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Old 09-13-2011, 09:38 AM
 
Location: Rockwall
678 posts, read 1,369,126 times
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I believe the email 'list' of stipulations, expections, requirements, game plan- will help initially. However, if you're the one making these choices for her- it will fail. She's in this position because she lacks the ability to solve her own problems. The best thing to do is guide her as she takes ownership of these problems and makes the choices and takes the steps to solve them.

I'm involved with Love and Logic and it really works. I use this approach with my children and my dh . You will need to be prepared with choices/options/possible outcomes/deal-breakers before you talk with her again. But keep quiet about these until you hear what her thoughts/plans/choices are.

1. Empathy - How sad. This is terrible. This sucks. I'm sure that hurts.
This will easy because you do care so much for her-

2. Send the 'Power Message' - What do you think you're going to do? What's your plan?

3. Offer choices- Let her offer her ideas. Her 'Lose weight, get a job, a car and place to live.' Go to step 4 now. If it's a bad idea/choice you will come back to step 3.
(This is Plan B) If she can't come up with a reasonable/logical choice, ask if she would like to hear some ideas that have worked for others in her situation. But you will still make her state the consequences.

4. Let her state the consequences. Ask her- 'And how do you plan to do that?' 'And how will that work?' If it's bad, go back to step 3.

Based on her situation and what you have shared, this will probably be very difficult for her. If she can not come up with a workable plan, be prepared to offer her 2 choices- and only ones that you are prepared to live with. One offer could be financial- which you've already done. This may be all she wants. Especilly if you've put the responsibility for solving her problems back on her. Another offer could be her living with you- but you need to make her tell you her plan to get on her feet and out of your basement. Begin at step 2 (again) and make her tell you what her plan is. Step 3. Step 4. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

This may go very well or it won't. You will be doing her a huge favor by doing this. This is a life skill we (hopefully) learn as children. My husband did not. His Mom was a helicopter parent and swooped in to rescue him from his bad choices. We sometimes need to feel the consequences of our decisions/actions otherwise we keep screwing up, blaming others and never take responsibility.

5. Give her permission to either solve the problem or not solve it.
Now is when the 'list' comes in, if it's something that involves your support/assistance. She needs to put her 'plan of action' in writing.
Include details on how she plans to accomplish it and the date she hopes to reach each goal/milestone. And this needs to be something you and your husband can live with. Then you can give her your 'list.' And she needs to be able to live with it.

Be prepared for this possible outcome-
If after all of the discussion in steps 2-4 she may decide she doesn't want your help. Let her know you're there for her to talk to when she needs to.

This is the hardest one- She's set on making a bad choice or a series of bad choices. These choices can not involve support from you in any way.
You bite your tongue and say-

'Good luck, I hope that works out.'

And leave it at that. She may surprise you work her way out of this. This would be wonderful!!
Or she may get further into the pit she's already in. if this is what happens- begin again at step 1. Again, lots of empathy. Step 2... Step 3...



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Old 09-13-2011, 09:56 AM
 
Location: Wu Dang Mountain
12,941 posts, read 19,952,316 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sierraAZ View Post
I understand you feel guilt considering what happened, Phil, but I can't agree that a stranger's needs and well-being should be put above your wife's and child's needs and well-being. You could've helped her in many ways that didn't involve bringing her home. That was an irrational and hasty "heart" decision. Had she not happened to die (pure coincidence), you would've still thought you made the right decision - because it WAS the right decision.
OK, let's break it down ...

She wasn't a stranger - she had been a private student of mine for two years - there's a bond between martial arts teachers and their students that forms over that period.

Needs: My student needed food, shelter, warmth, medication and a hot bath. My wife and son? They needed for nothing - they already had those basic human needs met.

Well-being: My student's well-being was close to zero; my wife and son's were well up on the scale.

What would have been lost?

Our living arrangements at the time? I had converted an old sewing factory into a combination school and living loft, 3,000SF per floor with the living space on the second floor. We had 3 bedrooms, only one of which was in use at the time. We had plenty of food stockpiled, plenty of heat and a jacuzzi tub in the bathroom.

How could I have helped her without bringing her home? It was winter. Put her up in a motel? With what money? I didn't have the funds for that. Call social service agencies? Already did that - they said there was a waiting list of about a week. She had no friends that would take her in, and I wasn't going to return her to a home where she had been abused.

An irrational decision? I disagree - it was human. And yes, I agree it was based on the heart - I see nothing wrong with making certain decisions that way.

As for wondering whether I made the right decision or not - I went through that particular period of introspective hell. To my dying day I will believe that I did the wrong thing. Marriages can be patched up or renewed, infants have no long-term memories of such events, if indeed they're even aware of them.

But a lost life can't be brought back.

Last edited by SifuPhil; 09-13-2011 at 09:59 AM.. Reason: addition
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Old 09-13-2011, 10:29 AM
 
Location: Tucson
42,835 posts, read 81,517,327 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SifuPhil View Post
As for wondering whether I made the right decision or not - I went through that particular period of introspective hell. To my dying day I will believe that I did the wrong thing. Marriages can be patched up or renewed, infants have no long-term memories of such events, if indeed they're even aware of them.

