Originally Published: July 23, 2017 6 a.m.
Dear Annie: I’ve wrestled with whether to send you a letter, because my story is so unbelievable I’m still trying to convince myself it didn’t happen. I’m 25 years old, and I recently reactivated my profile on a couple of dating apps. I was matched with a handsome guy, “Jack,” and met up with him for a casual drink. He’s about five years older than I am, but we were really hitting it off well. I mean, we had all the big things and little things in common. He has a great job. He’s introspective, kind and mature, and he’s a gentleman.
After a few dates, we were texting back and forth one day. After my talking about my family for a while, he started freaking out and told me that — here goes — he had dated my mom four years ago. Yep. This was a period of a few months when she and my stepdad were not together.
Of course, I immediately stopped communication with Jack. And I’ve been on a roller coaster of emotion since. First I felt denial and disbelief. Then came sadness. Now I’m angry. This guy seems to be perfect, and the opportunity to date him was ripped away because my mother already went there. My mom is young and was eligible at the time — and I have no objection to her finding love and happiness. But I’m resentful of the fact that she was dipping into my dating pool, and I can see the issue affecting our relationship. Should I talk to her about this? Do I have a right to feel this way? — Dating and Disturbed
Dear Dating and Disturbed: The first step toward letting go of resentment is realizing you’re holding on to it. So though Jack wasn’t meant for you, I think he was meant to come into your life. He’s brought to the surface some complicated feelings you have toward your mother, and now you can finally talk to her about them. I’m sure Mom will sympathize with your frustration. Give her the opportunity to tell her side of the story. When you’re ready, get back out on the dating scene with an open heart.
Dear Annie: A few months ago, I messaged you about the issues that come with my speech problem, and you advised me on meditating. Since that letter was printed, I have noticed how a lot of people have been considerate about my “accent” and not really asked me about it. While meditating over these months, I have come up with some thoughts that I’d like to share with you and, if you find it necessary, the people who read your advice in the paper.
I first noticed how, as you said in the column, one can’t change how people act. People may say things that they themselves come to regret in the future. Though working in customer service can be frustrating, I find comfort in the fact that some people have “problems” like me. Some have ADHD, autism, etc., and I found myself (and my co-workers) judging them and making fun of them.
As I meditated, I noticed that, and it made me think about why I had the right to write to you about my problems when I was judging others for theirs. After I found that I was judging my customers, I felt horrible. People can’t change certain parts of themselves any more than I can make my horrid speech problem better.
I started to treat the people who come in as I would like to be treated and have found that I am happier at the end of the day. I advise anyone to share a kind understanding and maybe just strike up a small conversation with someone. You never know what it could lead to. — Working on My Perspective in Pennsylvania
Dear WOMPIP: It’s great to hear from you again. You seem so much more at peace with things than you did in your first letter. I hope your story encourages others to give meditation a try.