My father’s terrible behaviour means I can’t be intimate with men | Dear Mariella

Cold hard rage might be the way to propel you from victimhood to a braver future, says Mariella Frostrup

The dilemma I’m in my late 30s, single, no children and I’ve never been in a long-term relationship. I have dated a bit over the years and I’ve tried online dating, but that has never led to anything meaningful. I do have sex sometimes, or spend some time with a man, often it’s even nice, but I can never be relaxed or be myself with men. I am the eldest of three and my parents used to have serious relationship problems. Over several years my dad regularly and loudly threatened to kill himself if my mum left him, he had extreme mood swings, and during these episodes he often confided in me about their sex life. Through sessions with a psychologist, I have come to the realisation that a part of me is still in that room with my dad, being forced to listen to his crying and extremely intimate stories, too shocked to say anything, and those experiences have left me scared of being fully intimate with men, even now. I am trying to figure out what I can do to move on and take better care of my slightly wounded self.

Mariella replies I’m so sorry. As you can imagine, I get all kinds of stories in my mailbox and yet there are some that move me more than others. Yours is definitely in that category. The legacy of your father’s self-indulgent and irresponsible behaviour is clear to see and I wish I could feign surprise that it’s embedded itself so deeply in your psyche. Human beings are capable of enormous selfishness, but there’s always the lingering hope that they’ll rein in their excesses for the sake of their children. In your case that certainly wasn’t the case.

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Guardian Lifestyle - Sun, 13 May 2018 05:00:52 GMT

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