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Career that I don’t want

Dear Asad,

I am a sixteen years old studying in the last year of high school. I will be finishing my school in the coming summer when I will appear for my final exams. After that I plan to go to college for under graduate studies.

My father is a very successful and well renowned doctor. He has his own private practice which is doing very well. He makes a very handsome living. My two elder siblings are also doctors and work with my father in his clinic. It’s like a family business. My father wants the same for me. He wants me to enroll into a medical school to pursue a degree in medicine, become a doctor and then join him.

But this is something that I don’t want at all. I don’t want to be a doctor. I am not at all good in the science subjects. I don’t understand them and they bore me. I would be lucky to pass high school with a decent grade in the science subjects and that too after getting tutored privately in them.

On the other hand I excel in art. I am the best student in my art class. I enjoy and love attending art classes. I want to go in the creative fields. That is where my talent and my passion lie. My brain is always flooded with creative and artsy ideas. I have done a few projects for my school and all of them were well received and got me extraordinary praise. My teachers and the school counsellors understand this and have advised me to pursue a career in arts.

But my father is adamant. He won’t hear of it. He wants me to become a doctor and nothing else. I have tried convincing him but in vain. He simply doesn’t want to listen. I know I don’t have it in me to be a doctor and even if I did, I simply don’t want to be one. I won’t be happy studying and practicing medicine. I see my father and my brothers working in their clinic. They enjoy that work. I won’t. I want to do something that I am sure I would enjoy doing for the rest of my life. What should I do? How should I convince my father to let me pursue arts in college and not medicine?

Artsy Guy

Dear Artsy Guy,

First of all, let me congratulate you for being sensible enough to understand that one should preferably pursue a career in a field in which not only is one good at but also enjoys it.
Secondly, you should feel lucky and thankful that your talent lies in something which you enjoy. This combination is not always true for everyone. Very few people are lucky enough to have it.

I would advise you to pursue your dreams. Nothing is better than pursuing one’s dreams and achieving them and nothing is worse than being stuck in a job/career/work that makes you miserable and brings you no inner satisfaction. It ultimately leads to stress and burnout because every time you work, you are constantly at war with yourself.
And your school teachers and counsellors agree with you that you should pursue arts, which means that others also see your talent and passion.

Your father rightly or wrongly doesn’t understand this at present. There could be many reasons for it. May be he feels that a career in the arts field is not as financially stable as medicine. Or may be he feels that it’s not as honourable and respectful as that of a doctor.

Whatever the reason, you will have to sit down with him and try to convince him. You will need to allay all his fears. You will need to make him understand that not only do you love art but you can also make it a worthwhile career. This is not going to happen on its own. You will have to convince him and come up with answers/solutions to his questions/objections.

You can do this by first arming yourself with all the details of your chosen profession. Research in detail and come up with the answers to any or all the questions/objections that your father might have. Calmly, tell him of your plans, your reasons why this is the best choice for you and your dreams. Showing your father that you do not have the all-too-common teenage bug about wanting to be an artist and have instead considered your career realistically and carefully will go a long way towards him taking your choice seriously.

Secondly, tell him that you are different from him and your brothers, that you would be miserable studying medicine. Show him the passion and excitement about your choice. No parent wants to see their child unhappy. Once he truly realises that you would be absolutely miserable and mediocre in medicine and that you might have a much brighter future in the arts, he might relent.

It might also be worthwhile to have your father meet your school teachers and counselors who can help in allaying his fears about the profession that you want to choose and convince him of your talent and passion for it. When he sees other adults supporting you in your decision, he might soften up.

All the best!

Asad

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Sexually abused by servant

Sexually Abused By ServantDear Asad,

I am a twenty one years old girl living in Dubai, UAE. I study in a well-known university and will soon be graduating from there. I am told I am intelligent, good looking and kind. My parents are keen for me to marry after I complete my studies.  I regularly get many marriage proposals both from my family and outsiders. I keep on rejecting them without giving them even a second’s thought. The reason is not because I am arrogant or vain but because I can’t see myself spending my life with any man.

There’s a reason for this. I was physically molested many times in my early teens by an ex-servant in our house. He used to perform oral sex with me. This was a regular occurrence and lasted for three years before he got a job in Africa and shifted there. I knew it was wrong and I hated it but was scared of him. He always used to threaten me that he would kill me if I told anyone about it. I was young and I didn’t have the courage to tell anyone. Even now nobody knows about it, neither my family nor friends.

I still haven’t got over this sick and traumatic experience of my life and I don’t believe I ever will. I blame myself for it. I still get nightmares about this phase of my life. The effect that it has had on me is that now I can’t ever imagine having a physical relationship with any man. I can’t let any man touch me, neither can I touch him. Even thinking about it repulses and depresses me.

Every time a marriage proposal comes for me, I become overwhelmed by emotions and cry alone for hours locked up in my room. My parents don’t know about what happened to me earlier on in life and obviously they don’t understand or sympathise when I decline a proposal. They are very worried for me. I feel guilty being the cause of their worry but I can’t bring myself to marry anyone. The thought of letting any man touch me is unbearable. I would rather commit suicide than have a physical relationship with any man who becomes my husband. What am I supposed to do? Please help me.

Sexually Abused by Servant

Dear Sexually Abused by Servant,

I am very sorry to hear about what happened to you in your early teens. Sexual abuse is one of the most severe acts of destruction upon humanity in existence. It is by far one of the worst kinds of evil that can be perpetrated on a person by another. It’s traumatic to be a victim of sexual abuse, especially at a young age.

The first thing you should know is that it was not your fault. Most victims of sexual abuse feel terribly guilty, for a variety of reasons. They blame themselves for being abused in the first place. Please don’t blame yourself for it. Be aware of victim blame – victim blaming is holding yourself responsible for what has happened to you. Unfortunately, most people remain victims in their hearts, minds and souls after an incident or series of incidents such as these.

Another thing to remember is that you are not alone. Many women and young girls are walking on the planet today and have been sexually abused. You are not alone!

Sexual abuse gets stronger in secrecy. Do not live with the burden. Talk to someone, it will help you. It can be a loved one or a friend you trust. It would be best if you were to talk to your mother. This may hurt your entire family initially – with all things that are difficult, it may be painful in the interim, but will be less hurtful in the long run. It is a risk worth taking!
Just be careful as to who you disclose your hurt and trauma to in this area. Some people might hold it against you in future and regretfully victims of sexual abuse are marginalised by society to a degree.

Seek help from a professional therapist. It helps to understand your healing process. Find a professional therapist you can trust and who preferably is a specialist in dealing with such cases.

Prayer is a very useful tool. Become grounded in your faith to see you through this difficult time. You cannot overcome this in your own strength.

Work through the grieving process. Allow yourself to mourn the loss of your innocence through this experience. Allow yourself to move through the emotions attached – from denial, to anger, to negotiation, to depression, to acceptance.
This is a journey and may take some time. Give yourself permission to grieve this loss and caution your friends and family on the days you feel ‘off’ that you are busy dealing with ‘stuff’ and that they should give you space to process what you need to for the day.
Try and take good care of yourself while you are processing the grief. This hurt can be very destructive in this area and if a conscious effort is not made to control yourself in this area, it can easily spiral out of control.

Try not to return and rehash the past once you have processed it. Once you have processed the pain and dealt with it, move on from it. It is easy to become trapped in self-pity once you have been through something like this.

Choose to forgive yourself and to move forward in freedom. Do what it takes to forgive yourself. Journal, talk to friends and family, talk to God, write a book or an article about it. Forgiveness is for you, not for the offender and you owe it to yourself to be set free through the power of forgiveness from the chains that bind you to this experience.

Unfortunately, this article is not one that ends in a happy ending. You need to realise that the crime that has been committed against you as a victim is serious and that you will likely fight this battle for most of your adult life as different dimensions of the abuse arises.
Sexual abuse can invoke a case of multiple personality disorder and extreme disassociation in susceptible individuals. Unless this is thoroughly dealt with in the correct manner, very often people who are survivors of this extreme crime against humanity bear the scars for life.

