August 8, 2022

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Drinking alcohol gives me horrific migraines, so I stopped entirely. The problem: I used to...

Drinking alcohol gives me horrific migraines, so I stopped entirely. The problem: I used to bond with my friends at fancy cocktail bars and happy hours. I don’t make my drinking their problem, and I’ve told them I’d still like to go with them. (They know I quit drinking because of migraines, not a substance problem.) Still, they often exclude me when they go to bars or alcohol-centered activities. I feel rejected. Some of them even ask: “Are your migraines really that bad?” How should I handle this?
I think you may be underestimating how much we like to see our friends mirror (and affirm) our choices — whether that’s drinking alcohol or live-tweeting “Euphoria.” No matter how many times you tell them you don’t mind their drinking, they may see your abstention as a silent form of judgment.
I get that being excluded from group activities hurts. You seem to have been clear with your friends, though, about wanting to join them during cocktail hour, so I wouldn’t push here. (Shoving our way onto guest lists has a way of taking the fun out of parties.) And that belittling question about the severity of your migraines suggests that some of your pals don’t really respect your choice.

This may be tough advice to take, but I’d hang back and meet up with the group when it happens naturally. Arrange to see members with whom you feel close one-on-one or in smaller groups; this will keep you in touch. And try to be open to new friends who aren’t so focused on booze.
Who Said Anything About a Plan?
I am a 24-year-old artist. I paint and make photographs. I love what I do so much that I don’t even mind picking up shifts as a bartender to make ends meet. I paid my way through art school, and I am totally self-supporting. What should I say to my father when he asks: “What if your career doesn’t turn out the way you plan?”
You should say: “I know, it may turn out even better!” You seem like a responsible young woman whose work brings you joy. I want to congratulate you. Keep going for as long as you love what you do and can cover your bills.
You are also quite young, so try to stay open to growth and opportunity. Mind you, I’m not suggesting that you change a thing — only that you don’t close yourself off to possibilities because of this friction with your father.
Accessibility Matters
Last weekend, I brought my 8-year-old daughter to a very large museum. Though my daughter is healthy, I knew that she would get tired walking through the galleries, so I decided to borrow a wheelchair from the coat check for her. (I’d recently used one at the airport for my mother, who is elderly and frail.) We had a lovely time looking at art and returned the wheelchair a few hours later. My question: Was it OK for us to use it? We didn’t need the wheelchair, but it made our visit more comfortable and pleasant.

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I think it was a mistake to borrow a wheelchair for a child without mobility issues. Still, questions of accessibility are sometimes judgment calls, so let me take you through my reasoning, then you can decide for yourself.
Some people with disabilities need the features of accessible buildings: wheelchair ramps, for instance, or accessible bathroom stalls. But those amenities aren’t reserved for them. Assuming that no one else is using them, anyone can walk up the ramp or take the larger stall.
Likewise, it seems reasonable that your mother, whom you describe as “elderly and frail,” might need a wheelchair in an airport. But your daughter didn’t need one to get around the museum. The reality is this: Your museum plan was too ambitious for a young child.
It would have been better to plan a shorter visit that was more appropriate for her age and stamina. If another person who needed a wheelchair tried to borrow one while you had it, that person may have had to wait. You also may have sent your daughter the unintended message that the needs of the disabled are less important than your convenience.
I Know You’re Grieving, But …
A friend of mine died recently. I made a donation to the hospice that cared for her and confirmed that her family was notified of my gift. A month later, I still haven’t received any acknowledgment from them. When my parents died, I wrote notes to people who made donations in their names right away. Am I expecting too much?
A month is a short time for people who have just lost a wife, mother, sister or daughter. Frankly, I’m not sure it was necessary for you to power through your grief to acknowledge gifts so quickly. I hope your friend’s family thanks you for your donation eventually. But I recommend patience and empathy here — even if thanks never come. This family is mourning; niceties can fall through the cracks.

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For help with your awkward situation, send a question to [email protected], to Philip Galanes on Facebook or @SocialQPhilip on Twitter.


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