Choosing Cats over Friends

Karen10125June 25, 2014

Sorry, I'm posting this here because I don't know where else to put it and I really want some feedback. I did ask the moderator to create a new forum. Anyway, I have a dear dear friend and we go back to when I was 5 years old. A few times a year my husband and I visit the state I'm from and stay with them. We have a ball, we all get along great and they always tell us we're like family and that their guest room is basically our room, in fact, they put a sign in there to that effect. So sweet. Last November, their son and his girlfriend ran into some financial problems so they invited them to live with them for 2 years while they get their act together. So they moved into their finished basement and along with them came 4 cats. Long-haired, territorial cats that I'm told have free reign of the house, bedrooms, sofas, kitchen counters, you name it. so I am severely allergic to cats, to the point where I can usually only be in a house with a cat for an hour tops before I'm ready for medication, eyes are almost swollen, difficulty breathing, etc. Once in a while there is a cat that I'm not allergic two, but that's like less than 1%. So obviously, our days of staying with them are over. It's really sad for me and I honestly feel like they chose cats over us. If they didn't have a finished basement and their kids had to move into the guest room, no problem! I've had to do the same thing. But I feel like they chose cats, not even their cats, but their son's girlfriends cats, over us, friends for 50+ years. And keep in mind that the kids can't afford to pay their bills, so I don't understand how they have pets anyway, but that's a whole different story. I can honestly say I would never in a million years do this to her. If the shoe was on the other foot, my kids would be told no cats, my best friend who stays here occasionally is severely allergic, period. And by the way, they visit us often too. I can't imagine doing anything to prevent them from visiting, they mean the world to us. She made a comment that she would make sure the cats stay out of our room. Huh? Am I supposed to stay in the bedroom the whole time I'm there??? There's an event going on and I said that's ok, I'll just get a hotel room and she was like ok. It's almost like she's making herself the victim. She knows of my allergies, goes back to our childhood. Phone conversations have become strained, even though I don't even bring it up. I won't let this ruin our friendship but do I have a right to be disappointed and hurt? Maybe I'm missing something here, I would appreciate any insight/suggestions.

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sushipup1

Yes, you are missing that she is taking care of her son every day and you are an occasional visitor. She's supposed to keep house for your visits? I don't think so.

Lighten up. Stay in a hotel and have a good visit with your friend when you are in town. Let her take care of her family however she chooses.

It's not about cats. It's about family.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2014 at 1:02PM
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sylviatexas1

what sushipup said.

Don't obsess over this;
it isn't about the value of your friendship, it's about taking care of their family.

Stay in a hotel & enjoy the new experience (room service!).

    Bookmark   June 25, 2014 at 7:36PM
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emma

You are lucky. My sister's daughter moved in with 13 dogs. Dog hair everywhere. Yuck. I wouldn't expect anyone to get rid of dogs or cats for me. If they had someone keep them while you are there, that would not take care of the allergy problem. It would take a long time for the house to be rid of the allergens. Go to a hotel.

I wouldn't let anyone move into my home with that many cats. It's my home and I don't want cat hair all over the place nor the chance of ending up with cat urine in it or 4 litter boxes. More Yuck. People should not expect even parents to make adjustments like that.

This post was edited by EmmaR on Wed, Jun 25, 14 at 21:12

    Bookmark   June 25, 2014 at 9:11PM
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daisyinga

I'm allergic to cats, too. So sorry about your allergies.

You asked for insight. It sounds like your friend is indeed the victim. Her son and his girlfriend have financial difficulties and have moved into her basement along with their 4 cats. And now her dear friend is not supportive or understanding, but instead angry because she cannot use the guest room a few times a year rather than go to a hotel.

In my opinion a person should not take ownership of a pet lightly. If my kids have to move back home, I expect any pet they own (except cats) to come with them. I can't imagine asking them to euthanize or re-home their pets so a friend can use my guest room a few times a year.

