Dear Annie: I am a 54-year-old man who has been a teacher for over 20 years. I’m a confident and intelligent person who graduated with honors from a very good university. I am married with two children, and I’m a veteran of the U.S. Army.
My problem is that there are two people in my life, my boss and my wife, who speak to me like I’m a complete idiot. Much of what I say to my boss and my wife is contradicted, corrected or outright disagreed with. It’s gotten to the point that I don’t even feel like talking to them anymore.
I have begun to predict what they’ll call me out on, and I’m almost always right. The thing is I’m not as wrong as they would have me believe. Their point of view is just different from mine.
I’m tired of trying to talk to them, and I hate that feeling. When I do stand up for myself, I’m suddenly an overreacting jerk who they are shocked and appalled at. This has been a problem all my adult life, from other ex-bosses and ex-girlfriends to former co-workers.
My current co-workers and my few friends have noticed it, too, and can’t understand why they treat me this way. I don’t understand it either. Any suggestions? — Confused and Frustrated
Dear Confused and Frustrated: Either you are a wonderful human being who is surrounded by unhappy people or you are interpreting someone having a different opinion as he or she treating you like an idiot. If you really feel that you are being bullied, then the next time your wife or boss makes you feel stupid, ignore them. If they see that they get a reaction from you, they might keep doing what they are doing. Bullies feed on seeing their victims affected by their actions.
Marriage counseling would be a wonderful place for you and your wife to figure out whether she is taking you for granted and mocking you, or if you are feeling like an idiot because she has a different opinion.
Dear Annie: I have an ex-boyfriend, and our relationship has been off and on for more than eight years. He has a drug addiction problem, though he is clean for now. During those eight years, he cheated on me all the time.
He is now telling me that he has changed his life and wants me back, which is a pattern for him every time he breaks up with someone. I have taken him back before, and every time, he wants money from me. He also has me constantly doing things for him.
He makes me feel as if it is my fault if something happens to him if I refuse to take him back — that he will start doing drugs again or something else that is harmful to him. I don’t like feeling this way.
My question is, is eight years too long to start over? Can someone change their ways? I was raised to listen to my gut. And my gut is telling me that nothing has changed. — Torn
Dear Torn: Always listen to your gut — and your entire body. A lot of times, our body knows something is not right before our mind figures out why. This guy sounds like a loser who thrives on taking advantage of your feelings of guilt, which he creates.
Say no to him, and explain that if, over a long period of time — at least a year or two — he stays clean and sober and still wants you back, you will reconsider. But if he harms himself in the meanwhile, that’s his problem, not yours.
“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]