Carolyn Hax Live: 'Rage and anguish'

Sep 28, 2018

Advice columnist Carolyn Hax chats live every Friday at noon to answer any questions you might have about this strange train we call life.

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Hi everybody. 

There is so much rage and anguish in the queue that I freely admit I'm not sure what to do with it.

I'm just going to air it. You all deserve that.

I'm sure I'm not your only reader who is struggling in the wake of the Kavanaugh hearings. Memories of an assault. Of feelings of fear and shame and embarrassment and despair. Of deciding whom to tell, what to tell, when to tell, how to tell, whether to tell. Of unexplained bursts of rage. Of carrying on as though nothing ever happened. Of waking up crying, even years later. Of sucking it up and being strong. I'm sure I'm not the only one. What advice do you have for us, aside from trying to limit our exposure to the news and to social media and to those who would blame us for somehow putting ourselves in that situation, or chastise us for not reporting it at the time (and shoving the article by Elizabeth Bruenig in their faces)?

This one? LINK Or this one? LINK

Advice to come, collectively--I'm not ignoring your question or your pain. Sharing it, in fact.

Like most women who’ve been assaulted, I’m having a really hard week. I was raped by my boyfriend in college 25 years ago. I reported it, I went through therapy, and I’m no longer haunted by the event. But this week I'm haunted by him. I don’t want to think about him, what he’s doing, where he lives, if he’s got a family. But I couldn’t help it and Googled him last night after the hearing. I couldn’t find anything except his profession, but now I’m thinking, would I have the strength to step forward if he were poised to assume a consequential job? Moreover, I dont want him thinking about me. Even the notion that he’s remembering me and, worse, commiserating with Kavanaugh because he too was falsely accused makes me ill. And I don’t want to step away from the news because I’m a woman, and Kavanaugh has the potential to have a huge impact on my life. And I need to hear that there are a lot of people like me and supporters of people like me out there. So what do I do with all this?

Hi Carolyn, My personal and professional life have been trying this past month, and the political climate this week has broken the dam. I'm quite angry. I don't have time for much self-care - I basically have enough time to care for my child, work and sleep. (I am divorced, so no other adult at home.) My question is this: what do I do with the anger and sadness? It really feels like no one has my back. Thanks for any suggestions.

Hi Carolyn, I was sexually assaulted three times in my life, and raped once. One sexual assault happened when I was a child. Two were in high school, and resemble what Dr. Ford has alleged the supreme court nominee to have done. The rape was in my twenties. I knew all of my attackers, not that it matters. I'm not sure any of the people who did this to me would agree that it happened the way I allege. I have no proof, and I have never come forward. I have been having a very difficult week. I have cried almost every day. You need to understand that, ordinarily, no one would have ever guessed any of this had happened. I am well respected in my field. I am positive and enthusiastic. But this week has been different. I feel like I am still the 16-year-old girl who had her head slammed into a car window because she wouldn't let a 16-year-old boy grope her. I don't know what to do. I want to scream, at the top of my lungs, to every male within 5 feet of me, that I have been abused, and that I don't give a flaming pile of poo if they don't believe me. And when I say "I want to" do this, I mean I have to physically STOP myself from doing this. I feel like I'm losing it. The anger is swallowing me whole. I'm sure you'll say to go talk to a therapist, and I do on occasion and will continue to. I have not told her yet, even, about what happened. It didn't seem like it was a factor in my life, but this week has proven me wrong. Any other advice?

I feel like I'm losing my mind with the Kavanaugh nomination. That women don't matter in this country. I have a lot of stress in my life and I feel like this is pushing me over the edge. What do I do?

As a woman of a similar age as you and Dr. Ford, Is there any benefit to sharing what happened to you in college and high school with spouses and adult male children? (Female children I would not hesitate to discuss) I am not sure how the events affected me but remembering and to a certain degree reliving them this week has been difficult. Am I perpetuating the idea that we shouldn’t speak up because the consequences may be uncomfortable if I don’t say anything? I think my husband would want to know what he could do about the situation or why I am telling him now. I do not know what I would tell him.

