Thursday, April 17, 2008

Q & A: "Every day seems to last forever and nothing I do brings me happiness"

Name: Dustin
City: Princeton
Question: Nearly one year ago, on my birthday, my fiance left me. It's been nearly a year and yet it feels like only weeks have passed. I say I am over her, and many people believe that I am. Sometimes I can even convince myself that I am moving on with my life, but I always come back to the feeling of absolute depression. Every day seems to last forever and nothing I do brings me happiness. Short of psychological help, is there anything I can do that might help me get over this?

Hi Dustin,

Contrary to your belief, counseling might be the salve for your wound you're seeking...You have some issues to work out, and since you were left with no recourse (she ended it, not you - and rather callously on your Birthday I might add) to resolve anything, a third party is really the best option for you. This can be through a counselor, clergyman, or other mediating professional. You can talk this over with your friends, and I'm sure they will be there to help you...However, if you've already convinced everyone you've moved on and you don't feel like rehashing everything and having to worry about perceptions of you in your social life, then go to a counselor and just talk about the relationship and get advice on how to really move on. It's confidential, personal, direct, and your friends won't know unless you tell them. Go to counseling (whatever form you choose) and get it over with...You've dealt with it for a year now...It's time for you to release it and start living your life again. Get your focus back and be yourself. You deserve it. It might be a lot easier to get control of your life back than you imagine. I hope this helps, and best of luck to you...

Name: Velda
City: Chicago
Question: Hi, I need your advice on this one. I have this friend since I've known from high school and she got pregnant by her boyfriend. She is twenty-one years old and he is forty years old and he physically abuses her. He be calling her some vulgar names which I can't say on here because it is racist and it also pertains to a woman. Anyway nobody knows her situation but me and another friend of hers. So I tried to talk to her about leaving him but she keeps on going right back to him and pretend nothing has happened. She been through this before with him and nothing has changed. Now she is pregnant and she wants to have an abortion. Like I've said no one knows about this but me and a friend of hers. So again I tried to talk her out of having an abortion but her mind is set on doing it. She said that she is not fit to be a mother and she is also afraid of her parents and her boyfriend for what they might do to her. To make matters worse this she had four abortions in the past and now this will be her fifth one! I am tried of going through this with her again. I have a life of my own and I want her to stop pulling me in her mess. If she have an abortion, I am seriously thinking about not talking to her anymore. What can I do?

Hi Vela,

Thanks for writing. As far as I can tell, your options are pretty limited. Try to see if you can take your friend to a counselor...Since it's only you and one other person that she tells things to, there's a good chance that by now she just tunes out anything you tell her. She feels better that she shares with you and gets things off her chest, but then she also is using you because she knows how to tune you out and she knows she can just continue on as she has been. It's a pretty vicious cycle...I think you should get with this other person and arrange some kind of intervention with a professional for her. She really, really needs it. She speaks her mind, using you to assuage her guilty/sad feelings, but she knows she won't listen to you...She's basically scared to share with anyone else because she doesn't want to face the truth and actually take the steps to improve her life...It sounds like she's in a bad rut she can't see her way out of (abuse can do that to people), but she's not allowing you to show her the way. If you really want to help her, then take the wheel and drive her to where she needs to be.

I agree with her in that she's not fit to be a mother right now...Can you imagine the quality of life her child would have? Thank goodness she has that much clarity about her, even though she doesn't see how dire her own situation is. However, I really don't agree with her using abortions as a birth control. She needs to be taken out of her situation or she'll never progress...Get with her friend and help her out...Or break her trust and tell her family. It's way over your head now and you are not allowed by her to really sway her opinion or actively assist in changing...So now you pretty much have to take some drastic measures if you want to help her. I know you want to give up on the situation as a whole as you are always hitting a brick wall, but go ahead and give it this one last shot. You are a good friend and I know you want to keep her trust and help her...But now you truly need the help of others to do that. She needs to get as far away from this guy as she can (For too many reasons to mention) and see that she can actually enjoy herself and her life. She deserves to be happy, but she can't see that she's truly stuck...She also can't see that she has options. She will one day have to realize that she can actually have an equal, respectful relationship with another person...That Love is never to be confused with fear, secrets and cover-ups. But she needs to be completely out of this guy's life (and vice versa) and to start living her own life. If you can help her do that, then there's hope...Best of luck to you and kudos for being such a good friend...

