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How We Normalize the Outrageous


How is it that in America, the land of the free - where individuality, freedom to pursue one’s happiness and live fully within one’s inalienable rights is the standard--we are settling for a government put in office by a foreign dictator and intent upon removing the rights of American citizens? How could that possibly happen? Why are senators and representatives, FBI agents and Attorney Generals just sitting there doing nothing about it, even though citizens everywhere are screaming for their help? How can American values be so skewed as to allow the government to be run in any way by a foreign dictator?

It happens in the same exact way that it happens in our family systems. The first step is going to sleep at the wheel. We go to sleep at the wheel any time we do any of the following:

1. Work at jobs we hate, pretending to ourselves that it’s okay.
2. Work for abusive managers, thinking all along, “Well, he’s the boss, guess I just have to go along.”
3. Tell ourselves that “its just easier to go along to get along, than it is to fight.”
4. Tell ourselves that others, who have mistreatment in mind, really love us and want only the best for us.
5. Try over and over again to fix, help, or save those who cannot possibly take responsibility for their own behavior as long as we are doing it for them.

Those are just some of the ways in which we let someone else take over the wheel of our lives. And why would we tolerate those things?

We live in a society that has long held a secret, pernicious myth that we are not really responsible for our own happiness. That someone else, out there, is responsible for making us happy, free, okay, safe, etc. This makes us susceptible to the abuse of others. This makes it possible for abusers to convince us that we are going to be taken care of, that life is going to be better than ever, because the abuser is going to make that happen for us.

For example, in America, we’ve been given the right to pursue our own happiness. But what have we done instead? We have pursued our own denial by putting other people in charge of our happiness. We believe that the boss, the husband, the lover, the BFF, the money, the time, the houses, the cars, the lifestyle is finally going to make us happy. We sacrifice our ethics, our time, our money, our most authentic lifestyle, all in the name of making sure we can stay attached to those people who can make us believe that we are safe and that things are okay. We fell asleep at the wheel a long, long time ago.

What happens when family members fall asleep at the wheel? Any and all of the following:

1. Emotional, verbal, physical, and sexual abuse in our homes.
2. Substance dependence and all that comes with it.
3. Lies and secrets and all kinds of false and meaningless interactions daily.
4. No one in charge does anything to change any of this.
5. A gigantic cover-up plan is implemented throughout the system so that no one outside the home notices what’s going on within and the family will look normal.

What happens when a whole nation falls asleep at the wheel?

1. Half of America does not vote at all in an election.
2. The winner of the vote is not allowed to take office.
3. A foreign dictator is allowed to influence the election so profoundly that his choice for office actually takes office.
4. No one in government does anything about this outrageous event.
5. A giant cover-up plan is implemented so that everyone will just shut-up about it and make it seem normal.

When we go to sleep at the wheel we refuse to take responsibility for our own individual and collective happiness—which involves our own individual and collective safety, health, economy, and peace of mind. For over 200 years, the American public has voted and then gone back to sleep, thinking that voting was all they had to do, and the rest was up to someone else. We started awakening to reality somewhat in the sixties, but then we just went back to sleep again.

In a family system, the abusers want us to stay asleep. They don’t want us to wake up and call them on their actions. In America, those who have been put in office by a foreign dictator want us to stay asleep.

But each one of us is responsible for his or her own happiness, safety, economy, health, and peace of mind. It’s not up to them. It’s up to us. It's time for us to WAKE UP.

More from Andrea Mathews LPC, NCC
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