Our Pledge To You

Dear Abby

Dear Abby: For some, the sound of gum being chewed causes real pain

DEAR ABBY: May I educate your readers about a little-known disorder called misophonia? It means “hatred of sound,” and it can cause rage or panic. Misophonia is triggered by sounds such as breathing, eating, yawning, chewing or whistling. It can also be caused by a repetitive motion, such as when someone is fidgeting, jostles you or taps their foot continuously.

I suffer from this disorder. I work in the health care field and am often surrounded by people who chew and/or pop/crack their gum. I have had the difficult, often embarrassing, conversation about my disorder many times to no avail. The gum-chewing continues.

Do you agree it is unprofessional to chew gum in the workplace? How do I make people understand this is a real disorder that causes me physical pain and duress? — SUFFERING IN THE WEST

DEAR SUFFERING: I have to agree that chewing gum in the workplace is both unsightly and unprofessional. In the interest of full disclosure, I confess I’m guilty of the crime.

Before I condemn anyone for eating, chewing, yawning, foot-tapping, etc., allow me to point out that the solution to your problem may be as simple as noise-canceling headphones. I urge you to try it before requesting a private office.

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have problems communicating because I don’t talk enough, but that’s the way I was raised. My family just didn’t talk about serious things. I’m not saying avoidance is right, but I have a hard time talking seriously.

When I feel put on the spot, I find it difficult to form my words correctly, and I shut down. My husband doesn’t understand why I don’t talk when it comes so easy for him. This gives him the impression that I don’t “want” to talk, and therefore, I don’t care about our marriage as much as he does. Any advice? — MY LIPS ARE SEALED

DEAR MY LIPS: Issues that are not discussed often grow greater until they erode relationships. If you value your marriage, use this issue as a jumping-off point to start talking with a psychologist or other licensed mental health professional.

The way you were raised was unhealthy. It is destructive to building relationships as well as self-esteem, and can have lifelong consequences, as you are finding out. Please don’t put it off, because your communication problem won’t resolve until you do something proactive about it.

DEAR ABBY: Is it selfish for a 62-year-old recently widowed grandmother to want more in her life besides her one daughter and three grandchildren? — WANTS MORE IN THE EAST

DEAR WANTS MORE: Of course it isn’t selfish! If “someone” is trying to sell you that nonsensical idea, my advice is not to buy it. You deserve happiness and fulfillment, and you should not allow anyone to prevent you from seeking it.

(Could it be the “someone” wants a free baby sitter?)

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 http://www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

Abby shares more than 100 of her favorite recipes in two booklets: “Abby’s Favorite Recipes” and “More Favorite Recipes by Dear Abby.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $16 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)