Dear Liz …
My stepsister refuses to talk to me. It has been about 5 years now since we last spoke. The reason I got for this – not from her, but from other family members – is because I wasn't there for her during the death of her baby in utero.
I did email her my condolences and wished I could be there. Around the same time she lost her father and another family member as well. I know she was hurt, but I really didn't know what to say especially where I was with my life.
I was in a failing marriage to a man who had told me on several occasions that I was worthless and that I should kill myself. He said these things in front of our son, which made it worse. Throughout our marriage he would webcam women in chat rooms and meet up for discrete encounters when he went away for training and schools while in the Navy.
The final straw was when he was discharged from the Navy for not passing the PT. He was without a job for 9 months. During that time I had a full time job, two part time jobs and the abuse got worse and I had to take my son to stay with my family for the summer. This way I could work more to save us from being evicted.
I would gladly work long hours to be away from my husband. I started taking jobs house sitting, cat sitting, dog sitting, bunny sitting, horse sitting, you name it I would do it just so I didn't have to go back home and finally I decided to leave him for good. I was sleeping in my car when I didn't take a job overnight.
It was during this time that my stepsister lost her baby unexpectedly. News got to me when I was at work. I didn't know what to say, but when I finally did send her an email with my condolences, I must have been too late. I never got a reply back.
I asked my sister what happened, why our stepsister hasn't talked to me and she said I wasn't there for her.
Unfortunately, it was the best I could do for my stepsister at the time, especially with all that I was going through.
I have even emailed my stepsister recently to let her know that I had a good time with her daughter that last time I visited, and still no response. That was a month ago.
We have been to a bachelorette party together, and I tried to smile at her and she looks away. Even at the wedding of my niece she was sitting directly behind me and I got nothing from her.
So there you have it. What's my next step? Do I just write her off? This is putting a strain on my family.
~Worried in Maryland
Dear Worried …
I think she may be upset because you emailed her your condolences instead of calling her and talking to her. That probably hurt her feelings a lot.
With that said, that’s the only thing I can think of that has any fault to it.
Some people go through hard times in different ways than other people. She cant get mad at herself for what happened, she can’t get mad at other people for what happened, but she’s mad and she wants to take it out on somebody. Unfortunately, I think that somebody is you.
You emailed your stepsister and told her your situation. I’m assuming you didn’t have money to go see her, as you were living in your car. On top of that, you have a son.
I don’t think you should write her off. It’s been five years and you are both, I’m sure, in better places.
I think you should make a surprise visit, that way she has to talk to you. There’s no getting around it. You both have to deal with it. Even if she doesn’t like surprises, just do it. Go to see her and bury the hatchet and open up about your feelings.
The big thing is aplogize. Again. Tell her you couldn’t mentally be there for her because you couldn’t even be there mentally for yourself at the time.
If that doesn’t work, and you’ve tried all your best efforts, then the reality is she doesn’t like you and doesn’t want you in her life.
At that point, you know you’ve done all you can and reached out the best you can. Tell your family you’ve done all you can and you’re not responsible for it anymore.
The older you get, the more you realize you can only control yourself and your feelings. You can’t beat yourself up over it. You tried as best as you could. If it doesn’t pan out, well, that’s the way life wants it.
Time does heal all wounds, as they say, but we never get over the scars.
Need some advice on a topic? Write to "Dear Lizzie" at email@example.com.