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The Accidental Philosopher: Things they don't tell you in therapy

Emotional stability, an outcome of good parenting. But is that a good thing, wonders Judy Balan

brunch Updated: Jun 14, 2012 10:39 IST
Judy Balan

Every once in a while, when I'm lying on the floor and staring at the ceiling - I like to play a little game. It's called - What psychological disorder would look good on me. I usually pick Commitment Phobia because this would automatically make me the non-needy one in the relationship. Also, I think I really could use a little phobia when it comes to commitment.



ConfusedYou know how they say your relationship with your parents determines how you relate to the world and how if you're a messed up individual, your parents are to blame most of the time? Yeah, that stuff is true. Except in my case, my parents (my whole family, actually) were so great and THAT messed me up. No, really.



I've been watching re-runs of Friends lately after many, many years and I just realized, I could never fall for a Ross because he reminds me of my brother in so many ways. And that's just sad because this means every time I meet a responsible, committed, kind man, I develop strong, sibling love. And stable men are out too because they remind me of my dad. I mean, I had so much stability in my childhood, I have no idea how to appreciate it. You'd think with so much going on, at least my mother would have lived up to the anal, critical prototype. No such luck. She was affirming, sweet and I suspect, secretly wore a cape.



As you can imagine, my childhood was devoid of any kind of drama. I mean, the biggest fights I remember having at home were over the remote. And as any good storyteller would tell you, lack of conflict makes the story boring. So I chased excitement in all its colourful avatars throughout my teens and twenties and by 26, I was broke and filing for divorce with a 16-month old in tow.



SO. This idea that children who are raised in secure, stable and nurturing environments grow up to be the most emotionally evolved individuals is true. BUT. Here's the fine print - I am so secure and fearless, I keep putting myself in all kinds of unfortunate positions over and over again. I mean, I'm like that inflatable doll that you can keep punching and I'll just keep bouncing back with that idiot grin on my face. Also, I'm a big risk taker - I quit my job when I most needed it and randomly decided to write books (that happened to work out) and I always went for the bad boys and the tragically misunderstood outcast types hoping to bring sunshine into their lives (never worked out).



Now I'm in a place where I desperately want to be attracted to Ross but I'm just not. Because once you're done with all the 'excitement' you were chasing, it has a way of making you feel like - 'Eh. Is this all there is?' I mean, in retrospect, it all seems pointless and definitely not worth the heartaches and the humiliation. But what's the alternative for someone like me?



I get so frustrated sometimes, I wish my dad had been a reckless drunk or my mom had never loved me. That way, I would have either written angry-girl music and become a rock star like I always wanted or at least become commitment phobic and steered clear of relationships. Instead, I'm an incurable optimist who is always giving people the benefit of the doubt, getting screwed over for it and then forgiving people before they are actually sorry and getting screwed over once again.



So yes, I am emotionally whole as they promised. But who said that's a good thing?

Judy is a compulsive theorist and dreamy single-mum. She believes in serendipity, The Butterfly Effect and is pop-culture-crap intolerant. She is also the best-selling author of Two Fates - The Story of My Divorce