Do some research on Rape Trauma Syndrome. Learning about the health and psychological conditions affecting survivors of sexual abuse has been cited by researchers as a positive coping skill associated with faster healing.

You are right in not marrying. I would advise you not to marry till the time you feel you are completely ready for it. Getting pushed into marriage will worsen your condition further and most probably than not, it would end in a failed marriage.

Asad

My son committed suicide

Dear Asad,

I am a sixty years old man living in Mumbai, India. My youngest son, out of my two sons and three daughters, committed suicide a few months ago. He committed suicide because he was suffering from clinical depression. There were many reasons for his depression; one of them was I, his father. Let me explain.

He had gotten married in 2007 to a girl from our community. We had chosen the girl for him and he was fine with that. Ours being a joint family system, where the whole family lives in the same house, it was not very easy for our new daughter-in-law to adjust, especially since my wife is an extremely possessive and a bad-tempered woman who didn’t treat her daughter-in-law very nicely. After a year, the girl got tired of all this and went back to her parents house. We tried to patch things up but she and her family were adamant that our son get a separate place and they both stay there. We refused and she filed for and got a divorce.

Our son loved his wife and was heart-broken to have been divorced by her. He went into depression. We took him to a few psychologists and doctors but nothing helped. Believing that companionship might be a cure for it, we got him married again in late 2010. He didn’t want to get married as he still had feelings for his ex-wife but my wife and I along with the rest of the family pressurised him and he had no choice but to accede to our wishes.

The outcome was not what we expected. Instead of settling down with his new wife to a happy married life, as we foolishly believed he would, he went deeper into depression. He didn’t like his new wife and pined for his ex-wife. One day he told this to his new wife and she left him and went back to her parents. We discovered she was pregnant. We asked our son to bring her back not only because of the baby but more so because we feared dishonor amongst our community but he declined. The whole family again pressurised him to do what we wanted but this time he had had too much. He drank poison one night and was found dead in his bed in the morning.

Needless to say we were all devastated. His mother went into deep depression and became paralysed. She still cries for him every day.

I blame myself for his death. If I, along with the other family members, had not forced him to bring home his second wife, he would not have committed suicide and would still have been alive and well amongst us. I so much wish I hadn’t done that. I wish it was I that had died, not him. Words cannot begin to explain the turmoil, anguish and pain that I feel within me. Nothing dulls the pain. I feel like a killer. I feel as if I killed my own son, the son I helped bring in this world, my own flesh and blood who I dearly loved.

I would give anything to have him back but know that’s impossible. I can’t go on living like this and now just want to die. I pray and wish for death every day. The pain is so much that at times I feel like killing myself and ending my misery. But I am too weak to do that. I don’t know what to do. I just see darkness in my life and nothing else.

Devastated Father

Dear Devastated Father,

I am very sad to know about the death of your son. May God have mercy on his soul. May God also give you the strength to deal with the loss of your son. No doubt it must be extremely difficult and painful for you.

Without blaming anyone (blame never helps, is counter-productive and can’t reverse what’s been already done) I would just like to say that the guilt that you are feeling now is quite natural. You blame yourself and you feel that you are justified in doing so. I beg to differ with that. When a loved one commits suicide, you might be consumed by guilt – wondering if you could have done something to prevent your loved one’s death.

Although, you are partly to blame for not heeding his wishes and forcing him first into a divorce and then into re-marriage, no one, including you, can be held completely responsible for his suicide. It was his decision and his action. Remember that your son did not mean to upset you. He felt he needed to die to get away from himself (or the situation he could not control any more), not you, and didn’t want it to upset you.

As much as you want and no matter what you are willing to do, you can’t bring your son back. But what you can do is to try to help yourself in grieving him and moving on with your life. It will be hard, but there are some things you can do to help yourself, in the short run and the long term.

  1. Know that you are entitled to all of your feelings and emotions. During the first year you will probably feel numb. You may experience intense anger, guilt, denial, and fear, all of which are normal for a bereaved parent. For many, after the first anniversary of your child’s death, the numbness begins to wear off and the true reality can hit you very hard. Many parents say that the second year is the hardest. It’s possible that our brain creates this numbness to protect us from going insane, from feeling the full blunt of our loss all at once.
  2. Talk to others who knew him, or others who have experienced the same thing. Strength can be found in numbers. The key is to talk about it and get every emotion – sadness, grief, and others – off your chest.
  3. Find a grief counsellor or group if you are having a particularly hard time and have no one to turn to. It might also help to do this to get a fresh perspective that friends and family of the person who died cannot offer.
  4. Staying busy can help move past the grief. While you shouldn’t hide from your emotions by working or staying busy, remaining active can ward off depression and dark thoughts.
  5. Prescribed medication may help, however will not dissolve your pain. Many parents feel that anti-anxiety or anti-depression medication helps them cope better. There are many variations of these medications, and finding the right one that works best is often a daunting task, but worth it, if it helps in the long run. Just be mindful of the fact that many are habit-forming, and try to keep from becoming dependent upon them.
  6. Fight a good fight in honour of your child. After the loss of a child, parents often feel as if they have died too, that their will to live left with their child. For some, finding purpose in life seems fruitless, while others are given new purpose through their loss. Consider giving your time and efforts to a charity that mainly deals with suicide.

Know that time is a huge factor. It may be some time before you can even look at your son’s photographs without losing it. Memories will hurt to your core, even the good ones, in time you will come to cherish those memories, and they will once again bring a smile to your face and joy to your heart.

My prayers are with you, your family and your dear departed son.

Asad

Recent Articles

20
Jun

Career that I don’t want

Dear Asad,

I am a sixteen years old studying in the last year of high school. I will be finishing my school in the coming summer when I will appear for my final exams. After that I plan to go to college for under graduate studies.

My father is a very successful and well renowned doctor. He has his own private practice which is doing very well. He makes a very handsome living. My two elder siblings are also doctors and work with my father in his clinic. It’s like a family business. My father wants the same for me. He wants me to enroll into a medical school to pursue a degree in medicine, become a doctor and then join him.

But this is something that I don’t want at all. I don’t want to be a doctor. I am not at all good in the science subjects. I don’t understand them and they bore me. I would be lucky to pass high school with a decent grade in the science subjects and that too after getting tutored privately in them.

On the other hand I excel in art. I am the best student in my art class. I enjoy and love attending art classes. I want to go in the creative fields. That is where my talent and my passion lie. My brain is always flooded with creative and artsy ideas. I have done a few projects for my school and all of them were well received and got me extraordinary praise. My teachers and the school counsellors understand this and have advised me to pursue a career in arts.

But my father is adamant. He won’t hear of it. He wants me to become a doctor and nothing else. I have tried convincing him but in vain. He simply doesn’t want to listen. I know I don’t have it in me to be a doctor and even if I did, I simply don’t want to be one. I won’t be happy studying and practicing medicine. I see my father and my brothers working in their clinic. They enjoy that work. I won’t. I want to do something that I am sure I would enjoy doing for the rest of my life. What should I do? How should I convince my father to let me pursue arts in college and not medicine?

Artsy Guy

Dear Artsy Guy,

First of all, let me congratulate you for being sensible enough to understand that one should preferably pursue a career in a field in which not only is one good at but also enjoys it.
Secondly, you should feel lucky and thankful that your talent lies in something which you enjoy. This combination is not always true for everyone. Very few people are lucky enough to have it.

I would advise you to pursue your dreams. Nothing is better than pursuing one’s dreams and achieving them and nothing is worse than being stuck in a job/career/work that makes you miserable and brings you no inner satisfaction. It ultimately leads to stress and burnout because every time you work, you are constantly at war with yourself.
And your school teachers and counsellors agree with you that you should pursue arts, which means that others also see your talent and passion.

Your father rightly or wrongly doesn’t understand this at present. There could be many reasons for it. May be he feels that a career in the arts field is not as financially stable as medicine. Or may be he feels that it’s not as honourable and respectful as that of a doctor.

