Appearing every Wednesday and Friday in The Washington Post Style section and in Sunday Source, Tell Me About It ? offers readers advice based on the experiences of someone who's been there -- really recently. Carolyn Hax is a 30-something repatriated New Englander with a liberal arts degree and a lot of opinions and that's about it, really, when you get right down to it. Oh, and the shoes. A lot of shoes.
Editor's Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.
On the no arguing question in today's column... there's another alternative to superficiality or oppression -- passive aggressive avoidance. My ex hated all conflict. If something came up from my perspective, I'd raise it and we'd "discuss" it (he didn't contribute much) and then he'd go about his merry way doing whatever he wanted to do. It was impossible to "argue" with him because he wouldn't argue back. It was impossible to discuss anything because he wouldn't participate. If he had a problem, he'd deal with it in a passive aggressive way, like maybe say he wanted to see me grow as a person in a particular way. I'd think "Oh, he's trying to help me develop more fully." I ended up thinking he was reasonable and constructive. Boy, was I wrong.
I remember Anne Landers' advice -- if a couple doesn't argue, there's something wrong. Yes, yes, yes.
P.S. My ex still won't discuss or argue. I've had to resort to litigation to get things settled between us simply because he won't deal with me on problems.
Carolyn Hax: Sorry guys, just got inundated with posts and was trying to read through for different angles.
Getting late, though, so I'm going to go. Thanks all, especially Liz if she can still read this from under the pile, and I'll type to you next Friday.
Not quite sure why the above is on the page. It's the conclusion of last week's discussion. Please to ignore. -- Liz
What's with ya', Al:
What is it with women? I go through over a year of not returned calls, fake numbers, flirting for free drinks, and basically no love from the finer sex. Now I've been dating a girl for a little over a month, and in that time, two co-workers have told me to my face they're interested in me, another co-worker at another job not-so-discreetly slipped me her number, and a friend of a co-worker blatantly propositioned me to help her rebound from a LTR. And none of them know I'm dating someone either. Is it a pheromone thing? An inside joke among felines to drive the canines crazy? For the record, I'm not gonna stray -- I'm crazy about the girl -- but what gives?
Carolyn Hax: Hey, don't blame this on women, blame it on humans. Both camps suffer from this phenomenon equally.
Or, even better, blame yourself--you're crazy about this girl, and it's showing. Yay.
Though a month is a pretty quick turnaround ... third choice, blame fate. It is a notorious mind-bleeper.
UPDATE from Alonesville:
Carolyn, I just wanted to give you an update. I had written last week about my emotionally unavailable and cranky husband. Thanks for listening by the way. Well, we are TALKING and talking and talking and talking... its like the flood gates have opened and 98 percent of it is productive stuff. We realized how much we missed each other, we have recommitted to our marriage. We are peeling the baby blinders off and seeing each other again. Its far from perfect, we have a long way to go, but I am not feeling as desperate as I was, and I have a good feeling about where we are going. (and too that Vienna guy from last week, I am not fat! and our sex life is fine,,yeesh)
Thanks for the advice, the act of typing in, seeing it in print, hearing from the peanuts, is all very cathartic and just what I needed to get off my butt and start vocalizing.
Carolyn Hax: Another yay, and thanks so much for reporting back.
What do you think, Liz, good note to end on?
No, no, no -- it isn't a "two-question show," it's a "two-hour show.
On-line only please
Girl and guy work together. Girl and guy become good friends. Girl and guy realize they have feelings for each other that go beyond just friends. Girl and guy are both married. Girl and guy have frank discussion of feelings and promise each other that despite mutual feelings, nothing will ever happen between them. Girl and guy want to keep hanging out together. Is it possible?
Carolyn Hax: Is it smart? No. Is it fair to your spouses? Not really. Is it possible? Entirely up to you.
Bridezilla question: I think I'm the Bridezilla in this scenario. Or something. I asked five of my closest friends and my two sisters to be my bridesmaids. Apparently, friend #6 (i.e., would-be bridesmaid #8) has been asking around to find out who is going to be in the wedding. I didn't fail to include her because I thought we would be too many, but because I hadn't been in regular contact with her for a couple of years, although we were college roommates and really close at times. I feel bad because the omission seems as though it bothers her (which I understand and don't -- seems like a lucky miss in some ways), and I would ask her, but it just seems like it would be a consolation prize at this point, and also, at this point, eight seems like a lot.
