Brother's troubles causing anxiety - Newsday

Brother's troubles causing anxiety

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Ask Amy Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

DEAR AMY: I have not spoken to my brother, who's now very ill, in a long time. (We text occasionally.) His life has been nothing but chaos ever since I can remember. Most of his problems are the result of very bad decisions on his part. My mother knows how I feel, yet continues to confide in me about everything my brother is going through. My mother says she doesn't have anyone to talk to otherwise. She has friends but doesn't want to confide in them. She says she is tired of hearing about my brother's troubles but continues to listen and then tells me. She becomes very upset and turns into a ball of anxiety. She is 75 and not in good health. Over time, this has made me as anxiety-ridden as my mother. Was I right to tell her that I cannot listen any longer to my brother's problems because of how it is affecting me? I told her she should tell my brother that it upsets her and ask him to stop sharing details about his life.--Opting Out

DEAR OPTING OUT: You'll have to understand that your mother may feel the only way she can mother your brother is to give him a sounding board about his troubled life.

Forbidding your mother to talk to you about this is cutting off an important source of potential comfort for her, but if this is the only way you can cope, then you were right to do so.

You have to learn to detach to the point that you accept reality but realize you are powerless to help your brother -- and can only help your mother by affirming her feelings while not getting swept up in the particulars.

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DEAR AMY: "Wondering (but not Wandering) Wife" is in a sexless marriage. So am I. My husband and I have been through therapy, read self-help books and so forth. But he simply never wants to do it. The time is never right for him. We have not had sex in years and probably never will again. This makes me so sad.--Not Wandering


DEAR NOT: I have heard from dozens of women in the same boat.

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