Carolyn Hax Live: (July 17) An origami crane of sadness

Jul 17, 2020

Advice columnist Carolyn Hax took your comments about her current advice column and questions about the strange train we call life. Her answers may appear online or in an upcoming column.

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Hi everybody, happy Friday.

Carolyn I'm struggling with some things and not sure what to do about it. My husband and I are in our 40's and have done multiple rounds of IVF but fail to become pregnant. Now due to my age it's going to be almost impossible. We're tossing around the idea of adopting in a year or so however I'm worried about the lack of "bond" I might feel and if my husband would have resentment (I don't think he would) but worry that he might feel it's not "his". My parents adopted 2 boys when I was in college and 1 I feel is a brother but the other I have no attachment to. This could be because of the things that 1 brother did (theft, drugs, lying). I remember when my parents adopted, my now-father-in-law basically criticized my parents and said some pretty hurtful things. I do worry he would throw that in face as well.

My dad and brother on the other hand  are super supportive and were the ones to suggest adopting. My dad is willing to go as far as help out financially.

How do I get over the feelings of a possible lack of bonding or feeling that an adopted child isn't mine/husbands? I know some people are totally against adoption but for the wrong reasons.

If you're serious about this, then your next step is counseling through a reputable adoption resource. Talk this stuff out with the people who work with families like yours every day.

As for your concerns that you're bonded to one brother and not the other, remember, that happens in biological families as well. Believe me. There are no simple attachment guarantees, where bio = strong and adoption = shaky. Strong and equitable bonds of all kinds include some chemistry and some commitment, and good parents are mindful to keep the levels where they need to be.

And finally, for the people who aren't receptive to the family you build through adoption, make it easy--don't reserve any of your family's precious time for them.

It's hard, obviously, to envision a future where key family members aren't a significant part of your life any more, but their not liking your children practically does the hard work for you.

My boyfriend and I have been together somewhere between 6-8 months (we met 8 months ago, became exclusive 7ish months ago). It's going great. I am really happy with him. He makes me laugh, he takes care of me, he's responsible and kind. Because of COVID, I've spent at least 3 weeks with his immediate family at their vacation home, and it's gone really well. But our biggest worry together is that our timelines don't match up. His general stance on relationships is to just wait, and take as much time as possible. He's 32. I'm 33, and feel differently. I feel confident I would be happy with him long term. I am ready to move in, would like to be engaged within the next year and half, and then marriage and kids. He wants to get married and have kids, but he wants to date for 2-3 more years of dating, be married for 2-3 years before having kids. I understand that... but I'm worried about my own time. If we don't start having kids until I'm 38/39... will we be able to have kids? Will we be able to have more than one kid? What kinds of issues/fights/problems will it cause if we waited to long to have kids but we both want them? I know he sort of grasps that, but he says he can be really stubborn and not sure if he can change his own mental timeline. He also tells me that he thinks if we did break up, it would be something he regrets "for the rest of his life" and "the biggest mistake" he'll ever make. I don't understand how if he feels like it would be a huge mistake, why can't he compromise and work to speed his timeline up a little bit? I'm OK to slow things down somewhat, I also have told him I will happily move to his hometown to be close to his family for the rest of our lives (even though I know no one there). I am willing to compromise but he seems to be a little stuck. Should we break up if our timelines don't align? We've started talking about all this, but how can we find a successful compromise?

A man who thinks it's a good idea to date a 33-year-old woman for three more years and then wait three more years beyond that to start trying to have children is a complete knucklehead.

I started to write an answer that reflected the intricacies of your question, but changed my mind.

If he is committed to remaining on the knucklehead path because he has defined himself as "really stubborn" and is so locked into that self-conception that he can't even envision getting out of his own way, much less yours, then I don't see this going well for you. 

I'll say in the interest of fairness: At 6 to 8 months, this whole discussion of permanence would be premature for most couples (some just fit, so I won't discount them). But all he had to say to you about that was, "I understand the issue of kids is time-sensitive, but I also don't want to rush anything--I'm enjoying getting to know you at the pace we're moving now. Please be patient with me and in return I promise I won't drag my feet."

But instead he gave you schedule salad. Ugh.

So, what's my advice ... call out the salad for what it is, and give him a chance to give you an adult answer. If one is not forthcoming, then, you stay at your own risk.