Whatever the reason, you will have to sit down with him and try to convince him. You will need to allay all his fears. You will need to make him understand that not only do you love art but you can also make it a worthwhile career. This is not going to happen on its own. You will have to convince him and come up with answers/solutions to his questions/objections.

You can do this by first arming yourself with all the details of your chosen profession. Research in detail and come up with the answers to any or all the questions/objections that your father might have. Calmly, tell him of your plans, your reasons why this is the best choice for you and your dreams. Showing your father that you do not have the all-too-common teenage bug about wanting to be an artist and have instead considered your career realistically and carefully will go a long way towards him taking your choice seriously.

Secondly, tell him that you are different from him and your brothers, that you would be miserable studying medicine. Show him the passion and excitement about your choice. No parent wants to see their child unhappy. Once he truly realises that you would be absolutely miserable and mediocre in medicine and that you might have a much brighter future in the arts, he might relent.

It might also be worthwhile to have your father meet your school teachers and counselors who can help in allaying his fears about the profession that you want to choose and convince him of your talent and passion for it. When he sees other adults supporting you in your decision, he might soften up.

All the best!

Asad

3
Dec

To study or to work?

Confused 1Dear Asad,

I recently did my Masters in Research and Education. I have got two choices now. Either I can study further full-time and do MPhil or I can look for a job in my chosen field. The admission to MPhil degree will open next year but before that I have to pass a test called GAT with at least 50% marks. I have started preparing for this test and at the same time am thinking of a job but am not sure if I will be able to handle both. I am quite confused and can’t seem to decide what to do. I would be thankful for your advice in this matter.

Saba

Dear Saba,

You are in a position where many students find themselves after completing their post-graduate studies, i.e. to study further while they are still in the swing of it and get another degree and thus become more qualified. Or to take a break from studies and get a job to get practical experience of what they studied at university.

Which of the two options is best? Frankly, that differs from person to person and situation to situation. For some it might be better to study more while for others it might be a good idea to take a break from studies and get a job. Juggling both together can be quite difficult and not everyone can cope with that.

Are you the sort of the person who can do both? Do you have enough time and resources to do both? Are you disciplined and committed enough to do both? These are some of the questions that you need to ask yourself and come up with honest answers.

To continue studying would be easier in the sense that it’s something that you have done uninterrupted all your life. It’s something you are used to and will be able to do without having to make any drastic changes to your life.

On the other hand, to start working will be a new and hopefully a positive experience for you. You will start using practically what you spent all those years in university studying about. That’s usually a liberating and fulfilling experience. And the fact that you will be earning is also a big attraction.

Many people get a job after post-graduation studies, work for a few years and then later on take a break from work to go back to university. This is a good option for those who want to take a break from studies after completing university. The downside to this is that many people, once they go out in the practical world, are unable to find time or the desire to return to university again, especially if they are earning well.

Some people try to counter this by working full-time and studying part-time through evening, distance or online courses. This is a good option but again takes a lot of time and dedication and is not for everyone.

What you now need to do is to figure out what is best for you. Take a piece of paper and write down the pros and cons of all the options available to you. Share these options with your family, friends, teachers, etc. Their advice should be greatly helpful as not only do they know you, they would also be looking at it from their perspectives. Thus you will get a broader picture of what would be the best course of action for you.

Also talk to your class mates and hear what their plans and ideas for future are. That could be helpful. If possible, also talk to people already doing MPhil at your university about their experiences. What path did they choose and why? Talk to people who got a job after completing Masters. What were their reasons and what are their experiences? Delve both into the positive and negative aspects of both the situations. Compare and contrast and then take a step. All the effort that you put in now to research and plan your future will help you immensely in making the right decision for you.

I hope you will be able to take a decision that will turn out well for you. Just remember one thing, life is full of choices and while we should take great care that we make the best choices possible, there are times when what we thought was best for us doesn’t turn out that way. This is quite natural and happens more or less to everyone. The trick then is not to get disheartened or hopeless and give up but to learn from the unexpected challenges and to move on. That’s what life is all about. All the best!

Asad

2
Dec

Sexually abused by servant

Sexually Abused By ServantDear Asad,

I am a twenty one years old girl living in Dubai, UAE. I study in a well-known university and will soon be graduating from there. I am told I am intelligent, good looking and kind. My parents are keen for me to marry after I complete my studies.  I regularly get many marriage proposals both from my family and outsiders. I keep on rejecting them without giving them even a second’s thought. The reason is not because I am arrogant or vain but because I can’t see myself spending my life with any man.

There’s a reason for this. I was physically molested many times in my early teens by an ex-servant in our house. He used to perform oral sex with me. This was a regular occurrence and lasted for three years before he got a job in Africa and shifted there. I knew it was wrong and I hated it but was scared of him. He always used to threaten me that he would kill me if I told anyone about it. I was young and I didn’t have the courage to tell anyone. Even now nobody knows about it, neither my family nor friends.

I still haven’t got over this sick and traumatic experience of my life and I don’t believe I ever will. I blame myself for it. I still get nightmares about this phase of my life. The effect that it has had on me is that now I can’t ever imagine having a physical relationship with any man. I can’t let any man touch me, neither can I touch him. Even thinking about it repulses and depresses me.

Every time a marriage proposal comes for me, I become overwhelmed by emotions and cry alone for hours locked up in my room. My parents don’t know about what happened to me earlier on in life and obviously they don’t understand or sympathise when I decline a proposal. They are very worried for me. I feel guilty being the cause of their worry but I can’t bring myself to marry anyone. The thought of letting any man touch me is unbearable. I would rather commit suicide than have a physical relationship with any man who becomes my husband. What am I supposed to do? Please help me.

Sexually Abused by Servant

Dear Sexually Abused by Servant,

I am very sorry to hear about what happened to you in your early teens. Sexual abuse is one of the most severe acts of destruction upon humanity in existence. It is by far one of the worst kinds of evil that can be perpetrated on a person by another. It’s traumatic to be a victim of sexual abuse, especially at a young age.

The first thing you should know is that it was not your fault. Most victims of sexual abuse feel terribly guilty, for a variety of reasons. They blame themselves for being abused in the first place. Please don’t blame yourself for it. Be aware of victim blame – victim blaming is holding yourself responsible for what has happened to you. Unfortunately, most people remain victims in their hearts, minds and souls after an incident or series of incidents such as these.

Another thing to remember is that you are not alone. Many women and young girls are walking on the planet today and have been sexually abused. You are not alone!

Sexual abuse gets stronger in secrecy. Do not live with the burden. Talk to someone, it will help you. It can be a loved one or a friend you trust. It would be best if you were to talk to your mother. This may hurt your entire family initially – with all things that are difficult, it may be painful in the interim, but will be less hurtful in the long run. It is a risk worth taking!
Just be careful as to who you disclose your hurt and trauma to in this area. Some people might hold it against you in future and regretfully victims of sexual abuse are marginalised by society to a degree.

Seek help from a professional therapist. It helps to understand your healing process. Find a professional therapist you can trust and who preferably is a specialist in dealing with such cases.

Prayer is a very useful tool. Become grounded in your faith to see you through this difficult time. You cannot overcome this in your own strength.

Work through the grieving process. Allow yourself to mourn the loss of your innocence through this experience. Allow yourself to move through the emotions attached – from denial, to anger, to negotiation, to depression, to acceptance.
This is a journey and may take some time. Give yourself permission to grieve this loss and caution your friends and family on the days you feel ‘off’ that you are busy dealing with ‘stuff’ and that they should give you space to process what you need to for the day.
Try and take good care of yourself while you are processing the grief. This hurt can be very destructive in this area and if a conscious effort is not made to control yourself in this area, it can easily spiral out of control.

Try not to return and rehash the past once you have processed it. Once you have processed the pain and dealt with it, move on from it. It is easy to become trapped in self-pity once you have been through something like this.

Choose to forgive yourself and to move forward in freedom. Do what it takes to forgive yourself. Journal, talk to friends and family, talk to God, write a book or an article about it. Forgiveness is for you, not for the offender and you owe it to yourself to be set free through the power of forgiveness from the chains that bind you to this experience.

