Baggage Check Live: "A revolving sprinkler of lies"

Sep 25, 2018

Licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Andrea Bonior was online to take your comments about her advice column, Baggage Check, and any other questions you might have. These comments may appear in an upcoming column running in Express and online.

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Welcome, folks. I'm so happy you're here today-- and judging by the questions in the queue, there are a lot of you!

First, today's print Baggage. Trigger warning: BEDBUGS! Yes, it's a problem that's only getting larger in various cities, and yet there's one thing we still don't seem to talk about (unless you're a therapist)-- the psychological aftermath of dealing with them, and the scars that can take a while to fade. Have any of you dealt with it?

And in Letter 2, we've got someone struggling with her husband's choice of Facebook friends-- specifically the one who used to think that she'd marry him.

What else is on your mind today?

Let's begin!

How can I get closure on my marriage when I can't communicate with my soon to be ex? There is a no contact order in place. I desperately need to understand why he walked out in the middle of the night.

Well, I'm not generally on the "closure" bandwagon-- humans are too complex for some sort of switch to flip in that way, is my belief-- but I think your only path through this, in terms of feeling better, is gradually reckoning with the fact that you may never actually know why he walked out.

This may be many things-- unfair, excruciating, maddening, confounding, or even justifiable-- but it doesn't mean that you can change it. You can't control his actions (and I really advise you not try to, given the no-contact order.)

What you can control is your insight into yourself, and the creation of a plan to move forward. It could be that there are negative aspects of your behavior that you are not yet reckoning with or taking ownership of-- again, the no-contact order gives me pause-- or it could also be that you are the victim of some awful luck. Or anything in between.

But you can only control you. And choosing to understand that sometimes, we never really understand someone else's behavior, but have to make the choice to move forward anyway-- that's going to be the one "understanding" that's going to help keep you from getting stuck.

I really think that therapy could help with your insight into all of this. Good luck, and keep us posted.

I was so out of it I didn't remember writing my question until I read it online! I've been crashing even earlier and working with a Ph.D. therapist with an excellent background in sleep issues. I am now using a light box, have implemented a sleep schedule--aggressive, but mine was WAY messed up! I knew I needed to do this last year but it was too late. Your answer helped a lot, I was just incapable of being aggressive back then, and now am at least giving it a shot. Thank you.

I am so very glad to hear this. Thank you!

Real help is out there if you make the commitment to get it!

Only 24 hours after word of Christine Blasey Ford's allegations against Judge Brett Kavanaugh, a letter was produced signed by 65 women in support of him. Now more than 100 alumnae of the Holton Arms Schools have signed a letter in support of fellow-grad Christine Blasey Ford. How should the public weigh these letters? And, more significantly, how do the severity of the charges and the length of time ago factor into deciding what to think about whether they are significant in ANY nominee's fitness for ANY position?

This Q was written last week, and of course we have even more nuance and details since then.

I think it's important that we recognize that this is not just ANY position, this is a lifetime appointment to one of the most powerful and noble positions in the United States. It's a job interview and background check of the highest order. A severe level of scrutiny is completely reasonable. And when there is reasonable doubt about the nature of a person's character, we should really think twice. After all, most of the time, such serious character questions do not come up at all.

And people who knew the subculture, knew the people involved, and who lived it-- not to mention things that were written by the people involved that directly illustrate that subculture-- those are pretty valid providers of reasonable doubt in this particular case, in my opinion.

As are the people who can vouch positively for the character of the person who has come forward with her story.

This is all a fancy of way of saying I think any of us should be completely skeeved out by what is coming to light about the world in which Judge Kavanaugh willingly-- and quite enthusiastically, it appears-- chose to immerse himself. And to me that absolutely gives further credence to the accusations, which-- if anyone really thinks are less than horrifying-- I'd really like to understand why.


I don't know the law, but wonder whether OP's attorney can communicate with soon-to-be-ex's, in order to find out.

It's a good question! Thanks.

