Jealousy isn’t a sign of love:

Dear Dr. brilliant Cliché,

I am not sure if this is a problem but it does worry me a lot. My boyfriend never gets jealous over me. Not even the tiniest bit. I have never cheated on him but I’ve purposely flirted with other men to get a rise out of him, and- nada. I finally asked him about it and he said he believes in free will. He said he would be sad if I left him or if I cheated but that it is my choice and I am free to go if that is what I want.  I don’t know why but this drives me a bit nuts. Maybe because it is so damn unromantic? How can he possibly love me if he feels this way?

Perplexed

 

Dear perplexed,

You aren’t asking for him to love you. You are asking for him to reassure you.

Isn’t someone who is stable enough to be content with themselves, and yet still chooses to be with you, exactly the kind of partner you would want? There is no agenda or ulterior motive here.  Why would you want to be with someone who doesn’t feel whole unless they are with you and professing undying love to you? Here, the agenda or ulterior motive isn’t a relationship but an antidepressant.

Robin Williams in Patch Adams said it the best. “If you truly love someone you have to be able to let them go” What you want is just about you. You want him to reflect back your insecurities. That is a recipe for a dysfunctional roller coaster of a relationship. If I gave anyone any advice it is that he should rethink his relationship with you, as you are not at the level of having an equal and healthy relationship.  You are going to cheat on him some day when someone starts telling you what you want to hear and you will mistakenly think that is real love.

I’ve heard people say you can’t choose love. It just hits you. There are many kinds of and many levels  to love.  This chemistry stuff is only level one and it is the most superficial and temporary form. Territorial and possessive love is also level one type, as these are all more about you than they are the other person.

Trust, endurance, communication, admiration, and respect are all parts of the longer lasting deeper kind of love. What differentiates them is that they are about the other person more than they are about yourself.

Perplexed you have a rocky road ahead of you. I hope this helps shorten your journey.

Dr. Brilliant Cliché

 

Granny says: Wow, do I have different take on this. I think that Perplexed has a rocky road ahead of her if she follows Dr. Brilliant’s advice. The negative assumptions he’s making about this poor girlfriend are waaaay off the charts. Me thinks there is some projection going on here.

I have had many boy friends over my lifetime and nearly all have been jealous, to varying degrees. It’s not a sign of neediness or dysfunction in most cases, it’s the same way they’d feel about anything that mattered to them- they know that men are predatory and their shackles go up if another male starts moving in on something they care about. Married men feel this way about their daughter’s suitors too.

The guy in my past who really stands out is the one who had an attitude EXACTLY like Perplexed’s boyfriend. I thought that he was so bloody evolved. I really thought it was a sign of emotional maturity. Ha! This guy turned out to be more neurotic and messed up than all of the other men combined. He actually liked the idea that other guys were turned on by me and saw it as elevating his status. Of course, he didn’t let me know that. He developed his little “I want you to be free” rap so he could appear enlightened. Turns out he was a closet gay and wasn’t possessive because I had no value to him other than as a means of living out his suppressed gay life while keeping a cover.

Listen, any red blooded male worth his salt is not going to like men ogling the woman he loves, or coming on to her. It’s not because the man ” don’t feel whole unless they are with her.” It’s because they know exactly what cads other men are. Rampant, needy jealousy is a sign of psychosis. But some jealousy is a healthy sign that a man values his partner and wants to protect her.

Any man who pukes up the bland crap that Perplexed’s boyfriend is spewing at her isn’t enlightened or mature. He just doesn’t give a crap.

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Is masturbation good for your health?

Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché,

I caught my husband  masturbating the other night when I got up late to use the bathroom. He says he read online that it was good for his health and “keeps him young” if he does it daily.  I am not sure how I feel about it.  I certainly don’t want to have sex with him every day! Is it true that it is good for his health?

Wife

 

Dear Wife,

The supplement market makes billions of dollars a year with promises of eternal health and beauty with little evidence to support their claims. The best supplements I know of to bring about better mood, improve the immune system and decrease the likelihood of prostate problems are folk remedies that cost almost nothing. There is strong empirical evidence that an apple a day and an orgasm a day both support prostate health. Orgasm has also been shown to help alleviate anxiety and depression and improve overall immune functioning. And, of course, it is a well-known preventative for premature ejaculation.

