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March 20, 2012

Dysfunctional Families: Circled Strangers
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 02:25 AM *

I think we all know what should start this post.

spouse ringed spouse with cold pointed words, dishes bled down walls
we hid where we could to keep warm
mostly behind statues of ourselves
doors were cheap umbrellas for that sort of storm
books were best, hardbound deep cover
hear us reciting the logic of myth:

nail your trials to the lightning tree
ink them in crimson on the folded boat
whisper to a crack by the salt-clean sea
feed them to the bird with the ruby throat
sneak grief in a crate of smuggled tea
box damage in alder and pile with earth
banish pain with a dagger or sharp bit of bone
willow binds trouble in a fairy crown
burn notes on the ground by the upright stone
petition the bent man at the far edge of town

worn talismans break with heavy load, crow’s feather frays
so walk until you find a fire
circled strangers with the bent hearts and the worn hulls, making light
warming their hands over the embers
of the crooked timber that comes from family trees
from time to time

Stefan S, making an entrance in style

Continued from here. Continued here.

Comments on Dysfunctional Families: Circled Strangers:
#1 ::: LMM ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 07:16 AM:

@931: I often have my clothes by my 2st alarm (might as well get dressed, it's warmer). I'll have either/both my SAD light and a book by my backrub-shiatsu cushion (I like backrubs, might as well get Light and light reading). My 3rd alarm-- my cellphone-- is there too, with an interesting webpage cached. So 45 minutes after my 0th alarm, I've been upright and caffeinated for 25 minutes and reading for 15-20 minutes.

I'm seriously impressed. I'm a big believer in lowering energy barriers to performing activities (the concept of "activation energy" really needs to be generalized). Your approach requires a lot more planning than I can usually manage, though. I usually settle for enthusiasm rather than pre-planning: "Let's see if [friends] have emailed me overnight!" "I get to eat [whatever] for breakfast!"

As for motivating myself to get into work once I've fully woken up -- having gone through grad school, I've learned that, even for the uber-successful people, the motivation to get into work doesn't always have to be intrinsic. It's useful if it is (for awhile, I was getting myself into work early in the morning so I could remove [person who I had realized had been stealing a lot of my research] from the paper I was working on), but I knew a (brilliant and highly productive) professor who admitted that, for large chunks of grad school, he was coming into work just for the snacks in the vending machine. I know I've come into work just so that I can download my favorite podcasts and TV shows off of iTunes. So long as I actually get work done once I show up, I don't think anyone can tell the difference.

Of course, it helps that -- in my late twenties -- my body has finally decided to wake up in the mornings.

#2 ::: Phyllis ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 07:47 AM:

As I've gotten older, I've come to understand so much about my mom, her behavior, and a lot of the 'why' behind it. I haven't forgiven it, but the understanding has helped me a lot.

Y'all be gentle with yourselves.

#3 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 08:35 AM:

Yay for our own special brand of firework!

#4 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 08:41 AM:

LMM #1: Does it still not count as "intrinsic" when you're choosing rewards that will "just happen" to get you where you need to be?

#5 ::: LMM ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 09:19 AM:

@4: To some degree. I think my phrasing there was wrong -- what I was trying to distinguish between was a motivation to actually do work and a motivation that gets you to work, where you might as well be productive.

The former is ideal, particularly for careers which otherwise don't have a lot of rewards. The latter is far easier to find.

(I'm feeling a bit guilty about derailing this post so early on -- but maybe this deals with the whole "I'm a failure as a grad student" discussion previously? Even the most successful people aren't necessarily motivated by the 'right' things all the time.)

#6 ::: Megpie71 ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 09:20 AM:

the invisible one @895, Merricat @899 -

I'm another early bird. I tend to function better when I'm out of bed prior to 8am, and preferably when I'm up before 7am. Means I can get the necessary two hours of walking in circles and getting my brain pointed in the correct direction done before most people are expecting me to be out there and facing the universe. By contrast, my mother always says she doesn't actually wake up until at least 10am (even if she did have to be up and doing around 8am for a long time). This is what coffee is for.

I find I do have problems with keeping going and keeping focussed after about 2pm - my least productive hours are the late afternoons, when it just seems too damn late to be starting anything. So these days, now I'm back at uni, I'm finding a cup of coffee is a major help for the late-afternoon tutorials I have scheduled (one at 3.30pm, one at 5.30pm). The coffee at least gives the brain a bit of a boost, and keeps me firing on all cylinders when what I actually want to do is fall in a heap and collapse. I don't *think* it's affecting my sleep cycle too much, although I'm saying this coming off nearly a week of a completely disordered one for me - staying up really late, sleeping late afterwards, and then staying up late again. But then again, I'm putting all of that down to stress.

My partner, by contrast, is a night owl, as well as having any number of problems with sleep as a generalised concept (trouble getting to sleep, trouble staying asleep, sleep apnoea, snoring etc). His best time of the day starts at about 9 - 10pm and carries through to about 3am. If we're both allowed to maintain our preferred sleep cycles, we tend to tag on and tag off at either end of a day - I do the day shift, he does the nights.

#7 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 09:46 AM:

Megpie @6: has your partner looked into treatment for his sleep apnea? Aside from potentially stopping or at least reducing the snoring, it'll let him get actual restful sleep. I have a couple of friends who reported the most amazing difference in their days once they got their apnea fixed.

#8 ::: she pushes down on my head so I won't grow ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 10:13 AM:

*pokes head in*

Hi, people. I know I'm a pretty intermittent poster here, but I just wanted to remark that I got out. I've taken out a student loan and moved into the apartment-style dorm at my college, where (for now) I have an entire suite to myself.

I went through the most intense suicidal period of my life about a week or so after moving out. I did not expect that - turns out it's pretty normal, after escaping an emotionally abusive relationship - but thankfully, I made it. (There is a bookcase in front of my fourth-floor window now, I am taking advantage of my school's free counseling service - and semi-regularly surprising the counselor with the levels of, well... briskly practical sanity, like moving the bookcase, that got me through the last 25 years - and my usually ever-present Swiss Army knife spent some time in the naughty corner. Literally. IDK, this amuses me.)

My, um, first-line support network is my LiveJournal friendslist, who've been really helpful / supportive (I make daily locked "still alive" posts there now)... but the amount of, of bringing dysfunctional behaviors out into the open and describing them for others' reference, that you (we) do here, has been a real lifesaver. I always learn things when I come back to catch up. And the general concern with not being dysfunctional at each other, that's... a useful example, too. :-)

Also - I credit a lot of this to the DFD threads, but I keep changing so fast mentally that I don't even know who I am anymore. This is in a good way - I'm suddenly not scared of dogs (a lifelong phobia), I don't have to poke at every little mental discontinuity that might indicate a dysfunctional piece of training behind it (I still do it when I have the spoons, because I need to finish rewiring my mind, but I'm not uncontrollably triggered into it and can't stop if anyone just says anything that starts me down that path), I'm eating regularly, etc. I even seem to be working through my extreme clinginess toward and possessiveness of anyone who shows me the slightest kindness. :D

(There's still work to do on that last one, because a couple of my oldest friends probably wouldn't react at all well if they knew I was experimenting with gender identity, and I don't anywhere near have the courage to tell them about that or my political-type changes of stance in the last year. Because I love them as people - they're misguided, is all - and I don't want to lose contact with them. This wants more thinking... sometime when I am not working on a term paper. *g*)

Also, my former inability to self-direct, which (it now seems pretty obvious) came from being raised by an extreme control freak and co-dependent (my biological female parent, the "she" of my username). I'm still working on learning how not to just dick around on the Internet until somebody comes and tells me what to do, but - well, I am learning. I think.

(Writing comments on Making Light, or elsewhere, is not dicking around. I choose when and how to do it, and it has a beginning and end point. Obsessively refreshing my inbox because somebody might have said something to me somewhere and I'm lonely and feel like I have no value if nobody's paying attention to me, that's counter-productive dicking around and wastes hours of my time every day that I do it.)


That's all past/present stuff. For future stuff... I am beginning to realize that I might be an extrovert. Just because I've always preferred being alone to being with my particular family, doesn't mean I don't need and enjoy contact with people. I get really depressed when I don't hear from anyone for a week, and I'm the last one to leave a party as long as I don't get trapped into a conversation with someone who's not being interesting and won't shut up. ;P A picky extrovert, if you will. The Internet works better for me because (a) people congregate by size/depth of discussion they like to have, it's like sorting of sediment in a riverbed or desert *geology nerd* and (b) nobody can force me to interact with them. My famdamnily is all about the Presenting Proper Appearances Of Sociable Interaction.

*is thinkyfacing about many things, but feels generally forward-looking and other silly expressions of that sort* ;P

Also, I'm starting serious work on rewriting a NaNoWriMo I did the last time I was out, which is essentially all about two people building a healthy relationship of equals. I couldn't work on it while I was "Back There". This time, I'm going to stay out.


#9 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 10:29 AM:

she pushes down @8, congratulations on multiple levels. Go, you.

#10 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 10:35 AM:

she pushes down @8:

smiles and applause aimed in your direction

very glad to hear from you

#11 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 11:07 AM:

she pushes down @8

Lovely! Go Team You! I'm excited to hear all your good news!

#12 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 11:07 AM:

she pushes down @8

Lovely! Go Team You! I'm excited to hear all your good news!

#13 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 11:07 AM:

she pushes down @8: Yay!

#14 ::: johnofjack ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 11:21 AM:

she pushes down @ 8: Congratulations! That sounds like great progress to me.

Like you, I found it useful to realize I didn't like my own behavior. It was unpleasant at first; then I realized that people don't change things they're happy with, so the unhappiness was actually an opportunity.

Abuse survivors: do you ever develop an internalized sense of normal human interaction? I don't think I have one, or at least: a great deal of situations make me freeze completely because I don't know how to react.

#15 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 11:56 AM:

#8 ::: she pushes down on my head so I won't grow ::

Tremendous congratulations!

I'm listening to an interview with Jeannette Winterson, author of a memoir, Why Be Happy when You Could Be Normal?.

One of the many interesting things she said was that dysfunctional (unhappy?) families are a conspiracy of silence.

#16 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 11:57 AM:

My comment's been gnomed.

#17 ::: Marith ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 01:00 PM:

Stefan S, that is a beautiful poem. I haven't calligraphed in decades, but suddenly want to break out the pens and make it into a poster.

she pushes down @8: Congratulations is not enough of a word to salute all your awesome!

#18 ::: Nancy Lebovitz has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 01:02 PM:

... and Jacque wants to read Nancy's comment.

(BTW, why is my "Don't make me type all this again" checkbox taking?)

#19 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 01:05 PM:

Variation of last time @Ride/931: on bribing onesself to get up

Ah yes. I tried finding a coffeemaker that would wake me in the morning with hot tea. No joy (only programmable ones I find are, like, huge). *sigh*

grow @8: Glad to hear from you. Sounds like progress is popping along! Congratulations!

the general concern with not being dysfunctional at each other, that's... a useful example

I am repeatedly astonished at how much of any current claim I can make to being "civilized" and "a grown-up" is directly attributable to reading here.

I need to finish rewiring my mind

I hate to break it to you ;-> , but, if my experience is any guide, this is an eternally ongoing process. The day may very well come, however, when you look back and realize that all those nightmarish things you used to struggle with are but a distant memory.

my former inability to self-direct, which ... came from being raised by an extreme control freak and co-dependent

Interesting. I have strugged for much of my life to be "self-directed." I, too, escaped an over-controlling parent.

I am beginning to realize that I might be an extrovert.

Go, you! I was well into my forties before I worked this one out. It's great that you're realizing this so much earlier. I predict that it will make spoon budgeting much easier for you.


:D :D indeed!

Marith @16: Stefan S, that is a beautiful poem. I haven't calligraphed in decades, but suddenly want to break out the pens and make it into a poster.

If you do, be sure to scan it and make it available for purchase/download.

BTW, Stefan S, I trust you've overcome any insecurities about commenting here...? =;o)

#20 ::: Suzanne F ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 02:01 PM:

What a gorgeous poem. I had lost track of this thread and am happy to see it re-upped, and especially with Stefan S's words, which I find particularly resonant in this Lenten season.

#21 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 02:14 PM:

she pushes down, #8: This is fabulously good news! Thanks for dropping in to tell us about your progress.

I'm starcat_jewel on LJ, if you want to add me there. If you choose not to, no offense will be taken.

my extreme clinginess toward and possessiveness of anyone who shows me the slightest kindness
BTDT, and still struggle with it from time to time. It does get easier with (1) more self-confidence and (2) a larger circle of friends who accept you for who you are.

Nancy, #15: "Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?"

Egad. My parents never said that in so many words, but it could have been their mantra. Except that they didn't see it that way; from their POV, I couldn't possibly be happy if I wasn't (their definition of) normal.

#22 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 02:14 PM:

she pushes down @8: Oh, that's wonderful to hear! That's fantastic! It sounds like you have a real handle on what you want to do for yourself, and what you need to do.

And now, my new levels of cope are going to be tested; Husband was laid off today. He's handling it pretty well, and I'm obviously supporting him 100%, but we really didn't need this.

#23 ::: Fooey ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 02:41 PM:

I have been away from ML because I haven't had the spoons to manage useful conversation. Please excuse the drop in.

I have to be out of my apartment by March 31st. I had planned for it. I had another apartment all set, lease signed, movers booked.

I found out last night that the new apartment is not legally mine.

The landlady inherited the building when her father died last December. Apparently, just before he did, he signed a lease with this other person. The landlady did not realize this. I found out when the phone and electric companies told me they could not set up my services in the new place because someone else was already doing so.

So now I have 10 days to find somewhere else to live.

I will not be homeless. Worst case, I move to my mother's basement. This will not be good for me mentally or emotionally; at least it's a place.

I'm in full-on panic mode and flailing wildly, which is not useful, dammit. I need to find something, asap/immediately/NOW, and I'm drowning instead of swimming.

#24 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 02:52 PM:

Fooey: What city are you in?

#25 ::: firefly ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 02:53 PM:

Long-time lurker here...

I checked Making Light earlier today and was happy to find an update -- and then Stefan's poem sang to me, and I thought, "Well, isn't this an interesting coincidence?"

I'm living at home for the first time since the summer of 2008, when I was still college and before I'd found an apartment off-campus (went to school in my hometown). I'm only spending about two months here now, before going to Iraq for the first leg of a 3-year commitment (NGO work), and I figured it'd be fine. It's a holding pattern, and a place to land, and it's the house I grew up in. Should be fine.

I don't want to go into a whole lot of detail, but it's not fine. I'm realizing that all of the things I was able to ignore when I visited home over the past four years I no longer can ignore - or, rather, it's like I've caught myself pretending, and I'm tired of wearing the mask. My father hasn't worked in the past 13 years - long story - and he's depressed (not medicated), and he spends an increasing amount of time at home. My mother works 5 jobs (many of them part-time) to support us - my brother, especially, as he's still in college, and then yeah, my dad, because he doesn't work.

You know, to write it out like this makes it seem - to me - like my mom should just kick my dad out, and get on with things. Or my dad should just get a job already. It's a birdcage, though. Many tiny little bars, and I don't think, anymore, that anything I say or do is going to take them all away.

My friends - friends who've had personal experience in this sort of thing - have pointed out that it sounds like my father is either a narcissist, or has borderline personality disorder. I still feel like I need to figure out what both of those things are before I can say it, too, but at the same time it feels - affirming, I suppose - to have a potential name for his behavior. It means that me and my mother and my brother aren't the only people out there to have experienced someone like my father. The kind of "most of the time he's really friendly and nice, especially outside the house" feeling of guilt, because I've seen one too many times when he was so angry it was terrifying. I still wince whenever a man clears his throat. But how to explain that to someone who's only ever seen the nice side?

You know, I would not have commented here if I hadn't clicked over to the previous discussion and seen David Harmon's comment at the top of the post. Because that is just the sort of thing I've been feeling, but have been unable to articulate, for a long time, now. It was good to find someone else has put it into words.

And I did start seeing a therapist - just last Friday. Don't have much time before I leave, but she specializes in family trauma, and she's giving me tools to cope and heal myself. That's good.

#26 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 03:22 PM:

Jennifer Baughman and Fooey, sympathies to you both and hoping things work out smoothly.

#27 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 04:17 PM:

Jennifer Baughman @22: Best wishes. Sounds like Husband's employer is one best seen in the rear-view, anyway, if that's any consolation.

Fooey @23: Might your local Y might serve as a interim solution, while you look for something more permanent? At the very least, this might serve to quiet the panic.

firefly @25: I'm tired of wearing the mask.

Good for you. This is the first step in making the jail-break real.

But how to explain that to someone who's only ever seen the nice side?

I had this challenge around my mother. Worse yet, I had this problem with her. "How can you have such issues with me? Your friend Patti thinks I'm great." "That would be because Patti is not your daughter." Cue whistling noise as the distinction sails right over her head.

#28 ::: FaultyMemory ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 04:31 PM:

newly growing@8: Welcome to the wider world.

Marith@17/Jacque@19: Please keep in sight that Stefan S is the author of that poem, and thus the presumptive copyright holder. Most people around here try not to sell copies of copyrighted works without permission.

#29 ::: Fooey ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 04:59 PM:

@24 Carrie S.

I think that to say so would identify me, and I wish not to be identified in this thread. I appreciate that you mean to offer help, and I thank you for it. I hope you will not be offended by my non-answer.

Others: I have made motions into making inquiries; posting here did seem to help serve as a "start now" button. Doggy paddling, anyway.

I may have legal recourse, as the landlady did sign the new lease with me, which is a legally binding contract. It's just the time, of which I have little.

#30 ::: Mea ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 05:33 PM:

#8: wow, what great news! Good for you!

Firefly : sending good wishes your way. Sounds like you have help with coping. do you also have a list of places that are low stress to be out (spend the day at the library)? I have to remind myself, but being armed with a plan for being in less stressful places (and not being home for family meals) helps me a lot.

On motivation, I would love to have the trick to motivate and be on time in the morning. I go further into the night if left to my own devices. As with so much of the discussion on ML, I'm reading along and learning from everyone.

#31 ::: Ghost Boy ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 06:17 PM:

she pushes down #8: Congratulations on so many levels!

And now I'm thinking about my own lack of self-direction. Weak executive function is a classic symptom of my diagnosis on the autistic spectrum... but I also have a moderately narcissistic mother. "Moderately", because she's not incapable of taking correction (indeed, she's improved a lot over the decades) -- but the whole time I was growing up, there were an awful lot of things where the only "right" way was her way, to her standards, and no one else around to say different.

And if I dragged my feet at whatever when expected, then she was likely to swoop in and "help" me do it... which was much of how I wound up in a major (and personally indifferent) college without being even remotely ready for the big wide world, despite what should have been glaring red flags showing up all through high school.

#32 ::: Froth ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 06:22 PM:

I visited my parents this weekend for Mother's Day.

My mother told me off for not being nice enough to my brother. He didn't understand, she said. All those years, every day of my life before I went to university, he just didn't understand that he shouldn't hurt me. And he just wants me to love him, she says, and why can't I be nicer to him?

I don't want to be his friend. I don't want him to be happy to see me. I don't want him to expect anything from me.

He did understand that he shouldn't hit people. He was still punching and throwing things at my little brother and me for ten years after he'd learned not to do it to anyone else. That's not failure to comprehend, it's knowing exactly what you can get away with.

I quoted my mother's words back to her: I can't stop people from hurting me, but I can stop them from hurting me twice.

She won't understand. Eighteen years of him beating me up, that's no big deal. My tone of voice being incorrect at the dinner table, that makes the whole relationship my fault.
(He was making a horrific scraping squeaking noise with his cutlery on the plate, the kind of noise that makes your teeth crawl and your shoulders try to escape through your neck, so I said "Eat the pie, not the plate," without thinking about it. She told me later that I was being nasty and cruel and said it in a very harsh way.)

She wants it to be something wrong with me that makes me not love my brother. I don't understand why it can't be something wrong with him.

#33 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 06:23 PM:

Firefly #25: I'm glad my comment is still helping people!

And amen to the warning from FaultyMemory #28. On the other hand, if Stefan is willing to start in with CafePress or a similar "print on things" shop, that would be greatly welcomed.

#34 ::: Megpie71 ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 06:25 PM:

the invisible one @7 - yeah, he's looked into it. He had a CPAP machine at one point (which he said didn't work, since the noise of the machine running kept him from actually falling asleep in the first place) and he's had surgery to remove some of the tissue at the back of his throat that was intensifying the snoring and the apnoea. However, he still has moments where he'll stop breathing in the middle of sleep, and this means I'll get a bit twitchy if he suddenly stops snoring for long periods when he's sleeping during the day (to the point where I'll go and make a "not dead yet?" check).

We've found separate beds in separate rooms work best for us as a sleeping arrangement.

#35 ::: two generations removed ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 06:28 PM:

My mother died a few years back. Tragically young. (The deepest part of the tragedy for me was that, at 24 years old, I was only just starting to understand her as a person rather than as a figure of maternal authority and judgment. Deep down, I credit her divorce from my father with this development in our relationship - and even deeper down, I wonder if the stress of the divorce weakened her body enough for the cancer that she'd supposedly survived eight years earlier to metastasize from whatever hiding place it'd found in the meanwhile.)

Anyway. Her funeral service and wake - we may not be an Irish family, but I don't know what else to call the celebration of her life that extended deep into the night when the service was over - was on a beautiful October day. I flew back home the next week.

Upon flying back for Christmas with the family, my sister revealed that my grandmother - my mother's mother - had stolen some things from my mother's house during the wake, as well as later under the guise of helping my sister clean the house out. We confronted her at her own house a couple days after Christmas - having not wanted to spoil the holiday itself with accusations of theft. Her response was to hurl a guilt-tripping rant at us about how she'd supported us our whole lives - essentially expecting the time and money she'd spent on us to be repaid in an unwillingness to challenge her on her wrongdoing - and then threw us out of her house, telling us she never wanted to hear from us again.

My sister tried to mend things a couple months later on both of our behalves, receiving in response a card that condescendingly offered to forgive us for the (completely true!) accusation, as "the Christian thing to do". At which point I was done. My wedding was a few months after that; she didn't receive an invitation. My sister eventually reconciled with her (to the extent that "pretending it never happened and trying to maintain a normal relationship in spite of it" counts as reconciliation), and thankfully my two younger siblings were left out of the fracas entirely, so I still saw her (and we completely ignored each other) at a few family events, like my sister's wedding a couple years after mine. For my part, as far as I was concerned, I was abiding by her request to never hear from me again; I figured that if she wanted to hear from my again she could retract that request. She never did.

Early last year, I'd started having dreams about my grandmother. Each dream was basically a normal familial interaction - sometimes we'd acknowledge that the situation was behind us, sometimes it was as if it had never happened (and not in the "agreeing to ignore the past" kind of way). In the summer, I learned I was to be a parent soon. I decided it was time to swallow my pride and attempt to reconnect.

So, holding the prospect of contact with her great-grandchild as a sort of olive branch, I informed her of said descendant's impending existence, and explained that I wanted to no longer worry about the past and focus on welcoming my child into the family. I expected it to work similarly to how her reconciliation with my sister did - we'd agree not to talk about the unfortunate incident, and move on. Instead, I received a response that started off promisingly - relating her own feelings upon welcoming my mother into the world - but soon segued into the same guilt-trip she'd given me before, and pointing out that my email to her lacked an apology. (Followed by a brief prospect stating she would indeed welcome my child with love.) I never responded. Perhaps it was still some lingering stubbornness or pride, but while I was willing to forgive and forget, and while I had accepted the fact that I'd never see an apology from her, I refused to validate her worldview - herself as the wronged party and me as the aggressor - with an apology to her. It seemed to me to just be inviting further abuse.

At this point, she'll get a birth announcement postcard in the mail just like everyone else we know, and the next move is hers. I doubt there will be one. She has three other grandchildren to look after her, and I have no doubt that their willingness to continue maintaining that relationship with her will contribute to the continuing calcification of her grudge against me.

I stopped having dreams about her, though - which I take to mean that my subconscious considers the matter closed.

I never considered my relationship with my grandmother to be a dysfunctional one while my mom was alive, but looking back over my life I can see several events that point to exactly why. As a child, I'd wondered why my mother was so frequently getting in arguments with her mother. After all, Grandma was so nice to us! She couldn't possibly be a bad enough person for my mom to argue with her like that! But Mom was nice too, so I was left deeply confused by the whole situation. I now understand what it was: my mother buffering me and my siblings from the more unpleasant aspects of my grandmother's personality.

And when Mom was gone, and that buffer that she maintained for us disappeared, we had to deal with our grandmother on our own. And the one thing that ran through my mind, again and again, every time I was struggling with how to handle her, was that if only Mom were here, she'd know what to do.

The pain of losing Mom subsides over time, and most days I just feel it as a dull ache in my heart - but the regret of having started too late to form that rapport with her, and the absence of her ongoing support and guidance in my life, is a sharp pain anew every time I stumble over it.

If only she were here, she'd know what to do.

#36 ::: two generations removed ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 06:57 PM:

she pushes down @8:

I sympathize with the dilemma of extroversion. I thrive on being in the company of other people, and yet I feel like I'm so bad at it. I have a vibrant circle of friends, but I feel like they're all just a little bit distant - I don't have any of the close, lifelong "best friendships" others seem to have, apart from my relationship with my wife. (I envy the deep friendship she has with her best friend.) Any time I'm trying to talk to a new person I completely seize up with anxiety and fear - of rejection, of saying the wrong thing and offending them, of looking like a creep when all I really want is to develop a friendship.

But one lesson I've taken to heart from my introvert wife - an introvert, by the way, who is much better at dealing with people than I ever will be - is that there are some people who take much more emotional energy to deal with than others. In her analogy, dealing with people can either give you energy or consume it. If a typical interaction with other people (specific cases notwithstanding) energizes you more often than it drains you, you're an extrovert. Vice-versa, you're an introvert. But even an extrovert can have people who are a drain on your energy, just like an introvert can have people whose presence energizes them. (In my wife's case, I am one of the few people in whose company she can spend long periods of time without feeling drained; said best friend is another. Most of our other close friends are just less of a drain on her than the average person.) It's not the most accurate analogy - even the most extroverted person can just get sick of people every once in a while - but I've found it helpful.

Froth @32:

My guess - and I apologize if there are nuances that I'm not picking up - is that the problem of your brother beating you for eighteen years is not one she's equipped to handle, so it's much easier to ignore it. But bad table manners? That's easy to address, and not nearly as damning of her as a mother. So it becomes an easy scapegoat that doesn't leave her needing to confront the massive failure of her parenting.

I ran into the same issue in school, one year, when the teacher was faced with the fact that I had learned the entire year's math curriculum the prior year (thanks to a pair of teachers willing to invest extra effort in my education). She decided that, rather than putting in the extra effort to make sure I was actually learning something, she'd cast me as a kid with "social problems" who needed to be focusing on being more socialized rather than learning math. Suddenly I was the one responsible for every minor altercation with other students in the classroom - not because it was a fair apportionment of blame, but because it reinforced her assertion of being blameless for my (and my parents') complaints.

The next year I was in a different school. I wish your situation was as easily resolved - but then, one of the hallmarks of a dysfunctional family is that the option of removing yourself from the problematic situation is so much harder to accomplish.

#37 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 07:08 PM:

two generations removed #35: My sympathies... I had a similar situation with my father, who died just as I was getting to know him (My parents divorced when I was 5), and both of us were getting treatment for our depression. (I'd gotten the meds first; when he saw how they were working, he wound up getting them too.)

As far as stress weakening her body... possible, but the thing about cancer is... well, Randall Munroe explains it better than I could.

#38 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 07:23 PM:

Addendum to me at #37: I'm talking about your mother's death, of course, rather than your grandmother. Though my Dad was in no position to protect me from my more problematic family members....

#39 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 07:41 PM:

Froth @32: She wants it to be something wrong with me that makes me not love my brother. I don't understand why it can't be something wrong with him.

Because he's the Chosen One. And if there's something wrong with him, that would mean there was something wrong with her for not protecting you.

::SIGH:: Sounds too familiar.

Megpie71 @34: apnoea

Sorry, don't have a cite, but I ran across this as a tangent to somethingorother: the researcher reported tangentially that he and his grad students noticed that they were sleeping better during the [somethingorother] project; finally worked out that it was the didgeridoo practice. Turns out didgeridoo tones up a lot of the muscles and tissues that are a problem in sleep apnea.

two generations removed @35: If only she were here, she'd know what to do.

Suggestion: ask your subconscious for some dreams about this question. Given that (a) you knew your mother and (b) you have a sampling of your grandmother's behavior first in the presence and then in the absence of your mother's filtering influence, I'd be willing to bet that somewhere in there you have a model (in the form of a negative casting, if you will) of how your mother handled the dynamic.

Given that your other sibs have gone the "forgive and forget" route, it may turn out that your mother's strategy was something similar, and as such you may choose to stay clear of your grandmother anyway. But you might find some interesting "easter eggs" in the hidden recesses of your unconscious.

& @36: I thrive on being in the company of other people, and yet I feel like I'm so bad at it.

Take heart; it's a learnable skill. (I'm the poster child.) From my understanding the "company supplies energy" vs. "company drains energy" is a good nutshell description of the Myers-Briggs Introvert-Extrovert spectrum, and is also a good description of my personal experience.

The biggest key for me has been deciding what kind of person I want to be (kind, generous, empathic, humorous) versus the kind of person my upbringing trained me to be (angry, resentful, distrustful, etc.) I was then able to identify people I knew or knew of who displayed the characteristics I wanted to live, and I began collecting habits, skills, beliefs, and practices from them that supported that way of being. The process has actually gone much faster than I would have expected: I think the process really started only about fifteen years ago, and for the first five I wasn't quite conscious of what I was trying to do.

So shoot for the moon; it's entirely doable.

#40 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 07:43 PM:

she pushes down @#8, ***happy dance with flower strewing***

Now you can change your name to "she tried pushing down on my head but I slipped out from under her hand, neener neener!" --seriously, what an amazing story of courage and perseverance!

#41 ::: cayce ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 08:07 PM:

I'm glad this exists, and I'm glad it showed up in my RSS page when it did.

I have a counseling appointment in the morning, because I went to see my doctor today about the panic attacks I've been having for the past month. Student health services is all in one building, so my doctor did the doctory things (meds, lab work) and had me make an appointment with counseling. Not the first time I've seen this counselor, but it's been about a year - anyway, I'm babbling.

About a month ago I saw a triggering video, realized that the things I'd been taught about myself might not be true and realized I may never have to live with my parents again, all at once. I was physically sick. It took about a week before I stopped tasting adrenaline and jumping at shadows - it was only two weeks ago I realized that the emotional side of that reaction hadn't gone away.

I spent half of last week with my parents and siblings, and I told my mother I wasn't doing well. She's helping me coordinate my appointments, she's paying for my meds, she's paying my tuition...and she's a huge part of the reason this is happening.

I don't know if I can walk in there tomorrow and admit that. I don't know if I can admit to myself that it wasn't just my fault for being a difficult child. My perspective keeps changing - especially since I was just visiting, and that's always like stepping into an Escher painting. Pretty textbook gaslighting - and yet I cringe even to use that word, because it implies they're doing something wrong.

I talked to several friends throughout my visit, mentioned things that seemed strange or contradictory to me that my mother claimed were completely normal or made sense or were my fault, and they all told me I was correct in my evaluation. But even then, I keep hearing my mother's voice in my head - what I tell them is skewed, is wrong, is misrepresented, so of course they'd agree with me.

I'm not a good communicator. I can't point to specifics. If I tried to bring any of this up with my parents, I'd probably be too nervous to even make sense. They always say that they don't know when things bother me because I don't mention them, or they would change, but every time I even try they twist my words. I think, if they ever actually heard what I was trying to say (again, not a good communicator, so not necessarily their fault), maybe they would change.

Or something. Basically, I can't convince myself it wasn't my fault, because they're so normal and good and I'm me. And I'm scared I'm going to go see my counselor tomorrow and she's going to say I'm wrong and bad for even thinking it might be their fault. I can't figure out what's real any more.

#42 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 08:19 PM:

she pushes down @8: congratulations! Moving out is one of the best things you can do for yourself, ever, in my experience. "Really truly moved out" triggered a noticeable improvement in my mother's treatment of me, and it may be the same for you. Doesn't mean she won't be bad for you anymore -- but she might be better than before.

Also, you are giving yourself back years of your life by already knowing what is going on and actively working on it. I wasted about 10 years and the price of a bachelor's degree on being directionless, pushed around, not believing in myself, and generally being semifunctional, when normal people were building careers or travelling and stuff. I know it's going to be hard even so, but never forget that you have recovered an awful lot of time and future in one smart move.

