Originally Published: February 1, 2017 6 a.m.
Dear Annie: I was at a dinner party with my girlfriends last week, and we got on the subject of weddings. Someone we know had posted wedding photos on Facebook, and it got us talking about all the details — dress, location, etc. When the wedding party was mentioned, my friend “Jessica” said, “Well, of course, I’ll let you girls all pick your dresses when I get married.” I looked around and thought, “Me? I would be one of her bridesmaids?” I was pretty stunned. Jessica and I have known each other for years, but we only just started getting to know each other one-on-one a few months ago. She’s a lovely girl, and I am glad we are better friends now, but truthfully, I’d feel a little out of place in her wedding party. I mean, her birthday passed in November, and I didn’t even have the day memorized. It came and went, and I had no idea. (Whoops.) More importantly, I know I won’t ask her to be a bridesmaid at my wedding. I’m dreading that situation. Any thoughts on this? -- Not Always a Bridesmaid
Dear NAAB: Hold your high heels. From your letter, it doesn’t sound as if Jessica is even engaged yet. No need to start sweating her wedding plans. Whenever that time actually comes, the two of you may be much closer and you’ll be happy to play an important role in her special day. And don’t worry; you don’t have to make someone a bridesmaid purely because you were one of hers. There are so many other factors — the size of your wedding party, whether you have sisters, sisters-in-law or longtime childhood friends to include, etc. A true friend wouldn’t hold it against you.
Dear Annie: I like to read advice columns, yours and others, but I usually skip the response to the problem. Invariably, the answer will be “seek therapy,” as if that were some kind of magic solution. Let me tell you what “seeking therapy” means for me and, I suspect, most Americans.
I live in a small town; resources for therapy are scarce. I do not qualify for employer insurance or benefits. My individual insurance does not cover counseling. I could, conceivably, drive an hour to the nearest large city for a chance at quality therapy. I would have then spent an hour driving there, an hour in the appointment and an hour driving back — three hours in which I lost potential wages, shelled out money I can’t spare and used gas I was counting on to get me to and from work.
This doesn’t even address the issue of getting my employer to OK my missing work on a regular basis (therapy not being a one-and-done undertaking) and the fallout that comes from being known as an employee with issues. Yes, I know about privacy policies at work. We all know the reality is different.
If I were still a mother with young children, throw in child care issues while seeking therapy.
Turn to my religious adviser? Don’t have one. Talk to my physician -- during the 10 minutes he spares me to write a prescription I can’t afford?
Combine all these issues for two people seeking couples counseling and look at the likelihood of success.
If you detect a touch of bitterness in my letter, it is because it is there. Telling me to seek therapy is akin to saying, “Let them eat cake.” – Frustrated
Dear Frustrated: Thank you for this reminder of how difficult it can be to find mental health care. Have you tried remote counseling? Services such as BetterHelp and Talkspace connect patients with health care professionals via video chats, text messages and phone calls. This might be a more convenient and affordable option for you. Be well.
Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out more about Annie Lane and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.