In my state, a divorce filing MUST include a no-contact order. It's not generally enforced, but it's still a requirement. Don't let that give you pause unless this a restraining order.

An important clarification that I clearly needed. Thank you!

I find this an odd way of putting it. Do you mean "he took out a no-contact order against me"? Because they way you put it looks like you're trying to dodge acknowledging something that led to the order that you at least vaguely are aware of.

It was my first thought, but it now appears it may be a basic, standard operating procedure in some localities when it comes to divorce cases.

As a survivor of sexual assault, it has been really upsetting to see how some politicians, including the president, blame sexual assault victims for being "drunk" or not recalling specific details. In my experience, I was intoxicated but I know it wasn't my fault, but seeing people say that every day is causing a lot of internal pain and triggers. It has been a rough week — how to deal?

I am sorry. You are not alone, and a lot of people are feeling awful this week every time they turn on the news (or unlock their phone.)

Please, give yourself an oasis from this. Surround yourself with people who are supportive and who have your back. Take a break from the coverage. Know that the most egregious of headlines do not represent the hearts and minds of the people who matter most in your world (nor do they represent the majority of opinions). Do something that feels like you are adding beauty to your world-- go pet a puppy, plant a seed, reach out to a friend who makes you laugh. Find some good music.

Be good to your body, too-- going heavy on the rest. Consider some breathing exercises or mindfulness meditations, or even just getting out some of your stress with a bunch of cardio-heavy dancing or a run. Or a primal scream. Write out your feelings when they get to be too overwhelming.

You don't deserve to have this corrode you. Those ignorant voices out there-- they will die off in time.

Hi Dr B, Recently my best friend and her wife were in town. Several friends and I got together to hang out. Not once did it occur to me to invite my girlfriend. Why? She tends to take over conversations, makes suggestions to the host on how to do something, etc. I've told her I think it's rude to offer advice that is unsolicited but she disagrees, even if she's often right in the end. Problem is I don't want her to be right around my friends. So, I never told her our plans. Does this make me a bad person? Someone who wants a chill time? Any advice gratefully accepted.

It doesn't make you a bad person, of course not. And in fact it seems quite understandable under the circumstances, but leads me to a more substantial question that you may not like.

If your girlfriend is that insufferable in situations involving people close to you-- we're talking about your best friends and their partners-- how is she magically okay in interactions with you only? What is this dynamic, and what brings it out? Of course it's natural for you to need alone time with your friends, and no one says you have to have your girlfriend tag along all the time.

But being that you don't want her along precisely because of some bad behavior on her part, I'm wondering whether that bad behavior is deserving of a free pass in other contexts. And whether it's realistic to sustain a functional and happy life with her when she is so prone to this.


The skeeviest part is that one of the signers was the woman who it's just now come to light as having been referred to disgustingly in Kavanaugh's yearbook listing (and some dozen or more classmates' listings).

Yes, yes, yes. And she is totally angry, and saying the whole "we shared a kiss" defense is a total lie by Kavanaugh.

I swear, you can't make this stuff up.

As awful as I feel that yet another woman is having sudden, humiliating attention directed at her in this saga-- it's yet more data that seems extremely important in understanding this situation.


He didn't want to be married to you anymore. The exact reasons are less important than this overriding fact.

I'm posting this in the hopes that it won't insult OP, but that it will provide a sort of reality-check in helping them move forward. It is, ultimately, the truth that needs to be reckoned with.

I recently read an article about a move to abolish in-class presentations, because some students suffer from anxiety. Back in my day (you kids get off my lawn!), teachers insisted that starting in first grade, every student (even the stutterers) had to make presentations in class, even if it was something as simple as show-and-tell, in order to get over any stage-fright they might have. And it also was a way to teach students with excessive show-off tendencies how to rein in their impulses.

I can't read the article yet, but I do think this represents a missed opportunity. Yes, many people have a fear of public speaking. Some people even name it as being a more significant fear than death (leading to that classic Seinfeld line about how if you're at a funeral, you're better off being in the casket than giving the eulogy.)

