Unhealthy dependencies, my thoughts, my fiction

I was reading a book entitled Emotional Child Abuse, which deals mostly with the myriad ways that ill-adjusted parents can pass that along to their ill-adjusted kids, and I found an interesting passage on dealing with death:

"Parents whose relationships with each other are totally symbiotic are setting up problems for their children. The children may fear that if one dies, the other will soon follow suit. This does in fact happen sometimes. One subject’s father died of cancer, and her mother died a few months later of a broken heart. When parents are totally dependent on one another, the children may get the impression that life is completely worthless without an all-encompassing bond, that one’s profession and children and friends are comparatively insignificant, and that the death of a lover is an overwhelming, devastating tragedy from which one can never recover."

"When parents fail to heal from the death of their spouses, they bring their child up in a bleak, lonely environment, passing on a distorted view of death, mourning, and love."

This put me immediately in mind of Christine Feehan’s Dark ~~~ series, which by no means the only offender, but a particularly egregious example of the soul-bonding/life-mates/etc trope that paranormal romance has been flogging to death recently. Because in those books, and many others like them, that all-encompassing bond is treated as the be-all and end-all of life. Which I think is one of the reasons why — despite the fact that it’s a bad, bad book in a genre I don’t read — I was driven to "fix" it with Dark Deviance. (That, and Feehan’s total, blind heteronormativity. Her world doesn’t allow for the existence of gay people.)

Instead, the main character in my story isn’t particularly in love with the idea of lifebonding, because all it’s done in his own life is produce a pattern of neglect, where the people who should have cared for him are instead caught up in their own romantic concerns. And why as an adult, he makes a conscious rejection of the ideal that privileges romantic love over all else. (Which doesn’t make Dark Deviance any less a love story, but it means he’s out doing things, running a business and kidnapping people and going to the opera, instead of sitting at home miserable about being single.)

The other party in that love story is more worried about the loss of autonomy that comes of falling in love in a canon where you somewhat literally have to do anything that your mate’s happiness requires. Which is also an issue that I felt needed to be fixed.

6 thoughts on “Unhealthy dependencies, my thoughts, my fiction

  1. Re: dark deviance

    About halfway down the page on the left black border in your story there is a black on black “Subliminal Message!” Highlight the area on the black border. It’s at the part where Gregori and Cillian just got caught snogging outsided of St. Vitu’s and Cillian is asking Gregori if both of them being male is ok. I was just pushing buttons while I was reading and that popped up. Whoever made the border must have been laughing their head off. By the way I loved the story and I agree with the whole lifemates/can’t live without them argument. Thanks!

  2. Re: dark deviance

    Ohhhh right, hahaha I totally forgot about that. It’s just a formatting thing to get the width of the black column right. XD

    I’m so glad someone read it, that makes my day! Because I wrote the damn thing and it’s like — now who the hell is my audience? People who LIKED those books are going to be appalled that I broke their OTP (with GAY) and people who don’t like them are going to be like, “lol wut? You want me to read a fanfic of a really bad romance novel featuring an OC as the love interest? fuck offff~~!”

    Lifemates drive me nuts. Mercedes Lackey did it too in her Last Herald Mage books, except she really pulled a having-cake-and-eating-it-too, with killing off his first lifemate (for GRATE ANGST!) but then pulling a reincarnation to give him another one. Like, he’s not allowed to fall in love with anyone except that one soul or it’s not “real.” A character of mine in a different book loses his (male) lover, and then twenty years later falls in love with a girl who he believes is his lover reincarnated, but hell if I, as the author, am going to back him up on that one.

  3. Re: dark deviance

    I’ve never read the “Dark …” books. I looked at them went “meh” and passed them by. Some authors tend to be very forumulaic in their books and this looked like one of them. How many times can you read “find girl (or boy), love girl, become lifemates, girl gets kidnapped, save girl.” I consider Mercedes Lackey very formulaic too- “misunderstood child gets saved by Companion, saves the world/whatnot.” Though granted Lackey was one of the first books I read with m/m couples (I was around 12 when I first picked up the Herald Mage series) and I did like them at the time. Looking back at it I’m kinda going “blah.”

    Lifemate issues are kind of a double edged sword for me. Some of what I read with the lifemate thing I have liked but in those books the characters retained their sense of self and individuality- they did not live for the lifemate. Also,with the ones I like, death is not definite if one dies nor is their soul halved or whatever. It’s a bond of love and devotion to each other. I do hate the ones were the “bond” is everything- no room for dependence or sense of self.

    I found the story because of the Dresden/Marcone “Enemy Mine” story your writing and was looking to see if you wrote anything else. Love the Dresden/Marcone story by the way(well, what’s out so far). I love m/m fiction and when I saw “Dark Deviance” I went yay free m/m fiction! Thanks for the wonderful stories!

  4. Re: dark deviance

    Oh, they’re incredibly formulaic. And from what I’ve gathered, 12 is the right age to read the Last Herald-Mage books. I read them at twenty, and it was far too late.

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