This week has been a dark and dangerous place. Very few people know about my past assaults - my therapist knows of them all, as does my husband, and I recently told my brother about a childhood assault that I don't even fully understand yet, but haven't been able to bring myself to talk to him about my adult assaults. All the hashtags...every time I see "why I didn't report," I think about how I DID report but yet nothing happened to my much-older supervisor that put his hands under my bra and groped my breasts when I was barely 18. His boss just made it disappear and convinced me (through the much-older woman that I reported it all to) to let it go so that my father wouldn't "kill him." (Everyone knew each other.) Meanwhile, my father did find out about it (not from me) and did NOTHING. I see "I believe women" and I think about how I didn't even consciously understand that I had been raped for decades because I blamed myself for getting blackout drunk and felt ashamed when I woke up with a coworker having sex with me - I assumed I had consented. I DIDN'T EVEN UNDERSTAND that I couldn't possibly have consented. I didn't believe MYSELF. I woke up in the dark in my own apartment with that man on top of me, who quickly finished and left, and I felt awful about me, that I was the sluttiest of whores. My last memory before I blacked out was of pushing his hand of my knee and telling him I didn't want another drink and I BLAMED MYSELF. I don't even know if I want you to publish this and I don't have a question. I'm in therapy. I just needed to write it to you. Thanks for always being here, Carolyn.

I am here, a lot of us are, more than you know. I hear you on not being sure you want this published, but your story is worth saying out loud. If you decide you want it taken down, I will take it down. 

I just need to tell all the other women out there who are like me: You are not alone. I was assaulted 42 years ago, when I was 15. It wasn't actual rape, so I didn't say anything. To anyone. For 42 years. I just carried it around inside of me, letting the trauma continue, unacknowledged, unabated. Ironically, the week before Dr. Blasey Ford's story broke, I finally told my therapist. Forty-two years later. But not too late. You are not alone. I believe you.

Thank you for saying it here. 

I think this gets to the answer to the question all of these posts are asking--what to do with all of this anger and sadness and frustration? At least, the closest we can come to an answer in the moment, and that is, stop carrying it around inside you. Tell someone, cry on someone, teach someone. Hug someone, even when it's you who needs the hug, because that's taking action on something you need in the moment and something we all need--less walking around alone in this, and more openness about what fair treatment and respect for human dignity actually look like. 

And if you've already told, cried and taught, then trust that and let time do its healing. And when you're ready, if you're ever ready, keep teaching. If you don't get there, that's okay, we all have roles to play.

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center at https://www.nsvrc.org/, and the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN) at https://www.rainn.org/get-help or 800-656-HOPE (4673).

Yes, thank you.

This week has been a cluster of emotions. As a person who has never come to grips with my rape, or filed charges, the anger and vile that has been spewed out at these women angers me. I want to yell at the top of my lungs - I had a rape kit performed - do you know what it feels like? Imagine being the crime scene on CSI - people won't look at you, you are told what to do where to move, people touch you with only rubber gloves and you can't bring anyone in with you or they will become a witness - how do you drag someone else into your night mare. I know I'm not alone, and I know there are groups but at the same time I hate myself even more for not being able to just move on.

No, no--this is not your fault. This is not your fault. I'm sorry current events have hit a raw nerve. The crime, not your reaction to  it, exposed this nerve. Please don't brush past "I know there are groups"--make the call. You deserve every bit of the support they have to offer.   

So many of us have these stories. We said yes or didn't fight him off because they were bigger and stronger. My first month at college: cute guy I had a crush on invited me to his room. Unbeknownst to me he also invited his friend. They were football players. I was much smaller than them so was raped. I still live with the feelings of guilt and shame and have told no one who it was.

Please let's break this down: You feel guilt and shame for--here is exactly what you did--finding someone attractive and trusting in the general goodness of people, vs. not anticipating this person was a predator. 

