Move on with­out re­tal­i­at­ing

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - PAUSE & PLAY -

Q-My boyfriend of eight months turned out to be a liar and cheater.

He told me sad sto­ries of fam­ily con­trol over his life and earn­ings that had me feel­ing sorry for him.

Be­sides be­ing emo­tion­ally and sex­u­ally open to him, I of­ten spent my money on trips and new clothes for him.

He said his par­ents could never know that he was see­ing some­one out­side his own com­mu­nity.

I be­lieved him, though it hurt that I never met any of his friends, ei­ther.

I’m in my mid-30s, never mar­ried, and usu­ally more wary, but I was just out of a re­la­tion­ship when we met, and vul­ner­a­ble.

I dis­cov­ered the truth when I ac­ci­dently found a let­ter to him from his real girl­friend (he de­nies she’s this, but she’s clear about it on so­cial me­dia).

Our times to­gether were al­ways se­cret.

He now wants to be “friends” with me, but I be­lieve he’s just afraid that I’ll out him to his very strict par­ents who some­how still rule his life at 33.

I’m so dev­as­tated that I some­times want to hurt him back just as hard. Isn’t that fair?

Shat­tered in Seat­tle

A-Don’t be harder on your­self. The longer you dwell on his lies and how to re­tal­i­ate, the longer you’ll feel dev­as­tated.

Use your anger to see clearly what went wrong and de­ter­mine to move on.

Yes, you were vul­ner­a­ble, but you were also too ready to please this man by pay­ing for all the ex­tras.

You now know that not meet­ing fam­ily and friends is a se­ri­ous red flag in a dat­ing re­la­tion­ship.

Be­ing “friends” with him would only re­mind you of what you thought you had, and the gap with what it re­ally was – a ma­nip­u­la­tive “sad story” to take ad­van­tage of you.

In­stead, boost your men­tal health and self-con­fi­dence by know­ing it can never hap­pen to you again.

Q-I was raised by a nar­cis­sis­tic mother and an ab­sent al­co­holic father. De­spite hav­ing seven sib­lings, I grew up lonely.

Middle aged, I still suf­fer from emo­tional de­pri­va­tion. My father long passed, but my mother’s still hurt­ing me in fa­mil­iar ways.

Sev­eral sib­lings are more en­gaged with her. They’re the ones she’d been able to get at her beck and call.

But my re­la­tion­ship with her wors­ened when, through ther­apy, I learned to say No with­out feel­ing guilty.

She’s el­derly, so I'm happy that she has sup­port. If not, I’d be there for her… I don't like her, but I do love her.

One sib­ling re­peat­edly hints at how lit­tle I do to help, fi­nan­cially and oth­er­wise.

I haven’t broad­casted my many gen­er­ous fi­nan­cial gifts to my mother de­spite her on­go­ing toxic be­hav­iour.

I'm truly grate­ful that I was ad­e­quately fed and clothed. But I need to keep some dis­tance so I can stay emo­tion­ally safe.

Am I Self­ish?

A-Self-preser­va­tion’s a nat­u­ral sur­vival strat­egy for some­one whose known years of un­hap­pi­ness.

A truly nar­cis­sis­tic par­ent can leave those around feel­ing empty from ne­glect. A child is also help­less to do any­thing about it.

Ther­apy’s helped you be sup­port­ive of your mother fi­nan­cially (and some­what for­giv­ing, too), with­out risk­ing her on­go­ing be­hav­iour.

How­ever, you now have a solid un­der­stand­ing of the dy­nam­ics be­tween her and your sib­lings, as well as your­self.

Re­mem­ber too, that some of her tac­tics may’ve been adopted by those sib­lings who are closer to her.

If you re-en­gage, do so on your own sched­ule, in your own way. And let the oth­ers know you’ve been pay­ing a gen­er­ous share.

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