Dear Amy: No matter how much I try to work through this, I am stuck.
I’m in my 60s. From an illness (polio) when I was an infant, I walk with a very noticeable limp, and I often use a cane or crutches. I have a career, lovely children and grandchildren, and good friends. I travel and live independently by myself.
However, I often receive unwanted and unwelcome advice from strangers, who make assumptions regarding my physical capabilities.
For instance, when shopping for groceries, I am often told about motorized carts for my use. I generally thank them, but I always turn them down, saying that I prefer pushing a cart and getting some exercise.
Sometimes that ends the conversation, but more often than not, there is pushback, asking me if I’m sure, etc.
I find myself getting angry. I try to be civil, when I’m raging on the inside. Then I fume to myself all the way home and beyond. I then feel guilty about getting angry. How can I let go of my anger and accept that people’s unsolicited advice is more about them than about me?
I’ve been dealing with this my whole life. You would think that I would have figured this out by now.
I’d appreciate your advice.
Tired and Frustrated
Dear Tired: You know you cannot control the spontaneous behavior of strangers. I (also) cannot convince people to leave you alone, and so I’m going to suggest that you try something called cognitive (or “positive”) reframing.
For instance, you describe what happens as strangers offering you unwelcome and unsolicited advice. To reframe this, you would choose to see this as strangers trying to be of service.
Human beings, who so often ignore the real needs of others, are making a “bid” of connection by approaching you and offering alternatives to walking. You can continue to reject this bid and go home raging. Or you can accept their bid and return it with one of your own: “Oh, that’s nice of you, but I like the exercise.” Saying, “That’s nice of you” versus, “Thank you, but ...” will make these people go away faster, because you will then have completed a positive connection.
You are wise to note that others’ behavior is most often about them. Again — it is NOT your job to make people feel better about themselves, but it might help YOU to feel better, which is your stated goal.
When people push back (who does this?!), you could sharpen your edge. Say, “I hope you’re not second-guessing my needs. As I said, I’m good!”
Dear Amy: A few weeks ago, I casually started chatting with a girl on Facebook. She is a model and actress.
I told her that I am a singer-songwriter, and she asked me to send her a video of a song of mine, which I did.
She loved it, and from then on, her tone became a little more intimate, with joking, teasing, heart emojis, this kind of thing. So, I suggested that we should make a music video together.
She lives two hours away. I told her I would pay for all our expenses. She accepted enthusiastically! She really loved my ideas, shared her ideas, and even wrote to me that she was considering buying a Go Pro camera to make some cool stuff.
She seemed nice and easygoing and really into it. Then, when we were about to schedule the weekend to work together ... she disappeared and never wrote back. I guess she was just messing with me. Anyway, it hurts a little and I’d like to hear what you think.
Dear Hurt: Yes, you were catfished. You were messed with.
Generally speaking, “models and actresses” don’t hang out on Facebook looking to connect with strangers, so there is one red flag.
You did everything right, however. You didn’t engage too deeply and for too long online. In proposing an in-person meeting, you smoked out this person before being strung along for too long, and you should congratulate yourself for that.
Dear Amy: In your answer to “Waiting to Reunite in NJ,” you introduced the concept of a “dry drunk.” This describes an alcoholic who has stopped drinking but has not necessarily embraced sobriety.
I’m not sure how you made that leap. Waiting’s mother hadn’t had a drink in years.
Dear Wondering: It was an instinct on my part. Obviously, I could be wrong, but I thought it would be helpful if “Waiting” anticipated this possibility.