Lies, all lies!

Dear Amy: My husband of many years, “Franklin,” has a strategy of lying to me to get his way or avoid confrontation.

Three examples, all this week:

We make an annual, very substantial contribution to an arts organization where he’s on the board.

When I reviewed this, he told me that most of the board members give this amount (if not more).

I then discovered that we give 20 times more than most of the other board members.

Franklin was planning a party. I have some social anxiety and asked him about the growing guest list.

He told me that the caterer had a minimum requirement of 20 people. I asked the caterer — no minimum.

One of Franklin’s brothers will be in our area for one night.

Franklin neglected to tell me that not only will his brother and wife be staying with us for a full week, but that other members of his family will also be staying with us for the week.

When I found out about the family invasion, Franklin’s response was he was looking for the right moment to tell me to avoid an argument.

This has been going on for decades, including lies that I found out about 10 years later.

This is really starting to affect me.

It’s obviously a matter of being able to trust him.

On his part, I get the feeling that he sees me as an impediment that he has to figure out ways of manipulating his way around.

Everything else in our relationship is pretty wonderful, but this is gnawing at me more and more. Is there anything I can do?

— Tired of Being Lied to

Tired: You are (somewhat kindly) seeing this as manipulation.

Manipulation is persuasion plus pressure.

Outright lying saves “Franklin” the trouble of trying to manipulate you.

And inviting family members to stay for days on end in your home without your consent is a flat-out power grab.

You see this as a trust issue, and I agree. You don’t trust Franklin, but he also doesn’t trust you to react predictably to his various schemes.

Lying or hiding the truth from you until it is too late for you to have a say is cowardly.

Because you two have an otherwise wonderful relationship, I sincerely believe you can work this out, especially with the help of a qualified counselor.

Mediation can show each of you how to communicate differently. You can practice truthful conversations where you resolve challenges, and where you compromise — instead of him lying and you reacting. (c) Ask Amy

Ask Amy has lost her mind. She seems to believe that Franklin is lying because the letter writer has a tendency to overreact when told the truth. I think Ask Amy has drawn the wrong conclusion here, although I understand her urge to read between the lines, which I often do myself. But in this instance, it seems more likely that Franklin is lying to get his way. If his wife is putting up arguments over what he wants, it’s within her right to do so.

First off, he donated twenty times what other people donate. He’s on the board of the arts organization, so we can assume that he was trying to buy some form of leadership. His wife would have every right to protest such a donation.

Then, he lied about the caterers requiring a minimum, which showed no respect whatsoever for his wife’s social anxiety.

Then, he said his brother was going to spend the night, when in reality, several family members would be staying all week. Which sort of wife would be agreeable to that?! I don’t know!

Ask Amy seems to think that the letter writer is going postal to the point that Franklin has to lie.


Yeah, right. I’m not buying it. I don’t think the letter writer is hiding a “Mommie Dearest” side, as pictured above.

On his part, I get the feeling that he sees me as an impediment that he has to figure out ways of manipulating his way around.

Right. If the letter writer were a huge overreacter, I think she would’ve mentioned it, because she seems forthcoming and frustrated. I get the sense that this guy’s a chronic liar because he has no qualms about lying.

I lie a lot, but I have rules about it. Like, I’ll lie to be tactful, or I’ll lie to protect someone’s personal information, or I’ll lie to deal with a situation temporarily. Like, if I’m in a horrible mood and someone asks me what’s wrong, I might say “Nothing!” because I’m not ready to talk about it. The truth usually comes out.

Another time I’ll lie is when I’m interacting with someone who I don’t trust. I lie to my mom a lot about my siblings, because just telling her, “I don’t want to talk to you about my siblings,” gets me nowhere. So when she asks if I’ve heard from my brother, I always say no in a curious voice, and then I ask if she’s heard from him. She falls for this every single time. But if I tell the truth, “Yes, I heard from him yesterday,” then she’ll immediately start trying to get info about him. She’s sort of shameless in that regard. It has to be cut off at the pass, when she asks if I’ve heard from him.

So I lie for protection, tact, and coping. I would consider it morally wrong to lie in the circumstances that Franklin lies. I would not tell those lies.

When I found out about the family invasion, Franklin’s response was he was looking for the right moment to tell me to avoid an argument.

I think that would make any wife angry. Franklin has no right to be manipulative just because his wife won’t approve of several family members staying for a week. It doesn’t work that way. I don’t approve of their visit, and I haven’t even met Franklin’s family members.

That said, I have no idea what to recommend, other than marriage counseling or divorce. It’s a stumper. The problem is that his lies are incredibly disrespectful in nature. He’s lying specifically and repeatedly so that he can bypass her input and get his way. That doesn’t sound like a healthy or happy partnership to me. It sounds more like the letter writer’s being… what’s the word?… oh well, I can’t think of it. [Two minutes later…] Oh! Steamrollered. Yeah, that’s a hard word to remember! I don’t think it’s quite the right word, but… oh well. Since I spent forever remembering it, there it is.

It’s also unseemly to coax someone into a situation with lies. Like, first it’s one family member who will be spending the night. The letter writer agrees to it. Eventually, it’s that person and his wife, and their other family members, staying a whole week. But, ha! The letter writer agreed to it. That level of manipulation can’t be justified by some sort of hidden overreaction on the letter writer’s part. Facepalm?


For sure.


In other advice column news, Annie Lane’s colum for tomorrow (it comes out in advance at 4:00 PM in my time zone) is a whole selection of quotes for the new year. Today’s column was also entirely written by readers (not counting where Annie Lane thanks the people for writing in). Four days ago, the whole column was quotes from Walden by Henry David Thoreau. Three days before that, she ran a column where people wrote in for what they were grateful for. The day before, she published The Night Before Christmas without mentioning who authored it. Two days before that, she ran a reader-written PSA about wearing pyjamas on Christmas. (You can’t make this stuff up.) The day before that, another reader wrote a PSA about what to say versus what not to say to the grieving.

So, I had a theory that maybe her contract ended at the end of this year, but that theory just got blown to smithereens by her publishing tomorrow’s column earlier this afternoon (on new year’s eve). Darn it all! But since my theory was wrong, I really have to wonder what she’s still doing it for. We all have things we’re not talented at. I’m certainly not going to sit here and pretend that doesn’t apply to me. Oh well.

Priorities, people!

Dear Annie: I am in an interracial relationship and am a stepparent to a 7-year-old daughter. When COVID-19 came, my mother-in-law was without a job and in between places. We have only two bedrooms, one for us and one for my stepdaughter.

My mother-in-law had no place to go, so we offered her our couch. My husband, who was taking care of her financially, asked if it was OK for her to stay for a couple of weeks. Of course, that was no issue at all.

A couple of weeks turned into months. She constantly berated both of our parenting and undermined us all the time. Things came to a head, and my husband could not handle her being here with us. It turned into a very heated argument that led to the police forcing her to leave.

