Dear Amy: I had a fabulous life — a big successful career, handsome husband, and gorgeous kids. I was well-known and acclaimed in my field. I felt I had it all and that I was living the feminist dream.
My husband did not work. He had a drinking problem. His behavior became increasingly violent. When he harmed the children, I left him.
My life changed radically. As a single working mother of two small boys, I could no longer be a superstar at the office.
My special-needs child required frequent hospitalization, which meant hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical debt.
Then my father had a lingering death from pancreatic cancer.
I couldn’t afford not to work, so I dialed in a very sketchy job performance and my professional reputation suffered.
Meanwhile, my ex-husband was committing acts of violence, which meant round after round of restraining orders. It was chaos.
Fast-forward 10 years. The boys and I have a loving relationship. Both children excel in college. After many years and diligent effort, I’ve resolved the financial problems. The boys even have a healthy relationship with their father.
The problem is that I am firmly stuck in the past. I miss the time when I used to have everything, including a husband whom I loved.
The other women in my circle from that time are doing great things — running international organizations, working in the White House, etc. I’m just kind of a has-been.
I know I made the right choices. But I can’t stop thinking of what I had and what might have been, if we had kept it together as a family.
I am sad and bitter, and it is making it hard to enjoy my life and plan my next steps.
I’m definitely depressed, and think I may have PTSD. I don’t know where to get the help I need to be happy.
What do you recommend?
— Broken & Exhausted
Dear Broken: You seem much less a “has-been” than a hardworking, impressive, and successful survivor. Life has handed you a series of huge challenges, and you have fought your way through — and conquered — all of them.
One hazard of defining your success according to “the feminist dream” (or any idealized version of how to live) is that these stereotypes don’t allow for the realities of life, including tragic events that necessitate personal sacrifice.
You certainly embody a parent’s highest calling, which is to successfully protect and support your children. And you did it alone. If that isn’t a feminist dream, then the movement needs to make more room for heroines like you.
Like a warrior just off the battlefield, you could be suffering from PTSD. The best way to find out is to be evaluated by a qualified mental health practitioner.
My hope for you would be for you to reframe this narrative of your experiences to recognize what a bold and successful survivor you are. Talk therapy, medication, and nurturing supportive friendships with other women warriors would help.
Dear Amy: I applied for the same job my oldest daughter applied for — at the same company.
They told her she would hear something back within two days. The second day has passed, and she has not heard anything.
They need two people to fill the positions, but I don’t want to have my daughter miss an opportunity if they decide on me.
In a perfect world it would be great if they hired both of us.
She now has animosity toward me.
I wish there was a way to ask about her status, but I know that’s a no-no.
I now believe that I shouldn’t have applied for the same job as she did, but I don’t know how to move forward.
Dear K: If your daughter learned about this position first and applied for it first, you should not have also applied for the position without discussing it with her.
There is now a possibility that your choice has knocked you both out of the running for the position.
You didn’t discuss this before, but you must discuss it now.
Dear Amy: Your answer to the teen who can’t “stay in the moment” [“Doubting Everything in Life”] was excellent.
I am 79 years old and have had the same issue my whole life.
I was in therapy two years ago, and, even at my age, talking it through with a therapist helped a lot.
— Indiana Reader
Dear Reader: This is a wonderful affirmation. Thank you.
(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)
Subscribe to our weekly newsletter, In The Know, to get entertainment news sent straight to your inbox.
Source: Read Full Article