DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: Yesterday, I kicked the wall and broke my toe! I was so frustrated by my mother who was screaming at me on the phone for the 100th time, I called her a terrible name and ruined my kitchen wall, too. What can you do when you are daily harassed by your parent who uses you as a human punching bag? I was taught to "honour my mother and father." My father's dead, and I can honour him all right, but my mother is so horrible I can't honour her. I'm just terrified of her and her mean mouth. I am at home with four kids and she knows I'm here. Luckily she lives In a town 150 kilometres away or she would be at my door abusing me. What should I do? -- Going Out of My Head
Dear Out of My Head: Train her like a dog. Whenever she calls, speak with her until she starts veering into abusive talk (listen for the tone change) and then cut her off quickly saying, "Sorry, gotta go." Do that without excuses until she sees that the minute she steps over that boundary you will be gone so fast she's left staring at the buzzing receiver. Get some counselling around this issue and build up your strength. Look forward to the day when you can tell her off in the counsellor's office and work out some resolution for the issues between you. In the meantime, get a phone with caller ID and don't pick up more than once a day. Pick up around the same time so she gets trained to know her call will be answered when kids are home from school. If she's nice to the grandkids, you can pass the phone around and it will be better for everyone. If she is in an emergency, tell her to call 911 and then you, but consider having her get a service like Victoria Lifeline with a necklace button to push for 911 and significant others to get a call if she falls or has a stroke or needs medical attention. Mothers like yours tend to pick on only one of their children -- the weakest. Starting today, you are no longer going to be that person.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I just read your column concerning the woman whose man gives more attention to his pets than to her. You put the onus on her to try to correct the situation.
I was married to a man with this attitude for 12 years before I finally faced the fact that he was "just not that into me." I went way overboard to please him, and unfortunately had three children with him, always hoping things would change for the better. No way. What she has now is what's in store for her in future. I don't know if she's married but it doesn't sound like she has children yet. I think this woman should seriously consider whether she really wants to grow old with this man. -- Former Second Fiddle, Winnipeg
Dear Second Fiddle: Sometimes you have to know when to cut and run and it's confusing when the "competition" isn't another woman, but pets, cars, "the boys," work, golf or curling or the bottle. It's easy to identify another woman as a deal-breaker -- even laws uphold this. But when it's other "exits" from the relationship, as they call them in the counselling business, it's not as clear. Since these pets are getting all his attention and affection, and that's what he feels most comfortable doing, it could be time for this woman to leave him with his menagerie to enjoy what he really enjoys. That would free the lady up to find a man for whom she is first priority in the love department.
Questions or comments? Write Miss Lonelyhearts c/o Winnipeg Free Press 1355 Mountain Ave. Wpg R2X 3B6 or email firstname.lastname@example.org