Friday, September 09, 2005

Left for a while

Dear Readers,

I had to leave abruptly due to an emergency and then I traveled down south to help friends caught in the storm and friends who had influxes of relatives who were storm evacuees.

I am way behind on my mail. Please feel free to resend your mail if I have not responded. I am going to attempt to read/respond to everything in the next week or so but I am sure I may miss mail so please feel free to resend if you've sent something that did not get get answered.

I do want to make sure I respond to everyone!!!

Love Addie

Friday, August 12, 2005

How To Get Over Being Let Go

Dear Addie:

I recently accepted a job as an assistant to a start up company. They had a previous business and were moving into a new area and were winding down the old business and starting the new one. My experience is in the new business and the placement agency thought that this company would NEED my services and expertise and would look to me for advice and opinions. They said they actively promoted my expertise and let the company know they could tap into my experience.

However, when I would be in meetings about the new business, they didn't want any input from me. They just wanted me to be the assistant. Secondly, they weren't really ready to launch the new business. They were busy shutting down the old company which isn't the area of my expertise. Most of my time there was consumed with the old business and the little amount of time spent with the new business. I never had the opportunity to give opinions or advice about the new company.

After one month, the two principals told me that I wasn't working out. The woman at the placement agency said it was a lack of enthusiasm on my part. I felt angry and confused. I didn't really have any chance to show any enthusiasm. I'm just very upset about it. I feel that I was not given a chance and was treated unfairly. -Hurt and confused.

Dear Hurt and Confused:

It sounds like you were a terrific candidate that they were not ready for. I'm sure that it was their loss and not yours.

They don't know how terrific you could have been. You know you could have been a real asset.

They did not have their act together and you knew it. Your lack of enthusiasm was a normal and healthy reaction to a crazy situation. You were misled going in so of course you didn't have enthusiasm.

Know that this is not your fault. It is theirs. Count yourself lucky to not have to deal with them anymore. Look for a better fit, it's out there.

This could a blessing in disguise. Don't dwell on it. Move on and find the place where you truly fit.

Best of luck,
Addie.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

What Is Her Business and What Is Not?

Dear Addie, I have been with my boyfriend for 4 months. We are very serious and I love him very much. We also work together, and go figure, I answer any phone calls he receives. His ex-girlfriend called recently when she knew darn well he had a girlfriend and it just so happened to be the girl that answers that phone at work. So, he told me the reason she was calling was to see how his daughter was doing. Apparently they were pretty close when he and her dated. I can understand that, but when she calls she's rude and doesn't even care that "hello I'm his girlfriend, not you" So, he told me I could trust him and I am sure I can, but it still bothers me. And she keeps calling. I guess I don't know whether I am being too jealous or just plain stupid. Please help, I just don't want to let this put a strain on our relationship but I feel like it will if she keeps calling him. And where can I step in and where do I butt out?? -Wondering

Dear Wondering,

I hear a few different problems in your question. First of all, you say that you've been together 4 months and that you are "very serious." Four months is NOT a long time to be serious. Evidenced by your situation and your questions, you don't KNOW each other very well. His behavior seems to indicate he has some judgment issues...do you really want to hitch your wagon to this particular "star"?

First of all, he allowed his daughter to become close to someone he was just "dating"? (his ex girlfriend). Unless and until a person is in a committed relationship that is going to be around for the long-term, they should NEVER involve their children with the relationship. It's bad judgment and it's bad for the children. Children do not need people revolving in and out of their lives.

If boyfriend wasn't serious about ex-girlfriend, she should not have been so close to his child. If boyfriend was serious about exgirlfriend, once upon a time, they should not be chit chatting now. So either he was wrong then or he's wrong now. Either way, he's made a mistake, a mistake of judgment.

Second of all, he didn't end it (obviously) when he ended it. She still feels it's okay to call. She states and he states that she and the child were close (again, a mistake on his part if it's the truth). Well if that is true he owed it to the ex girlfriend and the child to end it and end it for good to avoid any hurt or any unfinished business later on. He didn't. She obviously feels okay to check in with him and see how the child is doing. Maybe one phone call would be okay but she feels okay about calling several times. Mistake number two.

Third of all, suppose she did call and did want to see how the child was doing? Okay, be nice, be polite but be firm that future calls are not welcome. He did not do that. He's allowing her calls and taking her calls. It is NOT up to you to remind him or teach him or tell him that it's NOT okay. It's his place to know this and if he doesn't know this, then something is wrong with him and he needs to fix it and fix it FAST.

