Last night at the Courage meeting one of my brothers said something that rang a bell with me. He said something like, I feel like I own my friends. This reminded me of an old friend of mine who used to refer to me as “my Garrett” when we would hang out. I also remembered telling my best friend to call my mom “Mom” and then when he started doing so, I rescinded the offer because my mom is mine

On the surface, this seems selfish, and it is, but as with most personality issues, below the surface is a wound. In this case, a wound of insecurity, sadness and fear. 

The meeting where my Courage brother said this occurred on the same day that my therapist and I were discussing my loss of connection with my dad. I shared a photo of dad giving me a piggyback ride and how the desire for a stable connection was created in me after losing that close connection we once had. That desire manifested itself in an improper clinging, controlling attachment. 

In my mind, my friends are mine, my mom is mine, and my dog Lenny was mine. I owned them at one point in my mind and that ownership stunted real love and developing healthy detached relationships. This showed itself most clearly in the relationship with my dog, Lenny.  

When we took walks, Lenny would ignore other people and dogs. If they approached, he would either shrink back, get aggressive, or act like they didn’t exist. These were similar to my own defensive behaviors. I liked that Lenny’s life was completely focused on me; he was MINE! Many would say this is understandable and though I agree that it is, the fact remains that this attachment stifled his life. I gripped onto Lenny rather than holding him with an open hand. And that grip was suffocating for him as it can be for the people who are closest to me. 

Many of us also, because of our woundedness, want to feel valued. And so, a person who is seeking self-worth has to be careful because the desire for exclusivity and feeling special can leave them open to viewing this kind of stifling grip as love. If they allow this to continue it will eventually kill the friendship. So, any kind of exclusivity in this regard must be resisted and moderated for the sake of both people involved. 

Healthy stability is found in a diversity of friendships. As I read in The Four Loves you can only truly experience the fullness of another person when friendship is shared with others. No one can be their full self with just one person. We each bring out qualities in another that only peoples’ unique personality quirks can. For me to fully experience mom, I have to share her with my other family members and our friends. For me to fully experience my friends, I have to share them with their families and our other friends. And for me to fully experience myself, I have to share who I am with many people, not just one or two. That is not to say that I won’t be closer to some friends than others, but diversity allows our personalities to fully flourish.   

To endure seeing the people I love most love others and know that their love for others does not diminish me in any way and, in fact, opens the friend or family member to being able to love me on an even deeper level requires suffering on my part. I have to choose to endure the pain of the thoughts that I am not good enough or loveable enough and the sickness that brings to my heart and stomach.  

Please Lord, help me let go of ”MINE” for my own sake and for the sake of those I love. Help me to hold them with an open hand as You hold, rather than a clenched fist as our enemy holds, a flourishing hold rather than a stifling hold. Give me the grace to endure and persevere. I pray this in Jesus’ holy name, Amen. 

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Garrett Johnson is a 49 year old blogger and stylist living in MD. He joined the Arlington chapter of Courage in 2012 and has since helped establish the Washington DC and Baltimore MD chapters. He has spoken at the Courage Conference, on EWTN and at other Courage events. You can follow Garrett on Youtube, Facebook, and his website Learn more about Garrett’s story through this video:

The opinions and experiences expressed in each blog entry in “The Upper Room” belong solely to the original authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of Courage International, Inc. Some entries have been edited for length and clarity.