Dear Annie: This past year was one of the hardest years of my life. I finally came out to my parents about being a lesbian and admitted that the friend I spend all my time with is my girlfriend.
This month will mark 10 months that “Susan” and I have been together. It’s a serious relationship, but she still has not told her parents. I can’t help but feel hurt when I’m invited to her family gatherings and introduced as a “friend,” since I’ve made the leap to introduce her as my girlfriend in my home.
I know this isn’t an easy thing for her, but I had to do it. Why can’t she? I have been very patient and understanding, but now I feel my patience growing short and my heart being torn. Please help. — Sad in California
Dear Sad: You should not force Susan to confront a situation if she isn’t ready. And you may be giving her reluctance to come out to her parents more significance than it deserves. You had the courage to tell your parents, but the fact that Susan hasn’t yet reached that level doesn’t mean she never will. Suggest she contact one of the many gay community centers in California or PFLAG (pflag.org), 1726 M Street, NW, Suite 400, Washington, D.C. 20036. They will give her encouragement and help her find ways to talk to her family when she’s ready.
Dear Annie: Each year, the company my wife works for hosts a Christmas dinner party at a local restaurant. What used to be an enjoyable meal with a handful of employees has become a large, drunken event lasting late into the night. One year, two employees had a fistfight outside the entrance. Last year, they actually set fire to one of the tables.
I am not opposed to drinking, but this is out of control and the boss leads the pack by buying repeated shots for everyone. While my wife and I have a designated driver, we are the exception. It is only a matter of time before someone is arrested for drunk driving or killed.
The spectacle is viewed by other patrons of the restaurant. I am well known in our small community and often have contact with the judges and police. Each year, my wife talks about not going, but always does and insists we stay to the bitter end. This year, I’ve suggested we have cocktails, dinner, thank the hosts and leave. I think we would be setting a good example and other employees would follow. My wife insists it would be rude. What do you think? — Embarrassed Out West
Dear Out West: We’re with you. It is not rude to stay for cocktails and dinner and then make your farewells, as long as you do so in an unhurried manner and don’t give the impression that you are in a rush. The ones who get drunk may not even notice you’re gone. More importantly, you may give other uncomfortable employees the courage to do the same, and perhaps if enough of them walk out, the boss will find another way to celebrate the holiday.
Dear Annie: This is for “Looking Out the Window” and anyone else who suffers from agoraphobia. Until my therapist recommended it, I had never thought of having a service dog. These are specially trained dogs of any size or breed that help mitigate your symptoms while out of your house. For more information, your readers can check the Delta Society (deltasociety.org) at 875 124th Ave., NE, Suite 101, Bellevue, WA 98005-2531 or the Psychiatric Service Dog Society (psychdog.org), P.O. Box 754, Arlington, VA 22216.
Before I had my service dog, I was terrified of leaving my house, and now I pretty much go anywhere as long as I have my faithful companion with me. — Blessings from a Proud Service Dog Mom
Dear Proud Mom: Thank you for this excellent information. We hope any readers who can benefit from having a service dog will look into it.
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 on 12.18.07