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Monthly Archives: December 2011

Dear Captain Awkward,

Hello! I hope all is well with you and things. I have a long rambling question that is either summed up as “money: how do I get it” or “life: how do I fix it,” so, yeah.

Relevant life history: Recovering alcoholic dry drunk unintentionally emotionally abusive father, unintentionally emotionally abuse mother, batshit crazy running in both sides of the family no matter how hard my mum tries to deny it, income wildly varying between working poor and lower middle class. I’m the middle kid and either “the scapegoat” or the only good one. I mean, the story my parents had about me was that I was their success because I was wicked wicked smart, well-behaved (unlike my younger sister), wasn’t going to drop out of college when I got there (unlike my much older brother), was going to make lots of money etc etc etc.

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O Captain,

My parents recently made a very bad life decision that’s really straining my relationship with them: a week before Christmas, they left their home in Tennessee, quit their jobs, and moved 700 miles to live with and care for my aging grandmother in Florida. There are an awful lot of reasons why this is a bad decision, too many to list – but my therapist, four out of five of my siblings, and some of my friends with very sound judgment all agree that it’s a terrible idea. In addition to all the reasons why this is not a good plan for them or for my grandmother, it’s a decision that is personally hurtful to me because it doubles their distance from their four grandchildren – my three sons, and my niece, who lives near me – and brings our ability to travel to visit them from difficult to pretty much impossible (due to finances, insanity of traveling 1400 miles with three little ones, and lack of room at my grandmother’s tiny house – even if we did manage to get there, we’d have to shell out more cash to stay in a hotel). I’m hurt and angry that they’re choosing this crazy, irresponsible situation over their ability to be more involved in my kids’ lives, and I’m pretty much resenting the hell out of my parents right now.

But I haven’t expressed any of this to my parents, because honestly, they’re so set in their thinking about this move that they would find a way to spin my dissent as being somehow indicative of MY poor judgment or selfishness or something. I’ve pulled way back on my relationship with them, but if they’ve noticed, they haven’t said anything, and I’m pretty sure they don’t even realize how negatively my siblings and I feel about this decision. None of us feel particularly inclined to talk to them about it, though.

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First, links!

Dear Sugar knows all about the jerkbrain, calling it “your invisible terrible someone.” Such a good description!

I’m reading Jaclyn Friedman’s What You Really, Really Want and will post a review here soon.

I finally watched Lena Dunham’s Tiny Furniture (it is streaming on the Netflix, as is the brilliant Meek’s Cutoff if you like independent cinema by women and I think you do) and kind of loved it. So real and awkward and reminds me of a million questions here. I wanted to punch both of those dudes so hard. Can there be a punching sequel? Or a videogame tie-in?

I’ve talked about my love for Yo, Is This Racist? before, yes?  Ok, good.

Via Amanda Marcotte, a Friend or Foe question that makes my head hurt. Lady, your spouse is not invited to the hen party. The hosts specifically asked you to leave him out of it. If he can’t fend for himself for one night, and you can’t leave him to himself for one night, then he is either a giant wet blanket or a control freak. I suspect it’s “can’t hang/wet blanket” given the tone of your letter, but if you can’t go anywhere without each other it is not cute and romantic. If he tries to pressure you into not going because of “fairness,” something is seriously off. Send him to the movies or off with a good book and have a good time with your friends.

And now, a fluffy dating question!

Dear Captain Awkward -

There’s this guy. (Of course there is.) We have sung together in our awesome little church choir for three years and he has a voice that would melt butter, but beyond that and the occasional pre-rehearsal chitchat, I don’t know him that well. Today I very suddenly became aware — via a Darcy-esque Grand Romantic Gesture on his part (albeit on a more modest scale) — that he’s Really Into Me. Looking back at our interactions with knowledge of the Into-Me-ness, I think he’s been pining after me for the better part of a year.

Here’s the rub: I’m 32; he’s 54. And not in a “54-is-the-new-44-goes-rock-climbing-and-looks-like-Captain-Picard” way; dude is solidly middle-aged.

