Hi, Cappy! I recently discovered your column and am so grateful for it. You’re amazing and helpful!
I really could use some situational advice, but it’s a long and complex story, sorry!
I’m a single parent of a 1st grader. Child support basically doesn’t happen.
3 years ago I was (thankfully) laid off from my research position. I’d worked hard after grad school to achieve success in an almost exclusively male-dominated and competitive field, but it was hard to raise my daughter working the crazy hours and with the amount of travel required for my job.
As a result I returned to school for graphic/web design; a field I thought would provide me with a more flexible schedule, increased job opportunities and potentially more money. I started a two year program at a technical school, with tuition and childcare 100% paid for by government benefits.
Enter “Donny”. Donny was a friend who was a neuroscientist at the University I’d attended and worked at. Despite having very different values, he had become a trusted friend. Romantic interest in Donny = 0. Divorced and childless, he is middle aged. He seemed kind and supportive when I really needed that. He was also the only positive male role model that my daughter had. He was not very involved in our lives at this point.
Donny started a tech company outside of his university position and became wealthy enough to retire from the University this year. He has a low emotional IQ, lots of anxiety and few friends. However, Donny loves my daughter and dotes on her. I don’t think he has ever said “no” to her. I’ve never had weird “vibes” about his relationship with my daughter. She was like the daughter he’d always wanted.
Back to me. Two years ago, after finishing year 1 of my program, Donny convinces me to drop out of school and work with him at his tech company instead. He says I am wasting my time at school and that he, the wealthy and successful entrepreneur, would teach me “real-world skills” and his special coding “secret techniques” from start to finish. He told me people would pay lots of money to learn his secret and that I was lucky he was willing to share this very profitable knowledge with me. He started paying me to do small projects, such as writing copy and some print work for his company. I was thrilled, thinking I was embarking on a new, lucrative and fulfilling career.
Fast forward to a year ago. Donny has stopped sending me any work but continues to pay me a barely livable wage each month to essentially do nothing. Projects are always just over the horizon but wind up “falling through” at the last minute or he doesn’t have the time to teach me anything because it’s a rush job, etc…. I make barely enough to cover my bills most months, but through decreased spending, I can still live check to check. I am ridiculously busy parenting (with no breaks), trying to stay organized, maintaining/improving my small house so my daughter has an un chaotic place to live, and being involved with my daughters activities while occasionally making stuff, but I have no social life (unfortunately that often goes along with single parenthood). I would like to make more money, but confess I am also enjoying the opportunity to be there for my daughter since I am her only family and her whole world. We are very close.
Donny continues to point out how rich he is, but keeps my pay at poverty level. He is also increasingly manipulative and controlling with his money, even believing he is entitled to having input in decisions I make about my and my daughters life, parenting, my house, friends, etc. He is by nature condescending and a master mansplainer. I ignore him and avoid confrontation because after 3 years of rarely seeing my daughter I still feel lucky to have this opportunity.
A month ago I ask Donny for more money for the first time because bills are mounting. I know I need to start a job search, but have been putting it off because —what the hell do I do now?
Donny tosses out a figure 33% higher than I’ve been getting monthly. He says he could even pay off my student loans “if he wanted to”. (They are not getting paid because I don’t make enough to pay them.) He tells me to send him the amount I owe and he will pay them off because he “doesn’t want the government to play any role in my life” which sounds generous, but is actually paranoid and a little conspiracy- theory ish. I send him the figure and he ignores me. All three times. I don’t rock the boat, but never even get a response. When that month’s check arrives its less than the amount he’d promised. I don’t say anything, feeling grateful to get anything at all, but irritated that he has changed the amount without mentioning it.
This months check was even less, back to the original too-low amount. I finally tell him (at 11:30 at night, probably sounding crabby) that it is hard for me to budget when I don’t know how much money I will be getting. At the first sign of what he perceives as questioning him or “conflict”, Donny flips out and says he could easily pay me more money but that he wants me to “work for it” by doing sales for him, which I’ve been clear from day 1 that I was 1) not good at and 2) not interested in doing or I would have pursued a sales career.