But the thing is, feeling comfortable speaking in front of others is a skill that can be developed with practice. Why reinforce to kids the notion that it is something terrible and impossible and scary? Why not give them the opportunity to actually improve? After all, many of them will need to go on to do it in some capacity, and it can be a major confidence builder.

Of course, I'm not saying we should be traumatizing anyone. If someone is on the severe side of the spectrum with social anxiety, sure, give them extra support and make accommodations. But I'd much rather see that than denying kids the chance to grow that muscle altogether.

My take, from working with a lot of adults who are debilitated by this!

Another SA survivor here; also feeling extremely triggered (for the record Mr. Trump, I *did* report to my college Title IX committee and no one believed me). I also feel really angry about all the people who are co-opting this moment in a "show of support" for survivors. I feel like all this "support" is just politically convenient - where was all this support when I was alone, lost friends, and were called horrible things? I understand that politics are politics and none of this drama is a personal attack on me... but it definitely feels like it. It sure is easy for people to talk abstractly about "I Believe Survivors" but if it was your friend who assaulted someone, would you believe the survivor then?

I hear you, 100 percent.

I'm so sorry for what you've been through, and that various people failed you when you needed it most.

I think one possible bright spot here is that maybe some of these  "survivor supporters"-- even the ones doing it out of political convenience, brown-nosing, or their own image-polishing-- may truly think twice next time this situation hits close to home for them. Even when it is difficult or uncomfortable or causes cognitive dissonance.

That's my hope, anyway.

But I really do think these conversations-- in whatever form they take-- can help change some minds more deeply than the sound bytes may indicate.

It's not that it's "rude to offer advice that is unsolicited"; it's that it's rude to take over conversations and boss other people around. This trait alienates you, and other people, apparently. Time for a frank discussion with your GF.

Yup, and I admit to a strong desire to be a fly on the wall of that conversation!

I think that Dr Bonior is correct and you may never know. Start with that fact. Now ask yourself how much space in my head is he worth? Do I let him control me and have the last word by constantly worrying over this? This is not easy! But keep telling yourself I am moving on. I deserve better. I don't care why, just that it's over. Best of luck to you.

Thank you for this support for OP!

I think it's super helpful to think of this in a very tangible way, as you mentioned. How much actual mental energy do I want to devote to this on a daily basis? And for how long? And how is that taking me away from other things, and keeping me from being able to give energy toward carving a path forward?

One of the hardest lessons in life is that being curious about something doesn't mean you're entitled to the answer. Whether you're wondering if your newlywed friends plan on having kids, who DB Cooper was, or why your ex left, sometimes you just have to let it go, draw your own lessons from the experince, and move on. It's hard, but it's better than chasing your ex down and demanding answers - because it's highly likely those answers will either decimate or fail to satisfy you.

I like this.

It is so, so difficult, especially for people who like to have the answers (ahem!) And yet it can bring about the greatest peace of all to let go sometimes, and accept that things just are, and that can be beautiful in its own right, because it allows you to be free to move on.

(I am sooooo not giving up on finding out about DB Cooper, though!)

My marriage ended in a similar way to the OP. I found that relying on my ex to give me "closure" gave him a power over my future life that he didn't deserve. Ultimately, I gave myself the closure I needed by learning from the experience and going on to live a happy life. Therapy and time helped with that!

This is beautiful. So, so true-- don't give the ex more power than they deserve.

I am so glad that you were able to move on!

Okay, this is way out of your swim lane, but in your experience as a therapist, is Kavanaugh: 1) lying as young man, boasting of sexual experience he didn’t have...when he was an innocent choir boy inside; 2) lying as an adult to maintain a long-term fiction with his wife, who was given a very different accounting of his sexual history during their courtship; or 3) just plain lying his a$$ off like he’s Eddie Haskell...his wife knows it, his friends know it, they just need to hold out til he gets across the finish line?

