Older, wiser woman wants to apologize for past sins

Staff Writer
Brownwood Bulletin
Jeanne Phillips

DEAR ABBY: Is it ever too late to apologize to an ex-boyfriend? I'm in my mid-40s now, and over the last three years, I have gone through a significant change. It has helped me to face myself, let go of useless hate and anger and forgive the people who hurt me. It has made me a much happier person.

One of the results of this change is realizing how much I dislike who I was when I was younger. I'm sure many people made mistakes in their early 20s and maybe blew it off, because I know I did. But now I can't. I'm ashamed of my previous behavior and have been thinking about reaching out to him to apologize for the horrible things I did while we were together.

My family says I shouldn't do it. They say I'm being ridiculous because "who cares about how an old partner treated you decades ago?" But I'm struggling with letting it go. I learned years ago to take responsibility for my mistakes, but it's something I didn't do in that relationship.

I'm currently in a solid and happy relationship, which is why I think my family may be so against this, and while I don't know my ex's relationship status, I have no ulterior motives for reaching out. The person I am today just wants very much to apologize for the person I used to be, but I don't want to cause any problems. What is your neutral advice? -- SORRY IN THE SOUTHWEST

DEAR SORRY IN THE SOUTHWEST: I don't think it is ever too late to say "I'm sorry," and I seriously doubt that an overdue apology for your past behavior would cause problems. Because you feel compelled to offer one, go ahead and do it. You may be pleasantly surprised to find that your former flame recovered from whatever you did and went on with his life as you have with yours. And if that's not the case, he may need to receive your apology as much as you need to give it

DEAR ABBY: My family and I moved to Las Vegas seven months ago, and we love it here. We are not heavy gamblers, but we occasionally like to hit a local casino (once, maybe twice, a month) and never spend more than $50. We consider it paying for entertainment rather than a chance at winning it big.

My parents are coming to visit soon and, unfortunately, they have had a history of compulsive gambling. They admit they have a problem and have been going to support groups off and on for the past year.

We have lots of off-strip fun planned, but I know they will want to visit a casino because, well, it's Vegas! Would I be enabling them if I went with them to a casino? Could this trigger more compulsive gambling when they return home? Are there any boundaries I should set? I don't want to see them spiral into their addiction again, but I also want us all to enjoy the "What happens in Vegas ..." vacation mentality during their visit. -- GAMBLING WITH THEIR ADDICTION

DEAR GAMBLING: The "what happens in Vegas (stays in Vegas)" mentality means that what happened in Vegas was not something to be proud of. It would absolutely challenge your parents' "sobriety" if you take them to a casino, and your fear that it could jump-start a relapse is well-founded. Keep them busy, but don't take them to places where they are tempted to gamble. If they decide to do it on their own, you won't have anything to feel guilty about.

DEAR ABBY: I became pregnant with my second child in 2013. When my extended family heard the news, it was not well-received, particularly by my grandmother and aunt-in-law. They said things like, "We love you, but we're embarrassed and ashamed." My once loving grandmother said some particularly cruel things.

I have to be honest -- I was angry. I swore at her after she accused me of "using" my partner of 10 years to get pregnant. The gossip and hateful comments from my family shocked me to my core. I wasn't asking for a blessing, but unconditional love from this God-fearing woman was definitely expected.

Fast-forward to now: My grandmother continues to hold anger and resentment toward me. She says it's because I've "sullied our family name." I apologized for my outburst, but she won't forgive me. Now my uncle is blaming me for her poor health! I have forgiven her, but when I took my kids to her house, she slammed the door in our faces. I'm at a loss about how to fix this. Should I say, "So long, farewell"? What can I do? -- GIANT MESS IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR MESS: The person responsible for your grandmother's poor health isn't you -- it's her. It's not unheard of for people who hang onto anger and resentment the way she does to make themselves sick. That she would slam the door in the faces of her great-grandchildren is reprehensible.

You haven't sullied the family name, and you cannot fix this by yourself. The healthiest thing you can do, for yourself andÍÍ your children, is move forward and don't look back.

DEAR ABBY: My family and I are planning a get-together. It has been several months since we have been together because of the pandemic. Our younger brother has a new girlfriend who was introduced to everyone at the last get-together.

That day, one sister mentioned a political proposition that was up for a vote in her state. The new girlfriend kept repeating "No politics!" every time my sister started talking about it. My sisters and I think it was very rude.

Now the new girlfriend will be in my home, and I am sure politics will be a topic of conversation, considering the current economic, political and health crises going on. My family likes discussing current events, and I don't feel we should be silenced because of a guest. How should this be handled so as to not offend and distance our brother's new girlfriend, but allow us to continue having conversations that are meaningful to us as a family? -- OUTSPOKEN IN FLORIDA

DEAR OUTSPOKEN: Someone, preferably your brother, should have a chat with this woman before the next family gathering and make clear that your family enjoys talking about current events -- politics included -- and she does not have the right to dictate to the rest of you what you can or cannot talk about. If the subject makes her uncomfortable, she should either move to another room or skip the event. This does not have to be said unkindly, but the rest of you should not be expected to kowtow to her.