Wishing I'd just had my sisters,
Carolyn Hax: Since would-be bridesmaid #8 hasn't said anything to you directly, there's nothing for you to do here. Let her handle her feelings (whatever they are) her way (whatever that is).
If it's any consolation, maybe airing this will be enough to nudge come other bride to stick to her sisters, or, even better, forgo bridesmaids altogether.
State of Confusion and Sadness:
Okay, so I know I can't change him. I know it isn't okay for him to EVER put his hands on me. I know that if he did it once, I gave him a second chance and he did it again -- it will keep happening. I know that I had to make him leave.
But what I don't know is why I'm crying while I'm sitting here typing this.
I see this stuff on TV and I think those women are stupid. How can you know something's so wrong and still question yourself?
Carolyn Hax: I'm not sure I follow you entirely, but I think if you give the whole story to the good people at 1-800-799-SAFE, they will, and from there will also be able to help you with both the confusion and sadness.
A guy I've been dating just learned that the woman he dated before me is pregnant as a result of their five-week relationship. I know that all my friends would scream RUN AWAY! Am I crazy to not want to do so? I really like this guy, see potential for a long term relationship, and admire the fact that he told me about this within hours of learning it, and how he's handling it. What do you think?
Carolyn Hax: I think you swear off unreasonable optimism and then trust your judgment from there. Good luck.
Re: Non-arguing boyfriend:
Where can I get one?
The grass isn't always greener on the other side of the fence. Mine will argue, yell, and scream at me for the stupidest, silliest things -- to the point where I find myself apologizing to him for his mistakes. After he's calmed down, we've talked about it, and things are fine for a while -- until the next time.
I've absolutely had it walking on eggshells around him. Can you recommend a good anger management course I can send him to?
Carolyn Hax: 1-800-DROP HIM. You benefit from this relationship ... how, exactly?
Please help, Carolyn.
A family member of mine's spouse is bi-polar. There've been issues in the past, but they've worked through them. The spouse is going through a very long very bad patch right now -- is emotionally/verbally abusive to her and the kids. They constantly wonder when his next rage is going to be. It's taking a heavy toll on them all. He's gone off his meds (partly because of side effects, partle because of money concerns) so that makes it worse. She doesn't want to leave, fearing he'll hurt himself and also in hopes that something will magically turn him around. As a survivor of domestic violence, I doubt this will happen. I don't know what I can to do help her -- she and the kids haven't been physically hurt yet, but she worries. I know counseling/intervention is order, but I was hoping you or the peanuts could provide me with some resources and advice as a starting point. Online only please. Many thanks.
Carolyn Hax: I'd start by trying to find low- or no-fee mental-health care resources the spouse can use--try NAMI (www.nami.org) or the American Psychiatric Association (www.psych.org)--as well as support numbers for the family (same resources should yield something, esp NAMI). Do all the legwork, and when you've got it down to a few names and phone numbers, hand them over to your family member.
Also, please impress upon her that her responsibility to her kids is greater than her responsibility to him. You don't screw around with abuse.
Other suggestions invited, thanks.
An old friend is involved in an ugly family drama. Everyone involved (including my friend) is behaving terribly. I care about her, and think she's acting badly because she just doesn't know how to handle the situation, but I really don't know what to say when she tells me the latest lousy thing she or the other people on "her side" have done.
I would like to be a supportive friend, but I don't want to support her being a jerk.
Carolyn Hax: Tell her you're going to play Devil's advocate, and then do it, but in the form of a question (as opposed to an accusation). E.g.: "Is it possible that what you perceived as X was really just Y?" Or, "Hmmmmmm I don't know that I agree with that" also works when you're supportive of the person but not of specific actions. Either one allows both for your not knowing all the facts, since you're not directly involved, and for your drawing a reasonable conclusion nevertheless that people might be acting like jerks.
Larger perspective, I believe it's a true friend who's willing to call someone on BS.
For Bethesda with the bi-polar family member:
The poster mentioned that the bi-polar family member had gone off Rx in part because of side effects. I was on two Rx that are used for bi-polar disorder (I was using them for another reason) and the side effects can be fierce. The good news is there are a lot of Rx options for bi-polar patients and the side effects are not the same. Here is one case where an hour with google can be a life-saver (it was for me).