During the argument, I was scratched in the face. While she was removing things from the home, she called me every racist name in the book and left me feeling like I was no good. I have done nothing but help this woman. I even tried to help her find a job.

My husband has had no contact with her since. My concern is that there is a 7-year-old grandchild involved. My mother-in-law has not apologized to me, nor do I have any contact with her. I want to forgive her, but my heart will not let me. I don’t want my stepdaughter to miss out on her grandma, but the things she said were so hurtful. Is there any way to move past this knowing what her true feelings are? — Not So Black and White

Dear Not So Black and White: I commend you for putting your stepdaughter first after such an attack.

Often, people with such bigotries are not malicious but ignorant, uneducated and small-minded. This is not an excuse. It merely shows that there is hope for her to change.

I would discuss the subject in-depth with your husband and come up with some clear, firm boundaries to present to his mother — the first being that hatred, racism and violence are not welcome in your home. You will do your stepdaughter no favors by exposing her to those views.

After your mother-in-law goes through therapy to address her violent, hateful outbursts — assuming that she does — you can discuss baby steps for bringing her back into your family’s life. (c) Annie Lane @

Well, now, that’s some bad advice.

My husband, who was taking care of her financially, asked if it was OK for her to stay for a couple of weeks. Of course, that was no issue at all.

Of course?! It should’ve been an issue. This letter writer seems to have the false virtue of taking people in. I hope she’s learned from this experience that things can go badly wrong when you do that. I’m not saying we should never take anyone in. But the family knew the mother-in-law before she moved in, and there would’ve been red flags. The letter writer’s cavalier attitude about letting her move in shows that she didn’t think it through, thinking perhaps that it made her a good person to give her mother-in-law a home.

During the argument, I was scratched in the face. While she was removing things from the home, she called me every racist name in the book and left me feeling like I was no good.

Violence and racism are both horrible.

I have done nothing but help this woman. I even tried to help her find a job.

And therein lies the problem. The mother-in-law doesn’t want to work; no, she wants to freeload. Wow, the letter writer was really naive there. Her efforts to help mother-in-law find a job probably made mother-in-law angry and feel pressured. [Shaking my head.] This is not a good mother-in-law.

My husband has had no contact with her since.

Points for the husband! I was upset that he wanted his mom to move in, but this action gives him major redemption.

My concern is that there is a 7-year-old grandchild involved.

Right. Protecting the kids is everything.

My mother-in-law has not apologized to me, nor do I have any contact with her. I want to forgive her, but my heart will not let me.

Oh, brother. You know, holding a grudge actually serves a great purpose: as long as you keep the walls up, the person can’t hurt you again. This letter writer seems so idiotic that I suspect she wants to forgive and forget… and then get scratched in the face another time while experiencing more racist comments. Forgiveness should never be a blind forgetting of what someone did to you.

I don’t want my stepdaughter to miss out on her grandma, but the things she said were so hurtful.

Whoa. That’s her concern about her step-daughter? Oh my. I see we’ve left common sense at home. Violent racists aren’t good influences for seven-year-old children. The child SHOULD miss out on her grandma.

Is there any way to move past this knowing what her true feelings are?

Hello, letter writer. This woman scratched you in the face and trash-talked your whole race. (Ooh, hey, that rhymed! Points!) The letter writer seems to have the weird idea that people should be unconditionally accepted. She’s asking how she can accept her mother-in-law despite knowing that said mother-in-law is a violent racist. Geez. Maybe some people shouldn’t be accepted?

Yeah, people misunderstand forgiveness. I think it’s better to err on the side of holding a grudge, because then you’ve got your walls up and (ideally) can’t be hurt again. This is far preferable to blindly forgiving someone who can and will move in for the kill when it gives them a thrill. (Go me with the rhyming!) It might sound wrong to err on the side of holding a grudge, but safety is a huge issue. This mother-in-law isn’t safe physically or emotionally.

Dear Not So Black and White: I commend you for putting your stepdaughter first after such an attack.

Well, I’m not sure she did that. This toxic harpy of a mother-in-law was living with the family for a long time before they managed to evict her. I mean, was that really a good environment for a little girl?

Often, people with such bigotries are not malicious but ignorant, uneducated and small-minded. 


Um, no? If you have someone who’s ignorant, uneducated, and small-minded, that person might be thinking some ignorant thoughts about race (or whatever), but they could still be polite enough to not say what they’re thinking. It’s not until you add in that malicious intent that you get someone like the mother-in-law here, who hurls insults and scratches people.

This is not an excuse. It merely shows that there is hope for her to change.

While there’s always hope, the mother-in-law needs to rise up on her own, because until she can prove she’s been reformed, she shouldn’t be anywhere near a seven-year-old girl. And it shouldn’t be the letter writer’s and her husband’s job to fix the mother-in-law.

I would discuss the subject in-depth with your husband and come up with some clear, firm boundaries to present to his mother — the first being that hatred, racism and violence are not welcome in your home.

Okay, and those are good boundaries. I approve… in theory. However, there are some things that people just know. The mother-in-law knows that racism and violence are wrong. She doesn’t need to be told these things.

You will do your stepdaughter no favors by exposing her to those views.

Agreed, but this is understated. Annie Lane needs to emphasize that the little girl should NEVER be left with her grandmother. Ideally, the little girl should never be with Grandma at all, but she should most definitely never be left alone with her. This goes beyond being exposed to views, and into the territory of potential abuse.

After your mother-in-law goes through therapy to address her violent, hateful outbursts — assuming that she does —

Can I just interject midsentence? This woman is unemployed, homeless, violent, and racist. [You all can’t see it, but I’m shaking my head right now and scowling.] Therapy isn’t on the agenda. It should be! 😮 But it isn’t.

assuming that she does — you can discuss baby steps for bringing her back into your family’s life.

Yes, if the mother-in-law redeems herself, that’s fine. But realistically, people who are that far gone usually don’t enjoy doing the hard work of introspection and therapeutic self-improvement.

Fitness –> Discipline

So, my word for 2021 was fitness, if I recall correctly. And I accomplished a lot toward that. I think I lost ten pounds overall this year, because I had a life coach helping me in summer; and I developed better habits. One thing I’ve noticed is that if it’s a special occasion like Christmas, I go off the habits in a heartbeat. Like, several days ago, I found a huge tray of cinnamon rolls atop the refrigerator. My dad had brought them home from a party he attended. I ate almost the entire tray in one day. Trust me, if I see junk food, I can eat it!

But in good news, I’ve gotten a lot better at getting back on track. Used to be, if I went on a binge like that (there were other Christmas foods involved, too), then I’d just give up and think, Oh, why bother continuing to diet? I just messed up big time. But now, my mindset is more like, Okay, that’s over, and all the Christmas foods are gone. Back to the diet, with the healthier eating, the exercising, and the iffing (intermittent fasting)!

So, that’s good. I was sort of a mess yesterday because I’d slept quite poorly. Last night, I slept much better but awoke a bit too early, so I might need a nap later. But anyway, I’m back on the diet, including the iffing, so I won’t eat until… hmm… 1:45, since I got up at 9:45.

