Will you feel guilty? At times, but guilt only sticks around when you're feeding it with validation of having done something wrong in the first place.

If you’re estranged from your family or going through conflict with them, due to The Holidays you may feel under pressure to resolve issues or ‘forget’ them. You may want to spend time with your family and may even be thinking about some family members being of a certain age, but at the same time you don’t want to compromise you, which is different to finding a compromise or retaining your individual perspectives and respecting them.

Yes you’re someone’s child, sibling, cousin, aunt/uncle etc., but anything that you choose to do, do from a grownup perspective, not that of a child, because when you adopt a child-to-parent/grownup role in the dynamic, you end up assigning the other person far too much power and they’ll fulfil their role and treat you like a child plus with all of the anxiety you’ll no doubt experience, they’ll feel powerful in your mind.

Remember that it’s just December and it’s just The Holidays. This can be a special time but it’s really what you make it and you don’t have to make it in the way you think others expect you to, especially if this runs counter to your own needs, expectations and wishes.

95% of people I know have family that ‘act up’ when they’re all together irrespective of burning issues or not. It’s easy to become convinced that ‘everybody else’ has the family and the Christmas gatherings that you want; yeeeeah…they very likely don’t. Most people I know have a relative (or few) that drink way too much, an attention seeker, the over opinionated, the smiling passive aggressive, a bossy boots, a martyr, an eternal child in adult packaging, a perceived ‘favourite’, and someone who would pick a fight with a paper bag.

December may be the perfect excuse to open the lines of communication, possibly because you’ve done your own grieving and processing on the situation and you’re in a good place and hopefully they have too. It’s hopefully not that December is being used to press the Reset Button and more that it’s being used as a means of taking the last step towards making peace with one another. It doesn’t mean everything is ‘fixed’ but it may be that you’re each being realistic enough to be able to come back together and start working things out.

December can also be the perfect excuse to try to shove everything under the carpet. Whether it’s you or others doing the sweeping, issues are being ‘parked’ when actually, even if they’re not resolved yet, acknowledgement and actively working towards resolving them and improving the relationship instead of pretending they don’t exist so that you can sit down and eat turkey together later this month, would be far more beneficial to the relationship. It’s like agreeing to push down your feelings in the hope that you’ll be swept up in the festivities and that you’ll all be humbled and changed by the month of December.

If you don’t tow the party line, you may have people rumbling about you being a “spoiler” but it’s important to realise that they’re all huddled around their own perspective which they’re entitled to.

Just because you think one thing and a group of people think another, doesn’t mean that because you’re outnumbered that you’re “wrong” – it just means that they share similar values and that this particular perspective suits them.

It’s also likely that there’s a benefit to maintaining that perspective even if it’s warped, it’s just that it’s not beneficial to you unless you want to trade your own perspective to be “in” with the gang.

I’ve seen it time and again in families that have lies, secrets, and abuse in them – they’d rather close rank on the people in reality than come out of denial. The seeming rejection can be incredibly painful but it’s not about you and very much about clinging to a perspective that blocks truth, accountability and responsibility.

What are you supposed to do? You’ve got to leave them to it and protect you because if participating in the lies goes against your own values and would actually bust your boundaries and cause you emotional and even physical harm, or even affect people who are dependent on you, it’s not worth it.

Family and love are more than words that get trotted out.  

Family does need some action behind it and you can’t cherry pick when you want to call “family” (normally when there’s some showboating going on or to guilt you into doing what they want) but then not actually behave like family. Being family also doesn’t give someone the right to press the Reset Button or to lack remorse or to basically do as they like as if they’re an exception to boundaries while no doubt clamping down their own boundaries on you.

Over the past few months, I’ve gradually begun to come to terms with the loss I experienced with my father and his family when I got married earlier this year and I’ve learned that you have to respect your own perspective and respect people’s right to have theirs… even if you don’t agree with it or it makes you incompatible. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t be able to have any relationship at all (although it might) but what it does mean is that you adjust your expectations and don’t keep expecting them to revolutionise the wheel to validate you.

They can be that way, they can do their thing, they can cloak themselves in as much bullshit as they like but you don’t have to participate. They either have to save their behaviour and bullshit for someone who will accommodate them, or they’ve got to know their limits with you.

I’m not trying to change my family and I won’t be trying to get them to co-sign my perspective. One of the things I’ve realised is that all the people pleasing in the world isn’t going to stop people from thinking, saying and doing what they want to do, and that includes your family, so you may as well get on with the business of being you.

Will you feel guilty? At times, but guilt only sticks around when you’re feeding it with validation of having done something wrong in the first place.

