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DEAR HARRIETTE: I am currently dealing with a bit of a health scare. This scare came out of nowhere for me, as I’ve never experienced anything like this before, even though I’m in my 30s. What’s more troubling is that my mother just told me that this is something that may run in our family.
Apparently, her mother and sister experienced similar health issues before I was born.
I know that my health is my responsibility, but I would have appreciated it if my mother, aunt or grandmother had said something to me about the likelihood of me experiencing the same issue. I feel a little resentful. What if I am not able to recover the way that they did? Am I wrong to feel resentful? — Shaken Up
DEAR SHAKEN UP: People are often secretive about family history, especially as it relates to health challenges. It’s natural that you are upset that your family members neglected to tell you about this condition, but it is pointless to stay mad at them about it. Instead, interrogate them. Learn as much as you can about how they faced it. What measures, either medical or folkloric, did they use to address this condition?
Beyond this, ask them if there are any other health issues that your family has encountered. Do your best to learn more about your family’s health history by asking questions and listening closely.
DEAR HARRIETTE: A family member of mine recently wrote an autobiography, and I’m extremely proud of them. This is their first book, and I know how hard they worked on it. I noticed that there were a few white lies spread throughout the book, and some of them involve me. They didn’t necessarily paint me in a bad light, but they didn’t paint me in a good one either. I’m not sure whether I should say something about the lies. What do you recommend? I know how sensitive creatives can be about their work being critiqued. — White Lies
DEAR WHITE LIES: You have every right to ask about something that involves you. But you should know that it is unlikely that your family member will change the story.
Go for it. Tell the author that you read the book from cover to cover. Start by saying what you enjoyed about the book and sharing how proud you are. Then add that you noticed there were a few things where they took creative license. Ask why they chose to do that. Get them to talk. Then be specific about your part. Ask why they chose to write something that is untrue about you. Admit that you were taken aback when you read it. See what they say.
While it is unlikely that any type of correction or retraction will occur with this book, you can put the author on notice that if they should write another book, you either do not want to be included or you want your story to be accurate and approved by you before publication. At the very least, this will get your family member to think twice before writing about you.