Jason wasn’t having it though, he was loyal and he trusted that together they could ryze out of the situation. Hailey seemed like she was in it for the long haul too.
"Take a breath, beautiful, we’ll be fine. We’ve been through worse. Bring your gym bag, it’s a gorgeous day, let’s enjoy Queen’s Park."
Hailey’s cheeks blush and her glow as she hugs her man, yet again.
"Thanks so much for taking me and Hailey in, Srikanth. We really appreciate it."
"Hey man, what are friends for? And besides, I feel more comfortable knowing you’re not on the streets." Sri says, maybe a bit too gravely.
"Whoa, hey, we can handle ourselves, I don’t want to be some pity case –"
"No, no, I know you can. I just meant– like– it makes me happy to do this. And to be honest with you, whenever you’re around I feel like a new man, I feel more alive. I’ve started going out more, having fun again, we’re even working on a website, I should be thanking you guys."
Hailey, Jason, and Srikanth share fist-bumps and hugs all round.
"Umm… Hailey’s beautiful by the way."
After a couple weeks at Srikanth’s, Jason manages to get a couple new clients and start bringing some money in. As soon as he does, Hailey wants to spend half of it on her eyebrows.
Had she learned nothing? Did she not want them to succeed?
In the past Jason had no problem investing in her beauty, which of course, she adored — but she’d never used those looks to bring in clients, or win contests, or make videos or contribute much at all really, and Jason didn’t feel good about giving any more.
Instead he asked a question.
"Hailey, do you feel comfortable spending half of what we make just as we’re getting back on our feet, on your eyebrows?"
Although Jay was hoping for a truthful answer, instead…
So this is what it’s come to, Jason thought.
Hailey has me arrested, makes up lies about me, takes all my time and money, and I oh-so-class-ily forgive her and bring her back into my life… and now, as I aim to have an honest discussion about getting back on track, she freaks out?
Where did I go wrong? How can I make this better for everyone? God.
Jason went to the park to meditate. The kids playing there didn’t notice him, and the bugs seemed to understand as well, and left him alone.
Head in hands, he released all the tension in his jaw, neck, and shoulders.
He meditated all day and all night, barely breaking to eat or piss. He returned to their tiny room at Sri’s and fell into bed beside her, but he knew something had to be done.
And when he woke up, he knew what.
That morning, Jason took a stand.
"Rise and shine! I have something important to tell you. Ready?"
Jay was met with a confused look, and a pause that stretched awkwardly.
"I don’t want to be in the same physical location as you."
Hailey’s jaw drops.
"I’ve literally tried everything I can think of. I’m open to fixing things, but I’ve done everything I can to make this work short of taking a break." Hailey’s eyes start to moisten, as Jay continues..
So that’s it. No more J, — you’re going cold turkey, girl. I’ll be living on my own to focus on stabilizing my business and life.
I still love you, I still appreciate you — I just have to focus on me, and unless you can figure out a way you can truly commit and help me improve my life, what I need is space."
Hailey throws another, louder, more emotional tantrum. No cops around to manipulate, Jason guessed.
"Don’t even think about, ‘Ley– if that’s how you’re gonna react when I express my true feelings, we might as well break up. No one needs that."
She calms immediately at the mention of breaking up.
With Srikanth at work, the two of them pack and leave the house in silence, until Jason speaks up.
"Look, ‘Ley, this isn’t my number one choice, but I’ve tried everything."
I’ve given all I can give– I’m homeless, may have a record, my business is crippled, and you don’t seem to be helping. If you can offer any solid ideas or solutions on ways we can succeed together, I’m totally open to them."
This pause seems to stretch out to infinity.
Hailey’s head tilts down, and she shuffles her feet.
"I can’t." Hailey’s head drops totally, but Jason feels clearer than he’s ever been, and is physically shaking for some reason.
Hailey’s crying now. Jay’s mind is whirling. He was expecting a different answer. She had "no ideas?" This beautiful woman who says she loves him has no solutions to offer or contribute?
"Uh… ok, well, this is it then. We’ll stay in touch, and when I have things more stable, we can reunite."
‘I see the good in things, see the good in things, see the good in things,’ Jason thought.
Sniff. "K. I love you."
"I love you too."
They split and go their separate ways.
In his heart, Jason hoped she would step into her own power, and really show what he’d always seen — a woman who could receive his gifts well, elevate their life together and contribute substantially to their relationship.
He continued to encourage it as much as he could, sending notes and e-mails and getting his business thriving again.
Hailey still wanted his time and attention, but he was focused on ryzing up from the dark, and the only things allowed near him were things that clearly helped. Things that were clearly and undeniably part of the solution.
So their break stretched on.
What happened when Hailey was cut off from him for a week, then two, then three?
She fled back to her ‘wicked stepmother’ and stepbrother, who’d always hated Jason for inspiring their daughter towards a more adventurous, entrepreneurial life then the doctor/lawyer/picket-fence dream they’d setup for her.
Well they got what they wanted, last Jason had heard she’s closed every project or business he’d helped her with, and was schilling for some ‘guru.’
