1186207_10152315605651950_2096912781897946807_nRecently, I went to a conference where they invited Joe Navarro, an ex-FBI agent, who’s now advising traders. Navarro gave a speech about dangerous personalities, those who will make your life a living hell if you stay nearby. Because as he said, these individuals don’t care about your feelings and feel superior to all of the human beings.

Navarro said we can’t expect to change these people, because they will never recognize they are wrong.  So, as he added, either you have to take a lot of drugs to endure them, or you just have to run away.

Maybe Reeva Van Steenkamp should have listened to him if she had the occasion when she was still alive. Unfortunately for her, she fell for a dangerous personality like Navarro depicted in his book : Oscar Pistorius.

Today, the attorney said Pistorius always thought about himself and never about her during their 4 months relationship. He said Pistorius always criticized her in public and always told her how to behave. He never said he loved her.

But it’s difficult to leave such a bad relationship. Because the longer you stay, the more you’ll get used to the bad treatment. And you won’t necessarily remark it, but there are signs you should really watch out.

If you cry for no reason, feel permanently neglected, not heard, if you don’t love yourself because of this relationship, then, it may be some warning signs this relationship is not good for you.

I guess listening to your feelings is the best guide you’re in the wrong way.

 

In 2009, Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn published together a best seller that has since pushed for changes in many countries: Half the Sky.

Women are half the sky” says an old chinese proverb. It  was the starting point of their long inquiry in the third world countries.

Journalists sometimes get together to write books. Sometimes, they even collaborate with politicians, economists, CEOs,… to write a book.

But unfortunately, when you write a book with someone else, there’s a chance one of you get all the attentions, while the other stays in the shadow. I had the unpleasant experience recently with a book I wrote with a friend of mine, who’s a well known economist. He got interviewed a lot for this work, and only two journalists mentioned I co-wrote the book with him. The others just mentioned it was his book. Which is not true.

The exercise of a book written with four or even more hands is difficult. It starts with a common will to collaborate intellectually on a specific topic. But when the book is written, the writer who has the most influence usually comes forward, while the others don’t get much publicity. So, it’s better when none of the authors are known, or when both of the authors are as popular as each other.

It wasn’t my case. But fortunately, one of the two journalists who mentioned my name did a radio interview where I was treated as equal as my co-author.

And I received congratulations from some economists, some lawyers, some politicians who don’t know me personally.

My main goal with this book was writing a book with him. It’s a plan we had for a long time. Now, we have done it. We have closed a chapter of our life.

To write a book has different meanings for everyone of us. Some write in hope to get successful, some write to exorcise their experience, some write for the pleasure of writing,…

In my country, not so long ago, a politician killed his new wife after a weekend at the seaside. He’s not yet convicted for his crime, but the Parliament accepted to lift his immunity after hearing the experts report on the scene.

This episode reminds us that violent men can be found in every social category, and not the just among the poor.

Unfortunately, women who fall into their trap take years to realize their abuse and to put an end to this. Because usually, abusive men don’t show their real face immediately. Usually, they are quite charming with you on the first months of relationship, before turning into a monster.

A friend of mine told me her man was really charming when she met him for the first time. “He showered me with little attentions and thousand of messages at the beginning. He would write me a poem, surprise me at work with flowers, send me songs saying he was thinking about me. It was very passionate between us. Until I learned he had another woman in his life“.

He said we couldn’t stay together, but when I ran away, he caught me back, and said he wanted me to stay in his life forever. So he continued to contact me and we started to be lovers” she added.

This was a horrible situation because whenever we would be together in events, he would just either ignore me and chatting with all the people he knew while I would just sit at the bar and have the only conversation I could have with the bartender. If by chance, I knew some people during those cocktails, he would come to me and say things like I looked tired or I have gained weight, in front of my acquaintances. It was humiliating“.

Then I started to hear rumors about me. I learned later he was the one who would spill the details about our relationship. None of my friends who knew what was going on betrayed me” she said.

He invited me once to go hiking with him. And this is when I saw his real face. From day one, he couldn’t stop criticizing me, saying I don’t really love him, saying I was lazy, not that intelligent,… I felt diminished all of the time, but every time, I fought back and we had a lot of arguments. We spent our time walking and fighting, until one day, when we were really exhausted but not yet arrived at our final destination, he lost his mind. We passed through a herd of cows, but there was also a bull. He started to scream without any reason and held my hand very tight, forcing me to follow him to the bull. I told him to let me go, but he refused. So I twisted his hand a bit to get mine out of his grip, and ran away,far from the herd. He ran toward me and started to scream again, asking me why I did that to him. He turned pale, and the look in his eye got very dark. When I tried to answer him, he walked away and sit on a tree lying on the path not far away, without saying a word. I needed a moment just to recover from this, so I left him there. After ten minutes, he was still seating, looking lost. I reached for him and told him we had to carry on. But he wanted me to apologize. As I was tired, I apologized. I didn’t want to stay there or leave him like that. He then got up and held my hand again, this time softly, and told me we had to reach our destination. We didn’t say a word to each other until we arrived to the hotel. He went straight to the shower, stayed there for a long moment. When he finished, he told me he wasn’t sure we could walk again the next day because his right knee were hurting him. He still stood distant from me. The next morning, he changed his behavior, apologizing, and said we could continue. So I accepted. But we never talked again about this incident” she said.