Then starts the classic rhetoric all single Moms hear: that I CHOSE to be a single parent and that I CHOSE to have a baby with that person, that my current situation is all my own doing. Followed by hinting that I am lazy and that I need to take “personal responsibility” for my predicament. He then drops a bomb by asking “how long am I going to do this?” I get mad and remind him that I was halfway through my degree which was PAID for and that I had wanted to finish, but that he was right, it was my fault that I had believed his promise to train me and give me work, which he not followed through on in 2 years. So now I have no money and no skills– nothing but some extra time to be a good parent to my daughter.
Then Donny says “I wanted you as a partner, but now Im not so sure,” which had failed to ever be mentioned to me. Apparently I had no say in that either. I got mad and told him not only do I not have time for any relationships, but that we have nothing in common, which we don’t- he voted for the One Who Is Not to be Named -not to mention a hearty “no thanks!” to all the boundary-crossing behaviors I put up with like never knocking but just walking into our house unannounced and at varying degrees of earliness to keep me guessing I guess. Locking the door makes him crabby. I have tolerated these behaviors because 25 years ago he emigrated from a culture where personal boundaries are not a priority, so I thought I was being understanding.
I have not heard from him in 6 days now when normally I get multiple texts per day. I assume he is pouting and will contact me with reasons why I am an ungrateful and overall crappy person. I actually feel enormous relief at not being scrutinized or controlled but am frightened for my financial situation.
What I want to know is: was it wrong of me to go along with this arrangement for so long? What if he contacts me and wants to continue this arrangement for more money? I intend to secure my own employment temping or something, but I am really regretful that I didn’t complete my education. Donny has been really generous, but at this point I feel so manipulated and disrespected that I don’t know if a can have any sort of friendship with him, whether he continues to pay me or not. He will see me as ungrateful and leaving because the money dried up.
I have been very appreciative and grateful and thank him constantly for his generosity, but it never seems to never be enough. He tells me I should just “be a good parent to my daughter,” which I am. I and my daughter make things for him and involve him with my daughters activities, but it’s still not enough. He is feeling under appreciated but doesn’t actually know what he wants. Donny has done a lot for us and I don’t think his behavior is conscious. I believe he is emotionally stunted for some reason. However, i cannot handle any more controlling and condescending bullshit. I am also aware that I am equally to blame for my situation. My motive was wanting to be able to be a good Mom for my daughter, no matter how short-lived. Finally, Donny was the only male figure in our lives my daughter could depend on, but I also don’t want to set a poor example by being manipulated and controlled by Donny.
Scripts for what to say to conflict- averse Donny if and when I hear from him would be greatly appreciated!
-Master Builder of Gilded Cages
she/her pronouns please, he/him for Donny
Dear Master Builder,
I apologize for the delayed response. I’ve been thinking about your story for a while. I’m not sure where you and Donny have left things in the last month or so – I’m hoping like hell that he is already out of your life – but in case he isn’t, here we are.
Before we talk about how much Donny sucks (he sucks), let’s talk about what a good employer would do:
- He would pay you what you are worth to do the work that helped his business become successful.
- As his business made more money (thanks in part to your work), he would increase your compensation.
- He would pay you the agreed-upon amount without fail and without backtracking.
- He would put agreements about compensation in writing.
- He would be transparent about assigning work.
- He would follow through on promises to train you and develop your skills.
- He would not bring your personal life into any of these negotiations.
- He would not expect 24-7 unannounced access to your home.
- He wouldn’t treat you like he owns you.
Never mind being a good friend (he isn’t), or a good partner (NOPE), or a good male role model for your daughter (100 YEARS OF SOLITUDE AND NOPE), he’s not a good boss! Like, if this were JUST a job and not a campaign of financial abuse designed to annex you like a neighboring duchy, it would still be a toxic situation and you’d still need to quit it hard as soon as humanly possible.
