DAME’s Friendkeeper tells a new student how to shut down some naysayers and helps another salvage her relationship with an annoyingly popular pal.
In the last six months I have started to study at University to better my family’s future. My daughter is 17 months old so I study and work part time to keep my sanity (I suffered from post natal depression). My partner works full time and is very understanding. He cleans the house, cooks most nights, and accepts that he has unintentionally become my last priority. I feel guilty for not being able to spend as much time with my family as I would like. And there are certain members of my extended family who feel the need to talk between themselves about how I’ll fail, I’ll quit, I’ll drive my partner off and damage my child. They’ve always been like this and I can’t say anything because my mother always says, “We are the bigger people.” I would love to tell them where to shove it. Is it possible to do so in not so many words?
Undeclared and Tired of It
What you’re doing is incredibly difficult and only you and your partner know what works for your relationship. It sounds like you’ve figured out a situation that makes what you’re attempting to do possible, and it’s nobody’s fecking business. It seems like these people are envious of your ability to be proactive in your situation. Figuring out how to get through a mental health crisis is not easy, and I applaud you. You asked if you can tell them to shove it…to a certain degree, yes. Being the bigger person does not mean swallowing the shit that people throw at you. Being the bigger person means when they say those nasty things to you, you don’t respond with “At least I don’t have frosted ’80s hair and horse teeth!” What works better is to sit them down and say, “Every day I get up and have to do something that I’m not sure I can do, and I can tell you that what makes it somewhat possible is having people behind me saying, ‘Yes you can!’” It’s pretty safe to say that children do better with an engaged parent who takes care of herself, and as far as your partner goes, that is between you two. I would also say that if they feel the need to talk about you behind your back, they should do a better job of keeping it from you.
I have this friend who makes it her mission to know as many people as possible, which is fine, good for her. Except it makes hanging out with her around town SO annoying. If we go out for coffee or out to dinner she is constantly saying hello to people she knows. The worst part is that she acts apologetic that our time together is interrupted every five minutes, but it’s so obvious that she’s actually over the moon about being so “popular.” Especially since she’ll chat up every barista/server/bartender she crosses paths with just to ensure she can say hello to them the next time we are there. I am all for meeting new people, but geez she’s trying so damn hard. Sometimes I just want to scream, “You don’t have to make everyone like you all the time!!” Am I being antisocial? How can I hang out with her without losing my mind and/or cool?
Social Butterfly Bummer
I have a friend like this, too. (Does it ever seem like I have one of every kind of friend? Is it that or is it that there are only, like, five kinds of friends? Or maybe my readers and I are all the same person. Maybe there is only one person in the world and it’s me and everything is my imagination…) ANYWAY, my friend who I will call “Emily” because that is her name has lived in our neighborhood her entire life, and she was extremely popular when she was single and then she had kids and her universe opened exponentially and now there isn’t a single person she doesn’t know. In fact, last year I was talking to my daughter’s school principal about something and she said, “What does Emily think?” Walking two blocks with her can take hours. I have realized that if I want any meaningful time with her, it can’t be in the local café (Starbucks), we can never get into a deep discussion because it’s always being interrupted. So when I want to do anything other than chitchat, I make sure we are meeting at one of our abodes. If you find your friend’s still distracted by other people when you’re alone (i.e. checking her phone every two seconds), I would guess she has a little trouble with intimacy and would bring that up.
Got a platonic problem of your own that could use the Friendkeeper’s advice? Fire away: [email protected]. No situation is too uncomfortable or too small and all details are kept confidential.
AN INDEPENDENT FREE PRESS HAS NEVER BEEN MORE IMPORTANT.
Your financial support helps DAME continue to cover the critical policies, politics social changes impacting woman and their allies.