Archive for July, 2009

It’s been a cinnamon-bun kind of week. A “I am depressed and hopeless and exhausted, I need a pick-me-up” kind of week. The kind of week where, in an effort to make yourself feel better, you treat yourself like crap.

ED is a sweetheart (so far, knocking wood, crossing fingers, reminding myself to breathe and rereading the relationship books); the writing assignments are going … well, they’re going, and almost done, and I always feel panicky and inadequate when I’m about to submit something, (Hello, Imposter Syndrome, my old friend! How long are you planning on visiting for this time?) so I know better by now than to pay it too much attention. I will agonize over every word and semi-collon until I hit “send” on the email and then I will agonize over the anticipated “THIS IS NOT THE CRAP WE ASKED YOU FOR” reply and when I shakily open the return email to find “This is great! A few minor things…” I will breathe deeply and relax. That’s how it goes.

The Ex has now moved to Bob and we still do not have an agreement, which is causing some of the anxiety; even moreso that PP is so excited and happy about it. Which is great! It’s great for her! She gets to have, at least part-time, a bedroom in a house and a backyard again, and she’s looking forward to playing with the GF’s son, and it’s all great for her and I am working really hard to manage my emotional expression to be supportive and happy and receptive to all of this. I don’t want her to think that she can’t talk about it because it upsets me too much.

But it does. How come he’s the one who gets to move on to a new, happy relationship? Never mind that I fully know exactly what is going on–that he’s simply found another Clod to latch his Pebble-self on to, to use and exploit and betray until she gets sick of him and tosses him out. Never mind that. Why is doing the right thing so much harder? Why do I still get to pay the price for the consequences of his actions? Why does he keep getting off scot-free? And what on earth will I do if PP decides she would rather live there than here? A nice house in the suburbs, a built-in family….

Please don’t tell me that won’t happen. It does and it can, and it doesn’t change what the right thing is for me to do, and it terrifies me. This move feels like something that makes that eventuality more likely than it used to be.

But mostly, I’ll be trucking along doing my thing, and the thought will intrude: “my parents dumped me.”

My parents dumped me–again.

And even though I saw it coming, I didn’t see it coming. It took me by surprise. I don’t know how it could have taken me by surprise. How can I be surprised? Haven’t they been priming me my whole life for this very moment?

My parents dumped me (again) and I need to not-do all the things I’ve done before. I need to not-do all the fruitless fantasizing that *this time* I’ll find the right thing to say that will crack their self-protective armour and make them see how hurtful they’ve been. I need to not-do the inevitable wordless reconciliation, where one day my Dad will just call me up and pretend that a six-month absence necessitates no explanations, no apologies. I need to not-do any hope that things will ever be any different, that they are capable of being anything other than this. I need to not-do the excuses for their behaviour, the justifications and glossing over.

Isn’t my life a thousand times better since I got the divorce and gave myself permission not to be the daughter they told me I was supposed to be (and who was still inadequate)? I live according to my own values; I have friends who value me; I write and publish; I’m happier, less angry, have a much better idea of what I want–and yes, if I’d stayed married, if I’d stayed in the role of the married suburban mom with a respectable job and a credit to her parents, they probably would still be talking to me right now. But what a price to pay.

Still. This smarts, and while I’m trying to marshall myself away from the rumination and towards the goals and activities I know will make me feel better, there is apparently a large part of me that feels this can only be solved through insomnia and large quantities of cinnamon buns.


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At 10:20, when I was just wrapping up the latest iteration of my first article (I think I’ve finally nailed it; it needs fussing over and I need to fix up the source list but I think the structure and contents are mostly done), the phone rang. It was ED, asking me how my day was and what I was up to.

Then I heard a knock on the door. “Is that you?” I said.

“What?” he said. “So you’re not busy right now?”

The doorbell rang and I started down the hall, and could clearly hear his voice through the door. I hung up, opened it, and there he was–bearing season 4.5 of BSG as a gift. Sweet, eh? He let me finish up my draft and save it and then we talked for a bit before he called his son, still visiting Far Far Away with his mom, whereupon things got a bit ugly when she asked to extend their five-week visit by ten days (while their son was in the room).

I should qualify that by saying that my conflict-avoidant version of ugly is very different from any Springeresque visions that may come to mind. But still. It wasn’t something I wanted to witness, and all I could think of was, “poor kid.”

now the question is: why am I awake at 1:44 am? Don’t I know I have to work and finish up my article tomorrow?

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Just Friends

The Trader and I have decided to stay friends, which is good because I like him. But it’s also bad because he wants to know why we’re not still dating. And I don’t know what to tell him.

There are so many honest answers and I’m not sure which is kindest: the “well I was dating two people and it got away from me and I had to make a decision but honestly it could have gone either way” one? The “we both have difficult relationships with our mothers and I was concerned about what that might mean for the future because I know what kinds of quirks it’s given me” one? The “the women in the military debate kind of soured me a bit at the exact moment I felt I needed to stop dating two people” one? Some other one? Should I not be honest? What’s the done thing?

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My mother likes painting other people’s paintings.