If you remind you of why you’ve made certain choices and know that you’re doing the best that you can under the circumstances instead of trying to take all of the blame and responsibility for the whole family, that guilt dissipates and has less and less power each time it strikes. It’s normal to want to be loved and approved of by your family and yeah of course you want their approval, but the sky won’t fall down without it especially as you’re a grownup now.

You could spend the rest of your adult life trying to change family certain members and it’s not that they couldn’t do with changing but you do eventually have to question why you invest your energy there when you could be taking personal responsibility for your own life and moving forward. You can choose to respond to them differently including taking whatever protective measures you need to.

Who your family are shouldn’t stop you from being who you are.

If you spend time together this month, don’t go ready for battle or feeling like a victim. Go as a grownup and because you want to, not because you’re looking for approval, or to right the wrongs of the past, or hoping that you doing this, will make them do ‘that’. Go without The Brady Bunch fantasy and just enjoy it for what it is. Since I expect my family to behave like crackerjacks, instead of being a ball of anxiety, I look forward to being entertained and knowing that their antics haven’t got a damn thing to do with who I am.

You could of course choose not to go, but do so from a positive place and own your choice instead of looking for validation on it, because if you’re going to spend the whole month and beyond ruminating on it or feeling guilty, sure you might as well have gone along and put your best foot forward.

Will you be able to ‘forget’ everything? No, but if you’ve dealt with how you feel, you can go there ready to move on instead of simmering or expectant of change.

he's just not that special mug

Your thoughts?

Get in the self-esteem spirit and grab yourself a He’s/She’s Just Not That Special mug, magnet or postcard frommy Zazzlestore.

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50 Responses to When You Feel Under Pressure From Family To ‘Forget’ a Drama Just In Time For The Holidays

  1. Excellent advice Nat, and perfect timing too!

  2. Joribah says:

    I absolutely love this quote: “One of the things I’ve realised is that all the people pleasing in the world isn’t going to stop people from thinking, saying and doing what they want to do, and that includes your family, so you may as well get on with the business of being you.” This is the place I’m in now and I’ve finally decided to carve out my own path even if it’s different from my Mom and Aunts. This is a very freeing concept to me and I have to say how much of a blessing this post is to me particularly right at this moment. You are an awesome writer, keep doing what you do!

  3. Mia says:

    Great article! I recently had to make the choice to remove my only sister from my life. A sister whom I adored,made numerous sacrifices for only to be paid back by her leaving me on the hook for an apt we rented together while she ran off with an older man who dated me in my teens while he was married. I’ve tried to go the route of sweeping our issues under the rug but her callous haughty self absorbed nature and denials of what went on, began to make me bitterly angry and upset so I went no contact and I feel so good about my choice. Of course my family sees her as the victim and think I should just get over her betrayals but I’m doing what is best for my life and no one can decide that but me and god!

  4. E says:

    Perfect description of my family. Thanks!, I needed this:) My dad is a verbally abusive narcissist. Can’t be around him anymore…It’s too sick…. and I’m way to sensitive.

  5. selkie says:

    I live 3000 miles away from my family. Miles are a good buffer. My grown son lives here in the same town as me, so we have tiny little holidays together, just the two of us. I miss having a family I can relate to, but I’ve tried many times and finally just let it go after so many horrendous encounters with them. I send cards and gifts, because I do care, but I’d need a gallon of whiskey, earplugs and a gag in my mouth to be around them. Sad but true. And I don’t even drink. My Mom is the exception. She lives 3000 miles away too, but we get along great.

  6. Paula says:

    I can’t tell you how much your posts have meant to me, realising I’m not alone with all the BS that goes on in our lives.
    I know this isn’t related to your current post but I have finally dumped and gone NC on the assclown I have been involved with for nearly 6 years. 6 years of absolute crap with a true assclown!
    What was I thinking? Living of the ‘potential’ of a relationship and wanting to be the exception to his rule? Crazy! He’s also a chopper, I read that post and thought, you must know this guy I was involved with, it was so spot on.
    I can feel my self esteem coming back and I keep reading and re-reading a lot of your previous posts to keep myself grounded and ‘real’. I’m re-defining my boundaries and I have started a list of how well I’m going to love, care and respect myself from now on. I’m going to live by my new rules and I am finally learning how to say NO and mean it with family, friends and anyone else who think they can treat me like I don’t matter – OMG, I was such a doormat. Empowering.
    I was searching for answers and found you and I can’t say how glad I am that I did.
    Thank you Natalie. I hope your holiday break over Christmas is great. I know I’m going to have a great one with my family and friends.

