Finally organized this thing I had been wanting to do for years. Got the three of us (me, Harriet and her son) together, talking about our issues like civilized people. I prepared: I made apple cake and tea, had my box of kleenexes ready as I knew I'd start crying at some point. I always do when something is difficult. I had warned them about this at first, so it wasn't a distraction in any way. I anxiously waited until the football match was over before asking J-- to join us (I don't see the appeal in watching sports on TV, but I understand this is a guy thing they don't like interrupted).
I didn't cry nearly as much as I thought I would. For a bit over an hour, we discussed various issues and I think we reached a better understanding of each other. There's no hate now. We still don't *like* each other, but we're quite okay with that. And not hating him, I probably won't have as much of a problem with smelling tobacco smoke once in a while. At the end we shook hands (on my initiative) and Harriet thanked me for putting this thing in motion.
Should have done this three years ago, but as I've come to learn recently, nothing is going to change until I force it to. [I'm not in any way forcing them to change for my sake, but I let them know about some of my things to help them understand how I react to certain situations]
I feel so relieved now. Still shaking a little. My experience with group therapy made this thing successful; Harriet complimented me on how I managed the conversation. I think I talked a bit more than the two others, but I made sure to ask opinions and if there was anything they wanted to bring up.
My mom called just as we had started, so to prevent that from disrupting the whole thing, I said "Excuse me, this will not take longer than two minutes," answered and told mom happy birthday and to call me back tomorrow as I was really busy. Didn't take half a minute. (Mom called me because I had tried to call her a couple of times earlier tonight). Showing respect to one's conversation partners when something interrupts is important. We had another interruption by someone at the door (selling stuff, so it was quickly dealt with), and J--'s cellphone rang once, but it didn't ruin anything (he walked away to take the call, so I didn't hear what was said, didn't last very long anyway).
It was a lot like group therapy, down to the duration of the session. I've done what seemed impossible, and that makes me mighty.