DEAR HARRIETTE: My aunt -- my mom’s sister -- has had issues with my stepdad for quite some time now. Their issues are complex, and I’ve always tried to stay neutral on the situation. I had a long conversation with my stepdad the other day about their issues. After the talk, we both decided that it was time for all of us (my mother, my aunt and my stepdad) to sit down and talk about everything together. I didn’t say much; I let my stepdad do most of the talking. The conversation went sour, and my aunt ended up storming out of the room and saying that I had betrayed her by talking to my stepdad about the things she had told me in confidence.
My aunt has since blocked me on social media, has demanded I repay her every dime she’s spent on me in the past and no longer speaks to me. I can’t help but feel guilty about blabbing to my stepdad even though my aunt’s reaction was completely misdirected. Am I wrong for talking to my stepdad about her? Am I right to feel guilty? -- In the Middle
DEAR IN THE MIDDLE: You are in a mess, as you know. Nobody is in the right here. When you live in the middle of other people’s relationship drama, it rubs off on you. Yes, you were wrong to break your aunt’s confidence in talking to your stepdad, but, at the same time, it was bound to happen. The adults in this situation -- your mother, her husband and your aunt -- should have worked out their issues without pulling you into the loop. If only life worked that way.
You should apologize to your aunt for betraying her confidence, but that should be enough. Her extreme requirement that you pay her back for her past support sounds like a vindictive swipe that may pass in time. For now, just sit tight. Hopefully the storm will pass. The only way things will get better, though, is if the adults deal with their issues themselves.