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Woman feels like outsider among siblings

Dear Annie: I'm the youngest of 10 siblings. Most of my brothers and sisters are much older, and I was raised primarily with "Sara and Tina," who often bullied and hit me. Consequently, my mother would not leave me alone with them, and my sisters grew to resent the closeness I had with Mom.

When we grew up, I was the one who took responsibility for my parents when they were sick and needed money. I put myself through college and established an excellent career. My parents admired this, but Sara and Tina became passive-aggressive toward me. They voiced their dislike of my husband, and they never called or included me in family outings.

I have always loved my nieces and nephews and have been attentive to their birthdays and celebrations. But when my 4-year-old daughter died, neither Tina nor Sara called to see how we were or offered to take my young son for some time away from his depressed parents. When I asked them why, they became defensive and said I always make them feel inferior. My older siblings agree that Sara and Tina are jealous of me.Sara, Tina and I live in the same city. Four years ago, I had another baby, and they never came to see us. At that point, I cut them off altogether.

Yesterday, I received an invitation to a family reunion. I don't want to go. I don't consider these people my family any longer, and it will only hurt to see that

I've always been the outsider. My son is 12 and my daughter is 7, and they don't know any of my siblings.

What do you think? - Thought I Was Part of a Large Family

Dear Thought: When there is a large age gap between siblings, it can be difficult to form a close bond. And because you seem to have focused all of your efforts solely on Tina and Sara, you believe that none of your siblings has any interest in you. While you are not obligated to attend a family reunion, this is a lot of family to ignore.

We suggest you attend, but give Tina and Sara only a brief acknowledgment, and then try to spend time getting to know your other siblings and their children. You might find more common ground there, and your children might be closer in age to their grandchildren. If you still feel like an outsider after this, any additional contact is unnecessary.

Dear Annie: My friends and I play cards once a week at "Jennie's" house. However, when the phone rings, she answers it while the game is in progress.

Do you think she should get into a lengthy conversation while we sit there and wait for the conversation to end? These are not emergency calls. I don't feel comfortable confronting her about this. How can I handle this tactfully? - A Friend

Dear Friend: You already know that having a lengthy phone conversation while entertaining others is rude. Before you begin playing next time, all of you should discuss adding a rule saying that anyone who stays on the phone longer than 60 seconds must withdraw from the game or forfeit her turn until the conversation is over. But we also notice that you are meeting at Jennie's and nowhere else. Why not alternate homes and give her a break?

Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Email your questions to anniesmailbox@comcast.net, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.

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