Dear Annie: I have been in a relationship with “Bryce” for almost eight years. When we met, we were both in unhappy marriages. Bryce helped me financially and emotionally with my divorce, and also pulled me through the death of a beloved sister. He even purchased a house for my children and me to live in.
My divorce was finalized four years ago. Bryce lives with my now-teenage children and me, and we all get along great. The problem is, Bryce refuses to introduce me to his family, all of whom live close by. He has a mother, brother, sister and a daughter in her early 30s. He still is not divorced, but keeps assuring me he will be “as soon as the smoke clears” with his family.
I’m beginning to think he is never going to completely share his life with me, as if he isn’t certain I’m really what he wants. He assures me he loves me and that his living with me is proof, but it’s just not enough. I want to have a normal relationship that involves both families combined. I want to spend holidays and special occasions together instead of apart. By the way, he has met all the members of my large family and they like him, but some are beginning to wonder if he’s just jerking me around. Am I wasting my time here? — Confused in N.Y.
Dear Confused: It’s obvious to us that Bryce’s family strongly disapproves of his relationship with you. Either they have asked him not to bring you around, or he thinks they will give you a hard time and lacks the courage to stand up for you. They also may believe he will not get a divorce as long as they keep you at a distance, and so far, they are right. This is what happens when you become involved with a married man, so decide what you are willing to settle for because this could be all there is.
Dear Annie: I have a problem with a co-worker. “Lenny” is a downer, not only to me, but to everybody he works with. He’s negative, unhappy and resists any attempts to change. He’s still bitter about a girl who broke up with him three years ago.
I don’t want to be mean, but I’m tired of hearing Lenny whine. I’d like to help him take charge of his life so he can resolve his problems — or at least stop complaining about them. What should I do? — Miserable Co-Worker
Dear Miserable: You can tell Lenny he seems to complain a lot and probably doesn’t realize how negatively it comes across, but some people are chronic complainers and the best you can do is tune them out. “Fixing” them takes a lot of time and effort, and it only works if The Kvetch recognizes the need to change his behavior.
Dear Annie: The letter from “Worried in the South,” who suffers from bipolar disorder, is a prime example of why the word “mental” should be removed from the medical vocabulary. The brain is a physical organ subject to malfunction, the same as every other organ of the body, and treatment should be considered the same as treating a heart condition. Once you say “mental,” however, there is a negative connotation that keeps many from seeking the help they need.
Bipolar disorder is mostly a chemical problem and has nothing to do with someone’s value as a human being. Surely the psychiatric community can come up with better terminology for various brain malfunctions and send the word “mental” to the trash heap. — Union, Ore.
Dear Union: You are right that the stigma persists, although, fortunately, less than in times past. People are beginning to understand that illnesses involving the brain, whether physical or psychological, should be treated like any other.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to email@example.com, 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 2.21.08