Friday, July 18, 2014

Who is this about?

I love my niece very much. More than that, I admire her. She's talented and tough and virtually impervious to peer pressure.

She's also only 21. She's stumbling as she finds her way, as we all did/do as we grow up. She's very unhappy in her relationship with her first real boyfriend but can't figure out whether to go or stay with him. If she stays, is she settling? If she goes, is she hurting him unnecessarily? And how will it feel to be alone again? If she were to ask me, I'd tell her to cut bait. (Of course, that could be why she hasn't asked me.)

One trait many women in my family share* is a fear of the dentist. As the date of my niece's impending oral surgery (wisdom teeth) approached, she blurted out to her mother/my sister, "That why I have to stay with him. If we break up, who will take care of me after the dentist?"

My sister was furious. "I'm her mother! How could she forget me? Of course I would drive up there to take her to and from the dentist! I'd sleep on the floor next to her bed as she recuperated! How could she forget about me like that?"

As always when my kid sister is concerned, the situation automatically becomes about her. To her, this wasn't my niece being so frightened she couldn't think straight. To her, it was her daughter dissing her.

I realize we're each the star of our own story, but my kid sister takes it to the extreme. On top of being unhappy with her love life and scared about the dentist, my niece got to tangle with her mother.

I must remember not to fall into this trap myself. My best friend hasn't been sharing much about his internal life with me. All he does is report the day's activities, as though reciting an itinerary. I've been hurt and insulted that he no longer feels he can confide in me. Instead perhaps I should remember that, since he lost his job, he feels emasculated and no longer in control of his own life. Just as my niece's problems are not about my sister, his problems are not about me.

*Except me. Doesn't bother me at all.

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