DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: I find myself in the middle of a lot of changes, divorce proceedings, custody issues, housing transition, losing friends I had as a married person. Like so many other people, I'm overwhelmed. Where are there inexpensive or free counselling services to help sort out this mess and get back to my life? My ex is doing a lot of trash-talking and I want to just move on. Our friends are running to me with every little tidbit he gives them. How can I get across I'd rather lose them as friends if that's all they want to talk about? My ex was a very abusive man and it seems he still harassing me by going through my friends now. -- Want my Life Back, Winnipeg
Dear Want My Life: Start with telling your friends that the subject is closed. You don't want to hear one single thing about your ex-husband from them again. As an alternative to intimate chatting, phone them for activities such as movies, concerts, sports, walks in a group, anything that is not overly intimate. You don't want to be face-to-face over a cup of coffee anymore. You will lose a few more of the gossipy friends, but they don't have your best interest at heart anyway. A healthy way to connect with new friends would be to join the Rebuilding When Your Relationship Ends program (204-775-3484) where you'll get to know new, understanding friends who are going through the same transition. Free walk-in counselling is available through Klinic, most churches, synagogues and temples offer free counselling. If you are working, your group insurance may pay for part or all of the cost of seeing a psychologist which can sometimes be the most beneficial situation for a suddenly single person who wants to make important changes.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I can't stand my mother-in-law but she pretends to love me so she can be over here all the time seeing her sweet, darling youngest son. She really wishes I were dead. Well, not dead, just gone for good. What do you suggest? -- Fed Up To Here, St. Boniface
Dear Fed Up: Encourage your husband to start taking his mother out to dinner and concerts -- as much as once a week. Every time she gets to be alone with him is three times she won't show up at your door that week. She gets to drink her fill. She doesn't want to share him with you but she doesn't see any other choice. Does he like his mom? Maybe not, now that you're complaining about all her faults. But, listen to this: It would be good for him to not have to pay for his marriage by giving up his mother. Tell him you'd be really happy to see him take his mom out weekly or stay home with her and the grandchildren (if there are some) while you go out to a class or the gym. If his mother comments she never sees you any more, ignore the dig and say, "But isn't it great you get to see your son more often?" Invite her over for group dinners when you have extended family over. Even the presence of one other person will keep a difficult in-law on best behaviour.
Questions or comments? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or send letters c/o Miss Lonelyhearts, 1350 Mountain Ave. Winnipeg R2X 3B6