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By FortuneFavors on Ask Polly: I Survived a Hard Life, But I Never Learned How to Be Normal

LW, three things:

1. I know no one normal. Every once in a while I meet someone and I think, with a pang of jealousy, "They seem cool, and so normal." Then I know them for longer and it turns out that they have their own matched set of emotional luxury luggage. This incredibly together woman I was talking to at work recently told me that her sister died when she was 23 and she spent the last 5 years of her sister's life taking her in and helping her through chemo and then the next 5 years after that paying off hospital and funeral home bills. And I kid you not, she seemed like the poster child for normal--I just had no idea. Sometimes people act light and breezy because that's just how society functions--you do that until you figure out who you can trust with your real life, and that's okay. Don't assume everyone who looks normal is normal. Look closer and you will find soul mates everywhere, because human beings rarely make it through 30 years completely unscathed.

2. Do not ever apologize for your English again, because it is terrific. Truly--you write better than many native speakers.

3. You are amazing. I wish I could give you a standing ovation in a box that you could open whenever you thought this way. Amazing people attract other amazing people--you will find your tribe soon.

Posted on May 21, 2014 at 4:23 pm 2

By E on Ask Polly: I Thought My Mother-in-Law Was Going to Kill Me at My Wedding

People here have good advice about the emotional moving on part, so I'm not even going there, but I think you need a little healthy revenge, in the style of "living well is the best revenge." Throw yourself a damn fancy party! 2nd anniversary, milestone birthday party, housewarming, holiday, random day dinner party, whatever. Start saving up, buy a nice dress, get catering, rent a hall, or make fancy food, plan the events, invite everyone special you can reasonably get to come, go get your hair did and your house cleaned by hired people, etc. Don't invite anyone who ruined things for you last time. Have a part of the night where you get to stand up and make a little speech about how good life is. Have someone you trust promise to take nice photos.

A wedding is but one of many decent themes for a party. I think the many people who want a wedding do over are people who maybe just think that a wedding is the only time you are allowed to spend too much money on a party, and forget that parties can be had for literally no reason at all. if you go into a wedding thinking, this is the first time I'm going to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on creating an orchestrated social event, but not the last, it all gets much less high stakes, it becomes practice for the special parties you will throw when you are 40 or 50 or 60 or just because. I recently attended a party that was a "we're so fabulous at 60" party for two best friends that included every single element of a wedding and must have cost a bajillion dollars. It was stupendous, and everyone loved it, because it was all the fun parts of a wedding without any vows. We skipped straight to the reception. There was a raffle with monstrous gift baskets!

Tell your husband you need a special day that's all about you and him, but in a new way. Not in a "this is us getting married" but in a "hey cool, life is good, look at all these great people in our lives." bonus, you can pick any color dress you want!

Posted on May 15, 2014 at 3:00 pm 1

By PolarSamovar on Ask Polly: I Thought My Mother-in-Law Was Going to Kill Me at My Wedding

Oh, hon. You feared for your life on your wedding day, after spending grad school being bait for behavior that barely stopped short of violence? It is no wonder you feel traumatized.

Maybe this is what Heather said, but even so - there is such a thing as asking too much of yourself. It's great that you and your husband have cut his terrifying mother out of your lives.

Planning to roll with someone trying to assassinate you during your wedding? That is asking too much if yourself. I understand why you did it, and it probably seemed like the generous path at the time. And it was - incredibly generous. But you had just lived through a very similar trauma -- pretending you didn't see a threat barreling toward you, in service of a higher purpose.

Fortunately, you are not Georgi Markov. These threats are behind you now. Of course you are upset, now that the threats have receded, that the danger was too present during your wedding for you to plan everything the way you now, in your relaxed state, could do it.

But at that time, you were in survival mode. They don't award points for style when you're running for your life. You get points for staying alive. Good job. GREAT job. Now, be good to yourself. Keep your regrets only as reminders not to ask too much of yourself in the future.

Even though you are strong, even though you are a fighter, even though you are a scrappy badass superhero, you don't have to be those things every time an opportunity arises for you to be one. Cutting Evil Mother-In-Law out of your lives shows that you know how to take care of yourself. Take it just one step further and acknowledge that heroes pay a price for their heroism. Your wedding regrets are that price.

Posted on May 14, 2014 at 3:35 pm 3

By Squirrel Bait on Ask Polly: How Do I Make My Boyfriend Listen?

I am going to give you a slightly different perspective based on my experience, and you can decide whether this applies to your situation or not. You mention ADD at the beginning of your letter, and I am wondering whether that was a flippant comment or an actual issue your boyfriend might face. I am a classic Sharp Knife: engaging and funny but also sometimes an intense over-analyzer/hasher-outer (it's part of my charm, but also maybe an acquired taste, like smelly cheese). My girlfriend has moderate ADD that was only diagnosed in adulthood, but she had found the combination of medication and lifestyle changes that work for her by the time I met her three years ago (when I was 26 and she was 34). Her ADD is the inattentive type, which means that she tends to zone out and daydream and be a little disorganized. It's a much less obvious form of ADD than the typical mental image of 10-year-old boys running amok in a classroom, but it is no less debilitating. I can see a huge difference in her ability to focus when she’s on her medication compared to when she forgets to take it. Unmanaged, it would be difficult for her to perform well at her job and to take care of the daily bullshit of life (sorting the mail, making it to appointments on time, etc.)

