Dear Amy: I am a 56-year-old woman. When I was growing up, my father had an affair with “Sarah,” our next-door neighbor. This affair lasted for many years.
Everyone knew about it — at least everyone in my family knew (my mom, my brother, and myself).
My dad died 17 years ago. Sarah has also died.
My mother is 87, has some dementia, and seems to have forgotten everything about this, which is good.
My question is: At the time, I was very close to “Annie,” Sarah’s daughter.
During all of those years, starting from a very young age, I said nothing to her. Now, I see Annie and her sister’s photos on Facebook, and I have a hankering to contact them to ask if they were aware of this affair.
Their father is still alive.
What would be the point of this? I really don’t know.
It was like the unspoken secret for so many years.
And, if they do not know about this, then why would I want to hurt them by telling them about this sordid history between their mother and my father, right?
I’d appreciate your take on this.
Dear Conflicted: My reaction to this is — if you don’t know “the point” of an action or reaction, then you should wait until the point makes itself evident.
Another way to think about this is to ask yourself: “What good could come of this?”
Maybe “the good” is you unburdening yourself of knowledge you’ve always held onto as a deep secret. However, doing so, you might upend another family.
I tend to believe that the truth is the truth, and we all might as well know the truth.
However, I also feel strongly that some things just aren’t our business.
Is your parents’ marriage and your father’s consensual relationship your news to share? Do you have the right to dive into your next-door neighbors’ marriage?
You could certainly connect with your childhood friend on Facebook and attempt to re-establish a relationship without spilling the beans to see if Annie makes the first move.
Dear Amy: I have been singing my entire life. I started out in the choir at my church and was often asked to lead songs.
It wasn’t until I became an adult that I realized that the racing heart and sweating weren’t just due to nerves, but because I suffered from severe anxiety about singing in front of people.
I am (in my opinion) outgoing, and have no problem speaking in front of people, but singing is something totally different.
Over the past few years, my anxiety has peaked.
I have been asked to sing at several weddings (and funerals).
The first time I just decided to suck it up. It seemed to go well, but I was a total wreck.
The next time, I was vocal about my fears of singing in front of a crowd.
I was told to just “pray about it” and reminded that I have a gift and I should use it. Well, Amy, I drink myself under the table at every wedding I sing at because the anxiety causes so much stress for me.
My husband has told me that he flat-out refused to let me do this again because I am so terrified about singing.
He says that I need to put my foot down.
How do I do it in a way that won’t upset someone asking me to sing for their wedding/funeral, especially when the request is mostly coming from family?
— The Wedding Singer
Dear Wedding Singer: Here’s a tip: The more words you use to explain yourself, the more openings you will create, which people will plow through.
Don’t offer reasons. Be gracious, polite, and consistent.
They: “Will you sing at your niece’s wedding?
You: “Oh, it’s sweet of you to ask, but I’m retired.”
They: “You can’t! You’re so good at it and this is for family! We’re counting on you.”
You: “How nice. I’ve retired.”
They: “Is it your nerves again? You can get over that!”
You: “Thank you. I’ve retired.”
You could do them a favor and suggest another singer — but this will not be your problem to solve.
Dear Amy: Another thank you for devoting a column to the experiences of Vietnam veterans. I served, too, and reading those letters from fellow vets reminded me of everything we’ve been through. It’s been tough.
— Fellow Veteran
Dear Veteran: Welcome home.
(You can email Amy Dickinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)
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