Dear Annie: I want to tell you my story. My father was an alcoholic wife-beater. My crib was in a corner of my parents’ bedroom, and I have a vivid memory of him beating her as I stood in my crib crying in terror. He turned to me and warned that if I didn’t shut up, I would get some of the same. I sobbed myself to sleep without anyone to comfort or reassure me.
Later, when I was a preteen, my mother and elder sister worked, so during the summer, I was left alone at home. I became afraid of being alone at home and confided my fear to my mother, hoping for reassurance. Instead, her misguided attempt to do so was to say, “But who would possibly need you?” That left me feeling worthless and unloved.
To escape, I married too early and unwisely. Predictably, because I was incapable of a good relationship, my husband abandoned me after years of a troubled marriage. And today, my sister – still suffering from sibling rivalry, even though our parents are long gone – is unsympathetic and tells me to “get over it.”
I keep to myself and tell no one of my terrible childhood and unhappy life because I don’t believe that anyone would understand or sympathize. Because I present a normal face to the world, I’m sure people would be surprised to learn how traumatic my childhood was.
I write this letter in the hope that my sad story will inspire your readers to be kind to everyone they meet in life because an individual’s heavy burden, like mine, may not be obvious. A little kindness, a warm gesture or even a smile might go a long way toward making an unhappy person’s day. – My Sad Story
Dear Sad Story: In the words of Joan Didion, “we tell ourselves stories in order to live.” Stories help us make sense of a senseless world, of the hurt and heartache that seem to come at random. But sometimes stories can stop us from really living, and in this case, it sounds as though your fixation on the story of your past is keeping you from a brighter future.
Witnessing your father abusing your mother when you were just a baby must have been awful, and I don’t mean to discount that trauma. If you want to work through that, pick up the phone and make a therapy appointment today. Or try BetterHelp or Talkspace, online therapy tools. Also, rather than assume your sister is speaking out of sibling rivalry when she tells you to “get over it,” consider that she may be speaking from love, in her own way. Even if she isn’t, you won’t be worse off for choosing to assume the best.
Once you embrace the fact that you are the author of your own destiny, you might just surprise yourself with some wonderful plot twists.
Dear Annie: Seeing as you have a wide audience, would you please pass this along to the folks who put the recycling number on their packages: Would you please make the numbers big enough to read without having to use a magnifying glass?
Some products have very easy-to-read numbers, but there are some that are so small you’re tempted to forget the recycling and toss them in the household garbage. But I feel guilty when I think that way, and then I bring out the magnifying glass. – Avid Jacksonville, Fla., Recycler
Dear Avid Jacksonville Recycler: Though I would love to think that the column could have an impact on something as big as the way recyclables are labeled, your best bet in the meantime might be to try to memorize – or keep a list handy of – what types of materials can and can’t be recycled. Find a printable guide at https://wewantrefill.com. Kudos to you for being a friend to the Earth.
Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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