Incapable of independent thought.

Dear Amy: My mother-in-law reaches out to me only when she is concerned about her son. He’s an only child, and she constantly worries about him.

She calls or texts me to ask how he’s eating, exercising, his latest bowel movements … you get my drift.

I want to think the best of her. I believe she is trying to be a good mom by being involved. However, it also makes me feel like she sees me as her spy or a vehicle to “fix” whatever is worrying her about him.

He’s not eating healthy? It’s up to me to force-feed him his greens.

He’s not exercising enough? I should dance sexy for him (her words, not mine) to get him moving.

I’m not my husband’s “fixer.” He’s a grown man, and it’s up to him to eat and exercise well.

It’s also a little hurtful that she takes no interest in me other than a, “Hello, how have you been? Now, let’s talk about my son.”

I know it’s wrong, but lately I have been ignoring the inappropriate suggestions and delaying answering her other messages. How should I handle this?

— Not My Husband’s Fixer

Not My Husband’s Fixer: Is your husband in a coma? Has he fallen down a well?

I ask because, unless he is voiceless, he should be talking to his mother about his toileting habits.

I assume your husband is ducking his mother because he is exhausted by these intrusive questions. He’s likely dealt with them for a lifetime. If you asked him, “How do you cope with these questions?” He’d probably answer, “I ignore her, or tell her to talk to you.”

This is a boundary issue. If your husband is in fact alive and nearby, you can tell your mother-in-law, “He’s right here. Let me hand him the phone,” or “I’ll make sure he knows you called,” or simply, “That’s pretty personal. You should ask him!”

Also say, “I know how much you care about how ‘Paul’ is doing, but he’s basically great. He and I are happy, but I’m not really in charge of him.” Then you pivot to ask her a question about how she is and what she is up to. And yes, ignore or delay answering texts you don’t want to answer.

Your mother-in-law will always care more for her son than for you. It’s doubtful that she will ever develop a sincere interest in your life. She may always be an annoying nudge. Be kind, be firm and practice establishing healthy boundaries, and you won’t dread hearing from her quite so much. (c) Ask Amy

What the freakin’ heck?! Is this letter writer a doormat? How can she possibly think it’s unvirtuous of her to blow off her mother-in-law by ignoring her calls? It’s not a virtue to scheme about your own husband behind his back! That’s not virtuous! False virtue alert! False virtue alert! False virtue alert!

In fact, if the husband’s in the dark about this, he might be horrified or furious upon discovery of his wife’s betrayal. I call her actions a betrayal because if anyone went behind my back to get intel on my bowel movements (?!?!), I’d be irate. I guess it might be okay if the person was a nurse at the hospital. Otherwise, um, no. Just no.

It’s not the letter writer’s fault that she got roped into this, but at the first sign of discomfort, she should’ve recoiled and just quit participating altogether. It’s gone on too long, and she’s become complicit in it.

But it’s never too late to stop. She needs to fill her husband in on what’s been happening. Ask Amy seemed to assume that the husband’s in silent agreement with the arrangement, but in my visualization, he has no clue. (But it’s open to interpretation.)

I want to think the best of her. I believe she is trying to be a good mom by being involved.

No, no, no. More false virtue. It’s not virtuous to see the best in someone. It’s virtuous to master discernment and to see people as they are. Then, you can take that info and decide not to sell out your unsuspecting husband to his meddling mother.

And the mother-in-law most certainly is not “trying to be a good mom by being involved.” Are you kidding me? She’s trying to be a control freak.

However, it also makes me feel like she sees me as her spy or a vehicle to “fix” whatever is worrying her about him.

Yeah, but that’s just the cover issue. What the mother-in-law really wants to accomplish here is to insinuate herself into her son’s marriage and destroy it. She’s already turned it into a desecration if we assume the husband doesn’t know what’s going on. Her knowing about her son’s bowel habits doesn’t serve any useful “fixing someone” purpose. What it does is infantilize and humiliate the letter writer’s husband. Because, let’s face it: the truth about this will come out.

If the truth’s already out–if the husband knows all about his mother’s meddling ways–then it still functions to keep him under the mother-in-law’s thumb. I would never let anyone in my life discuss my bowel habits behind my back. (Again, except maybe a nurse at the hospital.) That’s degrading and dehumanizing and mortifying.

I don’t want to sound critical of this letter writer, but her level of naïvete needs to be radically altered. Her mother-in-law is forcing her to dance seductively for her husband so he’ll get some exercise (?!?!), and yet she thinks the mother-in-law just wants to be an involved, loving mother? Uh-huh. Let’s use our critical thinking skills here, please.

Ask Amy sees this as a boundaries issue. I don’t exactly disagree with that, but that makes it sound almost innocent. People can cross boundaries on accident at times, like, “Oops. Sorry if that was TMI!” What’s going on here is manipulation, possible deception, infantilization of a grown man, meddling, and a lack of priorities on the letter writer’s part.

But I guess Ask Amy believes that framing it as a boundaries issue might help the letter writer take action. That makes sense. Let’s face it–if the letter writer were to read my blog post, she might feel bad about herself. I don’t really want that to happen, but still… her husband deserves a lot more privacy than he’s getting. No one should be announcing his bowel movements to his mother. Ick.