My husband lost his job almost five months ago now. While I didn't expect him to get a job right away -- Pandemic, his age, his position -- I did expect him to be getting some interviews. Nothing. He and I talked about it, and it he admits isn't trying as hard as he could. He's looking for the "right fit" which I appreciate. However, I feel with the economic climate, his age, his field, he should just be looking first for a job that he can do, and then, once working again, keep looking to find a job that rings all his bells. Which he agrees he should be doing. We have talked about it 2-3 times. He continues to say "I need to do more" but then I don't see him doing more to find a job. I'm not hoovering or nagging -- I've got my own work to do. He's actually got lots to do as he's volunteering, has hobbies, and he's picked up household chores that I had been doing. My workload has actually been reduced since he's been unemployed. However, I do not want him to be unemployed, I do think if this continues it could trigger a deeper dive into depression, which he is prone to. How do I support a job search without being a nag? I feel annoyed that he knows he should do more be he is prioritizing other things over finding a job.

One question: Do you need the money?

If not, then, is it possible he has found a happy place for himself, since he is "volunteering, has hobbies, and he's picked up household chores"? Looks pretty good to me, TBH.

Maybe it does to you, too, and you foresee feeling resentful if he gets to (functionally) retire while your job carries both of you, in which case, you need to say that at some point. But if it's genuinely just that you worry about his mental health, that might be a problem that he doesn't need employment to solve.

And if you do need the money, especially over the long haul, then give my answer the mental eraser and let's start over.

I guess where this leaves us is with a general answer: There are a few issues here that don't appear fully sorted out in your question and possibly not yet in your own mind. So, that's where I'd start: Figure out what your concerns are specifically, in your finances, in his health, in your feelings. Then start to think through possible answers to that, including how flexible you (and he, and your household) can be as those answers play out. Then talk to him about what he thinks, and what your place might be in the process. 

I have been hanging out with my parents during the quarantine. There's nothing new on tv so there's be a lot of talking about the past. My parents are married over 40 years now and while I love them both, I am cognizant that we all have our limitations and that they have theirs and I mostly just try to work around them and meet them where they are and accept it. One of those limitations is that they will tell me constantly how much they don't like each other since I was in at least middle school. They feel very comfortable telling me all this stuff (that they never share with my sister for some reason). I get that they need to vent. But also, cumulatively this has really done a number on me emotionally and it continues to every time they engage in this behavior. This weekend, after a trip down memory lane, my dad started in on my mother. Again. He had spent the day obviously upset, sulking, and refusing to admit anything bothered him and then he got me alone and started going in on my mom. After 2 hours, he said he felt much better. The next night, he said he felt better and started talking again then said that I wasn't making him feel any better anymore. I lost it. I told him I'm his [expletive] daughter, not a [expletive] therapist. I'm not here to make him feel better. "If you're so unhappy and you hate your life so much, go get divorced because I'm done, I don't want to hear it anymore." Now he's even more upset, sulking, and refuses to come in the house. My mom is genuinely concerned he's having a health issue. I apologized for being mean and nasty with him, I feel terrible like if I had just kept my mouth shut he would've been in a better mood already and we could've moved on from this, but he said he's deeply hurt and he doesn't know how/if he'll get over it. I'm just plain tired and feel like again this is a fight I caused or prolonged and should've just fixed.

But ... you did fix it! Finally. You fixed it. 

The only healthy response to parents who are dumping their marital complaints on you is: "I'm your [expletive] daughter, not a [expletive] therapist."

It was a thing of [expletive] beauty.

You were even right to apologize for "being mean and nasty," because as richly satisfying as your delivery must have been for you, it was an emotional outburst and adults apologize for those. And, it was a byproduct of your *not* saying what you felt for years and years, stockpiling rage and resentment, which is something else adults need to learn not to do. But you have a huge mitigating factor here, that your parents were not healthy emotional examples for you.

So gather up all of this, step back, and take a good look at the family landscape: You were raised to be the moderator for your parents' marriage, which was a profound disservice to you; you experienced higher than usual exposure during quarantine; this pushed you to your limit, and you said, "Enough." You now are straddling the line between knowing how wrong it was for you ever to have been given this role, and feeling an urge to make it all nice and okay again (even though it never was). It's your conscious mind vs your emotional reflexes, and you want your mind to won.

Please don't go back to the appeasement side. You made the emotional accomplishment of a lifetime in holding your father accountable. Keep going now, please, and pull yourself fully onto the "I am not your therapist" side. 

