Goofy com­ment back­fired

The Hamilton Spectator - - GO - DEAR EL­LIE el­liead­vice.com

Q. My friend’s sense of hu­mour is very funny, and cyn­i­cal. We’re both mid-30s. I like her a lot. My own hu­mour is very dif­fer­ent, not as sharp-edged.

Re­cently, I tried to re­spond the same way but my goofy com­ment back­fired.

It soon be­came ob­vi­ous that she was avoid­ing me. When asked why, she said I’d in­sulted her.

I apol­o­gized pro­fusely, but my “mis­take” seemed to have cost me the friend­ship. I called to ex­plain my­self bet­ter, but she cut me off. I then wrote an email, say­ing how sorry I was for hurt­ing her feel­ings, and I apol­o­gized again.

I think we’re fi­nally OK again now but I won­der how to han­dle the fu­ture with a friend who’s much more sen­si­tive than she seems.

A. Lots of peo­ple use hu­mour to mask cer­tain in­se­cu­ri­ties. Co­me­di­ans and clowns have a his­tory of hid­ing sen­si­tiv­i­ties be­hind their jokes and an­tics.

You couldn’t have known this about your friend be­fore­hand, but now you’re aware that she has some “sore spots.”

Leave the bit­ing hu­mour to her, since you find it funny and she ap­par­ently doesn’t di­rect it at you per­son­ally.

Feed­back re­gard­ing a wo­man’s frus­tra­tions deal­ing with her brother’s dif­fi­cul­ties due to his be­ing a hoarder ( June 22):

Dear read­ers: The fol­low­ing re­gards a ques­tion from a wo­man about how to deal with her brother who’s a hoarder. Re­sponses from peo­ple pro­fes­sion­ally in­volved with hoard­ers pro­vides spe­cific sug­ges­tions, in­for­ma­tion, and re­sources that can ap­ply to any lo­cale.

Reader # 1: “The Hoard­ing Pro­ject (Water­loo Re­gion) of­fers a wide range of sup­ports.

“In this case, the first step would be to try to sta­bi­lize the hoarder’s hous­ing sit­u­a­tion.

“We’d reach out to the land­lord, and pro­vide in­for­ma­tion on the com­plex­i­ties of this dis­or­der.

“We’d ask if the fam­ily and land­lord could work to­gether. (The land­lord hav­ing given three days’ evic­tion no­tice was not re­al­is­tic at all.)

“Hoard­ers are deal­ing with a vast ar­ray of other is­sues and need to be sup­ported. This process is slow.

“Then we’d cre­ate a plan of ac­tion in­clud­ing the in­di­vid­ual, any sib­lings who are able to of­fer sup­port, and po­ten­tially other service providers, e.g. a coun­sel­lor, a fam­ily doctor, etc.

“It can be dif­fi­cult for a fam­ily mem­ber try­ing to help, as the hoarder may feel bul­lied or mis­un­der­stood.

“Al­ways in­volve the per­son, ask how they feel and what they want. Then of­fer sug­ges­tions while be­ing com­pas­sion­ate and un­der­stand­ing.

“The pri­mary goal is to en­sure the per­son is safe, has ad­e­quate hous­ing and feels em­pow­ered.

“Legally, their res­i­dence needs to be safe from a fire, health and safety stand­point, es­pe­cially if liv­ing in an at­tached dwelling.”

Sup­port­ive Hous­ing of Water­loo (SHOW): Phone: 519-886-8200 ext. 24; cell: 519-496-7008; fax: 519-886-8203; www.sup­port­ive­housin­gofwa­ter­loo.org

Reader #2: “Our pro­gram (in Dan­vers, Maine) of­fers sup­port groups, con­sul­ta­tions, in­di­vid­ual and fam­ily coun­selling, cri­sis man­age­ment and train­ings, in our area, but we also help con­nect peo­ple with re­sources in their area.

“The tool we de­vel­oped to help ad­dress hoard­ing cases (El­lie, it’s also based on the harm re­duc­tion ap­proach) is be­ing used in the U.S., Canada, and Aus­tralia.

“It aids pro­fes­sion­als and in­di­vid­u­als in de­vel­op­ing ob­jec­tive and re­al­is­tic goals for safety and func­tion­al­ity of the home. North Shore Elder Ser­vices: http://www.nselder.org

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