Re­tire­ment to bring new headaches

Ripon Bulletin - - Comics - An­nie Lane

Dear An­nie: Af­ter work­ing my whole life, I am re­tir­ing in a cou­ple of weeks. I’ve been look­ing for­ward to some down­time, sleep­ing in, time for my­self and time to do the things I want to do, but a prob­lem has ap­peared.

My hus­band wants me to take care of his 97-year-old semi-in­valid fa­ther, who ex­pects a full cooked break­fast ev­ery morn­ing at 7 o’clock. On top of that, my son and his wife, who work dif­fer­ent shifts, ex­pect me to care for their scream­ing 2-year-old tod­dler and their new baby, who is due in a few weeks.

I hate to say “no” to my fam­ily, but what about me? What should I do? -- Dis­tressed in Utah

Dear Dis­tressed: Don’t think of it as say­ing “no” to your fam­ily. Think of it as fi­nally say­ing “yes” to your­self.

Some­one was tak­ing care of your fa­ther-in-law up un­til this point. Can that per­son con­tinue to do so, at least in some ca­pac­ity? Per­haps you could hire a part-time care­giver who could be with him dur­ing the day. Surely, you and your hus­band can come up with a plan that doesn’t re­quire you to serve as 24/7 nurse and chef. The same goes for your son and his wife. They should not rely en­tirely on you for child care. Baby-sit­ting should be a fa­vor, not a duty.

Though set­ting bound­aries may lead to some con­flict with fam­ily mem­bers in the short term, it will make for health­ier, less re­sent­ful re­la­tions in the long term. Con­grats on your re­tire­ment.

Dear An­nie: I am a gay man in my late 20s, and I’ve found my­self in a very con­fus­ing sit­u­a­tion. I could use some ad­vice. My best friend, a woman I’ve known for al­most 15 years, and I are so close we’re al­most like si­b­lings. I spend hol­i­days with her fam­ily and take va­ca­tions with them. Her par­ents con­sider me one of their chil­dren. She has three el­der si­b­lings, a sis­ter and two brothers. I am in­cred­i­bly close to all of them, es­pe­cially one of her brothers, “Bryan.”

Bryan is like a brother to me. We tell each other we love each other. If he were gay, I would most likely be in a re­la­tion­ship with him. So com­pat­i­ble are we that his par­ents of­ten joke that we would make the per­fect cou­ple, and they say they would be so happy if that were some­thing that could some­how be pos­si­ble.

How­ever, my fra­ter­nal re­la­tion­ship with Bryan has al­ways sort of had an un­der­tone of his ap­pre­ci­at­ing the fact that I find him at­trac­tive. It’s not un­com­mon for him to take his shirt off and ask me whether I think his work­outs are pay­ing off. I know that this is quite com­mon with other peo­ple, too; straight men of­ten rel­ish the idea that they are the ob­ject of de­sire for gay men. But re­cently, it’s come to a weird apex.

Now, I should prob­a­bly men­tion that he has a girl­friend whom he loves and is about to move in with. But I still have these com­pli­cated feel­ings. Is he just teas­ing me? Is he just jok­ing?

I don’t know how to process this or how to move for­ward. I love him like a brother, but I would def­i­nitely be in­ti­mate with him if he wanted. I’m so con­fused.

Could you lend a hand? -- Con­fused

Dear Con­fused: I take it Bryan is con­fused, too. But that’s no ex­cuse for his self­ish be­hav­ior. He is us­ing you for at­ten­tion and val­i­da­tion, not only de­ceiv­ing you -- by giv­ing you false hope for a re­la­tion­ship -- but also de­ceiv­ing his girl­friend. Tell him this needs to stop, and give your­self space and time to get over your feel­ings for him.

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