And then there was a poem…

Dear Annie: My girlfriend and I have been together for almost two years. We are both divorced.

I have a few insecurities. She is the greatest thing to ever happen to me, and I’m happier than I have ever been. She is my true love. I will do anything for her, which is why I’m reaching out for advice. I trust her completely, yet one of my insecurities is that I’m always asking if she is happy and if she is OK or sad.

These questions drive her nuts. I want to stop this behavior but want to understand why I do this. My kids say I do it to them, too.

Please help me. I don’t want to bury my feelings, but I don’t want to say things that drive her crazy. I do not want to lose her because of my stupidity. — Help My Insecurities

Dear Insecurities: Not to worry. Help is on the way. The first step to change is the desire to change, and you have already demonstrated that by writing this letter. The second thing to know is that what you are doing is projecting your own feelings of sadness and feeling not OK onto everyone around you who you love.

Try a morning check-in with yourself. Sit quietly for a few minutes and ask yourself, am I OK or do I feel sad? Then write down how you feel. It’s fine to feel sad, and by writing down what is making you sad, you can start to work through it. Remember that these feelings won’t last forever. Below is a poem by Jalaluddin Rumi, written more than 800 years ago, with some eternal truths.

“The Guest House”

This being human is a guest house.

Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,

some momentary awareness comes

As an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!

Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,

who violently sweep your house

empty of its furniture,

still treat each guest honorably.

He may be clearing you out

for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,

meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,

because each has been sent

as a guide from beyond.

As the poem says, picture your feelings as little guests in your house. If we are kind to those feelings and hospitable, they are glad to be acknowledged and appreciated. Seeking the help of a professional therapist will also help greatly. (c) Annie Lane @ Creators.com

Oh my gosh. How did Annie Lane come up with this:

What you are doing is projecting your own feelings of sadness and feeling not OK onto everyone around you who you love.

And the poem… oh my.

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What I’m thinking is that this guy worries about whether he’s giving a good fathering and boyfriending experience. So he constantly asks everyone if they’re happy in order to feel affirmed that he’s a good dad/boyfriend. He’s that insecure. But he can’t quit doing it, and it’s driving everyone nuts.

So many thoughts. First of all, you can be the greatest dad/boyfriend in the world, and people will still get sad. Not your fault.

Second of all, yeah, the insecurity is a major issue that this guy needs to address. I can think of a few easy fixes off the top of my head. He should say, “Okay, I’m going to quit asking, so promise you’ll let me know if anything’s ever wrong, okay?” And then he needs to trust his loved ones to indeed let him know if something’s wrong. Because what he’s seeking out is constant reassurance that he’s not doing anything wrong, that there are no communication breakdowns, and so forth. But at some point, you’ve got to trust the other person to speak up if something’s wrong. We’re not mindreaders.

I’m wondering if this guy was ever blindsided by a breakup or sudden abandonment. Like, maybe his mom just took off for no rhyme or reason when he was a kid, and it was completely unexpected; or maybe he was in a great relationship that ended for reasons that weren’t even fathomable–there one day, gone the next, no explanation.

I think Annie Lane really went off the rails with this advice. I don’t sense he’s projecting feelings of not being okay. Rather, he’s projecting insecurities about himself.

My sense is that he’ll need professional help to overcome this. If nothing else, he should try to explain what he’s working through to his girlfriend so she can be supportive and not get fed up over it while he’s working on fixing it.

It might put his girlfriend’s mind at ease, because from her perspective, she’s having a great day, and he asks, “Are you okay? You seem sad,” and she immediately worries that she has a bad case of resting bitch face, or something. Um. Ouch.

Ask Amy’s life has been too easy.

Dear Amy: Your response to “Suspicious” seemed fairly responsible and complete, but she said she had PTSD after a cheating incident 20 years ago.

I assure you, adultery does not bring on post-traumatic stress disorder!

— Upset

Upset: “Suspicious” said she believed she “had a form of PTSD” after this cheating episode. PTSD is extremely serious, but the term seems to have entered the lexicon as a shorthand to describe extreme distress. I didn’t take her wording literally. (c) Ask Amy

I originally blogged about “Suspicious” here. To recap, the letter writer seemed traumatized by her husband’s adultery when she was nineteen. Ask Amy gave some unduly harsh advice, calling her accusations against her husband “baseless”. And then Ask Amy diagnosed her with a condition (obsessive rumination disorder) that, as Ashley Leia pointed out to me, doesn’t exist. (I thought it sounded unfamiliar! It made me picture cows chewing their cud and mooing. Maybe Ask Amy regularly communes with cows?)

So now we have a letter writer who believes that the original letter writer doesn’t have PTSD. That’s belittling. Reading the original letter, she’s obviously messed up in the head by what happened. (The only other possibility is that her husband has been gaslighting her for years.) Regardless of whether the letter writer would be diagnosed with PTSD or something else entirely, saying, “adultery wouldn’t cause PTSD,” is demeaning.

There’s a fine line, because someone can, in theory, pretend to be traumatized by something that wasn’t traumatic. I’d call that fake trauma. You’re trying to get sympathy, and you can’t come up with anything that’s legitimately traumatic, so you give a sob story about something ridiculously minor.

But I can tell by reading the original letter that the letter writer is very much affected and hurt by what her husband did when she was nineteen. Her symptoms go way beyond faking it or playing the victim.

