Annie Lane: Being the black sheep

Published 6:30 am Wednesday, March 24, 2021

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Dear Annie: I was raised, along with my two sisters, in a very strict religion that frowns upon cultivating personal relationships outside of the church. In my teens, I realized I wasn’t a religious person, so I stopped participating after I moved out of my parents’ house. My decision to leave the religion caused my sisters to sever communication with me. After more than a decade, we have finally reconnected.

I am overjoyed to have relationships with them again, which includes sharing interests like books, movies and music. I know they abstain from questionable content, so I’m careful about what I share. I recently had a text conversation with my sister in which I mentioned that I would never want to disrespect her beliefs, so if my sharing made her uncomfortable, she should tell me so that I can alter my behavior. She responded with appreciation and also said that she viewed our relationship as an opportunity to share positive religion-related information with me without trying to sound too preachy or force me back into the religion.

Although her comment was without malice, I felt devastated. After all these years, despite missing and loving each other, she still can’t accept me and the decisions I’ve made for my life. All the emotion I felt when I lost communication with her the first time came flooding back over me. I responded with a benign “I understand. Thank you!” I feel such dissonance between being honest with her and just continuing the relationship knowing it’s based on an ulterior motive. I reprimand myself for foolishly believing the relationship was genuine. Should I just be grateful to have her back in my life and keep my feelings to myself? Would being honest do anything other than cause another rift?

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— Black Sheep

Dear Black Sheep: Every relationship is different and has different limitations. Just as you want her to accept your decision, you should accept her decision to try and bring you back. You could tell her, “That’s nice. I understand, but I am not changing my mind.” Be kind and firm. She is doing the best she can with what she believes to be true, and you are doing the best you can with what you believe to be true. If you can agree to disagree, you will find moments of joy together.

• • •

Dear Annie: You recently asked us to tell you how we slow down and enjoy life. My wife and I are in our early 70s and, thankfully, still healthy. Over a period of a little more than two years, we drove — without a single air mile — to all the lower 48 states. We did more than 80 percent of it without being on an interstate highway.

We live about 35 miles from the city where we shop, and while there is an interstate going there, we almost always go a back way where we can enjoy the deer, birds and other wildlife and sights.

— Slow and Easy

Dear Slow and Easy: Long drives on back roads sound so relaxing. There’s nothing like slowing down to hear the birds chirp and watch the deer roam. Thank you for sharing.

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