DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: I live in a seniors building and there are about 10 of us who get together once a week for socializing. There's one woman who has chosen to constantly insult me about something stupid -- nothing I have done to aggravate her, or anyone else. I'm a happy-go-lucky person. I've thought of phoning the Seniors Abuse Line, or speaking to someone in authority about bullying. I haven't done that because it would go through the whole building and it would be more of a mess.
I know some very unpleasant things about this woman that no one else knows. I'm tempted at our next gathering to let it all out and embarrass her in front of everyone the same way she has done to me. This stuff really bothers me and it's on my mind constantly. I've tried to remain the lady with class, but I'm starting to wear pretty thin. What do you suggest? -- Abused Senior
Dear Senior: You're being bullied by a peer, which is a little different from being abused by a caregiver, for instance, but bullying is an important issue and needs to be addressed. Definitely speak to someone in charge and tell them she is being nasty to you and you need it stopped. As for spreading malicious gossip about this woman, it will only reflect badly on you and people will be afraid to confide in you about anything themselves. You can tell the bully -- in front of your social group -- that you know things you could tell about her life if you wished to retaliate, and say, "You are pushing me to do that." That may settle her right down.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: The Princess & the Pea letter about someone coughing all the time reminded me of my brother's wife who was coughing all night. He, too, was upset with her and told her to see a doctor. The physician treated her for being rundown, but the cough never went away. Finally, my brother told her to get another doctor. This one said immediately that what she had was lymphoma and it was very curable in the early stages. However, because the first doctor missed it, she was in stage four -- not good. She was pregnant at the time, too. The good news is she not only beat the odds, but had a healthy baby boy and that was over 20 years ago. I hope your advice was right, but I had such a strong feeling about this letter I thought I would pass this on. -- Ms. P.
Dear Ms. P: I will pass this on quickly to the person who wrote via email. It is certainly something to check out with her doctor, and perhaps another doctor for a second opinion.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I hate my co-worker to the right of me who complains about everything. She's always the victim, the poor misunderstood under-appreciated thing. On and on and on she goes, whining and complaining about how she always gets the short end of the stick and no one understands her. Last Friday before quitting time I lost it completely and told her, "Shut up and stop complaining all the time!" Now she doesn't talk to me at all. What should I do? -- Deafening Silence, North End Strip Mall
Dear Silence: You can afford to apologize to her for the way you said what you did, without actually apologizing from the heart for what you said. Then add, "I hope we can be friendly working together again." This little apology may be just good enough to get a working relationship back. You can be sure this complainer will still have the message in her brain that she whines too much and it probably won't return to the way it was.
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