And now, Ask Amy’s doubling down on her already bad advice by saying, “Well, I don’t think she really has PTSD, but I humored her casual use of the term.” That’s nice, Ask Amy. Real nice. I’m telling you, I can tell bullshit from truth, and the original letter writer is totally messed up in the head over what happened.

PTSD is extremely serious, but the term seems to have entered the lexicon as a shorthand to describe extreme distress.

So, what the letter writer’s been experiencing for twenty years isn’t extremely serious? Hello? She can’t shake her obsessive thoughts that her husband is being unfaithful. FOR TWENTY YEARS. How much more do we need her to suffer?

PTSD isn’t all about battlefield disasters; and similarly, mental illness isn’t all about being tied up in a straightjacket while drooling and muttering incoherently. How many people out there buy into that sort of thing? Mental illness (broadly speaking, but also encompassing PTSD) can appear in the form of an everyday person. Typically, when I leave the house, I leave my straightjacket at home and I clean all the spittle off my chin. But that could just be me. [Eyeroll.]

I didn’t take her wording literally.

That’s obvious, because Ask Amy was very patronizing to the letter writer.

As for whether adultery could cause PTSD or not, I’d recommend this one book or movie (I’ve read the book but haven’t seen the movie): The Silver Linings Playbook. I think that makes my case that adultery can cause PTSD.

It’s possible that the letter writer doesn’t have PTSD. From the sounds of it, what happened when she was nineteen sent her into a tailspin. I’ve been there, where something happened that was really mind-altering, and not in a good way. I wouldn’t call it PTSD (in my case) because I don’t have flashbacks of these incidents, nor do the incidents haunt me. But just because it’s not PTSD doesn’t mean we need to mock someone for still being upset by something. Is that our attitude? “It’s not PTSD, so get over it.”

It’s a tough issue, because like I said, there’s a fine line between playing the victim versus actually wanting to get over something. In the letter writer’s case, I can tell she wants to get over it by reading her letter.

I remember a while back Sonya helped me finally, at long last, get over Nate (aka Mr. Wrong). At one point in the very emotional process, she asked if I really wanted to get over him, and I was like, “YES! Oh my gosh, yes, I really want to!!”

There you go. She must’ve feared I was just enjoying the drama for drama’s sake, but whenever I need more drama in my life, all I really have to do is visit my mother. No, I was hellbent on getting over Nate, but I was really hurting and didn’t know how to do it. But all’s well that ends well, and God bless Sonya. She got me there!! I’m so over him now, even to the point of regretting having treated him so terribly. [Shaking my head.] (Poor guy never stood a chance.)

Getting back to the letter writer. If twenty years have gone by (as in the letter writer’s case) and the event is still causing issues in her personal life (which it is), then I don’t care whether or not she has PTSD. She needs help one way or the other, and that’s the important thing. What Ask Amy did by telling her off was unhelpful, uncompassionate, and sort of cringey for me to read. I’m not sure what’s wrong with Ask Amy, but she has some bad attitudes about different issues.

Intergenerational?

So, it occurred to me that I’m not losing weight despite my iffing (intermittent fasting). And it’s not that my body’s being resistant, although it might be. It’s more like this: when I can eat (after 4:00 PM each day), I eat junk foods.

Sometimes I even find myself eating junk food for no discernible reason. For example, I’m not in the throes of desolation, nor am I hormonal, nor have I just visited my mother. And I’ve started to ask myself why I do this.

I can be quite successful in other areas of my life. When I put my mind to it, I can write a novel, for example, or several. I can build furniture. All good. Can I lose weight? Apparently not. So the question becomes why.

I consulted my psychic friend, Ash, mistress of the Tarot, and she told me that it’s not an inner saboteur thing–it’s more of an energetic issue where I’m apparently carrying my mom’s weight-issue burdens. This actually makes a lot of sense to me, and I never would’ve come up with it on my own. There are limits even to my own soul-searching abilities, even though this seems so obvious now that Ash pointed it out. She’s a genius.

Ash knows how crazy my mom is, but she didn’t know my mom has wrestled with weight issues her whole life. So now I’d like to explore that, since it might help me. My mom was teased and tormented on the school bus for being overweight to an extent that sounds as if it was cruel. She wasn’t even that overweight, based on a few photos I’ve seen, but kids can be merciless when they latch onto a mean idea.

As an adult, she… oh. Okay, we have a tie-in to my issues here. At one point, she attempted to lose weight via those drinking plans: drink a shake for breakfast, a shake for lunch, and eat a sensible dinner. I think by intuitive memory, or something, that that was when she was physically abusive to me at my grandmother’s house. Think about it: that diet would bring out anyone’s inner abusive side.

And now she has a lot of guilt. She goes on and on about it often when I talk to her. This is nothing new; it just comes and goes. “I was a horrible mommy. I just wanted what was best for you, but I have such deep regrets. So many parents want to be better than their own parents were, but human nature prevents it, and we all wind up being just as bad as our own parents.”

She’s incapable of forgiving herself, which is sad; and I probably make it worse by saying stuff like, “Yeah, that’s exactly why I never had kids.” (This is true. Very true. I don’t want to raise any kids whom I could abuse or otherwise mistreat. Growing up, I always felt as if my mom was cursed with kids, because she felt guilty about being abusive, and if she’d never had kids she could’ve circumvented that issue entirely.) (There are other reasons why I don’t want kids, like the fact that I often need eleven hours of sleep. Without kids, that’s not a huge deal. With kids? Lord have mercy. From what I’ve been told, they expect you to wake up at a normal hour, if not sooner.)

