“Many of us believed that our lives would be manageable if only others around us would do as we wanted. We thought everything would be fine if only our bosses would recognize our worth, if only our spouses would give us the attention we needed, if only our children were well-behaved, if only our parents would leave us alone. Our lives became unmanageable when the car wouldn’t start, the computer broke down, or our checking account wouldn’t balance. We suffered from other people’s unmanaged lives or from bad luck.”
–The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous
Think back to a time, Dear Reader, when you wanted something or someone very badly. I mean, so fucking bad that you would make Veruca Salt say “Damn, you’re bonkers” with a posh British accent. You want that something or someone to the point of being blinded by that whatever–you see nothing else, want nothing else. Just that one person, place or situation because it’s the Platinum Key to All That’s Good, Whole and Right and if someone–ANYONE–cock blocks you, they will most definitely get cut.
All joking aside, though, almost every human being on this planet has been that person: the one who wants anything and everyone outside of them to make them not only happy, but a whole nother person entirely. How many times have we told ourselves that same drawn out lie: If I had money in my pocket, that perfect man (or woman) living with me in that perfect house I dream about, that car I saw on The Fast and the Furious, Beyonce’s ass and anything else we waste our time thinking about. This type of thinking is even worse for those who suffered or are suffering from trauma because most of us believe that that Platinum Key will open the Door of Painless Utopia. Once this happens, we think, we won’t get bleed or shed tears. What we know as reality will be suddenly changed into one that promotes happiness. And all will be Good, Whole and Right…right?
I’ll give you an example of the Platinum Key mentality, ok? When I was a junior in high school, I “fell in love” with a senior named Morrison Daye (this is not his real name, of course). I met him in my journalism class and–when I laid eyes on him–it was obsession at first sight. He was not only one of the most popular guys in school, but he was also one of the most intelligent, nerdiest, and sweetest. He had beautiful tanned skin and was talkative (though we’ve rarely had a conversation). Like me, he was a creative writer and was an avid reader. If I found anything we had in common, I would deem this information a sign we were supposed to be together. I told all my friends that I was the future “Mrs. Morrison Daye” as they stared at me with amused skepticism. I imagined us living in the Dakota the New York City as established writers with two gorgeous children and two cats. We would have Pulitzer prizes hanging on our walls. We would be rich, happy and in love! And all this would happen after we graduated from high school AND by the time I turned 21. So, if anyone was dating him at that time, you best believe that ho got the stink eye. Morrison belonged to me!
Dear Reader, I write to you as a 30 year woman who is extremely (and gratefully) single. I am not residing in the Dakota but in a house in Buffalo shared by two very nice Asian Indian who don’t speak to one another, but have no problem sharing their day with me. The only awards I have are ones I received from the Brockport Social Work Department for my community activism and my Bachelor’s Degree from the college. I remain childless for the time being and–since pets are not allowed in my house–I have a pet plant I named Lou. And I love him. As for Morrison, he now lives in Chicago with his wife and two cats (you can find anyone on Facebook). At first, I was sad about it because my feelings for him were completely and utterly strong–to the point of being borderline ridiculous. But as time went on, I realized that the past is the past and I moved on with my existence.
When I think back that part of my life, though, I realize that I placed Morrison–and others–in the position to be my Platinum Key. The abuse I endured in those days has reached its most dangerous peak and I wanted to escape. I wanted Morrison to be the one to not only make me happy, but to rescue me from my Dark Passenger, my low self-esteem and that nagging feeling that I wasn’t a Normal. I wanted him to love me the way I needed to be loved and protect me from the harm brought upon me almost on a daily basis. I wanted him to be my Mom, Dad, God, Guardian Angel and Security Blanket on legs and to secure those roles forever and ever. Blessed be. When he graduated and moved out of state, I was left to fend for myself. I was pissed, hurt and–most of all–afraid. And I began blaming myself for not being “a Normal,” Creator for making my life so shitty, my parents for being who I needed and wanted them to be (even though they tried under the circumstances) and finally Aunt Jean because–if it weren’t for her–I wouldn’t be like this!
And I continued to point fingers until I finally decided to stop chasing that damn Platinum Key.
Why am I telling you all this, Reader? Because you need to know that the Platinum Key Mentality will ruin you if you continue to run after it. You cannot find All That’s Good, Whole and Right by chasing externals. Let me repeat that: You CANNOT find All That’s Good, Whole and Right by chasing a person, place or situation YOU think will help you rewrite your traumatic past or somehow shut the door on it. Many trauma survivors allow their lives to fall apart trying to obtain the Platinum Key by telling themselves if they, the people around them and their lives were different, all will be better than than ok. That cannot be any further from the truth. Nothing and no one can make you feel whole. That’s YOUR job and you deserve better than a fucking pipe dream world. You deserve happiness, joy, satisfaction, and self-fulfillment and everything else that makes us great humans. But you yourself have to grab hold of that by getting treatment, indulging in self-care and getting a support system.
But in order to start a new life, you have GOT to stop looking for the Platinum Key. It will take time and patience is required. Besides, which is better? Living in agony or simply letting go?
Author unknown (2002). The Twelve Steps and Twelves Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous. Rancho, NM: Overeaters Anonymous, Inc.