Ask Amy: Niece wants peace with her mother's sisters

FresnoMarch 10, 2014 

Dear Amy: My mother has two sisters. She has had multiple fallings out with them over the past decade or so.

It has gotten to the point where I don't even know what they're fighting about or why there is still so much tension among them. I don't know why these two siblings feel the need to ignore and ridicule my mother.

The thing is, while I don't condone their behavior, I do miss them. I would like my mother's side of the family to be a unit. I miss having family members to spend time with. I miss seeing my younger cousins grow up. It makes me sad that my siblings and I are getting married and having kids and my aunts are missing out on these events.

I'm not quite sure if they'll ever change their ways because they have been quite nasty in the past, but sometimes I just want to reach out and ask them why. Why do they want to be so mean and distant? Do they even miss us? Do they have any desire to work things out?

In a situation like this, is it wise to reach out when things have been so toxic in the past? And if so, what would be the best way to do this?

— Broken hearted

Dear Broken: I gather that you are an adult. One of the pleasures and benefits of adulthood is that you have the freedom to try to create and maintain the relationships you envision.

Understand that you will bear the consequences for your choice. For instance, your mother might feel betrayed if you contact your aunts. You might also learn that your own mother is behind at least some of this unpleasantness.

Most important, know that "when you mess with the bull, you get the horns." People who are combative in one relationship tend to be combative in other relationships. These family members might reject you outright. Or they might welcome you into the fold and then find a reason to kick you right back out.

One way to initiate this rapprochement would be to connect with some of your younger cousins on social media in a casual way and then work upward through the generations.

Dear Amy: The letter from "Sad" about her childhood sexual abuse broke my heart.

All I can say is that victims of sexual abuse never stop paying for something that was done to them that wasn't their fault. The trauma of not being believed or of being blamed is as bad as the abuse. There is constant work for victims to recover from abuse, but you can become a survivor.

— Survivor

Dear Survivor: Thank you for offering this wisdom.

 

You can contact Amy Dickinson via email at askamy@tribune.com, follow her on Twitter @askingamy or "like" her on Facebook.

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