And then we have Ask Amy’s brilliant advice:

Is your husband in a coma? Has he fallen down a well?

I ask because, unless he is voiceless, he should be talking to his mother about his toileting habits.

Yeah, um… no. He shouldn’t be talking to his mother about his toileting habits. NO ONE should be talking to her about it.

I just don’t get the whole concept that being compliant and cooperative is virtuous! There are times when compliance and cooperation are virtues, but this isn’t one of those times. Same with seeing the best in people. This letter writer needs to engage in some deep thought so she can question her values. She needs to challenge her thought patterns in a way that will bring more mastery of critical thought, discernment, and a deeper awareness of virtue.

It’s also a little hurtful that she takes no interest in me other than a, “Hello, how have you been? Now, let’s talk about my son.”

That’s part of the problem. I suspect the letter writer wants to be friends with her mother-in-law. Is the letter writer lonely? Is she in need of friends? If so, she should find some elsewhere, because her mother-in-law is not friendworthy. Hello.

A starting point for the letter writer might be to start questioning people’s behavior rather than their motives. I.e., the letter writer ascribes positive motives to her mother-in-law, so maybe the letter writer should examine the mother-in-law’s actions on their face rather than focusing on her motives. For example, like I said, there’s nothing good about knowing someone’s bowel habits. No good can come from it. The letter writer should follow that logically with, “Then why does my mother-in-law ask me about it?” If the letter writer’s out there, I hope she considers this.

Mesmerizing Meg’s open for business today!

Dear Mesmerizing Meg: Was I rude for not saying thank you?

Last school year, before COVID shut our school down, my math teacher helped me pass his class. Our school is semesterized, so courses ended in January for the term. I was at a 55 overall and needed a 60 to pass the course. On the last day of the term, my teacher allowed me to redo assignments so I could get my grade up to 60, so I ultimately passed.

Mom says my teacher was very kind in allowing me to redo work I didn’t hand in and asked if I thanked him. When I told her I did not, she said I was “shamefully rude” and made me email him to say thank you. But isn’t helping students pass the teacher’s job?

Was I really “shamefully rude” for not saying thank you?

Kind querent: I’d say that calling you “shamefully rude” was a bit of overkill. It wasn’t that rude. However, your teacher’s helping you is the perfect opportunity for gratitude. Yes, it is the teacher’s job to help kids pass, but your teacher truly went above and beyond the call of duty, and he didn’t have to. I definitely agree with your mom that you should thank the teacher, but I wouldn’t call your initial lack of thanks “shamefully rude”. Maybe your mom was having a bad day or was already irritated? But try to remember to express gratitude to anyone who helps you out in the future!

Dear Mesmerizing Meg: Did I say something stupid here?

A delivery guy at work said “have a nice day” as he was leaving. I was busy and I’m already awkward at finding an appropriate response immediately and so I said thank you to him. He’s probably thinking I’m rude because I didn’t say to have a good day or anything, just thanked him for delivering our stuff. I’m just so terrible at finding a response when I’m put on the spot like that.

Kind querent: nah, your answer was fine! 🙂 Maybe next time add, “You too!” but it’s all good. “Thanks,” works perfectly well.

Dear Mesmerizing Meg: For the past several years I’ve dealt with someone who is always giving unwanted opinions. “Unsolicited.” Meaning, never do I ask this person for their thoughts, advice, input, etc .

I have continually expressed dislike over their actions. Yet they keep doing it, leading to fights each and every time.

Examples would be some of the things they say, such as:

“Your hair color is too dark. It makes you look older.”

“You’re overweight.”

“The dress you’re wearing is too busy with patterns.”

“I don’t want you to work at the bank. I want you to work at the grocery store instead.”

” You should not have named your baby what you did. It does not roll off the tongue easily.”

Time and time again I get fed up with this person. And my response is usually, “I didn’t ask you!”

Chronic personal attacks, insults, critique and complaints about everything in general.

I’m an adult, I know where I want to go in life and what I want to do.

I don’t need constant guidance, or critique like I’m a small child.

This person has been doing this to me for years.

They complain about not being invited to events and not having friends and even went as far as telling me they wished they had someone to love them. The whole idea is that no one wishes to be around this person. They usually suck the joy right out of everyone they meet. Would you cut this person off? 

Kind querent: yes. This person sounds like a narcissist. Please don’t feel sorry for him or her. Do you know that expression, “You’ve made your bed, now lie in it,”? Well, it applies to this person in your life. The criticisms are hurtful even to me, just from my reading them! Good grief. If it’s a family member, you’re probably more or less stuck with them. If it’s a friend, you can separate more cleanly, which is what I’d totally recommend.

Can we refer to her as Anne Laney?

This is a letter from earlier this month with a followup letter from today’s column after it.

Dear Annie: My name is Barbara.

It’s NOT “Barb.” It’s not “Barbie.” It’s not “Babs.”

So, please tell me WHY when I introduce myself as Barbara, the majority of the time, people say things like, “Hi, Barb”?

Immediately, I correct them, saying, “No — it’s Barbara.” People so often become condescending after that and say things like, “Oh, right! Bar-BRA!”

And then in later encounters, when they call me Barb, I remind them again: “Please remember I prefer ‘Barbara.'” Then, during our next encounter, they say, “Hi, Barb!” Ugh!

