Dear Carolyn • Is it normal, understandable, forgivable to have conflicting feelings toward your father and his (second, current) wife, when their relationship started while your father was still married to your mother? And your mother kind of fell apart after the separation to the point where she is no longer the same person? (She went from being young, hip, beautiful and socially active to depressed, obese, disabled and isolated.) My dad has now been married to his current wife for 25 years. And can they expect me to celebrate their anniversary, and when I don't by not signing an anniversary card tell me I'm no longer welcome in their home if I don't apologize?
Dear S. • They "can" do what they want, even if it's needlessly punitive. And while your conflicted feelings are understandable, I don't see why you'd want to embrace so fully your family's emotional signature, which apparently is to build your lives around every affront, be it trivial or life-altering. It is within your power to decide you've been angry long enough. I suggest you do just that.
Dear Carolyn • My boyfriend left me for someone he met while we were together. They had socialized frequently in a group setting while we were a couple, and I had no idea. (The kicker: He says it wasn't cheating!) I don't think the new girl has any idea that she helped to break up our relationship because she never knew I existed. Should I contact the new girlfriend to tell her what happened? Why should I be quiet about it when I'm the one who was wronged?
Fair to Blow the Whistle?
Dear Whistle • How did someone who didn't know you existed help "break up our relationship"? And how did he cheat, exactly by emotionally auditioning your replacement while still acting as if he loved you? I think your time and energy would be better spent accepting your boyfriend's departure and, in any voids it created, rebuilding what you like best about you.
Carolyn Hax's column runs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.