DEAR ABBY: I am 23 and have never been able to stand up for myself. I have an extremely sloppy roommate whom I always have to clean up after, a former fiance I want to cut ties with, and an overbearing mother who treats me like a child.
I know I'm in these situations because I have allowed them to happen. I'd like to be able to speak my mind without fear of what will happen, but it's almost as if I feel blackmailed, and sticking up for myself will make them angry. Any advice you can offer will be much appreciated. -- WANTS TO SPEAK UP, ST. LOUIS, MO.
DEAR WANTS TO SPEAK UP: Stop for a moment and look at what being a people-pleaser has gotten you -- a roommate who takes advantage, a former fiance who won't stop clinging, and a mother you're afraid of having a frank talk with. Are you afraid if you have an unpleasant conversation that they won't "like" you?
By refusing to speak up, what you're doing is encouraging more of the same. However, if you draw the line with your roommate and stop acting like her maid, she might straighten up -- or move -- which would free you to find someone with better personal habits. If you tell your former fiance it's time to hit the road, you will free him to find someone else, which would actually be doing him a favor. And as for your mother, wouldn't it be healthier to air your feelings than harbor the resentment you're nursing?