Unfortunately, this article is not one that ends in a happy ending. You need to realise that the crime that has been committed against you as a victim is serious and that you will likely fight this battle for most of your adult life as different dimensions of the abuse arises.
Sexual abuse can invoke a case of multiple personality disorder and extreme disassociation in susceptible individuals. Unless this is thoroughly dealt with in the correct manner, very often people who are survivors of this extreme crime against humanity bear the scars for life.

Do some research on Rape Trauma Syndrome. Learning about the health and psychological conditions affecting survivors of sexual abuse has been cited by researchers as a positive coping skill associated with faster healing.

You are right in not marrying. I would advise you not to marry till the time you feel you are completely ready for it. Getting pushed into marriage will worsen your condition further and most probably than not, it would end in a failed marriage.

Asad

29
Nov

My son committed suicide

Dear Asad,

I am a sixty years old man living in Mumbai, India. My youngest son, out of my two sons and three daughters, committed suicide a few months ago. He committed suicide because he was suffering from clinical depression. There were many reasons for his depression; one of them was I, his father. Let me explain.

He had gotten married in 2007 to a girl from our community. We had chosen the girl for him and he was fine with that. Ours being a joint family system, where the whole family lives in the same house, it was not very easy for our new daughter-in-law to adjust, especially since my wife is an extremely possessive and a bad-tempered woman who didn’t treat her daughter-in-law very nicely. After a year, the girl got tired of all this and went back to her parents house. We tried to patch things up but she and her family were adamant that our son get a separate place and they both stay there. We refused and she filed for and got a divorce.

Our son loved his wife and was heart-broken to have been divorced by her. He went into depression. We took him to a few psychologists and doctors but nothing helped. Believing that companionship might be a cure for it, we got him married again in late 2010. He didn’t want to get married as he still had feelings for his ex-wife but my wife and I along with the rest of the family pressurised him and he had no choice but to accede to our wishes.

The outcome was not what we expected. Instead of settling down with his new wife to a happy married life, as we foolishly believed he would, he went deeper into depression. He didn’t like his new wife and pined for his ex-wife. One day he told this to his new wife and she left him and went back to her parents. We discovered she was pregnant. We asked our son to bring her back not only because of the baby but more so because we feared dishonor amongst our community but he declined. The whole family again pressurised him to do what we wanted but this time he had had too much. He drank poison one night and was found dead in his bed in the morning.

Needless to say we were all devastated. His mother went into deep depression and became paralysed. She still cries for him every day.

I blame myself for his death. If I, along with the other family members, had not forced him to bring home his second wife, he would not have committed suicide and would still have been alive and well amongst us. I so much wish I hadn’t done that. I wish it was I that had died, not him. Words cannot begin to explain the turmoil, anguish and pain that I feel within me. Nothing dulls the pain. I feel like a killer. I feel as if I killed my own son, the son I helped bring in this world, my own flesh and blood who I dearly loved.

I would give anything to have him back but know that’s impossible. I can’t go on living like this and now just want to die. I pray and wish for death every day. The pain is so much that at times I feel like killing myself and ending my misery. But I am too weak to do that. I don’t know what to do. I just see darkness in my life and nothing else.

Devastated Father

Dear Devastated Father,

I am very sad to know about the death of your son. May God have mercy on his soul. May God also give you the strength to deal with the loss of your son. No doubt it must be extremely difficult and painful for you.

Without blaming anyone (blame never helps, is counter-productive and can’t reverse what’s been already done) I would just like to say that the guilt that you are feeling now is quite natural. You blame yourself and you feel that you are justified in doing so. I beg to differ with that. When a loved one commits suicide, you might be consumed by guilt – wondering if you could have done something to prevent your loved one’s death.

Although, you are partly to blame for not heeding his wishes and forcing him first into a divorce and then into re-marriage, no one, including you, can be held completely responsible for his suicide. It was his decision and his action. Remember that your son did not mean to upset you. He felt he needed to die to get away from himself (or the situation he could not control any more), not you, and didn’t want it to upset you.

As much as you want and no matter what you are willing to do, you can’t bring your son back. But what you can do is to try to help yourself in grieving him and moving on with your life. It will be hard, but there are some things you can do to help yourself, in the short run and the long term.

  1. Know that you are entitled to all of your feelings and emotions. During the first year you will probably feel numb. You may experience intense anger, guilt, denial, and fear, all of which are normal for a bereaved parent. For many, after the first anniversary of your child’s death, the numbness begins to wear off and the true reality can hit you very hard. Many parents say that the second year is the hardest. It’s possible that our brain creates this numbness to protect us from going insane, from feeling the full blunt of our loss all at once.
  2. Talk to others who knew him, or others who have experienced the same thing. Strength can be found in numbers. The key is to talk about it and get every emotion – sadness, grief, and others – off your chest.
  3. Find a grief counsellor or group if you are having a particularly hard time and have no one to turn to. It might also help to do this to get a fresh perspective that friends and family of the person who died cannot offer.
  4. Staying busy can help move past the grief. While you shouldn’t hide from your emotions by working or staying busy, remaining active can ward off depression and dark thoughts.
  5. Prescribed medication may help, however will not dissolve your pain. Many parents feel that anti-anxiety or anti-depression medication helps them cope better. There are many variations of these medications, and finding the right one that works best is often a daunting task, but worth it, if it helps in the long run. Just be mindful of the fact that many are habit-forming, and try to keep from becoming dependent upon them.
  6. Fight a good fight in honour of your child. After the loss of a child, parents often feel as if they have died too, that their will to live left with their child. For some, finding purpose in life seems fruitless, while others are given new purpose through their loss. Consider giving your time and efforts to a charity that mainly deals with suicide.

Know that time is a huge factor. It may be some time before you can even look at your son’s photographs without losing it. Memories will hurt to your core, even the good ones, in time you will come to cherish those memories, and they will once again bring a smile to your face and joy to your heart.

My prayers are with you, your family and your dear departed son.

Asad

28
Nov

In love with another woman

Dear Asad,

I am a forty years old Lebanese man living in Dubai, UAE for the past twenty five years. I am married with two children. I got married at the age of thirty to my wife MA who was twenty five at the time. MA is a good woman and the decade that we have spent together has been one of happiness and contentment. She is a good wife to me and a good mother to our children. She is a housewife and takes really good care of our home and family. She has never given me any cause for complain. Although at times I felt our marriage had become a bit boring and monotonous over the years, I never gave it much thought believing that this happened as years go by, that the magic couldn’t last forever. That is until JL came in my life.

It all started a year ago. JL, who is twenty seven, joined our company as a PR executive where I have been working for the past five years and am now a director there. She was vivacious, outgoing, lively, good looking and very confident. Many men in our office tried hitting on her but she ignored everyone. Because of my senior position in the company and having a wife and children, I didn’t try to befriend her in the manner the other men tried to. I think this appealed to her and she started showing interest in me. At first I thought it was just out of professional duties as she knew I was married with kids but as time passed she made it quite clear how much she liked me and enjoyed my company. It was a big boost for my ego, to be approached by the most good looking young woman in our company. I didn’t decline her advances and we started going out together. One thing led to another and we soon started having an affair. This affair has been going on for more than six months now. I have fallen in love with her and want to spend the rest of my life with her. She too wants the same.

The problem is that she is unwilling to accept my wife. Being a Muslim, I can have two wives at the same time. Although JL is also a Muslim, she is against my having two wives at the same time. She has made it quite clear that she would only marry me if I were to divorce my wife, MA. She is willing to accept my children if I share their custody with their mother, MA.

I have thought a lot about it and though I don’t feel very good about divorcing MA, not least because she has been such a good wife but also because of not having my children with me all the time under the same roof, I have decided that I will still go ahead with it as I love JL too much to lose her.

I spoke to my wife MA about divorce and naturally she was devastated. It was very painful to see how much of a shock she got when I told her that I loved somebody else. She was completely shattered and kept on crying for days at end. Eventually she accepted the idea of another woman in my life and begged me not to divorce her and let her stay married to me. I am a rich man and can quite easily afford to keep two wives in two separate homes. But JL is adamant. She has threatened to walk out of my life if I don’t divorce MA within three months. I am in a quandary now. I love JL and don’t want to lose her. At the same time, I don’t feel happy divorcing MA because of no fault of her own. What should I do?

