I was in an online networking group, for a while, in which there coincidentally happened to be many, many children of narcissistic parents, mothers especially. Well, either it was a coincidence, or there are more narcissistic parents in the world than one would imagine. It sounds horrible. Apparently, narcissistic parents rely on their children for their own self-esteem, keep their kids possessively close to them, and then when the child starts to branch out and become independent, the parent gets jealous. It can be, and apparently often is, abusive. It leaves those children with a lot of baggage. (The link above has good information and resources for adult children of narcissistic parents.)
It got me thinking, though: My mom is kind of awesome. Well, no, she just is awesome. During the conversations about narcissistic mothers in that networking group, I’d just think, “I should probably show myself out.” I didn’t want to rub my awesome mom in the faces of people who struggled with their mothers. Keep reading »
If someone suggested that you were holding out for a relationship to save you and magically solve all your problems, you’d adamantly insist they’d gotten you all wrong and briefly consider slapping them in the face, right? Expecting a guy to save you sounds ludicrous on a surface level, and even reminiscent of the dreaded d-word (gasp, desperate) that’s so frequently used to knock women down a peg. The problem with the save-me complex, though, is that it isn’t usually so straightforward. Often, it lives in a more deep-rooted, unnoticeable part of the heart, inflicting men and women alike, silently motivating our choices without us even realizing. If it were an easy thing to detect, we’d nix it from the start, but instead, that sneaky idea has sabotaged almost everyone’s love life at one point or another. Keep reading »
Growing up, I saw singledom as the “default” way to live. My first impression of my (divorced) parents were as singles, and they were carrying on just fine, so I figured that was just the way things were. I managed to remain pretty oblivious to the society-wide pressure to marry longer than most kids, and while a partner sounded nice, I never thought I needed one growing up or planned my future with a someday husband in mind. I reasoned that I could never plan for something so volatile as love, and always thought of myself as something of a free agent in the world, unlike many of my peers, who went through high school and college counting the days until they found a nice young guy with top-dollar earning potential so that their “real life” could start. Other people, potential partners included, seemed like such wildcards — who knew whether they’d show up for me or when? I expected to only be able to count on myself. On paper, this sounds pretty bitter, but it wasn’t that way at all — it was just how I saw life, and rarely gave it a second thought. If I had thought about it more at the time, I’d have seen it as empowering, if anything. As I got older, though, my mind felt lagged and overtaxed as it constantly ran over and prepared for every task and potential problem each day would hold. I had to check and double check my own logic, because I made nobody else privy to my day-to-day stresses, and as a result, nobody else was going to make sure I stayed on top of things. I started to feel the mental and physical toll of counting on nobody but myself.
Keep reading »
My ex-boyfriend’s parents have been married for years, but they sleep in separate beds. At first, I found this practice strange, a manifestation of a marriage that no longer had the sparkle, one that had become more comfortable and practical than anything else.
I was wrong.
His parents were, in fact, perfectly content, deeply comfortable and happy with each other. Theirs was a long-lasting and functional marriage that ran smoothly on a combination of the comfort of knowing someone very well for a very long time, and the glorious amount of independence they each shared. His mother, an avid fly-fisher and traveller, spent a lot of time out of the country, exploring the world in her retirement. His father disliked travel, and preferred curling up with a good spy novel and the 49ers. She went on her trips, he read his books, and they were happier for it. For me, they were an example of pure success, something to aspire to, the best way to be together and independent. Keep reading »
Since 1998, I’ve filled two passports, trundled through innumerable airports and navigated the border crossings of 28 countries — almost always by myself. Occasionally I’ve been accompanied by a boyfriend, sometimes by a brave friend I’ve convinced to join me, but most of the time I wandered out into the throng of waiting touts alone.
Now, when you’re a young woman and you tell people you’re going to travel, the first question will be: “Who are you going with?” Keep reading »
Just a few years ago, I had a huge pair of balls. Big, old honkin’ balls. And then I moved in with my boyfriend.
He’s not a particularly “Grr! I’m a man! I’m going to take care of you!” kind of guy. But he does like taking care of me, so I try to let him do that, and it’s nice having him around to do the unpleasant stuff. He lugs the garbage downstairs twice a week. He carries the heaviest grocery bags. He’ll get up in the middle of the night if I think I hear an axe murderer padding around our kitchen. It’s sweet and I love it. But if I’m honest with myself, being taken care of by a guy for the first time is making me a little soft. And I know this because just a few weeks ago, when he was out at band practice, I was walking up the stairs in my high-heeled boots, and I thought to myself, “I hope I don’t fall trip and fall! That would be bad! He’s not around to help me if I get hurt!”
I wasn’t always like this, I swear! I used to actually be, you know, independent. Let me take you back to spring 2004 … Keep reading »