A therapist for you would make sense, if it's at all feasible in these conditions. There's a family system that will make it hard for you to opt out. But you see it now, so now you can.

Last thing: There is no such thing as having seen all the TV. Is there? It just doesn't seem possible.

 

If your hubby is prone to depression, and he's been unemployed for several months, there's a good chance he's already there. "Deeper dive" is irrelevant. Please both of you consider some screening, counseling, etc. I've been in exactly his shoes.

I realize mine is but one experience and all are different, but I never felt a strong immediate parental bond to any of the four children I birthed. I distinctly remember the doctor plopping each baby on my chest and thinking “oh hello there stranger!” I felt protective, and the beginnings of love, but I’m convinced they could have put any baby on me and I’d have felt the same. I never once felt this is MY baby that the universe has ordained for me. You will be that child’s parent from day one because you want to be. The rest is up to chance anyway.

This is greatness. Thank you.

Your role is to name the problem you see: "I do think if this continues it could trigger a deeper dive into depression, which he is prone to." and asking him what he thinks, and what steps he/you can take if things seem like they're starting to slide that way. You are expressing annoyance but what your post shouts to me is fear of something that you won't have any ability to do anything about if it happens and you have good cause to be worried about. But it's his mental health, and it's a thing that he can do something about - and that's what you really want to know. That he recognizes the potential danger, and has some plans for staving it off if it starts to become an issue.

I am 65 and would probably dump my boyfriend except for my belief that the chances of ever replacing him are slim to none. I was online for many years (with no good results) before we rekindled an old romance. I reached out to him on Facebook. I hadn't seen him in 30 years. We had lived together for one year back in '83-'84. For the most part he's a good boyfriend (affectionate, very helpful, generous, great sex partner, cooperative, funny) but when he's angry, he becomes verbally explosive and abusive. The things he says suggest he really doesn't like me, deep down. I'm very middle class, white collar, professional, highly educated. He has a high school diploma and is in construction. We have value differences that I believe make it hard to get along at times. That being said, as wonderful as I think I am, I don't believe I would find someone else at this age, as I've tried and it didn't happen. If I leave him, I'd give up a good sex life, a help mate, someone who "has my back." Essentially, I'd be alone. Which typically is OK with me, but as I get older I think it might be of benefit to have someone in my corner. (And yes, I know people die.) We tried couples therapy and he walked out during session 6. He's now in individual therapy. I've had a therapist most of my life. As I write this, it seems like I need to ask myself, can I tolerate his tantrums on occasion to compensate for the all the benefits of the relationship. And did I say, he's very handsome and I enjoy just looking at him? Too good to leave? Too bad to stay?

There's an icky film that wants acknowledging--he's verbally abusive but, gosh, so hot?--and now that I've done that, I'm going to talk about something else.

Any time you're telling yourself to take a bad relationship because it's the best you can do, you're killing your soul a little.

Since you used the bus metaphor, I'll say where the bus metaphor is useful: voting. Take the bus (candidate) that gets you as close as possible to where you want to be, knowing perfection is not an option.

But when it comes to your companionship, commit to living your best life. That means asking yourself: Are you better for having this person in your life, or worse? Do you like yourself with this person, or not? It's about the value of what you have, in its own right, not its value relative to something else. It's the latter that brings the ick.

Daughter, I understand more than I have room to say in this forum. Remember one thing: the sulking, the "silent treatment," "not knowing if he can forgive you" etc. that your Dad is engaging in now is abuse. You are being abuse. Carolyn made a comment years ago about the silent treatment being abuse, and it changed how I allowed people (including my Dad) to treat me forever. You were good to apologize for the outburst, but hold your ground on playing therapist. Boundaries aren't cruel. They are a gift to yourself, and whether or not they see it, to your parents, too. Don't back down. Good luck.

My ex said the same thing for years before we split. I have no idea if it's true, and I don't care. But those declarations didn't stop him from letting me go anyway.

Right. Thanks.

Like it's her job to keep him from contradicting himself into an origami crane of sadness.

I'm this person and would also love an answer to that. I'm full on into the nag role at this point but it's been over twice as long and yes, we do need the money and yes, depression is involved and yes, it's being treated. But I am still so very tired.

I'm sorry. Depression is so tough on the caregivers and bystanders, and of course they feel bad for that because they know the depressed person still has it worse.

NAMI might be a useful resource for you--NAMI.org or 800-950-NAMI. The help line and other programs are for people with mental illness and for their loved ones.

