Tag Archives: Christopher Robin

Dear Ms. Love n Happiness: The Case of the Pessimistic Pops

Dear Ms. Love n Happiness,

I hear that you are sort of an expert on “really ridiculously dysfunctional families” and “trying your damnedest to live a good life”. I usually rely on excessive introspection when it comes to my troubles but I could sure use some help unraveling this exasperating character that some might call my father but that I prefer to call “Eeyore”.  Allow me to make a long and unpleasant story short and unpleasant. After years of being mean, stingy, unloving, and well, an asshole my father recently had some sort of soul spasm and seems to have started having normal human feelings. While that itself is moderately irritating, I can forgive and forget for the most part. The problem lies in that he insists on acting victimized by life and demanding constant pity. No matter how many times his kids call or visit him it is never enough and he makes that known every chance he gets. While I want to tell him that he is lucky that any of his kids can stand the sound of his morose voice and the sight of his disgraceful face I find myself just avoiding his calls which leads to unpleasant indignation at the inevitable email I soon receive. (Yes, Eeyore learned how to use a computer ONLY because he craved one more avenue for spreading his misery). All I want is to live a good life and be a good person. As Pooh would say, I “think think think” but all I know is that if I avoid him it only adds to the load that my sister has to endure, if I continue a relationship with him I will have to sacrifice my precious few moments of peace, and if I kill him I will go to jail. Oh, bother. I apologize for the sullen tone of this question and I promise that next time I will lighten the mood by hashing out some of the homophobic and racist comments I had to endure at Thanksgiving dinner.

Much love and kisses,

Your biggest fan 🙂

Dear Biggest Fan,

Oh bother. I sure can relate.

I wish these “characters” in our lives would just stick to the script. I mean, your inner director is  probably saying “Look, Pops, you are the asshole father. That is your role. I have learned after many years and a shitload of tears to deal with your two speeds: angry or absent. And now you go and try to add a third?  Despondent and downtrodden? CUT! This is bullshit.”

And I am right there with you. This is bullshit and it needs to stop. The only thing, and I mean the only thing that your father has a right to complain about to you is how crummy he feels that he attempted to screw up large portions of your life.

Now, as I see it there are two possible explanations for his behavior. Note the use of the word explanation not excuse.

Explanation One:  You said that your father is  having some sort of “soul spasm,’ my guess is that this  convulsing is due to the huge gaping hole inside his soul.  Your father is trying to get you and your family to fill up the hole for him. He realizes that he can no longer use angry threats to get what he wants. That does not work with a grown-ass strong woman such as yourself, so he figured how to get you where you are weakest and he is tugging at the strings of your big ‘ol heart.  But don’t you see that what he is doing is manipulation? Sometimes manipulation comes to us wearing a pretty smile, bearing gifts or in this case brushing tears off his weather worn cheeks.

Even though your father was a total shmuck, it must feel good to know that he needs you and it is probably tempting to start trying to appease him by pouring what ever we can spare into that cavernous pit in his heart.  But the truth is even if you gave everything you had, it wouldn’t work. No one else can fill up that hole for your father, he has to do the dirty work himself.

Explanation Two:  He does not even know what he is doing, to be honest your father may not even be capable of masterminding true manipulation. Chances are Pops did not have much training on how any relationship works, let alone on how to be a father.  He feels bad about the past and his aching soul hole demands to be filled up so he grasps at straws and tries what ever might work,  and apparently the Eeyore routine works. Like a Pavlovian dog he wines and cries until you give him the little scrap of food he needed to momentarily fill himself up. This will go on and on until you run out of scraps to give, because as we discussed above, these soul holes can not be filled by others.

Regardless of the motives behind his behavior, I think we can both agree that this shit needs to stop.  You have been a big enough person to forgive this man for the pain he has caused you and let him back into your life, then the very least he can do is play life by your rules!

So here is what you do, damn it: the next woe-is-me communication you get from Pops you very simply tell him, “Dad, I’m happy to hear from you but I really have to insist that we focus our conversation on positive things.” You must use your words! Whatever words those are, use them. Do not infer this, wish this, tell your friends and family about it, or  ignore him and psychically channel the words to him. You must speak up and use your voice. Why? Because first of all it feels damn good, like you are wearing the best big girl pants ever!  And because it’s true that people will treat you the way that you demand to be treated, but first you have to give them a chance by telling them how to treat you.

When it happens again you say: “Dad, I really can’t talk to you when you are being like this.” And then, DON’T. Remember Pavlov? That lil doggie has gotta learn you mean business. And as far as you sister goes, I suggest she do the same damn thing. Gang up on his ass.

And really, what’s the worst he is gonna do? Get angry? Go away? You have seen and survived both just fine. And the best? He has a moment of blinding clarity and he never darkens your door with his morose nature again and instead become the father you always wanted. Or . . . maybe something in the middle.

Trust yourself. Use your big ‘ol heart and smarts to stand up for yourself and the life that you are creating. It’s not the same old same old. It’s new and nifty and pretty damn brilliant.

♥ & ☺,

C

p.s.

Thank you so much for all your questions. Keep ’em coming. “Dear Ms. Love n Happiness” rolls around every Tuesday. I am really digging this and I hope you do too!

Kicking Cartoon Ass

Eeyore being sad.

Image via Wikipedia

At the risk of sounding like a complete psychopath, I have a confession to make: I hear voices. The voices in my head sound a lot like the five o’clock news. They are all doom and gloom with the occasional side of sensationalism.  “Next at five, Candice will never find what she calls “fulfilling” work in this economy. She ought to be grateful to have any job at all! And stay tuned as we uncover breaking news of how Candice has probably taken years off her life in her many failed attempts to quit smoking! And later, watch as we bring you exclusive coverage as Candice gets her heart ripped out of her chest and stomped on again because she was misguided enough to trust another man!!!”