Hailey knew from day one that Jay had never done anything but encouraged her to shine, but she always had one foot in his world of giving belief, and one foot in her family’s world of bland status quo.
Jason loved being generous. He gave her family gifts and treated them well. Still they hated him.
Shortly after their split, Hailey began staying with her Mom again, and as soon as she rejoined her Mom, Jason received a a 2-line email from Hailey, dumping him.
No ‘ifs’, ‘ands’ or ‘buts’, and no interest in solutions or reunion.
Clearly the world he was offering filled with love, joy, and people like Srikanth who cared and wanted to succeed together wasn’t for her.
She’d rather be with the haters, ending up in some retail sales job, under her Mom’s thumb.
Jay had invested so much in her aiming to build an incredible life together. He found Hailey beautiful, and wanted to thrive together.
She wanted something else. An easy out. Something she didn’t have to commit to.
Sure, he could chase her, but he’d learned that extending a hand was not a good move. What would he be moving towards? Drama? Neediness? Someone who didn’t believe in herself?
If the relationship was strong, she’d step up, he believed in her.
He was wrong, and the betrayal hurt.
Jason’s mind snapped back to the present.
"Okay, picking up where we left off," Thomas droned, "I have to write something here for the court. You seem like a really smart guy, but if you’re still claiming you didn’t abuse her…"
"Thomas, man, look — are you saying the system never makes mistakes? I’ve no record in 32 years, not so much as littering. I have 100+ people who’ll swear I’m the bomb. She had like two bitchy friends (that shoulda been my first clue)." Jason was passionate, animated, emphasizing his point with hand gestures.
Even the guys around the table were coming around to his side, by now, nodding along.
"I’ve had many long-term relationships, and for the most part treated them all like gold in like every way I know how. I’m not perfect but I did nothing to her man. At least nothing you been talkin’ ’bout. I mean, I’ve been wrong more times than I can count, so it’s possible, I guess. I keep learning more.."
"So you didn’t abuse her, and this course hasn’t helped you re-integrate into society? Are you saying you’re perfect?"
Was Thomas dense? Nothing on these shallow worksheets or in their interrogation questions was a form of ‘abuse’ Jason had committed. He wasn’t going to just say he abused her if he didn’t.
Jason wanted to slam his fist on the table.
Jesus flipped a table to express himself, why couldn’t Jay? The psych-majors would’ve flipped though, assuming it was evidence of his hateful, abusive ways.
"Dude, I dunno what to tell you. No emotional abuse, I was supportive. No physical abuse, to me it was nothing outside of any other reasonable relationship I’ve seen. Sexual abuse? Are you kidding me? Financial? All I ever did was give her freedom and trust with my last cent. Hell, I trained her in new, money-making skills. Any project she wanted to soar, I amplified it. Nothing you’ve described as ‘abuse’ have I done. Not even close. I bring the fun wherever I am. I care about people, I make the tough choices and do what’s right . I’ve had fun in a park while homeless. I even invited friends down to visit and play cards! I’m an empire coach, I could teach this course and honestly I’m sick of — oh… oh shit."
Thomas and the others at the table craned their heads more intently on Jay.
He breathed deeply, tilted his head upward and closed his eyes.
"What?" Thomas asked, a hint of excitement in his voice.
A million images of giving to Hailey for no reason flashed through Jason’s mind.
"I did abuse her."
He’d ‘abused’ her in the subtlest way possible.
This wouldn’t be on their sheets, in the questions, or on their radar at all.
In fact, Jason doubted they’d add it to the curriculum even after he explained it.
Jay had been raised to be kind, generous, and trusting. Raised to believe in others. So he just kept giving Hailey chances.
He was way too lenient. This permissiveness was not badass. It was abuse. It helped no one to do it. It was the downfall of everything, and he knew he’d have to add it to his… 100% responsibility claim at the start of session.
Did they have a name for "permissive-abuse?’
Jason’d distance himself from Hailey for a short time, but he’d always let her apologetic words suck him back.
She was a clinging child who needed discipline, not a stable woman; nor a committed partner to elevate them both.
All she really brought to the relationship was sex and hollow-worded lip-service, plus some out-of-control spending and he’d continually rewarded it.
Fuck trusting her, Jason should’ve been putting his foot down.
She’d make some half-hearted effort and be affectionate, and bam, he’d happily give her money, friends, connections, logos, websites, clients, and more.
"Uh, so how’d you abuse her?" Thomas prodded Jason out of his revelation.
Jason knew he was the problem.
His easy-flowing trust, faith, and generosity was the problem.
All the things the world told him were good, were not always good.
And he’d done this more than once.
He’d developed positivity to a high level. He could see the best in people and bring joy where-ever he went — great.
But he wasn’t discerning with it. He’d give to anyone, no matter what. It was actually a matter of pride for him."I’m good to everyone", he’d say.
He was happiness cocaine, and abusive with it; allowing peeps who clearly couldn’t handle the juice to get addicted.
‘Jay, I’m addicted to you.’ – had literally been said to him.