So now I need a word for 2022. Hmm… Discipline is a contender. I find it quite easy to work on my non-memoir, but I have to keep talking myself into going to the gym because it seems like work to exercise. I’d also like to be more emotionally disciplined and nonreactive.

And I’d like to be more mentally disciplined by watching more TV and/or reading more books. That might sound ridiculous, especially the TV part, but I have a hard time focusing on storylines, and it’s hard for me to sit through a program. It’s easy enough to have Frasier or The Golden Girls on in the background. I’ve seen them all countless times, and I enjoy watching them again and again with varying levels of focus. (Like, I might have them on while I’m at the computer or just eating a quick snack.)

But I want to actually sit myself down and watch a TV show every day where I have to follow the storyline, and the same with reading books. I like a few older shows like The Facts of Life and Night Court, which I think I have on DVD somewhere. I have a cheap little DVD player, too. Nothing’s stopping me.

And I’d like to go to the gym daily for treadmill use, and use my home gym to exercise my entire body over the course of a week. (I was thinking of exercising two muscle groups every other day.)

Hmm… I guess I could have some spiritual discipline, too. I hate meditation. Nothing could be more boring. Hmm… I’ll come up with something. At any rate, I think discipline’s a great word for next year. If anyone out there has a word, feel free to share it!

A breakdown in logic.

Dear Annie: I don’t know how to begin, so I’ll just start by saying that after my father passed away 20 years ago, my sisters abandoned me. At my father’s funeral, my oldest sister told me out loud, in front of my other sisters, that they are never going to speak to me again since my protector (my dad) is gone.

We had just laid our father in his grave, and the pain of losing him was intense, and I was sobbing. She told me that my tears were fake and to stop because nobody cares.

None of my sisters kept in touch until my sister “Alice” was diagnosed with terminal cancer. I begged to come see Alice, and I was allowed. Since I was separated from my husband at the time, I offered to be her caregiver, and she was so pleased. I took care of her until she passed away, six months later. Immediately after her funeral, I was right back to being abandoned again.

I tried to keep in touch. I made sure to send Christmas cards to the ones for whom I had contact information, but I received no reply. Later, I got blocked, as their address had changed.

Now we’re all in our 60s and 70s, and I kept hoping that our relationships would change, but they have not. I’ve been divorced for 10 years, and my sisters don’t care to check on me.

I miss my sisters very much and can’t let them go. I can’t remove them from my heart or thoughts. — Abandoned in Vegas

Dear Abandoned in Vegas: I am so sorry for your loss — not only the loss of your father and sister but the loss of your relationship with your other sisters as well. Your oldest sister harbors long-term resentment toward you, and your other sisters are following her lead. I would suggest starting with one of your sisters who you feel closest to and letting her know how much you love and miss her.

You can’t control how she or any of your other sisters will react, but you can control how to communicate your love for them. Good luck. (c) Annie Lane @

Oh, Annie Lane!

First of all, looking at this part:

Your oldest sister harbors long-term resentment toward you, and your other sisters are following her lead.

I don’t know if I believe that. I think it’s very possible that the older sister is the spokesperson for all of them. Even if she isn’t, and Annie Lane is correct that the others are blind sheep, then who wants to have a close relationship with people who kowtow to their oldest sister to the point of cruelly abandoning the letter writer? Annie Lane almost makes it sound as if following the leader is a justification for such cruelty. Geez Louise.

And that premise of hers leads to this advice:

I would suggest starting with one of your sisters who you feel closest to and letting her know how much you love and miss her.

Okay, Annie Lane, let’s have a little talk. She’s tried that. She’s sent cards. She no longer has their addresses. She has no way to reach out.

Even if that weren’t the case, there’s a point of cruelty that you should quit being blindly forgiving of. Good grief.

You can’t control how she or any of your other sisters will react, but you can control how to communicate your love for them.

She has been controlling how she communicates her love for them. Gracious saints to Betsy, Annie Lane. What she actually needs to control is her feelings. She’s overly sentimental. What I sense is that she might be lonely. She needs friends. You know, the good kind who won’t mistreat her like this.

When I was younger, I had bad friends. They were snobby and stuck on themselves and shallow. I wanted us to be friends forever, because I believed that only friendships forged while growing up have any longevity or value. I was wrong about that (and thank God!), but I kept trying to make things work with those friends, long beyond it was obvious that those relationships were dead, because I couldn’t believe that there were better people out there, and that not all friendships have to go way back. I’m glad, really glad, that I finally walked away from those people. And now I do have wonderful friends who love me for me. (Shout out!)

I think that can also apply to family members. If she can just find better friends, then she won’t be so hurt by her sisters’ cruelty. I think she might be at the mercy of her own loneliness here. That’s never good. This letter writer needs to do everything–and I do mean everything–possible to get some good friends in her life. As for her sisters… [shaking my head]… no. Just no.

Well, let’s check out Annie Lane’s next letter here. Maybe Annie Lane will deal with the important issues of today!

Dear Annie: Lately, I see so many emails from grandparents who are wondering how to deal with grandchildren who fail to acknowledge gifts, and my heart breaks for them […]

Or not.

Oh well, forget that. Let’s take a look at yesterday’s column! Maybe it has some good content.

Dear Annie: I need some advice on how to approach my older sister about how both she and her husband conduct themselves at family gatherings. They feel entitled to anything my parents have.

The first thing you have to know about them is that they are nearly 40 years old, yet they still act like children. They heavily rely on my parents financially and have no real drive to better themselves.

For instance, my parents own a lake house and a beach rental that my sister always seems to call dibs on whenever my parents announce they will not be using them that weekend. That by itself is not bad, but it’s the way that they go about it and the way they treat other people’s belongings that becomes annoying. They have literally caused thousands of dollars of damage on multiple occasions, but they never even dream of paying back my parents.

They also love claiming whole weekends as soon as they know my parents will not be there, and then they invite their other grown-up children friends to “party” and take advantage of my parents’ good nature. I think this has not gone unnoticed by my parents, but they have always enabled her and keep letting her do whatever she wants.

My sister and her husband are also the cheapest people on the planet, but they have no problem spending my parents’ money or taking advantage of any situation that my parents afford them. At family gatherings, they have this habit of getting sloppy drunk and making fools of themselves.

This involves both of them draining nice bottles of wine that my parents put out for everyone. My brother-in-law will take half a bottle in his glass and then joke about wanting to make sure he gets the good wine. My sister is the exact same way, and she will empty bottles so fast that my parents, or anyone else, can barely get a glass before it is gone.

I would love nothing more than to call them both out the next time they do this, but I don’t want to be the one to ruin Christmas (where I know this will happen again). When facing any criticism, my sister will scream and cry like a toddler, so it has always been hard to approach her about anything she needs to change.

