Friday, 18 May 2012

Auntie Seraphic & Pre-empted

Following letter cut down to protect the innocent. And everyone in the story seems to be innocent.

Dear Auntie Seraphic,

Thank you for the work you do for us Single girls.

I hear you about being rooted in reality and accepting that a guy is just not that into you, but what about when you hate his new girlfriend so much you can't seem them together without wanting to kill her? People tell me how placid and calm I always look, but they have no idea what is going on under the surface. I am actually very emotional but I was brought up not to show it.


Meanwhile, like I say, I am working hard to be rooted and reality and I know he obviously was just never that into me, but I keep thinking "Why her? Anybody but her!" And I really mean that. Anybody. My roommate. His housemate. My little sister. And by the way you are wrong about guys not going for the girls who go after them because, believe me, I was there and she went after him.

Did I mention we're all in the same Catholic [X]? So I don't think I can avoid them completely without seriously disrupting my life. Please tell me what you think!


Dear Pre-empted,

First of all, I'm really sorry. That really hurts, and I know how much it can hurt because it has happened to me.

Second, I have always found the most effective way of getting rid of strong, crippling feelings of any kind is to ask God to take them away. Actually, it isn't when I ask God to take them away in a sort of nice inner voice that He does it. It is when I demand it in a I-Don't-Care-If-You-Smite-Me kind of way. Maybe He knows that's a lot more honest, and if I end up crying, that's even better. There's nothing like a good, solitary cry to get emotional poison out.

If you're stuck for words, "Help me not to care," is good.

Third, I am of two minds about your mask of perpetual placid calm. On the one hand, it probably makes you a restful, soothing woman to be around. On the other hand, all those seething emotions have to go somewhere. If you are creatively inclined, I suggest channeling them into some artistic endeavor. If you have been thinking about becoming more fit, I suggesting working them off in some high-intensity sport. And then there is rock therapy.

Actually, it doesn't have to be rock. It could be opera. Or Mozart's Requiem Mass. At any rate, it should be something cathartic. When I first read your email, Avril Lavigne's "Girlfriend" came to mind. In your shoes, I would alternate prayer with listening to "Girlfriend" on repeat. When I got bored of that, I would up the noise/anger factor with Limp Bizkit's "Break Stuff."

Fourth, I congratulate you on looking placid and calm in trying circumstances. Although this means that you actually have to tell people how your are feeling, when that is necessary---e.g. "I find that very offensive. Please go away."---it maintains your dignity. When what happened to you happened to me at your age, I threw myself down on the carpet before the guy's feet and wept. Not good.

(I hasten to add that I was in my early 20s, and I have enormous compassion for anyone in their early 20s, including my overwrought former self.)

Fifth, if you can, you may want to avoid seeing them, at least for a while. Don't think of this as them "running you out of town" or whatever; think of this as you taking care of yourself during a spiritual illness. Feeling murderous rage is indeed a spiritual illness, and if you had a physical illness, you would stay at home, wouldn't you? Try to get the benefits you have been getting from [X] elsewhere, and make sure you don't cut yourself off from your real friends.

I very much hope this is helpful. Here is the Avril Lavigne song. (Actually watching the video is optional.) There is a bit of rude language, but not as much as in Limp Bizkit. I hope it is obvious that I am not suggesting the situation Avril describes is anything like your situation; it's the basic emotions--and catharsis--we're after here.

I'll remember to pray for you in particular when I pray for all my readers on Sunday.

Grace and peace,

Note to everybody: I have just had a listen to "Break Stuff" and it occurs to me that many NCGs, particularly those in orthodox but perhaps, hmm, stifling communities like Charming Disarray describes here, might profit from rocking out outrageously to very bad language. And it's nervous giggles bad, poppets. At least, it was the first time I heard it. Now "Break Stuff" is my own personal emotional Lemsip; before I moved to Edinburgh I went to Goth clubs a lot.


Roses said...

Poor girl!
I know exactly how she feels. I am going through the exact same thing.
The thing that hurts the most, though, is just before he began dating her, he really liked me, and even without rose-colored glasses on, it was obvious that something could have blossomed.

MaryJane said...

That really sucks. In addition to cathartic movement (exercise or dance or whatever) and music, I suggest watching an engaging show that has several seasons available. Get caught up in the characters' lives, go through their highs and lows with them, wonder what they are going to do next, find yourself hoping they get out of a sticky situation. Hate the villians, love the heroes, be frustrated by their humanity.