Your line about your boyfriend trying so hard that it's almost like he's playing a role broke my heart a little bit because I have seen that face. The "I want to listen because I love you but you have no idea how hard this is for me right now" face. And somebody who wasn’t genuinely interested in you and didn't think your thoughts were important wouldn't try that hard, right? If he secretly thought you were just a buzzkill, his eyes would either be rolling or glazing over. My girlfriend is the sweetest, most caring person I have ever met and she loves me like crazy, but there are times when I can tell that it would be nearly impossible for her to focus on an intense conversation, regardless of how much she wants to. This is doubly true when she’s also trying to do something else at the same time like look at the internet or drive past an interesting landscape.

Her diagnosis makes it easy for me to see that her inattention is due to a chronic medical condition and not at all about me or our relationship. But if we didn’t know about her ADD, my feelings would be hurt all. the. time. (Instead it has become a source of gentle in-jokes between us, like the time I was trying to explain some complicated thing about my boss while we were outside and she interrupted me to say "I love how chipmunks run with their little tails up like that.") I have come to realize that me asking her to pay attention to something heavy when she is unmedicated and unexercised is sort of like if she were depressed and I asked her to smile because her frown was bumming me out. She could fake a happy expression, but she wouldn't be able to actually feel it. Usually if I need her undivided attention, I will literally say, "I want to talk about Feelings," and then we will retire to a quiet room where we can cuddle and talk and everything is great. But without the diagnosis and the aid of medication, I don’t think it would be possible for us to navigate this issue. Knowing that she has ADD also gives her the ability to see that her inattention is not a personal failing but instead just something that requires a particular set of coping strategies. (Having ADD also means that she notices things other people miss and that she has really creative, fun ideas that probably wouldn't occur to neurotypical people, so it certainly isn’t all bad.)

I obviously can't internet-diagnose your boyfriend based on your short description of his behavior, but I think this might be something for you to consider. ADD gets a lot of unnecessary flak for being Not A Real Thing, but it definitely is a real condition. I would encourage you to talk about this with your boyfriend and consider getting a screening. It is possible that he just isn’t a very good listener, but it’s also possible that there is something else going on. And if he does have ADD, getting treatment could improve other areas of his life too.

Posted on April 17, 2014 at 1:16 pm 4

By Blousey Brown on Ask Polly: How Do I Make My Boyfriend Listen?

LW, I'm so sorry you haven't felt comfortable sharing this huge part of your life with your boyfriend for fear he won't give you the attention and care you deserve. What an awful, shaky feeling, as if the grief itself weren't hard enough.

I truly think good listening is non-negotiable. It might even be everything.

Posted on April 16, 2014 at 4:10 pm 2

By BadUncle on The End Of Comments

I started commenting years ago on Gawker and a couple of its sister pubs. At the time, it seemed to offer the same opportunity for clever banter and occasional insight one used to find on the pre-Web Intertubes, while also mutating normal civility by the same false intimacy. Worse, anonymity with a democratic medium gives a megaphone to every crank in a crowd. When Gawker's readership floodgates burst, standards for wit eroded. I think the lesson here is you don't have to flog traffic by lowering the bar to entry for the commentariat.

These days, about the only commenting in which I participate (reading or writing), is on Awl pubs and IO9. And also Etsy, because, you know, doilies.

Posted on April 15, 2014 at 10:59 am 4

By delphicbees on Ask Polly: My Boyfriend Thinks I'm Ugly

UGH. Here's the thing: beauty is extremely subjective, so chances are there is someone (or many someones) out there who will actually find you beautiful. Don't waste your time with someone who doesn't. (I'm short, fat, pug-nosed, and have an awkward short haircut and smallish boobs. My 6'3" blond Adonis of a fiance thinks I'm beautiful, and not only says so but jerks off to pictures of me when I have no problem with him looking at porn. Don't settle!)

Posted on March 19, 2014 at 8:36 pm 5

By ragazza on Ask Polly: My Boyfriend Thinks I'm Ugly

@davidwatts This wasn't one thing, like "Oh, you'd look good with your hair long!" It was several things. If you have to suggest that many "improvements" to your partner, the problem is yours, not theirs. If you are not physically attracted to someone, you shouldn't be going out with them.

Posted on March 19, 2014 at 3:39 pm 5

By carpetblogger on Ask Polly: My Boyfriend Thinks I'm Ugly

I read this column primarily because it reminds me how glad I am not to be 25 anymore.

Posted on March 19, 2014 at 2:09 pm 10

By alicesherman on Lucky Louie

Most days I am just filled with disgust for humans, but then there are dogs and the good they can bring out in people reminds me that we're all wounded things who want someone to love us unconditionally. Except the mega-rich; let's still get rid of them.

Posted on February 20, 2014 at 1:23 pm 2