no holiday plans- what to say to a friend? (need advice)

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JenniferSmith

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no holiday plans- what to say to a friend? (need advice)
« on: November 05, 2017, 08:30:42 PM »
I am long-term NC from my FOO. The friends I have spent Thanksgiving with in most recent years have either moved far away, or died. This year I currently have no plans for the day.

This week, I will be having lunch with a friend. I have known this friend for a number of years; we are part of a spiritual group that meets monthly, and we also get together for lunch/coffee every couple of months. We occasionally text or email, but not often.

She is older than me, happily married, and has grown kids who she has good relationships with. Her husband is also in the spiritual group, so I know him as well.

She also doesn't really have any major problems or stresses in her life, so we have never really bonded on a deeper emotional level with each other. I get the sense that her husband meets her emotional needs, so it feels as if she doesn't really need that so much from friends. 

But she has always been compassionate and supportive when I have shared about some of the struggles I've gone through with my family.  We have a number of rather unusual interests in common and we're very similar in many ways. She is a truly lovely person and I cherish the friendship that we have.

Anyway, its possible that the topic of Thanksgiving will come up when we meet. What I am struggling with is what to say if that happens.

I am actually feeling very ashamed that I have no family to spend it with (or even friends this year).  It just feels like such an awkward situation. On the one hand, I don't want to put on a fake happy face and say I'll be doing a Netflix binge while eating take-out (which honestly wouldn't be that bad), but the thought of admitting how I really feel scares me too. I don't know how to be honest without sounding like I am hinting for an invitation from her.

I've had other friends in the past who are the type to invite all sorts of friends to their family holidays, but this friend doesn't seem like that type- in all the years I've known her, I've only heard her mention her immediate family members being included for holidays. That is where some of my hesitation also comes from. If that is what she prefers, then she may feel awkward knowing I am unhappy that I have no one to spend it with- that is what makes me think I should just pretend I am unconcerned about my lack of plans.

I don't know if I've explained it very well, but thought maybe outsiders would have some thoughts.  To be clear, I have no criticisms of my friend- this is my internal issue, and I'm just trying to sort out a healthy way to handle it if it comes up in our conversation.

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echo_

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Re: no holiday plans- what to say to a friend? (need advice)
« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2017, 11:41:26 PM »
You only need be as honest and share as much or as little as you feel comfortable with. Maybe there's a middle ground between putting on a happy face and sharing your true feelings. Just remember that you have nothing to be ashamed of, your choices are you own to make and no one else's.


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VividImagination

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Re: no holiday plans- what to say to a friend? (need advice)
« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2017, 12:07:47 AM »
Honest but vague, which won't put her in the position of possibly feeling obligated but leaves the door open if she really is interested in inviting you:

"What are your plans for Thanksgiving?"
"I really don't have any" with a shrug.
There are three solutions to every problem: accept it, change it, or leave it. If you cannot accept it, change it. I f you cannot change it, leave it.

Sometimes you're damned if you don't and damned if you do, so damn well do what's best for you.

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JenniferSmith

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Re: no holiday plans- what to say to a friend? (need advice)
« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2017, 06:05:54 PM »
Honest but vague, which won't put her in the position of possibly feeling obligated but leaves the door open if she really is interested in inviting you:

"What are your plans for Thanksgiving?"
"I really don't have any" with a shrug.

Thanks.. yeah, I believe this is the way to go.

This friendship has been a bit of a conundrum for me. With other people, I have had much more emotional closeness given the length of time we've known each other.  I don't think the problem is on my end.  My best assessment is that this friend is an introvert who gets her emotional needs met through her husband and adult children.  So her "cup" is essentially filled socially and emotionally.

She is a very kind and caring person, but I also feel that since she has had a happy marriage for so long, and no real family strife ever (happy childhood, good relationships with parents and siblings, and both of her children are healthy and mentally stable), she is simply unaware of some of the realities of someone like me (and folks here) and what its like to have a really messed up family and not be able to do anything about it.

Other friends I've had have offered invitations to holidays even without me telling them I specifically didn't have plans. And that's just because they are more social in general, and/or they are single, and/or they have had various struggles in their family and are a bit more tuned-in to what that is like

It sucks because those friends have moved or died. I'm currently in a phase of working to add more friends to my life.

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JenniferSmith

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Re: no holiday plans- what to say to a friend? (need advice)
« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2017, 06:10:50 PM »
You only need be as honest and share as much or as little as you feel comfortable with. Maybe there's a middle ground between putting on a happy face and sharing your true feelings. Just remember that you have nothing to be ashamed of, your choices are you own to make and no one else's.

Thanks echo... you are right I have nothing to be ashamed of. Intellectually I know its true, but emotionally its not as easy. 

I am sad because I had a good friend who I shared holidays with and she moved across the country. For various reasons its not possible to go visit her.  I'm now working on making new friends, but its not something that happens overnight, unfortunately.

