Recently, I sat with my wife in our back garden, a small fire burning in front of us, smoke curling up, the earthy smell of peat hanging in the cool air. I looked up at the stars and planets, sparkling bright in the clear, pitch-black evening sky. A peaceful feeling wrapped me like a warm blanket. I felt so good.
After about an hour, my wife said she wanted to go inside. Seconds after she left, my mind kicked in: “Why is she going in? She should stay out here with me. If we were on a date, she wouldn’t…
My father was a high-achieving, sharp-looking, charismatic, entertaining guy. He provided well for our family, and I learned a lot from him. He taught me the importance of hard work, paying attention to details, asking for what you want, anticipating what can happen, being a good conversationalist, and being friendly to and respectful of others.
He could also be a short-tempered, controlling, overbearing, critical, and perfectionistic pain in the ass. Like with anyone, overused strengths can become weaknesses. But it didn’t stop there — I heard many racist and misogynist remarks from him throughout my life. …
“Just a heads up, I might write about our relationship,” I recently said to my boyfriend. “But I promise I won’t do it without your permission.”
“Consent,” he said.
“Without my consent,” he repeated. “You don’t need my permission to do anything.”
“Oh. Right,” I said, laughing a little, and we exchanged the knowing look — a tender, amused wince — that has become commonplace in our relationship. The look is a mutual acknowledgment that I am really fucked up. Or, to be kinder to myself (which is on my self-care list!), …
I don’t remember the first time I said “I love you” to a partner. I know it was my first boyfriend, but I have no memory of saying it to him. I also have no memory of him saying it to me, though I’m sure he did.
I’m not sure I actually loved him. He pursued me and I surrendered. No one had ever taught me that it was okay to say no to something I didn’t want — not to dating and not to sex. So we dated and somehow, over time, I came to… what? Did I love…
By the time I attended my first Al-Anon meetings as a teenager in the ’90s, I had heard the word “codependency” many times. Where? No one in my house talked about it, nor did friends, but it was ambient in the culture at the time. While researching the genesis of this term and its conceptual underpinnings for a memoir about my own disastrous relationship patterns, I realized I’d probably heard it on the daytime talk shows I sometimes mindlessly watched after school.
Codependency had a moment in the late ’80s and early ’90s. But, sadly, when the term went mainstream…
“Never be afraid of the conversations you’re having. Be afraid of the conversations you’re not having.” — Susan Scott, Fierce Conversations
Have you ever struggled with saying what’s really on your mind? We all do. When we’re not being fully honest with others, it’s often because we:
However, problems occur when you don’t speak honestly:
I asked “When you told your friends you don’t love me anymore, how did they feel?” and you said “Not surprised.”
Three days later you posted a photo and your friends were like “You’ve never looked happier!!!” and they were right.
My friends don’t ask me where you are anymore because they know I don’t know.
I guess we were ships crashing in the night.
So now my memory of you is like money in a glass case in the sea: beautiful, untouchable, distorted, seductive, sinking. …
My brother Kevin had a baby, a beautiful little girl who cries, stress vomits, and has too much gas. I never thought I’d have so much in common with a baby. My brother was prepared for her arrival. He’d been prepared years in advance: wife, house, car, job, money, pets, crib. The last time my girlfriend’s period was late, my life flashed before my eyes like a freight train barreling down on a toothpick castle.
I am a stick person. Kevin is a carrot person. He sees a reward, prepares, does the work, gets it. I see a temptation, run…
You’re walking on an empty street in your hometown. Someone approaches and a meeting of some kind is inevitable. To ignore them would be an act in itself, since it almost seems, for a moment, like you’re the only two people in existence. Perhaps there is mistrust or fear or who knows, but there is an antidote, it turns out: the humble nod. That simple movement, if returned, can be a powerful act.