Kathleen is seldom called “Kathy.” Nobody calls Christina “Chris.” I know men named James, who people next-to-never call Jim or Jimmy. That is, of course, unless these people choose or agree to go by those name derivatives.

It’s the individual’s preference. It’s their energetic vibration and pattern. It’s their name. Why is it so difficult or inconvenient for people to call women named Barbara by our names? — Barbara

Dear Barbara: Not everyone loves an unsolicited nickname, and I’m happy to print your letter as a public service announcement of sorts. But the reality is that at some point you’ll probably be “Barbed” again. When that happens, remind the offender of your name, as you graciously have in the past. Then take a deep breath and remind yourself that this term of enragement is meant as a term of endearment, however misguided. (c) Annie Lane

And from today’s column…

Dear Annie: You can tell “Barbara” that my name is JAMES. And yet, for every Jimmy, Jim, Jamey, Jamie, Jimmie or Jimbo I’ve been called, I felt nothing but endearment in it. Savor it, “Barb.” People love you! Let down your barriers and feel the affection. The world covets it, and you’ve been dished a bountiful portion! — Jumbo

Dear Jumbo: Thanks for taking lemons and making lemonade, James.

I can’t think of anything more disrespectful and deliberately hostile and cruel than Jumbo’s letter. Seriously, Annie Lane has no common sense at all to not realize that his letter is the epitome of being a low-quality person. I have a few choice words for Jumbo, but he’s not worth my time. I’m just shocked that Annie Lane’s lack of discernment is this extreme. Geez. He unapologetically calls the original letter writer Barb and then goes on some sort of shaming spiel that really makes me want to knee him in the groin, and all Annie Lane can say is something about turning lemons into lemonade. And we know Annie Lane wasn’t being flippant or glib, because she politely (even though no politeness was warranted here) called him James. (I guess she called him Jumbo because that’s how he signed his letter.)

No, Annie Lane, this isn’t how to take lemons and make lemonade. This is how to bully, demean, berate, and intimidate people for the pure sake of expressing hostile, ill-founded superiority. It’s sickening.

“You’re fired!”

I fired my therapist.

I honestly feel a bit traumatized. And I haven’t been right in the head since this went down. After I left therapy on Thursday, I swung by McDonald’s and got a huge bag of food. I entered the store with my mask on and placed my order, but the people working there weren’t cooking my food. Being a non-cellphone user, I just stood there and stared past the counter until they eventually brought my food. I was probably discomfiting them. The young woman threw the bag at me, muttered, “Here you go,” and scampered away. And no, I’m not exaggerating.

Two minutes later, I had to go back inside because there was no honey mustard sauce in the bag. Glad I checked.

I cried myself to sleep that night, and the next day (yesterday), I took two naps and mostly just hid under my blanket.

Today, I’ve gambled around $50 away. Not a good headspace.

I’m sure tomorrow will be better, but today I feel victimized. I’m not sure how to process it. Did I set myself up for it somehow? I have a long and abiding history of encountering bad therapists. Hmm… let’s think about this logically.

  • There’s a lot of hubris among therapists.
  • I’m an aching cesspool of trauma and past injury, making me a ready and willing victim.
  • I always ask therapists for EMDR (a PTSD treatment), but they can’t help but psychoanalyze me, even though that never ends well.
  • I’m like some sort of psychic conduit or mirror. Whenever a therapist sees me, I mirror their true inner self back to them. I can’t explain this. It makes therapists viciously turn on me.

It might be my fault. Maybe I did something subconsciously without realizing it that threatened or offended my therapist. But I’m not sure how or why I would’ve done that, since I didn’t enter the session feeling threatened. Hmm… I just now scrolled through my public social media feed. I couldn’t find anything remotely offensive. I did, however, find this:

Too funny. That’s the movie where Betty White, my favorite actress, feeds the cow to the sea creature. Poor cow didn’t see it coming, since he was blindfolded, for crying out loud. Look at the resolved expression on Betty’s face as she leads the cow to certain danger.

Something felt off when I first started talking to the therapist. I told her how I was making some rainbow industrial furniture, and she asked for a description of it, so I told her I’ve invented it, and I’m sure it’s going to take off. She gave me a weird look, like, uhuh, yeah, sure, whatever you want to tell yourself.

Things went downhill from there. She asked how my fetish plays into my sexual desires. I told her it doesn’t. I want vanilla sex with a man who loves me, blah, blah, blah. She seemed… disappointed. Is that weird? Like she wanted to discuss the fetish some more, despite its irrelevance. I was being honest with her, by the way. We discussed how, when I reached puberty, I developed the pure and honest desire to simply have normal sex with a guy, and to feel loved.

Moving on from that point, I told her I hadn’t liked some of the questions on the form she asked me to fill out about my sexual history. The questions were rather vulgar. (I wasn’t blaming her, as she didn’t write the form. She got it online. She’d told me that.) But I didn’t like answering about whether or not I have pain when the tip of a penis slams into my cervix. That’s too graphic for me. (There was a long list of questions like that one.) I’m very puritanical. I don’t judge people who aren’t. I think people who enjoy sex should be having more of it (as long as everyone’s of age and it’s consensual, obviously). But for me personally, I’m not comfortable with graphic sex talk.