BH

Dear BH,

Let me start by saying that you are being quite selfish and self-centered in this whole episode. All you are thinking of is yourself, your love and your happiness. You are not giving much consideration to the other people involved who would be dramatically and negatively affected by this action of yours, meaning your wife and children.

MA has given you ten of the best years of her life. She has given you two children. She has been a good wife to you and a good mother to your children. Do you honestly believe she deserves what you are planning to do to her? What would be her future after that? What would she go through emotionally? How many suitors would she find being divorced and a mother of two? She is already shattered and heart-broken.

And what about your children? Right now they have a happy and complete family. They come home to loving and caring parents – parents that are in the same house. Imagine what would their reaction be when their parents split up and start living in separate homes? How would they feel alternating their days living with their mother and father separately? How would they take it? They are quite young and the divorce of their parents is no doubt going to have a devastating effect on them. Instantly they would go from a complete home to a broken home. It most probably would affect them for years to come, if not their entire life. Are you ready to make your children go through all that?

Has JL met your children? Have you seen how she is with them? What guarantee do you have that she would prove to be a good mother to them and a good influence on them when the kids are over at your place? What I have gathered from your letter is that JL seems to be a selfish person who is only interested in her happiness and well being without giving two hoots about anyone else. If she truly loves you, as she claims, then why is she not willing to be the other wife? Why does she want you to divorce your first wife when yours and her religion allow it? She seems like a manipulative woman who knows she’s got you wrapped around her little finger and based on that is making demands that are cruel, unjust and would negatively affect your entire family. And how do you know that she truly loves you and is not with you because of your position, status, money, etc? If she truly loves you as she claims then how can she find it in herself to leave you after three months if you don’t divorce your wife? That’s not true love. That’s manipulation and cold calculation.

It’s perfectly normal to have feelings for two people at the same time. It happens. But what you need to ask yourself is that do you really love JL or is it just infatuation or lust? Do you really want to spend your whole life with her at the expense of breaking up your marriage and your children’s home? And what guarantee do you have that you won’t find being married to JL monotonous and boring after a few years?

I would advise you to seriously and impartially take stock of the whole situation. Weigh all the pros and cons. Consider the lives and happiness of all people involved. Do all this before taking any drastic measures.

Asad

22
Nov

Monster mother-in-law

Dear Asad,

I am a 23 years old young, educated woman living in Pakistan. I got married six months. My husband is a distant relative of mine whom I used to get to see on special occasions such as weddings when all the relatives got together. A year ago, right after I finished my MBA, his family approached my parents for my hand in marriage for him. My parents were quite happy with this proposal and accepted it. They did ask me about it and I agreed too. He seemed like a decent and caring chap and I was sure that I would be happy spending my life with him.

But alas this was not to be so. He is a decent and caring guy who loves me a lot but is under the thumb of his mother. My mother-in-law is a widow and as my husband is the only son, he does whatever his mother says. His mother is like a typical mother-in-law who seems to believe that a daughter-in-law’s main aim in life is to snatch her son away. She does everything in her power to try to influence my husband as much as she can, even in matters that do not relate to her. She literally rules over his life. She even chooses his clothes.

Last week was his birthday. I got him a sharp looking suit to wear to his office as he works in a prestigious multinational company. But my jealous mother-in-law ruined everything. She was quite critical of the suit that I had bought him. She came up with the silly excuse that it doesn’t go with his complexion and hair colour. Needless to say I was hurt and told her that I believed it would look very nice on him. That is all I said and she started accusing me of being rude and talking back to her. She started crying and my husband started consoling her. This resulted in my husband and I having our first major spat. He believes that I was rude to his mother and even if she did say something, I shouldn’t have reacted.

I was very hurt and disappointed by his reaction. I felt as if I had no importance in his life, that it was only his mother that he cared about, not me. I told him this later but he claims that he loves me and wants us to be happy together as a family including his mother. But it all seems just words to me especially since he didn’t side with me in my argument with his mum. Tell me honestly. Was I wrong? Was I being rude? What should I do? I want my husband and me to spend quality time together, develop a deep and meaningful relationship but my mother-in-law is not letting that happen.

Hurt Wife

Dear Hurt Wife,

What you are feeling is absolutely natural and to a great degree completely justified. The relationship between a mother-in-law and her daughter-in-law at best is usually always a tricky and tumultuous one, especially so in the part of the world where you come from where couples don’t always live alone and some member(s) of the family, a parent or a sibling or even more people, live together.

Living in a setup like that requires tact, patience and understanding because things always don’t happen as you want them to. A lot of adjustments have to be made.

There can be many reasons why your mother-in-law is being difficult towards you. She may be feeling less important to her child (or still see them as a child rather than someone’s spouse). She might be having difficulty standing behind someone else in their child’s life.
She might be feeling insecure and less valued. Before you married her son, she was the only woman in his life. Now she has to share him with you. This might be making her feel as if she has lost the importance in her son’s life. And because she also happens to be a widow and the fact that she just has one son, she might be thinking that if she loses him to you, she won’t have anyone left in this world to call her own. Justified or not, this is a very real fear that she must be going through. Therefore, you need to understand this and try to cut her some slack wherever possible without losing your dignity and self-respect.
You will have to be patient and accommodating with her and try to talk things out with her. Try to convince her that you don’t mean to snatch her son away from her, that you love him a lot too and want to take care of him too as she does. She might not warm up to the idea immediately but you will have to be persistent and firm on this matter. Hopefully, when she sees that you too want the best for him without her losing him to you, she might start accepting this.

Another reason could simply be that she may be a completely different person from you.  She might be petty and vindictive by nature and someone who loves making trouble. I hope this is not the case. If it is, then you seriously need to consider whether you want to stay with her under the same roof or not.

You will also need to talk to your husband and make him understand that as a wife you love him and want to be part of his life in every way, including picking out gifts for him. Tell him that his taking his mother’s side unconditionally everytime is bound to have a negative effect on your marriage. Try to make him understand that you don’t mean or want to be rude to his mother and that his mother also needs to show you some respect. Tell him gently that it could become very difficult to carry on with a relationship if episodes like this keep on happening on a regular basis. Try to convince him that you are not trying to take him away from his mother or being disrespectful to his mother.
If he is a man of reason then hopefully he would understand. But if he is the sort of man who lets his judgement get clouded because of his sense of duty and love towards his mother, he might find your point of view quite difficult to grasp. Unless your spouse is willing to take charge, outline clear boundaries over which the mother must not step, and be willing to follow up these statements with action and definitive consequences, you will have to face the fact that you will not be able to ever change this relationship. In that scenario, you need to consider if you would like to stay on this relationship if it keeps on carrying like this.

Lastly, don’t expect miracles instantly. It will take time for things to work out, if they do work out. So be patient and try to work towards making things better.

Asad

20
Nov

Failure in life

Dear Asad,

I am a 45 years old, single, Polish woman living in Krakow. I am writing to you because I have this strong feeling in me that I am a failure, that I have failed in more or less in everything that I attempted in life,  be it education, career, relationships or anything else. I don’t know why this has happened to me. I have worked hard and given it my best but it still never was good enough. I never achieved the success which others had. People I knew who were younger and junior than me have gone on to better positions in life and I am stuck in the same rut. In fact, if anything it feels as if I am going in the opposite direction, from bad to worse. I can’t cope with this feeling of being a failure anymore. I want to feel that I am a success, that I have achieved something in life but don’t know how. When I look at my past, all I see are my failures, nothing else. I don’t want to live with these regrets anymore. What should I do? How can I get rid of this feeling of being a failure in life?

Alicja Jagoda

Dear Alicja Jagoda,

First of all, you need to ease up on yourself. You are being very hard on yourself. Ask yourself if you are being honest with yourself when you do that. Granted that you might have failed in many things in life but that does not mean you are a failure. Not at all!
Punishing yourself is the least productive thing you can do. Learning from your choices is self empowering and exciting. At least you have a good story to tell. Beating yourself down can quickly make you ashamed and afraid. It’s hard to realise that you’re being self-destructive.