So there could be some interplay between her abuse of me and her eating issues, and now my eating issues. With her, weight issues have always been traumatic: looking at herself in the mirror, calling herself TOFU (tired, old, fat, and ugly), and sneak-bingeing when no one’s watching (which I’ve intuited over the years but never witnessed). I myself don’t have that trauma. I don’t mind looking in the mirror, and in fact, I’m prone to making silly faces at myself, especially while flushing the toilet. (Just try it sometime when you’re in a bad mood and report back. It works.)

I don’t eat in secret. I’m more like, “Pass the cookies! And where are my chips? Who ate my rainbow cake? Was it you?”

So now I’m wondering if I’m carrying the weight of her issues without needing to. I have my own problems.

Ever since my sister threw my mom down the stairs in a violent rage my mom fell down the stairs under mysterious circumstances, her lengthy period of unconsciousness and hospitalization enabled her to lose all the weight. Now, these days, for the first time since I’ve known her, she has a great and healthy weight.

But do you know what’s really sad? She has a bubble-butt. Thank God I didn’t inherit it, but I feel geniune sorrow for any woman who has that body part. I’m not talking about having a sexy behind like Kim Kardashian’s. You know what I mean–the bubble-butt. It’s just… unfortunate. And despite her massive weight loss and loose-hanging clothing, the bubble-butt lives on. I just feel bad for her. I always have. There probably aren’t even surgical options for it because it’s a matter of bone structure.

She put me in ballet so that I’d avoid a lifetime of weight issues. It worked. I was never overweight until maybe ten years ago. The whole time I was growing up, I was a stick person, but ironically I didn’t know it. I thought I was overweight simply because the mirrors of the ballet studio showed that I had a normal figure (albeit no bubble-butt) whereas all but two of the other girls were sticks.

But now I have weight issues, and I’ve been learning all these things like how to do iffing, but it’s not helping. At the heart of the matter, I must feel like I’m supposed to be burdened with this. My mom exudes that energy whenever I’m around her, like, suffering is a necessary part of life, and we can never be happy, and we must tolerate all bad things because they’ll keep happening, or something. She’s the sort of person who needs something(s) to worry about, or else she’ll fly into a panic.

Like, for seriousness. “Wait, you mean life’s going well? Oh God, how could that happen? Fire, plague, pestilence! Please tell me that something’s not totally safe! There must be something worrisome that I can latch onto! Is your front door unlocked? Maybe you left your keys in the car? Isn’t your dog showing any signs of debilitating illness? Please, give me something!” She believes that if everything’s peachy, then she’s painting a bullseye on herself and tempting the universe to target her with horrific acts.

Ash told me a ritual I can do in two days during the new moon. I’ll try to do it as best as I can. It’s a releasing thing. I need to get my mom’s energy off of me, and yes, her energy feels horrible. There aren’t adequate words to describe it, but imagine if you were coated with honey, or something, and the honey made you feel vulnerable and exposed and distraught. Yuck.

In other news, I seem to have given up on my NaNovel for now. I’ve got too much other stuff going on. I might keep writing it but at a slower pace, or later. Right now, I’m still captivated by my memoir, I’m doing all this outdoor painting for my dad, and I’m trying to prioritize reading my self-help books as well as the memoir by Dominique Moceanu. I like it so far, but I’m only on chapter 2. Working outside on the painting and scraping is exhausting. Like just totally exhausting.

I’m doing the 250-word fiction competition in a week. I don’t know how I feel about it, but I’m still glad (and will be for a very long time) that I’m off the forum. Vicious attacks like that, and then people chiming in to say how much they enjoy it, are the sort of things that I can’t live with. But where does that leave me with the contests? In the case of the 250-word event, I’d already registered. I’m eager to compete, but there won’t be any community involved. But at the same time, I’m so fired up to win one of these events, because there’s a long list of forumites who I want to shove it to. A fire has been lit within me. They goin’ down, ’cause they can’t outwrite me. I’m bringing my A-game, and they’d better fear it.

And I’ll especially be bringing my A-game if I make it to the finals of flash fiction. (That’ll be announced in early December.) If I make it to the finals, I’ll feel like karma’s on my side. And then I’ll write the greatest story EVER. I’ve got this. Just have to make it to the finals.

Blip on the Radar.

I’m sort of sleepy and demoralized, but I actually feel quite good. I realized that the guy I liked, who I’ll refer to as Blip on the Radar, didn’t trigger my feelings of self-hatred and my belief that I deserved to be abused as a child, because I find value in myself now and don’t believe I deserved to be abused. That’s major. And the prize is that I can now be rejected by guys without being triggered. Hurrah! (Like, hey, you just won a sump tank! Yes!)

It was a bad night for Blip on the Radar. Not only did I get (sort of) mad at him, but the results came in for his current contest, and he got zero points. That bites.

It was a better night for me. I left the house in the cold and wandered all around the neighborhood in search of these cookies. I started at the local drugstore, and they didn’t have any, so I walked down to the grocery store, went past it, and checked out the farther-away drugstore, but they were closed.