That doesn’t mean I don’t want to have sex. Oh, Meg wants to have sex. Believe it. It’s just all outside of my comfort zone and experience level. It is what it is. But reading about penises slamming into cervixes makes it too visceral and physical and base and vile. Sex should be about connection, bonding, sharing, and that sort of thing. And quite honestly, the image of me having sex with someone who I have no feelings for is horrifying. That would corrupt everything I stand for. I’m not talking about rape. (Although rape is obviously horrific.) I’m talking about if I were to make the conscious decision to … have sex for the sole sake of having sex.

That would ruin sex for me forever. It’s not supposed to be about that, not for me. If it’s about that for other people, I have no issue with that, but it’s all wrong for me. I need connection, bonding, intimacy, caring, sharing, and all that. Otherwise, sex becomes vulgar and offensive.

My worst nightmare is that I’d think a man loved and cared about me, and then we’d have sex, and then I’d come to fear it was a physical thing for him. Men, this is why you should always call the next morning, or after you’ve left. Especially and particularly after the first time. Just trust me on that.

I’m sure I’ll have that paranoid experience at some future point if.. .IF!!!… my sex life ever kicks into gear. (It probably won’t.) But ideally, this is why sex should be reserved for marriage. Or at least engagement. Or at least more than a few dates. I’m not sure when the magic moment is. But you see what I mean.

I feel that way right now, sort of: screwed and left for dead. I trusted my therapist which required a huge leap of faith for me, given my tragic history of one godawful therapist after another. I got burned. I’m trying not to blame myself with thoughts like, “What if I should’ve known she would hurt me, and I should’ve protected myself?” The sad truth is that we can’t predict human nature. Trust is based on knowing someone for a long time. I had no basis to trust my therapist. However, I made a good-faith effort to work with her, and I regret that now.

So even though I have no one special to have sex with, I still managed to get screwed. There’s that.

Misery at midnight

I’ve been depressed all day. I’ve already taken two naps. This was after I cried myself to sleep last night and felt miserable. I consulted the Tarot cards to consider pros and cons of ditching my therapist, and the cards confirmed a lot of what I knew. I’ve decided on a course of action: no more therapy, and I’m going to order a huge pile of self-help books. At some point when I’m feeling better (but soon–really soon), I’ll have to find a way to dump my therapist. I’m not looking forward to it. Is this what it’s like to end a romantic/dating relationship? I don’t want to know.

So far I’ve filled my Amazon cart with this book about EMDR by Francine Shapiro. It has stellar reviews. It’s called Getting Past Your Past: Take Control of Your Life with Self-Help Techniques from EMDR Therapy. That’s quite a wordy title.

I also chose a book about complex PTSD. It’s called Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving: A Guide and Map for Recovering from Childhood Trauma by Pete Walker. These titles aren’t very pithy, are they?

I may or may not get a workbook. It’s called The Complex PTSD Workbook: A Mind-Body Approach to Regaining Emotional Control and Becoming Whole by Arielle Schwartz.

I haven’t purchased them yet. I think I’ll sleep on it. If anyone wants to add or subtract any books, please feel free.

I feel so sad. I’ve taken some online tests, and it seems that my therapist might be right that I’m emotionally immature.

Here’s a song by Tears for Fears called “Advice for the Young at Heart”.

Advice for the young at heart
Soon we will be older
When we gonna make it work?

Too many people living in a secret world
While they play mothers and fathers
We play little boys and girls
When we gonna make it work?

I could be happy
I could be quite naive
It’s only me and my shadows
Happy in our make believe
Soon…

And with the hounds at bay
I’ll call your bluff
‘Cause it would be okay
To walk on tiptoes everyday

And when I think of you and all the love that’s due
I’ll make a promise, I’ll make a stand
‘Cause to these big brown eyes, this comes as no surprise
We’ve got the whole wide world in our hands

Advice for the young at heart
Soon we will be older
When we gonna make it work?

Love is a promise
Love is a souvenir
Once given
Never forgotten, never let it disappear

This could be our last chance
When we gonna make it work?
Working hour is over

And how it makes me weep
‘Cause someone sent my soul to sleep

And when I think of you and all the love that’s due
I’ll make a promise, I’ll make a stand
‘Cause to these big brown eyes, this comes as no surprise
We’ve got the whole wide world in our hands

Advice for the young at heart
Soon we will be older
When we gonna make it work?

Working hour is over
We can do anything that we want
Anything that we feel like doing…

The song ends on such a melancholy note. There’s so much sadness in the way he sings the last two lines.

There are no options here. I have to fire my therapist. I’ve worked so hard on my own to master self-value, and she’s threatening that by calling me creepy and minimizing qualities within me that I see as virtues. Several days ago, a friend of mine called me wholesome. I replied, “Oh, thank you so much! That’s the greatest compliment I’ve gotten all day.” I don’t know whether or not he meant it as a compliment, but I took it as one, because to me, being wholesome is wonderful. It involves having a childlike sense of wonder and being able to marvel at natural beauty. Now that virtue of mine is being threatened. I can’t think about it without feeling the strong urge to start sobbing again. And it’s been wet, loose tears that completely drench my face, as opposed to ugly crying.