There are many people in life who are afraid to dream big or to attempt anything grand in life because they are afraid that it would fail. They are scared of failure. They get so used to this way of thinking that it prevents them from trying new experiences, no matter how easy or small they might. They are content (but not happy) living their lives in their comfort zone and are afraid to venture out of it.
You on the other hand are the opposite. You have the courage and willpower to try new things, which you have done throughout your life – Kudos for that! It doesn’t matter that you failed many times. What really matters is that you tried – that you got out of your comfort zone and gave it your best. It takes strength, character and confidence to do that. Be proud of yourself that you have these attributes. Not many people have them.

Try to get to the bottom of why you failed in most of your endeavours. It could be because of different reasons. Rather than blaming yourself or feeling self-pity, you need to find out why you failed, how you could have done things differently to achieve better results. You need to analyse this calmly, rationally and systematically. Ask yourself why you think you failed. It can help you realise your hopes and dreams.

Try again. Luckily, you have a failure under your belt with which to navigate the next adventure in your life.

Asad

31
Oct

Sick of negativity

Dear Asad,

I am a 25 years old guy who just started working in a multinational company a few months ago. This is my first job after completing my studies. I have started at a good post and the future prospects look very promising.

There is one problem though. The culture of my workplace is quite negative. There are many negative people in my office who are always grumbling and complaining about something or the other. I like my work, I enjoy it and have no reason to complain about anything or feel negative about my company. But the constant complaining of other is getting me down and I have begun to feel stressed. I definitely don’t want to leave this job as there are many opportunities for me in this company but at the same time I don’t want to stay and work in the current negative work environment. What should I do? Shall I complain about these negative people to my senior manager? Do you think that would be helpful?

Sick of Negativity

Dear Sick of Negativity,

The moods and thinking of negative people are pervasive – nervous energy, anger, sadness, complaints, and clinginess – a view of the world constantly tinged with negativity. And if you happen to be caught up with negative people daily in your life, by letting their negativity get to you, it can erode your own sense of self and deflate even the most optimistic outlook. Constant negative emotions can lead to illness and a shortened lifespan – negative people are not healthy for themselves or for you. And since misery loves company, miserable people will try to drag you into their fold; however, take charge of defending yourself and learn how to break free from negative attitudes around you, to sustain your healthy, fulfilling, and optimistic outlook.

The atmosphere in your workplace is negative. This negativity can be because of varied reasons but it will have an impact on you because on the average an individual spends about 40 to 60% of time during weekdays at work place. Here are few steps to deal with negativity at workplace:

  1. Look into the reasons for the current situation. The reasons can be because of external influences like unhealthy competition, bullying by colleagues at work place, unsupported boss, difficult client, technical issues etc. You can visit the sequence of incidents which had led to the situation. Jotting down the points or incidents will help you analyse the situation. Also this jotted list can be used for discussion with the people concerned.
  2. Try to get to know negative people a little better. Talk to them. May be they are not aware of it. Make them aware of it. Ask them why they are so negative. People who are negative usually have self issues, such as confidence or low self esteem. Talk to them and ask them what’s wrong, and find a way you can work around their negativity.
  3. Try to bring positivity in their life. Perhaps there is something that you could do that would make them happy and not be so negative. Find out what that is and if possible, do it.
  4. Listen selectively when engaging in any conversation. Seek to hold onto the positive and constructive aspects of any conversation. Train your mind to consciously throw out the bad essence of the conversation. It becomes a matter of choosing what it is you wish to dwell on; allow the good side to hold stronger for you and to serve as the thoughts you focus and ponder on. When a negative person starts getting really trying, return positive energy through positive words or suggestions that are supportive. Doing this creates a space between you; while the other person may be internally struggling to refute to your positive insistence, it is clear to them that you aren’t going to be won over to the dark side!
  5. If all else fails then avoid them. Ignore negativity. For example, if you are at work and you are in a group and they start going on about how bad the job is, just walk away or listen to some music instead. Disengage yourself from their company politely by minimizing contact until a healthy distance can be maintained. You need this time to ponder and reflect on saving and preserving yourself, drawing on the optimism, hope and positive energy you have within.
  6. Remind yourself (silently) that you are a wonderful, unique, kind, helpful, special person. Keep repeating this to yourself in your head as you talk to that person.
  7. Remember to realise that just because someone else is negative does not mean that you have to be. Realize that your life is positive and that you are in control of your emotions. Do not let their negativity rub off on you. Maintain a positive attitude no matter what.

Talking to your senior manager could help but do it in a tactful way. Instead of downright complaining about the negative people in your office, suggest ways to make the atmosphere more positive in your office. You could do this by volunteering to organise a workshop on positivity. You could call in an expert who can come in and give helpful tips on how to avoid negativity and be more positive in life. Not only would this be helpful in improving the atmosphere in your office, you would also get credited as being someone who is proactive and encourages a good working environment; qualities that senior management is always looking for in their employees.

Asad

16
Oct

I need direction

Dear Asad,

I am 52 years old. My husband passed away from pancreatic cancer on November 4, 2006. His family would come to visit my husband while he was sick. They visited but didn’t help at all. Sat and watched me run around half crazed with fear and worry. His parents went as far as to contact police and social workers and other assorted personnel in an effort to take custody of my husband while he was in ICU. I had to fight them and ultimately one that battle and was able to care for him until his death.

His wish was to have his family treat my two children the same as his biological child. He had legally adopted them and his parents attended that proceeding. Moreover they gave the appearance of being happy and accepting of the adoption. When my husband was first diagnosed he begged and pleaded and insisted that they remember he had 3 children not just the one biological one. His parents said they’d honor his wishes. They didn’t. Additionally, my husband was adamant that his family not attend his funeral. I followed his wishes to the final letter but it infuriated his family. I didn’t care as I was the one who had to ensure my husband’s wishes were carried out. I felt it my responsibility even if it made others angry.

 I did not leave my home after the funeral for approximately a month. No one came over to see me. We were members of a church, my husband being an elder in the church and I went to see the Pastor. I literally asked him, “where have you been?”. Do you not care about me? Isn’t there a passage in the bible that states “take care of widows and orphans?” He gave some silly response that I don’t even remember now as its not worth remembering. But in essence he had no reason but for his laziness and lack of compassion and maybe even knowledge. 

I had one remaining friend who entered into my life a few months before my husband died. She was extremely helpful in all aspects and even served as a champion for me in some occasion. She ensured I was still alive and brought food and other life necessities to my home. Unfortunately, we are no longer friends. I started feeling better and stronger and she started feeling pushed away to the point one day we had a heated argument and the friendship broke entirely. I have since contacted her an thanked her again for her help as well as apologized if I had done anything wrong or offended her. 

4 months after my husband died I received notification of a lawsuit filed on behalf of his son (who was an adult) and filed by my husband’s former wife. The lawsuit was funded by my husband’s parents. They wanted my home and 100k for the benefit of my husband’s only biological son. The laws in the state we live in mandate that my husband has 3 children legally. A share-share alike provision.

It was long almost 17 months, and it was hard this legal battle. Fighting people that promised to love and protect me and our children. They’d attend every hearing and frown at me. They’d berate my daughter at times or ignore her other times. During the course of this legal battle my older sister contacted me. I had not seen nor heard from her in almost 14 years due her drug use and other bad behaviors. She contacted me to tell me our mother was dying. From the same cancer that killed my husband. My daughter and I immediately flew to the next state to see my mother. She wouldn’t let me in to see her at first but I suppose her heart softened slightly and she reconsidered and I met with her. 

I would drive 500 miles on Thursday after work and spend the weekend with her. Then drive 500 miles back on Sunday to go to work on Monday. I repeated that for a month or two until it became too much stress for me. As the lawsuit was still ongoing and work was stressful and I was grieving my husband. Additionally, my siblings…a twin and older sister and brother who are 2 years older and also twins fought me constantly and bitterly. I had proposed to move my mother to my home to care for her in her final days, with hospice assistance of course. My mother wanted to go, my siblings objected. They hadn’t bothered to see her in years so I was confused as to their objection. Ultimately my mother made the decision to move with me and we made the 500 mile trip to my home. 