Here is some other stuff I want to tell you:
Temping is a great idea – do it! It will put you in the way of permanent positions and also give you a chance to try out different working environments to find one that suits you.
Also, it’s okay to keep your head down, fake compliance, and collect your retainer paycheck from Donny for a little while if that’s what you need to do in the short term to keep a roof over your head while you gather your resources. You don’t have to tell him you are temping or looking for other work or give him any information about your plans that he might use to sabotage your efforts.
Donny will try to convince you that he took you into his company out of generosity and a desire to help you, and that you would not have a job if it weren’t for his amazing charity/fake training. I think he took you on because you are competent and valuable and he needed your work to build his company.
If you can, make a copy of everything you’ve ever created for Donny. That’s your portfolio. Back it up somewhere he doesn’t have access to (Google Drive, Dropbox). You may not ever show it to anybody (if there are confidentiality issues, for instance), but it will be good fodder for rebuilding your resume and documenting for yourself what you did.
Use privacy settings to lock your social media and other electronic communications away from where he can see them. Don’t “unfriend” until you’re free of his employ. Let him think things are normal so that he will be less likely to sabotage your efforts.
Speaking of locking things down, lock your doors. I don’t care what culture he comes from or how old he is, his comfort level with “just dropping by” does not automatically determine your boundaries.This is just more controlling scary bullshit.
Once you’ve locked things down, this is a very good time to reach out privately to every friend you have. Put the word out: You’re looking for a new job, you might need some help with childcare (or recommendations for low-cost summer camps?), you might need someone to help you rewrite your resume and provide moral support for your job search, you might want a friend who will come over and eat ice cream with you and your daughter or play in the park on a sunny day. Donny wants you to think that all of your resources and social connections are through him. They aren’t. Ask. You’ll pay it back (or forward) when you’re free.
It’s also a good time to reach out to every friendly and helpful person you’ve ever come across in any professional or educational context. People in your former field where you were successful might need a consultant or contractor. Your old advisor or program director and fellow students from school might be a Not-Donny professional reference for you.You might think that you’ve burned those bridges and that it’s too late (and Donny would try to tell you that it is), but I do not think it is too late. “I know we haven’t talked in a while, and I’m sorry we lost touch, but I am changing jobs and could really use your advice/help/a reference/some guidance.” I would not be angry at all if a former student asked me for this, even if they did leave the program, but I would be really sad if they felt like they couldn’t ask me because of shame.
Think of a short professionally positive version of the Donny story that you can tell to professional contacts and to acquaintances: “I left the program a few years ago to work for a friend’s startup, where I gained experience in x, y, and z professional areas. Now that the business is on solid footing, it’s time for me to find something [with more structure][where I can grow a, b, and c skills][where I can specialize more in (an area that interests me)][with more opportunity to work in creative teams vs. supporting a single CEO].” People leave school and change jobs all the time, you don’t have to bare your soul and your regrets to be one of those people.
You asked for scripts for Donny. The above generic/neutral/professional response can serve you there, as well. When it’s time for him to know that you’re severing the employment relationship for sure, try: “Thanks for all you’ve done, it’s time for me to seek new challenges, I trust that I can count on you to be a good reference, thanks!” (Note: DON’T use him as a reference, ever, but also don’t tell him that you won’t be. Let him think he has power until it’s 100% true that he doesn’t). Don’t tell him where you plan to go or what you plan to do. It’s okay to lie when an abusive person is pressuring you for information that isn’t their business. “I don’t know yet.” “I’ve applied at a few places, I’ll let you know when I know something.” “I’m confident I will find something I enjoy.” Keep everything about your discussions focused on professional topics. If he tries to throw more fake carrots of a big payday or paying your loans, ask him to put it in writing and to define it as compensation. “Wow, Donny, that’s very generous. Let’s add it to my employment agreement.” If he gets personal, try “I’m going to pretend you didn’t say that.” If he gets weird about the locking doors thing, try: “I’m just not comfortable leaving my doors unlocked.” The “Because YOU keep dropping by unannounced” can be silent for now.