If you are not a pet person then I can see that your friend's situation might be difficult to understand. I am so sorry your feelings are hurt and that your friendship is strained. Your friend sounds like a kind-hearted, generous and loving friend. I hope the two of you can work something out.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2014 at 11:49PM
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Karen10125

Thanks everyone for the feedback and insight. I am not a pet owner, never have been, however I do not take pet ownership lightly at all. I get very upset when I see pets being abused and neglected. I also think you should not have pets unless you can take care of yourself. Also, a couple comments were made about my friend "taking care of her family" as if I was opposed to that. Of course I'm not, I think what she's doing is great and what any parent should do. There are other issues going on here though and my friend has to now delay her retirement because of this situation. She has drastically cut back on her spending while the kids (in their 30's) go on mini vacations, eat out all the time, etc. So there is a lot of irresponsible behavior and I feel very bad for her. So no, I will not abandon my friend or even let her know fully how I feel about the cat situation and me not staying there anymore. I will get over it, I've had a lot worse things happen in life. I just wanted to know if I was making too much of it and from what I've read here, I can accept that I am and will try to be more supportive. Thanks again

    Bookmark   June 26, 2014 at 7:18AM
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jmc01

Your friend is an adult who you think can't make her own choices. Why is that?

There is no such thing as a victim in this case. She has made choices that you don't agree with. She chose to cut back on spending and she chooses to delay retirement because, to her, it's more important to help her child. She has made choices...no victimization there. She could have chosen to tell him to take a hike...but she didn't.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2014 at 8:29AM
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Amber3902

Is the issue the fact that because of the cats you can't stay with your friend the few times a year you come to visit, or the fact that her adult son has come to live with her?

I don't think being allergic to the cats or the fact that you can't stay with your friend anymore is the problem. It sounds like you feel that your friend's son is taking advantage of your friend and you don't like that. You resent the cats because you feel the son and his wife have no business having pets when they can't even take care of themselves.

You see your friend cutting back on her needs in order to supplement her son's irresponsible spending and don't like it. You are probably worried about her.

I had a co-worker whose adult son still lived at home with her and didn't work due to some "disability". The mother was working two jobs to support him. She complained about having to work so much but you know what? She brought it on herself. She was the one that enabled him to take advantage of her. I used to take lunch with her, but she complained all the time about her son and having to work so much so I found a reason to stop having lunch with her. I just couldn't handle her negativity anymore.

If your friend had been the one that had brought home a cat, would you be as upset? You are going to have to recognize that your friend is a grown person. She is the one that has to live with the decisions she makes.

And you are free to make decisions about the friendship as well. If she is a good friend and does not allow her son's relationship to affect her emotionally, then I would continue the friendship. But if you feel the relationship is affected negatively, then it's time to remove the emotional vampire from your life.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2014 at 9:46AM
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Karen10125

Amber3902, truly my issues are with the cat situation. Yes, this is my friend of 50 years and I love her dearly, she has worked hard all her life and deserves the retirement she has waited for, and it saddens me that it's not going to happen. But all that said, my husband and I have both agreed that this was their choice and none of our business. I believe she should have reached out and helped her son and his girlfriend but I think there should have been some rules and they didn't do that and are now suffering the consequences. Still, none of my business and you're right she's a grown adult and has to live with her decisions. I just think she compounded the situation by allowing the cats, not just because of me, btw my friend doesn't like them there either but just accepts it. As for her getting a cat and would I be upset, see that's just it. She wouldn't have done that because she knows how I am with cats and wanted us to visit all the time. Because of the cats we can't go there and because of them having to cut back on their expenses, they won't be able to come visit us either. So it's a sad situation all around. I feel she could have said no to the cats and that would have alleviated some of the problems. But I will always be there for her.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2014 at 10:11AM
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daisyinga

Sorry I wasn't clear. I don't think the original poster's friend is the victim of her son. As others have said, she chose to let her son come back and stay with her. I think in the relationship between the original poster and the friend, OP considers herself the victim and the friend the offending party, but in fact it's the other way around.

I get the impression that the original poster doesn't understand her friend's point of view at all. In all honesty, not to slap your hand or hurt your feelings Karen10125, but to help you understand your friend's (possible) point of view - if I were in your friend's shoes I would be dialing this friendship way back.

I understand that your friends called the guest room your room and told you that you are a part of the family. But your friend's circumstances have changed and she's had to weigh your feelings and convenience against her son's feelings and convenience.