As is usually the case with pancreatic cancer my mother passed away. My siblings didn’t bother coming in her last days even though I called them and offered to pay for airfare to expedite their arrival. They accused me of stealing things from mother’s home and accused me of influencing her to change her last will and testament. Which I did not do. My older brother received the entire estate and I was and remain perfectly fine with that outcome. 

The lawsuit concluded around the same time with a ruling entirely in my favor. 

I do not have any contact with any of my siblings whatsoever. My sister had called a few times but was mean, horrific, abusive and highly negative. I had to block her from contacting me in any form.

So with all the clutter gone I was finally able to start to grief my husband’s passing. I was very sad, depressed, lost and confused but went to work anyway. I cried every day to work and every day coming home. Coming home to an empty house is painful. However, time passes and that does ease the pain. 

My son who is in the army came home occasionally until one day he met a woman. She took a dislike to me though never met me. I knew my son and his girlfriend had conflict, often as he would call me and tell me. I kept my thoughts to myself as I did not think they would stay together long and there was no reason to aggravate the situation if it was temporary.

One night my son came home. He was drinking heavily and I said something to him about his GF. He physically attacked me. His sister contacted the police. While they were in transit to my home my son broke doors, punched walls, damaged other things in a rage. The police arrived. My son was calm then. I talked to them and explained that my son had just returned from Iraq, his father has died and perhaps life just crumbled for him. All was fine I told them. They left. Almost immediately my son attached me again. He did not stop until I was knocked out on the floor and his sister screamed. Suddenly it was as if a light switch was turned off and there was my son again. Crying and begging for forgiveness and just wanted to cuddle me like he was a baby all the while apologizing. I told him I loved him but this cannot happen. Ever. He told me he would seek help for his anger. He agreed that there was a problem and that he would seek help for it immediately. He did have to get several stitches in his hand for damage he did.

We continued to talk, my son and I for a week or two after the incident. But he suddenly started to become busy and/or unavailable. 

A few months later my son married suddenly married this woman and called me to tell me so. A few hours later he called me again and asked about getting an annulment. I drove up to where he was living immediately to see what, if anything I might be able to do to ease the problem. His wife was cold and unwelcoming and unresponsive to any question I asked. Ultimately they were both sent to Afghanistan (both military). I have not spoken to or seen my son in 3 years though I send him messages on the internet occasionally and tell him I love him and to contact his sister. His sister sends messages and he does not respond. I know now that he is divorced from this wife and she is in another country now. 

The friend I mentioned above was in contact with my son at all times. What was the final break to our friendship was that she had information about my son, his life, where he was living, etc., but would not tell me what it was. She issued an ultimatum that if I “cut her out of my life I will get no information about my son. If I remain friends she will keep me informed.” She was not giving me any information and an ultimatum regarding my son was to me unacceptable as I felt she had no right to withhold from me. 

At the urgence of a friend I started to go out to different event, venues, etc. 

I was introduced to a man from a mutual friend. We were together for 16 months. An emotional roller coaster caused (mostly but admittedly not all) by his behavior. 98% of the time we were very well matched. He was aware of my husband’s passing and that I talked about him but it did not bother him or intimidate him in anyway.

He announced 3 weeks ago…almost as a side note to a mild conversation… that he was moving out of state for work. I asked, “what about us? A future?” His answer was simply, “I don’t know. I didn’t think about it.” That hurt and I told him so. 

He was moving his things slowly into my home as he had to move out of his house. However, he picked a fight with me out of the blue and packed up all his things and left. I told him he need not pick a fight to make it easier to move as it seemed a convenient way to end things…angry instead of sad. 

I find myself now completely immobilized. I was laid off from work, after 15 years employment with the same employer, this past June and have not worked since. I don’t want to leave my house. I am filled with anxiety to the point of not being able to eat and I can feel my heart racing. The anxiety causes me to be awake at night into the wee hours and I cannot stop my thoughts from racing. I feel numb usually but when I do feel I feel like crying. I just don’t know what I’m crying about. I do not wish to think its self pity because it feels different than that. I just don’t know what it is. I think about just selling my house and moving. But to where? I am wondering if the grief process for my husband was not completed and the end of this relationship with a man who told me that he loves me even as he was backing his things has triggered something. Or I’m just grieving the end of this relationship. Maybe both. 

I have tried to force myself to get up and get out but its very difficult. I do leave the home when necessary but don’t stay out long. Finances are tricky which prevents me from taking a trip or going to events that would perhaps help me get past “this”.

I don’t believe I did anything wrong in this recent relationship. If I did then it was subtle and not damaging. I took care not to say harsh words, do wrong things or inflict any negative behaviors. I had learned how to be a good partner with the knowledge I gained from my husband’s illness and subsequent death. 

It was chaos at times in this relationship. It was good at times too. Intellectually I know I should probably be relieved that its ended. It has ended on a good note and we remain friends. For now. Emotionally though it hurts. My husband’s passing set the benchmark for me in emotional pain and I can honestly say this does not hurt as much as that. 

But now? I took inventory. I suddenly find that I have no friends. Where they went I do not know. I think they are just busy with their lives and usually I’m the one they went to with problems they cannot fathom that I have difficulties and may need help. I have sent a couple friends some very specific messages basically clearly stating I need you. I received no responses. 

The loneliness I feel is tremendous. The sadness is almost overwhelming at times while at others its almost manageable. I know that there are millions of people in the same or similar situation I am in and that I will meet new people one day. But emotionally it doesn’t feel that way. 

My first husband has recently contacted me after 17 years of almost no contact whatsoever. We divorced without argument or discord. He and I are in agreement that we simply grew apart. He wishes to make amends for the abandonment of our children. He feels we have something in common now, in addition to 2 adult children in that he remarried as I did and his spouse died of cancer too. I wonder if his contact with me now hurts or helps me in my situation. I also wonder if it matters since his contact is about him and his demons rather than me and mine. 

My thoughts race constantly. I am anxious constantly, I find it hard to breathe, I can’t sleep and I cannot focus on anything for very long. My ex boyfriend calls or texts me though an all those symptoms disappear. It’s a matter of hours essentially that he will be moved from this state and into another. The likelihood is probable that I’ll never see him again. I then wonder if I am simply addicted to this man. Can that happen? If so the only cure for it is passage of time along with his absence. Is this temporary and I must only be patient? Or is it simply that I was able to finally love again after my husband? And now its being taken away? I think about him all the time along with the knowledge that he is not thinking about me. 

I never imagined my life being so empty. Empty of people. I have always tried to be a good friend to others and I have discovered that not all people care to be the same type of friends. 

I pray for direction. I pray for guidance. I pray for goals and objectives. I pray for motivation to pick myself up yet I cannot find the will to do so. That alone makes me feel ashamed and wasteful of my life.

What is wrong with me? Why can’t this heavy weight lift off my shoulders? Why can’t I remove this elephant off my chest? Just accept what has transpired and move on. I tell myself today just be happy! Or try to be at least. Act as if I am happy and maybe the feelings will come. It doesn’t work.

I Need Direction

Dear I Need Direction,

You have been through a lot. The past few years must have seemed like a roller coaster ride of pain, heartache, abuse, sadness, misery, anxiety, depression, nervousness and uncertainty. It’s a lot for anyone to bear. Made all the worse by the fact that you had to go through it all alone; without having a shoulder to cry on, without having anyone in your life who would hug you and assure you that everything would be fine, that it was just a matter of time before you would be happy again. Suffering pain or loss is bad enough but to experience it all alone compounds it.

You are and have been a very brave person. You fought whatever obstacles life threw your way and won most of your battles. Not everyone is capable of that.