There are prohibitions against masturbation in most cultures and religions. The dire predictions range from “going blind” to ruining your relationships, but scientific data shows just the opposite.   Few relationships include daily sex…and the orthodox view that “saving it makes for better sex” does little but increases the risk of early orgasm in men.  You could just as easily say practice makes perfect!

Woman don’t get the prostate benefit but they do get the anxiety, depression and immune support benefits from orgasms.

A caveat, of course, is that if a person is spending excessive time masturbating in lieu of sex with their partner, or doing it at inappropriate times, this might be cause for alarm.

Dr. Brilliant Cliché

 

Granny says: oh, come on. Do people really still believe that masturbation is for perverts and social psychopaths? Wife, you need to do some reading. Men are capable of having more orgasms than you can ever imagine. I’ve known guys who are at it three times a day. Easily. The rate at which teen boys can get it up is somewhat awe inspiring.

The list of benefits which orgasm can produce is pretty awe inspiring too. In addition to the stuff already mentioned, it improves circulation, increases fertility in women by stimulating the hypothalamus gland, aids in lymphatic cleansing, promotes healthy hormone levels, spikes DHEA levels to improve brain function and skin appearance, and can even help cure migraines. So back off, Wife! What are you trying to do, kill the guy?

Here’s an encouraging thought- if your husband is masturbating at home, he’s probably not having an affair. If you can’t imagine having sex more than once a week, I would not mess with your husband’s current methods.

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Just busted:

Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché,

My son is 19 and was recently caught smoking marijuana. He’s not a juvenile delinquent- his grades are good. The friends he smokes pot with are all otherwise good kids. My son has never previously been a discipline problem and has an amiable nature.

His mom went ballistic and gave him ultimatums like “if you see those friends again I’ll take the car away” I am not sure that will help anything since he is 19 and goes to school away from home. I know he sees them anyway. I also know that no matter what we say he will smoke pot at school with his friends.  I am at a loss as to what to do.

Concerned Dad

 

Dear Dad,

As this is an extremely common problem and ever growing, I asked nearly everyone I knew if they had any experience with this and I was surprised by how many did. Some of them just said, “so?” Most of them responded with, “when my son was that age, he did,” or “when I was that age you should hear what I did!” I would then get a long list of antisocial infarctions, sometimes from very respectable parents.

None of us want our kids to experiment with drugs. It puts them in potential danger. But in the big scheme of things I’ve rarely met anyone who hasn’t done this and most of them don’t go on to completely screw up their lives.  It seems to me that overall you have a good kid. At 19 there is not much you can do to control him, but it might be a good idea to have him get a job. I’d also encourage his successes, let him know you love him, and be a good role model yourself. Ultimately, his success or failure in life is up to him, not you.

I would avoid ultimatums because they just don’t work. I’d also make sure that you don’t miss his successes because of his few negatives.

Dr. Brilliant Cliché

 

Granny says: to be honest, I can’t believe that in this day and age your wife flipped out like that. She must have either lead a very sheltered existence or she wears a massive set of horse blinders.

Kids experiment. It is completely and utterly natural. I have watched many kids grow up over my lifetime and there’s something that seems ironically true- the ones who appear to be the best kids because they stick to the straight and narrow and listen to strict moms and dads are NEVER the ones who do anything exciting or interesting with their lives. Everyone who has an innovative streak was a headache for their parents. And I have also seen kids who seemed to be exemplary turn out to be suppressed as hell; they later exploded in dangerous ways.

The prime example that comes to mind is a kid named Chris Simril from my home town. He was an honor student, a winning athlete, went to church with his mom every week, all set for a good college at the end of high school with a National Merit Scholarship. Except Chris never made it to college. One fine summer night, he took his mom out in the fields behind their house, cut her into pieces with an axe, and put the body parts in a bag. He spent the next 20 years in an insane asylum.

I seriously think that making a big deal out of this problem will have a negative rather than positive effect. I wouldn’t show approval, because there are dangers, but don’t treat him like a freakin’ criminal.

