Ask Amy: DNA reveals family secret and resentment
Dear Amy: Information I received from my genetic testing revealed that my father had two other children while married to my mother within our supposedly “intact” family.
I am allowing the picture I have of my past, my childhood, and my family to (painfully) reshape my personal history, as this knowledge integrates into my whole self.
This is also sticky: My dad has dementia, and my mother has many expectations for my support in terms of his care. (My mom is not 100 percent there, either.)
How do I care for my father and not resent him?
How do I explain to my mother my occasional inability to handle my father with compassion and equanimity?
– Who's my Daddy?
Dear Who’s: I’m assuming that you have been able to confirm that this DNA information is accurate and true. Commercially available DNA testing kits sometimes report biological cousins as half-siblings – and visa-versa. You should verify the information you have received.
However, regardless of your situation, when it comes to family relationships, there is no hedge against resentment.
You could have grown up in a wonderfully “intact” family that had no such complications, but you might now resent your obligation to provide care for your father for a host of other reasons.
I suggest that you should be more realistic about your feelings, and instead of trying not to feel them, you should learn how to cope with them.
You are currently experiencing the most challenging period of adulthood. You are being asked to confront and manage the chaos of this period without any possible resolution, and so you will have to provide your own.
If your worst assumptions about your father are true, could you manage to find reasons (and ways) to love him, anyway?
Some comfort can come through accepting a simple truism: It is what it is.
It is vital that you and your mother receive respite care and support while dealing with your father’s illness. You should try to develop a small network through local friends and family, members of your faith community, volunteers, and paid caregivers.
The Alzheimer’s Association offers a telephone helpline, as well as a moderated online message board where caregivers ask for and also offer advice. Check alzconnected.org.
Dear Amy: I have an amazing, wonderful and caring boyfriend. When we first started dating, we both were on healthy lifestyle path, but as time went on, we gained some "happy relationship” weight.
We are both very happy and enjoy our time together, but after over two years of complacency, I recently started going back to the gym and am trying to go back to my healthy lifestyle.
My boyfriend loves to bring me surprises, often my favorite food item or drink. These things are usually unhealthy.
I keep telling him to please stop and to only do this once in a blue moon, as I need to look on these things as a treat, but I continue to find myself consuming these treats that he brings home!
I know I can just stop accepting them, but I have done that, and he doesn't stop. How else can I explain to him that I no longer can accept these treats?
– Trapped in Treats
Dear Trapped: Even someone who loves you dearly could be trying – even unconsciously – to sabotage you. Your guy doesn’t seem to have resumed his own health kick alongside you, and these tests of willpower might be his way of trying to bring you back to the couch.
I suggest that you counter his implicit invitation with one of your own – and ask him to take a walk with you.
When he brings you treats that you don’t want to eat, you can respond: “I really wish I could eat this, but I can’t.” Place these things very much out of sight.
Some people can manage to have treats standing by in a cupboard – I’ve had to go so far as to store some temptations in a cooler in the trunk of my car.
I hope you and your guy can start cooking and exercising together. Your mutual efforts would mark the “happy relationship, happy health” phase of your time together.
Dear Amy: I’m responding to “Horrible Friend,” who felt they may be enabling a friend’s addiction to painkillers by giving him some of their own.
Not only is Horrible Friend not a physician, but is undoubtedly breaking the law. Most prescribed pain medications are controlled substances, and Friend could be charged with delivery of a controlled substance.
Dear Lawyer: Thank you!
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