Flamingo I’m still standing Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Shirt, hoodie

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My business is thriving now, but it did cost me a serious relationship. In my darker days, I wondered if I made the wrong choice (I didn’t), but my sister knows all those regrets. It was an emotional kidney punch and I don’t know how or if I should forgive her.

A: I think “I can’t singlehandedly keep your business afloat for you, and I can’t keep putting in orders for late work I can’t use” was a perfectly reasonable choice to make, but (you knew this was coming, I think) telling your sister, “Go fuck yourself and sell leggings on Facebook” was not a good choice. Nor was it an inevitable remark! You could have displayed honest anger and spoken your mind without crossing that particular line. It’s an unfortunate truth that it’s still possible to act wrongly when someone else has wronged you, and while your sister was wrong to put as much pressure on you as she did (and certainly wrong to stress over and over again how “easy” your life is since you’re not a parent), it still can’t justify that portion of your response.

I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, because there are few things more frustrating than apologizing to someone one still resents, but I think you should apologize for that remark, if only to clear your own conscience and regain a sense of equilibrium. “I’m sorry for how I handled that fight—I should never have lobbed that crack about leggings at you, which was demeaning and below-the-belt, and I’m sorry I told you to go fuck yourself. I shouldn’t have said that, and I won’t say it again.” You don’t have to—and shouldn’t!—apologize for not commissioning more work, but you also shouldn’t use that apology as an excuse to relitigate your own grievances, understandable though those grievances may be. An apology cannot be appended to “But I’m still mad you did X.” It needs to stand on its own.

Flamingo I’m still standing Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Shirt, hoodie

Maybe she’ll accept your apology and it’ll inspire her to come down from her own defensive perch, and you two will be able to have a better conversation about what went wrong at a slightly later date. Maybe she won’t accept it, or maybe she’ll use it as an opportunity to start yelling at you again. Whatever her response may be, at least you’ll know you’ve gotten your own high ground back and can cut the conversation short if it gets contentious again.

Q. My husband left me when I took in my nieces: My older brother, “Cliff,” overdosed last year, leaving behind my two young nieces. Their mom is in prison and will remain there for, best-case scenario, the next decade. My elderly parents have health and financial issues that prevented them from taking my nieces, and their mom doesn’t have any family. If my husband, “Jake,” and I didn’t take my nieces in, there was a risk they’d go to foster care. I adore my nieces, and they get along wonderfully with our daughter, “Claire,” and we can more than afford to raise them. To me it was a no-brainer to take them in and give them all the love and support they need.

 

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