“When we begin to set boundaries with people we love, a really hard thing happens: they hurt. They may feel a hole where you used to plug up their aloneness, their disorganization, or their financial irresponsibility. Whatever it is, they will feel a loss. If you love them, this will be difficult for you to watch. But, when you are dealing with someone who is hurting, remember that your boundaries are both necessary for you and helpful for them. If you have been enabling them to be irresponsible, your limit setting may nudge them toward responsibility.” ~ Henry Cloud, Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No
I have a friend, JC, who is constantly in financial trouble. The thing about financial problems is that they have a domino effect. For her, it all started when she erred in the amount of exemptions she was claiming on her income taxes. She was not aware of the repercussions until she was hit one year with an exorbitant tax liability. It was a liability so heavy that she had to borrow money to get herself out of the financial hole. From whom did she borrow money? Me, of course, and our friend, M.
She managed to pay back the monies she owed to us, but then she got herself into another hole. In her defense, she is the only breadwinner in a family full of deadbeats who somehow manage to get pregnant every year, and so she supports her family members, along with their poor offspring. Feeling sorry for her at the time, I lent her ten thousand dollars by taking out a cash advance on my credit card, as well as fifteen hundred cash from my own personal savings. Again, she was able topay me back, albeit after two years, but she only paid back the principal amount, and left me with the interest amount, which I have been paying every month, and the fifteen hundred to eat and never see again.
Now, she is once again in another black hole. The biggest hole yet. Eviction proceedings have been instituted against her, and she must come up with about ten thousand dollars within thirty days or she will be evicted. She came crying to me the other day asking me for help. I feel sick about her situation, but I also feel angry. I am angry that she gets herself in these situations, and then turns around and expects me and M to fish her out of her drowning waters. She came to me to ask if I could pitch in and help her. She was very close to having the full ten thousand, having borrowed another four thousand from M, and she wanted to know if I could come up with the rest.
I told her that I would lend her another two thousand dollars, but it did not come without a tongue lashing. I feel angry that I felt as though I had to say yes, lest she be evicted. I feel very put on the spot. If I say no, she will get evicted, making me a terrible person. If I say yes, it will be a never-ending cycle of M and I bailing her out from her financial ruin.