DEAR ABBY: For years, I have been continuously excluded by my sister and my father. I always knew she was the favorite. I am the older sister. My sister, her family, my father and my mother-in-law go out to dinner or have lunch together once or twice a week. I have never been invited. The same goes for movies and other recreational activities. (I work two nights a week and every other Saturday. None of them work more than Monday through Friday – and no nights.)
They have now announced that they are all going on a cruise together. Although I was not invited, they were “kind” to ask me to watch their pets in their absence (seven dogs and three cats). Obviously, I’m just good enough to be their babysitter. I always had a hard time saying “no” to dad about anything. When I was first asked to watch the animals, I refused. However, they always tell everyone I’m watching them.
How can I say ‘no’ to them and make it stick? Also, how can I go about letting go of the hurt feelings when I’m excluded from everything in their life? – Injured and feeling excluded
DEAR INJURED: Pass the message on to your dad and sister by TELLING them that they will need to keep their pets elsewhere while on vacation. As for letting go of your hurt feelings, a step in the right direction would be to accept that you were born into a difficult and difficult family, and to understand that you will never be able to satisfy your father. Then start building a “family” of caring and supportive friends. A lot of people do this with great success, and so do you.
DEAR ABBY: I am a retired widow who took in a tenant in her 60s a few years ago. At the time, he had moved from another part of the state for a job that only lasted four months. As a result, he could no longer pay his rent in full. I sympathized with his situation and couldn’t kick him out to live in his car. The man is clean and respectful of my home as well as my personal space. He sent countless resumes for a job, without success.
These days he always seems to be frustrated and angry with everyone, including the staff at his doctor’s office, and I have to hear all about it. I tried to alleviate his frustrations to no avail. I have reached a point where I feel that he is creating an atmosphere heavy with negativity in my house. How can I handle this? I don’t want to throw him out, yet I live with the guilt. – JUST HAD IT IN FLORIDA
DEAR JUST ABOUT HAVING: You’re kind, understanding, and you’ve done your best, but you can’t fix this man’s employment issues for him. He may be depressed at this stage. Because he doesn’t get along with the staff at his doctor’s office, he may need advice through your county mental health service. Please suggest it.
Since he has been your “guest” for so long, it would be in your best interest to discuss your situation with your lawyer. Getting him out of your house might not be easy, which you may need to consider for your own sanity.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or PO Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.