#43 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 09:00 PM:

cayce, #41: The counselor has heard this story many times before. The counselor has been trained to identify what's real and what isn't. Your friends have already given you a reality check. Just because your parents are good people doesn't mean they haven't done less-than-good things to you; no one is all of a piece. There's no reality-based reason to think that the counselor is automatically going to be on your mother's side -- that's the Goddamn Tapes talking.

If you can convince your mother to come to a few joint sessions with you, the results may be very revealing. And if she really, seriously believes that the problem is All Your Fault and has no idea how she could be contributing to it, she might very well agree. Refusal to consider it is a strong (but not infallible) indicator that she knows there's something hinky going on and doesn't want to be called on it.

I finally managed to get my parents to do some family counseling shortly after I graduated from college (but before I moved out permanently). That was an eye-opener! Y'see, they did confidently expect that they would present their side of an issue, I'd present my side, and the counselor would turn to me and say, "But Lee, your parents are right! Why don't you do what they say?" Having the counselor turn to THEM instead and say, "You may not agree with Lee's decision, but there's nothing wrong with it, and she's an adult and has the right to make decisions for herself" -- well, after only a few iterations of that, they refused to attend any more sessions.

#44 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 09:15 PM:

Cayce, fwiw: when I had my nervous breakdown at 17, fell apart and dropped out of college, and then finally started therapy, my mother said to me, shortly before I started seeing the therapist I found for myself (as opposed to the one my parents found for me, who I hated), "don't try to blame this on us. It's not our fault."

Said it. Out loud.

Because our family was normal, damnit, so if there was anything wrong with me (and it wasn't just me being _dramatic_), it had to be me, not them.


My therapist, god bless her, did not care about blame or who was right or wrong. She wanted me to get better.

And I did.

And when I was in my late 30s, my mother apologized to me for not seeing the Asperger's or the depression. Which was huge for her. And for me, actually.

Best wishes to you.

#45 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 09:38 PM:

Lila @40: "she tried pushing down on my head but I slipped out from under her hand, neener neener!"


cayce @41: They always say that they don't know when things bother me because I don't mention them, or they would change, but every time I even try they twist my words.

"Heads, I win; tails, you lose." Um, yeah. While growing up in a crazy-making environment can undoubtedly impair one's communication skills, it is unlikely in the extreme that it is "your fault." (After all, who came first? You? Or them?) The ugly fact is that dynamics like these are almost specifically engineered to shift blame onto the victim.

I can't figure out what's real any more.

*BINGO* That's the object of the exercise. If you can't figure it out, then you need them to tell you, right?

#46 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 09:53 PM:

cayce #41: This sort of reality check is a big part of what counselors of all sorts are for, and you already do know on some level what the truth is here. Also, trust your friends' judgment.

#47 ::: Bricklayer ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2012, 12:21 AM:

Help requested troubleshooting a persistent communications disconnect.

Twice now (once with my MiL, once with my husband), a specific situation has occurred in re the dishwasher and loading it, which got exactly the same (dysfunctional) reaction out of the other person, despite my increasingly deferential methods of attempting to communicate.

I R doin it rong, or else there's a fundamental chasm between my outputs and their inputs.

I should note that Husband and I have a moderately longstanding cold war where each of us has said the exact words, "The way you load the dishwasher drives me crazy," but I do try to regularly state to myself that many of the things we disagree on are opinion-based or matters of style, and that both ways result in equally clean dishes.


Our new dishwasher (came with the new house) will not clean any surface of anything in the top tray that is not actively facing the water jets below it.

He and his mom have now both, separately, loaded the top densely full of bowls that are precisely vertical -- so only the upper (downward-facing) side of them will get washed.

I tend to load it with the dishes somewhat askew, so that all the eating surface of each bowl is downward-facing. I did this in the old dishwasher, too, but I have the advantage of having loaded and run (and been the next one to empty) this new dishwasher somewhere upwards of twenty times. I don't expect people on first contact with it to know all its foibles.

In each case where I said something like, "This dishwasher is weird, it only washes what's facing the jets, so those bowls need to slonch a little more so they get washed," the reaction was a glance of cold fury and a flounce away to another region of the house, sometimes accompanied with an explicit, "Fine, then YOU load it, if you don't like how I do it."

..... ?

I was supposed to ignore it and let the dishes come out dirty? I was supposed to wait until John has loaded it AND IMMEDIATELY EMPTIED IT enough times to have made the correlation himself (not damned likely, since I get to be The Dish Fairy these past months)? I was supposed to value their Sanctified, Rare Help deeply enough that it was worth it to me to redo their work (and offend them anew if they found out I had) without ever bringing it to their attention?

I have no idea how to handle this. But once was possibly a random bad mood; twice (especially from someone raised in the other one's household) looks distressingly like a pattern.

And I should note that I really, really don't EVER want to give the impression to anyone who is volunteering to help me out that I want to micromanage the help they give ... I just want to keep it from being hlep, if you see what I mean.

#48 ::: cayce ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2012, 12:54 AM:

Lee #43 -
I'm 3.5 hours away, but part of my problem with counseling is that historically my mother has always been in charge of it, and often done much of the talking for me before leaving me with the counselor. We've done family counseling - it consisted of her and my stepfather naming in detail everything I did wrong and me sitting there not making a sound. I'm sure she'd gladly do it again.
Part of the reason I'm so nervous is because I know that no matter what my intentions, when I open my mouth tomorrow I'm not going to be able to say anything negative about my mother.

Melissa Singer #44 -
Oh, yes, my mother has said as much in the past week, among other things.

I can't see her apologizing - well, I can, but I can't see her changing. She just doesn't understand that the way things are for her is not how they are for everyone - she gets on better with my neurotypical sister, but my brother and I? Forget it.

Thank you. You too.

#49 ::: cayce ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2012, 01:07 AM:

Jacque #45 -
Yeah. I'm learning that, slowly - I was recently informed by someone reliable that my default assumption should be that if I feel something, I have a good reason to feel that way. That one rocked my world a bit. (Also that an attempt to tell someone what to think or feel should be considered an instance of abuse until proven otherwise, which...likewise rocked my world, and has been helpful so long as I can identify what's going on before I get too far sucked in.)

"Heads, I win; tails, you lose" is the perfect way to describe it. I might take that phrase with me in the morning.

That's the thing - I was already around 11 by the time I moved in with them, and thoroughly traumatized. And I was a problem child - but I'm beginning to realize that "problem child" in her terms translates to "you resisted my attempts to violate your boundaries, abuse you, control you, and humiliate you." And that now I can start to look for my own words, to tell my own story.

#50 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2012, 03:08 AM:

cayce @48: I know that no matter what my intentions, when I open my mouth tomorrow I'm not going to be able to say anything negative about my mother.

So just keep your mouth shut—and hand them a print-out of your comments in this thread...?

I mean, like, why duplicate work?  :-)

She just doesn't understand that the way things are for her is not how they are for everyone

Wait—you said your mother, right? (IOW, BTDT, t-shirt long ago worn to dust.)

"problem child" in her terms translates to "you resisted my attempts to violate your boundaries, abuse you, control you, and humiliate you."

Again, a standard pattern. If you really want the snark to hit the fan, tell your mother that she should at least come up with some material that's, like, original. (I wonder if we don't see the beginnings of a bingo card here?)

#51 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2012, 03:10 AM:

...I do hope that if I start getting over the top with the snide, somebody here will gently point that out to me...?

It's just that...certain classes of misconduct, um, shall we say, don't bring out the best in me.

#52 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2012, 03:22 AM:

Bricklayer @ 47

I think at that point, I would impose the temporary condition "there is no dish fairy" and let him learn the hard way. There are no dishes that don't have scum on the bottom? Hunh, interesting. What do you think we should do about that?

No, wait, I take that back a little. I'd do that if I were feeling confrontation-averse. Ordinarily, I'd give him a bit of time and space to calm down, and then we'd have a serious talk about a whole slew of dynamics that I personally find troubling about that interaction.

But I'd probably start with a casual "so, help me understand what just happened, because I thought I was being neutral and letting you know about something I found out the hard way, so you didn't accidentally create extra work for yourself."

Generally, that's at some point followed by something like "So, help me find a way we can handle things like this in a positive way, because I want to be supportive of you and your needs, but I'm not okay with my having to do a lot of what feels to me like avoidable extra work."

But that's all after-the-fact stuff. If I wanted to avoid the problem in the first place, I'd make a point of mentioning it casually, in the midst of other general sorts of chatter, explicitly when he is not loading the dishwasher. "Oh, hey, I wanted to give you a head's up that I noticed this thing happening that you might want to know about." I wouldn't tell him how to solve it, actually. I'd just let him know about the trend, so he can decide what to do about it himself.

Once he's used to you bringing things up like that, you should be able to occasionally say things like "oh, hey, I meant to tell you earlier, I noticed that the dishwasher only seems to be washing things that are facing the jets. Sorry, I meant to tell you before it was relevant." (And when I do that, I use a very casual tone of voice and try to give my husband physical space, so that I'm not correcting the work he's doing over his shoulder, but instead we have some distance between us. I make sure I'm facing him obliquely, which helps defuse some of the feeling of confrontation, as does adopting a relaxed posture. And if I can get away with mentioning it from a position or location where I'm not even able to see the dishwasher, I do that, rather than come into the room to engage more directly over the activity in dispute.)

#53 ::: Bricklayer ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2012, 03:53 AM:

KayTei @52: That would lead to a whole slew of statements from him to the effect of have I noticed how much of a horrible sponging sponger I am, with my 7 years of unemployment and not even really staying on top of chores even with 3 days mostly 'off' of kid-caring (which partial week of daycare costs somewhere near to $10K/yr) ...

Umyeah. That's not even hypothetical, he's "warned" me with it twice in the last week (when I tried to raise issues of equity and parity, like "Hey, if I have to do the overnight kid shift AND get her up in the mornings AND watch her all day, can you please handle some portion of the bedtime routine so I can eat and respoon?"), along the lines of contemptuously saying, "Right, don't even go there, because I can go worse and harder and you keep saying you don't want me to yell at you about how inadequate you are."

I really wish we had less overwhelming stress in our lives, most particularly in regards to money. I also wish he had any idea how to respoon himself on purpose, instead of slowly regenerating them in the course of a normal, fairly-stressful routine ...

Because if any of those things were true, (a) he'd have much less assholeish reflex responses, (b) I'd be giving him less ammunition, and (c) we might have time, spoons, and money to attend couple counseling.

So tomorrow's homework for me is to drag my resume off the old hard drive it's on, and take friends up on their offer to help me figure out how to make it suck less ... I may not bring in enough to pay for her daycare (and if I can't, I can't work more than those 3 days), but contributing SOMETHING while simultaneously being quite obviously not lying around the house eating bonbons faffing about on the Internet all day ignoring my responsibilities will remove some of the fire from his overboiling pot.

#54 ::: Merricat ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2012, 07:44 AM:

@53 -- Resume-dusting sounds like a plan. I hope something fits in your schedule and it helps everyone gain more spoons (and money.)

The dishwasher sounds like a Thing -- there are some people who I have perfectly good relationships with until the Thing gets mentioned, and then both of us suddenly lose our heads. For whatever reason, we both have so much psychic trauma around the Thing that, even with the best of intentions, we can't deal with it rationally. The way we deal with it, mostly, is not engaging in in-depth conversations about the Thing ... but that's not necessarily possible with a Thing that impacts your day-to-day lives, and requires everyone to be on the same page.

#55 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2012, 08:18 AM:

Bricklayer #53: So, he is specifically threatening emotional abuse as retaliation for your attempting to (1) make a basic statement of fact about your new appliance, and (2) not be a doormat? No, you are not "Doing it Rong", he is taking advantage of you and then abusing you for not being a perfect housewife (yes, wife) who magically makes all the mess disappear.

Clearly, I'm not you, but in your place I'd be seriously reconsidering that relationship. And no, I don't think that's "just stress". It may be aggravated by stress, but it's still abusive behavior, and "it's just when he's stressed" is no better excuse than "it was the drink talking".

#56 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2012, 08:33 AM:

And clarifying my #55: Notice, I'm not saying DTMFA... but taking care of house and kids is damn well not "lazing about all day" -- in fact, it's rather more difficult than 8 hours in an office. Furthermore, those are his kids too, and pulling in a paycheck doesn't mean he gets to insult you for not taking 24/7 responsibility for them. Asking him to recognize that is entirely reasonable. For him to respond with threats is not.

#57 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2012, 08:38 AM:

Self-Correction: singular "kid".

#58 ::: Bricklayer ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2012, 08:51 AM:

David Harmon @55: Heard and accepted with all the love you intended to include. It would be much easier for both of us if I could just magically be a stereotypical 50s housewife for him, but it doesn't go well with the cyclical depression.

Basically we've just been spending over a year solid resenting the crap out of each other, which I know isn't healthy; I feel like he's doing scads of things that make me worse and then complaining when I GET worse, and he feels like I haven't been pulling anywhere near my 'half' of the load for, like, ever.

Ideally, I do know that there's a lot of kidchores and housechores that just HAVE to be mine in the current setup, because he has to has to bring in the income or we're so seriously f**ed, financially, it's nowhere near funny.

I don't need him TO step in and actually start pulling a solid half (or quarter) of the house- and kid-stress (though it would be lovely if he did). I'd really, really like some kind of acknowledgement from him that he's NOT doing so, though, and that his not doing so does mean my life kind of sucks right now.

Does that make any sense? A hug and cuddle and "I'm sorry it has to be like this, but it does, and I realize how much effort you're putting into it" statement would put me over the moon right now.

And a pony.

Or, failing that, a job that makes good use of my Massive Throbbing Verbal Skills. That'd be nice too.

I wonder if I can bother the multiple-award-nominated published novelist I used to beta-read for to write me a letter of recommendation? She was very impressed that I caught her accidentally warping the space-time continuum when none of her other proofers had.

#59 ::: Bricklayer ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2012, 08:59 AM:

And to clarify, the 'lazing about' he has problems with is what happens on days, like today, when the kid is in daycare from about 8AM until he comes back with her ca. 7PM. The problem there is my depression.

I think if I were our only childcare solution he'd be less pushy about me pulling my 'weight'. As it is, even if he doesn't think I'm doing my 'fair share,' he admits I'd be expensive to replace.

The days 'off' are definitely helping me cope better than I would if I had all weekday kid hours to myself -- part of why we got her in daycare in the first place was because I noticed myself totally running out of kid-related patience far before close of business Friday. But the other reason was to let me take classes to finish my degree and become more employable. Now that I have an AA, the next plan was to go on for the 4-year, but (a) the thought terrifies me right now and (b) ha ha ha with what money, so probably another employed interval is useful.

I'm very glad one of my birthday presents this year was enough binders (that fit the body I have NOW) to start thinking about interviewing places and having a hope in screaming hell of them taking me seriously as a dude.

#60 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2012, 10:14 AM:

Bricklayer: A hug and cuddle and "I'm sorry it has to be like this, but it does, and I realize how much effort you're putting into it" statement would put me over the moon right now.

<David has a sad for Bricklayer>

And a pony.

<bigger sad>

I wonder if I can bother the multiple-award-nominated published novelist I used to beta-read for to write me a letter of recommendation?

Definitely! That sort of thing is the core of what all the fad books call "networking". And from your description, it would barely qualify as "calling in a favor".

Also, being kneecapped by depression is not "lazing", it's "having a hole in your energy bucket".

#61 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2012, 10:41 AM:

Merricat @54 and anyone else wrassling with dishwasher issues:

The Dishwasher As Dysfunctional Family Member (wow, that's five years old already?)

#62 ::: Stefan S ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2012, 11:00 AM:

Well, goodness, this conversation goes at a good clip. I'm honored to be featured at the top of the thread.

newly growing #8: So, so glad for you, I hope things continue to go well. The self-direction bit was especially good for me to read, I struggle with that.

Marith #17: I love calligraphy! If you do follow that inclination be sure to link your lettering here.

Jacque #19 I trust you've overcome any insecurities about commenting here?

Well, no, but not for the lack of a very warm welcome (thank you all!). I'm just reticent.

Bricklayer #53 That sounds tough all around, I hope some respite is coming for you. I have shades of that situation; I've been living off my brother's largesse for years now, and while I do help him and my SIL with the kids and cooking, I don't think the amount of help really feels adequate to anyone involved. He's a fair guy, but even so the "why don't you have a job" argument comes up in unrelated arguments with demoralizing results. Faffing around on the internet is my automatic escape.

Life is a mess, I think the best I can hope for is a graceful descent rather than a long messy slide along down the side of the pit.

#63 ::: Stefan S ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2012, 11:10 AM:

FaultyMemory #28: Thank you for attribution concern. The internet being such a changing landscape, and copyright being so broken in my eyes, I'd rather not think about such things. But to clarify... *ahem* let it be known that my verse "Circled Strangers" is hereby under a (CC)-by-3.0 license.

All the talk of spoons here felt odd at first but by the 3rd mention I mostly understood. Context is amazing!

#64 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2012, 11:16 AM:

Stefan S. 63: If you enjoy original source material, here's where we got the terminology from.

#65 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2012, 11:34 AM:

Bricklayer: The pattern you're describing here... well, David said most of what I was thinking, but it also pings something personal I want to mention. What broke my marriage up was a cycle very similar to this. I was the primary wage-earner, I got laid off, I couldn't find a job and went spinning into situational depression, I wasn't pulling my weight (defined as job-hunting and keeping the house up, since I was there all day), there were financial stresses, we stopped being able to communicate, I was spending most of my time on Usenet and writing fanfic, we fought a lot. Sound familiar?

I think the marriage could have been saved if we'd gotten marriage counseling when we started noticing things going downhill. But we didn't have the money for it, and by the time things got desperate enough for us to try anyhow, he was already having an affair and all he wanted was out. Thank $DEITY we had no kids, because that made it possible to make a clean break.

Your descriptions are sounding a Huge Honking Flashing Red Alarm for me, because it looks like your relationship is heading down the same path. Is there any way at all that you can detach enough time/money for counseling now, before it reaches the point where counseling won't do any good?

#66 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2012, 11:43 AM:

Bricklayer and Lee #65: And suddenly I want to quote one of Ginger's comments, completely out of it's original context: to physiologists, stress is what an organism does in adverse situations. Distress is what happens when a stressed organism cannot alleviate the stress.

It occurs to me that this applies almost as well to psychology....

#67 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2012, 11:49 AM:


I read your and husband's struggles and the advice with great interest--as I've said earlier, I can see a bit of overlap between your husband's responses and mine.

Here's the thing, though--taking off on David Harmon @ 60. Also, being kneecapped by depression is not "lazing", it's "having a hole in your energy bucket". You two are a couple; that means that if you (one) have a hole in your energy bucket, you (two) have a hole in your energy bucket. And the "endlessly struggling to keep some water in a bucket with a hole, when even without the hole it would be stressful" gets very wearing.

It's not an easy place to be.

#68 ::: FaultyMemory ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2012, 01:01 PM:

Stefan@63: Thanks much for the explicit statement.

The topic of copyright doesn't come up much in the DFD threads. Nonetheless, many regulars in the larger Making Light community are authors, of one stripe or another, whose livelihoods depend on respect for copyright. It's only fair to our hosts and fellows that we show such respect as is due.

#69 ::: newly growing (formerly "she pushes down...") ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2012, 02:10 PM:

Wow, thanks for the congratulations and best wishes, everyone! :D *hugs to them as wants 'em, happy smiles to the rest*

Also, best wishes back at y'all, especially the ones currently in bad situations. :-( *sympathy*

Nancy Lebovitz @15: "dysfunctional (unhappy?) families are a conspiracy of silence." - YES. There have been so, so many things I'm "not supposed to talk about"; I'm sure a lot of y'all know what I mean. Dirty little family secrets that nobody's allowed to [stretching a metaphor] wash and hang up to dry. It always makes me kind of suspicious-face now when I hear someone express guilt about "airing dirty laundry in public".

(Also, that looks like an interesting interview! *bookmarks*)

Jacque @19: "this is an eternally ongoing process. The day may very well come, however, when you look back and realize that all those nightmarish things you used to struggle with are but a distant memory." - I'm hoping so. :-) At the very least, I am determined to clear out a lot of the knee-jerk "DISAPPROVE OF THAT" reactions I've had implanted in my brain, in favor of attitudes based on facts and careful thought. (Which is, yeah, just about as slow as it sounds. o_O But I have a lot of them tagged for removal / closer examination, anyway. *g*)

& @39: "I began collecting habits, skills, beliefs, and practices from them that supported that way of being." - Ooh, other people do that too? I think I've been trying to do that all my life, with various degrees of success (but succeeding more as I get a better understanding of my goal and more material to work with). Most of mine are from fictional people, especially in books or comics (Chris Claremont, and more recently Diana Wynne Jones, for the win), because it's easier for me to understand how behaving in X way / being X type of person works when their thought-processes are written out for me to analyze.

Firefly @25: "It's a birdcage, though. Many tiny little bars, and I don't think, anymore, that anything I say or do is going to take them all away." - SO. MUCH. THIS. What an evocative image. I never quite put it that way to myself (my go-to image was of an uncontrolled trainyard with cars whizzing in all directions and occasionally crushing me between them), but yes: I know exactly what you mean. :S I wish you good luck with flying the coop and building your own nest so that you have a safe place from which (if you want) to try to help others! *g* (I'm in the middle of that myself.)

"But how to explain that to someone who's only ever seen the nice side?" - Quoted for truth. o_O

two generations removed @36: Thank you. This is a helpful analogy. :-) (And yes to this: "I don't have any of the close, lifelong "best friendships" others seem to have". I'm hoping, as I learn more about what healthy relationships look like and how they function, I'll also learn to form them with other people.)

cayce @41: "I don't know if I can admit to myself that it wasn't just my fault for being a difficult child." - Aw, man. I remember being at that stage. It was the most brain-breaky thing (I didn't have a counsellor / therapist, because my mum "doesn't trust them" i.e. realized she wouldn't be able to control what kind of ideas they might put into / unearth in my head, but I did have a few good friends who were telling me basically what yours are telling you.) I wish you all the best of luck in finding your way to a better place. *sends many good wishes*

(Please ignore this if it's hlepy, but: in my case one of the things that helped was journaling - sorting out my thoughts and feelings on a given incident or set of incidents, in a locked Word document. I type a little bit faster than my internal censor can work, so it was good for getting me to spill things to myself that I wouldn't have admitted just thinking, and then looking at them in black and white and going "you know, that's really kind of messed up". The fun part was when my... my survivor's heart? The little, un-crushable part of me that had survived everything, hidden and beaten down but not dead... came out to play and took on its own voice and persona, to encourage me and fuss at me / kick my arse when me-myself just wanted to go "you know, they're right, I'm no use" and lie down and die. Which is not exactly technically sane [sorry, my mom has a terror of any hint of mental illness / non-neurotypicality in her family *tags that for possible weeding*], but hey - it worked. :S You'll probably find your own workarounds, completely different from mine, but I thought this was weird enough that you or someone else might find it helpful / encouraging. *g*)

& @49: "I'm beginning to realize that "problem child" in her terms translates to "you resisted my attempts to violate your boundaries, abuse you, control you, and humiliate you."" - Quoted for truth / agreement.

Moonlit Night @42: ""Really truly moved out" triggered a noticeable improvement in my mother's treatment of me" - I think it might be for me too. I have to keep on going "no, I'm not relying on them for anything, I'm going to do all the things myself", but... there were a couple of incidents (read: screaming matches) both before and after I moved out where I made it very clear (with the help of some PMS, ahem) that if they wanted any sort of contact with me at all after I get my degree and can choose where I live / travel, they would jolly well let me define the boundaries. So far, it may be working out? *fingers crossed* I've taken a couple rides to mutual-friends' parties with them when I couldn't get any other rides, and they haven't tried to talk me into staying with them longer than I planned. And they don't telephone me much or fuss that I don't call more often. There are still... hints, you know, tests of "do you really mean it?", but I think the longer I do really mean it the - well, the better-trained they'll get. *wry face*

"I know it's going to be hard even so, but never forget that you have recovered an awful lot of time and future in one smart move." - :D *puts on stickynote* (My computer desktop is so full of virtual stickynotes with encouraging noises on them. Well, also story notes and research notes and funny quotes from Neil Gaiman's blog, but mostly encouraging things people have said to me. :D)

Melissa Singer @44: "my mother said to me... "don't try to blame this on us. It's not our fault."" - MINE TOO. O_O Almost exactly. I asked about family counseling and she said "You're the one who needs counseling, not us!" :P (And my gaslighting!sister used to say I shouldn't consider moving out because "the problem is inside you". o_O)

Bricklayer @59: best of luck on being taken seriously as a dude. I'm not even starting to think about that yet (so many obstacles, so little safety net), but thankfully I also don't have too much dysphoria to deal with. o_O

#70 ::: Bricklayer ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2012, 03:14 PM:

newly growing @69: I've started taking baby steps. I finally said to our near-side neighbor (who has three kids and a playset, as we have one kid and a playset; these kids are going to grow up together, barring catastrophe/move), "Hey, this is a little odd, but I wanted to bring it up earlier rather than later, given how our last neighbors went. A lot of people don't seem to get it right away, but I'm a dude, married to another man, with a kid. Is this going to be a problem?"

He immediately asked if Beka was adopted, a question I hadn't (DUMBASS) prepared for. I stambled around a little; I now think my new prepped answer for that is going to be, "That's complicated. But we're the only parents in the picture, for her," which I think is why he was asking, given that earlier he'd asked a lot of questions about how my sister and I are related (when it became clear we weren't fullsies).

Now I have to make sure I don't go out in the yard 'commando' and swinging loose in the breeze, much, so as to make the adjustment easier for them ... the new binders can't come soon enough!

More complicated disclosures about my past and Beka's genesis and whatnot can wait till after they've worn a groove in their thinking about my gender, methinks. That's not lying, right? It's just 'not bringing up,' like one might if (a) my parents were celebrities, (b) we had a long and difficult family medical issue history, like on-again-off-again cancer or something ... etc?

#71 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2012, 03:16 PM:

Regular readers will understand that my relationship with my mother is not fixed and probably never will be (she's nearly 80; I'm 52), but I wanted to make that clear for those who may not know.

Our relationship has gone through a lot of ups and downs. It was good when I was young because I was subservient. It was even pretty good when I was living at home after dropping out of college, even though I was in therapy at the time and learning about who I really was. Because the bad was going out in the therapy? Because I understood that the "me" I showed her wasn't the real me? Because I spent part of almost every weekend somewhere else, with people who knew the real me?

Once I moved out we simmered along reasonably well on a superficial level until I reproduced, and then things went to hell in a handbasket, because there was a firm line in the sand. My mother could mess me up, or try to mess me up, all she wanted, but she was Not Going To Do That to My Kid.

And she hasn't.

But holding that line has destroyed nearly everything important in my relationship with my mom. I do my duty by her, but without much heart. And every time I think she might have learned something from the last time I told her to Stop That and relax enough to let her in a little bit, she does something that makes me slam the walls back up.

So that apology was a major high point in my life, and one I'll never see again, I think.

I miss my dad. (He died 9 years and 3 days ago.)

#72 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2012, 03:33 PM:

Melissa, #41 & newly growing, #69: The version I got was, "Why don't you go and get the mental help YOU need? We'll pay for it!" And for quite a long time they brushed off any suggestion I made about family counseling, because they didn't have any problems except me.

The family counseling sessions I mentioned upthread... well, that's sort-of-funny-now. I have no idea who finally convinced them that it might be worthwhile, but my mother came to me and said in tones of great trepidation, "Lee, if your father and I were to go to family counseling, would you CONSIDER coming with us?" Just as though I hadn't begged them to do it over and over again for years. And then of course it turned out not to be the Magic Fix Lee Button, and they dropped it like a hot rock.

Mostly mentioning this because it's useful for people who are having that crap said/done to them to know that it's a very common pattern.

#73 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2012, 04:15 PM:

Bricklayer @70: Agreed: it's not lying, it is just "not bringing up". If you form a friendship with them, then you can give them the full story.

As long as I'm posting, I want to comment on the sleep apnea mini-thread, violently in favor of anyone who thinks they might have it getting tested and treated. They gave me a machine, I tried it, and the very next morning I woke up, actually rested for the first time in about five years!, thinking oh my god I had forgotten what this felt like! That was six years ago, and I've missed all of one night since.

I will say that if the machine's noise is able to keep Megpie71's SO awake, then he must not have it very bad.

#74 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2012, 05:09 PM:

Sleep apnea: My CPAP machine is completely silent* when on. Not all of them are, and I don't know how to tell which is which without trying them. But silent ones do exist.

*The first night I had it, it wasn't hooked up right, and there was a medium-loud white-noise sound from the air escaping around the base of the hose. But once I got it connected right, it was fine.

#75 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2012, 06:06 PM:

Bricklayer @ 58 and beyond...

That sounds seriously harsh, and I'm sorry to hear you're going through that.

We're in a somewhat similar situation, right now, and there are a few things that help us to control that dynamic. I have also been the primary home-carer in the past, and I know how stressful it is, how much work it is, and how it felt for me. I understand depression and re-spooning, first-hand. And we both come from strong feminist homes, so there's a definite shared value that home-caring is hard work and an important contribution.

When I start to break it down that way, it sounds to me as if the difference between our two situations is that your husband is... to put it as kindly as possible... pretty damned clueless about your day-to-day reality. It looks like a glaringly broad empathy and experience gap, from over here.

I want to support the idea of relationship counseling, by the way. I'm not sure, with the dynamic between you as it is now, that he can objectively hear what you're saying. And it doesn't sound like he values your experience, where it doesn't match his own. Somebody else saying "No, dude, that's real. Back off." might help bring him around.

At the risk of being either hlepy or obvious, I also wonder if you're satisfied with the way you and your doctor are managing your depression, these days. Some of what you're describing are things that my husband and I both tend to do, when our depression management strategies aren't quite up to the current task. That may mean acknowledging that if that's what you have to do to be emotionally stable, then those health-management tactics (such as faffing around the Internet) should be part of your priorities, even sometimes to the exclusion of less-important stuff, like housekeeping.

#76 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2012, 06:30 PM:

Bricklayer @70: It's definitely not lying, it's just not disclosing fairly personal details with people you don't know that well yet. I mean, I don't generally discuss the contents of my underwear with my neighbours either; in my case, said contents happens to be more or less what they'd expect based on my dress and external appearance, but that doesn't mean that any discrepancy would compel me to disclose it to them at any particular point in our relationship.

#77 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2012, 07:32 PM:

elise @61: anyone else wrassling with dishwasher

Last time Jon Singer visited, it was on short notice, so the house was a serious train-wreck when he arrived. Day or two in, he took it upon himself to do the dishes, using my dishrinserwasher. When I got home, he was all kinds of preemptively apologetic about possibly overstepping, and maybe having gotten the loading wrong, and like that.

After winching my jaw up off the floor (and deducing that this had been, like, a thing with some of his other cohabitants), I put the dishes away, and as I did so, went to some considerable effort to reassure him that: if someone (a guest, for crissake) is going to go to the time and effort to do housework in my home that I haven't bestirred myself to do, the very last thing I'm ever going to do is give them any little lip about how they did it. What, am I stupid!?

(Well, in point of fact, this is where my "choosing the kind of person I want to be" mentioned above comes into play: there was a time when I would have given a cohabitant grief for Doin It Rong.)

newly growing @69: You will pardon me, I hope, if I visualize this as a newly-hatched dinosaur/dragon, with beautiful, soft, snuggly, shiny, irridescent plumage: bright, piercing eyes, and very sharp and pointy teefs. ;-)

my mom has a terror of any hint of mental illness / non-neurotypicality in her family

Yup. Definitely populating a bingo card here.

Bricklayer @70: More complicated disclosures about my past and Beka's genesis and whatnot can wait till after they've worn a groove in their thinking about my gender, methinks. That's not lying, right?

Correct, that's not lying. Not even by omission. That's revealing as much about yourself as you feel appropriate. E.g., Privacy and Boundaries. In your place, I wouldn't disclose that stuff any more than I would discuss the contents of a letter to my best friend, or what goes on between me and my gastroenterologist.

@41, @69, & @72: WRT to family counseling, I gather it's pretty typical for families and couples to go into therapy with the dominant, power-holding individuals saying some variation of: "I'm fine, really! You just need to fix him/her/them." It's vanishingly rare for a power-holder to approach it with the question: "How can I fix what I'm doing to improve the situation?"

Sorta like my guinea pigs: I have five boys. They are each of the opinion that this is four boys too many. Who the extra boys are depends entirely on who you ask.

