Baggage Check Live: Apology with Barnacle Attached

Oct 01, 2019

Licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Andrea Bonior will be online to take your comments about her advice column, Baggage Check, and any other questions you might have. These comments may appear in an upcoming column running in Express and online.

She’ll discuss her recent columns and answer any questions you may have about relationships, work, family, mental health and more.

Waiting for the chat to go live? Read Baggage Check columns.

Follow Dr. Andrea on Facebook here.

Hi, all! It is ever so good to see you here. How are you?

You showed up in droves for the Susan Cain chat-- thank you! I know she really loved being here, and I loved reading your questions to her-- and her excellent answers.

As for this week, today marks my first day of flying solo, producing this chat myself. As grateful as I am that we are still kickin', I miss Rachel already-- and also would estimate my odds to be about 47 percent of accidentally shutting off the entire Internet. I ask your forgiveness in advance for any horrifically embarrassing technical difficulties (or an abundance of typos.) 

So, let's see if I can get this show on the road.

Whaddaya got? I'm ready! (I think. Is this thing on?)

My husband of 20 years has a long history of being financially irresponsible. Fortunately, we both make good money and have been able to cover his “extra” expenses. But now he’s run up an absurd credit card bill and expects me to pay it using an inheritance I received from an aunt. I kept this money separate from him on the advice of a lawyer, knowing my husband’s spending habits. My husband takes no responsibility for the purchases, rationalizing all of them as necessities and therefore I am loathe to pay off the credit card bill. My husband is furious and telling me we now can’t go on a long-planned vacation next year and just get refunds on deposits we’ve paid. It feel punitive, but he won’t admit that it is. What should I do? Pay the credit card bill and bring peace to my house? Or let this play out? We can make partial payments so we’re not on the verge of default or anything.

Sure, you could pay the bill. But the way I see it, then you're setting this up to be an even more entrenched pattern: he justifies his overspending, expects someone else to clean up the mess, takes zero responsibility, and then you all have to pay the price.


Honestly, this is the type of stuff that I've seen wreck marriages-- more than once. Yes, different people have different spending styles, and most couples aren't an exact match in how they handle money. But, they find a way to work together as a team. They adjust their spending and saving patterns to respect the family's overall goals and needs. They communicate. They take responsibility. They try to make changes when changes are due.

That's the part that's missing here.

Do you really want to go on paying for his mistakes-- mistakes he takes zero responsibility for-- with your vacation?

When things rise to the level of receiving advice from a lawyer about how to protect your money from your spouse, I think it's also time to protect your marriage (if you can.) Get him to see the seriousness of this by seeking out couples counseling. I'm telling you. A decade or two more of this and you may be in a very bad place. Maybe he's a compulsive spender who needs help, or maybe he just needs help understanding how he runs the risk of wrecking your marriage. But if I were you, my goal would be opening his eyes. Please keep us posted.

Boyfriend is a foreign national here on a visa. He is very unhappy in his position of almost a decade, mainly because he has never been promoted and no promotion opportunities are in sight. He has been randomly applying for jobs in his home country for the last 1.5 years. One app resulted in an interview in Belgium that did not pan out. I was secretly pleased, but I also felt guilty for feeling this way. Well, he had an interview in his home country that was successful this summer. He starts next month, and is therefore leaving. I'm very sad. But I have tried to be understanding and supportive. Simultaneously, his dad who has been chronically ill, died in the last couple of weeks. So the timing for him to return home is actually close to ideal. I have told him I am very happy for him, but I'm also very sad for myself. He said he also has mixed feelings. My question is: how selfish can one really be in a situation like this? My rational mind says "this is not about you, imagine how you'd feel if your dad died and if you hated your job, and all of your colleagues have already left or been promoted elsewhere." But my emotional mind is quite devastated that I'm losing my partner and companion of 3 years. I have been holding my sadness for private moments and being as brave as possible when we are together. I do not want to manipulate him in any way. As we approach his departure date, I feel sadder and sadder. I'm going to see my therapist Friday, so I'm hoping she can help me sort out my feelings.

I am sorry. No doubt this is tough all around. But I can't help but wonder, is part of the toughness the fact that it's ambiguous what is actually happening with your relationship? (It's definitely ambiguous to me.)

You say you don't want to manipulate them. I'll certainly co-sign on that, but does that mean that you're in a situation where you want the relationship to continue, or you want a bigger commitment, or you want to discuss a potential permanent future together-- and yet that discussion is off-limits?

In other words, are both of you viewing that you have to break up? You've been together for 3 years! It's not like you went on six dates and now he's going back and you're making it about you.

