Dear Readers: This week I am running topical “Best Of” columns while I’m on book tour, meeting readers of my memoir, “Strangers Tend to Tell Me Things,” which is now out in paperback. I’ll be back next week with more answers and advice directed toward a fresh batch of dilemmas. Today’s topic is siblings.
Dear Amy: I’m 17, and have a twin brother. Recently my parents went out of town, and my brother wanted to throw a party. I didn’t want to, but I decided to stay up to make sure nothing got out of hand.
At 11 p.m. someone brought an incredible quantity of alcohol, and 20 guests showed up. They all began to drink heavily, and soon a guest was feeling sick.
I drove the guest home. When I returned home the place was a nightmare. Everyone was drunk. People were vomiting, there was broken glass on the floor and someone had cut his foot and was bleeding heavily.
I almost called 911, but a sober friend showed up and persuaded me not to. Finally, everyone fell asleep, but I stayed up all night checking on each one. I am certain that one particular person would have died had I not done this.
In the morning, I drove them all home while my brother cleaned up. I have felt guilty and angry at my brother ever since. He tells me I am being dramatic and I should forgive him. Did I do the right thing? Should I forgive him?
Dear Twin: The route to forgiveness is smoothest when it is paved with an acknowledgment that someone has erred, along with a request to be forgiven. Has your brother done either of these things?
You sound amazingly responsible. But this is an extreme note of caution: If you are ever in a situation where you think to yourself, “I wonder if I should call 911...” Call 911. Do it.
An alcohol overdose can prove fatal. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2010, there were approximately 189,000 emergency rooms visits by persons younger than 21 for issues linked to alcohol. Alcohol use accounted for 4,700 deaths in underage drinkers.
In addition to the injuries (such as happened at your house), drinking can cause violence, unwanted or unintended sexual activity, destruction of property and violations of trust and friendships.
Unfortunately, your toughest job is still ahead. You must tell your parents about this. Your brother’s choice could have cost your family everything. They should never leave you two home alone overnight again. – September 2013
Dear Amy: My older sister is getting married. Her fiance and his family are a very Christian conservative family. Mine is extremely liberal.
I am gay. I received an email from my sister saying that she did not think it was right for me to attend her wedding, saying they do not agree with my “lifestyle.” OK, it is her special day. I am fine with her choice.
When my mother learned I wasn’t invited, she was outraged.
I don’t know if it is so much just my not being invited, or that my mother feels that our beliefs are not as important as the fiance’s family’s.
Now my family will not attend my sister’s wedding, and my sister and her new fiance blame me.
What can I do to convince my family that they need to go to my sister’s wedding, and also let my sister know that the real problem is that she is losing herself and that this (not my sexual orientation) is the real issue?
The Gay Brother
Dear Gay Brother: I can completely understand your family’s choice to not attend this wedding, because denying your attendance seems to be a denial – not only of your family’s values, but of you.
Your sister and her almost in-laws are excluding you and now blaming you for the drama your exclusion is causing, as if your gayness is really getting in the way of everybody’s good time.
Your graciousness is commendable. Email your sister: “I realize this is your special day. I completely accept your choice and have told other family members this. However, I feel like this choice doesn’t reflect the values we were raised with. I hope you don’t change your core values to suit your new family. I’ll never stop being your loving brother and wish you and your fiance all the best.”
Don’t bother talking your mother into attending. When you’re a parent, you’ll understand how she feels. – July 2014
Email Amy at firstname.lastname@example.org.