  7. Elise says:

    This is a wonderful article – I’ve realised that I’ve spent a lot of time looking to my family for validation of events that they deny happened – it sounds silly in writing but it really took me a long time to see it. It’s been frustrating and painful at times. I love this article because it’s reminded me that it’s okay and right to own my choices and make ones that sit well with me, and if this means not supporting someone else’s perspective then that’s okay, the sky really won’t fall down :) Thank-you NML. Happy holidays :)

  8. Grizelda says:

    If you spend time together this month, don’t go ready for battle or feeling like a victim. Go as a grownup and because you want to, not because you’re looking for approval, or to right the wrongs of the past, or hoping that you doing this, will make them do ‘that’.

    My favourite. You heard of going No Contact? How about going No Agenda when it comes to family visits. No Agenda is a distant cousin of No Contact that requires the same level of internal stamina, self-awareness and zen-like self-discipline in the face of myriad bad behaviour, stupid lies, nasty little digs, boring old stories, and farting at the dinner table by people we’re supposed to be related to.

    When I turned 32 or 33 years of age, I finally decided, in a fit of selfish pique, ‘I can’t make progress with these people. I have all this priceless wisdom and well-informed opinion and excellent suggestions I’ve been trying to foist on them all this time, and they never appreciate it. I give up. Let ‘em wallow in their own muck.’ So I stopped trying to, er, improve them. I went No Agenda. They didn’t improve. But I certainly did.

    Now I’m going to make sure on Christmas morning I get me a great big steaming mug of “He’s Just Not That Special”. Santa is so putting that into my stocking this Christmas.

    • Elle says:

      That’s where I am getting to right now, Griz. Practised it on Sunday – visited the parents without an agenda and simply tried to sit back a little, in a nice way, and let them take the lead or not. I remember with the AC, he’d watch me a lot; really examine my movements and reactions. In the same way as that did not foster anything near acceptance, beauty or growth, I have to let go a little with my family and see where it goes. I imagine my parents too feel tense about what their (adult) kids expect of them, and then start behaving in a childish or defensive manner. Ready to move on! Thanks Nat!

    • Sadder but Wiser says:

      Another close cousin that doesn’t get trotted out enough is “No Taking Everything Personally.” It’s not easy to practice this on a permanent basis, but for one holiday, for a few hours, taking a break from giving people the power to push your buttons is certainly doable. When you choose to do this, it’s amazing how bad behavior, stupid lies, nasty little digs, boring old stories and farting lose their ability to offend you and rob you of your inner peace. What freedom this is! Happiness at last!

    • dancingqueen says:

      I usually disconnect with too much wine: could I now just label this “no agenda”? It sounds better:) “I must go get a glass of No Agenda, Ho Ho Ho”

  9. Karina says:

    I happen to love my family deeply and since one of my siblings, my dad and my birthday fall in December, we see it as a chance to celebrate one more year of our lives and be grateful for it. Even when we had extended family gatherings, we put all the petty BS aside and made sure it was all about being grateful to ending a year in good health and love in whatever form that came in. I think many people have lost the idea of what Christmas (or whatever holiday they celebrate) is supposed to mean. Not saying that all the nast stuff should be forgotten, but I have slowly learned that the quicker I forgive people and even myself for all the drama, the faster I move on. Maybe December should just be seen as that, the month when you get to really put your past behind you and look to a new year with a fresh pair of eyes and definitely no baggage whatsoever.

    • SM says:

      Karina I love my family too and I am really close to them. I wish I lived in the same city with them so I could visit more often, I really do. None of them are perfect and we all can be control freaks every once in a while but I wouldnt give them up. I love the holidays, I even love my drug addicted brother whom I never see but when I do I’m just happy to visit and the days when he’s stolen from all of us are long forgotten (we just hide our purses). This years going to be hard because of my sister and her husbands difficulty (basically we’re all pi–ed off at him) but we are still going to celebrate the holiday and not discuss their troubles because we cant do anything about it anyway.

  10. miskwa says:

    A long time ago, my family used to try and act “normal” in front of relatives. I used to like that time because there would be no tension, no fighting till they left. Eventually the parental alcoholism got so bad that the facade couldn’t hold up for even a few hours. I remember shamefully apologizing to my step grandmother for HER daughters and my fathers behavior. My remaining relative, my dad and I have a tacit agreement to ignore the holidays completely. So much easier to avoid the food gorging, consumption crazed event. Besides, neither of us is Christian anyway and this is supposed to be a religious thing right? This year, in my grieving, I intend to get as far into the backcountry as possible. Many tell me to accept the role of unwanted stray dog and settle for not having anyone at the xmas party (while AC is there with his latest) and to accept being alone and run the soup kitchen, scoop cat boxes at the animal shelter etc. I do this sort of thing all year, let the happy couples push their stuffed bellies from the table and do their part for a day. I’m going to try and commune with the mountain lions instead.

