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Embarrassed by family feud on Facebook

Carolyn Hax
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Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn:

My 40-year-old brother posts often on Facebook about how lousy our father was, and our 70-year-old father often replies to his posts with complaints about how ungrateful my brother is. I find it all hurtful but don’t believe anything I can say would make the situation better.

I also find it kind of embarrassing that some of my friends see all this. Is there anything I can do to find my own peace of mind amidst this drama?

— Family Fight

To their faces: “How old are you two? Isn’t it time you aired grievances in person like adults, and not through adolescent party fights on Facebook?”

If they keep it up, then block them both.

Middle age, meanwhile, is an excellent time to decide you’ve outlived embarrassment over things you yourself haven’t done. If your friends can’t distinguish between your choices and your brother’s, then they’d attribute the wrong things to you even if your brother weren’t publicly being a butt.

Maybe that’s not reassuring to you now, but it is useful in the que-sera-sera-ification of one’s life, a process I can’t recommend enough.

To: Family Fight:

My dad’s Facebook behavior used to embarrass me to no end because so many friends could see it.

Then I realized friends’ being able to see his online behavior was a blessing in disguise, because they could understand why I have little to no relationship with him. No need to answer awkward “So how’s your dad doing?” questions, because they already know he’s insane.

FF, I promise your friends aren’t judging you for it and you are probably garnering silent sympathy!

— Blessed

If I ever struggle to find a bright side, I’m calling you.

Dear Carolyn:

My therapist has helped me immensely with my anxiety and depression. She’s leaving, and I’m feeling overwhelmed at the idea of starting over with someone new. My school’s mental health center is understaffed, so if I don’t mesh with whoever takes over her patients, I can’t really jump to someone else. I haven’t brought this up with my therapist yet because I don’t want to take time from the bigger issues we’re making good progress on. How do I process this constructively?

— Overwhelmed

As your next session ends: “I am struggling with the idea of changing to someone new. I’d like to talk about it sometime without it cutting too much into our work, because I feel like we’re making good progress.” That way it’s out there and, more important, not weighing on you as some unsaid thing. If you carry this silent worry with you, it will gain the power to interfere with that work in spite of you.

Also: You’re different now from when you started with this therapist. You might be more ready for this than you believe.

To: Overwhelmed:

Don’t avoid it or worry about taking time away from other things, especially since this is causing you anxiety. Yes, it’s difficult, but I encourage you to embrace it! We all have much to learn about saying goodbye in healthy ways.

— From a Therapist

Email Carolyn at [email protected], follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.

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