What is all THIS about? Is it over? All these calls CANNOT be about the child and even if they were, they are inappropriate and needs to stop.

Don't expect her to be polite to you. She owes you nothing. If she still wants the connection (and it appears she does) and he still wants the connection (and it appears he does), you're going to be odd person out.

There is more going on here than just an ex-girlfriend being annoying. Your boyfriend obviously has lapses of judgments and could be having one now. You need to step back and see what kind of person he really is and if this is what you want. Do you want someone who has no clear boundaries? Who doesn't do the right thing intuitively? Who risks his child's feelings and his girlfriend's feelings without thought or concern? This is not a prize, my dear.

You can do one of three things: accept it, change it or leave. That's it. Those are all your choices.


Choice number 1. Accept it. Do you really want to? Do you want to look like a fool? Do you want to step in and TEACH him the ways of the world and accept that it will be your burden to show him what is okay and not okay. And if you don't he makes you look like a fool? Because that's exactly what you're looking like. If so, have a happy life.

Choice number 2. Change it. How do you change it? You tell him this is unacceptable. Phone calls from ex girlfriends are not okay. Just say how you feel using "I" statements. Say, "I get upset when she calls and I would like it if she didn't do that anymore." or "I feel that this situation is going to have a negative effect on us if it continues." and see how he deals with it. He might need a little bit of education but beware of someone who is so totally oblivious to what is wrong with this picture because you will spend your life putting the puzzle together for him while your feelings are being tromped on. not a good position.

Choice number 3. Leave. You know the score, you know where you'll stand after you try to change it. If boyfriend is wishy washy and lets old girlfriend in, you're going to be miserable. If he takes responsibility for his actions and realizes there is no room for exgirlfriend in new relationship, then you might have something. Hopefully he's not as far out there as your letter seems to indicate he is.

Again, GO SLOW. There is NO WAY you can know someone and "be serious" in FOUR MONTHS. It takes much longer to know who you're really getting and what you're really getting into.
Check back in. Good luck,
Addie

Monday, August 08, 2005

What Is Holding Her Back?

Dear Addie,

I am woman in my mid-40s who is stuck in life. I hide from people and relationships. I am not shy in the least and I'm attractive, very smart, witty, etc. You'd never know to look at me that I have serious issues. I have gone into counseling many times, but I don't stay with it. The problem is that I have a personality disorder, with low self-esteem. Each of these sabatoge the other when I try to change. For instance, when I am shown aspects of my personality disorder it is too much for me to handle, because I have such low self esteem, it's practically devastating. it is very painful and I can't handle it. This makes me run from therapy. Likewise, when I am shown aspects of my low self esteem, I find ways of denying it or justifying it with my personality disorder.

The other reason I hide is because my life has been totally stress-filled up until about five years ago. The things I have been through would wear out any human being. I won't go into it here, but I from my childhood I have post traumatic stress disorder. As an adult now I have very little tolerance for stress and I find my self easily frustrated, I have physical problems relating to sleeping, and other issues like thyroid problems such that PTSD patients encounter. I find that what works for me is to keep a low profile, i.e., not get involved with people. I am at peace because when I have relationships, even friendships, there is always the inevitable conflict that I generate somehow. That's why I hide.


Most therapists, on the first appointment want to help me, the find me likeable, then we go through my family history the same thing always happens...they get this clouded look and start to talk to me differently. I feel like a loser a lot, even though I'm not.

My past includes growing up with a drunken father, an emotionally stunted mother, becoming alcoholic and recovering, losing my best friend/brother to an alcoholic death, having a baby at 21, being on welfare with not enough money to live on, going through treatment and AA, going to a trade school and getting an AA degree....raising my daughter with no money, no car until her father was murdered when she was 13 when I was able to get social security and supplement my secretarial income, having a daughter who had special needs, marrying a man from my hometown who was alcoholic, he gave me Herpes, divorcing him, etc, etc, you get the picture. My self esteem is higher then it ever was, but it was at the beginning, crippling...now it's just manageable.

Now my daugther is married and I have my own life which I love. Am I wrong to hide out? Who wants a woman with herpes, personality disorder and post traumatic stress? I dress very nicely, get my hair colored, wear make up well, am very extroverted in personality. I do these things for myself because I love fashion and girly-girl stuff. When the truth hits the fan, though, I really would rather be home with my little dog.

