Reader Submission: Holiday Road to Nowhere

Chaney writes:

I admit it, I range from catty levels 3 to 5 about a million times a day; I’m trying to keep this story at level 3 or below, but might fail.  My story today is really asking for help to deal with resisting cattiness.  I conceptually recognize that cattiness is not the right direction for this situation, but my brain keeps generating catty things to say and or do to the point that I can’t sleep.

My sister-in-law has hurt my feelings.  In May I invited her and her husband and two adorable sons to visit my husband and me sometime this summer.  She declined my invitation, and indicated the reason was that she didn’t want to drive 15+ hours with toddlers in the car.  I don’t have kids, but I didn’t question it because, well, I know I wouldn’t want to be in a car for 15+ hours with toddlers, even if they are super cute!  In July, she and her hubby drove the boys to Sesame Place for a vacation which is almost a 20 hour drive.  I expressed my hurt to my husband (with some choice catty words) and he pointed out that really one vacation a summer is practical and Sesame Place is more age appropriate for the kids (we live about 20 minutes outside of Williamsburg, VA) Though I was hurt, I knew he was right, and thought I was over it.

–UNTIL TONIGHT–

Just before I put on my jammies, I found pictures on Facebook from a SECOND vacation, this one to Niagara Falls and it also included flying, not driving.  My claws came out faster than a knife fight in a phone booth, but I kept them off of the keys and away from Facebook.  Oooooooh the things I wanted to say were so level five I might have been catty enough to create a level six!! I wanted to slap her to sleep and then slap her for sleeping.

–Then I took a deep breath–

I know that no good will come from saying any of the things I’ve thought.  I know that Facebook is not the appropriate place to comment  on how betrayed I feel.  Most importantly I know I’m mad because she hurt my feelings.  She was probably (hopefully) just trying to be nice in May when she declined my offer.  Driving seemed like a good excuse when talking to me–but then she drove the kids even further away and then later took an airplane.  The options of things to do with toddlers here is not as high as Sesame Place–but it’s still much nicer than Niagara Falls.

That brings me to now as I write these words.  I’m still upset and my feelings are still hurt.  I want so much to believe that my sister-in-law has no idea what she has done.  My brain says keep your mouth shut and retract those claws, but every other fiber of my being wants to make her cry until she’s run out of moisture to filter through her eyes.

How do I follow my brain’s advice?  Thank you for listening, Chaney

Dear Chaney,

Let’s just go ahead and address the elephant in the room first:tumblr_mm049gu6SX1rgfrg4o1_1280

Whew!  Glad that’s out of the way!  Nothing like the thought of spending vacations with the family to make us glad we’re not  the Griswolds!

Now on to the meat of the issue:

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You have ranked yourself between Catty Levels 3 and 5 consistently.  But, you’ve shown a great deal of restraint and a desire to create peace within your family that doesn’t match your confession.  So, you’re either on the road to recovery, or you’re your own worst critic.  We think that it might be a combination of the two.  Regardless, we don’t think having hurt feelings over an issue as blatant as this is remotely catty.  We’d be hurt, too.

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So, let’s review just a few of the myriad of reasons why your sister-in-law might have declined the invitation:

  • Could either trip have been work related, gifted or won in a contest?
  • Is it possible that your sister-in-law was avoiding the stress that accompanies bringing a destructive toddler or two into a non-kid-proofed house? (She could have been trying to save your Hummel figurine collection from certain death!)
  • Might there be grudges or hurt feelings on her part from previous trips (you DID admit to having catty tendencies, after all)?
  • Do you think the other two trips were already planned and she just didn’t know how to tell you?
  • Does your home have the room to accommodate her family comfortably?
  • Does your sister-in-law have other family or friends in your area that she’d be obligated to visit (but might not want to) while there?
  • Is it possible that your sister-in-law was hoping you’d offer to come to her?

Now, we’re not excusing her.  Regardless of her reasons, she should have been honest with you from the start.  And, while your first inclination is this:

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It’s always a good idea to consider all possible motivations of the person who hurt you.

You asked for help communicating your feelings so we’ve written an email for you.  All you have to do is copy/paste it and send it on its merry way.  Feel free to edit it, adjust it, or addend it as you feel fits your family situation.

Dear __________,

I hope that you and your precious family are well and that you have had a great summer.  I’ve enjoyed the pictures you’ve shared on Facebook, and have poured over each and every one, studying the little faces of ______ and _______ as they discovered the wonders of Sesame Place and Niagara Falls.  The kids are so lucky to have such a great summer of awesome experiences!

<optional insert if you want to discuss your feelings with her>I have to admit to a bit of shock and hurt, though, when I realized you had scheduled not one, but two family vacations to distant locales when you’d stated that distance was the reason you couldn’t visit us here in _________.  I find myself wondering if the real reason you didn’t visit is because we have offended you in some way.

If so, I’m very sorry and want you to know that I would never intentionally hurt any of you, and would love the opportunity to make right whatever is keeping our families apart.  </optional insert if you want to discuss your feelings with her>

_______ and I love and miss you all, and hope that we can plan a visit together in the near future.  Our home is open to you always, but know that the mountain is always willing to come to Mohammed if the distance is still a problem.

Love,

Chaney

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And there you go, Chaney-Cat!  We hope the email works to open the lines of communication between your family and hers.  And next year, why don’t you visit her or suggest a half-way (and kid-friendly) meeting point?  We’ll help you load the car.

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Best of Luck,

The Am I Being Catty Team

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