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Dear Abby: My sister “Maddy” is in 12th grade and will graduate soon. Over the last two years, we have grown really close — from eating Chinese together every other day, to going shopping together. We have the closest relationship in the family, and I consider her to be my best friend. Although I have many close friends, her being my sister makes her the closest to me.

Lately I’ve been mad at her. I thought it was because of her boyfriend, but her boyfriend is like a brother to me and we get along great. After hearing her say, “Only a couple of more months ’til I’m done with school forever,” I have realized it is because she’s graduating soon.

I have two younger sisters, but we aren’t nearly as close as Maddy and I are. For the past month, I’ve been saying no when Maddy and her boyfriend ask me to hang out with them. I’m afraid I’m going to lose the bond I have with my sister.

I don’t want her to graduate because it means she’ll be moving away, and I won’t get to see my best friend every day. I don’t know whether to be happy about her graduating, or angry. Please help me.

Mixed Up in Pennsylvania

Dear Mixed Up: Try to be happy for your sister. Explain to Maddy why you have been behaving the way you have so she will understand.

From your description of your emotions, it appears you may be suffering from a version of empty-nest syndrome. It’s a malady that often strikes parents when their child is about to “launch.” An effective way to counteract it is to find activities you enjoy and keep yourself busy so you will have less time to brood.

Another thought: This is now YOUR chance to be the supportive oldest sister in the house, and to forge a closer relationship with your younger siblings. It’s an opportunity that may reap big dividends in the future, so please don’t waste it.

Dear Abby: My “boyfriend” and I are in our mid-40s. Three-and-a-half years ago he was in a bad accident. Because our relationship seemed to be getting serious, he moved into my house. He was planning on returning to construction work a few months later, once his doctor cleared him. Unfortunately, the doctor said he could never resume work in construction. He applied for Social Security Disability and, after two years of paperwork and waiting, he was denied.

He keeps himself busy by painting pictures. Occasionally he sells one or two paintings online or through art shows. However, what he earns is not nearly enough to support himself. I had to take a significant pay cut at work, and I’m having a hard time supporting both of us. My savings are being depleted, and my credit card balance is skyrocketing.

I have told him repeatedly that he needs to get a job. He’s not totally disabled. He could work — he just can’t go back to construction. He insists he’s going to make it big selling art. I tell him art is his hobby, not his career. I have also told him that I’m a financial wreck and that I’m going to lose my house, but he doesn’t care. He says, “Buy a smaller house.”

I tell him he has to get a job or move out, but he doesn’t do either. I’m ready to sell my house and live in a small apartment by myself. But I can’t get him to leave. What can I do?

Over This in Illinois

Dear Over This: Because this man has lived with you for so long, getting him out may take the help of a lawyer. He’s not an artist; he’s an ingrate and a freeloader. Although you have financial difficulties right now, it will be money well spent. Please don’t wait.

Contact Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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