Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Cold weather no excuse for lack of social life

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DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: When I was little I got outside in my indoor clothes and almost froze to death be­fore my mom found me by the gate. I was OK living at home, but now I'm on my own and my life ends when the cold weather comes. My friends ask me to go out, but I'm afraid of freezing to death.

I am pretty and 29 and have no life!

If I don't have a couch-potato boy­friend going into the wintertime, I'm alone until spring. Sometimes I'm so lonely I cry myself to sleep. I work at a food store a few hous­es away from my house. I run to work in a little jacket and run home at 5:30 p.m. to get into my pyjamas and slippers and watch TV and cook a hot dinner. I go to bed early because it's dark already and I wake up early because you can only sleep so much. I watch TV until it's time to get dressed and go to work. Yesterday, the boss where I work told me there was something wrong with my head and I should "go see a shrink!" I was so hurt I went home after work and cried for hours. My boss says the crazy part is I don't buy a winter coat and she's offered to give me one of hers or buy me a new one. I hate winter so I don't want the expense of spending $200 for going out into the deep freeze and hazarding my death. I'm not crazy, am I? I just want to stay home and be warm and safe.

-- Freezing Victim, North End

Dear Victim: Running to work in a flimsy jacket only reinforces to you that you're involved in deathly cold weather and should continue your hide­inside lifestyle in order to stay alive. When you cling to behaviours that don't make sense and seem self-defeating, it's because the mind is trying to pro­tect you from something it perceives as threatening as death. Right now you have a physical alternative -- to dress warmly for the weather. But you don't have a psychological choice, until you work with a "shrink" to undo the idea that your life is in peril if you go out. Why is this trauma returning full force now? No doubt you went to school and did normal things when your family was with you and bought you winter clothes and took you in the car or on the bus. But now you're on your own, you feel vulnerable and alone, just like you were when you got out of the house in the deep freeze and couldn't get back in. Today, accept the offer of the warm coat from your boss, explain about the trauma, and promise to get the help you need now. Wear that winter jacket every day so your boss doesn't get the idea you're too unbalanced to work. You also need hats, mitts, ski pants and boots, and that means a warm trip to a thrift store in a friend's car or taxi. After you get the warm clothes, make an appointment with your doctor, or taxi yourself to a walk-in! Don't soft­pedal about the childhood trauma. Ask for a referral to a psychiatrist (on Medicare) ASAP so you can start living normally. To address the isolation and loneliness, start cooking and inviting friends for weekend meals and mov­ies, and to reduce depression keep your rooms brightly lit, even when watching TV. Don't go to bed because it's dark; don't keep granny-hours. Stay up until 10 or 11 p.m., and make a reasonable social life possible on weekends. Please write back and let me know how it's go­ing, and if I can help you further.

Questions or comments? Write Miss Lonelyhearts c/o Winnipeg Free Press 1355 Mountain Ave. Wpg R2X 3B6 or email lovecoach@hotmail.com

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