Concerned Dad- tell  your wife to ease up on your kid, for god’s sake. If this is the biggest worry you ever have about him, consider yourself blessed.

 

 

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After Childhood sexual abuse:

Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché,

My 10 year old daughter was raped by her uncle. The police are after him but I am worried about my daughter. She has been withdrawn and acting out. She has a counselor coming to the house but her behavior is always worse afterward. They are making her talk about it.  Now they want to put her on medications.  She is only ten! I don’t want her to be screwed up for the rest of her life. What can I do?

Worried sick

 

Dear mom,

The main thing that has to be gotten across to your daughter is that she is not broken.  Sexual abuse does not mean she has to be messed up forever. I have worked with people from other cultures where it is the acceptable norm for men to sleep with their daughters as a sort of rite of passage. As crazy as this sounds no one became traumatized until they moved to America and DCYF took the dads away and put the children in PTSD groups. Suddenly all these kids developed post traumatic stress syndrome.  Before, it wasn’t a secret or shameful, just what everyone did.  The kids didn’t see themselves as different or broken until entering our culture.

Your ten year old doesn’t have the language or experience to be able to process this experience. It would help a great deal if she had some education based on anatomy, sex, development, and also some information on love and relationships. Delving into talking about abuse without this background information won’t help, but it could hurt- she just doesn’t have the tools to handle the experience.  I highly recommend that she read A Very Touching Book  by Jan Hindman. For older kids , The Courage to Heal, by Ellen Bass, is effective, and has a work book to bring the lessons home.

Kids also process experiences by how people around them react. If everyone else is freaking out, kids will freak out.  Some neutral person has to be able to work with her. Your behavior as a parent can’t be governed by guilt or you could reinforce very destructive behaviors in your child.

Physically, she is the same person she always was. Mentally, she is at risk for getting lost.   For many kids in her situation, successful healing comes from educating and helping others who have been bullied and or abused.  As she gets older she should get involved in volunteer organizations and public speaking about it. As Stephen King says, “Secrets eat you from the inside out.” Your daughter’s experience can’t be seen as a secret or a source of guilt or shame. It has to become a source of strength.

The danger of medication is that there is a risk it will suppress her feelings and make it unnecessary to develop the skills to process the experience. This would be a potential time bomb. Studies only show that medications are most helpful in the first three days after a traumatic experience occurs. Memories of the experience are not as cemented at that point. The higher the emotion the larger the imprinting of memory, so decreasing the initial emotions can decrease the imprint. Unfortunately, many doctors start medication, then leave the kids on it for the rest of their lives. They also sometimes start medications months out, which isn’t necessarily useful at all.

She is not broken,

Dr. Brilliant Cliché

 

Granny says: I taught self defense to women for many years. It used to be that the advice about rape was “don’t struggle, it’s not worth your life.” But years of research have thrown that old adage out the window. Women who have been raped will tell you- life, as they knew it, is over forever after the violation. It is better to fight as if your life is at stake, because, figuratively speaking, it is.

This doesn’t mean that someone who has been raped will never recover. What it means is that that something inside is changed forever by this experience. A woman who is treated badly after a rape, or made to feel as if it was her fault, or that she is “dirty” because of it, will be emotionally crippled for life. Support and reinforcement of self is the most important thing that you can give any rape victim.

If the counseling is making your daughter worse, I would find out why. Is the therapist experienced with kids her age, or do they ordinarily work with older women? It’s important that your daughter see someone who knows how to work with her age group. I would also suggest a female therapist rather than a male.

As to medication? If you want to see your ten year old daughter become dependent on drugs for life, this is a great way to do it. She is NEVER going to want to feel those emotions again. If she doesn’t deal with them now, it will just get harder as she gets older. Most likely, she will bury the emotions and have one broken relationship after another that falls apart because her subconscious fear will undermine the boundaries of normal sex and her reactions to men.

