Angela in Williamsburg, VA asks:
Dear Tansy ext. 5289,
I really dread the holidays coming, because that means that I’ll have to be in closer contact with my in-laws. They say that they really care about me, but when we all get together they say sarcastic, snide things to me that they think are over my head. I don’t know exactly what I’m supposed to do about this. My husband wants me to get along with his family, which I try to do. I get so upset after these get-togethers that I just think and think about them. I know I’m supposed to love them, but it’s hard. What can I do?
First of all, I can see that you are a very nice person who would not think of saying negative things to others, and therefore, it’s difficult for you to understand the people who do. I will tell you now that people who constantly say derogatory things are very immature and undeveloped individuals. They feel that they are lacking something inside themselves, and want to bring you down to that level. There’s no tranquility for them, and they do not wish it for others.
Don’t feel alone. I’ve heard from others who have been subjected to this type of treatment. What I see being the best for you to do is to question any demeaning statements they may make to you, in a courteous, even cheerful manner. For example, if they say, “Angela, you have a very different way of dressing,” your question to them should be “I’m sorry, I don’t understand what you mean by that.” If they attempt to repeat the catty remark, you would still say “I don’t understand what you’re saying. What do you mean by different?” I believe you will find that they are embarrassed and give up.
Don’t feel guilty that you can’t feel love for them in a whole-hearted fashion. It’s almost impossible to feel love for those that you feel are attacking you. We are required spiritually to act with love, not force ourselves to feel a false emotion. Your husband, I’m certain, will see that you are doing your best.
This will be less on your mind once you feel empowered and not victimized. I guarantee that you will feel more joy in the holidays once you put this course into action.