DEAR ABBY: I have a friend who constantly talks about all the negative politics going on today. I'm sick of hearing it. It's not because I don't care or disagree, but it has become the topic of every conversation. She's extremely depressed, has major anxiety issues and, despite seeing a therapist, her condition has not only not improved, but has gotten worse.
I feel it has become a one-way conversation, and she's not interested in listening to me. This is extremely upsetting because my husband passed away two years ago, and she doesn't want to hear about it. She thinks it is less important since it "only affects me," and I "should have gotten over it by now." My husband and I were married 30 years, and his death was sudden and unexpected. Please help me get through this difficult time. -- OVERWHELMED IN IOWA
DEAR OVERWHELMED: Please accept my sympathy for the loss of your husband. Because you are still grieving, and your friend is unable to help you cope with your sadness, it might help you to join a grief support group in which you can air those feelings with others who understand.
As to your friendship with the troubled individual you wrote about, it might be healthier for you to step back for a time. You are not equipped to handle -- or help her handle -- her anxiety and depression. That's her therapist's job, and unless you can pry her off the topic of politics and on to something more neutral, your time would be better spent with people who are better balanced.
DEAR ABBY: I have one sister, who is 10 years my junior. I have always lived in a big city; she lives on a ranch near a small town. I'm widowed now and recently moved to another town to be near my son.
On two occasions my sister has come to help me with unpacking and has overruled many of my decisions regarding what I will keep or sell, where to put things, etc. When I objected, she became emotional and left in a huff.
She and her husband were coming to help again, but beforehand she had already told my son how they were planning to get things done. Any time there's even a hint of a problem, she calls my son and tells him about it, and obviously, only from her point of view.
I'm afraid irreparable damage has been done to our relationship, and I don't know what to do. I have no other relatives. Please advise. -- BROKENHEARTED IN TEXAS
DEAR BROKENHEARTED: I'm sorry you are brokenhearted, but with time your broken heart will heal. From your description of her, your sister appears to be overbearing and loose-lipped. Unless you are willing to live according to her rules, what you should do is hire someone to help you unpack and begin cultivating relationships outside the family that are less high-maintenance than the one you have with your sister. If you do, I'm sure you will be much happier.
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