Dear Dr. Akiyoshi:
My cousin was recently complaining about how awful she’s been feeling and how her weight has reached an unacceptable range. We were having this chat when we met for drinks at my house. After we had a glass of wine, she stepped out on my patio and smoked a cigarette. When I said, “I thought you quit,” her response was, “I don’t smoke all week, only when I have drinks and on the weekends.” I didn’t say anything further and we moved on to our favorite late night diner where she ordered a healthy meal, but asked me if I want to split a short stack of pancakes with her. I declined, and mentioned our earlier conversation about her complaints about her weight and feeling awful. I was caught by surprise when she threw her napkin on the table, stood up, and said, “I don’t need a mother,” and headed for the door. I drove, so I knew she couldn’t leave without me. I hustled to pay our bill and drove back to my house. She went directly to her car and hasn’t returned my calls for five days. Now I don’t know how I should handle this. Was I wrong to point out her concerns? I am miserable. I probably should have stayed silent. What’s your advice?
Unfortunately you got caught up in the, “I can put myself down, but you’d better not,” situation. I have been in your shoes many times. I also learned the hard way. The way I currently handle situations like this is to ask my friend, “Are you just hoping to vent to a friend in order to feel better as you sort through your own thoughts and feeling, or do you prefer that I listen for awhile and then offer some sensible and sound advice?” Then I smile and say, “It’s your call, I can go either way.” This way, you’ll know exactly how to manage the conversation. I do give you credit for trying to calm the situation, but your cousin is obviously emotionally immature. You’ve been a decent person, made the proper phone calls to apologize and she hasn’t responded. Your work is done here. Get back to your own life now. The ball is in her court.
-Danice Akiyoshi, N.D.
Danice Akiyoshi is a Naturopathic Doctor and the head of Candid Coaching Service. She offers personal coaching services relating to all types of issues and concerns. This is a letter she received from an anonymous reader. To send a question to Danice, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit her website at http://www.candidcoachingservices.com.