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Solitary Confinement

Emily Flake

By Mink Stole | Posted 2/6/2002

I'm a 23-year-old female who graduated from college a year ago. Without going into a novel's worth of details about my woes during the past few years, I'll say that after a series of intensely negative experiences I just don't trust people, or at least my own judgment about people, anymore. For example, I bought a house on the strength of my best friend's commitment to share expenses for at least a year. Not only did she leave after only three months, she took the furniture and all our (I thought) mutual friends with her. We'd been friends for 10 years, and I was so traumatized I almost didn't graduate. Two months later another good friend overdosed on drugs. I had no idea he was so fucked up. The few people my age I still hang out with bore me, so I'm spending a lot of time with my parents, who are great. I'm also learning to enjoy being alone, but I'd really like to find some literate and lighthearted people to hang out with. Please don't tell me to try clubs or to try to make friends at school (I'm earning my computer-training certification), because I have tried and it hasn't worked. But I'm too young to give in to a life of seclusion, and I'm afraid of ending up the lady with 20 cats. Any suggestions?

Independently Isolated

Dear Isolated:
Before you decide you're hopeless, you should realize we all make mistakes. Your friend who overdosed probably fooled everyone, and I know from personal experience that even good friends can make dreadful roommates: Some people are neater than others; some obsess about toothpaste tops or freak when the toilet paper faces the wrong direction. Boundaries get crossed, tempers flare, little things become huge, and the whole dynamic of the friendship shifts past saving. I don't know what went wrong in your case, and it's horrid that your ex-pal won't talk about it, but instead of beating yourself up over it and giving up on a social life, you need to figure out what went wrong so you can keep it from happening again. You're lucky to have great, fun parents, but if you're going to use them as your social refuge, you'd better start stockpiling kitty litter.

Start by doing the things you like. Or try new stuff. Go places. Alone if you have to, but perhaps one of your now-dull pals would not only be fascinating in a different setting, but as bored with the routine as you are and grateful for the suggestion. At the very least, you'll be making yourself more interesting. At the risk of sounding trite, no one makes friends staying home; it's a trial-and-error education for all of us. I may seem awfully quick to suggest therapy, but when life gets really confusing and depressing, someone on our side to help us figure it all out can be a lifesaver.

Regarding your response to Frustrated Friend ( Think Mink, Jan. 30): I had problems with the following section of your response --". . . you need to talk seriously to Lisa about birth control. There's no question that it's a woman's right to choose, but abortion is a lousy alternative to preventing pregnancy in the first place." Please don't fall into the trap of believing that the only women who find themselves in this position were carelessly unprotected by birth control. I work in women's health and I have heard every possible scenario for how a woman arrives at the decision to seek an abortion. I personally have a friend who used two different forms of birth control (oral contraceptives and condoms) and still got pregnant. It happens. I've also encountered women who wanted to be pregnant, while in a committed relationship or otherwise, and then discovered that their health did not allow them to carry the pregnancy to term, or that they were HIV+, or their partners left them (or died) and they were unable to provide for another child. Ignorance of birth-control options is a huge problem, but your summation about Lisa seemed dismissive of all the other possibilities that might have led her to that point.

Offering More Info

Dear Info:
I'm so glad you're paying attention out there. This is an incredibly important subject, and I'm always happy to yak about it. It's true, and it happens more often than people realize. Some sperm and some eggs are just so determined to hook up that you could put the Hoover Dam between them and they'd still make it. This may or may not have been the case with Lisa, although the fact that this was her second pregnancy and no mention was made of the father of either (we weren't told what the outcome of the first pregnancy was) made it easy to suspect carelessness. Nor was any health, emotional, or financial reason suggested. I didn't mean to pass judgment on Lisa, but, in my defense, if I had said nothing about birth control someone would have called me irresponsible for not bringing it up.

No one rational has an abortion "just for the hell of it," and whether it's for one of the reasons you gave or for any other reason she may have, a woman's right to choose must remain inviolate. If the world's most incredible medical miracle finally occurs and men can give birth, then, and only then, will I be willing to listen to opposing argument.

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Pick and Choose (4/12/2006)
First of all, homosexuality isnít like snake handling or Catholicism; it isnít a cult or a religion you can be recruited for or converted to.

Territorial Rites (4/5/2006)

Family Guy (3/15/2006)

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