If you want to finish your graphic design program at some point, you will find a way. You’ll get a job at a university or at a company that offers tuition reimbursement. You’ll reapply to the program that funded you in the first place. You will find a way.
Finally, your daughter does not need Donny in her life – not as a “male role model”, not as anything. She’s little and she might not understand at first where “Uncle Donny” went once you cut ties, but I think it is a good idea to break off any and all contact between them as soon as you feel safe to do so.
You are brave and you are a great mom and you are gonna be free of this controlling dipshit very soon if you haven’t gotten there already. Please be good to yourself. You were the target of a very deliberate campaign of manipulation. That’s scary stuff and it will take some time to undo the financial and emotional damage.
P.S. I get a ton of spam along the lines of “Let me tell you the story about how I lost my man and how this spiritual healer gave me a spell to get my man back.” We don’t need those spells, Beloved. GIVE US THE ONES THAT MAKE THE MAN GO AWAY AND STAY THE FUCK AWAY.
i want to thank you so much for your website and lovely community and i hope this message finds you well. i’m having a hard time sorting through some relationship stuff and i’m hoping for some clarity.
i’m dating a very sweet and loving man who is still dealing every day with mental health issues due to early childhood trauma. these include ptsd, anxiety, depression (he is now in therapy for this) and nightmares. in his youth, he worked through his feelings of shame about what transpired in violent ways but that seems to be a thing of the past.
our courtship was fairly quick and we fell deeply in love, spending lots of our time together. in retrospect i should have been firmer about my need for a life and friendships outside of our relationship (especially at my age mid 20’s) but it all happened so fast. to be clear he does have friends/interests of his own but he is of the belief that our relationship is THE MOST important one in his life. he would be happy to rarely if ever spend time with anyone without/or other than me. in his words “i am the only thing that makes him happy” and “he welcomed dying before me but now wants to live as long as possible”. he constantly tells me i’m too good for him and is very insecure in our relationship. my friendships are deep and important to me and my feeling is that a romantic relationship should be something that adds to but is not the source of one’s happiness.
i was single for a long time before we met and had a very full life & was close with my family. they are thankfully still present but i spend much less time with them than i’d like because he doesn’t like last minute changes to our plans (even if those plans were netflix and pizza). i told him recently this needs to change and he agreed to work on it. because i’m the only thing that prevents him from having nightmares the idea of my being away causes him immense anxiety. sometimes i worry that he uses his trauma to manipulate me (his episodes early on often coincided with times i’d made plans with friends). we are also an interracial couple so that adds to a dynamic where anytime i express upset about his behavior or try to set a gentle boundary i am talked over, mansplained and/or the conversation is derailed due to the level of distress he’s displayed.
some of this is my fault as i’m not always good about expressing my feelings honestly and i want to hold space and be there for him. i tried to change parts of myself to make him more comfortable as he is an admittedly jealous person. i’m now doing my own work to come back to the vibrant, carefree woman i was when we met but it’s really difficult sometimes. i don’t know what to do or if the above is enough reason to leave or if i should keep showing up for myself, set clearer boundaries and love him through this.
any advice would be so appreciated,
trying not to be a pacifier
Thanks for the kind words!
I read your letter and I keep thinking of the person who “isn’t allowed” to be away from their job for a single day from a few months ago. They can’t even think about what they want to do next because they are always “on call.” In the short term, can you get yourself a week or even a long weekend or a few nights away from him, just to be with friends and family or hang out by yourself with your own thoughts, without being tethered to your phone to constantly soothe and “check in”?
