Ask Abbie: Rift with sister plays factor in attending party

Published 11:00 am Saturday, March 15, 2014

Question: I have been invited to a party in honor of a close family member. My sister who hasn’t spoken to me for about four years, but has still remained in touch with the rest of the family, will be there. After about three of those years I stopped trying to stay in contact with her because she was unresponsive and I knew I had done all I could do. Since then she and I have even been celebrating holidays and special events at separate times with the rest of our family. If I go to the party it will be a first time I’ve seen her in four years and will probably create tension and put a damper on the party. If I don’t go I know the family member being honored will be disappointed that I wasn’t there to show my love and support. I don’t know what to do.

Answer: For three days Michael gave his newlywed wife, Ella, the cold shoulder. Ella couldn’t figure out why her new husband was so mad at her.

Maybe he didn’t like the meals she was fixing or didn’t like being married after all. Maybe he thought her new hairstyle was ugly and had become attracted to someone prettier. Ella made herself sick with worry. Finally she couldn’t take it any more. She broke the silent treatment and asked her husband what was wrong. He told her, “I can’t find my **** hammer.” Ella chose to laugh rather than to cry.

Discrepancy of thinking between persons such as Ella and Michael is a common occurrence and is likely occurring, to some degree, between you and your party’s guest of honor with regard to your attendance at his party.

Investigate this possibility before giving another thought to attending the party.

Ask your party’s guest of honor how he feels about you attending the party in light of the strained relationship between you and your sister and observe his response. If he appears non-committal, indifferent or outright states, “It really doesn’t matter to me,” he is telling you your attendance is really not as important to him as you are making it, and he will be fine with whether you attend or not.

Don’t question his thinking by telling yourself he’s just saying that. If he really wants you to attend, he will tell you.

If the decision is left up to you and you are still are unsure if you should attend, start thinking of your sister’s emotions toward you and your relationship with her as if they are in a coma; they have fallen into a state of unconsciousness that has lasted for more than six hours, cannot be awoken, fail to respond normally to the pain they are causing to many family members, and do not initiate voluntary actions.

In addition, realize it will be up to you to decide when to consider your sister unrecoverable from her emotional coma as it is up to a family member to decide when to consider a person unrecoverable from his physical a coma.

According to this new thinking, objectively and honestly assess where you are in the grieving process concerning the loss of relationship with your sister. The more acceptance and less denial you are experiencing the less painful it will be for you to see your sister’s emotions toward you in a vegetative state and the more it is suggested that you attend the party.

The more denial and less acceptance you are experiencing, the more painful it will be for you to see your sister’s emotions toward you in a non-responsive state and the less it is suggested that you attend the party.

This strategy is important because when in denial the ever-present light of one’s spirit often dims or temporarily extinguishes and darkness prevails. When in acceptance, however it remains bright and any darkness, including your sister’s emotional a coma, can never and will never prevail.

ABBIE LONG is a Franklin native and advice columnist for The Tidewater News. Submit your questions to