But a lost life can't be brought back.
She may not have been a stranger to you, but she was to your wife. You can’t make a decision about somebody else living in your home without your spouse being on board with it. You’re talking only about the logistics. Having a long-term house guest is disruptive to the family patterns. You had a baby. Maybe your wife didn’t want a person from the street around her baby. Maybe she thought your “bond” with the girl might’ve been a little too strong for her comfort. She might’ve thought any number of things and she could’ve been right. We don’t know. Even if she wasn’t, that’s the way she felt, which brings me back to my point at the beginning of this post.

There are shelters and various other options and services providing help to homeless people. You said none of her friends wanted to take her in. Ever occurred to you that there might’ve been reasons for that, too? I don’t know about the waiting times for shelters… Some eloquent scammer was trying to convince me of the same while waiting for his dollar… It may be true. I don’t know. In his case, though, I wouldn’t believe it. That’s not to say I accuse you of lying. I just think you hadn’t exhausted all options.
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Old 09-13-2011, 10:49 AM
 
366 posts, read 704,543 times
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Default Just Say No

Quote:
Originally Posted by Braunwyn View Post
I have a close friend. We've known each other for two decades. She's never had her shyte completely together, but she did have a career of sorts pre-recession. Her job was one of things keeping her together. She did five years at that place, which was so good for her. She has two kids, who she loves, but they live with her ex's parents. I don't think her ex has had a steady job at any point. Either way, she lost her job, car, apartment, everything. She has made a series of mistakes, coupled with the recession, that have left her without a pot to **** in or a window to throw it out of.

She's depressed, extremely obese, which is just getting worse by the day, and is now couching it. She doesn't want to leave the state (Michigan), but it's really tough out there. She needs to work. She needs food, money, etc. She actually got a job a couple of months ago, but failed the physical due to high blood pressure. I have no doubt this is obviously due to the obesity, but she argues it. She's at the point where she has nowhere to go. She has indicated that she would be receptive to coming out here (MA). At this point, once her welcome is worn on that couch, I don't know where she can go. I'm the only main stay in her life.

My husband is not excited about the prospect (he's pissed). Neither am I to be honest. She's a long time friend. I love her. But, as you all know living with someone and being just friends with someone are entirely two different things. When we were kids (late teens/early 20s) I had her live with me. Then she'd go out on her own. Then she'd come back; wash/repeat. She's my girl, but our worldviews usually don't jive. I don't like the way she handles her business, never have, but I typically don't voice a lot of objections because I'm not her mamma and it strains our relationship. She's often not receptive to it any way. My husband says that if she were to come then it would have to be under serious stipulations. I get that and agree with him. I want to help my friend. I'm just at a loss in how to approach this situation.

The first and most important thing is that she needs to lose weight. It's affecting her ability to get a job (BMI>43). It's affecting her self worth. I can feed her and cook healthy vegetarian food for her. I can buy her a gym membership. I can have her stay with me and fix up our crappy in-law apartment (needs a lot of work). I have a long list in my head of what she should do. What she will do is another story. The way I see it- if my husband is going to give up his privacy, which is a huge deal for him (me too), then it should only happen if it's going to result her bettering her life. But! I don't have a magic wand. I'm not a therapist, life coach, etc.

I can't have a person loafing in my house either. I'm so torn.
Is she your "friend," as someone you would give up your right arm for, or just an acquaintance? Why would you associate with someone who has character traits that bother you? Do your friend and yourself a favor and tell her "no."
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Old 09-13-2011, 11:27 AM
 
Location: Wu Dang Mountain
12,941 posts, read 19,952,316 times
Reputation: 8668
Quote:
Originally Posted by sierraAZ View Post
She may not have been a stranger to you, but she was to your wife. You can’t make a decision about somebody else living in your home without your spouse being on board with it. You’re talking only about the logistics. Having a long-term house guest is disruptive to the family patterns. You had a baby. Maybe your wife didn’t want a person from the street around her baby. Maybe she thought your “bond” with the girl might’ve been a little too strong for her comfort. She might’ve thought any number of things and she could’ve been right. We don’t know. Even if she wasn’t, that’s the way she felt, which brings me back to my point at the beginning of this post.

There are shelters and various other options and services providing help to homeless people. You said none of her friends wanted to take her in. Ever occurred to you that there might’ve been reasons for that, too? I don’t know about the waiting times for shelters… Some eloquent scammer was trying to convince me of the same while waiting for his dollar… It may be true. I don’t know. In his case, though, I wouldn’t believe it. That’s not to say I accuse you of lying. I just think you hadn’t exhausted all options.
A well-considered reply.

Certainly I'm the only one here who knows what I felt and what I was thinking at the time. We (wife and I) had many discussions about it. It was never going to be a long-term arrangement - it would have just been long enough to get her into a shelter, which would have happened within a fortnight.