#78 ::: newly growing (formerly "she pushes down...") ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2012, 09:36 PM:

Jacque @77: "a newly-hatched dinosaur/dragon, with beautiful, soft, snuggly, shiny, irridescent plumage: bright, piercing eyes, and very sharp and pointy teefs. ;-)"

EEEEEEE I LIKE THIS. I am a wee dragosaur! With pointy teefs. XD I... sort of want to ask a friend for art of this now, for a new default LJ icon. May I?

#79 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2012, 12:18 AM:

Sleep apnea mini-thread: How does one go about getting tested? Who does one call first? Is this a specialist thing, or a garden-variety primary care provider thing, or...?

Probably apnea sufferer: my husband. Problem with getting him tested: Not enough hours in the day for him, feeling aimless and lost as far as finding the right people to call for me. The usual excuses. I suck at figuring out how to deal with new medical issues (Let's not even get into the slowly healing jammed finger that I'm not sure whether I should show to someone, and if so, who?); he sucks at buckling down and scheduling things as he is perpetually in a state of Overwhelmed Busy.

Gentle tips and pointers welcomed.

#80 ::: Lynne ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2012, 12:31 AM:

johnofjack @14: Abuse survivors: do you ever develop an internalized sense of normal human interaction? I don't think I have one, or at least: a great deal of situations make me freeze completely because I don't know how to react.

I know exactly what you mean about freezing. I just don't...have a template for some things. As time goes on, though, I do seem to be developing a stronger/more confident sense of the patterns of normal behaviour. I don't go all deer-in-the-headlights anymore when a friend hugs me, for example (granted, I start to feel uneasy if it lasts more than a few seconds, but it's no longer...terra incognita; I've figured out how to deal with it in a semi-normal way.)

I think part of the Thing here is that I have strongly rejected many of my parents' behavioural patterns, but refusing to act in certain ways doesn't mean I know what to replace them with, in a given situation. Knowing one wrong answer doesn't tell you what a right one is, or even steer you away from other wrong answers.

So sometimes it is really hard to figure out what I should do or say, especially if I'm on the spot and don't have much time to think about it. Humans are complicated; there are lots of rules as to what constitutes normal/healthy interaction, and usually nobody tells you what they are or explicitly* tells you when you break them (not that I blame them for it; under most circumstances that would be a Difficult Conversation, and one that would risk giving offense.)

*These days I can usually figure out when I've broken some rule, though it might take some thinking about it afterwards before I realize where I went wrong and what I should have said instead. I'm a lot better than I used to be at detecting this, and at avoiding falling into a social faux pas to begin with. But sometimes I do wish, wistfully, that more people would just explain what you did wrong and should have done instead. It would have helped so much when I was in my early twenties...(in fairness, I probably could have gotten some of that kind of feedback if I'd asked for it - but I would have felt I needed to give some sort of explanation of why I needed it, and I don't think I could have managed that; it ran too close to things I just couldn't talk about then. It's still hard to talk about,** though these days my closest friends do know about [some of] the abuse and how it's affected me.)

**and hard to feel like I have a right to expect anyone to believe I was abused, or to treat my perceptions about my own feelings as reasonable and correct. (Yup, I can totally play Abuse Bingo too.)

#81 ::: SpawnOfTheDevil ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2012, 01:33 AM:

Nicole @79
Sleep apnea mini-thread: How does one go about getting tested? Who does one call first?

Depending on your insurance, you may need to go through your primary care provider. You'll end up at a pulmonologist, or maybe a stand-alone sleep lab. (Kaiser is wonderful this way: sleep apnea leads to so many bad things that they're happy to treat it, and you may be able to refer yourself.)

(Let's not even get into the slowly healing jammed finger that I'm not sure whether I should show to someone, and if so, who?)

Primary care provider again, leading to an orthopedist. If you have insurance, it's worth making sure all the fingerbones are doing as they ought.

#82 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2012, 04:53 AM:

Nicole@79: It isn't a garden-variety primary care provider thing, but that's the place to start: call him or her up and say, "I have reason to believe that my husband has sleep apnea, can you provide a referral for a sleep study?" Whether or not your insurance requires that, your doctor is likely much more qualified to pick out a sleep lab than you are.

If your husband does get treated for apnea, he may well find himself with more energy than previously, which might help with the Overwhelmed Busy. (Or not, don't know him well enough to say.)

In addition to not being sleep-deprived all the time, by the way, my machine has stopped me having nighttime acid reflux. That had got to the point that I had to give up eating my favorite brand of ravioli (made by a local delicatessen), and had a chronic cough owing to a perpetually irritated esophagus; fixing that alone would make using the machine worth it.

(It isn't that alone, of course: the cake is not being in a perpetual state of nagging drowsiness like I'd been up for 18 hours, not having acid reflux is just tasty icing. Reducing a heightened risk of diabetes, heart attack, stroke, and senile dementia might then be a yummy fruit filling in between the layers...and maybe I should stop before the Metaphor Police haul me away.)

#83 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2012, 09:39 AM:

Nicole (79): I didn't need a referral for insurance purposes, but I called my primary care provider* for a recommendation of where to go. It turned out to be a pulmonologist connected to a local sleep lab, one that wasn't even coming up in my own searches. As David Goldfarb said, your doctor is likely much more qualified to pick out a sleep lab than you are.

*my cardiologist rather than my internist, actually

#84 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2012, 12:49 PM:

newly growing @78: EEEEEEE I LIKE THIS. I am a wee dragosaur! With pointy teefs. XD I... sort of want to ask a friend for art of this now, for a new default LJ icon. May I?

Please do.

Lynne @80: I have strongly rejected many of my parents' behavioural patterns, but refusing to act in certain ways doesn't mean I know what to replace them with, in a given situation. Knowing one wrong answer doesn't tell you what a right one is, or even steer you away from other wrong answers.

I have slowly doped out an algorithm for dealing with situations like this. Two questions are prominent:

1. "What do I want?"

2. "What kind of person do I want to be?"

Which question will be ascendant depends a lot on the situation. Frex, when somebody wants to hug me: Do I like them? Do I want to encourage this behavior? Am I comfortable with it? The answer is usually yes, in which case I just go with it and/or behave encouragingly. I've encountered a few cases where I am not comfortable with it; being kind and loving != doormat, so I will step back, and block aggressively if necessary.

Being able to make that evaluation at a moment's notice takes (a) a lot of practice and (b) a lot of pre-calculation, so I know at least the general parameters of my preferences.

I have lately concluded, for example, that my tendancy to freeze in a conflict situation is not a bad thing. It's an entirely reasonable desire to want to (a) not make the situation worse in the heat of the moment and (b) want to wait for calmer circumstances to unpack a situation and draw conclusions about how I want to handle it.

Paradoxically, having given myself this permission, I actually am finding that I'm more likely to have the internal information I need at the moment it's called for.

Another class of examples: I've occassionally felt chagrinned when my interest in or affection for someone is rebuffed; castigating myself for overstepping. But this is where question 2 comes in: As long as I am respecting their boundaries and their preferences, it's okay if I like them. Furthermore, it's okay if I express that. I'm not doing anything "wrong" by liking them and saying so.

It sounds to me, Lynne, like you are entirely on the right track. What makes this-all the very bitch is that humans are complicated ('s why we've got these big brains, by all accounts). Growing up in dysfunctional circumstances compounds the complication by orders and factors; not only do you have to learn what's right, you also have to sort through all the myriad wrong and confusion to get to it. It takes a long time.

In other words: UR DOIN IT RITE.

#85 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2012, 04:44 PM:

Still reading and witnessing. Just caught up on the previous thread, one of these days I'll have a go myself with a post. I will say that much of what has been talked about has been helpful to me, though I won't go into specifics under my regular 'nym.

I did notice this that I can maybe help with:
Jacque @ #19:

I tried finding a coffeemaker that would wake me in the morning with hot tea. No joy (only programmable ones I find are, like, huge). *sigh*

Hmm. Appliance timer, cheap "hotpot" style water boiler, of the kind that has no switch - plug in, get heat. It'll make hot water on time, but you have to dump it into the cup/add the teabag. Or, you can put the teabag in the water overnight and it will be heated up on time after a long, cold steep. Not sure on the flavor effects of that... Either way, you'll need to time the hotpot for your usual size cuppa and make sure to set the appliance timer to turn off again after it is hot enough/before it has boiled dry.

Alternate: "hotel room size" coffeemaker, put teabag in pot. If not programmable, use appliance timer. May need to fiddle with it if it won't come on when plugged in with the switch in the on position, or if it is a push to start type. (duct-tape button down, set appliance timer to turn "off" 30 min after turning "on", or similar)

Alternate: programmable one-cup coffeemaker. Put teabag in cup. Found one on Amazon for less than $30, that has a reservoir in it for the brewed product - put the teabag(s) there, and shove mug under it to get brewed product. 7.5" x 11" x 13.5" or so in size, not sure what you consider "huge".

More ideas available, but I'm often behind on threads here.

#86 ::: cayce ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2012, 07:10 PM:

newly growing @69 -
Yeah. I've had a friend and a roommate recently tell me, flat-out, that my mother is controlling and manipulative and not very nice. Only in much stronger words.

Not hlepy! I've been journaling for many years, and trying to make electronic journals work for the past three because they're more secure. You've just made me realize why they don't work the way pen and paper always have - my internal censor works too quickly for my typing to keep up! I've been scribbling on scrap paper lately and feeling weird about it - maybe I need to switch back entirely.

I know what you mean about the uncrushable part of you, though. My metaphors are a little different, but the night all of this was triggered, I had a moment of clarity that I wish would come back and stick around - and a feeling like a part of myself I'd thought was gone had woken up again. (And then I fell asleep and dreamed I was a dragon, except I also spent most of the dream in human form, but in the right gender - anyway, dragons. Seem to be a thing.)

Ohhh yes, that sounds familiar. My (12 years younger) brother and I are both pretty definitely on the spectrum, diagnosed with lists of things that cover the criteria separately - but mention the autism word and my mother will freak out. Not her brilliant genius children, no! We're just special snowflakes. Facepalm.

#87 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2012, 07:55 PM:

cayce @86: If you prefer the feel of pen and paper, but want the security of electronica, maybe try Evernote and scan your writing in once you're finished, then destroy the original and encrypt the scan? Evernote *can* do OCR on handwriting, and search on it.

#88 ::: cayce ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2012, 08:17 PM:

Jennifer Baughman @87 -
I love Evernote! I've been using it for years, though, and I have too much stored in my account - accessing it from anything except the android app is impossibly slow. I might try that, though, if I can find a scanner around campus. One of the other things I like about going electronic is the search function and/or tags, so it's worth a try. Otherwise I think I'll end up typing them all by hand...once you've known the wonder of indexing systems, it's hard to go back ;)

#89 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2012, 09:31 PM:

newly growing @69: If your mom, like mine, grants respect for taking independence (versus asking for it), then it could well be true for you too. At the very least I expect your mom is going "oh shit, I can't fully control her now" and figuring out how to deal with that, whether she knows it or not.

Sometimes I regret/beat myself up about mostly losing my twenties (from 18 to 31 if you're being harsh) as serious productive time, because it took most of that time to realize anything had even been wrong at all. My parents were virtuosos at making things impossible and making their abuse/enabling normal and invisible. I can forgive myself for 0-18, but not so much for after that, even though I know, now, that I probably deserve the forgiveness.

But being able to tell you that you're doing much better already and will keep on doing so makes up for it a little bit. I mean, my therapist thinks that I'm a minor miracle -- I'm not dead, suicidal, schizophrenic, obsessive-compulsive, or hopelessly depressed, dependent or neurotic, despite having enormous reason to be any and all of the above -- and you can be a better one. Go be a better miracle for me.

This would include doing some serious travel! I always longed to do that but was convinced it was "impossible." And now, with student loans due and looming potential unemployment, it's fiscally irresponsible, so I STILL have to put it off.

#90 ::: Lynne ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2012, 12:15 AM:

Jacque @84: Hmm. I quite like that algorithm; I will have to remember that. Those two questions, "What do I want?" and "What kind of person do I want to be?" have certainly played a role in some of my choices, but not in a very organized or conscious way, and I hadn't isolated them as...relevant considerations for on-the-spot decisionmaking. I think they would be helpful.

Also, thank you for the encouragement. :) I sometimes feel like - I've managed to reach an adequate level of social-interaction-skillz in many situations, so nobody bats an eye, but one but me actually recognizes how far I've come to get to that point. And then of course there are the times I'm not quite adequate, and it's still been really hard to get to that point, which is discouraging. I feel like the times I Do It Rite are utterly invisible, and people only notice when I'm Doin It Rong. But - I'm trying to learn to be gentler with myself and less self-critical about stuff,* and I'm going to keep on keeping on. Someday maybe I will be the kind of person I want to be.

*I would never ever inflict the level of vitriol on anyone else that I do on myself, or judge anyone else one tenth as harshly. Is there not something wrong there? I know it with my rational mind...but I have to convince my emotional self, and replace those old patterns with healthier ones. I'm getting better. Slowly, and not without backward steps, but I am.

And speaking of being gentler with yourself...Moonlit Night @89: Sometimes I regret/beat myself up about mostly losing my twenties (from 18 to 31 if you're being harsh) as serious productive time, because it took most of that time to realize anything had even been wrong at all. My parents were virtuosos at making things impossible and making their abuse/enabling normal and invisible. I can forgive myself for 0-18, but not so much for after that, even though I know, now, that I probably deserve the forgiveness.

You DO. It takes so long to process and unravel some of that stuff. I'm in my early thirties, and am only now at an emotional and psychological point that - well, that I probably would have reached ten years ago, if my starting point hadn't been so screwed up. Some things take time. Even reaching the point where you can start to acknowledge your parents were abusive can take a long time, in my case, and in yours too, it sounds like. That is not. your. fault. It's just the hand you were dealt.

I hope you get to do some traveling in the next few years (and find a job you like that gives you the resources to be able to do that!)

#91 ::: Megpie71 ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2012, 02:01 AM:

David Goldfarb @73

Actually, I think part of the problem is he has one of those over-amped brains that notices everything and keeps firing all the time. Certainly his hearing seems to be a lot sharper than mine (but then, I'm slightly hard-of-hearing anyway because of constant middle-ear problems as a kid) and he can pick up noises which I wouldn't otherwise notice. As a result, it takes him a lot longer to mentally "shut down" than it would for someone else (such as myself), and any little thing can distract him back to full awareness.

#92 ::: SpawnOfTheDevil ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2012, 03:07 AM:

Lynne @90
I would never ever inflict the level of vitriol on anyone else that I do on myself, or judge anyone else one tenth as harshly.

At the risk of hlepiness, these are depressingly common habits of mind, and I'd like to just mention a couple of strategies for shifting them.

When someone (even me) says something self-sabotaging, I want to know: "Would you say that to someone you liked?" Or I might growl, "You'd best not be beating up on my friend. I won't have it."

As a spiritual practice (like making it a point to breathe every time you go through a doorway) whenever I hear myself thinking something mean (frex: i drop something and curse my clumsiness) I will say out loud whatever the opposite is: "I am a marvel of gracefulness!" "It's wonderful that I always know where my keys are!" "I am completely organized."

At the very least, the apparent absurdity can make me giggle. At best, when I hear myself praised for gracefulness, somehow gracefulness manifests itself more often. (And I really do always know where my keys are these days.)

#93 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2012, 07:06 AM:

@90 & @92: Here's a really silly thing that helped me a whole lot:

I started working on being kinder to my computer. More specifically, when it succcessfully performs a function, especially if it has to labor at it some, I praise it. Thank it, pat it on the case, and tell it that it's a good computer.

Two reasons I think this has been effective:

1. It's easier and more effective to do something than to not do it. (Praise it when it's good, rather than not having a tantrum it when it's bad.)

2. Other than with myself, the computer is the relationship that soaks up by far the largest part of my waking life. Therefore, it offers massive opportunity for practicing a skill.

#94 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2012, 07:11 AM:

cayce @86: I've been scribbling on scrap paper lately and feeling weird about it - maybe I need to switch back entirely.

Julia Cameron, talking about Morning Pages in The Artists Way, contends that, for really deep contemplative work, handwriting is preferable, because it accesses experience at a deeper level.

I'm not a hundred percent sure I buy that. But I do know that, for me at least, the kinesthetics of hand-writing versus typing are very different. It's reasonable that this would evoke different internal states.

#95 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2012, 07:45 AM:

Jacque @94 The other thing about handwriting Morning Pages is that you're supposed to keep writing, not go back and edit, and if you're typing on the computer it's harder to suppress the temptation to backspace and fix something, even just a typo. And then you're out of the free-flowing brain and back in editor mode.

I got quite a bit out of The Artist's Way at Work, which somebody recommended here on ML some years ago.

#96 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2012, 08:21 AM:

Not directly in-line with the conversation, but certainly related to the self-abuse issues being discussed:

Often, I get repeated, intrusive fantasies, generally about dealing with abusive bosses at work. The problem with this is that even at the Job From Hell, none of the bosses were half that nasty (the problems there were more systemic), not to mention that I haven't worked in an office in 15 years....

It was generally pretty obvious that the appearance of these was linked to current frustrations or angers... but eventually I also realized that these were not at all "about" what they seemed to be... in fact, they were using the office to represent my own internal processes, my own self-attacks and self-backstabbing. I've been slowly starting to translate them, based on the same principle used for dream interpretation: Everyone, and even the more active "things", in such a narrative, are all parts of myself. There are some recurrent figures that I haven't really pinned down, and cases where I don't really understand what they're "really saying", but in general, this is helping to "lay" the annoying intrusions, and occasionally giving bits of self-insight.

#97 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2012, 01:52 PM:

Moonlit Night @89: Tell you what, if you forgive yourself for 18-31, I'll forgive myself for 18-37. ;)

It hurts, doesn't it, to look back and think, 'if only'. To wonder what you could have been. To try to figure out why you didn't do something sooner. To wish you could go back with what you know now, and fix things "when it mattered".

But it still matters. We can't change the past. And I think that we survivors did the best that we could with what we had and who we were, and that should be--if not celebrated, then at least acknowledged. We muddled through. We're here, now, and that's an achievement, even if it doesn't seem like it.

It's okay to be a work in progress. And we still have time to be the better miracles we want to be.

#98 ::: cayce ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2012, 02:35 PM:

Jacque @94, OtterB @95 - I've always had to sneak up on my brain. When I was younger and wrote more, people would gift me fancy journals and they'd lie on a bookshelf getting dusty while I carried around my battered composition books.

I had an art professor who summed it up perfectly with her painting habits - when she starts a new watercolor or anything else requiring expensive paper or canvas, she sprinkles the paper with vodka first so it's already ruined, and then starts painting. I learned so much from that class - working on 11x18 pieces for 4 hours at a time requires a lot of self-awareness and working through frustrations and anxiety, particularly for someone who is me and dyspraxic. Art taught me to be patient, aware, and value imperfections. It's been far too long since I've picked up a brush - I lost the habit in all of the stress recently. Maybe that's what I'll do this weekend.

#99 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2012, 04:21 PM:

David Harmon @96: Often, I get repeated, intrusive fantasies, generally about dealing with abusive bosses at work.

I think your interpretation and use of these fantasies is brilliant, and absolutely correct.

I don't get that sort of intrusive fantasy, but I do get intrusive fanfic vignettes. The main reason I gave up on writing fiction is that, having come to this insight, I have realized I'm not interested in fleshing out the story such that it would make sense/be interesting to anybody else. I just want to dwell in the scene with those characters, and let them do their process for me.

@69, @89, & @97: I am reminded of one of Barbara Sher's more brilliantly-titled books (although book titles seem to be a superpower for her): It's Only Too Late If You Don't Start Now.

cayce @98: It's been far too long since I've picked up a brush - I lost the habit in all of the stress recently. Maybe that's what I'll do this weekend.

I am repeatedly boggled at the magnitude of the positive effect that putting real time in on my artwork has on my overall well-being. (Even in spite of the fact that I tend to be chronically short on sleep as a direct result.) I think the health benefit is very similar to what one gets from meditation.

#100 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2012, 06:04 PM:

Jacque @19: If you look on for "Teasmaid" or "Teasmade", there are lots of gadgets which will do what you want (e.g. "Swan Teasmade White". However, I can't find them on - not sure if there's one that will work on US power.

#101 ::: Lynne ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2012, 06:47 PM:

SpawnOfTheDevil @92: Not hlepy at all; I like strategies. :)

Jacque @93: You made me laugh. And pat my computer.

Jennifer Baughman @97: This, so much this.

#102 ::: knitcrazybooknut ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2012, 07:56 PM:

To those talking about the meditative effects of making art, and the need to use only pre-ruined materials, Lynda Barry has written two books about this. When I say "written", I mean, compiled lots of thoughts and drawings on notebook paper and put them into book form. What It Is and Picture This are the titles. They are just amazing. She uses notebook paper for much the same reasons others cited, and in her creative writing seminars, she has the students draw a spiral to keep their hands moving until it's time to write. The body has its own memory.

#103 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2012, 09:19 PM:

@87, @88, and @94: One of my better compromises between paper and screen is a full-screen writing app (Writeroom in my case) with a font that looks like handwriting. It helps me write but is much more pleasant for editing than paper, and is easier on my hands than a pen. And since it's plain text I can't get hung up on formatting. On my lap on the couch also helps, versus at a desk.

#104 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2012, 10:34 PM:

Jacque #99: As I implied, I didn't invent that interpretation; I learned it from some book or other as a technique for interpreting dreams (the original idea was to "ask" each element of the dream what it wants, and/or what its purpose is).

#105 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2012, 11:51 PM:

David Harmon @104: I didn't invent that interpretation; I learned it from some book or other as a technique for interpreting dreams

But you did independantly extrapolate its use to waking fantasies. Hey! I extrapolated that use independantly, which is (IMnsHO) brilliant. How can I therefore give you less credit? Hm? :-)

#106 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2012, 07:52 AM:

Jacque @99 Mine aren't fanfic vignettes, but they are daydream vignettes in which I don't appear at all, and operate similarly. The same main character has been in perhaps a half dozen different settings or situations over the years. Somehow I knew I couldn't make a published piece of writing out of it and never tried, but I realized just a couple of years ago that this kind of process was at work and he was speaking for me. Largely, I think, I was building a setting and a backstory in which he seemed justified saying or doing the kind of things that I felt, but that seemed vastly melodramatic applied to my life. (The key line in the one where I realized this went, "I have tried and failed and tried and failed so many times that right now I do not know where to find the strength to keep on trying.")

Now that I've realized this, I have to put some effort into ignoring the process while it works itself out until the insight comes into view. I squash it if I analyze too soon.

#107 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2012, 09:14 AM:

Jennifer Baughman #97: Thank you for this. I'm another person with "lost years" -- not so much college (though damn, it would be nice to do it over "with what I know now"), but the 10 or 15 years after my second big crash (featuring listmod burnout, broken heart/half-elf glamour, and Grandpa's death). That earlier crash led pretty much in a straight line to the one that put me out of work and on disability....

#108 ::: ma larkey ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2012, 12:21 PM:

Hello all,
I haven't been posting or reading--spoon shortage. Grateful the thread is open.
Venting: parents just called me to say they are losing their housekeeper(s) and would I just please move back in and be the one to stay home "to keep the house safe". Right. Um No.
The last time I spent the night there it was pretty clear that things hadn't changed, my things had been rearranged and a missing piece of clothing that I'd left hanging in a certain place was mysteriously returned and hidden in a pile of towels.
Now I am bracing for what is bound to be a fight, the guilt piled on and the accusation that I am selfish for trying to live apart from the terrible emotional suckage of their reality distortion fields. I had to ask a friend to pick me up from my parents' house to take me out of the village to somewhere where I could get a ride back to the apartment. Now hunkered down. Not so good with teh spoons. But grateful that I didn't buckle down and return there. Is it so terrible of me to not want to spend time with people who have beaten me up, stolen my paychecks, hidden my clothes and kitchen things, and interfered with friends or relatives trying to help me branch out and get out of there? Sigh. The answer seems to be No. But I grew up with this mantle of being the difficult ingrate and insolent daughter pointing out teh flaws and struggling for "rights you don't have", as my father put it. 'What rights?" said my sister, as she slammed me against the refrigerator in an argument. Ack.

Let's hope the door that I currently keep locked holds for now.
Not that I think they are going to storm the apartment door, but then again, they tried that 3 months ago. What made the door storming more painful was that my mother had dragged my sibs' little kids with her on the pretext of visiting me, the Aunt. I wasn't about to be blackmailed into going back with them.

PTSD sucks all right. One might argue that the threat of physical harm wasn't and isn't there anymore, that the powers that be aren't displeased or angry, they just need me to be a good little cog in the machine and all will be well. Sigh. I have these circular bouts of unreason.

#109 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2012, 01:34 PM:

Moonlit Night @89: I'm in my mid-40s and just starting to figure some stuff out. Some eight months ago I was pushed into a leadership (volunteering) role. Much to my surprise, I'm doing it well (by all accounts) and after some difficult stuff at the beginning* it's not taking too many spoons to deal with. In fact, very much to my surprise, I'm learning that I can be a good leader, that I enjoy encouraging other people to do stuff and improve, and that other people seem to think I'm doing a good job at this. I've been through a period of mourning what might-have-been, wondering what more I might have done with my life, what leadership roles I might have taken, what options I might have had the self-confidence to pursue, if I hadn't had early experiences which taught me that nobody would listen to me/ nobody was interested in my opinion/ nobody wanted my ideas/ if I spoke up I'd just be ignored at best or actively ridiculed at worst, so why not stay quiet and avoid being embarrassed again?

Next I suppose I have to work at accepting that those years are gone, and working on what I -can- do with the years I have ahead.

* Stuff to do with someone else behaving badly, with everyone else telling me clearly that it was the other person behaving badly, and that it was not my fault, and that I was handling it very well. This actually had a whole load of positive spin-offs.

#110 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2012, 02:46 PM:

ma larkey @ 108

Good for you, standing up for yourself!

And, just in case you need some reaffirmation: The question of "what rights?" is answered "your rights, as a human being, an independent adult, and an equal citizen in the country of your choice..." Those are not rights your family has the authority to grant or remove. They are, however, rights that you are perfectly justified to defend from your family's attempts to limit them.

I just want to make clear that society, morality and the law are generally on your side in this.

#111 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2012, 03:18 PM:

OtterB @106: The same main character has been in perhaps a half dozen different settings or situations over the years.

I have a whole cast (different aspects of myself, we presume), although they come and go depending on the "story", plus whole worlds and a cosmology. (I've been at this a long time, can you tell? (counts on fingers) Nearly 50 years.) It's a great place to put characters I feel aren't getting sufficient play in my favorite TV shows.* Occassionally I run into time-frame issues. Is my ficton contemporaneous, like Stargate? Or is it off in the future, like Star Trek? I try not to worry too much about that. And my characters are not averse to going off on time traveling jaunts, although that's less interesting to me now than in past years.

I was building a setting and a backstory in which he seemed justified saying or doing the kind of things that I felt, but that seemed vastly melodramatic applied to my life.

Yup, exactly!

"I have tried and failed and tried and failed so many times that right now I do not know where to find the strength to keep on trying."

This was basically what kept me going until I was out on my own, away from school and my parents. (Spock is my big brother; did you know that?)

I have to put some effort into ignoring the process while it works itself out until the insight comes into view. I squash it if I analyze too soon.

That last is certainly true for me. In truth, I don't try to analyze my fantasies, any more than I do my dreams.** In my case (a) the payload is usually close enough to the surface that a few minutes contemplation will reveal it, (b) analysis kills it, like you said, and (c) the ones that get my attention are usually so damn good that I just want to sit back and enjoy the ride. I'm probably losing something by not (at least eventually) mining for the insight. But hell, the ride is so much fun, who cares, really?

I've got one running right now, though, that I may have to break down and write. It's deep and involved enough that I can't keep it all in my head at once, and I tend to fall asleep if I try to follow the storyline through. (Though this may be the chronic sleep-dep talking.)

I'm interested: do you have any specific examples you'd like to share?

* About twenty years ago, about the time I ran across Harville Hendrix's Imago model, I doped out that the reason certain characters catch fire with me is that they represent aspects of myself that I like/am attracted to/am trying to recover. (This function is actually the flip-side of the elf-glamour David Harmon is (I think) referring to upthread. The reason Celebrity exerts such power is that it taps into aspects of ourselves we long for and don't think we have.

Some Day Real Soon Now, I have a zine I'm going to write about this. It's titled "Idolatry and the Voice of the Harp."

** I had a great worldcon dream this morning. Yessee, I had picked up these two little critters. One was some kind of alien teddy-bear-monkey, and the other was a blue Persian fruit-bat. They were both lost and I was carrying them around at the con and, between panels, looking for their owners.

David Harmon @107: broken heart/half-elf glamour

E.g., being entranced by someone who's Beautiful, such that it sucks out your soul, kills your vitality, and makes you lose your Self? (Just want to make sure I'm reading you right—only tangentially familiar with this terminology.)

That earlier crash led pretty much in a straight line to the one that put me out of work and on disability

Yeah, I've encountered this. I had an exhaustion-induced crash on a con trip back in '95, then a iatrogenic depression crash in '97, and I've never really completely recovered my stamina since.

ma larkey @108 GOOD FOR YOU!!!! Stay strong, love. Coupla suggestions:

1. Have you had a little conversation with the police? (Depending on your local PD) It doesn't hurt to have them in the loop and have something on record against the chance things go abruptly pear-shaped.

2. TRO, perhaps? (Not sure if this costs money to implement.) Of equivocal effectiveness, I gather, but at the very least, it gives the police something concrete to hang their response on in the event of a 911 call. And also reinforce the message, "Yes, damn it, I am serious about this."

3. Do you have neighbors and/or coworkers you like and trust? (I realize this can be fraught; there are, I gather—as has been documented in this very thread—those well-meaning hleppy souls who believe that you should be with your family no matter the cost to you)

If so, it might be worth going around and alerting them to your situation, and even giving them pictures of the culprits to refer to, with instructions to call the police ASAP should these people show up on your premises.

We actually are having that situation at work: a coworker is fostering a traumatized 13yo whose father is not on board with that decision. We've gotten reference photos and instructions to first, call D, 2nd call 911, and third call building security if this joker shows up.

(Come to think of it, D would be an excellent addition to this community. I think I will see if I can bring her in. Unlikely, as she seems to have a very full life. But can't hurt to ask. At the very least, maybe the 13yo might want to join us.)

One might argue that the threat of physical harm wasn't and isn't there anymore

You know how they train elephants to stay tied up, right?

Technical note: In backtracking to check if you were one of the ones reporting people "helpfully" trying to keep you with your family, I discovered that your posts are scattered in a bunch of VAB threads. If this is deliberate, 'nuff said. If, however, you would prefer to have your comments aggregated together into a single story (which would make it easier for me, dreadful as I am at keeping You Humans all distinct in my mind ;-> ), check with the mods to see if they can set this up for you on the back end.

#112 ::: knitcrazybooknut ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2012, 03:52 PM:

Jacque @ 111 said: You know how they train elephants to stay tied up, right?

This is seriously sideline commenting, not meant to divert in any way, but this really pinged for me. I started tearing up over the elephants. And I've found this to be almost universal, that most people can handle other people's trauma and deaths every single day. But print a story about an animal dying and everyone cries out in protest.

One of my favorite movies is The Usual Suspects. In the commentary by Bryan Singer and Christopher McQuarrie (writer/directory and producer, respectively), they're discussing the final scene in which many many people die on the boat. A character encounters a dog on the boat, pets him, and moves on. Commentary: "Dozens of people have asked me what happens to the dog. We've got people dying on the boat in droves, and everyone's worried about the dog. Folks, he's just fine. He gets away, I promise."

It seems to be so much easier to feel badly for smaller, more helpless beings than it is to feel badly for ourselves. Yet when all this started, we were small, helpless beings. What makes us turn away from our own suffering?

#113 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2012, 03:59 PM:

I feel like I should be giving an update on how my life is going. So much has been happening or changing that I don’t know what to think or how it will come out.

The big messy problem of my partner’s stepfather hasn’t gotten resolved. We got as far as having my partner apologize to his mother for his part in the mess, which helped some, but then the stepfather had a heart attack just before Christmas and derailed everything. He’s recovering, but my partner’s mother mostly avoids us/the problem.

My family is its usual very dysfunctional self mostly but my mother is changing under the pressure of looking after my father more. My mother seems to be trying to turn me into her therapist, but being treated that way is a lot more trust and respect than she would usually give me. Also, since my aunt broke an ankle and had to live with my mother for a while, she noticed a bunch of my mom's annoying behaviours that she had successfully ignored for decades.

Therapy is going. I finally asked about how badly things *could* have gone for me, after the kind of childhood I had. I mostly notice how I fell short of perfection, so I wanted the other pole to compare against. I “should” have gotten serious depression, schizophrenia, etc. and never been a functional independent adult, so then maybe it’s true when he says I’m doing awfully well.