  If Eeyore and the teacher from Charlie Brown had a love child, it would sound exactly like one of my voices:  “Wah wah waaah. Oh . . . bother.” These voices, or my “script” as I refer to them, have been following me around for as long as I can remember.  Over the years their incessant chatter has become more like background noise, like a television on in the other room while you are trying to sleep; you eventually train your ears not to listen. Although certain situations really aggravate the script and the voices get louder. For example, say I am about to walk into a room full of people I don’t know very well. Suddenly my News Anchor Eeyore will go berserk and gets all Stephen King’s Carrie on my ass and shouts “They’re all gonna laugh at you!!” Or, say I am thinking about taking a much needed vacation to Mexico, the voice kicks in: “You don’t have any business going to Mexico! I mean all kinds of horrible things are going on over there! Besides, how are you able to afford a vacation right now? I mean, there are people practically standing in line for handouts and you want to go gallivanting off to Mexico??”

Heaven forbid that something wonderful happens! The voices will become deafening, like a keg party in your living room when you have to get up for school the next day and no amount of covering your ears or hiding under the covers will allow you to get any rest. Such was the case when I got engaged: “Oh… you’re gonna try that again. Haven’t you learned anything from the last several times you tried being in a relationship? Do you know what the divorce rate is these days? Besides, why would you think he really wants with someone like you anyway?”

Perhaps the worst was when I decided that I would give this whole writing thing another try. This time my voices didn’t even dignify their thoughts with words. They just burst in to shrill, hysterical laughter at my dream.

Sounds crazy, right? It is. But believe it or not—I am actually very lucky that my voices sound as crazy as they do because I am better able to recognize that they are not me. I mean, I actually enjoy meeting new people and I will never, ever turn down an opportunity to travel. And love; sure it’s shat all over me before, but so what? I still believe in it. And writing, well laugh all you want but I have known since I was old enough to read that one day I would make my living with words. The great news is that the crazy-Eeyore-piss- on-sunshine-fear- mongering-news-caster is not me!  That voice is not me at all and there is a lot of power in knowing that. There was a time when I thought that the script was part of me and even worse, I thought that the voices were right! (doom and gloom can sound so authoritative) I am not sure how they got there, or what purpose they could possibly serve—but I do know that everyone has ‘em.

My girlfriend Lee runs around like Chicken Little. Even though she is one of the strongest, smartest and most successful women I know, she is constantly bracing herself for the worst the case scenario. Even in the midst of all her dreams coming true she has one eye on the sky and is wondering “What the hell am I gonna do when the sky starts falling?”

If being thoughtful and caring was an Olympic sport my friend Lynn would be on the Wheaties box. She is the type of person who notices that something might be going on with you before you know it yourself. She has the uncanny ability to see the good in others and to make the best out of the worst situations. She is the type of girl who could probably make having a flat tire in the middle of the desert an absolute riot. However, she is always haunted by her voice: The Roadrunner. “Meep meep!” He screams at her constantly. Always pushing her to do more, move faster, get it right and figure it all out! Poor girl can barely sleep at night because the Roadrunner is always running her ragged.

And then there is my friend Milana, who has been blessed with one of the hugest hearts I have come across. She dreams big and has the absolute tenacity to make these dreams a reality. Yet she carries around the voice of Yosemite Sam with her everywhere she goes. This fiery, hair-trigger tempered nut job is always threatening to go off and destroy all the things she loves.   

Clearly it is not actually characters from the Warner Brother’s cartoons we watched as children or the creatures from beloved children’s books that have infiltrated our minds. We got these scripts from some pretty heavy places. Maybe it was an abusive step dad who was always screaming. Or a father we never thought we could please but we ran ourselves down trying anyway, or maybe it was being raised by people who had very dark views of themselves and the world. But facing down a personifications is much easier than facing the real thing. So, as cute as Eeyore might be, with his tacked on tail and big dopey eyes, I have decided I am tired of this donkey trying to run my life and piss on my dreams. He has to go.

So I put the little donkey in a cheap suit and I sit him at a news desk. And he starts in with that same story. About how I am not allowed to be happy when there are so many miserable people out there. About how the world is a scary, scary place and I had better watch my step. He goes on to tell me that I have no business having dreams, they won’t amount to much and he’d hate to see me disappointed. And all the while I am slowly stepping further and further away from him. His voice takes on the “Wah, waah,” quality as I continue to step away. He probably thinks that he has won again and that I am just going to retreat in the shadows as usual. That is when I get my running start. I start barreling straight toward him and as I pick up speed I think of all the things that I have missed out on, all of the things I would not risk because I was busy listening to this negative bitch tell me what the world is like. I think of all the ways that this voice has tricked me into being less of who I actually am.

I plow into my “script,”  and I knock the daylights out of Eeyore.  I scream: “Shuuuut Up!” Once that poor little donkey is on the floor I look at him and say: “You are the one with no business. No business telling me how to live my life!”

And so, that’s how  I kicked Eeyore ass. And I will continue to kick it until I am free.  All those things that seemed so desperate and real, those voices that ran me around in the same circles I hated, they started to loosen their grip. What kind of nasty script are you running from? Who personifies your “voices”?  Is it time you drug Gargamel out into the streets? Are you sick of all your callous sarcasm getting in the way? Maybe it’s time for you and Garfield to have a little go time. All those demons can be personified into a harmless character and then faced down and defeated. Unless you tell me it’s Snoppy. Then you got big problems, real big problems.