By Bunmi Sofola
Why do some successful women fall for cads? This was a poser I put to Jola, a very good friend and a thorough professional who continues to reap the benefits of her labour. Unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said for her husband.
They are both chartered accountants but Jola was lucky because she relied heavily on her dad’s muscles to get her juicy accounts. David, her cynical husband continued to plod from one accounting firm to the other and refuse to go into partnership with his wife.
“Secretly I was glad he didn’t fall for the idea of a partnership – he would have ruined the business”, said Jola. “David is a controlling freak and I have suffered the grave misfortune of getting married to him. There is this misconception that controlling men seek out plain, meek women. But in my experience, that’s not the case.
The challenge for David was to bring a successful woman down from a great height – that’s real power to him. Complete domination. Often like him are seductive features, shrewdly camouflaging their real character in the beginning, showering you with love so you feel you are the centre of their universe.
“But then the subtle change starts. There’s carping about the little things, he looks for gentle criticism of your work, all of which chip away at your self-confidence. Take the behaviour of David for instance. I was married to him for 12 years and still wince when I remember how he could turn a compliment into a devastating blow. There was this evening as an example. After a long day in the office, I hurriedly changed in the office loo into a beautiful dress I had bought specially for a party he was hosting for his club members.
“When I arrived, he was sitting on a bar stool surrounded by his colleagues. He beckoned me over with a crook of his little finger. With all of them watching, he leant forward and kissed me on the cheek. ‘Look at you darling!’ he said admiringly.’ Lovely dress but too young for you. It hardly disguises your big bum!’ the en laughed, embarrassed, and the women looked sorry for me. A few of them told him off, but there you have the control freak’s sinister double whammy – compliment then insult, knock you down then help you up.
“A hundred things could ignite his ire; the way I’d cook his meals, the fact I’d forgotten to put his used native gears in the laundry, or his belief that I didn’t pay him enough attention when we went out together. His underlying theme was that he felt I was putting my work before him. He perceived my work as a threat: it made me neglect him, he said. It was only by constantly putting me down that he felt he was able to control me and stop me doing the thing he most feared. Leaving him which, of course, I eventually did.
“What’s so ironic is that controllers end up hating the strong, successful women to whom they were once drawn. David never liked me for being famous. He used to cringe if people came up when we were having a meal – and it didn’t suit his ego to be seen and introduced as Mr. Jola Smith. It was as though he’d been castrated. After our separation, he told me he just got sick of living in my shadow.
But why didn’t he cast his own? To my surprise and shame, I seldom fought back during the relationship. I never said, “forget my bum, look at the size of your pot belly!’ Nor did I even mention the fact that he was stagnating in his career as he criticised the choices I made in mine. Not once did I berate him for not helping much financially in running the house, even though the house belonged to me.
“I guess my behaviour is typical of many so-called strong career women. Yes, we can make tough decisions in the work place, but at home we just seek peace and companionship. We enter the fray each day at work, and it is the last thing we want at home.
“After my marriage broke, another ex of mine, a businessman I dated a few years after and almost married, used the same ploy. He refused to go out with me and my friends, dismissing them as ‘boring’ sycophants who were only interested in the fact that I was well-known. It was his way to trying to cut me off from those I was closest to.
Thankfully, it didn’t work. It takes time and experience to spot the tricks of the controller, and this ex eventually revealed himself as one. The next time I got a much sort after account and wanted him to celebrate with me and my staff, he said he was so ill he had to go to our doctor’s. I rushed home, as he knew I would; only to find him watching TV, saying he was feeling a little better. That pattern of mystery illnesses repeated itself again and again.
“When I finally left him, he told friends I was cheating on him and said I’d become delusional and has gone abroad with a boyfriend. It was a lie of course and one of my more savvy friends e-mailed him, copying me and my friends, saying, ‘that’s funny, I’ve just had lunch with Jola.’
“Now in my early 50s, I have a radar against me who are control freaks and try to seek out those who are kind and considerate. I take comfort in the knowledge that I will never again have to hear those sinister words: ‘The problem with you Jola, is…”
Thinking of detoxing for the New Year? Well, Don’t!
You have eaten too much and drunk too much and now you are feeling thoroughly bloated. It is not a great way to start the New Year. So could the answer be a total detox? Walk into any supermarket or chemist and you’ll find all kinds of products that promise to help cleanse your body and rid it of the toxins that are making you feel rough.
Products such as special patches that – you stick on your feet, which, it’s claimed draw out impurities like magic. And, they are not cheap. My chemist recently talked me into buying a trial pack that didn’t do much for me. When I complained, he pointed to a jumbo complete treatment pack that cost the earth. I declined.
If you don’t fancy the patches, you are advised to try detoxing your contaminated body with teas, juices, tonics, pills, lotions and even shampoos! There’s just one snag. According to the latest scientific study, detox is just a way of wasting hard-earned cash. That’s because detoxing is something our bodies have evolved to do naturally.
The voice of Young science report was put together by a group of post-graduate scientists who were irritated by the pseudoscientific claims made for some alternative health products. Co-ordinator Alice Tuff, a biologist says: “We found that detox products were everywhere in small shops department stores, pharmacies, supermarkets and online. Yet, detox is a myth. Our bodies have their own very efficient system for clearing out impurities, and there’s nothing you can buy to make that system work better.”
She explains that harmful or unwanted substances are identified as they pass through the liver and kidneys and flushed out with urine. Other harmful organisms are destroyed in the stomach and intestines, and excreted through the bowel. Detox products, which claims to cleanse the bowel, support the lover and kidneys or stimulate the lymph system – which controls the body’s natural defences.
Make no difference at all. Also, the skin forms a natural barrier, which means products that claim to draw out impurities can’t get through that way either. The scientists plan to hand out leaflets warning the public that detox products don’t work. They will also be asking manufacturers, fitness centres and retailers why these products are still being sold.
Sama Tarabay, company nutritionist with the health food chain Holland and Barrett, agrees that there are no studies to prove that detox diets work. However, she says research has shown that herbs such as milk thistle, artichoke and dandelion enhance liver function. “We would never suggest a water diet or fasting, but some people benefit from switching to a healthy diet for a week or two in the New Year to get rid of processed ingredients like sugar, preservatives and other body food additives.”
“For most of us,” continues the psychologist, “detox involves losing nothing more than our money. But some detox products can cause problems if they are overused. Some make us wee more, for instance, although harmless in the short term, over a long period this can cause salt levels to drop too low, leading to cramps and even coma. Drinking too much liquid can be harmful too, because sodium and other body salts become too diluted.”
So, what should we do if we want to feel better after any New Year excesses? The answer is cheap and effective – if less exciting than a magic foot patch. Eat some fruit and vegetable, have an early night and let your body do the rest. It’s easy to detox, says the expert. Just let your body use the great systems it has evolved over thousands of years to get rid of whatever is harming you!
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