Dear Abby

Dear Abby

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DEAR ABBY: I recently found out who my biological father is/was. Apparently, my mother and this man had an affair more than 50 years ago. There's only speculation as to why.

What bothers me is, I have always lived no more than 15 miles from this man and his family. I tried reaching out to the one half-sibling I am most knowledgeable about. They have made no attempt to contact me about this elephant in the room. I don't know if it's shame or embarrassment on their part.

I am a respectable man with a great family. Why someone would not want to reach out and at least get to know a brother they supposedly never knew existed is beyond me. We've wasted way too many years kept in the dark about this well-kept secret. My thought is that you can never have too big a family -- even if we are only half-siblings. Should I continue attempting to reach them, or just sweep all of this under the rug and pretend it never happened? -- EXPANDING THE FAMILY IN OHIO

DEAR EXPANDING: Not everyone is as open-hearted or inclusive as you. After half a century, your birth father's family may prefer not to open this chapter of their father's life, and they should not be forced to. Because you have already reached out to them without getting a response, I don't think you should push the issue. You wrote that you are a respectable man with a great family. Count your blessings, because not everyone is so fortunate.

DEAR ABBY: I am a 42-year-old man who lives at home with my parents after getting out of an abusive relationship. A full night's sleep is important to me and waking up early from avoidable noises is upsetting because I am unable to go back to sleep. My mother's cellphone is what's waking me up.

I have asked her numerous times to turn off the ringer at night. She has no reason to be a go-to for emergencies, yet she acts as if she is. The last time I asked, she actually told me the phone calls she missed (because she forgot to turn her ringer back on) are more important than my sleep.

She says she's glad I'm back living at home because I am making life a little easier for them. They are getting old, and I have come to the conclusion I will be here taking care of my parents in the coming years.

I have told Mom numerous times to have her hearing checked, too, to no avail. I think that may be why her cellphone ringer blares so loudly. On numerous occasions I have been sitting upstairs and heard Dad ask her a question in the living room, and Mom, who is sitting right next to him, says, "What?" She's in denial about her hearing.

I would rather not move out, but I am about ready to do it for peace and quiet. Do you have any words of wisdom for me? -- INJURED EARS IN ILLINOIS

DEAR INJURED EARS: Yes, I do. Ask your mother to put her phone on vibrate at bedtime or use its do-not-disturb feature between certain hours. If she refuses, then purchasing a white noise machine might be a solution.

Suggest to your father that he inform their doctor about your mother's hearing problems. Perhaps if the doctor tells her it's time to have her hearing checked by an audiologist, she won't tune out the message.

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I married 20 years ago. He never proposed; he just came home one day from boot camp and said, "We need to get married tomorrow so that I can get paid more," and we did. I regret that day. It wasn't what I wanted, and it meant nothing to me.

Since then, so much has happened. He cheated on me while he was in the service, and had PTSD to the point where he tried to kill himself, among other things.

We are now in a happy place and have two awesome kids. I would like to redo our wedding day and for him to propose to me. The problem is, he isn't ready. He said he hasn't done it because we have had more lows than highs. He said he will eventually, when he feels the time is right.

My feelings are hurt, and now I'm questioning why I am still here. I have stuck by his side for 20 years, through thick and thin. I deserve that and much more. I'm not asking for anything over the top. Do you think I'm overreacting, or should I finally move on? -- TIRED OF WAITING IN TEXAS

DEAR TIRED: I don't think you are overreacting; I think you are over-orchestrating. You say you and your husband are in a happy place now after years of struggle, plus you have two awesome kids. Now is not the time to upset the apple cart. More important than redoing his proposal and your wedding day is devoting some time to working on communicating more effectively with each other.

DEAR ABBY: I've been friends with "Lorraine" for 30 years. Actually, the friendship is kind of one-sided because she bugs the hell out of me.

She's a super-skinny health nut who constantly posts health advice and "uplifting" mantras on social media. Her Instagram feed is filled with pictures of her bland-looking vegan food and her doing yoga poses or running 5Ks in midriff tops so we can all see her six-pack abs. She regularly donates blood plasma and posts pictures of that, too.

Dining with her is embarrassing because she grills the waiters on how the food is prepared, even in vegan restaurants that list all ingredients. She comes off -- to me, anyway -- as thinking she has every facet of life figured out. She has been married twice to two jerks, keeps breaking and making up with "Harry," a seemingly nice guy, because he's fat (he's slightly plump yet attractive) and drinks too much (not sure about that). Her son, whom she treated as an annoyance and inconvenience when he was young, is now a gun-toting drug dealer.

I'm not perfect (I know I'm lazy, impatient and drink too much), but I don't portray myself as otherwise. My husband, a nicer person than I am, doesn't understand my resentment of Lorraine and keeps reminding me how much she loves me. She does. We're both in our 50s, but I feel like I've outgrown our friendship.

