Dear Harriette: My father died nearly 20 years ago, and I am only now dealing with the grief that I had bottled up over the years. I realize that I was angry with him for many years for things that happened when I was a child. Now that I am a parent myself, I see that he was doing the best he could. There are things that he messed up on, but when I look back on it, I think that he did way more good than bad. How can I forgive myself for not appreciating my father more when he was alive? I feel horrible. — Needing Forgiveness
Dear Needing Forgiveness: Grief is fascinating; it can rise up many years after a loved one’s passing. It can feel raw and real, even more so than the early days. The good news is that you are able to see your father more compassionately and with greater perspective of what it means to be a parent and a provider. When you were younger, you did not have the skill set or understanding that you have today. You can forgive yourself for whatever naivete you had back then and for not having the capacity for compassion at the time. You can also forgive him for whatever he did that left you wanting.You may want to see a therapist to help you explore your past and wrestle out of any emotional stranglehold that is trapping you. It may have taken all this time for you to be ready for a breakthrough.
Dear Harriette: I work from home, which is good — for the most part. I have flexible hours, and I am pretty efficient. But lately, I have been feeling down and disconnected from other people. I don’t go out much anymore. Now that it’s cold, I often pass on invitations to go to events in the city or to meet up with friends. My world is narrowing, which isn’t good, but I also can’t seem to shake it. I make plans to go out, but then cancel. I order in food, and I even have my laundry picked up and delivered. How can I break out of this pattern? I don’t feel happy or motivated at all. — Self-Exiled
Dear Self-Exiled: You may be experiencing seasonal affective disorder, which is a real condition, a form of depression that affects many people as the seasons change. In the fall and winter, those suffering from this disorder often feel helpless and isolated. According to the Mayo Clinic, some of the symptoms include: feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day; losing interest in activities you once enjoyed; having low energy; experiencing changes in your appetite or weight; feeling sluggish or agitated; having difficulty concentrating; feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty; or having frequent thoughts of death or suicide.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms in a consistent way, it is time to go to the doctor to get help. If your symptoms are mild, doctors say that light therapy can be helpful. Literally going outside when the sun is shining can brighten your spirits. Psychotherapy can also support you during this difficult time.
Dear Harriette: My high schooler went to a party this weekend with friends from school. Afterwards, I learned that a number of the kids were vaping e-cigarettes. I have seen ads for e-cigarettes, and I know that they are highly addictive. When I talked to my daughter about it, she blew me off and said that none of her friends are addicted and “it’s no big deal.”
Trying to keep my cool, I kept talking to my daughter. I want her to feel that she can talk to me about anything. I asked if she had ever tried vaping. She admitted that she had. I wish I could punish her in some way to get her to never do it again, but I know that won’t work at this point. What can I do to protect her from possibly getting addicted to nicotine — or anything else, for that matter? — No Juul
Dear No Juul: Part of the reason that the Food and Drug Administration, many parents and activists have protested against e-cigarettes is because they are addictive. In my research, I learned that one Juul e-cigarette has as much nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes. What makes cigarettes addictive is nicotine.
How can you relate the severity of e-cigarette use to your daughter? Tell her stories — as many as you know. Make sure they’re true stories. If you ever tried smoking cigarettes, tell her what happened. Talk to her about drug use and what the effects can be on her life. Go through the list of drugs and substances that teens use these days. Definitely talk to her about opioids, too, as they are highly addictive. Expose her to what’s happening today and how dangerous peer pressure is. Give her examples whenever you can of how detrimental e-cigarettes and other substances can be to her future. Showing her rather than reprimanding her is the best way to open her eyes.
Dear Harriette: I have been on my job for less than a year. Recently, I was asked to apply for a position that came open. It stretches my abilities, but I was up for it. I have been doing OK for the most part, and I have received a lot of encouragement. There’s one woman, though, who is constantly belittling me. She seems to go out of her way to find negative things to say about my job performance. She is never encouraging, and it’s upsetting. Another one of the leaders in the company who is very supportive of me suggested that I speak to this woman and tell her to quit bullying me. I’m nervous to say anything. I would rather just not stay in this job than to have her always going out of her way to poke at me. What should I do? — Anti-Bullying
Dear Anti-Bullying: The tricky thing about walking away from certain conflicts without addressing them is that they often follow you. The business leader who told you to stand up for yourself was right. The next time your bully addresses you inappropriately, ask her directly what the problem is. Ask her why she is talking to you in that way. Tell her you want to figure out how to work with her effectively, but when she constantly berates you, it makes it difficult for you to work well.
You can also say the words directly: “Stop bullying me.” You have to say it like you mean it. If she persists, go to HR. Do your best to speak up for yourself and sort it out directly first, though.
Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.