DEAR ABBY: During the last year, I made some significant changes to my life. I left an emotionally abusive marriage after 23 years, which gave me the confidence to take better care of myself. I have lost 70 pounds and am almost down to the weight I was in high school. I am very proud of this.
My issue is my family has now started using my former weight as a measuring stick. I am often told things like, “You should see your cousin. She’s almost as big as you were!” which is quickly followed by an offhand, “No offense,” which tells me they know it offends me. I said as much to them at first, but the insulting comparisons continue.
It’s not just one person saying this; it has actually become the family standard. I know I was very large, but this is extremely hurtful. I find myself avoiding family visits because the subject seems to invariably come up in some way. Is there anything beyond what I have already tried that can convey the distress this causes? — FORMER FAT RELATIVE IN MISSOURI
DEAR RELATIVE: Your relatives have been told that alluding to your former weight problem causes you distress. That it continues tells me they are thoughtless at best, not to mention rude and inconsiderate of your feelings. Because you can’t change their behavior (and neither can I), the logical solution is to do what is best for you and see less of them.
DEAR ABBY: I have begun high school and I love it, but I’m bumping into friend problems. My new friend has many other friends in one big friend group, and she’s inviting me to join them. I barely know these people, and some of them make me uncomfortable, but I still eat lunch with them sometimes. I don’t want to be rude to my friend, but I am unsure if I want to join this group.
I have a separate friend whom I met in middle school, and I have reason to believe that I am his only friend. He eats lunch with me and my upperclassmen friends. They ignore him while he talks to me about the things we like. I am afraid I’m hurting him by making more friends. Any advice? — STRESSED TEEN IN NEW JERSEY
DEAR TEEN: New relationships take time to develop. With time, as you and your new classmates get to know each other better, you may feel more comfortable with them. If that doesn’t happen, you may want to make other plans for lunch.
That you have been including your middle school friend during those lunches I think is loyal, caring and compassionate. Doing so is not “hurting” him. If he’s unable to integrate and become part of the group, no law says the two of you must have lunch with those people every single day. Consider alternating lunches with other students so you can widen your circle of friends. Friends are treasures. The more of them you have, the richer your life will be.
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.
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