    • selkie says:

      Miskwa,

      I always feel best in the back country too. I feel a kind of freedom and inner peace when I’m in the alpine that holds no judgment over me. It’s calming and challenging at the same time. If I didn’t spend xmas with my son, I’d be hoofing it out into no mans land too. Waking up, crawling out into the quiet with cozy down and having pancakes and hot coffee next to a campfire on xmas day sounds divine. Next to a river, even better.

      I wish the holidays were more simple like that. Have fun and be safe. Careful of the Big Kitties.

  11. G-Money says:

    I am totally getting one of those mugs!!!

  12. Gina says:

    My dysfunctional evil, crazy parents are dead. My 80 year-old aunt, who now has Alzheimer’s and Dementia, no longer causes drama. So I am planning on spending a lovely Xmas with her at the board and care home where she resides. The rest of the wacko nut jobs live out if state, so I don’t have to interact with them. Instead, I plan on spending the remaining holidays with a lovely friend, her husband, and children. I am learning to embrace those who show me that they genuinely care for me. What a wonderful feeling!!

  13. Vel says:

    Hi there everyone, hope your having an awesome day! This is another bruilliant article, I love all of the articles on this site they are really helpful and personally have made such a positive difference in my life and my own self-esteem. Thank you so much for writing them Natalie, you are a massive inspiration, I can very much relate to so much of this and your experiences too, and I feel so inspired that you have overcome challenges inthe past and turned them into a positive thing that has made you so strong and inspirational on so many levels and I am striving to be the same myself. Thank you.
    I always find myself back on this website guiding myself though the articles, re-reading what I need and continung to grow and make better and better decisions in my own life as I’m learning to love myself and also turn my past into a positive that helps others too. I really admire your srength and since finding your site and books I have been becoming a stronger woman too…and it is filling me with more and more self pride and self-love which feels so good especially since I used to be filled with a bit of self-loathing, when i used to think the way people treated me kind of reflected on who I must be as a person, especially in my family and early rocky relationships, but as I’ve grown and matured I’ve realised I do have a choice…and I am a good person, and I do deserve love like all of us and I needed to be the strong one for me.ANd I needed to be responsible in being available and able to give healthy love and choose available people for my life; And also to be aware of the signs when they are not, because some Mr unavailables or arse-clowns are so good at trying to pull the wool over our eyes, but this insight gives us wool-wipers to be able to see the sheep-dags hanging from their arses that they try to hide as they are striving for another ego stroke or other sence of ego pump-up that only ends up deflating our own feelings of healthy esteem if we put up with it. :)
    SO thank you again. And I love your sence of humour and way of saying things, it always hits the nail on the head.ha :)
    This is a perfect article for this time of year, when it comes to family it can be so easy to suddenly have a different set of boundaries with them and to let them get away with pushing buttons that we wouldnt allow others to do so. Especially around this time of year.And especially if we have a dysfunctional family, I know mine is, hardly anyone speaks to anyone.ANd you were so spot on using the word “gangs”, it can be interesting how some family can gang up in little groups of like minded people who support them in sometimes…(and your spot on again) helping them hide from their own responsiblitiy adding more fingers to be able to point at others as they play blame games while only really hurting or stunting themselves in the process :)
    And I have been dealing with an issue of knowing..at what point do we “walk” from a family member if they too continue to cross our electric fences, people can love us in their own ways but those ways can still be harmful or be acually them trying to meet their own needs…And sometimes when people do BIG things it can be easier to say NEXT,but when it is lots of little continual things it can at times feel a bit tricker. so this article was great because it touched on a great topic…. because if a romantic relationship breaks our boundaries it can feel a lot easier to say…NEXT, but with family.. doing whats right for us can come with a lot of repercussions .. (the whole gang may gang up) or even eventuate in us having to be without family at all…but at least we can know we love ourselves enough to treat ourselves with dignity.

    Have a really wonderful chrismas everyone, take care
    Best wishes
    Vella

  14. K says:

    Great post, Natalie…

    I went no contact with all of my biological family members a few years ago. When my family gets together, the roles assigned are still acted and played out… and well, it’s all bullshit. I was in the role of scapegoat and had to decide if it was worth continuing to play. My sperm donor is a psychopath and extremely abusive, my siblings golden child narcs. SWEET! Wow, should I go?