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JenniferSmith

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Re: no holiday plans- what to say to a friend? (need advice)
« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2017, 03:28:36 AM »
Its kind of depressing to see how so few people replied to me here.

But thanks to you who did. Maybe you can share you opinions on this new twist.

So I met my friend for coffee and it was a lovely chat, but neither of us brought up Thanksgiving.  I went home that night feeling depressed. I just wonder if my friend asumes I have other friends to spend it with. She knows I don't have any family to spend it with.

So I was thinking about sending her a text saying something like "Hey, my plans for Thanksgiving fell though. I didn't  know if you were going be celebrating at home. ,,,,if youd be open to me coming over, I have some great dishes and games I can bring  "

Would something like that work?  I don't want to invite myself.... but maybe this is the way to go????

what do you think?

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helpmeplease

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Re: no holiday plans- what to say to a friend? (need advice)
« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2017, 06:14:14 AM »
I would not worry about only getting a few replies. People probably haven't got around to reading your question yet. I worried when I first came onto the site but after I gave it a bit of time I got some lovely heartfelt replies. Everyone on here has a lot on their mind and that takes up a lot of strength and energy. People do care though and they understand.
I really don't know whether you should send the text about going to your friend's house. I would not but that's just me because I would not want her to feel obliged. I wonder what others on this site think?
Have you thought about volunteering that day or during the holiday period at say an animal shelter or homeless charity or as a hospital visitor. I am sure they would be grateful of the help and there are bound to be others volunteering in a similar situation. How do you feel about church groups do they not have a collective meal for people who are on their own.
Or how about planning something special just for you a treat, a little break away, there are companies who do lone traveler holidays, or how about a spa day or going swimming or for a walk or going to the theatre or cinema, or simply out for the day to a special place. See if there is anything on in your local paper any concerts maybe.
It might sound scary but actually going out to things by yourself I have found is rather nice. It is peaceful and relaxing. I have had years of stress and hassle from various pd friends and boyfriends who made the outings quite unpleasant with schedules and complaints. Now its just me I can relax and just enjoy the experience.
Also don't forget its just one day, a hyped up day yes, but its just a day and it will get over.
Take care.

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hanna3b

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Re: no holiday plans- what to say to a friend? (need advice)
« Reply #7 on: November 09, 2017, 08:10:44 AM »
I think it really depends on how close you are with her.  From your post, it doesn't sound like you two are extremely close?  Given that and knowing that her holidays tend to be family events, I would not invite myself over and would look for different Thanksgiving options. 

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JenniferSmith

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Re: no holiday plans- what to say to a friend? (need advice)
« Reply #8 on: November 09, 2017, 03:15:39 PM »
Thanks Hanna and helpme -  I tend to agree with you. Its just not in my nature to ask for an invitation. I wouldn't do it for a casual get-together, and a major holiday is not a casual event.

It would be different, I suppose, if I was making posts on Facebook or something and I made a general comment about my plans for the day falling through. But I don't use FB or social media, and this friend doesn't either.

I've been reflecting on this particular friendship, trying to understand why we are not closer than we are, after all these years. We share a common spiritual path, and are both rather strongly committed to it, so we have that in common. We worked in very similar careers and are also both introverts at heart (although not extreme, not shy, etc). We have some similar intellectual interests that are a bit unusual, so we enjoy discussing those.

But I've realized that my friend is not a super "warm and fuzzy" or demonstrative person. She is caring, kind, compassionate.... but she hasn't really had to struggle in life at all.

She had a good childhood, caring parents, no family dysfunction; a comfortable middle-to upper middle class upbringing; a stable, well-paying career (no layoffs, long-term unemployment); a long-term happy marriage (husband is also healthy his entire life and also had stable, well-paying career); she has healthy, high-achieving children; she has lived in a very nice clean, crime-free neighborhood, with close relationships with her neighbors for many years , and has had good health her entire life. Also a baby boomer, so she has benefited from the good economy during her life time (unlike millennials with lots of student loan debt, etc). 

I really believe that this incredibly good fortune and lack of struggling/suffering throughout her entire life has caused her to lack a certain amount of empathy towards others.  Its not a case of her being narcissistic or anything like that... she has simply had incredible fortune in every way. 

When I look at other friendships in my life, where we have had more emotional closeness, some of that is due to us being able to share our mutual life struggles with each other. That shared suffering has enhanced our emotional bond with each other.  With this friend, we can't really do that.

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Or how about planning something special just for you a treat, a little break away, there are companies who do lone traveler holidays, or how about a spa day or going swimming or for a walk or going to the theatre or cinema, or simply out for the day to a special place. See if there is anything on in your local paper any concerts maybe.