One of the most liberating epiphanies of my life was realizing (well into middle age) the emotional immaturity of my parents and how I was used as an appeasement tool my entire life. Part of that dysfunction is installing guilt buttons, too. Do everything you can to stop them from activating the guilt buttons and carry forward with your newfound outlook. You will likely have backslides. Totally normal. But please remember to keep moving forward for your own well-being.

Adoptive father here. I can tell you that I could not love my daughter more had I somehow borne her myself (which would have been really painful, as I think about it). With that said, please allow me to drop the other shoe on your foot. My (now ex) wife never bonded with our daughter, even though we adopted her at 14 months of age. By the time my daughter was 5, she was telling her mother that she should leave. When she was 10, I was divorced and the court had given me full custody and primary living arrangements. By age 16, she was telling people she had a father and an ex-mother. By 19, she was telling people she was close to her father but had never even had a mother. Now 22, they have spoken once in eight years, not at all in three years, and she is changing her phone number to prevent her ex-mother from texting her. In other words, there are no guarantees here, and if you go into this thinking you might never bond, then you will never bond. Please work with both a therapist and an adoption social worker to closely examine why you want a child, and look into your heart and ask yourself this; if you saw a child who was alone and scared, could you take them in as your own? If you hesitated in answering that, please do not adopt.

Also great. Plus, heartbreaking and uplifting in one punch. Thank you.

Have I thanked you all lately for what you add to this chat? Have I thanked you enough?

Most of the needs you mention sound like they could be met by having a good friend, but without the added abuse and belittling your current partner seems to bring with him. You say that you want someone in your corner, but it sure doesn't sound like this person is in your corner at all.

I've come to a reasonable place with regard to this whole quarantine thing. My husband and I had some issues originally but those are getting worked out, I'm still working (from home) full time with great job security, I have a quarantine bubble with a few close friends, I'm fostering cats which has helped keep me sane. But the feeling that I just want to scream or release a bunch of energy has been increasing. It's like I've been using my indoor voice for the last many months, and now I need to run through a fountain screaming like a 3 year old, just to remind myself that the whole spectrum of emotion and activity exist. Any suggestions on how to do this in a world that's still locked down?

You can't get outside, even? That's been my answer. I bike. With a mask on if I'm on roads or trails with other people around.

Shortly after I started doing that, I saw this: LINK

There needs to be a Dutch word for people who look for Dutch words to explain themselves to themselves.

If getting outside isn't realistic given who or where you are, then I'd go with any kind of resistance exercise, maybe order a set of hand weights. Laughter is another good one, so use your streaming algorithms to find comedies that work for you--or, watch whatever gives you the emotional release that feels necessary. To give you an idea of what I mean: When my kids were little, I felt so weighed down by being so *careful* all the time. Had to do it in writing all day for a living, to choose my words, and then all the time in my down time. So I started watching "House" after they went to bed, for no other reason than the fact that the main character was openly hostile. It wasn't a perfect answer to what I needed, but it was a form of release that was available.

 

May or may not be useful to the OP, but I'm someone who has been out of work for the last five months and it's been the best possible thing for my mental health. I'm getting more sleep, getting more exercise, eating better...and not really looking forward to the job I got but probably didn't look hard enough for. Might not be your husband's situation, but please make sure you're seeing how he's really doing and not just your own lens.

Thanks, this expresses well what I was wondering. 

Slightly different scenario here, but in the 90s I had friends who had been dating a few years. She was ready to commit to him but he was comfortable with where things were. She told him, "Look, I'm 30 and I am ready to get married. I love you and I would like to marry you. I understand that you are in no hurry, but I am not getting any younger. I would appreciate it if you would take the next six months to think about whether you want to marry me. Because if you don't, I'd like to know so that I can move on and find someone who wants to marry me." It did not take six months. A few month later he proposed, she accepted, and they have been married nearly 25 years. Some would say that was an ultimatum but I always looked at it as just laying her cards on the table. I would say that LW is not at the point for quite the same conversation my friend had, but it might be time to lay her own cards on the table. Something like, "I envision a future that includes marrying a man I love and having children. I have grown to love you and I can see building that future with you. But if that is to happen, we can't do it on your timeline. I'd like you to take xx months to think about whether you'd like to be part of my future. Because if you don't, I probably need to move along and find someone who does." Because that's really her reality at this time and he needs to understand it. If he wants to marry and have kids on his timeline, he needs to think about dating a younger woman. If he wants to marry her, he needs to think about adjusting his timeline.

