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Queer Abby: How To Forgive Yourself

Dear Queer Abby, 

What is the best snack?

Signed, 

Snacking in SF 

 

Dear SF, 

Obviously prunes dipped in tahini. TRY IT. 

I’m talking vitamins, antioxidants, great for your bones, sticks to your ribsWhat else do you need? 

 

Dear Queer Abby, 

How do I forgive myself for my own shortcomings?

Signed, 

Sad in Santa Fe

 

Dear SISF, 

Make a list of your attributes. The things you like about yourself.  Make a list of the things you feel you’d like to improve upon (i.e. your shortcomings). Accept that both are true. You are a good person who deserves to be on this planet, AND there are things you’d like to get better at.

Engage in some esteemable actions. For every thing that you think sucks, do something that you objectively think a good person would do. At the worst point in my life, I started volunteering with senior citizens who suffered from dementia. Having a weekly obligation with people who needed it forced a space in the judgmental rain clouds of my life and let some light in. 

Talk nice to yourself. If you need to, think of how you’d treat another person you care about, outside of yourself.  If I have a friend who has a bad habit (say, interrupting), I wouldn’t say “You fucking loser why do you keep interrupting.” I’d say…. probably nothing! I’d just observe it and think “My friend is really excited about this conversation and she can NOT keep it to herself and I love my friend.”

We’re all human. Who cares? There is a recovery term called  “piece of shit in the center of the universe.” Don’t let your self-loathing crowd out your connection to (and ability to show up for) other humans. 

If you want to take it even further, think of my dog, Ponyo. Ponyo (aka Ponzini Linguini) is a nine-pound rescued chihuahua mix who loves (almost) every human, enjoys dancing to Taylor Swift, and smiles when you hold her on her back. Ponyo also barks at the door. Would you, personally, throw the Ponyo baby out with the bathwater if she barks at the mailman? Does it make her all-bad or unworthy of anything? I say nay. 

We’re all just animals here, trying our best. If even my dog gets to contain multitudes and deserve love and forgiveness, then so do you. 

Please be easy on yourself. Change is slow, it is sometimes hard, but acknowledging your feelings and moving forward, through them, is worthwhile, I promise. 

 

Dear Queer Abby, 

What do you do when your partner’s partner doesn’t like you? But your partner wants everyone to hang out? How do I support my partner’s partners?

Signed, 

Poly-pod-cket

 

Dear Poly P, 

You don’t have to hang out with anyone you don’t want to. If it doesn’t make your tail wag, don’t do it. 

Even if someone else wants you to. 

That said, if you choose to interact for the common good, just think “water off a duck’s back.”

She may have tons of feelings of insecurity roiling beneath the surface. This is a loaded scenario, and she’s probably reacting more to the situation than she is to you as a person. She’s reacting to the idea of you as a possible threat to the abundance of a resource, love, that she holds very dear.

The good news for everyone is, there’s no scarcity of love in this world.

There is an expression amongst educators, “Kids who need the most love show it in the most unloving ways.”

If I were you in this situation and I had to see this person, I would just try to be positive and polite and extend myself in a way that let her know I meant her no harm.  Manners exist for a reason. They put people at ease. Empathy, patience, and generosity will serve you well. 

Dear Sugar famously said “Be about 10 times more magnanimous than you believe yourself capable of being. Your life will be a hundred times better for it.” 

There’s no reason to act like a sullen teen when you put yourself in a situation you are uncomfortable with. No one has a gun to your head. If you choose to show up, show up kind-hearted. If she says something nasty to you, just reflect it back (“Wow, did you just say that I’m dressed like a clown?”), and if you get uncomfortable, you get to leave. 

You’re a grown ass adult! Call a cab, see you later, and if your partner wants to hang out post-poly-pod-party & you’re feeling the spirit, wonderful. 

But you don’t have to accept queer-on-queer violence from their partner, nor do you have to dish it. 

p.s. Your partner better not be reporting back to you about who likes you and who doesn’t. If they are, tell them it actually isn’t helpful, hurts your feelings, and makes it hard to interact. They can’t talk trash and then ask you to hang out with the person they just told you hates your guts. It’s just not reasonable!

p.p.s. You get to make decisions on your own timeline. If your partner asks you to attend something with their team of dates, you can say “Let me think about it,” put down the phone, breath, meditate, take a walk, and decide if it’s something you actually would like to do. If it is, wonderful. Show up with an abundance of light. If no, or if you feel stressed/squeezed by it, you get to make that choice. Or you get to bring a support person! Your partner is bringing a whole grip of admirers. You deserve to have one, too. 

 

Dear Queer Abby, 

Do you have thoughts on getting a dog to cope with a breakup (in which you lose a dog)?

Signed, 

Dogless in Delaware

 

Dear Dogless, 

I’m so sorry for your breakup and for the custodial loss of your dog. 

I think dogs are a great support if you’re going through a hard time. They’re a great place to put your love energy, and to get it back. 

HOWEVER, I want you to have calm, stable, energy and an ability to make good decisions and enforce boundaries if you bring a new dog around. That is what any dog deserves. 

 Don’t let your open heart lead you to a dog who is going to stress out your life. 

Make a list of what you have to offer a dog, and what you’d like a dog to offer you. TALK TO THE PEOPLE AT THE SHELTER. Do not get wooed by a pretty face on Instagram or Petfinder (I call it “PetGrindr”).  

Talk to the people at the place, a real place, tell them what you have to offer and what you are looking for, be honest with them and yourself, and listen to what they have to say. They know the dogs better than you and they can match you up with someone who will be a gift and a treasure to you at this time in your life and not a hellish burden. 

If you know me, you know I love problematic pets. I do. Very much so. I’ve given thousands of dollars in rental deposits and vet bills towards the cause of the troubled rescue dog. I’ve written a 300-page book to memorialize the life of my best dog friend who tried to bite people until her last living day

That said, what I’m afraid of, dear reader, if you getting a chaotic pet at this time of grief, and then not having the space to move through your own feelings about your break up because you are so distracted by taking care of the dog. Do you know what I mean here? If you adopt a dog who is chill and not needy (omg especially a beautiful SENIOR DOG), you can focus on your feelings and move through your sense of loss. If you get a dog who comes with a Smarte Carte’s-worth of emotional baggage, I could see a person stuffing their breakup-grief feelings down in favor of chasing a dog around the neighborhood in between stressing about it peeing and whining in the house. NOT SO THERAPEUTIC. 

Watch some old episodes of The Dog Whisperer (don’t at me if you hate him), put on your nicest sitting-on-the-floor clothes to visit a shelter, be patient with the process, and good luck! 

xoxo,

Queer Abby

If you have a question for Queer Abby, send it in an email to [email protected].  


Nicole J. Georges

Nicole J. Georges is a writer, illustrator, podcaster, and professor from Portland, OR.