But this brings up an interesting relationship point: when you and your partner are on opposite ends of a decision, who has the veto power? Isn't it usually the dominant partner? Especially in a situation like this, a "go / no-go" situation, without many shades of gray? We'd had my wife's friends from around the country stay with us for extended periods, and it never put us off our feed - what would have been different in this case? That my student was homeless and depressed? I've been near-homeless and certainly depressed, yet she married ME knowing that.

As an aside - my brother came to live with us a year later and stayed until his death several months later. She was all for it - in fact, I don't recall that she ever hesitated. Why not? Because he was family?

Family isn't always defined by blood. My students are my extended family.

I was the dominant partner, yet against my better judgment I gave in to my wife's decision. That puts the burden of the results on me. So who was "right" and who was "wrong"?

As for shelters ... in the winter they're certainly in short supply here. There WERE waiting lists, especially when they had recently cut-back on funding. Her "friends" had abandoned her because of the stigma of having a homeless person in their home - a depressed, suicidal homeless person. Plus, how many 16-year-olds have their own place and can make the major decisions? I know there are scammers - I've had encounters with those types also. But again, this wasn't one of them; it was simply a young girl who needed help, everyone turned their back and made-believe she didn't exist, and I was the last line of defense.

That line crumpled because I went against what my heart told me.

At the time, I truly believed I had exhausted all options. I've had years to consider alternatives, but none have ever come to mind.
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Old 09-13-2011, 12:01 PM
 
Location: Rockwall
678 posts, read 1,369,126 times
Reputation: 1123
Phil,
I'm sorry for the loss of your student and the pain you've carried all these years. I believe you wanted to do the right thing. If only we could see the future as clearly as we can see the past.

If anyone else is facing something like this-
What to do with a homeless, depressed, suicidal person that has gone off their medication and you are unable to care for them- call the police.
They fit the criteria for commitment to a mental health facility. They are a danger to themselves and are unable to care for their own needs.
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Old 09-13-2011, 12:15 PM
 
Location: Tucson
42,835 posts, read 81,517,327 times
Reputation: 22814
Quote:
Originally Posted by SifuPhil View Post
But this brings up an interesting relationship point: when you and your partner are on opposite ends of a decision, who has the veto power? Isn't it usually the dominant partner? Especially in a situation like this, a "go / no-go" situation, without many shades of gray
I don’t really know, Phil… Usually one partner prevails and the other becomes more and more resentful as the years go by and the marriage eventually disintegrates. That comes to show that not too many know how to handle it. I guess the key is to be compatible, but it’s not realistic to expect perfect compatibility in all areas. You can't forsee what challenges the future holds, either.

Quote:
As an aside - my brother came to live with us a year later and stayed until his death several months later. She was all for it - in fact, I don't recall that she ever hesitated. Why not? Because he was family?
This example only tells me that your ex-wife doesn’t lack compassion in general. There was something about this particular case that made her uncomfortable.

Quote:
At the time, I truly believed I had exhausted all options. I've had years to consider alternatives, but none have ever come to mind.
As cold as it may sound, the post below yours pretty much spells out the ultimate solution.
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Old 09-13-2011, 12:29 PM
 
Location: Wu Dang Mountain
12,941 posts, read 19,952,316 times
Reputation: 8668
Quote:
Originally Posted by sierraAZ View Post
This example only tells me that your ex-wife doesn’t lack compassion in general. There was something about this particular case that made her uncomfortable.
And I'll be damned if I know what it was to this day.

Not sexual impropriety, if that's what you're dancing around - I don't roll that way.

Quote:
As cold as it may sound, the post below yours pretty much spells out the ultimate solution.
Dragonfly made an excellent post, and I would agree that that is the best solution for most people in that situation.

However ...

There was an important sentence fragment there - "... and you are unable to care for them.". THAT was the operative element - I WAS able to care for her, until others could.

Eh ... beating a dead horse. Sorry to hijack, folks.
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Old 09-13-2011, 12:32 PM
 
Location: Rockwall
678 posts, read 1,369,126 times
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Ouch.... thanks sierra.

It does sound cold. Most aren't familiar with the process of a voluntary/involuntary civil commitment. It's like the 'last resort' if you've run out of options.
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Old 09-13-2011, 12:48 PM
 
28,264 posts, read 30,825,538 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Braunwyn View Post
My mom said the same thing. It's such an effed up position to be in. MA is expensive, tho, I wouldn't ask her for rent. I would expect her to earn her keep via house keeping, yard work, and fixing up the apartment. But, maybe she won't do a damn thing, but loaf. Still, I look at all that I have- a great mom, where she doesn't have one, a great husband, a great job that provides me a home. A home that has an empty, unused basement apartment. In theory I absolutely love the idea of that space being utilized to help someone get back on their feet. But, I know my friend too. Unlike my dh, and unlike me, she's not a worker bee. She doesn't hustle. And she keeps gaining weight. She gets depressed, can only afford crap food, gets bigger, and it keeps getting worse. How can I turn her away? Damn.
Honestly, it sounds like she should be going to Overeater's Anonymous. A friend of mine did that 3 years ago and she lost 60 lbs and has kept it off. She is a lot happier, a lot more motivated, etc. She still goes to her 12 step meetings several times a week.
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