Apparently none of this is off-topic (and since my swimming "techniques" were bested by all three of my kids by the time they were preschoolers, I'm not worried about staying in my swim lane!)

I don't even know where to begin with Kavanaugh. Anyone whose defense against charges of pouncing on someone, covering their mouth and attempting to get sexual with them is "I was a virgin for years" just loses me with the logic from the get-go.

And so, as far as I'm concerned, it's all suspect! I wouldn't be surprised if there were lying in all directions, depending on the image he wanted to portray.

Like a revolving sprinkler of lies!

I admit to rolling my eyes when I see the term "closure" used, because too often, in my experience, it's used to mean "I want things to come out differently from the way they did turn out" and that's never going to happen. Your "moving on, don't care why, just that it's over" is a much better definition. But it's "closure" that one can only give oneself; other people can't give you "closure."

Very well said! Thank you.

The people who are expressing support now are not the same people who refused to believe you and called you horrible things. Try to focus on that.

Well, I'm not sure we can be certain of this, unfortunately.

But I do hope we ALL are moving in a more understanding direction. Thanks.

What ever happened to Judge Crater???

Another one that has taken me waaaay too far down a late-night Internet search rabbit hole!

(Yeah, sometimes I have to have my husband confiscate my phone.)

I'm happily married, have been for 15 years. My spouse and I make a great team with our two kids, I love our lives together and I love them. We are different in important ways, but we also complement each other. It's not perfect, but I don't know of any relationship that is. I've also had an opposite sex friend for 25+ years. Call them my best friend, we get each other in a way that others don't, born out of seeing each other through different life transitions , certain traumas we both have suffered, and a way of looking at the world that's less black and white. ( Note that this friendship is not hidden from my spouse at all, they are not the jealous type, thank god.) This friend went through a hard divorce, and is now dating.

It recently got revealed to me that they've actually had feelings for me, and have for a long time. This has opened up a pandora's box for me, because I'm finding there's a central part of me that reciprocates. I'm now sitting with this and feeling roiled with so many conflicting (and varying) emotions. This goes a little beyond having a crush or finding someone attractive. But I also know that the prospect of a relationship with my best friend is A. Based on fantasy, who knows what a real relationship might be like and B. Would leave behind such wreckage. And C. Believe it or not, I love my spouse too, but tempered by 15 years of marriage so it doesn't have that quality of discovery that can be so energetic.

How do I begin to sort this out? A large part of me looks at this as a sign that there is work to do between my spouse and I (and to go ahead and mourn the loss of a friendship that provided me some emotional intimacy) but there's a part of me that can't help be stuck on this, but it's kinda like the ambivalent feeling of scratching scratching chicken pox - you know you *shouldnt* but it feels good.

Yes. But to go further with the chicken pox analogy, I think we need to drill down into precisely WHY you "shouldn't."

It's not just that it's "bad" or that you're "not supposed to." In this case, it's also because you would be choosing to throw away your marriage (in other words, you'd cause your pox to turn into a full-scale infection.)

You have a lot of insight into this, so it really does come down to this: would you really want to wreck your marriage for this? "The quality of discovery that can be so energetic"-- beautifully put, but you're really just talking about the intoxicating power/attention that comes from knowing that someone has feelings for you. Many people stray for this reason, but is it really enough for you to throw away what you have?

In other words, just because something is exciting and flattering and feels good, should it permanently change your path in life?

It's probably pretty obvious that I vote for the seeing it as a sign to work on your marriage, and to mourn the loss (even if temporary) of the friendship.

I'd hate to see you torch everything because your friend is attracted to you-- at least without due deliberation.

Therapy can help!

I'd like to know how force makes anyone get over anything. Children with stage fright, or simply shy children, may stumble through a presentation when forced to, but how does that overcome the fear? I'd rather see a lot of Andrea's "extra support and accommodations" rather than "it won't hurt you, so get over it."

Right, there is definitely a fine line here.

