DEAR ABBY: I am a 46-year-old woman, and I feel as though my life is over. I lost my job more than a year ago and haven't been able to find another one. I have no friends, and it has been 13 years since I dated.
I live day to day, only for my mom and my dog — both of whom I love tremendously. I'm glad I can spend so much time with them each day, but I know I'm missing out on something more in my life.
I am well-educated, well-read and have traveled quite a bit, when my financial situation was better.
Abby, I feel like I'm 96, not 46! I am depressed and disheartened and don't know what to do. I can't afford counseling. I have thought about volunteering, but I don't want to work with kids and most volunteer jobs require that.
Please, can you suggest anything to help me out of this slump? I figure I have a good 20 to 30 years of living before me, and I just can't go on like this.
I have already accepted that I'll never find a mate, and I'm struggling with the thought that someday, Mom will no longer be here. I see no future for myself. Please tell me what to do.
— DOWN IN CONNECTICUT
DEAR DOWN: It is premature to conclude that you will "never" find a job, a friend or a mate. Things seem hopeless right now because you are depressed.
In your letter you hit on a wonderful, positive idea — your impulse to volunteer. Not all volunteer opportunities involve children. How about volunteering at a non-profit organization, an assisted-living facility for seniors, a VA center, an animal shelter, a program for people who are homeless, a food delivery program for shut-ins. Your local police department might also welcome some administrative help from a mature, organized adult.
I'm sure your time and talents would be deeply appreciated whatever you decide to do. Not only would volunteering be a rewarding way to fill your time, but it will help you to network.
P.S. Counseling is available on a sliding financial scale in most counties if you feel you need professional help.
DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend, "Cooper," and I started dating last fall. His parents and I get along well, but there is one person in his life who doesn't want us to be together. That would be "Claire," a close family friend who is also known as Cooper's "second mom." Cooper dated Claire's daughter for a few months a couple of years ago.
Cooper is polite, smart and good looking. It's no wonder that Claire would rather he date her daughter. There have been many times that Claire has been rude to me, including saying to my face that she wishes Cooper would break up with me and start dating her daughter again.
I have spoken to Cooper about it. Apparently, Claire has tried to pressure him about it behind my back many times. Abby, do you think I should say something to this woman, or just let it be?
— BOTHERED IN GEORGIA
DEAR BOTHERED: I see nothing positive to be gained by taking the bait and getting into an unpleasant conversation with "Mama Claire." When she says something again (and she will), smile and say, "I know. You've already made that clear."
Claire's daughter is no threat to you, and if dating her was at all appealing to your boyfriend, he would still be doing it.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.