I can relate to a letter I saw in your column. I am not 33 and successful like the letter writer, but a sassy Goth-type girl, 16, who makes really good grades. My problem is, I believe, I have a fatal attraction for bad boys and I sympathy love. When I say "sympathy love," I mean I like a guy just because he's nice to me on first impression.
That's what happened with my first relationship. I liked this guy, who was kind of a bad boy, so I talked to him. He pushed me away. His friend came up and soothed me while I was crying. We talked for a few days and soon went out. Then he started being mean, saying bad stuff about my friends and family, and lying. The last straw was when he made it appear he was cheating on me with a girl he had a crush on.
I admit I have a family problem in that my dad used to drink and verbally abuse my mom. He's better now, though, and things are much different. The pain's still there. Right now I have a crush on a guy who's not the best in the world; he's a druggie and kind of violent. He's really nice if you look deep down, and problems can be fixed.
Am I looking for the wrong guys? Or is it just me? As a last note, I am a goofball type person. I fear people don't take me seriously. I act silly all the time and still watch cartoons. Is that possible?
Madison, you're right to say problems can be fixed, but wrong about whose problems. Your own problems can be fixed with effort and determination, but you lack the power to fix someone else's problems. It's a little like voting. You get to vote, but you don't get to vote for someone else. One man, one vote. That's the rule.
You're not looking for a bad boy, you're looking for dad. Your dad showed you what a husband is, except he was a bad one. Your mom showed you what a wife is, except she was an abused one. Families can be as destructive as they are supportive. Things may be different now, but the damage has been done.
That is what dressing like a Goth suggests: black moods, a negative outlook on life, and placing yourself as an outcast. On the positive side, though, it gives you a circle to fit in. You are a member of your own club with your own uniform.
The first step in breaking your parents' pattern is to acknowledge you are seeking addicts and abusive men like your dad. Personal counseling or a practice like the relaxation response, popularized by Herbert Benson, can counteract the tendencies your parents developed in you and teach you to thwart abuse.
Wayne & Tamara