Carolyn Hax

Carolyn Hax:

 

Dear Carolyn: I'm getting a dose of reality. I'm divorcing my husband (of 23 years) seven years after the affair and sitting unhappily on the fence. My sister has always been my best friend, with whom I could share it all … but the blinders about reciprocity, support and validation are slipping off.

What kind of sister would hear stories of the packed getaway suitcase stashed in the garage in case of a needed escape and not say, “You need to get out of this relationship”? What kind of sister would take my call from the emergency room, hear the story of husband loading a gun and say, “No, don't tell Dad; don't get a divorce”?

Of course my listening to my sister and not acting in my own behalf is my fault. But looking back at the many times she invalidated my concerns and feelings makes me think she is not a friend. Am I being harsh, am I into blaming? Or am I right?

Let Down

The idea of “seeing the light” is such a beautiful one — yet the reality of light hitting your eyes after years in the dark is that it hurts, a lot, at first.

Think of it as growing pains, though, and the ache you feel will align with your expectations. You're well into your adulthood, obviously, but I define “growing up” as the transition from seeing things as we want them to be to seeing them as they are. People can arrive there as children, young adults, oldsters or not at all; it's a highly personal journey where timetables have no place. It takes as long as it takes.

For you, it took your 23rd year of marriage to create the circumstances that shoved you out of what I suspect is a lifelong pattern of self-abnegation.

Why do I suspect that? Your sister. Her responses to you say on the surface that she isn't your best friend, yes, but deeper down they could also be saying she was cast in the same don't-upset-any-authority-figures mold you were.

This kind of emotional training can easily be mistaken for a dedication to “family” — which would then lead you to assume your loved ones were invested in your) best interests. Because that's what love and family are about, right?

You wanted that to be true, as virtually everyone does. And so you counted on your husband and sister, year in and year out, to care for and about you, even though they demonstrated often that they served other masters — himself and your father, respectively.

Assigning terms like “harsh,” “blaming” or “right” might help you write a new narrative to replace the old one — but then you'll be tempted to see only what fits your new story. Instead, try just applying at face value what people reveal about themselves.

Specifically, go into any dealings with your husband and sister — or, heck, just about anyone else — with the understanding that they're inclined to see things their way, not yours. That way, instead of trusting others to guide or care for you, you trust them merely to be themselves, good and bad, and trust yourself to serve as your own best friend. It's from that vantage point that you'll be able to see who really has your interests at heart.

Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com, follow her on Facebook at facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at washingtonpost.com.

Read more Lifestyle stories from the Miami Herald

  • Cook’s Corner

    Cook’s Corner: Behold the new colors of Easter eggs

    Radiant Orchid, Pantone Color Institute’s color of the year, not only is the hot spring fashion color, but it has made its way into the Easter egg parade. Forget the pastels of yesteryear; what’s trending now are vivid colors. McCormick developed these formulas for making vibrant dyes.

  •  
Linda Bladholm

    A Fork on the Road

    A Fork on the Road: Choices Cafe gives vegans plenty of flavor

    In a sign of the times, a small vegan café has opened a larger outpost, offering meatless burgers, wraps, soups and salads. Choices Cafe doubles as a juice bar with cold-pressed fruit and vegetable juices and innovative smoothies such as the Miami Heat with mango, jalapeño, lime, plantain, ground flax and chia seeds and agave.

  • The Edgy Veggie

    Edgy Veggie: Eggless ‘Egg Salad’

    This must be the egg industry’s favorite time of the year. There’s Easter eggs, egg-rich Easter cakes and cookies, Easter brunch omelets, casseroles and eggs Benedict (eggs atop English muffins and in the Hollandaise sauce). Eggs also play a big part at Passover. They’re on the Seder plate and in matzo balls, kugels and Passover desserts. Eggs, though, aren’t all they’re cracked up to be for cholesterol avoiders, allergic folk (eggs are among the top eight food allergens) and vegans. Plant-powered egg alternatives mean we still get a place at the holiday table.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category