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“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster.” Friedrich Nietzsche

“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster.” Friedrich Nietzsche (Image from iStock)

My lifelong habit of keeping company with at least one unlikable person is dying a slow death. I mentioned it as one of my monstrous habits in the last blog post, Where the Wild Things Are.
Even though remnants of the behavior still remain, I’ve taken steps to change it since I confronted the habit’s origin – my relationship with my mom. As much as I loved her, I seldom liked Mom because she took little responsibility for her actions, blamed others for whatever was wrong in her life, and felt sorry for herself most of the time.
The more I tried to be okay with her behavior and like her anyway, the more our relationship became anything but okay. She felt sorrier for herself and I felt more uneasy with guilt. As a result, I chose friends who were similar to her, I guess to try to fix what she and I couldn’t get right.
It’s a strange plan, I know, but I think more of us do this than not.
Marriage counselors often ask, “Who did you marry, (someone like) your mom or your dad?”
Addiction programs talk about repeating family patterns.
The Bible even tells us in Romans 7:19, “For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.”
I’ve almost always had a “mom” in my life – someone I’ve felt guilty about not liking. I’ve tried to change each one of them, even though they didn’t ask for my modifications. They did, however, take little responsibility for their actions, blamed others for whatever was wrong in their lives, and felt sorry for themselves most of the time, so I guessed they needed my guidance to break these habits.
I thought if I could help them become more likable, I’d relieve my guilt at the same time.
When neither one happened, I did what the quote warned against – I turned into a monster fighting monsters. I gave unsolicited (and unappreciated) advice. I told stories to make a point about relationships that I thought were better than ours. I made subtle comments with not so subtle intentions. Sometimes, when I felt desperate, I resorted to sarcastic comments and unkind accusations.
What I wish I’d done, and what I’m trying to do these days, is to let others own their unlikableness and for me to own mine when I’m feeling guilty for not liking them.
When you’re feeling guilty, has your behavior ever turned from mild-mannered to monstrous?
WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – Dear God, as much as I hate not liking other people, I hate myself more when I join them. Help me to steer clear of my own monstrous habits and leave others’ monstrous habits for you to oversee.

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