Dear Annie: I have two adult daughters, both married now. “Beth” lives nearby, but “Gina” moved across the country.
Beth was diagnosed with ADHD and bipolar disorder when she was in her early 20s. I think she suffered from it during childhood, but was undiagnosed. When they were children, I spent a great deal of time trying to calm Beth down and was aware that Gina did not get the same degree of attention. I tried to make up for it by doing things with Gina outside of the house. I became her Brownie troop leader and went on her class field trips. I made it my business to see that we had calm times together.
Now that Beth is on medication, she is a different person. But it may be too late. Gina doesn’t want to come home anymore because she says she doesn’t feel safe here. Gina tells me that she is being treated for PTSD due to verbal abuse and neglect she suffered as a child. She says I should have done a better job of protecting her. She hasn’t spoken to Beth in two years. I respect her feelings, but I don’t understand why she cannot forgive Beth knowing how ill she was.
Beth is expecting her second child, but I didn’t tell Gina, because I thought she wouldn’t care. Her grandmother spilled the beans, and now Gina thinks Beth was deliberately “getting even” because Gina didn’t invite Beth to her wedding.
I feel like such a failure. I am not getting any younger and worry that the two of them will air their dirty laundry at my funeral. I love both of my girls, but I don’t know how to resolve this. — Brokenhearted Mother
Dear Mother: Please stop beating yourself up. A child with behavioral issues is a tremendous challenge to parents and siblings alike. Even though Beth’s behavior was not your fault, Gina needs you to apologize for not giving her the childhood she thinks she deserved, and more importantly, Beth needs to reach out to her sister and ask for forgiveness. These small things can go a long way toward healing. Also ask whether Gina would seek counseling with you. Be patient, but don’t give up.
Dear Annie: Last Memorial Day, I visited the grave of a relative to pay my respects. I looked up and saw a group of people walking by with their dogs – right over the graves. The cemetery has a sign saying no dogs are allowed. On a holiday like Memorial Day, the groundskeepers aren’t there to say anything. I gave them a stern look, as I certainly didn’t want their dogs to relieve themselves on my relative’s grave. They just looked at me and laughed.
This undoubtedly will happen again. How can I deal with it without losing my cool? I find this disrespectful and disgusting. — Anywhere USA
Dear USA: Those cemeteries that do not permit dogs will post a sign, as yours did. Those who bring their dogs in spite of these signs are trespassing and should be reported to the cemetery owners, as well as the police. In cemeteries where dogs are allowed, considerate owners will not permit their animals to relieve themselves on a grave, but will direct them to other areas within the cemetery and will clean up after them.
Dear Annie: I would like to respond to “Different Gods,” the Pagan who doesn’t want to attend church with her boyfriend’s family at Christmas.
I have been a practicing pagan for 30 years. Though I am devoted to my religion, I am still able to celebrate with family and friends. Holidays are about the season, the sharing and the joy in being alive. “Different Gods” should embrace the holidays as a way to show her love for her boyfriend and his family. Maybe then he might be more interested in attending some pagan festivals. — L.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.