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Ask Amy: A writer shares, but her reader refuses

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: I am a self-supporting working woman.

Over the past decades, I've written personal essays for various publications. I don't make money at this; I wish I could!

I have a portfolio full of my work. Some pieces are humorous; some are serious.

I moved to a new town three years ago and made a new friend. She was going on a long car ride, so I offered to give her a few of my essays to read while she was away.

She has not said a word about any of the essays. I'm surprised because two of the pieces mention how my son battled cancer as a teenager. I had never discussed this extremely personal topic with my friend. I thought this was a good way to enlighten her. (My son is now cancer-free.)

I finally asked her if she read any of my work. She said she did. She had no comments. Nothing positive; nothing negative.

I find this very odd and a bit insulting. I am not a terrible writer. If the pieces were poorly written, they wouldn't have been published in the first place.

Is my friend upset that I never broached the subject of my son's illness before? I believe she's the type of person who would let me know that the omission upset her.

She didn't comment on the humorous pieces, either. Wouldn't a friend say SOMETHING?

I just don't get why she hasn't said a word about something very close to my heart.

Any ideas?

– At a Loss in Colorado

Dear At a Loss: A negative response from a friend could be deflating, but no response is much worse, because the writer in you fills the void with questions and doubt.

Yes, I do think it’s possible that your friend was shocked by some of the personal revelations you wrote about but had never disclosed to her. But some people simply do not realize that the kindest response from a friend is to offer encouragement, a question, or a compliment, along with any less-positive comments if the conversation goes deeper.

It is possible that your friend simply didn’t like your work, and doesn’t know how to deliver a vague and friendly acknowledgement that might satisfy you.

Because this worries you, you could say to her, “I’m a little thrown off that you haven’t had anything to say about my work. Are you open to having a conversation about it?” If she demurs, accept it. You should re-publish your work on a website, so in the future anyone who is interested in your writing can easily find and read it on their own, without you pressing it upon them.

Dear Amy: I had only been living with my boyfriend for two months when his mother's living situation (in another state) took a turn for the worst. He wanted to have her move in with us. I was truly naive and discounted all the negative stuff his siblings warned me about. They said that she would try to destroy our relationship.

 

Well, she moved in and slowly began a campaign. She made snide comments and criticized me constantly. Her son would confront her and take up for me, so she ramped up the attacks every time he wasn’t physically present.

She and I had a few brutal arguments and he confronted her and made her apologize, but I knew she didn't mean a word of it.

I told him that while I accepted her apology, she and I couldn't live under the same roof. We took her back to her home state.

After we dropped her off and drove back home, he informed me that he’d had second thoughts and was moving his mom back in with us, and understood that meant that I would leave. I am furious and hurt.

He says it's temporary. He minimizes her abusive behavior and even blames me for being combative.

Should I leave the relationship, or am I being too difficult?

– Am I Moving?

Dear Am I Moving?: Yes, you are moving. You are moving because your boyfriend has accepted your non-negotiable and has demonstrated to you that he prefers to live with his mother.

Dear Amy: “Surviving Sister” described a harrowing situation where a “wellness check” on their brother resulted in armed police taking the man away in handcuffs.

People seem to wonder why family estrangements happen. In my opinion, it often comes down to the refusal to acknowledge and apologize for unintended consequences.

– Been There

Dear Been There: I completely agree.

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(You can email Amy Dickinson at askamy@amydickinson.com or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

©2022 Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

 

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