What do you think? -Hiding


Dear Hiding:

You don't make it clear that you want someone or you want to stay alone. You say you are "at peace" yet I am not completely convinced.

Perhaps this is one of the main reasons why people stay away. Healthy people are not drawn to people who don't know what they want. Only other people who don't know what they want are attracted to that type or people with deep problems such as those you've attracted in the past. You sound like you've overcome a lot of things and done quite well for yourself despite the setbacks. You need to give yourself credit for that.

If you don't want to deal with the downside of your "presentation," (the personality disorder and physical difficulties), no one else is going to want to deal with it either. You can get long-term treatment for both but warn potential suitors that there can be an outbreak and you have to guard against it. You have to believe that you are a "catch" even with these issues. It certainly sounds like you are.

If you have a "true" personality disorder (Axis 2 on the DSM-IV diagnosis), you do need to be in counseling. If you are "seeing" a counselor "cloud over" when you talk about your past, I believe that is your own projection of the situtation. Most good counselors are used to dealing with people who have much more complicated issues than you've described, and most won't "cloud over" once you get into a full blown description of your past and your problems. We are used to hearing a lot of really horrific stuff.

You are most likely projecting the counselor's reaction onto that counselor and using it as an excuse to drop out. Stop doing that. Find a good counselor and make the commitment to stay the course. Then, and only then, can you deal with all these other issues.

The primary issue seems to be, "What do you want?" It is not clear to me that you really know. You need to work that out and work out what you need to do to get there. If what TRULY works for you is being alone, then you won't be in a quandry about it. You would just embrace it. But something tells me you're not truly happy there.

Find out what you really want and go do it and be it! Best of luck!

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Yes, Virginia, There Are ACOAs

Dear Addie:

I am in my late 40s and jobless. I am about to take a job as a nanny to help someone get her house in order as she has some problems and can not seem to keep her house up and manage her children. By the way I met her on the internet and we have met and visited eachothers homes and i am a very compassionate person, and feel I can help her with her children and also her house work as I keep a very immaculate home.

Do you beleive in BAD LUCK CURSES etc? Well this is my life story I am in my late 40s, divorced and living ALONE I have just gotten out of a long-term relationship with a younger man who is an alcoholic. Alcoholism runs in my family, it is a wonder I am not one.

Anyway please dont tell me to seek therapy as I am not working and running out of money, and do not have Ins. This guy told me he didnt want to see me anymore after I had just lost a job, heartless I guess... saying he met someone else. I wonder all the time if this relationship will go any where and find myself thinking of him all the time. I havent heard from him but have called him twice within the last month and even though I try not to I admit to it, and kick myself afterwards.

I hope to STOP soon. I know he isnt good for me but I guess it is the co-dependency in me? anyways, I have very little self-esteem and when I was able to afford my anti depressant Effexor i seemed to do much better, now that I am off of it I find my self going in circles constantly.

I have no sense of direction, dont know if I am washing or hanging out to speak and am a loner, hermit and live a very lonely life. I dont feel even on medication that I fit in anywhere. I have a few weeks of unemployment and when I have applied for jobs have no luck getting an interview and then when I do, I don't get the JOB. I have education and a long work history until a short while ago. . I have since had about 5 jobs and left switching around to find one to meet the salary I needed in order to survive. I also might need to file for bankruptcy. I honestly feel that I have a curse on me Bad luck seems to follow me where ever I go and I have no Idea what to do.

I am desperate for your advice and from what I have read about you I feel confident that you can lead me in the right direction. -Cursed

Dear Cursed:

I think that the curse you are talking about is alcoholism. You seem to have very typical patterns of an adult child of alcoholics. Even if your parents were not alcoholics, a family that operates under the influence is a dysfunctional family indeed! I know there has been a bit (more than a bit) of backlash against the "D" word (dysfunctional) and adult children of alcoholics (ACOAs) have been labeled as a bunch of blaming whiners, but that is the unfortunate result of too many people, not sincere in their recovery, seeking refuge from responsibility and using 12 step program tools as weapons. This explosion of ACOA/codependent phenomena in the 1980s and 1990s drew a lot of people to the programs who had no intention of ever doing the work that is involved to recover from these issues.

As a result, the word "dysfunctional" became the target of jokes and ridicule as did the words "codependency" and "adult children of alcoholics." However, those that were intent on recovering and wanted to do the work involved, stayed the course and GOT BETTER. They understood that it was NOT about blaming, it was about TAKING RESPONSIBILITY FOR ONESELF DESPITE THE PAST. They knew it was about looking at the past, feeling angry, hurt, upset, and ultimately letting it go to learn new coping mechanisms which includes TAKING RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOURSELF. You cannot recover from the legacy of alcoholism, whether you are the alcoholic or a family member, unless you do that.

