Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: My boyfriend of six years and I broke up, and there is no chance of a reconciliation.
While we were together, his mother made a painting for me and got it framed. I can’t look at it without anger, and I don’t ever see a future without looking at it with anger. Can I just throw it in the garbage?
Why do you have to destroy it? Return it to your boyfriend or his mother. If that’s more than you can bear, then Goodwill or Salvation Army will take it off your hands. This is no generic, mass-produced widget. It’s something made by human hands, with love. Reject the love, fine, but allow the art to please someone else.
Re: Painting: I had a similar problem with a framed photograph my ex had taken. I wanted absolutely nothing to do with her but I didn’t want to throw it out. I wound up driving it to her parents’ house while they were at work and leaving it between the front door and the storm door. No contact, clean conscience, art preserved for its maker out of decency.
Elegant solution, thanks.
Re: Painting: As an artist, I can tell you that your ex’s mom would absolutely like to have the painting back rather than pitched in the garbage. Mail it back, no hassle. Unless you absolutely hate her with an immense passion, then trash it and make sure she knows.
This too, as long as we’re taking the suggestion to trash it as a revenge-fantasy hypothetical, and not actual advice.
Dear Carolyn: Last year a group of old high school friends vacationed at the beach. We mostly had a great time. But there was one woman who made the stay miserable for each of us in different ways. She is a born-again Christian (fine, so is another of the group) but in-your-face about it and full of passive-aggressive ways to make some of us feel bad about life choices. She would buttonhole another woman who is now a therapist for free therapy every morning, as they were the first to get up.
This woman is now eagerly trying to get us all to do this again. We would love to do it — without her. How do we manage this? We can’t have the vacation without her because we’re all Facebook friends.
Vacationing With Friends
Each of you has to make a decision about which you prefer: group beach vacation with the annoying person, or no annoying person even if it costs you a group beach vacation.
If you choose the vacation, then each of you manages the annoying person individually. The therapist, for example, is responsible for setting boundaries, how fitting. And you are responsible for owning your life choices, telling her to back off, thickening your skin in the face of veiled criticism — or saying to her now, “I'll consider another trip, but my faith is not a discussion topic. Deal?”
Maybe that’s not your idea of a vacation, but done right it will release you all as her hostages once and for all.
You also can choose not to include the annoying person, of course. You just can’t do it without hurting her.
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