An Interesting Ramification of a Bad Boyfriend
Dear Margo: I’m a 34-year-old woman who had a close personal friendship with my co-worker “Norma,” who is 46. After five years of friendship, Norma has become more than just a dear friend — she’s a mentor and an older sister/mother figure for me. I have grown to depend on Norma’s friendship perhaps more than I should, which brings me to my problem.
I have been in an unhealthy relationship for three years, and Norma has been my support and confidante through it all. She always urged me to leave the relationship. Finally, when I decided to do it, Norma was overjoyed. I tried with all my might to stick to my guns, but in the end, he begged me to reconcile, and I caved. Although I know the relationship is unhealthy, I am finding it difficult to walk away, and this has impacted my personal and working relationship with Norma.
At work she is cold and distant to me; even e-mails have a professional tone. All contact outside of work has stopped despite her assurance, when I ask, that everything is OK. I am working hard to get the courage to end my relationship, but I feel alone without my friend. –Flawed Friend
Dear Flaw: The “unhealthy relationship” you refer to, I believe, is also called “complicated.” He’s married. Your friend’s disappointment and disapproval have apparently colored her feelings for you, especially since you announced you were finally going to straighten up your life. Alas, yours is a do-it-yourself project, and right or wrong, you and Norma will not patch it up until Mr. Wrong is gone. I suspect she felt three years was all she could manage watching you self-destruct. Look at it this way: With her support, you couldn’t quite get it accomplished, so maybe now you can. And do it for yourself, not for Norma. –Margo, practically
You Can Lead a Horse to Water…
Dear Margo: My father, in his late 50s, recently had a heart attack. It was minor, and he not only survived it, but he did so without medical assistance — he called the pain a “3” on a scale of 10! While we’re all counting our lucky stars that he’s so tough, we are worried. I’m in my early 20s, and my brother is a young teenager. The idea of losing him terrifies us. He is overweight, diabetic and has arthritis in his hip. He won’t listen to anything anyone tells him about eating right or exercising. The heart attack should have been a wakeup call, but he hasn’t changed his ways at all. Logic, sentiment and nagging are all coolly deflected. I want him to walk me down the aisle at my wedding, meet his grandchildren and see them graduate high school. How can I get through to him that he needs to take care of himself, if only for me? –Nervous Daughter
Dear Nerv: I understand your frustrated feelings about your father’s seeming intransigence, but I will tell you this: If having a heart attack did not scare him into taking better care of himself (e.g., losing weight), nothing will. I wanted to ask a cardiac surgeon, the kind of doc who sees more of this than anyone, what he thought … so I asked the one who lives in my house. He said he has, indeed, seen these situations, and some people straighten up, and some don’t.
There can be many factors at work. Your dad may feel invincible, lucky once, lucky always or unwilling to make the effort. Alas, he will not do this “for you.” The situation is a little like being alcoholic: The person who needs to make a change must want to. I hope you will accept that everyone is a free agent, and there is really nothing another person can do. Try not to feel burdened by something that is out of your hands. –Margo, acceptingly
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Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.
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