Dear Annie: I've dated my boyfriend for more than 12 years. We got along fine when his grown kids were out of the picture, but now they're back living with him. His youngest is 21, yet he treats them like infants. The daughters are manipulating and controlling. When I bring up my feelings about the situation, he accuses me of being jealous and insecure. I feel I've wasted years in a relationship going nowhere.
I always helped him with rent, paying up to $700 a month, even though his kids don't pay rent. Recently, I moved out. His response to my moving out was "We're glad you're gone!" — Feeling Left Out
Dear Feeling: I, too, am glad you're out of that house. Now you need to get out of the relationship. Having been in it for 12 years is not a justification to stay in it another second. Ahead of you is the rest of your life, and I believe the coming years can be your best. If you're having trouble finding the strength to seek out that better future, I encourage you to seek therapy. You deserve so much better than what you're getting now.
Dear Annie: Hurricane Irma hit my neighborhood two years ago. I need access to electricity for my CPAP, nebulizer and oxygen concentrator, and so I went to the hospital before the storm hit.
My nephew thought that I acted like a 3-year-old. We had a wonderful relationship before the storm, but Irma changed all that. Since then, I've read about noncompliant nursing homes and assisted-living communities whose residents died during the storm. How can I convince my nephew that I did the right thing? — Safe Senior
Dear Safe: Your nephew thought it was immature of you to seek shelter at a hospital during a hurricane? I'm flummoxed. But rather than continuing to try to convince him, let it be enough to know that you did nothing wrong, and divert your energy instead toward developing a thorough disaster preparedness plan. Start by letting your power company, local police and local fire department know that you are oxygen-dependent. The Red Cross offers a free downloadable guide on its website entitled "Disaster Preparedness: For Seniors By Seniors" that includes some additional tips if and when the next storm hits.
Dear Annie: My mom was always focused on helping others and would gladly give whatever she had if she felt someone else would benefit.
She had serious health challenges as well. In late November a few years ago, we found out she needed surgery which was scheduled for right after Christmas. I wanted to give her something extra special for Christmas. I contacted family members, friends, neighbors, co-workers and the groups where she volunteered and asked them to tell me about the difference my mom made in their lives. I received phone calls, letters, emails and cards with wonderful stories full of love and gratitude about my mom.
For my mom, it was never about what she had or what she could get, but always about what she could give. I placed everything I received in a three-ring binder.
The night before her surgery, I read some of the stories with her. She smiled as I read, and we both cried. Mom got through the surgery and died a few years later. When my sisters and I were going through everything, we found the book. They gave it to me. I read it often. I am sharing this story with you hoping it will encourage others to share how someone has made a difference in their life before they leave this earth. — Loving and Grateful Daughter
Dear Loving: I absolutely love this idea. The holidays have come and gone, but all year long we have the opportunity to let loved ones know how special they are to us and how important they are to their communities. We need not wait until they're gone to express our gratitude for knowing them. Thank you for this reminder.
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected]