Dear Annie: My divorce will be final in two weeks. For the past 18 months, my two sons and I have been on our own. Actually, I’ve been on my own for the past 10 years because my ex-husband is an alcoholic. I haven’t dated anyone since I told him he had to leave. I did all I could to help him until I had nothing left to give.
I recently met a very nice man who seems to see a future for us. The problem is the emotional scars I have from the past 10 years. I work two jobs seven days a week and my ex is dodging child support. I have built a brick wall around myself that I cannot seem to demolish. I honestly do not know if I am capable of having a serious relationship. The thought of someone else in my space turns me inside out. I’m afraid of losing the control I have and need.
Should I let this person into my life? Could a new relationship help me heal? Or should I heal first and wait until I’m emotionally able to handle a relationship? — Afraid to Let Go
Dear Afraid: Healing first is usually a better way to approach a relationship, but there comes a point where you are simply hiding. The need to control every aspect of your life is often a form of insecurity. Still, your separation is fairly recent and if you aren’t ready for a relationship, you shouldn’t feel pressured into one. If, after another six months, you don’t feel your emotional health has improved, you might look into counseling to help you get back on track.
Dear Annie: My brother-in-law’s wife, “Anna,” is pregnant, and her mother is hosting a baby shower next month. I will not be able to attend because I will be almost eight months pregnant myself and a six-hour drive is too hard on me. Neither my mother nor I received invitations to Anna’s shower. We only know about it because we read the information on her MySpace page.
Are we still required to give Anna a gift even though we aren’t invited? I know my mother-in-law is giving her a gift because the baby will be her grandchild, but I don’t see the point in my mother and I doing so.
I am very upset at getting the cold shoulder from Anna and her family. You would think her mother would have the sense to invite us. What is the proper etiquette? I told my mother-in-law that whatever you said to do, I would do. — No Name and No State
Dear No Name: It’s possible Anna and her mother thought you would prefer not to receive an invitation since you were unable to come, but that is unintentionally insulting. You are not obligated to send a gift to an event to which you are not invited, but this is your sister-in-law and you should do it anyway. (Your mother does not have to.) It needn’t be anything elaborate, but a small gift would be both appropriate and gracious. At the very least, you should send a card wishing her well. It will show that you are the bigger person.
Dear Annie: This is in response to “Aching Heart,” whose divorce was hurting him and who didn’t know how to respond to people asking about his ex-wife.
When I divorced my wife, I answered that question by saying, “She’s still a little upset about that house falling on her sister, but other than that, I hear she’s doing fine.” This little bit from “The Wizard of Oz” answers the question with some humor, explains how you feel about her and ends the inquiry. — Been There in Florida
Dear Florida: Quite amusing — provided, of course, they get the joke. Otherwise, they might be terribly concerned about her sister and bombard you with more questions. (Surrender, Dorothy.)
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 12.21.07