Believing in human decency is not something for which you should ever feel ashamed. It is an inner light. That it cost you in this instance is a mark on them, not you. I hope you will talk to someone so you don't have to carry this alone any more.

Carolyn, I love your column and chats. But I come here for a break from hard news, not to read it all over again. How many times are you going to field the question about how to handle this administration and the news? How many letters will you get in the holiday season about getting along with family who votes differently? I am not saying this in support of this administration and anything they’ve done. I do not support them at all and actively vote, volunteer, and donate elsewhere. I would appreciate a break among the fray.

Thank you, I appreciate this perspective. And I have been careful, or so I thought, to leave current events out of this space. I agree it's important that people feel they can come here and not get hit with the same stuff that stressing them out everywhere else. Even the questions about handling the news and relatives with different views are ones I've selected and answered for being representative, not specific to any political side or element of the news. 

But what I do--the very essence of my job--is give advice to people struggling with personal problems, and this is an individual, personal problem that has erupted in so many people that it is a collective outpouring. It feels obtuse, or even disingenuous, to pretend it isn't happening. 

I hope you'll accept today's discussion as an exception, because that's what I intend it to be, and either ride it out or opt out.   

Thanks for weighing in.

with the memory of the moment in high school when my father asked me to show him my breasts after I had been working on my tan in the back yard? I said no, never told anyone, and never let myself be alone with him again. He's dying now, and I couldn't be happier. How do you tell anyone this?

You just did. I am so sorry this happened to you. If you'd like to talk more about it: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673). That's the number for RAINN. 

This week is bringing up some very raw memories for me. Being groped on the bus. Being groped on the train. Sexually assaulted by my mentor. When I told my father about the assault, he told me it was my fault. I used to dream about justice finally getting my assaulter. After watching Dr. Ford's courageous testimony, I finally worked up the nerve to look up the guy who assaulted me. He is now a professor at an Ivy League. I cannot help but wonder if he "mentored" anyone else since then? Should I have told someone? Who, if my own father said it was my fault??

There's no "should have"--you are where you are and there's no changing what is done.

But you can tell someone now, and I hope you do. About the sexual assault and then the emotional assault that followed it.

You might find encouragement or connection in the work of Deborah Copaken, who writes (with white hot fury) for the Atlantic now and Back Then was my freshman roommate. Here's her most recent: LINK

Any advice today for not blowing a gasket while watching the news today? It is not in my DNA to just ignore the news.

Then don't. Feel it as much as you think you can stand. Share with people you trust. Take care of yourself as much as you need until time does its restorative thing. 

That's really all. Just screaming into the ​void here.

Amen.

No, leave it up. It felt good to see it published. Thank you.

High-fiving my screen. 

Thank you.

Thank you, too. 

OP here: The second one. About the girl who DID report being raped and what happened/didn't happen. Thank you. Thank you for giving us the airtime. We need this.

You're welcome, glad to help, and thank you, too.

Thanks, Carolyn, for giving an outlet to this rage and pain. I am sitting here crying over the first few posts you've shared, and I'm sure this is difficult for you too. Thanks for being the sounding board that people need right now.

It'll only be difficult if it doesn't move us forward. 

Plus, I needed a cry. Thank you right back.

Can we get a (virtual) group hug? It's been a rough week.

Hug received and returned, thanks.

I'm going to get a glass of water and change the subject. Deep breath.

My wife thinks I'm direct to the point of rudeness when I ask nearby fellow audience members to shush up during a performance, movie, etc. ("Excuse me, please stop talking."). She doesn't have an alternative script, however, and being less confrontational in general than I am would rather I try to bear it, as she does. Any suggestions on a middle ground?

The talkers during a performance are the rude ones, so I think "excuse me" and "please" are all the kindnesses they're due.

But in the interest of marital harmony, I suppose you can turn it into a question and add some anticipatory gratitude: "Excuse me, would you please be quiet? Thank you."

