Last October I got a call from an elderly woman I had cleaned for briefly. The movers were coming in the morning, she told me, and she asked me to sleep over and I did. Now she calls me three times a day and stays on the phone for more than an hour. Besides her need for friendship, she needs someone to take her shopping, etc., and I have helped her with that. She gives me $7 for gas, though I have told her that I get normally paid for doing what I do for her. I can't leave her because she has no one. Please help direct me spiritually.
Dear Very Frazzled,
You have a right to be upset. This woman's situation is indeed pitiable, but her unwillingness to recognize appropriate boundaries seems to be making your life somewhat pitiable as well.
You say she is alone. Does she truly have no family, or are they alienated from her? Find out who her family are, if she has any, and call them. In addition, find out if there are groups in your city that help the homebound or those in need of assistance, and put them in touch with her.
Next, if you care to, figure out a wage that would allow you to continue this relationship and submit it to her. While I understand your guilt feelings about abandoning her, her behavior has become, however unintentionally, abusive. And you have the moral and spiritual right to protect yourself from such behavior.