I went to New York alone through an organized bus-tour group last May. When we stopped for lunch, we were told to sit at tables for four. Three women asked me to sit with them.
One of the ladies asked me if I was retired. This upset me enormously because I’m only 43 and look much younger than my age.
I’ve been obsessing about it ever since.
I’m now terrified of eating with strangers and don’t want to talk to anyone for fear that everybody’s going to ask the same question.
The problem is that I believed what she said was true and that what I thought was wrong.
I’m so depressed, cannot sleep, or even enjoy life anymore.
Many people who are much older and look much older than me are still working and do not look retirement age.
My father insists that what the woman said wasn’t true. I don’t believe him. I believe her. What should I do?
Your father’s right, the woman was wrong.
But obsessing over a stranger’s passing comment is sapping your energy and life enjoyment, so counselling is crucial.
See your family doctor immediately about your depression to keep it from deepening. Ask for referral to a therapist who’ll help you put this behind you as that woman’s issue.
It’s highly possible she has distorted perceptions due to problems through dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other diminishing brain function.
You don’t look old. You’re not at retirement age. Therapy will help you regain your confidence in reality.
FEEDBACK Regarding the couple who couldn't agree over replacing the beloved dog who’d died (Sept. 21):
Reader – “I lived my whole life with dogs.
“Each dog was part of the family in its own way, and we mourned the loss of each one in its passing. Our dogs were primarily my mother's dogs, until the last dog my parents owned. That dog bonded first to Dad.
“The dog’s poor heart broke when Dad died, and she lived only a few months beyond. Mom never got another dog.
“When my youngest child was a toddler, I drove three hours to meet a breeder with a dog I intended to buy.
“I knew that I’d come to love this still-unknown dog and that in the natural course of events it would die before me, and tears came.
“Yes, we loved the dog for many years, and one day he left us. We all cried. We got more dogs.
“People who’ve always had dogs have learned they’ll love the dog and then lose it. People who’ve never owned a dog learn it the hard way.
“That woman's husband loved their dog for six years. It’s death broke his heart and shocked him.
“He must find the courage to risk his heart again. Perhaps she’ll help him remember it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved.
“Many people grieve as much for a pet as they do for some family members. Maybe grief counselling will help her husband.
“I agree with you, that this man's feelings have nothing to do with how much he loves his wife.
“She should listen to him and learn about his feelings without personalizing.
“However, sometimes when people have been shocked by loss and grief, they withdraw from their loving relationships. They pull back out of fear of losing an even greater love.
“Hopefully this couple will find their way through and both enjoy another family pet in the future.”
FEEDBACK Regarding the married man who keeps thinking about having sex with other women (Sept. 22):
Reader – “This guy is controlling, self-absorbed and selfish.
“I bet his attitude towards sex with his wife – “I get what I want when I want it” - permeates all other aspects of his life from the marriage, to work, kids, and dealing with others.
“He’s not capable of doing what you've asked of him or changing what he thinks is a good thing going for him.”
Ellie – Many men and women will sometimes fantasize about having sex with others but don’t act on it.
Some use that imagined scenario to spice up their libido when with their own partner.
Others share the fantasy “script” with their mate so both are more aroused.
But this man expressed no love, passion, or intimacy regarding sex with his wife of 15 years.
I suggested he try bringing his fantasies home.
Tip of the day:
Don’t let a stranger’s rude remarks affect your own self-image and confidence.