Granny’s recommendation is that whatever else your daughter does, she ought to study self defense. It is one of the few things that is going to make her feel safe again. I am not talking about some six week course that shows her how to knee men in the groin. I am talking about thorough training that gives her both self confidence and the discipline to have self-control. One of the dangers I see in quick self defense courses is that many women who seek them out have a personal vendetta and are just waiting for an excuse to hurt some man. I can’t think of a better way to end up in jail, or dead.

Your daughter needs to feel normal. Don’t treat her like a freak or force her into counseling that upsets her. But don’t ever be fooled- unless she finds a way to confront this head on, it is something that will always be following her from behind.

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50 shades of the beast

Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché;

Every time I turn on the TV, I am seeing scenes from Fifty Shades of Gray.

I never thought I’d live to see the day that Hollywood was, essentially, promoting S&M. One thing I do find interesting is that the woman who is the “love object” here is not some beauty queen out of Glamour. She looks like she could be the girl next door. Since when is the girl next door into this stuff?

Curious Clara

 

Dear Clara,

The target audience for this movie is women, so I would assume it is good marking to use Plain Jane rather than Barbie. Fifty Shades of Gray is a poorly written Beauty and the Beast story. It’s one of the myths our culture is founded on: love will redeem the beast. In reality this type of female sacrifice just leads to dysfunctional codependent relationships. Unfortunately, that is the nation’s romantic norm- sacrifice for love and all will be OK. A man will be redeemed because a woman nurtures him back to grace. Fifty Shades dresses the Beast in leather and gives him a private jet but it is the same old story so I am not surprised to see it on the silver screen again.

Dr. Brilliant Cliché

Granny says: perhaps it is because he is not a woman, but I think Dr. B is missing the boat when it comes to why women are so intrigued by this book. They are not lured by the idea of taming the Beast. They are lured by the idea of being taken by the Beast. They don’t want to sacrifice themselves so they can redeem the Beast. They want to be in the hands of a strong man who is expert and aloof and fabulously rich, yet somehow so drawn to Plain Jane that she is whisked into his fairy tale existence.

Screw the cultural dysfunctional codependence. This is about sex, about being with someone who is masterful and whom you wouldn’t dream of saying no to. S&M has always been in the top 10 of sexual fantasies. Sex sells and this was a very attractive package, so of course it’s a hit. It will be replaced by another hit in a few years and as long as the public wants it and will pay for it, this stuff will keep coming out.

Granny has a word of warning though- Women! Do not be fooled by this movie. If there is ever a fabulously rich, masterful man who lures you into such a relationship, it will not be for long. Anyone this young, and this good at the Game, is going to want to keep playing. Beasts cannot be tamed. And they will never willingly walk into a cage.

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Dear Abby what were you thinking?

Yesterday, Dear Abby gave the worst advice I’ve ever heard and I only hope this gets to the poor woman who wrote in before she follows it.

A wife and nurse presented the following scenario- her husband was a patient at the hospital she worked at and she pulled up his records just out of curiosity. She saw that his doctor had noted, “HIGH RISK FOR SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES.”  He’d had multiple tests, treatments, and work ups for these throughout their marriage while their own sex life was minimal. She asked Abby what she should do and if she should bring up what she discovered with her husband. Abby replied that what she had done was illegal but she should defiantly talk to him about it and rethink the status of the marriage.

 

Here’s the problem with the advice- what this nurse did is not only illegal, it is a federal crime. The least that will happen is that her husband will make a windfall in suing the hospital for the violation and damages, probably for a divorce directly related to the lack of protection of his health care information. This poor woman will also lose her license to practice medicine and incur fines and possibly jail time. She will at least be brought up by the medical board.

What she should do is say nothing about what she found but immediately discontinue having sex with him. She should get herself a good physical and catch him in another way, through phone records or a private detective. As he wasn’t too careful in the first place it probably won’t be hard to prove his infidelity another way.

If this husband is not rich losing her job and livelihood won’t be worth not waiting just a bit to get divorced.

 

Dr. Brilliant Cliché

CC: Dear ABBY and the sunchronicle.com

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Oxytocin and Love

Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché;

Here’s something I don’t understand and I’m hoping you can help- why do women seem to become emotionally attached more easily than men? It seems that as soon as I become intimate with a guy, something happens to me- I begin thinking ahead to a deeper involvement, planning our possible wedding and future children…and the guy just wants to get out of bed and run the moment it’s over!

