Dear Mesmerizing Meg: How would you deal with a grandmother who feels entitled to become a great grandmother? We have had a very love/hate relationship between us the past few years, and now that I’m getting older, it’s just getting worse and worse. Whenever there is a family function, my fertility is brought up, and I just don’t feel like being nice about it. I’ve explained to them multiple times after turning 25 that I’m just not having kids, nor do I plan on meeting “the right one to change my mind”. Now, at 28 my family, coworkers, etc. are just getting more and more intrusive about it to the point where I just say “Every time someone asks me, I am going to prolong marriage and children for another full year.” Now about my grandmother. She is 92 years old and has started to say things to me like “You’re 28 now. I should have been a great-grandmother three years ago. All of my friends are great-grandmothers now.” I have politely reminded Grandmother that all of her friends’ grandchildren have had unplanned pregnancies at that time and it is not fair of her to count that as a success for her great grandparent friends. She simply does not care about the feelings of these women who had fallen pregnant unplanned. I would probably either try to kill myself or get an abortion. Yes, I don’t want kids that badly. Why is it so acceptable for society to badger us about our decision for not having kids yet it would be totally unacceptable for us to ask them why they had kids?
Kind querent: I don’t think it’s acceptable at all. People need to get over it. Your line about how you’ll just postpone it for another year every time it’s brought up is a good one. But I’d take it farther: “I don’t want to have kids, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Move on with your life. Thank you.”
As for Grandmother, nonagenarians are due a bit more respect, so I’d say to her, “I’m not going to give you any great-grandchildren, and the topic isn’t up for debate. I don’t care to discuss it again.” And yes, it’s wrong of Grandmother to compare you to her friends’ grandchildren, who’ve had unplanned pregnancies. Grandmother needs to accept that you’re in control of your life.
With your coworkers, I’d take more of an MYOB approach. “This concerns you how?”
Dear Mesmerizing Meg: I had a pretty devastating experience that I still don’t really understand. I had a mentor in graduate school when I went to a two-year art program. Over the two years, I had two classes with him, he chose me as his TA, and I put him on my thesis committee. We had numerous studio visits over the two years. Eventually, I thought we had formed some kind of friendship. During my first year of school, he told me that he saw trauma in my art work and tried to get me to talk about it with him. He seemed concerned. I didn’t tell him I had PTSD at that time. At the end of school, after several times of trying to open up to my classmates and people in my life in general, I decided to tell him that I have PTSD. I actually told him through an email after I had graduated. He never responded to that email. It was really painful because I thought we had a friendship and I was in the process of trying to tell people in my life for the first time about my disorder. I was trying to become less ashamed and more open. His lack of response hurt my feelings a lot. I am just curious what people think. Why would someone not respond if you tell them you have PTSD?
Kind querent: My best guess is that he’s a self-absorbed twat. The fact that he tried to draw you out and then ran screaming when he succeeded paints a picture of his being a lame loser. You thought you could trust him to care, and he didn’t. That’s on him.
It takes personal integrity and strength of character to respond to an email like the one you sent him. Some people are too self-absorbed to type, “I’m so sorry that happened to you. It makes you a blessing to the art community, but I’m still saddened.” That he didn’t do that probably means he’s had an easy life with no major hiccups, and he can’t relate to anything going wrong.
I knew a guy like that once, and I had the same experience. He was a friend of mine whom I grew up with. I wrote him a letter about the hell I’d been through. Evil Spirits, schizophrenia, abuse flashbacks, the works. He never answered the letter. I assumed that my letter was too personal for him to handle. Nope! That wasn’t the problem. As he explained to me years later, I’d ignored him and a mutual friend while out and about. (I was in a crazy place, which he knew from my letter; and I genuinely didn’t see or hear him and our other friend speaking to me.) He thought, “Well, if Meg’s going to blow me off, then I won’t bother to answer her silly letter. Hmmph.” Yep, that level of self-absorption does exist, and it ain’t pretty.
I’m hoping you can find better friends and mentors from here on out!
Dear Mesmerizing Meg: How to stop depression cycle? I have battled depression my whole life. The last few years I’ve realized that it stops for a few months, then either I fall back into it, or I seek out my depression like it’s something to help fill the void. There’s emptiness in me, but for some reason I try filling it with sadness sometimes. I know this sounds nuts, but I needs serious answers. I have a crappy job, can’t get into college, and I am not really going anywhere. I don’t have a girlfriend or much of a social life and I am introverted. How can this all get fixed?
Kind querent: It sounds like you’re giving into the depression in order to escape trying to find solutions for your life. That, and you simultaneously feel hopeless. Is there anything you can do to fix your problems? What about trade school or an apprenticeship? I’m sorry you can’t get into college, but I don’t recommend it, given how much it costs these days. You can socialize and make friends online, or in person by going out. Try to be proactive! What one thing can you do today to fix one (or more) of your problems? If all that fails, maybe seek therapy or see a psychiatrist. Also, don’t discount how successful you’ve already been! You have a job. That’s major. It might be fun for you to take some online (or elsewhere) employment quizzes and get some ideas for a career you can pursue without college. Good luck!