I see this all the time in treatment, though. When I work with people with Social Anxiety Disorder (whether for performance situations like public speaking or more just general chit-chat with the cashier at Safeway), the truth is, we do know that exposure works over time. And works really, really well. But the key is to avoid doing it too fast and re-traumatizing them. You need to make it systematic and gradual and in the person's control, giving them tools along the way (hence the name "systematic desensitization" rather than "making the person run away screaming.")

Why not have a group of kids who need the extra help start slower and with more one-on-one support, privately practicing their skills and helping each other?

I don't think this doing kids a service in the same way it wouldn't serve kids with dyslexia to say - it's so difficult and stressful for you to read and write, we won't make you do that. Quite frankly, almost all of us will have to make oral presentations - do interviews, speak up in meetings - and we spend so much time at school on the written word and very little on the spoken. If we focussed more on the spoken word, earlier, when everyone was still very much feeling their way - as with reading and writing - I think it would be less traumatizing overall. Obviously it will still be very scarifying for some people, in the same way as reading and writing is tough for people with dyslexia but I don't think taking it away altogether is helpful.

I agree.

And I might just have to incorporate "scarifying" into my daily life now.

Thank you.

It's that he's one of some 14 classmates who wrote that they were "alumni" of the same girl. It's right there in Black And White.

Oh, but didn't you know? His lawyer explained this all already.

They were simply gentlemen who all happened to have taken her to a dance.

Perhaps a sock hop!

Lets take a moment to take heart by remembering the Norwegian students who stepped in when Brock Turner was raping his fiction. These are the boys we want to raise and men who are role models.

Yes, yes, yes.

There are so many good allies out there who happen to be men. It is all too easy to forget when there are men being brutish ignorami (correct plural form?) in the headlines!

Both could be true. He could have been a virgin and still attempted to sexually assault someone. I hate that virginity is being used as a deflection for attempted sexual assault! They are not the same thing! One does not preclude the other!

1000 percent!

It was the strangest defense I've seen all.... hour!

Take the historical view: some people who once stated vile attitudes (e.g., toward race, religion, women, LGBT, sexual harassment/assault) have evolved over their lifetimes. I know this because I originally opposed same-sex marriage, but now have a good male cousin married to a good man.

Yes, evolution does happen and we need to keep that in mind! And the public conversation helps move it along, I truly believe.

Now, I admit that I inwardly cringe when it takes something affecting someone personally ("Imagine if it were your daughter being assaulted!"), but hey, change is better than no change!!

That's not the point. Such a thing doesn't belong in a yearbook at all. Where were the faculty and administrators who let this get printed?

I do hope that my sarcasm was evident!

But yes, I think one surprising angle of all of this is what the heck was going on with these yearbooks? Good grief.

Though can I admit that I am still glad that they did get printed because it has, let's face it, given us some useful data?

Ahem, they were Swedish Stanford students.

I can't fact-check right now, but I do think we all love them regardless!

The only thing that even gets close to "closure" (IMHO) is time and space. For OP, give it time and space. When the feelings aren't so raw perhaps you will be able to talk to him about it. But the only thing you *need* right now is to take care of yourself.

Well said. Thank you.

I'm married to someone who is similar to your girlfriend - when there's an audience, he takes over conversations and starts doling out advice. I talked to him about it, and he said he was a fixer and trying to help. I explained that you can't swoop in and fix other people's problems, but you can alienate them by not letting them speak. Fortunately he got it, and has worked hard to break the habit. In general, I think unsolicited advice comes from a place of insecurity - the people who do this have a deep need to be perceived as competent and knowledgeable and in control, even though they usually get seen as the opposite.

This is really helpful, thanks!

I am so glad that your husband was willing to be vulnerable and look at his behavior-- and he truly got it, and better yet, is working on it. That makes all the difference!

"Force" is a strong word. Helping kids overcome difficulties by challenging them to leave their comfort zones in steps is a good thing. You can't be there forever for them.

Yup, it is that same aforementioned sweet spot-- a nudge that doesn't do more damage, but also gets them out of their comfort zone.

