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Sister’s life out of control

Dear Annie: My 32-year-old sister, “Ashley,” got herself into trouble. From my earliest memories, she has always lied. She recently got out of drug rehab, but it doesn’t seem to have helped. My parents and Ashley’s biological mom consistently bail her out of trouble, whereas my other siblings and I have to learn from our mistakes.

Ashley is jobless and collecting government assistance and is on Facebook all day long, but says she is “trying.” Ashley is a manipulative con artist. I believe there also may be some mental illness. She is divorced and has three children, and her actions are not in their best interests. I’ve caught her in a few lies since rehab, and I’m at the point where if I see her again, I may blow up. I have a big heart, but I cannot find it in me to forgive her for the terrible things she has done and the hurt she has caused. The stress is causing me physical pain.

Ashley is still my sister, and I love her. How do I help her without getting angry about the poor decisions she continues to make?

— Ashley’s Sis

Dear Sis: You cannot help Ashley until she is willing to help herself, and that may never happen. We understand your anger and frustration, but you’ll feel better if you can simply accept that this is who she is. Please concentrate your efforts on those children. They need stability and solid role models in their lives, and you can provide both. Can you take them to the park after school? Help with homework? Cook them a meal or take them out on the weekends? Whatever hours you can give them will be time well spent.

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Dear Annie: There is a girl in our group of friends who is really starting to annoy me. She constantly has her phone in her hand. She also won’t do certain things because she’s worried people will “judge” her. She doesn’t play any sports and isn’t in any club, because they’re “lame.” Also, she always needs one friend by her side so she won’t be alone.

She may be insecure, but it’s really starting to make me resentful. What should I do?

— California

Dear California: These high-maintenance friends don’t realize how exhausting they are to be around. If you think you can gently tell her that her insecurities are getting the best of her, go ahead. But it’s a delicate balance. If you think she will turn on you, it might be best to ignore what you can and spend as little time in her company as possible.

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Dear Annie: This is in response to “Wanting No Regrets,” who wants to divorce his wife and go back to his ex-fiancée.

I was married for 27 years when I ran into my ex-boyfriend from high school. My marriage wasn’t horrible, just boring. My ex was sweet, wonderful, loving and made me feel 17 again. We decided to get divorced and finally be together. It only took six months for me to realize what a horrible mistake I had made. Everything I disliked about him in high school was a thousand times worse. I’d forgotten his flaws and convinced myself he was perfect.

“Wanting” needs to take off the rose-colored glasses and remember why he didn’t marry his ex in the first place. You were correct when you told him to try working through his problems with his wife. Even if things don’t work out, he should hold off getting too involved with his ex. He may realize that he was lucky to have gotten out of their engagement the first time. My ex will always have a special place in my heart, but not enough to live with him.

— Been There, Done That

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Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Email your questions to [email protected], or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

— Creators Syndicate Inc.

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