DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS; My best friend (who lives in another province) had a beautiful baby boy six years ago. They broke up and the dad took the son on vacation to see family in his hometown, but never came back. He has two other daughters that the same mother took away from him because he cheated, and that's why I believe he did this. He took the son, before he could have him taken away, too. I have stayed friendly with both parents. Let me say, they are both wonderful to this sweet little boy. Two years later, my friend still believes her ex's excuses, and thinks her son is coming back. She's always depressed -- doesn't eat, doesn't sleep, misses work sometimes, and sometimes doesn't even shower -- too depressed to make any big moves. Today I told her the truth: the stories her ex tells are lies. She says she can't go live in the small Manitoba city where her ex is with the child, because he's made sure she can't get a job there. I also feel she needs to re-establish relationships with her family here in Winnipeg, and could visit her son on weekends, and she agrees. She hasn't much money (and) is not a substance abuser. How do I help her repair her life and ensure a future for her son? -- Helpless Friend
Dear Friend: Is your friend afraid that if she moves back to Manitoba, her ex will try to take the other two children? Both parents have removed/stolen children from each other and both are scared to try to see their other kids. Some legalities need to be established so both parents can see all three children. What is your friend's secret reason for not making a fuss when the child was not returned after the holiday period -- and after all this time? You need to know everything before you start trying to help, or things could backfire. We should all have friends who care as much as you do, but you must be clear on your role. You're not the direct instrument of help for your friend, but you can be the connection to resources that will help straighten out the mess in her life. You can find every resource for her in Winnipeg and her present town online -- counselling, financial help, employment possibilities and introduce her to these possibilities.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: My best friend of eight years and I just got into our first fight. I just found out she's been calling me names and talking bad about me behind my back to my ex-boyfriend for the last four months! She's been there through the good and bad times of my life, and I love her with all my heart, but when I heard all this stuff, it made me cry. What should I do? -- Confused Friend
Dear Confused: What is this friend trying to accomplish with your boyfriend? Was he expressing interest in you again to her -- but she wanted him for herself? And who told you about her gossiping? Was it the ex-boyfriend reporting it back to you, or was it another friend altogether? You need to do some detective work before you start totally believing everything from this grapevine. Look for hidden motives, partial truths and exaggerations. It's hard when you hit a rough patch where you can't trust what people are saying to you. If you have a close relationship with your mom, auntie, or counsellor at school, get help sifting through the conflicting information. Once you've done your research, then talk to your friend and try to get at the whole truth.
Questions or comments? Write Miss Lonelyhearts c/o Winnipeg Free Press,
1355 Mountain Ave., Winnipeg, MB, R2X 3B6 or email firstname.lastname@example.org