Carolyn Hax: Thanks. One more:
As the daughter of a bipolar father, I urge Bethesda to do what she can to get the bipolar guy's kids out of harms way. Growing up in the household of a bipolar parent who refuses to take meds is hell. The kids have to come first.
Regarding resources: there is recourse to state hospitals if finances are a problem, but that's a difficult course and usually only available if the patient is 5150'ed (i.e., committed for 72-hour observation because of interactions with law enforcement). If the police can refer the family to a psychiatric evaluation team, and if the bipolar patient's behavior is such that he can be classed as an immediate risk to himself or others, he can be hospitalized.
Once hospitalized, there are some things that can be done to try to get compliance with medication and psychiatric care to stabilize the patient. It's unlikely this will happen without hospitalization.
It is also unlikely that the bipolar patient will get the kind of help he needs as long as anyone in the family is picking up the pieces for him. What Bethesda's relative who is married to the bipolar guy needs to realize: you cannont, cannot, cannot reason with someone who is in an irrational state of mental illness. You can only get out of his way and stay out of his way, and let the chips fall where they may. That's all you can do.
Those kids should be gotten out of harms way ASAP. That's primary.
Carolyn Hax: Thanks.
One more, to help with the last suggestion:
Re: Bi Polar in-law:
Along with all of the support that Carolyn suggested -- I say offer up lots of free babysitting! This is useful for two reasons. One, getting the children out of a stressful and potentially abusive home as often as possible is a good idea. Also, this could be time they use for counseling/doctor visits etc. Hope all goes well.
Carolyn Hax: Thanks guys.
Is an ultimatum always wrong? I don't want to leave my SO, but know that if the unemployment problems continue I will need to leave. I have told her this. I shouldn't set a specific date?
Carolyn Hax: Agh, no. It's not the unemployment, it's how the SO deals with the unemployment--sulky or stalwart, lazy or industrious, open-minded or too stubborn to swallow pride, eager to be helpful in other ways or a little too willing to be a complete drain, etc. The character she shows here won't change with the arrival of a job opportunity by your deadline.
My girlfriends tell me that a relationship involving two people who have very different interests is doomed to failure. I think it pretty much depends upon whether the two are willing to embrace their differences as a positive thing and are willing to grow together... what do you think?
Carolyn Hax: I think it's the same answer as to the girl with the guy with the pregnant ex (yes I do this for a living)--be realistic and trust your gut from there. Some people are perfectly happy with--and in fact prefer--mates who spend a fair amount of their time pursuing separate interests. It's the need-a-lot-of-air set. Some hate that and prefer togetherness to include most of the ways they spend their down time. You find what works for you.
If your embracing differences and growing together, though, is just a romaticized version of erasing the differences and becoming a blissful unvariegated one, then your friends might have a point.
Falls Church, Va.:
How soon would you recommend to tell people that you're
pregnant, or even trying. My husband doesn't want to tell
anyone until the end of the first trimester, but I find
myself feeling like I'd like more people to talk with about
it. In particular, I'm finding it difficult to keep coming up
with excuses for not drinking (I'm known to love good
wine) and not eating sushi (which I've always said I could
happily consume on a daily basis).
What have you done in this situation?
Thanks so much.
Carolyn Hax: It's not so much about what I've done as what feels right. I think you're normal to want to share it with people, and your husband is justified in being conservative with the news, so meet halfway. You tell a few people to whom you're close--parents, sibs, close friends--and save the promotional mailer for when you feel you're out of the miscarriage woods (which is the reasoning behind the first trimester embargo, right?). Just explain to your husband that if you do miscarry, you'll want support for that as well, so define "close enough to share the good news" as anyone you'd also want to tell any bad news.
And on behalf of everyone you don't know well, I beg of you, please--do not announce that you're "trying." Again, that's for people close to you whose support and advice you'd like.
Re: State of Confusion and Sadness:
I'm actually one of those people at 1-800-799-SAFE, although I'm not there right now. We get the "Why do I still feel this way?" question a lot.