This is so common with the women I know that I have to wonder if it’s not just an emotional thing. Love makes us feel so wonderful, then the next minute, we are crashing into disappointment because the guy has left the page. Can you give me a clue?

Abban Donment

 

Dear Abby;

Chemicals influence the feeling of love and attraction in both women and men. When a woman is fertile she has a stronger sex drive and is more susceptible to falling in love. Men are drawn to fertile women because of pheromones but once fertility passes that chemical no longer holds a man’s interest in the same way.

Something as simple as catching and holding eye contact can set in motion a series of events that leads to baby making. Soulful staring, hugs, and orgasm release, to varying degrees, an attachment inducing hormone called oxytocin. Oxytocin helps your brain imprint someone as friend or foe.

Herbal companies have already marketed oxytocin type sprays, but before you get any ideas- oxytocin can’t be used as a date enhancing drug. Sometimes oxytocin locks people into your social circle and you feel warm and fuzzy around them, but other times it locks people out and you feel aggressive toward them. Another hormone, serotonin, can make people love everyone indiscriminately. So an effective formula might come from adding serotonin to oxytocin then spraying it in your arm pits. You would then need your date to lick your armpit to get the full effect.

 

Woman may be more susceptible than men to the effects of oxytocin because of estrogen, a hormone made in the ovaries and fat tissue which moderates all the other hormones. If you lose too much fat you can become infertile. Estrogen might be a factor in why women gravitate to love rather than lust.

Oxytocin also moderates a hormone in the brain called dopamine, which regulates our sense of well being, our memory, learning ability and creativity. All street drugs target dopamine either directly or indirectly. So, when you gaze into a man’s eyes, especially while having an orgasm, the idea of detached friends with benefits is out the window. He is now imprinted into your brain as a love object. Whether you like it or not there will be all sorts of emotions invested in him now and you will suffer a withdrawal similar to that of heroin if he doesn’t call you or if he breaks up with you.

Dr. Brilliant Cliché

 

Granny says: you may be interested to know that not all women are created equal when it comes to that “instant bonding” effect; and the reason might surprise you.

A recent study at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm showed that brain development tends to differ according to sexual preference: gay men develop brains that resembled those of straight women- the right and left sides are about the same size. Gay women’s brains are more apt to belike those of straight men- the right side tends to be slightly larger than the left. In the matter of emotions, gay men and heterosexual women are more alike…and gay women and heterosexual men are similar. Because of this, gays and heterosexuals also react differently to pheromones.

But let’s be real- there are far more factors that figure into human attraction and emotional focus than the size ratio of our brain hemispheres and our sexual preferences. Personal history, family role models, and basic self esteem are going to play into the equation as well.

There is another far more basic and primitive factor which seems to over ride much of the rest of this research data- women give birth to children, not men, and women have a realistic need for protection and commitment in raising those kids. Hence, their primary concern is in finding a permanent mate. Lust, and one-night stands, don’t count for much when ya gotta pay bills and take the kids to their soccer matches.

Unfortunately, as far as I can see, men still have a peculiar need to at least imagine they could impregnate multiple women and thus increase the likelihood that their genetic material is carried on. It’s a fact- unless they were artificially inseminated while under the influence of roofies, women always know, without a doubt, that the child coming out of their vagina is their own. For men, it is never a certainty. This might explain a lot.

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Don’t tell mom

Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché;

I was just diagnosed with stage two melanoma. I think I’m going to be OK, and I’m fully insured, so as far as my personal trauma from this, I am managing. The question I am torn over is whether or not I should tell my mother.

Mom lives alone and takes medication for an anxiety disorder. Her heart isn’t good. When my brother was diagnosed with a less dangerous type of skin cancer last year, he told her about it and she worried and fretted so much she made herself ill and had to be hospitalized. It turns out she needn’t have worried at all because his problem was been treated successfully and shows no signs of coming back. Melanoma is a little more serious and there’s a chance things could go wrong at this stage. However, there’s also a good chance I’ll respond well to the treatment and I’ll go on to live to a ripe old age.