By the way, I don't think I'm jealous of her because I'm very happy in my marriage and feel that I am more attractive than she is (despite outweighing her). Must I stay friends with Lorraine? If not, how do I end it? -- CANCELING HER IN KANSAS CITY

DEAR CANCELING: It appears you have a love/hate relationship with Lorraine. Nothing is wrong with you, and no law says you must maintain a friendship with her. When contact becomes more of an annoyance than a pleasure, many people begin editing their circle of acquaintances. The way to end your relationship with her would be to make yourself less available when she calls or wants to get together. If she asks you why, explain that you have fewer of the same interests than you used to, while omitting the part about her six-pack abs.

DEAR ABBY: I am a widow. My husband passed away three years ago after 43 years of marriage. I met a widower who was also married for 43 years. His wife passed five years ago.

My grown children and grandchildren refuse to accept him. My therapist and psychiatrist tell me to stand my ground because I'm in love with him, as he is with me. Even my priest, who officiated at my husband's funeral, said I should consider this relationship as heaven-sent.

We get along beautifully, and it breaks my heart that my family wants me to choose between him or them. I am devastated over this because this is not how my family is. We are in love and although I love my family with all of my heart, I don't think they have the right to gang up against me. May I have your opinion on this? -- DEVASTATED MOTHER

DEAR DEVASTATED: What a painful situation. You say this isn't how your family is. Open your eyes, dear lady, and recognize that this is EXACTLY who they are. Then open up your ears and pay attention to the psychiatrist and the therapist you are paying good money for, as well as your priest. My opinion is you must live your life, and my advice is to GET ON WITH IT.

DEAR ABBY: I wrote to you 12 years ago as a suicidal teenager. I'm thankful to be writing now from a very different place. I'm 28, happily married, with one child.

I was born into a hyperconservative cult and home-schooled until I was kicked out at 18. I then fell into a predictable pattern of abusive relationships and substance abuse. I have been sober for six years now, and have been in various kinds of therapy longer than that. I now self-counsel daily with journaling, meditation and exercise -- and regularly return to therapy when my old patterns resurface.

My gripe: I'm now a happy, energetic person, so much so that I am routinely mistaken for a teenager and summarily dismissed. Everyone -- employers, friends, even family members who "conveniently" missed out on my troubled years -- does this. It never happened when I was miserable, hiding behind makeup and uncomfortable clothing, barely able to function. How can I again command the respect I did as an angsty teen, but without the angst?

I'm an awesome mother and a loving wife, not to mention a healthy person because I've worked hard FOR YEARS to get this way. I'm proud of what I've accomplished, and I'm tired of my personal satisfaction being misconstrued as naivete, or worse, vanity. Advice? -- CAME THROUGH THE OTHER SIDE

DEAR CAME THROUGH: You have every right to be proud of what you have accomplished. Do you act the same way at work as you do when hanging out with friends or family? You may need to adjust your behavior according to the situation. If you have trouble doing this, some sessions with your therapist might make the process easier.

DEAR ABBY: I am angry at the lack of praise given to respiratory therapists who are on the front lines of coronavirus patient care. Everything is doctor, nurse. By all means they deserve praise, but who do you think is also a vital part in fighting this RESPIRATORY virus? We manage those ventilators many hotspots are in desperate need of. We give those breathing treatments that help to calm the airways as this virus takes a toll on the lungs.

All health care workers, as well as individuals who work in hospitals and are considered essential, should receive this praise. We come to work each day uncertain whether we will be exposed or contract the virus. Yes, it's a trying time for everyone, but I want the world to be aware of these unsung heroes. -- TAKING A DEEP BREATH

DEAR TAKING: So do I, which is why I am printing your letter. All of the courageous men and women who put their well-being at risk in service to their patients and their community are heroes as far as I am concerned. I, as well as my readers, pray for your safety and success in this battle against this novel virus.

DEAR ABBY: This is the 37th anniversary of when I met and fell in love with a beautiful young woman in Iowa. We were together less than a year before she decided to pursue her dreams in California. When she left, it broke my heart for years. To this day I still feel the loss.

In the years that followed, our paths crossed a few more times. Because I was recently married then, I told my old friend and lover I needed to close the book on our relationship. Saying it ripped my heart out because I knew it would cause me to lose her forever, but we both respected it. After a divorce many years later, I started looking for her, to no avail.

An urgency has overcome me now because I have been diagnosed with cancer and I'm not sure what my future holds. I don't want to rekindle something I can't finish, but I would like to say goodbye one last time before I'm laid to my eternal rest. Should I continue searching for her or should I stop, hoping she hears my prayers after all these years and knowing I tried to do the right thing by her when I smiled and waved as she drove away so long ago? -- UNSURE OF MY FUTURE

DEAR UNSURE: Please accept my sympathy for your diagnosis. I'm sure most women would be touched to hear they were the love of someone's life, even if that love was unrequited.

Remember, that decision was made many years ago. What if you find her and she's married with children? Would it make you feel better or worse? These days, many cancers are treatable/curable. If you should find her and you are not terminal, will it give you closure or more heartache? Only you can answer that.

