Dear Annie: I haven’t seen my sister “Joanne” in six years because she had a falling out with my parents and my other sister, “Beth.” I recently invited Joanne to visit me at my home.
When Beth found out, she turned against me and convinced my parents to do the same. My folks even changed their phone number and mailed back the birthday cards I sent. I’m terribly upset by their behavior.
They asked me to have nothing to do with Joanne, but I am not willing to cut her off like that.
Why does their problem have to be mine? Am I off base for wanting a relationship with my long-lost sister? How do I get over the hurt?
—Baffled in Bonita
Dear Bonita: You are not wrong to reach out to Joanne, but you must understand the consequences.
We don’t know what she may have done to make your family cut her off so completely, but even so, it is quite harsh for them to punish you for maintaining contact.
They have given you an ultimatum , Joanne or them. As sad as it is, you apparently can’t have both.
Dear Annie: We own a small lake cabin. My husband has a stressful job, and the cabin serves as a relaxing retreat that helps keep him out of the doctor’s office.
I have relatives who, for the past 18 years, have invited themselves to take up residence at our cabin every summer. They like to stay for three weeks. When we’ve tried to limit their stay to two weeks, they say we are “nasty.”
Even though we don’t live year-round at the cabin, we want it to be available for us. They say we’re still welcome to come while the five of them are staying there, but it’s hardly the same.
We have other relatives in the area, but none of them offers or is able to host overnight guests. If we say “yes,” it puts my husband and me in a foul mood. If we say “no,” we are the bad guys and it upsets all the other relatives.
We enjoy these people. We just don’t want to give up our space for such an extended time. What do I do?
Dear Michigan: If you don’t want people to take advantage, you must be willing to be the “bad guys” until they get the message. They are counting on you to feel guilty and give in.
Don’t do it. This is your cabin. It is your relaxation space. You are under no obligation to let other people stay there for any reason.
You have been extremely kind to allow these relatives to barge in on you every single summer for 18 years. If they are not appreciative and respectful of the exceedingly generous two-week limit, you should tell them they cannot come at all. Period.