Dear Annie: Our family is very close, but there is one thing that keeps happening that is driving me crazy.
It seems that every time I try to have a conversation, I get interrupted by one individual. I have asked him not to do this, as it is belittling and hurts my feelings.
Recently, after he interrupted me, this came to a boiling point. I was in tears, yelling that this was intolerable. He says he meant no offense, and he said he interrupted because he didn’t want to forget what he was telling me or lose his train of thought.
Since this behavior has not changed, I now stop talking completely each time he does this. He never asks, “What were you going to say?” I can sit 15 feet away and cry silently and sniffle a lot, and he doesn’t notice, so I don’t even have to leave the room to cry.
Dear Bewildered: There is no question that being interrupted is rude. Sometimes, adults with ADHD or autism can interrupt without even knowing that they are. They might not want to forget what they are about to say. Other times, it could be a way for a person in an excited conversation to show lots of emotion.
Your feelings are nothing to be belittled, so it is important to remind yourself that you don’t have to take this so personally. It is him, not you.
However, there is the possibility that he is just a rude person and someone you might want to limit your time with as much as possible.
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Dear Annie: I was in an emotionally abusive, manipulative and controlling relationship in high school and would consistently bring up my ex to my husband in conversation. It wasn’t until I worked with a therapist to process the trauma I had been put through that I was finally able to let go.
We did an empty chair exercise where I read a letter to my ex saying everything I wished I had the strength to tell him when we were together. It was incredibly hard but extremely cathartic, and I now feel so free and unburdened by that weight.
I hope anyone who has a similar problem can find a similar release.
— The Empty Chair Exercise
Dear Empty Chair: Bringing up an ex-boyfriend who was abusive could be a way for the victim to be processing her PTSD. Thank you for sharing the helpful exercise that you did with your therapist. I hope it brings some release to others.
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— A native Californian, Annie Lane writes her Dear Annie advice columns from her home outside New York City, where she lives with her husband, two kids and two dogs. Her latest anthology, How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?, features favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation, and is available as a paperback and e-book. Email your Dear Annie questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.