DEAR HARRIETTE: I spent time with some good friends I hadn’t hung out with in years. Over the course of the weekend, we had some pretty serious conversations that were healing, in a way.
We were able to talk about some things that had been on our chest, so to speak, but never resolved. Even now, I’m not sure we resolved anything, but we did clear the air, and it feels like our friendship got tighter.
As they were leaving, though, I did begin to worry a bit about whether they would keep our conversations confidential. We were really vulnerable and open when we talked. Do you think I need to say anything to reinforce our privacy?
DEAR HUSH: What you can do without offending anyone is to reach out to your friends and express your gratitude for the quality time that you just spent together. Acknowledge how important it felt to you to be able to speak so openly about topics that had been buried for so long. Share that you appreciate the safe space that you all created together that allowed for you to go deep with each other.
To be able to be so vulnerable only comes with a level of trust. Thank them for trusting you as you trusted them to be able to share that special time together. Add that you appreciate knowing that what you discussed will remain safe in their care and that none of you will share the intimacies of each other’s lives with others.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I was doing some research on my family tree the other day and saw an article that says that my father was married previously. Nobody ever told me that.
I saw photos of him and a woman I do not know in wedding clothing at a church. It definitely was a wedding photo.
My father is now in his 80s, but he is of sound mind. My mother passed away last year. I know they were really close.
Do I bring this up to my dad? I don’t want to upset him, but I realize there is a big part of our family story that I do not know.
DEAR FIRST MARRIAGE: You can broach this topic carefully. Frame it with the facts: You were doing some research on your family and stumbled upon some surprising information that you want to run by him. Get his blessing to open this door before you do. Make sure your father is in a positive state of mind and not distracted by anything else when you bring this up to him.
Then, if possible, show him the wedding picture. Tell him you were surprised to see it because you did not know he was married previously. Ask him to tell you about his first wife and that part of his life. Do not push, though. He may decide to reveal something about this time in his life, or he may choose to keep that door closed. Let him make the decision.
Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to email@example.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.