 

Hi Carolyn, I’ve been teaching myself my husband’s native language with books and tapes so that I can speak with my older in-laws who know limited English. They are flattered by my efforts, but they over-correct me when I try to converse with them. While they can understand my rudimentary sentences, they launch into a long explanation about how my sentence could be perfect. But I’m not shooting for perfect yet, just participation. I end up feeling discouraged when the conversation focuses on my mistakes, which I know isn’t their intention. This is my third language, and I learned my first and second by diving in and speaking like a toddler before naturally picking up more complicated words and structures. How can I ask them to give me a break while also appreciate their efforts to help me fast-track to fluency? My husband is supportive and encouraging; I’m just not sure how to ask the elders to forgive my mistakes and keep the conversation rolling. (Btw it’s an obscure language and finding a local tutor isn’t really an option.) Any ideas? Thank you!

Can you learn, in the new language, a phrase that more or less says, "Thank you for your help, but I will learn faster if you let me make mistakes?" Or, even better, can you husband use his fluency to explain this to them on your behalf? Not the part about your feeling discouraged, but the technical part about how you are most comfortable learning a new language, and how the longer corrections are not as helpful in this early stage you're in.

If going that route isn't promising or practical with this crew, then your best option is probably just to power through this awkward stage, and smile and nod through the corrections. Eventually you'll get where you want to be, with their help or without it.

Hello Hax! From reading your columns and chats over the years, I've understood that to keep up any sort of relationship that sometimes one side has to bear the burden and keep on "talking into the void" even if they may not get a response. My question is: How long do I keep this up? I'm never had a close relationship with my brother but we've always kept in contact but it is is always me reaching out - via calls, text, emails. After 37 years, I've had enough. I know if I stop, it will be him responding probably once or twice year (if I'm lucky). So do I let it go and stop trying?

There's no set time to stop. The only thing that matters is whether you think the energy you're investing is (still) worthwhile. Some people can keep "talking into the void" for their whole lives, just on the chance they will eventually break through--and often they choose to do that so they can feel certain they did all they could.

Others will not see the value in doing that, and will come instead to a point where the steady effort to make contact feels more harmful to them than the idea of letting go--with each attempt at contact serving only as a dispiriting reminder of what they don't have. 

Either choice, to keep it up forever or drop it, is as valid and justified as a person deems it to be. I wish I could give you a more definitive answer, but it's really your math to do.

I’m 32, married with a great wife and a 2-year-old son, and my life is pretty good except for my so-called father. He left me and my mom alone when I was just a baby and she struggled to raise me and make ends meet our whole lives. I think the hard life wore her out and was one reason she died of cancer at age 41. My dad has been contacting me recently, apologizing for ghosting us and wanting to meet me and my family. I think it’s because he turned 50 this year and realizes he burned a lot of bridges and is facing a lonely old age. It's all too little too late if you ask me but my wife is encouraging me to give him a chance pointing out that I really don’t know his side of the story and don’t have much other family. What “side of the story” could explain away leaving a 17-year-old girl alone with a baby, never calling, never visiting, never a penny of child support? I really just want him to stay away and reap what he sowed but I wonder if someday I’ll look back at this missed opportunity with regret. How do you decide if the risk is worth it when dealing with something like this?

This is a similar answer, in that there's no right way to handle it. You are fully entitled to ignore your father's entreaties, and also to listen to what he has to say.

You also don't have to agree to anything your father asks just because your wife wants you to. Hear her out, of course, but it's your life and your decision.

All that being said: You can agree to hear his "side of the story" with no further obligation to you. You don't have to find him sympathetic, you don't have to introduce him to your children, you don't have to let him any further into your life than you choose to. You can still leave him to "reap what he sowed" after you hear him out, if that's what you believe is appropriate given the information he shares.

Just something to consider. If you're so inclined, a session or two with a good family therapist could help you sort through this decision.