It is about you to some not-significant extent. And if you are sad about the potential of breaking up, I imagine he is too-- on top of everything else he is going through. That sadness is not mutually exclusive. Might it even be helpful for you to share some of your feelings with him? That doesn't have to make you "selfish."

My ex practiced financial infidelity as well. It only got worse the longer we were married. The spending got even worse when we started marriage counseling. Divorce was the best thing for me. The agreement required him to pay his own bills. I'm on the road to being debt-free. He... is not.

Definitely an important-- though unfortunate-- data point.

Glad, though, that divorce turned out being such a positive thing for you!

Just curious: What does the producer (and now you) need to do? It seems like this would be a pretty straightforward electronic mechanism.

Yeah, I think that's part of it-- Rachel (and before her, Zainab) made the whole thing run smoothly enough that it seemed effortless!

But there's a lot. Editing/condensing/clarifying long questions. Sorting for order. Pacing the publishing (in the past, I would just answer and save, and they would actually push the button to send it into the world.) Adding links. Ordering things in a way that makes sense. Then setting everything up for the following week, renaming the chat, creating new links, etc.

Keeping me sane.

(It's that latter part I'm missing right about now.)

I have been struggling coming to terms with a disability. Due to pain I have to manage how much I'm on my feet at a given time and handling walking aids when necessary which I really struggle with accepting and acknowledging any help. It has really affected my day to day life. I'd like to process this with the help of a therapist but I don't really know what to look for, is disability a specialty for someone or is there something else in a bio I should look for?

I am so sorry. I know this adjustment can be a significant one, and it does take time. I would absolutely recommend checking some of the listings for someone who lists physical challenges and disabilities as a specialty. If you are willing to see someone via video conferencing, you can cast an even wider net.

Also, have you thought about support communities, whether online or in person? Even just joining a particularly strong Facebook group that is made up of others facing what you are facing can be such a way of nourishing yourself and remembering that you are not alone. Please do keep us posted.

Hi Dr. Bonior & wonderful community, I wrote in some time ago about the military man who was hesitant to marry me, though I had moved cross country to be with him & he'd proposed. Since breaking things off I've moved to a happening city, taken up new hobbies, am excelling at a challenging and rewarding new career, and effectively treating my anxiety. (WOOO effexor) Upon my return I started dating a man I've known for years as a friend, now in my late twenties I'm struggling to figure out if our visions of the future/priorities match up. What are the questions I need to be asking myself? with upcoming holidays and year long leases looming, I find myself struggling to communicate my needs effectively/not ugly crying when we have big disagreements. How do you weigh someone who loves you not being ready vs not being right for you?

I am so glad that you've written in again!

But first, I need to hear a little something about these "big disagreements" and what the needs are that are difficult for you to communicate. Are we talking about wanting Thai food rather than Chinese food? Or feeling like you're not understood or respected? There's a huge variation here.

But I also can't shake the feeling that things have moved so fast for you. You have done so much to get out of a bad situation and rebuild a life-- it sounds like there are so many positive things that you've done. Bravo to that! And I know you've known this new guy for quite a while as a friend. But have you gotten a chance to truly get to know yourself during this time? Have you had the time and space to process what went down with your past relationship? Do you truly know what you are looking for, and how it might be different than what you had before?

Clearly, I am looking to know more too! Are you still out there?

I don't want to be harsh, really I don't, but didn't you think at all about this possibility since you say he has been applying for jobs back home for at least half of your relationship? "He has been randomly applying for jobs in his home country for the last 1.5 years." Did this topic never come up between you?

There's a missing piece here, for sure. I am not sure if their future was just never discussed, or if autopilot/inertia kicked in, or if OP has been scared to consider (or ask for consideration of) a bigger commitment.

That said, OP may have indeed been thinking about it and knowing it was coming for a year and a half, but that doesn't necessarily make it hurt any less when it actually happens! (You can tell me beforehand that I am about to get punched in the face, but it probably still hurts like the dickens all the same once it happens.)

which support groups are for encouraging adjustment, and which are for venting? Sometimes one needs one or the other.

It can be hard without being there, for sure, since sometimes all it takes is one person (on on particular day) to change the vibe (or discussion topic!) of the entire group. For groups that are run by a mental health professional, there is usually a pre-screening interview beforehand that would help suss that out. For groups that meet on their own, sometimes it might take just showing up.

Sounds like you're not open to moving to Belgium with him ... or are you? As Andrea says - time for some in-depth communication.

Yes, I am so curious!