    It was a pretty simple answer, once a series of very abusive events occurred a few years ago giving me a clear indication that nothing would change.

    I just took my ball and went home.

    This year will be quiet, as has been the last two years. This year will be much better than the last, because the holiday is coming without drama. It’s still feels a little different but hella better than living in FEAR of what would come down if I went to bio fam emotional nuclear power plant. Inevitable meltdown.

    I’m working on healing with my children right now, and that is far more important to me than some old farts who can’t change the status quo. I’m sure without a scapegoat, I will be sorely missed. Perhaps my sister will bring her dog and he can fill the role. He’s already on meds for depression. I’m not kidding.

    Have a Merry Christmas!!

  15. lo j says:

    K … POOR PUPPY! That’s funny and sad.
    Love the mug, though might be a problem if one were coupled. Hee!
    Does it say, “But I am” on the bottom of the mug??!

    • k says:

      lo J,

      It’s sad. The last time I saw my sister now, a few years ago, the dog was in the closet, HOWLING…he’d go in there and literally howl for hours! My family is a bit wealthy, so they could afford a doggie vet/psych who diagnosed him with depression and put him on meds!

      Before that, I’d never heard of it. I’ve had to put my dog on pain meds and benadryl because he’s a wiener with serious back issues, but anti depressants for a DOG?

      Living in la la land…

      • Lilia says:

        Well nothing surprises me anymore… did y´all see those dogs in New Zealand who were taught how to drive? One of them looked so happy behind the wheel, I seriously thought he´d make a great date!
        Just kidding, but wouldn´t it be nice to have a partner who was as loyal and easygoing as a dog?

  16. Victorious says:

    Will get myself a mug for xmas!! For the first time in many years I am spending Christmas without my narc mother and I could not be happier about it. It took a huge amount of engineering to arrange this and I intend to enjoy every second. So she will be frustrated, unable to criticise everything I do and say, making snide comments about me to my daughter, making racist remarks and generally trying to wind me up. It will be a very quiet and hopefully very peaceful time. Just what I need. This experience with the ex narc has opened my eyes to how I fell prey to him in the first place, because of my family background. I need to establish boundaries with everyone in my life, and I know I will be far happier and peacful as a result.

    • k says:

      Victorious!

      GOOD FOR YOU! EXCELLENT! YAY!

      If you are have a disordered free holiday, it can’t be anything but great! You are VERY BRAVE! I hope your Christmas is the best ever!

      If anyone thinks they might just be dealing with a Grinch this year (disordered variety), see if these characteristics and traits match for you.

      http://theabilitytolove.wordpress.com/2012/12/10/definition-of-psychopathy-and-narcissism-characteristics-and-traits/

      • swissmiss says:

        Christmas alone at the beach. Nature asks for nothing but gives so much. Depleted from giving, giving, giving. Need to replenish with fresh air and blue skies. I broke with my family years ago, and although we see each other and are in touch, I manage my exposure very carefully. Since the estrangement, I have met so many women who have walked away, too. And like me, felt no guilt. Liberating.

      • Lilia says:

        Thanks for the link, K. I spent my afternoon reading about psychopaths and narcissist yesterday, it was fascinating in a morbid way because it was like finding an exact description of my ex EUM!
        It was also a relief, somehow.
        I really need a reminder now and then about the strangeness of this guy. NC tends to make me forget a little what a horrible time I had with him, much like you forget the horrors of childbirth after a while.
        Now, whenever I think of him, I tell myself “he´s a predator, he´s a predator”. It´s the best description of him I´ve come up with.
        I´m feeling a bit like little red riding hood now which is ironic because when I was little there was nothing scarier to me than a wolf.

        • K says:

          Lilia,

          Good for you! It takes a long time for survivors of psychopaths/narcissists/sociopaths to absorb their experiences, as well as the disordered partner as a reality.

          Relief comes because you understand that their behavior and how they treated you was NOT your fault..the hard part comes when you have to examine WHY you were in a relationship with a predator. I put it into different terms when referring to my ex, snake works pretty good because of the analogy with shedding skin and moving on..morphing and appearing different to a new victim. The value in labeling the behavior, isn’t really about the label or the content, once you understand it, it’s about being able to minimize them in your mind and putting them and the relationship within the context of reality. Getting away is dodging a bullet.

          You did good!

  17. dancingqueen says:

    “I’ve seen it time and again in families that have lies, secrets, and abuse in them – they’d rather close rank on the people in reality than come out of denial. The seeming rejection can be incredibly painful but it’s not about you and very much about clinging to a perspective that blocks truth, accountability and responsibility.”

