Dear Aunt Bossy,
Long time reader, first time writer.
I’m a third generation Beaufortonian and would normally go to my family and friends for advice, but presently I find myself alone in the crowd.
I wasn’t always alone. Before my father passed, we’d have huge neighborhood oyster roasts, the best spot on the sand bar during the Water Festival, and what I always thought was the most awesomely decorated house on the block at Christmas time. It was so amazing in fact that that’s where I had asked my wife – sorry my ex-wife – to marry me.
I guess it feels like my best days are behind me, and it’s tough to keep up with the Joneses now. You might say I hit a new low, as I am currently living out of my aforementioned ex-wife’s basement. I would tell you her name, but I bet she’d turn the hose on me and flood me out. Basement life in Beaufort is not easy.
I’ve tried everything to work it out with her, because I still think she was the only really good thing that happened to me. But all my efforts turn into nightmares. For example, I read that women like men to be spontaneous. Did I tell you that my ex-wife has a sweet tooth? Plus she’s always going on and on about her office parties and all the desserts they have. Not to me, but I can hear her on the phone when I step on the bucket that I prop on top of my coffee table while pressing my ear up to the ceiling. She’s on the phone with her sister in Chicago about how cupcakes are the best thing ever.
I baked three-dozen banana nut cupcakes, broke into her office, and got chased by the security dog. Still, I managed to leave the cupcakes in the office break room with a note that said “NO. YOU. ARE. THE. BEST. THING. EVER.”
Looking back, I shouldn’t have cut out each letter from the magazine because it looked like a psycho ransom note, but the point is I did it for her and the office loved it and she loved it. That is until the nut allergies kicked in. I love nuts and I put in extra the way I like it, super small so you don’t have to chew them. Hmmm, in fact you almost can’t tell that they are there.
I hear they used all 7 EpiPen injectors that day and had to sterilize every desk in the office.
Like I said, a nightmare.
Aunt Bossy, you are my last hope. I’d love some advice on how to get back to my old self, the guy who didn’t mess things up and was sociable and who… well, who was happily married instead of living below my ex-wife.
Bob in the Basement
Dear Bob in the Basement,
Oh my, you are really down deep, if you will excuse the expression. You need to get above ground in every sense.
Firstly, Bob, you are a very lucky man. Most people, especially ex-wives, would have pitched you out already. You are also lucky that the police did not haul you off to the slammer after what was obviously a slightly sub-conscious desire to poison your ex, the woman you supposedly love. (No, don’t bother answering that.) Whew!
Now, what to do?
First, stop whining. Just stop. People stop drinking, smoking, screwing around, doing drugs, all the time. Surely, you can just shut your mouth about your pathetic circumstances while you take action.
What action? Since it sounds as though you don’t have a job and don’t seem to leave the basement often, you need to get out.
This can take two forms, ideally at the same time. You should get a job and you have to volunteer your services to others.
It doesn’t matter if you serve fries or haul construction equipment, you must get a job and do it well, which will build a smidgeon of self-esteem, which you desperately need. People who feel good about themselves don’t stand on buckets to eavesdrop. (They head for a table or booth in the bar at Breakwater.)
If it takes you some time to find a job – which it shouldn’t, since you aren’t going to target your dream career and need to accept whatever is available – you should find a volunteer job IMMEDIATELY. Why do I say that? Because you must stop focusing on yourself.
You might think you are focusing on your ex-wife, but you are really focusing on yourself and your insane NEED for her to love and accept you. Do not argue about this fact; just know it is true.
When you volunteer, you will work helping people who have real problems where even your meager contribution will make an enormous difference. The more difference you make in the lives of others, the more difference you will find in your life. Keep it up, and you might even start feeling capable enough to move out of the basement. I’m sure your ex-wife and her extended family and friends will be happy to help you move.
I know right now this does not seem possible to you, but I can guarantee that it is. However, you must act immediately. And, no, you do not need to meet with your ex and get her approval. Just do it.
Once you change your focus to others, your life will start to reform. There are many volunteer opportunities in Beaufort. Think about the kind of people and organizations you would like to help, and you will have a choice. Do that today.
Even though I encourage you to focus on today, every day, there is something coming up which might offer both a short-term volunteer opportunity and the chance to experience some terrific work. You would also be exposed to some fine local suppliers and establishments who might have the longed-for job opportunity.
The Beaufort International Film Festival is opening on February 10th and they are always looking for people to assist. Rebecca Hood Tucker and Ron Tucker, the producers of this fabulous event, can put you to work immediately. If you look outward, you might even meet some interesting people who can help give you direction.
Speaking of interesting people and a job, seek out VW Scheich and his smart and darling wife, Uyen Le. Along with their charming friend Gary Weeks, they might have an interesting advisory position for you on their movie called “Basement Bob.” How is that for a coincidence?
Ready for your close-up. Roll it.
Aunt Bossy is Susan Murphy, an internationally known Communication Skills Coach who adores spending every winter and spring in Beaufort. Ask for advice at firstname.lastname@example.org