I can be a bit terrier-like myself, worrying the bone and not dropping things because I Want To Know. I've (mostly) learnt to curb it and get a feel for when I should step back. When I was kid, my mother used to say 'you're pounding' - it took me a while to understand when she meant!

Yes! I like this visual.

Some people refer to it as "getting wrapped around the axle," another great metaphor for mentally spinning and spinning and spinning and not going anywhere.

I did this, slept with the best friend during a moment of complacency for me, complete spiraling for them, it was the worst decision I've ever made. I think more than being in love with me, they wanted my life to be as chaotic and dramatic as theirs was (subconsciously, I don't think they did it purposefully), and the affair ran its course in due time. I realized why his wife left him and why he should have been left a friend. My partner could forgive but could never rebuild the trust, and I don't blame him. It is better as a fantasy, I promise.

Sad but wise words from someone who's been there.

I do appreciate your sharing it.

Especially since your friend is now dating after a divorce. Maybe s/he now thinks s/he has a chance with you, and is fantasizing about being married to "the one that got away."


Any way you slice it, OP has everything to lose-- while the friend-crush has virtually nothing at stake.

I recently ended a 4 year relationship with a man I was in love with but did not trust. Needless to say, it was a toxic codependent relationship. Your article “4 Reasons...” was spot on. My friends/family were very concerned and encouraging me to leave him before it was too late. I since realized that he fits the description of a covert narcissist and I am an emotional empath. During the relationship I was frequently reactive, crying due to being mislead, not listening to my needs, etc which I interpreted as not being loved or feeling good enough. Since the breakup, I processed the anger and resentment I had for him and am working on myself now. I have clarity on my part in the relationship and am remorseful that I acted the way I did. I wish I had more emotional maturity at the time and could go back and change things if I could. It does not excuse his behavior towards me but I think if I was more patient and nurturing towards him instead of focusing on trying to get validation from him that it may have improved the relationship. Nothing I can do now, he has already moved on. I am needing perspective. My question is, do you agree that it would have made a difference? Although my ex has many NPD traits, is it possible that he will be a better partner to someone else? Can he change to be a less controlling, more trustworthy and committed partner when the relationship dynamics are different? Thank you for your reply.

Any answer of mine would just be speculating. After all, all relationships are different, and people can potentially change (if they want to, and put in the work).

But here's the thing: is trying to find the answer to this question-- which neither you nor I can ever know for certain-- holding you back?

He was not the right partner for you.

Without a personality transplant for him, and a totally different dynamic for you both, that would never be able to change.

I have a sneaking suspicion that you want to second-guess this fact, whether to a) blame yourself further, which would not be surprising given that you were very likely in a relationship with a controlling person, or b) even worse-- hold out hope that maybe you should get back together with him.

I would not be willing to co-sign on either of these notions.

And so, I go back to my original premise: it would only be speculating for us to know for sure.

But ultimately, it should not matter. You deserved better, then and now.

I can relate, although it was my siblings who just moved away in the night (one metaphorically, one physically) when our parents died. I've tried to take comfort in the fact that I no longer have to deal with them, but being shunned still stings. I was listening to a song by the Pittsburgh band The Clarks one day and the line "Maybe getting in the last word doesn't really mean you win" just clicked for me. It's a tiny thing, but it helped me let go of the need to know "why?"

Yes. This makes so much sense.

It's amazing how a lyric can help clarify things.

Congratulations on your we-won't-call-it-closure.

I hate this!!! Some days I dream of instituting a policy whereby when a male politician says something like "Now I'm against rape/assault/harassment/horrible degradation of women because I have a wife/daughter/sister/mother" any woman within swinging distance should get to punch him in the face. Too much?


I am generally quite anti-punching in the face.

I do completely get your anger, though!

