Sticks and stones, rubber and glue…

wild roses in Washington
Wild fragrant roses on my morning hikes in Washington.

Does anyone have a person in their life that when their name pops up on your phone, you want to run? I do. And the name popped up yesterday. I was feeling so good after my vacation and visit with mom, only to fall down the distress hole after interacting with “that” person.

I got very upset. I let it take over my moments of joy and relaxation. It bled into today. And I need to stop letting this person take over my emotions.

This person almost always causes me stress. As much as I want to have a better relationship, it never seems to happen. I think it’s a control issue. This person likes to micromanage and have control and tell me what I should do. I naturally bristle at that. I looked up an article of how to deal with stressors in my life and this is what I discovered from “The Main Causes of Stress” by Elizabeth Scott, M.S. on a website called verywellmind

Personal Relationships:

There are people in all of our lives that cause us stress. It could be a family member, an intimate partner, friend, or co-worker. Toxic people lurk in all parts of our lives and the stress we experience from these relationships can affect physical and mental health.

There are numerous causes of stress in romantic relationships and when couples are constantly under pressure, the relationship could be on the risk of failure. 

Common relationship stressors include:5

  • Being too busy to spend time with each other and share responsibilities
  • Intimacy and sex are become rare due to busyness, health problems, and any number of other reasons
  • There is abuse or control in the relationship 
  • You and your partner are not communicating
  • You and/or partner are consuming too much alcohol and/or using drugs
  • You or your partner are thinking about divorce

The signs of stress related to personal relationships are similar to normal symptoms of general stress and may include physical health and sleep problems, depression, and anxiety.

You may also find yourself avoiding or having conflict with the individual, or becoming easily irritated by their presence.

Sometimes, personal relationship stress can also be related to our relationships with people on social media platforms, such as Facebook.6 For example, social media tends to naturally encourage comparing yourself to others, which can lead to the stress of feeling inadequate. It also makes bullying easier.

This stressful relationship I have is with a relative, but not my husband. So a lot of the bullet points above don’t apply. But I want to know how do I not let this person affect my psyche and mood? Do I stop communicating all together? Or, do I set boundaries? How do I let the words bounce of me? It reminds me of certain childhood rhymes:

“Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

“I’m rubber, you’re glue, whatever you say bounce off me and sticks to you.”

Beautiful Olive the cat
Kitty Olive calms me down.

What suggestions do you have for me to avoid the feelings of conflict and stress interacting with this relative?

15 thoughts on “Sticks and stones, rubber and glue…

  1. Sometimes the law of 50-50 works best..kinda like a relationship mimosa. Half the time don’t answer the phone..the other half do..BUT..when things start going off the rails, politely end the convo either by saying someone’s at the door..OR..more honestly..by saying “You know (Sweet cheeks,) I don’t want to talk about this anymore, can we change the subject?” — I had to do that a lot this past year.. I needed to protect my own wellbeing and also, I ultimately protected the relationship..which with a relative, will always exist..be it good or bad.

      • It really is. I went through it last year with a few relatives..I felt constantly baited over Covid issues, BLM, the election, going vegetarian..I mean it’s like some people just wanted to pick fights and kept baiting me. I remember one time answering the phone and the first words were “what’s the matter with your Governor down there? He’s nuts!” (Really? How about “hello?”) It was at that moment that I realized I had to set up some boundaries.. it took a while, but these folks respect the fact (now) that I’m not going to be drawn into arguments..and I tell them so. life is too precious to waste time arguing..wear a mask, don’t wear a mask..you don’t have to talk to me about it. I don’t have Facebook, I don’t watch the news (I read) I don’t do talk shows..I just try to be peaceable.. if it’s at all possible.

  2. There are two people that when I see the name on the caller ID I know I won’t be able to get off the phone for one hour, and all I can do is say uh huh and sometime just keep quiet until they wind down. I try to sit at the computer and turn on the solitaire game, and play away, and just answer if they pause. LOL I know it is bad, but my sanity is more important to me. Sometimes I just let it go to VM and call back when I have an hour to kill.

    • The cat has been my soulmate lately. My daughter left her when she went to college. Then my daughter got a pug, so Olive the cat is all mine now.

  3. Boundaries are important, and limiting contact is one of those boundaries. You can brace yourself before contact, and tell yourself that you won’t let them rile you up, and if you get through a conversation with them without having a breakdown, reward yourself with some ice cream. Also don’t engage with them while you’re tired or hungry or in a mood. Don’t share too much information with them because they’ll use it against you somehow. Be concise in your interactions. Don’t fake enthusiasm or show distaste

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