Posted: Tuesday, June 22, 2010 8:01 pm
Dear Annie: My son and his family have been estranged from us for six years. We discovered the reason was that his wife was spreading vicious lies. When I caught her in one particular lie, she left a message saying, “To us you are dead.” I assume my son believed her lies, because he does not contact us at all.
I have tried to mend the relationship, but every time there seems to be a little headway, she comes up with something new. I know she wants an apology from me. I would do that, but I’m sure she will use it as proof that her lies were true.
I love my son, and not seeing the grandchildren is hurting my husband and me terribly. I pray daily for a miracle that will bring us together again. — Brokenhearted
Dear Broken: Some spouses (and it is primarily wives) are so insecure that they need to control every aspect of the marriage, and that requires alienating the in-laws. It borders on emotional abuse. It also requires a partner who doesn’t recognize what’s happening or lacks the spine to take a stand.
You cannot change your daughter-in-law’s personality, and you apparently cannot convince your son that she is a liar. He also may be unwilling to rock the boat at home by questioning her. Your choice is to remain estranged or to apologize repeatedly. An apology does not have to be an admission of guilt. Tell your daughter-in-law you are truly sorry for upsetting her, and make sure you say it in front of your son. We know it sticks in your craw, but it may be the only way to have any kind of relationship.
Dear Annie: I am a hairdresser and have a problem saying “no.” My family and friends expect me to do their hair for free. It started when I said “yes” to one, and now I have 10 people who think I should do their hair. I used to do it at work, but it became too difficult. So now, after a 50-hour workweek standing on my feet all day with my back aching, everyone wants me to make house calls.
I believe they are taking advantage of me. I honestly don’t want to do anyone’s hair anymore. I have to bring all my equipment to their homes, and they never offer to give me a dime. How do I put an end to this? I would never expect anyone to do this for me. Why can’t I say “no”? — Sick of Saying Yes in N.C.
Dear N.C.: You obviously don’t want to disappoint anyone, but they are definitely taking advantage of you. If it’s too hard to say “no,” try making yourself less available. Tell Sis your back aches and you cannot do one more head of hair that day. Or the next. Tell Aunt Judy your feet are killing you and you’re staying home. It might help to stand in front of the mirror and practice what you plan to say. Put some starch in your backbone, honey, or you will be stuck doing this forever.
Dear Annie: “Victim of a Stroke” said a sudden personality change could indicate a stroke. It could also be a sign of other life-threatening problems.
My husband’s friend was a sweet person who suddenly turned into an unkind grump who continually belittled my husband, who was baffled and devastated. Three months later, the friend was dead from a blood clot to the lungs. He was 46. Our landlord was a vibrant, compassionate man in his 50s who jogged five miles a day. One day, he said our 11-year-old daughter had to move out. Even his wife thought it was odd. Three months later, he died of a heart attack while jogging.
A sudden alteration in the amount of oxygen to the brain can also trigger a drastic behavior change. — Still Grieving
Dear Still: Thank you for pointing out that any sudden personality change could indicate a serious medical condition and requires immediate attention.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to email@example.com, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
Published in The Messenger 6.22.10