How and what you are feeling right now is natural and due to many reasons. One, you are alone. You don’t have anyone to share your feelings or experiences with. Friends or family – everyone left you. More or less, everyone is gone from your life due to different reasons. Some people went away from your life because they passed away, others just abandoned you and left to live their own lives. There is no one to console you, support you emotionally, to share your feelings with, no one to talk to discuss things and try to make sense of them.
Misery loves company. If your ex-husband has contacted you, don’t shun him off. He may have contacted you out of his own needs but it might be good for you too. You are absolutely alone. You would benefit from having someone in your life who’s has been through similar circumstances.

Second reason is that you didn’t get enough time to fully process the effects of all the incidents that occurred in your life. You didn’t get the chance to feel them and deal with them at your own pace and terms. One after the other, difficulties kept on coming and you were tumbled along by life from one situation to another.
An example of this is that you didn’t get enough time to grieve your husband. You had to deal with his family as soon as he passed away. That must have been an awful time for you. What with the pain of your husband passing away and on top of that your in-laws bringing a lawsuit against you. That distracted you from grieving the death of your husband in the manner and time that you must have wanted or required.

Third reason is that you didn’t get closure in most of your relationships. In nearly all of them, people just left you without formally and appropriately ending ties with you. You were left in a lurch in almost all of them.
They might have done it for various reasons, one of which you figured out yourself……”he picked a fight with me out of the blue and packed up all his things and left. I told him he need not pick a fight to make it easier to move as it seemed a convenient way to end things…angry instead of sad”.
Not getting closure is painful. We keep on trying to figure out the reasons why the relationship(s) ended. We make excuses for others and usually end up blaming ourselves for the failure of a relationship. This is extremely unhealthy as it destroys our self-esteem and prevents us from fully moving on and starting new and happier relationships.
If your ex-boyfriend is leaving you and you believe you won’t ever hear from him again once he moves to another state, then before he leaves try to get closure for this relationship. Otherwise it would be more painful for you once he’s gone.
If possible, try contacting everyone who left you and have a heart-to-heart talk with them. Otherwise, write a letter to each individual and in it state everything that is going on inside you. Be explicit. This would help you in getting some closure. You need not necessarily post these letters.

I think about him all the time along with the knowledge that he is not thinking about me”.
To be in love with someone and in return not being loved by them is extremely painful and emotionally humiliating. It brings all sorts of insecurities and erodes our self-esteem. You need to counter that. Every human being is beautiful and unique. All of us have some greatness in us. You need to understand this. You need to understand the fact that if he doesn’t want you in your life, this doesn’t necessarily mean that there is something wrong you. On the contrary, he might be the unlucky one who can’t see a good thing when its right in front of him. Think about that.

A disturbing thing is that one after the other, the people in your life have left you. Your friend, your partner, your kids, your siblings – none of them are there for you. Also you had an estranged relationship with your mother.
Have you ever tried looking for reasons why this happens to you all the time? Have you ever considered the possibility that inadvertently you might have pushed them away? Are you pushing them away because of your personality, temperament, insecurities, etc? Or are you one of those unlucky people in life who is surrounded by selfish people who leave you as soon as they don’t want anything more from you? This is something that you need to ponder on and try to come up with answers.

All that happened, happened. It can’t be changed. You can’t go back in life and change the course or outcome of events. It’s done.
What you can do though is to try to make your present and future better. It might be difficult but it’s possible. Start by taking things one at a time. Write down a list of all the things that you now want from life, both short and long term. It could be anything. Nothing could be too trivial or too big to be out of reach. Write down everything that comes to your mind. This could be an ongoing task with the list being revised as many times as you want, whenever you want. After making this list, start by taking one item at a time and try to accomplish it. This would give you goals and objectives in your life along with the desire to accomplish them.

Another thing that you could do is to involve yourself with social work. It would help a lot in calming you down. It has a deeply gratifying effect on one’s soul. It definitely would take a lot of your anxiety and pain away.  It could be a source of peace, contentment and thankfulness in your life.
Helping out others who need your help would  take your mind off your problems. In time, you would start feeling that your problems are not as big and insurmountable as they seemed before. This would bring lightness in your life and demeanor.

Another thing that could be helpful is travelling. Travel to some place. It doesn’t have to be far and expensive. It could be to somewhere near that fits within your budget. Travelling would allow you to see new places and meet new people and take your mind off your problems. It can be therapeutic and entertaining.

You spoke about selling your home and moving. That would be a bit drastic and unsettling especially in your condition. Instead try to find your next job in another state or country if possible. That would take you away from the place which has been the epicenter of all your problems. Sometimes moving away helps. If you believe it would be helpful for you then go for it.

I know that there are millions of people in the same or similar situation I am in and that I will meet new people one day. But emotionally it doesn’t feel that way”.
It’s good that you haven’t given up all hope and believe that eventually you will meet someone. Keep this hope alive and make yourself receptive to welcoming new people in your life.

It’s good that you are praying. Praying helps a lot. The belief that GOD is there to help us out of our problems…..that’s a powerful and soothing feeling. Keep that up.

There is nothing wrong with you. Just give yourself time and be true to yourself and others. Things will definitely get better.

Asad

10
Oct

I miss my wife

Dear Asad,

I am a 55 years old businessman. My wife passed away a few months ago. We had been married for nearly 30 years. We had no children. We just had each other and now she’s gone. I miss her terribly. Life seems so meaningless and not worth living without her. I wake up each day and go through the motions of a typical life without being interested or experiencing joy in anything. When I am at home, everything reminds me of her. When I am out at work, I constantly keep on thinking about her. I try to keep myself busy in my business but it isn’t helping.

My siblings, who are all very close to me, are very worried about me. They have suggested that I remarry. I was shocked to hear this. I can’t imagine a life with any other woman after my wife. I have told them so. They say they understand but want me to have a complete home again with a life partner. I, on the other hand, can’t imagine being with any other woman. Even the thought makes me sick. It makes me feel as I would be cheating on my dear, departed wife. I know they mean well but how do I make them understand that that’s something I don’t want.

Widowed Husband 

Dear Widowed Husband,

First of all, please accept my condolences on the demise of your wife. May God have mercy on her and bless her with a place in heaven. Amen!

It’s been a tragic loss for you and what you are feeling right now is completely natural. The feeling of life having no meaning and being uninterested towards everything is normal. This is how it will be for quite some time. Right now you are going through what is call the grieving period. This is the time when one is the saddest after losing someone, when everything seems unrealistic, when nothing in life holds any charm or happiness, when everything – even the normal everyday chores – seem like a burden.

With time, things will improve. This does not mean that you will forget your wife. What it means is that you will come to terms with the fact that she is no longer with you and that you have to move on with living a normal, emotionally healthy life. It will take some time – depending on you – but it will eventually happen. There will come a time when you will be able to think of your wife without feeling as much pain as you do now. There will be good days when everything would seem fine and then there would be bad days when you simply won’t be able to bear the loss of her. Hopefully, as time passes, there will be more good days than bad ones.

Although your siblings mean well, as they want to see you happy and settled, I believe it’s too early – in the state that you are in – to be attached to someone else. You are still very much living in the past with the memories of your wife. Right now, it must be unfathomable for you to think of any other woman. And rightly so. Please tell your siblings that at present you don’t even want to think of any other woman, let alone contemplate marriage. Try to make them understand that you need time – as much time as you want, not as much as they want to give you. Talk to them politely but firmly so they don’t keep on pressurising you constantly. The condition you are in, pressure is the last thing you want. Tell them that when they talk about you marrying again, it pains you and makes you sad. Being the loving siblings that they are, I am sure they would understand eventually.

Lastly, give yourself time. Time to think, time to feel, time to assess your situation and your feelings as they evolve over the coming months and years. This would allow you to plan what would be best for you in your given circumstances.
Also don’t close any possibilities. You don’t know how you would be feeling in the future. Therefore, don’t make any decisions in favour of or against remarriage right now.
Also don’t rush into anything. Time is a great healer. Give it a few months, even years if you want. If and when you feel you are emotionally ready to move on then think about getting married again. Not before that. Otherwise it won’t be fair to you and the new woman who comes in your life.

All the best!

Asad