To present another side, I actually hated all the advice about not giving my ex power over me or not letting him take up brain space, etc etc. I didn't want my divorce to happen! It sucked. I had a lot of grieving to do - not just the loss of my partner, but the loss of the life I thought I had, the loss of my sense of security, and the loss of future I had been planning. Giving myself "permission" to take as long as I wanted to move on, to really work through (in therapy) how to cope with never knowing "why" he left, to sit with all my feelings -- that was a really valuable experience. I'll never get "closure" from my ex, but grappling with my emotions around not knowing the "why" was the right way for me to get closure. Make it about YOU, not him -- but you don't need to just convince yourself to move on.

Yes! This is a great point. Feelings are still messy and not lateral and don't have to fit into a box. And it's certainly no failure to take the time you need with them, even including sometimes ruminating about the questions that can't be answered.

Thank you.

I never figured it out. I get that question on dates now and just say there were problems on both sides, and I think he just stopped loving me and didn't know how to deal with that, so he bailed on us. It's the best I can come up with.

And it seems to work for you, which is all that matters.

Thank you!

Be careful, you're still putting the blame on yourself for not having rescued the relationship.


My fears exactly.

Sometimes people would rather stay in a flawed relationship than face the terror of being on their own. Being on one's own isn't always bad.

I've certainly seen this to be true.

I don't think any of us can know whether it applies in OP's case, but I hope not!

Regarding someone who constantly gives unsolicited advice...I'm torn whether this indicates insecurity or a supreme level of arrogance or both. I have someone like this in my life and it drives me completely bananas

Yes! I don't think people realize the effect that constant unsolicited advice has on people.


(Sorry. Attempt at some irony there.)

I do think that arrogance and insecurity are often ingredients in the same flavor of personality soup.

Unless you can master a quad axel, in which case you might go to the next Winter Olympics as a figure skater. :)

Very true!!

When it comes to ice skating, I generally just settle for not breaking a hip. 

I am also in the "I Want To Know for Closure" boat but have realized that what I'm really looking for is *reason* in the madness. And of course, we all know that sometime there is ZERO reason in the world. Perhaps OP should take this view: "closure" will never get you the reasoning you are looking for.


We know that having a reason for something can make us feel more in control of it-- and less stressed. It makes our world feel more just, and more organized-- it makes things make sense.

Except when there is no reason to be had. And then it gives us LESS control when we continue to dwell on the search for it.

There's a certain magic in knowing what we can control and what we can't. AA has been on to that for years!

Can you post the link to this again?

by this, you might mean (subconsciously) that you don't have a strong enough sense of self, so you look to others to absorb their personhood or be validated by them. This sounds like you still need therapy to establish that sense of self. Just sayin.

I'm never going to argue against therapy in a situation like this.


Some years ago, I discovered the secret to giving a speech in front of a group. Practice OUT LOUD, don't just read it silently in your head. I had to speak at the funeral of a family member. I wrote down what I wanted to say and practiced reading it out loud in my garage. It really helped.


And research suggests this can help us retain information better, so it helps with memorization (when that is called for) as well.

I am always telling my students to study this way!

And another thing -- someone who leaves unexpectedly in the middle of the night likely has serious emotional or psychological issues that have nothing to do with you! Don't beat yourself up!

Or perhaps is escaping an environment that is unhealthy... but of course we don't know for sure in OP's case.


This is always difficult and nuanced. I personally think Americans go too far in never speaking up - witness our conversation last week about telling a friend you have reservations about her boyfriend ... or just saying it after they've broken up. I think there's a difference flagging something as something to consider and telling someone what they should do.

It's true.

I think so much of it is in the tone it is conveyed as well.... even the most subtle of nuances about wording, body language, etc....

I loved having all of you here today. Wow, did it fly by!

I'll look so forward to seeing you here next week, and in the column comments in the meantime, and on facebook.

Until then, take good care.

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Dr. Andrea Bonior
Dr. Andrea Bonior is a licensed clinical psychologist and the voice behind Baggage Check since its start in 2005. She serves on the faculty of Georgetown University and is the author of the Publisher's Weekly best-seller "Psychology: Essential Thinkers, Classic Theories, and How They Inform Your World" and "The Friendship Fix.”
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