That time of year is on us again. It's going to be harder than usual for me this year as it'll be the first year in all of my 58 years that I haven't spent Christmas with mum. For the last 20 years, too, Christmas has just been me and mum. I've usually gone to her place on Christmas Eve and stayed over until Boxing Day. It's been our special time together. My brother and his wife live just a few minutes away, but they've never invited her over in all of that time, and they always spend Christmas with my sister-in-law's family. They usually called in on mum for a couple of hours on Christmas Eve... and then she wouldn't see them again until the new year (though my brother would always give mum a ring on Christmas morning). For a few years now, I've had a standing joke that he should have taken her surname at marriage rather than the other way around! I've spoken at length about her in other posts, so people will know how I feel. She's a narcissist. She's brainwashed my brother over the years, estranged him from his natural children, created difficulties for me... basically, caused a lot of emotional damage. She's divisive and manipulative: a very toxic person anyway, but especially to someone like me. For a long time now, I've kept friendly with them mainly for mum's sake.
Now that mum's no longer with us, there isn't really a need to keep that pretence up any longer. So I've told my brother that I'm simply not going to do Christmas this year. I don't especially feel like it, anyway - but mainly it's so that I don't need to have anything to do with them. I'm not going to write Christmas cards or buy any gifts. We only really gave token gifts, anyway. There are some family members - a couple of aunts and cousins - that I could send cards to. But my brother's in touch with them as well, and I'm sure he'd find out and would be upset. So it's just easier to leave it altogether. I think they'll all understand, anyway.
I can't help feeling mean about it all, though. It's just a card, after all. I sent my brother and his wife their birthday cards and gifts as normal in July (three months after mum's passing) because I would have felt awkward not doing it. It was a token gesture on my part. A bit of 'people-pleasing, too. I need to break ties, though. They don't really mean anything to me. Also, I find it very hard to forgive some of the damage that she's done. My brother's natural daughter, who's now over 40 and happily married and settled, still has tears over the 'loss' of her father. I think, if I'm absolutely honest, he suffers because of it all and is torn up inside. But nonetheless, he's made his life choices. If anything happened to his wife - and her health is precarious - he would be totally lost. Having said that, her family will take him in. He spends more time with them than with any on my side. He even holidays with them. And, as I said, he's always with them for Christmas.
Families! I wonder how other people feel about my intentions - and how other people deal with these matters themselves at this time. It's very difficult.
I had my work Christmas do last week. I went, and 'mucked in' as much as I could. But I didn't really feel comfortable. Someone ordered a Sex on the Beach cocktail. I asked what went into it, and a co-worker (who's a bit of a smarm) said 'How can you not know that?', as if I was an idiot for even asking. I'm afraid I came back in a bit of a sharp way: 'Erm, well I'll take a guess. It sounds to me probably like a mixture of sand, seaweed, oil and used condoms. Not exactly my thing.' It got a laugh, at least. That's usually how I try to handle situations like that. By making a joke, or raising a laugh.
We have one guy at work who, though he knows I'm an Aspie, never fails to use an opportunity to pull me up on something, or to pull my leg. One of those sorts that really drives me nuts. I have a tendency to take things literally, so when he came in one day with a scratched face and a bruise on his arm, I naturally asked what happened. 'I was set upon by ten blokes,' he said. Shocked, I said 'Crikey... what happened? Where was it?' Cue his laughter. 'I'm kidding!' Then he went on 'Actually, I tripped over the vacuum cleaner yesterday.' Still feeling my embarrassment at being gulled in front of the others, I came straight back with 'I see... so you thought it was a Dyson, and it turned out to be a Tyson.' That got me out of that one successfully! I can be quick like that, when I need to be. It's kind of, as I say, how I cope in social situations.
Well he knows where you are. For all you know he might have been worried about any recriminations from you.
That's bad about the shelter - maybe keep your eyes open on the local radio station websites and see if facebook have a local volunteer group for such things. Hope you find something.. Good luck.
Martian Tom said: He was very uncomfortable on that day - not just the emotional significance of the thing itself - and I got the feeling that he couldn't wait to get away. I don't suppose I'll hear anything from him again.
That would be very sad really. Maybe try not to interpret too much into his behaviour on that day, this was a difficult day for both of you, maybe in different ways for each, but it will have affected both of you. And you can't really separate other things going on at the same time from the "emotional significance of the things itself", it's a blend, not individually wrapped pieces. Maybe that is his way of showing emotions - to not do it and to try to get away from the situation that triggers them as quickly as possible, and not get back to it (or to you) until things seem more distant.
Update on my Christmas plans.
I have been sort of invited to my sister's. Her text message yesterday included, "Have t arrange a visit t us nearer Xmas"
Hi Martian Tom
I read your comment about your work colleague who keeps trying to pull your leg and your way of responding to him. I must remember the comment about the contents of the Sex on the Beach cocktail as I have no idea what's in it either. I'd hazard a guess that the majority of people don't know.
Anyway, back to your work colleague. It sounds from your description that your work colleague is actually trying to be friendly with you. He's joking with you and you are joking back so he probably sees it that you are enjoying the interaction. He may not realise that you are feeling uncomfortable or embarrassed.
I don't know for sure without observing the way he is saying this stuff, but it sounds like a lot of people who just like to wind people up for fun and think that it's harmless fun. They tend to do it to anyone around them who happens to be there so I'm not sure that he's singling you out as such. He probably really likes the fact that you do come back with witty remarks.