Dear Annie: Our family is like most families — dysfunctional. Our father worked two jobs most of his life to better himself for the good of his family. My mother was a spender, but my father controlled the money. When my father passed, my mother was finally free to live as she wanted.
Yet my eldest sibling, “Dan,” suddenly controlled all her money. Never was there a family meeting to discuss finances. Recently, we learned that Dan has taken liberty with our mother’s money. Almost everything my father worked for is gone. Our mother needs assistance, and now she cannot afford it. I feel that Dan cheated not only my mother but also the rest of our family, because now we have this added burden of her care. Dan has never shown remorse. Our mother could press charges for elder abuse but has chosen not to go that route.
The burden has mostly fallen upon me to care for our mother. I really enjoy our time together. But I am struggling now because the rest of the family wants to find peace and has let Dan back into the fold. He is a bad person who is a real con. He’s stolen from people outside the family, too. I cannot seem to accept this decision. I have forgiven the crook, but I cannot forget.
I am keeping my distance from the situation and asking all other family members to assist with our mother’s care. My family has no idea of the stress this situation has put on me. I have lost some of my hair; I constantly break out in rashes; and I hardly ever sleep at night because I worry about our mother’s finances.
I am wondering whether I am wrong to start thinking of myself and to stop worrying about our mother’s future. I know there are ways to get assistance for our mom, but without her pressing charges against the person responsible, it might be difficult. I would like all of us to find peace with this situation so there will be a legacy of love and kindness left by our mother. Can I just go on and pray that my other siblings will see that I need to separate myself from all of it? — Heartbroken
Dear Heartbroken: You might want to consult an attorney about your situation, just to be sure you’ve exhausted every avenue regarding your mom’s finances and your brother’s mishandling of them.
That said, the person I’m worried most about is you. It is not wrong at all for you to start thinking of yourself. In fact, it’s imperative that you do. The rashes, hair loss and lack of sleep are symptoms of severe stress. Consider seeing a therapist, as it could greatly improve your quality of life. If not therapy, at least take other steps to improve your mental health — whether that means planning a vacation, taking a fitness class or simply spending more time alone. Self-care is not self-indulgence.
Dear Annie: I would like to make a public service announcement for all office workers. Please, for the love of all that is good, wear shoes! I don’t care how hot it is or that you chose to purchase uncomfortable shoes; keep your feet covered at work! Also, flip-flops are not appropriate footwear for an office. Please choose one or more of the thousands of other summer footwear options out there. — P.U.
Dear P.U.: I’m printing your letter because summer is still going strong in a lot of the country. Unless you’re a yogi, keep your shoes on at work.
“Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.