What a tangled web we weave…

I’m feeling very discouraged after the therapy session from hell yesterday. I always tell the therapist I want/need EMDR, and the therapist always becomes curious about my past and wants to do talk therapy. The last time this happened, we had the therapist who wound up accusing me of being suicidical when I was, in reality, in a great mood. Epic fail. (I’ve been suicidal in the past, yes, but I’ve NEVER been suicidal and freakin’ happy at the same time. Is that even a thing?!)

So now I feel myself going down the same road with my new therapist. It’s ironic, because I feel the need to analyze why my therapeutic relationships always take this path; and I should be analyzing my other life patterns. Good grief.

I could, in theory, remind my therapist that I’d like to do some more EMDR, and that EMDR was the original goal to begin with. But she’s having too much fun psychoanalyzing me. I told her that as an adult, I tried being “normal”, but it never felt right to me. But once I embraced the qualities of purity, innocence, childishness, and wholesomeness, I found happiness. Her next move was to try to get me to abandon those qualities. I’m not on board with that. I love who I’ve become. I think it’s sort of problematic for her to see my strengths as weaknesses. I have enough weaknesses that are actual weaknesses without having to throw my good qualities into the ring as well.

I was telling her that there’s a dissonance because I’m not comfortable acting sexual, since I see myself as being childlike, wholesome, pure, and innocent. But her decision to tear those qualities that I love about myself away is the wrong path to take. I flat-out refuse to quit having those qualities. It’s who I am. And I’m not willing to go so deep that I start to question who I am at a fundamental level, but next week, she wants to talk about whatever occurred in my adulthood to lead me back to being childlike.

It’s worth exploring, but not with the goal of eradicating those qualities from me. It’s who I am. I’m not willing to sacrifice my identity in the name of reaching my goals (of finding a loving man to be my boyfriend and have sex with me). Honestly, if that’s what it takes, I’ll choose more of the same (perpetual singledom).

She really hurt my feelings. She said I’m not capable of being in a partnership with a man, because I’m not emotionally mature enough to have emotional intimacy. I tried to tell her I have emotional intimacy with a lot of my friends, including one who’s male, and she didn’t believe me. I don’t need to be torn down like that. The relationships I have with everyone (shout out!) are more valuable to me than anything else in my life. They’re my raison d’être.

I think it’s great to go to therapy and work toward a goal (or goals), but it’s not great to mess up everything that’s already solid in someone’s life. Is there anything seriously wrong with the fact that I want a boyfriend who loves me and accepts me for who I am, who’d like to have vanilla sex and make out a lot, and that sort of thing? That doesn’t seem creepy to me. In fact, it seems like the opposite of creepy. You’d think creepy would involve saddles and chains and shock collars. (Not that I judge.) When did my childish approach to love and romance become creepy? I want to be loved. That’s creepy?

Maybe I said or did something to upset my therapist. It would’ve been unintentional. Uh… Yeah, no clue.

I hate to dump her. This feels as hard as breaking up with someone, which I guess it is.

But I’m not willing to tear down the aspects of my life that are working. It reminds me too much of how cults want to destroy your ego and sense of self. That shouldn’t be destroyed! If you’re having some sort of ego problem, like if you’re insanely jealous of your successful older sister, you should address that; but you shouldn’t take good aspects of your ego and make them seem bad just because “it’s wrong to have an ego,” or any other reason.

For example, if you see yourself as a gourmet chef and everyone loves your cooking, how would it benefit you to suddenly feel like a terrible chef? It wouldn’t. It would be heartbreaking to me if that happened to someone I cared about.

The ego is a human construct that, as humans, we need. It should never be destroyed. If you want to rise above it and become more divine, that’s great, but it should never be destroyed. You may as well get rid of your physical body or your thinking mind or your understanding of language and ability to speak and communicate. The ego, in and of itself, isn’t the enemy. It can be the enemy. It can have qualities that don’t work for us. But eliminating it would be just as bad as losing your name, your identity, your appearance, your strengths, your weaknesses, your relationships, and your skill sets. That’s not for me, and it shouldn’t be for anyone.

In good news, the EMDR she and I did has helped with the flashbacks, I think. I’m not 100% sure, but it feels as if the EMDR may have cut the humiliation in half.

My dad doesn’t want to keep funding my sessions with this therapist. He did say, though, that I could try to find another therapist to do more EMDR with. Oh, God, why? I really don’t want to.

Help! I’ve been wrapped in cellophane for decades.

So, yeah, this is really depressing. I went to therapy today, and the therapist thinks I’m trapped in childhood. It makes sense. I have idealized views of sex as being spiritual and loving, but I can’t handle the mechanics of it or male nudity, for that matter.

Yeah, I’m an overgrown child, like Michael Jackson. (I’m a believer that he wasn’t guilty of sexual abuse, and that he was simply reliving his childhood with other kids. That makes me sad.)

But why would I even think that I’m like him? I don’t play with children. My friends are all my age with a few exceptions. And the ones who aren’t my age are still adults, whether they’re younger or older than I am.

But it’s true. There’s a huge gap in my mind where sexual awareness is supposed to be. Weirdness. I was supposed to reach an age of accessing sexuality, and it passed me by.