Work is where everything is up in the air. There’s cutbacks coming but nobody in the ranks knows where or how. There’s a reorganization coming too. My contract ends Really Soon and I don’t know if it’s getting renewed/extended. Neither does my manager though she's been working hard to keep me. And during all this I’ve been going above and beyond on both my regular job and more. I've been helping my department and liaising with other departments in a way that if you had asked me to *make* it happen, I wouldn’t have known how to do or confidence that it would happen. It’s luck and not luck — I kept seeing chances and taking them because the worst likely result was the same as not trying. And I kept offering something as well as, or instead of asking for something. And at every step, it’s started valuable conversations and invitations to collaborate in really good and needed ways, because I keep deciding "what the hell, let's see if _____ will talk to me." And then they DO. The latest thing in this chain is a meeting soon with someone 3-4 levels above me and just 2 levels below the top, with a star-studded resume, because I wrote him a letter with some thoughts about his pet project. He wrote back himself (not his assistant) in less than 24 hours, and set up a meeting for less than a week after he gets back into town, the morning of the last day of my contract. My manager told me she bets he’s going to hire me out from under her and implied he’d be a fool not to.

I’d love to work with this guy on his pet project but don’t want to abandon the department I'm in or the field that I just spent 4 years getting a degree in. So I want to suggest a deal to him. I was already going to suggest a new approach to/application of IT in the company based on what I saw at the meeting for his pet project. Said project involves changing how we are doing business via better communication and IT — well, my current group badly wants some new tech and is about to go through a big reorg/renewal to improve communication, so maybe we can all work together on this to make the best damn showcase for change that we can make? I do some of my current job and some work for Cool Bigwig, my group gets what we need to do amazing work, and all the leaders involved get to show off. Everyone would win, I’d get something great on my resume, and damn well ought to get a real job with benefits and security and a raise out of it. So, Universe? I am working hard to make this wonder-scenario happen. Can I rely on you doing your part about them agreeing to it and giving me the real job with all the trimmings, please?

#114 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2012, 04:17 PM:

On the topic of making art with pre-ruined materials: YUP! When I am scribbling ideas for stand-up comedy, I prefer to use textfiles that already have miscellaneous jottings in them, or little half-full notebooks, or odd-shaped scratch paper. And then when I'm creating a set, I arrange all those bits of paper and my computer near me, on a table or a couch or the floor, and I have some other bit of paper, preferably at least US standard letter-sized, upon which I can write or diagram the whole set. The best is big swaths of butcher paper torn from one-time restaurant table covers -- they'd just be thrown away anyhow, and they're big and messily torn-edged.

And I basically never cook, but once when I was at my sister's place I made some stuff. She'd just had a housewarming and a guest had brought about a gallon of coffee that went undrunk and was just going to go down the drain. So I did a bit of research and made a coffee granita and some other related stuff. I can be creative more easily if the materials were just going to go to waste anyway.

Relatedly, I once knew a very intelligent and experienced colleague who ... If you gave hir a big mass of little similar TODOs, like "fulfill all the requests in this category," ze would eventually whittle them down. And in general, ze floated around doing useful things, just not necessarily the ones others would prefer ze prioritize. I finally characterized it as "ze'll do whatever you want as long as you can get it under the 'just faffing about' threshold." My spouse was once able to turn a large daunting task into a bunch of little ones with a bit of scripting, and I think the trick to working well with that sort of mindset lays in that sort of decomposition -- and in deemphasizing and subtlety, which go against all my communication reflexes...

#115 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2012, 07:10 PM:

Jacque @111 I'm interested: do you have any specific examples you'd like to share?

I think I'll pass for the moment. I find when I think about sharing that they run too close to the bone. Which is another good reason not to try to turn them into publishable fiction. :-)

Moonlit Night @113, hope things work out on the job. It sounds like it's going well - that "well, what's going to happen if I try this" and then having it work well is a great experience.

Ma Larkey, hang in there.

#116 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2012, 07:17 PM:

dcb @109 very much to my surprise, I'm learning that I can be a good leader, that I enjoy encouraging other people to do stuff and improve, and that other people seem to think I'm doing a good job at this.

and then

what leadership roles I might have taken, what options I might have had the self-confidence to pursue, if I hadn't had early experiences which taught me that nobody would listen to me/ nobody was interested in my opinion/ nobody wanted my ideas/

Trying to say this carefully, because I don't want to sound all perky and well, it's all for the best ... but I suspect that knowing what it's like not being listened to may have made you a better listener, better at encouraging others, and thus be a way you can make the old experiences not a total waste.

#117 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2012, 08:42 PM:

OtterB #106: I was building a setting and a backstory in which he seemed justified saying or doing the kind of things that I felt, but that seemed vastly melodramatic applied to my life.

Yeah, I suspect that's where the exaggerated abuse (and various fantastic elements) come from in my fantasies.

dcb #109: I'll add to OtterB: I suspect you've learned a lot from other people's mistakes, which is surely better than having to learn from your own.

Jacque #111: You know how they train elephants to stay tied up, right?

For general reference

I'll note that this has a converse which is actually appropriate: The old maxim that you should never pick up a foal (or a large-dog puppy), because if you do, when they grow up they'll still think you can do that.

E.g., being entranced by someone who's Beautiful, such that it sucks out your soul, kills your vitality, and makes you lose your Self?

Sort of... the half-elf bit isn't "terminology", so much as my interpretation of her character and abilities. I don't want to spend energy slamming her or describing her "issues", but in retrospect it seems to me that she was, well, not a complete personality. I have no idea how I seemed to her, because for all intents and purposes, she was an alien being to me, to the point where we didn't share a language to compare our experiences. But it took me far too long to recognize that....

I met her in the Neo-Pagan community, but it wasn't until after I'd left that I realized that her character and behavior matched up disturbingly well with the traditions of the fey folk and their glamour. (In her case, that would have been a selkie.) The little I knew of her backstory (deeply alienated from her parents, among other things) also suggested a changeling, thus the "half" part.

Now, the tales I know of don't really involve purposeful "draining", so much as the natural effects of being magicked into loving someone who is never going to love you back the same way, because that's just not part of their nature. The fey glamour, that makes people fall in love with them, is part of their nature (indeed, it may not be something they can control), but it's fundamentally a false lure, because it doesn't represent a personal connection in the usual human sense. If anything, I suspect it's the attempt to connect to such a person "on their own ground" that leads to "loss of self".

Naturally, this is all from my own limited (and half-drowned) point of view -- and I'm well aware that myths themselves arise from human universals. People like me, and even not-so-like me, have surely been swooning over people like her since humanity began, and getting their hearts broken, often enough that the stories they told became universalized, and shifted from historical to mythic time. Which is cold comfort when it's happened to you.....

Regarding that "Imago model", the link you gave lost me at The basic principles ... are as follows: We were born whole and complete.

Because I know damn well I wasn't. I was born with the psychic equivalent of a clubfoot and a turkey-leg for an arm, and spent much of my early life trying to build tools that would let me get on regardless.

Moonlit Night #113: Sounds like you're cooking with gas!

#118 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2012, 09:01 PM:

Moonlit Night Knight* @113: WOW. Go, YOU! I am seriously impressed. Dear Universe: I second MN's request.

* Sorry; couldn't resist. ;-)

Sumana Harihareswara @114: I can be creative more easily if the materials were just going to go to waste anyway.

I love working in "trash," too. There should be more of us. :-)

"ze'll do whatever you want as long as you can get it under the 'just faffing about' threshold."

Hah! I love it! "Oh, hello, Expectations! What am I doing? Oh, nothing, nothing at all. Nothing to see here. Just move along. These aren't the droids you're looking for." Hee hee!

My spouse was once able to turn a large daunting task

This is a great example of Heather Rose Jones's "unleash your inner process-geek" strategy.

OtterB @115: I think I'll pass for the moment. I find when I think about sharing that they run too close to the bone.

Entirely understood. :-)

& 116, to dcb: you can make the old experiences not a total waste

... and, in fact, prior bad experience might actually be a prerequisite for your current success. (Helluva way to run a universe if you ask me, but what do I know?)

#119 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2012, 09:15 PM:

David Harmon @117: Because I know damn well I wasn't. I was born with the psychic equivalent of a clubfoot and a turkey-leg for an arm, and spent much of my early life trying to build tools that would let me get on regardless.

Interesting. Care to elaborate? (Now that you mention it, I suppose it is obvious that there could be psychological equivalents to spina bifida and such.)

#120 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2012, 10:08 PM:

Jacque #119: That's my loose interpretation of the effects of my position on the autistic spectrum. Lack of support/stability for the sensory vulnerabilities and ADD, lack of strength/tactile/manipulation for the executive function and social-learning deficits.

#121 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2012, 10:26 PM:

I cannot stop laughing because I have realized two things related to the job section of my previous post #113.

1. I evidently can network, but I do it by writing or geeking out at people instead sipping wine at work parties. I had really better find out how I can get a blog for inside work (if I still have work soon), and what/if I can post in public, and then force myself to start DOING that. I should also really put time into getting my thesis stuff digested for posting somehow also since that's where the opportunities are coming from, from the geek/designer overlap that drove my thesis. Now how do I do the equivalent in person when the crowd is NOT preselected for compatible geeking and I hate talking to strangers?

2. I hate job hunting SO MUCH that I will cheerfully take on the impossible rather than having to look for a new job. I am, after all, revving up to propose to a powerful complete stranger on our first meeting that we reorganize and refocus at least two departments while collaborating with a third, to produce at least two different showcases of what can be accomplished, thereby having to get a few hundred or even a few thousand people to learn new things and go in different directions than they are right now. And it's giving me the good kind of mad glint in my eye, sounding like a blast as well as immense amounts of hard work, and I'm doing this all because one it needs doing and two then surely I can keep my first job and get the second and do them both at once. I can only conclude that I will do anything, no matter how bloody insane, to avoid job hunting.

dcb @109: I know a bit of what you mean, although my examples involve my old work in tech support coming up useful, or turning out to be a better presenter than I would ever have expected to be. When people try and tell me that the way my life did go is turning out useful, my self-criticism comes back with a second layer of defense that if I had *known* what I was needing to learn, then I could have done it on purpose, and still come out with a good five or so extra years to do something cool with. This is truth twisted to wound. So it's still probably going to take more time and especially more good stuff that couldn't have happened otherwise to take the edges off the loss.

#122 ::: Shirashima ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2012, 11:18 PM:

So... yeah. I haven't been here in a bit. Things went and got crazy on me again. My husband was getting much better about not being on me about the boxes all the time, I was working on them bit by bit, and then we had a roommate move into our 1 bedroom apartment with 2 cats and a ferret (which we aren't allowed to have due to our lease saying no pets).We actually move next weekend, and I'm really very worried. I made it very very clear before she moved in that when we moved to a bigger apartment, the animals were to stay in her room, as I am allergic to cats, and don't feel like it is fair for me to have to clean the ENTIRE apartment when she moves in 4 months so that I am not itchy and puffy. The rooms are a good size, and I don't feel like it is an unreasonable request (well, to be fair, demand) since if we get caught with them we will be evicted. My husband believes that the cats should be allowed into the common areas since they need room to stretch out, which would be an acceptable thing, apart from that the rooms are a decent size. This, of course, means that he is taking our roommates side over my health, and my anger I feel is justified.

All in all, I'm just not being listened to and my husband is on me about just wanting to throw out all of the boxes I haven't gone through from my childhood, which is a HUGE undertaking that I haven't really had a chance to process even though we have been here almost a year. To be fair, I should have started on them sooner, but it isn't like something that I can bang out in a weekend, and he doesn't really get that, because he really doesn't have emotional attachments to most things at all.

Mostly, I just needed to talk again, and the people here are all wonderful people who help out when wanted, and it feels good to be a part of something.

#123 ::: AnonCowardSevenBillion ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2012, 11:45 PM:

Moonlit Night@121: I can only conclude that I will do anything, no matter how bloody insane, to avoid job hunting.

Hm. Have we met? Because in that respect, you're me.

I ought to be job-hunting right now, rather than working the weekend to complete the demo for which both the spec and deadline have been in continuous flux for the last two months. I ought to be job-hunting, rather than rely on the vague hope that my current employer will find my dedication sufficiently difficult to replace to merit trying harder to keep me happy to work for them.

I detest job-hunting with a raging passion. Job-hunting consists of making real-life contact with strangers who reject me, and doing it over and over again in the hope that eventually, one of them won't. I hates it, I does.

#124 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2012, 12:07 AM:

I have never met anyone, no matter how big an extrovert, no matter how much of a sales type, who enjoyed job hunting. Some aspects of it, maybe. Not the process of it as a whole. It's always reminded me of what C.S. Lewis said about war, that it was a great relief that at least no one was expecting him to like it.

#125 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2012, 08:14 AM:

Moonlit Night @121 Now how do I do the equivalent in person when the crowd is NOT preselected for compatible geeking and I hate talking to strangers?

Has anybody taught you the "elevator speech" strategy? As in, having prepared a brief (and perhaps an even briefer) take on your work and your interests that you could use if you found yourself on an elevator with someone you'd really like to connect with?

Also, I hate crowds, and I can manage by looking around for someone else standing by his/herself and approaching them with a question on the order of, so what connects you to this group, and then listening.

Shirashima, welcome back, but sorry it's more trouble that brings you back. This sounds really unpleasant.

#126 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2012, 10:47 AM:

How can one enter a party or meetup and start a good conversation with a stranger?

Picking the right events helps, and developing tactics that suit one's own temprament helps. Sometimes that takes some trial and error and understanding one's own boundaries and so on. Like, sometimes it's useful to always go with a buddy, so that if everyone else is being boring then you have a homebase to come back to (and maybe the buddy can carry some of the load). Or, go to volunteer-y events, like a parks department's spring plantings, because then there's always work to be done so one doesn't feel at loose ends. I know a friend who always volunteers at scifi conventions because it helps her feel like she has a reason to talk to people, and that helps her make connections and friends. Or, use Lanyrd to only go to events where people who are interesting on Twitter are going to be there.

At parties and "networking events" I take the initiative to say hello to random people (I understand that sometimes that is the hardest part; also I am an American living in the US and I know that in other cultural contexts this would not be as acceptable). OtterB mentions looking for people who are already standing alone. That is a totally great tactic and I endorse it. Often networking events have specific party-game structures where they straight-up tell you "spend the next 5 minutes talking to the person next to you!" so that can be helpful for icebreaking.

I have a few starter and restarter questions at the ready -- what cool things are you up to? what's exciting you these days? how do you know the host? do you live around here? what are you reading? -- avoiding the boring status-laden questions like "What do you do?" and "Where did you go to school?" I try to enthusiastically listen and ask follow-up questions and bring up related topics and trivia. I know that the "enthusiastically" bit sounds fake, but I start from the premise that everyone is interesting about something and it just takes a good interviewer to get at it.

Some people respond in kind and get the momentum of the conversation going, start new threads and return to old ones. Some don't. If after five minutes of that treatment the person isn't saying anything particularly interesting, I say, "will you excuse me" and say something about food or drink or something, go away, and find some other person to talk to. I almost always find someone who can do twenty interesting minutes with me. And now I've made a new acquaintance, probably a friend. If I now need to mingle more to get good return on investment out of an event that's explicitly billed as a "networking" event, I frankly say, "Excuse me, I need to go mingle and meet more people," take her card or give him mine, and move on. Having a card helps SO MUCH -- it lubricates these kinds of transactions enormously.

Sam Starbuck, who has social anxiety, blogged about a related plan he carried out -- he wanted to get out more -- "not even necessarily to have more experiences, but not to spend every single night at home. There's nothing wrong with that, in and of itself, but it wasn't what I wanted for me. So I developed the Adventur Programme." And he said something that might be applicable here:

For the first few months, I had to always bear in mind that it didn't really matter what I was doing or whether I thought I'd like it; if I tried to talk myself out of doing something by saying "Oh, it won't be that great" I had to remind myself that the reason for going was to go, not to necessarily have a good experience every time....

It helped that my experiences varied quite a bit, because then I learned that even a negative experience was fodder for conversation. I could blog about my dismal failures as well as I could about experiences that went great....

I don't want to spout optimism and say that it's easy; it's not, and sometimes I've felt stupid or weird or out of place. It's been hard a lot of the time. Just "thinking positive" doesn't help. Instead, I try to remember that it could be horrible but even if it's horrible, it's something to joke about, and it might not continue to be horrible. And if it does continue to be horrible I can stop doing it and go home.

I am reflexively okay with talking to strangers, and all this may be hlepy. But I used to be terrible at parties. I think knowing that there's usually an easy exit strategy helps. If you say "will you excuse me" they have to say yes! and if they don't, they're the unreasonable ones! So if you're having a bad conversation you can bail.

#127 ::: Renee ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2012, 01:38 PM:

Stefan S: I was reading the poem at the beginning of this thread, and 'hearing' it as I read, which is normal for me... until I realized that I wasn't hearing it *read*. I was hearing it *sung*.

I am not musical. This NEVER happens. You are so AWESOME to have given this to me, and I thank you for it.

(In case you're wondering, it was being sung to a sort of folk-rock tune, with acoustic guitar and a muted percussion. There was a doo-wah chorus in behind the tenor lead. --Very cool. :)

#128 ::: Megpie71 ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2012, 08:32 PM:

Okay, just venting, I think.

For the past couple of weeks, I've had "Perfect" by Alanis Morrisette running through my head. I know what started it off (Hoyden About Town featured her as their vocalist-of-the-week in their occasional "Sunday Singalong" about three weeks back). And I know why it's this particular song - "Perfect" is pretty much the anthem for the kid raised in a dysfunctional family.

I just wish it wasn't going around so frequently. It's making me flash back to a lot of old pain; pain I thought I'd processed (but it turns out I haven't, not completely). Mostly it's pain to do with being imperfect in a world which appears to expect constant perfection, which always wants more. A world of vampires in which I'm expected to be a perpetual blood donor. It makes me tired (and it heterodynes with the physical tiredness coming from low iron levels - so yeah, I'm taking the iron pills again).

I just wish I didn't have to deal with this on top of two psych assignments for uni. *sigh*

#129 ::: Megpie71 ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2012, 08:33 PM:

I bin gnomed. I suspect it might be the URL.

#130 ::: Type A Toad ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2012, 02:14 AM:

Jacque @19: I know this is way downthread, but if you haven't solved your tea issue, I may have a solution for you.

I used to need tea as soon as I got going in the morning, so I would crawl out of bed, feed the cats, turn on the 'coffeemaker', shower, and when I came out the tea would be ready to go. In my case 'coffeemaker' was, in fact, a tiny little four cup coffeemaker. I'd set it up the night before with a coffee filter containing loose tea and enough water in the carafe for a travel mug and when I got out of the shower, the tea was ready to go! I've also done it with tea bags when I was out of loose, but that was desperation.

You could probably get a coffeemaker with a timer or put it on one of those timers you plug the appliance into and then plug into the wall.

#131 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2012, 04:20 AM:

argument comes up in unrelated arguments with demoralizing results

Yanked out of context with regard to spouses and partners who do this, or otherwise use the "you're not pulling your weight" argument...

*sits and thinks a bit*

I hope this doesn't sound like a boast - what I hope to achieve is a report of how the far-too-common abuse of differential power emphatically does not have to be the only way.

The dear hubby has essentially supported me through out 20+ years of living together/marriage. When we were first together, we found ourselves doing many of the same silly things young/new couples do, with boundaries, expectations, and similar. Oh, and throw in on top of that me just being graduated and moving to a new country (to be with the proto-dear hubby). (And undiagnosed depression and ADHD, but we won't delve into that just now.)

We had one fight about dishes early on, which had me leaving the dinner table in tears. Dear hubby gave me five minutes to myself in the bedroom, then came in, to say that not only had he not meant to hurt me, he didn't like himself very much for what he'd said.

We may have had grumbles about dishes after that, but we both avoided making the topic one of trying to control the other's actions.

Similarly, and recently, when dishes were getting to be a problem (I will confess, dear hubby is at the moment the Dishes Fairy), he made a remark about one of my minor habits (a particular pattern) - it was so unrelated to the discussion at hand that I was shocked, but I realized one of the reasons for my shock was that this kind of remark was completely uncharacteristic of dear hubby. In my own mind, I filed it in the "forget and move on, unless the topic returns within this very conversation", and we concluded the talk, if not happily then at least without tears or resentments.

A day later, dear hubby came to me, and remarked, "By the way, I wanted to apologize to you about that comment yesterday." "Oh? Which one?" His answer was the comment I'd put into "forget and move on". "Oh, *that* one," I said, and told him more or less what you've just read here.

So,... yeah. I guess my point here is that, people exist who DO retain the power to remain considerate, even with their intimate partners. Because I still can consider myself in the "I'm doin' it rong" catagory, and yet, the dear hubby doesn't exploit that vulnerability, I know that the situation does not always have to end with one partner screaming or hurling abuse at the other.

It's not rocket science, for all an abusive person might insist it's difficult or impossible. Being at the receiving end of such abuse does not mean that you, the abused one, have done anything to deserve it.

Crazy(and back to reading the thread from, oh, around the 60's, I think??)Soph

PS hugs to all of you, for sharing your stories - I "haz a sad" for a lot of you, and deeply appreciate your putting yourselves bravely out here for others to learn from and hopefully to help the rest of the group by letting us give back in the form of support.

#132 ::: nonetooclose ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2012, 03:25 PM:

Posting this passing thought that I think belongs here. The thing with growing up with dysfxn and the abusers denying it so well, you absorb it so much that you almost believe the lie---but others can see it sometimes and it's uncannily transparent to them---the little "tells", freezing up when you are touched, the way you hold yourself in space when in a crowd. An example: as a kid I didn't really learn to swim properly, or even BE in my body properly because I was always disconnecting/hiding in my own head just to make it through the day. I had a really cool swim coach though, an expert swimmer, a man who was very kind and very perceptive. He saw through my panic and taught me to swim. One day, after a particularly fraught lesson, he drew me to the center of the pool to talk to me apart from the others. He said, "Don't be scared, or mad at me, ok? I just want to tell you something. I can tell someone is hurting you. It's not your fault, whoever it is or whatever the reason is. You don't need to tell me anything if you don't want to, I can tell because of the way you've been acting when I try to guide you, or correct you. I can't stand to see you suffer and be hard on yourself. You can swim, you just need to learn to trust again." I started crying silent tears. It didn't take very long, and I recovered soon, and he didn't say anything more.

I felt shock and shame at the same time, awe that he'd discovered my secret even if I hadn't said anything. The downside though, was that later, he couldn't help himself and spoke to my dad after a lesson. I don't know what they said to each other, but I was pulled out of swim after that.

It's good to remember that teacher, because it tells me that there are good people out there, and that yes, sometimes no matter how much you stick your head in your hands like a little kid hoping no one will see because you are covering your eyes? People can see.

#133 ::: newly growing (formerly "she pushes down...") ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2012, 03:47 PM:

CrazySoph @131: Thanks for posting this. I needed to "hear" it right now. :-)

(I'm working on rewriting a particularly difficult scene in the NaNo mentioned in @8, which scene essentially hinges on the difference between "warning signs for abuse" and "normal occasional thoughtlessness"... and I was getting a bit bogged down trying to believe in the existence of the latter without the former. :P Examples of functional family behavior: priceless. *g*)

#134 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2012, 05:34 PM:

Moonlit Night @113 and 121: Congratulations! It's a lot of change, but it sounds like a lot of progress, too! Go you!

W/R/T 121: Why should networking be solely relegated to sipping wine at work parties or having a beer at the bar? :) Part of networking, IMHO, is knowing what you're enthusiastic about and connecting with people who can appreciate that enthusiasm. As to how to connect with people who aren't so much with the geekery... the best advice I ever heard was to listen, and ask questions that show you're listening. It's a good way to figure out if there might be some sort of overlap with your skills and background. That might work especially well for you, since you have a background in design? Design is everywhere, good and bad. :) And don't expect every contact to be "OMG WE ARE SO COMPATIBLE THIS WILL BE AWESOME." Sometimes it's enough just to get your face and name known.

Shirashima @122: Your health and your financial situation comes first. Period. And I say that as a devoted cat staffer -- I adore my furry little beasties, but when we have friends with cat allergies over, we de-catify the public areas and shut them up in a back room, and we use a Hepa filter on the A/C. Human health comes first, and two cats in a largish bedroom aren't going to die of boredom in a few months. (Trust me on this.)

Would it help to point out to your husband that you can't deal with the accumulated boxes when you can't breathe due to allergies? Or ask the, IMO, entirely reasonable question that, if you are caught with the pets, is the roommate prepared to cover any fines and costs incurred to, up to and including finding you a new apartment (should it come to that)? Maybe putting it in those terms might make your husband understand the seriousness of the situation.

As an aside, because several of us have mentioned they have friends or SOs that don't seem to get it -- I've encountered similar circumstances, both directed at me, and at others I know with mental illnesses. I developed a stock reply (which I offer to everyone in the hopes that it might fit in a personal toolbox):

"Do you blame a diabetic because their body doesn't make insulin? Do you blame someone with asthma because they sometimes can't breathe? No? Then please don't blame me because my brain doesn't make the right neurotransmitters. I know that working with me can be difficult because of that, but I need you to understand that my limitations, though they appear mental, have a physical basis that I can't will my way out of.

I've had luck with that, because it kind of shocks people out of the "you're a bad person" line of thought, especially when it's followed up with examples of how I'm working to bypass the limitation, or to compensate for it. It's not perfect, and, obviously, don't rely on it if you don't feel comfortable using it, or if it doesn't work for you. </ObNotHlepyDisclaimer>

Moonlit Night, AnonCowardSevenBillion, HelenS: Concur. Job-hunting is a soul-sucking, exhausting undertaking, and the worst thing about it is that every resume sent out, every contact is a tiny spark of hope that is usually doomed to disappointment. Husband's in that situation now, and I can only hope that all who are currently struggling through the job-hunt process find that it ends soon and successfully.

Megpie71 @178: Oh, damn. Yeah, that's me, and I may have to add that to my collection. You have my sympathies for the bad timing.

crazysoph @131: Thank you, thank you, for showing what works. Husband and I are trying to get there, but neither one of us learned to argue well as children (he gets aggressive, I withdraw and get sarcastic and passive-aggressive), and it's a constant work in progress. I can say from personal experience that both partners have to be on board with improving the communication, and they have to be able to divorce criticism of the action from criticism of the person. (As another aside, this has been a chronic problem for Husband and I, both of whom are ADD, and both of whom find it difficult to disengage from the dominant emotion of the moment. The meds are helping with that.)

nonetooclose @132: People can see. I was gobsmacked by an aunt (whom I hadn't talked to in over 20 years) actually validating my memory of an incident with my father. You have my sympathies, and I hope you're healing.

#135 ::: Ross ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2012, 11:50 AM:

Froth @32: Thank you for that. If you replace "brother" with "father" you pretty much describe my family.

#136 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2012, 03:14 PM:

Jacque, #94: I'm exactly the opposite. Handwriting has always been a slow and laborious process for me, with a lot of scribbling-out of misspelled words and starting over, and losing my train of thought along the way. Word processors have been a revelation and a delight -- not only do I type faster than I write, but there's a delete key if I mistype something! Writing a short note by hand is one thing, but for anything lengthy or meaningful, if I can't key it in, it generally doesn't happen.

David H., #96: That's fascinating! I wish you continued success with that project.

ma larkey, #108: Good for you for holding your ground! Remember, there is nothing you could ever do to make your parents stop thinking of you as an ingrate and a terrible child; that's an important part of their worldview, and they're not going to give up the rewards it brings them. All you can do is what you're doing, getting yourself OUT OF THERE.

OtterB, #116: Sort of tangential, but you've reminded me of something which I think is part of the difference between support and hlepiness.

Support is saying what you said -- that this bad thing happened and it sucked, but perhaps you got some knowledge from it that can be helpful to you in the present, which would be a form of salvaging something from the suckage.

Hlepiness is someone saying, "Well, see, you thought that was so bad, but you needed to have it happen in order to get this knowledge that is useful to you now." NO. There could have been other ways to acquire that knowledge which wouldn't have sucked.

The second formulation tends to go hand in hand with the "everything happens for a REASON" fallacy. I call it "ante hoc, ergo propter hoc" when I want to be fancy.

David H., #117: The old maxim that you should never pick up a foal (or a large-dog puppy), because if you do, when they grow up they'll still think you can do that.

ObSF: In "The Mountains of Mourning", Miles is talking about his horse Fat Ninny: "Grandfather had me pick him up and hold him every day for a week after he was foaled, until he got too big. Horses are creatures of habit, Grandfather said, and take first impressions to heart. Forever after, Ninny thought I was bigger than he was."

Jennifer, #134: Oh, yes. Arguing is a learned skill, and if you only have dysfunctional models in front of you to learn from, that's what you learn. I've had to seriously modify my own arguing style since moving in with my partner, because my old patterns (which weren't a problem with my ex) heterodyne nastily with his and make matters worse. It's like a lot of other things; once you become aware that it needs to change, you can work on changing it and eventually succeed.

#137 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2012, 04:47 PM:

Lee #136: Hmm. I think we need some actual horse experts to weigh in (so to speak) on that one.

#138 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2012, 10:07 PM:

I am going to say what I probably said in the last DFT: my life would have been so much better if I had taken advantage of free psychological counseling when I was in the Navy, or when I was in college.

Problem is, I wouldn't have. I thought of counseling as a form of suicide, of throwing away my self in favor of someone's new self for me.

Little did I guess that when I was finally forced into counseling by a miserable life that had me thinking seriously about for-real suicide, it would actually serve to make me into more of myself, the self I had for so long wanted to be, pretended to be, hated myself for not being.

But hey, one of the things I could finally give up thanks to therapy was my obsessive thinking about how I "should" have lived my life at every stage of it except the present.

#139 ::: cayce ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2012, 11:29 PM:

I'm sorry if this isn't something I should bring up here, but...I just found out that it's extremely likely I'll be spending the summer with my parents.

It will be the first time I've stayed with them longer than a few days in two years. I can't even keep them from messing with my head from 3 hours away...I'm afraid of losing myself just when I'm beginning to find myself again.

It's not really optional, for reasons I don't want to go into right now. I have emergency plans in place, I have friends who are going to be checking in with me regularly, I have people I can visit briefly if it gets to be too much. But any other suggestions on how not to lose touch with outside reality would be greatly appreciated, if it's not too much trouble.

#140 ::: ma larkey ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2012, 05:26 AM:


My first thought when it comes to holding on to my own sense of reality or self when challenged by my abusers, aside from consulting trusted friends, is to use a talisman of sorts. It doesn't even have to be a physical thing, just a mental note. A single story that I can refer to, a thread, a slip of an event, something irrefutable. Something that cemented that yes, the reality distortion fields of my family of origin can't touch that. Then it becomes a little touchstone for when I am feeling uncertain.

I don't know if it helps you. It depends on your own needs and proclivities. Some people wear lockets for remembrance. Or carry books. Some just have a poem. I hope you find something to hold on to for your trip.

#141 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2012, 08:14 AM:

cayce @139 Maybe have some planned schedule for getting out of the house? Job, class, volunteer work, club meeting ... something you can count on?

#142 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2012, 08:42 AM:

cayce @ 139: Pre-warned gives a chance to be pre-armed, at least. My suggestions (in addition to those given by others) [and ignore if not useful, of course]: write stuff down, regarding previous experiences and things you know to be true. Have copies with you (if it's safe to) and left with those friends you mention/places you can get to. In the event (inevitable, I guess) of new incidents of them messing with you, as soon as possible after the incident, write down what happened, as soon as possible, and share it with others. Post here. Print out a copy of the following (I included a slightly different version on a previous thread) and put it where you can read it, every day:

"I have the right to:

- Be treated with respect and consideration.
- Say NO without feeling guilty or selfish.
- Have and express directly my own opinions and feelings, including anger.
- Express my talents and interests through any ethical channel.
- Make mistakes.
- Set my own priorities as to needs.
- Be treated as a capable adult and not be patronized.
- Be listened to and taken seriously.
- Be independent.
- Ask others to change behaviour that continues to violate my rights."

#143 ::: ma larkey ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2012, 02:05 PM:

My mother suddenly sprung on me. Living in the same tiny apartment for the next few days. Because she wants me to move back to her house to keep house for her there. Now she's here wanting me to wash her clothes, get her food, clean up. If only there was no history of abuse, gaslighting and other terror tactics, then I could relax. I'm so tense. She's been acting childish, pretending she doesn't know where her things are in her room, saying she's hungry, could I fix her something to eat, then backtracking and saying stuff like she doesn't want to bother me.
It's so bad I had to hide some of my personal items like my toothbrush, because she has used it to clean the sink, pretending she didn't know it was mine. There's only the two of us here!
Ok, end of rant. I feel safer now that I've written this here.

