DEAR AMY: I have twin nieces, both 29. We’ve always been close.
Their dad (my brother) is an alcoholic known to draw unwanted attention to himself.
You can imagine being teenagers and dealing with this challenge and embarrassment.
I am the “Gunkle” (gay uncle) who has always been their biggest cheerleader, helped financially for their education, the person they often came to for advice, etc. We’re super close, although we have always lived in different cities and now only see each other a couple times a year.
Last weekend one of my nieces (who has mentioned that I am one of the most important people in their life) attended a concert in another state.
Her husband and I have our own (poor) opinions of one another. I have actively tried to repair the relationship but have not had any response from him.
Anyway, to get to this concert, they literally had to drive within a mile from my home – both coming and going. She did not visit or let me know they would be nearby. The only reason I know she attended was by her social media posts.
I am hurt. The trip was for a music festival so it’s not like they couldn’t have driven 10 blocks out of the way and said a quick hello.
I just feel a bit disrespected and disappointed in her.
She and her sister are the closest to daughters I will ever have.
How should I react? Am I expecting too much?
DEAR GUNKLE: You are not expecting too much.
Here’s the transparently frank response: “I was so disappointed to see on Instagram that you and Brad went to Lollapalooza, literally driving within a mile of my house! It really hurt my feelings that you didn’t even slow down for a quick hello.”
Your niece might then react to your honesty with embarrassment, perhaps a sheepish apology or lame explanation, and by clicking “hide” on her social media account, hence removing the trigger to your hurt feelings.
There is another way to respond; it’s not thoroughly honest, but a little lighter, brighter, and on brand for the devoted “gunkle” you’ve established yourself to be.
And so you might send her an email or a text: “I saw on Instagram that you went to Lollapalooza, and if you drove, you would have passed very near my house. I hope you know that you are always welcome to stop in, even briefly or last-minute. I would love to have seen you!”
DEAR AMY: This is not about disagreeing with you, but I am just wondering why you chose not to address forgiveness with the gentleman who served in Vietnam (”The Older Brother”), while his brother-in-law did not.
I have learned that all real change begins within.
DEAR JIM: I completely agree about forgiveness, but my assumption was that the writer had already forgiven his brother-in-law, because he was now trying to build a relationship.
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(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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