Recently I interviewed a wonderful man. He was celebrating his 60th anniversary and I wonder about the story of his life. Developmental psychology is something we participate in during our whole life, and the only way to learn anything about that is to question and observe people who already passed the stages you are just starting to.
One of the most popular theories in developmental psychology today is Erik Erikson’s theory. Being under influence of Freud’s idea about the power of libido energy in context of formation of personality, Erikson kinda prolonged Freud’s theory. He self-reflected his own long life and observed other people from the day of their birth till old age. The result of this observation was Erikson's 8 stages of psychosocial development. I will definitely come back to the theory later in my blog, but for this particular post I want to mention the 8th stage, that is called Wisdom.
This stage usually starts after 60-65, and characterized by analyzing of the life’s achievements. As a result of this analyze person comes either to ego integrity, either to despair. We look back through our whole life and try to understand what did we do and why. And then we see what do we have now and if this things are in line with our values. If yes, then we feel that our life wasn’t live in vain, we are proud of what we managed to accomplish: build a career, make a big happy family, conquer the world etc depending on personal’s values. Then we feel contentment and something Erikson named “Ego integrity”. If the result doesn’t satisfy us, we feel desperate: because of understanding that you don’t have any other chance to start everything from beginning anymore and that... dude, you fucked it up.
I noticed that the man I was interviewing is turning into this stage. He was analyzing a lot of what kind of mistakes and good decisions he made and remembering the brightest events in his life. Even though he’s happy now and absolutely satisfied with the life he has, there was one thing that happened to him long time ago in the beginning of his adults life and still affects him. I want to share this story with you because I know he would be happy if someone could learn out of his case.
It happened in the 80s in Norway. He was a young farmer boy, just started his career and tried to build a family life with a beautiful girl. They lived together and tried to equip their place to make life cosy and happy. The boy was completely in love, trust and hope for the best future for them. He knew his lady was dreaming about washing machine, that at those time was more luxurious then common thing, and he worked hard to buy it to her. Finally it happened. He got extra reward at work, ordered the washing machine immediately and full of happiness dialed their home number (no mobiles in 80’s yet) to tell his love the news. “-Hello!”-some man’s voice answered on the other end of the wire. "-Hello. Who are you? Where’s Susanne?" " -Ha, it’s you. I just fucked your girlfriend." -said the voice and disconnected…
I can’t even imagine what did he feel at that moment. Anger, jealousy, disappointment, desperation, betrayal… Probably a cocktail of the worst emotions we can have. He was broken. His heart was bleeding. But he behaved himself as gentleman. With no drama, he delivered and settled the washing machine, packed his things and left Susanne.
Even thou our psychological protective mechanisms normally intend to clean bad memories out of our minds, some things settle there forever. This case happened almost forty years ago, but still today he can’t forget it and can’t forgive. Just for fun or because she couldn’t control her libido, the girl destroyed trust the young man had, and he was never able to fix it. He have to fight with paranoidal thoughts till the rest of his life in all relationships with people. He realize that you can’t judge everyone by mistake someone did, but once we burned, we check every cup before we make a sip. Every day this man have to fight with his memory and imagination, when he goes for work and leaves his current woman alone. Every fucking day he drives away this voice in the receiver “I just fucked your girlfriend…” and tries not to become a jealous tyrant during 4 decades. Just because one day one girl wasn’t able to say “No” to her desires.
I’m telling you this story because I want you to understand how important to take care of feelings of others, especially those whom we share with some periods of our life or even the whole life. Just a stupid mistake: extra glass of wine, dick-thinking, uncontrolled desires, - can ruin someone’s life forever. Feel the responsibility and if you have a need for adventure, do it in that way your beloved will never find it out and never be hurt. Use professional service and don’t leave traces. Don’t repeat “washing machine” case.