The waffles alone make for a notch in the "pro" column.

There is an aging couple in my neighborhood who seem to have a variety of health and also mental issues. They have no outside connections. I am not friends with them but I and others have observed behaviors that tell us they need psychological help and also have medical issues whereby they really need to be in assisted living and can't take care of themselves. The physically declining one can't understand what his/her partner is declining mentally. They may both have some aspect of dementia. With no network, how can these people be supported? They really need professional help in short term, and in near-short term need to move to a place who can take care of them. Thanks

I am hopeful we will get some specific suggestions for resources from the other chatters, but my first instinct is to see what kind of senior services agencies exist in your area. Most jurisdictions have offices devoted solely to this purpose, and since they don't seem to have many outside connections or relationships, the level of decline could be even more worrisome.


Hi Dr. Andrea, I seem to be a bit of a "social chameleon," in that I adapt and change depending on the friend group, work team, or partner I am with. I know in some instances this can be a positive attribute, but in most cases I am left without my own identity and feeling lost. Do you have any advice for how to hold on to my own identity, values, and way of interacting with others to make myself more consistent?

I think it depends on where you are in the process of knowing what those values and identity are, yourself. If you already know pretty strongly, then the next step is to do the emotional math on why some of those attributes are getting drowned out in certain situations, which "fake" ones may be taking their place, and how you could create a road map in the moment to let your true voice be louder. For instance: "I feel myself being meek and docile in this conversation, whereas I'm not a meek and docile person. It may be because I feel intimidated, or like I don't have as much to contribute. Next time I'm in this situation, I'll have a couple of topics or stories that I'll have prepared as go-to topics that will help me steer the conversation a little bit more."

If you need more help actually finding out who you are, then that takes a bit more work (but can also be pretty exciting.) There are all kinds of personality and values tools out there to start exploring, to see what resonates most deeply with you, what values you want to live out, and how you want to be, when you're out there in the universe.

Google Council on Aging for your city or county. They can often provide different levels of assistance from house cleaning to meals to possibly help on moving to assisted living. It varies by community and how well they are funded.

Exactly the specifics I was hoping to hear about. Thanks!

This. Call your city department of senior services or department of health, or go to the county if you don't live in a city large enough to have one. There will always be social workers on staff who specialize in geriatric issues and are also prepared to deal with homelessness, should it come to that.

Yes. Many thanks!

DOn't forget the chocolate and the frites.

For sure. And, of course, the Brussels sprouts!

Belgium is not BF's home country. She doesn't say what his home country is. Plus, she may have a career that is not easily transplanted, or that she wants to transplant, etc.

Yup, that is true. Though I did gather that Belgium would be closer to BF's home country than the US is.

But I admit to a raging curiosity about whether an international move for OP is completely off the table.

Hi, Doctor. First: I renewed my Post subscription because you are still here. Second: My best friend has been married for over 25 years to a man I know very well from before I met my best friend. For the past 20 years at least, she has shared her deep unhappiness with her husband in conversations and email with me. I've tried to listen with empathy and offer suggestions and my personal views only when specifically asked. She shared with me recently that the husband told her he had decided to use their resources to pay completely for his 4 grandchildrens' college and advanced degrees. The grandchildren are actually step-grandchildren from his only child, the daughter from his first marriage. He had this decision without consulting my friend. Their resources consist mostly of assets she has earned and invested in for her retirement. The grandchildrens' parents both have well paying jobs and family wealth. My friend planned to retire within the next five years. If she accedes to her husband's actions, she faces never retiring. I could not keep silent. Unasked, I told her exactly what I thought: that she should see a lawyer immediately. I am afraid I also said way too much that I had remained silent about over the years. She reacted with hurt shock. I am now afraid I've injured our friendship. I love my friend dearly. I don't know what to do. I should do or say nothing more on the subject, unless she brings it up. But I have the feeling that a chasm has opened between us,. From my viewpoint she is putting herself in terrible jeopardy financially. That is her right, I know. How can I best be her friend now? Thanks.

It is clear you care about her a lot, and I truly believe that that will take you far. Friendships can sustain a lot of bumps in the road when there is love, respect, and empathy.

So, put it out on the line. Part of the problem here is that you didn't quite mince words before, so now's the time not to mince words-- but do it in the opposite direction.

"Fran, I said too much the other day, and I am so upset that I hurt you. I blurted out my response without thinking how it may have come across. It was a knee-jerk reaction as I worried about you, but I see now that it wasn't helpful. I've always tried to listen and be empathetic without judgment, and it seems I failed this past time, because to be honest it's been hard to hear some of the ways that you've been unhappy. I know there's no perfect solution here, but I want you to know that I'm sorry. I also am having a hard time with my own anxieties about your situation. Can we talk about this?"

