Hair-trigger temper keeps mom walking on eggshells

Staff Writer
Brownwood Bulletin
Jeanne Phillips

DEAR ABBY: I have one child, a daughter, "Anna," I adopted at 19 months. She's 41 now and has two small children. She had a normal upbringing, although her father and I divorced when she was 9. She has chosen to not have a relationship with him as an adult. Anna has never married, nor has she been in a relationship for longer than four or five months. According to a few counselors I have seen, she has attachment disorder.

Anna is very difficult. She's mean, says hateful things and is an angry young woman. She takes no responsibility for any of her actions, and therefore cannot keep a job, friends, etc. for more than a few months. She is also extremely negative. If I try to say anything, she gets angry, starts cussing, yelling and slinging hate, and stops contacting me for weeks at a time.

We have nothing in common. We live in separate states, but I see her about a half-dozen times a year. When I do, I tiptoe around on eggshells because of her short fuse. Her attitude is starting to rub off on her boys.

This is not what I had envisioned all those years ago when I adopted her. I miss who I thought she would become. Is there anything I can do without completely alienating myself from my grandsons, which would break my heart? -- TIPTOEING ON EGGSHELLS

DEAR TIPTOEING: I am sorry your adoption did not turn out as you envisioned. Your daughter is clearly troubled, and it is not surprising that her attitude has begun to affect her boys. It is time you accept that, as much as you wish to, you cannot change another person, and there's nothing you can do to "fix" her.

You mentioned that you visit her every two months. Perhaps you should consider visiting fewer times than that. Ask if she would let the grandkids come and visit Grandma occasionally. However, if she isn't receptive, refusing to engage with her is the price you will have to pay for seeing them and trying to cement a relationship with them.

DEAR ABBY: I have been dating a girl since high school. We were high school sweethearts, but now we are both 28. My girlfriend wants to get married and have kids, but I do not. I want to keep dating her. I am scared to break up with her because if I did, I wouldn't know what to do with my life. Should I change, or should she change? -- STATUS QUO IN COLORADO

DEAR STATUS QUO: I hereby appoint you to be the designated changer. You have been so absorbed with this romance you never took the time to develop interests of your own.

At the age of 28, many women start thinking about marriage and children. Doing that is normal and rational. However, because you don't feel ready to make a lifetime commitment, you would be making a huge mistake to allow yourself to be pushed into it.

It is important that you learn who you are before you marry anyone. Accomplishing this is a process that takes time and a variety of experiences, and you should embark on that now. It would be unfair to continue dating her at this point because your paths are going to diverge as each of you learns to manage without leaning on the other.

DEAR ABBY: My friend "Lauren" and her husband separated for a few months last summer. During the separation, she had a short fling with my friend "Zack," whom she met at my house. Lauren decided to continue her marriage and, obviously, chose to stop seeing Zack.

A few months ago, Zack came to a party I threw. Lauren wasn't able to make it. Everyone had a few margaritas, and as the night ended, I found myself having sex with Zack for the first time since our friendship began 10 or so years ago. It was so great, and we decided to do it again. I wasn't sure I should tell Lauren, even though she's a married woman, because I was afraid it might upset her.

A week ago, Zack confessed that he may be in love with me, and I feel the same way toward him. I decided to go ahead and tell Lauren, since my relationship with Zack is getting serious. She reacted terribly. She was furious and accused me of "betraying" her and trying to "one-up" her. She said I should have known how she felt about him and that I'm a terrible friend for having sex with him, let alone falling in love. Abby, are her feelings justified? Am I in the wrong? Or are we all still adults? -- ACCIDENTALLY IN LOVE

DEAR ACCIDENTALLY IN LOVE: Lauren's feelings justified? Heck, no! If you and Lauren are still speaking, "remind" her that when she went back to her husband, she relinquished all claims on the man she slept with in the interim. He's entitled to a life and so are you. If I were you, I'd distance myself from this woman. She shouldn't begrudge you for enjoying someone she can't enjoy herself. Shame on her.

DEAR ABBY: I'm a student at an art school, and I'm struggling with anxiety and depression. I have been on lockdown in my hometown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, isolated from my friends and unable to socialize with others. Sometimes when I watch the news I become very anxious, and I wonder if there's a light at the end of these dark times. What should I do? -- ANXIETY-RIDDEN IN ATLANTA

DEAR ANXIETY-RIDDEN: Welcome to the club! If you think you have been alone in experiencing these emotions, you couldn't be more wrong. Many people feel just the way you do -- anxious, isolated and depressed.

You can manage negative emotions by getting out of the house and exercising -- alone or with friends or neighbors -- while staying a social distance apart -- and keeping in touch with friends and classmates using your computer and cellphone. There's no reason you couldn't collaborate with some of them on an art project and create something spectacular using those devices.

Remind yourself that this quarantine is temporary. It isn't going to last forever. Unless you have an underlying health condition or someone in your household does, you can mingle with others wearing a face covering and keeping your distance. From what I have been observing, some relationships have been strengthened as people reach out to comfort and help each other. A surefire way to overcome the blues is to start thinking about what you can do for someone else, even if it's just a phone call to say, "I'm thinking about you. How are you doing?"