DEAR AMY: I have a former friend, “Debbie.” Our friendship ended due to her constant criticism, gossiping, backstabbing and passive-aggressive behavior toward my family. She does this to everyone, not just us. Over the years, Debbie was very critical (behind our backs) of us homeschooling our daughters and our family hobby of playing music. So when we hosted an elaborate homeschool graduation ceremony, concert and party for my daughters a few years ago, we did not invite her, thinking that she would not be interested, since she disapproved of our homeschooling and my daughters’ musical performances. When Debbie heard about our graduation party, she sent each of my daughters a check for $100 (money is no obstacle to her) as graduation gifts. After we received the checks, we felt that we had to send her an invitation, but we later regretted this when she wrote a nasty letter criticizing our daughters’ music performances and circulated it among our friends (a friend gave us a copy of the letter). Now one of my daughters is about to get engaged. We don’t want to invite her to the wedding, but we are afraid that she will do the same thing she did regarding the graduation party, that is, send an expensive gift in order to force us to send her an invitation. She might even go so far as to invite herself to a wedding shower hosted by another mutual friend, or even co-host a wedding shower with one of our mutual friends. So my question is, how do my daughter and I handle it if she tries to force an invitation to my daughter’s wedding by sending a gift or co-hosting a shower? Are we obligated to send her an invitation if she sends a gift and/or hosts a wedding shower without our asking?
DEAR WONDERING: If sending a gift guaranteed a wedding invitation, then those pot holders I sent to Kate and Prince William would have yielded a trip to Buckingham Palace.
The only necessary response to a gift is a written “thank you.”
You sound afraid of this social viper. So practice saying “no” in the mirror. She wants to host a wedding shower? “No thank you.” If she co-hosts a shower with a friend of yours, you need only thank her for her trouble. If she angles for a wedding invitation (why would she, since there is likely going to be music), just tell her, “No. We won’t be inviting you.”
DEAR AMY: I’m a 25-year-old woman. My fiance of nearly three years recently broke up with me because of my mood swings and outbursts linked to my depression. I have had bouts of depression since high school, but they went untreated. My episodes increased while my fiance and I faced increasing financial problems and unemployment. Then my depression reached a breaking point when we had to move in with my parents and I faced another long period of unemployment. Things got so bad that I started to lash out at him, even though I was not angry at him and never meant to cause him pain. After the breakup, I finally managed to get help. I am currently undergoing therapy and taking antidepressants, and I have a diagnosis. As the meds give me a chance to think like a normal human being, I realize just how badly I treated the man I loved. Now that we’ve broken up, he barely wants to talk to me. I have hopes of getting another chance with him after completing more therapy, because I still love him. How do I tell him of my diagnosis and apologize for my behavior during those turbulent months without making it seem like an excuse?
Depressed, Now Broken
DEAR DEPRESSED: You should write to your ex and explain your situation, disclose your diagnosis and describe your treatment. Apologize for your behavior that caused him pain. This is not an excuse, but an explanation.
Please don’t do this expecting him to come back. Do this to complete the circle and as part of your recovery. Stick with your treatment and therapy, and do your best to get a fresh start.
DEAR AMY: “Sad” told a story about her father promising her large sums of money and never delivering it. I was so glad you cautioned her to stay away from him and his wallet. My father did the same thing to me, and his “riches” turned out to be complete fiction.
DEAR TAKEN IN: Talk is (definitely) cheap.