 

My daughter was an exchange student; we took in a young woman from another country during that time. My daughter loved that her host mom never spoke to her in English, but did speak slowly and simply in the native language until she got up to speed. I realized I was doing the same thing with English for our exchange daughter. Minimal corrections, lots of talking. I agree that the husband could explain to his family.

A dear friend died, very unexpectedly, earlier this week. The service is coming up, and I expect it will be an open casket. I plan to go, but I have serious anxiety issues about seeing a dead body. I know that this isn't about me and my comfort level, but I have concerns that my anxiety will get the better of me. I want to make sure that this terrible, awful day will be about the family getting the comfort they need, not me. There's not enough time for me to see my therapist about this before the service. Not going isn't really an option for me, either. What can I do, short of averting my eyes from the coffin?

I am so sorry about your friend. That's enough in itself.

Others may have different experiences (please do weigh in), but I have found every time that the casket was positioned so that viewing the body was a choice. So, you might actually be on to something with the "averting my eyes" plan. Generally people in the funeral business are the most sensitive and discreet you'll find anywhere--their livelihood depends on it. In fact, I expect you can call the funeral home handling the arrangements (it is often in the obituary or death notice) to express your concern and find out what to expect.

I have a friend who suffers from a mental illness. Medication does not seem to make a difference. My friend is a good person, but difficult. I want to be a good friend, but sometimes I feel used. I need help figuring out where to draw the line. It’s not their fault - it’s brain chemistry. But sometimes I wonder how much is under their control. I cannot give more than generalities, but can you help?

I can try. 

Often when you're not sure where to draw lines, it's helpful not to look at the other person for answers--does s/he do this on purpose, is it the illness talking, etc.--because these are often unanswerable. What you can know, almost always, is where your limits are. What situations with this person are okay? For how often, and for how long? What situations aggravate you?

Taking these as a whole and then developing a plan--a very specific one, including frequency of contact, types of contact (text, phone, in person, in your home, in their home, at a neutral site), etc.--is a way you can remain involved with this person's life but not get overwhelmed by it. You can also tweak the plan as needed.

Dear Carolyn, My fiancé and I want a small, backyard wedding with about 75 guests. My grandmother has a huge yard that would be perfect for our wedding next spring. I asked her if we could get married there and she said yes, so I was very excited to start planning. Then last weekend I had lunch with my sister. She told me that our grandmother is too old and isn’t well enough physically to get her house ready to host an event like this so our mother will be doing most of the work. I told her it was an outdoor wedding, all we have to do is get some chairs and everything will work out. My sister started telling me I have to plan for parking, bathrooms, permits, chairs, a tent for bad weather, alerting the neighbors, hiring a lawn company to fix up our grandmothers lawn and I’m sure I am forgetting stuff. I just wanted a simple backyard wedding and my grandma agreed to it, now it feels really complicated. I am upset with my mother and sister for inserting themselves into something that ought to be between me and my grandma. How can I get them to back off?

You can't, or shouldn't, because they're absolutely right. The "simple backyard wedding" you have imagined is imaginary. People -do- need to park, sit, go to the bathroom, stay out of any rain that decides to fall. Neighbors do need to be notified. 

And, 75 people will trash the lawn, which will need to be repaired, unless you're okay with running a human stampede through your grammy's yard and just leaving it as they leave it.

And, people at backyard weddings always end up in the house. Even if you provide port-o-potties, as you have to for 75, a bunch of people will say "yuck" and use the house bathrooms. People will use bedrooms to change, or living spaces to have private conversations, or they'll come in to nap or nurse babies, or whatever. Forget the propriety of any of it--it's just a given that it might. And your not wanting it to be so is not a plan to prevent it.

So, if you're going to use this home and its yard, then you need to embrace the full responsibility of it--professional yard work before and after, potties, parking, permits and permission, tent, professional housecleaning before and after. Or, you cut the guest list to 30ish. Or you move to a park or other venue with built-in shelters, parking and sanitary facilities.

