Dear Annie: She’s glad to leave Texas, but worried about leaving Texas behind
Sat., Aug. 20, 2016
Dear Annie: I just graduated from high school in Texas and will be heading to an Ivy League university in a couple of weeks. I graduated as one of the top students in my class. I am also pretty popular. I was captain of the cheerleading team and dated the starting quarterback.
Most of my friends are quintessentially Texan. They play football, cheer, talk about football, hunt, watch football, attend debutante balls and coach football. We are straight out of “Friday Night Lights.” I absolutely love Texas. However, I also love the fact that I am getting out of this town.
I love that I will be surrounded by people who are as interested in their schoolwork as I am. I cannot wait to meet my roommate. I am so excited to live on the East Coast. But I’m also nervous about changing too much at school – losing what makes me Texan.
I want to maintain my Texan roots but explore the world and learn from other cultures. How do I balance embracing new things while staying true to my roots? – Prom Queen
Dear Prom Queen: Something tells me you couldn’t shake your Lone Star ways even if you wanted to. (And why would you?) Whatever the stereotypes of Ivy Leagues may be, I guarantee you won’t be washed away in a sea of argyle or come home during fall break talking like a Kennedy. The key is never to be embarrassed about who you are – while also being open to learning new things and, yes, maybe even changing a little. In the end, you can take the girl out of Texas, but heaven help the fool who tries to take the Texas out of the girl.
Dear Annie: My parents are in their mid-80s and live five hours away. They are extremely independent, stubborn and secretive. I recently discovered why they hadn’t let me inside their house since the ’90s. They’re hoarders! A narrow trail weaves through each room. To reach a window, closet, desk, etc., they climb over boxes or move them around like a sliding puzzle. Access, especially emergency access, is severely compromised.
I discovered all this when Mom tripped and broke her hip. I took a monthlong unpaid leave of absence to help out, but they soundly rejected any efforts (both gentle and assertive) to improve safety. They refuse to part with so much as a broken dish or decades-old phone book. Mom ignores her doctor’s orders to use a walker, because there’s no room to navigate one.
Their living situation is clearly dangerous – I tripped a few times myself – but they are not mentally incompetent. Her doctor won’t intervene. The authorities would be forced to take action if I reported this to them, but I don’t exaggerate when I say that my parents would never speak to me again. Then I’d feel awful, and any improvement would probably be temporary. And eventually, they would be even more isolated and vulnerable. But I’d also feel horrible (and resentful) if something completely preventable were to happen. What can I do that both respects their independence and protects them (and me) from the consequences of their choices? – Roles Reversed
Dear Roles Reversed: Most experts believe hoarding is a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder. As it’s a coping mechanism to attempt to exert control over one’s environment, any attempts to clean up for them would only cause anxiety and in turn drive them deeper into their hoarding compulsions. A therapist with expertise in this area can help your parents address the underlying issues. Reach out to the International OCD Foundation at https://iocdf.org for information on a pathway to recovery.
Send your questions for Annie Lane to email@example.com. To find out more about Annie Lane and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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