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Friday, April 4, 2014

Dear Jeannie: Dealing with Abandonment

Dear Jeannie, 

Barrow is a young knight in a country ravaged by a never-ending war. His father died when Barrow was a baby, and Barrow idolizes his cousin Aelor, who is quite rebellious. When Aelor betrays his family and country and joins the antagonists in the war, Barrow is crushed and refuses to look up to anyone after this. He chooses instead to find his own way and be his own leader, which causes conflict between him and my MC, the leader of the group. Is it realistic that Barrow shuns role models because of this betrayal? Throughout the course of the story, he is always trying to prove himself to his father and Aelor, even though neither of them is around to see him. Does this happen to people who have lost someone they admire?

Hazy in Hutto 

Dear Hazy,

It's absolutely feasible that Barrow would resist allowing someone to be a role model for him. He essentially has PTSD to be so affected, but it's feasible. When the human brain can't shut off the emotional connection to certain events (like the betrayal of Aelor crossing sides), it fears repeated exposure to similar events. If Barrow can just avoid that at any costs, he'll be ok. I can more readily see Barrow trying to prove himself to his deceased father rather than Aelor. Once crossed or betrayed, especially at the beginning (you didn't mention how much time passed), Barrow would shun anything to do with Aelor, even mentally (such as proving himself). He'd react negatively to even the suggestion. But perhaps after time passes, he might want to prove himself as better than Aelor, a more stand-up guy. Deep-seated abandonment issues can come out this way...but a father's death when Barrow was a baby is also a form of abandonment. So essentially he's been abandoned by the two men who meant the most to him. A very sad state for our poor Barrow! Definitely in need of therapy. Let me know if I can help further. Thanks for writing in!

Dear Jeannie,

Roma is special, and she knows it. The only heir to a family with odd 'powers' they don't share with outsiders, she doesn't so much rely on her gifts and training as she does expect family and friends to spoil and shelter her. When her dependence on the protection and favor of others gets her into hot water, she lets her best friend rescue her. By marrying her. She's not too young to marry, but she's definitely immature. And their rushed wedding now makes her a wife in an unfamiliar territory. She's not welcome, or wanted, by her husband's family. She wants to hold on to the way she's used to thinking about things--not taking responsibility and letting her family's reputation carry her--but I have got to make an adult out of her. She's not making friends with her new relatives, and she's not engaging in social and civic duties that might thaw her in-laws some. What will it take for her to put aside her childhood and accept her place as a woman? Also, she faces a lot of prejudice from her husband's family. What might warm them to her?

Shell-Shocked in Charlotte

Dear Shell-Shocked,

Nothing is more sobering than being protected in a cushy way and having that stripped from you. The more independent activities her husband's family expects of her to do, the more she'll have to learn (trial-by-fire sort of way). A whole lot of growing up, though, happens when people are faced with calamity. You could see how the youth in America grew up after 9-11. I'd think that if the entire family faced some sort of ordeal together, then they'd be more likely to grow closer. If you could figure out how Roma could use her powers to help the family in some way, even better. When she engages in her childish ways, you might have her win over another married girl around her age, and have her slowly be introduced to the more subdued facts of life, and even feel compassion for the other girl. She'd more readily learn from a peer at her age than from an adult, so you could work this angle. Best of luck!

Got Questions?

I might have some answers! Leave your question anonymously in the comment section below, using monikers like Sleepless in Seattle. I'll post my responses in future Dear Jeannie columns. Since the queue is getting longer, I'll post a mid-week Dear Jeannie column next week!