DEAR ABBY: I'm an 18-year-old guy having troubles regarding my family. My parents are divorced, and I moved out of my mom's house after I graduated.
After the divorce, I flipped back and forth between living with Mom and Dad. I moved into my mother's after an argument with my stepmom, who insists that I call her "Mother." I don't consider her my mother. My father is an alcoholic and was completely impaired when he married her. I've never forgiven him. When I visit, I can't help but feel no longer welcome.
My mother (a hypocritical tiger mom) made my high school career so stressful it pushed me into severe depression, so I spoke to a doctor who prescribed medication for me and gave me therapist referrals. Since I moved out, I've never been happier.
My siblings and I have never been close, other than at times when we needed someone to talk to about our parental situation.
I have been thinking about disappearing and starting a new life on my own with no thought of my family past. I'm not sure if it's worth fixing the mess my family has become. Advice?
- Breaking Away
DEAR BREAKING: For your stepmother to demand that you call her "Mother" was wrong. She is not and never will be your mother. (Besides, you already have one of those.) For your mother to have pushed you to succeed academically is normal when a parent thinks her child has potential that isn't being realized. That she was so heavy-handed that it had the opposite effect is very sad.
If you would like to move away and start a new life, no one can stop you. At 18, you are considered an adult. But I do not think it would be healthy for you to do it in anger and without mending fences, if that's possible. Running away will not have the effect you're looking for because your family will still be living in your head.
Gives silent treatment
DEAR ABBY: I believe my wife is egocentric. She has five framed pictures of herself around the house. Even the wallpaper on her tablet is of herself. If we have a disagreement about anything, she won't talk to me for days unless I break the ice. It's ruining our 21/2-year marriage. Any suggestions?
- Mystified in the South
DEAR MYSTIFIED: Yes, be less quick to judge her because of the photos she keeps around the house. The reason may have less to do with egocentricity than insecurity.
What's destroying your marriage isn't the pictures; it's your wife's inability to fight fair. Her silent treatment is emotionally abusive; it's not a healthy way to solve a disagreement. A licensed marriage and family therapist may be able to help the two of you communicate more effectively. If your wife won't agree to it, go alone.