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Dear Captain Awkward,

I realize that the following is a little out of your purview, and wanted to thank you beforehand for looking at it, even if you don’t respond.

I find it very difficult to care about the course that my life takes. I definitely feel emotions like a normal person (I laughed a lot when reading through your blog), but I have trouble feeling personally connected or concerned about people, myself included, though I am altruistic to people in general regardless of whether I know them or not. I also consider life and death to be equally value-neutral–as in, dying isn’t a horrible tragedy to me, though having your choice of whether to live or die taken away against your will is certainly very sad–and the world to be more bad than good. Because of this, I have always considered it a possibility that I might kill myself if my life gets too unpleasant, painful, unlivable, or just too boring. 

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Bathroom graffiti says "Silence is golden, but duct tape is silver."

And it's temporary, unlike burying them under the floorboards of your home.

Dear Captain Awkward,

I wrote to you a while ago because I wanted to move and felt like my boyfriend, who I was then living with, was holding me back. Well, the good news is I moved. I’m living with my parents now and I’ll start a education here in January. My boyfriend and I are trying to make our relationship work long distance, with no promises for the future made, which is exactly what I want right now. I’m also trying to find a place of my own.

The problem is, my sister, also living at home, and my dad fights a lot. I have a hard time dealing with noise in general and it’s really hard for me to relax when people are yelling at each other in the other room. I’ve tried several times asking them to be less loud, but that doesn’t really work. My dad tends to overreact to any criticism and my sister has a problem with accepting that confronting him about behavior she finds hurtful or annoying will never lead to him actually changing or even apologizing. My dad also has some problems with alcohol, and while he’s never violent and manages to function anyway, I suspect it might be a reason for his behavior. However, the combination of this leads to them spending hours fighting, several times a week. It’s making me resent them both a little. I really need some advice for coping with that situation. I get along great with my sister. We have fun together and she’s a big emotional support for me. I also get along fairly well with both of my parents, although less so with my dad.  But it’s hard for me to deal with the fact that whenever the two of them are home at the same time, there’s a big possibility that I’ll have to listen to them fight.

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Dear Captain Awkward,

Background: I’m losing my home to gentrification. I’m disabled and receive rent assistance from the housing authority. After what I’d planned as a fun day out (I’ve been severely agoraphobic lately and trying to force myself to get out more) became an unpleasant evening waiting for buses in the cold, damp, dark, I came home to a notice on my door that my apartment complex will no longer be participating in the Housing Assistance Program”. My lease is up January 31st. I don’t have the emotional, practical, or financial resources to move. I recently had a bout of bronchitis that put me in the hospital for a few days, I’m having one of the worst depressive episodes I’ve ever had that wasn’t directly triggered by a crisis (and I’d been taking some very difficult steps to try and get help beyond the inadequate care I’m currently receiving but not making much progress), and now I have a major crisis.

Don’t worry, that’s not what I’m asking your advice on.

Some needed background: My relationship with my mom got very strained after I hit puberty. I moved out when I was 16, and only stayed with her briefly (as in, a few weeks) when I was 19 and ending a relationship with an extremely abusive boyfriend. She wouldn’t take any money for rent, even though I was working full-time then, and she’d turned my bedroom into a sewing room. I was allowed to sleep in the corner and hang some clothes on a rack at the foot of it, and I wasn’t given keys; I had to have all my comings and goings at her convenience. When a guy who was interested in me called, she made a derisive remark about how they were sniffing around already. She tried to put me in a group home. I moved in to the first cheap rented room I could find. About a year later I moved to Texas. I’ve only seen her once since, and that was less than two years after the move; eighteen years ago. She’s sort of a cross between Joyce Summers and Sylvia Noble, to use a little shorthand. Over the past few months we’ve been tentatively planning for her to visit in March, which was a Seriously Big Deal for me.

I was going to email her to let her know about the crisis and suggest holding off on plans until I’d somehow worked something out. But my mother doesn’t like email; she’s told me that computers are what she uses at work and she doesn’t like using them when she doesn’t have to. I’m fairly telephone-phobic at the best of times, but since I was hoping to catch her before she bought plane tickets I called her.

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