Whatever good things this guy brings to your life (and I’m sure there must be good things here), when you’re with him:
- You don’t see your friends and family as much as you’d like to.
- You don’t feel like the vibrant, social person with many interests and connections that you were when you met him.
- When you bring him your concerns, he talks over you and centers his needs above your own. Your requests for more space and autonomy are always canceled out by how much he has suffered or is suffering.
- You feel manipulated and controlled by him.
Maybe someday this guy could be a great boyfriend, for you, or for someone. And that’s the temptation and the tragedy of the situation: You can see how very, very, very good it could be. You waited and looked for so long to find someone who would be right for you. You can have compassion for him and hold space for his feelings and believe in him and do what you can to try to get him there.
But, it’s a trap. He’s not doing the same for you. It’s good that he’s going to therapy, but he’s got to get to the realization that the things that he has suffered do not obligate you to abdicate your own needs, and then he’s got to act on that realization. He’s got to listen to you and not talk over you when you express those needs. He’s got to give you the space and breathing room that you need to live the life you want to live. He’s got to figure out how to self-soothe and get through a night without your company (the way he somehow managed to do for all the years before he met you) and without making any nightmares or anxious feelings your fault, or yours to fix somehow.
Because you need to see your friends and family and keep those relationships close and fulfilling.This is a reasonable thing to want and expect from your life.
You need social connections and relationships that are not about him. This is also a completely reasonable thing to want and expect.
You need to sometimes be able to change plans you have together. Totes reasonable!
You need to spend as many nights as you want to by yourself, without worrying about him or being a captive to his jealousy or anxieties. 100% reasonable.
You need your needs to be equal within your romantic relationship. More specifically, you need a partner who puts as much thought and emotional labor and effort into making sure you get what you need as you do into his needs. Completely reasonable.
You need a partner who doesn’t talk over you or mansplain your needs away when they are in conflict with his needs. Absolutely reasonable.
I don’t think you have that guy here, or that he’s going to become that guy for you anytime soon, and I’m so very sorry. He keeps making your reasonable needs into unreasonable things that he wants you to change about yourself to keep him happy. He puts a lot of friction up when you try to spend time away from him or talk to him about it. Even if that friction is borne out of genuine distress on his part, it’s not okay for him to put these constraints on your comings and goings and to make you do all the work of being his reason to live.
You could try some baby steps, like, planning more time with your friends and family, spending more nights separately, and shutting down the mansplaining as soon as it starts – “I’m sorry you are feeling upset, but I need this time with my friends/family/alone. I’m not doing this to hurt you, but it’s also not a negotiation, so, I’m going to hang up/leave now.” And then, importantly, physically remove yourself from the conversation to enforce the boundary, or, even better, tell him the information when you’re already separate from him, in a text: “Forgot to tell you yesterday, I can’t hang tonight – gonna go see a movie with my folks. I’ll call you tomorrow, love you!”
Can you do that safely? Is your first instinct to say, “Oh wait, I can’t do that, he’ll just text me 100 times and I won’t be able to focus on anything.” Or, “Oh wait, I can’t do that, he’ll be so hurt/sad, I’ll have to cut the evening short and go take care of him.” Does the whole prospect of a night alone seem “not worth it” because his reaction will be too much to deal with it’s “easier” to just give in and do what he wants? Those “Oh, I can’t, it’s not worth the trouble” reactions in yourself are giant red flags to watch for, because it means he’s trained you to anticipate his displeasure and “correct” your behavior in advance to avoid outbursts.
If (when?) you do decide to leave him permanently, I think it is worth talking to a trained domestic violence counselor about a safety plan beforehand. You said he is sweet and kind and that is great, just, humor me here and talk to someone who will believe you immediately, who will hold the conversation in confidence, and who will help you figure out the safest and clearest way to break the news and take care of yourself.
I’m so sorry. I know you love him. I wish I had a better forecast for this being a relationship that would make you feel free, happy, trusted, and supported someday.
