Dear Annie: My husband has a large family. For the past 20 years, we have attended all the family gatherings. A few months ago, we found out my husband's two brothers and their wives have been gossiping about me.
We saw the conversations by accident. Apparently, these two couples get together quite often, and it seems I'm the main topic of conversation. They were basically stalking me on Facebook and monitoring my posts. All the conversations would go like this: "Did you see what Emily said about how she had to go to the hospital?" "Did you see what Emily said about how she has faith in God?" This went on and on. Every word I said was analyzed and mocked.
Needless to say, I immediately blocked all of them on Facebook, and I no longer post anything personal. But now the problem remains that I don't care to see these people anymore. I have forgiven them, but I would be uncomfortable being in the same room with them, knowing somehow I'd be giving them more fuel for the gossip fire. My husband is angry about this situation, too, but at the same time, he doesn't want to disappear off the portion of the earth that his family populates. I've had people advise me to take the high road and go to the gatherings and not worry about what they think of me. But I feel too uncomfortable to do that. I guess my question is: Do I have the right to go invisible? Because that's what I want to do. I have plenty of family and friends to spend the holidays with who love me. — Betrayed
Dear Betrayed: If anyone should be practicing a disappearing act, it's your gossiping in-laws. They ought to be ashamed of themselves. But avoidance isn't the answer here. Have your husband talk to his family members about how their gossiping has hurt you. Let's hope that given the chance, they'll apologize and use this as a moment to reflect, because their gossiping says far more about them than it does about you. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, "great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people."
Dear Annie: With the holidays fast approaching, I'd like to ask that you please remind your readers not to make promises they will not keep. I work in an assisted living facility. Recently, I took care of one gentleman who sat all day dressed up waiting for his volunteer to come take him out for a meal. He sat and waited and waited. The volunteer called later, around 7 p.m., and said he could not get his car started. I will always remember that incident. We as staff were not allowed to take patients out, or we would have arranged something. Plus, we did call to verify and did not get an answer. So please do not make promises you will not keep. — Heartbreaking to See
Dear Heartbreaking to See: I'm heartbroken just hearing it. I'd like to take this opportunity to encourage readers to help seniors in their community have a happy holiday season. If you're not sure where to start, visit https://www.mealsonwheelsamerica.org.
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