But you don't dump it on others and/or disbelieve what you don't want to hear.

Dear Carolyn, I cried after reading your response to Sunday's letter ("As sisters clash over emotional support, Mom needs to step away"). One of my first memories is my mother asking me to be the responsible one: If I just said or did what my sister wanted, then she wouldn't throw a tantrum. My sister was 5 years old at the time; I was 4. We're in our mid-forties now, but in the eyes of my mother, I am still The Responsible One and my sister is the One Who Faces Challenges And Needs Support. Don't think I am not sympathetic -- my sister probably had ADD/ADHD as a child and was bullied for years, not just by peers but also by her teachers. It is difficult to overstate, though, how intensely damaging this dynamic is. It has taken me years to see that my feelings matter, too -- and only after a string of dysfunctional-to-downright-abusive relationships that nearly drove me to kill myself. But, perhaps it is my sister who has suffered the most from my mom's "protection." Because she feels others are responsible for how she feels, she has difficulties maintaining friendships. She has never had a romantic relationship, and she even lost her job multiple times because she expected her co-workers to fix her feelings for her. And because her sense that others are responsible for how she feels is affirmed by my mom again and again, she doesn't see a need to change. I think the root of the problem is rigid ideas about who each person is. My mom views every situation through a lense of my sister needing support and me falling short in providing it (as my sister will have a tantrum at some point anyway, no matter what I do). But life is not so black and white, of course. For one thing, I need support, too, sometimes. For another, my sister is much more than someone who needs support. If only my mom lets her be. Enabling is not Helping

This is eye-opening, thank you. It is sometimes unnerving how harmful a person's good intentions can be.

I'm glad you came to a point where you were able to see it all so clearly--not just for your own sake, but also for others in your life (and reading your words now), who I'm sure benefit from your wisdom.  

Husband, wife, and wife's dad live together. Wife is in the bathroom, naked, getting ready for work this morning. Husband asks politely to come in briefly, wife agrees, husband comes in, does what is needed. Wife is facing the mirror, doing hair things, hands occupied. Husband walks out, leaving the door wide open. Wife squeaks in dismay, "Close the DOOR??!!" Husband takes offense. "You could have just closed it yourself ..." (It's a small bathroom, door is within reach of wife standing at mirror.) Wife points out Dad lives here too, his bedroom door is next to the bathroom. Husband says, "It's just your *DAD*..." [because it's okay for middle-aged woman to flash elderly dad??! Ick.] Depending on the nature of mirror activities - hair, makeup, contact lenses - it could have been two seconds or 90 seconds before wife even realized the door was wide open. It wasn't too likely that Dad was going to stroll past right, but it's still a house where other people live. Husband thinks wife was a brat for snapping at him, and not just closing the dang door herself. Wife thinks husband was inconsiderate for just walking out leaving her naked with the door open.w both are offended and think the other owes them an apology. CH and Peanut Gallery input desired.

Person leaving closes the door out of respect for naked person. Duh. All he had to do was say, "Oops, sorry!" 

Question now being, why didn't he/won't he do that?

I've read over the past hoots before asking, and I think this is a new conundrum / maybe just a thing to laugh about? Caterer royally screwed up, most meat & fish was uncooked. Not under, un. So, refund. Yay! (because no one ate, no one got sick) Except some not-close-to-us guests, friends of parents, have heavily insinuated that we should refund them for the dinner they left the reception early to get. Which on is own is eye roll, whatever, not Worth It. But the 'tude plus the fact that they also went to a fancy restaurant and spent fairly more than our per-person budget... We're real disinclined. Parents have offered to support our decision, but if we do it, it's for their sake. Thoughts?

Oh for fox's sake. No, you don't have to reimburse guests for their meals after a caterer fail. Gracious people would understand--without even having to think about it--that their hosts paid penalty enough, and then some, for having their event ruined.

What is wrong with people.

