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DEAR HARRIETTE: I made friends with a group of women this summer who were so kind. We have known each other for a while, but we bonded in a different way recently. Normally we only see one another during the summer in our beach community. I feel like I would like to stay in touch with them during the rest of the year, too. I’m not sure how to proceed, though. It’s almost like summer is our special time, and the rest of the year we just live our lives. How do I approach them about extending our friendship beyond Labor Day? — Remaining Friends
DEAR REMAINING FRIENDS: First, survey your life. Do you actually have the resources to cultivate these relationships in the cooler months? Do you have the time and capability to be present for these women if you open that door? Sometimes an idea sounds good but could be too daunting to execute, so think about it before taking action.
If you feel that it’s worth it, you can initiate something. Perhaps suggest that you and the others join a group text or social media site where you can stay in touch periodically over the winter months. Consider calling a gathering in town once or twice during the off-season when everyone gets together for drinks or dinner. Don’t get your feelings hurt, though, if the others cannot rally. You have a rhythm with them now. That may be enough. The sentiment that you have of wanting to spend time with them may be worth cherishing even if it doesn’t manifest.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been stressed out this year for a variety of reasons. I have gained a lot of weight, and I was just diagnosed with psoriasis. My scalp has been on fire on and off all year, and I didn’t know why. My doctor just figured it out. He said that it could be induced by stress. Just thinking about that makes me even more stressed out. I need to get my act together, but right now I am feeling very isolated. My friends say I’m crazy to feel like I’m suffering because they think I have such a great life. I suppose I do: I have a good job and a solid marriage, but there’s also a lot of other stuff going on. I need to get control over my life. How can I do that when my core group of loved ones thinks I’m exaggerating when I say I need help? — Lifeline
DEAR LIFELINE: Your stress is real, and it is affecting both your body and your state of mind. It also sounds like your friends and loved ones do not have the ability to see what’s going on with you or the capacity to help you through it. That just means you have to find different help. Consider going to a therapist who can help you sort through your challenges and guide you to come up with solutions that will allow you to rebalance yourself. Stop trying to get your friends to do this for you. They do not have the ability. Seek out the professional help you need so that you can manage your stress better.