Q. My sister-in-law recently died of Alzheimer’s, and her celebration of life is coming up.
I am an older man. When I was a youth, I had to reside with her and my brother for the summer. My mother was institutionalized due to mental illness; my father had abandoned the family.
At the time I was living with the two of them, I was 15. My brother’s house was small. I slept in the small living room on the couch.
My brother was an alcoholic and he would go to sleep early every night. My sister-in-law (then 25 years old) would stay up late and talk to me. She was very lonely and disappointed that my brother was always emotionally missing in action for her. We grew close, and eventually a sexual relationship developed. I went to a military school to escape the household, as I was afraid my brother would find out.
Now there is to be a celebration of life for her and I, along with many others, have been invited to share anecdotes about her life.
I have decided to tell the truth at the ceremony about what happened to me, but my wife is totally opposed to it. She refuses to accompany me, saying that to tell now will cause a major disturbance within the remaining family and that no one will believe me or ever speak to me again.
What should I do?
A. I can tell by your narrative how trapped you were in this situation, and my heart breaks that you were exploited in this way. Your late sister-in-law’s actions amount to sexual exploitation of a minor who had nowhere else to turn, and no one to protect him.
If you want to tell your story, then you should tell it. However, disclosing this publicly at a funeral is not the way to tell it.
Understand that this story will likely completely blindside others in attendance. They will not know how to react, and when people don’t know how to react they generally don’t react particularly well.
Your wife could be right about how your family members will take this. I wish that she were more supportive regarding your need to deal with this honestly and openly.
It would be wisest for you to seek counseling before confronting this issue with family members.
An estimated 1 in 6 men have experienced what the organization 1in6 defines as “unwanted sexual experiences.” Their website is informative, helpful, and supportive. Check 1in6.org for more.
Q. My neighbors and I both have daughters who go to an outdoor pool for their swim team three times a week. My wife and I are the only people who drive the girls to and from their activities. It has been this way for months.
We asked the other parents (our neighbors) to help with the pickup, but they refused — saying that it interferes with their evening routines such as making dinner.
Yesterday I had to work late, and I asked if they could do carpool just once — but they said they were busy cooking dinner and couldn’t pick up the girls.
I cook dinner for my daughters, too, but I still always find time to drive the girls to and from their activities.
How do I respond to this?
A. It might be tempting to simply leave the neighbors’ daughter at home or at the pool one day in order to try to teach them all a lesson, but then you would be punishing the daughter for having thoughtless and unhelpful parents.
I think you should see this through to a terminus, either a holiday break or the end of the season. And then find another nearby family who will actually carpool to the pool.
If the neighbors approach you to ask about driving, tell them, “I’m looking for someone to actually share the driving with me. Let me know what days you’re willing to do that.”
Q. I’ve just read the letter from “Been There,” about letting your pet go.
In a few hours a vet is coming to our home to put down our 14-year-old Boston terrier. There are not enough words in the English language for how much I love this dog, but she’s reached the end of her natural lifespan; it’s time.
Releasing them when they’re no longer enjoying their life is the only loving, humane choice, as difficult as it is.
A. RIP to a very good pal.
Amy Dickinson can be reached at email@example.com.