‘Did you lose weight?’ feels like back­handed com­pli­ment

The Hamilton Spectator - - GO - el­liead­vice.com DEAR EL­LIE

Q. Re­cently, a cou­ple of ser­vice guys from my hus­band’s com­pany came to fix some­thing in our home.

One fel­low, whom I’ve met very in­fre­quently, looked at me and said, “You look fab­u­lous, did you lose weight?”

I didn’t thank him as I felt it was more a back-handed com­pli­ment. I ac­tu­ally said, “No, I’ve gained.”

I’m not a heavy woman (5’5, 138 pounds and even if I had been, I didn’t think it ap­pro­pri­ate for com­ment. Per­haps it was a ner­vous re­mark as he was in his boss’s house.

I didn’t men­tion this episode to my hus­band as he’d ream the guy out and I didn’t want to cause trou­ble.

I think the men are re­turn­ing as work still needs to be fin­ished. Any sug­ges­tions if he comes out with another in­ap­pro­pri­ate ob­ser­va­tion?

You’re al­ready good at know­ing what to do — de­flect­ing his ill-cho­sen “flat­tery” while kindly not caus­ing him trou­ble.

If he makes another re­mark, just say, “It’s not some­thing I dis­cuss.”

We put our son in detox af­ter his sev­enth over­dose. We did ev­ery­thing we could to keep him alive un­til the emer­gency med­i­cal team ar­rived.

I’d never be­fore seen my hus­band of 32 years scream, cry, and pray for help.

Our son went from detox into a longterm re­cov­ery pro­gram, all far from here, as we’d ex­hausted ev­ery pro­gram around us. He was dis­missed four weeks short of grad­u­at­ing, be­cause he tested dirty. He did some ter­ri­ble things to us. We’ve for­given him, but can­not for­get.

It’s a fa­mil­iar story — top of his class, the foot­ball captain, the hon­our so­ci­ety, col­lege schol­ar­ship re­cip­i­ent, etc. Then . . . over­doses on heroin.

I’m still find­ing things miss­ing from our home. But all the doc­tors and case work­ers say not to bring any­thing up from the past, which leaves noth­ing much to say but, “How are you, son?”

He’s our only child. We now know the drug use started at 17, but we had no clue till he was 21. Two weeks ago he briefly said he’s liv­ing with some girl he met on­line but is clean and sober this week and still work­ing.

Let­ting go has been most dif­fi­cult af­ter spend­ing so much money, time and love to help him beat this. We know he has to want to stay clean. He’s a grown man. No one among us was abused, ne­glected or beaten; there was total sup­port through­out his school years. Maybe we gave too much.

I’m glad he’s no longer here. No more drug deal­ers look­ing for him be­cause he owes them money. But the feeling of loss is like death.

We’ve let our fam­ily know, ex­cept Granma, be­cause it’d kill her. We want ev­ery­one to be pre­pared should he show up unan­nounced . . . as you can­not turn your back for even a se­cond. What can I say to him if we talk again?

Dear Read­ers: I’m reach­ing out as there’s no sin­gle, sure an­swer. Some of you have ex­pe­ri­enced sim­i­larly heart­break­ing circumstances with an ad­dicted child. If you’ve found any ef­fec­tive ap­proaches to of­fer this cou­ple, I’ll pub­lish a se­lec­tion of them.

Feed­back re­gard­ing the di­vorced hus­band’s ex who for­bids him from hav­ing his kids meet his new wife (Jan. 19):

Reader: “I’m a fam­ily law lawyer and have never heard of any North Amer­i­can ju­ris­dic­tion that al­lows a par­ent to dic­tate who a sep­a­rated/di­vorced spouse can in­tro­duce their chil­dren to.

“If a par­ent has vis­i­ta­tion or cus­tody, un­less it’s su­per­vised, they can gen­er­ally spend it with their chil­dren as they wish and with whom they wish.

“Gen­er­ally, judges have no pa­tience for a cus­to­dial par­ent who tries to con­trol their ex’s per­sonal life.

“The of­fended ex can rant and rave and try to make life dif­fi­cult, but noth­ing can be done legally to pre­vent the other from mov­ing on (other than try­ing to de­lay di­vorce pro­ceed­ings to pre­vent the per­son from get­ting re­mar­ried).”

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