I remind myself to keep sane. She has a way with her trying to distort things. Most recently, on a visit, she surreptitiously removed the card from a modem, then lent me the modem supposedly as an act of generosity. I didn't know right off why the modem didn't work, then I checked the card slot and it's empty. She demonstrated the use of it for me with the card in place, then removed it secretly and sent me off with a useless modem! Now she claims I must have tampered with the modem and lost the card myself. Gaslighting again.

#144 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2012, 02:52 PM:

ma larkey @143: "Gaslighting Is A Way Of Life!" ::sigh::

Stay strong; we're here, watching for you.

#145 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2012, 03:31 PM:

ma larkey, here's hoping she gives up and goes away soon.

#146 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2012, 04:23 PM:

ma larkey #143: Well, that sabotaged modem is rather... revealingly symbolic, isn't it? Wishing you strength.

#147 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2012, 05:52 PM:

ma larkey, #143: You can have her removed. It's a desperation measure and will certainly trigger all sorts of unpleasantness, but you *can* do it if she's moved in on you without your permission. It's not as if she doesn't have a home to go to.

#148 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2012, 06:15 PM:

ma larkey@143: keep writing. Sympathies.

#149 ::: ma larkey ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2012, 10:28 AM:

Thank you for being thoughtful witnesses. It's blown over for now, she went home. Breathing a sigh of relief that there was no fight. Meanwhile realizing how tense I had been, used up spoons just trying to be "normal". Playing some music helps. Hot tea and a nap. For everyone out there with similar struggles, sending you strength too.

#150 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2012, 01:51 PM:

ma larkey: Glad to hear it!

#151 ::: cayce ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2012, 03:31 PM:

Just found out for sure that I am staying with my parents this summer. Here we go again...

ma larkey @140
That's definitely something going on my list, thank you.
And I'm glad your mother has gone home now.

OtterB @141
Definitely. I'll be taking at least one class and hopefully working, and I'll look into volunteer work and other things as well. Maybe even something I can bring my siblings to, give them a break as well. Thanks.

dcb @142
Thank you for that list - it's something that will help even before I have to go back. Writing and I don't always get along, but if I can actually write everything down, it sounds like a thing that will be useful. Thanks.

#152 ::: Shirashima ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2012, 04:39 PM:

ma larkey I am so glad that you are ok. It is never a good thing to be forced into a situation that you are uncomfortable in, and I hope that things go better for you now that she is no longer at the little apartment. Hopefully it will be a while before she decides to try to take absolute control over you again.

#153 ::: Merricat ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2012, 07:33 PM:

cayce & ma larkey:

Sending you mental well-wishings. I wish I could give you the perfect piece of advice, but I have a really hard time distinguishing the line between help and hlepy, and would rather err on the side of caution.

Nonetheless: I'm here.

#154 ::: dancingcrow ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2012, 11:04 PM:

RE functional communication: my husband and I developed a series of truths based in part in response to my experiences with a previous boyfriend jerking me around emotionally.

The first two were
1. I will not willing hurt you
2. I cannot read your mind

from there we worked out a bunch that diminished power struggles, including

a) if only one person wins, that isn't a win
b) shared misery is better than lonely misery but shared happy is better
c) just because it's a thankless task doesn't mean you shouldn't be thanked
d) trade strengths

With the kids I've gone with

i) be kind
ii) be smart
iii) make mistakes
iv) work hard

Books have helped a lot. How to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk was a bombshell - having been "good girl" my entire life, working to say "good job" was hard, but it seems to make a difference. It also works on adults (the book was originally handed to me by my oldest friend when I started work; she said it was the best management tool she'd ever found).

I am grateful for this thread. I am grateful to all of you for talking about where you are, and how you got there.

#155 ::: J. ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2012, 03:04 PM:

@ fellow abuse survivors, re the upthread comment about learning patterns of normal behavior: What helped me was taking a book to a coffee shop/McDonald's/the campus cafeteria and just sitting there looking like I was reading while I was really listening. I picked up patterns of normal human interaction that way. Internally matching my own actions to these patterns helped me fit in better with "normal" people as long as I kept those interactions short.

Another useful trick: Ask other people to talk. Seriously. They lead with the usual social fluff, such as how nice it was to get flowers from their SO that morning, and you say, "Oh, how lovely. What's your favorite?" By judicious use of leading questions you can get them to go from nice flowers today to how much they love chrysanthemums to Japanese art to how they long to visit Japan someday, and then you can drop in something about how you tried furikake on rice for the first time the other day and it was delicious--and before you know it you've had an entire conversation like a "normal" person AND you are getting a reputation as a good listener! Plus you learn all kinds of interesting stuff just letting people talk. Important note: Learn to recognize the signals of impending departure and wind up the conversation before then.

Frankly, though, online life has been a blessing for me. I am not left in a near panic wondering whether the sudden silence means that I forgot to say something, or said the wrong thing, or etc. etc. Even in the most safe realspace environment, I rehearse what I am going to say before I approach anyone--even people I have known for years.

When I was a child and adolescent, language was either a tool for conveying facts or a bludgeon (or a razor). Nobody just talked about stuff with me when I was little and when I was older I had no idea how to do it. Social isolation and abuse are a nasty one-two punch.

#156 ::: Syd, somewhat disguised ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2012, 03:33 PM:

To all: still witnessing.

To ma larkey and cayce, sending strength.

Re: the job search subthread, soul-sucking isn't the half of it.

Today is my last day with the county's GROW job program (outsourced, if I haven't mentioned it before, and called "Job Club", a name that hasn't struck me as being all that professional, but what do I know?). The first week involved identifying our work-related strengths, looking for ways to turn possible weaknesses into either neutral items or potential strengths (like, "being nitpicky" turns into "being detail oriented"), turning in resumes for feedback (I didn't get any feedback on mine; one of the folks I've gotten a bit friendly with said he got back something that was worse than what he handed in), the importance of keeping a positive mental attitude (PMA...feh on the initialism, since we have a comedian in our group who thinks it's funny to refer to keeping a PMS), and doing practice interviews (pairs swap being the interviewer and interviewee), which I found quite helpful since I tend to feel I don't interview well.

The second and third weeks in "class" have been devoted to actually looking for work: cold-call 15 places to see if they're hiring in your field (recording company name, address and phone number as proof, even though nobody from the official side of the program is confirming you called); when you find six that are hiring, apply per their desired method (online app, email, fax, etc.) and record their contact info, plus check various boxes outlining your actions (submitted application, hiring immediately, spoke to hiring manager, etc.) and specify your intended follow-up action(s); of these, print out three job listings and the proof you applied (confirmation screen, email, etc.).

In reality, I think several of us are actually applying for three jobs we'd really like and printing those proofs, then recording three others that are less interesting but not a stretch per our intended field(s). I've made very few cold calls because I'm already on a couple of online job boards and they send me emails about potential jobs, so I know without calling that they're hiring, whether the actual job matches my resume qualifications or not. And most of the time I call, I wind up leaving a message on the main HR line.

So, all this being said, between Monday of last week and yesterday, I've sent out resumes for 29 jobs, ranging from six-month temp contracts to full-time employment, and left perhaps a dozen voicemails re: the cold calls.

Ask me how many responses I've gotten? (Other than autoresponder "thank you for applying" emails.) If you guessed the Big Goose Egg, you'd be right. Ditto calls back re: my HR voicemails.

Keeping a positive mental attitude is...sometimes hard. Especially when I know that most of the jobs I've applied for are really right up my alley, and I know I can do well.

However, fingers are crossed that at least one of them pops for me next week. I'd like to try out my shiny interview skills. (The comedian, of course, said he'd hate to be interviewed by me because I'm "scary". I take that to mean I'm smarter than the average bear and I intimidate him, which may explain why he stopped "flirting" with me after the third day. Sexist idiot.)

Anywho, good thoughts in the direction of best possible employment are offered to all who desire them, and would be appreciated from any who wish to offer them. I want a job, dammit! :)

#157 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2012, 05:14 PM:

Syd @156: Sympathies re. the lack of results. Still thinking about you, and hoping something comes through for you.

#158 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2012, 07:29 PM:

Syd, what dcb said. Sounds like you're working really hard at it while still keeping a sense of perspective - not an easy thing to do. Hope something comes through soon.

#159 ::: knitcrazybooknut ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2012, 08:15 PM:

Syd, I'm really sorry you haven't gotten any responses. As a former HR person, I know there are many reasons for people not responding (and they have nothing to do with you). But your spot is much tougher to be in than any HR spot, so I won't say anymore about that. I would really encourage you to do the networking thing, though by networking I would mean "make sure everyone you like knows you are looking for work". Striking up a conversation with the grocery store clerk isn't a bad idea, either. It's not easy, but it can really help. Just saying things out loud is a huge step, and sometimes it feels great just having mentioned it to a random contact.

It sounds like you're working very hard, and I'm glad that the sexist idiot finds you scary. That means you're doing something immensely right! If people in my high school had liked me, I would have been very disappointed in myself by now.

Best of job luck to you!

#160 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2012, 09:23 PM:

Syd #156: Ouch on getting that goose egg (pun intended, as I'm sure it does hurt). Alas, panning out on over three dozen attempts is pretty much par for the course these days. Also, congratulations on fending off that "comedian"... he sounds like a schmuck, and you really don't need to engage with him.

PS: I thought of you today when I saw someone loading up their car with kitty litter... at a quick glance, she had 300-400 pounds worth in 20-pound bags. Given I was just passing by, I didn't strike up a conversation, but I couldn't resist commenting, "You realize your suspension is going to hate you, right?" (Not a big car -- yeah, a couple or three people could match the weight, but they wouldn't all be stacked in the back.)

#161 ::: Shirashima ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2012, 01:22 AM:

My husband left me today. We were supposed to move into a new place tomorrow, and he left me, told me I am not welcome in his place, the place that was supposed to be OUR place. I have never ever felt so hurt and raw and completely lost. I love him more than anything, but he doesn't love me anymore. He said that he was upset that he settled in marrying me, when every one of our friends (well not his friends anymore because he alienated them all) has always felt that I settled and could do much better. I can't stop sobbing. Everything hurts.

#162 ::: Mea ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2012, 01:47 AM:

Syd, joining in hoping for results of a job interview leading to a job, and I hope you give yourself a treat of some sort, because you are doing incredibly good to be sending out so many applications while also battling on other fronts.

Shirashima: listening and sympathizing. And worrying - do you have a place to stay, given the last minute announcement?

#163 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2012, 01:58 AM:

Syd @156:
Adding to the chorus of "listening, thinking good thoughts."

Shirashima @162:
Oh, gracious! That's awful.

On a practical basis, Mea's question worries me too -- do you have someplace to stay?

On a more emotional (and possibly hlepy) basis, I hope you can find ways to go gently with yourself. Remember to eat well, give yourself enough time in bed to have a good chance of sleeping, and generally try to treat yourself as someone you care about. It'll give you more physical and emotional resources to tackle whatever you need to deal with.

And we're here and listening.

#164 ::: Shirashima ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2012, 02:39 AM:

I am extremely lucky to have a really good set of friends who are currently on their way to make sure I'm ok. The main problem is, I have no job, no money, no cigarettes (my guilty stress relief), no place close to here to live, and 3 interviews between now and Tuesday. I was doing everything right, and he just.... doesn't care anymore. He doesn't love me anymore, and I love him so much it hurts. I feel like every nerve ending is on fire, everything I do hurts me and I cannot stop crying. I feel like I should have done everything better and he would have stayed. If I were just a better wife, if I did what he wanted me to do every time he wanted me to do it he'd have stayed. He said that he had merely settled in marrying me. My friends keep telling me, and have told me all along, that he can never do better than me. He's not a people person, pushes people away when they tell him that he's wrong instead of trying to accept it. I married a man who doesn't feel things like any normal person, and I feel EVERYTHING so much that we clashed horribly on it. I don't know what will happen, but maybe it was for the best. But it doesn't stop the pain, the hurt, the absolute AGONY that he doesn't love me, no matter how much I love him.

#165 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2012, 02:47 AM:

Shirashima: Courage and strength. Here and listening as well.

#166 ::: Shirashima ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2012, 02:59 AM:

I don't even..... I gave him my everything and it wasn't good enough.

#167 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2012, 03:12 AM:

Shirashima, all I can say is you're not the only one this has happened to. It hurts like holy fury, but it's not the end of the world and it won't always hurt so badly.

If you need someone to talk to in the middle of the night, CALL ME. My cellphone # is frira-bar-guerr svir-avar-sbhe sbhe-frira-mreb-avar, and I'm generally awake until at least 2 AM Central time, sometimes later. The cellphone lives at the other end of the house from the bedroom, so if I've gone to bed, you won't wake anyone up.

#168 ::: Merricat ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2012, 05:55 AM:


I am so sorry that this hurts.

Obviously, I only know what you've said, but it sounds like you did everything a reasonable person would expect you to do, and that, unfortunately, this guy is NOT reasonable.

You are not a bad person. Take care of yourself.

#169 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2012, 06:57 AM:

Shirashima: I'm so sorry for you. It always sucks to be the "one that loved not wisely, but too well."¹ And his alienating formerly-shared friends really is a big flag saying Not Your Fault.

Also: "Settling"? Pfui! A rock settles, a love should take root.

¹ ...quoted from another victim of betrayal. ;-)

#170 ::: ma larkey ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2012, 07:50 AM:

Shirashima: I feel terrible for you. It seems from reading your post that you did all you could. So as not to stray to the hlepy side, please know that someone is watching, listening, even identifying with your struggle.

#171 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2012, 09:08 AM:

Shirashima: I am so sorry. I am biting my tongue on a number of hlepy comments and will only say: here are a lot of people who care about you. Remember we're here, for sympathetic listening at an absolute minimum. I'm so glad you have folks close by who can offer more concrete help quickly.

#172 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2012, 10:21 AM:

Shirashima, I am sorry. I'm glad to hear you have at least the immediate need of a place to stay taken care of.

From what you have said here in the past, I do NOT think the problem was that you weren't a good enough wife. Further comments suppressed on the grounds of hlepiness.

One piece of practical advice: see if you can find a pro bono lawyer - is there a local women's center? - because if he has enough money to move into a new place, there are marital assets, some of which should be yours. I realize this doesn't translate into money you can access right now. But don't let it go in the midst of the emotional pain.

Take care of yourself. Re-find your center. Good luck with the interviews.

#173 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2012, 10:32 AM:

Shirashima, the evidence you've just given us points to this not being your fault. Reasonable people do not announce they're leaving in this manner.

#174 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2012, 03:40 PM:


That was a foul thing your husband did. I'm saddened that you're going through such misery right now. Seconding everything that has been said above -- this is not your fault, and I keep censoring all manner of uncomplimentary things I want to say about your husband. So there. Lots of people are on your side.

Also, OtterB has it right @ 172. This is not how you terminate a marriage. Your husband has no legal right to throw you out on the street on one day's notice. It is not his home, even if he was the primary breadwinner - marriage is a partnership and a legal contract, and you have just as much right to that house and the belongings in it as he does.

At the risk of being hlepy, I do recommend you get a lawyer, even if you feel you can do nothing else for a few days while you recover. A lawyer can take advantage of the time you will want to recover, so that when you are ready to stop mourning and start moving on with your life, you don't have to start all the way back at zero. (Plus, I don't know about you, but I find that in a situation like this, doing something to make me feel like I'm taking control of the situation makes me feel better.)

... Just checked with my mother the lawyer. You may not need a pro bono lawyer; often lawyers will accept contingency in these situations. But she re-emphasizes that you should get a lawyer immediately.

#175 ::: Syd, somewht disguied ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2012, 03:51 PM:

Shirashima, I weep for your pain.

You are in the right. You did all you could. That he made the decision he did, in the manner he did, is an indicator that the problems/issues are his, not yours. I won't speak further lest I become hlepy, but know that what strength I have to spare is yours if you need it.

#176 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2012, 05:43 PM:


That is hard, yes.

I second David's comment that a rock settles, love should take root. Also, it's one thing for someone to feel, under stress or at 4 a.m. or after a fight or disappointment, that they are "settling" in a relationship. Telling the partner that is damaging, and doing it repeatedly or deliberately sounds like a hostile act. It certainly isn't an action that supports the relationship.

#177 ::: Megpie71 ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2012, 09:12 AM:


Oh gods, what a downright vicious, nasty and hateful thing to have done to you. This is not your fault. His behaviour is not the action of a reasonable adult.

I hope things improve for you very soon.

#178 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2012, 03:13 PM:

Shirashima: hearing and witnessing. I am so sorry.

ma larkey: Glad your mother isn't IN your living space right now, unhappy to hear that she's still up to her usual harmful behavior. Also: public apologies for not replying to an earlier email. I'm down a few spoons myself lately, but I did get it, I did read it, and I am still digesting what it says.

To everyone: I'm glad these threads are here.

#179 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2012, 04:06 PM:

Shirashima: Heard and witnessed. Also, what others above have said. And many hugs, from those of us who care about you.

#180 ::: Hiding a little ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2012, 05:45 PM:

Shirashima, echoing what others have said -- it hurts so much now, but the sooner you get a lawyer, YOUR OWN lawyer, started on helping you, the better. Don't trust his lawyer or anything he says about not needing a lawyer.

And it's good that you have people to talk to coming to help you. Talk to them. The sooner and more deeply you talk, the better your healing.

(Take these both as advice from someone who did it wrong. After a public meltdown last week, I am finally, after 2.5 years, going to talk it all through with a counselor and still all those "well, maybe he was right about me" voices in my head. Yes, it's helped to talk about it here on this forum, but actually sitting down with a live person and a big box of Kleenex is different.)

#181 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2012, 10:31 PM:

Shirashima: At the risk of sounding hlepy, one of the things that helped me get over relationships gone bad was suddenly realizing "hey waitaminit, what's the point of wanting to be with someone who actively, hostilely doesn't want me there no matter what I do? What do I get out of it other than heartache and frustration?"

It didn't stop me from wanting to be with them, but it helped rational-me catch up with the initial, agonizing response from emotional-me.

#182 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2012, 11:00 PM:

Shirashima: I've been in a similar situation, and I hear you. Others are giving you some good ideas, and it's up to you to take them as advice -- I second the lawyer though; a good lawyer helps negotiate the roughest parts. If at all possible, see if you can work with a collaborative practice attorney, as they try not to be confrontational while still working to protect you.

Best of luck in the coming days. It's hard now, very hard, but it will get better again. For the first nine months, I cried and cried. I raged, and wept, and obsessed over details, and wore myself out. I moved on when I realized the depths of her lies to herself, but I survived it one day at a time.

#183 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2012, 11:01 PM:

Pendrift, #181: My version of that was, "You can't keep someone who doesn't want to stay." (There's an unexpressed tag on that of "without being an abuser".) It didn't help the pain per se, but it did help ME keep a solid grip on reality.

#184 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2012, 01:26 PM:

Shirashima: Oof! I've never had that done to me, but I know this: it doesn't feel like it now, but you're better off shut of him. He sounds like a real piece of work. It took a long time, and moving to another city, and finding other people to be in love with, before I was able to get over my unrequited love. Talk to us here; we're listening.

Syd: Go, you, for all the hard work your doing! One of the things I recall from my last job hunt is that it takes a while to "get into the groove." Also, if you're one of the folks who likes to beat problems to death with solutions, go have a look at "Job Hunting for Dummies." Most of it's common knowledge, but it's nice to have it all down in one place, and a flip-through-able form.

#185 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2012, 02:01 PM:

Shirashima: Hoping this isn't hlepy . . . .

That is almost exactly what happened to a friend of mine . . . except they and their two kids actually made the move, and then, when almost everything except the husband's stuff was in the new house, he drove off and left them there.

It took her 3 years to get shut of him. She's pretty sure he moved her into the house as part of a plan to ruin her financially.

I think you're better off.

#186 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2012, 03:59 PM:

Oh, Shirashima, I'm so sorry to hear that. *hugs, supports, listens* I'm so glad you have a group of supportive friends, and I echo the advice to find a lawyer. Someone who abandons you in the way that he did...that's just cruel.

It wasn't a failing in you, and it's not a sign that your everything wasn't good enough. Your everything was a matchless gift that he lacked the capacity to recognize and the grace to accept. Like others here, I know what it's like to be hurt that badly, and that deeply, and all I can say is that you will find healing someday.

In the short-term, I wish you strength, and offer what little I can.

Syd: Congratulations on doing the work; it's hard not to feel dispirited on the job front, but what you're experiencing is, from my vantage point, about par for the course in the current economy. Is it possible for you to look into California's training benefits program, given your long-term unemployment situation? (As always, ignore if hlepy.)

#187 ::: Shirashima ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2012, 02:24 AM:

Today was a better day. I broke down in the morning some, found out that I can't get out of the lease on the apartment we were supposed to move into that he moved into with our roommate, but then I had my interview with a decent company for good pay, benefits, employee discounts, and serious chances for advancement. I had the interview, partway through she stopped me and called her boss to see if he could interview me later that night. 2 interviews for the same place in the same day, and I'm trying not to get my hopes up as there are 2 spots and 10 people who made it to the second interview.... but I'm not going to lie, I am really hopeful. The irony of this is of course that my husband kept telling me I was such a child, when he's still working as a temp and a couple days after he left I might have a grown up job, aka a career.
Thank you all so much for your thoughts and help. I know I should contact a lawyer, but I haven't yet. I looked into it a little bit so far, but every time I just start bawling. It isn't fair. He's cruel and emotionless, but I love him, even though it is really stupid.
I understand that for some people, 22 is not an age that you'd even know that kind of thing, and I would for the most part agree, but I haven't really been my age since I was 11, and have never used the L word unless I meant it because I couldn't say it. He didn't love me. I was convenient, and more than he deserved.

Its ok. Tomorrow will be better. My mantra.

#188 ::: Shirashima ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2012, 02:27 AM:

Today was a better day. I broke down in the morning some, found out that I can't get out of the lease on the apartment we were supposed to move into that he moved into with our roommate, but then I had my interview with a decent company for good pay, benefits, employee discounts, and serious chances for advancement. I had the interview, partway through she stopped me and called her boss to see if he could interview me later that night. 2 interviews for the same place in the same day, and I'm trying not to get my hopes up as there are 2 spots and 10 people who made it to the second interview.... but I'm not going to lie, I am really hopeful. The irony of this is of course that my husband kept telling me I was such a child, when he's still working as a temp and a couple days after he left I might have a grown up job, aka a career.
Thank you all so much for your thoughts and help. I know I should contact a lawyer, but I haven't yet. I looked into it a little bit so far, but every time I just start bawling. It isn't fair. He's cruel and emotionless, but I love him, even though it is really stupid.
I understand that for some people, 22 is not an age that you'd even know that kind of thing, and I would for the most part agree, but I haven't really been my age since I was 11, and have never used the L word unless I meant it because I couldn't say it. He didn't love me. I was convenient, and more than he deserved.

Its ok. Tomorrow will be better. My mantra.

#189 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2012, 06:46 AM:

Shirashima #188: Getting out of the lease is likely something the lawyer can help you with. Should be fun seeing how he handles paying his own rent, huh?

#190 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2012, 09:33 AM:

Shirashima @188 -- Get a lawyer, pronto -- and separate your money from his as quickly as you can. (I'm praying you weren't trusting enough to have a joint checking account with him.)

I suspect that if your ex won't let you live in the new place, you can refuse to pay your part of the rent. You may have to place the money in an escrow account, but he'll have to come up with the difference if he wants a roof over his head. Frankly, IMHO he doesn't deserve one.

Here's hoping you get the job you interviewed for -- (sad grin) "time wounds all heels."

#191 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2012, 11:42 AM:

Anybody else see Sunday's episode of Once Upon a Time?*

JEEZus. Talk about hleppiness personified. ::shudder::

* Apologies to non-USAns; don't know if this is available elsewhere.

#192 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2012, 11:49 AM:

Shirashima @188: I understand that for some people, 22 is not an age that you'd even know

What one feels is what one feels, whatever one's age. The line "So-and-so is too young to know what s/he feels" is typically a line pulled by controlling "care"givers who really mean, "So-and-so doesn't want what I want hir to want, so I'm going to summarily discount hir experience and agency because it doesn't suit my agenda."

(Who me, feeling a little bitter and angry today? Why do you ask?)

#193 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2012, 12:25 PM:

Jacque: re "Once"--that's my mother.

#194 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2012, 12:27 PM:

Shirashima @188: My best wishes and most hopeful thoughts are winging through the ether to you. Congratulations on the double interview -- that's fantastic! Given the current job market, that says that you really wowed them. (Which doesn't surprise me.)

And don't sell your feelings short because you're "only" 22. I was married at 22, to the man I had loved since I first met him at 18, and that love was perfectly real and has endured the two decades since I met him. Your feelings real, they're valid, and no one else has the right to say otherwise.

Yesterday was better. Today will be better. That's a good mantra to have.

#195 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2012, 01:02 PM:

Shirashima: 22 is plenty old enough for feelings.

My parents met in college, when my dad was 18 and my mother was 16 (she skipped grades twice). They married 4 years later, when he was 22 and she was 20. They'd been together for more than 50 years when he died.

#196 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2012, 05:53 PM:

Jacque @192: *hugs* Anything in particular that has you bitter and angry today, or just the world in general?

#197 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2012, 06:15 PM:

Jennifer Baughman @196: *hugs back*

1. Too much to do X too little to do it with = Tired Tired Tired
2. Too little progress on life-work (see 1) = Frustration
3. Bad management + not getting listened to = Frustration & no sense of accomplishment @ work
4. 78fckng° in freaking March = They've Broken My Planet = FEAR
5. I haz a loneleez

Like that.

#198 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2012, 06:41 PM:

Jacque @197: Totally sympathize!

1. Yep. Right now I'm the Designated Well of Cope. *checks* And the well's not quite dry, but it's running low.
2. Oh Ghu why can't everything just work out already?
3. This, this, a thousand times this...
4. We hit 90° in February. February. I've got to ride the apartment management to try to fix some of the more egregious weathersealing and ducting problems in my apartment before full summer sets in. I may very well spring for professionals to lay tint on the windows in the office, at the very least.
5. *gives you a virtual hug and wishes she could help more with the loneleez* I'm lucky, I have Husband and beloved cats who make sure I'm not with the loneleez, but I understand.

And you're not alone. I'd invite you over for dinner and a movie, if I could.

I need to get hold of the GM of this particular LARP and give him a good shake, 'cause let me tell you, this is exactly the reason that you have to be careful when generating events via random table. Who the hell thought 'economic meltdown', 'political intransigence', and 'climate instability' went well together?

#199 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2012, 07:44 PM:

Jennifer Baughman @198: And you're not alone. I'd invite you over for dinner and a movie, if I could.

And I'd totally take you up on it, if I could. Of course, I'd probably spend the first half hour all "bwaaaAAAAAHHHHH I've—he's—I'm—it's—waaaaaahhhh!" But at least I got today's work crisis more or less beat into submission, more or less on time, so that's something.

Who the hell thought 'economic meltdown', 'political intransigence', and 'climate instability' went well together?

Well, now that you mention it...'cept I think #2 came first, but that's a different thread. Me, personally, I'm holding out hope for 12/21/12. ::SIGH::

Thanks for bein' there. :-)

#200 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2012, 09:49 PM:

Jacque: fwiw, I'd take you to dinner and a movie too. Or a show, if you could deal with the TKTS line.

#201 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2012, 10:10 PM:

Who the hell thought 'economic meltdown', 'political intransigence', and 'climate instability' went well together?

The Fourth Horseman likes the other three just fine. He thinks they make a swell team.

#202 ::: Still kickin' ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2012, 10:10 PM:

I posted once or twice a couple of years ago in the annual thread. Can't even remember the name I used.

to all my fellow mother-smothered: a hug and general positive reassurances.

My family re-established contact last year after I ignored my mother (and by association them) for a good 5-6 years. I drew my line, told her exactly what behavior I would not tolerate, she stepped over it, I stopped talking and ignored the guilt tripping voicemails.

Mom died after a surgery more than a year ago. I saw someone today who didn't know, an old acquaintance, and when mom came up in conversation, I told her what happened - she cringed and asked if I'd had a chance to have a last conversation with mom. When I told her they didn't call me before she died she cringed again - something that never occurred to me, that I should be upset that they didn't give me that chance.

I think you had to be a part of our family to completely understand why I didn't even think of that as something to be upset about.

I have sporadic contact with my father and brother, on holidays, and they don't seem to have expectations beyond that, which is fine - I have a life and it is full and good, and I continue to work on being less and less socially inept.

Godspeed to you all.

#203 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2012, 12:44 AM:

Ahhh.... Much better now. Managed about two hours of good painting this evening. It's amazing what that does for my disposition. Okay. The rest of the human race can live. For now.

Jennifer & Melissa: Thank you both again for the good thoughts.

if you could deal with the TKTS line.

Hey, I come out of the original Star Wars tradition. Drop off Crew A to claim a place in line, Crew B goes for take-out, reconvene in line and par-TAY till the show starts. Bonus points: chat up fun new folks while waiting.

#204 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2012, 12:51 AM:

Still kickin': I think you had to be a part of our family to completely understand why I didn't even think of that as something to be upset about.

No, sadly, not exclusive to your family.

Godspeed to you all.

And you, as well.

#205 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2012, 08:11 AM:

Jacque @203: very much like that, except there's rarely a need to split off for food. My favorite part is amusing the tourists, usually by engaging them in conversation about what's worth seeing. They often seem surprised to find "real" New Yorkers using the booth.

#206 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2012, 08:41 AM:

We hit 90° in February

I saw lilac blooming on the 29th of March.

Granted, it was in a nice sheltered spot that gets full sun, but still. This is Pittsburgh; lilac is supposed to bloom in May, if not June.

But there's no climate change. No, no.

#207 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2012, 08:48 AM:

Jacque @199:

Re: 12/21/2012 -- This was my joke reason for retiring 12/31/2011.

If whateverthehell happens I will have at least enjoyed a year's worth of retirement and being out of credit card debt.

Re: family problems -- I now have a few more spoons since I no longer have to deal with the frustrations of work. The ones that can be solved by having money thrown at them are being taken care of, the rest...I'm coping.

(Yes, I've posted anonymously to these threads in the past.)

#208 ::: Anon Amos ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2012, 11:38 AM:

Well, for once I have a bit of function to report: I have a coworker with whom my relationship has been ... fraught ever since I started working here several years ago. For no obvious reason, this person seemed to take an instant dislike to me. Things have ranged from civil to chilly between us ever since.

Yesterday in a meeting, this person stepped in several times to herd our boss back to the point of the meeting, keeping the whole effort from bogging down in argument over decisions that had been made months ago.

First, I'm grateful that I was able to turn loose of my fear of this person and actually notice this. Second, this morning I called this person aside and said an explicit "Thank you" for keeping our meeting on track. Made this person feel good, made me feel good, and maybe contributed a grain of positive energy to the office climate.

Let's hear it for positive reinforcement!

#209 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2012, 12:55 PM:

Jacque @203: Excellent! I got several hours of old-school gaming in last night (with old-school gamers, no less), and, despite the short sleep, am feeling similarly renewed.

John M. Burt @201: Bwwwwahahahahahahahha!

Still kickin' @202: Not exclusive to you at all. Congratulations on building a good and full life for yourself!

Anon Amos @208: Fantastic! Congratulations on the positive reinforcement and the personal achievement!

I think part of the reason I'm feeling pretty good today is that the game session last night resulted in a gig for my currently-unemployed husband; it won't pay much beyond a special edition of the book (assuming it gets funded), but it involves something he's really good at, and it's a skillset the people doing the project don't have. It's something he can do and not only feel useful, but *be* useful, which is a HUGE button of his, and something we've been struggling with since his layoff.

And I'm coming to accept that while my job may be dead-end, it's also not going away, and I have a fantastic team and probably the best supervisor ever, and the company will help pay for any undergraduate degree I want, and it's dead easy enough that I can probably handle full-time employment and full-time school (which I'd need to do -- we need the insurance.) (Insert health care rant, or not, it's all good.)

My optimism remains cautious and fragile, but, in general, it remains.

#210 ::: Jennifer Baughman has been gnomulated ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2012, 12:57 PM:

For reasons that are murky. I don't *think* I used a word of power...

#211 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2012, 01:20 PM:

gnomulated Jennifer Baughman:

I wonder if it's because of the way you spelled "Bwwwwahahahahahahahha". (I'm looking particularly at the three ws in a row, which the gnomes might have taken for part of a malformed web address.)

Now to see if the gnomes pounce on this comment too...

