Updates: “Hoping for Happiness” Responds

It’s time again for “Dear Wendy Updates,” a feature where people I’ve given advice to in the past let us know whether they followed the advice and how they’re doing now. Today, we hear from “Hoping for Happiness” who moved in with her boyfriend’s family after her mother kicked her out. She felt guilty though because, although she was grateful to his family for providing her a home, she didn’t feel completely committed to a future with him. Keep reading to see whether they’re still living under the same roof and how she’s doing today.

I ended breaking up with my boyfriend and staying with a friend’s family for a few months before I saved up some money and was able to get an apartment with another friend. I filed a restraining order against my mother, but that caused me to lose my financial aid for university, so I’m taking a break at least until I’m 24 (which is when I can file for financial aid without parental tax information; I can’t apply without it, even if I’m independent on my taxes). I got a full-time job because substitute teaching wasn’t regular enough, but the company let several people go and I was included. And then! I got offered an amazing job opportunity in a different city, so I’m moving to Chicago!

I’ve also decided that I’m now firmly against living with a partner until I’m married (or engaged, at the very least). I feel that my ex and I would have had a much more amicable split had we not been living together. I don’t see or speak to him now. I also feel that I should note that, before my mother kicked me out, I wasn’t allowed to leave my house, use the internet (without my crazy mother’s supervision), or watch television until I was 18. So I feel like even though I was technically an adult when I wrote in before, I had a very juvenile understanding of the world and have since learned a lot. I’ve also continued therapy to deal with the abuse in my life and issues that arose from it.

Overall, I’ve been putting a lot of focus into working, maintaining my friendships, and pursuing a hobby I picked up a few years back through which I have met a whole lot of awesome, talented people! I’m definitely a lot happier now than I was, and I appreciate everyone’s advice on DW, even those who were really harsh and assumed the worst of me. It was kind of a wake-up call as to how my actions could be perceived by outsiders. And the people who were supportive helped me come to terms with the fact that my childhood/early adult life WAS abusive and that I needed to move past it and not keep coming back. So, big thank yous to everybody!

Thank you for the update and best of luck to you in Chicago!


If you’re someone I’ve given advice to in the past, I’d love to hear from you, too. Email me at [email protected] with a link to the original post, and let me know whether you followed the advice and how you’re doing now.

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at [email protected].


  1. So, I just read the original letter and RR’s advice, and boy, was she spot on with that one. Well done RR!

    I’m happy for you LW, and Chicago is pretty effing awesome. I love it here anyway. Good luck on your move and I hope your teaching degree eventually works out. It sucks that financial aid is tied to your parents income.

  2. nice to see someone rise above their upbringing! keep doing what you are doing LW!

  3. Good for you LW! Best of luck in your new beginnings!

  4. Avatar photo sobriquet says:

    I love updates after a considerable amount of time has passed, especially from young LW’s. You change so much, so quickly in your early twenties.

    Good luck in Chicago!

  5. I’m hoping for your happiness too – best of luck to you in your new city!

  6. Guy Friday says:

    I’m glad you’re doing better, LW. But just as a point of clarification: you ARE permitted to file FAFSA paperwork without either of your parents’ tax returns whether or not you’re filing independently; you’re just required to document the reasons behind not including the numbers. Certainly, the fact that relations have degraded to the point where you’re forced to file a restraining order against your mother is justification enough, and I can state from experience that a similar issue in my life didn’t prohibit me from receiving student aid for undergrad. Good luck!

    1. camorzilla says:

      Guy Friday is right! You just have to have lots of documentation (like leases, utilities, and other things with only your name on them). I definitely agree that the restraining order should help. Things are different from university to university (I work at a university) so check with schools in Chicago once you get settled. Good luck on your move and new job!

    2. That’s not what I was told when I was in school. My parents completely ditched me when I was a couple semesters in and I was living on my own, paying all my own tuition, and working full time. When I talked to my financial aid department and even called the federal government directly, I was told there was nothing that could be done. Unless I was 24 years old, married, or had a kid, I had to file as a dependent student and there were no exceptions. This was quite awhile ago (I’m 29 now) so maybe things have changed but that’s how it was when I was an undergrad.

      1. lamia aster says:

        I was told the exact same thing just last week by a financial aid adviser. Maybe having a restraining order makes a difference.

      2. Sadly, that is what makes the difference. Documented abuse, attested to by independent, trustworthy people, will get you independent financial aid status.

      3. I filed the FAFSA without my parent’s information, which makes it “incomplete” but it gets sent to the university anyway. My particular university’s policy required my father (who I don’t have a restraining order against) to send his tax information to them as well as documented reasoning/assurance as to why he wasn’t contributing. My father refused to do that, so I ended up stuck.

  7. ReginaRey says:

    Such a great update!! I clicked on the old letter, thinking the title sounded vaguely familiar, and I was surprised to see my own name on it! Thanks for writing back after so long, and good for you for everything you’ve done for yourself since then. Keep on with therapy in Chicago, if you can, as I’m sure it will be a great exercise to continue.

  8. I am a school counselor and that is absolutely not true regarding the FAFSA. When it asks you if you will provide your parents info select “no.” The university will then send you independent student verification worksheets since a no automatically flags your FAFSA. Documentation is required, but I have gone through this with two students this year in similar situations with no problem. This is an abusive/neglect situation that qualifies for an exception. Your parents refusing to pay for anything because they don’t feel like it or simply the act of living on your own does not qualify. That’s the difference.

  9. fast eddie says:

    It’s too bad that abused children can’t sue their parents akin to wrongful death proceedings.

  10. glad to hear you are doing well!

    the only thing i would say is to not make relationship decisions based on how it will effect you when you break up… not a very great way to go about a relationship, is it?

  11. Hope you read the FASA comments. In my experience people on the phones rarely know what’s up for unusual situations.

  12. I used to work in the Student aid office (years ago). I would suggest you go meet with them in person for whichever college you want to. Ask to speak with the manager or even Director. Explain your situation to them and ask for their guidance on what to do. Be super, super nice! You can’t imagine on how rude/mean people are when it comes to financial aid. Threats, violence, it was crazy and that was back when tuition was “affordable”. A little niceness goes a long ways!

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