Technically it's an ultimatum. I think the take-X-months-to-decide element, however, negates the most harmful part of an ultimatum, which is the pressure to make a decision Or Else--which always seemed to me as a dubious foundation for a marriage. Thanks.

However you go into parenthood you have to be ready to answer the question: 'If this relationship, if this child, isn't what I want it to be, will I be kind and generous anyhow.' My sister was adopted and I was biological, and my mother later admitted that she had terrible guilt for not particularly liking my sister, until she had me and didn't like me either. She only really learned to love us when we were five/four respectively. We never suspected until we were adults and my sister was worried she'd not be a good parent. Mom said that, 'Whatever you don't love about your child is your problem. Your job is to make sure it's never their problem.'

Is it wrong that I laughed out loud at, "until she had me and didn't like me either." I'm going to call your mom when I have questions.

A Joe Dator cartoon from the New Yorker for the person who needs to run screaming in a fountain (btw, can you just go do that?) 

Over 3 years ago, my son was widowed and left alone with his 3 children, ages 8 - 14. I moved in and helped care for my grandchildren, kept the house and basically enabled him to hold his life together. Last year he started dating a nice woman and it was so great to see him happy again. The woman is 35, the youngest of a large family and lived with her mother until her mother died shortly before she started dating my son. Because of this family dynamic, I assumed that she would welcome me staying on after the marriage. They both work and I can help so much, especially after they go back to work in their offices and possibly have a baby. The wedding is planned for this December and my son initiated a discussion about me finding a place of my own. I presented my case for staying on but my son told me his fiancee is looks forward to running her own household after so many years living with her mother. Now I feel like I’m being punished for the sins of a dead woman, whatever they were. I want to love and welcome my new daughter-in-law into our family but it’s hard when she’s kicking me out. Am I wrong to feel this way? How can I possibly look at it in a different light?

Your son and his new wife absolutely, completely deserve space to create their own household and methods and customs and rules. It has nothing to do with wanting or not wanting you personally. 

They are asking for a reasonable thing that would reasonably be asked of any relative (or even roommate) already living in the home they're about to share. A woman who had not lived in a crowded household and who had not always lived with her mother would reasonably ask this. If I were in her place, but coming from my own home after years of living alone, I would ask it.

You are undergoing a loss, yes, and it will sad and painful and scary for you to move out. I have complete sympathy. I'm spelling out the reasoning so forcefully only to demonstrate how you can "possibly look at it in a different light."

Whatever you do, do not, do not, *do not* freight your fledgling relationship with your soon-to-be daughter-in-law with your wounded feelings. Instead, I urge you to find someone outside the family to talk to--ideally a therapist, but, if that's not possible, then a friend you can trust *not* to encourage you to keep taking this personally. Someone who can love you and support you and still be able to sympathize with your son and DIL-to-be as they embark on this loving but already quite complicated path toward a blended family. (Please think of that, by the way, as a factor--a new marriage, a mother's death, children likely still grieving, people in new roles as stepparent and stepchildren. This is a lot to navigate already.)

Tell your son you're sorry you pushed back--if you can do so honestly--and that you're in this to welcome a new member to the family and to love and support them as they need you to love and support them--and if that means moving out, of course you'll do it. You will stand ready to help them out from there.

Say it aloud to yourself a few times if you have to, over a few days or weeks, till you can mean it. It is your way into this family, not out. Take care.

 

 

If money isn’t a pressing problem, your role is to not dump your anxiety on your husband about him getting depressed, never getting a job etc. while he is already shouldering the burden of fighting off his depression while looking for work during a pandemic with record high unemployment. Most people are not hiring right now. They are trying to figure out how to not let people go. He is volunteering and relieving you of household work. That sounds like he is doing great in these circumstances.

Thank you for this! I think as a mom I've tried to live it - but seeing it articulated like this is really helpful. And I really did not enjoy babies (loved them - but did not enjoy them) Am actually enjoying quarantine times w/my teens/young adults - so many interesting conversations.

