Dear Abby: I share a large house with two other women. The homeowner, "Mary," works from a home office during the day. "Sue" is her baby sister. She has two small children and doesn't work. She lives here rent-free thanks to Mary's generosity. I pay rent. We keep all our food separate and eat our meals separately. We each have our assigned shelves in the refrigerator and cupboards.
Today I mentioned to Sue that I was making meatloaf tonight, and before I could say I'll save you a slice, she invited herself to help me eat it. I was so flabbergasted I couldn't think of a response. She also told both of her kids and a girlfriend of hers who came over to visit that "we" were all having meatloaf for dinner. I didn't realize it until the last minute.
I don't mind sharing once in a while, but I live on a fixed income. I had planned for the meatloaf to last the rest of the week for my dinners and sandwiches for lunch. I finally told her, just as the meatloaf was done, that I had made it for myself and not to share with everyone.
Now I feel like a heel, but I'm realizing that whenever I make a large amount of food, Sue seems to think it's to share. Why am I feeling bad about this when it was she who put me on the spot? How can I avoid this in the future? This isn't the first time it has happened. -- PUZZLED IN THE WEST
DEAR PUZZLED: You may feel guilty because you are not used to standing up for yourself, but if you don't speak up, this person will not respect your boundaries. Sue should not assume she's entitled to any of your food regardless of the amount you prepare. To prevent this from happening again, schedule a house meeting -- without the children -- and say it loud and clear.
DEAR ABBY: My family is colorful, to say the least. Many coworkers, neighbors, friends and in-laws have asked me why I haven't written a book about my life because of the stories I have told them over the years about my family. I have always wanted to, and feel there are enough stories to not only fill one book but several. Some of them are so funny, scary, sad and outrageous that I see a miniseries or a movie being possible.
My dilemma is how my brothers and sisters will react to my putting it all on paper and the world seeing it in print. I kept telling myself, "Just wait till Mom (many stories start with her) passes away, so she won't be hurt." Well, now she's gone.
What do you think? Should I write it all down or not? If the answer is yes, how do I tell my brothers and sisters? Or should I not tell them at all? -- FAMILY SECRETS
DEAR FAMILY SECRETS: If you would like to write the stories down, that's your privilege. However, if there is anything in them that could be hurtful or embarrassing to your relatives, I recommend you change all the names and locations, and publish it under a pen name. Some of the greatest writers of the past have done that with great success.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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