Ask Amy: First cancer hits, then heartbreak follows
Dear Amy: Three years ago, I was diagnosed with bone cancer.
I went through 2 1/2 years of chemotherapy and six months of stem cell treatment.
I am now deemed to be cancer-free, and I feel great compared to how I felt in those three years.
During that time, I was with a woman (for eight years). We did everything together: Movies, dinners, road trips. Never had an argument. Never raised our voices at each other. My family and friends all loved her, as did I.
She treated me lovingly when I was sick, but of course when I was ill, I couldn’t do the things we used to do. I hated that. My sex drive was gone. But I got better. I started feeling like my old self.
Then I was hit with a bombshell. She left me two months after I got well.
I was crushed. Heartbroken. I cried like a baby. I asked her why, and she said she felt like she was only existing, not living.
But I was getting better!
I think that she met someone while I was ill, and she chose the other person. It hurts so deeply. My family, friends and her daughter were devastated.
She said, “We both need to move on with our lives,” and I’m trying, but it’s hard.
What do I do now? Besides go on with my life?
I’m working again, but it is tough by myself. I know I won’t give up or give in, but this still hurts.
Do you have any words of wisdom for me? — Heartbroken in Dallas
Dear Heartbroken: Conventional wisdom might suggest that someone who hangs in there through the worst of things would then breathe a sigh of relief and commit to being there during recovery. But people leave. Your partner might have been exhausted by the caregiving she did during the worst of your illness.
I suspect that she might have wanted to leave just before, or maybe during your illness, but hung in there out of duty, guilt, loyalty, or compassion for you.
And what you must do now is go on with your life.
You are already doing this, in gradual steps that will become strides. Your recovery from this extremely painful breakup might parallel your recovery from cancer. Look at each day and celebrate your smaller victories. Write them down: A good day at work, a conversation with a friend, a creative project started or completed, an extra lap around the track, increased physical strength, another day of cancer-free living. You are demonstrating impressive resilience and strength. Recognizing that — deep down — will be an important building block for the new and improved you.
Dear Amy: Every time my mom put dinner on the table I said, “Thank you,” up until her death, and I am 56.
It is not just a family thing. When I prepare meals for friends, family, work colleagues or when we go out, it seems that saying thank you after a meal is the norm.
I now live with my fiance. His son just spent a month visiting us.
Every night I prepared and provided a healthy, home-cooked meal: Garden vegetables, shrimp, filet, pork, fish, different salads and grains.
Never once did I get a “thank you.”
The last night, I even said, “I hope a different meal routine and food variety was a nice change.” He actually said, “Nah, I always manage.”
The lack of expression of gratitude infuriates me.
To be fair, most other aspects of the visit went well.
What are my best options to communicate this? It would be hard to cover up my resentment. — Gracious, Resentful Cook
Dear Gracious: Don’t blame your fiance’s son for not biting the hook during your attempt to fish for gratitude and a compliment. He sounds unsophisticated.
But there is another person at the table: his father. Your fiance should model kindness, respect and gratitude — acknowledging your effort before eating and thanking you afterward — and show his son that a grateful diner also clears the table and cleans up after a delicious meal.
Dear Amy: I’m curious why the “Anxious Wife” whose husband didn’t do enough housework neglected to state the working (outside the home) status of her and/or her husband.
Surely, if one of them is the major breadwinner, then the stay-at-home partner would be expected to perform more of the chores? — Need Clarification
Dear Need: “Anxious Wife” said she “needed help” with some tasks, and (regardless of their work status) I took her word for it.