There was another episode where he lost his mind and turned violent against me. He invited me to follow him in the South of France where he had a seminar for a week. But he said I would have to remain in secret during the day. Luckily, I could visit the town nearby, where there was a castle. But after one day, he changed his mind, and invited me to have breakfast and lunch with him, among the other people at his seminar. But he never introduced me to anyone. Because he said there were all irritating. Once, after a long day of seminar, he got back into our room really angry. And started to whip the bed with his belt. He looked at me and asked if he could beat me. I told him no, and left the room. When I got back, he was in the shower. He then told me he felt upset because he received a message from one of his father’s mistresses, asking him to come at her house to have a chat about his father” she said.

Every time we had an argument, he would victimize himself like that, reminding me he had a difficult childhood, with a violent father who abandoned his mother and her kids when he was 8 year old” she added.

But I realized I felt like shit every time I saw him. Slowly, I started to love him less and to tell him to stop whenever he was disrespectful. I’m not over him yet, but I’ve taken my distance from him” she said.

If he makes you feel like shit every time you see him, you should know he’s not good for you. Always trust your guts. And listen to the warnings.

My friend also said she felt guilty because she thought he was acting like that only with me while he was nice with his official woman. Or the other women they met. But the truth is, whenever he shows his real face, it doesn’t matter who is in front of him.

So, be careful.

In Germany, the number of women who don’t want to have children is on the rise. The higher diploma German women have, the higher chance they will choose not to have children. This is also true for those whose career’s too important to jeopardize it now with a child. Unfortunately in Germany, women who want to have kids are often forced to sacrifice their professional career, either by working less or by opting out. Because the country has a deficit of nurseries for small children.

Some also explains this phenomenon by the response to the pressure on women during the nazi era. During that time, there was a principle for women: “Kinder, Küche en Kirche”( child, cook, church). After the second world war, the response was to take a distance with this model.

The best example of the German woman without kid is Angela Merkel herself. The German chancellor never had children on her own, unlike other female Prime Ministers (Helle Thorning-Schmidt, the Danish – selfie at funeral- Prime minister, has two daughters).

In other societies where the social pressure is very high, women also tend to think twice before having children. In South Korea, and in some other Asian countries, women even choose not to marry or marry late, and thus avoid having children. South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Japan have the lowest birth rate in Asia. In the world, Germany has the lowest birth rate.

Unfortunately, with the globalization of our economy, people are pushed to study hard and get the highest marks to be sure of having the possibility to choose their professional life afterward. It’s not unusual for me to meet people coming from Latin America, Asia, or even Africa, with a PhD, an MBA, a CFA, …

But as one Brazilian friend told, those studies cost a lot. She also told me some Brazilian women hesitate to have kids for that reason. My friend is 45, she’s a CEO, and she doesn’t have any kids. She said she doesn’t want to.

Personally, I don’t have kids, and I don’t want to.

revolutionary_road_kate_winslet_1In Europe, Spain has recently taken a step back on abortion rights, limiting the options for women to the minimum. Elsewhere in Europe, particularly in Southern and Catholic countries, pressure mounts on abortion rights.

Before this restriction, Spain used to be known abroad in Europe for allowing abortion over the three months pregnancy. Many French women went to the country to get their abortion because of that.

The economic crisis is not stranger to this. Southern countries in Europe have been hit hard by a recession and heavy unemployment rate. Unfortunately, when dire conditions happen, people turn to religion to find a meaning for their life. No religion allows abortions, nor contraception. So, yes, it’s a step back from the progress of our society.

Here in Europe, the reactions in other countries have mounted against the Spanish decision. Because, even in France, women fall more and more under the pressure of those who fight against abortion. This translates into the guilt people want women to feel. Or the false informations MD gives to their female patients who want to abort.

Unfortunately, the media attention to this fight against abortion is rising, which means the phenomenon is rising too.

Thankfully, in my country, this is not the case. Protests are concentrated on the new law allowing euthanasia for young people. The Catholic Church has publicly stood  against this decision. But like same-sex marriage and euthanasia, our country has never taken a step back so far.

