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My next door neighbor drinks sometimes, and when she does, she can get angry or overly emotional and sappy. Not sure which is worse. And on any given day, you never know what side of her you will get. The problem for me is that when she’s angry, she says things that make me angry. I’m conflict averse, so I make nice-nice, but then I’m left resenting her and her occasional nasty moods. After that, she is usually pleasant (because she is sober) and in all likelihood, doesn’t remember her offensive acts. But I do! I’m not sure how to handle this. Ideas?
Maybe a higher fence?
The good news is that if you don’t think your neighbor will remember these drunken exchanges she has with you, this is the perfect time to practice standing up for yourself! I do understand the go-along/get-along strategy, particularly with someone in such close proximity who isn’t going anywhere and with whom you have a longstanding relationship. Nevertheless, no need to let her railroad you. It helps to pick some stock phrases to have at the ready, like, “If you’re angry with me, why don’t you come in for some tea and we can talk about it.” Then there is also the more direct “Please don’t speak to me that way. I treat you with respect, let’s make it mutual.” Standing up for yourself will make you feel so much better and I promise you, your worst fear – that someone will hate you, or never forgive you, or be livid with you – rarely, rarely happens. Try it out. Your spine will thank me, even if your sweat glands don’t.
In Jewish tradition, you don’t prepare for a baby’s arrival (showers, names, etc.) until the baby is born. I can only assume that this is because of superstition (no one wants to tempt the fates) and because labor and childbirth used to be so dangerous and unpredictable. My family is Jewish but not very observant. So when my niece invited the women in our family to her baby shower, we were all thrilled to celebrate this joyous occasion with her – or at least most of us were. My sister keeps talking about how “we don’t do it this way,” and “this isn’t right,” even though she herself has cherry-picked the parts of Jewish tradition she adheres to, clearly sticking to the baby-prep thing. I keep telling her she is making this all about herself. Her husband and children agree with me but still, she is thinking of not going because it makes her so “uncomfortable.” What do you think she should do?
I agree with you and your brother-in-law. I think she should put on a happy face and head to the children’s section of her favorite bookstore (books being my go-to baby gift) or start knitting some booties. Your sister can impose rules on her own life but not on your niece’s. She should put aside her discomfort for your niece’s sake. She can keep the traditions she loves in her own family (what is she going to do if one of her own kids wants to have a baby shower?). She certainly doesn’t have to attend the shower, though that seems petty and high horse-ish to me. The only person missing out would be your sister. If she doesn’t want to deliver the gift until the baby is delivered, no problem there, she can just tell your niece that the gift is on its way (and make sure it is). Maybe your sister can use some of her fortitude and conviction to be an advocate for prenatal health care (or universal preschool) in this country. We could use her moxie for the greater good. I’ll let you suggest it to her.
What is the best way to respond to a friend who is an artist (painter/jewelry designer/musician – any kind of art) when you really don’t like their art but don’t want to hurt their feelings?
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