Dear Annie: Last year, at age 29, I finally made a commitment to get a challenging job and finish school. I also was caring for my terminally ill mother. I managed to obtain a good sales position and enrolled in online courses to finish my bachelor's degree. I fell in love with my job and my studies, and actually made some friends -- another great achievement, since I've always been a bit of an outsider.
The problem was, I became so successful that I was slated for a promotion to a managerial position. I didn't feel ready, but my superiors were so enthusiastic about my "potential" that I felt obligated to accept. Around this time, my mother passed away, and I spent most of my days with my head spinning.
Annie, I hate managing people and all the politics that go with it. I feel so out of place among the other managers, and they've started complaining that I'm incompetent and unprofessional. I spend my lunch hours crying, and I'm losing sleep because I get anxiety attacks in the middle of the night. The worst part is that the death of my mother is hitting me harder now. I have nightmares about it.
I would do anything to have my old life back, and I think the first step would be to return to my old position. How can I gracefully negotiate a demotion? Bummed in Binghamton
Dear Bummed: You have not had time to grieve, and your whirlwind promotion overwhelmed your ability to cope. We're amazed you accomplished as much as you did, under the circumstances.
Tell your bosses that your mother's death has been difficult and you don't feel capable of handling any extra responsibility right now. Let them know you appreciate their confidence, but you need time to regroup and would like a less-stressful position. You also might consider a short leave of absence so you can get some grief counseling. It sounds as if you could use a little help.
Dear Annie: I am 15 years old and read your column every morning in the newspaper. You give wonderful advice, so I am hoping you can help me.
I have had my period now for two years, and I am going into my sophomore year of high school. I am dying to use tampons, but I am scared and don't really know how to ask my mom to buy them for me. I don't want her to embarrass me in the store, but I also really need to know how to do this. Do you have any suggestions for preparing to use a tampon and tips for asking my mom? Scaredy Cat
Dear Cat: Approach your mom when you have a quiet moment alone with her and she is not stressed. Tell her you would like to try tampons so you can swim and do other physically demanding activities. If she has concerns about their use, ask if the two of you can discuss it with your doctor, together. If Mom agrees, you should buy the smallest-sized tampon available and carefully read the instructions inside the package.
Dear Annie: Is it right for my husband to touch another woman's hair and tell her it is beautiful? What is the scripture in the Bible that talks about a woman's hair? I want to know if something is wrong with me, because this upsets me so much. His Wife
Dear Wife: The scripture refers to covering a woman's hair. Touching it is something else. Does your husband do this often? Is it just this particular woman? If he encountered one person with amazing hair and felt moved to touch it, we wouldn't worry. If, however, he is stroking the hair of a woman he sees regularly and is cooing sweet comments in her ear, we'd tell him to knock it off pronto.
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