Posted: Wednesday, August 20, 2008 2:57 pm
Dear Annie: I am 19 years old. A family member sexually abused me until the age of 17. I reported it, but when I needed my parents the most, they were not there for me. They were upset about my accusation and made me recant.
I just finished my first year of college and seem to be having trouble moving on with my life and making friends. I put myself in therapy a year ago, without my parents knowing, but sometimes I feel I’m getting nowhere. It’s impossible for me to let go of the abuse. Every time I read about a sexual assault in the newspaper, I get scared and panic.
I really want to put this behind me and show my abuser and my parents they didn’t win. How do I do this on my own? — A Survivor
Dear Survivor: It’s very hard to do it “on your own.” You not only have to deal with the abuse, you also have to come to terms with your parents’ attitude and lack of support. Pain of this type doesn’t disappear easily or quickly. You were smart to get therapy and we hope you will continue. You also can contact the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (rainn.org) at 1-800-656-HOPE (1-800-656-4673).
Dear Annie: I am 66 years old, recently retired and absolutely LOVE my solitary lifestyle. I sew, read, cook, bake, paint and garden — things I never had time for when I was working and raising a family. I adore having my coffee on the deck while reading the morning paper. I have waited my entire life to reach this point, and I do not need or want company. However, I am constantly interrupted by other people who apparently have nothing else to do. They think because they are bored, I should keep them entertained.
One neighbor actually flagged me down while I was in my car en route to the grocery store. I didn’t know her name, yet she spent 20 minutes on the side of the street giving me all the details about her husband leaving her. Anytime I went to the mailbox or sat on my deck, she’d drop by. I began to feel like a prisoner in my own home, so I started to completely ignore her. Now another lady up the street is doing the same thing. She wants to go out to eat, shop, take trips. I barely know this woman, and she has already told me her complete family history in two mailbox episodes.
Are these people desperate for companionship, or are they just using me as a private counselor on whom they can unload their personal problems? How do you stop people from taking up your time? — Like My Solitude
Dear Solitude: You can be a good neighbor without being overwhelmed by emotionally needy people who assume you are just as eager for their company as they are for yours. While doing outdoor chores, simply nod your head to acknowledge them while finishing your errands, then return to your house, wave goodbye and close the door. If you are sitting on your deck, say, “Louise, dear, this is my quiet time and I’d prefer not to be interrupted. I’ll see you later.” We don’t recommend being rude. One of these days you may be glad for the companionship.
Dear Annie: As a baseball fan, I found your column about spitting very interesting. I do not know any sport, other than baseball, where the players spit so much. It used to be because they all chewed tobacco. Now that habit has just about disappeared and they chew wads of bubble gum instead. If spitting in public is a crime, then the TV cameras have an awful lot of evidence of offenders. — Dick in Jacksonville, Fla.
Dear Dick: We’re not sure a privately owned baseball stadium is subject to the local laws regarding public spitting. But it would be nice to see less of it broadcast into our homes.
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 8.19.08