CVIndependent

Wed11132019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

I keep running into the same issue with my best friend of five years. (She’s also my maid of honor at my upcoming wedding.) We’re both empaths—most of my friends are—and we’re both in therapy working on how to cope with that. I have severe anxiety that impacts my physical health, so one of the empath-related issues I’m working on is not following through with plans when I need to take time alone. My friend claims she understands this, but my actions severely impact her mood. Example: We’ll make tentative plans to get together; I’ll feel too sick to follow through, and then she’s in a negative emotional spiral for days. The final straw came when she called me late this past Friday night—just once, with no subsequent voice mail, text message or follow-up call. On Monday morning, I sent her a text message asking how her weekend was and got an icy reply. Evidently, something happened to her on Friday; she called me for support; and my failure to return her call left her feeling very upset. I apologized for the accidental trigger and tried to lay down some protocols for reaching out in an emergency situation (leave me a voice mail, and send a follow-up text) so I know it’s urgent. She hasn’t replied.

I’m really frustrated. She has a lot of baggage around being shamed for being emotional, so I try to be careful not to invalidate her feelings, but I don’t know if that’s even making a difference. We’ve had several conflicts over the last year, always triggered by something I did or said, almost always accidentally, that caused her to “take a step back.” She insists she understands I’m doing my best to be a good friend while also working through my own emotional shit. But that’s not the sense I’m getting. I’m feeling increasingly like it’s impossible to be a human being AND her friend. Until recently, I had zero emotional boundaries and made myself available to her at a moment’s notice to help shoulder her emotional burden. But now that I’m trying to be more conservative with my abundance and take better care of myself, it seems like all I do is hurt her.

What the fuck do I do? I’ve tried to be open-minded and patient with her dramatic mood swings, but she seems unable to give me the benefit of the doubt, which I always try to give her. This rocky ground between us is adding more stress to the whole wedding situation. (You’re supposed to be able to rely on your maid of honor, right?) This thing we have is not sustainable as it is, although I love her deeply. Help me figure this out?

Emotions Making Personal Affection Too Hard

Being so attuned to other people’s emotional states that you feel their pain—being an empath—sounds exhausting. But Lori Gottlieb, a psychotherapist in private practice, isn’t convinced your empath superpowers are the problem here.

“EMPATH’s moods seem overly dependent on what the other person does,” said Gottlieb. “That’s not being ‘an empath.’ Most people are empathetic, which isn’t the same as what these two are doing. They’re drowning in each other’s feelings. This is what pop culture might call codependency, and what in therapy we’d call an attachment issue.”

From your letter, EMPATH, it sounds like you might be ready to detach from your friend—you mentioned a final straw and described the relationship as not sustainable—and detaching would resolve this attachment issue.

“This feels less like a friendship and more like a psychodrama where they’re each playing out their respective issues,” said Gottlieb. “A friendship isn’t about solving another person’s emotional issues or being the container for them. It isn’t about being devastated by another person’s feelings or boundaries. It should be a mutually fulfilling relationship, not being co-therapists to each other. In a strong friendship, each person can handle her own emotions rather than relying on the friend to regulate them for her.”

Gottlieb started writing an advice column because, unlike psychotherapists, advice columnists are supposed to tell people what to do. I’m guessing your therapist mostly asks questions and gently nudges, EMPATH, but since Gottlieb has her advice-columnist hat on today and not her psychotherapist hat, I asked her to tell you what to do.

“She should act more like a friend than a therapist/caretaker,” said Gottlieb. “She shouldn’t treat her friend or herself as if they’re too fragile to handle basic communication or boundaries. And they should both be working out their issues with their respective therapists, not with each other.”

If you decide to keep this woman in your life (and your wedding party), EMPATH, you’ll both have to work on—sigh—your communication skills.

“Right now, they don’t seem to know how to communicate directly with each other,” said Gottlieb. “It’s either an icy text or complaining to outside parties about each other. But when it comes to how they interact with each other, they’re so careful, as if one or both might break if they simply said, ‘Hey, I really care about you, and I know sometimes you want to talk about stuff, but sometimes it feels like too much and maybe something you can talk to your therapist about.’”

Lori Gottlieb’s new book, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, is a New York Times best seller. Follow her on Twitter @LoriGottlieb1.


I will be driving to New Orleans from Toronto. It’s almost impossible to drive from Ontario to Louisiana without stopping for fuel/food/hotel in Ohio, Georgia or Alabama. But I want to boycott Handmaid states during my trip. Even then, I feel I have to check the news every day to see what state is next.

Do you have any practical advice for me? Or should I just stay home until your democratic systems and your courts are fixed, and your Electoral College is abolished?

Canadian Avoids Nearing Terrible Georgia, Ohio …

Why head south, CANTGO? Even if you’ve lived in Canada all your life, you couldn’t possibly have explored every corner of your beautiful country. But if you absolutely, positively must board the Titanic—excuse me, if you must visit the United States—take a hard right after you cross the border and head west instead. Enjoy Michigan’s Upper Peninsula; check out some of those lakes they’re always talking about in Minnesota; speed through the Dakotas, Montana and the skinniest part of Idaho; and pretty soon, you’ll be in Washington state, where a woman’s right to choose is enshrined in the state Constitution. The summers are lovely; we’ve got hiking trails that will take you to mountain lakes; and Democrats control both houses of the state Legislature and the governor’s mansion, so you won’t have to check the news every day when you’re in Seattle.


CONFIDENTIAL TO EVERYONE

Anti-choice, anti-woman, anti-sex bills have been rammed through Republican-controlled state legislatures in Ohio, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, Arkansas, Utah, Mississippi and Alabama. “The new wave of anti-abortion laws suggests that a post-Roe America won’t look like the country did before 1973, when the court case was decided,” Michelle Goldberg wrote in The New York Times. “It will probably be worse.”

