Dear Annie: My husband of 45 years and I are at our wits' end. We have seen counselors and even tried hypnosis, to no avail. I have a very unusual problem: I am not able to stop looking at men sexually.
I have had this problem all my life. A lot of the times, I don't remember even looking; my husband points it out to me. I wink and look at them below the belt to get them to hit on me, and I get turned on by this. I ignore my husband and tune him out. I'm in my own little world. I shut out everything and everyone else around me except my victim. It doesn't matter what the man looks like. Even when I'm not looking at them in a flirtatious manner, I tend to stare at men for longer than is appropriate.
This has become a horrible habit. It has to stop. My husband has been very patient with me over the years and has tried to help me with this but now has given up on me. I feel worthless and often don't want to live anymore. I have hurt him so badly that I can never be forgiven. He can never trust me again. He is afraid to go anywhere with me, not knowing what I'll do next. Please help me! -- Desperate in Montana
Dear Desperate: You've tried therapy before, and now it is time to try again. If you didn't feel that the previous counselors were a good fit, do not hesitate to ask your primary care doctor for other recommendations. Even if a therapist can't fix the problem, he or she can at least provide support, which you very much need right now. Lastly, I must implore you not to hurt yourself -- and if you feel that you might, call 911 or the Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255).
Dear Annie: I read the column about "Jenna," who is a hoarder, and how terrible the conditions of her house have become. At first, I had nothing but sympathy for that situation, but I thought about how the letter mentioned that this woman has two nearly grown kids, one going to be a sophomore, the other a senior. It is difficult for me to fathom how these teenage children, despite their mother's problems, haven't learned how to clear the table, wash the dishes, clean the litter box, put out some pest poison, do the laundry or sweep out the feces. They could not learn this on their own? This is what I have a problem with. If they could not learn to do these things, then what have they learned at all? I learned how to do chores when I was 7 years old, including washing dishes and housecleaning. On my own, I learned to help my mother do things when she was too busy doing other things. I'm sorry I am not more sympathetic, but for these conditions to exist even with teenage children, I just don't understand it. -- James
Dear James: You cannot expect children who grow up in a hoarder home to develop good housekeeping skills. Additionally, hoarders tend to hold tightly to a sense of control over their surroundings. (Never mind how out of control the situation looks to everyone else.) It's very possible that these children have tried cleaning up their home but were met with Mom's resistance. So though I commend you for helping out around the house as a child, I wouldn't be so quick to judge these kids.
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