I am a natural grudge holder so I am trying to become more grateful. But sometimes I just get so angry, I find it hard to get over things. Advice?
Grating instead of grateful
I believe the practice of gratitude is most important when things seem most challenging, not that I’m any expert since, to be honest, I’ve never met a grudge I didn’t love (working on it!). So instead of letting the steam just pour out of your ears, use it to power your engine (Hallmark card, anyone?) …. that kind of thing. I love having a good stew – and I don’t mean gumbo – just like the next guy, but even I have to admit, it’s exhausting.
So when your mother tells you she always liked your sister better than you, think of it as an opportunity to
resent her for the rest of your life be grateful you are so independent and happy on your own. When your boss tells you you’re fired, think of it as an opportunity to bad mouth him all over social media work on your resume-writing skills. And when your husband says he’s having an affair with a 25-year-old, think of it as an opportunity to empty the bank accounts and stash the dough in the Cayman Islands pluck your chin hairs while watching The Bachelor, eating a tub of Chunky Monkey and dancing naked in your living room to Donna Summer. I know, you feel better already. Me too!
My son recently broke up with his girlfriend of five years. I would like to remain in touch with this woman whom I truly like and feel very close to, but I don’t want my son to feel uncomfortable. I could ask my son’s permission, but part of me says it is outdated to ask his permission to maintain this relationship: like, isn’t this acquiescing to patriarchal control?
I totally get where you are coming from! It is hard not to get attached to the partners that come and go in our kids’ lives. And five years is a pretty good stretch.
However! You must defer to your son’s wishes on this one. Not because he is male and you are giving in to patriarchal control, but because you are respectful of your son’s feelings at this (possibly) difficult time. Perhaps the time will come when they will become friends again, he will have sufficiently recovered from the break up or they decide to get back together (but don’t cling to that idea) and you can pick up your friendship with the ex.
But for now, mourn your loss (quietly!), and keep your distance. Think about how you would have felt if your mom stayed friends with one of your exes. Crappy, right? Maybe you can transfer some of that energy into a care package for your son – some homemade sweets, a great book, the possibilities are endless. Then if there’s money left over, buy yourself a treat, even if it’s just a fancy donut. Sugar has a way of making everything better. Except diabetes of course.
I am back living at home with my parents because I hit a rough patch. I needed a place to land and they were nice enough to offer me their place. The problem is, every time I come home, I see this picture on the wall that I hate. It’s a picture from a trip we took (me, my sister, my mom and my grandma) which has sentimental value to the four of us (great trip, three generations of women, etc.) but somehow we all look terrible in the photo! I’ve asked my mother to take it down, but she won’t. How can I convince her to take the picture down because no one except my grandma looks good?
Call me vain
Ok, I will! Just because you don’t like the photo – we are all highly critical of images of ourselves, no matter what we look like – doesn’t give you the right to tell your mom what she can have on her own wall. It sounds like you’ve made your opinion known and despite that, your mom refused to take it down because, get this, she may love it!
Now it is your turn to be the grown up, grin and bear it and be grateful that you have at least one record of what sounds like an amazing jaunt with the women in your family. No one is telling you that you have to put it on your wall – and I suspect you wouldn’t like it if someone did. But I would venture to guess that one day, after you realize that vanity – like the pet rock, sea monkeys and the thigh master – serves no one, does nothing and only adds to the clutter of your life, you will.
Dear Gabby appears in the RoundTable every Monday. Yes, Gabby is an advice columnist – but not just any advice columnist. Because that would be boring! Gabby combines wisdom with wit. And a pinch of snark. She is not a trained therapist by any means, but has seen and loved many in her day. Her aim is to make you think while she makes you laugh. Gabby welcomes all questions and queries and is only too happy to hear your opinion, no matter how much it may diverge from hers. Write to Gabby at email@example.com.