Astronauts are part of NASA's “failure is not an option” reputation. We have elevated them to hero status, and rightly so.
Heroes are not supposed to fall from grace, make mistakes or have human weaknesses. However, we're forgetting that at the end of the day, they are still human beings.
Although all the facts are not out yet regarding the nature of Nowak's relationship with William Oefelein, here is what I believe happened based on what we do know.
Nowak separated from her husband of 19 years about two weeks before the incident. She described her relationship with Oefelein as more than a work colleague, but less than a romantic relationship.
This sounds like an emotional affair. Something may have happened to cause her to fear she may lose the relationship with him or that the nature of it was going to change into something else, something she didn't want.
This triggered her “fight or flight” response. She chose to fight and drove to Florida to confront her rival.
“But she's an astronaut! She must be very intelligent. What could make her behave like that?” you may be asking. The fact is that even though someone may have a high I.Q., it's possible to have a low Emotional Intelligence Quotient (E.Q.).
E.Q. is defined as “the ability to perceive, manage and process one's emotions and the emotions of others.” Our E.Q. usually rises as we get older because we become more mature, learn from our mistakes and acquire more wisdom.
Nowak's actions wouldn't be so shocking if she was a teenager, but one does not expect this behavior from an adult. It's possible that Nowak's ability to respond to fear of loss is stuck in childhood.
It's also possible that the stress from her recent separation triggered feelings from her past that she associated with the current situation. Let's suppose that Oefelein told her he couldn't continue their relationship.
Her fear of abandonment kicked in. If she had experienced that fear as a child, she momentarily reverted back to that state of mind.
We all have three alter ego states: the child, the parent and the adult. How we feel about external events forms the “child.” The “parent” is the ingrained voice of authority that we acquire when we were growing up. The “adult” is our ability to think for ourselves and make decisions based on our thinking.
What may have happened in this case is that the “child” wanted to go to Florida to confront the “other woman.” The “adult” or “parent” may have said, “That's crazy. I'm not driving to Florida in a diaper.” However, the “child” overruled the “adult/parent,” and off she went.
What can the rest of us learn from this? The next time we're in a similar situation when the child in us is kicking and screaming to get its own way, remain calm.
Let the moment pass and only then make a decision as to how to deal with the situation. If she could do it over, I'm sure Nowak would wish she had this advice before she decided to make that fateful trip to Florida.
Love inspires, empowers, uplifts and enlightens.
Write to Lucia at www.theartoflove.net .
Read an excerpt from Lucia's book at www.lessonsoflove.net.