To heal, sister must apologize for wrong

THURSDAY, AUG. 26, 2010

Dear Annie: I have three sisters, but the one who was my best friend in the whole world was “Michele.”

Nine years ago, I found Michele and my husband of 19 years in bed together. They both said, “It’s not what you think,” but really, Annie, they were both naked in the bed. There was no mistaking what they were doing. I lost both my sister and my husband in one day, and I haven’t spoken to either of them since. My ex-husband moved out of state, but I cannot look at Michele without feeling betrayed.

For nine years, my mother has been after me to forgive and forget. Am I wrong for still holding a grudge? Michele sees my daughters and tells them she misses me, and my kids are friendly with her children. They say she gets drunk and cries all the time. But I simply cannot be around her. She is dead to me. Should I forgive and forget? – Hurt and Confused

Dear Hurt: Has Michele apologized to you for her terrible behavior? Do you miss having her in your life? Michele sounds remorseful, but without a direct apology, the rift cannot heal. And if she has an alcohol problem, it could partially explain her self-destructive behavior, although it’s no excuse. Hanging on to bitterness and anger hurts you, as well as Michele. Please examine your feelings and decide if you’d like a repaired relationship. If so, working on forgiveness can be worthwhile. (Forgetting is probably unrealistic.) We recommend having a neutral third party, such as a clergyperson or counselor, act as a mediator if you decide to try.

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