A story of sorts about judgement, followers and change (part 2 of 3)

PART 2 - The Follower

(This piece of writing is being shared in three parts so you can reflect on each aspect and then consider the whole.)

Once upon a time there was a team. The team was created by association not by choice.  The members varied in age, background and beliefs. You could not put together a more random group of people if you tried.  

Whilst there were many in this team, there were a few characters that stood out.  

The following discussion continues on from the previous post about the Judger.

The Follower
One person in the team was closely associated with the Judger.  We will call this one the Follower.  The Follower went along with anything the Judger did or said. The Judger had a higher level of positional authority and more experience than the Follower.  The Judger used this perceived authority to dominate the decisions and choices of the Follower, and many others.  Through observation and unconscious practice the Judger learned how to manipulate and influence the Follower.

The loyalty tradeoff
When asked, the Follower would say that loyalty to the Judger always came first, even if the actions taken hurt others or made no sense. The Follower experienced private internal conflict but still would do what the Judger said.  It was safer and easier.  When the Judger was not present in the Follower’s world other substitutes were sought. Relationships all had a sense of submission to a more dominant controlling person, even if subtle.  The Follower would feel the internal disconnect through misunderstood emotions. Yet  it was a choice. A choice for what the Judger could do for the Follower. The Follower wanted what the Judger and others could provide – a nice lifestyle, money, connections. These tangible and intangible benefits were external niceties that made following worth it.  

Learning to keep up appearances
It was for the Follower all about appearances. Unlike the Judger who called the shots, the Follower chose to fit in. By fitting in it meant finding out all the ways to do so. Looking good, buying the ‘right things’, living in the ‘right places’, sending kids to the ‘right schools’, driving the ‘right car’, knowing the ‘right’ people.  All choices were externally validated by others to whom the Follower deferred.  You would almost think for a moment that the Follower at times might also have a bit of the Judger as well.

There was one other aspect in common. The Follower wanted to rise above a similar life as a victim.  The Follower also had a life of abuse, dysfunctional role models and challenges that left the Follower broken. The Follower chose a path of compliancy to survive.  The Follower was around and associated with the Judger for as long as the Follower could remember. The Follower knew no other way. Yes at times the Follower did try to break free. But in doing so joined up with, aligned and associated the same way with other.  The pattern simply repeated in different ways.  At some level the Follower knew that learning to survive was about fitting in.

The actor's mask
On the outside the Follower would not seem like this though. Similar to the Judger being perceived as the Joker, the Follower developed a way to get ahead using presence like the Actor. The Follower had a presence that filled up a room.  The Follower had learned to use looks, expression and personality to influence others. For example the Follower could put on the mask of friendly demeanour and speak with a person to whom privately she did not like nor respect.  The Follower found ways to embellish and enhance the image portrayed to others so as to carefully hide the victim and fact that life behind the scenes was not all it was cracked up to be.  The Follower was overly generous and seemed philanthropic whilst secretly afraid to lose anything gained through sacrifices to the Judger.

A hidden heart
You would think being so defeated the Follower didn’t care about much other than being accepted.  On the contrary. Similar to the Judger, the Follower also had a big heart. It was hidden away too.  Every once in a while this heart would sneak out and shine for all to see. However with the influence of the Judger and the other substitutes for the Judger in the Follower’s life so prominent, showing heart was a risky endeavour. The Follower deep down wanted to give self the permission to step forward and stand away from the influence of others and really do what was right for the Follower. The yearning was there, even if not very conscious.

Choices again. Choices of survival creating patterns of behaviour over long periods of time. So hard to undo. So hard to let go of.  So hard to even acknowledge with awareness and to change.

The other person in the team was the ... (to be continued)

Jenn Shallvey