Dear Amy: I just got back from shopping at a big box store. This was after a long week of work, so I was already tired.
In the store, people were pushing the too-big carts around, banging their carts off of each other, and all the while talking loudly on their cellphones.
There were long lines at the checkout, and there was a price issue with one of my items.
When I finally went to my car, I found the car next to me had pulled in so close to my car that I hardly had any room to get into my car and unload my groceries.
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In frustration, I banged open my door, leaving a nick in the side of their car.
I feel terribly that I did that and wonder if it was a sign of my stress and impatience, or was this a character flaw, and perhaps I’m really not the nice person people think I am?
Dear Wondering: Surely you have noticed how sometimes in busy parking lots, one person parking off kilter can throw off the whole line, as people compensate – and perhaps overcompensate – as they pull into a space.
Human nature runs on a similar dynamic. You were having a bad day, so you deliberately gave someone else a bad day. And the person with the damaged car might have gone home and given his kids a bad day.
I think you probably ARE the nice person others think you are. And yes, you are also flawed, just like the rest of us.
Make this right by giving yourself – and everybody within a five-mile radius – a big break. Every person out there has a story, even those playing bumper cars at the big box store. Take a breath. Be gentle. And the next time you are having a great day, spread that around.
Dear Amy: I recently cut off ties from my emotionally abusive father. I have no regrets.
Unfortunately, now my grandparents are giving me the cold shoulder.
My dad spends every weekend with them and relies heavily on them. My grandma still does his laundry and they help him financially.
It really hurts that they would cut my children and me out of their lives, just because I don’t have a relationship with him.
My father allowed my stepmother to belittle me. After she divorced him, he got all the sympathy, and I got nothing -- not even an apology.
Without a mother actively in my life, my grandmother was a mother to me.
On my birthday a few weeks ago, I received a card signed curtly from my grandparents. This was very unusual. I believe I’m being kicked out of the family.
I want to approach my grandmother, but she doesn’t do well with expressing emotion, and I do not see being able to explain my side of things without making her uncomfortable.
Am I supposed to accept that my family will never love me?
Left in the Dust
Dear Left: You view this cold shoulder from your grandmother as evidence that you are not being loved. I hope you can see the distinction between not feeling loved and not being loved.
You have already noted that she is completely entwined with your father. Given her limitations and the level of her enabling of her adult son, imagine – what choice does she have?
Your family seems to operate on a wave length where much is implied, but little is verbally expressed. You might be able to shift this dynamic by expressing yourself, judiciously, honestly, and with emotion.
Because relationships in your family are so epically challenged right now, you should be brave enough to reach out to your grandmother, and ask for her patience and attention. Understand that she is loyal to her son. Don’t ask her to advocate for you. Tell her that you miss her and that you hope you and the kids will be able to spend time with her.
Tell her, “I know that things are rough right now with Dad and me, but I hope we can stay close to you while I try to work on things.”
Dear Amy: More response to “Non-Hugger.” I am an enthusiastic hugger, and I was in my early 20s – and had literally knocked someone down – before I learned to back off and ask permission before hugging someone.
But I did learn, and I have had people thank me for asking before diving at them with open arms.
Dear Christina: Well done.
Email Amy at firstname.lastname@example.org.