It isn't reality, and that's the point. It's cathartic theatre, as Aristotle would say in the Poetics. It helps immensely to "escape" to a world where you can process your emotion through other people who aren't real and won't be affected by it.

(Suggestions from various genres: LOST, Heroes, White Collar, Psych, Frasier, Downton Abbey, 24, to name just a few.)

n.panchancha said...

Ack! The worst. :( I definitely agree with the prescribed excluding-them-from-your-life for a while. Even if the response is, "He's one of my best friends; how can I not see him?" - DO IT. For the sake of your own sanity. For the sake of having some kind of friendship/civil acquaintance with one or both of these people after the poison in the situation has been leeched out. It's not just that you might do or say something you regret; it's that you don't want to spend the rest of your life associating those people with the worst feelings you've ever had, and struggling to heal from that. It's looking after your own soul, and your heart.

I recommend also lots of time with other friends, especially ones who aren't friends with crushed-on-boy. Remind yourself of the good, healthy, loving relationships you do have - it helps in letting go of what you don't. And a temporary change of scene can help too!

Abby said...

I've been on both sides of this. I made this great connection with an NCB, but a month later, he dated another girl. I still was attracted to him, but there was a line there that wasn't to be crossed, that's just something you need to let go.

Actually, a year later we began dating. :D A friend of mine turned completely against me, and was just seething with anger any time the three of us were together. Fast forward a few months, and she was flat out hitting on my boyfriend and demeaning me. Her actions permanently severed the friendship. I guess my point is, you don’t want to be the bad guy.

Also: a Sisters of Life nun told me a story once about how she had been dating a man for a long time, and about a week after they broke up, he started quietly dating her very best friend. She was so mad - and ranted to God at adoration. He basically told her - what if this is My Will that they are to be married? She paused and thought about that, and tried to change the way she thought about them. Later, they did get married, and because she let go and put it in God’s hands, she remained friends with them and attended the wedding.

You can either handle it her way, or the way my former friend did. And for me, I let him go because God didn’t want us to be together quite yet, and God brought us together anyway when it was His time.

Rosemary said...

Sympathy and prayers for you, dear! The object of my affections (when I was an overwrought) twenty-something, seemed to like everyone but me. It threatened to drive me mad.

I too, was someone who rarely showed surface emotions and they eventually came out as a panic/anxiety disorder. So, don't forget to deal with your feelings in a healthy way. Exercise is a great idea!

Seraphic said...

These are great comments! Thanks!

sciencegirl said...

I think it's a great idea to take a break from seeing those two, and if it leads to you changing up your social circle, so much the better. I think the healthiest social life has a lot of different acquaintances and friends who don't know each other; you should be able to have fun no matter who is out of town or behaving badly. This couple may break up soon, and your feelings will eventually fade, but in the meantime, you can expand your friendships or take up a new hobby. If you weren't spending most of your social time with the campus Catholic Group, what would you be doing instead? What is it makes you say, "Oh, that sounds fun, but I wouldn't have the time what with all the Newman Center stuff?" If you already have leadership responsibility, do your duty, but you don't have to do anything else -- no showing up and hanging out at events that you weren't required to organize.

It could even be something that advances your spirituality, like doing some volunteering or prayer that your usual friends aren't into. Don't let time away from the Newman Center be time away from your prayer life!

I also think it is a good idea to rock out to some angry girl music, but I will add that it will probably not help you lose your feelings. Research that tests the idea of catharsis has generally found that indulging anger leads to angry feelings intensifying. Distraction and calming activity work much better for recovering from anger. When I try to get rid of emotions I don't want, whether anger or an unrequited crush, I pray and then let myself "ride the wave" of what I feel. If I feel anger, I feel anger, but I am detached from it. Neurology and hormones can't be switched up overnight, so don't be too angry with yourself if you don't feel an immediate change.

Rae said...

I want to second MaryJane's suggestion. NCIS is a great series to get hooked on :)

Anonymous said...

There is a good country "angry girl music" song from about 5 yrs ago or so: "Before He Cheats" by Carrie Underwood. Then listen to "Jesus, Take the Wheel" (same artist) to calm down. I rewatched the videos by C.U. - no bad language or violence to living critters.

The first one is so hilarious and cathartic almost every man up here wanted it banned :) Our boys love their trucks.

Isabella of the North

Charming Disarray said...

Thanks for link. :)

I always listen to OK Go when I'm having an irrational bad day. It's just the right combination of loud, somewhat punky (their early stuff, anyway), and funny. "Get Over It" is a good one.