Dear Annie: I was married for 28 years to a man who was incredibly emotionally abusive. He came and went as if our home were a hotel, and he cheated on me with other women.
It took me a long time to “find the door” to leave, but I got a master’s degree while going to school at night and got a teaching job, which allowed me the independence to leave. Besides being abusive, he would use our money for himself. He bought cars and other items while we struggled with basic needs.
Fast forward 20 years. I am now retired, but I struggle with trust in relationships, and I am experiencing some post-traumatic stress disorder. However, I am proud to have moved on and am doing my best. My ex remarried, and his second wife left him for basically the same reasons I did. I have never remarried.
As of July, he is on his third wife. My children are having their children call her “Grandma.” I am brokenhearted. My grandchildren will not be able to differentiate between this new wife and me. After I raised them in such adverse circumstances, they do not care how I feel. I have asked them to call her by her first name or another nickname.
They care more about her feelings than mine.
Should brand-new step-grandparents be called “Grandma”? Additionally, some of them live in the same town, while I have retired to another state. I am seriously brokenhearted. — Sad Grandma
Dear Sad Grandma: Everyone reading your letter feels your pain. You have every right to be sad about this situation. Your children have taken their father’s side in this, possibly out of fear. The good news is that wife number three will probably not last, and the whole family knows who the real grandma is.
Tell your children how much this hurts you, but also stress that you love them and your grandchildren and nothing should interfere with that. In the long run, nothing will.
Dear Annie: I believe the most valuable lesson my father instilled in me was to do one good deed every day. He always told my sisters and me that we would have a truly meaningful life if we practiced that.
He didn’t give us everything we asked for, but he did encourage us to share some of our toys, books and more with other neighborhood kids in need.
I remember Dad worked a full-time job and helped my mother with housework, but he would always take time to give someone a lift, mow a lawn or help a farmer with chores (my father loved farming). Thank you, Dad. I still follow your good example every day. — Your Loving Daughter
Dear Loving Daughter: Your father sounds like a wonderful man. A truly happy life is not about one big life event that happens; it is about living each day to the fullest, and the best way to do that is to do good for others. Thank you for sharing your father’s wisdom and example.
“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@example.com.