He heard the echoes. ‘What can I say, J, I’d do anything just to be around you.’
‘Well yeah, I just expected to pay for a hit of vitamin J.’
Jason winced, preparing to admit the harsh truth to Thomas.
"Yeah, Thomas, I did. And you’ve helped me see it, man. Big time. But probably not how you think. I already do everything you teach in this course. I meditate, I’m aware of my actions, I take full responsibility, I focus on solutions and harmony, I see everyone’s success, I trust, I communicate.
I’m a ‘baller, and I’m not shy about it — and that was the problem. I arrogantly thought my positivity and happiness was enough."
Jason gulped a breath.
"I was wrong. Relationships take two, and I didn’t make that clear. I spoiled her. A lot. It’s not like she was gonna speak up and say ‘I need to have a harder life & learn self-reliance, please stop showering me with goodness.’ "
Thomas had his pen poised over Jason’s review, but stopped short. "So… um… how did we help you again?"
"Because you helped me realize that I’m actually nowhere on your silly ‘abuse’ list. I’m really, really not."
"I’m confused, that doesn’t sound helpful."
"It is! ’cause my abuse was spoiling & enabling, but you guys don’t talk about that. You’re too busy seeing everybody as a violent, disturbed criminal who needs to ‘be nicer’ or ‘calmer’ – but what you needed to tell me was to not be nice. To pull back on my attention and presence from someone who was clearly squandering it.
Unlike all these other guys, I didn’t need to be more sensitive, I didn’t need to be more open with money or respect her sexually — I needed to withdraw my attention. Stop rewarding half-hearted, relationship-destroying behavior from her. I needed to take a stand and say ‘you’re bringing nothing to the table, and I’m spoiling you, and it’s not healthy.’ – I needed to let life teach her what happens when you don’t commit… but instead, I was the ultimate crutch."
Thomas’ mouth worked silently for a moment, then he said "Uh, okay, so you ‘enabled’ her then."
"Yes, I did . Totally."
"Enabled her to what?"
"To be lazy and not change. To not grow. To keep using me. To manipulate me. In fact, I encouraged it!"
"And can you see how that may have hurt her emotionally? Was it emotional abuse?"
"That’s kind of a stretch, man, but sure, label it however you want, man."
Thomas let out a breath and scribbled notes happily.
Jay continued, "I definitely know it wasn’t ‘good’, but should I have been thrown in jail for it? Tagged with 3 ridiculous charges making me a level-fucking-three offender, and lost my condo? Nice system. Anyway, I’m just happy to be done with this."
"Well good then." Thomas replied.
"It’s a great lesson though. I mean, I’m already awesome, and if I’m super-sensitive with my giving, I’ll be a rock star! Plus this’ll help so many people who are fucking up their relationships by being ‘too nice’ – I feel like it’s a bigger problem than people realize!"
Thomas shakes his head an makes some notes.
"Hey! Cut it with the head shakes and note-taking, man, come on. The important thing here is that I know how I caused this, and as I said before, I take full responsibility for how I ended up here."
Their eyes meet, Thomas blinks and looks away.
"Alright Jay, you’re a good guy. And you know, I think I speak for everyone here, when I say you’re going places man. You’re different than anybody else we’ve had here, and you’ve brought a lot of fresh insight and thoughts we’ve never seen before. Best of luck to you man."
<Anger Management Group Cheers, and Jason receives the only back-slaps and hand-shakes any member received on departure.>
On the bus ride home, Jason took some time to appreciate all he’d learned. The lessons were hard, the betrayal intense, but now he knew what no one ever teaches you.Positivity’s addictive, and it’s vital to direct it well. It’s not something to throw around carelessly.
For Hailey, being deprived of her ‘drug’ of constant support was a shock. All of a sudden she was being called on to ‘work’ for it, and really step up her game…fast.
She figured dumping Jason would be easier than ryzing with him.
Some people can handle he passion, others not so much.
Letting her go sucked, but not nearly as much as staying with that version of her would have.
Jay’s life had changed forever, and in a good way.
In the next few weeks, he went through his life, cutting off anyone took all his contributions and gave the bare-minimum in return.
He was passionate about it, some would say ruthless. Many felt hurt and rejected, being suddenly deprived, but Jay knew he was helping them. He knew they could O.D. and use him as a crutch, if he let them.
He saw these unbalanced, unhealthy relationships for what they were and called ‘em out.
He was a new man.
As he expressed himself, many just stopped talking to him, and that was fine.
One girl was keeping him "under glass" for a dating emergency because he was super-loyal. No more. He took a stand.
Another used him any time she wanted to feel happy or learn something, like a little fountain of happiness-wisdom she could bask in on a whim. Adios.
Now he really is the world’s empire coach, and it just keeps getting better.
Jason still ryzes, but…
…now he shines only for those who can handle it.Real kindness is shining so bright that you burn people who can’t handle it. They’ll leave room for people who can.
So that’s my story, I hope you enjoyed it. I’d love to hear your thoughts and feelings, what did you get from it? Have you ever given "too freely" to people who don’t cherish what they’re getting?