Dear Annie: I’m 42, and my mother, sister and adult daughter have all informed me repeatedly that I’m worthless, useless, unattractive and unlovable. I’ve examined my whole life to try to fix whatever it is I’m doing wrong, but I just can’t seem to come up with any specific thing. I also have an ex-husband who agrees with everything they say, blames me for everything that ever went wrong in our marriage and adds that I’m lousy in bed, too. I’ve never been with anyone else to compare, but I’m too scared to discover he’s right.
So, I’ve shut myself away from all friends, family and social interactions because the last thing I want to do is upset anyone or cause them pain. It seems obvious to me that with this many people telling me how bad I am and how much I destroy their happiness, I must be a problem.
I’m informed and intelligent enough to know that I suffer from major depression, but I fail to see how counseling or medical care will help. After all, how can a pill or a counselor undo 42 years’ worth of ingrained self-loathing and the inability to fix myself? I don’t see how trying would be anything other than a waste of time and money.
Isn’t it better to just acknowledge that the best thing some people can do in this world is leave it? I’m sure my family would be better off.
— Ready To Quit
Dear Ready: That nest of vipers certainly has done a number on you. You sound like a kind, intelligent person who has spent too many years struggling. In some families, one person becomes the victim of abuse, and other family members think it’s OK to participate. Here’s what counseling will do for you: It will help you understand that you deserve to be loved and appreciated. And it will teach you how to deflect these bullies so they can’t use you for target practice anymore. Please make an appointment to see someone immediately.
Dear Annie: A few months ago when my husband was terminally ill in the hospital, my sister and her husband came to “give comfort and help me.” While I spent time in the hospital, they stayed in my home, went through everything in my house and stole some items that meant a lot to me. My husband died shortly afterward.
My sister later gloated that I would never get the items back, nor would I ever convince anyone that she could have stolen them. Of course, now that I refuse to have anything to do with her, she cries on everyone’s shoulders about how mean I am.
While the stolen items had value, what bothers me more is my sister doing something so trashy and then boasting about getting away with it. I could never trust either of them again and don’t ever want them in my home.
— No Name, No Town
Dear No Name: This was a terrible betrayal by someone you loved and trusted in a moment of emotional vulnerability. You need make no explanation or apology for not allowing them in your home. P.S.: If the stolen items had value, please consider taking legal action to retrieve them.
Dear Annie: “Deeply Depressed Texas Mom” said her son was marrying a very sweet girl but that the bride’s mother was shutting “Deeply” out of all the wedding plans.
She should take the high road and be gracious, and help pay for the wedding, as she had originally planned. Her son and his wife will love her forever. And when the grandchildren start arriving, they will see through it all, and she will be seen as the “loving” one. Trust me, this happened to us.
After 15 years, my daughter-in-law and I have become best friends, and her mother still doesn’t have a clue.
Dear BTDT: You are one of the lucky ones. We’re glad things worked out so well for you.
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.