Ask Joey: Hike up your smile

Joey Garcia

My aunt and I had a disagreement and didn’t communicate for three months. In the meantime, she hosted a baby shower for my cousin. Due to the tension between us, I chose not to attend, but I did leave a gift on her porch. Now, my entire family is pissed. They think I am being petty, especially because the shower was for my cousin, who I get along with and who was not involved in the disagreement. I was just trying to avoid any problems that might result from my aunt and I being together. She did call me before the shower, but I didn’t feel like she understood my side of the situation. My dad said that since she sent me an invitation, I should have attended. Everyone else in my family did, apparently, even the guys. What do you think?

Yes, it would have been easier to go. You probably embodied more stress justifying your projected absence, than you would have by interacting with your aunt. Do you know why you imagined the conflict center stage at the baby shower? It’s because the argument with her has been your focus. That’s right. By placing a spotlight on the problem in your own thoughts, you assumed other people would be similarly distracted. But you might have been the only person at the baby shower thinking about the disagreement. (OK, take a breath and admit: It is possible).

When you convinced yourself that not attending the celebration was a mature decision, you hindered your healing process. That’s why the wound still feels raw. Your aunt’s healing occurred through the phone call she placed to you. So it was easy for her to send you a baby-shower invitation. But after chatting about the disagreement, you still felt rattled. If your aunt has been consistently abusive toward you (irrationally critical, name-calling, physically violent), then your choice to withdraw from her is understandable. Otherwise, it’s best to hike up your smile, and admit that your desire to win an argument got in the way. Choose now to exercise your ability to love others more than you love your need to be right. Apologize to your cousin and to your aunt for missing the celebration. It’s worth remembering that families can be messy and, at times, difficult. Try not to take that personally.

My boyfriend’s friends always hit on me. They even do it in front of him. He thinks it’s funny, and tells me to be cool. But they are more aggressive about it when he is not around, and I can’t get them to see how much it stresses me out. I don’t flirt with them or dress slutty, either.

Oh, honey! Your boyfriend’s behavior is strange. If he truly cared about you, he would never allow his buddies to behave like you’re community property. And he would never demand that you tolerate being treated like a toy. A man who cherishes you wants to protect you from harm. He would be invested in your happiness. Your boyfriend cares more about earning approval from his friends than he does about you. It doesn’t matter if the connection is good in other ways. Your boyfriend does not see you as his equal. Heck, he doesn’t even think you are worth listening to. If he did, he would take your concerns seriously. His behavior is a ginormous red flag. You deserve so much better. Treat yourself with respect. End this relationship, and open your heart to a man who knows what love means. P.S. I’m glad you don’t dress slutty, but even if you did, your boyfriend’s pals should have self-control out of respect for themselves and him.

Meditation of the week
“The goal of the spiritual practice is full recovery, and the only thing you need to recover from is a fractured sense of self,” wrote Marianne Williamson, a New Age guru. Is your faith leading you to wholeness?

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