We talked about how my mom always discouraged me from being sexual. Like when I was nineteen and my mom had a video camera, I was doing mock-sexy dancing, and she kept telling me that her little girl shouldn’t act that way. [Massive eyeroll.] The same thing sort of happened AGAIN on my last birthday, when I turned 43. That’s right. I’m 43, and I’m still not allowed to be mock-sexual for the camera.

It makes me worried that maybe I’m so messed up that there’s no coming back from it. I want to have sex with a man, or it wouldn’t matter. I explained to her that I want to be loved and cared about and supported by a boyfriend, and that it would make sex meaningful. But sex, by definition, repulses me. Not in a huge way (no pun intended), but in the sense that male nudity isn’t something I’ve ever understood. I understand female nudity because I’m intimately acquainted with my own body. Male nudity makes no sense to me at all.

This is probably my dad’s fault. We also discussed how he’d walk around the house naked, and it disgusted me. At least these days I get paid when that happens. (Every time I catch him, he owes me $50.)

She thought it was insightful when I said that I tried to live as an adult in a normal (non-regression-to-childhood) sense, but I was miserable; and ever since I’ve returned to the childish, innocent, pure-of-heart person I am now, I’ve been happy again. And I have to see myself that way: as childlike, innocent, and pure, because my parents tried to take those qualities from me. But the therapist said that if I were to date someone, it would be creepy. That hurt my feelings. She said it would be like a man in his forties dating a nine-year-old girl.

Perfect. Does this mean that only pedophiles would be attracted to me? I don’t even want to know.

Well, that’s silly. I don’t look like I’m nine years old. Well, I do look my age (more or less), but I also look whimsical and childlike in my presentation, which isn’t age-related.

I rest my case. Oh my God. I’ll never be able to have great sex. I’m just too weird.

It doesn’t make much sense, but the only time in my life I was happy (until recent years) was when I was around seven years old. I was so happy then. It was the beginning of the end. Do you all know what seven-year-old girls love more than anything? Rainbows. That’s probably not a coincidence.

The therapist said I’m not emotionally mature enough to have a partnership with someone in even an emotional sense. I told her I’m very close to all my friends, including one friend of mine who’s male but married to someone else, but he’s still my friend, right? And we’re all very close, and she didn’t seem to believe me. She kind of got this… look. “What would it be like to let yourself mature a little bit?” she asked.

“I have no clue. This is my reality. It’s all that I know.”

I offered to read books about sex, saying that’s probably what teenagers do, and she said, “No… they talk to their peers and get the wrong idea about everything.”

Perfect. Of course they do.

I never was a normal teenager. I didn’t rebel or smoke cigarettes or make out or stay out late or whatever. Well, I did some of those things. But I never valued coolness or appearances or hair and makeup and trends and fashion or fitting in with the cool kids, and on and on and on. I just went my own way in my mind and became very emotional. I could cry at the drop of a pin.

I’m not normal. I’m a freak. This makes me very sad. What if I can never find love because of how convoluted and messed up my mind is? There’s only so much I can do about that. It feels overwhelmingly difficult to try to change my brain in ways that it doesn’t want to change. The therapist kept trying to get me to be less afraid or resistant to “maturing emotionally and sexually,” but it sounded scary to me. I’m just who I am. But I don’t want to attract a male pedophile, for God’s sake. Maybe just a nice man who understands that we have to take it slow because I’m crazy and incredibly neurotic. I’m not sure. I mean, that sounds doable, right? And we all know that I deserve that kind of love.

But now I’m not even sure if I want it. Sex just seems so vulgar and base and vile. I’m probably just overwhelmed with sadness. My brain is stuck someplace and I can’t rescue it. Oh, okay, waterworks, starting to cry. That’s great. Maybe I should lie down for a bit. Don’t blink, don’t blink, don’t blink… there they go. The tears have fallen.

A Point of No Return

My life has felt so unfocused and undirected lately. I’ve been going to therapy and trying to find help from other sources as well (friends, self-help books, etc.), and I require a lot of down time to process the therapy sessions. I don’t have to process them consciously. But subconscious processing makes me become a total space cadet.

Mostly what we do in therapy is exercises that involve visualizing certain things, and it’s often rather neutral and not upsetting. For example, last week we visualized rage. My therapist’s trying to take all the reactions I had to the abuse I suffered and untangle them. It seems genius to me. So maybe I’m not meant to be doing a whole lot, but still.

I no longer enjoy woodworking. I think I did for a long time, and now I’m just over it. It’s a dead end, unless I want to do more household renovations, but I’m limited in what hasn’t been remodeled yet. I’ve done the kitchen. I’ve done the bathroom. I’ve done a lot of stuff up here in my room.

I like writing still, and I have good news about that. I’ve plotted an entire NaNovel for this year! It just came to me. This is awesomeness.

I’m starting to wonder. Something about this time of year calls my heart to Prague, a city that isn’t allowing Americans due to coronavirus. But is there a chance–a remote chance–that a vaccine will come along and enable Americans to go to Prague later this year? Is it remotely conceivable?

If so, I’ve been toying with the idea of writing my NaNovel in October. Benefits:

  • A 31st day to reach the 50,000-word goal!
  • I’d be done with my NaNovel and could go to Prague in November/December more readily.
  • I’ve already got the NaNovel in my head, and I’ve got nothing else to do.

