Dear Annie: My group of girlfriends is planning our annual ski trip for February. We all stay at a resort. There are six of us that go every year. Last year, my cousin, "Sasha" (who is part of this crew of girlfriends), invited her friend "Rachel." Rachel just did not mesh with the rest of the group. It felt stilted and awkward the whole time. She's cold and doesn't have much of a sense of humor — one of those people who just sucks the life out of the room when she walks in. She barely skied last year and ended up spraining her wrist when she did, so I'm surprised she wants to come back.
You can probably guess where this is going: Sasha wants to invite Rachel again this year, and the rest of us would rather she not come. We haven't voiced any of this to Sasha yet because we don't want to hurt her feelings. How should we handle this? — Bummed Skier
Dear Bummed: Don't ice Rachel out so quickly. Rather than telling Sasha that Rachel can't come, ask how Rachel is doing. Express surprise that she wants to join this year, because you weren't sure she enjoyed the last trip. Start a dialogue rather than issuing a decree. Who knows — maybe Rachel used to be the life of the party but is dealing with personal issues that make her a little less fun to be around, and the vacation would be really good for her. Or maybe what you've taken as coldness is actually shyness. Or maybe she really is a sourpuss. Whatever the case, the bottom line is that your cousin is paying as much for this trip as the rest of you, and if she would like to invite her friend, she can. Try to keep an open mind, and be willing to be surprised.
Dear Annie: I am writing in response to "Am I Wrong," the woman who was upset that she had to share her granddaughter's wedding day with her ex's other half. My mother could have written that letter. I wish she had. She could have used the advice.
After my parents divorced, she never let go of the resentment. She turned my childhood into a rage-fueled nightmare with a constant stream of angry rants about Dad, his wife, the neighbors whom she imagined were looking down their noses at the divorcee next door, members of her family who had the audacity to be civil to Dad when they accidentally bumped into him at the store and, of course, me. After five or six years of spending a few days a month of court-ordered visitation with Dad, I finally gave in to her demands and cut off all contact with him, and 20 years passed before I found the courage to risk her wrath and try to reestablish a relationship with Dad.
She died 15 years ago, alone, having so thoroughly driven away and alienated her entire family. Yeah, I wish Momma had written that letter 50 years ago, because someone could have responded to her and possibly have saved us all a lot of unnecessary pain, misery and heartache. Look in the mirror, "Am I Wrong," and ask yourself if the woman you see is who you want to spend the rest of your life with. — Hurt Daughter
Dear Hurt Daughter: I commend you for finding the courage to reconnect with your father, but I'm so sorry that you had to grow up in that environment. I'm printing your letter as a testament to just how toxic resentment can be. Thanks for writing.
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected]