Christmas was even worse. I felt so inadequate and uncomfortable that I talked to my therapist about it. She suggested picking a time when there are no occasions coming up and having a frank talk with her about how uncomfortable this makes me. So I did.
I asked her if we could stop exchanging gifts, and she agreed. This year around Thanksgiving, I reminded her again to please NOT get me a Christmas gift, and she responded with an “eyeroll-okay-sure.” This year she waited until Dec. 26 to leave it on my front porch and claims it’s not a Christmas gift!
After I saw what was in that gift bag (the total value close to my entire gift budget for my grandkids), I actually sat down and cried.
Is something wrong with me? I know I’m practical and frugal to a fault. Is this a new normal? Am I really that out of step with the times? I don’t want to seem ungrateful, but how do I get her to stop? What would you do?
Recipient: You are not out of step. This is NOT the “new normal.” You are not practical and frugal “to a fault.” Your walking partner is a boundary-leaper to a fault. Your choice to follow your therapist’s advice was a good one. You have handled this well. You’ve asked the other person to cease this behavior which has made you so uncomfortable, and she agreed.
You’ve asked what I would do? I would react the same way you have — bewildered and doubting myself.
I think you should consider returning these gifts. Tell her: “I was honest about how uncomfortable this makes me. I’m upset that you haven’t respected our agreement. I can’t figure out why you don’t understand my feelings, but for our friendship to continue, I need you to agree to stop doing this. Please — no more gifts of any kind. I just want to enjoy our relationship, without anything else attached. Can you do that?”
If she responds with a wink wink, nod nod, then you should assume that she will simply never take your needs seriously or respect your wishes.
Dear Amy: My friend says that people hardly ever change. He says that we have to just accept or detach from them. I think people can change. What do you think?
Brian: Let me put it this way: I’m absolutely convinced that I can change, and yet I know that I’m unlikely to change much. I also have faith that others can change, but I don’t make the mistake of assuming that their changes will be those I’d wish for.
I agree with your friend that dramatic and lasting change is rare, but I take issue with the “accept or detach” idea. Acceptance is a form of detachment in its purest form, but sometimes — when change is necessary for a relationship to continue — if change doesn’t happen, disengagement is called for.
Dear Amy: “Shattered” was a woman who gained significant weight after a bad breakup. Even though she had lost a large portion of it, she still couldn’t stand looking in the mirror or taking photos of herself. Your advice was sound, but it seems like a good place to also offer advice on practicing body neutrality.
We tend to get trapped in a cycle of feeling “ugly,” “gross” or “unworthy” when our bodies aren’t what we wish they were. It’s so freeing to walk the path of a body being good simply because it is a body.
As someone who struggled with their looks for years, when I began to recognize that my body was good simply because it did the things bodies are made for, I found myself freed from negative emotions connected to its form and began to develop positive feelings toward its function.
— The Owner of a Good Body
Owner: I love the way you expressed this. Thank you!
© 2023 by Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.