I am retired. During 2020 Covid times, a professional acquaintance, I’ll call her Sandra, started a support group of four women, all of whom she had worked with professionally. In 2021, Sandra contracted Covid and has not fully recovered. She has brain fog and tires easily and is depressed by the fact she cannot function at the high-power level she did when working.
Sandra is only 62 but has decided to go to a European country where she can perform assisted suicide. She told the support group a couple of months ago about her plans, and I disagree with her choice. I wish she hadn’t told us, because now I feel resentful of being put in a position to support her. Am I wrong?
Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Well, if I thought this week was going to be a breezy one, your letter proved me wrong. Just to summarize, Sandra is so depressed about her long Covid symptoms that she is considering assisted suicide in another country. To begin with, I’m not sure you can end your life with assistance unless you have a fatal diagnosis. Also, long Covid is so new, we don’t know just how long it truly is or how we can treat it, which means there are lots of possible solutions out there.
But that’s not what you wrote about. You are resentful about being asked to support her in something you don’t support. You are not “wrong” because you are always entitled to your feelings. In addition, I don’t believe that you have to be supportive if you don’t feel that you can be supportive. You can lovingly disagree with her and use your tight support group as a place to express your concern for her well being. This could include recommending a support group for long Covid sufferers, a therapist, medical specialists or encouraging articles/information.
It sounds like Sandra’s depression is the most important issue to address. You cannot solve that for her, but you can be honest and helpful at the same time. Stay true to yourself and encouraging to her, and I think you’ll squeeze through this one with your head held high.
Writing this letter makes me feel like the time in high school when I ran into my teacher in the grocery store and was shocked, shocked that she actually had a life outside the classroom.
I’m well into middle age now, and I happened to see my therapist outside her office the other day. She didn’t see me. OK, that happens sometimes … it’s a small community. But it turns out I saw her at an event that I now know we both attend regularly. Because of the seats we are both in, I can see her, but she can’t see me.
I feel like I am inadvertently spying on her. I think I should tell her, but I don’t want her to feel self conscious and, well, spied upon. But if I don’t tell her, I feel like I am lying by omission. What to do?
Am I 12?
We are all 12 at heart.
Normally, you see your therapist in one place and one place only. And that space is a little sacred. Much is talked about, much transpires. Outside that space is normal life, in all its craziness, and the two don’t usually mix, so I totally see how it would make you a little off kilter. However, your therapist has dealt with this before and is probably very skilled at doing so. She likely sees patients “on the outside” pretty often.
My guess is that she won’t feel “spied on” and would happily talk to you about it. To you it may seem like a bigger deal than it is to her. Holding stuff in is never a great rule of thumb (even though it is my personal favorite unhealthy coping mechanism, generally speaking). And where better to process feelings than in a therapist’s office?
I have a very good friend with whom I enjoy speaking very regularly. The problem is, everytime I say, “I gotta go,” she just keeps on talking. It’s like she doesn’t even hear me. When I repeat myself, she still doesn’t get the hint. Any words of wisdom?
Talk a lot, talk a little more
Dear Talk a lot,
- I gotta go, my hair just caught fire.
- I have to pee so bad, my teeth are swimming. Gotta run!
- Oy, my dog just puked all over the rug. Seeya!
- Oops, my gumbo is burning, talk later!
- Holy sh*t, I just remembered I’m supposed to be at the dentist right now. Bye!
I really, really, really have to go. Love you!
Dear Gabby appears in the RoundTable every Monday. Yes, Gabby is an advice columnist – but not just any advice columnist. Because that would be boring! Gabby combines wisdom with wit. And a pinch of snark. She is not a trained therapist by any means, but has seen and loved many in her day. Her aim is to make you think while she makes you laugh. Gabby welcomes all questions and queries and is only too happy to hear your opinion, no matter how much it may diverge from hers. Write to Gabby at firstname.lastname@example.org.