Conversation stopper
December 24, 2014 12:41 PM   Subscribe

How do i deal with my cousin's "magic conversation stopper?"

My cousin has had a hard time since her sister (who I was also very close to) died this spring. She has been working 12-16 hour days at two jobs to distract herself and avoid her anxiety. She's had severe anxiety and panic attacks which result in her blood pressure going up as high as the 200s. She is on blood pressure meds and Xanax but she will only take the Xanax at night, because it makes her tired. She also refuses therapy, says she needs time to heal and anything else is between her and her doctor.

She didn't talk to me for about a month until yesterday. She said she was just too busy. Her daughters had talked to me about how they are very worried about her working too hard and exhausting herself, and that they missed her a lot. She seems to feel working so hard you are exhausted and have time only to sleep, 7 days a week, is a virtue. So I talked with her about it. We weren't arguing at all, but I said "avoiding your problems by working yourself to exhaustion isn't productive grieving." Then she pulled out her "magic conversation stopper," which she does frequently. "Stop it, you're stressing me."

This time, I replied "you stressed me out the entire past month" (she knew ignoring my texts was hurting me a lot, as this is my first holiday without both my mom and my cousin, her sister.) To which she said "quit, talk about pleasant things." She hurt me quite a lot (which I had already told her) and I am not willing to just forget this ever happened.

While I am concerned about her health, pulling out her "you're stressing me" line is maddening to me. This is by far not the first time she has done it to me, her adult children, and other family - any tiny bit of disagreement can cause it. It makes it seem like everything must revolve around her and no unpleasantness can ever happen in her presence. How do I respond to this?
posted by IndigoRain to Human Relations (35 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Well, first I'd say that she doesn't have any obligation to talk about things she doesn't want to talk about. You can't force her to, I'm afraid. What I might suggest is the next time she pulls out that line, I'd say something along the lines of "OK, I'm sorry I've stressed you out. That certainly wasn't my intention, but this is an important issue to me. Is there a way we can continue this discussion in a less stressful way?" Put the burden of "solving" the stressful situation back on her.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:48 PM on December 24, 2014 [27 favorites]

She's a grown up. So are her kids. You've said your piece about how you think she's not doing things right. Don't bring it up ever again.

If it's really ANY disagreement- not just ones focussed on her and how she's behaving- then I'd suggest you just ignore her comment and carry on with the other people in the conversation. She can excuse herself if the conversation is affecting her.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:49 PM on December 24, 2014 [13 favorites]

I can understand wanting to avoid stressful conversation most of the time.

Could you convince her to set aside an afternoon to spend with you, either in person or at a distance, where you

1) for 20 minutes (or another duration), do something calming and mind-clearing (like taking a walk, or watching a mindless TV show) where you absolutely only talk about pleasant things, or nothing, then

2) for 1 hour, talk about painful topics, to clear the air and really share what's hurting you both, then

3) take a couple of minutes to calm down, promise you won't bring it up again for three months (or another duration), and talk about something else fun and pleasant, like how wonderful her daughters are and how fun your latest project is.
posted by amtho at 12:52 PM on December 24, 2014

You're entitled to talk about your own feelings. You are not entitled to force her into a conversation she doesn't want to have, either about your feelings or about her feelings/problems/life choices. Just as you get to decide what stresses you out and how you want to cope with it, so does she. And that means that she gets to stop conversations she doesn't want to be a part of. She is entitled to her magic conversation stopper, in other words.

Now, if you want to talk about your own feelings of stress, about deaths in your family or about your concerns about the health and well-being of your cousin and her kids, you need to find someone who consents to have that conversation with you. That person is apparently not your cousin, so you need to find a different family member or a friend to talk with about this. If you don't have someone in your life willing to take on that role (or if your problems feel bigger than your friends and family can help you with), I'd suggest talking to a therapist or a counselor. And if the relationship she is willing to have with you (one in which you don't discuss unpleasant topics) stresses you out and isn't a relationship you're willing to have with her, then the solution is to not have a relationship with her.

But no, you don't get to force your cousin to have conversations she doesn't want to have just because not talking with her stresses you out. Your feelings are yours to deal with, and you need to find ways to deal with them that don't involve violating other people's boundaries.
posted by decathecting at 12:52 PM on December 24, 2014 [74 favorites]

If she wants to avoid talking about certain things, there's nothing you or other family members can do to make her discuss them. When people complain, they usually don't want advice; they just want to hear some variations of, "That must be hard to deal with."

She's trying to enforce a boundary for herself -- it may seem to you that it's not a good boundary, but it's her choice not to participate. I'm sorry she hurt your feelings by giving you the silent treatment. I know how hard it mush be for you to watch her go about being her own worst enemy. Since she doesn't want to hear about it, you can talk with her about other things. If you keep trying to get her to change, she'll avoid you. The most you can do for her is say that you'll be supportive if she wants to make changes.
posted by wryly at 12:57 PM on December 24, 2014 [6 favorites]

You're totally out of line, trying to force her to discuss things she doesn't want to discuss. she has EVERY RIGHT to ignore your texts and to decide what she's willing to discuss with you.

what you are calling her "magic conversation stopper" is her setting boundaries and respecting herself enough to enforce them.
posted by jayder at 12:59 PM on December 24, 2014 [69 favorites]

It makes it seem like everything must revolve around her
Every example you gave was her responding this way to you pressing her about what her problem is. She doesn't want to talk to you about what her problem is. You continuing to press it, and then complaining about her because of it, sure doesn't make it seem to me like she's the one everything must revolve around.
How do I respond to this?
Stop being a jerk to her.
posted by Flunkie at 1:08 PM on December 24, 2014 [12 favorites]

Best answer: It sounds like the problem comes down to you and your cousin having different ways of grieving --- not that either of you are right or wrong, you just process grief differently.

Okay, I get that you are upset: you've lost your mother and your cousin this year. But by the same token, she has lost both her sister and her aunt. You want to talk it all out with her, she doesn't want to talk about it at all, with you or anyone else --- and frankly, just because you want to talk about her deceased sister does not trump her stated desire not to talk about it.

Therapy can do a lot of people a lot of good, but not everyone needs (or wants!) therapy or medication for every life event. And seconding what jayder says above about boundaries: you've obviously overstepped her clearly-stated boundaries, and you should back off and let her be --- with the kind of pressure you've been putting on her, I'm not at all surprised she didn't talk to you for a month!
posted by easily confused at 1:12 PM on December 24, 2014 [9 favorites]

Response by poster: Wow you guys. A lot of assumptions here. We had no arguments before she just disappeared off the face of the earth for a month. This example was one conversation we had.

And as I said in the question. It's not just me she's doing this to. If her daughter argues with her (daughter's) husband in my cousin's presence, it's "stop it, you're stressing me." It's like she gets to dictate all the conversation topics any time she's around. Instead of excusing herself like someone else mentioned. Can't talk about current events, anything like that.
posted by IndigoRain at 1:29 PM on December 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I think that there are better ways to phrase your concern and that the words you used were perfect for making her defensive. To me it came across as "You're doing the wrong thing!" and I think you're lucky she only responded with "stop it, you're stressing me".

She's grieving. You're right to be concerned, but there are better ways to try to help her. "Deidre, I am so sorry that you lost your sister this year. I understand that you're still grieving and that keeping busy is a great distraction. I'm worried that you're working so much and you don't have enough to relax and look after yourself. I love you and I just want to make sure that you're looking after yourself"
posted by kinddieserzeit at 1:36 PM on December 24, 2014 [8 favorites]

Best answer: I kind of think that it's fair enough that she stopped her daughter and her son-in-law from arguing in her presence. I think that would be upsetting to a mother.

I wonder if the reason why she keeps using this particular line is because it is just a good summary of why she doesn't want to talk about something or hear something. She wants to avoid conflict but she doesn't want to go into details about why, or end up needing to defend her stance?
posted by kinddieserzeit at 1:43 PM on December 24, 2014 [8 favorites]

Response by poster: Kinddieserzeit, I think you just made me realize that it's the phrase itself that is bothering me. If she would just change the subject herself it wouldn't bother me so much. It's like it makes a huge awkward stop to the conversation and makes it feel like it's all about her.
posted by IndigoRain at 1:47 PM on December 24, 2014

I agree with everyone else, but here's how to handle your update example.

Cousin's daughter: blah blah
Daughter's husband: well I think Nixon WAS a crook
Cousin: stop it, you're stressing me
Cousin's daughter: mom, we're not talking to you! Just don't listen!

But be prepared for:

Cousin: if you guys are going to insist on debating politics, I *am* going to choose to leave.

And it would be inappropriate for you to intrude to defend your cousin's daughter.

It sounds like you're hurt she stopped talking to you. I'd say "hey, Sue, I know you're busy, but I've been really sad to not hear from you this past month. Is there a better way we could stay in touch going forward?" But ultimately, if her sister just died, I'd start by cutting her some slack.
posted by salvia at 1:47 PM on December 24, 2014

Response by poster: Okay I'm not threadsitting and I'll step out after this, but I think this is a really important point to add in, since you bring it up, salvia. My mom raised her sister that died, we did call her Sis. Sis was not raised with her siblings including the cousin I'm talking about in the OP. She was raised with me. So she was basically my sister too, as an only child the closest thing I ever had to a sister.
posted by IndigoRain at 1:52 PM on December 24, 2014

Productive grieving? Grieving should be productive?
posted by Soliloquy at 2:10 PM on December 24, 2014 [12 favorites]

I'm so sorry for your loss, but your update still doesn't change what rights she has and the degree of respect it is appropriate to show. Nobody has to defend their grief to anyone. You need slack, too, but "slack" doesn't include getting to force her to do things she doesn't want to do.

"avoiding your problems by working yourself to exhaustion isn't productive grieving."

This is judgmental, unsupportive, and quite possibly erroneous. You don't know what kind of grieving is productive for her. Or maybe she can't handle feeling the grief right now.

This time, I replied "you stressed me out the entire past month"

Two wrongs don't make a right. If you want to talk about your feelings about that, you could bring that up as a separate conversation. It has nothing to do with your desire to violate her conversational boundaries.

On preview, why does it bother you? (A question for you; I suspect further replies will start getting termed "thread-sitting" and be deleted.) It would be valid if you said "hey, Jill, I wanted to make a request. First, I'm sorry I've been pushy about talking about things. I'm going to do better about that in the future. My one request is about the way you stop conversations. I respect it if you stop conversations, but when you say 'you're stressing me out,' that phrasing actually makes ME stressed. I worry about you, and my worry spikes when I hear that. Would you mind saying something different?"

However, that conversation will go horribly if you don't start from the position that she has the right to protect herself from conversations she doesn't want to hear or participate in.

If you want to discuss your grief with her, you could maybe briefly share your feelings of, "I feel alone in my grief. I understand you need to do what's right for your health. I'm not trying to change your mind. But I do feel sad we can't discuss this. Will you let me know if you ever are open to it?"

But again, the first step is to respect her rights and not try to guilt trip, blame her, etc. She'll be less likely to talk if you're judging her. What she needs is what she needs, and that's her responsibility. What you feel about that is your responsibility. Getting your needs met and your feelings supported without forcing things upon unwilling others is your responsibility.

I hope you can find a way to get support in your grief. I'm so sorry about what happened and that your cousin can't be there for you.
posted by salvia at 2:15 PM on December 24, 2014 [8 favorites]

You can't really force her to talk about things she doesn't want to talk about, so continuing to try to do that is only going to frustrate you. I know you want to grieve by talking about things, but she does not. If her phrasing when she cuts off conversations bothers you, I like salvia's most recent answer - ask her to phrase it differently, and then move on.

I have been through enough deaths of family and friends to know that no two people grieve in exactly the same way, and some people's reactions to death are completely weird to other people who lost the same loved one. My suggestion is to focus on your own grieving however else you can - talk to a therapist, friends, other family members, do whatever you need to do - and let her process things her own way. You can certainly let her know you're available to listen should she ever want to talk, but don't push it.
posted by bedhead at 2:20 PM on December 24, 2014 [3 favorites]

When someone sets a boundary and enforces it, yeah, they're making things about themselves to emphasize what they need from you. That's good. That's healthy. That's correct. What isn't correct is your behavior towards her. You're behaving unkindly and need to stop making this about you.
posted by Hermione Granger at 2:36 PM on December 24, 2014 [12 favorites]

I'm very sorry for your losses - the first holiday season after a death can be really hard, and it sounds like you'be had two. I hope you've had some time to take care of yourself and your grief this season. Also, like your cousin, I hope you have someone you can talk to about your grieving process or even someone sympathetic you can kvetch to about your cousin and how she's hurt and annoyed you. This stuff is hard. Big big hugs.

But with all that can't be mad at your cousin for grieving her own way. What you CAN do is ask for support and acknowledgement of your own grief from other family members or friends. I don't know how possible it is for you to not be around this cousin at the moment, but from these things you've said:

"It's like she gets to dictate all the conversation topics any time she's around..."
"It's like it makes a huge awkward stop to the conversation and makes it feel like it's all about her."
"...So she was basically my sister too, as an only child the closest thing I ever had to a sister.

Makes me suspect that, fair or not, you really feel the need for her to acknowledge your grief and she is not able to do that right now. And you can't help her with her overwork and stress. What you can do is provide for your own needs and respect the one thing she's asked from you, which is to leave her alone.
posted by theweasel at 2:42 PM on December 24, 2014 [6 favorites]

Her daughters had talked to me about how they are very worried about her working too hard and exhausting herself, and that they missed her a lot.

Social problems are really hard. I get the impression that there is a lot under the surface here. It sounds like she doesn't have the best relationship to her daughters. Given that they are adults, that is partly on them. And it doesn't sound like they are being supportive of her. It sounds like they are being butt-in-sky and controlling and it sounds like they are trying to drag you into it to try to up the pressure on her and force her to "behave" in some way they approve of.

The saying "Oh what a wicked web we weave when first we practice to deceive" is about lying. But the wicked web of family social dynamics can get really ugly, through no one's fault. Every one involved can feel like a victim.

Without having a clearer idea of what the entire web looks like and what all threads are involved in this gnarled situation, I don't really know what to advise specifically to fix this. But a few thoughts:

Try harder to respect her boundaries and her grief process.
Try harder to come up with an approach to discussing things with her that doesn't get her to say that.
Try to toss out non-confrontational comments as a kind of "FYI" and then let it drop so she can process things without arguing about it. (This did wonders for my marriage -- just "Hey, hubby, I just want to notify you of Thing. I know you need time to get used to the idea. We can discuss it some other time." then, later, "Hey, hubby, I just want to remind you of Thing I mentioned. We need to discuss that soon-ish. Let me know when would be a good time for you." God, we fought so much less after I stared doing that.)

As much as I can, when faced with people being difficult with me, I try to understand why they are grumpy and uncooperative, prove to them that I respect and care about them, etc. It takes more time than arguing but it gets better results in the long run. The only downside is that sometimes it gets misinterpreted as permission to be abusive to me, because I am expected to "understand" and have compassion and all that. It's a tricky distinction to make, but boils down to "Defending myself doesn't have to involve attacking you."

