Sister not so sisterly in sharing compassion

For 20 years, I’ve considered my sister, “Trina,” my best friend. A couple of years ago, she was transferred into a very difficult work position. Trina has had a hard life, and I wanted to be there for her through thick and thin. However, when I needed emotional support from her this year, it wasn’t there. I shared how hurt I was, but apparently I wasn’t tactful enough. Trina felt I was criticizing her. Now we don’t talk on the phone anymore.

Dear Annie: For 20 years, I’ve considered my sister, “Trina,” my best friend.

A couple of years ago, she was transferred into a very difficult work position. Trina has had a hard life, and I wanted to be there for her through thick and thin.

However, when I needed emotional support from her this year, it wasn’t there.

I shared how hurt I was, but apparently I wasn’t tactful enough. Trina felt I was criticizing her. Now we don’t talk on the phone anymore. She says she is “busy.” Instead, we exchange brief emails. When I text, she replies a day or two later, saying, “Sorry, I didn’t see your text.” She has walled herself off and tells me, “Just accept me as I am.”

The problem is, I feel used. I was her rock all those years, with long, encouraging calls, helping with finances, taking trips to support her. I don’t need her to reciprocate all of those things, but from time to time, I long for a little empathy. I don’t know how to deal with my feelings. Shall I just give up? The communication coming from Trina is pretty clear. If it were a friend doing this, I would move on. Trina has asked me to come for our annual summer visit, but I don’t feel comfortable pretending there’s a relationship when one no longer exists.

How do I honor Trina’s feelings and also my own? — Former Sister

Dear Sister: Trina is a better taker than giver. She has probably always been this way, but you didn’t notice until you needed her. (This is not an uncommon dynamic in many relationships.) Trina avoids you now because she recognizes that she has disappointed you. And she’s right about one thing: You have to accept her as she is. Please visit her this summer. She’s your sister. We’re sure she has many good qualities, so try to focus on those. You can still enjoy her company if you understand her limitations.

Dear Annie: My son recently turned 50. First he lost his job, and then he was in an accident. I let him stay with me until he settled the accident lawsuit, but he blew that money and is still here.

He is on disability now and is waiting for housing in an apartment complex for the disabled, but I have no idea how long it will take. The stress of him being here and all the junk he’s accumulated is wreaking havoc with my respiratory system and taking a toll on my mental health.

On top of that, I would like to care for my three-year-old grandson while his parents are at work. I can’t deal with both a 50-year-old and a toddler. How can I get my son to leave? — Tired of Mothering Him

Dear Tired: If your son is waiting for housing, it could take a while. In the meantime, talk to his doctor and local social service agencies to see what help is available right now.

Then set a time limit, and tell your son he has until then to find other accommodations.

Perhaps his siblings, relatives or friends will lend a hand until his housing options become a reality.

Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to anniesmailbox@comcast.net, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.

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