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Bullied sister counts days until she leaves for college

DEAR ABBY: I have a very toxic relationship with my older sister. I still live at home, although I’ll be leaving for college in a few years.

Abby, she has been emotionally abusing me for years. It got so bad at one point that I considered suicide. I don’t believe I would ever go through with it, but it scared me. She makes sarcastic comments about anything from my weight to what I want as my career. My parents never do anything about it.

I try to avoid her, but it’s impossible because of the close living quarters. I don’t know how to stop her. She has said she would stop before, but she doesn’t, so I no longer believe she’s sincere when she occasionally apologizes. — BULLIED IN MY OWN HOUSE

DEAR BULLIED: Suicide is not the answer. Face it. Your sister is an unhappy individual who enjoys belittling others. She may do it because she’s frustrated with her own life, or simply because she can.

The way to deal with people like her — and there are many — is to change the way you react to them. There is a saying that applies here: “Just because a jackass brays doesn’t mean you have to take it to heart.” The next time your sister makes a sarcastic comment, repeat that “mantra” to yourself and it may lessen the sting she’s trying to inflict.

Remember, you won’t always have to live with her. In the future, she may wonder why the two of you aren’t close. When she asks that question — and she may — feel free to tell her.

DEAR ABBY: A few months ago, a friend asked me to be a groomsman in his wedding, which will take place a year from now. I accepted and forgot to write down the date. Weeks later, three other friends invited me on a two-week cruise of the Baltics. I accepted and proceeded to contribute to the pre-booking and group excursion fees, etc. These funds are not refundable. I realized later that the dates overlap.

Both the groom and cruise people are close friends from separate groups. My personal cost at this point is $4,100. What do you recommend I do? — ALL BOOKED UP IN MINNESOTA

DEAR ALL BOOKED: Do the honorable thing and explain to your friends that when they invited you on that Baltic vacation you had already committed to being a groomsman in someone’s wedding. Then ask if they can line someone else up to take your place. As to the money you have shelled out, suggest that the person who replaces you reimburse you some or all of the dough, and then keep your fingers crossed.

DEAR ABBY: I have a friend whose 30-year-old son died suddenly from a brain stem tumor. On the anniversary of his death, I send her a “thinking of you” card to let her know that she is, indeed, in my thoughts.

The sixth anniversary of his death is approaching, and I’m wondering if I should stop doing this. I’m afraid it may cause her more pain than comfort. — WELL-MEANING IN THE WEST

DEAR WELL-MEANING: Discuss this with your friend in advance, and ask her that question. I doubt that sending a card would be hurtful. She will always know he died on that day, and she may find it comforting to know that you not only remember it, too, but also want to reach out to her.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.