DEAR ABBY: I married when I was in my early 20s and stayed married for four years. It has been five years since my divorce. We had no children, and I haven’t had contact with my ex. The problem is, my family won’t stop bringing him up. My sister is being married soon, so they constantly discuss my wedding.
I didn’t live near my family before the divorce, so they don’t know how bad my marriage really was. I didn’t tell them because I don’t think it’s their business. They didn’t like him, but they don’t know all of my reasons for getting divorced. I have moved on with my life.
I recently moved back to be near my family, which I regret now because they can’t let go of my past. I have changed a lot in the time that I lived away from them. I worked my way through college and dealt with a genetic, life-threatening health issue (hospital stays included), all without their support. Since then, I have focused on my career, my health, self-care and my happiness. I’m proud of myself and have made only positive changes since my divorce.
I have told my family I don’t appreciate their constantly bringing up my failed marriage and my sister’s wedding all the time, but they continue to do so. They say they don’t understand why it bothers me. Am I overreacting? How do I establish boundaries with them about this? As of now, I’m spending less time with them in order to stay focused on my life goals. — KEEPING THE PAST IN THE PAST
DEAR KEEPING: You shouldn’t blame your relatives for something they don’t know — specifically, the fact that your marriage was much worse than they realize. This is wedding season, your sister’s nuptials are fast approaching, and it’s only natural that the subject of weddings — present, future and past — comes up. Remind them that your marriage is a sensitive subject. If they don’t stop bringing it up after that, then continue to distance yourself.
DEAR ABBY: After many years of much silence, backstabbing and abuse from my sister, I got a text from her telling me she’s starting chemo for a form of leukemia. This has been going on for more than four years, but she thought now I should be “in the loop.”
I told her I will be praying for her. I had to hold back the emotional, “What can I do for you?” She lives about five hours away, but knowing my siblings, I know they’ll be hanging around and judging me on what I do next. I told her I am in shock right now.
I have very mixed emotions about how to handle this news — from trust issues to guilt to pain. We are both in our mid-60s. Any advice would be helpful. — LOST SIS
DEAR LOST SIS: Start by doing what you said you would — praying for her. A few days — or weeks — after her treatment has started, call to see how she is doing. If the call goes well, continue to check in on her. If she wants you to come, put aside your differences and pay her a visit. If the call doesn’t go well, don’t put yourself in that position again, and do not apologize or feel guilty for doing it. Forgive her and forgive yourself.