I’m delighted to be welcoming Maria Benson to Linda’s Book Bag today with a fascinating guest post all about how our past affects our present – including our mental health. Maria is joint author with A. L Ford of Driving Me Wild. Driving Me Wild was published in e-book on 3rd August 2016 and is available for purchase here.
Driving Me Wild
In a dating scene full of well-educated, ambitious and attractive players, is the “terminally single” woman her own worst enemy?
That’s the accusation hurled at Aimee Chase, a young Chicago sports marketing executive who finds herself confronted with professions of love from Michael Blake, a handsome but bland high school classmate. When Aimee tries but fails to let him down easy, habitually nice Michael hits below the belt, implying she’s too damaged to appreciate a good man. Check, please: An insulted Aimee showers Michael in her glass of sweet-but-smoky Merlot.
Truth is, Michael’s accusations drew blood. With a romantic history littered with cheaters and bad boys–including a married one with a very big job who is still in her life–Aimee fears that she has sabotaged her chances of ever finding the right guy. Months later, as her career implodes and she finds herself enveloped in a high-profile scandal, she’s not sure what to think when a suddenly captivating Michael reappears.
Thrilled to find that this “safe” guy now makes her weak in the knees, Aimee ultimately has her ecstasy interrupted by the revelation that Michael has transformed into a promiscuous, cold-hearted pick-up artist he thinks women like Aimee want. When he’s caught with related baggage but declares his fidelity, should Aimee toss aside a promising relationship, or just accept that “it’s complicated?”
A First Step to Relationship Happiness
A Guest Post from Maria Benson
Working in the mental health field for the past decade has led me to one universal truth: We are all products of our environments.
In my work as a therapist, I often hear people deny the role of the past in present-day problems via comments like, “That doesn’t matter anymore- I’ve put it behind me,” or “I just try not to think about it.”
The bottom line is, you shouldn’t be asking yourself if past experiences affect you today. You should be examining how your past experiences are affecting you.
Refusing to look inward and really discover what makes us tick- our passions, fears, triggers, and vulnerabilities- will, without fail, cause us to sabotage relationship after relationship. Often without us even really understanding where it went wrong.
In my new novel, Driving Me Wild, the lead protagonist Aimee Chase is blindsided by present-day dysfunctions caused by her past experiences. Aimee is a wildly successful young executive who is rocking it professionally, but early on she’s confronted with the inconvenient fact that every important male relationship in her life – whether with her neglectful father, her high-profile but married boyfriend, or with Michael, the “sweet but boring” guy trying to win her heart – is a train wreck.
Our personalities are pieced together by so many factors- genetics, our families, societal pressures, prior failed dating relationships, and so on. When we counter imperfections in any of these factors, we develop the dreaded baggage. This baggage drives our behavior before, during and after each relationship. It’s why we’re always searching for a new boyfriend instead of taking time to be alone with our thoughts, or it’s why we settle for those we know deep down aren’t right for us.
Whether we find ourselves sabotaging good relationships OR allowing abusive behaviors to develop and persist, the solutions often lie in the roots of the past experiences that generated such behavior. Confronting that past is the first step of someone who believes they deserve to be happy.
By the time clients come to me, they are taking this crucial first step, but years of toxic behaviors influenced by the past have greatly complicated their relationships. Whether they are dealing with serial infidelity, an inability to communicate due to fears about being emotionally vulnerable, or unpredictable rage and violence, the road to healing can be a long one. How much heartache might they have been spared if they had known years earlier how to address the impact of the past – and its associated baggage – on their approach to relationships?
I can’t be there at the front end for every client, but as an author I’d like to think that I can reach people earlier. By telling stories about the search for love, I can encourage readers to think proactively about how the past impacts their present relationships.This can be a key step in saving your marriage, freeing you from a destructive relationship, or just getting into the healthiest state possible while awaiting your future partner.
Her journey is full of tears, laughter, betrayal and trauma, but the willingness to do this hard work helps Driving Me Wild‘s Aimee ultimately find the path – and romantic relationship – that is right for her.
So, do you believe that tackling the reality of your past is a first step to happiness? If so, how are you acting on that today?
To read an extract from the first chapter of Driving Me Wild please click here.
About the Authors
Maria Benson is a graduate of Hanover College and the University of Indianapolis. She has dedicated her Indianapolis-based practice to helping women find their identity and voice in the face of adversity. A licensed mental health counselor, Maria is also an experienced practice administrator, adjunct professor and trainer.
Published by Random House/Villard, Penguin/NAL and Grand Central under pseudonyms, A.L. Ford’s seven prior novels include the bestselling and the critically acclaimed, and have been favourably reviewed in prestigious publications. A high technology marketing professional and an MBA, his most important job today is passing along life lessons to his son and daughter. He and his family live in southwest Ohio.