So, this is what you must do. Take responsibility for yourself. Adult children of alcoholics either overfunction or underfunction. Their lives are full of extreme behavior because they don't know where the middle is, they don't know where healthy and normal is. They don't know what NORMAL looks like.

Apparently you did a good job with your daughter and have had some success in your life. My instinct is that you were OVER functioning and being OVER responsible. Then you went the other way. That is fairly typical ACOA behavior.

You were attracted to this man who left you when you lost your job. Yeah, that sounds like an active alcoholic. He is no good for you. The relationship is dead. Bury it. Don't call him again. You're better than that.

You feel you don't fit anywhere. This is also typical of ACOAs. You need to find others like yourself.

You are moving in with the woman with the chaotic life so you can bring order to her chaos. This will make you feel as if you have power and control over SOMETHING even if it's not your own life. Believe me, there is nothing wrong with getting a job that benefits you and someone else, but you are not being as "compassionate" as you say you are. You are being codependent. Yes, there's the "C" word, another word that took a beating in the past 10 years because it was overused by the wrong people for too long. Again, it was a responsibility-shirking war cry of people who were looking to hide instead of people who were looking to get better. A whole generation of codependents who were working hard at not being codependent were wrongly labeled and made fun of in the media. Yes, that's what codependents need! WRONG.

Just because the word has been vanquished from the national vocabulary does NOT mean there is no such thing. A codependent is what Al-Anon has called, for years, a co-alcoholic. Someone whose coping mechanisms are unhealthy because they were developed in the Dysfunctional Alcoholic family. (yes, I said the "D" word because it's APPROPRIATE).

So the job as a nanny might help you to feel in control, to bring order to external chaos to quell the internal chaos. I am not saying not to take this job. I am saying think about your reasons why and what's in it for you. Examine your motives. Why do you feel the need to do this? If it doesn't work, can you leave? Make sure you can.

If you can't afford therapy (and even if you can), I suggest you find a local Al-Anon meeting, or ACOA or Codependents Anonymous. You will hear your story over and over again in those halls. You will know it is NOT a curse or a run of bad luck. It is called the legacy of living with alcoholism and alcoholics.

Once you get in the program, you will meet others like yourself. If you do the work and WORK THE PROGRAM, you will find the pieces falling in place to build a new, happy and healthy life. You can talk to them about anything, jobs, money, relationship, feelings, medication whatever. Seek it out and it will benefit you greatly.

It's not about luck or about curses, it's about taking responsibility for yourself and doing what you need to do. You need to recover from the legacy of alcoholism...now go to it.

Addie

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Commitment Is A Decision

Dear Addie Vise,

A few years ago I started casually dating this guy who I was absolutely crazy about, but was too intimidated to tell him how I felt and that I wanted get more serious and be in a relationship, for fear that he didn't feel the same way. We were dating casually for about a year and things weren't going anywhere, and I was so hurt because I was so in love with him, but we were both very busy at the time and couldnt spend much time together, and we were both the type who kept our feelings inside.

I was convinced that he was not interested in anything more. So, I met a new man, who I wasnt really interested in at first, but he really grew on me and treated me the way every woman should be treated, he made me very happy and we fell in love, a year later we are engaged.

I never had any closure with the ex, I was still in love with him when I met the new guy, but those feelings faded as I fell in love with my now fiance. As soon as my "ex" found out that I was in a serious relationship, he spilled out how he really felt about me and that he did love me and wanted a relationship and I told him I had wanted the same all along, so after i found that out, the feelings for him came rushing back, and they are very strong. We've seen each other a few times since, even though I'm engaged, and did things I shouldn've have done, but I really miss him very much it hurts, I'm also turned on more by him, but I know my fiance is the one and I know I'll have a better life with him, and I do love him very much. I am sick with guilt, I've lost 15 lbs. over this emotional rollercoaster, I don't know how to move on. Theres no way will leave my fiance but I need help dealing with the overwhelming feelings for my ex. Please help

Commitment is a decision. Fidelity is a decision. Love is what you DO, not what you say. Life brings temptations. You need to sidestep them, even if it hurts and even if its hard. You can have feelings for someone else-the key is not to ACT on them. The key is to act faithful and committed even when you have feelings for someone else. If you cant' do that, then you are not ready for the commitment. Life throws "situations" at us and every day life with the same partner can be dull and unexciting. If you can't handle that, you need to accept you're not ready and let your fiance go. If you're not ready to commit, you need to break it off. If you are, you need to stop playing games and act like someone who is committed.