I dimly wondered why I was wearing a T-shirt and thin pants in such cold weather, and the skin on my hands and arms started to get irritated by the cold, but I didn’t really care. Then I circled back to the grocery store and looked for the cookies, but they didn’t have them. About to give up, I checked the cookies aisle one last time, and my eyes alit on these cookies that I believe are the ones Emilia got me hooked on. (Shout out!) I was like, “Oh wow, they sell these here in America?!” and I bought some. (They cost way less at the store than on Amazon. I paid $3.50.)

Then I walked home and ate the cookies. I gave a few to my dad, too, and he liked them. They’re freakin’ good cookies.

So yeah, I’ve conquered my trigger issue–well, that part of it. I’m still triggered by other things, like actually witnessing physical abuse, obviously. That’s harder to cure, I’m sure.

So, yeah, Blip on the Radar is gone. I’d miss him, but he offered nothing of worth to me. It’s interesting that I’m not devaluing myself right now, but I’m still devaluing the guy who rejected me. I’m completely fine with that. He deserves to be devalued. (To be clear, I haven’t sent him any emails other than the one I printed in my last blog post. So I’m just devaluing him, well, here.) I suppose perfect maturity would look like, “Well, we weren’t a good fit for each other, and we didn’t have much to offer each other as friends, so it was a bad match,” but I’m not even striving for such maturity. Call me horrible, but I’m glad that he got zero points in his current contest. He sort of had it coming. Boom.

No cookies for Blip on the Radar. I hope he has other good friends, because if not, I’m not sure why he saw me as disposable. Oh well, it’s his problem now.

Not at my level.

Do you all know that guy I liked who lives in Thailand? Well, he just dumped me, although I don’t think that’s the right word. I finally asked him if he wanted to be friends with me, because I was confused by his sporadic communication and his tendency to answer my messages without ever initiating any messages.

He wrote:

Hi Meg.
It is not that I don’t want to be friends, I am just not the kind of person that gets really friendly with people that I only know from the internet. I don’t want to hurt your feelings. I am really only interested in sharing things to do with the contests at this point. I don’t think I can be what you seem to be looking for at this time.
I hope you too have a great day.

How lovely. There was never anything between us, and I’m including friendship in that. It was all in my head.

It is not that I don’t want to be friends.

Yeah, it is.

I am just not the kind of person that gets really friendly with people that I only know from the internet.

Baloney. I’d take offense at his dissing of internet relationships, but I suspect it’s untrue. It’s just a nice cover story. Whatever the truth is, it would be hurtful, so he’s just blaming the internet. I wasn’t born yesterday… although yesterday was my half-birthday. Huh. Go figure.

I don’t want to hurt your feelings.

I guess I appreciate that, but… my feelings are hurt.

I am really only interested in sharing things to do with the contests at this point.

Well, we don’t have to share that stuff anymore, either.

I hope you too have a great day.

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Ugh. Dorothy Zbornak really says it best.

I guess I appreciate his honesty, but I’m upset for obvious reasons. I never understand why some people don’t want to be my friends. I think I’m a great friend. Maybe he’s not a great friend, so he’s not at my level…? Is that possible? I take friendship very seriously. It’s like I was writing about in a recent blog post where my previous best friend was always getting hit on by catfishers, and I’d try to scare them off behind her back. That’s the sort of person I am.

(I just told off another one last night, and this guy sent me a friend request because they’ve got my number now. They’re ballsy, but I always tell them upfront that they’re not getting a dime. Then I report them to FB.)

Anyway, I wrote back to him and said:

Oh! No, that’s quite all right. You don’t have to share anything about the contest, either, if you don’t want to. And we can forget about that beta reading stuff, too. I only beta read for friends. You understand. I didn’t necessarily want you to share anything with me, but some appreciation would’ve been nice. You have to be a friend to yourself before you can be a friend to anyone else, and you aren’t there yet. Good luck with that. 🙂

He got told. I’m of two minds about this. On the one hand, he was honest and courteous, and here I am shooting him down anyway. On the other hand, he didn’t think I was good enough for him, and I’m not okay with that. I’m never really okay with that. It baffles me.

He might’ve sensed that I wanted to be more than friends, but that wasn’t a huge deal. I’m happy being friends. It is what it is. But to not even appreciate my friendship is… I don’t know… wrong, somehow. It feels right, like he was never good enough for me and I couldn’t see it. I see it now. My intuition tells me he has issues that he doesn’t feel like overcoming. I’m always trying to encourage healing and wholeness, and some people get freaked by that. I sort of wish, though, that he’d never led me on into believing we were friends. I hate it that people do that. When you have to ask if you’re friends, that’s usually a bad sign, and this was no exception.

It kind of makes me sad. But he’s just not at my level.

The day the relationship died.

Dear Annie: My boyfriend is 48, and I am 39, and we have been together since May 2015. We haven’t made too many public appearances since being together. I have two children, a 12-year-old boy and a 15-year-old girl. They love him dearly. He has one child, a 14-year-old girl, who barely communicates with my children and me.

When we met, he was six months out of a two-year relationship, and I was eight months out of a 12-year marriage. We met on a dating site. Neither of us was looking for a relationship at the time. My children met him in June 2015, and I met his daughter the next month. My kids and I are adventurous and like the outdoors. He and his daughter, not so much. He works in engineering, and I’m a nurse. We are similar and opposite at the same time. I love action, comedy and dramas, and he likes zombie movies and action.

His daughter’s mom and I have had an altercation. The cause of the disagreement was that she wanted to ruin our relationship, and he did nothing about it. I then had to step in after being frustrated. We bumped heads quite a bit, due to his daughter’s mom. She ended up living across the street from us after we moved in together.

