Several decades ago, one of my relatives, “Tammy,” moved across the country. She does her best to make several cross-country trips each year (except during COVID, of course) to visit those of us who stayed “back home.” During those trips, it is generally her expectation that we will host and transport her from one place to another because she is making a significant outlay for a round-trip plane ticket. Because I know how much my family enjoys seeing Tammy, and because I enjoy seeing Tammy, and because I am the closest person to a major airport, I am often called to do much of the hosting and transporting. We are talking hundreds of miles and hundreds of dollars each trip in addition to an outlay of my own time, the offering of my space, and the work that I do helping to coordinate logistics.
Tammy had planned a significant visit this spring that happened to fall in the midst of a very busy, very stressful time for me. I had been feeling a lot of anxiety about all the logistics involved in this visit, which included having to shuttle Tammy between several sets of relatives and to host her in my home. So, in a boundary-setting first, I blew the whole thing up: I called everyone and said that I wasn’t going to be available. As a result of this decision, Tammy ended up having to cancel her entire trip.
Now, she has rescheduled for August. I won’t be doing as much shuttling and hosting, due in part to some additional boundaries I set. But I’m struggling with conflicting feelings: wanting to see Tammy on the one hand (and wanting to help facilitate her visits to other relatives, especially the ones who are unable to fly out to see her in her home) and feeling totally and completely taken advantage of (my time, my travel, my money, my home). How can I talk to her about this, and how can I best advocate for myself, without causing a permanent rift in our family.
— Host with the Least