You haven't yet decided to be committed or faithful to your fiance. Not a great way to start a life with someone who sounds like a terrific guy.

When the ex found out you were in a serious relationship, the proper response for him would have been to wish you luck. He had his chance, he blew it, tough luck. Instead, he pursued you. How much a standup guy is he to try to come in between of you and your happiness and how could you let him? What were you thinking? That it was a GOOD idea? It's not and I think you know it. Why does he want you now? Because he can't have you? This indicates problems on his end that you really are better off without. He's not a good decision. Get him OUT of your life or allow him to ruin what you have. Your decision.

You need to either stop seeing him, make a DECISION to commit and be faithful to your fiance or let him (the fiance) go and go back to the ex.

Life will hand you more obstacles than just a wishy washy ex. If you can't make the commitment and the decision to be a partner to your fiance, then do you both a favor and end it now.

If you can commit and decide, then do that and be done with the ex and decide that no other distraction will threaten your commitment.

Commitment is a decision. Decide to commit or stop fooling yourself and get out of your relationship and give yourself a few more years to play around before you are ready for that level of commitment. Your fiance doesn't deserve someone who cheats and you don't deserve to be torn up over someone who couldn't commit to you when he had the chance. Make your decision and let your actions show what your decision is. You show love by what you DO, not by what you say.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Life is out of control

Dear Addie,
I am at my wits end! My 8 year old daughter, is a very sweet, smart, funny child. She is strong willed, but basically well behaved. That is, until my husband comes home. Then all of a sudden, she talks to me like she was a rebellious teenager, sassing me, talking different, and being defiant. My family has been through a very hard time, the past year. we lost our home and my health, from a toxin there. My husband was away, working out of town, for the most part, only home on weekends. He and I have different temperaments, and habits. I have been ill, and unable to work, so there is a tension about finances, that sometimes leads to fights. I feel that he doesn't discipline her enough, and he thinks I am too hard. But he only sees me with her when hes home. When hes not here, she is my little angel. I am starting to feel like I want to run away. In the family, I am the odd man out. I have no medical insurance, because it is too expensive on my husbands plan. I asked him to find out if his will cover couples or family therapy, but he has not, and they wont tell me, because I`m not on his plan. I know that I need to get help, for myself, and daughter, but I don't no where to look.
Any suggestions for dealing with the "weekend conflict" while I try to find long term outside help, would be welcome!


First of all, I do not understand how you can be ill and not have health insurance. That is insanity. If your home made you sick because of a toxin, is there some legal help you can get? That is where you need to start. You need health insurance for YOU. Second, you need it for family counseling and that means all three of you. Is your husband not interested in counseling or doesn't see the need for it? Because you obviously need it. You NEED to be on his plan. You can't shortcut medical insurance. If you are so sick you can't work, apply for SSDI and get health benefits as well. The health insurance needs to be your number one priority.

If you daughter listens when your husband is not there but doesn't when he is, what is the difference? Will she be punished when he is not there but not when he's at home? If so, you need to let her know the rules do not change and she doesn't change her behavior. If she sees you as weak when he is home, she is going to lash out.

Most parents put up with a defiant back-talking child because they are too weak willed to put a stop to it. The irony is that children DETEST weakness in their parents, the ones who are supposed to be their protectors (see my previous columns about this) and lash out even more. Children hate parents who are strict to the point of being abusive or controlling for no reason and parents who are weak kneed and namby pamby. Children love parents with strong boundaries, clear limits, and a firm but gentle guiding system.

Those are not only the parents they NEED, but those are the parents they WANT.

If your daughter senses you are weak when her father is home, she will go on the attack. Not only because she can but because she dislikes seeing weakness in you. You are her role model. You need to be firm when he is home.

You also need to stop arguing about parenting styles with him especially if it happens in front of her. He can be easy with her because he only sees her two days a week and is not actively participating in raising her. You are. You need to do what you do and say to him, "I would appreciate it if you don't comment on my parenting in front our our daughter." and make sure he gets that message loud and clear. At the same time don't criticize that he is too easy. He may not want to be the bad guy seeing her only two days a week.