How does that sound?

(And thank you for the support, by the way!)

There should be one in your area (the name varies slightly from place to place, but those words should be in there) would be a good place to start. Your local mental health association may also have resources (a volunteer guardianship program, for example) that could help get your neighbors on the right road once they are made aware.

Many thanks!

Are you out there, OP?

Please read Michelle Singletary, and ask this in her Thursday chat. You and hubby have to get on the same page financially. I'd suggest get rid of credit cards and agree to a monthly allowance for each of you and anything big has to be agreed on together. Good luck!

Excellent suggestion.

I have a hunch about Michelle's potential response.... and I need to remember to bring popcorn!

Hi, I know this is more of a parenting question but I'm struggling with what to do. My daughter just started middle school. She is quite shy and I don't think she's really made friends yet. She auditioned for the school play, which I think took a lot for her to do in front of others. Getting into this play is very important to her. I also think it will give her an opportunity to meet like-minded kids and it would be a huge confidence boost for her. This is the first time she's really putting herself out there for something like this. The teachers who conducted the audition do not know her, so they don't know how shy she is and how badly she wants to be part of the theater community at school. Would it be wrong of me to send an email to the teachers before the cast is selected to share this with them? I'm torn---I want my daughter to succeed (or fail) on her own and I know that disappointments are part of growing up, but to me it seems like this could set the tone for the rest of middle school for her. Do I need to keep out of it or is it ok to let them know how much this would mean to her? Thank you.

Setting the tone is important here-- but I think you're only thinking about it in terms of your daughter.

Setting the tone-- and precedent-- as a parent is important too. An email intervention runs the risk of making you "that parent" and arguably isn't fair to the teacher (or to the other kids whose parents aren't specially advocating for them), to put them in that position. But an even bigger issue to me is, you'd either be doing it secretly behind your daughter's back (not good), or you would be making it seem to your daughter that she can't handle this herself-- whether getting the role on her own accord, or managing the fallout of not getting a part. The way I see it, she has just started middle school. She's got time and room to succeed and fail and find herself and discover and pick herself back up.

It was a huge thing for her do to the audition. That is a big step in the direction of growth. I say, let the growth continue by letting her live her life and soak it all in without your trying to alter the path.

(I certainly empathize with your instinct, though. It's very common and understandable.)

I'm an ugly crier and I can get ridiculously over-emotional. Luckily it doesn't seem to phase my husband. Perhaps this should be a test: how do you react to me ugly crying?

Yes! This is a great point. The ugly-crying shouldn't be deemed bad simply because it seems unacceptable to Boyfriend. It's all part of the larger question of what these communication issues are all about. Thanks!

My daughter has been very angry with me since I told her two months ago that I had posted a cute video of my granddaughter on Facebook after she had asked me not to post any photos or videos of her on Facebook. She is justifiably angry. What must I do to get back in her good graces? Apologizing only seems to stir up the discussion again.

Well, have you truly apologized? Sometimes things get stirred up again because the apology was an apology with, I dunno, a barnacle attached to it that was problematic.

"I'm sorry I did that, though I still don't think it did much harm."

"I'm sorry I posted that, but I wish you'd reconsider."

"I'm sorry I posted that. I just wanted to share my love for my grandchild, and is that so wrong?"

Do you see how those barnacles sully the whole apology, and practically beg your daughter to defend herself once again?

That said, if the apologies were pure, then I think you get to move on. Try to start fresh and trust that your actual changed behavior, in time, will do the trick. Initiate new contact and conversation about happier things. Make plans. Video-conference with your granddaughter. If her anger is still so obvious, address is once more: "I hope you know how truly sorry I am. Period. I wish I would have never done that, and I can guarantee you that I won't ever make that mistake again. Now. What can I do to get us back to where we were?"

"Sure, honey. And what will you pay the next credit card bill with?" I'd be talking to a divorce lawyer.

I know your vote!

It's your job as a parent to help her see that "setting the tone" is not set in concrete. To help her see that any problems she has with this audition are not the end of the world. It's not to swoop in and alienate her first middle-school teachers right off the bae.

Great point. Thanks!

If she doesn't get a part, she can still be backstage. There are so many interesting jobs (lighting, costume etc) and it's almost a better way to be part of the theatre community.


I was just talking to someone the other day whose daughter absolutely fell in love with being part of the stage crew, after having originally been heartbroken years ago that she didn't get a part in the cast. Now she can't imagine doing anything else and is happy as can be.