Interesting to reflect how this sort of thing might go, and grow, in the future when and if the net grows 3D capacity.
(Why, yes, I do have a personal interest. You can probably figure it out if you scroll through the entries.)
posted by Lois McMaster Bujold on April, 18
Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, SE1 8XX near Waterloo station, 22nd April, 11am onwards. Please note slight change of location, same as last month – Green Bar rather than Blue, e.g. same thing as the previous location but the opposite side.
Colouring in! Please bring pens/pencils and copyright free images. Or just come and chat with us.
The venue sell food in a cafe (standard sandwiches etc.), but they also don’t mind people bringing food in from outside. There are several other local places where you can buy stuff as well. The excellent food market outside has loads of different food options, which can fit most food requirements, or you can also bring a packed lunch.
Meet on the fourth floor, outside the Green Bar (go up in lift 1, sadly not as musical as lift 7).
Here is the accessibility map of the Royal Festival Hall: PDF map
I may not be able to be there this month myself, but regular member Octavia has kindly agreed to coordinate in my place. She has short, dark brown hair and brown eyes, and will bring a teddy bear with rabbit like ears, and a sign saying Awkward Group.
The venue is accessible via a lift, and has accessible toilets. Waterloo tube station has step free access on the Jubilee line but not on the Northern line.
The London Awkward group has a Facebook page, which is here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/
My email is Kate DOT Towner AT Gmail DOT com
(May meetup will be the 13th.)
Recently, we announced on our site that we had some finished matte liquid lipsticks "coming soon" for sale on our site.
I wanted to briefly explain to our long-time customers what this is all about.
For decades, TKB has focused its efforts on supplying raw materials and offering support to indie businesses. We started with the soapmakers and quickly added a variety of indie crafters, with a large portion of our customers being makers of indie cosmetics.
Over the years I have often been encouraged by my staff to make "our own line" of products and sell them on our site. I have typically declined, explaining that being a supplier and supporter of businesses is entirely different than being a seller of a finished product. The two models require a whole different set of skills, tasks and processes. Also, I was a little concerned that my customers might feel I was in competition with them.
As my staff has grown, however, I also recognize that their interest in my company also encompasses how one makes a finished product. They really want to get their hands dirty. I also recognize that until we were making things in our lab, we were not going to be very good at providing meaningful support to our customers.
So, last year I relented and we set up a small lab for making stuff and brought in a makeup artist and chemistry student to start us out. We work on projects part time, and not everything we do turns into a finished product. Much of what we are working on involves trying to answer customer questions or find better raw materials.
One of the fruits of last year was a small line of finished nail polish colors. We showcase them in our TKB Exclusives tab of our new website. It has been fun to be able to offer customers samples of a finished product which we make, and also to see our logo on a finished line. Do we sell a lot? No. We're OK with that.
This year, we worked on answering the questions we get about making a matte liquid lipstick. As a team, we learned a lot about making this product, and ultimately we now offer our customers step-by-step videos and instructions.
We also decided to launch about 10 colors of our own in a finished format. The colors were developed by Sam Tang (with input by others, including the infamous Kat Luu of Customer Service). Sam has been with our company for about 5 years and she does all the photography for our new website. She is also a big fan of cosmetics and really wanted to try her hand at a line of lipstick colors.
As before, we expect to price the product at the high end of the spectrum and we don't expect to sell a lot.
I hope that our customers will see that TKB's selling of TKB Colors is not a form of competition or dilution of what they do but an attempt by us to be better and more fully engaged suppliers of raw materials to the indie cosmetics industry.
We hope to offer more projects (and raw materials, formulations and tutorials) as the year unfolds.
Dear Captain Awkward,
I am a young woman, eighteen years old now, and studying at university. Three years ago, when I was in secondary school, I had an abusive friendship with a boy named Ned.**
(**all identifying details changed for quality assurance.)