How would you tell someone like that to grow up and think of someone other than herself? I’ve talked about this with my parents and know that the whole situation annoys them, too, but they still enable her and allow her to act the way she does. — Fed-Up Younger Brother

Dear Younger Brother: Wow, it is very understandable that you are fed up with your sister and brother-in-law. To say their behavior is childish, selfish and rude is an understatement. But in order for the behavior to change, the real people who have to get truly fed up are your parents. It is their wine and their lake and beach house that your sister and brother-in-law are taking advantage of. Maybe you need to have a family meeting or some sort of an intervention.

Getting sloppy drunk and taking advantage of your parents in their 40s can’t do much for their self-esteem. My guess is that, deep down, your sister and brother-in-law are probably not very happy and probably need some help instead of judgement about all of their terrible behaviors.

Think of your family as a team that needs to work together, and two of your teammates are really hurting the rest of the team through their self-destructive actions.

Oh, Annie Lane! Really!

This is appalling. I’m on board with her advice at the beginning, until she recommends the intervention. I’d love to be a fly on the wall for that spectacle! (“Susie, hand Mommy the wine. You have a problem.” And, “No! You can’t pry this wine out of my cold, dead hands, you foul woman! I hate you!”) And her second paragraph is beyond idiotic. These are not unhappy people. They’re immature people. There’s a difference. I’m not saying there’s never any overlap, but here it doesn’t apply.

At least Annie Lane didn’t suggest that they’re secretly mentally ill. It’s a pet peeve of mine to confuse gross immaturity with mental illness. But I don’t think these people are unhappy, either. They’re getting their way with everything! They can do whatever they want!

Maybe what Annie Lane means is that the rest of us, who aren’t total users who take and take and take from others, wouldn’t be happy living that way. I for one wouldn’t want to keep taking advantage of my mom’s vacation home by trashing it and doing several thousand dollars worth of damage. I’m sure most people feel the same way. But Annie Lane’s logic is flawed. No, it wouldn’t make me happy to live that way. But from that we cannot assume that people who choose to live that way are unhappy.

I’m almost certain of this. In college logic class, we learned things like:

If [A then B] is always true, then is [not A then not B] always true? 

And the answer is no.

Like, if all the boys in a classroom have brown hair, you could say, if the student in that classroom is a boy, then he has brown hair. (If A then B.) That would be true. But if the student wasn’t a boy but a girl, then you can’t assume that she won’t have brown hair. (Not A then not B.) For example. Maybe several of the girls also have brown hair like the boys.

There’s a similar logical breakdown in Annie Lane’s belief that these people must secretly be unhappy. In reality, being immature is what makes them happy! They’re bad people. Annie Lane’s too naive to understand that there are some people out there who lack morals. I’ve encountered such people. They walk among us. There’s not a darned thing that this letter writer can do but attend some Al-Anon meetings, which I can’t believe Annie Lane didn’t recommend. I thought she’d mastered referrals, but I guess not. He should also just avoid these family members. I know I sure would.

An iffing Christmas!

A merry Christmas to everyone! YAY!

I’ve been iffing (doing intermittent fasting), and it’s going quite well! I think I know what I did wrong back when I originally studied it. I was setting specific times of day, like, “I’ll eat from 4:00 PM until 11:00 PM,” for example, which is what’s recommended (that you pick specific hours and stick to them).

Here’s why that didn’t work: it made each day a differing level of difficulty based on whether I’d wake up at 9:00 AM (early for me) versus 1:00 PM (late for me). You never know when I’ll wake up.

So for the past few weeks, I’ve been noting when I wake up and adding on four hours of fasting to that time. Now I feel like I’m making a more consistent effort, and it’s doable, because it’s the same level of difficulty every day. Never does it feel easier or harder, regardless of when I wake up.

During those four hours, I only drink water (and don’t eat). I learned from studying fasting that if you drink anything with a flavor (possibly including unsweet tea or coffee, but I’m not sure), then your body reacts as if you’ve eaten something, and you’ve lost the benefits of fasting. Don’t quote me on that, but that’s how I understood it. So… yeah, water.

It feels good to start the day with discipline. Unfortunately, last night, my dad bought a small chocolate cake to celebrate Christmas. It had four slices. I ate one slice when he did. And then he went to bed and didn’t bother to take the cake into his room with him. [Eyeroll.] That’s one place where I’ll never go in search of food–not if he’s in there sleeping in the nude. You couldn’t pay me. But there it was on top of the refrigerator, so I ate a second slice before bed. One lone slice remained.

Then I woke up at 6:00 AM from a nightmare. My first thought as I recovered was, There’s another slice of cake on the refrigerator. And then I was over the nightmare. I ate it and went back to bed.

So I’m still doing my four-hour fast today, even though I was up in the middle of the night eating gooey chocolate cake. I’m only going to make iffing exceptions for holidays and crises. (Hopefully there won’t be any unfortunate overlap. But with my family, you never know.)

In good news, once I start eating four hours after I wake up, I can tell I’ve lost my appetite, and I don’t eat much. Wow. I’m down with that. Also, my late-night desire to get snack food from the local drugstore has been snuffed out due to the coronavirus. From what I understand, since everyone in my country is now living off of unemployment, no one wants to work; so businesses are no longer open overnight. The drugstore now closes at 10:00 PM, as does the local grocery store. If I can’t buy junk food, then I can’t eat junk food. Darn my father for getting that cake and leaving it out, anyway. Although it’s miraculous that the one piece was still there when I (first) went to bed. Pass the cake!

So it feels like a good new habit, and it’s one I think I’ll be able to maintain. The four hours are bookended by two dog walks and some other starting-the-day activities. Sometimes if I’m caught up in editing my non-memoir, I can go for five hours instead of four. (I have no proclivity toward disordered eating. Trust me, this is preferable to my natural tendency to eat all day long.)

I also like it that I experience hunger now. It’s easier to cope with at the top of the day, because I can tell myself that I can eat as much as I want to later. But Sonya thinks I should eat earlier in the day and not eat at the end of the day. She explained about metabolism and how your body wants to burn off what you eat while you’re still awake and active. She might be right, but with my psychology, it wouldn’t work out for me. [Shaking my head.] For one thing, psychologically, it feels great when I’ve been up for four hours and haven’t eaten yet. Like, wow, go me. I need that oomph. Otherwise, I might wake up and head straight to the pastry shop and get a bagel, a cinnamon-pretzel twist, and a croissant. You see the problem. As it is, after four hours of not eating, I’m so impressed with  myself that I make a healthier meal to break the fast (oatmeal, whole-grain homemade waffles, grilled chicken, Lara bars, etc.).

So I’m really proud of myself, although I still regret the cake incident. Oh well! It is what it is.

Have a happytimes holiday!

Fool me twice!

Dear Amy: After 20 years and many tears, my ex has decided to reappear.

He found my daughter on social media. She was hesitant to put him in touch. This man literally ran out of our lives. This put me into a major depression. I had a total breakdown.

I made contact, and he told me about his life and mistakes. He apologized to me.

