Dear Savvy Auntie,

I am divorced from my family.  They are pretty dysfunctional, to put things nicely, and I have always been the spirited one who would stand up to whomever was being mean or hurtful.  I am also the only one who went out into the world and built something on my own.  These characteristics, it seems, are threatening to them. And for years, I would do anything I could just for my family to like me.  But, nothing was ever good enough. Because I am not married, I am certainly seen as less than. I have a demanding career,  but have also suffered back-to-back layoffs over the last two and a half years. My "inability to have a job" is just another source of amusement for my family.

The last time I saw my family, my sister-in-law attacked me because I was encouraging my then 14-year-old nephew to not only apply to local schools, but reach to for his dream colleges as well. This caused an ugly event and was the last straw for me. I just realized, they don't like me, don't appreciate me, and I am not going back home. Do you have any answers or suggestions on how to deal with my family situation?

Divorced Auntie

Dear Divorced Auntie,

Your assessment of your family may be accurate, but they are still your family! There is no “final divorce” from family. There is history, possessions, and particularly, future generations. It seems you come from a family that speaks its mind even when it is intrusive or hurtful…ugh! Try to break the mold by practicing the old adage for parents of grown children: “Keep your mouth shut and your wallet open.” I know this feels awful, but the long term ramifications of alienation and nastiness are far worse.

Oh yes, the other aspect about family: reconnecting is always possible. Forgiveness is not only a virtue, but much better for your health…try it!

My best wishes,

Natalie Robinson Garfield

Content Rating