Life Advice

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Health & Spirit

Long-buried secret resurfaces when principals die

By Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Secret Keeper: If you feel the need to share this and discuss it, then it is important to carefully pick the person, the place and the moment.

Choose your most sympathetic sister, and tell her, "I've been sitting on something for 30 years, and I really need to unburden myself and discuss this with you. I do not want to hurt or upset you -- or anyone."

Understand going in that your motives might be questioned. Needing to release your first-hand knowledge of an incident you've been burdened with carrying for 30 years is (in my mind) sufficient motivation, but you might be accused of trying to smear two people who are no longer here to explain or defend themselves.

You also cannot rightfully ask your sister to also keep this a secret.

The best-case scenario is that your sister may help you to understand or put this incident into a workable context. She may already be aware of this -- or another similar episode. Discussing your father's behavior might release you from your own conflicted and negative memories and emotions.

Dear Amy: Reflecting on a question from "Torn," you have asked for readers to contribute regarding their experiences with "emotional affairs."

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I had an emotional affair seven years ago. It ended when I left the job. We did not have contact for two years, during which I worked hard in therapy and on my marriage to figure out why I did it and what I needed to do to it. I realized that my own life and my marriage's life needed more experiences that would foster the happiness, connection and excitement that the affair brought. That helped me choose the best path forward.

My career brought me back to this man, and I have been working as a (long-distance) consultant for the last four years.

Our relationship is totally professional and we don't have any contact outside of work. There were occasional bits of awkwardness in the beginning, but knowing each other so well has made for a solid work relationship.

I think back to how we felt about each other and realized how connected to time and place it was, rather than what I thought was magical compatibility.

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