DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: I'm a guy in a rock band who had very long hair. It took three years to grow, and I was proud of it. Last weekend my older brother, who's losing his hair, got drunk and cut my ponytail off while I was sleeping. I woke up right after. I was livid and beat him up, for the first time. The next night I was scared to go to sleep; I stayed awake with a chair braced under the bedroom doorknob. My parents stopped giving him the car as punishment. So he told them off, and moved in with his girlfriend and her family. Now our whole family is in hell and my mom is crying all the time. I don't know how to handle it. My parents are religious and demanding we pray about this and talk and then make up and "heal the rift in the family" so my brother moves back home and "we become a family again." I feel like I would have to quit school and move out because I'm afraid for my back. My close auntie said she would take me in at her place, and she told my parents. I think there's something sick about my brother. Please help. -- Living in a Volcano, Downtown
Dear Ready: When a big problem blows up in a family and complicates everything, people often look at the last move made (in this case, your brother moved out), rather than the source of the original problem. What happened that made your brother so crazy-mad he cut your hair off? Was there a precipitating incident or argument or insult, or is your brother losing it mentally and/or drinking and taking drugs? Any way you look at it, everybody in the family needs help. No one can just walk away from this mess, as it will not get better. If you want your mom to stop crying, stop threatening to move out and install a lock on your bedroom instead. Momma can't stand to lose two sons in one month. Whole family counselling would be the best, from an outside agency (it costs considerable money, but it's private) or someone in your church that everybody agrees to (probably free, but there are other costs). If you want private help for yourself, Klinic offers 24/7 phone counselling at 204-786-8686 and free walk-in counselling five days a week at their 545 Broadway location (call 204-784-4067 for times).
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I'm desperately in love with my school principal and don't know what to do about it. I'm a teacher in his school and I have been in love with him for several years. I think he knows it, but he's not responding to me, although I know he likes me a lot. The man is single, and there are no other eligible women in the school. But it would be a big scandal if we started going out. Having said that, I still want him so badly! What can I do? I stay awake at night dreaming of him. -- Loving Him So, Manitoba
Dear Loving: Would failing to do anything about this give you regrets when you're 80? You have to make the move. If he cares, he doesn't dare hit on you or it would be sexual harassment. The best thing to do is ask him if he wants to go for coffee sometime. If he says a quick no, you have your answer. If he agrees to meet you, tell him, "It's been bothering me for a few years. I really like you, but I totally respect our professional relationship, and if you don't feel the same it's OK. I just had to ask." You will have your answer by looking at his face. If it's a clear "no go," it's time to close this door. And, try to get a job at a new school for next fall, so you can finally get him out of your life and refocus.