Dear Amy: This year several people from my past have contacted me to ask for forgiveness. I am writing because I believe my decision will offer a different perspective to your readers.
The first letter was from two dorm mates writing jointly to apologize for their rude, hurtful behavior. I went to these two women for emotional support, believing them to be friends, only to be bluntly told that neither of them liked me and that they only associated with me because they assumed I would help them with their papers or research projects. This was especially painful, as it happened shortly after I was diagnosed with a chronic illness.
I changed dorms at the end of the academic year and never spoke to either of them again. It has been almost 40 years.
The second letter was a friend from my other college. She contacted me in 2008 and we started phoning and emailing. “Call me anytime to talk,” she said. One night I did, and she exploded, screaming that I had interrupted her nightly wine and crafting time and yelling that we had nothing in common because I am not married, a homeowner, or a crafter and to leave her alone forever.
I immediately ended the call, deleted her phone number, and blocked her email. This happened in 2015.
I read both of these letters carefully and decided my sole response would be to shred the letters.
These three women are just bad memories, and why they sought, need, or want my forgiveness after so many years is a mystery to me. I also do not want any further contact with them. To err is indeed human, to forgive may be divine, but forgiveness is also optional.
– Past Completed
Dear Completed: I appreciate your take on this.
I believe that the experience and isolation of the pandemic – as well as the simple march of time – has caused a lot of people to reflect on their choices.
You don’t say how these women expressed themselves, but these entreaties seem more like demands. (I also think it’s possible that Ms. Wine and Crafting is working one of the 12-steps.)
In my experience, the fullest form of forgiveness is arrived at privately, and not as the response to a request or a demand.
I completely understand your reaction here, but I do think you owe these people your gratitude: their out-of-the-blue bids for forgiveness have given you closure, as well as the final word.
Dear Amy: My husband and I were transferred from the Midwest to the East Coast 10 years ago.
We have marvelous world-class food options where we live, and we are grateful for that benefit of living here.
When we go back home to the Midwest, there are certain comfort foods carried by mom-and-pop restaurants and carry-outs that we miss.
Sometimes, it’s a dive, other times it’s a chain restaurant that we don’t have.
The problem is our friend “Annie” inserts herself into our plans and always insists that we dine at the expensive places where she would rather go.
If we want to go to our favorite greasy spoon because of the specialty there (Wednesday is pot roast day), Annie will say: “I know what sounds good, let’s go to … Chez Louis” – usually a place that serves limited menus and elite cuisine.
This is fine for one meal, but this happens throughout our visit, and we aren’t even staying at her house.
Sometimes, you just want a burger or a hometown pizza – not a filet, poached salmon, or escargot, you know?
How do we avoid these conflicts – short of not informing her that we are in town?
– Stu in Baltimore
Dear Stu: This isn’t about cuisine. This is about you simply being able to assert your own wishes when someone else asserts theirs.
It is your visit! You have the right to eat wherever you want to eat!
Here are some words to try out: “We could eat ‘fancy’ one night, but we’re excited to revisit our favorite comfort foods the rest of the time.”
Dear Amy: I was completely stunned by your response to “Charlie” who had old photos of his ex-wife in an album.
If his current wife of many years is bothered by these photos, then he should get rid of them! I cannot believe you actually suggested sending them to the ex. That would just create more drama!
Dear Stunned: The response to my answer was a universal NO!
You can email Amy Dickinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068.