April 19, 2024
She apparently thinks I stole something from her. How can I fix this?

DEAR ABBY: For the last seven years, I have lived in an apartment with a strange next-door neighbor.

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Dear Abby: She caused me so much pain, and now she wants back in my life

I don’t speak to her because, years ago, she got angry with me when someone left packages for her with me. The bags arrived open, and I assumed keeping them for her was OK. She was furious and accused me of looking inside. She added that “people don’t usually give you all the things they were holding for you.”

I was shocked and asked her how I could make up for my mistake, thinking I had overstepped being neighborly. Since then, she posts notes on her front door saying, “Do not leave my packages with my neighbor!”

Should I do something else to apologize? Send her a gift card? I did not — and never would — take anything of hers, but she must think I did.

I’m afraid to speak to her, but I would like her to know that I’m not a bad person. Is that asking too much?

— GENTLE SOUTHERN WOMAN

DEAR GENTLE: You did nothing you need to apologize for, so stop trying to win your neighbor’s approval. She is someone to avoid as much as possible. She may have a paranoia problem that existed before she ever met you.

Consider talking to the building manager about what happened. If you do, it may reassure you to know that you’re not the only renter who has had problems with her. Sadly, this is a case of “no good deed goes unpunished.”

DEAR ABBY: I am the mother and stepmother of eight wonderful children. I love them all very much. The problem is my two oldest stepdaughters.

Both are in their 20s with kids of their own. Unless their dad and I constantly give them money, we don’t get to see our grandkids. Anytime we refuse, we don’t get to see them for months at a time.

These two stepdaughters are rude to their dad. Unless it’s almost a holiday or they need money, they never call or text him. If we disagree with anything they say, they don’t bring the girls around for months or answer calls or texts.

We have given them a lot of money, and we buy all the gifts for the kids. When we asked what the girls want for their birthdays, one stepdaughter said a dollhouse that cost almost $200, which is a lot for a birthday. When we said that seems more like a Christmas gift, she got upset.

I have told my husband that at this point I’m done and will no longer keep paying to see my grandkids, but he insists he’s not giving up on the grandkids. I am not saying to “give up,” but it breaks my heart to keep going through this. Any advice would be helpful.

— MRS. ATM

DEAR MRS. ATM: How sad. Your stepdaughters (both!) aren’t bothering to even be subtle about their emotional blackmail, which borders on elder abuse. The only way to break the cycle is to refuse to allow it. However, if your husband can’t be convinced, there is nothing you can do to stop what’s happening.

Most clear-thinking individuals stop doing things that don’t work once they wake up to that fact. But as long as your husband lets his emotions dictate his actions, nothing will change.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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