Abortion is  a right, the right for a woman to decide if she’s able or not to raise that child. In countries like Ireland where abortion is forbidden, women jeopardize their life to get an abortion, sometimes, with the help of a knitting needle.

Besides, a child who’s not wanted may develop later personality disorders. And in most developed countries, especially in Germany, but also Japan and South Korea, women who choose not to have children are on the rise.

P1020624Since March of last year, I’ve been seeing again my old BFF. Almost 17 years ago, I left our town after a huge argument with him, and I’ve never had any news from him since then, even when I joined Facebook in 2007 and I found him again.

Our first exchange after years of silence was short. I sent him a message to ask him how he was. He replied he was writing his thesis. And didn’t ask me what I have become. It ended there.

Years passed, and he remained silent even though he still remained my Facebook friend, until one day in March of last year, when I was waiting for my train at the Gare du Nord in Paris. He left me several messages, very sweet, very unusual that day because he was at the same place at the same time than I. But I didn’t see him because my train was leaving. He made me promise the next time I will be there, I should tell him.

So I told him when I got back to Paris. And he agreed to have a drink with me.

Thanks to Facebook, I knew he was in a relationship with someone else and working as a professor. So, I didn’t have many surprises when I saw him again after years of silence.

I don’t know if he was nervous on that day, but he drank a lot of beers while we were speaking. He also told me he hated his students and his job, and that he wished he would be in another town. I didn’t tell him he was making a mistake. I just looked at him with disagreement. He also showed bitterness when he talked about his ex who left him for his best friend seven years ago.

Our conversation lasted four hours! He had to get his train, but before leaving the bar, he asked me when I will be in Paris the next time. I told him I didn’t know. He kissed me goodbye and said he was happy to see me, and then disappeared in the subway.

Three weeks passed, until I got invited in Paris again. When I told him about it, he said he would meet me there. But the D-Day, he apologized he couldn’t make it, because he had another appointment. He added it was not his kind of way. I had the feeling he was leading me on, so I just told him it was ok, and didn’t contact him afterward.

I went twice to Paris at the end of December. I didn’t tell him. I just mentioned it on Facebook, in case my other friends would be there too. But every time, he asked me when  I would be available (to the point of being a little bit annoying), and I replied I didn’t have the time for him.

Then, this year, I wished him a happy Birthday. He thanked me, and asked again if I would be in Paris soon. In fact, I was, but he wasn’t. Instead, he said he would be in my town the next weekend, and that maybe, I could meet him near the train station. I agreed.

We only had one hour together before he had to take his train. This time, he only had one coffee. We spoke about various topic, until he told me he had a deal for a book. I also told him I had a book written and almost published. So I congratulated him. And when  he had to leave for his train, I asked him if he still planned to teach elsewhere. He replied he wasn’t sure anymore, and besides, his significant other has just received an upgrade at work, so she was hesitating to leave their town as well.

I followed him until we saw his platform, but he asked me why I followed him, so I pulled back. I kissed him goodbye and he said he was happy to see me. I left him there.

Since then, I miss him.

 

Recently,  one of my coworkers told me her husband gave her a trip to Rome as a gift for her 30th birthday.”I was so disappointed when I saw where we were going. I felt he didn’t know me, because all I wanted was to go to the Caribbean or another place like that, with a white sands beach and  a turquoise sea” she said.

He surprised me with this gift in front of my family. So, I had to keep my disappointment to myself. But I guess he understood I was disappointed, because he explained Rome was a wonderful and romantic city. Yet, I know when we will be there, he will ask to visit museums and old monuments, while I absolutely hate this kind of holidays” she says. “Besides, when I wanted to give him a gift for his 30th Birthday, I chose something he liked, not something I wanted to do. Am I a bitch for thinking like that?” she added.

For me, it just seems both of them are selfish and don’t want to understand each other. They got married because she got pregnant with him after just one year of relationship. His parents forced him to marry her, as it would be not very appropriate to leave her like that. At the time, she complained he just gave her a ring he found in his grandmother’s attic. “There was nothing romantic about this” she said.

Since I know her, she has always been complaining about her husband. She even agreed to let him go abroad for two years for his job.

Sometimes, I wonder if she really loves him.

But I also wonder if there is a perfect gift.

Personally, I just appreciate to be with my man, because we don’t see each other that much. For me, the best gift would be his presence next to me. Or maybe the ring I will never get from him.

I guess when you’re not grateful to have what you have, you risk to lose what you have.

So, be grateful.

Nowadays, we have too many things around us. And as Sheena Iyengar said, the more choices we have, the more we can make the wrong choice and regret our choice.

Some of us are unable to know what they really need.

 

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