[Not 'www' but 'hahahaha.' -- JDM]

#212 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2012, 01:22 PM:

gnomulated Jennifer Baughman:

I wonder if it's because of the way you spelled "Bwahaha" - specifically, with three ws in a row, which the gnomes might have taken for part of a malformed web address.

(In the first version of this comment I spelled Bwahaha precisely as you did, and the gnomes Took An Interest, so I think I'm on the right track.)

#213 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2012, 01:29 PM:

Paul A: Ohhhhhhh, you know, I do that sometimes, so that might actually be it. I'll keep that in mind! Or come up with some other way to textualize slightly crazed laughter...

#214 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2012, 02:21 PM:

Jennifer Baughman @209: My optimism remains cautious and fragile, but, in general, it remains.

Your optimism sounds not-unfounded. I'd be careful of noising around about your good supervisor, though; s/he might get kidnapped by the less fortunate.... ;-)

& @213: hyphens between the "ha"s, maybe?

#215 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2012, 03:00 PM:

Hey, everyone, male and female, please go read this now:

dumb all over. a little ugly on the side.

Then have a look at this.

Both of those come to my attention via Elizabeth Bear, and they are for you, individually, each of you.

#216 ::: Just This Once ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2012, 06:52 PM:

This is just to say
I have eaten
the crow
that was in
my workspace

for which
I was wanting
for me

not from me
it was necessary
the win
was to fold

Gah. More later, but I wish I didn't have the buttons that got pressed today.

#217 ::: Shirashima ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2012, 09:53 PM:

@abi That is actually a wonderful article (saw the a softer world comic yesterday and it helped me out of a really really bad day). Thank you so much for the share.

@everyone else who has been supportive this week
I'm managing ok I guess. A lot of it is just being numb and trying not to think about it, but I have dealt with some of the major issues:
1. It is not entirely my fault that things got screwed up. I gave it my all, and he decided that wasn't good enough.
2. I am a wonderful person, with tons of people who love me. The fact that he doesn't is CLEARLY not my fault.
3. NO amount of love is worth being untrue to myself, and I should NEVER feel as though my best is not good enough.
4. There is no universe (apart from Bizzarroland) in which Brian "settled" in a marriage to me. I am a highly capable, not-unattractive person, and while I am not a perfect "grown up" yet, I'm also only 22, which gives me time.
5. The pain I feel will lessen with time, but only if I let it hurt now. I can't keep hiding behind a facade because that only means that no one knows that I hurt and need help.
Next step is taking care of getting a lawyer, which means finding out which county I would have to get the divorce through, or what happens with that, and finding out how to pick a lawyer who will help me receive the things that I deserve from the marriage.

#218 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2012, 11:54 PM:

Shirashima @ 217: I recommend looking for a collaborative practice attorney in your area. They're not the usual confrontational divorce lawyers, and can help with a nontraditional approach. This is not to say that a confrontational lawyer is a bad one; it may come to pass that you need a more aggressive lawyer in addition. The advantage of going to a collaborative practice attorney first is they look for the mediation and are often very good at helping people who are in a lot of pain. They're almost therapists, in a way. If you were local to me, I'd point you to the collaborative attorney who is currently handling our mediation.

#219 ::: Shirashima ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2012, 04:44 AM:

@Ginger I've never heard of that. I will have to do that.

#220 ::: Fox ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2012, 08:13 AM:

@Ginger, Shirashima - I am a big fan of networking (but not of hleping, so please disregard if that's what I'm doing); is it possible that Ginger's collaborative attorney may be able to recommend a colleague in Shirashima's local area? (I assume modly types can make individuals non-publicly aware of what the areas in question are.)

#221 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2012, 09:00 AM:

Fox@ 220: Good idea. Shirashima, feel free to email me. I believe our Good Mods can dig out my email address for you, with my approval. It can't hurt to ask for a referral.

#222 ::: Of The World ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2012, 09:59 AM:

@Shirashima and others, just a very, very gentle word of caution regarding collaborative lawyers, and I really hope this isn't hlepy. No, caution is the wrong word: I think I mean, awareness.

From my own experience, allbeit in the UK, I am a big fan of this kind of lawyer, and of mediation in divorce and family law cases. But as Ginger comments @218, it's wise to be aware that you may require a more "traditional" lawyer if the soft approach does not work. Effective mediation relies on at least a little good faith on everyone's part, not always present in divorces, and I've known judges who push for things to be sorted outside of courtrooms when this is not necessarily the best approach.

But a good lawyer will be happy to talk all of this through with you. Getting decent legal advice as soon as you're ready to do so is rarely if ever a bad idea.

Please, disregard this if it's hlepy.

An update on where I am: still waiting for an appointment with an ADD specialist, but that's expected as the wheels grind slowly here on these things. They've confirmed in writing that I'll get an appointment as soon as possible.

The last time I wrote here, I was pretty down. Since then, I've felt a lot better, as expected. I've never really monitored my moods before, although I've always known I had my ups and downs. What's useful this time is that I can check the date of my lowest point from the date my last post.

Strange to say it, but I'm actually interested to see the next time I get down, because thanks to these posts I'll be able to map the peaks and troughs for the first time.

#223 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2012, 10:31 AM:

Adding my word of caution to Of the World's. The friend I mentioned earlier, who spent 3 years in divorce hell? She used collaborative to start with and wasted 18 months and a lot of money dealing with her a** of an ex, who didn't want to be divorced as much as he wanted to control every aspect of her life and the children's lives for as long as possible.

The collaborative attorney did get the kids and eventually my friend into counseling, which was very beneficial, but the mediation was a complete waste.

Which is to say, start with collab. if you feel comfortable with it but do not hesitate to move to another type of lawyer if the other person is not living up to their side of the bargain.

#224 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2012, 11:18 AM:


IANAL, but I think you should be able to get a divorce in whatever county you live in. (My parents had a change of venue on theirs, but that was because my father had been a judge for a decade or so by then, so he and/or my mother knew all the judges in the county they lived in. This is an unusual circumstance.)

#225 ::: eleanor ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2012, 08:46 PM:

I've not posted for a while, but I've been reading along, wincing in empathy and feeling for folk (and occasionally flinching).

I'm mostly in a good place these days. I have bad moments, but in some ways they are normal bad moments, that everyone has. Doesn't make them nicer of course, but... I don't know. It makes them less bad in some ways when I look back at them. And on the really bad days it makes me a feel a little bit better for them to be such a stark contrast because that means my other days are good. If that makes sense.

I've almost posted again on some of the flinching moments (then backed out because I didn't want to offend/annoy people), but after reading abi's link at #215, I had a little moment. Later that day I was trying on dresses, and I had to try and explain to my housemate why I liked one particular dress over the rest - I really struggled to do so because it would have required complimenting myself. I kept trying to come at it in a roundabout way, prefacing it with 'despite...'

In small moments of flinchworthiness, my sister yelled/snapped at me for rocking not that long ago. As it was my sister, it was only flinchworthy at the time, rather than festering, but still - it's not something I have control over. Rocking isn't my normal physical quirk, but I get the 'freak' reaction from most people enough that, well, it hurt when it came from a direction I didn't expect.

@Shirashima, wishing you strength.
@everyone else, thank you for continuing to read this thread and to respond, even when it's just to let people know they've been heard.

#226 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2012, 10:55 PM:

My parents are visiting for Easter. It will be more stressful than I expect, and disappointing, but not as bad as I am anticipating. Knowing that it won't be perfect helps, sort of a pre-disappointment. I have a plan for dealing with my mother.

I went to the Maundy Thursday service at my church today, and somehow, that was just right. I will be able to deal with the stress, it is not me, my parents are human people with failings and stresses of their own.

I miss them so much. Sometimes I miss the people I thought they were when I was little, and they could make it all right.

#227 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2012, 11:31 PM:

Nancy C. Mittens #226: Sometimes I miss the people I thought they were when I was little, and they could make it all right.

Yeah, that's rough.... On the flip side, as an adult, I've actually gotten to know my mother and step-mother as people, and hey, turns out they're kinda cool even with their flaws.

#228 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2012, 01:17 AM:

In general, You're Aging Well by Dar Williams seems appropriate to nestle in to abi's earlier comment.

Stefan S., amazing poetry. Please gift us with any other poetical musings you might develop.

Shirashima: My sympathies. It doesn't matter that your husband did not love you the way you loved him; your love is a real thing and you have been wounded. I hope that the understanding that this is not your fault acts as a salve to that wound & I am sending you best wishes for good and speedy healing.

ma larkey: My goodness. I do not know what to say other than keep strong and know that we support you in your bid for independence.

#229 ::: Anonymous at the moment ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2012, 01:47 AM:

I'm going to a family Seder this Saturday as a favor to my sister. It may not be as bad an idea as it feels like.

The situation is that my aunt and uncle will be there, and they're none too pleased that I wasn't in contact with my parents or grandparents. Considering the family style, the topic may or may not come up when I see them.

The reason I stayed out of touch with my extended family is precisely that I didn't want to be told that I should be in touch with my mother. (She's dead now, as is my father and my grandparents.)

Just to be paranoid, I'm concerned that my aunt and uncle are comparing me to their daughter, who so far as I know, was a normal person who stayed connected to her family, did well, and died relatively young. And when I say comparing me to her, I mean that they'd make a trade if they could. I don't don't know if this is a reasonable thing for me to be concerned with to look at the situation-- I don't know my aunt and uncle well.

That may just be distraction.

And my sister asked me to dress well for the Seder, and has put up money for clothes. Shoes that fit well are a bottom line for me, and it looks like I'll either be wearing sneakers or (if I'm willing to take the time and am lucky) tai chi shoes. My feet are an odd size, and an experiment with mail-order shoes didn't pay off.

The clothes have taken time, hemming the pants will take time, looking for tai chi shoes (if I decide to do it-- I'm not sure that anyone even still carries them in Philly), I have logistical stuff to do for a more important project, and I have bad problems with anxiety and procrastination.

I've told my sister that I'm not doing anything like this again if this one goes badly-- that was the other bottom line besides comfortable shoes.

Anyway, I'm not knocking myself out to be unrecognizable in this-- email is fine if you know who I am. I just don't want this to be easy to google.

#230 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2012, 03:14 AM:

@229: AWMA (Asian World of Martial Arts, Inc.), 11601 Caroline Rd., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19154-2177, (215) 969-3500 ...?

#231 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2012, 03:17 AM:

@229: OTOH, if you can find some ergonomic stilettos, that could make the "if this goes badly" option more entertaining for you, at least. /evil_grin

#232 ::: Anonymous at the moment ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2012, 03:33 AM:

Jacques, thanks, but that martial arts store is nearly 2 hours each way on mass transit.

What are ergonomic stilettos?

The general problem is that my shoe size is 8E.

#233 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2012, 06:07 AM:

Wishing strength to Nancy C. Mittens and Anonymous at the moment and anyone else whose weekend includes holiday family stress on top of the usual family issues.

Nancy C. Mittens, re missing the people you thought they were, it's been my observation that grieving the things you never had can be more difficult than grieving the ones you had and lost. (And as I was typing this, it's burst upon me that that applies to a current situation in my own life, and it's a useful insight for me. Though not pleasant.)

eleanor @225, glad to hear you are mostly in a good place these days. You have been heard. You said I've almost posted again on some of the flinching moments (then backed out because I didn't want to offend/annoy people). I suggest that you are unlikely to offend/annoy people here by posting those things. One of the reasons this community exists is as a place to post things like that to people who won't brush them away or tell you how you are supposed to feel. You are not expected to, but you are welcome to.

#234 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2012, 07:27 AM:

B. Durbin #228: "You're Aging Well"

And now I'm crying.... also passing that around.

#235 ::: ma larkey ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2012, 07:48 AM:

It's a religious weekend facing my folks and I just got a message announcing an egghunt for Sunday--but in their uniquely passive aggressive way, no one has admitted that the only reason I got this message is that the folks want someone to cook, clean, and prepare breakfast, lunch, and decorate dozens of eggs for the party. They want this special someone to do this alone, because none of the other parents of children who will play have prepared anything, or at least, none of these said parents have the decency to ask me directly for help.

Nope, they want the breakfast and lunch and decorated eggs to materialize without a single word directly to me, without a comment or a complaint or a request for help. Because This Is What I Used To Do. For years. Because various sibs involved had Excuses why they didn't have time to cook or prepare stuff for their own kids---they went on church retreats, attended services, bought gifts for church mates, too busy for the actual "family reunion Sunday". But last year I spent the weekend out of town. This year I am in town, and do not have the spoons for this. Not when the host of the party is someone who used to hit me regularly and come into my room to molest me and threaten me.

I am spending this weekend on myself. Barricaded as usual. Not answering the phone. It is difficult to admit, but even good things get contaminated to me when an abuser asks for them. Even if it were something I would have wanted to do for the little kids. This is one weekend where I am grateful I don't have kids that abusers can use to emotionally blackmail me with, as it is, I feel vulnerable even when said little kids aren't mine.

#236 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2012, 07:52 AM:

A little more holiday angst:

We are going to my aunt's for seder tonight. There will be at least 18 people there, including 5 who are children or preteens. Because of this, my aunt will have 2 tables instead of 1, and that's where the trouble starts.

My teen and I are awkwardly placed in the family. I'm 5.5 years younger than my youngest aunt and 5.5 years older than the next person in my generation (my brother). For a long, long time, I was considered a "child" in the family. Then I procreated, and eventually that shifted me into the "adult" category.

But it created its own problem. My daughter is, like me, the first of her generation . . . but she's equally oddly positioned. My youngest first cousins (the children of that aunt who is only 5.5 years older) are 20 and 23 to my daughter's 16. The children of my adult first cousins and my brother are 11, 8ish, and 5ish. My younger first cousins are too old to befriend my daughter (at this point in their lives) and my daughter is too old to have much in common with the littler ones, and often is essentially asked to babysit them at family gatherings.

My aunt has decided to feed "the children" separately from the adults and then to call them back for what she perceives as the family friendly portions of the seder (I've suggested a more family-friendly haggadah to no avail). My daughter is too old to be considered a child, thank goodness.

But my aunt likes to "direct" things, which means she will be deciding which adults sit at which tables tonight. I suspect she is planning to have me sit with the adults (the aunts and uncles and my mother) and my daughter sit with the "kids"--my brother and SIL and the adult cousins.

This doesn't sit well with either of us. My daughter doesn't want to sit at a different table from me and really doesn't know the younger adults that well, and they really don't know how to talk to teenagers, so she'd sit in silence most of the time.

I don't want to sit with the old people. Even though I'm now "an adult" in their eyes, they rarely actually treat me as one. The only one of them I really like is one of my uncles by marriage--he's the only one who actually talks to me like a person, probably because he met me as an adult and takes me as I am now, without family baggage.

I really like my brother and my younger cousins. We don't hang out a lot but we're in touch online and over the years we've gotten to know and like each other as people, not just as family.

This may seem like an irrational fear but I vividly remember at one cousins' wedding, where the seating was planned by the same aunt, I was not seated with the family but at a table full of my cousin's single friends from work. My aunt's reasoning was that I was a single young professional. However, all of them knew each other, while I was a stranger, and while I was single, I was already a parent, which none of those people were. It was a disaster.

I understand that part of the problem is that if my aunt puts all of my generation at one table, we'll have to have "the big table"--the one in the dining room--and the older folk, the heads of the family, will have to sit at the smaller, portable table. But we do outnumber them!

It's possible that I'm angsting over nothing and that my aunt will let people seat themselves or that she'll cede "the big table" to "the kids."

But I doubt it; I know how much she likes to orchestrate things (a trait pretty much all the women in my family share, including me).

#237 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2012, 10:56 AM:

And, of course, my problems are a shadow compared to ma larkey's situation.

I've been that person that everyone expects will do what's needed even if not asked; I've stepped away and watched my social life disappear. But those were friends, not family, and they could learn (and mostly did). I'm a good organizer, and mostly I enjoy it, but I don't like _always_ having to do it, or for people to assume that I will _always_ do it.

I'm so sorry that you have to hide at a time when you should be able to enjoy yourself, in order to preserve your self. But preservation is paramount.

I support your choice, and I hope that someday you get to make a very different one.

#238 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2012, 02:03 PM:

Melissa @ 236

Could you bring an extra portable table, so they can all be strung together in a single long(or slightly tetris-like) table and everyone can choose who they want to sit next to? That's what we ended up doing. Then I'd let "my" aunt know that I appreciate how much work she always puts into these things, but this year the younger generation should get to treat everyone else by taking the lead on organizing...

#239 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2012, 02:09 PM:

ma larkey @ 235

Your family is so Not Cool. Can you find a friend (or series of friends) to hang out with over the weekend? I used to fairly regularly bike into the next town (I live about a causeway away from most of my social network) and then call up everyone I had in my phone and set up serial hangouts. It was fun. (The biking part is not necessary, but adds virtue! And endorphins!)

#240 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2012, 03:37 PM:

In the realm of odd synchronicities:

Husband and I went to a book signing by Joe R. Lansdale yesterday, which was both enjoyable and educational, and I'm looking forward to prying his new book out of Husband's hands. In the meantime, I went poking around for more information, and came across an interview with Mr. Lansdale and Andrew Vachss which resonated with me, and I thought I might share it with you.

[Joe R. Lansdale]: You notice there’s a connection in themes in our novels. Even though they’re very different novels, they’re very much dealing with the same subject matter, which is why I think that’s why we’ve always had a connection, and I think that’s why both of us this thing about family, and I think we both believe that’s it’s great if your blood family is wonderful, but we don’t necessarily believe that because if someone has the same blood that you have makes them family because they’re kin to you. We don’t think that that’s it, because it’s how you treat people, what you say about what you do rather than what you say, and I think in both of our books we are dealing with people who have come from damaged backgrounds and are trying to put some structure together, which I guess you could call family.

We have the power and the right to define our own families, blood or no.

#241 ::: Syd, somewhat disguised ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2012, 05:01 PM:

I'm over here because this doesn't feel like it's going to be an open-thready kind of post...but it isn't really about family dysfunction, either. Maybe just my dysfunction. Or maybe my fears that I'm about to find new ways to be dysfunctional. Anyway, here goes, and if the mods tell me it's more OT than DFD, any follow-ups will go on the OT.


I've been overnighting at Union Station in Pasadena for just over three weeks. This entails my calling every weekday to confirm whether I will or will not be "awarded" a bed that night; on Fridays, it's for the whole weekend, and each weekend's stay entails going to the Passageways office to sign some paperwork explaining why I'll be at Union Station. This procedure (daily calls/weekend paperwork) is not a problem to me, as I understand that the bed I slept in last night might easily belong to a new full-time resident by tonight, and it strikes me that's as it should be.

Today, I called about this weekend and was told yes, I had a bed, and come on in to sign the paperwork. Which I did, and discovered that my case manager had filled in the "why guest is filling out this paperwork" question and included the remark, "Guest will return to this office on Monday, 4/9/12, to discuss other housing options."

Now, it's possible this means my case manager has gotten enough decent feedback about me from the staff that she wants to discuss making me an actual resident. Which would be awesome, as I like the staff, get along at least okay with most of the residents in the women's dorm, and find it convenient for the stuff I need to do (visit cats, go to library to plug in my laptop to look for work and otherwise catch up on the Intarwebz, etc.). And until a spot opens for me at PATH/Petco, I do still need a place to sleep and would really like for it to not be my car.

On the other hand, it's possible my case manager will tell me that nearly four weeks is enough, and my free ride is now over. Which I would also understand, since she knows my plan is to get into PATH/Petco and maybe the organization feels its resources will be better used placing someone who'll go all the way through whatever program Union Station offers, rather than someone who's going to essentially jump ship.

I am already fighting the urge to worry myself into a tizzy on the basis of absolutely no evidence for ANY conversational topic or potential outcome of said conversation.

***Stop the presses***

When I noticed the note about coming in Monday, I asked the very nice gal at the front desk if she knew whether my case manager had any particular time in mind for our meeting. She said she did not, and that my case manager wasn't scheduled to be in for another hour or so and why didn't I call back then? Well, I left Passageways to visit my cats, then came to the library, and making that call completely slipped my mind until I started this post. So I called and was transferred to my case manager's voicemail, leaving my phone number and asking what time she wanted to see me.

She just called back and told me it's pretty much a formality, just a reminder that I need to check in Monday to see if a bed will be available. She also said, or at least implied, that they're in contact in PATH in hopes of a spot opening up for me, and that they're willing to do this because they do not currently need my bed for a new resident. Should that need arise, she said they'd work with me to find other options.

Relief is nice.

On the other hand, when I went to visit the cats yesterday, the tech who took me through the medical area to where they're kenneled said the vet had asked him to ask me if I had any idea how much longer I would need my cats to stay. The tech did say there was no hurry, but now I'm getting worried that I'm nearing the end of my grace period with my vet. And I would completely understand that as well.

So I had to say no, I had no idea, and if I could come up with anything I would, but the only thing I could think of was surrendering them and (a) having given up 10 cats already, I just can't face giving up the rest and (b) I REALLY can't face the idea that any more of them will wind up destroyed.

Again, the tech said the vet said there was no hurry--so why am I scared?

And it all, still and always, comes down to finding a job, because I'm 99.9% sure that any residency/"transitional housing" program is going to require me to save some significant portion of my after-expenses income against the day I "graduate" into low-income or Section 8 housing and need that all-important first and last months' rent and security deposit...and it's hard to have post-expenses income when General Relief doesn't even cover my expenses.

And now I add in a heapin' helping o' guilt that I've only sent out five resumes this week instead of the 10 to 15 I told myself would be acceptable--I wanted to keep most if not all the job-hunting momentum developed during the GROW program.

Bloody effing hell, why do I do this to myself?

So as of this moment I am officially giving myself the day off, resume-wise, and commit to sending out at least five on Saturday/Sunday. I won't have much else to do on Sunday, anyway, since both the vet's office and the libraries I haunt will all be closed for Easter. I may just plant myself at a coffee shop for as long as possible and troll job boards.

On the other other hand, I went to Marina del Rey yesterday for lunch with one of my friends from the defunct clinic--and she not only treated me to lunch, she paid for my gasoline. She also suggested I journal about my experiences if I wasn't already, because she thinks it would make a killer book.

I got a little bit of writing done yesterday, recording some of the stories others have told me about their situations. Publication question: if I plan to change names and disguise some details to protect privacy, do I need to get releases, or at least permission, from the people whose stories I include?

Thank you for letting me vent and worry and ask questions. I have the BEST friends. :)

#242 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2012, 05:15 PM:

Syd, either location is fine. This conversation covers more than just familial dysfunction these days, and that's perfectly acceptable.

Keeping my fingers crossed for you.

#243 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2012, 05:39 PM:

Ohhhhh, Syd. *hugs*

I'm very glad for you that Union Station is working with you to find more permanent housing, or, at the very least, continuity of temporary housing.

If you can, for the moment (and I know it's hard), take the vet tech at his word? It may just be that the vet's forecasting kennel availability for the next month for appointments, etc., and so it really is just a request for information. And you're scared because you take your responsibility to the small furry creatures you love seriously, and you feel like you've failed the ones that were killed out of hand (even though you did everything you were capable of at the time. And because they're one of the few sources of stability in your life, and you're otherwise living in a perpetual state of uncertainty, and you love them and the thought of losing them hurts?

That's how *I* would feel. And I admire you tremendously for having the courage to wake up each morning and keep trying.

And please, let me reassure you that, in this job market, five resumes is progress. Husband's barely been out of work for three weeks, and he's already running out of appropriate jobs to apply for. Please don't think less of yourself for "only five". And maybe even instead of trying to send resumes out this weekend, give yourself a full weekend break and do something that nourishes you? It's a holiday weekend; no one's going to be posting jobs until Monday, so there's no sense in punishing yourself.

If you feel comfortable doing so, could you send me an email with your resume at my listed email address? (Or send it through abi?) Husband's had some contacts with people who need freelance work, and I might be able to pass your resume on to someone. I've also got feelers out to see if anyone we know has job possibilities out there. It's not much, and I wish I could do more.

#244 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2012, 05:44 PM:

Also, here are a couple of books you might be able to find at a library that explore the ethics of using personal life stories and anecdotes, and both, as far as I was able to tell, fairly well-regarded.

Telling True Stories
Writing Life Stories

I hope those help!

#245 ::: Syd, somewhat disguised ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2012, 08:09 PM:

abi, thank you. :)

Jennifer Baughmann @ 243/244, I will happily send you my resume, but your name does not appear to have a link attached to it. If I may impose on abi to send it to me to my "word"-related email, I will then send along my resume--in two styles, even, one skills-based, the other a sorta-hybrid between skills and chronological. I use the skills one for straightforward proofreading listings and the other for things that appear to have some relevance to past job duties. Frex, I've applied for several jobs as a technical writer for either software or process documentation because, during my time in Corporate America, I was involved in a project very much like that--but mentioning it on the skills resume doesn't seem to fit since it wasn't for one of my clients.

Really, I am taking the vet tech at his word. Mostly. It's got a lot to do with how much the vet has already done for me (I will spare y'all the details of the Great Upper Respiratory Debacle of 2009, and Q's multiple hospitalizations for hyperparathyroidism, etc.). Suffice it to say that what I currently owe him exceeds the equivalent of six weeks' salary at the corporate job I left in 2004--and I made mid five figures annually.

I'd have stayed if I hadn't been afraid doing so would drive me right round the bend.

Anyway, if the tech said the vet said there's no hurry, there's no hurry. ***repeats to self several times***

Those book recommendations look very helpful, so I will check the catalogs at the various libraries I frequent and see if either or both are available.

And thank you, too. I don't feel all that virtuous, re: getting up every morning and trying, simply because I know that not trying isn't really an option. Unless I really do want to lose everything, and I so very much do not. :)

#246 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2012, 10:29 PM:

My mom seems to like her birthday present (I put together a basket with shower gels and some homemade washcloths, and also a pen with her name on it.), which I spent some time and thought and effort on; I had expected her to not like it and me to feel useless and rejected.

David Harmon, I love my mother very much, but she is not a person I would associate with voluntarily if she wasn't a relative. I try to appreciate her good points, and to understand why she is who she is, but it can be hard.

OtterB, that is so true.

Melissa Singer, you have my sympathy about the holiday seating issues. I've been in similar situations.

syd, [[hugs]]

ma larkey, congratulations on taking care of yourself, and on not letting you be used and abused.

#247 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2012, 12:38 AM:

ma larkey: Oh man. The worst part is knowing that they'll blame you for the debacle that falls on their heads, and you must remember it is not your fault that they can't handle these things on their own.

I hope that someday you can do those things again with enjoyment and for your own happiness, rather than having it forced upon you.

Syd: Hugs.

Melissa Singer: My family never did the adult table/kids' table thing until recent years—when I was growing up, we had a pretty big table and we sat close together. Now we're doing it at locations where we have to use more than one table, and the kids end up with their own table at Thanksgiving and Christmas. I find it suboptimal myself.

#248 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2012, 01:52 AM:

Syd, if you used to do substantial tech writing, you might be interested in a job in technical community management or evangelism (example -- sometimes this stuff lives in the marketing department, sometimes in engineering, sometimes someplace else in the organization). I'm a community manager right now and it's a good role for people with writing skills who like taking care of others. And often you can do it from anywhere with an Internet connection (I work remotely). You can see some community managers talking to each other on Twitter:!/search/%23cmgrchat

Hey Ross, if you ever feel like helping me out with some Lua stuff, shoot me an email -- I need to develop a Lua training syllabus for an upcoming hackathon and I don't know where to start!

#249 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2012, 01:53 AM:

Got gnomed. Due to URLs, I presume, OR WAS IT THE HLEPINESS?! Only your moderator knows for sure!

[The phrase "shoot me an e-mail" did it. -- JDM]

#250 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2012, 02:39 AM:

Well if the gnomes can spot hlepiness, then the Making Light spam filters have developed human-equivalent Artificial Intelligence (or maybe better than human come to think of it)

Which wouldn't enormously surprise me, but would be a fairly awesome Easter gift.

#251 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2012, 06:43 AM:

Syd, Jennifer, check your email.

#252 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2012, 07:35 AM:

Syd, thanks for the update. Ongoing encouragement vibes beamed your way.

#253 ::: Persephone ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2012, 09:45 PM:

Syd, how can one help out a little financially with the cat boarding? I know this has been covered before, but I'm not sure what methods/contacts/etc. you'd prefer right now. If you'd prefer to reply via email, Abi should be able to see mine and pass it along.

#254 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2012, 10:29 PM:

Well, we were 22 people when all was said and done, 5 under 12 and the rest 16ish and up.

My aunt actually threaded the needle, to my surprise (I suspect her daughters influenced this). The younger children and their parents sat together for the pre-meal part of the seder (the children having already eaten). Then the children left and I, my daughter, and the other cousin (the one who graduated college last year) all moved to the "kids'" table to eat. Everyone was moving around anyway because my aunt found a way to set up a buffet table, so it was no big deal.

Doing the seder at two tables, one in the dining room and one essentially in the entryway, was very, very awkward.

Might be our last big meal in that house--my aunt and uncle are looking to sell and move into something on one level. (They are in their 70s and my aunt is having trouble with her hip.)

#255 ::: Anonymous at the moment ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2012, 01:04 AM:

The Seder went quite well. I was welcomed, and not harassed about anything.

It's amazing how reluctant I was to write this-- I may have a background commitment to things being awful.

#256 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2012, 02:57 AM:

I've been having a very difficult time with privilege issues lately, i.e. getting someone to understand that certain behaviors and attitudes are actively harmful to me and our relationship. Since they're invisible to him, they don't really exist, and it's me being too sensitive and overreacting and dramatic. Oh, and a wimmen*, of course.

This person comes from a functional family. As Xopher once said, it's well nigh impossible to get someone like that to grasp just how dysfunctional dysfunctional can be; it's like attempting to explain 3D to someone from a 2D universe.

They don't get how some things can be triggery. There's nothing to trigger in them. Unfortunately, this fairly often leads to an empathy deficit.

*persistence of this attitude is going to be the dealbreaker. I do not need someone who insists on dealing with me as a woman rather than a person who happens to be female along with a lot of other things. I am already forced to deal with enough aggravation in Life In General that I don't see why I should expose myself to more of it in the rare cases that it's optional.

#257 ::: Syd, somewhat disguised ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2012, 01:10 PM:

Persephone @ 253, thank you just for the thought. :)

I have forwarded the vet's info (and my identifying info re: making a contribution toward my cats' upkeep) to abi on a previous occasion, but I will happily forward it again if she doesn't have it readily to hand--abi, please let me know here if you need it.

And I want to make clear--because of my personal dysfunctions re: asking for help--that those of my comments which refer to money, whether directly or indirectly, are in no way a request for assistance from the Fluorosphere.

I'm saying this not because I believe anyone here thinks that's what I'm doing, but just to satisfy my need to have it said. I hope by doing so that I have not caused offense, and I apologize profusely if I have.

#258 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2012, 01:50 PM:

Persephone @253:

You have email on the address you use here.

Pendrift @256:

I don't think there's anything particularly empathy-draining about having grown up in a functional family. But then, I would say that -- I pretty much did. To a material degree, with the occasional footnote, but yeah.

What you're describing is a failure of empathy, or perhaps an overdose of privilege. Familial dysfunction is only one antidote to that (and it doesn't always work, by the way). You can get someone to see the 3D-ness of the universe on analogy from any number of griefs and sorrows.

What it requires is a willingness to listen, and to change. Those frequently, but not always, come with maturity.

#259 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2012, 06:11 AM:

abi @258: Yes. I stand corrected. Functional != empathyfail and I apologize for making that hasty conclusion, especially when I have been graced with so many counterexamples both here and elsewhere.

Sigh. On a more general "gah, go away, world" note, I try to start with a presumption of good faith on the part of the people I deal with until there is evidence to the contrary. I am tired of having to defend myself against the presumption of bad faith that I get in return from some of them. It's a no-win situation as it stands.

#260 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2012, 11:39 AM:

Anonymous at the moment @232: What are ergonomic stilettos?

This, she is a very small joke. (Although I have heard that there is a maker of ergonomic fancy-shoes out there somewhere. I don't do fancy-shoes, so I failed to not the maker's name.)

ma larkey @235: I am spending this weekend on myself.

Good for you! And we can hope (though we won't presume) that the passive-aggressors might take a clue when the lovely holiday meals and colored eggs don't magically appear all by themselves.

Syd: Take it from me: keepin' on keepin' on is virtuous. {{{hugs}}} Suggestion: sign up with Robert Half Technology. I actually had pretty good luck working with them when I was searching for work. They do the temp thing, and they do temp-to-hire. Remember that the secret to working with temp agencies is you call them. They say "we'll give you call if we have something for you." Don't believe it. I've become convinced that this is actually a secret test to see how motivated you are. Call them every day until they give you something. Then call them again the minute you get done with that job.

