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Column

Dear Abby: One-way friendship ends, but feelings of guilt remain

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips.

Dear Abby,

My “friend” from childhood, “Camille,” has never had my back. I have done the heavy lifting in our friendship our whole lives.

While I was on vacation 2 years ago, she was diagnosed with cancer. I came home immediately and drove to the hospital at 1 a.m. to be by her side. I’ve always been by Camille’s side for everything, even though she hasn’t been there for me. I told her that several times, to no avail.

I went to every chemo and doctor appointment, and was there every day to rub her feet to make her feel better. I threw her a party for 100 people to “kick cancer’s butt,” took her on a vacation – it goes on and on.

I ended the one-sided friendship last year. My problem is, I feel guilty for doing it. I feel I left her with cancer. But I also feel that because someone is sick doesn’t give them the right to be abusive or inconsiderate. Camille hasn’t tried to contact me, either. In fact, she has told others that she will never speak to me again.

I bent over backward for her, but if some other person sent a card, she would make a big deal out of it. I’m deeply hurt and don’t know how to move on. Help!

– Wounded on
the East Coast

Dear Wounded,

One way to stop feeling guilty and get on with your life would be to acknowledge in your head and your heart that the relationship with Camille was not a healthy one for you. In fact, from the way you have described it, it was more like a bad habit.

Bad habits can be difficult to break, but many people have been able to accomplish it by replacing a bad habit with a good one. Example: Instead of feeling guilty for not rubbing Camille’s feet, consider getting a pedicure for yourself. Although it might seem expensive, it would be cheaper than talking to a therapist.

Dear Abby,

My siblings and I, all born in the ’50s in a small town, have fond memories of our childhood. After our mother died in 1989, our father married “Sylvia,” a new arrival in town. They lived together in our childhood home until his death in 2016.

We “kids” wanted to honor our parents and our fond childhood memories. We endowed a plaque for the town park dedicated to their memory and noting they had raised a family in that community. Sylvia is now grievously offended and furious that she was not included.

Abby, Sylvia came on the scene long after we were raised and gone. She’s not our parent and played no part in the memories we wanted to honor. Although Sylvia was a good wife to our dad, she did her best to erase all traces of our mother from Dad’s memory and from his home. Were we wrong? She has rebuffed our attempts to explain our benign motivations.

– Confused
in Pennsylvania

Dear Confused,

You weren’t wrong, but it would have been better had you discussed your plans for the plaque with Sylvia before donating it. That way, you would have been able to explain to her the reason why she wouldn’t be on it. She may still be grieving the loss of your father, so try to understand her feelings.

And by the way, it is not unusual – or out of line – for a second wife to make her husband’s home “her own,” so don’t hold it against her.

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 DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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