If these bills are declared constitutional—a real possibility now—doctors will be jailed; women who have miscarriages will be prosecuted; and many forms of birth control will be banned. If you’re as pissed off as I am—and anyone who isn’t can piss right off—please make sure you and all your friends are registered to vote so you can vote out anti-choice state legislators and governors in 2020.

To be clear: Right now, abortion remains legal in all 50 states. So you don’t have to wait until next November to send a “fuck you” to red-state Republicans pushing these laws. Make a donation to an organization that helps women obtain abortions in red states—like The Yellowhammer Fund in Alabama (yellowhammerfund.org), Gateway Women’s Access Fund in Missouri (gwaf.org), and Women Have Options in Ohio (womenhaveoptions.org).

On the Lovecast, Dan chats with actor Maddie Corman: savagelovecast.com.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; @fakedansavage on Twitter; ITMFA.org.

Published in Savage Love

There are some things we don’t readily share with friends and neighbors—like having paid one’s way through college by dancing around a pole. Or that romance with the golf pro. Or the nip/tuck during a “vacation” last summer.

Or that my grandmother once performed an abortion on herself using knitting needles.

With restrictions increasing on the rights granted by Roe v. Wade, women are being encouraged to talk about their experiences so that young women know what it was like—and what it could be like again.

It wasn’t until 1960 that “the pill” was approved by the Food and Drug Administration for contraceptive use. In 1965, Griswold v. Connecticut struck down a state law that prohibited the use of contraceptives, because the law violated the “right to marital privacy.” Prior to that, even married women could not get doctors to prescribe contraception.

And if you were single? Forget about it.

June Pariano of La Quinta remembers well what those times were like.

“It was around 1969 in Racine, Wisc., and I was 23 or 24 years old.

“At that time, insurance did not pay for the pill, but broke as we were, I found the money and chose a doctor whose office was close to our apartment. When I went in and asked about a birth-control prescription, he gave me a sermon about how women were put on this earth to bear children, and it was ‘against nature.’ He finally agreed to give me a 6-month prescription and said he would not renew it.

“Six months later, I went to another doctor who asked me, ‘Don't you want to have children?’ I was so angry that I was being questioned about such a personal decision.

“I joined NOW (the National Organization for Women). We organized, wrote letters, drove to the state capital and fought like hell to get the politicians and the churches out of our bedrooms. Now it seems the politicians want to expand government to bedrooms again!”

Although abortions have always been a last resort for women (witness my grandmother), who have used everything from bleach douches to wire coat-hangers, it wasn’t until 1973 that the Supreme Court said the “right to privacy” protected a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy prior to “viability.” Before that, other options for American women were to go to another country, if they could afford to, or to seek out illegal abortionists—therefore risking their very lives to terminate unwanted pregnancies.

I did just that, in 1967, and would not wish the experience on anyone. It was sleazy, unprofessional and frightening—but not as frightening to me as continuing the pregnancy. I had given up a child for adoption when I was 17, and did not want to go through the daily agony of wondering whether I had done the right thing yet again.

I’ve never regretted that abortion, and react strongly to those who blithely say, “You can always give the baby up.” They’ve obviously never gone through it.

Dori Smith is a retired public-relations professional living in Palm Desert.

“In 1984, I helped my best friend’s daughter get a legal abortion when she was 18, and I realized how hard it is for any woman to even make the decision. She was so grateful. She went on to college, has two children and a great marriage, and even works with children now. She wouldn’t have been able to if we hadn’t helped her.

“Back in 1965, I got pregnant at 15 in my first sexual relationship, the one time we didn’t use any protection. I was so afraid. When I told him, he was scared. We didn’t know what to do.

“Abortion was illegal, so I asked him to find someone to do an illegal abortion. We never could find anyone. I finally told my mom after four months, and my parents gave permission to get married. I thought I was in love. What do you know at 15?

“We shouldn’t have been parents at that point in our lives. I was such a young mother; it was difficult for me to give my son as much as I could later with my daughter. I was so young and immature.”

Would Dori have made a different decision if she had been able? “Of course, it’s difficult to separate a living human being from what I wish I could have had as a choice back then. Because I was married, I couldn’t attend my senior prom, and I didn’t finish college until I was 32.

“I’m mentoring a young woman right now who’s 15. I think about myself dealing with those huge issues at that age. If my mom had just talked to me about sex and birth control. That’s what bothers me about those against abortion—they’re also against sex education. It’s as if they want us to be punished for having sex.”

Priscilla Scheldt Richardson of Cathedral City was married with two sons, 9 and 12, when she got pregnant in 1981 at the age of 38.

“Babies were being born with severe conditions to women my age. I’m so grateful I had a doctor who believed in my freedom to decide whether to continue a compromised pregnancy.

“He said there was no point to an amniocentesis unless I knew I would terminate the pregnancy if the fetus was damaged. Otherwise, he wouldn’t risk my health or the fetus with the test itself.

“My then husband and I talked carefully and decided what was most important was to protect the quality of life for our existing sons.

“As it turned out, the fetus was normal—and we went ahead with the pregnancy. My children know this story; they understand that was our thinking at the time, and they respect that.

“Some might call our decision selfish, but having that choice is so important to protect. Without that choice, our lives might have been entirely different.”

Women who have gone through these decisions are married, divorced, widowed. They teach your children, play tennis with you at the club, volunteer at local charities, participate in your organizations. They’re your friends and neighbors.

Share your stories.

Anita Rufus is also known as "The Lovable Liberal," and her radio show airs every Sunday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on KNews Radio 94.3 FM.

Published in Know Your Neighbors