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Arbitration/Mediation/Mediating with a friend


Hi James,
I have a very complicated situation. I am a 35 year old woman, living with my widowed mother, as I have more health problems than any adult has a right to, so naturally, I have no money. I am trying to run a business on my own, however, I only get paid by those willing to pay for my services. Lately, Mom and I have not been able to go a day without spending hours fighting. I recently had a life altering surgery, which the side effects have taken over my life. Mom is really mad about the expenses attached, and it's only going to get worse. To complicate matters more, I've done something I'm ashamed of, and will not forgive myself for: I had a medication for rheumatoid arthritis, which insurance tried to deny me coverage for a period of time. I was told by the pharmacist that if I paid out of pocket, and then wrote a letter to my insurance, I would get both reimbursement, and coverage. Although they covered it after that, no reimbursement. The way I got the money is really bad. Mom put me as a signer on my parents' safe deposit box, after Dad passed away, but told me I could only have access to it if she is no longer alive, or if she is present. I dared to take some money to cover medication, and now I cannot get it back. I know Mom will never forgive me for this, if she finds out. I've done favors for people I should not have stooped to, in order to get the money, which is not getting me anywhere, and now I don't want to do it anymore. Getting to the mediation point: I have a friend (we'll call her Juliette), who is 61, whom I feel a particular closeness to, but she knows nothing about this. I am really worried Mom and I are going to reach our breaking point sooner than later, and I could get forced to leave. I am almost tempted to ask Juliette if I could stay with her and her husband, but don't know 1. how to go about it, and 2. I don't think I can do it on my own. I do think Juliette has found me clingy, which is slowly putting us on the rocks, but I need her in my life, like plants need water. With all that I have told you, if the breaking point is reached (and I'm not sure how much longer I can keep my sanity, if I stay at my mother's house), do you think somebody would mediate with Juliette, so I could stay with her? I so want to tell somebody that I have done many dangerous favors, in order to get the money. One of the men I have done this for no longer will pay me anyway, as he finds the bag I now contend with repulsive, and I shouldn't have to stoop to that level, but I feel my self worth means nothing, when compared to what I have done. Mom has done things to annoy me to, such as be oblivious to physical, sexual, and emotional abuse put upon me by my dad's idiot sister, but that does not excuse my choices. I feel like there is no way out, except asking Juliette if I can stay with her. Aside from that, I will have to ask my stepdad if he would lease a car for me, as I have to run my business to pay Mom, but Juliette is the utmost important perspective. Any thoughts would help; I feel trapped, and cannot get out.


You have two things going on here.  

#1. Guilt.

Stop beating up on yourself about your choices.  You did what you did and now it's over.  It does not help to express guilt about your choices now. Stop broadcasting it and just move forward. Get over it and deal with what's happening now.  You need to talk to a counselor or life coach.

#2.  Conflict resolution.  Yes you should mediate with your mother. You should meet with a mediator and list the things you need an agreement on such as rent,food,privacy,etc. In my opinion, do not burn bridges with Juliette.  She is not the answer. You can not help having medical expenses. I don't know what state you live in. You probably qualify for medicaid.  Some states refused the option to expand medicaid to people with little or no money.

#3. Get help.  Find a mediator.  There are groups that will perform community mediation for free. See a social worker.  Your hospital has social workers on staff that can find you resources. Talk to them.

#4. Find a new job.  There are "stay at home" jobs you can get using your phone and Internet like customer service jobs. Search for them.  If they want you to pay something - it's a scam.  


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James Abron, P.E., P.L.S.


I can answer questions about mediation and arbitration of construction, architectural, engineering, environmental, and land use disputes. I am not an attorney and can not give legal advice.


I have extensive experience (35 years)resolving claims and disputes within the public works, commercial and residential construction and design industry. I am a registered civil engineer and licensed land surveyor. I have designed, inspected and managed the construction of streets, highways, parking garages, asbestos, lead and hydrocarbon remediation projects, storm and sanitary sewers, bridges, and pumping stations. I have constructed subdivisions and residential homes. I've also managed the construction of apartment buildings and the renovation of a convention center. I served as an arbitrator for the California Contractors License Board. I have mediated contract, construction and other business cases for the Courts and currently serve on several national mediator panels specializing in the construction/engineering industry.

2nd Judicial Circuit Court of Michigan Panel of Mediators. CDRS National Panel of Construction Mediators. CDRS National Panel for the Construction Expert Witness. American Society of Civil Engineers. Association for Conflict Resolution. Engineering Society of Detroit ADR Committee.

Bachelor of Science, Engineering: Purdue University. Professional Development Degree, Engineering: University of Wisconsin, Madison. Master of Business Administration: Golden Gate University. Certificate Total Quality Management: California State University, East Bay. Certificate Conflict Resolution Specialist: Schoolcraft College

Awards and Honors
Fellow: American Society of Civil Engineers. Professional Engineer, State of Michigan. Registered Civil Engineer, State of California. Licensed Land Surveyor, State of California. General Building & Engineering Contractor, State of California. Construction Site Storm Water Operator, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. Industrial Site Storm Water Operator, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. Project Management Professional, Project Management Institute. Certified Floodplain Manager, Association of State Floodplain Managers. Certified Construction Contract Administrator, Constructions Specifications Institute.

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