DEAR MISS LONELY HEART: Six hours after I broke up with my girlfriend, she had already packed her bags and left my apartment to go home. I panicked when I got home to find an empty seat and, big shit that I am, I called to beg her to come back.
She’s addicted to gambling and, it turns out, I’m addicted too – to her. She said that now that I had kicked her out, she would never come back! By nightfall, I had a full-blown panic attack, facing those four walls alone again.
During the time I lived with her, I almost forgot that I’m terrified of being alone when the sun goes down. She was such a nuisance with her own vices that I forgot my own anxiety. Now the gremlins are back and here I go again. My anxiety is haunting me in full force! What now?
— Freaking out every night, Saint Boniface
Dear Freaking Out: If you are in a serious crisis at any time, call Klinic Community Health’s 24-7 crisis line at 204-786-8686 and they will help you. (For more information, visit klinic.mb.ca/crisis-support.) When you’re feeling good during the day, focus on solving your severe anxiety problem by finding the best therapy possible. Then you’ll be in better shape to find a healthier partner and a much better relationship next time. Your doctor can help you find a therapist.
As you may know, psychologists are not doctors and cannot prescribe medication, but doctors and psychiatrists can, and anti-anxiety medications can be helpful as part of a person’s treatment.
You are not alone with your anxiety problem. Connect with the Anxiety Disorders Association of Manitoba (adam.mb.ca) and find out about peer support sessions, available over the phone or online via Zoom. These sessions are not “therapy” but focus on practical tools for managing anxiety symptoms. ADAM also offers free programs like the six-week Anxiety and Worry Support course (available by phone or Zoom).
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: My mother has a long-term “girlfriend”. I don’t mind that Mom is a lesbian – I’m fine with that. She had some “bad” experiences with her mother’s boyfriend when she was little. She doesn’t trust men very much. My biological father wasn’t with us very long – just long enough for my mother to get pregnant – with me.
I just wish my mother would stop imposing the women-with-women agenda on me.
I’m not interested in girls except as friends. I’ve been hiding the fact that I dated for a few months. We just see each other at school – and at lunchtime at his house.
I will not bring it home where my mother can examine it and look for faults. I really like him, and he’s a nice guy. I’m getting tired of hiding his existence from my mother. What do you suggest?
– Tired of hiding my boyfriend, Winnipeg
Dear Tired: Casually tell your mom that there’s a guy you like at school and that he’s a nice guy and “one of the good ones.” Then drop the subject as if it didn’t matter much. A few days later, tell Mom something more about your new friend, with an example, and then drop the subject again. Let your mother start building an image of this nice guy – and start feeling some curiosity. No doubt she’s guessing that he might be her boyfriend soon, if he isn’t already.
If she’s a smart mom, she’ll soon be saying, “Why don’t you bring your new boyfriend?” That’s when you say quietly to her, “Because I’m afraid you’ll try to find fault with him and criticize him. I wouldn’t be okay with that.”
She will be scared, but will probably assure you that this is not true, even if it is. Why? Because now she’s going to be dying to see this guy her baby likes!
On a weekend afternoon right after that, buy some nice snacks and take them home – along with him. Happily dump a medium-sized puzzle or game on the kitchen table and invite your surprised mother to join you. The three of you will soon be busy enough that there won’t be time for a full parent interview. In fact, it can be relaxing and fun – and then everyone starts to win.
Please send your questions and comments to [email protected] or Miss Lonelyhearts c/o Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave., Winnipeg, MB, R2X 3B6.
Maureen Scurfield writes the Miss Lonelyhearts advice column.
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