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      Email questions

      1.  My boyfriend and i have been together for almost a year and we have gotten along great until recently. In the past two months things have changed now everytime we are together he checks my text, facebook, twitter and even my pictures. I cant talk to any guys around him or he automatically assumes im cheating. I honestly feel like im in love and i know we are only in high school but i dont want to throw this all away because of the controling feeling he has!  Any advice?


       Controlling people never, ever change.  This behavior only gets worse over time.  This is  pre-abuse, bordering on emotional abuse.  This behavior eventually turns into physical abusive.  Sometimes if a guy gets dumped by enough girlfriends, he figures this out and changes his ways, but he will always see YOU in this light.  I'm sorry, but you need to dump this boy and find someone who treats you better. 



      2.  My whole life has been control by the idea that I need other peoples validation to be happy. Do you have any advice on getting over this mindset?


       As Whitney Houston once sang, "learning to love yourself, it is the greatest love of all."  But poor Whitney also talked about her constipation on national tv, so what does she know?  I am a very self-validating person.  I have a very high opinion of myself.  However, most of the times I have searched for validation from others, I haven't got it.  I don't think a person can be truly happy when they look outside of themselves for validation.  Accept who you are, decide who you want to be, and be that person.  Screw everyone else.


       3.  I have a friend that seems to always make things a competition. We've been friends for 4 years. Everything has to be hers or if your going through something she's going through something worse. We had a fight and shes mad at me about not spending enough time with her, and shes mad because I spend more time with my boyfriend than I spend with her. I explained to her that I had just lost my grandmother less than a week ago, that I was there when she died and her funeral was the day before my birthday and she proceeded to tell me about all the people she has lost and how shes had it tough. I told her I didn't want to argue and that this was the last thing I.  needed right now.How would you handle a situation like this if you were in my shoes?



      You have to accept your friends for who they are and what they can give you.  Nothing more, nothing less.  If this friend is terrible with sympathy, don't go to them when you need sympathy.  If this person is more of a negative in your life than a positive, cut them loose.  I have different friends that i go to when i need a sympathetic ear, advice, or just a buddy to play cards with.  Cultivate the relationships that are good for you and weed out those that are not giving you what you need.



      Without a father I feel like all love is lost.

      Without a father I feel like all love is lost.  Imagine never knowing your dad cuz he died before you was born.  Seeing all the girls with their dads on Father’s Day.  I’ve lived with it my whole life and still don’t know how to handle it.  I go to his grave and just cry, what do I do?  Who do I blame?  Why does this have to happen to me?  All I do is cry when our song comes on.  How would you deal with my situation?!!!! Please help me!!!!


      Firstly, please understand how much of my sympathy you have.  I have two bio daughters, a step daughter, and a soon-to-be daughter-in-law, so I think I know how important a dad is to a girl.  Plus, my dad is my number one role model.  I would be a very different person without him. 

      It does seem a bit odd that your sense of loss is still so profound that it brings you to tears regularly.  I wonder if that loss that you feel is less for the person, as for the life you wish you would have had if he were alive.  I’m guessing that things were tough for your mother raising you alone.  You don’t mention a step-father, so either your mom is by herself with you or your step-father situation is not good.  Either one would make a young woman wish for a father that will always remain perfect in your eyes, since he never had the chance to be a real person in your life.  Real people can disappoint you, this man never can.  This allows you to project every positive virtue on him and every negative one on everyone else in your life.  You have a built-in excuse.  “If my dad were still alive ____________ wouldn’t have happened.  Fill in anything you want in the blank: my cat wouldn’t have died, Mom wouldn’t have lost the house, we’d have enough money so I could get an Iphone, my step-dad wouldn’t hit me.  Anything bad that has ever happened to you, big or small, wouldn’t have happened if only he were alive.  Of course, when you step back and think rationally you know that isn’t true, but it is hard to do in an emotional moment.

      So, my advice?  First, you need to see a counselor, if you aren’t already.  A support group might actually be a better choice.  We have a grief and loss group here at school, and there are support groups all over town for things like that.  (I know Dr. Spangler personally, and he is a good guy) 

      Other than that, my only advice would be to make sure that you are making the choices in your life, not anyone else, and that you take accountability for those choices.  Good things and bad things happen to everyone, and while your dad’s presence in your life would have certainly made some things better, other things would be just as tough and tougher.   Hang in there.  Don’t allow the defining moment in your life to have happened before you were even born.  You can take control of your own life from this point on, today.  You are in control of your destiny, now go do it.


      How do you find happiness when you only feel numb?