    Yes, exactly, it is not personal. It is about their own ego survival.

    “What are you supposed to do? You’ve got to leave them to it and protect you because if participating in the lies goes against your own values and would actually bust your boundaries and cause you emotional and even physical harm, or even affect people who are dependent on you, it’s not worth it.”

    Yes, protecting me. I am sending a card and a gift to my dad and stepmother because he can’t be nice on the phone:) They also get email only now.

    I am visiting my bro and my sister-in-law and my niece and nephew. My bro might say a few passive aggressive remarks but my sister-in-law and others are fine.Furthermore since I also have my new/old tactic-glass o no agenda, see above:)-it should be a fun holiday.

    Happy Holidays everyone!

    Thanks for the validation.

  18. Jule says:

    It’s Day 21 NC from AC and today he broke contact by getting to my online profile on a dating site and sending me a message, not a nice one. He doesn’t say anything normal like hi or how are you? He calls me the angry one. This is what he says because I blocked him everywhere else. I was tempted to respond but soooo glad now that I didn’t respond. He doesn’t deserve a reply. I blocked the pseudo profile he was using. I guess I can’t really stop him from doing that again from another profile but I won’t reply regardless. If he had been nice and apologetic, I would have been tempted. But he kinda makes it easy to dislike him.

    • malaise says:

      What a moronic ass. Good job on not responding- any reaction would’ve validated his importance, when in reality his opinion means jacksh*t. No contact sends the best message that he no longer has any power over you, he’s worthless.

      Don’t ever get suckered in by “apologetic” either, because he might try and come back at you from that angle. I did, and the second I did he just turned right back around into douchebag mode. Give them an inch and they’ll take a mile. Guys like these are only capable of mindgames, it’s about what they WANT, not how they genuinely feel. They have ZERO comprehension of what authenticity is.

  19. runnergirl says:

    Of course, spot on Natalie. I’ve been NC with my father and family for many years before I knew what NC meant. I just knew continuing to live their lie wasn’t going to work, even in December. As you describe, when I initially opted out of the dysfunction, lies, secrets, and abuse, my siblings closed ranks big time. I’ve just started reconnecting with my siblings for the holidays. They know I’m not sticking around for one drop of dysfunctional BS. Last year, we all met at a restaurant and had a nice visit. I may try to arrange something again this year, maybe. It is the case that I had to opt out to protect my daughter and myself. However, it sucks to see my daughter make plans to be with her father and his family and I can’t make plans with my daughter and my family. I understand the loss you must feel with your father. It is really difficult to grow up and enforce boundaries with your family. I feel deficient in not being able to provide my daughter with that “perfect” Christmas with family. I’ve got the house decorated and the tree up (still have to shop) “BUT” it’s never the same on Christmas morning. Dang. Giant lump in my throat…

  20. Flavia says:

    Thank you, Natalie, for another brilliant article.

    Here is a question to Natalie and readers:

    I am successfully NC with an EUM who I went no contact with a year ago. He was my affair, I am still married but separated from my husband.

    What should I say to the men that ask me out? I have baggage I need to sort out before I start a new relationship, so I am not in a position for anything romantic now. But friendship is a possibility. I probably should just be honest about it. What if it’s a coworker and I don’t want to spill too many detail of my personal life which is kind of a mess now?

    • natashya says:

      flavia, work on sorting out your personal life before you even start ‘friendships’ (hah) with men who ask you out. if you are still dealing with baggage, you are almost certainly EU yourself.

    • Jule says:

      I agree with what others said here — you are not ready. Sort out you first. And by the way…not only is telling anyone at work a bad idea, you don’t have to tell anyone anything about your previous relationships or the nature of them. It really isn’t a requirement to give the lowdown on everything. Personally when I date a man, I really don’t want to hear everything about the past relationship. It’s exhausting to hear it and I know that there are 2 sides to the story anyway. I would just rather see how they behave and carry themselves with me and how they treat me.

  21. miskwa says:

    Flavia
    Never, ever, disclose too much to a co worker. That is a place where there are just too many power relationships, people do talk, and if the friendship (or whatever) goes south, you cannot get away from them without losing your job and possibly having to leave the area if you are living in a small town. This is nearly two years of pain, inability to move on, inability (right now anyway) to move away speaking here. Learn from my very bad example, eh?

  22. Atrophy says:

    I have reconnected with my extended family after 5 years, since they live on different continents. We had a family reunion and everyone flew in from all over the world. It was a blast and reaffirmed for all of us how important and valuable family is. I am truly grateful this holiday season, it was the best gift.

