It’s early morning. The car moves slowly, as if it is searching for the road. There is grey fog ahead, behind, and to each side. The driver feels uncertain, hoping no car has simply stopped in the road in front, wondering if there is an impatient driver behind who may veer into the lane beside her. It is the time of a faint hearted sun that cannot clear the sides of the roads, where a deer may be waiting to dart into traffic. It’s a ponderous journey, the body tense, the eyes alert, the breathing light and fast. Fog is everywhere.

This, too, can be an internal landscape for those who live in FOG. In Susan Forward’s enlightening book, EMOTIONAL BLACKMAIL, FOG is the acronym she uses to describe persons living in Fear, Obligation, and Guilt. Fear, Obligation, and Guilt rise when someone is locked into a relationship that is supposed to be about love, but distorts into one partner wanting, insinuating, demanding his or her way. The message, spoken or unspoken, is that the other person does not love if s/he doesn’t do the bidding of the first partner.

“If you loved me, you would give me your check every two weeks because I know best how to manage money.”

“If you loved me, you would not want to spend time with your family of origin or your friends, because I am now the most important person in your life.”

“If you cared about us, you would not want your own career.”

“If you thought I was the most important person in the world to you, you would always be there for me, in every way.”

“If you loved me, you would think the way I think, feel the way I feel, and behave, not the way I behave, but how I tell you to behave.”

Every person has obligations to others and this is important for both persons. But when we bundle it with fear and guilt, there is a problem. There is FOG.