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Confront hostile co-worker

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar

Creators Syndicate Inc.

DEAR ANNIE: I have worked at my job for seven years. Recently a co-worker pulled me aside to inform me that another co-worker, "Jane," made references about me being a drug addict and then said my husband was an addict, too. This progressed until Jane was prancing about pretending she was on drugs — her portrayal of me. My friend didn’t know how to react and said she didn’t believe I used drugs, but no one else defended me.

My husband and I don’t even drink alcohol, let alone use anything harder. I do not socialize with Jane, although during shift changes, we have talked and she always asks questions about my family. She never gave any indication that she didn’t like me.

I went to the manager and told her what happened. The boss said she didn’t have any recourse, because she personally did not hear this. Since I see Jane infrequently, I promised to remain professional and not cause a problem. I have been able to maintain this, although at times it is difficult. Jane finds reasons to come to work during my shift. She seems to be provoking me. I am concerned that others may believe her lies. Since we work in a child-related environment, this kind of slander can get me fired. It has made my workplace uncomfortable, and I am considering leaving the job. What should I do? — Attacked in Wisconsin

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DEAR ATTACKED: First, talk to Jane directly and firmly. Tell her you are aware of her accusations, you don’t understand why she is maligning you and to please stop. That may be enough. If not, talk to your boss again. You are entitled to a hostility-free work environment. Ask the co-worker who witnessed the mockery to go with you to the boss as backup. You can file a lawsuit against Jane or your company, but slander is hard to prove — although sometimes just the threat of legal action can work wonders.

DEAR ANNIE: I have been married over 30 years and have two terrific children. I thought our marriage was fine, until my husband confessed he has a sexual addiction that’s been going for years — strip clubs, massage parlors and sex with prostitutes, male and female.

My husband wants forgiveness. We are both going to counseling, and he also participates in a group for sex addicts. We’ve both been tested for STDs. We have separate bedrooms and are civil to each other. It has been 18 months since I learned the truth, and he claims he has been clean the whole time. I am so confused. I could forgive a drug or alcohol addiction, but I am having a real problem with this.

He says he’s always loved me and wants to be with me. I don’t know what I want, or if I can ever forgive him. Any advice? — The Faithful Wife

DEAR WIFE: Forgiveness is difficult, but not impossible. There are self-help groups for spouses of sex addicts, and they can help you find clarity. Please contact S-Anon (sanon.org), P.O. Box 111242, Nashville, TN 37222 and COSA (cosa-recovery.org) P.O. Box 14537, Minneapolis, MN 55414. Good luck.

DEAR ANNIE: Thank you so much for publishing my letter, signed "Nina in New York." I hope it helps other Crohn’s sufferers to know they are not alone.

Since writing you, I have told several of my friends about my condition, and I also have begun dating a very supportive guy, whom I was able to tell without feeling horribly self-conscious. Thank you again for printing my letter, and for your wonderful words of wisdom. — Nina in New York

DEAR NINA: We’re glad to hear you’re doing so well. We heard from hundreds of people expressing support for you and saying they, too, suffer from Crohn’s, but are living wonderful and productive lives, and you can, too.

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Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. E-mail your questions to anniesmailbox@comcast.net, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.

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