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Your Opinions, Please

May 26th, 2016 at 03:11 pm

I hang out with a bunch of women at my university. There's a group of about 6-7 of us who celebrate each others' birthdays, go out for drinks, and generally try to support each other. As, I suppose, with any group, there are some of them that are much better friends of mine than others.
One of the women I've known for 20+ years--since we were in grad school together. We are not close friends, but I see her often, and I respect her work, if not how she lives her personal life. She has lots of issues--hoarding, irresponsibility with things like parking fines thus getting her car towed,overdrafts, having her power disconnected for nonpayment etc. She and her husband and small boys live a very chaotic life. That said, I also think I harbor some resentment toward the chaos as she'll let people "help" her which doesn't help at all.

Before her boys were born we were all concerned about the state of her house as they are quite serious hoarders. Six of us spent the day cleaning and hauling and shredding--and it was awful. Their cats had used that room as their litter box--and several of us were ill afterwards. I swore I'd never do that again as it's pretty nasty still. Yet other friends spent days cleaning their kitchen last year--because she "needs" the help. They too were ill after removing moldy food, tons of dishes, overflowing recycling--and were a little upset that I wouldn't help. I've helped people with hoarding issues before, and I've been nothing but frustrated--but they thought as she was seeing a hoarding counselor(?!) it would take this time. Of course it's horrible yet again.

But here's the current issue: this woman has just had a fairly serious health issue and major surgery. She's also revealed all of this on FB and welcomed an outpouring of love and support. Another friend has started a "take them dinner" site, and I've happily signed up for several meals. And now another friend has secretly circulated a plea for donations for them although the medical part is completely covered, and she has the summer off from teaching. Something similar happened five years ago when they had their twins.

I find myself really torn. I honestly like this woman, but find so much of her behavior and her husband's behavior really egregious. I'm trying to figure out if I'm being petty and nasty or if I should just pony up $20 and consider it an effort toward good feelings and best wishes. I wish I had a generous heart toward this situation, but I just don't. Advice please?

8 Responses to “Your Opinions, Please”

  1. ceejay74 Says:

    I'd say follow your gut. It doesn't sound like they need money, but meals will be an enormous help.

  2. creditcardfree Says:

    Hoarding is a type of mental illness. So she is ill in several ways. The meals and cash are not going to fix the hoarding. It is perfectly fine to not give if you don't feel right about it. And if asked why you aren't giving cash, just explain you feel more comfortable providing meals. I don't think it is wrong at all to set some boundaries with how you deal with her.

  3. CB in the City Says:

    My sister is a hoarder. And it's bad. I've tried to help her over the years, but she cannot be helped. I will assume that this woman cannot be helped, either, so in your shoes, I would only do what I would do for any other friend. Providing meals after a major surgery makes sense. Giving money to someone who will just blow it - no. (I'm assuming again, but financial irresponsibility goes hand in hand with hoarding). However, if you feel a small donation would keep the peace among your friends, go ahead and do it.

  4. Jenn Says:

    I wouldn't give money either - based on what you know, it wouldn't be spent wisely even if they DID need it. If you were closer to her, one nice thing might be to take her twins to a playground or fun place while she's recuperating. I feel bad for those boys! It reminds me of an article I read recently about adults who grew up in hoarding conditions as children. Places so bad that the sinks, tubs, and dishwashers could no longer be used. Most didn't have friends so they didn't have to have them over. It's very sad.

  5. VS_ozgirl Says:

    To start with, it's a secret donation plea, so you could just offer your cooking dinner services or taking the kids out to play, and if anyone questions perhaps you could say you'd rather physically help people than give money, it's just your thing? Hopefully that would work.

  6. LivingAlmostLarge Says:

    Do what makes you comfortable.

  7. My English Castle Says:

    Thank you all for your wise words. I talked about it with my husband too, and we agreed that meals and perhaps some time with the kids is much more appropriate for us.I just think I needed to get my head there.

  8. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    It sounds like you came up with a good plan. Smile

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