Thursday, September 3, 2020

Should She Be Ashamed of Her Delusional Crush?

As I have occasionally noted, when an Ask Polly letter begins with a profession of faith in Polly's wondrousness, the letter writer will inevitably be preparing us to see that her life is a complete trainwreck.

Whether these women are trainwrecks before they light on Polly’s idiocies or whether they are functional human beings whose lives become a complete mess for following Polly’s vapid advice, we cannot decide for now. Anyway, another casualty in the Pollyanna brigade. 

But, there is certainly a correlation between loving Polly and living an absurd life. Today’s letter writer, by name of Patricia, has a wild and crazy crush on someone who has a girlfriend, lives out of town and is basically a loser. 

As sometimes happens, Patricia is an aspiring writer. Check out her opening sentence and you will think to yourself that she ought to find another career path.

I am a deep-cut, longtime fan of Ask Polly, your writing, and read your column religiously. Thank you, Pastor Polly! My dilemma today is that I’m having a deeply nonsensical crush on a friend that’s bordering on delusional. Me and this friend met a few years ago through a friend. He lives in a different, far-away city with his girlfriend of six years or so. We clicked immediately. He would visit my city every so often and we would have big sparkly nights out with his friends, and I visited his city sometimes too. We talk often, sometimes calls once a week. We definitely have been flirtatious with each other, but overall I feel a deep love for him. He is so funny and smart and a really talented writer. I’m a writer too, and we encourage each other with our writing and gossip about the writing world. He’s the kind of person who I feel lucky to have met in this life.

Patricia continues to describe the object of her delusional affections. He is, dare we say, decidedly dysfunctional and apparently unappealing. He is certainly not boyfriend material. This suggests that he must have other qualities that Patricia lusts after-- perhaps a trust fund.

No one in such columns dares suggest that there might be financial motive. Patricia would rather think of herself as delusional than a gold-digger. Anyway, we do not know, so accept my speculation as speculation.

The problem is I am feeling so drawn to and attracted to him lately that I’m getting these “risk it all feelings” that would be a bad idea. Like asking him to leave his girlfriend and be with me — I know, insane. Even if this were to happen in some alternate universe, I don’t think he would make a very good partner. He is very depressed, drinks to cope, and has a hard time emotionally supporting me when I come to him for emotional support with something. He will just act really anxious and I can tell he isn’t able to spend a lot of time helping me if I’m experiencing acute emotional distress. He can be aloof, unreliable, etc. I have talked to him about some of this behavior and he made adjustments. He can also sometimes be monologue-y and narcissistic, but we mostly are bantering and exchanging ideas. I honestly get a lot out of this friendship!

Actually, she is getting nothing out of this friendship. We would wonder about her other friendships. We wonder about her family life. Whatever is going on in her life, if this man brightens up her day, precious little seems to be going on.

Does this person’s unavailability make me certain that I have to have them? I wish I didn’t want so much from him. I can tell these feelings don’t make a lot of sense and I’m probably projecting but … the desire is fierce! I feel like if I don’t marry him, I will miss out on being with a person I’m meant to be with.

How do I interpret these strong feelings in a way that will propel me forward in this lonely life?

Projecting Patricia 

If she is prey to  a delusional belief, she ought to see a psychiatrist. Otherwise, she ought to write this man out of her life. If she cannot control her feelings toward him, she should place more distance between the two. And she should cultivate her other friendships.

Naturally, Polly, from the depths of her ignorance, misunderstands the issue entirely. She tells Patricia, who might just be delusional, that her feeling are fine and good, and that her desires are good. And that she ought not to feel ashamed for having a delusional belief in someone who is an attached loser:

The point is: The feeling part of this is good. Your desires are good. So what you want to be careful NOT to do is smother all those feelings under a giant blanket of shame. Because shame won’t just blot out all of your desire, it will also repeat the core message that desire itself makes you a filthy piece of shit. Now maybe that’s just my former-Catholic, very married, very moralistic self-hating core talking, but I don’t think so. My suspicion, based on what I’ve observed in real life, experienced for myself, and read in countless letters from strangers, is that human beings blame themselves for being regular animals with needs and ideas and imaginations. We blame ourselves repeatedly and excessively, and all of that punitive self-flogging leads us off a steep cliff of shame. We end up flattened like Wile E. Coyote and then we cannot function or connect with others. When you see people shouting on TV, and they’re not standing up for justice of any kind beyond the freedom to do whatever the fuck they want and feel comfy about it? That’s some buried self-hatred and shame and flattened coyote bullshit right there.

Assuming that Patricia is not showing off her psychotic tendencies, assuming that she is normally constructed, she most definitely should feel some shame for having allowed this crush to fester and to eat up her life. She most definitely should feel shame for wasting her life on someone who has very little, if anything to offer. She is living off of a fantasy-- or perhaps visions of his trust fund-- and should feel ashamed of herself for doing so.

Then again, Polly has no understanding of the uses of shame, so she manages to regale us, yet again, with stupid and frankly harmful remarks about it. If Patricia felt some shame for her delusion she might choose to change her ways, to dispense with her infatuation.

Polly also covers it over with a sprinkling of obscenities, designed to show how cool she is. Naturally, if that is the only way you can show you are cool, you are not cool. Stop pretending. And stop pretending to know something about matters you know nothing about.

We would be curious to know whether Patricia shares her delusional infatuation with any of her friends-- assuming that she has any. If she does not, she might start doing so. They will certainly make an effort to set her straight. Otherwise, a trip to a psychiatrist and perhaps some medication would be one place to start. The other would be to block his number and to stop communicating with him. From what she says, it would not be a great loss.


urbane legend said...

Me and this friend . . .
Writer, huh?

He is very depressed, drinks to cope, . . .
That was Hemingway, too, wasn't it?

. . . and has a hard time emotionally supporting me when I come to him for emotional support with something.
Already said he's depressed and drinks. Why would he have space for you? And there is that proof you aren't a writer, again.

Pick a life, Patricia. Writer, or support for a depressed, drinking writer?

Giordano Bruno said...

The was a little known galactic council that was called recently in September, 2019. I don't think you read about this in the news.

The chthonic gods that govern the earth have filed a formal complaint with the archangels. They claim that the quality of the souls sent to them are insufficient for them to perform their obligations; you cannot feed the moon on such thin gruel. The archangels naturally asked for documentation, having been hoodwinked by such claims in 7th, and again in the 19th centuries. The letters from "Ask Polly" were introduced almost immediately and caused quite a stir. The archangels conceded that clearly, something had to be done.

The last I heard, Hades was looking to make up in quantity what is clearly lacking in quality, and asking for human sacrifice to be restored. I don't know what was resolved because atmospheric interference has been jamming my signals ever since.

DocVinny said...

Yes she is a terrible writer. Is there a limit of one delusion per customer?

Sam L. said...

No matter what, THIS will NOT end well.

Anonymous said...

This dilemma isn't about shame, it's about listening to common sense instead of to irrational wishes. The woman's "mature" side tells her this man is bad news and toxic. This side of her needs to be encouraged and prevailed upon to dominate. Polly saw the word "shame" which set her off and compelled her to go on a bizarre rant. She is a lunatic. The writer probably used the word "shame" to get Polly's attention in the first place.