Cons:

  • I wouldn’t be able to use NaNoWriMo’s word-count tracker. It only “runs” in November.
  • I wouldn’t be doing it within a community, but then again, I’ve never loved the NaNoWriMo community anyway. Damn that pep talk! 😀

Part of me wants to live with Sonya. I could afford it, in theory. Her rent is 12,000 korunas, which = $520, half of which is $260. I get more than enough in disability. It’s just that I give most of it to my dad as debt repayment, or I try to pay down a few credit cards.

If my dad were to die (and I don’t remotely want that to happen–don’t get the wrong idea here), my debt to him would be cancelled out, leaving me with a bit of credit card debt. That credit card debt could easily be knocked out by the huge coin my dad’s leaving me in a life-insurance policy. Let’s not get too excited. That huge coin isn’t enough to pay off what he owes on the mortgage. But if one of my siblings could come live here in the house, they could help pay the bills, in theory.

It’s just that I want to get out of the US. I no longer like my country. I’m too stressed by all the civil unrest and coronavirus disasters. I’ve had it. I’m just… it’s just too much. This will sound bizarre, but I’m fed up with my neighbors’ refusal to stop for stop signs or red lights. My dad and I cross Bardstown Road several times a day, and if we were to be lax and not check for traffic every single freakin’ time, we’d get run over. Period, end of story. The red light means nothing to anyone anymore. It’s become more of an, “it used to be green” light rather than an “it’s now red” light.

My neighbors are too good to stop. They’re thinking, “I’m special. I don’t have to stop for the stop sign or red light. I’m above it. The signs are for everyone else, but not me.” The flagrant lack of morality makes me sick. Whether or not you want to believe this, I tend to start yelling at drivers. I’ve been doing that for a long time. “Hey, you. IT’S A STOP SIGN,” is one of my favorite rants. And whenever someone zooms past me at the red light and gets stuck at the next red light (they never learn that the two are intrinsically connected and timed in tandem), I point at the rear of their car, and then point back to myself, and then to them, with my second and third fingers, as though to say, “I’ve got my eye on you, you immoral driver. You’d better damned well stop when you’re supposed to.”

Today, my dad and I were almost run over at a four-way stop. The driver was turning left, and he stopped at the very last second, after which point I very elegantly gave him the hand.

“Damn you, bitch! Put your hand down, you [bleep]ing [bleep].”

I put my hand down, and then immediately raised my other hand instead. Yes, that loser got both hands. Don’t mess with Meg.

In Prague, drivers (of which there aren’t many due to the rails system) slam on their brakes the second a pedestrian enters a crosswalk. Why? Because Prague drivers have morals. They don’t lack basic morality. We need more of that. Also, in Prague, there are no air brakes. That sound destroys my inner ear hair cells. It’s like audial pain.

I’ve been crabby all day. I didn’t sleep well last night. And then plans with my psychic friend Ash fell through. She didn’t sleep well, either. Go figure.

I wish I could visit Sonya this year. It seems remotely possible. There just has to be a vaccine.

Oh! Great news about my NaNovel. I’ve got a title: A Point of No Return. Emilia helped me come up with the perfect name for my heroine: Nova Chancellor. The girls’ name Nova = new star, and Chancellor = the keeper of the records, according to one name website. (I’m  not sure that’s what chancellors do, but as a name, it means the keeper of the records. Sort of how Meg = pearl.) This is perfect, because the book will deal with do overs–the whole allure of going back in time and trying to get it right. (So instead of keeping the records, you’re changing them!) There will be plot twists aplenty, including one I have planned for the very first scene. Go me! The whole story will be twisty and unexpected, while also character-oriented and moving.

The basic premise is that teen-girl Nova is finally getting out of juvie, where she did a stint for killing her little sister via shaken-baby syndrome. Obviously, she wants to go back in time and undo that, but what winds up happening is completely unexpected and eye-opening. I’m planning three parallel worlds, meaning she’ll go back and try to change something three times; and then the stunning conclusion, because the conclusion has to stun.

Bragadocious and social media likes.

Dear Amy: A few years ago, my girlfriend’s friend told her that I was hitting on her. My girlfriend asked her what I did to make her feel that way, she said, “He asked me questions, and when I answered them he followed up with questions about my answers.”

My girlfriend said, “How is that hitting on you?” and her friend said, “Men don’t listen to women, and then ask questions, without wanting something.”

That’s probably why my girlfriend and I have been together almost 20 years, while her friend has been divorced twice.

Love your column.

— Dave

Dave: Wait … are you hitting on me? (I love this. Thank you.) (c) Ask Amy

Wow, I hate this guy. Could he be any more bragadocious? He ought to feel sorry for the friend of his girlfriend of twenty years(?!?). Instead, he comes across as being morally superior because he understands relationships, and she doesn’t. This person he’s scorning for having been divorced twice hasn’t done anything wrong. She didn’t make false claims about her friend’s boyfriend. So instead of trying to help her out, either by explaining that he hadn’t intended to be flirtatious, or by trying to set her up with someone nice, etc., etc., this letter writer just brags about how much smarter he is than she. Ick. Are you kidding me? A lot of people–and I do mean a lot–struggle with understanding romance cues. Anytime you have two people who could be in a romantic relationship (i.e., they’re attracted to the other’s gender, they’re single, they’re the same age, they’re both hanging out at the same bar, and so forth), it can be really hard to tell the difference between being friendly and being flirtatious. But I’m glad this letter writer has it all figured out!! Good for him.

