Posted: Friday, December 30, 2011 8:04 pm
Dear Annie: My mother lives by herself. I have not spent a great deal of time with her, but now that she is aging, I feel guilty for not being around. Mom doesn’t have any friends, and my siblings barely speak to her. She is a difficult woman.
Mom is very negative, has no interests and says terrible things about everyone. She is a natural worrier. The glass is always half-empty. The only things she ever wants to talk about are other people’s problems, her medical conditions and stories about her childhood that I’ve heard a million times. Just the thought of having to spend a little time with her makes me anxious and apprehensive.
Although counseling helped me deal with growing up in an unstable environment, it has not made things better when it comes to the stress I feel when I’m around my mother. I’ve told her it’s difficult to deal with negative people, but she doesn’t think that applies to her. If I told her outright, she would never be able to get past how much I hurt her.
I know some people will say to be brutally honest, but they don’t understand that Mom’s reaction would be unhelpful. She’d obsess over it, but she wouldn’t change. I love my mother, but I can’t stand to be around her. How do I cope? — Trying My Best
Dear Trying: Can you talk to Mom’s doctor and ask him to prescribe an antidepressant for her? All those qualities that annoy you — her negativity, obsessive thoughts, worrying — can indicate anxiety and depression for which medication could be enormously helpful. Tell her you love her and want her to feel better.
Dear Annie: I decided after 16 years of marriage to divorce my husband. We married young. He was a good provider and father and treated me well. We have two beautiful children and a home on the water and were financially well off. But he was also controlling and emotionally detached.
After years of loneliness and depression, I decided to leave him. I stayed in the marriage a lot longer than I wanted for our children, hoping my feelings would change. After various marriage seminars and two years of couples counseling, I came to realize that I was not in love with my husband and probably never was.
Both my husband and I come from strong Catholic backgrounds. When I announced I wanted a divorce, my husband’s family stopped communicating with me. A mother at my daughter’s school cornered me to say I should have tried harder.
I once had the same mentality. People seem to think that if you were the one who chose to walk away, you are not hurting. Annie, this pain will be with me forever. But do I regret my divorce? No. Staying in an unhappy, dysfunctional marriage would have been telling myself I don’t matter. — Starting Over in N.D.
Dear N.D.: Divorce is always difficult and often heartbreaking. No one knows what someone else’s marriage is like unless they have lived it.
Dear Annie: You often tell readers to put their final wishes in writing and see that everyone has a copy. While I agree with the first part, the second isn’t always a good idea. In fact, in some families it can be a disaster.
I have been an estate planning attorney for more than 21 years. I have seen adult children bully their parents when they are unhappy with the will. Also, it is not unusual for people to execute several wills in their lifetime. If they change their mind, they don’t need everyone to know each time. If there are going to be unhappy people fighting, it makes sense to keep copies to a minimum.
I would encourage everyone to discuss their family situation with an estate planning attorney. — E.R., Woodbridge, Conn.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to email@example.com, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045. 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 12.30.11