If OP gives her daughter enough space, then the answers she finds will truly belong to her.

Encourage your daughter to stay involved even if she doesn't get a part! Costumes, set building, props, stage management, it takes a village to get a play mounted. I didn't get my first part either, but took them up on their offer to get involved backstage, and 20 some odd years later those are still some of my best friends.

Yes!! I love it. Thanks.

Hi Dr. Bonier, I am so glad you are still having the Tuesday chats. I was wondering if we will still get the Monday column like we used to? Thank you.

And thank you-- though unfortunately no answers on that front yet. (Might that be an answer in itself? I hope not!)

 I will definitely keep everyone posted as soon as there are any developments on the Baggage Check front. Speaking of which, apparently it's not uncommon for people to pass it by because they assume it's a travel chat. Did that happen to any of you?

My first question is: did the grandparent immediately delete the video from Facebook? If it's still hanging out there, that's the first step in making amends.

Ooh, good point!

another option for seeking therapy is, if the disability has a related association, they may have resources for you to look at. And your primary care doctor (or whoever is treating you) can also offer suggestions.

Great suggestions. Thank you!

Did you take the post down? If not, you can apologize until you turn blue and it still won't help. First fix the obvious thing, then apologize without barnacles (love that turn of phrase).

Yes! That is an excellent point that several of you have swooped in when it didn't immediately dawn on me. Thanks.

And here's to removing the barnacles!

Re the first poster: What are they doing about retirement money? If she was planning to use her inheritance to help with her (or their) retirement, and he wants to wipe it out, the long-term consequences could be catastrophic for both of them, and particularly for her. (Retirement comes faster than anybody expects; I speak from experience.) A lawyer might advise her to start setting up separate accounts now and conceal them from hubby, in case she decides to cut the cord (which sure sounds inevitable).

Thank you for this. I agree, things could go seriously downhill very quickly, even if it seems they have plenty of financial security on the surface.

Dr. Bonior was spot-on in suggesting that you stay out of it. But as a former theatre kid, I would add that, should she not be cast in a role, I am sure there are opportunities for backstage involvement in sets, props, costumes, stage management, etc. And, by participating in those, the daughter gets to know the other kids, and the teachers/organizers. Plus: it's really fun!

I can't help but post these, because the enthusiasm from all the former crew kids is so contagious! Thank you!

Please don't be a helicopter parent, or worse, the snow plow parent. Be supportive and have lots of hugs ready if the audition does not work out.

I think we have a quorum!

I wrote in a few months back when my mom refused to talk about moving her and my dad to be closer to my sibling. Long story short -- the move is happening this month and they're both really happy about it now. It just took some time for her to come around and realize that we'd be there with them to get everything done (and we have been, so far at least), and also just to process this big life change. Thanks to you and other readers who helped me see that pushing them too hard wasn't going to get us anywhere and would just be painful for all of us.

Oh, this is so great to hear-- and so thoughtful of you to write back and let us know.

I have a feeling this will provide a ray of hope for many people in this tough situation! Much appreciation.

If your daughter doesn't get a part, encourage her to join the backstage crew, helping to make props and sets. That way, she can still be part of the theater community. Also, it's no big deal to not get a part the first time you audition. She can see how the theater department works, find out what is expected of actors, and be more prepared next year.

Yes-- it's like a rehearsal for the future. It's not by any means for naught.

Thank you!

I have apologized most sincerely. I think it's part of a larger issue. Her dad is a kindly uncle kind of alcoholic, and I feel like I've been held to a higher standard. When I screw up, I feel it terribly. I will take your advice, though, and move on and let her move on too.

Got it.

Ugh, that sounds like it hurts-- that double standard. And I am sure that makes it even tougher when you feel like you're not being forgiven. But taking ownership of it and respecting her views going forward will help this heal.

Please do update us.

It's home to the European Commission, so perhaps that has something to do with the BF's job-hunting.

Ah. Could be!

They could make a report to Adult Protective Services as well, especially if they feel like they are in danger from neglect (not eating properly, not taking meds, fear of leaving a stove on, etc.). That might be helpful, in that the neighbors may refuse any help from social services. APS has no power to force services on people deemed to be mentally competent but it may be another way to impress on them the dire straits of their situation.

In certain situations, I could see where this could come into play, so it's good to keep in mind. Thank you!