I told him I had forgiven him long ago.

He recently broke up with his girlfriend and I am baffled about why he’s in touch.

I just can’t wrap my mind around as to why he wants to talk to me now after all these years.

He talks about all the good times we had. He remembers every single detail of events from years’ past, like they were yesterday.

He said that he messed up badly and regretted everything he did that hurt me.

He has not asked me for anything, except to listen.

I have loved this man the whole time he was gone and now I am afraid I will be hurt again. It’s very painful for me. I am afraid.

I don’t know what he wants of me (if anything), and it’s very confusing.

What should I do? Should I just ask him, point blank?

Or should I just fade away and leave the past in the past?

I have had a lot of trauma and abandonment in my life, and I don’t know if I could handle being hurt again.

— Dazed and Confused

Dazed: I’m going to be that cynical friend — the one who challenges you when you’re lost in the weeds.

He’s in touch with you now because he just broke up with his girlfriend.

He’s manipulating you now with tales from the crypt because — he just broke up with his girlfriend.

My question for you is: Why does he get to be in charge? Why does he get to dominate these conversations?

Maybe it’s time for you to be in charge. You’ve had 20 years to prepare. And you deserve to express yourself, not out of anger, but because you have a voice and a point of view.

You could say, “Well, we’ve walked down memory lane. That was nice. Now, what’s next?”

If he says, “I just want to be friends. I want to make amends,” you can say. “You’ve done that, and I accept. We’re good!”

He may imply (but not say) that he wants to rekindle the relationship.

If so, you — still in charge — will say, “I need to think about it. Don’t call me, I’ll call you.”

You could take this as the closure you’ve been denied over the last 20 years. Don’t fade away. Consider walking away. And if you want to give a relationship with him another try, do so with your eyes wide open. (c) Ask Amy

True story: I read this advice column last night before bed at around midnight or 12:30 AM. (Ask Amy’s new content comes out at midnight each night in my time zone.) And reading this really upset me. Gracious heavenly saints. Agitated, I went to bed, or I tried to; and four sleepless hours passed before I started to wonder if I’d forgotten to take my nightly sedative. I staggered out of bed, went downstairs, took it, watched the opening of a Hallmark Christmas movie, and then came upstairs and fell asleep before 5:00 in the morning.

Come 4:00 PM, my dad called up the stairs to me, and I managed to utter, “I’m asleep. Please come up here and wake me up,” and he obliged. He turned on lights and said my room looked nice, and he laughed at how I was faceplanting my bed. I groaned. And then LuLu the Pup leapt onto the bed and plopped herself on top of me.

So, this letter was deeply upsetting for a multitude of reasons. I don’t even know where to start, but the obvious issue is that humans are supposed to learn discernment when they’re hurt by someone. Once bitten, twice shy. Or, fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. 

It doesn’t mean we need to become hostile and verbally aggressive toward the person who hurt us (although I often choose that route), but the important thing is to put up a wall to prevent a recurrence of the hurt. This letter writer has had twenty freakin’ years to realize that he hurt her and therefore shouldn’t be trusted, and after all that time, she’s still in love with him. It’s never crossed her mind to hold him accountable for abandoning her. It’s never crossed her mind to come to a place of personal power like, “You were cruel to walk out my daughter and me. If you think you can just waltz back into my life, then you’ve got a shitload to answer for, buddy.”

I get that he’s been apologetic, but I’m not buying his apologies. There’s too much damning evidence that he’s using her:

  • His girlfriend just dumped him.
  • He’s only sorry now because he needs her back (so he won’t feel alone and dumped).
  • He’s apologized, yes, but he hasn’t asked how he can make it up to her. Offering to move heaven and earth, and then doing so, comes to mind, just offhand.

He recently broke up with his girlfriend and I am baffled about why he’s in touch.

This is what’s so heartbreaking! The letter writer wanted Ask Amy to say:

He’s clearly been pining for you ever since he walked out. He regrets his actions and wants another chance. Just hear him out and be openminded. 

But that’s not what Ask Amy said. This poor letter writer was hoping against hope that this cad actually cares about her, but… no. Just no.

I’ve known guys who’ve recycled through past girlfriends. It’s appalling. One girlfriend dumps him, so he goes back to a past girlfriend instead of having to start the process all over again. This attitude is disgusting because it treats people as if they’re disposable and interchangeable.

I mean, it’s different if a guy breaks up with someone because he’s still madly in love with someone from the past. But that’s not really what I’m referring to.

I have had a lot of trauma and abandonment in my life, and I don’t know if I could handle being hurt again.

There are no guarantees in life, but at some point the letter writer needs to take a certain amount of responsibility for protecting herself. If she were blindsided by someone, it wouldn’t necessarily be on her that she allowed someone to hurt her. But in this instance, when she darned well knows what this louse is capable of, it will really be on her if she lets him hurt her again. There aren’t even words for her level of naïvete.

She’s dealt with abandonment and trauma, and yet she’s setting herself up to experience more of it. I don’t think the lesson here is to be able to handle abandonment without coming undone. The lesson is to be discerning and to avoid letting untrustworthy people into her life in the first place. I’d look at it that way. And if she’s abandoned by someone where there were no obvious signs that it was coming (which certainly isn’t the case here), then she should learn to look back and see the signs before it happened, which she probably turned a blind eye to at the time.

I don’t know what he wants of me (if anything), and it’s very confusing.

What should I do? Should I just ask him, point blank?

Or should I just fade away and leave the past in the past?

I love Ask Amy’s advice. The letter writer isn’t being very proactive here, nor very assertive; and she has every right to be both. “What are you looking for? Why are you back in my life now? Are you on the rebound from your last girlfriend? Are you just interested in my forgiveness?” The letter writer seems quite passive and incapable of speaking up and asking these things.

It’s kind of weird. I recently reconnected with someone I knew four years ago. I blogged about it at the time, if I recall. I was glad to reconnect when he reached out to me, because I’d always felt bad that we ended things on such awful terms. But as it turned out, he was just as diabolical now as he was back in 2017. As soon as I confirmed that, I was gone. Like, okay, that’s all I need to know. And now I’m better off, because I’m no longer feeling bad that we parted on bad terms. He’s just a bad person. [Shrug.]

There should always be discernment. People can grow and change, but they need to prove it instead of asking you to take it on faith. Never take it on faith.

Oh, Annie Lane!

Annie Lane’s column today is titled, “Time to Address Table Manners”. Oh geez. I’m glad she’s still tackling the big issues.

Dear Annie: We need help in handling a family situation that arose during a Thanksgiving visit. My brother-in-law has no table manners.

He generally forgoes silverware and eats whatever he thinks appropriate with his hands. He does this both at home and in restaurants. Fork food is shoveled onto the fork with his fingers rather than a knife. Picture that — with turkey and gravy. Then he wipes his hands on his pants. The napkin is reserved for blowing his nose after he eats.