It might sound scary but actually going out to things by yourself I have found is rather nice. It is peaceful and relaxing. I have had years of stress and hassle from various pd friends and boyfriends who made the outings quite unpleasant with schedules and complaints. Now its just me I can relax and just enjoy the experience.

Also don't forget its just one day, a hyped up day yes, but its just a day and it will get over

Helpmeplease- you make some great points here, and this is something I will be looking into.  I've been feeling quite depressed this past week due to hormonal changes. Today I can actually feel that my mood is more back to normal, and I don't feel quite as distressed about this whole holiday as I did when I started this thread, thankfully.

I've  also realized I have another friend who might be free that day, as I don't think they will be flying out-of-state to see their children. So that person might be an option.

« Last Edit: November 09, 2017, 03:49:37 PM by JenniferSmith »

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Adria

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Re: no holiday plans- what to say to a friend? (need advice)
« Reply #9 on: November 09, 2017, 03:56:48 PM »
Oh, Jennifer,  I'm so sorry for how you are feeling right now.  I probably wouldn't send the text. I know first hand Holidays can be difficult and a bit lonely. However, you have nothing to be ashamed of because you are strong and a survivor.  That is a badge of honor to be worn proudly, even if others don't understand. If you make it a holiday for you, then you can make it really special and enjoy yourself.  Like some of the others have said, plan something really nice, a great movie, new make up, a walk through the woods or on the beach. Make the day all about you, and you will be surprised at how enjoyable it can be.  The trick is to make a list of things to do ahead of time, so when Thanksgiving comes you don't get sucked down into a vortex. That way, you can pick and choose what you would like to do off of your list, and at the end of the day, you will be surprised at what a nice day it really was.

Like HelpMe said, it really is only one day, and I have learned that through these times, you can become your own best friend if you embrace it for what it is and don't look at it through eyes of trepidation. :bighug:

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JenniferSmith

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Re: no holiday plans- what to say to a friend? (need advice)
« Reply #10 on: November 10, 2017, 02:38:54 AM »
Oh, Jennifer,  I'm so sorry for how you are feeling right now.  I probably wouldn't send the text. I know first hand Holidays can be difficult and a bit lonely. However, you have nothing to be ashamed of because you are strong and a survivor.  That is a badge of honor to be worn proudly, even if others don't understand. If you make it a holiday for you, then you can make it really special and enjoy yourself.  Like some of the others have said, plan something really nice, a great movie, new make up, a walk through the woods or on the beach. Make the day all about you, and you will be surprised at how enjoyable it can be.  The trick is to make a list of things to do ahead of time, so when Thanksgiving comes you don't get sucked down into a vortex. That way, you can pick and choose what you would like to do off of your list, and at the end of the day, you will be surprised at what a nice day it really was.

Like HelpMe said, it really is only one day, and I have learned that through these times, you can become your own best friend if you embrace it for what it is and don't look at it through eyes of trepidation. :bighug:

Adria- thank you -- this was such a kind post, I really appreciate it!!  And you make excellent points which I am working on putting into action.   ;D

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Salsera

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Re: no holiday plans- what to say to a friend? (need advice)
« Reply #11 on: November 10, 2017, 02:49:01 AM »
you have nothing to be ashamed of because you are strong and a survivor.  That is a badge of honor to be worn proudly, even if others don't understand.
It can be sad and lonely to be alone on Thanksgiving, but only if you see it that way. I am thankful that I do not have to subject myself to the abuse from FOO. Only one year did I spend Thanksgiving with a friend's family, and I felt uncomfortable because they were a loving and caring family, nothing that I ever experienced in my life.

Now, I like spending the holidays alone. I use the time constructively and usually plan to do a project that I have been putting off for a long time. Then, afterwards, I feel happy that I accomplished something.Two years ago I shredded so many documents that I burned out the motor in my shredder and had to go out and get a new one. I was so happy to find that many stores open in the evening of Thanksgiving now.

Or just sleep. Watch TV. Read. Go to the gym.

I do not feel embarrassed about telling people that I do not spend Thanksgiving with my family. I just tell them that I stopped doing this a long time ago and it is healthier for me. You may be shocked to find that many people understand and do not question further. If anyone does, they they are probably lucky that they were not abused by their family and feel safe around them.

Whatever you do, put yourself first.

"Faith is taking the first step even when you donít see the whole staircase." - Martin Luther King, Jr.
"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

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HotCocoa

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Re: no holiday plans- what to say to a friend? (need advice)
« Reply #12 on: November 10, 2017, 10:56:09 AM »
There is a lot of social pressure to be with "family" for the holidays.  Sometimes, it just isn't possible.  It's okay to be by yourself.  It's hard to be lonely, and feel lonely.  However, imo, sitting w/netflix eating take out actually sounds awesome to me! 
If it makes you feel any better, I am working that day and chose to work.  Thanksgiving isn't what it used to be for me. 
I'm in the same category as I wouldn't ask this woman about Thanksgiving, she didn't bring it up and sometimes, you just don't know what is behind closed doors. 
The smarter you become about narcissistic abuse, the crazier the narcissist will say you are.