Ned had no friends, and I, as a somewhat awkward outcast in a small country school, quickly connected with him. It became very clear that he was not a good fit for a friendship – he shut down my interests quickly while begging me to participate in his, he told me I “couldn’t” be friends with other people and that I was the only thing keeping him from suicide, and he reached the point of physically stalking me.
The Ned situation was handled, but it has left me feeling frightened of myself. I am at university and have a few very close friends now, but I’m terrified that I may end up clinging to them as tightly and as unhealthily as Ned did to me. As a result, I find myself pushing away from the people who are closest to me – I ask them, more than I should but less than I used to (yay therapy) if I’m doing something wrong, etc. I am frightened that, just like I felt about Ned, my friends are too frightened of me to tell me if I do something wrong.
I know that this hurts my relationships far more than just me being myself ever could, but I don’t know how to squash my insecurity completely. That, of course, just freaks me out even more, and I end up in this ridiculous cycle of panic and insecurity that really needs to go.
Do any of you humans on Team Awkward have any suggestions on how not to become a Ned-type person, and on how to stop being so afraid of it in the first place? I’m at my wit’s end.
Nope, Not Ned
Dear Nope, Not Ned:
I am not at all worried about you ever becoming like “Ned,” do you want to know why?
- You are self-aware about the issue and actively trying to work on it (with a therapist, for example).
- You have experienced this from both sides (anxious feelings around attachment, being in the crosshairs of someone’s obsession) and have empathy for what that’s like. You also don’t have the dangerous sense of entitlement that Ned developed.
Empathy you’ve got in spades, and you’re doing the work, so the third factor here is probably time. What Ned did to you was very wrong, and very scary, and it’s not surprising that it’s had some longer-term consequences. It will take time to get over all of it. You need time to feel safe again, time for therapy to do its work, time to relax into your university routine and feel safe in your friendships.
I have three suggestions for things you might try as you move forward:
When you can, with the counsel of your therapist, find a way to tell the story of what happened with you and Ned and where it’s left you emotionally. Whether it’s telling your closest friends, writing a journal or a letter or an essay, making an art project – tell some people you trust what happened and where it’s left you. With friends, you could add “Sometimes when I need a little extra reassurance, it would help me if you could (not make a big deal out of it)(listen to me without interrupting)(just know where it’s coming from and be a little patient)(distract me and help me snap out of it)(whatever it is you think you might need).”
Be a part of things. As your schedule and energy allow, take advantage of the university social landscape of clubs, service organizations, campus social events and screenings/speakers/readings. Making friends is a skill. Meeting people and becoming more loosely connected is also a skill. It’s hard to get started (to go to an event where you won’t know anyone, for instance), but the more you practice the easier it gets. There is an enormous opportunity here for you to learn to become connected to all kinds of people in all kinds of ways. You are not that teenaged outcast anymore, and your social scene is not going to be one of scarcity while you’re in these university years. Is it possible you can be less anxious if you can remind yourself that you have lots of options, lots of connections?
Is there a way to connect with other survivors? Sadly, you’re not the only person who has gone through an abusive situation at a very young age. Is there an organization or community – at school, or online – where you could connect with and find ongoing support from other people who have gone through similar circumstances? The site I linked above, The Sunflower Project, was started by a brilliant young woman who was abused by her boyfriend in high school. The Scarleteen message boards are a remarkable resource. Maybe just having a safe place you can turn to where you don’t have to explain anything to be believed and supported will help you as you go on.
I’m sure our community will have other suggestions. Keep awesomeing and be gentle with yourself.
Such interesting things one can do with novellas these days. Back in the era of print-only, novellas, particularly fantasy novellas, used to be nearly unmarketable, too long for the magazines and too short for the book publishers.
As usual for SubPress, this is a collector's edition. I trust that a more affordable e-edition will be along someday.
posted by Lois McMaster Bujold on April, 18