Revealing past betrayals hurts in here and now
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DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS:Over too many drinks, my best friend recently told me that when we were teenagers, she slept with two of my boyfriends. Not one, but two!
Then she looked at my horrified face and said, “Like, it was no big deal!” I said “I’ll show you what size of deal this is” and dumped my drink on her and left.
She keeps calling me! She says because we’re older now (in our mid-20s), the “silly stuff” from the past shouldn’t bother me. Silly stuff? She basically broke my trust, in the sleaziest way possible.
Last weekend, she actually asked me out to lunch. I said, “No freakin’ way!” She asked if it was because of what she’d told me. I felt embarrassed and childish for some stupid reason, and denied it, but I feel so burned. Am I overreacting? It is in the past now, as she pointed out to me several times? Funny how it feels very much in the present to me.
— Feeling Betrayed and Sick, River Heights
Dear Betrayed:Some people have the foolish idea that if enough time goes by, they can admit to something nasty and unforgivable — and it’ll be no big deal. As if the nastiness fades by increments every year! But saying these betrayals were a long time ago, and thus you should get over them, doesn’t wash with you.
That just means you are no fool, and you have your head on straight. Get rid of this “friend” for good and further prove that fact.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts:I’m 18, in first year university and my family has a major psychological problem. My dad has been in an abusive relationship for more than six years, since I was 12. He divorced my mom when I was 10 and then married a beautiful-looking woman who turned out to be verbally abusive, and a complete leech. She hasn’t worked a day since marrying my father. She just sits around the house watching TV, and yelling at my dad when he’s home from work.
I can’t stand her. Recently she tore my dad to pieces in front of me, and I lost it! I told her off, and she was shaking by the time I finished.
She told Dad he has to stop talking to me, and says I’m not allowed in their house ever again. So now he goes out to his car to call me on his cellphone because he’s such a wuss. What can I do?
I’m studying psychology and I know my dad is exhibiting classic Stockholm syndrome-type behaviour — identifying and sympathizing with the abuser. He has no one else in his world, except me. He has almost lost me, and long ago lost all his good friends because of that witch.
I still live with my mother, and when I told her about this, she just shook her head and gave me a knowing look. What does that mean — her weird silence? And how do I deal with Dad now? What is he all about anyway?
— His Upset Son, North Kildonan
Dear Upset Son:Your mother’s head-shaking means she isn’t surprised by the situation your dad now finds himself in. It seems your mother is not the type to tear down her son’s dad — unlike like his second wife, who has been doing it with great relish.
You’re interested in the psychology of this situation, so right now would be the time to ask your mom to start talking to you as an adult. She possesses more pieces to this puzzle. Start by asking your mom about your dad’s parents’ personalities and his growing-up years. Also ask her about her marriage with your father in the earlier good times. Then, you also need to find out some important reasons why it went wrong between them.
Once you have more knowledge, talk with someone from the counselling services at your college or university. While you may not be able to change anything, you need to digest this “material” so you can get on with your schooling and your life. Also, it’s time to step up and be more adult with your father. Invite your dad out to lunches and events with you. He’ll be free to go with you alone, now his second wife doesn’t want you around.
If your dad seems to want a read-out from you on the situation, tell him you think he’s a good person, that he deserves a much better partner and that he can find one if he tries. That’s all he needs to know — any more detail from you about his present mate could prompt a debate between you that nobody’s going to win.
Please send your questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or Miss Lonelyhearts c/o the Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave., Winnipeg, MB, R2X 3B6.
Maureen Scurfield writes the Miss Lonelyhearts advice column.