Dear Amy: A decade back, as a Latino college student in my 30s, I became friends with an older Black student.

We have been friends ever since. I’ve been supportive and helpful.

Right before the pandemic, she shared with me that she was confronting childhood sexual trauma.

She moved nearby, and I have been visiting with her once a month.

Since then, she has moved from one extreme to another regarding pandemic, anti-mask, election fraud, anti-Asian and anti-Semitic and “flat earth” conspiracies. Throughout, I have listened with curiosity and empathy, but she continues to dig in.

She is increasingly condescending to the point where it is harming me. She treats me as naive or stupid.

I get the feeling that she’s trying to have control over world events through her “research” about who “really controls our lives.” I believe this is a substitute for not dealing with her trauma.

I was in therapy for five years before I felt competent and confronted my own trauma.

I want to tell her that I believe she is avoiding confronting her trauma by engaging in conspiracy theories to grasp control, but I have a feeling that’s not the right route.

I also want to cut her off and not engage with her anymore, because she doesn’t want to talk about anything else.

What should I do?

— Ready to Bolt

Dear Ready: You should urge your friend to get therapy, which helped you to recover from your own trauma.

You can’t try to help her if you’ve already given up on her.

I don’t think you should attempt to argue the facts regarding her various beliefs and conspiracy theories. Nor do I think you should try to explain to her why you believe she is behaving this way. You could use your own past experience to relate to her, and then offer her some help.

Gentle loving kindness is called for. Share your resources with her, including the name of your therapist (your therapist could possibly refer her to another), as well as the contact for the National Sexual Assault Hotline: RAINN.org.

And then you should continue with your own self-care and hope that she gets help.

Dear Amy: I am in a bind.

My bestie bought me a pair of hiking shoes.

The shoes arrived, but they didn’t fit.

I owed her $70 for the shoes, which I put inside the shoebox when I returned them to her.

I put a sticky note inside, detailing my size, and noting that the money I owed her was inside the box.

Today she came over and told me that I owed her $85 – $70 for the shoes and $15 to ship them back.

I paid her the $15 and then told her, “I put the money in the shoebox!”

She was bummed and said she didn’t see the note when she shipped the shoes back.

I said I would give her another $70. She said no it was her fault.

Now I am wondering, what’s the proper thing to do?

— Shoeless Jill

Dear Shoeless: Even though — strictly speaking — it is not required of you, I think you should pay your friend another $70, and then YOU — not she — should contact the shoe company, armed with the shipping tracking number, and do your very best to attempt to have your cash refunded in some form or fashion.

It seems logical (to me, anyway) that if you are fit enough to hike, you should also have handled the return shipping on this order.

If you had packed the box and taken it to the PO yourself, you could have saved yourself some money, and your friend a lot of shoe leather.

Dear Amy: I take issue with your reply to “Wondering,” in which you suggest that it is improper to ask whether someone has been vaccinated against COVID unless the questioner is “medically vulnerable.”

We are all medically vulnerable since the vaccines are not 100 percent effective and, apparently, become less effective over time.

My wife and I don’t want to be near unvaccinated people because they are more likely to transmit the virus.

It’s way past time to stop treating this question as an intrusion into personal choice. This is not religion and it shouldn’t be politics. It’s a public health crisis.

— Fed-Up

Dear Fed-Up: Your response is representative of many I’ve received.

I don’t ask, mainly because I trust my own vaccine to protect me from serious illness — and I simply don’t want to discuss it.

(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

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