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Hogging the piggy bank

Dear Annie: I have a 40-year-old son who seems to think I am his personal piggy bank.

He did a short time in prison. We have supported him through that and all of the other bad times. However, he only contacts us when he needs money. After years of helping him, we have decided to stop. His situation has not changed for the better and hows little appreciation.

Our family has always included him in family functions, but he chooses to ignore the invitations.

His bad credit and evictions have limited where he can live. His last contact with us via his spouse was needing help to find a place to live. We responded by asking to look at his financials before helping. He told us not to worry about him — putting us on a guilt trip for questioning his need for help.

We could write a book on all the things we have done to help him and his family. We’ve paid for utilities, cars, school fees and more. We just can’t do it anymore.

For my own sanity, I have decided not to contact him or his spouse any longer. Each time I reach out I get sucked back into the drama. I am just too tired and old for the drama and the never ending turmoil. How do I stop worrying about him and his family? How do I stop feeling guilty? — Throwing the Towel In

Dear Throwing the Towel In: Know that whatever pain he might feel about your cutting him off, it is not as deep as your pain over having to cut him off. Tough love is tougher on the giver. That’s a fact parents know all too well.

I commend you for taking the first step and drawing that line. Good boundaries make healthy relationships. Now you must do the difficult work of fortifying those boundaries. I recommend seeking the support such as Families Anonymous (https://www.familiesanonymous.org) or a therapist.

Stay strong, and know you’re not in the wrong.

Dear Annie: I wrote to you several years ago about my relationship with my in-laws. Unfortunately, little has changed about the situation. The hurt my beloved father-in-law has caused by siding with my mother-in-law in cutting off contact has been harder on me than my cancer diagnosis. As both of them are aging, I am mentally preparing for their respective funerals. I was wondering how inappropriate it would be to put in the grave with them a letter saying I regret that our relationship ended this way, that I once loved them as much as my own parents, that my family didn’t deserve the hurt they caused, and that their deaths did not stop the hurt. This would not be meant for anyone’s eyes, but it might help me deal with the finality of it all. Your thoughts? — Still Hurting

Dear Still Hurting: I am so sorry: for your having cancer, for your in-laws’ behavior and for the fact that you are preparing to lose them. My heart goes out to you in all of this.

Writing such a letter for closure is a wonderful idea. Putting it in the grave with them is not: Not because it’s inappropriate (it is), because it’s unnecessary. Your closure will come from the act of writing itself, not from where you place it. So pour your heart into that letter.

(Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com. This column is syndicated by Creators Syndicate columnists. Visit the website at www.creators.com.)

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