My sister watches in apparent disgust but doesn’t say anything. They have been married for more than 40 years. Nobody wants to sit opposite him as he shovels food into his mouth. How do we handle this behavior? — Disgusted (c) Annie Lane @

Oh, for crying out loud. Once again, Annie Lane has positioned herself to give broad, generic advice of no import. Hmm… she’ll probably take the assertive route and urge these people to teach their brother-in-law better manners. Because that would go over so, so well in real life. [Facepalm.]

Dear Disgusted: It’s shocking that after 40 years of marriage, your sister has not said anything and still watches in disgust. His behavior at the table is awkward and unappetizing for everyone. You have to speak with your sister about it. If he is invited to Thanksgiving and is going to sit down with the family, he must use a knife and fork, and under no circumstances can he use the napkin to blow his nose at the table. If he cannot behave, you might put him at the kids’ table, though his atrocious manners would set a terrible example for children.

Tell your sister that unless he shapes up his table manners, he is going to have to sit out of dinner. Maybe he can come over for drinks before dinner, but he will lose his right to sit with the family at dinner. He might not even know that what he is doing is so bad. That is why it is up to your sister (his wife) to tell him! 

Okay, that’s mediocre. But he might not know that what he’s doing is so bad?! Is that possible? I mean, someone would be just as likely to… I don’t know… fart loudly on an airplane without even trying to restrain it. Or blow their nose without a tissue in the grocery store. You know what I mean? There are accidents, and then there are extreme lapses in normal judgment.

I suspect Annie Lane’s making up her letters again, probably while getting high on her holiday nog. One giveaway is the extremity of the letter. There are bad table manners, and then there are bad table manners. This guy sounds like a boor. This could just me be, but I wouldn’t invite him. I think it would be simpler to not have him over than it would be to go through the whole rigamarole of getting his wife to fix his manners. The wife, however, could be given the role of either letting her husband know why he has to stay home, OR simply staying home with him and not letting her husband know there was ever an invite (for her). Because I really don’t think that someone whose table manners are that bad deserves to be invited. I’d put it that way to the wife and let her proceed accordingly.

Dear Annie: This year, I am grateful to have hosted a meal and love with two other family units who were far from their own families (in several ways).

You can’t choose your family, but you can choose your friends — and show them the caring you wish all biological families would have. — Friends Are Family

Dear Friends Are Family: Thank you for sharing.

What?! No, no, no, no, no. This is so unthinkable. Once again, Annie Lane’s writers are penning her column for her. Seriously, everyone out there, this is a free-for-all. If you want to get published in an advice column for any reason, just send your suggestions for living a better life to Annie Lane. [Facepalm.] And what is this, a PSA for friends? I’m a huge believer in friendship. It’s what I’m all about. But this is pathetic. Is Annie Lane this incapable of creating original content? AAUGH!

Let’s see what else is in her column today! I’m hopeful that the third letter here will include some hard-hitting journalism that will really alter my worldview and dig deep into the issues that affect us all. [I just burst into laughter. Hey, I tried to type that with a straight face.]

Dear Annie: This is regarding “Seeking Opinion,” the senior woman who was debating whether to ask for a ride to her church.

I think there was a missed opportunity to engage the church to help. Churches that I’ve attended readily stepped up by providing a ride, which also served to create and build a connection between the rider and the “chauffeur.”

I would have recommended contacting the pastor of her church and asked for help arranging a ride. If they didn’t eagerly respond, I’d recommend finding a new church that did. A lack of response indicates that church is not her “tribe” — time for something better. — Exploring Options

Dear Exploring Options: What a great suggestion! Thank you for sharing this keen insight, and it sends a powerful reminder message to pastors everywhere.

I’m so excited I’m lactating. [Shaking my head.] Sigh. Well, someone needs to address these pertinent societal issues. It may as well be Annie Lane. Will the church send the old woman a ride? Stay tuned next week. I’m on the edge of my seat.


Well, I’ve been working on my non-memoir ALL DAY, and all I’ve accomplished is some data-entry related tasks. Namely, I’ve switched the 102,000-word doc from first-person to third-person. I used the find-and-replace function and checked each word individually as I went. For example, when I changed the word “my” to “her”, I had to make sure that “my” wasn’t in a line of dialogue. Because the first-person would be:

“I really love my television programs,” I said. 

And the third-person would be:

“I really love my television programs,” she said. 

Because if you change the “I” and the “my” that are in the spoken quotes, you’ve messed up the story. I’ve been working on that FOR HOURS. I think I’ve fried my brain. Fortunately, Annie Lane’s riveting bit of journalism was just the diversion I needed.

Sadly, all of my beta readers dislike the switch to third-person. I understand where they’re coming from. My main character (basically,  me) is weird and seems standoffish in third-person. In first person, you feel more like you’re inside her head, which is trippy, psychedelic, technicolor madness. In third-person, you’re on the outside looking in, and you crave the shimmering vibrancy. That’s the best way I can explain it.

However, I want the book to be literary, similar to Wally Lamb’s She’s Come Undone. Although in my case, it would be more like, She Was Born Undone and They Tried to Put Her Back Together. (I can tell I’m in a weird mood now. Like I said… braindeath.)

I asked Sonya for the notes from her beta reader’s group, which I don’t attend because it’s in Prague. (I did attend it several times while there. It was fun!) I told her I didn’t want to rush her, but I needed her to give me the notes before she could forget them, since I didn’t know if she wrote them down or made mental notes. So she freakin’ sent me a solid page of notes amounting to, “Change everything! And make it first-person again, we beg of you.” And I was just staring at the notes, like, Sure, I can tackle all that, with a look of panic on my face. I think I can tackle all the issues raised, but I really want it to be third-person. I’m not even sure why, but it feels right to me now that it’s a non-memoir.

One drawback to writing fiction is that reviewers jump all over you if you create any aspect of a scene that strikes the reader as unbelievable. I’m not talking about high fantasy here, but of everyday human reactions. Like, apparently, with the police, for example, there was this time that I called them because my brother and sister were about to attack each other, and the police showed up two minutes later and saved them.

Readers’ reactions are like, “She’d never call the cops in real life! Who does that?!”

“The cops wouldn’t show up in two minutes unless they were really familiar with the family!”

And on and on. So if anyone reviews my non-memoir in that way, I’m just going to be all like, well, I did call the cops, and they did show up in two minutes; and no, they weren’t familiar with our family, but we have a low crime rate in my neighborhood, so if you throw them a domestic dispute, they’re all over it. And they have the whole neighborhood map memorized. It’s a small area.

People look for that when they’re critiquing fiction, like, “That’s not a normal reaction of that character.” Unfortunately, with my main character, who’s essentially me, I’ve never reacted to anything normally. I don’t even know how. Oh well. I could mention that in the non-memoir.

Ophelia marched to the beat of a different drummer. And so, when her siblings were primed to kill one another, Ophelia did the only sensible thing and called the cops. Although no one ever understood why she did it, she was a legend in her own mind, for she’d saved them from being killed or maimed. And for that, she was forever proud. 

