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Friendship mysteriously ends after 30-year relationship

Staff Writer
Brownwood Bulletin
Jeanne Phillips

DEAR ABBY: I need help moving past the end of a longtime friendship. I don't know what happened. My friend, my former college roommate, just drifted away.

After school we continued to be friends -- not besties, but we would meet for coffee or dinner a few times a year. Fast-forward 25 years. She called me the day she left her husband, 10 years ago, to tell me the news. I was her emotional lifeline for a few days, and it was intense. We continued to be in touch a few times a year.

Then, a few years ago, I sent a message suggesting we meet soon. She replied that she was busy but would get back to me about a date, but she never did. I waited six months and again suggested we meet. She replied that she had a conflict but would let me know a date that would work. She didn't do it. I didn't reach out again and haven't heard from her since. It has been three years, and I know through other sources she is doing well.

I'm having difficulty dealing with being dropped after a 30-year friendship. I can't think of anything I did to cause it, and I don't understand how a friendship like that can just be kaput. What do you think? -- DISAPPOINTED IN WASHINGTON

DEAR DISAPPOINTED: I find it interesting that when this woman was in turmoil, she reached out to you. However, after her marriage and the emotional dust-up that surrounded it, I suspect she may have decided to close that chapter of her life.

You stated that the two of you didn't stay in contact other than "a few times a year." Think back. Did she contact you only when she needed emotional support? If that's the case, recognize the relationship for what it was. Now that she is doing well, she may be firmly focused on the present rather than the past, and frankly, although it may sting, I think you should do the same.

DEAR ABBY: I have a family friend who at one time I considered to be like a sister. The issue is, my family hosts her family every Thanksgiving. They are never invited. They just say they are coming over. They bring drinks, more for themselves than for us. Their kids run around, break things and behave disrespectfully, while the parents seem to regard the behavior as amusing. They also bring along Tupperware for leftovers but don't bother staying around to help clean up.

When my family told them we weren't cooking for Thanksgiving last year, her response was that they'd do something just for their immediate family. I was shocked, because my family has hosted them for more than 15 years. I have kept my distance since, but I'm still upset about it. How do I bring up the subject without anyone getting their feelings hurt? -- RETURNING THE FAVOR

DEAR RETURNING THE FAVOR: Why are you worried about bruising the feelings of these self-entitled people? They haven't shown they are concerned about your family's feelings. Be glad to be rid of them. If the subject comes up, tell her that your family has again made "other plans" for Thanksgiving -- just your immediate family.

DEAR ABBY: I'm 54 and afraid to tell my spouse I want a divorce even though I'm in an unhappy marriage. I told him years ago that I no longer loved him and didn't want to be married anymore. His reply, "I have enough love for both of us."

This year will be our 15th together. I am spouse No. 3. I think he thinks that if there isn't another person I'm in love with that we can continue like this. I feel it's just time for me, and I'm tired of always being somebody's something. I have thought of moving out, but money is an issue, and I have nowhere to go. I hate confrontations, and he is a good man, but I am truly beginning to hate him. Any advice? -- MISERABLE IN THE EAST

DEAR MISERABLE: Just a word of caution: The grass is not always greener on the other side of that fence. However, because you feel that remaining with your husband is intolerable, begin planning your exit. Line up a job and a place you can afford in which to live. Upgrade your marketable skills, if necessary.

Remember, your husband has been through this before, so he is a veteran at divorce. Before making any more announcements, discuss this with an attorney so you can protect yourself.

DEAR ABBY: I'm at a total loss, heartbroken and need some advice. My husband and I are both over 60 and have been married for 20 years. He has this insane idea that I have a diary. Abby, I don't have a diary. I have never had one, and I don't plan on ever having one.

Short of taking a polygraph test, I can't convince him to believe me. He told me that unless I let him review my diary, he doesn't want to be with me anymore! He has completely stopped communicating with me. I hurt so bad I can hardly stand it. -- ALL CRIED OUT

DEAR ALL CRIED OUT: Your letter is a first. Is your husband losing it? Is he on medications that have altered his mental abilities? His fixation and insecurities are off the chart.

You do not have to tolerate his passive aggression. The first thing you need to do is talk with his doctor about what has been going on. Your husband may need a physical and psychological evaluation. Please don't wait.

DEAR ABBY: I would like to get some feedback on my soon-to-be-empty nest. Our last dog is approaching 18 years old, and I would like to adopt another cat or dog. My husband wants to wait at least a year with no pets in the house before possibly considering getting another animal. I grew up with pets and can't imagine what it would be like without one. What to do? -- ANIMAL LOVER IN FLORIDA

DEAR LOVER: With an open mind, discuss this further with your husband. You need to understand his reasons for feeling the way he does about this. As you already know, a fur baby is a serious responsibility, and when the quarantine ends and things return to normal, he may want the two of you to travel. Because you have had your sweet dog for so many years, slow down. Both partners should be onboard with the timing for adding a pet to the household.

DEAR ABBY: When I was in my teens, I was kicked out of the house multiple times by my parent. Mind you, I hadn't done anything wrong. To this day, I'm still trying to figure out what I did to deserve it because it happened so many times.

My parent would get mad, tell me to leave and then beg me to come back home -- all within a three-day time span. Luckily, other family members took me in when these episodes occurred.

The same thing is now happening to my younger siblings, and it pains me to see them go through what I did. I try to defend and protect them. Our parent has never been verbally or physically abusive. It is just the kicking out that throws us off.

I've mentioned counseling to my parent, but it's not an option. I love my parent, and I forgave. But I can't speak for my siblings. -- DISCARDED IN SOUTH CAROLINA

DEAR DISCARDED: If a child is a minor, what your parent has been doing is considered child abandonment. It is against the law. Although you have been able to forgive your parent for their abuse (that's what it was), your younger siblings may not be so generous. Because you are their self-appointed defender, you may have to assume responsibility for them until they become independent -- either by taking them in yourself or by arranging for other relatives to do it for longer than three days.

It goes without saying that your parent's behavior is irresponsible and erratic. If a neighbor or an administrator of your siblings' school should get wind of this, they would be required by law to report it to the authorities. Counseling is available in many communities on a sliding financial scale. Perhaps if your parent is reminded that there are penalties for what has been going on, they will seek the help they need.

DEAR ABBY: My 14-year-old son, "Jeff," received word that one of his friends was killed in a tragic ATV accident a week ago. His only experience with death before this was a sick great-grandparent we were able to say goodbye to.

Jeff and I are close, and I have let him know that however he needs to grieve is OK. He says he's "good." I am concerned that my son is taking the loss harder than he lets on.

Jeff and his friend loved team sports and were in the same group for summer workouts. Jeff has been to only one workout since his friend's death. I know this is recent and he needs time, but I also know the physical activity and the camaraderie would be good for him.

I'm trying not to smother him or project my own grief onto him (we are a tight sports community), but I'm unsure what to do. Can you offer some advice on how I can best support him? -- GRIEVING, TOO, IN OREGON

DEAR GRIEVING, TOO: When a tragedy happens to someone in a teenager's circle, the friends sometimes pull together to support each other. Contact the coach of the team to which your son and his late friend belonged. The surviving team members may need help and possibly grief counseling. If that isn't necessary, the coach may be able to offer the boys other constructive outlets for their grief or provide you with suggestions.