Advice

On your father’s death

I knew my dad was going to die soon. It took fifteen minutes to resuscitate him two days prior. We agreed with the doctor not to be aggressive in treatment after they extubated him.

When he regained consciousness, it was without awareness, his tongue lolling and his eyes rolling into his head. He would barely focus on people when they spoke directly to him. He couldn’t answer even the simplest questions.

His breathing was labored and fast. As they gave him sedatives and pain medication it began to turn wet and I imagined it would soon culminate in either a severe struggle, or series of terrible and unforgettable sounds. Between machines with alarms going off and the sounds of him drowning, it might be unbearable.

My mother, not fully understanding the situation, kept trying to talk to him. I carefully weighed leaving my father to die alone against saving my mom from an experience that might destroy her. I honestly felt that if she had to remember my father’s death rattle she would literally go insane. I know I only barely felt strong enough to believe I could.

To my mind, my father had already died. Forcing her to watch as the nurses swept away the pieces just didn’t seem right. Or worse, some terrifying moment of struggle that made her feel even more powerless would just be torture.

I told her I would take her home to rest. We said our goodbyes and promised to check on him the next day. Both doctors had already explained the prognosis was extremely poor. And my mom tried to push it aside by saying that she didn’t like this doctor or that doctor.

Moments after we got home the phone rang and we were asked to return as my father had passed. I looked out the window and it began to rain. Even after all that contemplation, I still don’t know if I did the right thing. Did I?

The week before, when he finally got the tube out the last time, he finally said, “I love you.” Something I swear he’s only said to me maybe twice before. And I couldn’t understand him through the mask clearly enough to be certain. I asked him to repeat it but he was very weak and didn’t. I feel like I denied him that. And then, I abandoned him.

I don’t know what to feel. But I am hurting.

Did I do the right thing?

 

Yes, you did the right thing. You needn’t carry any measure of guilt for not bearing witness to the exact moment of your father’s death. He certainly wasn’t conscious at the end, and you had already said your goodbyes. You spared your father a final indignity and you protected your mother from further trauma. You did what you thought was best, and it seems like it was exactly what your father would have wanted you to do.

And no, you didn’t abandon him. You didn’t deny your father any opportunity to express how he felt about you. He had an entire lifetime to express how he felt, and if he wasn’t the kind of man to tell you that he loved you, then that’s on him. That’s his missed opportunity, not yours.

My condolences on your loss, for whatever that’s worth. It’s perfectly okay to not know what to feel right now, and it’s going to hurt for a very long time. It’s supposed to. Don’t rush trying to feel normal again. It’ll happen when it happens.

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Thoughts

On resonance and inevitablity

The past couple of posts that you have written, I have found a resonance with them. Your replies, though less frequent, are very fulfilling for me. There was a cheekiness early on that I LOVED very much from you. But, what you give me now is more adult, less sweet or lurid, it’s deeper. Your words are more important now; they hold more weight. You always seem to write, right when I begin to miss you the most.

I mean this,

I love you very much.

But I still miss you (or the idea of you, or the fun version of you I had in my mind, or the no bullshit cokehead 25-year-old you)

But I like this you. It’s lovely.

 

Thank you. I don’t miss the 25-year-old cokehead me, but it’s nice to know that crazy bitch left an indelible mark on something other than my liver. A decade ago someone asked me how I maintained, and I remember acknowledging the fact that I would eventually have to move the party up the hill. That’s what I’ve done, emotionally, spiritually, and professionally. When I left Los Angeles, I cashed in my youth for a greater sense of purpose, and it was worth every ounce of cheekiness.

I have officially moved into the dinner party phase of life, and as you say, it’s more adult, less lurid, and much, much deeper. The fun part is recognizing that there’s a grand inevitability to it all. I see that in another ten years, I’ll be discovered by the teenage offspring of my original readers and looked upon as some decadent subcultural artifact from the aught years, an era of naiveté when we gave away our privacy for free and still believed that having a bumbling cowboy as President was the worst thing in the entire world.

In the meantime, I get to speak in my adult voice. You find resonance in that voice because we’re all adults now and we’re terrified to discover that not only are we the ones in charge, but that we’re all still faking it, our parents were all faking it, and every generation before us was faking it too. None of us have ever had any fucking idea how any of this works, and at any moment it could all end in thermonuclear war, or worse, because we were texting while driving.