    I had plans to get coffee/drinks with the ex-EUM from the 6+ yr “casual relationship” this upcoming weekend however seeing new pix of him & his current gf at an staff xmas party was quite off-putting.

    We’ve been in touch randomly but I think that maybe seeing him around The Holidays could be tricky. I’m single, 2 failed attempts at trying to move past my own unavailability. He seems happy and though I’ve done the work and moved on, I think it may be a slippery slope if he starts talking about how happy he is or what they have planned together for the holidays.

    I have been grateful overall that we were able to remain friends, we don’t have frequent communication, perhaps every 6 weeks or so, there is a brief email or text. I think this is respectful to both of us and the conversation hasn’t been inappropriate.

    I hate that seeing that picture but a damper on my day. I feel like he gets the cake and gets to eat it too. My last dalliance was with a guy friend, he’s around still and things are back to normal with us (as friends). So overall I don’t have anything to complain about except feeling a little lonely.

    I asked myself why I want to stay friends with the ex-EUM, and it’s because I only have 4 deep friendships in my life, I had a recent “break-up” in a long-term female friendship and have been distant with my best friend too.

    This makes me feel quite lonely since I live alone. My goal for the new year is to branch out with my hobbies (since they are mostly solitary ones) and cultivate new deep friendships. I’m considering getting a pet too but I wonder if that’s the equivalent of throwing in the towel.

  23. Flavia says:

    To the above comments about co-workers asking you out before you are ready to start dating again:
    How do you politely decline their offer? Especially if it’s someone who is above you in the rank and you may possibly have to work with them?

    I have been asked out by a man who is my superior and turns out that he is friends with my ex-UM’s friend! He doesn’t realize that, but I certainly don’t want that whole mess to come to surface.

    Natalie,

    perhaps you can write an article on the subject of dating at work. How do you deal with a situation when you start seeing a colleague and then it turns out he is an AC/UM?

    • jewells says:

      Dating a work superior is an instant power imbalance – big red flag.
      Also, birds of a feather flock together! Not only the risk of the ‘mess’coming up is a reality, but he may also may very well already know, but not letting you privy to it – you are in a vulnerable vulnerable position if you are considering this person. I would suggest politely declining “I’m flattered, but I’m not dating at the moment” or something along those lines – inoffensive as you are putting the rejection on your ‘unreadiness’ not really ‘rejecting’ him…

    • dancingqueen says:

      Hi Flavia,

      That should be an easy one. “I know you professionally and I never, ever date people in the workplace. It is just not my thing..”

    • natashya says:

      i actually find it slightly inappropriate for a superior to ask you out on a date. you don’t need to explain yourself, you can just say you’re not dating at the moment. what’s wrong with that?

      i am personally very weary about dating co-workers. especially after reading so many stories here. dealing with a break up is hard enough, but gets exponentially complicated when you have to continue working together.

    • La Pintura Bella says:

      Flavia:

      You have a couple of options. First, you can just politely say thank you for asking, but I am married. No need to explain about the separation, etc. and it IS the truth. You could also say, thank you, but I have a policy of not mixing business with pleasure (i.e., dating people I work with.) You don’t OWE ANYONE an explanation. Just be pleasant and thank them for asking but say no.

      As for your SUPERIOR at work asking you out, that is actually considered a form of sexual harassment, is highly inappropriate and is also illegal.

    • Victorious says:

      Seriously Flavia, DON’T DO IT!!! This is a recipe for total disaster. Please find romantic prospects outside of your workplace. Just think how you will feel if they dump you and make life difficult for you at work. How you will feel if they then start dating someone else and it is rubbed in your face. Daily.

      • Sadder but Wiser says:

        Ugh, this whole thread is making me wince, as I was an idiot who not only dated a coworker, but that coworker was my BOSS! A total recipe for disaster. Instant power imbalance, as was mentioned. It would have been one thing if he had actually loved and respected me, but he didn’t. It speaks volumes about a person’s ethics when he can have sex with a subordinate he doesn’t even care about. It means he doesn’t have any.

        “Just think how you will feel if they dump you and make life difficult for you at work. How you will feel if they then start dating someone else and it is rubbed in your face. Daily.” Exactly what happened to me. Total misery. You never feel comfortable at work again, ever. I got out fairly quickly, but not everybody can. Don’t even start down that road!!

