Half-Sister’s Appearance Brings Back Bad Memories
DEAR ABBY: A year ago, I was contacted by a half-sister I’ll call “Shyla,” who my mother placed for adoption at birth. My mother passed away five years ago. She was a horrible mother who physically, verbally and emotionally abused my brother and me. Giving Shyla up was the best thing she ever did. I have spent years in therapy to work through my painful childhood. Shyla barreled in like a train. I was honest with her about our mother and how I grew up. But Shyla wants me to visit her and video-call her like we are close. When she asks questions about my mother, I’m honest because I refuse to create a person who didn’t exist. The woman was a monster. I do not want a relationship with this sister, or to have to talk about my abuser for the rest of my life. That chapter is closed. Shyla makes me feel horrible because I haven’t met her yet. I don’t WANT to meet her. Other adoptees I have spoken to chide me on this, saying Shyla “has a right” to her birth family. Advice, please. — FREAKING OUT IN NORTH CAROLINA
DEAR FREAKING OUT: You have given your half-sister what information you could. Regardless of what “other adoptees” are telling you, you are NOT obligated to have more contact with this half-sister than you are comfortable with. If she asks to meet again, tell her it has taken years of therapy to get past what was done to you and your brother, and that talking with her is bringing back all of that trauma, which is why you DO NOT WISH TO HAVE FURTHER CONTACT WITH HER. If she persists after that, block her.
DEAR ABBY: I am a 46-year-old widow. My husband of 18 years passed away 14 months ago. My three children from a previous marriage, which ended because of abuse, are adults. Two of them are still in the house, and one, my son “Charlie,” has serious health issues. My husband was sick for five years prior to his death. Charlie gets upset when I talk about being interested in starting to date. He thinks I am going to abandon him again and that I should pay more attention to reconnecting with my children than trying to develop a new relationship. I don’t see why I can’t have both. Charlie refuses to leave the house, so taking him out to do things is not an option. I don’t think he loves me; I feel he just wants to control me. My other children are supportive, but they are independent. Am I wrong for wanting to pursue life outside my home and grown children? — ATTEMPTING TO GO FORWARD
DEAR ATTEMPTING: You aren’t wrong for wanting companionship, and I’m not referring to the kind you can get from your children. If Charlie is unable to live independently and needs constant supervision, you should be discussing options for him such as respite care, so you can have a break. Because you mentioned that he has serious health issues, what are the plans for him if you should predecease him? This is an issue that should be hashed out before there is a crisis, so there will be no surprises and Charlie can be reassured, which may allay his fears and help him to become less needy.
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.