True lies hurt family ties

Joey delights in brunch at High Hand Conservatory in Loomis.

My husband drained our joint accounts before he asked for a divorce. I wanted to fight for a fair settlement and needed money for an attorney. I asked my older sister and her husband for a loan and said I would repay it. They said yes—if I would sign a paper saying I borrowed the money and would pay it back. I was insulted and said forget it. I borrowed funds once before from another family member and paid it back promptly. So why would my sister behave like this? I borrowed the money from a friend instead and have already paid it back. I am insulted by my sister’s behavior. Why didn’t she trust me? She and her husband are well off, so why are they so stingy? Shouldn’t family help each other? I am so angry that I am considering not spending Christmas with family.

Calling your sis and bro-in-law “stingy” is like launching yourself back to second grade. Yes, that means you are a child again at the mercy of adults, bullies and the whims of an older sibling. Regression is common in the wake of a divorce, but you must fight against it. Whenever a situation seems overwhelming, it is an invitation, by life itself, to transform yourself into a more capable, competent and confident person. So while it may have been humbling to ask your sis for a loan, the reality is that this experience has taught you a valuable lesson: Your concept of family was, well, broken. It needed fixin’, and so this wonderful experience gifted you with the opportunity to get clear. Family is not just the people who shared living space with you while you were growing up; it’s everyone on the whole damn planet. (Hmm, let me give you a moment to wrap your mind around that.)

So why didn’t your sister trust you? There is only one reason why anyone lacks trust: lies. Either she (unconsciously or consciously) lies to herself or to you; or you (unconsciously or consciously) lie to yourself or to her. Unconscious lies, a.k.a. denial, are insidious because other people see the problem, but the person in denial doesn’t. This is not a license to psychoanalyze your sister. But it might be a great time to chat with a therapist and see if it’s time to shed a few illusions about money and relationships. After all, if your husband emptied joint bank accounts, isn’t it possible that some of the anger you feel toward him was redirected to your sister? (Yeah, I think I heard an “amen” on that!)

My boyfriend is retired and claims he’s on a tight budget. But at his house recently, I saw some financial information that led me to believe otherwise. I asked him about it, and he says he’s just trying to be responsible about the future since he’s healthy and might live a long time. But I’ve paid for nearly all of our dates. I don’t have a portfolio or even a savings account. I live paycheck to paycheck, and now, I feel like an idiot.

Whatever you’ve spent is just tuition in the school of life, so don’t sweat it. You’re just uncomfortable because you imagined that your man needed to be rescued financially. Then reality breaks in with the news: Save yourself. It’s time to begin investing in you. In the future, practice this principle: Joy ought to be your only motivation in paying another’s way. If you can’t give freely to a friend, pay for yourself and invest the money you would have spent on him or her by giving to charity. Eventually, you will give generously and without expectation to friends and charity alike.

Meditation of the Week

“Truth springs from arguments among friends,” wrote the philosopher David Hume. Are you really listening to what your friends are trying to tell you? Or are you just trying to be right?