This week on Teen Mom, Maci and Kyle had an awkward break-up (which looked like a board meeting); Farrah continued to reconnect with Derrick’s family and her grief about Derrick’s death; Amber started dating other people (what an awkward first date); and Catelynn and Tyler planned a visit with Carly (which of course pissed off Catelynn’s mom).
1. The self-blaming game
I have to address the pattern of self-blaming that Gary showed this week. True, Amber did say she was sorry for hitting Gary, but then Gary sends her flowers and balloons as a peace offering? It seems bizarre, but Gary’s thoughts and actions are quite typical in an abusive relationship — instead of blaming Amber for abusing him, he blames himself and thinks his behavior gave her reason to abuse him.
“You must’ve done something really bad,” the florist said to Gary as he explained that he wanted a big vase of flowers to send. Precisely the opposite, though — he sent Amber a huge vase of flowers and balloons in hopes they could remain civil. It is not Gary’s responsibility to do this, as he is not the one who has an issue being civil and nonviolent. “She doesn’t care about you … I don’t think it’s a good idea for you to do that just because of what she’s done to you,” his brother’s girlfriend told him.
What Amber and Gary also show is that as hard as it is to get out of an abusive relationship, it’s exponentially more difficult when there are children involved. Gary still has feelings for Amber despite her abusive nature – likely because she has demeaned him to the point where he thinks he cannot do or does not deserve better — and it’s tough to move on when he sees her every time he picks up Leah. This is a problem regardless of a relationship being abusive — when you are separated but have a child, you’ll always have to deal with each other.
2. Hasta luego, honeymoon stage
Maci and Kyle were enamored with each other and in love, and so Maci decided to up and leave Chattanooga, Tenn. so she could move two hours away to Nashville to be closer to Kyle. I’ve discussed earlier that the move was premature because they had not been dating that long and were still under the honeymoon stage spell, and this week the honeymoon ended.
Maci left her family and friends behind to be with Kyle — though she figured out after moving there that Kyle was usually “unavailable” and always working. “Since I moved up here I went down on his priority list,” Maci told her friends. This is a typical problem that not only happens when long-distance relationships cease being long distance, but also when couples start living together.
That time you used to set aside for each other gets lost because you see each other constantly and the need to make time for each other seems irrelevant. In fact, you might see each other so much that one or both people want that time apart, which leaves a couple spending no quality time together, just time spent coexisting in the same square footage of space.
Though they didn’t live together, Kyle definitely felt the strain of suddenly spending so much time together. “It’s a big weight on my shoulders,” Kyle said. ”It went from two hours a way to you being in my pocket 24/7.” Maci, however, felt differently — she moved to Nashville to spend more time with him, and instead she spent all day taking care of Bentley and being by herself. “I was hoping I’d be able to do something because I’m sick of sitting at home all the time, but you don’t want to do anything … all my friends are in Chattanooga; you’re all I have,” Maci said.
Maci told her friends that it was weird because, although she spends all day with Bentley, it really does feel like she is alone all day because Bentley can’t talk to her like an adult can. You can read more about being a stay-at-home mom at my friend Erin’s personal blog. This really causes a problem in any relationship in which one person doesn’t have a lot of adult or even human contact all day long and seeks that personal contact from their partner. If the partner doesn’t understand the need for that interaction, then the person just feels more alone.
The important thing to take away from Maci’s and Kyle’s relationship is that making time for each other is critical to a healthy relationship. Sleeping in the same bed or just being in the same house does not count as quality time together — e.g. when Kyle came over and slept in Maci’s bed while she was potty-training Bentley. Quality time together involves interaction, conversation, etc.
3. Moms gotta be selfless, not selfish
Both Catelynn and Farrah had to deal with their moms thinking more about themselves than the feelings of their children. Catelynn’s mom is still upset about Catelynn putting up Carly for adoption, and Farrah’s mom is stuck on her ill feelings toward Farrah’s deceased ex-boyfriend, who is also Sophia’s dad.
Catelynn’s mom is very back and forth about Carly — this week, she came in and gave Catelynn a dress to give to Carly for when her and Tyler see Carly for the first time since she was born. Then Catelynn and her mom started discussing Carly, and her mom told her how she felt out of the loop about the decision, saying, “Well, it hurts my feelings that you gave up my granddaughter without discussing it with me.”
Catelynn told her mom that she herself was unsure of what she was going to do, though Catelynn’s mom seemed most concerned with venting to Catelynn about why she felt so hurt about the adoption and how she felt like a fool for being stringed along during the pregnancy. Then when Catelynn tried to interject about how she was acting, her mom replied, “Don’t tell me how to be a mom when you couldn’t be one.”
Though her mom is upset about the adoption, she rarely ever shows Catelynn any support or understanding that, in fact, it’s exponentially more difficult for Catelynn to deal with. “It’s hard for you? Have some compassion, it’s hard for us, too,” Tyler said when discussing the matter with Catelynn. “I think she’s probably just mad because we’re making better decisions than she ever did,” Catelynn replied. Regardless, her mom doesn’t put Catelynn’s need for understanding and support over her own need to drill into Catelynn how disappointed she is by her decision.
Farrah’s mom has a similar problem when it comes to putting her daughter’s feelings before her own. The rocky relationship between Farrah and her ex-boyfriend Derrick (who died in a car accident while Farrah was pregnant with Sophia) is discussed in vague, general terms as him “being mean” to her, but no one ever gives specifics.
Whatever the “meanness” was, it turned Farrah’s mom off to him and his entire family, with her constantly reminding Farrah that keeping contact with them isn’t a good idea. Most recently, when Farrah eagerly told her mom that Derrick’s sister, Kassy, wanted to see Sophia at least once a month, her mom simply responded, “There’s just not a lot of time right now.” Farrah wants to build a connection between Sophia and her dad’s family, but Farrah’s mom is resistant.
In fact, at dinner with Kassy, Farrah explained how hard it was to even think about dating anyone but Derrick, saying she couldn’t imagine calling someone else her boyfriend. “I don’t ever want to feel like I’m replacing him,” Farrah said, which is an understandable and common feeling when it comes to grieving the loss of a partner. To help her mom better understand her grief, Farrah plans another therapy session.
Let me just say that I love Farrah’s therapist. She is blunt and tells it like it is, and she called Farrah’s mom out on ignoring her daughter and, rather than listening to Farrah explain her deep grief, she was trying to “talk her out of it” instead. Eventually her mom admitted she didn’t realize the connection was so strong and apologized, but she wouldn’t have come to that conclusion with an objective third party there to say, “Hey, you aren’t listening to what she is saying. You are tuning her out so you can only hear yourself talk.”
Tags: abuse, adoption, amber, bentley, carly, catelynn, cohabitation, domestic violence, farrah, gary, grief, honeymoon stage, intimate partner violence, kassy, kyle, leah, maci, moms, mtv, parenting, relationships, self-blaming, self-worth, selfishness, selflessness, sophia, teem mom, teen pregnancy, tyler, victim-blaming