Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Auntie Seraphic & Missing Dad Girl

UPDATE for academic Searching Singles here. Sent to us by Berenike. (The cartoon, I mean, not the letter below.)

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Dear Seraphic,

First of all I wanted to say thank you for writing this fabulous blog: it has truly been a blessing in my life. I have been reading your blog since the spring when a friend told me about your book (and, yes, I bought and loved your book too!).

A few years ago I decided to stop dating fellows who didn’t share my Catholic beliefs and consequently haven’t been dating at all since then. I am now 25+ and have recently started dating a NCB I have been friends with for a few months.

You have written in the past about your life being “officially perfect” on first dates. What I am hoping you can help me with is once you go past the first couple of dates. This NCB is from a lovely large practicing Catholic family and my family is in shambles right now. Very briefly, a couple of months ago my father left and I have only recently been on speaking terms with him again.

Because this NCB and I live in different cities and our families live in the same city, he picks me up from my mom’s place when we go out. I have mentioned my Dad before but since he’s no longer at home, he’s never met him. I feel like it will start to seem odd if he never does and I don’t explain. My family situation is not a secret, but at the same time it’s not really general knowledge yet. I do want to explain to all this to this NCB, but I just don’t know if I should yet or how to do so if/when I do. I could really use some advice on what to do in this situation.

Also if you have any thoughts in general on the subject of dealing with envy of lovely, relatively happy, Catholic families (that I am so happy and blessed to know but that I can’t seem to help feeling envious of) I would love to hear them.

Thank you in advance for any advice you have for me.

Missing Dad Girl

Dear Missing Dad Girl

I'm very sorry for the upset in your family. That is very sad, and you must be going through a lot. I hope you have a girl friend or two to confide in.

As far as I can see, there is no reason to mention your father to your NCB right now, no matter how much you may long to do so. So many Catholic families have suffered the loss of the father, either because of divorce or death, that few NCBs of your generation would find it odd that a NCG doesn't have a father at home.

If anything, you must be more careful than ever of what you say and how you act around your new friend. You are feeling very sad and betrayed by a man who was supposed to put his family before himelf, and now you are dating a man. Time after time, women try to "fix" a situation with their father through the men they date, especially by pushing for emotional intimacy too soon.

I think you should discuss your feelings about your father with someone, but not the NCB for at least a few more months. If it helps, think of your time with him as a holiday from your sadness about your family situation. If there is a "Catholic Family Services" in your area, you might want to call them and arrange an appointment with a counsellor for yourself. If this is impractical, I suggest making an appointment with your favourite priest.

As for envy of families, there is a difference between real, wicked envy (e.g. that thinks no-one should have a happy family because you don't) and longing for a Good. You are just longing for a Good, and that is more than okay. That is perfectly natural and, in fact, good. Along with basking in the warmth of families of friends, you can pray that you are a light to your own, broken family, and do your best to make life easier for your mother and your siblings, if you have any. (If some of your siblings are awful to you, it might be best to avoid them for now.)

Pain and disappointment about families is very acute for people in the holiday season, and Christmas is coming. So be very gentle with yourself and your family this month, and know that it will not always hurt this much.

Being gentle with yourself includes prudence, so do your very best not to unload to your NCB. Unload on girls, a counsellor or a priest instead. Incidentally, in some cultures you never introduce a man to your father until you are practically engaged. And that reminds me: I've never met my father-in-law. He seems to be totally MIA, but B.A., being long used to this, is perfectly cheerful about it.

I hope this is helpful.

Grace and peace,


Alisha said...

Re: the comic...I'm not an academic but I thought it was funny - the large majority of men who swing dance are engineers and computer scientists...the girls, on the other hand, are all over the map :)

theobromophile said...

Alisha: The captain of my alma mater's ballroom dance team was an engineer (back in my day).

Missing Dad Girl: cliche, but it's not what goes on in your life that should matter to a significant other; it's how you deal with it. You cannot control your father, and no emotionally healthy man should expect you to. You can control the attitude you take towards it (to some extent) and how you react to it.

Some of the people who have terrible parents end up being the best spouses and parents themselves, because they vow that they will never put their families through what they went through as children. If your NCB has been around the block enough times to see families that do not resemble Leave It To Beaver, he'll understand this.