My concern is that we are not talking about marriage or even an engagement. More than a year after buying a home and we’re still playing house, without moving forward. I have brought this to his attention because I want to know what’s next. Each time I bring it up, I feel as if he blows me off and does not want to talk about it. He always says, “When I marry someone, I want to make sure they’re the one.”

I have mentioned marriage at least five times, and now I’m ready to give up on this relationship. He always wants me to tell people that we have three children, but he’s not changing the status legally. I don’t think that I should wait on him to make up his mind to decide our future, as it’s been over five years.

I think it has a lot to do with his money; maybe he thinks I’m after it or something. That isn’t the case. The proof is that I would have stayed with my ex-husband. I feel as if I’m wasting my time and living a lie. The lie is that he’ll probably never marry me and eventually I’ll move on. I have asked him to see a therapist with me over and over, but it hasn’t happened yet. I was going to pick a therapist, but he said that he would, but again, nothing. — Tired of Waiting

Dear Tired: Divorce can be traumatic. It sounds like your boyfriend might need time before he is ready to tie the knot. His comment about marrying “the one” is hurtful. You might be correct that it’s time to move on. However, before making a decision, you need to tell him all that you’re feeling. People are not mind readers, and so much of a healthy relationship is communication. Rather than waiting for him to decide what he wants, decide what you want and then tell him exactly what that is.

Therapy is doubly important because the lives of three children are at stake. His ex-wife living across the street is something that a professional should be able to help you and your boyfriend sort out. (c) Annie Lane @ Creators.com

Medic, we’ve got incoming. There’s been a train wreck. 

I can’t even clarify if I’m talking about the letter or Annie Lane’s advice in my above paragraph. Both? Double train wreck!

We met on a dating site. Neither of us was looking for a relationship at the time.

So… then why the dating site?

[…] we have been together since May 2015. […] My children met him in June 2015, and I met his daughter the next month.

So… this relationship dragged the kids onto the fast track?

My kids and I are adventurous and like the outdoors. He and his daughter, not so much. He works in engineering, and I’m a nurse. We are similar and opposite at the same time. I love action, comedy and dramas, and he likes zombie movies and action.

These details really don’t matter. Whether or not you like the outdoors or prefer comedies isn’t crucial to a relationship succeeding. Not everyone involved needs to go on every camping trip or watch every movie.

His daughter’s mom and I have had an altercation. The cause of the disagreement was that she wanted to ruin our relationship, and he did nothing about it. I then had to step in after being frustrated.

Really? You went there? Called her out, did you? I’m sure that fixed everything.

We bumped heads quite a bit, due to his daughter’s mom. She ended up living across the street from us after we moved in together.

Uh… This is concerning. She’s living across the street? I hate to be a Negative Nancy, but is it possible she’s still got something going on (to whatever extent) with her ex? And look at how it might tie into this comment:

We have been together since May 2015. We haven’t made too many public appearances since being together.

Oh my. I get that they’re living together, but her boyfriend is still hiding the relationship from the public eye, while one of his exes is living across the street? Yikes. This is epically disastrous.

Each time I bring [marriage] up, I feel as if he blows me off and does not want to talk about it. He always says, “When I marry someone, I want to make sure they’re the one.”

Okay. Bad news. Are you sitting down, letter writer? I don’t even want to type it.

I don’t think that I should wait on him to make up his mind to decide our future, as it’s been over five years.

I have to agree.

I think it has a lot to do with his money; maybe he thinks I’m after it or something.

No… I don’t think that’s it… I wish that were it…

So now we have Annie Lane’s brilliant advice:

Divorce can be traumatic. It sounds like your boyfriend might need time before he is ready to tie the knot.

First of all, the boyfriend didn’t get divorced from his last long-term relationship. The letter writer told us that he was six months out of a two-year relationship, with no specificity that it was a marriage/divorce situation.

Second of all, divorce can be very upsetting, but for us to believe that the boyfriend “needs more time” would be for us to sit back and allow him to keep calling all the shots. He doesn’t want to get married. This is fact, and the letter writer needs to accept it, not hope that there’s a fixable reason for it like divorce trauma.

You might be correct that it’s time to move on. However, before making a decision, you need to tell him all that you’re feeling. People are not mind readers.

True about mind-reading, but she has told him how she feels countless times. I’d say that at this point, they need to discuss how to arrange the breakup in a logistical sense–money, property, etc., etc. If she’s not represented fairly (e.g., if her name’s not on the lease but she’s been paying the mortgage), then she should consult a lawyer before dropping the breakup bombshell to this guy.

Therapy is doubly important because the lives of three children are at stake. His ex-wife living across the street is something that a professional should be able to help you and your boyfriend sort out.

It’s kind of funny, because I’m picturing your average therapist hearing about how the ex lives across the street and politely murmuring, “I’m not taking on any new clients at this time. Can I refer you to a colleague?”

But anyway, therapy is a stupid suggestion unless the letter writer can use it on her own to make the decision to leave this guy and to have therapeutic support in doing so. But here we have Annie Lane saying how helpful it would be for both of them to see a therapist, and the letter writer’s boyfriend refuses to go to therapy.

An epic fail for Annie Lane… and I hope this letter writer takes legal and decisive action soon. This relationship is dead. If a man were to tell me under these circumstances that he wanted to make sure he was marrying the right person, I’d be crushed. That alone… yeah.

