DEAR ABBY: I have an issue that I can’t be the only one with, especially as our parents age. My mother has never been the cleanest or most sanitary of housekeepers. Everything “looks” neat and straight, but look closer and you’ll realize her place is unsanitary and filthy.
When I visit, I am near tears the entire time. My husband tells me to stay in a hotel, but I don’t know how to tell my mother I don’t feel comfortable staying with her. I bring along my own towels and washcloths. I take us out for meals so we don’t have to use her dishes.
I’m not a clean freak, and this is not my imagination. A friend of hers contacted me to tell me she was concerned about Mom because she doesn’t seem to notice how dirty her house is or that her food is spoiled. I’m embarrassed for her.
I’ve tried to talk to my mother about this many times in the past, but she just doesn’t get it. I have had her carpets shampooed and brought in professionals to do deep cleaning. How can I tell her I can’t stay with her any longer? — GROSSED-OUT DAUGHTER IN MARYLAND
DEAR DAUGHTER: Tell your mother that you love her, and you have been concerned for years about her living conditions, which is why you hired professional cleaners periodically to help her. Delivering the message that you will be staying in a hotel when you visit is the least of your problems. Clearly, she needs more help than you can give her.
I, too, am concerned about the fact she doesn’t know the food in her refrigerator has spoiled, and for that reason, I’m suggesting you discuss this with a social worker in the town where your mother resides. She may need someone to check on her regularly, ensure that her kitchen and fridge are kept clean and grocery shop for her. Believe me, you and your mother both have my sympathy.
DEAR ABBY: I have been with “Dylan” for three years, engaged for two. I have a lot of insecurities about it.
We met right after my husband’s death. Dylan was the perfect guy in the beginning. Looking back, I realize there were a lot of red flags.
He spends most of his time on Facebook or talking about his high school years. He is also secretive. He acts like the world’s nicest guy around others, but when we’re alone, he calls me stupid and insecure. I never knew what a narcissist was before, but I believe he is one.
I built a business, which has done very well. I’m liked by everyone but him. People have told me to run. Why do I torture myself? Last week he broke my windshield because I asked him about his phone, which he is always using to text someone. I want to be happy, and I feel like a loser right now. My kids don’t like him at all. Help me, please. — UNHAPPY IN THE MIDWEST
DEAR UNHAPPY: I am concerned about you. Because you now feel that your verbally abusive fiance could become violent (Exhibit A: your broken windshield), place a call to the National Domestic Violence Hotline (800-799-7233) and ask someone to help you craft an escape plan. Your next call should be to the police to file a report about that broken windshield. Your third should be to your family to find out if you and your kids can stay with one of your relatives.
It is important you get safely out of there, so do NOT disclose to this man any of the preparations you are making. It goes without saying that this engagement should be broken.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
Good advice for everyone — teens to seniors — is in “The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It.” To order, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)