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JenniferSmith

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Re: no holiday plans- what to say to a friend? (need advice)
« Reply #13 on: November 10, 2017, 04:32:11 PM »

It can be sad and lonely to be alone on Thanksgiving, but only if you see it that way. I am thankful that I do not have to subject myself to the abuse from FOO. Only one year did I spend Thanksgiving with a friend's family, and I felt uncomfortable because they were a loving and caring family, nothing that I ever experienced in my life.

Now, I like spending the holidays alone. I use the time constructively and usually plan to do a project that I have been putting off for a long time. Then, afterwards, I feel happy that I accomplished something.Two years ago I shredded so many documents that I burned out the motor in my shredder and had to go out and get a new one. I was so happy to find that many stores open in the evening of Thanksgiving now.

Or just sleep. Watch TV. Read. Go to the gym.

I do not feel embarrassed about telling people that I do not spend Thanksgiving with my family. I just tell them that I stopped doing this a long time ago and it is healthier for me. You may be shocked to find that many people understand and do not question further. If anyone does, they they are probably lucky that they were not abused by their family and feel safe around them.

Salsera, thank you. Your post is very helpful to me. I'm sorry you've had to face it yourself. Sadly, this means you know the pain involved with an abusive FOO.

Your story about burning out the shredder makes me laugh!! I know that feeling of satisfaction of getting a project completed, so that is a good suggestion.  Thanks again for the support.

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JenniferSmith

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Re: no holiday plans- what to say to a friend? (need advice)
« Reply #14 on: November 10, 2017, 04:37:00 PM »
There is a lot of social pressure to be with "family" for the holidays.  Sometimes, it just isn't possible.  It's okay to be by yourself.  It's hard to be lonely, and feel lonely.  However, imo, sitting w/netflix eating take out actually sounds awesome to me! 
If it makes you feel any better, I am working that day and chose to work.  Thanksgiving isn't what it used to be for me. 
I'm in the same category as I wouldn't ask this woman about Thanksgiving, she didn't bring it up and sometimes, you just don't know what is behind closed doors.

Thank you HotCocoa- actually, hearing you say you will be working that day and that you choose to work really does help. It reminds me that there are thousands of people in our country who will be working that day, some by choice, others not, and so I am by far from the only person not spending the holiday with friends or family.

I remember one of my ex-boyfriends - he had a job with 12-hour shifts, and he always chose to work on major holidays because he just wasn't very close to his family, and he got paid extra. His family wasn't a bad family, he was just detached from them.  So just another example of alternate ways of dealing with holidays... all this is helping my brain think about this differently ... so thanks!!

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NoVoice357

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Re: no holiday plans- what to say to a friend? (need advice)
« Reply #15 on: November 11, 2017, 06:45:07 AM »
Hello Jennifer,

There are many people who will be spending the holidays alone or at work. I will be alone at home too as I went NC with my FOO and DH passed away last summer. My in-laws are PDs too. I am still adjusting, I miss my DH and Iíd rather stay at home alone than spending time with PDs. Being alone and feeling lonely are two different things.

There is no such a thing as the perfect family. Everybody has issues in their lives. Even though things may run smoothly for a few years, sooner or later problems arise. Maybe you have heard about the book 'Who Moved my Cheese?'. It is about dealing with change. Change happens to everybody, planned or unplanned. Many people do not want you to know about their issues and other people are in denial. I met this friend six months ago. At first she seemed to have an awesome family FOO, FOC, life and career but one of her children has a chronic illness and she lied to me about something which could have had a negative impact in my life. If I had not done my research, I would have never found out. Her dysfunction came to light.
If I were your friend, I would ask you if you want come over for Thanksgiving dinner. It has nothing to do with being an introvert/extrovert. As Hot Cocoa said, you do not know what is happening behind closed doors.

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Liftedfog

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Re: no holiday plans- what to say to a friend? (need advice)
« Reply #16 on: November 11, 2017, 08:36:05 AM »
Its better to be alone than in bad company!

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Orthocone

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Re: no holiday plans- what to say to a friend? (need advice)
« Reply #17 on: November 17, 2017, 07:14:14 PM »
I'm sorry you're going through this.  I'm sort of in the same boat, as I was forced earlier this summer to tell the owner where I work briefly about my NC with my mother and that if she calls asking about me that no information is to be given out.  Unfortunately it got around a bit because somebody overheard it.  Since then I've been asked about and judged for going NC with my mother by a woman at work so I've been having to try to avoid that topic with her.  But it's no fun when people know very little about your situation and judge you, let alone more but it just says more about them than you.