Dear Annie: My sisters and I have always been close, but some changes have occurred this year that threaten our relationship.
My youngest sister, "Carrie," separated from her husband of 13 years and it has been a tumultuous four months for all of us. She began dating again a month ago, and one relationship has progressed nicely. She has already introduced her new beau to her kids. But the presence of another person in Carrie's life has added more conflict to the separation, and we've all been affected. Her kids have confided in us how unhappy they are, so we mentioned it to Carrie. That talk didn't go over well.
We are planning a small get-together for my great-aunt's birthday and Carrie is planning to bring her (uninvited) new beau. To be frank, my older sister and I aren't ready to meet him. We're still knee-deep in the conflict with Carrie and her husband. While the separation is not the boyfriend's fault, his presence reminds the kids of their parents' conflict and hurts them tremendously. It also will affect whatever chances Carrie has to reconcile with her husband or even manage to have a civil relationship with him should they divorce.
I don't want to hurt my little sister, but this whole ordeal has left the family emotionally spent and I don't have the energy to pretend I am happy about having her boyfriend around. How do we support Carrie without condoning what we know is hurting the kids? — Sad Sisters Struggling
Dear Sisters: We agree that Carrie is behaving recklessly. She is so eager to prove to her husband that she doesn't need him that she is falling into a relationship much too soon and ignoring her children's emotional pain. Unfortunately, you cannot seem to convince her to be more cautious right now.
Please concentrate your efforts on the children. Explain that sometimes they will need to tolerate the boyfriend's presence (as will you) in order to keep including Carrie in family gatherings. No one needs to be overly friendly or accepting, only polite. Let the kids know they are loved, and help them be patient with their mother while you provide the emotional support they need.
Dear Annie: I'd like to comment on the letter from "Not Buying Narcolepsy," whose husband cannot stay awake. It reminded me of my husband.
His fatigue became so acute that I took him to the doctor, thinking he had a thyroid problem. As it turns out, he was suffering from a genetic disorder called hemochromatosis (iron overload). Too much iron in the blood displaces oxygen and thickens the blood. Doctors do not routinely test for this and consequently, it often goes undiagnosed. The fix is simple — donate blood. — Spalding, Miss.
Dear Spalding: We have mentioned hemochromatosis before. Symptoms include chronic fatigue, weakness, joint pain, hypothyroidism, diabetes and high blood sugar, impotence, infertility, darkening of the skin without sun exposure, heart arrhythmia, chronic abdominal pain, as well as jaundiced eyes and skin. The tests are serum iron, TIBC (total iron-binding capacity), percent of saturation, serum ferritin and an HFE gene mutation DNA test.
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of This Classic Annie's Mailbox column was originally published in 2015. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at www.creators.com.