The nihilist in me appreciates how little control we have over our own fate. My inner child has always been the type to let go of the handlebars, so I don’t mind one bit that we’re all hurtling rudderless into the void. I like this part. I’m really good at being the adult in the room, not because I have some special wisdom that comes with age, but because I’m perfectly comfortable with the fact that as a species, we are totally and completely full of shit.

 

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Advice

On doing it now

I don’t feel worthy of the kind of person I want to date. I’m working on my body, my career, my life, but feel like I can’t start looking for a partner until I’m in some perfect spot in the future that might never come. This also bleeds into friendships where I crave closeness but also can’t let myself drop my guard enough to build that intimacy.

How would you advise someone works on this? Apart from therapy. I’m looking into that as soon as my insurance kicks in.

 

I wish confidence was a bodily fluid. I wish I could spend my nights catching average white men in nets baited with vinyl records and vape pens and then milk their excess confidence like snake venom. That’s all you need, really, a healthy dose of the undeserved confidence of an average white man. (And by average I don’t mean typical. I mean mediocre. Those uninspired fuckers are brimming with the stuff.) I wish I could bottle up that warm, slippery goo and then sell it to people like you on the black market. I’d be rich and you’d be happy and the world would be a better place.

In lieu of this service, all I can do is attempt to inspire you to build your own confidence through mental and emotional exercise like some personal trainer of the soul. That’s a bit of a trick for me, because it’s difficult to inspire someone like you without dragging out a sackful of stale-ass Tony Robbins style self-help clichés about tuning into the present moment and not letting the perfect become the enemy of the good.

I mean, shit. I hope your insurance kicks in and all, but you don’t need a therapist to tell you that the future doesn’t exist. It never has and it never will, especially the one in your head where you’ve accumulated enough external indicators of value to finally warrant being loved by someone.

This moment right here and right now is all you’ve got. It’s fine to work on your body, your career, and your life, but not for the sake of some far off imagined future. The work you do has to give you sustenance now. Start getting messy today. Let your fucking guard down already. Take a risk. It doesn’t have to come from a place of confidence. It can come from a place of howling terror, as long as it comes. As long as you come. Now. Do it.

Now.

I don’t have a syringe full of undeserved white man confidence, but I am high enough at the moment to instead give you literally just one word of advice:

Now.

One more time for the cheap seats:

Now.

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Fun-Sized Advice

On fun-sized advice

Why are guys such lying assholes?
Because you allow it.

How do I recover from being in a relationship with a narcissist and living through the narcissistic cycle of abuse? I feel like I can’t trust anything anymore.
Don’t take over your ex’s gaslighting duties now that he’s gone.

I would consider myself a fairly shameless person, which I think is a good thing. One problem – I was raped about a year and a half ago, and this is one thing that I feel ashamed of. Rationally, I know it wasn’t my fault and I shouldn’t blame myself for it, but I still feel like this. How do I stop feeling ashamed?
Your feelings of shame don’t have anything to do with fault or blame. You feel diminished, sullied, less than you were before. You believe (or have been made to believe) that you are now of lesser value because you were raped. Of course, that belief is false as fuck, but until that false belief is addressed and exploded, you will continue feeling ashamed.

Coke my dude, my babe, my guru, it all hurts and if there’s a reason to keep breathing I can’t imagine what it is.
The leaves are about to start changing color.

I’m attracted to my ex’s son. It’s that age. I’m 25, my ex is 45, his son is 19. Fuck, he likes me too. What the fuck do I do?
Decide whether you’re the kind of person who’d rather deal with future regret or future remorse and act accordingly.

Can you recommend any good wonkish podcasts?
Pod Save America, Hysteria, Lovett or Leave It, The Weeds, and The Ezra Klein Show.

Can be good without right? Can be right without Truth? Can be good without Truth?
Yes, yes, and yes.

Is Jordan Peterson attractive in your view?
You’re joking, right? Dear god, no. He’s a repulsive ghoul.

Have you ever met someone who talked about Dear Coquette with you, but they had no idea they are actually talking to the person who started it all?
Yep. It’s happened a couple of times.

