DEAR AMY: Four months ago, my mom was diagnosed with late-stage ovarian cancer. She chose not to undergo medical treatment. Instead, she has been visiting multiple “natural doctors” and spending thousands of dollars for treatments, plus buying equipment and supplements from them. I live across the world, and I have been struggling with whether I should visit. Her husband says that apart from offering moral support, there is not much I could do, since my mom is either tired or busy with “treatments.” My mom has said that she would love to have me around, but that she wants me to continue living my life, too. She and I have different religious and political views, and I’m afraid that if I went to visit her, we would end up having an explosive argument. I’ve read that you should make decisions out of love, not fear, but my choice would be motivated by fear either way. What if I go and she’s disappointed or upset that I won’t participate in her healing rituals? What if I have to make small talk with her friends and family, and have to listen to their obtuse and racist comments? What if I go, and she continues to live, and I have to leave again, saying goodbye for what may be the last time? If I don’t go, I fear that I would see myself as a callous, uncaring daughter for the rest of my life, and that her family would think the same. That gaping hole she would leave in my life would be even larger and darker. Worst of all, why do I fear that these unconventional treatments will work, rather than hoping that they will?
Distant and Desperate
DEAR DESPERATE: I realize that this seems like it is your drama, but it isn’t. It is your mother’s. Realizing this will help to liberate you from feeling so responsible for her choices.
It is natural, in times of stress, to view events through your own personal funhouse mirror, but you need to realize that this creates distortions.
You are afraid to go home. And yes, you should go home. There are times when the only thing standing between you and your fear is the inner knowledge that there is a “right thing” to do. This is one of those times. Put all of your anxieties into a basket and devise a test for yourself: What if every single anxiety you have comes true? What if your mother is being taken in by charlatans offering miracle cures; your relatives are racist jerks; America doesn’t rise up to meet you, and you basically walk into a big, messy pile of unpleasantness?
Welcome to humanity, sister. Plan a two-week visit, and do your best to be in the moment and suspend judgment.
DEAR AMY: My guy and I have been living together for almost a year. I have been paying the rent, which isn’t cheap where we live. He only pays a couple of utilities. I realized he was struggling, so I had no problem covering most of the finances and helping him to become more stable. To make a long story short, at tax time I learned that he made three times as much as I made last year! We never talk about money and finances because I believe that if the bills are being paid, separate accounts are fine. I’ve been extremely upset, and don’t think it’s fair that he pays no rent, while making so much more than I do! I feel like his sugar mama! I have done so much for him, yet he has yet to even mention proposing or getting married (something I’ve wanted from early on).
To Pay or Not to Pay
DEAR TO PAY: I guess it’s time to have that talk you’ve been refusing to have.
You two should set up one joint account that you both contribute to and pay your household bills from, in proportion to your income.
If you can’t talk about finances, then you should not even contemplate getting married.
DEAR AMY: Regarding the letter from “Upset Mom,” whose grandchild was bitten by her daughter’s dog, one issue not brought up is the incredible liability that her daughter’s family faces by having a dog with a history of biting people. If that dog bites anyone again, depending on where they live, they could be on the hook for a life-changing amount of money, well beyond homeowners insurance coverage.
DEAR ONCE BITTEN: Absolutely. Thank you.