Go deeper!

DEAR ABBY: I met a wonderful man who was 14 years older who treated me like I have never been treated before. He opened doors for me, took me on actual dates, paid for things, met all my friends and family, and took me on my first vacation at 39 years old. He was very cuddly and such a gentleman. He even introduced himself as my “boyfriend” to some of my friends.

Seven months ago, we had our first argument and he asked me how I felt about him. I said I loved him and he returned with, “I like you a lot.” He said he didn’t feel as strongly as I did and doesn’t want a relationship.

When we broke up shortly after, he said he wanted to be friends. But he still called and invited me over for sex regularly for the next six weeks. I was very hurt, but I finally cut ties because emotionally I couldn’t handle it. He still wants to be friends but I cannot. He still will do anything for me and wants the benefits of being together without the labels.

It has been more than two months and I’m heartbroken. If I call him, he answers and talks like we are the best of friends, and it kills me. How do I get over him? Is it worth trying to see if we will work out? — BROKEN IN UTAH

DEAR BROKEN: This “gentleman” made clear that his feelings for you are not as strong as those you have for him. You are involved with someone who is honest about wanting nothing more than the status quo. If you’re willing to settle for being only FWB — which, I suspect, you have too much intelligence and self-esteem to do — go along with what he’s offering (which is very little). But if you do, know full well that it won’t “work out.” (c) DEAR ABBY

Wow, I feel sorry for her. This guy has an obvious appeal that I think would lure in anyone. He seems incredibly charming. And yet he’s okay using the letter writer for sex with the full knowledge that she’s in love with him and hurting from the lack of commitment between the two of them.

It can be so hard to recognize when someone’s not so great in the face of positive evidence and no negative evidence. In other words, there’s nothing wrong with him on the surface: he doesn’t deal drugs, he’s not aggressive and hostile, he isn’t overly attached to his mother, etc., etc. In the lack of anything like that, the only “bad” thing to be seen is that he’s continuing to lead the letter writer on for his own benefit.

But the letter writer can’t see that. She keeps hoping things will change, and then everything will be different. And she might look back at that argument from seven months ago and feel guilty or ashamed, as if this is all her fault. I sure hope that’s not the case.

I think the problem with this guy is that he’s shallow and not very empathetic. Thus, he’s able to turn on the charm and lovebomb this letter writer without realizing or caring that she’s hurting deeply. The letter writer needs to dump him, quit contacting him, and seek out someone with more depth and awareness. As charming as this guy is, he’s a flake. And that’s my best, most favorable appraisal of him. It’s all downhill from there, any which way you look at it.

I’ve known guys like this. The way to get over him is to realize that he’s functioning on a very surface level, very shallow and basic. To the letter writer, sex is soulful and meaningful and everything, and to this guy, it’s a good, fun romp in bed. She needs to quit having sex with him before she sells her soul to the devil, which might cheapen the meaning of sex for her. This guy isn’t worth her time.

All the guys like this who I used to know appeared to be very soulful but in reality were quite shallow. And I always gave them the benefit of the doubt and assumed they were deep, because I couldn’t imagine that such shallow people could really exist. They exist, people, they exist.

It’s a pitfall, but if you encounter a great-looking man who’s charming, kind, considerate, and giving, you’ve got to stop and ask yourself if he has any depth. Now, here’s the hard thing. If he comments to you something like this: “My parents moved when I was in eighth grade, and I was the new kid in school. It was hard making new friends,” and then makes a sad expression, then you must fight off the urge to assume he has depth.

That pull to think, oh, he’s so wise and connected and knowledgeable needs to be squelched. Because I guarantee you that he wound up making new friends with his good looks and his charm by lunch period of the first day of school. He hasn’t forgotten it because it sounds like the sort of thing–on the surface of it–that can merit pity. Don’t fall down that trap. But if you find yourself weakening, then just remind yourself of the hardest thing you’ve ever gone through, and then compare it to making new friends at school.

And then, when you find yourself thinking, yeah, but I was friendless that one time, and it hurt, too, and I understand, then remind yourself that this guy didn’t give any specifics about making friends. He just said it was hard to be the new guy. He wasn’t talking about the time your best friend betrayed you, made everyone in your class gang up on you, shared nude photos of you with all the guys, and trashed your reputation.

My point is that those of us who have depth of awareness and experience shouldn’t be slumming it with shallow people who have easy lives and surface awareness. Let them do their own thing. The rest of us are meant for greatness.

Updates from Meg world!

Hi, everyone!! Here’s the latest. It’s about 2:00 PM here on a gorgeous fall day that feels like summertime. How odd! It’s November, for crying out loud. But I’ve been using the nice weather to do some exterior painting and scraping for my dad. I’ve done the area around the windows, but now I’m struggling with the area under the awning. It’s directly overhead (parallel to the ground) when I’m standing out there, and old paint keeps scraping off and scraping off, and it’s like there’s an endless supply of it. I can only scrape for around ten minutes tops without getting tired and coming back inside. I have no clue if this job will ever get done! 😮 And now I’m covered with paint chips. I probably look like I have uncontrollable dandruff.

And there’s a bit of a time crunch, too. My dad wants me to get done before winter comes so he can employ some roofers to give us a new roof soon. He sort of sprung this on me at the last minute, around a week before November started (with my NaNoWriMo project looming). Ugh. But he’s paying me, so hopefully it’ll all work out. I’m sure it will.

