I’m finding Lerner to be very essentialist in her view of gender: men are cold and unemotional, women are needy and clingy. I don’t really find that helpful, since most of the women in my life have issues around being too withdrawn, and it’s a chore having to swap “he” for “she” in my brain. The work is very dated in that respect, and the next chapter, which is about our “impossible mothers”, is also one I’m tempted to skip, for similar reasons. I’m a woman whose problems are mostly with her father. He is the pursuer and I am distancing myself. I haven’t seen much advice for the “man” in the equation and how “he” can break free of the cycle, only for the “woman”. Only for pursuers. My mother and I, at least, can walk away from each other and come back and be rational for a little while. We aggravate each other, but I can live with our interactions because we’re good at reconciling our differences. I don’t feel the need to shut her out. Her pursuing doesn’t freak me out–she’s learned that I need my distance sometimes.
But not my dad. He pushes and pushes. He’s loud and tactile and I am uncomfortable with both of these when it comes to him. He doesn’t understand distance, not like I need. We also have so little in common that if I didn’t have to live here, I doubt I’d stay. We make better Sunday-brunch friends. I am trying not to let our relationship be destroyed. I am trying to express my frustrations to him in writing, not at the top of my lungs. On the rare occasions that I show him my vulnerabilities, I feel like he either exploits them in order to get into my good books or gets angry because I show them. I find, when dealing with someone who behaves as if every challenge is an insult, that cold withdrawal is my best policy. I can keep the peace that way and not spark a fight with my mother, who inevitably jumps in on his side. I’m never sure how she really feels in a three-way fight, honestly.
Time to skim ahead looking for something I can use.