DEAR ABBY: During the last year, I made some significant changes to my life. I left an emotionally abusive marriage after 23 years, which gave me the confidence to take better care of myself. I have lost 70 pounds and am almost down to the weight I was in high school. I am very proud of this.
My issue is my family has now started using my former weight as a measuring stick. I am often told things like, “You should see your cousin. She’s almost as big as you were!” which is quickly followed by an offhand, “No offense,” which tells me they know it offends me. I said as much to them at first, but the insulting comparisons continue.
It’s not just one person saying this; it has actually become the family standard. I know I was very large, but this is extremely hurtful. I find myself avoiding family visits because the subject seems to invariably come up in some way. Is there anything beyond what I have already tried that can convey the distress this causes? — FORMER FAT RELATIVE IN MISSOURI
DEAR RELATIVE: Your relatives have been told that alluding to your former weight problem causes you distress. That it continues tells me they are thoughtless at best, not to mention rude and inconsiderate of your feelings. Because you can’t change their behavior (and neither can I), the logical solution is to do what is best for you and see less of them.
DEAR ABBY: I have a dear friend of many years who makes a habit around her birthday of getting as much free food as she can from restaurants and stores. She collects coupons for birthday freebies and makes sure to cash them in, whether it’s a free soft drink or dessert or lunch. She brags to me about how much stuff she got free and put in the freezer for later. Her husband does the same thing around his birthday. Neither one works, and both of them live on Social Security. They are not poor; they travel often. Is this extreme resourcefulness or is it more like greed and gluttony? I’m leaning toward the latter. — BITING MY TONGUE IN TEXAS
DEAR BITING: I am leaning toward the former. This couple is taking advantage of what is offered. They are not harming anyone, many people do it. It’s common practice, and there is nothing wrong with it. Stores and restaurants make these offers available for promotional purposes. Your relationship with these dear friends will last a lot longer if you judge them less.