Carolyn Hax: How not to be the friend who cries at a bridal shower – The Washington Post

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Adapted from an online discussion.

Dear Carolyn: A close family friend is having her bridal shower this weekend. I am very happy for her and will see her and other friends and family.

The problem is that I have been dealing with the dissolution of my 10 year relationship. It is not new, but the process of untangling our lives is still ongoing. I’ve really enjoyed being cheerful and genuinely happy for friends and family with their good news (engagements, pregnancies), but I haven’t had to be in person. Now I dread questions and comments like, “How are you? How’s the ex in the glass beaker?” To which an honest response would be, “Oh, I’ve been packing and throwing things away while crying. He’s in Europe with his new girlfriend.”

I think I just need some advice on how to focus and put on the happy face I want for my friend.

Packing and sobbing: Oh, sorry. It’s so hard to not only go through a breakup, but also feel like your mess is reeling and ready at any moment to spill out onto everyone else. (I cried once in the middle of lunch with colleagues. Yikes.) Emotional regulation can take more time than we have.

So: go, smile and make a plan. Prepare a few responses to “How are you?”: great, getting better, straight, a mess, I’ve gotten here! Scan the exits and bathrooms for emergency exits, so you can collect yourself. Have a place to distract your thoughts (a mental image, a photo on your phone) to quickly take your mind off the crying moments.

And if you lose it, try to minimize the attention you draw to yourself and apologize to the girlfriend later. Sometimes we just filter each other. That’s all right.

Re: Bridal shower fears: buy the big pair of shoes.

Anonymous: Always. (Said as Alan Rickman’s Snape.)

More wisdom from readers:

· If someone asks: “How are you?” say, “Waiting for better days.” It covers so much.

· Do you know someone else very well who will attend the shower? Could you let them know how you feel ahead of time, so you’ll have a friend? A confident person you can count on to say, “Great shoes, Carol!” to divert a well-intentioned but stressful conversation, or send you text messages with pictures of dogs, or just to sneak up on you if you do the “Filter Incoming!” sign, without making it big? Sometimes knowing there’s a person in the room looking out for you can help make everything manageable.

· It will be difficult to talk to people about the dissolution of your relationship, but you can always bring the discussion back to the girlfriend when you want to stop talking about it. Also, my friend Sally has this great tip that works in a ton of situations: it’s going to be okay or it’s going to be over.

· Your answer: “He’s in Europe with his new girlfriend, and I’m going to throw out all his stuff. What did you get Marcia as a shower gift?

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