“Let’s be absolutely clear that this is the last time. Please do not ask me again.”
That sounded like someone had crossed a boundary. Usually, Anne is very clear about what she will and will not do, so of course, I was curious. When she put down the phone, I asked, “What was that about?”
Anne gave a big sigh.
“You know I am usually clear about my boundaries, but sometimes I let my family away with things I wouldn’t accept from a friend or colleague."
“I say things like, ‘be careful, you only exceed expectations once – the next time whatever you have done will be expected’ and ‘you need to set boundaries, or you risk being taken advantage of.’
"But then, I let members of my own family disrespect my boundaries and take advantage.
“This situation is particularly thorny.
“When this family member was in a crisis, I sent her enough money to cover a hotel stay and her airfare home. We agreed this was to be a no-interest loan.
“It wasn’t too long before she let me know she was out of money again and could I send her some money for groceries. So, of course, I did.
“Somewhere in there, we agreed she could work off the loan by helping me with some chores. She came once.
“Then she was pregnant and short for the rent. Now, she’s a single mom with a special needs child. She needs money for milk and diapers.
“And so, it has gone on now for nearly five years. Our original no-interest loan seems to have become a loan that I have no interest in being repaid. So now, when she asks for money, it is a handout, and it needs to stop.”
Listening to Anne’s explanation, I am concerned. I know she can be very firm, and I also know that there are some things she simply cannot make herself do. “Do you think you will be able to say no if she asks again?” I asked.
Anne’s eyes filled with tears as she said, “Not likely. I couldn’t accept responsibility for her not being able to feed her child. I know I am enabling her, and I need to find a solution.”
What would you do, dear reader?