What is your main source of joy right now?
My work.

Would you describe yourself as a postmodernist?
I’m more of a metamodernist.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely is:
~Trump to be reelected in 2020
~Trump to be impeached before then
~Trump to start a trade war
~Russia to invade Northern Canada and would that start a WW3
~Is that even on Russia’s radar or is that some messed up paranoia
Trump reelection: 2 in 10 chance.
Trump impeachment: 5 in 10 chance.
Trump trade war: 10 in 10 chance.
Russia invades Canada: 0 in 10 chance. (Yes, that’s paranoia.)

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Advice

On minor acts of violence

Is a glass of water or a punch in the face always wrong?

 

Absolutely not. I’m not some syrupy idiot who believes the cliché that violence is never the answer. Violence is a powerful tool, and when used for good, it is the purest form of necessary evil. (Of course, what people believe to be good is inevitably where we get into trouble when it comes to justifying violence.)

As for me personally, I believe hurling drinks and punching people to be generally wrong, but I also believe punching Nazis like Richard Spencer in the face or throwing water on garbage monsters like Tomi Lahren to be highly individualistic forms of civil disobedience, and in those specific instances, there is a greater good to consider. That said, it’s still assault, so don’t go around doing that kind of shit without being fully aware of the potential consequences. It is against the law to assault people, even shitty people, (as well it should be), but just because something is illegal, that doesn’t make it inherently wrong.

Also consider this: if the drink is hurled or the fist is thrown on impulse and out of anger, then you’re gonna lose most of your moral high ground. Outside of genuine self-defense, it is incredibly difficult to justify violence that stems from impulse or anger. Another thing to consider is proportionality. Throwing water on Tomi Lahren and ruining her night is a proportional response to her presence at the bar, whereas throwing acid on her would be completely unjustifiable. Punching Richard Spencer in the face and ruining his day is a proportional response to his presence at the Nazi rally, whereas shooting him in the face would be completely unjustifiable. Outside of total war, it is impossible to justify violence that isn’t proportional.

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Fun-Sized Advice

On more fun sized advice

Are art museums pompous? I love them, but my brother says art museums are basically malls where you can’t buy anything, making them pointless.
Your brother is an idiot.

Why is it bad to kill yourself?
Because then you’re dead, silly.

if everything is meaningless anyway, does it even really matter if i fuck the married guy
It matters to his wife, bitch.

I finally told him I wanted a divorce. I’ve been wanting it for a couple of years now. At first I felt like a weight was lifted, but then I started to panic that I made the wrong choice. How do I know if I was wrong?
The only choice you’ve made is to tell him. You haven’t actually done it yet. Divorce is a process — a grueling, painful process — and that may not be what you really want. What you really want is for things to change, and somehow you’ve come to believe that divorce is the only version of change available. Maybe it is, but I doubt it. Make sure you’ve exhausted all other means of potential change before you go follow through with divorce. That’s how you’ll know if you’ve made the right choice.

Why does Pete Campbell come off as a sleazeball but Don’t Draper does not?
I love a question that comes at me a full decade after it’s relevant. Still, I suppose we live in non-linear times, so here’s your cheat code to Mad Men: Don Draper is not a good guy. He’s just good looking. The entire show is one long narrative experiment proving that archetypal masculinity is just narcissism with a square jaw.

I love my best friend to death, but she has a habit of dating magnificent assholes for short periods of time. When she does, I have to listen to all her insufferable relationship woes and I think by now I’ve reached my breaking point. How do I deal with this without hurting her feelings?
Change the subject. If she insists on talking about her relationships then be more direct and tell her to stop talking about them. Be firm and come from a place of love. It’s okay if you hurt her feelings in the process of setting some healthy boundaries.

Is it chance or choice that you follow 666 people on Twitter?
What do you think?

We know you’re MBTI type, but what’s your attachment style? Should we guess?
Secure as fuck.

Why do you say “you aren’t” instead of “you’re not”?
I use both. They each have a distinct rhythm, and they read differently.

I feel like your recent posts are more peaceful and centered. Do you feel different now that you’re no longer in Los Angeles?
Absolutely, without question, I am in a much better place.

Where have you been?
Learning. Growing. Becoming a better person.

Are you in love?
Madly.

