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His name was Randall; my client was totally devoted to the dog.

She walked, fed and played with Randall and took him on his favorite outings.   He was more than happy to be catered to, but he treated my client with disdain.   She couldn’t put his leash on, she couldn’t take his leash off.   He wouldn’t come to her when she called, but he responded promptly to other people.  When he came home from his walk he’d greet her roommate effusively, with kisses, but he more or less ignored my client.

The reading yielded the usual material but I already knew it wasn’t about the dog.

After the reading–nothing.  No change.  If anything, Randall was even more extravagant and theatrical in his rejection of the client.  It would have been comical if not for the disappointment.

The client was bereft.  She wanted me to talk to him again, but now I know:  if there’s no change, it’s almost always about the human.  At the same time, these cases nag at me and it’s a good thing.   Eventually I do get the message and this was no exception.

I called the client back.

“Okay,” I said, “what’s happening in your life?”

It turned out she lived to please others.  Whatever anyone wanted she would provide,  as long as it resulted in someone’s approval.

She loved her job.  LOVED it, and she was damn good at it.  She worked long hours and volunteered for the tedious stuff no one else would do.  Her boss passed her over for promotion after promotion.  What did she do?  She worked harder.

She’d taken her boyfriend on a nice vacation to the resort of his choice two years ago.  One day he came home and said he wanted to go on another trip.  Then the punchline:  he wanted to go to Vegas with the guys.  “What are you gonna do?” he asked, helpfully.

With Randall it was heightened.  He was crazy disrespectful but it just made her more determined.  “I know I can win him over,” she told me.

I groaned.  “Why do you keep catering to this jerk?  Does it ever occur to you to say, “‘Hey jackass!  If you can’t treat me with respect then you can stay home.’  Seriously!”

She was quiet.   This would go one of two ways:  she’d recognize her part in the play, or I’d get in big trouble for suggesting she was the one who needed to change.  I waited.  I looked at Randall.  He winked and I rolled my eyes.  You big jerk, I told him.

“Listen,” I said, “there’s no way to make this gentle.”   You’ve made yourself a doormat and your dog’s going to keep showing you that until you stop.   Start putting yourself first now; don’t wait until you’re forced to.”

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