  24. Jennifer says:

    My family is fucking nuts. Okay, I mean we all keep up appearances (me included. barf.) But….it is insane how we all (me included) relate. There is so much damn gossip. I got the latest scoop from an aunt I normally wouldn’t hang around (lost my keys and needed a ride) due to the through the roof drama. And I swear it’s FUCKING BANANAS how much effort some of my family members put in to CREATING drama. Insane. It was entertaining to hear for two seconds, they I just felt tired, sad for all involved, scared because I used to act like that, and sorrowful that my family is too emotionally immature to act with love, care, trust and respect and sad that these people with so much potential are creating so much needless chaos. To be fair I did ask my aunt what the “scoop” was. And that is a question I WILL NOT be asking EVER. AGAIN. Ah, and this Christmas my crazy family is spending it with what I think is not crazy family (I don’t know them too well, but by all regards they seem like down right lovely people). There will for sure be good food in a lovely home with some people I respect. So I’d say I’m pretty satisfied with that.

    And then I remember: my father and I aren’t speaking. But to tell you the truth I’m sorrowful. I’m sad he treated me so horrifically that just in order to maintain sanity and emotional health, I have to continuously distance myself from him. Too bad, I’m a damn good daughter. I was a lovely child and am becoming a pretty dang neat woman. I can’t change him and I WON’T LET HIM RUIN MY CHRISTMAS. Side note: He “forgot” to get me something for the past three Christmas’ while showering my sister with gifts and I’d get him something because I felt guilty for expecting a gift and thought it was something I’d done to make him forget about me. Again. Now I’m forgetting about the narcissistic a hole and moving on with my life. He can’t hurt me anymore. Not unless I let him. And those days are over. I’m gone.

    • teachable says:

      I’ve just put a stop to my sister’s drama telling talents.

      funnily enough she could spend literally hours telling me about “insert latest drama involving other other people with herself meddling in the middle of it” but after I told I would no longer be listening to such BS, & was only interested in hearing news about herself and HER family she chose to she merely TEXT an update on some GENUINE & LEGITIMATE health issues she is having.

      When I called her back in relation to that a day or two later she had NOTHING to say about it!!!

      I was left shaking my head in wonderment and the dyfunctionality of it all!!! LOL

  25. teachable says:

    Good post. Skipping xmas with family here. im genuinely too ill. if they want to see me, they can make the effort to come & visit me, afterwards, if they wish. i have a responsibility to look after my health first. they come second. no guilt here!

  26. teachable says:

    PS Merry Xmas everyone! Giggle!

  27. teachable says:

    K. My counsellor referred to me getting away from my deceased ex as dodging a CANONBALL!! LMAO!!

    PS, Not sure what u can do abt the ptsd triggers w the new victim. I do hav similar exp (diff context). After some yrs, the triggers in the new area eventually faded to nothing, but like u, in the early yrs, I changed my routine to avoid the triggers.

    Cant help but wonder tho if new ‘victim’ ought to be outright warned? If you were in her position, wouldnt you want to be? (Only seeing as she is right there under yr nose to do so. Not suggesting u stalk all his future love interests etc. However, warning this one & letting her know the unfortunate sitch tht u hav come to now b in same area might who knows, even prompt HER to move?)

  28. Dark Chocolate says:

    I’ve just returned from spending the holidays with my younger sister and her family. It was awful. She has these vicious spiteful roaring outbursts which terrify and incapacitate me, so I tend to be subdued around her, walk on egg shells, and hold all my resentment in. Not good for my blood pressure! And much to my disgust, I end up indulging in some childish and immature passive-aggressive behaviour. Not only that, I find her negativity, pessimism and self-centeredness so draining and exhausting to listen to. I feel that she sucks the life out of me. I try to maintain boundaries but I get so worn down with having to deal with her. I actually cut my holiday short and came home early as I decided it was the healthiest thing I could do for myself, removing me from the situation and her. (I live abroad so the physical distance helps).

    Then I came to the realisation one morning that I don’t like my sister. In fact, if she wasn’t my sister I would have stopped contact with her years ago, which led me to think, why should being my sister make her exempt from that? I’ve tried minimising the time I spend with her, but I now have reached the point where one day with her is too much. And you know what? I don’t feel bad for thinking that. It actually feels freeing.

    I want people in my life who enhance it, not detract from it, whether it be family, lovers or friends. If being with someone makes me feel bad or in pain, they are not the people I want to be with.

My Book - Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl

Stop believing that you did something to make them unavailable or that their inadequacies are down to your inadequacies - it is not about you; they are unavailable!

My Book - Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl

Stop believing that you did something to make them unavailable or that their inadequacies are down to your inadequacies - it is not about you; they are unavailable!
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