I feel she could have said no to the cats and that would have alleviated some of the problems.

Maybe that would have alleviated some of her problems with you, but I don't think you see how it could have caused more problems between her and her son. Would you really and truly want her to have more friction than she already has with her son so that you can still use the guest room?

To me it sounds like there must be something more to this issue. Do you have something going on in your own life, Karen10125, that makes staying in this guest room so critical for you? Many of us are dealing with terribly hurtful and difficult things on the internet - cancer diagnosis, terminal illness of a spouse, loss of a parent, clinical depression. It's possible you have something in your life going on that makes this room a special place for you and the loss of it hurts in ways we (and your friend) don't understand.

Whatever the case, I wish you the best. Sometimes it's so nice to be able to come here and air our feelings out and discuss them with strangers before we talk to our "real life" friends.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2014 at 2:43PM
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colleenoz

It's all very well saying "They shouldn't have cats if they can't take care of themselves", but presumably they got the cats when they _were_ able to take care of themselves. For whatever reason they've fallen on hard times, that shouldn't be a reason to just ditch the cats unless they are not emotionally attached to them. But for a lot of people, pets are like family members.
Would you say the same thing if it was children instead of cats?

    Bookmark   June 26, 2014 at 3:16PM
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Karen10125

I sometimes think the only reason people are on these forums is to twist people's words and put them down. Pretty sad. The title of my post is choosing cats over friends, it doesn't say babies over friends or children over friends. I made it very clear in my original post that had they put their kids in their guest room, no problem. This is about the cats period and the fact that I wouldn't choose pets over her, especially someone else's pets. That said, this young couple could not afford the cats when they got the first one, were worse off when they got the 2nd, 3rd, etc. They never could afford pets. Also understand that I love my friend's son as if he was my own and maybe that's why I take the tough love approach with him because I care and want him to do better. Still, this is about cats, not people.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2014 at 7:53AM
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sushipup1

You still don't get it, do you?

    Bookmark   June 27, 2014 at 10:06AM
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Amber3902

Sushipup - no, she doesn't. I don't think anyone could have explained any better than you did in your first post,

"You are missing that she is taking care of her son every day and you are an occasional visitor. She's supposed to keep house for your visits? I don't think so."

Karen, substitute "cats" with anything else - it could be the son came with a bunch of furniture that takes up all the room in the guest room, the end result would be the same. The reason really doesn't matter, your friend is unable to have you stay with her for the indefinite future.

Really, I can't believe you expect your friend to keep a room open and available for the couple of times a year you come to visit her. While it's a nice gesture, I would never expect any of my friends to maintain a guest room just so I could come visit them.

Can you not afford a hotel? Is your friendship with your friend based solely on the fact that she is able to provide somewhere for you to stay when you come to visit?

This post was edited by Amber3902 on Fri, Jun 27, 14 at 11:38

    Bookmark   June 27, 2014 at 11:16AM
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azmom

Bottom line, whose interests are you concerned about/ are trying to protect? Your friend's or yours?

Every mother loves her child(ren) in different way. Your friend is a grownup, being a 50 years plus friend of hers, why don't you support whatever choices she has made for herself? She would change when things do not workout for her.

If it is for your own interest, only you know what are the real issues and the best resolutions.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2014 at 1:10PM
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lisaw2015

Sorry Karen10125, I agree with what everyone else has already said. To me, you sound selfish & not empathetic to your friends situation. Makes me wonder what kind of a friendship this is....

    Bookmark   June 27, 2014 at 3:22PM
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southernsummer

Karen, since your friend has always hosted you, why don't you rent a beach house or a mountain cottage, or a similar vacation spot and invite your friends to meet you there.

Is your unhappiness over the cats more important than maintaining your friendship? I don't think so. In that case YOU are the one choosing cats over friendship. They have been amazingly good friends all this time to maintain a guest room and allow you to visit.

If you can't get allergy shots or take medication, then work it out in another way.