DEAR ABBY: My ex-wife and I have a 5-year-old son, "Ricky." Each year it's becoming more of a disagreement how to handle details for his birthday party. She believes that, in addition to inviting his closest friends, we need to invite every child in his school's class.

Ricky is in kindergarten and there are 18 children in his class. She says we can't risk hurting any potential uninvited classmates (and thereby their parents). My thinking is it's our son's special day and he should have only the people there he wants most.

There's also the party's expense. I don't believe we need to foot the bill for extra kids and supplies. Personally, I also don't want our son to be spoiled by receiving so many additional birthday presents.

Where do you sit on this issue? And if you agree with my wife, how old will our son be when this is no longer in effect? -- KEEPING THE PEACE IN FLORIDA

DEAR KEEPING THE PEACE: I do not agree with your wife. If your son would be inviting all but a few of his classmates, then I can see that there might be hurt feelings. But if the number of guests is limited to say, six, I don't think that would be the case. Fear of offending the parents of the uninvited two-thirds of his class should not enter into the decision. This would also ensure that your son is not snowed under by an avalanche of gifts.

DEAR ABBY: I'm a stay-at-home mom with three children -- all in school. We recently had security cameras installed around our house. However, my husband has taken to using them to monitor everything I do throughout the day. He will say things like, "What took so long to go to the dry cleaner?" or, "Why did you go outside at 11 a.m.?" I feel like a prisoner in my home! What should I do? -- NO PRIVACY IN THE EAST

DEAR NO PRIVACY: What your husband is doing is controlling and, frankly, creepy. This is what insecure abusers do to their significant others. Tell him you do not have to account to him for every minute of your day, and that he should be doing more important things with his time than monitoring you. And then INSIST the two of you get counseling. Do it NOW.

DEAR ABBY: A boy (also a junior in high school) asked me to a school dance a couple of weeks ago. He's kind, funny, does great in school. I really like him, and I think he likes me, but since the dance, nothing has happened! The problem, I think, is that he is Mormon.

I am fine with his religion. I am Jewish and not very religious, but I'm not planning to convert. We have talked about this together, and I'm afraid that his parents and/or religion won't permit him to have a relationship with me. What are the rules about dating when you are Mormon? Is he not allowed to date me, or is he just shy? -- DON'T KNOW IN TEXAS

DEAR DON'T KNOW: I'm not an expert on the Mormon religion, so I took your question to my "Mormon connection," Allen Bergin, Ph.D. After I read him your letter, he asked me to assure you that the boy is just shy. Be patient, and you'll probably hear from him around the time of the next dance.

DEAR ABBY: I'm a disabled middle-aged woman, married for 15 years. From the beginning, there was never much passion between my husband and me, but we're friends. I'm now becoming less able to go out and do things, and I will eventually be wheelchair-bound. I want to leave him so he can find someone who is able to do things with him.

I actually did it at one point. I moved into a cheap mobile home, but he sold the house and followed me. He's a loving husband, but he is messy. I exhaust myself picking up after him, and two months after moving into another house, the entire garage and basement cannot be walked through.

I really think what I want is to live alone in a simple, clean apartment. He -- and others -- tell me I need him and I'm nuts to live alone on Social Security when I could stay in this nice house. I'm just so tired all the time, and cleaning up after him is torture physically. Should I stay or should I go? -- EXHAUSTED IN NEW HAMPSHIRE

DEAR EXHAUSTED: Although you didn't say it directly, your messy husband may be a hoarder. If that's the case, whether you stay or live elsewhere may depend upon his getting help for it -- not to mention getting the garage and basement cleared out.

Obviously, your husband loves you or he wouldn't have followed you when you moved into the mobile home. Do not divorce him because you feel guilty about not being well. He may need you as much as you need him. If picking up after him is too tiring, then it may be time to get someone in periodically to clean.

DEAR ABBY: My husband passed away last year after a six-year struggle with Alzheimer's. It was a long and heartbreaking time for me. I have two sons, but they don't live close. I see them and their families only a few times a year. I have pretty much been alone since my husband's diagnosis. I have friends -- all couples -- but going out with them isn't comfortable. It's a very lonely life.

I recently met a nice man who is divorced with no children. He has asked me to dinner. My problem is that he is 20 years younger. He says age doesn't matter to him, but I don't want to look like an old fool. (I'm 84.) We communicate by phone or email. I have not told anyone about this.

We have so much in common -- we like the same foods, same kind of music and other things. I have always taken care of myself, and no one can believe my age. I'm not looking for marriage, but it would be nice to have someone to have dinner with, and good conversation. I love to play golf, and so does he. Am I being foolish? -- LONG TIME LONELY

DEAR LONG TIME LONELY: No. Unless you have a "sell by" date stamped on your forehead, you should not preoccupy yourself with the difference in your ages. You say you aren't looking for marriage, so why not have an enjoyable time and see if a relationship evolves? You will have a happier life once you stop worrying about what other people may -- or may not -- think. It's called living your life.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069

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