Don’t miss the next live chat: Dr. Andrea Bonior, a licensed clinical psychologist who has been helping readers with Baggage Check since 2005, hosts a weekly live chat at washingtonpost.com on Tuesdays at 1 p.m. She discusses her recent columns and answers any questions you may have about relationships, work, family, mental health and more. Join or read Dr. Andrea’s latest live chat here.
Q. Is it reasonable for me to expect that my sister not share personal details of my life on her podcast? She has a podcast about a health-related topic we both struggle with, and although her audience is on the small side, I am not comfortable with her using my story as an example or, as she claims, “inspiration.” She says I should embrace it and that it is fair for her to use things I tell her because it is part of her experience. —Keep Me Out of It
No, it’s neither fair nor respectful of her to use your personal health details against your wishes in order to win downloads from strangers. And it is shortsighted to think of it as inspiring others when she is doing anything but to her own sibling; you’re not just a plot point.
But, might you forgive her “Oof!”-inducing assumptions long enough to consider a nuanced solution? If you agree with her message, might you still want to give your support to spreading it if it doesn’t violate your privacy? How about a pseudonym, or mangled personal details, or a general statement that uses non-identifying details of your experience? If she’s involved with this cause for the long haul and it affects you both, it’s worth exploring if you want to be part of it in more comfortable ways.
Leaving my job … and a best friend
Q. At my job, morale has deteriorated with multiple layoffs, and I have been doing three people’s job for one salary for far too long. I have gotten a new position elsewhere that is not perfect but at least will improve my daily mental health. But I feel terribly guilty telling my best friend in the office — pretty much the definition of a “work spouse.” She has made it tolerable and been a bright spot for years and I feel like I am betraying her, like leaving the Titanic and not giving her a place on the lifeboat. How do I make this whole process easier and have a shot at maintaining our friendship? —Feeling Guilty
But there’s not a finite number of lifeboats. You didn’t take a spot from her; she can summon one anew, herself.
It’s still great to be considerate in how this news affects her, and not just come running into her cube blasting “Free Bird.” But try to look at the news-breaking as an opportunity to respect and validate your relationship, not as a confession of a crime. “This is hard for me to say, but I’ve gotten another job. One of the only bright spots here is working with you, and so that’s the part of leaving that makes me sad.” Then treat her to lunch. You’re more than deserving of a job that doesn’t take a toll on your mental health, and any true friend will get that, even with the initial panic of watching you put on your life vest.
Send your questions for Baggage Check to Dr. Andrea Bonior at firstname.lastname@example.org. She may answer them in an upcoming column in Express or in a live chat on Tuesdays at 1 p.m. at washingtonpost.com.
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