You must insist that she respect you and be well behaved no matter what day of the week it is, or there will be consequences. Enforce those consequences.

You need to be firm about having health insurance, seeing a lawyer about the toxins, applying for SSDI and disciplining your daughter. You also need to insist that the THREE of you go to counseling and not just the two of you.

If you need followup advice, feel free to write. You have a lot on your plate. You need some help. Good luck.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Return Engagment Ring When Engagement Is Off

Dear Addie,

Last Christmas my boyfriend and I became engaged. I gave him an extravagant number of expensive gifts because I knew I was getting an expensive ring.

He broke off the engagement about a month ago. At first he said he just needed time and we would be engaged eventually. Then he said he needed to call it quits for good.

I was hurt and devastated, and I still am. He asked me for the ring back and claims that it is legally his. I told him it was a gift in lieu of Christmas presents. He insists its his and he wants it back. He even offered to return the Christmas gifts I gave him if it would make me feel better. I told him he's just being mean and hurtful, and I've stopped speaking to him. He keeps leaving messages on my machine. I just want him to go away.

Dumped

Dear Dumped:

Thank goodness you didn't marry a guy who you think is being mean and hurtful. It's obvious he moved on and wants to tie up loose ends. Your best bet, for moving on yourself, is to tie them up as well.

Legally an engagement ring is a promise to marry. When the marriage is called off the engagement ring goes back to the giver. It SHOULD be the man (though this tendency of late of woman paying for their own engagement rings, even part of their own rings, is beyond me. If you have to pay for your own ring, you are crazy to get engaged to that guy).

In this case it was. I understand your point about it being a gift in lieu of Christmas presents, but you chose to forego Christmas presents to get the ring (another lesson ladies, LISTEN UP).
His gifts were gifts and he can keep them. Yours was a promise to marry and must be returned.

Why not just return it and move on? It hurts and it is hard but you were granted a reprieve that it didn't happen 2 months AFTER you were married or later when you had kids. Then you could have kept the ring but would have had a much tougher row to hoe.

You might be holding on to the ring to hold onto him and the dream that died. Don't. Let it all go. Better things are waiting for you. You say you want him to leave you alone. He will if you return the ring. Return the ring.

Do your grieving and move on. Returning the ring will help you get closure and he will be out of your life.

Best of luck.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Quick Romance Cannot Handle A Crisis

Dear Addie,
I have met the most wonderful woman of my life, and of course,
as fate would have it, I managed to crush her by lying to her twice in a very short time frame.

We have only been together a little over 2 months, we met while I was bartending in the Caribbean.

After 5 weeks, she paid for my plane ticket to NJ, the plane tix to go and meet her parents, and for a separate trip to Vegas. Unfortunately I have not been able to find a job since I moved back home to the States, until just recently, and now that things were finally looking brighter for me, everything came crashing down. I lied once to her about a job interview that I never went to, but pretended I did.

I then lied to her a few days later about another interview where I got essentially got shot down.

I understand her lack of trust, and distance, but when we spoke the other day I thought we cleared the air. I knew it would be there, but not quite like this. She says she wants me to move out in a few months once I am on my feet financially, because she feels it will help us. She says she wants to be with me, but is confused right now because she feels completely betrayed. What can I do to try and regain her trust, and more importantly, the utter bliss we felt until a little over 10 days ago?
Crushed,
Pinocchio


Dear Pinocchio:

Um...slow down!!! That is the first advice I can give you and wish I was there 2 months ago to give it to you.

You met in the Caribbean...a tropical paradise...no? Somewhat of a plastic environment. After FIVE WEEKS, she paid for you to come to the States to meet her parents and go to Vegas. Um...WHAT?

Are you following me? First of all, why would she pay for you to come here? If you did not have the money to get here, what were either of you thinking? Wouldn't it have been a better plan to wait until you had your own way here? And if she was paying for a trip up, why pay for a Vegas trip too? Vegas is another plastic environment. What is with that? I have to seriously question her conduct even more than I question yours. Didn't either of you think any of this was a bit hasty? Didn't her parents question it? If not, what is WRONG with them???

So once you landed in reality, you were panicked to find a job. You didn't go to one interview (you don't say why) and was dinged at another and lied to her about that. Again, I don't know why you lied to her about it. Everyone gets turned down for jobs...what is the big deal? If you were truly intimate, you could tell her. I mean intimate on an emotional level. Obviously you don't trust something here either. You were AFRAID to tell her the truth. WHY? Why would you want to be with someone if you can't tell them the truth?