Which is to say, she likes to paint, but she doesn’t paint her own pictures. She finds a picture she likes by someone else and then copies it poorly, over and over, varying the size and the colour. She’ll have half a dozen versions of the same picture in her house at any one time.

She painted me a picture once, a god-awful beach scene with a hideous orange sorbet sky, badly framed, and I hung it in my house for years. It was copied from a calendar photo, one of the free ones that real estate agents give away. I wanted to appreciate it because she’d made it herself. I wanted to believe that the fact that she made it for me meant something, since I was always making her gifts. But the gifts I made her were about her, her interests, her collections and hobbies (so far as I knew what they were; our relationship was always superficial). She painted me a beach scene (badly) from a real estate calendar, framed it up without glass, and that was my christmas present. I wanted it to mean that she loved me enough to make me something.

Maybe it did, at least so far as she is able. But what it also meant, I think, is that she is so utterly empty inside that there is no vision of her own to paint. Maybe even empty enough not to recognize that there ought to be.

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When I was a teenager I was diagnosed with diabetes. I received absolutely zero help from either of my parents in coping with the diagnosis, and was refused help point-blank when I requested it–even for something as minor and temporary as not bringing junk food into the house for three weeks so I wouldn’t be as tempted. They did not learn how to test my blood sugar or give me injections; I filled my prescriptions myself, went to all of my appointments by myself, did all the management myself. Some of my prescriptions went unfilled. At the time, I didn’t even think to question it; it was hurtful and I felt neglected and alone, but I didn’t think it was strange for parents not to help their child with a major, life-changing diagnosis until much later, when I met other parents of diabetic children.

I’d been well-programmed by then not to cry, and accordingly, only cried one. Just once.

My mother sobbed to see it. “I can’t stand to see this happening to you!” she cried.

Keep in mind that, just days before, when I talked about how difficult I found adjusting to diabetes, she’d replied, “I’ve been on a diet since I was twelve.”

So when she cried, I was shocked. So shocked that I stopped crying and stared at her. And ever since, I’d interpreted it as meaning that somewhere in there, beyond all the masks and cruelties, there was a person who cared about me. Now?

Now it seems more likely that the tears were just a way to refocus the attention on her. My diabetes was not allowed to be my tragedy. It had to be hers.

More revisions and reinterpretations. Soon nothing about my childhood will look the way I thought it was at the time.

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The more I read about narcissistic parents, the more I feel like I have found It.

Exhibit A: http://www.alanrappoport.com/Co-Narcissism%20Article.pdf

Or at least, it’s Exhibit A for you, my Dear Readers. For me it’s more like Exhibit F, but who’s counting? I read it and thought, Yep, that’s me. That’s me down to my nail-bitten fingertips.

I suppose, at least now that I know that this is It, I have some way of going about fixing or addressing It. (By the way LJ, on the board I’ve been reading there are quite a few women who were adopted by narcissistic mothers, in case you are interested in reading the experiences of other people who found themselves in that situation.) And it’s the same kind of trajectory that I’ve been on for the past couple of years: figuring out what I want, what I value, giving myself permission to go after it, to advocate for myself, etc. It’s all hard but at least I know I’m on the right track.

My first impulse though is still, always, to–as the article says–orient myself around other people and what they want from me. I can feel myself doing it with ED (and now that he seems likely to stick around for a while and since the acronym bothers some of you, I’ll take proposals for replacements if you’ve got them). He wants to come over and, instead of asking myself if I want him to come over, I ask myself if that’s something I can give him or not. I’m catching it, though. That’s progress, isn’t it?

The BBQ was fun; he speaks Russian, and so do many of my neighbours, so he was outside firing up the BBQ and chatting them up in their native language while I got some work done on one of my articles. I called in to work with a migraine Thursday morning b/c I had three interviews scheduled that day (shhh) and couldn’t think of any other way to get them in, and he hung around and did some work at the same time.

There’s no good segue for the next bit. Let’s use subheadings, shall we?

Parking Adventure:

So, I’ve never been able to figure out where the visitor parking is at my apartment complex and he’s keen not to get his car towed so I had to figure it out, and I called that evening and the (very rude) lady who answered the phone said she’d tape a pass to the office door, and she did, and it said we should park underground so we went to move the car from the nearby mall lot, and thanks to the near-constant rain this summer there was a big muddy garden between the sidewalk and the car. ED moved as if he were going to pick me up and carry me over it, and I squawked.

“What?” he said. “You can’t get over it in those shoes.”

He had a point. I was wearing heels. Fairly high ones. Have I mentioned that even being tall and wearing fairly high heels, he’s still a bit taller than me? Have I mentioned that height is my one shallow thing? This makes me very happy. In any case, he had a point. Walking through a big muddy garden in very high heels would be messy.

“I can do it, and I want to, so let me,” he said.

So I did.

Then we moved it and found that the parking slip was wrong so we had to move it back, but hey: I actually let myself depend on someone else for a couple of minutes, and the world did not end.

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it’s now saying that I don’t know what my life is going to be like from one day to the next.

Date w/ the Trader yesterday: fine, and final. And my choosing. And he was great about it, so I’m hoping we can remain friendly.

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