I’m sure my mother would be hurt to the max if this was serious and I didn’t let her know. But it seems that until I have a better idea where this is going, I should keep her in the dark for her own well being. They say honesty is the best policy, but in this case, I’m really not sure. What do you think?
Tanya

 

Dear Tanya,

There are no clear textbook answers here- you have to balance the potential damage of secrets against your mom’s tendency to overreact in a damaging way. What I will say is that past behavior predicts future behavior. If your mom went ballistic with worry in the past, she will do it again in this current situation and probably in any future events as well.

If your brother is strong enough to be your support within the family I would lean on him instead. Of course he would have to keep the secret too. If your mom finds out some day and is pissed off and says, “what, you think I couldn’t handle it?” you can look her in the eye, and respond with, “yes, that’s exactly what I think.”

If your heath does take a turn for the worse I don’t recommend keeping it from her, regardless of how crazy she might get. Her craziness, although a bit self-centered, is still her way of caring.  And caring is all that will matter at that point.

 

Dr. Brilliant Cliché

Granny says: I seldom agree entirely with Dr. B, but in this case, there is nothing good that can come from telling the truth to your mom in these initial stages. It would be like yelling, “Fire! Run for your life!” in a crowded movie theater when, in fact, you’d just discovered that some idiot threw a cigarette butt in a garbage can and you can probably put it out with a glass of water.

However- if the smoldering begins to grow, starts inching towards the velvet curtains and there’s no water in sight…you might want to reconsider. Everyone has the right to know when their life, or the life of someone they love, is truly in danger.

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My perfect friend killed herself:

Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché;

I’m graduating from high school next week and have a spot reserved at a good university in the fall. I should be feeling good, but I feel as if someone pulled the rug out from under me. I am hoping you can help.

My best friend killed herself the day before yesterday. Our school has brought in a grief counselor and is doing everything they can to help the students adjust,  but I don’t see how anything can help. The problem is, no one in a million years would have imagined that Lisa would commit suicide. She was smart, and she was so pretty it made me jealous. She always got a good part in drama club plays and everyone thought she would go on to really do something. She got accepted at Yale, for god’s sake. And right before graduation, she kills herself?

It makes me doubt everything around me. I feel lost, like there’s nothing to hold onto. If she had EVER given even a hint if this, it wouldn’t be so hard to take, but if Lisa was carrying around so much pain inside and nobody, I mean NOBODY, had a clue…how can I ever trust anything again? Everything seems like a shame, a card trick.  I just can’t process this.

Lorna Done

 

Dear Lorna,

Grief is unsettling and only time will help it to pass. That being said, I have some words to consider after the initial shock fades a bit.

Our culture is confusing. On the one hand, it tells us that our appearance and our actions define who we are. On the other hand, it tells us that it’s what’s inside that counts. I don’t think that either view is entirely true.

It doesn’t work to ground yourself in the external world because it’s something you have no control over. You shouldn’t ground yourself 100% in your internal world either because this can be a trap; emotions and thoughts are not always based in reality. The only effective way to ground yourself is with a feedback loop between your internal world and the external world. Who are you, relative to whom you wish to become? What course of action are you choosing? Are you surrounding yourself with people who compliment and support your goals? When you ground yourself this way, the questions become more important than the answers. It helps you to observe and pay attention.

You are not defined by what people think about you, or what college you are going to, or what scholarship you have. These are your tools, they are not you. The mistake your friend probably made was in not having a balance between her inner world and her outer world. A tool is not an endpoint, and seeing it as such turns life into a win or lose competition.

You cannot know what was in your friend’s mind. Her appearance may have been as good as it was because it was all that she had- there was no internal sense of self. She may have lived to please others. She might have been in pain or she may have suffered from guilt, emptiness, or confusion. Sometimes people kill themselves in a misguided belief that it is making the world a better place. There is no way of knowing for sure, and it is not a good idea for you to ground your own mind in a guess about someone else.

People commit suicide most often at transitions, either when things become really good or when they become really bad. These are the times when we can actually see our lives- when the auto pilot which runs us most of the time turns off.

