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DEAR HARRIETTE: I canceled a flight to see my family for Thanksgiving because I simply didn’t want to go. My aunt had purchased the ticket for me, so she was understandably upset, but I paid her back almost immediately. I had no problem paying it back, but she didn’t even say thank you. The ticket was not cheap, so now I’m even more annoyed that I spent that money for essentially no reason. Am I in the wrong? I didn’t ask her to buy the ticket for me in the first place. — Full Refund
DEAR FULL REFUND: Emotions are running high in this scenario, which makes it hard to see clearly. Take a deep breath. Do your best to calm down and look at everything from a sober vantage point. Here are a few guiding questions to help you: Did you ever agree to go to your aunt’s for Thanksgiving? When did you decline the invitation? Was the flight nonrefundable? You say you simply did not want to go, but why? What happened to change your mind?
You have to process the whole situation so that you can be better prepared in the future. If you never wanted to go but felt coerced, evaluate how you interact with your aunt and how you can have more agency in the future. If you flaked and changed your mind at the last minute, acknowledge that immaturity in yourself.
You were right to reimburse your aunt for the ticket since you broke the agreement to get on that plane. In the future, think through invitations more fully before you commit, even when it does come from family.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My mother teaches at a local elementary school. She told me the other day that an old friend of mine started working at the school as well. That same old friend and I had a pretty bad falling-out years ago, and we haven’t spoken since. My mom told me that she really enjoys working alongside my old friend and that the two of them sometimes go on their lunch breaks together. I’m not 100% comfortable with this. I cut that person out of my life with the intention of them never being able to have access to me again, so I am unhappy that she could possibly try to contact me through my mother. Am I wrong for being upset by this? — Old Friend Coming Back
DEAR OLD FRIEND COMING BACK: Does your mother know the details of what happened between you and this person? If so, remind her. If not, sit her down and give her the blow-by-blow. While it is possible for people to mature and change over time, you are right to be concerned that your life could get intertwined with this friend again if she and your mother build a friendship. People naturally talk about their families as they grow closer.
Be clear with your mother that you do not want to be a part of this woman’s life in any way, and you especially do not want stories about you to be included in your mother’s rapport with her. Yes, this is awkward because your mother works with this woman, but you need to be upfront with your mother about why you do not want to be part of their engagement in any way.