WAVING NOT DROWNING

Dear Viv: Do I *have* to go to my ex's wedding?

On this week's podcast, Viv discusses what it means when you have a sex dream about your colleague, managing an overweight child, going to your ex's wedding, and being pregnant when you thought your baby days were over

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By Viv Groskop on

Dear Viv,

I had a sex dream about my co-worker, and now I can’t get him out of my head. He’s not someone I’d usually be attracted to, and I have a boyfriend who I love very much, but I keep getting flashbacks at work and it feels very inappropriate! How can I stop thinking about this!? And why has it even happened in the first place!

Wow. Sexy co-worker dreamer, this sound awkward. I am not Sigmund Freud but although your letter is short I think there are a few clues to why this has happened in the first place. “He’s not someone I’d usually be attracted to.” And “it feels very inappropriate.” It’s my lay-person’s totally unqualified guess that there’s something going on in your subconscious here. After all, that’s what dreams are for: working out all the stuff our conscious mind can’t deal with.

Usually we use dreams to deal with things that are dangerous to face in conscious life. So in this case you could say that you’re working out these kinds of questions: “What if I become attracted to someone I wouldn’t usually be attracted to?” “What if I start to have inappropriate thoughts?” Again, I’m only guessing but I wonder if something has changed in your relationship with your boyfriend recently - and I don’t mean for the worse because you say you love him very much. But maybe this is your sub-conscious’ way of dealing with a fear of commitment or a fear of being trapped or a fear of him cheating on you or a fear of your own loss of control. Could something like this be an issue you need to talk to your boyfriend about?

These are all completely normal things to be worried about and it is entirely normal and natural that your sub-conscious would be dealing with these in a dreamand it absolutely does not mean that you have a thing in real life for your co-worker. Although it sounds as if you might now be convincing yourself that this is the case. Maybe try to accept these thoughts and flashbacks and let them pass in and out of your mind, bearing in mind that they’re absolutely harmless. Forcing yourself to stop thinking about them will only make you think about them even more. Focus instead on what’s going on in your conscious mind: is there some anxiety there you haven’t been dealing with? Maybe having this dream has already dealt with it. If not, face up to it and talk to your boyfriend. Meanwhile, please do send in a picture of your co-worker. You may not usually be attracted to him but the rest of us here might be and we could do with some sweet dreams. Thank you and good luck.

Dear Viv,

My 7 year old daughter is really quite overweight for her age. She doesn’t seem to mind too much, but I’m really worried about the implications for her health and happiness. How can I talk to her about this in a sensitive way? I don’t want her to develop an unhealthy relationship with food! In case it helps, I feed her and her younger brother (who is a normal size) the same food, and generally make sure they have a balanced diet. I don’t know if her friends are giving her food at school, or if she’s buying food with her pocket money, because when I ask her she shuts down and doesn’t want to discuss it.

Oh, I feel very sad reading this. There is a lot going on here. And this is a hard one to advise on without knowing more about your circumstances. It’s impossible for me to know, for example, what you mean by “really quite overweight for her age.” Really quite overweight in whose eyes? Are you really sure that she is overweight? And when you say “she doesn’t seem to mind too much” is this because she knows that she is judged overweight because you’ve discussed it? Or are you saying “she doesn’t seem to mind too much” because it’s just never come up in conversation?

My own view is that where possible weight should never be mentioned around children. It’s very easy for children to acquire labels that then become attached to them for life. Often these labels have very little to do with who they really are and they too easily become self-fulfilling prophecies. “You’re lazy.” “You’re fat.” “You’re stupid.” “Your brother is the healthy one.” “Your sister is the clever one.” These labels are toxic, actually, and they are to be avoided at all costs.

It may be that your daughter is not teeny tiny for her age but that she’s just going through a growth spurt. It would be terrible for her to think at the age of seven that she’s overweight and she’s got a problem when in fact she is perfectly normal and healthy. I’m worried also about the other things you mention: buying food with pocket money, friends giving her food at school... She’s seven. These sound more like issues you’d expect with a teenager. When does she have the opportunity to buy food when an adult isn’t around? As for the food sharing with friends... Teachers and dinner ladies should be able to tell you about this. In most schools this would be noticed amongst seven-year-olds and it wouldn’t be allowed.

To answer your question directly: how can you talk to your daughter about this in a sensitive way? I don’t think you can. This isn’t an appropriate subject to bring up with a seven year old, in fact it would be deeply insensitive to do so. She isn’t an adult - or even an adolescent - and you can’t “encourage” her to change her behaviour. You’re the adult and you’re in charge. So it’s time for you to take some responsibility: talk to the other adults in charge of her, find a reason to stop pocket money for a while or just forget to administer it, spend some time with her talking about the things that make her happy, keep a close eye on the food you have in the house. I wonder if relaxing and thinking about other things entirely might help for a while: is there a project the two of you can start together? Learning to ride a bike or starting a massive collage? Sorry, now I sound like some kind of hideous hippy parenting guru who make raffia baskets with their children. But you see what I am getting at here. Basically take anxiety about weight out of the relationship and see what happens. I really hope this advice helps.

You can hear the answers to these and the following questions on Viv’s podcast, Waving, Not Drowning, above.

Dear Viv,

My ex from way back has invited me to his wedding this summer. I’d originally said yes, and was given a plus one as well, so was going to take my new boyfriend until we broke up last week. Now I can’t decide if I should still go to the wedding on my own - I don’t have any other close friends that are going, though I’ll probably recognise some old faces once I’m there. Is it a cop-out if I cop out? There’s no residual aggro between me and the ex, but it seems like a shitty thing to do to drop out.

Dear Viv,

I’m 42 years old, and have just discovered I’m pregnant again. I already have two children, currently 9 and 10, and wasn’t planning on having any more. My husband and I have discussed it and we want to keep it. But I’m finding it hard to recalibrate. A few weeks ago, we were heading towards the teenage years, and now it looks like we’ll be back at the nappy stage for the foreseeable future. How can I get my head around this? Or does the fact that I’m having trouble mean that it’s not the right thing to do? I can’t work it out.

Got a question for Viv? Email her at DearViv@thepoolltd.com. The Dear Viv podcast airs fortnightly on The Pool at 5pm on Tuesdays. All letters will be edited for length. Unfortunately Viv cannot reply to your emails personally. 

You can now subscribe to The Pool's podcasts on iTunes

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