I am sorry for your loss, but you are not she,

Dr. Brilliant Cliché

 

Granny says: the older I get, the more I realize that very few people will allow themselves to be vulnerable enough to reveal suffering or doubt to the outside eye…and with good reason- we live in a world where people who have the appearance of success or beauty are revered. If those same people are caught in a moment of weakness, or in a bathing suit that reveals their one square inch of cellulite, the media goes for their throats.

Those of us who look up from the ground at the idols on their pedestals don’t realize what a pressure it puts on them- they can only stay there as long as they are perfect. One wrong move, and they fall. It’s easy to become frozen in fear- a beautiful piece of preserved ice that will shatter at first touch.

Your friend was about to be moved from the pedestal she occupied in her own school, into a vast ocean where she was one small fish, battered by rivals who might be far better prepared for the fight. If she had no center and no soul to take with her, she must have been terrified at the prospect.

But let’s get back to you. Here’s the big question- how do you learn to trust again? That’s tough, because in a way, this was a betrayal- it’s as if Lisa lied to you with her beauty and her smiles. But think about it- her beauty was not a lie. She was beautiful. And her smile made other people smile. When she was in that moment, it was the most real she ever was. The lie was within herself.

If you ground yourself, and build yourself, you can trust that. Please, don’t worry. Go to school in the fall and fill your own life with purpose. In time, you will be fine.

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No I Don’t want to visit my Dad!

Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché,

My daughter is 14 and she had been complaining that she doesn’t want to go on visitations with her dad anymore. I don’t believe there is any abuse going on, or danger- just that her dad has always been quiet and introverted and just a overall bummer to be around. I’ve had it with him, that’s why we are divorced, and I feel bad forcing her to be subjected to the same thing I had to put up with for years. Should I go back to court? Can I? Again, he is not abusing her.

Mom

Dear Mom,

Unfortunately life is what it is. We don’t get to choose our parents. Although you were able to back out of your marriage, you can’t back away from the consequences of that relationship.

Your daughter’s dad will always be her dad. Since there are no safety or abuse issues involved you can’t stop visitations. If he wants them, it is his legal right. If he doesn’t show up for visitations take it as a gift and don’t micro manage him. Either way, your daughter will need to learn how to deal with her dad. She needn’t go out of her way to try to make him happy but at the same time she must respect his way of being for what it is.

It’s a good life lesson to learn you- can’t change people, but you can learn who they are and decide whether you want to add them to your life. If you’d known this you probably wouldn’t have chosen your husband in the first place. The best thing you can do for your daughter is to make sure you are a good role model. Choose carefully now who you add to your life and develop a healthy reciprocal relationship. If you henceforth make good choices it will go a long way to help your daughter’s future.

Dr. Brilliant Cliché

Granny says: this rarely happens, but I agree with Dr. Brilliant. You can’t let your daughter avoid her father because she finds him hard to be around. It’s a terrible lesson to teach her: “just avoid anything that you don’t want to deal with.”

Another aspect of this is that your daughter and your husband share genetic material. This means that they are similar in certain ways whether they like it or not. Accepting and trying to understand her father could help her understand herself.

And this brings me to a point- Mom, you talk about your ex as if he were a chronic cold you finally got rid of. If I pick up on your attitude from one question, your daughter picks up on it too. Stop regarding your ex as nothing but a mistake! It’s a very destructive way to present him to your daughter because if he was a screw-up, and she’s half him, then what does this say about her own potentials? Could she have inherited the dud qualities too?

Here’s a better way to look at it: you were two young people who had things in common, but grew apart. There were valid reasons you had for choosing your husband, along with the ones that really were mistakes. Talk to your daughter about the qualities you were drawn to in her dad. Show appreciation for him as a human being. What does it say about you if you just picked some total loser who is nothing but “an overall bummer”? Hey, you must be a loser too, Mom, to think this guy was the best you could do. What is your daughter supposed to think about her own potentials now?

I think there are some lessons for both you and your daughter to learn here. By all means, role model what a responsible, caring adult should be. But unless you get rid of the dad-bashing attitude, you are not role modeling any adult behavior to be proud of yet.

 

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