DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: I got dispensed with on Boxing Day at 9 a.m., the minute my girlfriend opened her eyes. All she said was: "I can't stand it. I can't be with a drunk." I was too hungover from Christmas at my parents' house to be able to defend myself. My head was pounding and I just had to let that go by until I could talk. As she was getting dressed, she said, "Aren't you going to say anything?" I replied: "Just leave me alone." My heart was banging in my chest now. She slammed the back door and almost broke the hinges as I staggered to the bathroom and got sick.
I did love that little woman, but she was no party girl, which is my usual type. Instead of sympathizing with each other over hangover breakfasts and laughing about the night before, this woman was disgusted with me. I can feel in my heart it's over. She's in grad school and I'm a truck driver, for starters. Also, I admit, when I'm off work, I drink hard. When there is alcohol in front of me, I can't stop until it's gone.
Here's the problem: She left her Christmas presents behind, and they were expensive. Should I show up at her door and give her the flat-screen TV and big diamond earrings or take them back? I doubt she'll ask for them. I'm 28 and I could really use the money. -- Truck Driver Blues, Winnipeg
Dear Blues: She has paid the price for freedom and probably doesn't want a refund. She dumped you on your head. You'd feel like an idiot showing up at her door with those serious boyfriend presents. She was willing to forfeit them and get away from a relationship that felt over to her, so look for those receipts and return both big gifts. Having up to $1,000 back in your pocket won't mend your heart, but it will get you healthy food and a gym membership, because you really need a new start in 2014, bud. As for the drinking: nobody should be getting that drunk and hungover on a regular basis. If you want a quality relationship with a good person, you need to shape up. Call the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba (204-944-6200) and go in for a consult to see where you are on the drinking-problem scale and what can be done. No one, except another alcoholic, wants a drunk for a husband and father of her children.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I want to move. I realized at Christmas after having three panic attacks that I want to get away from my toxic family and start a new life far away. I told myself that I should never be a quitter and that running away was weak, but I just can't take it another year. My parents, who are dependent on me for keeping peace between my volatile siblings in their mid-to-late 20s, will be devastated, but I am near my breaking point. I am part of a big French-Canadian family with some sibling incest in the background. Is it wrong to run away and let them fall to pieces? I am 32 and have been at home and never married because of this responsibility. -- Oldest Daughter, St. Boniface
Dear Oldest: It is your right to have a life of your own. Your mind and body are telling you it's your time to go out and seek your fortune and find love and new friendships. You don't say what your career path has been, but you sound educated. People tend to stay where they study and find work, so you always go to the ideal place first.
For the next three to six months, research education possibilities and jobs and save money. Plan to get on the road by the end of spring. Most school programs start in the fall. If you want that, you must enrol from here in the winter months for September classes. Make your plan on paper, break it down into workable parts and start working on it. Carry it with you in your wallet for inspiration. That will make you feel somewhat better immediately.