Dear Diane Column — July 30, 2011

Dear Diane,

When I was in school, I had a really bad reputation. I was a very angry girl, but that’s another story. I slept around with whoever was available, and I got drunk really often. I had no self respect, and I was one of those girls who got talked about. When I was a sophomore I had an abortion, and I only told one person, but she spread the story all over the school. There were horrible rumors about me, and I didn’t have anyone to trust.
When I was twenty, I decided to turn my life around, and I went back to school. I have a good job, a degree, and I’m sober. I recently met a really good man, and I think we could have a future together. When I visited him at his job, I was stunned to see that one of his coworkers went to my school. She was a gossip back then, and I’m afraid that he might find out about my past. I’m not proud of who I was, but I’ve tried hard to improve my life, and I don’t know how to keep him from finding out. He sees me as a strong, intelligent and confident woman, and I’m afraid he can’t handle my past. What do I do?

Hiding 

Dear Hiding,

You should be really proud of yourself! I pick up that there was a lot of drinking and anger in your family when you were growing up. Most people don’t have the strength to change their lives so early into adulthood. You had the courage to see things clearly, and you have a lot of wisdom to share with others who have walked in your shoes.
You are a true survivor, and you have a right to feel good about how far you’ve journeyed.  If this man is really the right person for you, he will feel compassion for the difficulty you have overcome. You are an amazing soul, so it’s time to stop hiding and start showing the world what a winner you truly are. Tell him how difficult your childhood was, and see how he reacts. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Diane
________________________

Dear Diane,

All of my life I’ve wanted nothing more than to be a mom. Some people want to have an important career, but to me there is nothing more important than being a good parent. I’ve stayed home with my kids for the past nine years, and I’ve loved every minute of it.
The problem is that most of the friends I had growing up are working or going to school. I get the feeling sometimes that they are avoiding me because I’m boring. I don’t have a lot of experience in the work world, but I don’t think I’m boring. How can I keep my friendships and still be who I am?  Do I need to let go of these friends and start over, or do I try and make them understand my world?

Denise

Dear Denise,

People change in early adulthood, often making life choices that are very different. Reunions give us a chance to see what others have chosen, but friendships are maintained through communication and common ground.
I pick up that while your main focus in conversation is your children, you are choosing a subject that many friends can’t relate to yet. Yes, you are a wonderful mother, but it’s time to take stock of all the other things that you are. I see that you enjoy gardening and photography, and these are hobbies enjoyed by many. Do you like to watch the news? Talk about what’s going on in the world! I sense that you enjoy reading, so how about mentioning a great book that you’ve read. Part of being a good parent is nurturing your own interests, and sharing these interests with friends will give you more common ground. In other words, what’s good for your friendships is good for you too. Good luck!

Diane
________________________

Dear Diane,

Every year the family goes on a vacation together, and every year I come back angry and exhausted. My husband likes fishing and camping, but with three kids and a dog, I never have a chance to rest. I feel like this is a fun trip for him because I do the cooking and watch the kids while he goes fishing and listens to the radio. I’m at my wits end, but he says we need to save money and this is a good compromise. Any ideas?

Fed Up

Dear Fed Up,

I understand how frustrated you must be, but as long as your husband is able to, this is the vacation he will choose. How about sending him off for the weekend on a camping trip alone with the kids? You and the dog can have a nice relaxing weekend alone. By helping him to understand your perspective, I see that he will be more open to alternatives in the future.
Perhaps you can start saving a few dollars a week towards a trip for just you and your husband. There are many inexpensive trips available right now, and a second honeymoon will keep him focused on the two of you enjoying each other. Family vacations are wonderful, but every so often, Mom needs a rest!

Diane

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