Galileo said that the Earth revolves around the sun and not the other way around. His sponsor, Pope Urban VIII, thought this was marvelous, but asked him to keep it under wraps until other astronomers, in this case, Jesuits, could confirm it. Galileo, an Italian hothead, ran out of patience waiting for the confirmation and that's how the whole thing exploded.
That twigging aside, there's a lesson in Galileo's discovery for all of us. We are not the center of the Universe. Our experiences do not define the whole of the human condition.
I have a young friend who is currently going through the same experience that I did when my previous wife went mad. I've met other men who have dealt with the same thing at various stages in the process and we all have been hit with the same attacks from some poor woman who is losing her marbles. Here's the relevant excerpt from the blog post linked above about my ex-wife, who I called "Wendy."
Wendy had grown up in an emotionally abusive home. I had never seen anything like it. Everything looked fine on the outside, but the relationships came straight out of an Edgar Allen Poe story. If the walls of her parents' house could have wept blood, they'd have done it...
Wendy could never win her father's love, no matter what she did...
I was Wendy's rock. I adored her and supported her no matter what she did...
We got married. Then the testing began and she went mad. I don't mean we argued, I mean she went insane.
In retrospect, what happened was that she feared a repeat of her childhood. Her father had betrayed her trust over and over again and she needed to make sure I wouldn't do the same so she tested me. With the passing of each test, she was reassured until the demons in her head convinced her it wasn't real and I was bound to betray her. Another test would be devised. They became incrementally harder to pass...
She turned into a full-blown borderline psychotic. About three times a week, she would wake up around 1 AM and begin screaming at me. If I tried to quiet her with kind talk and love, the screaming lasted two hours. If I kept quiet and just let her scream, it lasted 90 minutes.
The issues were never rational, it was just the demons in her head, howling.
The wife of my young friend is on a similar trajectory with a similar backstory. Watching this play out all over again at a good distance is giving me an opportunity to reflect on the mechanics of the thing. When you get right down to it, his wife, who we'll call Helen, thinks she is the center of the Universe.
Helen, like all of us, instinctively believes that her experiences in life are the ultimate reference models for reality. That is, she interprets all of life through her lived experiences. It's only natural. Like a dog that's been beaten by black men and learns to hate all black men no matter how nice they are, Helen and Wendy learned to associate men with betrayal and torment.
Helen is still a woman and being a woman, craves the company, stability, adoration and attentions of a man. She can't help it. She also naturally interprets all of her experiences through the lens of her past.
Her past is betraying her. It isn't a template for all life, it's a template for her past life, with those people in those situations.
Our past betrays us. It isn't a template for all life, it's a template for our past lives, with those people in those situations.
I wasn't Wendy's father. I knew the man and we couldn't have been more different. For one thing, he didn't watch sports or like Robert E. Lee. My young friend isn't Helen's father. I don't think he's ever even met the man. My young friend is a devoted, stable and responsible husband and father, not an abusive jerk.
Our life experiences yell at us from time to time, warning us that some current situation is just like one from our past. The yelling can be nearly impossible to ignore. The emotional grooves dug in our brains from abuse or passion are so much more compelling than words spoken or written by others.
The only cure for problems like these is for the Helens and Wendys of the world to realize deep inside themselves that everyone else has experiences which are just as deep and just as valid as theirs. Others' templates count just as much as our own when analyzing our lives. It's the aggregate of all such templates that make up the reality of the human condition. When your templates are a couple of standard deviations off the norm, you can get real problems.
We are not the center of the Universe and not realizing that can bite us hard.