Dear Abby: My habit of losing things could harm my career, family

Reader has trouble keeping track of possessions and really wants to fix the problem.

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DEAR ABBY: While I am excited for new opportunities in my life, I cannot shake the feeling I am losing something. I am always losing something, whether it be my phone, my keys or my wallet. Once I lost my retainers and had to pay $300 for new ones.

I have trouble keeping track of things. I’m afraid it will create serious problems when I begin a career and lose something, which could cost me my job. I’m also worried that I’ll inherit important items from my family and lose them. I’m nervous about being in charge of my own life when I can’t even keep track of the $5 in my pocket. I urgently need this bad habit to change. Is there anything that will help me? — LOSING IT IN GEORGIA

DEAR LOSING IT: Your problem may not be as uncommon as you fear. Have you ever heard the adage, “A place for everything and everything in its place”? It’s good advice. Choose one location to place your phone, your keys and your wallet when you come home. Once you form that habit, you will always know where your things are. (There is an app, Find My Device, that may help you locate your electronic devices if you have a computer. There are also companies — like Tile — that can help you locate lost items such as your keys or wallet.)

Some people with attention deficit disorder lose track of items because they are easily distracted and focus on more than one task at once. When you are holding your phone, keys, etc., reminding yourself to stay in the present may help. If none of these techniques works for you, discuss your fears with a licensed psychotherapist, who can help you determine what’s at the root of your problem and help lessen your anxiety about the future.

DEAR ABBY: I have been with my boyfriend/best friend for about six years now. We moved in together a little over a year ago and have discussed marriage. The issue is, one of his sisters has an alcohol problem. She becomes rude and tries to bully others when she drinks. When she does that to me, I return the treatment, and she turns to her brother and attempts to make him side with her.

I know how important family is. Because I’m not related, I am left feeling vulnerable — like she may disrupt my relationship with her brother. I love him, and I really try with her. I think she would be happy if her brother were more available to hang out with her. She’s a tomboy and often hung out with him prior to us moving in together. Please help me figure out a solution. — COMPETING IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR COMPETING: One option might be for you and your boyfriend to leave when his sister starts drinking. Discuss this with your boyfriend/best friend. If you haven’t done that, please do. His sister may be trying to divide and conquer, but enlisting him to her side will be much more difficult if he simply responds by telling her, “I don’t want to be involved in this, Sis. Leave me out of it, and stop picking on my girlfriend.”

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 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.)

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