DEAR ABBY: I have known “Dean” for 10 years. We have been living together for two. Since the beginning, he has struggled with depression, anxiety and anger issues. Occasionally he has explosive episodes where he’ll throw things and punch or kick inanimate objects.
Recently things escalated. He was angry with himself after getting angry with me for disturbing his “process” while making dinner, and he threw a potted plant across the room.
I’m not an idiot. I know these are serious issues. Every friend or family member of mine who knows him believes he’s a good guy deep down. But they all tell me to leave him. I talked with him after the incident. He called a therapist, set up an appointment and has promised he won’t drink anymore.
I’m struggling with the judgment I’m feeling from my friends and family. Dean is a man I see a future with, and I don’t want to give him up when he’s finally seeking treatment. My friends are concerned about me getting hurt, either in the crossfire or when I try to stop him from hurting himself. Am I an idiot for not walking away? — Not Ready to Walk
DEAR NOT READY: If all your family and friends are worried about your physical safety, for your own sake, you may have to stop trying to save Dean and concentrate on yourself for a while.
He may have many fine qualities, and the fact that he is willing to seek help for his explosive temper says a lot for him. That’s why I’m suggesting you and Dean pay a visit to his therapist together and ask whether it would be better if you live apart until he learns to recognize and manage his “triggers.” It may give him the incentive to work harder on his problems, because it appears he has more than a few to deal with.
DEAR ABBY: Recently my 11-year-old son, “Jackson,” was at a neighbor’s house playing with another boy a few years younger. The boy told my son he plays with him only because his parents make him, and he said he isn’t Jackson’s friend and never wanted to be.
Jackson came home upset, and I was heartbroken for him. I comforted him and told him at least the boy was honest. I advised Jackson to find another friend to play with.
I’m at a loss on what to do next, if anything. Do I talk to the parents? Or just let it go? Friendship shouldn’t be forced, but my heart aches for my son. Please give me some advice. — Mama Bear in Illinois
DEAR MAMA BEAR: Tell the parents what happened if they ask again for Jackson to come over. While children say all kinds of things in the heat of the moment, it would be better for your son if you found some other activities for him — group activities involving sports or science or the arts — for at least a while.
While it’s understandable your neighbor’s son may resent being forced to play with Jackson, it is equally understandable that Jackson might be reluctant at this point to have anything more to do with him. Don’t push it.