Best of luck.
posted by Michele in California at 2:44 PM on December 24, 2014 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I'm so sorry for your loss. Your tone in the thread is on the accusatory side. You're grieving, she's grieving, her kids, too. When she says "Stop it, you're stressing me." you can express some true feelings. Cousin, I love you and I'm concerned about you. How are you coping with working so much? Tell me how I can help. Cousin, I'm grieving too, and I miss being able to talk to you about it. and I'm just so sad. If you share your feelings, leave her feelings alone, and she still say "Stop it, you're stressing me" then she's not being a very good friend, in which case the best response would be to avoid her for a while.
posted by theora55 at 2:53 PM on December 24, 2014

Best answer: When my brother died, young and suddenly, I was frankly in shock for quite a while. It took me some time to even process it.

I've also known people who suddenly lost someone (i.e., a child), whose only method of coping was to keep busy, working or exercising. In fact, those are both things that people with anxiety do, because sitting around ruminating makes anxiety worse.

There was a family friend who was close to my brother and he later called me frequently and wanted to rehash it over and over. It got to the point where I was dreading his calls. In my family, we tend to give each other a lot of space, and maybe a year or two later (or longer) bring up things.

The other thing my parents and my siblings and I had to go through was the fear of one of us dying suddenly. If it could happen to him, why not one of us? I actually had an MRI done to rule out brain tumors so I could call my Dad and reassure him that I didn't have one (even tho' that was not conclusive in my brother's death, it was close enough that my doctor felt warranted in ordering the test).

I am guessing you might be dealing with fear that she is working herself into an early grave? That you might experience another sudden loss? And she won't listen to you?

I have some cousins that I am close with and others not, same with siblings. I have given up expecting those whom I am not very close to acting in the way that I wish they would. If they call me, I am happy to hear from them and talk to them. I send them cards and call once or twice a year. Were you very close to this cousin before your Sis/Cousin died? Or has she always been this way?

In my experience, I have had to just let it go and focus on being receptive when someone wants contact with me, and seeking out those who truly do want to be my soul sistah. I would practice saying, "okay, let me know if you need anything, love ya!" And let it go. I hope you have someone else close to you that you can talk with and grieve with. Very sorry for your loss.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 2:58 PM on December 24, 2014 [5 favorites]

She's in a lot of pain, and she's not coping well, which is her right. You don't get to tell her how to feel.

If she's stressing you out, leave the room.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:22 PM on December 24, 2014 [8 favorites]

it's the phrase itself that is bothering me.

Suggestion: change your internal response to the phrase, by interpreting it in a way that bothers you less. Right now, you're bothered by feeling that your sister is socially controlling of you and those around her. So instead, think about stress as an asocial, concrete, straightforward thing that happens to material objects, such as the metals used in robot design. (Note: I know nothing about metals or physics or robot design.)

If a robot told you it was stressed, it would be simply stating a fact -- e.g. weight is resting on the robot's arms, or the robot is experiencing pushing and pulling from different directions, which are twisting it out of shape. If the stresses are too severe, the robot will get bent or broken. So if the robot says "Stop it, you're stressing me," it probably just means something like: "You are exerting too much force on the robot, which is in danger of breaking down." The robot is maybe also blinking a yellow light, and making beeping sounds, and in general behaving like my car does when it's worried I'm going to leave its headlights on. Even though my car sometimes acts like a drama queen, I know it's not really trying to create drama. It's just signalling what its instruments have measured about its internal state.
posted by feral_goldfish at 5:04 PM on December 24, 2014 [19 favorites]

Best answer: Here's my impression: the phrase she's using bothers you because it reflects something paradoxical you've noticed about her behavior.

She says to you that you are stressing her, and yet the reason that you're worried about her is because you are worried that she is over stressing herself - not treating her anxiety appropriately, working too many hours, not talking about what's bothering her, not getting therapy. When she says this thing, you're thinking "if you want to be less stressed, why won't you take care of yourself, for god's sakes?!"

