Do You Have Daddy Issues?

Beach Life, Morning #2. Yesterday was a bit overcast, but today the sun is pulling out all the stops. I woke up (way too) early and went for a nice jog on the nearly unpopulated beach, smiled at the water, glittering on the horizon, and sent a couple seagulls squawking. As I ran along the edge of the tide with the water at my feet — in my green shorts and green tank, with my hair sticking out wildly from under my blue hat and my scallop-white skin shimmering — I was feeling pretty hot to trot. I waved at a man with a dog, and at another man, shirtless, playing his guitar. The only other person as far as the eye could see was another jogger ... and as she approached — in her jog bra and minuscule spandex shorts, with her perfect ponytail and perfect tan and washboard stomach — I got knocked over by a wave.


When I came back to the house, after drying off, I read the New York Times — as is my morning habit — and the first thing that caught my eye was a movie review for

Cyrus, about a 21-year-old guy (played by Jonah Hill) who has heavy mommy issues. Freud would say that we all do. All young boys dream of making love to their mothers, but they sense it's a bad, shameful instinct — and they fear they'd be castrated if they did it. That's the Oedipal complex, of course. The female Oedipal complex is slightly different: Little girls idealize their fathers as perfect men and protectors because they're pissed off at their mothers for not being able to completely protect them from pain and harm in an imperfect world. Freud thought the Oedipal complex could probably be considered "the greatest problem of early life, and the strongest source of later inadequacy." (I know all this because the book I was reading last night — which I've been slowly perusing for a while — is Janet Malcolm's

Psychoanalysis: The Impossible Profession.)


The topic of Oedipal stuff came up a little last night, and not at all because I was talking about the book. My father called while Teddy and I were driving back from town and since I was driving, I put my pop on speaker-phone. My father basically said: "Are ya safe? Are ya having a good time?" (Teddy got a kick out of his Irish accent.) When I told him how beautiful this little town is, he said, "Good. Now, why don't you get a real job so you can make some decent money and buy yourself a house up there? And you can have the rest of the place and I'll just live in the basement." I said wryly, "How generous of you."

After we hung up, I mentioned to Teddy that my father usually called me once a day just to, more or less, make sure I was alive; Teddy thought that was kinda cute. "Yes, my father is incredibly sweet," I said. "And he can be so charismatic that whenever we fought — which we did constantly till about two years ago — that it was all the worse whenever I felt like he'd turned on me."

Teddy said, "Right. Isn't that why you like guys who give and then withhold affection?"

You mean: Isn't that why I like guys who are incredibly charming and treat me like I'm the center of the universe — for a few months or a few weeks — and then withdraw completely, leaving me feeling powerless? Quite possibly. Although I think there's a little more to it than that ... I think I often freak out, fearing they'll withdraw, and then I do things that help set the withdrawal in motion — if it hasn't already started out.

The questions for YOU today, folks:

-Do you think Freud is full of crap, with all this Oedipal stuff?

-Do you have parental issues? What was your father (or mother) like, and how has that affected you and your intimate relationships as an adult?

-How have you gotten over any bad relationship patterns?

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