Dear Abby: Older sisters’ bullying of me started in childhood, continues in retirement

At a loss to understand why she’s treated so badly, woman considers letting go of her family.

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DEAR ABBY: My older sister bullied me from the time our parents divorced. I was in elementary school, and she was in middle school. We are now adults and retired. Her form of bullying now is to exclude me. It started with announcing to me that I was adopted and progressed to saying in front of me, “Let’s have a family reunion” and not inviting me.

When our father died, she was his executor. She showed the will to my sisters, but would not allow me to see it. Yes, I was in the will as an equal. She told the attorney I was a granddaughter, which I caught and corrected.

When I told my oldest sister my feelings were hurt, she accused me of being jealous and blocked me on social media. It’s hard to disengage because I have no other family, but I keep busy in other social circles. I was unable to have kids, and the one child I adopted is busy working in another state, so it’s just my husband and me now.

I tried for years to be nice and to contribute as much as possible. I know I have done nothing wrong. I have searched my soul to see why I deserve this treatment. I don’t! Should I just let go of my family since at least two of my three sisters seem to want to let go of me? — LEFT OUT IN FLORIDA

DEAR LEFT OUT: Yes, you should. Disengaging from the emotionally abusive sisters who treat you cruelly would be healthy for you. Maintain a relationship with the one who is open to it.

I have advised more than once in this column that sometimes it’s necessary to create a family of one’s own if circumstances prevent a normal relationship with a person’s birth family. You and your husband should continue branching out socially. I predict that once you move in that direction, you will be far happier than you are today.

DEAR ABBY: My daughter unexpectedly died very recently. A “friend” called today asking how I was doing (quarantine, food, pet food, etc). Then she asked me the most unnerving question: “Do you have ‘June’ with you?” I was floored. So many thoughts came rushing at me at once. June was disabled since birth. She went to live in a group home nine years ago. The friend knew I brought her home for weekends.

After I didn’t speak for several minutes, she asked in an annoyed tone, “Well, did you go get her ashes or not?” (As if having her ashes with me was a comfort? It isn’t!) Abby, I didn’t know what to say. Her question slammed me against the wall. I mumbled a response, said I had to go and hung up.

I’m trying to make myself believe she meant nothing but concern, but I can’t seem to make myself believe that the words she used weren’t purposely cruel. My warm feelings for her have changed to something ugly. I’m still gasping. Your thoughts? — GRIEVING MOTHER

DEAR GRIEVING MOTHER: Let’s give the woman a perfect 10 on the insensitivity meter. She was tactless, but she may not have meant to be unkind. My thought is that you handled the situation as well as you could since her question left you understandably flat-footed. However, I would have answered her differently. I would have responded, “Why do you ask?” and let her explain herself.

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 or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order “How to Be Popular.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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