I totally get that. That would bother me too - I'm also the type of person who likes to talk it out when I have problems, and I know it's hard to understand people who operate in different ways when that's not what makes sense to you. And then because you are also hurting, you're letting other feelings intrude on your concern for her health and emotional state such that what you say is coming off as accusatory and confrontational instead of empathetic and compassionate. Others have laid out some very good ways above in which you can make sure you're venting your frustration and grief with other people, and when you try to have a serious conversation with her, starting off in a way that won't get her so defensive. I agree that you can't make her grieve in a different way, but I do think you can do things to make her more likely to talk to you about what's going on in her life. I'm sorry for your losses and I know the holidays amplify the pain. I hope you can be kind to yourself and get through them with support from other family and friends.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 8:38 PM on December 24, 2014 [3 favorites]

This person you are complaining about sounds like someone extra sensitive to trauma - so, PTSD.

You sound... Kinda like you are ignoring how ultra sensitive this person is. That's not right, y'know?
posted by jbenben at 9:29 PM on December 24, 2014 [3 favorites]

I think I'd say something along the lines of "what do you want to talk about instead?" when she uses her MCS. If she doesn't want to talk about [thing] then she gets to not talk about [thing]. She can set a boundary about whatever she wants to set a boundary about, and maybe she'd like to talk about something more pleasant to her. It's good of you to ask her what that thing might be, but it's better of her to say what that thing might be instead of making people ask. If she's not going to say, then it's on you to ask. If you ask and she won't say, then end the conversation, making it clear that she's got the option to try to change things ("call me when you think of something you do want to discuss").

If you're having a conversation with someone else in the room about [thing] that's a different situation. She gets to control what she talks about, but she doesn't get to control what other people talk about. If she's not asking you for any kind of help, then you're in the wrong by bringing up something that she's making clear that she doesn't want help with. The same goes for your other relatives. If the only time she says this is when people try to force something on her that she doesn't want, then stop trying to force that thing on her. If she's trying to stop everyone else's behaviour, then ignore her using the MCS and continue talking about whatever thing it was that's upsetting her. If she can't handle that, well that's just tough. She's an adult and can use her agency to leave the conversation/room/situation. She can also use that agency to work 16 hour days and grieve in whatever way feels right to her. Adults get to make choices that other people wouldn't make, irrespective of other people's opinions.

I get the impression from your post that she's behaving differently to the manner in which you want her to. You want more of a connection and more support, it seems, than she's actually prepared to offer right now, and not only is she not offering you support, she's perhaps taking away a little of the support you get from other people by shutting down conversations where you are connecting with someone else? I think that until things improve, for your own sake, you need to expect that things with this relative are going to go they way they have been going. It's not great, but it's where your relative is at in life right now. She's showing you what she can offer you and the people around you both. Wanting things to be different is pretty much part and parcel of the human condition, but unfortunately wishes aren't horses. Accept that your relative is the way they are, instead of fighting internally to make them different.

If she's in a massive state of denial about the situation (as sounds likely), then anyone trying to force her to face it is going to be met with resistance. The conversation you outlined might have come from a place of love, but that doesn't mean it would be received with love. What you said was somewhat patronising, and when she stated a boundary, you doubled down. Scolding like that just isn't helpful. If you want to get her to open up, then I think you need to make it clear that you're a safe space for her. Maybe start with an apology and a promise that you'll do things differently in the future, and then do things differently. If she wants space, give it to her. If she doesn't want to talk about the situation, don't try to force her into a corner about it. It seems that she's picked a method for dealing with things, for right now. Maybe that will change in the future. Maybe she already wants it to change but doesn't know how or doesn't think that she has a support network in place. maybe she's going to spend the rest of her life like this. You can only do what you can do, which is be supportive of her choices and let her go on in life in her own way, and be there if she ever turns to you.

