Posted: Wednesday, August 17, 2011 8:01 pm
Dear Annie: “Elaine” has been married to my brother for 45 years. She is critical, opinionated and condescending, and she loves to use her poison tongue to point out our faults to her husband and children. I do my best to remain cordial for my brother’s sake, but it is nearly impossible.
When they married, we welcomed Elaine with open arms, but she made it clear that we were never good enough. When I was a teenager, she tried to plant seeds of doubt in my mind, saying my parents didn’t love me. When Elaine went back to college later in life, she became worse. She analyzed everything we said or did at family gatherings, making all events stressful. When confronted about her attitude, she blamed others because, of course, she is never wrong.
I now realize Elaine lacks self-confidence and trashed our family in order to eliminate competition for the affection of her husband and children. She has no respect for others. After my parents died, Elaine told my daughter that her grandparents didn’t love her, and that their lives were one bitter feud that only Elaine was smart enough to notice. My confused daughter asked me about these comments, which fortunately gave me the opportunity to set the record straight.
I wish my brother would speak up, but he has been dominated too long. It won’t do any good to tell Elaine what I think of her. She can’t see that she has alienated everyone with her abrasive personality. But she is now spreading her vile, delusional untruths to the next generation. How do I nip that in the bud? — Sick of the Shrew
Dear Sick: We’re impressed that you’ve tolerated this woman for 45 years. If Elaine tells a lie in your presence, say sweetly, “Now, Elaine, dear, you know that isn’t true. You simply must stop making things up.” Unfortunately, you have little control over what she says to her children behind your back. When you see the kids, be sure to emphasize the good things — how much the family loves them, and how they should come to you if they ever have any questions.
Dear Annie: I am an elderly woman with fragile bones. Often, when I meet someone new, they expect me to shake hands. In my day, the woman always extended her hand if she wanted to shake, but this custom has changed. I have experienced excruciating pain and, once, a broken bone that didn’t heal properly. How can I avoid shaking hands? — Crushed in Florida
Dear Florida: We have actually covered this topic before. Here are some of our readers’ suggestions: bowing instead, wearing a wrist brace, or holding the person’s outstretched hand with both of yours and saying, “I’d love to shake your hand, but it’s too painful for me.”
Dear Annie: I read with interest the letter from “Worried in California,” whose 13-year-old twin sister has wild mood swings.
I am the mother of twin girls. At the same age, one of my girls developed the same attitude. Although we tried various doctors, counseling, etc., nothing changed. At the age of 47, she was diagnosed with Graves disease, which is a thyroid condition. It took a long time to diagnose even though there is a history of thyroid problems, including Graves disease, in my family.
Through all those years, my daughter’s moods were out of control. Now that she is receiving the proper care, she is a totally different and quite happy person. Would you please tell “Worried” to ask her parents to get her sister tested for a thyroid problem? Even if she tests only slightly above or below normal, the difference can be unbelievable. — Canadian Mother
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
Published in The Messenger 8.17.11