Dear Annie: I’m very intelligent. Unfortunately, I was raised by a neglectful mother and her hateful, abusive unmarried sister. Trouble at home led to trouble at school, resulting in multiple expulsions that hindered my education. My father was out of the picture, as my mother is only interested in men who use her and leave her.
I am in my 30s now and live an unhappy, discontented life. I have zero self-esteem due to the constant abuse and belittlement at the hands of my aunt. I know if my intellect had been properly nurtured, I could have a job doing something I love in the field of astronomy or engineering. Instead, I do menial labor and don’t really get along with my colleagues, as our backgrounds are so different.
While I am now on speaking terms with both my mother and aunt, I find that I am unable to forgive them. It would feel like letting the bad guys win. I blame them for my unhappiness, and this occasionally causes me to blow up at them.
My mother refuses to speak of the past, and my aunt told me that people overcome abuse, and if I couldn’t, it meant there was one more thing wrong with me. The fact that they are unwilling to budge an inch makes any attempt to work this out pointless.
I tried therapy, but haven’t found a therapist who seems honest and genuine. I feel mentally trapped and unable to progress. Please help.
— Walking Dead in NYC
Dear NYC: You got a rotten deal, but letting it control your future won’t help you. Your aunt is never going to be kind, because she considers you competition for her sister’s affection and loyalty, and your mother is too weak to be your ally.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean they “win.” It is not about them. It is a way for you to get beyond the misery and blame and forge a happier life. For some people, therapy can seem awkward and insincere when you first begin, especially if you are not ready to let go of the past. And not every therapist is a good fit. But if you stick with some type of counseling, it can truly help you move forward. Please try again.
Dear Annie: My wife and I are both 80. For our entire married life, I have handled our finances. I am now, at this late date, quite concerned as to how my wife would manage if I were to die before her. Who do I talk to about assisting a survivor with the many details resulting from a spouse’s passing?
Dear Georgia: Too many married couples wait until a spouse dies before being bothered about these things. While we commend you for thinking of it in advance, please start now to prepare your wife for the possibility that she will have to deal with the finances. Make sure her name is on all the accounts and she knows where your assets are. She also should have credit in her own name. You can find suggestions and information through aarp.org, and you might also want to hire a financial adviser who will help her navigate the waters.
Dear Annie: This is for “Sad Wife,” whose mother-in-law favors her brother-in-law. Tell her not to spend any more energy being sad. As you told her, Annie, she should support her husband at home. I was in her shoes.
My mother-in-law eventually developed Alzheimer’s, and her favorite son could not bring himself to visit her. My husband and I went almost daily, as did my sister-in-law. When Mom died, we discovered we had developed a decent, warm relationship with “favorite son” and his lovely wife. What’s more, our teenaged children noticed and had a new appreciation for their parents.
— Been There
Dear Been There: Thank you for the words of encouragement. And on that note, happy Mother-in-Law Day.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.
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