Jesse James: con artist or emotionally arrested 7 yr old?

Filed under [ Parenting, Relationship ]

I am taking a little detour today from blogging about the parenting book to discuss my observations of the Jesse James Interview last night on Nightline.  Those of you who know me may be wondering what on earth am I doing discussing pop gossip?  It is so not my cup of tea.  And you’d be one hundred percent right.  But surprisingly Mr James’ interview, while sad to watch, was very interesting.

When I heard that he was going to be on Nightline, something inside me alerted me that I should stay up to watch it.  It was rather a weird impulse particularly since I knew almost nothing about this story other than that this guy cheated on Sandra Bullock, an actress I liked.  Yet I felt a strong push to watch the show, so I did.

As I was watching, I realized why I needed to see it.  In this interview, Mr James hit on so many of the issues I will be discussing in the parenting book.  He spoke of his childhood living with his father’s wrath and the sense of terror and fear that was coursing through his being most of his life.  He talked about being “A football star, bike builder, monster garage TV star, all that stuff is a huge smoke screen so people won’t see that I am a scared abused kid, a 7 yr old.”

He goes on to speak about his self destructive behaviors that included risk taking stunts and cheating on his “perfect wife” and destroying his “perfect marriage.”  All of these feelings and behaviors had arisen out of his childhood experiences of being terrorized and unloved.

Some people may be skeptical of his motives and his authenticity in this interview.  For me it does not matter whether he is telling the truth or some other emotional issues had caused him to self destruct and take his family down with him.  The main issue I would like to point out and use as an illustration from this very public story is how on point he was when he spoke of the fraud that he had become in order to hide the frightened little child within him.

As a therapist and student of human behavior, I cannot tell you how many times I have seen this little child in the grown people in my life and my adult clients, many of whom are extremely successful and accomplished in the world.  The reality is most of us have a frightened little child operating inside of us.  And when this child’s fears and issues are not seen or dealt with directly, that child wreaks havoc in our lives.  We have all, to some extent or another, been hurt and frightened by our parents and the world around us when we were children.  Those memories are still deep within us and affect our lives in some major ways.

It is time for us to begin to examine our knee jerk need to judge our own and other people’s behaviors, and look deeper into what may be motivating them.  Most of our feelings and thoughts were programmed into us before we had much to say about it.  I am not suggesting that we should condone or accept destructive behaviors; I am declaring it is time for us to examine where they come from and seek the resources that are available to help us rewire.

It’s been over two thousand years since Jesus said, “He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone at her.”  It’s time we begin to heed these healing words.

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