Sunday, January 05, 2014

Trying not to worry too much

Yesterday was the last day of Buy a Friend a Book Week (thanks for reminding me, Kwizgiver) and I quickly sent off a book to my 13-year-old nephew. A young fan who takes his Beatles seriously, I thought he'd be fascinated by the Paul-Is-Dead conspiracy so I ordered him  The Walrus was Paul. Even with shipping, it came to $4, and I know it will make him happy. Easy! Inexpensive!

His sister, on the other hand, is another matter. Her boyfriend, with whom she's living, lost his job with the railroad last August. While he loves trains, he didn't really like the job very much. Since then he's been an unpaid apprentice in a bike shop, hoping it will turn into "something." He's receiving unemployment, but my niece is doing all the heavy lifting when it comes to supporting the household. With her parttime, minimum wage job at Culver's and some rebate from her grant.

My niece is 21. He's 31. It would be easy to assume he's taking advantage of her.

But she's happy. He is certain "something" will come up before February 28, when his unemployment benefits expire* and their financial situation becomes dire.

I would like to help them except ...

1) She hasn't asked me -and-
2) There is much about this situation that makes me uncomfortable -and-
3) I really can't afford it -and-
4) I'm still upset with my niece that she seems to hold me responsible for the ugliness with my older sister, who we all agree has behaved abominably regarding our mother's estate. Once again, within my family, anyone is allowed to treat me any way they wish and there is no downside. If I don't just go along to get along, if I don't simply accept abuse, somehow I'm the problem. This was a family tradition I had hoped would end when my mom died, but clearly it hasn't.

OK, I really don't want to help her.

But still, I worry. I wish the solution to this situation was easy as a $4 used book.

*Unless Congress extends benefits.


  1. I can't understand why a young women of 21 would burden her life with a man...she has a bright future. it is sad and i am sorry but it is just a waste.
    she is not your responsibilty!

  2. Oh, it must weigh on you to see your niece in that situation.

    #4 on your list--complicated dynamics. Your boundaries are wonderful, even if they're hard to hold.

  3. Kwiz said it. The word is boundaries. Don't cross the ones you've set or you set yourself back.

  4. Anonymous2:18 PM

    If you want to help, just give encouragement. I'm in a similar situation with my husband being out of work (well, he picks up a few hours at the local wine shop) and the best thing is just knowing my parents (and his parents) are there to vent to when I need to vent.

  5. I agree with Kwiz about #4, too. Boundaries. They may learn eventually. And you won't have to tolerate their abuse in the meantime.

  6. When family members die, it sets off a chain reaction in the remaining family members, and there's usually painful fallout. The only way to avoid that is if everyone behaves like adults, and clearly your sister doesn't know how to do that. All you can do is take the high road, and do what KW, Mimi and Endomental said: boundaries.

    And we're always here for you to vent, and of course we'll take YOUR side! ;-)


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