Ask Amy: Reader remains in a COVID lockdown

Dear Amy: I’m stuck in a deep hole.

I didn’t think the COVID lockdown would affect me much because I’m an introvert and a homebody, but I’m finding it difficult to make myself leave the house. I only go to the grocery store and to my doctors’ offices — and occasionally to a family member’s house.

One factor is that I moved to a new town just a couple of months before COVID hit, so I don’t have any local friends.

I’m retired, so I don’t have any work buddies.

I know that joining groups is a good way to meet people.

I joined a church, but rarely go. I “plan to” join a quilting club and to get together with a group that plays an AR (augmented reality) game I used to play all the time.

My husband sometimes suggests we go somewhere, but when I think about going out my stomach tightens, and I feel like I want to cry.

How do I get past this?

— Want Out!

Dear Want Out!: Your recognition that this is a problem, and your desire to change your situation, are very good signs that you can creep out of this hole. You’ve already taken the first step!

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) offers useful techniques to overcome anxieties (I used CBT to tackle my own anxieties about flying).

The basic idea is to start by recognizing triggers, thoughts, feelings and behaviors that cause problems for you. You’ve already done that.

Then you use other behaviors to rewire your thinking.

This aphorism might help: “Move a muscle, change a thought.”

You will expose yourself to the source of your fear — in small and safe ways, building up confidence gradually.

I suggest that you let your husband plan a simple outdoor outing — for just the two of you.

Pack some snacks, drinks, and two lawn chairs. Drive to a local park and sit together, outside, and enjoy the passing scene.

Breathe through your symptoms upon leaving the house. If you feel like crying — go ahead and let the tears flow.

If you have one successful outing, you can build upon that by gradually increasing the distance and variety.

If you aren’t able to tackle this on your own, a few sessions of therapy will help. Some of the augmented reality tools you’re familiar with might be useful here.

I hope you’ll be playing Pokemon in your new town very soon.

Dear Amy: I’m 25 years old. My husband is 28.

We have a 7-year-old child.

Both of us work full-time. I’m also in college for my master’s degree.

We just bought a house.

Here’s the problem. My husband constantly wants new things.

He wanted an ATV, so I let him buy a used one. Well, the used one isn’t good enough, now.

Now he wants to spend $30,000 dollars on a new ATV.

That is as much as my car costs. I think it’s ridiculous.

He is now telling me that he wants a new house. I tell him that maybe when I graduate and pay off my school loans, we can do that.

He doesn’t understand that, gets mad at me, and leaves for an hour.

I tried compromising, telling him how I feel, but nothing helps.

I don’t know what to do. I am starting to feel like I’m being used and that he only loves me when he gets items.

— The ATM

Dear ATM: You say you just bought a new house (impressive at your ages) — but your husband wants to buy a different new house?

I’m assuming that you two have been together for at least seven years, and if this spending drive is new for him, then I suggest that something is going on with him that he is not disclosing.

I assume that your husband does in fact understand that you can’t — or shouldn’t — purchase all of the new toys he wants, but … he doesn’t care.

You both would benefit from seeing a marriage and financial counselor. Sessions might not be as fun as a new ATV, but would be far less expensive, and would help to illuminate what’s really going on with him.

Dear Amy: “Upset” angered his neighbor by blasting music while working in his garage, and then the neighbor took to Facebook to trash him.

Weirdly, both of these men seem to have let their wives handle this challenge.

I say that both of these guys needed to “man up.”

— Neighborly Reader

Dear Neighborly: I completely agree.

(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

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