Isn't it great?

of Parents and Boundaries seen as an (immature) but understandable reaction to her father's dumping on her? Has anyone considered that Another Bus's BF - "affectionate, very helpful, generous, great sex partner, cooperative, funny" - maybe is in a similar dynamic as Parents and Boundaries daughter is? Giving too much to someone who takes and expects more? Another Bus touts her credentials ("very middle class, white collar, professional, highly educated") as proof that they don't have shared values since "he has a high school diploma and is in construction." Seems to me, his values of being giving are far superior to hers of just hanging onto him so she won't be alone in old age. Yes, LW says "when he's angry, he becomes verbally explosive and abusive" but when does that anger happen? I'm not trying to justify his response. It's wrong, and I hope in therapy alone he realizes he deserves someone who values him for more than the ways he serves her. (FWIW, I've been accused of the same when I would attempt to stand up for myself in a very lopsided relationship with a self-centered and self-serving partner. As I healed through therapy, I started reacting more appropriately and maturely, and finally realized I deserved to be appreciated for more than just how I well I revolved around his life.) Maybe the reason Another Bus hasn't found someone else - "as wonderful as I think I am"- is because others can see her selfishness and steer clear? Another Bus condescendingly describes his outbursts as "tantrums". If we didn't jump to conclusions based on HER description of things, we might see a very different story playing out.

This might be so, but there's a huge problem with the logic. Daughter had one outburst that we know of, to people with a lifetime of authority over her, which they abused, and she is struggling with that and with finding an emotionally healthy path. The Another Bus guy is in a relationship of equals, supposedly, and having a pattern of recurrent outbursts. There's a lot not to like about the Another Bus relationship politics, but to the orange of the dysfunctional family triangle, it is an apple.

Through having her own abode, Grandma would be in a position to provide a welcoming space for her grandchildren if there is a bumpy transition with the new stepmother.

Right, yes, magic. Thanks for seeing that.

You say kicked to the curb, I say liberated. You’ve done a wonderful thing for your son, and I’m sure he appreciates it, as do your grandchildren - but think of what you will now be free to do for yourself, and I mean really think about it. What have you not been able to do, all the years you’ve been caring for others? What will it be like to put yourself and your needs first? In other words, don’t focus only on what you will be “giving up” so that your son and new daughter-in-law can start a new life together (which they absolutely should do), focus on the new life that will be opening up for you. If you think of it in one way, you and your new daughter-in-law have something in common, you have both devoted your lives to the service of others - but you’re now getting a chance to live life entirely on your own terms. Try to see the possibilities in that, even as you also acknowledge the sadness you are feeling.

Your new daughter in law is a saint. She just took care of her dying mother for however long that took while holding down a full time job. She is marrying your son and, thereby becoming a stepmother to three children. All she wants is to be the actual second caregiver/parent in the house as she and your son and your grandchildren make a huge adjustment. And "staying on" is exactly the same as "barging in" in its final effect. Would you have shown up on the doorstep of your son and his first wife and demanded that they let you live with them? Then you can't refuse to move out when he weds the second.

Just saw this posted on Facebook. Iceland has a website where you can record yourself screaming while pretending you are in their beautiful country. https://www.afar.com/magazine/iceland-invites-the-world-to-scream-it-out

I can get only so frustrated with humanity when stuff like this it out there. 

How does one bring up the fact that they and a friend played a “game” as children (4-5) that involved inappropriate touching? It has definitely affected my lack of interest in intimacy. Husband and I are in couples counseling, but I just can’t seem to admit out loud that it happened 42+ years ago.

I'm so sorry that happened. Can you get into individual therapy, where it would be, I'm guessing, easier to say this?

Also consider that you did admit it, just now. That can be an important start, since now you've said it "out loud" in a way you felt you were able to. Next, you can say it to a hotline staffer, maybe? Since it's anonymous and you can hang up if you want to. RAINN is 1-800-656-HOPE.

It's okay to take small steps toward acclimating yourself. You're okay.

And I feel better

Me next.

That's it for me today. Thank you everybody for stopping by--especially since it means we all held it together for another week, right? Even managed a few moments of joy, love or grace, I'm guessing, or a chocolate substitute thereof. Yay us. Have a good weekend and let's scream it out again here next week. 

You didn't mention much about this "game" or how/why it has affected you, and if it was negative and has traumatized you I am absolutely not trying to minimize that. But if it has affected you more because of conflicted or ashamed thoughts about something that you came to see as inappropriate later, you should know that plenty of children around that age play "games" like that while trying to figure out the world around them.

Thank you, you found a way to say it that I couldn't on the fly.

I'd recommend doing this from a parked car so you don't frighten people or pets. ��

Preferably your own car.

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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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