Annie’s Mailbox – 1.24.12

Annie’s Mailbox – 1.24.12

Posted: Tuesday, January 24, 2012 8:36 pm
By: By Kathy Mitchell & Marcy Sugar

The Messenger 01.24.12

Dear Annie: I am a man in my 50s with a lot of problems. First, my wife of nearly 20 years left me for a much younger man. (She now lives in a foreign country.) For three years, I’ve been raising three kids alone. I’m under-employed and nearly broke. Despite my education and years of experience, I can only find part-time, low-paying work. My kids and I greatly benefit from the love and generosity of my mom, who has allowed us to live with her.
Aside from that, my wife refuses to sign divorce papers. I wasn’t looking to end my marriage, but I have told her that I don’t want to waste my life waiting for her to come back. She gives no indication that she wants to reconcile, but she procrastinates about the papers, and I can’t afford a lawyer.
My few friends seem to be too busy or uncomfortable visiting me now that my life is mess and I am broke. I have gained too much weight and was drinking too much, although I am trying to control my bad habits. The women I meet seem to want someone thinner, richer and less complicated. To make matters worse, if a woman seems even remotely interested, I become nervous and run the other way.
I have no health insurance, so I’m getting free psychological counseling at a local clinic, but it’s a long process. I feel hopeless and anxious. I don’t know what to do or where to turn. Any suggestions? — Life Isn’t Easy
Dear Life: Counseling is a good first step. You are understandably depressed and likely have been spiraling downward for three years, but it sounds as if you are finally ready to dig out of the hole. Contact any local bar association or law school for free or low-cost advice on extricating yourself from your marriage. Refresh your resume, network, check online work postings, and let friends and family know you are looking for a better job. Stop self-medicating with alcohol, which can exacerbate your depression, and start exercising. It not only will help with your weight, but it will lift your spirits by boosting endorphins. A brighter attitude will attract people. We’ll be rooting for you.
Dear Annie: We recently returned from a visit to my 66-year-old brother. He was rude, abusive and overbearing, all of which are way out of character.
When I got home, I phoned him and suggested he get a checkup. I thought he might have developed a chemical imbalance. His doctor discovered that his medications needed to be adjusted. It was such a simple thing, but the effect of the change in meds has been dramatic. Please remind your readers that advancing age is not the only reason for unusual or erratic behavior. — Been There
Dear Been There: Any change in behavior or temperament — at any age — could have a medical basis, and it is always wise to check it out with a doctor. Thanks for saying so once again.
Dear Annie: You suggested to “Give Me an Old-Fashioned Christmas” that in lieu of gifts for relatives, he could donate to a charity in their honor.
I have had this “gift” given to me by friends and relatives, and I don’t like it. Often, the charity is not one I would choose, nor would I want to be on their list of donors so I can receive solicitations all year. And the donation provides a tax deduction for the givers, which makes it a gift to them, not me.
If friends or relatives wish to do this instead of giving me a gift, fine, but please don’t say it’s “in my honor.” They should simply say they are giving their money to charity instead of using it on presents. I have no problem with that. — Old Scrooge in Omaha
Dear Scrooge: We’re sure you aren’t the only one who feels this way.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Email your questions to, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at


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