There's a very good possibility that the reason the earlier poster is feeling down is because she still feels love for a partner she used to have and now no longer does, which is always tough, abuse or no. Many abusers have plenty of good qualities -- they can be very loving, romantic, and attentive, especially early in the relationship before they show their abusive sides and later during the honeymoon phase of the cycle of abuse. Those are the things that the victim fell in love with in the first place, and it's really difficult to just turn off loving feelings like you're flipping a switch. Plus it's normal to feel a real sense of betrayal that a person to whom you gave your love could turn on you the way they did. Add to those factors the stress and uncertainty most of us feel at times of big changes in our lives, and maybe some of the negative feelings that you feel, even though you've done the right thing by leaving an abuser, become a bit more understandable. Just more understandable -- not any less intense.
Carolyn Hax: Well said, thank you.
"Line" for tolerating bigoted comments?:
OK, so I am dating this WONDERFUL man. You know, perfect, except for this one thing, and I don't know if it's a dealbreaker or not.
His friends and associates will occasionally make racial comments. Nothing blatant, but things that make me uncomfortable. My mother would tell me I'm uptight and should relax, it's only a joke and that nobody actually means anything by it. My super-liberal friend would tell me that there is no excuse for tolerating any comment even remotely racial. I kind of feel like he is condoning their behavior by not commenting on it.
I know you can't change people, but I don't want to throw out the baby with the bathwater. He is so perfect otherwise, never makes these types of comments himself, and I've seen him treat all kinds of people with utmost respect. So, maybe he's just too tolerant? Tolerant of everyone and their choices, even if that choice is bigoted?
I know this is an incoherent post, but I'm having a difficult time even getting my mind around this. I also have no one else to ask, because they would all have their own agenda in these circumstances.
Tips? How can I let him know this makes me uncomfortable without asking him to change or dump his friends? I've tried saying "It made me really uncomfortable when Ben was making those racial comments the other night." It didn't really work. Perhaps worth another shot?
Thanks, Carolyn, Peanuts. I so love your column and never miss a chat.
Carolyn Hax: The only person to ask about this is the one you haven't (really) asked--the guy himself. You said how the comments made you feel, but since he didn't take your bait, you need to ask him directly how the comments make him feel. And if you don't like his answer, then you need to say that, matter-of-factly, and why. TALK to the guy.
What is your opinion on getting married in your early 20s? Assuming the relationship at hand is as close to "perfect" as possible, is it still a bad idea to marry at a young age? What do you think?
Carolyn Hax: It's a bad idea to marry before you really know who you are. Certainly a lot of early-twentysomethings don't pass that test--it takes a while out in the world, I think, to test what you've learned from family and school and adolescent pack friendships to see where outside influences leave off and where the real you kicks in.
But I also know people pushing 40 who have no clue who they are. Or 50 or 80. So, while age carries likelihoods, it doesn't carry a whole lot of certainties, unless of course you're both 14 or something.
If the guy doesn't make these comments himself, then I really don't see a reason to question his integrity. I mean, my best friends have awful habits I don't condone -- one cheats on her boyfriend, another smokes too much pot -- but that doesn't make me a philandering burnout or a bad person for knowing them.
Carolyn Hax: True. However--I think it's a matter of finding the line between "Live and let live" and "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." It's there, and it's really important not to get too far on one side of it (condoning crime, neglect, abuse) or the other (meddling in everything), but also very difficult to make out when you get close to it.
Re: Bi-Polar spouse:
Wow. I have so much to say on this subject I don't know where to begin.
It's quite possible that even though the side effects can be fierce, the guy misses his mood swings. It happens a lot -- people go on meds, stabilize, start thinking about how good the manic highs were and basically forget that 99 percent of the time, life was bleep.
The only thing you can do when you love someone with mental illness is decide what you can live with. In my case, it was an ultimatum to take the meds, or I'd leave. She chose to take the meds, and as long as she's doing that I feel like we can face anything. But ultimately, it's the mentally ill person's choice.
The Bi-Polar Significant Others Web site and list is a wonderful resource. It's for anyone who is a source of support for someone who's bi-polar. When I read the first three posts, I bawled. No matter what situtation you find yourself in with someone whose bi-polar, someone on the list has been-there-done-that.
Carolyn Hax: Thank you. I'll have a look at the site myself.
Leiby's trying to bait you in his chat. Is he a middle-child? I think he needs a hug. And relationship advice.
Carolyn Hax: If it's Leiby, he's baiting readers. I'll check it out when we're through.
