Dear Annie: I have been living with Lila for less than a year. She owns her house, but can’t afford the mortgage payments.
Instead of trying to work out an arrangement with the mortgage company, she opted to simply not pay the mortgage. I moved in and saved the house from foreclosure. I have caught up with the house payments and now make them every month.
I have noticed, though, that this avoidance affects every area of Lila’s life.
All her bills go unopened and unpaid. Worse, she is not officially divorced after four years of separation. She simply blows off any kind of responsibility.
I feel like her parent, having to goad her into taking action when utilities get turned off (which happens alarmingly often).
If I move out, it will spell disaster for her and her kids. I realize I cannot be responsible for my bills and hers, but I feel horrible that I want to run away after making this commitment. — The Boyfriend
Dear Boyfriend: You sound like a good guy. Lila may not intentionally be taking advantage of you, but you are certainly enabling her irresponsible behavior. Since there are children involved, however, you need to be cautious.
Contact the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (nfcc.org) at 1-800-388-2227, and make an appointment for Lila to see someone who will arrange for her monthly bills to be paid automatically and will put her on a budget, even if it means selling her house.
Please go with her to make sure she follows through.
Dear Annie: I have been battling cancer for several months. The support of friends and family is a key element in keeping morale up, but I feel more alone than ever. I hardly hear from my friends. When I pick up the phone to say hello, they say they haven’t called because they don’t want to disturb me. Or they say they are keeping track of me through Mary, but Mary isn’t calling here, either. The burden of keeping in touch falls on me.
It is hard to call people when you are at your lowest. You have no news to share other than your illness. I beg your readers to please phone their friends and family members who are suffering. Just knowing you care enough to make them part of your life is worth a million pills. When people find out you are ill, so many ask, “What can I do?” THIS is what they can do. — Ill and Lonely
Dear Lonely: We hope anyone who has an ailing relative or friend will pick up the phone after reading this column and call to say hello, and continue to keep in touch. Many don’t understand how much it means. We’ll be praying for you.
Dear Annie: Like Frustrated, I, too, worked for my parents, long hours with little pay and no vacations. Co-workers thought I was a spoiled brat, but I was lonely. I finally got fed up with my father and joined the Navy.
It was easier. After my parents’ death I re-evaluated. Dad’s business was his life, and he wanted me in his life. He was trying to teach me the lessons it took him a long time to learn.
My advice: Do not think your co-workers are your friends. People will not show you respect if you do not show your boss respect.
Have a life outside of work. Pick your battles wisely, but stand up for yourself. Learn all aspects of the business and consider it a master’s degree. — I Wish I Had Understood
Dear Wish: Thank you for sharing the wisdom of your experience. Your parents would be proud.
Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.