I clearly need some sleep. I’m just like… Zzzzz. Hmm. Sleepytime would be good. I think I’m a bit manic. It’ll self-regulate by the time I wake up tomorrow, so it’s not worth worrying about. [Yawn.] Oh yeah, I need some sleepytime. Hmm. Oh wow, it’s late.

As you can see, doing data entry for hours and hours isn’t healthy for my brain. I think I had a job doing data entry once. I wound up in a stall in the restroom sobbing loudly and hysterically. That was a bad moment. Two nights before, I’d gotten drunk because I wanted to know what it was like to be drunk. I thought it was a mystical altered state of consciousness. As it turned out, I was wrong about that.

When I came to, I couldn’t find my eyeglasses. I was supposed to start a new job the next day, and I couldn’t see diddly. My dad took me out and bought me new eyeglasses with a new prescription. And then at the job the next day, the data entry was supposed to be done in these monitors that you had to look down in your lap to see. Our supervisor joked (as if this was remotely funny–it wasn’t) that she’s had perfect 20/20 vision until she did our jobs. The fact that my eyeglasses weren’t the same prescription I was used to from my old pair didn’t help. The images on the lowered monitors started to swim. I was in a panic, like, I’m losing my vision, and this job is damaging my eye health. I didn’t know what to do, so I wound up in the bathroom practically shrieking like an unhinged maniac. A few people asked from the other side of my stall door, “Are you okay? Can we do anything for you?” and I didn’t even know how to reply.

I went home and found my old eyeglasses. They were on the VCR, which I guess made sense before I passed out drunk.

So, yeah, data entry’s a bad fit for me, which is sad, because I’m not good at doing anything else in a professional context. I’m so relieved I get the big disability bucks now. All that pressure to work and be sane was just too much for me.


DEAR ABBY: Occasionally when my husband goes running, I drop him off at the park while I do the grocery shopping. We agree to meet back at the drop-off spot in one hour. Occasionally, I’m late by maybe five minutes, and certainly no more than eight or nine. When this happens, my husband gets extremely angry, although the very first thing I do is apologize for being late.

Sometimes the grocery store line is long or there’s traffic in town. When he gets angry, he says, “Why can’t you do this simple thing?” and rants on and on despite my apologies. I never intend to be late; it happens only one out of five times. Besides, I’m doing the shopping, which benefits us both.

It hurts me when he does this and I tell him so. Honestly, I feel it is verbal abuse. We are self-employed and work together. Our relationship is generally more or less OK. What are your thoughts? — UNAPPRECIATED IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR UNAPPRECIATED: My “thought” is that your impatient and immature husband should provide his own transportation if he wants to go running in the park rather than berate you for things that are beyond the control of his chauffeur and grocery shopper. (c) DEAR ABBY

There’s a lot of truth to that. Occasional grumpiness seems normal to me, but if one situation keeps triggering it, then there needs to be a workaround. But it sounds like he’s more than grumpy if he’s getting irate over it. I wonder what he’s like in other aspects of getting along? Huh. I’m hoping this is an isolated source of anger.

When my sister lived here in 2012, she was using my internet, that I paid for. She offered to pay for part of my internet bill, but that wasn’t the point and I didn’t want her to be using it. I wanted her to get her own internet and not depend on mine. My reasoning was that whenever I closed the internet due to impending thunderstorms or my desire to rearrange my furniture up here, she’d go batshit crazy and become abusive over it. And so I kept urging her, please, get your own internet. She didn’t want to do that. She felt entitled to complain about my internet rather than paying for her own. (It wasn’t about money.)

One time she got so mad at me that she waved a broom in my face. Again, I begged her to get her own internet.

I became afraid of her and started hiding up in my room, looking outside all the time to see if her car was parked outside (bad), and if our dad’s car was parked outside (good). One day I didn’t see my dad’s car, but when I finally braved it and went downstairs, there he was. He’d parked up the street. I had a minor freakout about how I couldn’t live in fear any longer, and my sister came barging out of her room and ordered me to shut up. I said something like, “No! I can’t live this way anymore.” And she charged toward me and then lifted me by my wrist and threw me onto the wall. Our dad yelled at her that he’d kick her out if she ever did that again, and then she retreated into her room and made jokes on social media with extended maternal family members about butter. (Your guess is as good as mine. [Shrug.]) These jokes were made within five minutes of her assaulting me, while I was still in a haze on the floor wondering why my wrist hurt to move. (She’d snapped it.)

That story does remind me of this letter, because the husband should be made to get his own transportation if he’s doing to be ungrateful for the transportation his wife is offering. I just hope the husband’s being a grump and not an abuser, but all we can do is hope.

DEAR ABBY: I have been dating “Mark” for 18 months. Four months ago, his 17-year-old daughter, “Hayley,” started disliking me — my dog, my kids, anything having to do with me. She forbids me from going to Mark’s house when she’s there and has an emotional meltdown every time we see each other. She has major episodes whenever my name is mentioned and has become violent with her sister, “Lily,” Mark and me.

Last night, Lily told Hayley my kids and I were invited over for dinner (Hayley is going to be gone for a football game), and Hayley accused Lily of “ruining their family” for liking me. Mark had to separate them to protect his younger daughter.

The problem is, there are never any consequences for Hayley’s behavior. Mark keeps telling me she needs “time.” I have tried to end the relationship, but Mark insists we just need to stick it out. We had been talking about moving in together before Hayley went into this phase. Now everything is on pause, and our relationship has taken 10 steps backward.

How can I get over this and become comfortable rather than upset in our relationship? He keeps promising me he will make changes, but he doesn’t. Nothing is moving forward. Do I walk away or wait it out? — NO PROGRESS IN IOWA

DEAR NO PROGRESS: I wish you had mentioned what the plans are for Hayley when she turns 18 and graduates from high school. Is college in her future? Will she get a job and continue living with her father? That Mark is unable to assert himself with Hayley is, to say the least, regrettable.

If you haven’t already done so, “suggest” to Mark that family counseling could help him get to the root of what has caused Hayley’s abrupt change of attitude. From what you have described, she may have severe emotional problems that require professional help.

Oh dear. She might require professional help? Really? Paging Dr. Phil!


This relationship needs to end. The power to fix these issues are on Mark’s end, and he apparently is unwilling to tackle the problems head-on. Among other things, he needs to:

  • Have a talk with Hayley about her feelings
  • Get her professional help
  • Enact a nonviolence policy that, if broken, will result in Hayley’s being grounded or losing her allowance, etc., etc.
  • Do everything in his power to protect Lily, including never leaving her alone with Hayley

I wish you had mentioned what the plans are for Hayley when she turns 18 and graduates from high school.

