Dear Abby: My sister and I have a close but complicated relationship. She has always embellished stories about me when she’s talking to others, and most of the time they portray me in a bad light. I usually ignore them when they get back to me, because I choose to pick my battles with her.
In the past when I confronted her, she has blown up at me, accused me of being the liar and stopped speaking to me for long periods of time. I value our relationship too much to let it be permanent, so I’m the one who always breaks the ice and tries to resolve things. She has never taken the first step to make amends.
Recently she suffered a traumatic brain injury and, although she’s doing well, her “embellishments” have become worse. They have reached the point that other people are questioning me and my motives. I have not confronted her about it since her brain injury because I’m unsure if her behavior has worsened due to her health issues. Some of her personality traits have become amplified since the injury, and I don’t know if this is another one.
I don’t want to hurt our relationship if this is something that cannot be resolved because of her injury. Should I confront her, or remain quiet and maintain our relationship?
Complicated in the West
Dear Complicated: If confronting your obviously troubled sibling would fix the situation, I’d advise you to do it. But her pattern is to blow up at you, accuse you of lying, not speak to you and not change her ways. WHY you would want a “close relationship” with someone like this is mystifying, because the closer you are to her, the more ammunition she has to slander you.
My advice is to distance yourself, and if you hear that she has been telling more lies about you, to give the person a sad smile and say, “You know, my poor sister has had a traumatic brain injury.” Period.
Dear Abby: I’m a 60-year-old man with an information technology background. I have recently been offered paid commercial driver’s license training, which entails a good year of coast-to-coast driving. This pays a lot of money, but my mother is dead set against it, probably because it will mean less time to spend with her. My brother lives two hours away and visits her perhaps monthly, whereas I visit twice a week.
I have little desire to continue in IT, but I’m not ready to call it quits. I’m getting a lot of pushback here, including unrealistic suggestions for local employment. How can I manage these conflicting pressures?
Choices in Pennsylvania
Dear Choices: If the only thing keeping you from broadening your work experience by getting that commercial driver’s license is your mother’s objection because you won’t be able to visit her twice a week — and her health is good — it’s time to decide what would make more sense for your future.
Because her suggestions for local employment are unrealistic, this may be the time to start planning for your long-term financial future. Long-haul trucking may be your most realistic option at this point. Talk to your mother before you make your final decision, to make sure she has an adequate support system in place.
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.