DEAR ABBY: I have a co-worker with a troubling psychosis that has left me afraid to wear certain colors or say certain words around him. He has allowed a college football rivalry to impact his relationship with co-workers.
I would really like to wear my maize and blue sweater, but I’m fearful of his reaction. He’s from Ohio and is negatively obsessed with Michigan. I understand rivalries, but when you won’t acknowledge another co-worker from that state and require all your co-workers to refer to Michigan as the “M-State” or you storm off in anger, there is an issue. What should I do? Should I recommend counseling? — AFRAID IN NEW MEXICO
DEAR AFRAID: I agree that your co-worker may be off the deep end. You should not recommend counseling for this obsessive and immature individual, but someone in authority should. Depending upon how large a company your employer is, discuss what has been happening with human resources or your boss. This is a textbook example of bullying and creating a hostile work environment. Your clothing choices should not be dictated by a fellow employee.
DEAR ABBY: I’m in my mid-30s and about a year ago I went from limited contact to no contact with two siblings and my mother. No single incident caused this, nor was there any history of childhood abuse, etc. I just find I am much happier without their presence in my life.
I am married and content, take joy in my job and am otherwise fulfilled. I do not miss their general negativity, peevish behavior or critical comments. My question is this: Do I owe them an explanation or a place in my life?
I am generally an unsentimental person. I try to be fair. After years of not enjoying our contact, is it OK to finally end it once and for all? — DETACHED IN TEXAS
DEAR DETACHED: I’m glad you asked me to weigh in on this. You do owe your mother and siblings an explanation. Because what has caused you to withdraw is their “negativity, peevish behavior and critical comments,” say so. Turning your back on your family with no explanation at all is cruel, punishing behavior and cowardly.
DEAR ABBY: I have a wonderful friend who tragically lost her husband 10 years ago. Since then, she and his family have done a balloon launch celebrating his birthday every year. It is sweet and beautiful, and I understand the significance. However, over the years it has become common knowledge how detrimental these massive balloon releases can be to the environment and wildlife.
I would like to suggest trying a different way to celebrate, but I know, even after all these years, she’s still mourning and very sensitive about losing her soulmate, so I don’t want to upset her. Should I keep my mouth shut, or should I say something? — REMEMBERING IN THE MIDWEST
DEAR REMEMBERING: You can say something, but when you do, rather than making it a statement, it might be less accusatory and better received to pose it as a question. Example: “Have you considered celebrating his life by doing ‘X,’ which would have less of an impact on wildlife and the environment?”
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
To order “How to Write Letters for All Occasions,” send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby — Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. Shipping and handling are included in the price.