What’s past should stay in past

Annie Lane, syndicated columnist

Dear Annie: I have been divorced for many years. I was married to the same man for 25 years. I put a lot into the marriage, including helping raise and support stepchildren and his grandchildren. No one knows what went on behind closed doors to cause the marriage to end but he and I. We live in the same community. We respect each other and remain cordial when we see each other.

However, when the marriage ended, I informed mutual friends and family that I would like to keep my past in the past and move on with my life — that I had no desire to keep up with what is going on in his life and I would appreciate their not sharing information about what is happening in mine.

When someone begins to give me updates on his life, I say, “I don’t really care. I wish him the best, but his business is none of my business. We have both moved on.”

What is the purpose? It is really annoying and disrespectful.

If anyone reading this is guilty of this infringement of privacy, please stop. You don’t know what pain or memories you might be stirring up. The past is the past for a reason. It’s not your business to be a busybody. — Mind Our Own

Dear Mind Our Own: The problem you speak of is at least 2,400 years old. Plato once said, “Justice means minding one’s own business and not meddling with other men’s concerns.” Knowing humans, I’d guess we’ve been talking about one another’s lives for as long as we could talk.

So though I agree that people shouldn’t continue giving you updates on your ex-husband’s life after you asked them not to, there’s really not much you can do aside from what you’re already doing. Try to shake it off. Keep focusing on yourself. Stay too busy to be bothered by busybodies.

Dear Annie: Thank you so much for the answer you gave to “Deliberating Diarist.” Although I have never kept a journal myself, I know only too well what it is like to live with an alcoholic. My father and my ex-husband, both now deceased, were alcoholics. In my ex’s case, he never stopped drinking, and just as I and others had predicted many times, it led to his death.

Living with an alcoholic is an awful experience. Though I can understand “Deliberating Diarist’s” hesitancy in letting others know the embarrassing, nasty and uncomfortable truth, I would encourage her to let her diary be. If anything, it can be a lesson to her family about what alcohol can do not only to the drinker but to those around him or her. Being related to an alcoholic makes you much likelier to become one, as well. If you have a parent who is, you have a 50-50 chance of becoming one yourself. I personally feel it is so important for people to know what this devastating disease can do. In her case, it is also a testament to what can happen when an alcoholic makes the decision to become sober. What a beautiful thing that is; I am only sorry that my ex never did.

“Deliberating Diarist” has much to be thankful for and proud of, because her husband chose family, life and sobriety. That is such a wonderful life lesson to pass down to her family. — Been There

Dear Been There: Beautifully said. Thank you for writing.

Editor’s note: “Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com.