I have three kids, young adult and teens, and two of them have depression and anxiety. They both are now in talk therapy and are on medication and it has helped, but there are still significant issues that are require attention. A couple years ago my marriage reached a crisis point and husband and I did go to counseling and got our relationship back on track but I very recently found out my husband has his own mental health issue which could potentially undo everything we have worked for. He is now seeking treatment for his issue and I’m glad of that but it just seems like it’s one thing after another. I work part time in a service profession so even at work I have to help others with their problems. I am just so overwhelmed by trying to help everyone else—I don’t even think I can help them very much anyway. I cannot turn to my extended family for support because they have been through so much due to the illness and death of a close family member. Ideally I’d see a therapist but with three already seeing therapists (plus psychiatrists) , it would be difficult to afford it. That sounds like a lot of excuses, I know. I did sign up for a meditation class in hopes that will help but I am drowning and I wish everyone in my family else could swim on their own for a bit.

I know just how draining this can be-- and I see many people in similar situations. You are giving everything you've got to everyone else, and you've got the chronic soundtrack of worrying about your loved ones who are struggling with some issues that not only require your attention in the moment but are probably scary and disheartening at times. And now there is a new challenge with your husband's mental health.

So, taking care of yourself is probably about Number 37 on your list of priorities, meaning you will get to it.... when we all are driving spaceships.

Look, I get that adding a fourth therapist to your roster could make your bank account scream in agony. But you've got to do something. So I think that the meditation classes are a good start. But what do YOU want? What makes YOU feel good? How do YOU like to spend your time? Are there creative pursuits you enjoy? Are there friends who make you laugh? Are there ways of moving your body or being out in nature that give you a mood boost? Are there books or TV shows or podcasts that put you in a different mental space and open up your world in a positive way?

Yes, I do think therapy could help (and there are definitely low-cost options out there.) But I also see a more general theme of needing to carve out more space for your own well-being and enjoyment in your daily life, period. It's not about just checking off a bunch of psychologist-sanctioned tasks for self-care. It's about listening to yourself about what you want, and how to make an oasis that belongs to you alone. You most certainly deserve it.

Just another thing to consider: Is this part of a pattern? Are there other instances of you undermining your daughter or crossing her boundaries? I don't want pics of my kids on social media either and I would also be ticked if you did that to me, but I probably wouldn't still be mad two months later unless it was yet another example of you violating my clearly-defined boundaries.

Yes. This latest thing could be an isolated incident, or it could be the straw that broke the camel's back and symbolic of a problem that seems anything but solved.


Did you immediately take down the video? And why did you do it in the first place, in defiance of her request? Think about that. Do you think you can just say "sorry" for a violation like that and have everything be OK again? Your daughter probably thinks you're going to keep on crossing boundaries and then apologizing, instead of doing the hard work.

A little more pointed than the previous, but the point is a valid one!

As a retired teacher, let me say that if I received such a missive I'd be inclined to blackball your kid from the production (unless for some reason she totally "knocked it out of the park" on her own merits), because if you send this you'll be tarnishing both of your reputations.

I didn't want to speak for teachers, but I did wonder if this was a distinct possibility! Now it is confirmed. Thanks.

Absolutely! I took down the video and quit Facebook immediately! I've been back on Facebook for a few weeks now, no photos or videos. I see so many grandparents and parents posting lots and lots of photos of their beautiful grandchildren, and I'm a little envious, but at the same time I know that anyone with a cracked world view can use these same photos for their own sick purpose. I won't do it again. . . Thanks so much and I will keep you updated.

Thanks. This is good to hear.

Yeah, it's not even only about the risk of predators taking the photos, as I see it. There's a larger philosophical issue about gifting your kid the autonomy to build their own online identity someday, not having it ready-made for them already through someone else's lens. And respecting their privacy, not making them feel like they are living out a life to be narrated for others.... I'm not trying to imply that one video is the end of the world. More just that I can definitely see the wisdom in your daughter's policy.

Sacrificing that luxury vacation sounds like a good place to start.

Yes, although I suppose they both pay the price for that. When will Husband himself take on the sacrifice?

But also Pommes Frites (preferably with mayonnaise or aïoli) are in fact originally from Belgium.


Clearly, we chatters are ready to move to Belgium, even if OP is not. 

And maybe he's just a gigolo that doesn't care if he bankrupts them. He sees a pile of gold on her side of the table that she's not sharing. Of course she needs to punished. Cut her vacation. Notice it wasn't his spending that got cut.

Yes, that last line is the problem as I see it as well!

Not that I am co-signing on the gigolo accusation, though it's true he may not give a flying fig if he drives them into financial ruin-- and that's a problem.

