Dear Abby: I am in my 60s, single and childless. I was raised by parents who had issues, and I did not have a nurturing childhood. As a result, for decades I had a chaotic life and turned to alcohol and drugs to soothe my emotional pain.
I have been drug-free and sober for many years. Still, I’m troubled when I see how abnormal and dysfunctional my life was and what I have missed that normal people get to enjoy — like marriage, children and grandchildren. My sadness and loneliness are so overwhelming that some days I don’t want to get out of bed. I’m finding it very hard to discover a purpose. Any suggestions?
—Wounded in California
Dear Wounded: You cannot change the past, but you can certainly change the future. The first step should be to consult a licensed mental health professional about your deep depression. With talk therapy and medication, you may finally be able to overcome it. Once you are stable again, your therapist may also work with you to help you decide how to fill those empty spaces in your life. Please don’t wait to reach out.
Dear Abby: My son graduated from high school and won’t make a plan. He doesn’t help with anything around the house, won’t save money to buy his own car and refuses to share our extra car with his sister. We are in constant conflict.
I want him to move out. I want him to be working and saving money if I’m paying for his room and board. He sleeps until noon, works sporadically and spends his limited money on pre-workout supplements, shoes and guitars. He’s on his phone playing games in his bed most days until late into the night. Advice?
—Enough Already in Virginia
Dear Enough: Your son isn’t making a plan to become independent because you have been such a generous parent, he has no incentive to leave the nest. Quit letting him use the extra car and tell him that unless he starts doing his fair share around the house, finds a full-time job and can prove that he’s saving money, you want him OUT of there. Then give him a deadline, and if he hasn’t shown improvement by then, follow through. Sometimes a dose of tough love is what it takes to get a message across.
Dear Abby: My husband and I have been married for 17 years and live in an older house we are slowly trying to update and remodel. One of my major issues is that every Sunday he likes to go to flea markets, where he spends at least $100 for “art,” which I might describe as junk. It’s all over the house we are trying to fix. How do I get him to stop wasting money on this?
—Up to My Elbows in Illinois
Dear Up: There are flea markets, and then there are estate sales. They are not the same thing. Some real treasures can be found at estate sales because the sellers (often the next generation) do not realize the value of what they are getting rid of. It might be worth your while to ask your husband if the two of you can go to a few estate sales together, and buy only items you both can agree on. It’s worth a try.