Let it go. I hope it works out.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2014 at 6:26AM
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Karen10125

To those of you who responded to my post and provided constructive criticism and suggestions, thank you for your help. I came to this forum wanting unbiased opinions and accept the fact that my feelings concerning the cats were somewhat selfish in nature. Based on your commentary I will not discuss the cat situation with my friend at all and will continue to support her as I always have. So again, thank you. To those you who can only offer advice through insults and hurtful comments, I feel sorry for you and whatever anger you're harboring. I've seen it before on these forums. People write a post and they're obviously very distraught about something and they get name calling and insults in return. There is no need to treat people like that, no matter what you're dealing with.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2014 at 7:57AM
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susanjn

I like southersummer's idea. Your friend may really enjoy getting away from her stressful home for a while. It would be fun for all of you.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2014 at 7:37PM
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daisyinga

If I hurt your feelings, Karen, I apologize for that. I started not to even respond to your original post, because I didn't want to be negative. I responded because a 50+ year old friendship is wonderful. Not that many people have kept a friendship so close from such a young age. I'd much rather you hear negative feedback from strangers than have unnecessary wrinkles in your relationship with your friend.

I hope any rift between you and your friend is healed quickly.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2014 at 9:07PM
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Karen10125

thanks daisyinga

    Bookmark   June 30, 2014 at 6:30AM
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sleeperblues

Karen, I understand your situation completely as I have the same type of allergies to cats and avoid them like the plague. I'm sure you know that after the cats are gone you may still have problems in the home. The problem isn't with the cats specifically, but with their dander and saliva which can linger for many months after they are gone. You sound like a good friend to me who is hurt over what she perceives as someone you love being taking advantage of. And aren't most of us selfish when it comes to our feelings? That said, I would always choose my son and his well being over a friend. I hope this situation resolves itself and the friendship stays intact.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 6:50AM
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Karen10125

Unfortunately the cats are the least of my concerns now. Since I first posted this, the situation at her home has become worse, and worse. She and her husband are stressed out, having to postpone retirement, postpone selling their home, unable to take vacations or do anything fun, etc. They've both been in jobs that require manual labor, for many years, so it breaks my heart to see them not be able to retire and enjoy the fruits of their labor. As far as choosing their son's "well being", to me that means putting a roof over someone's head, feeding them, maybe helping them with necessary bills etc. But the son and his girlfriend are living the good life now, vacationing, eating out every night, etc at the expense of my friends, who by the way pay for the cats' food and vet bills. So I wouldn't be a good friend if this didn't bother me. That said, these are their choices and all I do is listen and offer minimal advice like "maybe you should sit down with them and come up with a plan" which never happens. So no I would never expect my friend to put me before her son, but I would expect her to put herself and her husband's well deserved retirement plans before the wants and desires of her son and girlfriend who somehow feel entitled. And yes sleeperblues you're right about the dander, etc. that thrives for months, even years. Another concern is that could prevent them from selling their home quickly. Our friendship will always be intact, I am just very sad for my friend right now.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 1:27PM
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suzieque

I think you are a good friend. Just listen to her and understand how she is torn.

I'm not sure I understand your comment: "And yes sleeperblues you're right about the dander, etc. that thrives for months, even years. Another concern is that could prevent them from selling their home quickly." Really? People have cats (it's not unusual), people sell their homes. Unless it's an unkempt home with tumbleweeds of cat fur rolling around, I seriously doubt that a little cat dander is going to prevent them from selling their home.

Are you sure you're not just so anti-cat that you're finding fault in this way, in addition to your caring about your friend?

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 5:53PM
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Karen10125

Yes I agree Suzieque, many people sell their homes with cats in them, I should have been more clear. I have learned through another person that what was once an immaculate house is no more. I don't know much about cats but apparently 2 of the 4 are out of control. They're huge cats and they go on the counters, tables, furniture, tv's, beds, wherever they please. Is this the breed? I don't know, like I said I know nothing about cats really. They get whatever human food they can and if they don't eat it, they tear it up and throw it all over the house. Apparently they're not house broken either so they go wherever they want. Believe me, I'm not anti-cat or anti any animal. If anything, I blame owners for not training a pet like they should. I've never heard of cats doing this, but even my friend made the comment "it's out of control." The cats got into a crock pot that was cooking during the day and the food was all over the house when they got home. So yeah, how can you have your house listed for sale with potential realtors and buyers coming in during the day not knowing what the cats are up to? And being so frustrated after a hard days work, my friend has probably given up on thoroughly cleaning anyway. I think I would too.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 1:52PM
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Karen10125