Theater kids are awesome, and not all of them are on the stage in front of the audience. If she participates as crew of some kind, she will be an important part of the production. And she maybe will find a supportive social place for the future.

The people have spoken! Thank you!

You have to start tending to yourself and creating space for yourself. Outdoor walks, journaling, meditation, yoga (good for your body and the mind-body connection). Are you open to things that will shift things in you? Yes it's internal work, and that's not always easy but that will give you to the tools to step forward with clarity and equanimity.

Thank you. Yes, I'm hopeful that the meditation class can open a bunch of additional doors for OP as well... but she's got to be willing to carve out the time and space for it.

Progress! Now if they will bring back your column, all your peeps will be happy.

As would I! Thanks for the support!

Dear Dr. Bonior, I have no question but I do want to thank you and several of your readers who addressed me in the after-chat. I'm not exactly sure when I wrote (or how I signed) but it was probably some time more than 18 months ago. I'd lost my best friend and soulmate almost immediately after we'd retired to a new city and state where we knew no one. I saw no reason at all for not walking my husband's ashes into the ocean and staying there. (We'd no children, my support network on both coasts and Europe, but none closer than 300 miles. And I really had no interest in being so alone without him. But I'm writing to let you know that with time, my life has changed for the better. I have a small circle of friends, I am politically active and volunteer for both non-partisan issues as well as partisan. And because travel was one of our dearest delights and I didn't want to relinquish it, I've just returned from my first solo venture to NYC to fill up on good theatre, which I did (after adjusting to the absurd ticket prices.) It was a lovely trip, but did have its lonely moments -- especially during meals. My next goal is to see the aurora borealis, perhaps from Greenland if I can find warm enough gear for sub-zero temperatures! I still talk to my husband and doubt that I will ever stop. Sometimes, I even fuss at him! (What were you thinking packing THAT?!) But my feet are on solid ground which I couldn't claim during the first two years after his death, and I'm okay. Still, missing him feels like a raw and festering wound and I don't know if it will always be such. But thank you and your readers for your's and their's kindnesses. It made a difference.

Oh, this warms my heart more than you know! Thank you so much for writing. How much you are to be commended for taking things one step at a time, building something nourishing for yourself. You felt so alone a year and a half ago, and yet now you have begun to make such meaningful connections to others and to the world at large. And what a world it is. (Even when it costs a bit too much!) I love how your relationship with your husband has not ended even though he is no longer on this Earth-- your relationship, and your love, did not have to die with him. And how beautiful that you have found a way to live that out.

Solid ground is a pretty big deal. It can help sustain the wounds when that wound feels unbearable. And when they are at their worst, you see now that you are not alone, and never will be.

Thank you again, so much, for writing back.

That’s where I always used to find you, before the Great Baggage Check SNAFU of 2019. SO glad to know you’re back where you belong (with Carolyn Hax, Megan Leahy, Miss Manners, Karla Miller, etc.) — keep on truckin’!

Aw, thanks!

The Great Baggage Check SNAFU of 2019-- love it. Well, didn't love being in it. But the name is good!

Since you had the letter about fathers and daughters sharing sleeping arrangements last week, I have a semi-related question. I live in a very small space with a double bed/no couch and my dad is about to visit me. I really don't need an extra bed for anyone else (mom just sleeps with me) but would it be weird if we just slept in the same bed? I'm trying to track down an inflatable twin to use or maybe just sleep on my camping gear but would this really be that weird? I grew up taking long RV trips so I have been in small quarters with my parents before. It's two nights. I guess it's a little weird but also a little weird to be like "Here is my Appropriate Floor Bed, Father." Any thoughts?

Your last line made me laugh!

I think what's missing here is what your Dad would be comfortable with. Ultimately, it's also about him as a guest, right? It's only weird if one of you actually finds it weird.

Now, would the weirdness just be compounded to ask him?

"Dad, you know how my space is really small, with just the double bed. I know we've done our share of RV trips when I was a kid but we're obviously both much older now. I am happy to hunt down an inflatable twin bed that I can take if that would be most comfortable for you-- would you prefer I do that? I'm really looking forward to your visit, by the way!"

Life raft, I am so with you. I had one blissful year a few years ago when NO ONE in my house was depressed. I don't mean to sound cavalier; it sucks, doesn't it? All I can tell you is NOT to do what I do. Don't limit your friendships and other relationships because you feel that you have no extra emotional energy. Don't pass over that job you want because you feel you need to be closer to home in case of emergency. Get your own oxygen.

Thank you for this empathy! Though I am so sorry that some of this wisdom is so hard-won.