These aren't HUGE lies, but they're lies. Her response is a bit out of proportion and so is yours because you don't KNOW EACH OTHER. You don't have the history, the trust, the FOUNDATION you need to weather a small untruth that was told out of fear. Most couples who have been together a while might be able to get through it but you have NO FOUNDATION. She has no frame of reference for who you really are. You could be a big fat nothing liar. She doesn't know. Why? Because she let you in TOO SOON. A QUICK ROMANCE CANNOT HANDLE A CRISIS. Only when you have built trust up over time and really know each other can you weather a storm. You can't do it this soon.

Maybe she is finally have the appropriate reaction, which is distance. She once paid for 2 trips for a man she hardly knew, moved in with him (what is THAT?) and now realizes she has no idea what is going on because he is lying to her, so she is backing off. That is the FIRST reasonable thing she's done so far.

And what were YOU thinking by throwing everything away and flying up to the States when you couldn't even afford your own ticket? Why would you want to be indebted to someone you hardly knew? Why would you want to mooch off a woman, any woman, but one you just met?

I'm sorry for being so harsh but it sounds like you both jumped into this without a thought, without looking, without thinking. You let the false rush of new love, fueled by false places like the Caribbean and Vegas and probably fueled by booze and sex to MAKE A SERIOUS DECISION FOR YOU.

WHAT WERE YOU THINKING???

You weren't thinking and neither was she. She doesn't know you, you don't know her and you're both feeling the hangover of rushing headlong into something before you even know what it is. The "utter bliss" you felt was the rush of new love. It's not going to last and when it is interrupted by life issues, it is going to fade very fast as you are finding out.

My advice would be to get a job and get out. Otherwise you're just setting yourself up for a long time of push me/pull me. This did not start out right and unless you both get away from either, take a breath, and either move on or start over, it's never going to be right.

Romance and moving in and all of that should happen AFTER you get to know each other, not before.

Next time, take it slow and pay your own way.

Afraid She Doesn't Really Belong

Dear Addie,

I've read your site and a few of the postings, and I really liked what I saw. I'm not sure if I can give you a defined problem as the problems in my life seem to be pretty massive in nature.

Even saying that, I feel guilty because it could be a lot worse. I'm starting my junior year of college in the fall. I've always been a deep-thinking, analytical, self-critical person- there's almost nothing left for anyone else to criticize, because I do my work for them. I'm honest with everyone I meet, and it seems that my honesty and trust backfires time and time again. I'm constantly telling people my problems- it's become utterly natural, people expect my "stories" and they (usually) find them funny, so I've never been able to stop doing that. This summer I guess I've been going through a lot of changes, because for the first time I'm expected to really contribute to my college funds, which is something I should have been doing a lot sooner- my parents are working class people. We really aren't well off.

I am trying my hardest to contribute, working as much as I can, paying the bills, and my dad always tells me everything's fine, but I continue to feel bad. Part of this is because I'm the first in my family to go to college, and no matter what I would never stop going, and I'm determined to finish with a degree from my school, nothing less. My parents are very supportive and loving and I am incredibly close with them, they don't want me to stress over this because they have already said they would pay for college. But I still feel very depressed and stressed and angry! I'm so quick to argue, to shirk responsibility, and even though I feel that I fit in with my peers in college, I feel I will never succeed compared to them, because they are so put-together and independent; but ! I feel out of place with the people "back home" who haven't gone on to more schooling.

People tell me this is all in my head, that I'm creating problems that don't exist, that I'm overthinking things and analyzing too much, that I should stop feeling sorry for myself. I *am* trying actively to fix the problems, but I still feel like I will never completely succeed. I feel like things are so much easier for everyone else, or they make it *look* easy. I don't know how anyone could learn a skill like that.

It's not like I'm constantly depressed either- in fact when I'm with my friends I have a way of making light of my "struggles" and I turn them into humorous exploits. However, it's harder for me to hide the real feelings around my family, or my roommates at school, who obviously spend the most time with me.

