Life Advice



Ask Amy: Repressed emotions won’t stay hidden

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: I grew up in the ’60s in a Midwestern family where we were taught to repress our emotions.

I was a sensitive and creative kid, the youngest of three brothers.

My parents were loving but detached, which offered my brother (who was two and a half years older) endless opportunities to torment me.

I moved away from our small town after high school and have had a good life and successful career.

But it took many years to overcome the low self-esteem and a lack of self-confidence that I partly attribute to my brother's abuse.

I've since realized that my brother was depressed, and even now, many years later, he hasn't been in therapy or received medical treatment for his depression.


I'll be seeing my brother in a few months and am wondering if I should tell him how I feel?

We're both in our early 70's, and talking about it now seems ridiculous, but at the same time I wonder if keeping quiet is upholding an unhealthy family tradition. Should he be held accountable for his actions?

But then again, we're old, and why should I make a sick person feel worse about his own life? Seems like bad karma.

I often wonder what it would have been like to have a supportive older brother. It would have meant so much to me. Yet I've been able to become a loving husband and father to three children, one of whom is severely disabled.


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