DEAR ABBY: For years I have been continually excluded by my sister and my father. I always knew she was the favorite. I am the older sister. My sister, her family and my father and stepmother go out to dinner or lunch together once or twice a week. I have never been invited. The same is true with 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 they are all going on a cruise together. Although I was not invited, they were “kind” enough to ask me to watch their pets in their absence (seven dogs and three cats). Clearly, I am only good enough to be their babysitter. I have always had a hard time saying “no” to Dad about anything. When I was first asked about watching the animals, I did refuse. However, they are still telling everyone that I’m watching them.
How can I tell them “no” and make it stick? Also, how do I go about letting go of the hurt feelings when I am excluded from everything in their lives? — HURT AND FEELING LEFT OUT
DEAR HURT: Get the message across to your father and sister by INFORMING them they will need to board their pets elsewhere during their vacation. As to letting go of your hurt feelings, a step in the right direction would be to accept that you were born into a family of difficult, challenging people, and understand that you will never be able to satisfy your father. Then start building a “family” of friends who are caring and supportive. Many people do this with great success, and so can you.
DEAR ABBY: I’m a retired widow who took in a renter in his 60s a few years ago. At the time, he had moved from another part of the state for a job that lasted only four months. As a result, he could no longer pay his full rent. I empathized with his situation and couldn’t throw him out to live in his car. The man is clean and respectful of my home as well as my personal space. He has sent countless resumes around for a job, with no luck.
These days, he seems to be always frustrated and angry with everyone, including his doctor’s office staff, and I have to hear all about it. I tried to mediate his frustrations to no avail. I have reached a point where I feel he is creating a heavy atmosphere of negativity in my home. How do I handle this? I don’t want to throw him out, yet I am living with guilt. — JUST ABOUT HAD IT IN FLORIDA
DEAR JUST ABOUT HAD IT: You are kind, understanding and you have done your darndest, but you cannot solve this man’s employment problems for him. He may suffer from depression at this point. Because he’s not getting along with the staff at his doctor’s office, he may need counseling through your county department of mental health. Please suggest it.
Since he has been your “guest” for so long, it would be in your interest to discuss your situation with your attorney. It may not be easy to get him out of your home, which is something you may need to consider for your own mental health.
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 P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.