DEAR AMY: When “Maria” and I first met, we promised each other to be as close as sisters forever, but things have changed over the years. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in our early 20s and will not take medication or go to counseling. Maria prefers to self-medicate with drugs. She’s never been one to accept consequences for her actions. My fiance strongly dislikes Maria and has no desire to mend any potential friendship he could have had with her. After three opportunities to make a positive impression on him, she failed spectacularly at what was her final shot, when she lied about some drug paraphernalia to a group of people at a party, making scapegoats out of us. She casually told us about it later, like we were supposed to just laugh it off. We were deeply insulted and disrespected. That was more than three years ago and we haven’t gotten together with her since. She’s since gone on with her life, as though she’s never wronged us. Now, we’re putting together our wedding guest list. Maria messaged me on social media, saying she assumes she’s going to get an invitation. I haven’t responded. I don’t intend to allow her to attend against my fiance’s wishes and my better judgment. My head tells me honesty is best, but I’m worried that if I tell her she’s not invited and why, it could send her into a major depressive low and she may hurt herself. Or she may go the other direction and explode at us and harass us. I don’t want to ignore the issue and I don’t want to lie to her, so I’m wondering if you and your readers might have any advice on how to let her down gently, but still honestly. I want to see her healthy and happy and successful, and I feel great joy for her when something good happens in her life.
Uneasy Friend in the West
DEAR UNEASY: Your friend carries substantial challenges through life. It is deeply unfortunate that she does not get help. After three years of not seeing her, are you certain that her behavior hasn’t changed? Have you given her opportunities to behave differently?
If you’re convinced that you don’t want her at your wedding, you will have to be truthful, honest, respectful and compassionate when you deliver the news. Her personal challenges should not hold you hostage. If you genuinely believe that she might hurt herself, enlist a mutual friend or family member of hers to help her through this.
DEAR AMY: I agree with people who reflect the idea that Christmas gifts are out of hand. Family gift exchanges when everyone is older and with their own families can be a total waste of time and money. I was the first in my family to suggest an end to this task. I suggested that the best thing we can do is to be together as a family and share our time. In addition to letting everyone off the hook, I wanted to demonstrate to our children that this is the true meaning of the holidays. We still do the gift thing within our own families, but when the larger group gets together it is about the family. It has proved to be wonderful and fulfilling.
Happy Holidays, Everyone!
DEAR HAPPY: I am 100 percent behind this idea.
You and your children will see, especially after some older family members are gone, that memories of these holiday experiences are precious and that they last long after the last material gift has been lost, broken, tossed or donated.
DEAR AMY: “Miserable” was suffering because she was engaged in an emotional affair with a “long-lost” love from high school. But this guy does not respect the fact that she is married and has been for 50 years. He is thinking only of himself. She should redirect all her time and energy toward falling in love with her husband again. I know this can be done, because I have done it. I went through a similar situation in my own life. But my husband was a good man. He deserved my complete attention and loyalty. And I gave it to him.
DEAR VICTORIOUS: Several women have contacted me to say that they had also had emotional obsessions late in life, and that they decided to take the “high school” energy they were experiencing and redirect it toward their husbands.
I love it.