Dear Abby: Woman is hurt to be kept at arm's length by sister
DEAR ABBY: I have spent years trying to have a close relationship with my older sister, but it is clearly not a priority for her. We are very different people, but I was hoping our shared history and family bond would be enough for her to prioritize me and my son. We come from a very small family on both sides and, one day, we will be some of the few remaining family members.
I haven't heard from her in months during the pandemic, which has been hurtful. I'm a working single mother, trying to take care of my son during this dark time, and she hasn't bothered to check on us even once.
She once told me that the only things she cares about are her own son and her dogs. I don't understand how she can have such a loving heart for animals but no concern for her own family. She can be very selfish and has had no close girlfriends during her adulthood.
Growing up, she was jealous of me, but I thought things would be different after I struggled with a divorce and other life stressors. I received no support from her during my divorce. In fact, she seemed to take my ex's side despite his having emotionally abused me for years. Should I expect that we will ever have a closer relationship or just accept that it won't happen? -- HURT IN ALABAMA
DEAR HURT: If your description of your sister is accurate, she has drawn a tight circle around herself that she doesn't want breached. You stated that the two of you are very different people, but on some level you haven't allowed yourself to accept what that means. You will be hurt less once you accept that your fantasy of closeness with her will never happen.
For whatever reasons, she isn't capable of giving you what you need. You will find the closeness you crave by developing stronger relationships with your friends. Sadly, for your sister, she won't give herself the gift of these important and rewarding kinds of experiences.
DEAR ABBY: I recently separated from my husband of 16 years. He is an alcoholic who refuses to seek help. He can't hold a job or help with household expenses when he does work.
We have been separated for five months, and he feels that I "owe" him another chance. I gave him warning after warning for six years -- and there was no change. I continue to tell him repeatedly that I have moved on and I'm tired. Things got so bad I eventually had a mental breakdown and had to seek professional help.
I'm currently in a new relationship, and I have never been so happy. My husband threatens this new man and calls him names. I'm in the process of filing for divorce, but he makes me feel I am obligated to give him the chance to make things right. Am I wrong for wanting to move on? -- END OF MY ROPE IN NEVADA
DEAR END: No, you are not! You have suffered enough, so do not backtrack. You are not obligated to give your alcoholic husband more time than you have already devoted. If you allow him to wear you down, there will only be more of what you have already experienced. (If you are even tempted, call your therapist!)
That he refuses to seek treatment speaks volumes. If you and the new man in your life feel threatened, file a police report.
New homeowners get an earful from encroaching neighbor
DEAR ABBY: A year ago, my husband and I bought our first home together. We love it and are excited to improve the house and the property.
One of our neighbors is an elderly woman who had previously assumed that part of our property belonged to her. Without conducting a survey, she planted several trees on what is, in fact, our land, and they have grown to block our views. She also erected an unpermitted fence that crosses onto our property. We have since pruned and/or removed a few of the trees.
This neighbor constantly engages us in protracted "discussions" in which she admonishes us for not having consulted her before making changes to our landscape. We have shown her the property maps, and she is coming to understand the boundaries. Still, every time she sees one of us outdoors, she chastises us, offers endless unsolicited "advice" and insists we include her in all decision-making regarding our yard. We now actively avoid her.
We would love nothing more than to be left in peace and for our interactions to be friendly, infrequent and brief. How do we get her to back off? -- STRESSED IN SAN FRANCISCO
DEAR STRESSED: You seem to be a nice young couple, but it may not be possible to make nice with this neighbor who made a serious attempt to appropriate your property. When she sees you outside, be polite but "busy." Tell her you have a lot to do and don't have time to talk.
If she continues to inject herself into decisions regarding your yard, make clear that they are yours alone to make. After that, if she still doesn't get the message, discuss with your lawyer whether sending her a letter on his/her letterhead would be appropriate to discourage the harassment.
P.S. It is VERY important to get her fence removed from your property if it hasn't already been done. Your lawyer can explain why.
DEAR ABBY: I started dating a man three months ago. He's a great guy and very caring. When he opened up to me recently about the trauma he received from his family while growing up, I encouraged him to seek therapy, which he has been doing.
A month ago, he began acting strangely. He was tired all the time and wouldn't really interact with me. He comes over but only to sleep and stopped texting me as often. He said he is severely depressed, and he thinks his therapy is doing more harm than good.
I have been pouring love, care, attention and food into this guy nonstop without getting anything back. I don't want to be yet another woman who leaves him, but I feel like I'm constantly setting myself on fire to keep this guy warm. He's no longer the person I started talking to a few months ago. Would it be wrong for me to cut my losses and leave? -- DOUBTING AND GUILTY
DEAR DOUBTING: Have other women left him because of his emotional problems? Your male friend is exhibiting signs of severe depression. Tell him that you are concerned about his mental state. While you're at it, suggest he consult another therapist, because this one doesn't seem to be helping, and you too are afraid the counseling may be making him worse.
You did the right thing when you suggested this man get help. You have only known him a short time, which is why you should not assume responsibility for his mental health. He appears to be in no position for a romance at this point, and this may not change for a long time. I do not recommend abruptly ending the friendship, but it is time to step back. You cannot fix what's going on with him. Only he can do that with help from someone who is qualified.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.