My daughter just started fifth grade. We decided this year to allow her to walk home instead of going to aftercare. She is alone for 1 to 1.5 hours until I get home from work. We worked up to this amount of alone time over the summer. Both she and my husband and I are comfortable with her ability to handle this. She calls to check in when she gets home, and there are two neighbors who are home if she needs back-up. The problem is my mother-in-law. She disagrees with this decision, and she is undermining it. This is the third week of school, and she is showing up at my house every. single. day. to "help" us by watching my daughter. Our conversations about this boundary-stomping behavior have gone badly thus far. She cried and lamented that her granddaughter is becoming a "latch key kid." I tried to remain calm, and explained that this isn't some sort of last resort, it is a conscious decision to foster independence. My husband followed up with the same conversation, twice. She is just ignoring us and showing up. I'm at a loss. I can't tell my daughter to slam the door in her grandmother's face. I don't want to put her in the middle. Ideas?

And in other what-is-wrong-with-people news:

You might need to interrupt the arrangement for now, temporarily, by returning your daughter to aftercare and letting your MIL stalk an empty house, long enough for her to stop showing up. It's just too much crazy and too much interference to let stand.

Once she has backed off, then you have some options: Continue with after care, try the independence plan again, or arrange to have your MIL stay at your home with your daughter for the hour and a half in question.

Which may seem like rewarding her for the crazy boundary violations, but that's what the aftercare "reset" is for. It's saying that you decide this, she doesn't.

The X factor her is your daughter. What does -she- want? Aftercare, MIL, independence-building exercise? If she wants the independence, then return to that after the aftercare reset and don't tell MIL your plans.

 

 

I'm going to try to be succinct, but I may fail. My first marriage ended, a spectacular shock to me, when I was 34. I would have done anything to make things work, but was deprived that option. Today I'm with a solid guy I love, we have a 4 year old. It's not perfect, but its my family and I would do anything to protect it. But I see it happening again. The connection is fraying, the conversations are fraught. We both seem to have more anger and resentment with one another then love. And we are SO. DAMN. TIRED. There is no fun or joy. I don't even know if I am an actual person anymore, just a collection of things that I haven't managed to do or do well to keep life moving forward. I am ANGRY all the time. Even at my little guy, I find myself being more physically rough then I intend to and I hate myself for it. We're not going anywhere, both of us are too loyal and scarred from our first divorces and love our little guy too much. But I now see that its possible for a marriage to end/die even when you are still in it. Help.

Please get some help immediately, before you harm your child, physically or emotionally. Talk to your son's pediatrician about resources for managing your stress and improving your parenting and communication. Like, call right now. Part of any good pediatric practice is supporting stressed-out parents. The hotline for Childhelp,1-800-4-A-CHILD, is another resource. It's a nonprofit dedicated to the prevention of child abuse. Because the health of the child is inextricable from the health of the family, this is the most direct route to covering all of the bases you need to cover. 

Take the steps, please, and take care. There's no shame in asking for help, and it it not unusual at all for parents to feel overwhelmed.

I took myself out for ramen for solo lunch today. It’s like getting a hug from a bowl of soup. Appreciate the mounds of support coming from the ‘nuts and a reminder that even small things count as self care.

"A hug from a bowl of soup." I feel lucky to have readers who are such good writers. Thank you for the lovely thought, too.

And thank you to everyone for stopping by today, for bringing your questions and support and stories and rage and tears and skepticism and all of it. You're the best. 

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Carolyn Hax
Carolyn Hax started her advice column in 1997 as a weekly feature for The Washington Post, accompanied by the work of "relationship cartoonist" Nick Galifianakis. The column has since gone daily and into syndication, where it appears in over 200 newspapers. Carolyn joined The Post in 1992 as a copy editor in Style, and became a news editor before turning to writing full-time. She is the author of "Tell Me About It" (Miramax, 2001), and the host of a live online discussion on Fridays at noon on washingtonpost.com. She lives in New England with her husband and their three boys.
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