Dear Amy: My father has realized his memory is failing and is using this to whitewash his questionable parenting skills.
Now I have no closure or recourse on events like his racist outburst of 2012 that led me to a very awkward Thanksgiving in a house full of people I did not know.
My dad will even see if his partner remembers an incident, and if she doesn’t remember, then it definitely didn’t happen; but she is apt to ignore it like it didn’t happen just to move off the subject.
I don’t need an apology (not that it would come), but it is just a new insult on top of an old one.
It makes me resentful when he literally says I must be wrong because:
1. Both of them don’t remember.
2. One of them doesn’t remember.
3. Both remember, but act like they don’t.
My past has been check-mated by insecure septuagenarians. There is nothing I can do, is there?
– Manipulated S
Dear Manipulated: Here is something you can do: Understand – deep in your bones – that “closure” is not something another person can grant you.
In fact, the very concept of closure and the chasing of closure is something of a red herring. Closure is a distraction, keeping you from doing the work you need to do in terms of accepting reality: (“My father is a racist. But I can’t help him to change what he won’t admit.” “My father was a poor parent. Confronting him about this is useless, because he denies it.”)
Now that his memory is fading, the past will be mutable, and he will cling to his version just as you cling to yours.
If it helps you or feels good for you to continue to confront him with the truth that only you will admit to, then keep trying.
Unfortunately, confronting him seems to lead to frustration and more distress for you, and so maybe it’s time to stop.
Dear Amy: My boss and I have a very positive and productive professional and personal relationship.
We’re two years apart in age, get along swimmingly, each have two children that are similar in age, and plan to work together well into the future.
We take monthly business trips together and every few months will get together at social events with our wives and families, among others.
My wife, “Sandra,” really likes him and is supportive of me spending time with him, but does not appreciate his wife, “Millie.”
In shared company I’ve seen Millie ignore Sandra and talk over her without listening.
My wife Sandra is a florist and has done some work for Millie, but often feels she is treated as “the help.”
Sandra no longer appreciates spending time with Millie, and I can’t say that Millie outwardly shows that she likes Sandra, either.
They share a birthday and Millie gets my wife a somewhat lavish gift and does the same at Christmas.
Naturally, Sandra feels the pressure to reciprocate. Frankly, she doesn’t think their friendship is on a level that warrants gift-giving, but is unsure how to decline or end this tradition without making a scene.
She is adamant that she doesn’t want to spend any more time than required with Millie.
I can certainly understand her viewpoint, and think it is valid. I would welcome any advice.
– Helpful Husband
Dear Helpful: Your wife might feel more comfortable if she could actually view herself as “the help,” versus feeling pressured to maintain a personal relationship or try to build a friendship with someone she doesn’t like.
If “Sandra” sees herself mainly as “Millie’s” vendor (flower supplier), then she might be more tolerant toward how obnoxious Millie is.
Every time she is forced into Millie’s presence, she could tell herself, “Cha-ching – this evening could translate into future business for me.”
In terms of gifts, when Sandra receives an extravagant gift from Millie, she should thank her in writing, saying, “Thank you so much. That was very generous of you, but I do wish you weren’t so extravagant!”
Her own gifts for Millie should be business-building ones: she should “say it — with flowers.”
Dear Amy: My heart broke reading the letter from “Not Meant to be a Mother,” who was grieving the loss of possibilities after having a hysterectomy.
This grief is absolutely understandable. People should never rush in with “solutions” for another person’s grief. What they need is quiet validation and understanding.
Dear Empathetic: Absolutely. I hope this writer recovers fully.
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