Dear Abby: Family’s black sheep is cut off again

Dear Abby: I have been having a hard time dealing with my family. We have never been close. My mother played favorites and never showed me any affection. My siblings followed suit, and I always felt like an outsider. My father was wonderful and loved me very much, for which I am forever grateful.

Both my parents died last year. I was walking on eggshells the entire time. My brothers and sisters seemed to think that I was now a member of the family. They included me in events and told me they loved me. I was so hopeful.

After my mother’s death, I was cut out of the family again. I’m no longer invited to family celebrations or holidays. I am heartbroken and lonely. I have no one left. Family is so important to me. I am embarrassed to admit I am now estranged from everyone. Can you help? — Black Sheep in Kentucky

Dear Black Sheep: Unfortunately, your experience is not unique. I hear it more and more, in one variation or another. It is now time for you to build a family of your own, comprised of friendships with people you can trust. Many people do this, and when they do, find themselves happier and more rewarded than they felt with their relatives.

As you do this, do not look back. Begin not by asking for friendship, but by being honest and befriending others. Look around, and you will see them everywhere. There’s no shame in reaching out, so please do not feel embarrassed about being a member of a very large “club.”

Dear Abby: I’m a Realtor and managing broker helping my fiance’s son, “Mark,” buy a new home. We’re set to close next month. Tonight, my fiance, “Simon,” told me I am not to keep any of my commission — that Mark expects me to give it all to him. Granted, I was planning to give Mark a token of appreciation — a few hundred dollars, perhaps — but not my entire commission!

I told Simon he must have misunderstood, that this is my JOB, my work. No one gives someone their entire paycheck, do they? I don’t think there’s any way Mark would expect 100% of my commission, but Simon says if I don’t agree, there will be “consequences.”

Our relationship is already strained, and I feel this is not only over the top but also completely disrespectful. I’m trying not to rock the boat with the holidays coming up. Please help me. — On the Spot in Illinois

Dear On the Spot: Sometimes it’s better to confront a problem than to ignore it for fear of what you might find out. This is one of those times. Tell your fiance to explain EXACTLY what he meant by “consequences” if you don’t agree to his son’s unreasonable demand. Listen carefully to what he has to say.

If you give in to emotional blackmail this time, it’s only a taste of what you will receive from him and his son in the future. If there is a wedding planned anytime soon, I urge you to slam on the brakes until this matter is ironed out to your satisfaction.

A GENTLE REMINDER TO PARENTS OF YOUNG CHILDREN: Tonight, wee witches and goblins will be out trick-or-treating. Please supervise them closely so they’ll be safe. Happy Halloween, everyone! — Love, ABBY

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

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