DEAR AMY: I grew up thinking that I had an amazing, close-knit family. I was always a bit of the “black sheep,” in that I was adventurous, and didn’t settle down in our sleepy town. I moved away from my hometown at 18 and, after 20 years, am still the only member that doesn’t live there. I worked hard and prioritized my career for many years. This meant that I visited only once a year. I remained extremely close to my mom, who visited me, and we spoke every day. She was proud of me for “breaking the mold.” Unfortunately, she passed away a few years ago. Since then, I have learned of the disgust my family has for me. When I got married last year, I did so within driving distance of my hometown so they would feel included and not have to pay for travel. However, since my husband and I decided to have an adults-only wedding, most of them didn’t even come. Moreover, they let me know how terrible I was for not inviting children. Since then, only two members of my family even reach out to me by phone. I’ve heard rumblings of other gossipy, untrue and negative things they say about me. My mother’s heart would be broken to know her siblings have, for all intents and purposes, cut me out of their lives. I, too, am heartbroken and want to make an effort to make things better. I won’t apologize for pursuing my passions or having the wedding we wanted (and paid for, might I add), so I’m not sure what I can do. I’m hoping you can help suggest a way to repair these relationships. Is it best just to remove myself entirely to protect my heart? I have one sibling and we get along fine. Other than that, this is all the family I have left. Thankfully, my husband and his family are wonderful.
DEAR FAMILY: The best way to have relationships with people is to spend time with them. Shared experiences lead to shared memories. These memories help to form a foundation of relatedness.
I agree with you that you should not have to apologize for having the wedding you wanted to have, or for living the life you want to live. You seem to be challenged by aunts, uncles and cousins. If you want active, healthy relationships, you should reach out to them, try to get to know them without judging them for their own choices, and make an effort to spend time with them. Perhaps you should bring your husband on a hometown tour. Also — invite them to travel to see you.
DEAR AMY: I like to let people parent however they see fit. However, this last weekend I went to a music festival, and behind me in the crowd was a young lady with a small child. This kid was stripped down to his diaper, and in direct sunlight. He was very sweaty and red. He started to scream and grab his face. From what I understand, this is a sign of overheating. She eventually moved him into the shade after a nearby elder told her to do so (I believe they were together). My question is, in that situation, at what point would it be OK for me to step in and suggest the woman take action? I doubt her actions were malicious, just a case of inexperience.
Maternal But Not a Mother
DEAR MATERNAL: Anytime you see a child in danger, you should step in an offer to help — or get help. In this case, someone else did — and that’s a good thing.
DEAR AMY: Reading the question from “Karma Cursed,” I was reminded of my own past. At the age of 18, I caught my high school girlfriend cheating on me. I was crushed. Utterly destroyed. I was a social hermit for a decade, and when I finally did have the courage to start dating again, I had a few short relationships, but nothing ever felt the same, and nothing lasted more than a few months. About nine years ago, I met someone who makes me happy, and with whom I have lived for the past eight years. I turn 70 in a month, and children are out of the question. I hope Karma Cursed doesn’t wait the half-century I did before allowing herself to be in love again.
No Longer Lonely
DEAR NO LONGER LONELY: Good for you. Thank you for sharing your story.