Need help but... :
...not sure what. I thought I would submit this for suggestions. I occasionally get what I (and probably my loved ones) would call unreasonably angry, not violent, but upset, red-faced, very emotional, and argumentative. It doesn't happen often, the last time was last night but the time before that was at the end of August, but it is enough that I know it isn't right. What sets me off is generally something annoying/frustrating/stressful/etc. and is often compounded by being hungry (actually both last night and the time before I was hungry and hadn't eaten). I generally calm down fairly quickly but the flare is large and a "normal" person would probably not even have half the reaction that I have. I know it is hard on the people (mostly my boyfriend) around me. There is usually a moment where, if I nip it in the bud, that I can keep myself from going overboard, but I don't always catch it. I have tried a couple of therapists but haven't found one who gets anywhere with me (I don't think it is because I am not trying but who knows). I know that my mother also has what I would term unreasonable and, when in public, embarassing "moods" and although hers have always been more frequent (and more petty) I feel like I am hitting a pattern that I don't want to continue. Outside of these occasional abberations, I tend to be a fairly calm reasonable person. So that's my story, comments, suggestions?
Carolyn Hax: Mostly no, since this isn't really my corner of the world, but I wouldn't discount the food thing. Low blood sugar is more than enough to render some people completely unfit for human company. Ask your regular doc to screen you for problems and in the meantime (or if your blood tests say you're okay) keep food with you at all times.
Re: Perfect Relationships:
Wouldn't thinking of a relationship as being "as close to perfect as possible" be an indication that you might be too young? Been married 22 years and still don't know what a perfect relationship looks like.
Carolyn Hax: I was going to flag that, but changed my mind, since there was the chance that it signaled nothing more than a willingness to acknowledge that nothing is perfect. But I should have thought one degree harder--how to be so sure of what is (and more important, isn't) possible, especially at such a young age?
Early 20s marriage:
How do you know if you know yourself well enough to get married? I think I do. Is that enough? I'm getting married at age 24 after a long-distance relationship that gave us a lot of room to grow independently of each other, then two years of living on my own in the same city as him to make sure we still got along. (We did, better than ever.) I never thought I'd get married this young, it just happened that way.
Carolyn Hax: Damn, you're making me answer the hard part. Thought I'd gotten away with one.
I guess I'd describe the state of knowing yourself well as when you've stopped trying to be something, and you just are, and you're okay with it, even on a bad day. Next step, you're ready to settle down with someone when that someone is okay with you as-is, too, and vice-versa. Even on a bad day.
In addition to low blood sugar, thyroid problems can cause serious mood swings, and thyroid malfunction is very very underdiagnosed. While she's getting screened she should insist her doc check her thyroid function.
Carolyn Hax: Thanks, I've heard this too, but apparently stuffed it into an inaccessible part of my brain.
RE: Married in Early 20s:
Personal experience: I was married at barely 23 (two weeks after my 23rd birthday), divorced at 30 and at almost 35, I'm STILL trying to figure myself out!
Unfortunately ,I succumbed to the find your man in college and get married thereafter when within a year I knew I wasn't ready to be married.
Then again, my twin sister was married within a week of me and still together.
Carolyn Hax: Not to poop on your twin, since she's mid-bliss for all I know, but "still together" is not interchangeable with "successfully married." Call that a nugget from my own getting-to-know-me process.
Somewhat similar situation to the person whose BF just found out his ex is pregnant -- except in my case, my boyfriend just had a child with someone he cheated on me with. I believe him when he says he'll never be unfaithful again, but how do I decide whether it's worth staying with him, knowing that this child will be in his life forever?
Carolyn Hax: For once, it's not about the child. It's worth staying with him if you can not only live with what he did, but also love him completely as the person who did it. If you can pull that off, you can embrace the child as part of the package he comes in. If you can't pull that off, you know what to do.
Does "It's not you, it's me" work with roommates?:
How do I ask my perfectly OK roommate to move out? I've been in current place five years, got current roommate about a year and a half ago. He wanted a place to live for about two years, a semi-communal household. I wanted someone considerate, friendship optional. Be careful what you ask for. He is quiet, responsible, respectful, and his annoying habits are no worse than mine. But we don't click at all, and more and more I'm resenting his presence. Semi-communal? Maybe at first, but lately we stay in our separate rooms, rarely talk to each other, never share meals -- I don't even cook when he's around. I don't feel at home here unless he's out of town.
