Dear Amy: I’m a 28-year-old woman. Until recently, I was building the life of my dreams. I was a musician, traveling around America in a Volkswagen bus with my boyfriend and bandmates, climbing up the ladder of success.
I was putting every fiber of who I was into this dream, and inspiring other people. Then, my mother became terminally ill due to complications from alcoholism. I went home and shared a few beautiful, heartbreaking months with her.
My boyfriend decided he needed to “find himself” while I was away. He found himself a yoga instructor.
He was my family, my crutch, my career and he left me when I needed him.
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Out of so much hurt and anger I decided I needed to step away.
I came home to get back to my roots. I’ve made dinner and gone out dancing with my girlfriends. I’ve chopped wood and talked with my dad. I’ve reconnected with an old lover who gives me foot rubs every night. I’ve attained some normalcy.
The problem is I haven’t been able to sing, perform or write a song in months. I am terrified to do it.
It seems as though I am doomed to always be half happy.
Amy, how do you attain complete happiness? How do you wake up every day and put every piece of yourself into your dream?
How can I make my glass seem at least half full?
Glass Half Empty
Dear Half Empty: The path to complete happiness does not run through a real life, like yours (and mine), because in an ordinary life – stuff happens. Boyfriends find yoga instructors; parents die.
I’ve experienced both of these scenarios – many of us have. These experiences will eventually deepen your understanding of your role in the human comedy. But first, you have to survive.
Given the challenges in your life (your mother’s alcoholism; your various losses), you might benefit from talking to a counselor. Also do some deep reading. Poetry by Mary Oliver and Maggie Smith will help. Joni Mitchell also has things to say to you.
The ticket is to be kind to yourself, to be a good guardian to your own health and to figure out how to put the music back into your life.
Like you, I also experienced the loss of music during a grief experience. For now, do not force yourself to write or make music. DO force yourself to listen to music, preferably live. Bring some tissues and a notebook, because some tears – and ideas – might flow. Take notes.
Glass half full versus half empty is just a matter of perspective. As your music comes back and your creative juices start to flow again, your perspective should shift, too. Loss doesn’t change your basic temperament, but tests it.
Dear Amy: I have been with my boyfriend for seven years. Last night my boyfriend’s best friend messaged me.
He started off with a normal conversation, but then he compared me to a famous supermodel and told me I looked just like her.
I responded, “Wow. No. I actually don’t think I look like her, but I appreciate the compliment.”
Then he asked me if I was OK with him flirting with me because if I wasn’t OK, he would stop. I replied by telling him to stop.
I don’t want my boyfriend to know this happened because this guy is his best friend. He has lots of love for him and doesn’t want to lose him as a friend. On the other hand, I feel like my boyfriend should know.
Should I tell him, or should I just act like nothing happened?
Dear Anxious: This man flirted with you. You told him to stop, and he did. So far, this seems like a contained situation. Keep a copy of this texting exchange. If he does anything further or violates any boundary with you, then yes, you should push back harder, and also out him to your boyfriend.
Dear Amy: Regarding young children attending weddings: I just returned from my daughter’s evening wedding. Two guests brought along (uninvited) young children.
The girl’s loud monologue during the maid of honor’s speech was not adorable. The parent could have taken the child to the lobby, but didn’t. Unfortunately, we have to relive those moments each time we view the video.
The boy cried for the entire five hours because he was very tired and at an adult social event.
I do not blame these toddlers, but I do think their parents are clueless.
Dear Disgusted: Absolutely.
Email Amy at email@example.com.