Tag Archives: mental-health

When love goes awry…


“And you know what? To protect my kids, I’d lie, too. I’d lie on a stack of Bibles.”

Read more: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2013/02/11/130211fa_fact_keefe#ixzz2K2jZqwHp

This story is about a woman who murdered all of her colleagues, supposedly over tenure at a university. And about the “accident” years earlier, where she shot her brother, killing him.

It’s a fascinating story, terrifying in its implications, sad in the lack of help for someone who could surely have used it. And worrying for the children of such a set of parents.

But the quote I selected above is the scariest of all. What’s happened here?

Back in the time of responsibility, parents were the ones who took their children to the shopkeeper and made them return what they had stolen. I remember once having done something mean to a friend and my mother MADE me go and apologize. I had to walk the mile there and back, squirming in embarrassment, upset that I had to take the blame for what had been a joint girlfriend attack. But I never bullied again. (Well, until I got into management, and then it was only incompetence that drove me).

My parents made me wear my decisions, and I think I’m better for it.

Now, I’ve covered for my kids at times, but I would never cover for such a thing. Even when they were in school and their teachers would call me to wail about how my kids weren’t doing this or that assignment, I’d tell them – so FAIL them! I’m cool with that, I said. They have to learn consequences. The teachers never did, saying that the final result on the assignment was too good for them to be able to fail them. Unacceptable. How was I supposed to hold the kids accountable when their teachers wouldn’t?

In the real world, when you f*** up, you pay. You get a ticket, you lose your job, you go broke or bankrupt, you lose a friend or a lover. I find it appalling that now people seem to think that it is totally inappropriate to subject kids to consequences, leaving them unprepared to deal with life.

ImageAnd with a flexible sense of the truth.

I adore my kids. I’d walk over burning coals to support them, even the ungrateful one who still won’t speak to me. (Well, maybe not that one. I’m fed up.) But I wouldn’t lie for them.

I know they have their faults, as do I. But I expect to be held accountable for my faults, as they should.

Would I lie if they were threatened with a jail sentence, if they committed a crime? My heart would break, but I wouldn’t. We live as a part of society, and as parts of society, we’re expected to play at least close to the rules.

I hope never to have to deal with this, and my heart goes out to any parent who has to try to understand a monstrous child. I know I blame myself for my kids’ every fault already, so I can imagine how they must feel. But surely, lying for your kid, letting them off the hook, allowing them to turn into more horrific and self-centred creatures isn’t love.

Feeling a fraud…


I’ve been talking with my galpals about this creeping sense of fear we all experienced at one point or another. It’s that feeling that you are merely playacting in your role, that sooner or later you are going to be caught out and proven to be completely inadequate.

The funny thing is that it happens so often that, really, we should be able to tolerate it. But it still seems a terribly frightening thing.

When I worked as a nurse, I lived in horrible fear I’d make a stupid mistake and it would be revealed that I really hadn’t done all that well in nursing school – in fact, struggled through until we got to the policy things, where I was able to cope. Sure enough, I did, I was, and eventually I moved into health policy positions.

Where I worried that I’d been promoted prematurely into management, that I was only faking competence, that sooner or later I’d blow it and I’d be caught and tossed out on my ear. Well, it was a near thing but my MS attacked before I could actually be tossed and so I was able to creep out before the tarring and feathering as my fraud was detected. (not real fraud, I hasten to add. I am nothing if not honest. Sometimes painfully so).

So now I try to write, and people tell me I can write well, but I know I’m just faking it, as I do with so many things, just faking it until someone catches me and says “Fraud! Fraud!”

And now I help with all sorts of projects, offering my expertise, but feeling as if I am playacting there as well. I am still gobsmacked that anyone would appreciate my advice, that they are not merely putting up with me so I will go away and they can talk about me behind my back. I find it hard to believe I have anything of importance to offer. And yet I keep putting myself out there, so there must be some part of me that feels I do.

Perhaps it’s paranoia, perhaps I need treatment, but I suspect there are a lot of us out there that feel the same way.

My excellent mother told us we were special, that we could do anything we wanted, that generally we could rule the world. As we went out and found that perhaps there was a teensy bit of maternal exaggeration in these statements, I think I developed this inner shadow that told me that no, we weren’t all that and a bag of chips. In fact, we weren’t even that bag of chips. The undercurrent of how we weren’t all that special after all plays in my head. Fortunately we banged into reality often in our early years and got some of the “you’re special” banged off of us before it really counted.

I can’t help but wonder about this generation of kids, who are told everyone is so special, who aren’t allowed to fail in school, who are given prizes for even showing up. How are they going to feel when they are being tested in the real world? Will they be stronger for all the lies they were told, or weaker? Or will they be tempted to brace up their feelings of superiority with real fraud?

Ah well, maybe it will all work out and they will be cheerfully, healthily competent.  Or at least much better at fraud!

It’s spring, when a young heart’s thoughts turn to those of love…or is that just limerence?


Ah, the joy of another new word. I thought there were phases of love, yes, but I knew nothing of the word limerent, coined by Dorothy Tennov in 1977. She described an anxious form of attachment, much like the infatuation of early love, but which varies according to the uncertainty associated with the LO (limerent object). Instead of affection decreasing if the LO seems uncertain, the affection and efforts to persuade grow stronger with such uncertainty, until it is plain that nothing will come of the relationship. Apparently, this can go on for years. It’s like being endlessly twitterpated.

“With increases in doubt interspersed with reason to hope that reciprocation may indeed occur, everything becomes intensified, especially your preoccupation with percentages. At 100% you are mooning about, in either a joyful or a despairing state, preferring your fantasies to virtually any other activity unless it is (a) acting in ways that you believe will help you attain your limerent objective, such as beautifying yourself and, therefore increasing the probability that you will impress LO favourably during your interaction, or (b) actually being in the presence of LO. Your motivation to attain a “relationship” (mating, or pair bond) continues to intensify so long as a “proper” mix of hope and uncertainty exist.” http://flatrock.org.nz/topics/relationships/from_love_and_limerence.htm

I am reminded of the book I received one Christmas, where the lady of the house was forced to endure the gifting of the entire crew of the Partridge in a Pear Tree song as her love tried to woo her. Or of the Pe Pe Lepew and Penelope Pussycat relationship, where he tries more and more extreme approaches to win her heart. Until he gets her. Then he flees.

Of course, one wonders about the LO’s role in all of this. Does he/she lead the limerent on? According to most reports I could read, this isn’t the case – a lot of the mental anguish is internal and self-inflicted and the object often isn’t aware of it at all. Still, he/she must wonder at the flood of affectionate gifties and such.

Intersperse liminence with the natural urge to be kind to people and you can just see where people get into horrible messes. A recent online chat mentioned the need to be clear about breaking things off to avoid stimulating the limerent among us into a renewed frenzy of activity and adoration.

But hey, how do you know if you are involved with one of these folks or if you’re just suffering from the usual “spring is here and I’m in love” heart-singing that seems as predictable as the coming of strawberries with real flavour in the spring? Maybe the below will help. In the meantime, be careful out there. Those spring breezes can be dangerous…

“Dear Ralph,
Your four love letters arrived today. My landlady said a heavily sweating man stuffed them in the mailbox and lurched off like a wounded kiwi, so I assume you delivered them yourself. A million thanks, really.
All the letters make fine reading, but I was particularly struck by your complaint (letter 2, page 27) of a persistent heavy feeling in the chest that can only be relieved by sighing. Ralph, this is a clue. You are not just in love, you are limerent. …”

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,952554,00.html#ixzz1r0jItL9I