In good news, I’ve been sticking to a fast for the most part. My “rule” is to not eat prior to 4:00 PM each day. Sometimes I break down and eat at 3:00 or sometime after 3:00, but I’m fine with that as long as I’m trying my hardest. Yesterday I woke up early, and it was hard to go that long. Today, I slept late, so I’m sure I can make it until 4:00. It’s a matter of maximizing whatever happens on a given day.

I’ve been eating too much low-key snack food (granola bars, Lara bars, breakfast cereal, etc.) instead of meals, though, so I’m still hungry at 2:00 AM, which is around when I’ve been falling asleep. It occurs to me that if I force myself to eat some Kodiak waffles (healthy and filling and protein-fortified) when I quit the fast at 4:00 PM, then I’ll be able to turn off the snacking several hours before 2:00 AM, and that will extend my fasting hours, which would be great. This falls under the chapter of my iffing (intermittent fasting) book called “Tweak it ’til you make it.”

And I’ve been doing this since Halloween, so go me! (For me, it can often be hard to following dieting rules for one whole day, much less ten whole days!)

I haven’t been trying to eat healthier beyond just eating a healthy dinner of waffles or the equivalent, and then keeping my snacking low-key rather than eating hardcore junk food (cake, ice cream, massive chip bingeing, et al). And in that gray area of in-between we have cookies, which I try to limit my daily intake of. (That link goes to some Christmas cookies that I absolutely have to eat every year. So yum.)

I think this overall plan could work for me, because nothing I’m eating is too unhealthy, I have excellent blood sugar levels due to many factors, and it doesn’t feel that horrid to wait until 4:00 on most days. I’ve realized with some surprise that my body doesn’t need food prior to then. Maybe it never has needed food prior to then, although I’m sure my needs would be different if, say, I had a job and didn’t want my stomach to rumble at work, etc., etc. I hope I’m losing some weight. I’ll weigh myself in December and find out.

I miss the days of working at the local reading center. This was from 2001 to 2004. Back then, there was a Chinese restaurant right across the street from us. Literally, right across the street. I can see the building straight out my window. I’d go there and get a side order of fried rice to start my day before teaching the kids. That was a darned fine lunch. Maybe not too healthy, though, but now I make brown rice in the microwave and stir in a tablespoon or so of orange sauce. It’s not quite the same, but I like it. This meal also goes great with some added precooked seasoned grilled chicken strips.

So, eating has become something I look forward to each day, but then when I eat, it feels anticlimactic. Like, that’s what I was looking forward to? It’s not that great. But oh well!

Today I need to keep scraping and write 2,000 words for my novel. I’m a bit behind but can catch up if I try hard enough.

What lies beneath.

DEAR ABBY: I’ve been dating “Karl” for five years. We live separately. I thought our relationship was pretty solid until a recent health scare. A few days ago, I had a severe allergic reaction to something I ate at dinner. When I realized how serious it was, I immediately rushed to the ER. (I had taken an antihistamine instead of calling the paramedics.)

I quickly messaged Karl that I was having a medical emergency. The doctor said these reactions can be fatal and will become increasingly worse after each reaction. Karl was working and said he couldn’t leave work. He didn’t make sure I got home safely or even come to the house later to check on me. When I asked him for help picking up the many meds I needed the next morning, he again said he was working. I was furious, and did it myself although I shouldn’t have been driving. I know I’m emotional due to meds and trauma. Am I overreacting? — DISAPPOINTED IN OREGON

DEAR DISAPPOINTED: You are NOT overreacting. You were fortunate to have made it to the emergency room because you could have died on the way. Karl’s reaction to your crisis was incredibly callous. Please think very carefully about a future with this person because he isn’t going to change. Start compiling a list of people you can depend upon should the need arise. Karl definitely isn’t one. If you were counting on him to be your life partner, change your mind now because, if you don’t, it could cost you your life. (c) DEAR ABBY

So many things come to mind. She knew that she had food allergies, and she probably knew specifically which foods to avoid. Instead of doing that, she had a reaction and took an antihistamine to counter it. The reaction was too severe for the antihistamine to work, so she went to the ER. This is all following from logic. I, who have no food allergies, would never know to take an antihistamine. Much less would I know the symptoms of a food allergy. So I’d wager anything that the letter writer was playing fast and loose with her health. Too, if she’d eaten the allergen accidentally (like if her meal had nuts and she didn’t know it), she would’ve included that info in the letter. Logic here is telling me that she was negligent and irresponsible to eat what she did.

That said, I’m not trying to blame her. We all need wake-up calls about our health from time to time. But going forward, she needs to quit relying on antihistamines and just accept that she can’t eat whichever food it is. You’d think that would be a no-brainer. I’d wager that anaphylactic shock (which I’ve never experienced or witnessed) isn’t something to mess around with.

And she drove herself to the ER? That was risky, but I’m glad it ended well. But at that point, I’d guess it quit being a medical emergency. From what I understand, the doctor gives you something like an Epipen(?) and then your symptoms reside. I.e., if you’re still alive and kicking at that point, the danger has passed unless or until you ingest the forbidden food again. So it was a medical emergency, but it was readily treated. Karl wasn’t worried that she’d die at that point.