Yes I agree Suzieque, many people sell their homes with cats in them, I should have been more clear. I have learned through another person that what was once an immaculate house is no more. I don't know much about cats but apparently 2 of the 4 are out of control. They're huge cats and they go on the counters, tables, furniture, tv's, beds, wherever they please. Is this the breed? I don't know, like I said I know nothing about cats really. They get whatever human food they can and if they don't eat it, they tear it up and throw it all over the house. Apparently they're not house broken either so they go wherever they want. Believe me, I'm not anti-cat or anti any animal. If anything, I blame owners for not training a pet like they should. I've never heard of cats doing this, but even my friend made the comment "it's out of control." The cats got into a crock pot that was cooking during the day and the food was all over the house when they got home. So yeah, how can you have your house listed for sale with potential realtors and buyers coming in during the day not knowing what the cats are up to? And being so frustrated after a hard days work, my friend has probably given up on thoroughly cleaning anyway. I think I would too.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 1:53PM
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sylviatexas1

Are your homeowner friends elderly?

This is beginning to sound like elder abuse.

Sadly, tragically, it never gets better;
it gets worse & only ends when the people die or their kids get power of attorney & ship them off to a nursing home.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 2:42PM
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Karen10125

no, they are not elderly, late 50's, healthy and both are still working full time. Honestly i'm letting this situation go, my friend's cousin tried to step in to help recently and made some comments and now they're mad at her. She was only doing it out of concern and wants the best for them. So they're going to have to figure this out on their own and hopefully they don't push everyone away in the mean time. I'm always there for my friend if she needs me and she knows she's welcome in my home anytime.

This post was edited by Karen10125 on Thu, Jul 17, 14 at 6:53

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 6:51AM
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stepmomofthree

Karen,

your friends are having a hard time admitting to themselves that their son is a failure. You probably did come to the right forum after all. We may not know much about cats, but a lot of people on this forum have had experience with deadbeat adult children, and with the parents (i.e. spouses) who enable their self-destructive behaviour. It's not something that you can talk a parent out of easily, and it usually ends in a very sad situation for all. Sorry.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 10:03PM
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marie_ndcal

The only thing I will say is--My House, My Rules, and I did it when DIL and Son moved in while we were selling, and they were moving to another state. We were retired and they had to live with us for a short period of time. I flat out told them that they needed to save their money, for another place in the state where they were moving to and they did. It is called Tough Love and IT works!!! Yes we had animals but they did not take over the house. Sorry, but that is the way it works. That happened almost 2 years ago and now my kids thank me and we have a pretty darn good relationship. Both working and have a nice place to live. No kids by choice. Looking forward to retirement in a few years.
PS yes we had to help financially a bit, but they paid it back.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 10:35PM
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Karen10125

I agree marie-ndcal, tough love is the only thing that works in these situations and I'm glad you used that approach and it was successful for all. I would never let any adult move into my home without rules and some sort of plan. My friend has a big heart and I think she just opened her arms and said of course we'll help you and we all know you can't be that vague, especially when the people who need your help are already very irresponsible. They're trying the tough love approach now and it's basically being ignored. They're being used, big time. I've known her son since he was born, I want to talk to him, but I don't think it would go well. An update on the cat situation, it wasn't said directly to me, but third person I heard that she said if anyone wants to visit them and has allergies to the cats, they can just take medication. Well that might seem like a solution, but anyone who has these allergies knows that over the counter drugs that work for cat allergies will make you extremely tired and groggy and unable to drive, not to mention other side effects. Apparently other people who didn't have cat allegeries before are unable to stay in her house for very long. She's become frustrated with people not visiting her, either for a few hours or for a few days. I think she's now ignoring the elephant in the room and looking outside her home to place blame.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 7:56AM
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suzieque

Perhaps we're beating a dead horse here, and if so I'm sorry. But look - as far as her saying (allegedly) that anyone visiting her with allergies can take medication, well, I've no problem with that. Visitors can choose to either take meds, stay in a hotel, or not come to our home (we go to theirs, we meet at a restaurant, etc.)

