DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: My husband works hard and I'm a stay-at-home mother of three. We're happy, except for one thing -- the in-laws are alcoholics. Over the years we've tried to tolerate them, but we're at the end of our rope and thinking of moving away. The in-laws say they enjoy their alcohol and we should learn to live with it. Counselling is not happening, as they say, "We don't have a problem." They also don't have any friends left. Our growing children don't understand why the in-laws don't keep their promises. Extended family has grown exhausted and walked away. We are now looking at moving to a small town in Manitoba or out-of-province. What do you think?
-- Mrs. Moving Away, Winnipeg
Dear Mrs. Moving: The geographic cure is not a bad idea, as a last resort. You can be warmer friends on the phone or email when you don't have to deal with drinking up close. But, do you BOTH really want to move? How about your man? Would a move be good for his work? I gather it's his mom and dad you're talking about. How does he feel about leaving them? You need to hear the whole truth on that matter, not just what pleases you. If there was abuse involved, does he fear for his mom or dad? It's probably not as easy for him to pull the plug. Before you spearhead a move right out of town, consider a move WAY across town, instead. Suburbs across town and past the Perimeter can be daunting to relatives who don't like to drive very far. It's clear you're angry and fed up, but your husband probably does love these people deep down. The wife who splits up a son from his parents risks her husband's deep (often silent) resentment -- unless he can't stand them, either.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: This is Shy Woman, sittin' in my cell, wonderin' why life's got to be so hard and complicatin.' I'm wishin' I could just get up and walk out these steel doors when I want to, and not look back. I wish I could hold my loved ones in my arms. I'm tired of being caged, with nothing to do but read, write, pace and think. Jail is bad in some ways, but also good for me. Sober and clean is what I am. Clean from the pills that bugged me out. Clean from the coke that sketched me out. Clean from the booze that blacked me out. I'm healthier than ever now. It's time to change my life and be set free from all the pain and distraction, to finally be the mother I want to be. I'm gettin' down on my knees begging God, "Please, set me free. Show me the real me."
-- Shy, Women's Remand Centre, Winnipeg
Dear Shy: Did you know that you're a good writer, in your rhythmic street-language style? That was evident in the longer letter you wrote, partly shown above. Your whole letter stayed in my mind for several days. You have a gift. This is the time to develop it -- when you're trapped in jail, bored out of your mind and have nothing but time. Write your life story while you're doing your time. Write songs, write poems, write rap. Write your heart out day and night, with the purpose of creating a big body of work. When you're out of jail, go to the library and research books on literary agents to shop your work around for you. You only need the first three chapters of a book completed to get an agent, and you don't have to pay book agents. If you need paper and packages of pens, I can find you a donation. Just hang on; don't give in to jailhouse depression. Writing can be a soul saver, and you are a born writer. Education or no education, you have a way with words and many stories to tell. Write back and let us all know how you're doing. People will care more than you realize.