Geez, chatter. Just let your parents have the bed, and YOU (the host) sleep on the floor on an air mattress.

Well, I think that was what she meant by "MY" appropriate floor bed. That she would sleep there.

She's just wondering if she needs to bother, since she and Mom already share it when Mom visits.

Just letting you know you're back on Advice's main page website - so glad to see your name back amongst the other advice columnists! That feels promising as to the future of your weekly chats too!

Aw, thank you! I am relieved to hear they plopped me back in there. For now, we've got a couple of months and then we'll see!

Hooray! You are back on the Advice section of the WaPo online edition!! Is it wrong of me to latch on to this as a small speck of proof that speaking up en masse can still result in positive policy change in this strange incomprehensible political world we seem to now live in?

hahah I certainly hope you're right!

Individual voices can matter!

Many thanks-- for all of it!

You. Need. More. Sleep. I don't know you, but I promise you need more sleep. Your whole family probably needs more sleep. Therapy and meds are super-important, but everything about your letter is go-go-go and people just can't heal that way. I struggle with depression and anxiety, too, and I keep a sleep diary. It's amazing to see how closely my mental health tracks with the hours of snoozing. Can you set a house-wide bedtime policy? And stick to it?

This is such an important point. I swear we could have a whole chat on the importance of sleep-- cognitively, physically, behaviorally and emotionally.

Thank you!

One thing to keep in mind is that he spent money you set aside. He knew that money was there and why you set it aside and effectively spent it, without consulting you, assuming you would pay.

Good point.

And this could indicate anything from a serious impulse control problem to a total disrespect of her wishes to anything in between. Thanks.

No, OP had no intention of sleeping on the floor on an air mattress.

Well, her whole question was whether or not she should GET the air mattress, right? That was what she was asking. But if she got it, then she'd be the one to sleep on it.

My take, anyway! Though I may not be working at full mental capacity since I'm also now wondering when and how to (sadly) shut this thing off myself!

The poster refers to "hunting down" an inflatable bed. It's not like it's hard. They are widely available, including at Walmart and Target. Be sure to get a pump too.

True, but I wonder if finances are an issue. Especially given that we're already talking about a very small space.

You are doing a great job! FWIW, you seem to be posting new material at a faster pace than your assistant did - I don't know if that's due to there now longer being that additional interfacing step, but if it's partly fear you aren't doing it "right" feel free to slow down a bit!

Thank you!

Yeah, Rachel had a beautiful pace. I am just sort of going, to put it in official clinical terms, "willy-nilly."

I suspect I will get it sorted out in the coming weeks!

I'm not being flip. I note that quite a number of psychotherapists also bill themselves as "life coaches," with additional certifications or memberships of various kinds. Is therapy basically about adjusting attitudes and perceptions, or does it have a concrete role in practical matters? If someone is depressed because, say, they can't find a job and their bills are stacking up, or they have a chronic illness that they know won't get better, do you have anything to offer them?

It's a very legitimate question. In my experience, life coaches (and I'm talking about the legitimate ones-- the shadiness of some folks CALLING themselves coaches while having the credentials and experience of your average oak tree are a whole other issue) are more concerned with immediate, concrete specifics. They can be cheerleader and tell you what to do. They will work on specific things in a very short-term way. That could be very helpful for some people looking to make specific changes.

Why you've had problems making the changes in the first place is part of the reason that therapists exist. Maybe you simply aren't able to be motivated or cheerleaded (cheerled?) Maybe that's because there's depression, or anxiety, or long-standing dysfunctional cognitive patterns. Maybe there's past trauma you've never dealt with. Maybe there are complex interpersonal patterns that are toxic, or maybe there's ADHD. Life coaches can't really take that stuff on.

So I'd like to think I and most other therapists can offer both. We can dig deeper to the root of the problem, increase the insight, treat the dysfunction, AND offer some concrete, specific steps that make the person accountable toward meeting their goals.

Well, I just looked outside, and fortunately I hadn't inadvertently blown anything up! But the clock is telling me it's way past time to stop, though, which stinks.

Thanks so much for being here today, and for your patience as I learn to fly solo. I am already looking forward to being back next week. In the meantime, please do connect on social media and in the comments.

Be well!

In This Chat
Dr. Andrea Bonior
Dr. Andrea Bonior is a licensed clinical psychologist and the voice behind Baggage Check since its start in 2005. She serves on the faculty of Georgetown University and is the author of the Publisher's Weekly best-seller "Psychology: Essential Thinkers, Classic Theories, and How They Inform Your World" and "The Friendship Fix.”
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