Dear Annie: I am 20 years old and engaged to the girl of my dreams. “Liza” is beautiful, smart and very loving. We have no problems in our relationship.
Before she dated me, Liza dated one of my best friends. In fact, I once witnessed them making out at a party. The problem is, every time we become intimate, that image plays in my head. I know what happened before we dated is not really my business, but I feel I should let her know what is bothering me. I know Liza would never cheat on me, but seeing her talking to another guy has hurt and troubled me at times. How do I tell her something she did in her past is affecting me every time we make love? — Troubled in Texas
Dear Texas: This isn’t really Liza’s problem, it’s yours. She cannot do anything about the images in your head. She can only be the beautiful, smart, loving person you think she is. It’s up to you to replace those troublesome pictures with something else. Whenever you start to remember Liza kissing your friend, make a conscious decision to envision something more pleasing — perhaps substitute your face for his. If you do this each time, it will get easier and, unless you deliberately bring up the old images, they will fade away. If you cannot do this, you may be on your way to a total obsession with thoughts that will eventually destroy your relationship.
Dear Annie: Am I crazy, or is it perfectly OK these days to knock on someone’s door with a doughnut in hand, smoking a cigarette?
I am in the midst of remodeling the interior of my home. The contractors doing these various projects come to my door with a cigarette already in progress, with the ashes so long they will fall at any moment. Or they’re eating the stickiest, most gooey doughnut they can find, without a plate or napkin. They proceed to do my remodeling with these staples of life in hand, constantly.
I can ask an employee not to smoke or eat in my house, but what about my brother-in-law, who showed up with a sweet roll? Does this behavior not strike them as rude? Or, should I answer my doorbell from now on with an ashtray in one hand and a trash bag in the other? — Trying to Keep Clean
Dear Clean: It’s OK to tell someone to put out the cigarette before they enter your home. The food is more complicated. It’s rude to drop bits of edible debris all over someone’s house. Employees can be instructed not to eat inside. Relatives and friends who knock on your door carrying goopy, crumbly food should be told, “Wait right here while I get you a napkin.” Then steer them into the kitchen.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Heartbroken Mom,” whose son sustained a brain injury. I have a disabled husband who was brain-injured while serving in the military. You wonder why God would do this to you. I compare it to a family picture that has crashed to the floor and you have put it back together with tape and glue.
It was very hard at first, and I cried and told the social worker that I didn’t know how to start picking up the broken pieces of the picture frame. I was so shocked and stressed.
Yes, people make idiotic remarks. My husband gets a VA pension plus disability, and some people seem to think I won the lottery. They say, “You’re so lucky to get these pensions.” I’ve learned to reply, “Don’t you think I would rather have my husband’s health and ability to work instead?” That makes them understand the stupidity of their remark.
Life changes, and sometimes quickly. But eventually you will be able to look at all the good you have, instead of grieving the loss of what should have been. — Been There for 15 Years
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
Published in The Messenger 6.16.08