Dear Annie: I have several siblings. One, “Emily,” divorced when her children were young.
We tried to be supportive and helpful. We believed her horror stories about her ex-husband’s affairs and sexual perversions.
At various times, Emily would also privately tell us nasty stories about our other siblings. To our shame, we believed a few of them.
Ten years ago, our parents sold their home to Emily, making special provisions so she would be able to manage financially.
Then, five years ago, our youngest sister died. Emily left abruptly after the viewing and did not attend the funeral.
Shortly after, we each received nasty letters saying we had never been there for her, and that she’d sold the house and was sending us our share, as Dad had stipulated.
She handled it disrespectfully, ignoring Dad’s wishes to give some money to the facility where our deceased sister had lived and, instead, gave it to her own children.
We now realize that Emily told many lies about each of us. Not only has she alienated herself, but we suspect she has also alienated her children from her ex-husband’s family.
Our dad died recently. Emily did not participate in the funeral plans. She came only to the viewing, bringing a new husband we had never met. She spoke a few harsh words and left.
The rest of us are closer now as a family. Do we just accept that this whole situation is beyond our control and let it go?
— Grieving Sister
Dear Grieving: It sounds as if Emily is mentally ill. She appears to be a pathological liar and unwilling to admit it, which means she is not interested in getting help.
There is nothing you can do to straighten her out. If you want to stay in touch, make it simple and somewhat impersonal — a birthday card, Christmas card, notice of important family events, etc.
Dear Annie: My husband and I have been close friends with “Amanda and Jeremy” for many years.
When they told us they were expecting, we were excited and happy for them, even though we have been struggling with infertility.
For the past month, all they have talked about is the upcoming baby shower. We naturally assumed we would be invited, but just discovered the shower was last weekend.
Should we tell them how hurt we are, let it go or consider them less close friends than we thought? Any advice would be great.
— Confused in the Midwest
Dear Confused: There could be several reasons for your exclusion.
Amanda and Jeremy may have thought you would be uncomfortable at a baby shower. It may have been for family only. Your invitation might have been lost. The person in charge of invitations could have accidentally excluded you.
If you don’t speak up, you will stew over it forever and the friendship will not survive.
Simply say, “I was surprised and a little hurt that we weren’t invited to the baby shower. I hope everything is OK.”
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Anxiously Awaiting,” whose risk of breast cancer worried her enough to have a bilateral mastectomy and her reconstruction has been difficult.
She said her husband still could not look at her naked body.
I want to address this to her: I, too, had a bilateral mastectomy and am not a candidate for reconstruction. But I am beautiful because I am alive.
Your husband is the one who needs therapy if he cannot see how beautiful you are. Would he rather be going to a cemetery and leaving flowers?
Tell him to grow up and act like a real man. Learn to love yourself. I wake up each day and thank God that I am alive, and so should you.
You did what you had to in order to live out the rest of your life. I have nothing but scar tissue and lumps, but I am so beautiful.
— Beautiful and Boobless