(Illustration by Ben Claassen III)

I have heard of misophonia — severe irritation caused by certain sounds, like someone eating — and it fits me to a T. I always thought I was just easily annoyed, but now I know it is a particular brain thing. Honestly, my boyfriend’s eating makes me want to throw stuff at a wall. But I don’t know where to go from here. How realistic is it to actually be treated for this? —Suffering

Since misophonia is a relatively new diagnosis (it’s also known as selective sound sensitivity syndrome), treatment protocols are, shall we say, rather young. There are only a handful of specialty clinics nationwide, but some individual providers will have expertise. Basic interventions to help mask offending sounds — like a hearing aid that provides relaxing noise — can help, along with some cognitive behavioral therapy techniques to improve your relaxation and coping.

I’d highly encourage you to develop support around you — there are several communities online that share tips to lessen the impact of your triggers. And working openly with your boyfriend so he can help you navigate this is key as well.

Sunday dinner — minus a son

My 25-year-old son has stopped coming to our Sunday family dinners now that he is dating a new person. He knows he is welcome to bring whoever he is dating, and has many times in the past. The person he is dating now seems to make him not want to come. I am upset that she is driving a wedge into our family. —Fed Up

I’m not sure how the new girlfriend is automatically to blame. Yes, it could be her, but it could also be any number of things — good, bad, about him, about what goes on at the table, or anything in between. It’s your son’s choice to make, and for now he’s making it. I understand how hurtful this is to you, but turning this into a big deal or a guilt trip will only keep him farther away.

If he is in a controlling or unhealthy relationship, of course, take heed, but there will be other signs of that beyond his absence over rigatoni. Initiate a conversation, and start with a nonjudgmental opener, like: “Joe, we all really miss you on Sunday nights. If there’s anything keeping you away from the table, I’m all ears. We just would love to have you and Taylor there sometime.”

Send your questions for Baggage Check to Dr. Andrea Bonior at baggage@wpost.com.

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