Dear Abby: I survived 17 years of abuse. I’m slowly healing and now in a healthy relationship I enjoy. My ex did what most abusers do in these situations: He isolated me from my family. He would force me to say mean things to my sisters and parents to keep them away and make them hate me.
Now that I’m out of that situation, I want a relationship with them again. Sadly, my sisters say I must apologize for my behavior (again), which I’m not comfortable doing. I did apologize once, but it wasn’t good enough for them, since I stated that I was sorry HE MADE ME do those things. What should I do?
Getting Past It in Kansas
Dear Getting Past: I’m not sure why your sisters are insisting you apologize again, but if I were you, I would do it to try to smooth things over. At that time I would explain to them about Stockholm syndrome, which sometimes happens when people are kidnapped, held prisoner and eventually begin to identify with their captors. Something similar may have happened between you and your abuser because, in a sense, you were being held hostage.
Dear Abby: My precious dog, “Rover,” died nearly a year ago. I have grieved deeply, and feel I have handled it in a healthy way. I now have a new dog, “Spot,” who has brought new energy to my home. I keep a few pictures of Rover around the house, as well as pictures of Spot.
Part of me feels it’s weird to have pictures of a deceased pet on display and that it may not be healthy. Yet, I also feel it’s fine, as long as it isn’t a shrine to him. Sometimes I stop and look at Rover’s pictures and smile; other times, I feel an ache in my stomach and tear up. What is your take on this?
Still Healing in Florida
Dear Still Healing: My “take” is that although you have moved on to a great degree, you are still grieving. Rover is part of your history. If photos of him bring you pleasure, continue to display them. However, if more often they make you sad, consider putting them away until more time has elapsed since his passing.
Dear Abby: I want to give a monetary gift to some close friends of ours before we die. It’s in my will, but it occurred to me that they might as well enjoy it now, while they can. The rub is they’re very proud and stubborn and won’t let us “treat” them to anything.
I have given other people money and made clear, “I won’t ask what you do with it nor ever mention it again. I just want you to enjoy it.” Do you have advice on whether I should do this? And, if so, how? I don’t want to damage our friendship.
Dear Friendly: You are very generous. This is a question that should be discussed with your attorney or accountant. Of course, when you send the funds, there should be a letter explaining your intentions. This “transfer of assets” is sometimes done in families. Your legal or financial adviser can explain the details and whether other options exist. Then cross your fingers and hope your fortunate friends will accept the gift. However, if they don’t, do not continue to press the issue.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.