Life Advice



Burdened by Boundaries

Annie Lane on

Dear Annie: My son is 53 years old -- a good person but an alcoholic. He followed me to Florida 10 years ago. I spent thousands of dollars to get him on his feet. I ended up broke trying to help him. He had gotten fired from three jobs.

I kicked him out five years ago. He managed to get his own place and survive but was then fired again, within three weeks of starting. He has been in and out of rehab and the hospital frequently. My question is, am I wrong to not let him move back in with me? I have told him that he cannot move back in and that I cannot afford to help him. I was not financially secure enough to have helped him in the first place.

There is a lot of guilt, but I know I did the right thing. Al-Anon helped. I will always worry about him, but enough already. -- Guilty but Exhausted

Dear Guilty but Exhausted: You are not wrong. Boundaries are important, especially with someone who takes more than they give. It will do neither of you any good if you are both broke and miserable.

Instead of helping him with money, help him by expressing your unconditional love and encouraging him to keep going to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. It is encouraging to hear that you've found some solace through Al-Anon.

Dear Annie: Maybe this will help some of the many readers who have written in stricken with grief: "Grief never ends. But it changes. It's a passage, not a place to stay. Grief is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith. It is the price of love." My spouse gave this quote to me when our cat Buddy died. He wasn't a human, but we were crushed with pain and grief for months. -- Coping

Dear Coping: What a beautiful perspective on the value of grief in all of our lives. Thank you.


Dear Annie: "Sad, Hurt and Frustrated" wrote about a friend who prefers that his birthday be ignored. "S, H & F" said, "I just want to show my appreciation."

I suggest showing your appreciation on the first Sunday of August every year, which is National Friendship Day. Send a card telling your friend how glad you are that you're friends, and specify a few of your friend's qualities you appreciate the most. Keep it simple so it isn't too much for your friend. Perhaps a bit of recognition on a different day will be just the thing for each of you. -- Finding a Middle Ground

Dear Finding a Middle Ground: This sounds like a lovely compromise. Celebrating National Friendship Day in such a manner allows the love that "Sad, Hurt and Frustrated" has for their friend to be expressed without the recipient feeling pressured or put on the spot.


"How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?" is out now! Annie Lane's second anthology -- featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to



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