DEAR AMY: I am a 68-year-old woman, divorced and living alone. I’m an introvert, so I’m not lonely. I’ve been divorced since 2003 because of emotional and verbal abuse. We were married for 30 years because I was afraid of leaving him and afraid of what it would do to my children. I was in counseling before, during and afterward, and have never regretted my decision to leave him, despite the fact that he laid a very heavy guilt trip on me. I’ve been involved in activities and my life has been enriched by the friends I’ve made, but all friendships are superficial. My adult daughters are supportive. I have so much going for me. When he verbally abused me in 2002, in front of my then 17-year-old daughter, it felt as if a veil covered my face. I shut down. The veil has not lifted since then. I feel empty and incapable of loving anyone, including my own daughters and wonderful grandchildren. I go through the motions, but deep down, I feel nothing. When my father passed away in 2006, I was the only one in my family who didn’t cry. My doctor has prescribed an antidepressant and it has helped in many ways, except being able to love again. When I meet someone, male or female, I can be friendly to a point, and then emotionally I back away. Reaching out to others is extremely hard and stressful. How can I get that “veil” lifted and become “human” again?
DEAR WORRIED: You should continue to work with your therapist. Disclose exactly how you are feeling. You may have a form of PTSD, and there are specialized therapies that may help you.
One suggestion I have is to consider adopting an animal — if you are able. Gentle, domesticated animals have a way of unlocking love, affection and a feeling of connectedness with the humans in their lives. Visit a shelter (or volunteer) to see if this might be a workable idea for you.
DEAR AMY: My son’s ex-wife remarried and now has two stepchildren, along with her daughter (with my son). I love my granddaughter dearly and love sending her gifts. My former daughter-in-law has made it clear to all that the two stepchildren must be treated equally to her daughter — by everyone. In most instances I agree, however, I do not agree that I should have to buy gifts for all of these children. I did this for the past year and had to cut way back on my budget for gifts for grandchildren. I have not met my former daughter-in-law’s new husband or his children. We live across the country from each other. I feel as though I should not have to buy for all, and I want to only spoil my grandchild. Am I wrong?
DEAR GRANDMOTHER: When you report wanting to “spoil” only your grandchild, I want you to reflect on your own choice of words. One of your toughest jobs as a grandmother is to find ways to enfold your granddaughter’s siblings into your world. If you refuse to do this, then yes, this will have the effect of “spoiling” her, in unintended ways — because you will be putting her in a very tough spot.
Some of your contact with your granddaughter will be through her relationship to your son (her father). If you want to send gifts exclusively to her, then perhaps they should be sent to your son so he can share them with her during his visitations. You should also encourage him to include you in vacations and trips that he shares with her.
One way to stay connected to your granddaughter is to send her cards and letters, and to Skype with her, if possible. Your attitude should be open and loving — not exclusive. And yes, you should do your best to try to connect with these other children. Obviously, this will be challenging until you meet them.
Your former daughter-in-law is being unreasonable. In her eagerness to include her stepchildren as full family members (which they are), she seems to be framing it as a punishment — or you are interpreting it that way.
DEAR AMY: I understand the sensitivities about women regarding the #MeToo movement, but what about we men who have to deal with drunken women coming on to us and pressing up against us when we don’t like it?
Men are #MeToo, too
DEAR MEN: Use your voice, just as women should do. A firm, “No! Please, back off” should do it.