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Column: Look for helpers
by Lauretta Hannon
August 21, 2014 01:57 PM | 6722 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Lauretta Hannon
Lauretta Hannon
Q: We have a neighbor couple that have attached themselves to us. We both adore and enjoy spending time with him. … Her, not so much. They have been in our town for about two years and have managed to tick off just about everyone they have met so far. She is overzealous, a know-it-all, can’t handle her alcohol and overall just as annoying as one person could be.

We have found ourselves so many times avoiding them because of her worrisome ways. Last week she stepped so far out of line with me at a group event that I found myself in a situation I just couldn’t handle anymore. My night went from apologizing for her — to telling her sternly to “stop it, just stop it” — to snatching my arm away from her— to putting my fist in her face. Oh boy, oh boy, I don’t need another child to raise, and I certainly don’t want to hurt her, but my patience is running out. Not being around her in the same room a good bit doesn’t seem to be an option. What now?

A: It sounds like your only option is to change how you react to her. If you’re unwilling to remove yourself from her presence, then you must adjust your response. Although it will be a challenge, you don’t have to allow her to push your buttons anymore. As with most things, it’s all a matter of a made-up mind.

Q: The suicide of Robin Williams has brought a lot of attention to the issue of depression and addiction. What are your thoughts on this?

A: I defer to the great Anne Lamott, a favorite writer of mine. These are excerpts from a post she made on Facebook the day after the news broke about Williams.

“Here is what is true: A third of the people you adore and admire in the world and in your families have severe mental illness and/or addiction. I sure do. I have both. And you still love me. You help hold me up. I try to help hold you up. Half of the people I love most have both, and so do most of the artists who have changed and redeemed me, given me life. Most of us are still here, healing slowly and imperfectly. Some days are way too long.

“And I hate that, I want to say. I would much prefer that God have a magic wand, and not just a raggedy love army of helpers. Mr. Rogers’ mother told him when he was a boy, and a tragedy was unfolding that seemed to defy meaning, ‘Look for the helpers.’ That is the secret of life, for Robin’s family, for you and me.”

“Get help. I did. Be a resurrection story, in the wild nondenominational sense. I am.

“If you need to stop drinking or drugging, I can tell you this: You will be surrounded by arms of love like you have never, not once, imagined. This help will be available 24/7. Can you imagine that in this dark, scary screwed-up world, that I can promise you this? That we will never be closed, if you need us?

“Gravity yanks us down, even a man as stunning in every way as Robin. We need a lot of help getting back up. And even with our battered, banged-up tool boxes and aching backs, we can help others get up, even when for them to do so seems impossible or at least beyond imagining. Or if it can’t be done, we can sit with them on the ground, in the abyss, in solidarity. You know how I always say that laughter is carbonated holiness? Well, Robin was the ultimate proof of that, and bubbles are spirit made visible.”

Q: This is a comment, not a question. I just want you to know that you really, really went too far last week in your rant about people using their smart phones and tablets. Way too far. That’s all I have to say.

A: Well, I’d rather go too far than ever come up short. Thank you for the unintentional compliment.

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Lauretta Hannon, a resident of Powder Springs, is the bestselling author of “The Cracker Queen — A Memoir of a Jagged, Joyful Life” and a keynote speaker. Southern Living has named her “the funniest woman in Georgia.” See more at

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