I’m an Adult Child of an Alcoholic, as is my husband, and that dynamic has created lots of communications problems—mostly shaming tactics from him and lack of confrontation on my part. Still we proceed.

We are middle-aged. We ended up not having children, so at least we did not pass our bad histories on to another generation. I have a few close female friends I hang out with and can speak plainly to. We have fun.

One speaks of retirement and playing bingo and things like that in the future. She does not overthink anything. One has a grown son and can look forward to grandchildren. I’m 50, the same age now as my father when he died.

I’m thinking about the years. Do I have 20 more years? Do I focus on retirement and bingo? I feel mentally stuck. I never found that thing I was passionate about to dive into and make my own.

My husband seems fixated on things from my past and enjoys bringing up those memories. For instance, he likes to remind me how poor I was. He “jokes” and asks, what is that name you used to be called? Then he starts guessing names. When I tell him it is not funny, he plays it off.

Recently he heard a woman’s story on TV and praised her for the trials she went through. When I said I have been through that, he rudely said “you have not”, as if I was lying. I believe the appropriate response would be to say he was sorry it happened to me or to ask me to talk about it.

Now I don’t want to share any more with him. Thankfully, I did not give him new details to bring up randomly later. What I keep thinking is, if he can praise this other lady and dismiss me, that shows he knows what he is doing.

I have a home and a job and am thankful, but is this it until the end? I mean, if I think darkly, I could have a crisis like cancer or a car accident. Barring that, the years just seem to go by. I think the early years made me want safety at all costs and not the chaos that was the daily norm.

This is how I lived my life: work, home, repeat. The years go by without a lot to show for them but surviving. I would appreciate some guidance for the future.

~ Jamie

Jamie, you never found something to dive into and make your own. That’s a problem for many of us. In the back of our minds, we wonder why some people are born musicians, airline pilots, or carpenters, and we aren’t.

But born-anythings are the exception. Statistically speaking almost no one is born with a passion. Most people discover their passion through experience and reflection. A book that might help is Design the Life You Love by Ayse Birsel. Birsel is a product designer in New York, and she encourages people to approach life as a designer would.

A designer would take her life apart, reimagine it, then put it back together. That involves weighing every aspect of your life: hobbies, habits, values, rituals, relationships, work, and more.

Working through a book like that is the “easy” part. Facing the underlying problem is the hard part. You are dancing around the impediment to having the life, the future, and the happiness you dream of. That’s what we’ll talk about next week.

~ Wayne & Tamara

Column from the week of April 8, 2019

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Wayne & Tamara answer as many letters as they possibly can.

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