Where he should’ve stepped it up is in the area of emotional support. Facts aside, yeah, she was going to live, but in her mind, she was a mess. How stressful and overwhelming! I’m in her corner there. It’s a lot to deal with. No one goes to the ER without becoming distraught and overwhelmed and exhausted. It’s not possible. But she didn’t articulate it right to us (the readers) or to Karl. She made it seem like she needed Karl to rush to the hospital because she could drop dead any moment. In reality, what she needed was emotional support, which wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) require Karl to leave work.

So now we’re looking at the fact that he didn’t make sure she got home safely, and he didn’t stop by to check on her. That does seem pretty damning. But it’s possible that Karl was tired and depleted. It’s hard to know. He’d spent the day being pestered to leave work, which he wasn’t comfortable doing.

When I asked him for help picking up the many meds I needed the next morning, he again said he was working.

Not to interject more logic into this, but is it possible he said he was working because… he was working? I’m speaking literally here. Like, what if she said, “Can you get my meds for me?” and his response was, “I’m already at work! No way is my boss going to let me leave.”

Because the letter writer makes it sound like Karl wouldn’t even go get the drugs before going to work, but we can’t be certain that that’s what happened. She might have genuinely expected him to leave work, not mentioning her need for meds before he was at his job, which would have put him in a bind if he didn’t feel his employer would be okay with it.

I was furious, and did it myself although I shouldn’t have been driving.

Uber? Lyft? Delivery? Walking? Horseback? Space shuttle? Covered wagon?

Okay, I’ll stop now. I’m not judging her for driving when she shouldn’t have been driving. I’ve been there, and I’m not proud of it. I’m sure we all have at one point or another. I’m judging her for this: she expected her boyfriend to leave work to get her meds for her. We don’t know how his employer would react, and I think it’s an unrealistic expectation for her to put on his shoulders.

I know I’m emotional due to meds and trauma.

I wouldn’t call this trauma. On my scale of trauma, if this happened to me personally, I’d call it a major stressor that sucked my energy away and left me in need of several days to recover, but I wouldn’t call it traumatic. I can list several worse things that have happened in my life that I would call traumatic. This wouldn’t make the cut.

Am I overreacting?

Yes. The letter she wrote needs to be read carefully, because the truth is hiding between the lines. Karl probably did offer emotional support, but she’s discounting it because she wanted fanfare and total subservient devotion. Like, “Boss, my girlfriend’s in the hospital! I have to take off work right now and ride in like a knight in shiny armor! You don’t mind, right? I’d do anything for love!”

Barf. I’m just not in the letter writer’s corner here.

I like Dear Abby’s advice, because here’s the thing: it’s not what the letter writer wanted to hear. She wanted to be told, “Yes, you’re right, and Karl should grovel and beg and make it up to you.” Instead, she was told, “You should seriously ditch Karl.” And of course, the letter writer doesn’t want to ditch Karl. She wants to make him kiss up to her and grovel. So thank you, Dear Abby, for taking the side of just ending the relationship! Hey, it works from where I’m sitting.

The lost vacation.

As I said in my last blog post, discovering that gymnast Dominique Moceanu was beaten by her dad when she didn’t train hard enough was triggering to me. This happened before bed last night, and the issue just came up again. But by “the issue”, I mean something stranger than usual. I got close to remembering something.

We all know I was physically and emotionally abused. Last night, when I was reading about Moceanu, I felt close to recapturing a forgotten memory. I’ve always sensed that I was beaten more than the two times I recall. I just have a strong sense that there’s at least one, maybe more than one, other incident(s) that I’ve completely blocked out. I often feel a certain terror that carries only vague underpinnings of being tied to any given event. There’s no better way to describe it.

As precedence to show that I have blocked memories, I clearly remember the time my mom had me arrested. However, my dad’s convinced he had to bail me out at least once. The only time I remember being arrested, my mom bailed me out. (I should’ve just stayed in my cell, ya know?) So there must be blocked memories of other ridiculously needless arrests when my dad came to save me. (Do I seem like a criminal? Only to my mother, people.)

I was looking over my memoir earlier and delineating chapters when something strange happened. I was reading about ballet, which I quit before high school because I was never promoted to the next level. And I mentioned rather randomly in my memoir that at one point near the end of seventh grade, I could almost do the splits, which would never happen again in my life. Not even close. I have no flexibility at all, but I came so tantalizingly close that one summer.

And then I remembered what happened: I quit going to ballet for several weeks that summer–the summer after seventh grade–because we went on another family vacation to the beach. When I went back to ballet after vacay, my closeness to doing the splits was lost.

I have no memory of this vacation, but I sense it’s inside me somewhere. I know we went to the beach after fourth grade. I have lots of memories of that week, and it was disastrous times a million. But there was another trip to the beach when I was growing up, and it’s mostly a blank in my mind. What’s hiding there? Broadly speaking, vacations don’t bring out the best in my mother.

How could I block out a whole vacation? How strange. The more I think about it, the more I’m sure of it. I’m seeing those flat round shells, whatever they’re called, and T-shirts we bought. And I’m seeing myself as a teenager, not a fourth-grader.

Very odd. The lost vacation.

Ohhhh, remembering. My mom deloused my sister. (Yes, you read that right.) She had Ellen’s hair cut off that week at a salon, and then she used lice shampoo on her. Ellen wasn’t too bothered by it all. The rest of us were upset that she’d potentially given us lice.

Nothing more traumatizing than that is coming up. Hmm…. how curious. This just goes to show that memories can come back.

Total weirdness.

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