Dear Abby raises an interesting point, but I don’t think it matters. Even if Hayley moves out and lives in the dorms, she’s still going to be an emotional mess. Any belief that this problem can be “waited out”, as the letter writer put it, is idiotic and hopeless. This can’t be waited out. And it shouldn’t be. Hayley needs help. Any parent who decides, “Oh, my kid’s graduating soon, and then their problems won’t be my problems,” has got to be the laziest, most unmotivated parent ever; and that’s what Mark looks like here.

Mark keeps telling me she needs “time.”

Right. I think that’s code for, “I don’t want to do anything proactive to fix this.”

I have tried to end the relationship, but Mark insists we just need to stick it out.

Does she mean that she offered to end the relationship if it would help Mark’s family? That was kind of her. But the problem is that she’s taking Mark’s word here that things will improve. I assume the letter writer trusts Mark’s judgment. Objectively, I don’t. To me, it seems like Mark is conflict-avoidant and just wants to ignore the problem until it disappears. Sadly, the problem goes beyond his girlfriend getting along with Hayley. Hayley has serious issues and needs to get treatment; and she also needs to be told in no uncertain terms that violence is never okay.

I really think Dear Abby should’ve told the letter writer to walk away from this mess.

If you haven’t already done so, “suggest” to Mark that family counseling could help him get to the root of what has caused Hayley’s abrupt change of attitude.

Right. If I were this letter writer, that’s what I’d do on my way out the door. Mark already knows that he’s been dropping the ball. He’s already chosen to do nothing about it. And even if Hayley moves into the dorms and magically gets better, Mark will still be someone who didn’t love his daughter enough to help her when she was in high school. This relationship is over.

I’ve lost interest!

I had some sort of bizarre realization last night before bed. I had no idea what to make of it. I suddenly felt as if I don’t actually want a significant other. And for me that’s a very weird and unfamiliar feeling.

It started because I joined a singles group on social media for people who live in my city. Unfortunately, the other singles are vulgar and offensive in what they post. Like: If you’re feeling down, just know that there’s someone out there whose new year’s resolution is to bang you. Or: I want to see something cool. Not a meme or a filtered selfie, but a picture you’ve taken. Your farm, your pet, the sky, your asshole, flowers. I don’t care. Show me. And the asshole part was crossed off. Yuck.

So I don’t know if I’m having a visceral reaction to that level of perversion, because to a certain extent it seems perverted to me to want to have sex because someone’s sexy. There has to be a human layer to it, or it’s just… carnal and sinful.

So that got me to thinking that people only get romantically involved IF the other person is sexy and attractive enough to be suitable. This has nothing to do with merit, like how you might get into college by studying hard and writing a great entrance essay. It has nothing to do with anything that can be controlled. Sure, you can work out and exercise and eat healthy, but none of that can radically change what you look like in a unique sense.

And then I realized that if someone is in love with me because of what I look like, then that person’s shallow, and I don’t want to be with someone who’s shallow. Personally, I think I’m stunningly sexy. (Except for when I’m seeing my reflection in fluorescent lights. Ugh.) But guys think I’m a dog. All of that just adds to the confusion.

I think this might be my demisexuality acting up. I don’t understand going after someone because they’re good-looking. I get it if they’re good-looking AND you like their personality; but with dating, it seems to be, “Okay, you’re pretty enough, so let’s go out and get to know each other,” or, “Sorry, you’re a dog. It’s not going to happen.” None of that sits right with me. And so it occurred to me that what I’ve always wanted–a soulmate of a romantic nature (I have soulmates in my life who aren’t romantic, like my dad, for example)–is maybe something I don’t want after all. None of it seems right to me.

One guy on the singles facebook page is ugly. I feel genuinely sorry for him. He’s morbidly obese, and his double chin goes under his face from ear to ear. He’s probably doomed to a lifetime of no action, but then again, so am I, apparently. Ugh. At any rate, I unfollowed the group, and that should help my mindset. I have a pure mind that’s easily tainted by others’ filth. And to me there’s nothing filthier than being attracted to body parts separate from the human who owns them.

Monster Meg!

I’ve created a monster, and I’m referring to myself.

I’ve been working on my non-memoir for hours every day, and I’m filled with the thrill of its being potentially published. But ever since I made if fictional, it’s occurred to me that I can now put everyone’s secrets in there! Because it’s fiction! I don’t have to worry about protecting anyone else’s privacy!

This is not good.

This opens up all these doors to further dysfunction that just makes the whole book even more… depressing, which is what you want in good adult fiction, am I right? I mean, I want to get it published, and I also plan to have it published under a pseudonym, because otherwise it would be obvious who I’m writing about. And… wow! All the family secrets I’ve been keeping under wraps for 44 years have just come into play. Heaven help us all.

They’re doozies. Like, holy shit. Like what my mom did to my brother to destroy him before he entered into adolescence. Or why my biological maternal grandfather, who died before I was born, beat the shit out of my aunt. (I mean, alongside the obvious fact that he was a worthless, abusive bastard who I’m glad I never met, what was his specific motive?) It doesn’t get much more scandalous than that.

The whole point of going fictional was to add creative stuff like (more) space aliens. But as sad as this sounds, my life doesn’t need extra aliens to make it a novel-worthy experience. Sure, I might still throw some in there, but… dear God, I feel high on power, and it’s making me uncomfortable. Geez. Am I going to have to keep the book a secret from my family? I’ll be so proud of it! But, duh, Meg. The whole book makes both of your parents out to be abusers, which they were. 

Right, right, but my parents would be so proud if I get it published. They’d want to celebrate with me!

Yeah, but that would end if they were to, I dunno… READ THE BOOK. Your delicate, denial-ridden mother might not even be able to handle the dust jacket. 

Okay, I’m screwed. I don’t even know what to do now. But I’ll figure it out.

Maybe I should decide these things one at a time. My brother deserves privacy. That seems like a given. Despite how much his story adds to my non-memoir, I should respect that. (I asked him about it in a vague and nonspecific way, and he didn’t reply. Damn.)

My aunt, on the other hand, doesn’t deserve any privacy. This is the aunt who told me, after my mom physically abused me, “Sometimes parents just have to do that.” Recently, I found out why dead-Grandpa did it to her. And I was like, wow, that’s some scandalous shit. But here’s the thing. I’d have more respect for my aunt and her privacy if she’d, I don’t know… maybe INTERVENED AND STOPPED MY MOM FROM ABUSING ME INSTEAD OF LOOKING THE OTHER WAY UNTIL MY MOTHER WAS DONE BEATING THE SHIT OUT OF ME.

You all see what I mean when I say I’ve created a monster. My aunt’s story is the most scandalous of all, and I don’t respect her. I’m going straight to hell after I die. I can join my dead bio-grandfather there, that abusive bastard. But first I’m going to publish this book and make lots of money. Holy shit.

I’m a bad, bad family member. [Shaking my head.] Oh well. At least I’m not abusive! [Shrugs.] I think that counts for a lot.

Meg, you’ve never had kids, you idiot. 

Yeah, and that would be the reason why. You can’t abuse kids who don’t exist. More people need to think that way. [Nods sensibly.]

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