DEAR ABBY: After my divorce 15 years ago, I moved 800 miles away to be near my only family — my older sister — at her request. We are close and talk on the phone every day, but do nothing together because she’s always busy and active with her partner of 50 years and their circle of friends.
I have made few friends (just a couple from work and neighborhood acquaintances), nor have I found a romantic connection despite trying online dating, self-help books and volunteering. I even tried going on vacation alone a few years ago, which was misery. I’ve been through counseling three times. All three professionals have concluded that this is simply my life.
During the COVID quarantine, I actually felt normal for the first time in 15 years because everyone else was spending all their time at home alone, too. While I’m relieved and thankful for the vaccines for bringing us closer to an end to the pandemic, I’m also depressed. I am dreading a return to “normal” because people will resume living and I will sit here and watch. How do I accept that this is how my life will be? — SIDELINED IN SOUTH CAROLINA
DEAR SIDELINED: My late mother once told me that people can be as happy as they choose to be. You appear to be someone who has too much time on her hands. You are not a deprived urchin with her nose pressed against a bakery window. You are a capable adult who, now that so many people have been vaccinated, can get out of your dwelling and involve yourself in activities that INTEREST you.
The time you’re wasting “watching” others live their lives is time you could be spending getting out into the community and perhaps volunteering again, taking a class or searching for a part-time job. If you do, you may meet others with similar interests and — while you may or may not find the romance you crave — you could possibly make some new friends.
DEAR ABBY: I took care of all three of my grandbabies from birth to when my oldest turned 9. Then I found out she was going home and telling her parents “everything” that happened while they were with me (nothing bad at all). Instead of talking to me about it, their mom is now keeping them from me.
I have decided to quit trying to see them, since I feel like their mom “all of a sudden” doesn’t trust me or know me after all these years. I feel the same way about my son. I think he should see what’s going on and do something about it, but I don’t want to cause trouble between them. Am I wrong? — CUT OFF IN NEW MEXICO
DEAR CUT OFF: There is nothing wrong with children telling their parents what happened during a visit with the grandparents. And if the parent(s) feel any concern or discomfort, it would make sense for it to be discussed among the adults. Something important is missing from your letter. Do you KNOW what your granddaughter told her mother? I see nothing wrong with approaching your son about setting up a “family conference” to discuss this. Frankly, it is overdue.
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.)