#261 ::: Chris W. ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2012, 01:57 PM:


I have been that person. I had a college girlfriend from a dysfunctional family who I treated with a severe lack of empathy. Her dysfunctions and mine interacted in some nasty ways that resulted in me behaving in assholish ways that still make me cringe thinking about them almost a decade later. But I like to think that I learned from that experience, and am a much more empathetic person today. But I didn't start down that path until after she dumped me.

So the good news is that people can change, but the bad news is that it might take a break up to start that process, and in that case you're unlikely to be around to see the benefit.

@ Jacque 260:

I second everything you said about temp agencies. I got my foot in the door at my current employer through a temp agency. It's a great thing to do while you're looking for work, and while the pay is crap, it's still a lot better than nothing. But they do require some sitting on to get them to help you. (I sometimes felt like they sent me on interviews just to get me off their backs). I personally wouldn't call every day, but twice a week certainly wouldn't be too much or out of place. I found that their attention span lasted about 48 hours, and if I hadn't heard back in that long, it was probably time for another call.

I have a close relative who works for Robert Half (alas, in SF, not in LA) so I can at least say that she thinks they're good, though I have no personal experience with them. Depending on your skill set it may also be worth checking on OfficeTeam and The Creative Group, which are the Robert Half Administrative and Marketing temp agencies, respectively.

#262 ::: Autarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2012, 08:34 PM:

I hope things work out for you soon - goodness knows you've been trying hard for so long.

#263 ::: Syd, somewhat disguised ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2012, 09:21 PM:

Thank you, everyone. As ever, your encouragement means more to me than I can say. I helps just knowing you're here. And Autarch, welcome to Making Light. Sometime soon someone will likely ask if you write poetry. ;)

HLN: Sitting in the library, Area Woman faces the doors to an auditorium where an event will shortly be held--it may even be in progress, although the door is still open. Please allow Area Woman to describe the poster for the event...

The background features the facades of a couple of houses, or possibly a couple of views of the same house. Near the bottom is a suggestion of jungle vegetation...and a coiled bullwhip. On the left side, in full-on Indiana Jones garb (including The Hat, The Gun, AND The Whip), is a man who Area Woman would guess is the presenter for the evening. The topic?

Foreclosure Boot Camp: How to Find and Buy Foreclosure Properties

Area Woman is strongly tempted to crash the proceedings and give the presenter a down-and-dirty lesson in economics from the "losing" side but fears she might get so caught up in it that she'd be late getting back to the shelter (where she is still being permitted to overnight, thank Ghu) or, more likely, she would find herself arrested for disturbing the peace.

Nonetheless, the temptation is strong...

Hmmm...I wonder if anyone in the audience has been foreclosed on and is hoping to find out if there's any way of buying back their own foreclosed homes? Wouldn't that be a bit of a twist.

#264 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2012, 11:26 PM:

Syd -

If it makes you feel any better (that is, if you have a strong sense of shadenfreude) it's my impression that those foreclosure seminars are deeply scammy, set up mostly for the person running them to sell stuff.

And echoing other posters here - Robert Half is a good temp agency. My studio uses them for a lot of their temp placement needs, and the temps from that agency are extremely professional and are often hired permanently. I can't remember the last Robert Half temp that we've had to send back.

#265 ::: Shirashima ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2012, 12:54 PM:

I am feeling much better now. I got the job that will become a career, and I am so lucky that I have people behind me to help me when my strength just isn't enough. I'm taking it one day at a time, but I think I've finally got it through my head that it isn't worth it to fight for someone who would hurt me with no thought of consequences. I am a good person, and I deserve a thousand times better than that.

ma larkey: That is ridiculous that they would expect such things from you. I hope you had a good Easter on your own though.

Syd: I hope that things go much better for you. I've kind of been in my own little bubble lately, and not paying much attention to others. If I could I would help, but I'm kind of barely hanging on right now myself.

#266 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2012, 01:31 PM:

(stands on chair, waves arms, cheers, and whistles that Shirashima got the job!)

#267 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2012, 02:21 PM:

Shirashima: congratulations on getting the job!

Syd: continued good wishes flowing your way.

Going back a bit:
(1) Otter B @116 "knowing what it's like not being listened to may have made you a better listener, better at encouraging others, and thus be a way you can make the old experiences not a total waste."
(2) Lee @136: "something which I think is part of the difference between support and hlepiness.

Support is saying what you said -- that this bad thing happened and it sucked, but perhaps you got some knowledge from it that can be helpful to you in the present, which would be a form of salvaging something from the suckage.

Hlepiness is someone saying, "Well, see, you thought that was so bad, but you needed to have it happen in order to get this knowledge that is useful to you now." NO. There could have been other ways to acquire that knowledge which wouldn't have sucked."

Yes, exactly. Thank you, Otter for the initial post and Lee for your distinction between support and hlepiness.

The other one I have real problem with is this "only you can decide to let someone else's words hurt you." That really gets my back up and it's something I've seen in a book on non-violent communication which came highly recommended to me, and on some websites supposed to be helpful to people with assertiveness/self esteem problems. I consider this to be victim-blaming and absolving the speaker of any responsibility for the impact of their words: if someone says something nasty and I'm hurt by it, well, I've chosen to be hurt by it and I could simply choose not to be hurt. This implies that it's not the fault of the speaker at all. In contrast, "Some words are meant to wound and may hurt you, but you can learn strategies to lessen that hurt/cope with it better/get over it faster." is potentially helpful.


#268 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2012, 03:18 PM:

Shirashima, congratulations!

dcb @267:
I consider this to be victim-blaming and absolving the speaker of any responsibility for the impact of their words: if someone says something nasty and I'm hurt by it, well, I've chosen to be hurt by it and I could simply choose not to be hurt. This implies that it's not the fault of the speaker at all.

This is victim-blaming in my view as well, because of the implication that I'm choosing to be hurt.
When I make the statement that X hurts me, I am making an observation, the same way I am when I state that I'm hungry, or cold, or tired.

There are reasons for the hunger, cold, and tiredness. Some are within my control, others are beyond it. And the ones beyond my control may be beyond anyone's control (it's minus 5 degrees outside), or I don't have the tools for it (I can't afford to pay for heating).

That sort of "you're choosing to be hurt" statement negates the possibility that certain reasons are beyond my control.

While I can learn strategies to cope better with X so it doesn't hurt as much in the future, this means that there will still be instances where I simply have no or extremely limited scope for intervention.

The speaker's (choice of) words are a subset of those instances. This means they are modifiable if the speaker recognizes this and acts upon it. I can't force someone to stop saying certain things, but they most definitely are not blameless, especially if the hurtful behavior is pointed out.

#269 ::: Persephone ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2012, 11:03 PM:

Pendrift, dcb: I spent my entire childhood being told that I was choosing to be hurt by bullies, because I "let it get to me" and "needed to just ignore it." Anything that was done to me was my fault because I had either done something to cause it or was inexplicably bothered by it. Seeing this discussion is helping heal those old wounds. Thank you.

#270 ::: newly growing ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2012, 12:07 AM:

Still reading, still witnessing. (Still having my own ups and downs, but the net direction is up. Recent realization: I was programmed to see the entire world as a network of interlocking levels of judgeyness, where if you fail even a little everyone who sees it will look down on you, and if you are smarter(=better) than them you inherently look down on them and must aspire to Higher Standards. Etc. :P Anyone else recognize this?)

Also - re: the ergonomic fancy-shoes discussion latest at Jacque@260: was Fluevog possibly the name? (I know nothing of shoes except what I pick up from my highly random friends, but I know a goth-geek style consultant who speaks highly of Fluevogs for that. Pricey as all hll, though, as any good ergonomic shoe will be. ;P

#271 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2012, 12:50 AM:

ergonomic fancy shoes: still pricy but less expensive than Fluevogs, one might consider checking out Naot - or hell, pretty much any dress shoe at The Walking Company is guaranteed to be more comfortable than most dress shoes.

#272 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2012, 01:46 AM:

The Walking Company doesn't carry them, but Clark's makes dress shoes as well as clogs and casual shoes. I wore this shoe to my father's funeral and walked over a mile from the chapel to the columbarium at Arlington without my feet hurting. (I didn't think it would be that far.). Clark's outlets and shoe discounters carry these for around $69.99. I got mine brand new, never worn, at Goodwill, for $4.75.

#273 ::: ma larkey ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2012, 08:46 PM:

Sudden bursts of tears characterize my days. The sadness surprises me, and it's often to do with mourning the family I won't have---something as simple as an account of a young man caring for his grandmother startled me into realizing that I will not see my grandchildren--that is, even if I do have the insane luck to reproduce, and that isn't likely either. Mourning absences seems to be a specialty of mine, I would be the mayor of Passing Tears if there was such a place. And yet, I want to refuse gratuituous drama or pity. It passes, the grief, as sudden as a cloudburst. And afterwards I try to make some sense of the pieces left wet and gleaming, the lost years I didn't spend having children or grandchildren, the years that coalesce into this moment of my making peace with my empty hands.

#274 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2012, 12:50 PM:

Clark's makes some good stuff, but little of it comes wide enough. Also, I'm procrastinating on replacing my Clark's sandals, since they no longer make the model I'd gotten very used to, and which was the only thing other than my New Balance sneakers and one pair of boots/snow sneakers that actually fit.

Oh, those snow sneakers: they're from Merrell, most of whose other shoes don't come wide enough. My girlfriend hunted these down on the company website a year or so back. I'm also an 8E or 8EE.

#275 ::: Mea ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2012, 02:32 PM:

#273 ma larkey: you are not alone. Thanks for putting into words an experience too often shoved into the closet. I can regret paths not taken (even if I think my path was a series of choices that made sense for me) but I am loathe to be honest about discussing that feeling since it feeds into too many regressive tropes.

#276 ::: Mea ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2012, 02:34 PM:

On shoes, try finding comfortable formal dress shoes for women that are reasonable to walk in, and are vegan. It seems to be a null set.

#277 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2012, 08:38 AM:

Pendrift, Persephone: Thank you! Good to knowI'm not the only one who feels this way. It's really disappointing to get it in a book that's recommended as helpful.

#278 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2012, 08:45 AM:

Shoes: Try Terra Plana? They have some vegan shoes, and their shoes are designed to be comfortable. I've only got their running shoes, but I'm thinking of looking at some of their others.

#279 ::: cayce ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2012, 02:22 PM:

Today it hit home that I should probably give up on trying to work through conflict with my family. They don't listen and are unlikely to start any time soon, and with that they're unlikely to change.

It's just wasted effort.
Things aren't going to get better.
I feel like I just lost my family.

#280 ::: topaz ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2012, 04:15 PM:


Heard and witnessed. Unfortunately, I have family members that I have very little contact with for very similar reasons.

(Male relative -- control freak -- verbal abuser)

While there I times I must interact with him, distance is my friend.

#281 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2012, 05:26 PM:

Cayce @279: Sympathies.

#282 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2012, 06:36 PM:

ma larkey, #235: even good things get contaminated to me when an abuser asks for them

This is neither unusual nor unreasonable as a reaction. Bad associations can ruin good things; the best way to keep that from happening is to do what you're doing and keep those associations from forming in the first place.

Nancy, #246: Yay for small blessings!

Shirashima, #265: Yay for not-so-small blessings! Landing a good job is Big Mojo, and will send reverberations thru the rest of your life.

dcb, #267: That line about "other people can only hurt you if you let them" is toxic bullshit. It's a get-out-of-jail-free card for bullies and abusers. "You were hurt by this thing that I said with the express intention of hurting you? It's your OWN DAMN FAULT, you loser!" Fuck that.

There's a related "self-help" version of this which says that if you're in a bad situation, you need to ask yourself "What am I doing to make this situation happen?" NO. The proper question is, "What aspects of this situation do I control, and can I change any of them, and if so how, and if not how do I get the fuck out of here?"

ma larkey, #273: This is a normal stage in the grieving process -- you're grieving over the acknowledgment that you never had a genuine family, and the choices that cost you. You seem to be handling it as well as anyone does, and better than some.

Cayce, #279: That's a hard and painful realization, but it's also the first step toward building yourself a better life. GoodThoughts being sent.

#283 ::: Syd, somewhat disguised ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2012, 07:41 PM:

Shirashima, congratulations!!! I hope the beginning of your career is wonderful, and leads only to more wonderful!

And please, the fact that you wish me well is a BIG help to me.

I mean that. As you may also have experienced, being acknowledged and supported emotionally by a community ***waves thank-you to the Fluorosphere*** is incredibly important when one feels all at sea. In other words, thank you for being there. :)

dcb, pendrift and Persephone, when I would come home in tears after a day of teasing by my classmates, my mom would tell me to ignore it because they were only doing it from jealousy (I was pretty much always at the top of the class scholastically...and at the bottom socially).

You know what? It didn't help--I still hurt.

That is to say, I agree that "words will only hurt you if you chose to let them" formulations are damaging and victim-blaming. It's really a short hop from that to "(target) asked for it." Not acceptable. Belittling. Harmful. Callous. And those are its good points.

ma larkey, cayce: heard and witnessed. Good mojo on its way to you both, should you wish it.

#284 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2012, 09:14 PM:

It's taken me a while to deal with what happened last Saturday.

My mother turned to me in the car, when it was just the two of us, and said, "I wish you weren't angry at me all the time." I told her the truth - I'm not angry at her anymore. A long conversation ensued, and she has agreed to work toward equal, give-and-take conversations with me. They do happen, so they can happen.

Part of the conversation was an airing of grievances on my part - I got a chance to say what hurt me so much when I was younger, and have her actually hear me. It's water under the bridge, but it was so amazing to actually be heard. It was a real gift.

I never thought I'd have that conversation with her.

I feel like this is some sort of breakthrough; at the same time, I don't expect much change. It is a very hard thing I am asking for, and I would not be surprised if she can't do it. But I hope she can.

#285 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2012, 10:11 PM:

Shirashima #265: Congratulations!

Nancy C. Mittens #284: Excellent!

#286 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2012, 04:35 AM:

Nancy C. Mittens @284: A long conversation ensued, and she has agreed to work toward equal, give-and-take conversations with me. They do happen, so they can happen.

Wow. You just put your finger on something.
It's bothered me lately that I feel indifference (or at best mild curiosity) for certain relatives and "friends", even though I know they care about me, while I have a great deal of affection for others, and I couldn't figure out why.

This is the reason. Thank you for that.

#287 ::: No name, no pack drill ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2012, 05:48 PM:

Let's give this a go...

I'm hesitant to write about this, because it's personal family stuff, and it's also economic. What it is is maximally dysfunctional.

A bit over eleven years ago, Sibling A succeeded in selling off the family farm located in country X. The money from the sale was invested, by him, on behalf of our parents and the income was supposed to go to them. Then our father died and the income was supposed to go to our mother.

To complicate things, our mother lives in country Y, while I live in country W, Sibling A lives in country T, and Sibling B, of whom more in a minute, splits his time between country S and country Z. Country Y has a decent system of public welfare, even for people like my mother who has spent most of her adult life in countries X and T. I have thought of having my mother move in with me in country W, but am discouraged by the fact that it is not known for the quality of its services but well-known for their cost.

Anyway, I learned from Sibling B last week that Sibling A had stopped sending the monthly payments from the fund from the sale of the family farm for some 18 months and had informed our mother that both Sibling B and I knew of this. To say that I was outraged would be a very mild description of my emotional state. Sibling A was also recovering from a major medical procedure.

Sibling B had some plans, which involved taking charge of the situation and my taking the role which Sibling B assigned to me. I informed Sibling B that I was grateful for having been apprised regarding what had happened, and, having been given the information it was up to me what I did with it. Since Sibling B's proposal involved that sib's lying to our mother about my role, I was not happy about it. I was seriously contemplating flying to country Z and explaining this to Sibling B with a 2X4. But I decided that this would not be the most sensible of approaches.

It took an exchange of several e-mails, involving my explaining repeatedly that I could count up to twenty without taking off my shoes, that I understood that a woman in her eighties was liable to die at some point, and that I wasn't about to discuss the details of my finances with Sibling B to get that Sibling to understand that I was going to do my part and that there was no boss on the job.

Meanwhile, I'd also spoken to our mother, and found that she wasn't well. This has meant repeated phone calls. I was able to verify that while Sibling A did have power of attorney for our late father, that did not extend to having co-signing authority on our mother's bank account in country Y.

Finally, Sibling A phoned me this morning to let me know about the major operation and to ask if I'd heard from Sibling B. I heard Sibling A's side of the story -- it's the fault of the economic downturn -- but I'm not sure I can believe it. However, Sibling A did email me information I will need to set up a bank transfer for our mother.

At this point, I am still very angry at both my sibs. At Sibling A for allowing things to drift into this state, if drift it was, and for lying about it. At Sibling B for proposing to solve the problem with yet more lies -- to the effect that money from Sibling B would be from Sibling B and myself, while I would in fact be putting money aside for an emergency/funeral fund.

#288 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2012, 06:13 PM:

No name @ # 287: there is no situation, no matter how dire, that can't be made worse by one relative lying to another relative and trying to bring you into their lies. You have my sincere sympathy.

#289 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2012, 08:04 PM:

Oy, no name, no pack drill, that sounds horrid.

Oh, and shirashima, congrats!

#290 ::: cayce ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2012, 10:52 PM:

Thanks, everyone.

Nancy C. Mittens - I'm glad for you, and wish you the best of luck.

#291 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2012, 08:21 AM:

No name, no pack drill @287: sympathies. That sounds awful. Lying about what you're doing with somebody else's money is bad. Pulling other people into the lie by saying they knew about it when they didn't is at least as bad.

Good luck for getting things sorted. Continue venting if required; we're listening.

#292 ::: Syd, somewhat disguised ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2012, 03:17 PM:

Good thoughts, good mojo, prayers, appeals to the Light, candles, etc., will be greatly appreciated the morning of April 24, because...


It's scheduled at 11:30 AM PDT in the OC, for a contract (possibly to permanent full-time!!) position as a policies and procedures writer. (I didn't specify just that time in my request for good wishes because hey, traffic and other vehicular things--it's LA/OC, after all. 0.o)

I am SO happy right now. :) :) :) Even if it should happen that they choose another applicant, I actually scored an interview!

#293 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2012, 03:23 PM:

Syd: Mazel tov! And: crossing all available appendages.

#294 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2012, 04:16 PM:

Syd @292:

Cool! Interview! I'll keep my fingers crossed for you.

#295 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2012, 04:18 PM:

Good luck, Syd!

#296 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2012, 04:25 PM:

Best wishes, Syd!

#297 ::: Mea ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2012, 04:34 PM:

Good mojo aimed your direction. Good luck, Syd!

#298 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2012, 04:37 PM:

Syd@292: Wow! All good wishes - best of luck - positive thoughts...

#299 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2012, 05:06 PM:

Bright Blessings, Syd!

#300 ::: alsafi ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2012, 05:09 PM:

Best of luck, Syd!

#301 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2012, 07:03 PM:

Putting "send good thoughts to Syd" on the calendar for that day!

You are awesome, Syd!

#302 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2012, 07:08 PM:

I give you what blessing I can, Syd! You go!

#303 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2012, 07:20 PM:

BOL and fingers crossed, Syd!

#304 ::: Megpie71 ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2012, 07:39 PM:

Best of luck for tomorrow, syd.

#305 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2012, 07:56 PM:

I'll be thinking in your direction on Tuesday!

#306 ::: LMM ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2012, 08:00 PM:

Good luck, Syd!

#307 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2012, 09:11 PM:

Yay for interviews! Good luck, Syd!

#308 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2012, 09:13 PM:

Syd: much best wishes in your general direction, now, and again then.

#309 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2012, 09:15 PM:

Go, Syd, go!

#310 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2012, 12:38 AM:

Best of luck, Syd!

#311 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2012, 11:29 AM:

Syd: Mazel tov!!

#312 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2012, 12:35 PM:

Oh, good luck, Syd! Good luck indeed!

#313 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2012, 01:28 PM:

ma larkey @273 - I hear your grief, and share some of the same myself. I don't know your backstory, but it sounds like there are similarities to mine...molestation in childhood, postponed childrearing. When I did get up the nerve to have children, it wasn't happening. I too grieved for all of the lost might have beens. Recently, after much medical intervention and cost, I was able to have a baby - but in the process of getting there, my mother passed away. So I have regrets about that, plus the recognition that I too might not live to see my grandchildren, if any. If I were there, I would hold your hands and cry with you.

#314 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2012, 02:06 PM:

Apologies to all, but I need to vent a little.

Husband and I have not been keeping the apartment up very well; between a combination of job stressors, then unemployment, depression/anxiety/ADD, we let it go pretty badly since last Halloween. However, as we got diagnoses and have been getting appropriate meds, we've been improving on that front; it's been slow, but we'd been making a lot of progress. We'd even started a real spring cleaning, organizing books, starting to purge things we didn't need.

Meanwhile, the management of our apartment complex changed hands, and the new management decided to catch up on the pest control (previous management had neglected it for 2+ years, and in Texas, that means roaches). We've done our best to keep them down, but between our own problems and the lack of building-wide attention, they've been a problem.

Two weeks ago, the exterminator came in, on the worst possible day; I was behind on dishes b/c we'd both been down with a stomach bug, and we'd had to run some errands that day, which meant I hadn't gotten to them yet. Exterminator said something to the apartment management, who told us to get the apartment cleaned up. Not unreasonable, and Husband and I talked it over, and finally decided to bite the bullet and get a cleaning service.

This has been problematic for me, because one of the dysfunctions in my family was that I was pretty much the unpaid help, and I could never quite do housework to my father's expectations. So once I was on my own, I was either in a state of overdoing it, or not doing it at all and loathing myself for it. And I'd wanted to clean the apartment *myself* to prove, I guess, that I was a real adult. (Because real adults do housework as needed, right?) Meanwhile, the state of the apartment has been an enormous stressor, and a drain on other things we've wanted to do, etc. and so forth, and I needed to swallow my pride. (Which, when it came to the crunch, was easier than I expected.) And I called the management and asked if there were any special requirements they had, and they said, "it just needs to be clean". Well, duh.

So Tuesday rolled around, and the cleaning service did a fantastic job, and Husband worked his butt off, and the apartment maintenance guy did a cursory walk-through and left us a note saying 'still not acceptable', without any explanation. (Or explanation to the management, either.) It took me a full day to get any sort of explanation, and to get the actual apartment manager to take a look, and we finally got the explanation that they wanted us to get rid of the cardboard boxes and empty the cabinets for the exterminator.

I ended up having a heart-to-heart talk with the apartment manager, and I finally got her to understand, I think, that we'd been bending over backwards to cooperate with them, but they had a real problem communicating with us. And she agreed, and I figured the problems had been resolved. Until Tuesday, when the maintenance personnel showed up to make necessary repairs with no notice, and were unhappy that things had not been moved to allow them access. (Which we didn't know they needed, because see above about poor communication.) We took care of it that night, they came back the next day, everything was fine.

As if that weren't enough, we've been trying to help navigate a turbulent situation with a family friend and his grandson, who is a recovering drug addict recently out of rehab. Against better judgment, the friend allowed his grandson's girlfriend to move in with him. Which resulted, last week, in a complete family meltdown, all parties involved (save Husband, who was asked in as a mediator then promptly ignored) behaved badly, and grandson and girlfriend walked out.

Grandson, after several days of discovering that a non-emancipated 17-year-old and his 16-year-old girlfriend can't get a lease, or sign other contracts, or do much of anything as an adult, and discovering that said girlfriend prizes ring for self-pierced lip over eating for the next month, returns home; girlfriend is also returned home, despite trying to cry her way back into everyone's good graces.

Drama continues this morning with someone trying to get into our apartment (with a key!) at 6 am, and the grandson going missing for several hours.

I can haz break, pleez?

#315 ::: Syd, somewhat disguised ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2012, 02:33 PM:

Thank you all...yesterday turns out to have been a very nice day, overall, because in addition to scheduling an interview, a friend treated me to a spur-of-the-moment pre-interview facial; when she saw how red my face was afterward (sensitive skin), she gave me too much money to buy an instant cold pack and a blemish treatment (because I do tend to break out when the nerves are up) and said I should put the rest in my gas tank; and when I went to the local Whole Foods to see if they had my blemish treatment of choice, they did; and as I was walking out with my purchase, I passed a gentleman sitting beside an empty massage chair. He said hi, I said hi, and also that if my interview next week panned out, I'd be back to have him work on me but right now I was broke.

He asked, "When you say 'broke', do you mean muscles or bones?" I said neither and pointed to my purse--"Broke here!"

He--Roger, his name is, very nice British guy who was pleased to learn my name is Syd because he named his daughter Sydney--told me to sit down and gave me a five-minute freebie.


And to add to yesterday's news, I got a message from the property management company where I've interviewed twice already. To recap the last one, on GR I can't afford to be a part-time apartment manager, and don't have enough experience (that would be any experience) to be a full-time manager.

So I get the message yesterday, and yet another property manager wants to interview me! About a property in Anaheim! For which I need at least some experience!

Oh, wait...

Anyway, I called back this morning and spoke to the admin who'd left the message. And I let her know the results of my previous interview and said to thank the manager very much for thinking of me but I probably shouldn't waste her time by coming in, since I don't have experience. So the admin puts me on hold a few minutes, comes back and says that this manager is aware I don't have any experience, but they do offer their incoming apartment managers some training opportunities and she (the manager) would still like to interview me.

So I'll be in Downey at 9:30 Monday morning.

In the meantime, I'll be researching the company of Tuesday's interview.

Also, when I called this morning to confirm whether I would or would not be overnighting at Union Station again tonight, I wound up speaking to a man who is one of the head honchos re: actual residency as well as overnighting. (My case manager being out this week. I've met him briefly a couple of times, when I've signed "overnighting for the weekend" paperwork.)

Head Honcho asked me if I'd had any updates re: getting in at PATH, and I said no (having emailed my PATH case manager on Tuesday and her having no news re: PATH/Petco). I also let him know about my upcoming interviews.

So Head Honcho said (1) yes, I'm on the list for tonight, and (2) tomorrow morning, when I come in to sign my weekend paperwork (yay!), he and I should have a chat. Which could be a negative (e.g., if I'm not planning to become one of their residents, then they'll have to cut me off as an overnighter, which I would understand, unhappy as I'd be about it), but sounds more like a positive, so that's what I'm going to concentrate on.

I am, in fact, cautiously optimistic on many fronts.

And I'm giving myself the day off. :) Elephant Quest, here I come!

#316 ::: Syd, somewhat disguised, waves to the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2012, 02:41 PM:

Respectful greetings to Roquat Rufus, Rex Gnomi, from one whose comment in the neighborhood of #315, has been captured by his most efficient minions. This one would point out that there were no links in the comment in question, no multisyllabic renditions of HA!, and no Word of Power, although she admits herself ignorant of the full extent of the list of said Words and acknowledges she may have stumbled on one accidentally. Or mayhap she missed a space after a comma.

Again, it's a long one, but that hasn't been a nabbing issue of itself.

She respectfully requests release of said comment, and adds all appropriate expressions of gratitude.

#317 ::: Syd, somewhat disguised ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2012, 02:47 PM:

Jennifer @ 314, yikes! Vent as needed (but you already know that), and 6:00 bloody AM is too early for any maintenance activity (or visit from apartment management), and my understanding is they can't enter your apartment with their own key without your permission (but IANARealEstateL).

Hugs and good mojo on all fronts, and good luck for effective resolution at home and re: the family drama.

#318 ::: Roquat Rufus, Rex Gnomi ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2012, 03:43 PM:

My dear Syd,

it is unfortunate that the company which called you, and was so flexible about previous experience, is in a business which sends us so many tasty, tasty morsels, whose bones we carve into tea services. However, the pleasure of your company makes up for any missed opportunities to replace the saucer which one of our younger and more enthusiastic members mistook for a Frisbee.

And while I have your attention, may I offer my most sincere congratulations on the good fortune you have been experiencing, and my heartfelt wish that it may continue?

Yours, etc


#319 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2012, 05:32 PM:

Jennifer Baughman @314: In your place, I would be sorely tempted (with the collusion of other, legitimate, household members and staff that you have hired) to mount a spring-loaded seltzer bottle aimed at the front door, and post a note on the outside of said door saying, "Unannounced entry at your own risk."

Syd: Yay, on several fronts! We hopeses for many more pleasant blessings to waft your way upon dulcet spring breezes.

RR, RG: How many online communities have spam filtration of such cultured demeanor and impeccable manners? I mean, srsly?

#320 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2012, 07:00 PM:

Syd @315 & 317:

I am very, very glad to hear that your fortunes seem to be turning; may they continue to spin in an increasingly salubrious manner!

For management-initiated entries, yes, we're supposed to get 24 hours notice. However, it's the general consensus (which seems reasonable to me) that a renter's maintenance request gives implicit permission to enter during normal business hours (or at other times in an emergency), until the maintenance has been completed.

The 6 am entry attempt, I think, may not have been a break-in attempt, just someone tired and confused, maybe from an overnight shift. It would not surprise me if our complex used the cheapest doorknobs available, which have a limited variety of key variations, and it was just coincidence that her key worked on our door. Nonetheless, there will be a re-keying of our door, for security's sake.

The really annoying thing isn't the maintenance people coming in, etc. It's that they have these expectations that they don't bother to communicate to us, but somehow expect us to be aware of anyway. Sadly, despite much experimentation and more than a little mad science, neither Husband nor I have developed telepathy between anyone but each other.

Ah, well; having vented, I feel better, and am reminded that this, too, shall pass. (Not, it is to be hoped, like a kidney stone.)

Jacque @319: We have a rather large collection of NERF guns, at least one of which does auto-fire. Hmm. That, plus a webcam--no, better yet, the Kinect... clearly I'll need pictures of everyone who's *authorized* to come in... facial recognition... Brilliant!

#321 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2012, 09:33 PM:

Jennifer Baughman, sympathies. It sounds like you did the reasonable thing getting in a cleaning service - keeping up is always easier than getting caught up. Wishing you better communication.

And Syd, glad to hear continued good news.

#322 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2012, 01:31 AM:

Jennifer Baughman @320: clearly I'll need pictures of everyone who's *authorized* to come in... facial recognition... Brilliant!

...And rig it so that, once triggered, it deploys a sign that says, "Be happy it wasn't a cream pie!"

#323 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2012, 07:42 AM:

Syd: Contratulations, and best of luck!

Jennifer: Ouch. I've pretty much accepted that I'm not going to be able to keep up my apartment by myself, and have a housekeeper come in once a month. (A sweet lady, who also dog-sits my dog when needed.) Also, good luck with the grandson! It sounds like he's learned some important lessons....

#324 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2012, 11:50 AM:

Jacque and Jennifer: You've seen the Flo Control Project, right?

#325 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2012, 12:35 PM:

elise @324: That is really, really neat! Thanks for sharing it!

#326 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2012, 12:41 PM:

Also, I passed that on to a geeky friend, who shared The Backyard Militarization Project, presented at a Python con she attended this spring.

[There was a time when slideshare was one of the more fertile sources of sustenance and crockery for our office. We became wary of it then. -- RR, RG]

#327 ::: Jennifer Baughman Seeks Technological Anti-Gnome Solution ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2012, 12:44 PM:

Alas, ML's feature recognition software appears to have incorrectly flagged one of my posts as being of the vile tribe of Spam. I can assure you, even though there may be one or two points of similarity, that nothing could be further from the truth, and humbly request release of my poor, slightly innocent post.

[ : frequently advertised by spam. -- Callogus Roconzan, Duty Gnome.]

#328 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2012, 12:47 AM:

Jennifer Baughman @326: So you can warn your maintenance folks, that if they don't behave themselves, you're equipped to go all technological on their ass....

#329 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2012, 01:31 AM:

Apologies, I've had fewer spoons than usual, recently. Seventeen years, and I'm still a bit stretched the week around the anniversary of my father's death. But I'm happy to see so much positive movement and courage, for and by so many people. Positive vibes for everyone; I'm a bit exhausted, so they're rainbowy tonight. Awesome. People can pick the colors they like.

Also, sparkles.

Good night...

#330 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2012, 04:38 AM:

Syd, I'm wishing you the best of luck!

Some weird shit happened at my end.

I'd posted (in re cryonics) that I cared more for preserving my temperament than my memories, and was asked for details because this is pretty unusual.

So I was poking around in my head and find such stuff as that I love watching the waves come in, and I care more about being the sort of person who loves watching waves come in (assuming I have the chance to do so now and then) than for memories of watching the waves.

Part of this is probably that my memories tend to not be very vivid.

And then I realized that the act of remembering events in my life always has some pain associated with it. I'm pretty sure this is accurate, even though it's a wide generalization.

