DEAR AMY: I have three older half-brothers (we share a father but I have a different mother).
About a year ago one brother threatened to expose something personal about me on Facebook. The thing that he threatened to expose wouldn’t really have bothered me, but he clearly thought it would. After that I had no contact with that brother.
Recently our father had a heart attack. I was the only one of my siblings who did anything for my parents during this time. I live two hours away and I’m a full-time college student; I had to drop everything so I could be at the hospital and drive my mother back and forth.
I realize that my mother is not their mother and it’s my job to see to her needs, but I was infuriated that my brothers hardly did anything for our dad at that time. I was the one who was there for him nonstop at the hospital and afterward.
I feel a lot of resentment. They don’t treat me like a sister. I hate that I’m the only one who really takes care of our dad and that I’m left out of other family events. I want to pretend that it doesn’t bother me, but I do feel bad.
I had nothing to do with our father divorcing their mother and then marrying mine, but I feel like they blame me somehow. I would like to just let it go, even though I feel like I’ve been punched in the stomach. -- Invisible Sister
DEAR SISTER: If your half-brothers are substantially older than you and were raised in one household as a unit (for instance, if they lived with their mother, vs. being raised along with you), then this would definitely have an impact on how they view the sibling relationship with you.
Your gender also makes a difference — especially when it comes to caretaking. Obviously there are exceptions, but parental caretaking duties tend to fall to women. In leaving you to take care of your father, they are treating you exactly like a sister.
Nothing will change without you at least trying to communicate about it. Don’t pretend this doesn’t bother you. Your father can also have an impact. He should model inclusive treatment, fairness and gratitude — and expect his sons to do the same.
DEAR AMY: I have been married for more than 40 years to a man who has been physically and verbally abusive. Recently I reconnected with a man I have known for 50 years. He is no longer married, and we have talked almost every day for months. It is as if we have never been apart.
We have talked about my leaving my husband and the two of us marrying. He has said he will take care of me. He says that what’s his will be mine and he makes me feel great.
My husband is constantly telling me I’m stupid and he is tired of me. I am torn as to what to do. -- Torn
DEAR TORN: You should leave your abusive marriage, but not in order to jump into a relationship with someone else. You should leave the marriage so you can be free of it. Do your best to set up an independent life — and not enter into yet another marriage where you are dependent and have so little control. Give yourself time to get to know this other man outside of the pressure exerted by your current situation.
DEAR AMY: “Grateful for the Gift” was wondering how to go about returning a hand-knit sweater to his long-ago ex-girlfriend.
I think you should have counseled him to have basic manners. He received a meaningful gift from someone who wanted to give it to him. Returning it to that person is simply a way of repudiating the spirit in which it was given, and insisting that the person return to that time period, and try to disclaim any value that it had.
It doesn’t sound like a sincere act on his part, and I think it’s in poor taste. -- Regular Reader
DEAR READER: This effort was obviously manipulative. You make a great point. Thank you.