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Fun-Sized Advice

On fun-sized advice

Omg, thank you for posting again
Sure thing.

Did you stop blogging because of the trolls?
Nope, not at all. I’m just living a life over here, and sometimes I have to focus on other things.

I’m 27 and debt-free and I’ve finally given up on the idea that people liking me and being right will make me successful. What now?
Surround yourself with quality people, and find something that you enjoy doing.

I pretty much get all my news from Vox and podcasts. I don’t know if this is bad.
Add the Washington Post and a well-curated Twitter account into the mix, and you’ll be fine.

When I’m with someone, I know my worth. I’m intelligent, thoughtful, empathetic, independent, whatever. If they lose interest in me, I think “your loss, you won’t find another person like me.” Is this arrogance or self-esteem talking?
That first bit with all the positive characteristics is self-esteem. That second bit about him not finding another person like you is arrogance.

I’m 35 and divorced. He’s 42 and divorced. We both want a family. We both don’t have one. I’m not sure if I love him but I know he would be a good and dedicated father. Should I do it? Is it settling?
It’s not settling if having a family is a higher priority for you than being in love. It’s important that he’ll be a good and dedicated father, but make absolutely sure he will be a good and dedicated partner as well.

On the first date, a guy wanted to fuck me. Declined, but said perhaps in the future if he “plays his cards right” (forgive the cliché). Why does it bother me that he referred to it as me “playing games”? It was going really well otherwise, I just needed more time to decide when (if) I wanted to have sex with him.
You literally referenced playing a card game with regard to his pursuit of you sexually. If the “playing games” cliché bothers you, perhaps you should update your metaphors. (And it bothers you because you take your vagina way too seriously.)

Coke, why are people fucking dumb enough to buy and use “smart speakers” in their homes? Do people really not give a shit about their privacy for the sake of mind numbing convenience?
We walk around with microphones and cameras in our pockets all day long. You think that’s any different than having an Echo in your apartment? Besides, nobody with the skill or authority to hack your devices is listening to you. You aren’t that important.

How many times have you changed careers?
Three.

Do you still feel the same way about monogamy as your younger selves?
Yes and no. These days my dial is set somewhere around monogamish.

So… thoughts on 2018 so far?
Better than 2017.

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Advice

On still hearing you

Not looking for a response on this one. In fact, I would be pretty embarrassed if you posted this. I simply owe you an apology.

I’m the one who submitted this over a year ago: http://dearcoquette.com/on-hearing-you/. In a moment of despair, after feeling for a long time like I was flailing wildly, trying to make even the smallest improvement in my life and failing at every attempt, I lumped your lack of response in with the giant mass of external indifference that I felt was closing in around me. Desperate for any validation–or failing that, catharsis–I turned all that frustration into an arrow and hurled it back at you.

Reading your response filled me with gratitude, relief, and even hope; I started to believe, just a bit, in my inherent value as a person. It turns out I trust validation from a complete stranger (whom I deeply respect) more than that of my loved ones; I can’t help but think they’re biased by the fact that I’m already just furniture occupying space in their lives.

However, your response convinced me because your sincerity came across, and that’s when I realized how unfairly I may have burdened you. Reading the comments only supported my fears that I had ridiculously expected you to be responsible for soothing my ego. I’m deeply ashamed to admit that, after following your blog for almost a decade, I forgot that you are a person with feelings, and of course you can’t respond to everything, but this whole community knows you care enough to genuinely wish you could. I saw–too late–how I took advantage of that, and I did not deserve the compassion you showed me in that moment, when I forgot your humanity yet you saw and affirmed mine. I’m beyond grateful that you did, but I’m so sorry that I demanded it of you in the first place. I’m sorry for any and every negative impact that post may have had at the time or any time since—for all I know there were none, but of course I can imagine many, so, for all of them, I’m sorry.

I’ll be honest: I still feel like I’m furniture in other people’s lives. I still believe that I am a cause of suffering to those closest to me, and that eventually I’ll hurt everyone I love. I’m not okay…but I do believe that I have the right to try to be. I am getting help. I’m trying to learn to minimize the misery I cause others, to avoid using my mental illnesses as a reason to take advantage, and to actually ask for help rather than extract it by manipulation. It’s progress, I suppose, since the last time I hit this button.