      You use the word “numb” here in a way I find quite disconcerting.  I am going to delve a little deep here, and I may be out of my depth, so if I am way off, I apologize.  A feeling of “numbness” is often a sign of clinical depression.  Depression is not feeling sad in the way you expect it to.  When you are clinically depressed, you don’t ever feel too high, or feel too low. 

      The important thing to understand about clinical depression is that it is a medical disorder with a medical solution.  Clinical depression is caused by chemical imbalances that can be fixed with medication.  If you are suffering with clinical depression, or even think you might be, GO TO A DOCTOR.  You can get medication that can help.  It is not a life sentence.  A vast majority of people who are clinically depressed take medication for a while and then get off of it.  It is not a failure of character.  If you had an ear infection, you wouldn’t hesitate to get medical treatment for that, would you?  You don’t even need to see a psychologist, your medical doctor can prescribe most of the common depression medications.  Go get help for the time you need it, then get off the meds when you are ready.  Medication can be a temporary solution to your problem, but clinical depression can lead to suicide, which is a terrible, permanent solution to your temporary problem. 

      Many people you know, including myself, have been on medication for what might be considered a psychological problem.  I’m off now, but if I were feeling bad again (my problem was anxiety, not depression, but same difference) I would get back on in a heartbeat.

      If you are clinically depressed, there is a medical solution to your medical problem.  Go see a doctor.


      What are your experiences with bullies?

      I was bullied quite a bit in elementary school.  Being in the Talented and Gifted program (Tards and Grodes on the playground) coupled with my sub-par athletic ability made me a target quite often.  The fact that I would sometimes skip the sportsball game of the week to read The Cat Ate My Gymsuit for the 40th time, didn't endear me to some of the more Neanderthal types.


      I specifically remember this one boy named Shawn who was at least 5 years older than me who kneed me in the butt as I tried to exit the bus one day.  I was probably 9 and he might have even been in high school.  I remember Missy Peterson (Janna and Mia’s older sister) telling him to leave me alone, but of course I was terrified to even turn around.  That same kid stole my Nerf ball at the pool that summer. 


      In middle school, there was a pack of bullies that terrorized my friends and me.  Several school dances were spent cowering in the corner hoping that we would be left alone all night and fantasizing about karate chopping a broom handle to use as a weapon if we needed it.   One of those bullies eventually pulled away from the pack due to the love of a good woman setting him straight.  By the time we were in ninth grade, I encouraged my dad to choose him for our baseball team if he got the chance to draft him in a low round, since no other coach would take a chance on a kid who dressed in metalhead clothes and had a skull earing.  He and his family we so grateful to my dad for taking a chance on him that he and I became solid friends.  He helped on the farm that summer and his pitching helped our team destroy the rest of the city league.  We didn’t really hang out or anything, but I considered him a friend, and still do.


      In high school I met a guy named Dave Webber and he told me that if bully types think you are crazy, they won’t pick on you.  So I put up pictures of Jeffery Dahlmer (a big news story at the time) and Charles Manson in my locker.  Today, those pictures would probably have gotten me suspended at least, but at that time, nobody upon high even noticed.  The toughguys did though, and they never bothered me again.


      Before the end of high school and for the rest of my life, my quick and sharp tongue has become more powerful than my fists.  Now I worry more that I am the bully.  I try really hard to only use my mean sense of humor for good.  I tease my friends unmercifully, but I take it even better than I dish it out.  If I am teasing a student, I think I have a pretty good idea where a kid’s line is, and I almost never cross it.  I’m sure I make misjudgments in that regard occasionally, but I tell my students and friends all the time, “I only tease the ones I love.” 


      Have you ever been afraid you won't succeed in life?

      Until very recently, I would say no.  My career goals in high school were to be an English teacher, the assistant basketball coach, and develop a films course elective.  My first teaching job at Ar-We-Va schools allowed me to achieve all of those goals.  Not bad for 22 years old, huh?  My personal goals were to get married and have kids.  I did both, twice.  J  So I guess that makes me a success.

      It’s not until recently that I had a goal that I have not been able to achieve.  A few years ago, I finally finished a book (hey, another goal knocked off the list!), but despite sending it out to 50 agents, I have not been able to even place it with an agent, let alone get it published.  In this day and age, the traditional publishing route is very, very difficult, yet I see most authors that write in my genre whose book is no better than mine.  In fact, while my book is certainly flawed in places, I think it is pretty great overall.  I would like my book to be published through traditional means, not for the money, because I know that won’t be much, but that would validate my ability.  I know that is egotistical, but my aspirations are mine, and I don’t have to justify them.  I have a few more book ideas, and I may try to go the traditional publishing route or I may go another direction with them.  Only time will tell.