December 14, 2020

Dear Gabby: Traveling, Bullies and Pets

By haziqbinarif

The Gabber’s semi-regular advice column, Dear Gabby, is here by reader demand. Have a question or a conundrum for Gabby? There’s no problem too small for your resident advisor. Send your questions – they can be anonymous – to 

My family lives in Michigan, I haven’t seen them since last Christmas and I miss them very much. My parents are getting older (in their 80s) and I don’t know how much more time we all have together. I would like to fly there for the holidays, and I’ve heard that flying is pretty safe. I know you’re not a health expert, but do you think it’s OK for me to go? Should I drive instead, or wait for COVID to be over?

This is a really tough one. I can understand your concern that you may not have much longer with your parents, but of more pressing concern is that their advanced age makes them more susceptible to COVID-19 infection and viral complications. Without a clear, national plan for how to best practice COVID-19 safety, it’s difficult to assess how safe any one flight, airport or visit may be. If you absolutely must go, I recommend you get tested for COVID-19 before your visit. After testing negative, I’d encourage you to travel the safest way you can – check online for the airline’s and your local airport’s safety precautions or opt to drive – then visit your parents, staying safer outdoors as much as possible for the length of your stay.

I feel bullied by someone, but I don’t work with them or see them socially. I’m not even sure that it’s bullying, but I don’t know what else to call it. Here’s what happens: Whenever I post something on a public group or page on social media (I keep my own stuff locked down) they’ll reply with something ugly. How do I call this person out? I’m frustrated no one else has said something.

When you publish something publicly, you’re creating an opportunity for anyone and everyone to share their thoughts and opinions. That’s just the nature of online sharing. But some folks go too far, belittling and sometimes even threatening. You could engage the person yourself, but from my experience, it does nothing more than fan the flames. If someone posts something that bothers or threatens you, report the comment with available online tools and block that person from seeing your online activity. You may also want to reach out the group’s moderator or administrator to let them know that there’s a troll in the group/on the page. 

I have a lot of anxiety about my dog dying. I even had a nightmare about it recently. He isn’t sick, but I know he’s not going to live forever. Sometimes the thought hits me and I just start to cry. Help!

I share this anxiety sometimes. I love my dog, who I’ve had since he was just a month old. He’s 10 now and having health problems. I cannot, nor do I want to, imagine my life without him. I love him so much! Even after he farts and the stench threatens to kill all my plants. I wish our beloved pets could live forever, but they can’t and they won’t. Consider that anxiety is about spending mental and emotional energy worrying about something that isn’t happening, may not happen, or in this case, won’t happen for a while. Can you think of something more productive to spend that energy on? Like, a doggy photoshoot at the dog park or knitting matching sweaters for you and your pup? Instead of worrying about your dog dying, try putting all your efforts into making sure your dog knows he’s loved and cared for; try centering all your emotional energy on sharing the moments you have together in the now. Remember that you can make sure your dog lives an amazing life full of love, laughter and adventure and that’s more than we can do for the people in our lives. I think that’s pretty special.

A woman with short hair and glasses smiling at the camera.
Photo courtesy of Sheree Greer.

A Milwaukee native, Sheree L. Greer is a local text-based artist, educator and taco lover. In 2014, she founded Kitchen Table Literary Arts to showcase and support the work of Black women and women of color writers and is the author of two novels, “Let the Lover Be” and “A Return to Arms.” 

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