Name: Debbie
City: Chicago
Question: I have had a really long and complicated relationship with my I-don't-know-what-to-call-him, Darren. He was the first man I had ever dated who felt like a real match for me. We started out as friends, and then became very close, best friends. I began to have strong feelings for him, and sometimes it seemed like he felt them too. We even had some romantic encounters, but they seemed to confuse him and then he would back off for a while, even date other people. I still had those strong feelings about him, but we were able to remain very close friends. However, when the next summer came, we fell together in the most satisfying relationship I have ever experienced. We loved each other, and I felt totally beautiful, sexy, smart, and secure with him. He was the first man I ever made love to. Then at the end of the summer, he was graduating, and going on to a different school (as he was a few years older than I was). We agreed to see other people, as we both didn't see a long-distance relationship working out. At first it seemed like it was really working. I was dating someone else, and so was he. We continued to tell each other everything and be the best of friends through the Internet and a few phone calls. When he came back to visit the first time, I had just ended the short relationship I had had that fall, but he was still very involved with his girlfriend. However we were at a party together and we both felt very tempted to do the things we had so enjoyed that summer. However, we resisted these temptations, and he went back to his school, and we continued to be confidants via Internet and telephone. Then as his relationship was uncomfortably ending with this other girl, he came home for holidays. He was at my place just hanging out and talking and we ended up fooling around. We didn't have sex, but we both realized that we loved each other and the connection and attraction between us was very strong. He had to leave a few days later, but we kept up long daily conversations, and somehow I still felt very fulfilled. I loved him, and still love him very much. He said (and still says!) he loves me. He is my very best friend, and I think about him constantly.
However, in the past few days he had seems a little distant when I spoke with him, and when I asked him what was wrong he would just say he was tired. Finally yesterday, I asked what was really going on, and that I loved him very much, and he knew he could tell me anything. He told me that he thinks he is gay. Now normally, I would be a little upset by this, but he says this almost every time he breaks up with a girl. But this time, just something about him, it seems more serious. I ended the conversation telling him that he should find out for sure, and no matter what I would be behind him. The best friend part of me will be of course. But the part of me that loves him, is falling apart. It was bad enough when he was dating another girl. At least then I had the possibility to be with him again. But now it will be impossible. I don't even know if he is serious this time. And if he is, how can I be a best friend when I need to be getting over him? I would need space, right? Well, how can I have space when I have to be there for him, need to be there for him, in this time of change for him. I was a friend before I was a lover, and still am first and foremost a friend. But it is tearing me up inside. I love him so much, my life will be so different without him. I don't know how to cope and help him cope at the same time. I don't even know if he is really gay, I mean, HE doesn't even know. I have no reason to be angry with him, but I don't know what to feel. I am so lost, and I feel like a fool for staying with him this whole time. For once I can't talk to him about my problem. What can I do that is best for him and me?

Hi Debbie,

Thanks for writing and always happy to help someone from my neighborhood...My heart goes out to you on this one. There's no easy answer here, and it's a little worse for you Because you're a good person inside. Darren is certainly extremely lucky to have you by his side...This can be a difficult journey, and you have a good enough head on your shoulders to realize that you have a rough road ahead if you follow what you think is right.

One of the largest hurdles you'll have to get over is the fact that this comfortable love relationship you have found for yourself and that you always thought would be there is changing. It's little more difficult to take because he still will be around...If the relationship just ended and you moved apart, then you could take steps to forget about it. You don't have that option here.

There's a lot of issues that he needs to tackle alone, and also those that he can use your comfort for. He doesn't know if he's Gay, Bi, or whatever...He'll have to figure that out for himself. You need to start distancing your romantic feelings from him because you need to realize that at this time, he will never just have his eyes on you. He's way too busy exploring his own feeling and who he should be with...You'll be waiting in futility and wasting your time that could be spent bettering yourself or finding another person who could give you just as much love in return without distraction. You can be his friend, but forget the relationship part...Even if you agree to wait for him while he figures this out (Unfair to both of you - It puts you in limbo and keep him from having a clear mind in really discovering himself), you will be running the risk of exposing yourself to more hurt in the future. His exploration can certainly change/jade him, and not to mention his greater chance of exposure to STD's if he took things that far with a number of partners. He might very well be someone completely different from what you know now...

You sound like a wonderful girl and you deserve to be happy. Keep him as a friend and only that...Really take some time and realize that you have to do things for Debbie first - And that means getting your life on the right track, working on fulfilling your dreams, and doing what's right for your long-term goals and future. He's going through a confusing time, and although he might need your ear or emotional support from time to time, this is a journey that he's best left doing on his own. You have your own life to lead and things you have to accomplish. You also deserve to have the emotional freedom to accept and share love from another if the opportunity presents itself. Don't pass that up or stagnate it by immersing yourself too deeply in what Darren is doing. Be happy for what you shared with him, take it as a learning experience, keep the good memories, and move on. Be there for him as a friend, but think of yourself first...That's what he is ultimately doing, and it's only fair that you do the same thing. You have more things to become in life than a martyr...I hope this helps, and please don't be a stranger. Take care...

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