In the meantime, sympathise with her children, give family-appropriate expressions of affection and encouragement and go on with your own life. The repercussions of this are her own to deal with. If that means that people run out of patience with her, then that's tough luck to her.
posted by Solomon at 1:14 AM on December 25, 2014

You can ask her to talk about how x is causing her to feel stressed. Maybe she just needs to be acknowledged for the stress she feels. It borders on NLP, but it works great for me. Just let them do the talking. Or beat her to the show stopper: Is this conversation causing you any stress? Can you tell me what you feel right now? Good luck!
posted by hz37 at 1:27 AM on December 25, 2014

Best answer: Okay, I think I see what you're driving at. She's coping with events by staying very busy and engaging less frequently with everyone. You and others think she's processing things unhealthily and would like her to slow down and talk more, and when you try to do that, she responds that you're stressing her out. You're interpreting that as her sticking her fingers in her ears and saying "BLAHBLAHBLAHICAN'THEARYOU," which stresses YOU out. I get what you're saying because "I don't want to talk about ___" CAN be a childish response, but that's not what this is.

I think she's doing the best she can and you need to respect that this is her way of dealing. You have to allow her these boundaries. If she doesn't want to talk or listen to others argue, she's allowed to express that, and good for her for doing it.

You're allowed to worry about how she's coping but you must recognize that telling her she's avoiding her problems isn't going to have her magically turn about and proclaim you're right. She needs time to do things her own way. You can support her by asking what she needs from you and withholding judgment on how she chooses to grieve.
posted by kinetic at 3:40 AM on December 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

If you and your second cousins want to help your cousin, you should have an Intervention. Simply arrange a get together where you all tell your cousin how much you love her and then say:

Your current lifestyle affects me negatively in the following ways:

I get concerned when I don't hear from you for weeks on end
When your blood pressure goes up into the two-hundreds, I worry about you having a stroke
When your anxiety goes untreated you are snippy and nasty to me

So instead of making this about her, it's about you.

Have some recommendations ready, and acknowledge her pain, because it's very real.

And when your sister says, "Stop it, you're stressing me out," reply by saying, "You're stressing yourself out, I'm concerned about you and I want to help you."
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:53 AM on December 25, 2014

One of the hardest things to deal with when my dad died was all the people who told me how I should feel, and that I was grieving all wrong. I am very analytical--I process emotions like this by stepping out of them and observing myself from the outside. Apparently this highly offends people, who fall all over themselves telling me I should JUST LET YOURSELF FEEL! But if I do that, I fall into deep, dark depression which takes years to claw out of.

From my point of view, going by what you say here, it looks like her style of grieving may be to distract herself from the immediate, raw, unforgiving pain by exhausting herself until it numbs her. Give her time. When it's been long enough that the edge of it is blunted, she may be able to allow herself rest.
posted by telophase at 4:57 PM on December 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Hz37, what is NLP?
posted by IndigoRain at 8:57 PM on December 25, 2014

IndigoRain: NeuroLinguistic Programming. Mostly pseudoscientific bullshit, mixed in with a few genuine psychological insights. Much beloved of MRA types these days.
posted by pharm at 9:03 AM on December 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

NLP: Neuro Linguistic Programming.

Wikipedia kills it off as pseudoscience, but that may be a bit harsh on NLP. Sure, there are parts of it that fall under the pseudoscience umbrella. But it's really a bunch of techniques, some of which are quite interesting i.m.o.
posted by hz37 at 1:42 PM on December 30, 2014

Response by poster: Final update: for all those of you calling me a jerk, she started bugging me and I asked her to leave me alone for a while. She didn't respect that. Kept pestering me every other day. She said how she's having to deal with losing people. I said I lost them too. She said, and this is no exaggeration, "yeah but my mom is dying and the lady I clean for has a brain tumor and her mom has breast cancer and two of my co-workers, their moms have cancer." I didn't know how to respond to that (I'm sure all of us have coworkers who have relatives that have cancer) so I just said I would talk to her after I see my therapist in a few weeks. Which she again protested, offended that I have to set a date to talk to her. This has gone way beyond what I or AskMe can handle.
posted by IndigoRain at 5:53 PM on January 3, 2015

« Older Custom DIY picture framing 2014   |   Bagless dogs on Brooklyn subways recently? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.