I would love to think this is a problem that could be treated with medication, but I was prescribed antidepressants for two years and they didn't do much. (I've talked to several therapists, and seen a couple regularly for long periods of time, but I find that I express my emotions a lot better in writing.) So I really think this is a problem that I have to work through on my own- although I don't know where to start.
Any advice would be extremely appreciated- I think your service is a great thing.
-Worried Sick


Dear Worried,

First of all, I commend you for being the first in your family to go to college. That alone can be an enormous stressor. There are a couple of reasons for that: 1) you have no role model in your family as to how to do this. You're in unchartered territory--being the first at anything is a scary thing. There is a lot on your shoulders trying to figure out what this is all about, what this looks like and how to succeed. You have to figure all that out on your own. Anxiety producing!!! 2) You are worried about your parents finances. Perhaps you think you can do more to contribute or feel selfish and undeserving. That can produce anxiety as well.

The other issue is your comparisons to your peers. It sounds like you suffer from a bit of "imposter syndrome" or not feeling good enough to be where you are. Your friends come from educated or better off families. They are "elite" or finances are not a struggle for them. You are in their crowd. Somewhere deep down, you feel you don't belong. You joke about your situation for three reasons: 1) to relieve your own stress about it. 2) to emphasize to them that you know you don't really belong but 3) by being the court jester or the clown they will allow you to stay.

You don't belong to your "old" crowd anymore either. You have moved on, gone to an elite college, have a future. Being a 'tweener is causing you anxiety as well. You don't belong where you are but you don't belong where you've been. Where do you belong? You might not ask that question out loud but part of you is asking this question.

Okay, so now what do you do?

1. Look realistically at your situation and see what you can do, if anything, to contribute more. See if there are things you could be doing to relieve some of the pressure on your parents or if there is some way you can step up to the plate more...take more classes, get better grades or contribute financially (or spend less money). You want to do something, even a small thing, that is constructive. Then you must give yourself credit for it and know you are helping as much as you can.

2. Self-talk. The most important thing. Tell yourself you deserve it. Tell yourself you belong there. Stop thinking about all the reasons you are not "worthy" or deserving. Give yourself some credit for where you are. It's a terrific accomplishment and you need to be okay with it.

3. Get comfortable with the discomfort. Sound strange? Well it is. For someone embarking on a new adventure or a new course in life that no one else that she knows has embarked on, there will be discomfort. You're in a strange land and charting uncharted territory. Give yourself a break but know that you're going to be a bit anxious about it. However, tell yourself you deserve to be there and that everything will work out just fine. It's an adventure! Enjoy it but know you might feel a bit scared from time to time and that the fear is NORMAL. As long as it doesn't control you, healthy fear is a good thing. Just acknowledge it and be okay with it. Celebrate the difference between you and others. No, you are not as privileged as your college friends and more ambitious than your hometown friends. You're not like one or the other. You are YOU and what you are doing is WONDERFUL. It might get lonely sometimes but what are your options? Stop trying? Fail? Reverse your life? Not options. So you are different. Viva la difference! CELEBRATE IT.

4. If you feel guilty about the pressure on your parents decide what you will do for them when you get out of college or grad school. Think of a special trip they'd like to take or something nice for their house. Start planning that and you will be relieved of some of your guilt.

5. Do count your blessings and understand you have a lot of gifts. There are many magnificent things in your life, not the least of which is your relationship with your parents and the terrific college you are attending and the friends you have.

6. Stop comparing your insides to others' outsides. You might think they look "together" but you don't know how they feel. Most college students are anxious and can have bouts of depression no matter where they come from. College is a wonderful time and a stressful time. People must look at you and think you have it all together. Don't compare yourself to anyone else. You cannot know if the other students walking across campus are full of angst or not. Chances are, they are but they're not exactly going to be shouting it as they change classes. Don't try to figure out what is or is not going on with them. A lot of people talk a good game but are a mess inside.

7. Relating your stories can be fun and stress relieving but something tells me you think you go too far. Although others might expect stories, know you can have friendships with less story telling. Keep some things to yourself. Deploy your self-editor and don't share every single thing even if it's funny. Keep a journal and write these things down. You might write a terrific book! Of course this doesn't mean don't ever tell anyone anything but it sounds like you put more on the table than you are actually comfortable with. Hold back a little. Edit what you say a bit more. If you find you are running off more than you like, go home and journal about it. Explore your feelings and find out what is going on with you at the time.

8. Know that you are very smart and have a great future. Enjoy this time of your life. Try to let go of some of the anxiety producing issues and address others. If you feel depressed, write about it. Again, keep a journal. Keep the self-talk POSITIVE. Think about what you can do something about and do it. Everything else, let go.

9. Keep your sense of humor. It will come in handy more often than not and will be more useful to you than just about anything else.

Check back in with me at some point. I'd love to know how you're doing.