Dear Annie: I was married to a verbally abusive narcissist for 10 years. Two separations and three counselors later, I decided to leave him. That was in June.
I recently met someone who makes me believe there are good people out there. But my soon-to-be ex and my brother have been screaming from the rooftops that I am a cheater, and that my husband’s behavior was perfect. This hurts me so deeply I cannot describe the pain.
I bent over backward for this man for years, but he always has to “win.” Due to my brother’s badmouthing me and my unwillingness to fight, my parents barely speak to me. My ex is irresponsible about money, so I paid off his truck and am making half of his house payment so my kids have a place to stay when they see him. I have 10 pages of documentation from all the horribleness I have lived through.
I hope my parents someday will warm up to the new man who treats me so well. I have given up on my brother. Meanwhile, my ex keeps telling me how he is doing “the right thing” by letting my children see me, because all of his friends tell him not to. Of course, he never was involved with the kids. He’s using them for leverage.
I pay for all of the children’s expenses and their health insurance, and I see a counselor regularly. But every week, my ex or my brother contacts me and tries to make me feel like a terrible person for leaving. Will it ever stop? — Exhausted in Wisconsin
Dear Wisconsin: We hope so, but you have to be strong. Until the divorce is final, your husband (and brother) will try to wear you down so you will return. As long as the children can be used to pressure you, your ex will do so. We know you are tired, but you need to fight back a little harder. Let your parents know exactly what is going on, and let them see the documentation. Make sure you have a good attorney who will see that the kids are protected and have access to both of their parents. Don’t push your new relationship. It’s too soon for your parents to accept. And keep seeing your counselor. It will help.
Dear Annie: I have battled cancer since 1995. I will be on chemotherapy or some drug until I wish no further medical intervention. I am always bald, so I wear a beautiful assortment of headscarves. This usually elicits a caring smile, the start of a conversation or a comment meant to give hope. And while I am grateful for the smiles and caring statements, there is one comment I would like to eliminate.
A number of people say, “Well, we’re all dying.” I understand these folks mean well, but it is a condescending and insensitive thing to say. Instead of giving hope or comfort, it says that my terminal diagnosis isn’t that big of a deal and I should just get over it. Please tell people to think carefully before making such a comment to one who is terminally ill. — Counting My Blessings in Jacksonville, Fla.
Dear Counting: We could write a book about all of the inappropriate comments that people make when confronted with awkward or difficult situations. Thanks for alerting them to put this particular phrase in a locked drawer and throw away the key.
Dear Annie: “Not Lonely in Virginia” said she has trouble making friends. When she added, “I suspect it may have to do with reading body language. I can’t interpret the signals,” it sounded like Asperger’s.
I was in a relationship with a man with Asperger’s, and I didn’t have a clue about this syndrome. It was devastating. I read everything I could and now understand it. Please direct her to www.aspergers.com, where she will be welcomed and understood. — Sioux Falls
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to email@example.com, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.