Dear Annie: My wife and I have three perfect grandchildren, ages 1, 5 and 7. We love watching them at least one day a week. Their parents are caring and careful. But occasionally when I am just about to fall asleep, I have “waking dreams” that the most horrible things happen to the kids. Why? I am able to push these disturbing thoughts out of my brain in a few seconds. I don’t want to pay a psychiatrist for the answer. — Worried in Kentucky
Dear Worried in Kentucky: While I admire your ability to push those disturbing thoughts out of your mind, nonetheless, that which we resist, persists. It might be beneficial to talk to your wife or a counselor about these thoughts. Sometimes just acknowledging and talking about your fears make your fears lessen. If you try to go at it alone, you will continue to suffer.
It could be a sign of generalized anxiety or a form of OCD, but I would consult with a professional. In the meantime, keep up the good work with your grandkids. They are fortunate to have you and your wife. (c) Annie Lane @ Creators.com
Oh, Annie Lane. You’re not showing a wide body of knowledge here. This guy is experiencing hypnagogic hallucinations which can be associated with schizophrenia, narcolepsy, or Parkinson’s disease. (Given this man’s age as a grandfather, my money’s on Parkinson’s.) He should see if he has any other symptoms of those illnesses. Or it can be a completely benign happenstance in and of itself, indicating only that he has weird sleep issues; but it’s worth getting checked out. I’d also highly recommend Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks. His book covers the gamut from optical illusions to coming out of surgery to drug-induced hallucinations, and everything in between. Seeing a general doctor would be a better bet than a psychiatrist, and let the gen doc indicate which type of specialist should be seen, if any.
Dear Annie: I’m seeking a new job. Pretty much all the jobs I’ve had have been facilitated by referrals (I know someone who knows someone). So I’m pessimistic about my chances of landing something in a place where I don’t know anyone. How can I make myself stand out?
These jobs I’m applying for have 100-plus applicants, and thanks to imposter syndrome, I don’t feel all that qualified to begin with. My motivation is lacking, though I am committed to the end goal. What should I do to nip the bad juju and fight the good fight? — Jaded Job-Seeker
Dear Jaded Job-Seeker: One way to make yourself stand out is to walk around with a chip on your shoulder, which is what you are doing. I hope you are aware of just how negative your perspective is and what it will do to sabotage your finding a more desirable job.
Instead of focusing on the referrals that you don’t have, or the idea that you’re not good enough for the job, focus on your strengths. Out of the 100-plus applicants, one has to get the job, and the question is, “Why not you?” That is a question you have to ask your self-esteem. You deserve to have your dream job, and you will land it once you shake off a negative attitude.
Wow, geez, Annie Lane. He’s not a Negative Nancy. I’d be intimidated too if I were competing against a hundred applicants. I don’t see a chip on his shoulder at all.
My motivation is lacking, though I am committed to the end goal. What should I do to nip the bad juju and fight the good fight?
Yeah, gee, what a terrible attitude he has. [Eyeroll.] He’s not being a whiner. He’s asking for advice. And what’s up with this advice from Annie Lane?
You deserve to have your dream job, and you will land it once you shake off a negative attitude.
I think she meant to say he won’t land it until he shakes off his bad attitude. But she flipped it to saying he will land the job when he does shake off his bad attitude. She must’ve skipped logic class in college. It doesn’t work that way.
Not to mention the fact that he could very well get the job despite his trepidations (which I would not categorize as being a bad attitude).
Let’s see what Ask Amy is up to!
Dear Amy: My husband and I have been together for 10 years (married for three years), and we are each soon to turn 30 years old. My husband has made some personal choices that more than likely have prevented us from becoming pregnant.
I have a professional career, where I speak to people casually and frequently. At work and in my personal life, I frequently get asked, “So when are you finally going to have kids?” and “Are you thinking about having kids with you getting older?” and, “When are you going to give me some grand babies?”
To be honest, not yet becoming pregnant has been one of the toughest feelings I have ever had to deal with. I want it more than anything, so these comments are difficult for me to answer.
I don’t want to make conversations awkward or put anyone in their place, but I’m tired of saying generic comments like “We will see” and forcing a smile.
Do you have any advice for me on what I can say or how I can handle peoples’ questions?
— Judged and Sad
Dear Judged: Granted, this is an extremely tough and painful topic for you, but you have signed your question “Judged and Sad,” and thus seem to be interpreting these intrusive queries as judgments of some kind regarding your current childless status.
You also lob a bombshell aimed at your husband, regarding “personal choices” he has made, which you believe are affecting your ability to get pregnant.
Yes, you are hurting badly.
I cannot imagine that any person — regardless of their relationship or fertility status — would actually welcome a query about something as personal as pregnancy. Why do people ask? In the history of the world, has this question ever been greeted with, “Wow — I’m so glad you asked me about that! I’ve been dying to discuss my birth control choices and fertility issues with a client/co-worker/mother-in-law.”
I suggest that you arm yourself with a no-nonsense but polite answer: “I can tell you’re curious about this, but I don’t want to discuss it. Thank you for understanding.”
You should also arm yourself with accurate medical information, research your options (such as IVF, adoption, or surrogacy), and take a very deep breath and simply try to be patient with yourself and others.
You and your husband should sit down with a therapist. You may need more professional coaching to navigate your personal and family relationships. (c) Ask Amy
I love Ask Amy’s thoughtful advice, except for one thing: oh my, yes, this letter writer is being judged. Asking someone when they’re going to give you grandchildren isn’t just rude and obnoxious. It’s a subtle form of pressure. To anyone who doesn’t believe me, there’s a great episode of Everybody Loves Raymond about this. But I’ve also witnessed it in real life. I was at my maternal grandmother’s house once when my aunt asked my male cousin, “When are you going to get married and give me grandchildren already?” I was shocked. No one has ever put that sort of pressure on me. And yes, she was putting pressure on my cousin. I could feel the intensity of it. He blushed and muttered that he was trying.
And anyone who’d ask about future babies in a friend/professional context (like at work or when you’re out socializing) is taking subtle jabs at you. Trust me. It’s not cluelessness–it’s sabotage. And if the person asking about babies has children of their own, it enters into the realm of envy. Let’s face it: those of us who are childless lead lives of luxury. Some snarky parents resent that and go for the jugular. I think Ask Amy was too naive.
The letter writer doesn’t want to put anyone in their place, but I think she should. “Leave me alone! It’s none of your business,” comes to mind. Any similarly hostile response would work. If the speaker has babies of their own, a good reply would be, “Why? Are you looking to get rid of yours? Sorry, I’m not interested.”
And by implication, Ask Amy seems to be saying that it’s the letter writer’s fault for being so sensitive. Lord above, no one should be asking her if she wants to have babies when she’s older. I think Ask Amy missed the boat here. Yes, it’s a tough issue for the letter writer, but she shouldn’t have to suffer due to mass ignorance. Shoot ’em down, I say. Put the busybodies in their place.