Thank you for doing what you do, and for being who you are.

 

You are way too hard on yourself.

No doubt your constant Eeyore impression gets annoying at times, but I promise that you are not the cause of anyone’s suffering. You can’t be. People are responsible for their own suffering. That shit isn’t on you.

That being said, having a mood or personality disorder is a totally separate problem than not having any integrity. Good on you for recognizing that you shouldn’t use your disorder to take advantage of people. Keep working on your integrity, and do what you can to quit being so fucking hard on yourself.

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Advice

On unrepentant assholes

I’ve been with my boyfriend almost two years and things are really good between us. We have fun together, great sex, support each other, take turns doing all the boring stuff around the house, try out new things and visit new places together, and generally have a really good partnership going on.

I love him and love being around him, but avoid speaking to him about stuff that matters to me at all costs because I know it will end up in a huge argument and I will want to break up with him.

I’m not talking about stuff like my family or friends or job. If I voice worries about that kind of thing he is a great listener and really supportive. If I talk about my hobbies, again he listens and is enthusiastic with me. I hope I am in return. We believe in each other and encourage each other.

It’s more on a political/hypothetical level that things get ugly. The first warning bell came when I started dating him and saw on his bookshelf the title ‘Why Rape Culture is a Dangerous Myth.’ Or something along those lines. When I asked him about it we launched in to a big argument. I don’t mind debates, but it soon seemed to me that he just totally lacked empathy. At no point is he prepared to concede that, as he isn’t a woman he might not be able to fully comprehend what it’s like to be a woman. He’s all, why should he (as a white man) not be allowed to speak about things because of ‘the accidents of his birth.’ He will argue around in circles about things because he enjoys debating, but fails to ever really listen. Our most recent argument was with him arguing that gay people choose to be gay. He said we should think they have a choice because it is empowering to them, or something equally irrelevant. Time and again I try to explain to him that, just because it would make more sense for the world to be a certain way hypothetically, it doesn’t mean that it is that way; you can’t always reason to conclusions; sometimes you have to accept that there are gaps in your knowledge and that you aren’t the authority on something. He disagrees. He actually said ‘I’ve never bungee jumped but I can have an opinion on it.’ It makes me want to slam my head against a wall.

I don’t know what to do. Am I just being precious and over sensitive? I don’t believe in only being around people who agree with me and always try to listen to other points of view, but I wonder if I’m somehow losing my integrity by being with him.

 

About half of all the submissions I receive are some version of “Hey, CQ. I really love my boyfriend, but it just occurred to me that he’s a chronic, unrepentant asshole. What should I do?”

Over the years, I feel like I’ve been fairly consistent with my recommendation: dump his ass, learn from the experience, and do better next time.

You, my dear, are with a magnificent asshole.

Act accordingly.

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Advice

On sober reminders

A few months ago, I took an overdose of beta blockers, and when I was in the ICU my heart stopped for almost a minute. The doctor showed me the chart where my heart was beating and then it wasn’t, although it was all rather difficult to comprehend at the time and the oxygen mask pushed on my glasses and made seeing clearly somewhat difficult. I remember wanting to ask the doctor if I could keep the chart, but thought that might be inappropriate. I wish I had asked now, because it would have been a sober reminder for moments like these.

I stayed in hospital for a few days and told no one where I was. I was so ashamed. As time went on, I was desperate to get out of that lonely and stale environment. When I got out, I felt so lost and wished I were back in the close quarters of predictable ward life. No one except my therapist knew about the attempt, and for weeks afterwards I wandered around in a surreal reality where my world had changed but the world in general had not, and everyone around me went on about their lives. I wanted to scream.

Soon enough, I returned to work. On the surface I appear to be doing alright. But in some ways, I’m not, and although I’m not exactly suicidal, I’m extremely uncomfortable with myself. I feel quietly desperate and lonely.

I don’t have a question, I just wanted to say that I don’t know how I feel about anything anymore, least of all myself.

 

Since you don’t have a question, I don’t really have an answer, but if I were you, I would go back to that hospital and request a copy of that chart, specifically whatever data and documentation they have of your heart stopping, and then I would go frame that shit.

You may be lost, but you’re alive. Please stay that way for as long as possible.

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