Let’s see what Miss Manners is up to!

DEAR MISS MANNERS: A current real-life friend sent me a friend request on social media, and I accepted. I have regularly liked quite a few of this friend’s posts — about half of them — and even commented once or twice with something such as “That’s great!” or “Congratulations!”

Never once has this friend liked or reacted in any way to any of my posts.

We are both relatively active on social media, engaging with mutual friends, and neither of us posts anything controversial, bragging, or weird. I am aware that some of my posts may not have been seen by my friend, or that the algorithm may be somewhat responsible, but I cannot believe that all of my posts have been accidentally overlooked.

I don’t want to make assumptions or be petty about this, but I think it is human nature to be a little bit hurt. I feel very foolish continuing to like my friend’s posts while receiving nothing in response, so I have totally stopped. I refuse to ask my friend what’s going on because that would not be well received. What would you suggest in this situation?

GENTLE READER: Well, now you know how people feel when others do not acknowledge their invitations or presents.

Only you have not actually done anything for your friend when you distribute personal information online, so there is no etiquette violation when your audience does not keep cheering you on.

If you want to know how your real-life friend really feels about you, Miss Manners recommends making a real-life personal overture. (c) MISS MANNERS

Huh. I’ve been there. I want to say that the friend failed to follow the letter writer on accident and therefore isn’t seeing any of her posts, but the fact that they’re all heavy into social media strikes me as meaning that’s not the case.

I used to try to make friends locally, here in my neighborhood. This was many years ago, maybe back in 2012…? I did this by frequenting the local pastry shop and eating there while talking to the staff. They were all young and hip and fun to talk to. I “friended” some of them on social media with a previous facebook account I no longer have. (I have a new one now.) They never “liked” any of my posts, either. It’s sad. I was so lonely and in need of friends, and they couldn’t have cared less. None of them still work at the pastry shop, and they haven’t worked there in ages. Back then, they’d chat with whoever sat on the barstool, sort of like in a bar.

You can try to tell yourself the friend isn’t seeing your posts or whatever you can come up with to comfort yourself, but I think sometimes you just have to accept that there’s no friendship there. Now, on the other side of this, I once commented on someone’s post and was ignored. My comment wasn’t “liked” or responded to, so I unfriended my friend. Several months passed, and the friend reached out to me, and now we’re friends again, and I realized I was being impulsively paranoid, as I tend to be. Can anyone say, “Oops,”? We’re friends again. Same with another facebook friend.

So I guess the issue needs to be addressed on a case-by-case basis. Personally, I don’t see the harm in asking, “Hey, why don’t you ever like my posts?” I mean, that question wouldn’t hurt my feelings. My reaction would be, “Oh, sorry. Let me make sure I’m following you.” There are exceptions. I have some friends whose posts I don’t follow because they’re vile and disgusting (the posts, not the friends). But this letter writer said her posts are unoffensive.

I refuse to ask my friend what’s going on because that would not be well received.

That right there seems concerning to me. It wouldn’t be well-received? Is the letter writer sure of that? If so, I might unfriend the person. It’s an honest enough question. Huh.

Let’s not rule it out entirely, Dear Abby…

DEAR ABBY: My 28-year-old daughter is having our first grandchild. My daughter and I have a good relationship, but she doesn’t want me to be around when she goes into labor.

All her life I have been the most loving and caring mother I could be to her. She has a great husband. Should I take it personally that she doesn’t want me there when she goes into labor?

I have waited a long time to be a grandmother. I feel she should be happy to have me around. I’m deeply hurt that she won’t let me be with her during this beautiful moment in her life. What do you think? — SADDENED IN OREGON

DEAR SADDENED: This isn’t about you, and I urge you not to personalize this as you are doing. Childbirth may, indeed, be a “beautiful moment,” but it is also a challenge. This challenge is one your daughter may prefer to face with her husband at her side — if even he is allowed to be there because of the pandemic. There will be plenty of beautiful moments you can share with your grandchild in the future, so concentrate on those. (c) DEAR ABBY

Hmm. I don’t know. You know how sometimes your own stupidity lends itself to creating the perfect built-in karma? I think this self-absorbed future grandmother ought to attend the birth so that when her daughter needs someone to throttle due to labor pains, she can throttle Mommy Dearest rather than her unborn child’s father. It could be a win-win. Sometimes we have moments of needing to express our hostilities for whatever reason, and being in labor is one such moment, from what I understand. If the grandmother were on-hand during the labor, it could work out quite well.

Come to think of it, if I ever give birth, I should make sure to have my mom nearby for exactly that reason. It’s brilliant! We women should invite every obnoxious, overbearing family member we have into the birthing room. Wow. I’m a genius. Thank you.

*********

I made a video of myself watching the guy I like’s video and laughing hysterically. He liked my video!! So there’s that. It’s been a great day all around. I also took a photo of myself crossing my eyes while doing something naughty with my finger. I challenge my readers to do something similar.

Picture 71

It’s been a day full of whimsy, hilarity, relaxation, and promise. I feel very happy.

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