How to put my oxygen mask on first

Old 11-21-2015, 09:38 AM
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How to put my oxygen mask on first

I'm a frequent business traveler, so this analogy always hits home.

I am so frustrated with a personal shortcoming I have of not being attentive to my own needs. Here is what is making me angry with myself and resentful of others today:

It occurred to me how my 4 kids NEVER ask me for money, but I have several adults in my life who lean on me for support and I allow it, when I really am gasping for air myself. To explain, and to vent, and to try to "write it out" for myself:

My brother called me and asked me for money. He's on SSDI, but he's also alcoholic. From time to time he'll call me and ask me to just get him through to the end of the month, which means $50 or $100. He spends a LOT of time under the care of his VA social worker, and he spends a considerable amount of time in sobriety programs, so it's not like he isn't trying. He called yesterday, and I could just feel the resentment rumbling. Grrr…...

DH has just become eligible for SS, and I asked him to call SS to start collecting. He's been unemployed for years now, since alcoholism destroyed his business. It's been 4 weeks and he hasn't called yet. He says he wants to work, but he won't apply to the retail box stores because of his pride. He doesn't want the neighbors to see him working there. Grrr….

BIL lives next door in a house that he owns jointly with DH. He has a menial, seasonal job at a golf course and can barely pay the property taxes. We do not ask him for any rent, which represents an opportunity loss for us. DH and I told his mother before she died that we'd "take care of him"--and so we have continued her enabling. He comes over for dinner now and then, and never reciprocates. DH will send him home with ALL the leftovers that would do us another meal. Grrr…..

Meanwhile, my financial difficulties stem from when I offered to cosign on a jumbo mortgage for my MIL in 2007, cashing out her primary residence so we could purchase the house next door to us for cash, as it was a foreclosure property. JUST as we closed on the foreclosure house and moved them down here, the recession came crashing down and all real estate activity stopped dead. I was stuck with a $3,000/month mortgage for 3 years… while we rented for a couple of those years, we wound up with legal battles to get a squatter out, expensive repairs to bring the old, unmaintained house up to snuff so it could be sold, and about a year's worth of keeping an empty house afloat. It cost me personally about $250,000. Because I was the "nice guy" and signed my name on that mortgage. When we sold the house, there was no extra money.

Meanwhile, when times were tough, I had "borrowed" money from one of my son's college accounts, which he has never used because he never went to college. He's moving into a new place and is short some money, so he called me up to ask for what is essentially his money, and he CRIED he felt so bad. I told him he is only asking for his own money back, and he shouldn't feel that bad because he has never asked for a penny. But I don't see my brother, BIL or DH crying over their dependency.

How do I start feeling more self-protective??? I am 63, with no money in the bank. I KNOW I should just say no to my brother. I KNOW I should demand that my DH run to Costco and Macy's and Home Depot and put in applications all over town. I KNOW I should tell my BIL that if he can't pay us half of the market value of the house he's living in he needs to move and give us the money so I can pay my debts--but I can't bring myself to do it.

What is wrong with me?????

Last edited by SoloMio; 11-21-2015 at 09:39 AM. Reason: Typo
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Old 11-21-2015, 02:21 PM
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We are codependent.

I read back on your posts and it sounds like things have been messy for a long time. Are you attending Alanon currently?

You cannot make your husband call SS or get a job. What you can do is make a plan to protect yourself financially and stop enabling others while hurting yourself.

That means allowing your brother the dignity to act as an adult and care for himself.

I assume you put the money in your son's college account? Then really the money is yours, not his. And you need it.

Can you separate your finances from your husband? Then he can feel the impact of his own decisions and you can take care of yourself.

You can do this, but it takes work.

No is a complete sentence.

Take care of you.
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Old 11-21-2015, 03:44 PM
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BunnyNest has some very good thoughts there. The money for your son was for his education--it wasn't a floating emergency fund that belongs to him. OTOH, I'd probably help a child who never asked for money sooner than I'd help an adult who simply EXPECTS it.

It's a lot harder to say "no" when you have a habit of saying "yes." But nobody else can do it for you, so your choices are to keep doing it for the sake of not being uncomfortable or to say no and start being as responsible for yourself as you wish they would be for themselves.

Technically, the house next door belongs to your husband and your brother-in-law. About the only way you could force a "partition" of the property would be if you filed for divorce so you could claim a share of your husband's portion. That apparently isn't under consideration at this point. Your husband COULD force a partition of the property--he has the right to demand that his brother either buy out his share or for the property to be sold. It sounds like that isn't a very promising prospect, given that he won't even apply for a job or for his SS benefits. Have you looked into the possibility of your claiming benefits for yourself based on his employment record? That might be worth investigating--you are both old enough for you to claim on his record, I believe.

As far as your brother goes, I think it's perfectly OK to simply say, "I can't."

I think BunnyNest is right on, though, that at the very least you need to start planning for your own future.
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Old 11-21-2015, 04:19 PM
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Like Bunny said. You put YOUR money away for his education. Which he did not use. It only becomes HIS money because you are allowing it. It was your money then, its your money now. Don't feel guilty for needing it now.
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Old 11-21-2015, 05:53 PM
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Thank you guys. I appreciate your comments, and I've had a bit of a cool-down period.

As far as my son, in a way I feel it's "his" money because he was a child actor and he earned it. While we did put away money as required by the Jackie Coogan laws, there was money outside of that allotment that I felt should go to him, even though as a family we sacrificed other income opportunities in the process of supporting the acting gigs. So, I've always felt a bit guilty about that, and I even have a stipulation in my will that a certain amount should go to him over and above what the other kids get--in part because of the acting thing, but really because I paid the tuition for the other three.

No is a complete sentence. I have to practice that! I have, long ago, separated my finances from my husband, but since he's unemployed, I'm the one paying for the food, shelter and clothing. Yes, this has been a long time happening. And at this point, I don't know if I will ever leave him.. and the reasons are deeply ingrained in past experience. So, what I want for me now is to live my life in such a way that I am honoring the person my higher power intends for me to be.

The house thing is a total quagmire… as you suggest, LexieCat, legally and emotionally, it's just not clear cut. I feel like it must have been bad karma or something because the timing on that whole experience could not have been worse. Oh well. I have to accept what happened and move on, but my fear is that I have not learned what I need to learn through these experiences. That's the frustrating part.
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Old 11-21-2015, 06:39 PM
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Hi Solo, your generosity has cost you dearly, and you have your retirement to think about. I understand how difficult it is to say no when people expect you to pick up after them, but it's essential you pull yourself out of this mess.

Have you considered going to a financial advisor and getting a plan in place to see you through the next few years? I believe you have as big attitude problems as the sponging relatives, although your thinking is destructive (to you) in a different way.

Once you get professional advice and a plan, put it all down in a statement that spells it out for the relatives. Part of the plan is that you can no longer spend on supporting them, and this is the reason why. Ask them to read it, then if they understand it. So they have clear notice that you cannot give them money because you are in debt and need to work on that.

They will ask a few times more, but at least you can refer them back to your policy without getting into arguments. Do not give in, no matter what they tell you. You can do this if you plan it out and work around your difficulty in saying no.
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