We've got pets. We've got friends. A couple of those friends have pet allergies so know that they'll be uncomfortable staying here. What are we supposed to do - get rid of our pets? Seriously, this isn't a big issue to us OR to those 2 friends who are allergic. We all respect each other and there are easy options. It doesn't mean that we're choosing our pets over our friends.

I know you're concerned for your friend. But she's a big girl and knows her situation the best. You can't fix it, nor would your fix likely be what she'd want. And as far as you speaking to her son? Oh my - yes, I think you're right that that would NOT turn out well. I think you would get a very big MYOB on that.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 10:15AM
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Karen10125

I agree suzieque, she is a big girl and is going to have to deal with this situation. As for the cats or anyone's pets, I would never expect anyone to get rid of them or even temporarily move them for my sake. I have some other friends who have 3 cats and I can't be in their house for more than a minute, so we go out to dinner and then my house for drinks, etc. afterward. No problem. The issue with this particular friend is that she expects people to come over regardless of their allergies. She just wants us to deal with it apparently. I think it's obvious that this is much bigger than the cats and yes initially I was selfish in thinking that is was me vs. the cats, etc. The cats are just a small part of it, I realize that now.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 6:11AM
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sleeperblues

Just speaking for myself when we were looking for a home to buy, I wouldn't even look at a house that had cats. My allergies are that bad. I would have a full-blown asthma attack. And these cats sound awful, like they really are impacting the value of the home.

But your friends, unfortunately, are allowing this to happen. I agree with the above poster who said they are having a hard time with the reality that their son is a loser.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 8:53PM
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bet105

Well after all you are JUST a friend , and that IS FAMILY! Those are her FAMILY"S PETS! I hate to tell you this but my family comes before my friends any day of the week, no matter how long we have been friends.
If you do not understand this than you are not much of a friend.
Perhaps you can make arrangements to take a week to spend at a hotel with your friend , where there are no animals to upset your health issues. I know exactly how one feels about not visiting people with pets, I have cats and dogs, and many of my SO CALLED friends do not visit because of them. I consider it their loss. These pets are also part of MY FAMILY! If they can't accept them, oh well! Good luck to you, I hope you do not live a lonely life for too long, life is too short for that , dear.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2015 at 11:52PM
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bet105

To all of the posters who are saying the SON IS A LOSER I pray you never have a family member who needs a helping hand!
Just because this SO CALLED FRIEND is complaining that her friends son has taken her vacation room away is no reason to call him a loser. To me she sounds like one jealous person, allergies or not! I would never turn my back on family for any of my friends, Sorry! I really think the cats are just an extra icing on her cake complaint. I have had my say.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2015 at 12:16AM
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karen10125b

to bet105, I'm sorry you had a really bad day back in January and felt the need to blast someone on this forum. That's not really what it's for, it's to offer up advice or constructive criticism, neither of which you did. FYI, I don't have a lonely life at all, but I also know that when people say something like that, they actually have the lonely life and that's their way of dealing with their frustration. I can only imagine you have a dirty house full of cats and dogs and are wondering why no one comes over. Try cleaning, that might work. I hate to stoop to your level but sometimes people need a taste of their own medicine. There, now I've had my say!

1 Like    Bookmark   March 13, 2015 at 6:49AM
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sylviatexas2
hmmm.

Maybe the judgmental, spiteful response to bet105 gives some insight into the reason your friend isn't unhappy that you won't be staying with her.

Maybe it's a relief.
    Bookmark   March 14, 2015 at 7:45AM
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karen10125b

i find it odd sylviatexas2 that you find my response judgmental and spiteful, but nothing wrong with hers. Correct me if I'm wrong but I thought these forums were to help people, not just blast them and insult them. Please show me where her response is in any way helpful. I would never do that to anyone. I also don't remember saying my friend isn't unhappy we're not staying with her, quite the opposite actually. Anyway, you usually give good advice so I'm surprised by your comment. I won't be coming back here, too much negativity.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2015 at 3:57AM
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