DEAR ABBY: I have always suffered from what I now know is social anxiety disorder. When I have to attend a large family function, I’m extremely nervous and miserable. As a result, sometimes I have had a sour expression on my face (although I didn’t realize it). At a gathering several years ago, I guess I inadvertently gave what appeared to be a dirty look to the in-law of a family member. I didn’t mean to be rude, but I was extremely nervous.
Since then, this person has made a sarcastic remark about me on a family video, and another time as I was walking out of a family member’s home, they made a face or gesture behind my back. (I realized it later because I was wondering why the person I was saying goodbye to looked past me at them and laughed.)
I regret what happened and constantly replay the event and beat myself up over it. However, I feel this person has more than made up for it by their actions. I’ll be required to see this person for years to come. Apologizing is not an option, as the two of us now have a seething dislike for each other. Do I have a right to give myself a break for this? — ANXIETY SUFFERER
DEAR ANXIETY SUFFERER: If someone was offended by a “look” they perceived, they should have approached you and asked what it was about when it happened. Surely other of your relatives know about your discomfort being in groups and could have explained to the person that the expression on your face wasn’t directed at them. Regardless of how you feel about this individual, because you are going to encounter the person with some regularity, it would be in your interest to quit stewing, make the “gesture” (not obscene!) and straighten this out. (c) DEAR ABBY
Huh. Was her expression perhaps anything like… this?
Or this, pray tell?
Or maybe this?
Or possibly like this?
Or like this?
Or maybe like this?
Or did she look more akin to this?
Or potentially like this?
I’m just trying to get a visual. The funny thing here is that all of these images have been used in my previous blog posts, because WordPress has them all saved when I click to add media.
Do I have a right to give myself a break for this?
Absolutely. Reading the letter, I get the strong sense that the other person is being a bully by mocking her for his own enjoyment. That’s not cool. It would be different if the other person’s feelings were hurt by the expression, but I don’t think that was the case. If I were the letter writer, I’d avoid associating with this person, and I’d possibly avoid the larger group altogether.