I haven't brought this up to him because it looked like he was planning to move away this summer due to impending lack of work -- but suddenly some new jobs are on the horizon, and he's now sounding like he plans to stay. I can't stand the thought of living with him for another summer, or longer!
I won't move -- cheap rent, great location, plus I have seniority and I'm on the lease (he isn't). So, can I ask him to find another place to live, without being a jerk?
Carolyn Hax: By what, spraying him with Roommate B Gone? Sometimes you have to decide between being nice and getting what you want. This is a breakup like any other, and so the options are the same lousy two--you're going to have to either find a way to like this roommate or be a jerk. If you go with the latter, just make sure you aren't any more of a jerk than you need to be. Sounds like you have a very polite out with the pretext of his wanting a place for "about two years."
Unfair to the twin!;:
No fair intimating that the still-married twin is not happily married just to make the divorced twin feel better about herself!;
Age has nothing to do with whether a marriage will work. Maturity and commitment of both parties will make it work (or fizzle).
And - how can a person not know who they are? I have never understood that. Seems like a catch-all for not being focused in life (and I don't mean A-type personality either).
Carolyn Hax: Hullo? I said I didn't have any idea what the state of the twin's marriage was, just that I was using the "still together" phrasing to make the point that "still together" means squat on its own.
But now that you've gotten all defensive and thrown me more material ...
Maturity and commitment aren't enough on their own, either, which is really an extension of my original point. Two very grown-up people can make a conscious decision to stick with their vows even though they feel no love any more, and produce an utterly joyless 60-year marriage. Yee haw.
A marriage is successful when you find someone who makes it easier to be you, every day (with a few inevitable exceptions), and for whom you gladly return the favor.
As for knwoing yourself, I'm not even going to start to fight you at ... 2:13 p.m. Lemme guess though--you think, say, medication for depression is a crock, and that people should just stop wallowing in themselves.
Adams Morgan, Washington, D.C>:
Have any of the other 'nuts pointed out that you seem, I don't know, NICER and more tender since you became a mommy?
Snap out of it!
Carolyn Hax: Bite me.
I don't know how the other 'nuts feel, but
I just wanted to say that I always really
appreciate it when someone who has
posted a question comes back later and
gives us a status report. It's nice to know
how things did (or didn't) workout. I was
happy to hear that the woman whose
husband was shutting her out seems to
be making good progress in talking with
him and rehabbing the marriage. I wish
more people would check back in like
Carolyn Hax: People do check back in, but I don't always see the posts till it's too late (and honestly didn't know there was interest). I think there was another in my queue today ... lemme check.
I wrote in a couple weeks ago about my boyfriend of three years wanting a second chance to talk about our relationship after putting me off and breaking up with me. I wrote during your chat and my question wasn't answered so I forgot about it. So I was very surprised to read it in the newspaper -- on the day that he arrived to D.C. to plead his case! I did decide to give him the chance, and am very happy that I did. We resolved our long-distance/where-is-our-relationship-going issues and are very happily back together. Just thought it was too funny that the question would run the same day he came to D.C. to make his case (with a drawing by Nick)! I showed it to him, incidentally, and he was a very good sport. Thank you!
Carolyn Hax: You're welcome!
maybe a stupid/naive question, but what is your definition of "successfully married" (aside from the obvious, like no abuse, etc.)? I think I fit it (after 15 years), but just wondering what other people say.
Carolyn Hax: Happy. Fulfilled. Emotionally satisfied. Contented without benefit of a bodyful of dead nerve endings. Imbued with a nondelusional sense that, no matter what life dishes, you've got a partner who'll help you take it, as opposed to making it worse. Throw in your own, please.
So I'm getting a gyn exam in about an hour and a half and I am dreading it. I can't concentrate on work, I'm jumpy. Health care in general freaks me out, plus I've only had two before and they were both miserable. (I'm a virgin, and refuse to think that they really matter. I know, I know, yes, anyone can get cervical cancer, but really, my risk is very low.)
Any suggestions on how to get through it without breaking down in tears or running screaming from the room?
Carolyn Hax: Pleeease tell the doctor about your fear. And if this doc isn't understanding and/or doesn't make it easier for you, find another. It doesn't have to be a horror, and, for your own good, you need to make at least some peace with health care. (Though a little skepticism is always good to retain.)
Carolyn Hax: Eek time to go. Thanks everybody, and type to you next Friday.