DEAR AMY: My biological father recently sent me a friend request on Facebook, and it is freaking me out. He abandoned my mother while she was pregnant with me. I am a 31-year-old woman with a husband and a 10-year-old child, and I can't seem to forget my own father's abandonment. Six years ago, I decided I was going to find my dad. I wanted to find him and his family and see what their life was like. He was easy to find. I spoke to his niece first, and then reached my half-sister. The lies emerged quickly. He'd told his kids that they had a sister out there (me) but that her mother took her away and he didn't know where or what my last name could be. I was born and raised in the same town my whole life — the same town that my mother lived in when he abandoned us. He visited us when I was 7, and my mother still lives in the same house! My mother has never said one negative thing about him. Her family loved him and to this day say they don't know why he did what he did. He never looked for me. He did not want his kids to find me, either. He lied about us. I was (and am) obviously very angry. When I spoke to my "sister" and "brother," they asked if they could give our "dad" my phone number. I declined and said I only wanted to speak with them, not him. This was six years ago now, so the friend request out of nowhere has me jolted. I feel the same way I felt when I was 7. I feel angry and betrayed. What should I do: Accept his request and explode, or ignore it and then explode?
Angry and Confused
DEAR ANGRY: By all means — feel your feelings, tap into your anger, and let that abandoned and hurt 7-year-old within you roar. It would be best for your immediate family if you didn't spray rage-shrapnel over them, however. A therapist would help you to detonate your emotions in a controlled environment.
You are an adult working through a childhood marked by loss.
Your biological father's friend request might be a function of an algorithm, automatically sending friend requests to everyone he is even remotely connected to.
Your father has the ability to contact you by means other than Facebook. If you decide you have something to say to him, you should write down your thoughts in the form of a letter, read it through a few times, and — once you are certain that it says what you want to say — send it to him.
DEAR AMY: I recently broke my ankle and have been housebound for six weeks. Thankfully, I'm able to work from home. Unfortunately, I'm feeling underwhelmed with the number of visitors I've had. My otherwise lovely in-laws have been completely silent. They haven't offered to come over, or bring dinner, or help my husband with housework. It's so hard not to dwell on these things, especially when the four walls get a little closer with every passing week. Should I bring up my disappointment the next time I speak with my family, friends and co-workers? Or should I let bygones be bygones?
DEAR HURT: Your experience has taught you how to behave when someone you know is laid up. Many people do not have a sense about this.
Your experience might have also taught you how to behave when YOU are laid up: Don't wait for people to step up. Ask for what you need. Say, "I'm going a little stir crazy, can you swing by for a visit this week?"
By the same token, your husband could have communicated with his parents: "Claire and I are struggling to keep up. Could you bring over some dinner?"
You could let people closest to you know that you wish you had seen them during your confinement; otherwise, I think you should let it go.
DEAR AMY: "Encroached Upon" rented from in-laws and didn't like the fact that they visited so frequently. I rented from my parents. Unless everyone involved is a saint, this is a recipe for friction. My dad would walk by the house and ask, "Why is the laundry room light on? It doesn't look like you're doing laundry." There is only one solution: for the sake of the relationship, they should move!
No Longer Encroached Upon
DEAR NO LONGER: I agree.