Defending the Indefensible

I just googled myself, looking for something I’d written, and happened upon a blog written about me by Cathi Carol (

I can’t find any place on her blog where I can comment, which is the first problem.  On my blog, you just scroll down and leave a reply—no registration, no sign-in, no switching to other pages.  I really want to hear your responses to what I write.  Even if they are nasty, I’ll read them and sometimes even post them—I’m that secure.  Apparently Carol doesn’t really want to know what you think.  She writes without listening; that might be narcissistic.

The second problem is that Carol claims that I am her friend and I have hurt her.  She and I have never met or even talked on the phone.  She has read some of what I’ve written and occasionally commented.  That’s not friendship.  In this time of instant intimacy, a wise person maintains polite boundaries that are reasonably protective.  We are strangers.

The third problem is that she accuses me of narcissism.  Fact is, I accept responsibility for my life and writings.  I don’t say “we” or “you” because I don’t know about we or you; I know about me.  I use my life for the examples of the ideas I espouse.  Putting my own life experiences out in public is an act of courage, not self-centeredness.

The fourth problem is that I wrote about a colleague/friend/therapist/lover.  I did not identify him by name, place or position—and Carol decided to defend him.  She had never met, talked to, or apparently even read anything he’d written, therefore, her defense of him was not based on any independent knowledge of him.

I was trying, for the benefit of hundreds of readers, to address the question of boundaries.  What are the differences between friendship, collegiality, therapy and lovers?  In a later post, I revealed that I was writing about Richard Gottlieb, a therapist who has been having sex with his patients.  (“Nobody could make up this stuff.”  Parts I and II

Cathi Carol, writing without knowing, defended a sexual predator.

About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
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