Since then (about half a day), my verbal memories about my life are intact, but the sensory memories are almost completely shut down.

This doesn't feel bad-- it feels something like a legitimate patch-- but what is it? Is it a problem? Have you heard or experienced anything like it?

I've got therapy scheduled for sometime in the near future. I'm not sure if this is exactly within my therapist's range, but I'm not sure what sort of therapist would be a good choice.

Anyway, I'm interested in what anyone can find to say about this, but please let me know if it's based on speculation or personal knowledge or you read something like it or whatever.

#331 ::: Variation of last time ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2012, 04:46 AM:

Does it make sense to say I feel bad because I had good days yesterday and today?

Between the weather changing for the nicer, and my going all-out in trying to get a problem resolved*, I'd been... happy. Able to laugh at absurdities which a day earlier would've made me mad. And then at the end of today I got an email which was just too much (just at the end of today, too, requiring an extra hour at work on a Friday, while the sender was enjoying a lovely dinner elsewhere).

The happiness melted away, and I can't tell if I'm more annoyed at the loss of a good feeling, or of having spent two days without the background stress.

* all-out as in I cannot tell myself I didn't do everything I could do. I did. Cannot know if it will work for a while.

#332 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2012, 05:06 AM:

Nancy Leibovitz @330:

I think your impulse to talk to a therapist is a good one.

FWIW, I rarely have strong visual memories. Most of my memories go through a verbal processing filter and get stored descriptively. It has to be really something to get kept visually. And there are times of my life for which I don't even have much descriptive memory. I think I know why—alcoholism and family breakup—but I seem to have erased or failed to save a bunch of stuff.

But the awareness of this has not triggered a shutdown in my processing modes. That's the thing that leaps to my attention. On the other hand, if it feels OK to you, then it's probably not a sign of new injury.

So yeah, talking to a therapist sounds reasonable. But sense-check what they say against your internal compass, which sounds pretty reliable. And don't be afraid to get a second opinion if the first one isn't working with the way you operate.

#333 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2012, 05:12 AM:

Variant of last time @331:

The way I run it in my own head is "Any happy day is a victory. No one can take that away from me, even if the next day subsides back into the sludge."

#334 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2012, 05:45 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz @330:

Something very similar happens to me, though not all in one go as you describe.

I have few vivid memories but the ones that stuck always involved pain of some sort, whether the good bittersweet kind or the bad damaging sort.

In recent years, I've noticed that after significant life events, when the memories are replayed, I see it through the eyes of a meta-me watching from afar. The details are very clear, but the sensations are dulled. I become a dispassionate viewer of my past.

I've been puzzled by it, because the sensations were so intense as they happened that the discrepancy can be startling. I can sometimes relive the experience to a certain degree by writing about it. But calling it a patch makes sense.

Watching the waves come in. That struck a chord, because I also want to live experiences as intensely and as deeply as I can. Tying that back to the fact that the sensations fade away so quickly, I wonder what came first. Which one is a patch for which?

It doesn't feel like a problem to me for two main reasons: it hasn't gotten in the way of experiencing strong feeling nonetheless, and being able to look back sans sensory overload at events in my life makes it much easier for me now to discern my patterns of behavior, recognize when I'm doing something again, and not act on certain knee-jerk reactions that have been damaging in the past.

These days, knowing that there will be bad memories whether I like it or not, I seize opportunities to create memories that are both beautiful and good. So that on the rare occasions I want to look back at my life, I know there'll be things I will be glad to see.

#335 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2012, 12:28 AM:

Hallo, it's me again, still lurking along from the last thread. Sending good thoughts to you all, I'm still reading.
My situation is kind of a mess right now. It's been a mess for a while and has just now come to a head. Incoming info-dump....

I'm at the end of my first year in a two-year culinary program at my local college, and I'm under pressure to find a job in the industry for a co-op. I don't want to continue down this path, but my mother isn't having any of it.

The first problem is I'm really unsuited to working in a kitchen. I'm scared of fire, I can barely single-task, let alone multitask, and I've got ADHD and focus issues. The second problem is that I have absolutely no idea what I want to do instead. I've never known, and any time I'm required to think about it I get really upset and just shut down.

My mother knows all this. I told her last August, and her response was, essentially, "Fine, if you can find another program you want to do instead, I'll pay the tuition for that. Otherwise, move out and get a job." She's saying the same thing now, but the same problems still apply. It's frustrating, and I just feel like she's not listening to me.

There's a bunch of factors that make this even more complicated. I have ADHD pills and diabetic supplies to pay for once my mother's drug plan stops paying for me. The plan covers me for either another 18 months, or 5.5 years if I'm still in school by then. So there's a lot of pressure to stay in school and/or get a REALLY well-paying job. That's why I'm even in this program. My parents are convinced that getting certified in a trade I'm terrible at will magically make me super-employable, as opposed to my father's arts degree, which has got him a series of increasingly-crappy retail jobs.

I can't just drop out and do what I like, because my parents know as well as I do that "what I like" is sitting around browsing Tumblr and watching videos and crocheting aimlessly. And my mother has watched her sister and my father do pretty much the same ambition-less sitting-around-the-house for decades and she's kind of fed up at this point.

It's complicated, and I don't feel like it completely belongs here. Sorry if I'm boring/out of place/confusing.

#336 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2012, 12:51 AM:

#335: I think you've laid out things very well, and I think this is the place for such.

#337 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2012, 01:05 AM:

Phenicious, #335: My parents are convinced that getting certified in a trade I'm terrible at will magically make me super-employable

BTDT, although it didn't come up for me until my mid-30s when I got laid off and was having trouble finding another job in my field. Then two things happened:

1) First, my father tried very hard to pressure me into getting a degree in accounting. He loved accounting, and had himself been pressured into getting a degree in education and trying to be a teacher, a job for which he wasn't suited at all; when that crashed and burned, he went back to accounting and happily spent the rest of his working life doing that. He was sure that it would be the same for me, and the idea that I did not like accounting and had no aptitude for it just didn't register. We went around and around about this, until I finally called some of the local accounting firms and asked them this: "If I go back to get an accounting degree now, I'll be nearly 40 by the time I'm done. Will I be employable in accounting at that point?" The answer was, politely but unanimously, NO -- that I would be competing for entry-level jobs with people in their 20s, and no employer was likely to hire me. Which was exactly what I'd thought, but of course he wouldn't believe it when I said it.

2) After I won that argument, then he started pressuring me to go to LAW SCHOOL. Oh, and he'd pay half my tuition if I did. (How I was supposed to pay the other half, plus my mortgage and living expenses, without a job was something that didn't seem to occur to him.) Now, I had several friends who were lawyers, and they all had the same reaction when I mentioned this -- laughter, followed by an apology. The apology wasn't necessary, because they were having the same reaction I was: that it would be hard to find anyone in our social circles less suited to be a lawyer than me! But my father kept talking about how of course I could do it because I was so SMART; once again, the concepts of interest and aptitude were just not on the table. That argument didn't end until I moved to Texas.

All of which is to say, I understand and deeply sympathize. Is there any chance that you could get your mother into family counseling with you? Sometimes that can break a deadlock like this one.

Side rant: THIS is why we need single-payer health insurance, or at least a public option. If you didn't have to worry about paying for meds, you might be able to find a job which would let you move out.

#338 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2012, 01:35 AM:

Stefan Jones @336: Thanks for the reassurance!

Lee @337:
All of which is to say, I understand and deeply sympathize. Is there any chance that you could get your mother into family counseling with you? Sometimes that can break a deadlock like this one.

Hmm, maybe? They're correct in that I need to do SOMETHING, though. All of us know that unless I have some kind of routine (school, job placement, volunteer work) I'll stagnate. Also I'm ridiculously bad at going to anyone for help, because it feels like I'm annoying them. The Student Success facilitator for the college's trades programs actually gave an example of a situation similar to mine when she visited one of my classes last semester, and I still didn't feel like it was appropriate to ask her for help. I know how unrealistic it is, but that doesn't really help.

Side rant: THIS is why we need single-payer health insurance, or at least a public option. If you didn't have to worry about paying for meds, you might be able to find a job which would let you move out.

I assume you're talking about American health insurance? I'm in Canada, so I don't actually have it so bad. I think our system pays for appointments and such. I'm not as knowledgeable as I could be on this.

#339 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2012, 07:00 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz @330: This doesn't feel bad-- it feels something like a legitimate patch-- but what is it? Is it a problem? Have you heard or experienced anything like it?

I think "normal" for memory function is all over the map. Not sure if this is what you're after, but:

My memory is almost exclusively sensory-based, primarily visual-kinesthetic. If I'm going to remember verbal stuff, it has to have a visual tag, or I can't find it. But, I think this is a function of the fact that I am so visual.

I got into a discussion of this with my friend Howard: he seems to remember stuff primarily as verbal descriptor. (Which led me to the question: how does he reevaluate experience in light of new information, if all's he's got is the "compiled" memory? But that's another topic.)

Contrariwise, I do a fair amount of processing of auditory/verbal information through text: A "written" version of what someone says appears in my mind's eye with a bit of a lag on the auditory memory. If I have trouble understanding someone's accent, the "written" version is what usually saves me.

A neighbor kid reports using "written" parsing primarily, for output as well as input. He overdid some recreational drugs, and broke his text parser. This left him unable to talk for several months. Apparently everybody else in his life found this to be intollerably weird; he found it remarkable that I accepted his report of his internal experience without any argument.

What you describe does sound like a patch, which would be quite a clever way to deal with memory being painful; verbal coding would be a quick and handy way to dissociate from one's experience.

Just curious (nosey): what's your objective with your therapist? Simple clarification? Recovering the sensory-based memories? Something else?

Phenicious @335: Oh, trust me, your story entirely belongs here, and rings an uncomfortably familiar bell for me, to boot.

Your situation sounds pretty much exactly like the last three years of life with my parents. I wound up getting a certificate in electronics primarily because I couldn't think of anything better to do (that would have gotten any support from my mother; I'm now raging against the fact that, had I had title to my own experience back then, I would have gotten an MFA. But, "You'll never make a living at that.") The main difference was that electronics was at least tolerable for me. Did me only minimal good getting a "proper" job, though; given that it wasn't something I had an ambition in, I wound up doing minimum-wage work anyway. But at least I wasn't flipping burgers.

By what logic did you land in the culinary program in the first place? Was that your idea or your mother's?

me @noplace in particular: This is actually somewhat pertinent to my current struggle:

All my life, to the degree that I've had any direction at all, I've been inclined toward becoming some kind of illustrator. The obvious, and most attractive, is to do sf&f art, like book covers and such. (Hence the frustration at not having gotten an MFA when college was an "option" for me.)

For years I've put off or timidly poked at the prospect. Now I finally feel like I've gotten my skill level up to something approaching adequate and—

—There's nothing there. I want to do, like, four paintings to have ready to display at the upcoming MileHiCon in October. I look inside my brain and: whistling void. Nada. I can sort of mentally photoshop imagery together, but none of what I come up with is attractive or interesting enough to bother actually rendering. Nevermind being of a quality that I would feel comfortable shopping around to art directors.

I mean, WTF? I used to have a fairly elaborate, vivid fantasy world of my own, but even that isn't really producing any compelling imagery these days. (Sidebar: so this is what Writer's Block feels like, I guess.)

Am I too old? Have I missed my window? Have I been kidding myself all these years? What the hell do I do now?

#340 ::: Throwmearope ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2012, 09:04 AM:

@Jacque #339--

Big fat hlepy headed your way--consider yourself warned.

It's natural to choke when you start working toward realizing your dreams. So what? You start anyway.

You've spent a long time honing your skills. The hard work of learning is largely behind you.

Now just remember what you did to motivate yourself while honing your skills. And apply it to the new task.

When I wanted to try something hard, a prof told me I could fall flat on my face. And I told him, whose face was I gonna land on? In other words, my risk to take.

You've done the prep work, chopped the veggies, simmered the sauce, now get cooking.


Signed--ex-French lang and lit major who went to med school.

#341 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2012, 09:09 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz #330: the act of remembering events in my life always has some pain associated with it.

That part may be the equivalent of scar tissue from burying too many traumas. Withdrawing from your sensory memories may be a "perfectly reasonable response", but it's still a pretty broad withdrawal, which makes me uneasy.

(Bias warning: My own temperament leans toward "use the pain as a signpost" tactics.) It may be that like Pendrift, you'll find this gives you new ways to process and integrate your memories. Even so, I think there will eventually come a time when you need to go back and face the pain.

#342 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2012, 09:51 AM:

Phenicious @338

Also I'm ridiculously bad at going to anyone for help, because it feels like I'm annoying them.

Well, you managed to ask here, so that's a start. :-)

I assume you're talking about American health insurance? I'm in Canada, so I don't actually have it so bad. I think our system pays for appointments and such. I'm not as knowledgeable as I could be on this.

Yes, checkup appointments are covered by basic health insurance.

See what Pharmacare covers in your province. Here's a quick summary that I found; each province has very different rules. Not all of them are exclusively for seniors.

#343 ::: Hiding a little ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2012, 10:28 AM:

So -- after a bit of an embarrassing meltdown after having to encounter the ex and his girlfriend (I let loose with a verbal attack on her, when really what the encounter brought up was all my repressed anger at HIM) I decided I needed some therapy. And the therapist says I need to go back and remember and grieve for the 25+ years I spent with him. Well, I can't find much in those memories of him I want to grieve FOR. And the whole process is making me angry and depressed all over and bringing back all the ways he made me doubt myself and I almost feel like I'm a worse self-pitying, selfish, unbalanced mess than before. Is therapy SUPPOSED to do this? Am I doing it wrong? I want equilibrium, and I want it NOW, dammit!

#344 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2012, 11:00 AM:

Hiding a little @343:

Maybe what you're grieving for isn't him, but yourself, those 25+ years. I know that's what I ended up feeling about the 10 years of my life I lost with the ex.

#345 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2012, 12:12 PM:

#339 ::: Jacque :

I should think about what I want from therapy-- what I have is a sense that my life would be better if I took the emergency brake off.

That was a good question, though the answer might be "I'll know what I want when there's less noise".

Very tentative, but Frank Frazetta hit a dry spell after breathing too much bad turpentine. He could think of paintings, but it was all mechanical.

He got his emotional connection back after his thyroid(?) levels were raised back to normal.

Short version: you might be up against something emotional, but it might also be physical. It's very hard to tell sometimes.

#346 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2012, 12:23 PM:

Jacque @339: Another hope-this-isn't-too-hlepy answer-- do you have a current fandom that has an anonymous kinkmeme w/ art prompts? Because that might be one way to take baby steps back in-- the anonymity and general format make it feel relatively low-stakes while tuning up your general basic skillset.

#347 ::: Hiding a little ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2012, 02:11 PM:

the invisible one @344: That's a good point. Because I DO grieve for what I lost by staying with him. It would be more productive to look at that, I believe.

#348 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2012, 03:58 PM:

Thanks for the comments, everyone. I think my problem here is I don't know how to/want to be an adult? I dunno, that's definitely the message my parents are sending.

Jacque @339: Did me only minimal good getting a "proper" job, though; given that it wasn't something I had an ambition in, I wound up doing minimum-wage work anyway. But at least I wasn't flipping burgers.
Yeah, I've got no ambition for...anything. I don't know how much I'll enjoy something until I'm actually DOING it, which is probably pretty standard, but it gets me into trouble sometimes. I have a limited idea of what something entails, so I think "oh, I can do that, I enjoy X, Y and Z," but what I don't find out until later is that I also have to do A, B and C, all of which I hate. In this case, it's working with really hot ovens, which use gas burners (aka FIRE), under pressure to get multiple things done well at the same time with a hard deadline. I panic, act without thinking and end up doing things like grabbing a hot metal spoon with my bare hand. Didn't actually injure me, but it got me even more stressed and someone else had to take over what I was doing.

By what logic did you land in the culinary program in the first place? Was that your idea or your mother's?

Well, it was sort of my idea? It was the only program thought I could tolerate, by process of elimination. My parents' other idea was a music program, which I knew that I would hate, since I'm awful at music, and practising is like pulling teeth. I know that I agonize over writing things when they actually "matter" (because they have to be phrased PERFECTLY or else people misunderstand me and since it's in writing I can't just say "oh, uh, no, what I meant was X" because my brain tells me that looks "stupid") so I wasn't going to go into any field that was heavy on the written work. Little did I know that there is a lot of writing on menus! Also school always requires writing, so there's no getting out of it.

I applied for the General Arts & Sciences program at the same college, and some other culinary programs that weren't so close to home. My original plan was to just go into any program that would accept my application, but that kind of fell through since they all did. I actually brought up the Gen. Arts & Sci as an option, but my mother said that I'd get no useful skills from that (definitely untrue) and I'd "end up flipping burgers." Ironic, since I'm probably going to be working minimum wage or close to it doing dishes.

the invisible one @342: Well, you managed to ask here, so that's a start. :-)
Thanks. I don't have as much of a problem leaving comments, because it's not like this is someone's office where they have other work to do and I'm just walking in and saying "STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING AND PAY ATTENTION TO ME" except maybe I am, but online it's easier to assume that I'm not interrupting things. My issues with taking up space, let me show you them.
Also thanks for the link!

#349 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2012, 06:31 PM:

Throwmearope @340: Oh no, not hleppy at all. In fact, very comforting and soothing. Thank you.

Hiding a little & the invisible one: Grieving lost time. Yes. This. In bold italics.

Nancy Lebovitz @345: what I have is a sense that my life would be better if I took the emergency brake off.

May I recommend giving yourself the option of keeping the emergency brake on? Or, at least, make the choice of whether or not to use the brake? Not the same thing as your situation, but I have a tendency to freeze in unexpected conflict situations. Examining this, I finally realized it's because I am refraining from going for the Nuclear Option. Which, on balance, I've concluded is a good thing. ;-)

The thing that makes experiencing sensory experience so tricky, of course, is that it's really hard to filter out the bad without filtering out the good, as well.

That was a good question, though the answer might be "I'll know what I want when there's less noise".

So, first therapeutic agenda: "filter out the noise"?

you might be up against something emotional, but it might also be physical. It's very hard to tell sometimes.

Well, it's certainly true that my nutrition has been for crap, lately. I should probably do something about that. :-)

Another thing I've been pondering lately: I recently ran across this (Warning: very triggery) discussion of how triggers work. Her description of figuring out that calculus class was a trigger for her is eerily similar to some of the incapacitating freak-outs I've had on occassion. If my issues around illustration are a trigger, though: how the hell do I unpack it?

Julie L. @346: anonymous kinkmeme w/ art prompts?

Please to unpack? This sounds potentially very interesting, but I'm not parsing the jargon.

#350 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2012, 06:50 PM:

Phenicious @348: I think my problem here is I don't know how to/want to be an adult?

Ew. This is sounding increasingly familiar. First: who in their right mind would want to be an adult? I mean, seriously.

Second, that was my mother's trademark: unvarying, unbending imperative to Go Out And Get A Job. Zero help as to how to look for a job, what kind of job to look for. No positive feedback, only constant, unrelenting Ur Doin It Rong. And Ur Lazy And Useless Besides. Boy, talk about an approach that is absolutely designed to completely incapacitate the victim....

I think the thing that was most criminal about this approach is that if it's something that I actually wanted to do, it was, by definition, off the table. Not only is it the classic double-bind, which is, by definition unwinnable; it also had the effect of making my internal compass innaccessible to me. It took me decades to crawl out under that mill stone. I'm still (see above) strugging with parts of it.

It occurs to me that I am reacting so strongly to your description of your situation that I may be responding more to me than to you. I've got a bunch of stuff to say, but before I launch in, is what I'm saying ringing any bells for you?

Well, it was sort of my idea?

Ah. Like my electronics training. Right.

#351 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2012, 07:21 PM:

Phenicious, if they're willing to pay for it, I'd try for the general degree. Use the culinary skills to feed yourself; they're not useless, just not useful for what you need them to do. Your parents seem to have a terrible idea of what your career should be in.

#352 ::: Merricat ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2012, 08:45 PM:

Jacques@349 the essay about triggers you linked to reminded me of this article about PTSD.

There's a lot of stuff about the chemical mechanisms of memory, but what really interested me was this section:

"And this returns us to critical incident stress debriefing. When we experience a traumatic event, it gets remembered in two separate ways. The first memory is the event itself, that cinematic scene we can replay at will. The second memory, however, consists entirely of the emotion, the negative feelings triggered by what happened. Every memory is actually kept in many different parts of the brain. Memories of negative emotions, for instance, are stored in the amygdala, an almond-shaped area in the center of the brain. (Patients who have suffered damage to the amygdala are incapable of remembering fear.) By contrast, all the relevant details that comprise the scene are kept in various sensory areas—visual elements in the visual cortex, auditory elements in the auditory cortex, and so on. That filing system means that different aspects can be influenced independently by reconsolidation.

The larger lesson is that because our memories are formed by the act of remembering them, controlling the conditions under which they are recalled can actually change their content. The problem with CISD is that the worst time to recall a traumatic event is when people are flush with terror and grief. They’ll still have all the bodily symptoms of fear—racing pulse, clammy hands, tremors—so the intense emotional memory is reinforced. It’s the opposite of catharsis. But when people wait a few weeks before discussing an event—as Mitchell, the inventor of CISD, did himself—they give their negative feelings a chance to fade. The volume of trauma is dialed down; the body returns to baseline. As a result, the emotion is no longer reconsolidated in such a stressed state. Subjects will still remember the terrible event, but the feelings of pain associated with it will be rewritten in light of what they feel now."

I feel like the important thing is to build up as much safety and positive associations as you can, and eventually the triggers will chill out a bit.

Also, anonymous kink meme explanation here.

#353 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2012, 09:39 PM:

Jacque @350: Ew. This is sounding increasingly familiar. First: who in their right mind would want to be an adult? I mean, seriously.
Hehe. Not an adult as in "HAVING FUN IS FOR BABBIES, I WILL ONLY PAY BILLS AND BUY GROCERIES AND FILE TAXES NOW!" but as in "I can be a responsible person when necessary and not rely on my mother to do everything for me!" Because right now I feel like I'm acting like a little kid.

Second, that was my mother's trademark: unvarying, unbending imperative to Go Out And Get A Job. Zero help as to how to look for a job, what kind of job to look for. No positive feedback, only consthant, unrelenting Ur Doin It Rong. And Ur Lazy And Useless Besides.
I dunno, my mom is helping me out; she actually wrote a cover letter for me to apply with. (In retrospect, that sounds a little over-controlling, uh.)
The major hurdle is that I'm incredibly resistant to/scared of change. Like, any major change in my life situation basically has me reacting like some kind of wild animal that's been cornered. The very possibility of dropping off resumes is scary because what if they hire me and i can't just sit around having fun? Nevermind that I've only ever gotten three interviews and one job, ever.

I'm sorry, all I'm doing is contradicting your reassurances. Bluh.

I've got a bunch of stuff to say, but before I launch in, is what I'm saying ringing any bells for you?
Hm, not especially. Launch away!

Diatryma @351: Phenicious, if they're willing to pay for it, I'd try for the general degree. Use the culinary skills to feed yourself; they're not useless, just not useful for what you need them to do. Your parents seem to have a terrible idea of what your career should be in.
Good advice, though I'm kind of burned out on school now (I think I have been for a while). I might investigate the hell out of the general degree program and approach it later on. I also have no idea what career I should be in. I don't even know what my interests are, beyond general crocheting/knitting for fun and various forms of watching-other-people-have-fun (video game playthroughs, blogs etc).

I dunno. It's all a bit silly, and I've been getting into arguments with my parents about it since Friday. Thanks for listening, folks, I'm going to attempt to study for my last two exams.

#354 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2012, 11:01 PM:

Phenicious @ #335 etc: I've been dealing with something similar from both sides the last few years, so I have lots of advice for you. It'll sound big and scary, maybe even hlepy, but it's (hopefully) not. Sometimes you have to be strong and kick yourself into doing something frightening and painful in order to heal and grow. You can do this, and nobody can do it for you. It would be very long to post it all at once so let me give you the background and you tell me if I should tell you what I think you should do.

In my teens, my mother deliberately sabotaged me by convincing me I couldn't succeed in the field I wanted. I took something else I enjoyed but with no career applications I actually liked, and started drifting into yucky, low-paid, unrelated jobs after graduation. I couldn't really think about what I had wanted to do, or how my life was turning out, without hurting badly, so I mostly left it alone, getting more burned out and unhappy. I pretty much lost my late teens and twenties. About 10 years later something broke through the mental wall, and I went into a flurry of portfolio-making and applying, got into a relevant program, graduated, and have a job now in my field. It was hard work and scary as hell, and I had to pay every cent myself, but it was also making me happier than I had been in years because I felt like I was making real progress in life and in my goals. Hell, I *had* goals instead of taking what life shoved at me. The change is scary but also rewarding.

My partner loves wandering the internet, is very distractable (though not actually diagnosed with ADHD), has a lot of very-difficult-to-monetize interests, and never knew what to do with his life. He was uncommitted to the options easily available to him, but there were good reasons not to go after the things he wanted more (like low probability of being able to earn a living) or he couldn't see a path from here to there. He did lots of crappy retail jobs. But in the fall he'll be going to college for electrical engineering technology. Meanwhile he's taking math over, and getting 90s, not 50%-60% like he did in highschool. How did this happen? Two big reasons are that (1) I got so sick of watching him care more about pointless distractions than about his LIFE that I stopped taking no/leave-it-alone for an answer, and (2) I spent a bunch of time thinking about what he was good at and how he could turn that into an income. Everybody knew he loved games and movies and making miniatures. Nobody else -- not his family, not his friends, not his guidance counsellor -- bothered thinking about that hard enough to notice that this was because he was very smart, good with his hands, good with mental and physical details, cared about quality work, loved to understand and tweak systems, and loved to make things work. His direct interests didn't offer many ways to make a living, but the reasons that he loves them and is good at them DO. So we went shopping for what was interesting AND marketable AND affordable and I finally got him to *pick* something.

I have a bunch of links for you, so I'm going to pop some in here and some in the next reply if you want it. I know these will be useful to you:
- -- I think this is your situation in many ways
- -- thinking different about how to be successful
- -- how to think through what you want from life and if that career will offer it

And I have a suspicion that these might also:

#355 ::: Ross ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2012, 12:08 AM:

I'm curious how many people here have this in common with me:

I'm triggered, strongly, by bureaucracies. Standing in line, filling out forms, getting required paperwork, etc. It makes me literally sick. I get nervous, nauseated, have panic attacks, can't sleep.

Recently (through this community actually) I got an opportunity to do a really neat, once-in-a-lifetime thing, as long as I can get a passport by June. Initially I had said I wouldn't do it. I said it was because of scheduling, but really I was just afraid of having to go get a passport.

Now I've decided to do it, and since I did I went from not needing to take my (as-needed) anxiety medication at all for almost a year, to having to take it every couple days to calm myself down so I can sleep or think about other things. This whole thing terrifies me and I don't know why.

Air travel does it in a big way too. I hate going on vacation because I hate going through security. Can't stand it. I'm willing to drive for days to avoid it. I actually love travel, if I can drive instead of go through security.

So is anyone else like that?

#356 ::: Ross ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2012, 12:41 AM:

Oh yeah, and, related to that: the fifth Harry Potter book? It was all I could do to get through it. I was anxious and depressed for weeks. I'm okay with a giant snake or an evil wizard as the villain, but a cruel / indifferent bureaucrat? [shudder]

#357 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2012, 12:44 AM:

Not as strongly, Russ, but I do have that kind of reaction to some bureaucracies. Not all -- I've done enough flying, for example, that I don't notice (and it wasn't that bad back when I started). But dealing with an unknown group: avoid, avoid, avoid. And if I have to: don't make any waves.

No suggestions for dealing with it, except that I do have a passport, and once you've gotten one renewing it is Really Easy (I renewed using one that was expired for 9 years, which I couldn't have done if I'd waited 10 years; and it was quite simple). I avoided getting a drivers' license for well over a year after I could get one, and only got it because I had an opportunity that I just wouldn't pass up: so using that as a motivator is something I really understand. And I'll tell you that it can work, because it did for me: this is only one example, and not intended to say that it will work for anyone else, or that there's something wrong if it doesn't work for you.

#358 ::: Ross ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2012, 12:54 AM:

Somewhere I have a passport that I got when I was 7 or 8 years old. I'm going tomorrow to get a birth certificate so I can use that as identification to get a passport. Theoretically I could use the old passport but I don't want to risk being told that it's not enough proof of my identity.

I haven't decided if I'll wait until the trip is too weeks away and make an appointment in person (I have to wait weeks with it hanging over my head, but I don't need to wait for the mail) or do it immediately and wait for them to mail it to me (what if they don't mail it in time? But I get my part taken care of immediately). It's a tradeoff.

#359 ::: Laura Runkle ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2012, 01:23 AM:

Moonlit Night@ 354 Thank you very much. Very much trying not to be hlepy as I watch a family member have A Very Bad Time at post-secondary ed.
I hope that this may help, but after finals. Very helpful stuff.

#360 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2012, 02:13 AM:

Ross@358: When faced with that kind of thing my own feeling is that it's best to just get the tough stuff over with ASAP. In this case that'd give you less anticipation time and more recovery time. My experience (admittedly limited) is that they're reasonably good about getting it mailed promptly -- but that's all the more reason to just bite the bullet and do it as soon as you can. Also, I could be wrong but I think you can pay extra for expedited processing.

#361 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2012, 04:25 AM:


I have a little perspective on bureaucracy, because I'm the opposite way. It's easy for me, and I'm good at it. From where I'm standing, most people struggle. It sounds like your struggles are different in nature than, say, my mother's. But you shouldn't feel a failure because it's hard. That just makes you normal: everybody thinks it's hard.

(On a procedural note, generally the two things they're looking to establish before issuing you a passport are a)identity and b) citizenship. A long-expired passport establishes that Ross is entitled to a passport even if the photo is so old that it doesn't look like you anymore. Technically they're supposed to accept any undamaged passport as full documentation, but I think you're right to worry: I can easily imagine a response like "This shows that Ross is entitled to a passport, but how do I know you're really Ross?" If you have a driver's license or state ID, bring that (and a photocopy of it, as well). If not (because passport bureaucracy is a cakewalk compared to the DMV), you can bring a witness who has known you for at least two years and has their own ID.)

#362 ::: AnonCowardSevenBillion ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2012, 06:06 AM:


Expired passports are only useful for renewal if they expired less than five years ago. Seeing as childhood passports are only good for five years to begin with, it seems unlikely that Ross's expired passport will be of much help now.

#363 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2012, 09:35 AM:

Re: Passports

IF you are a citizen of the USA, bring the expired passport, your birth or naturalization certificate, any government issued ID (driver's license, Social Security card), or military ID.

As a retired Federal employee, it really hurts to know that there are people who are afraid to come into a Federal office. We don't bite and we want to help you -- your tax dollars paid my salary, and I am grateful for that.

All the Federal employees I knew took the job to serve their fellow citizens, there may be a few bad apples -- but their problems were not in dealing with the public.

#364 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2012, 10:34 AM:

Jacque @#349: Kinkmeme is "Here's this thing I would like to see/read, someone draw/write it for me." They're often done anonymously so that if your kink is for genderswapped characters engaging in chocolate-pudding-assisted sex with banthas in tutus, you can still post without worrying about the whole net knowing who you are.

#365 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2012, 10:52 AM:

What Lori Coulson said @363 goes for me, too: I am a Federal employee, part of a vast bureaucracy, and I'm happy to help people whenever I can. Not all bureaucrats are alike, in case this can assuage any anxiety. Please ignore this if it's hlepy rather than helpful.

#366 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2012, 10:55 AM:

Carrie #364: I didn't know that's what that was called!

Jacque: Not all of it is sex-related; I've seen a huge amount of it in Sherlock fandom where it often takes the shape of "draw Sherlock and Mycroft getting ready for bed when they were little;" "draw John and Sherlock exchanging Christmas presents." There is a fair bit of sexual stuff as well (gay subtext being made into main text).

#367 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2012, 12:20 PM:

Phenicious @353: I'm sorry, all I'm doing is contradicting your reassurances.

Not a problem. 'S why I asked. :-)

What I wished I could have had the freedom to do right after high school would have been to get "test" jobs at a bunch of different places, with the idea of researching the "I enjoy X, Y and Z, but I hate A, B and C" thing. It would have been really nice to take a couple of years and just find out what's out there, and get a sense of what I was attracted to. Given that you're burnt out on school, and your mum sounds like she is trying to be helpful, would she be amenable to you taking some time to try something like this?

Instead, I was supposed to Pick A Career Tomorrow and Do That Until I Die. Also, the idea of asking people questions was completely outside of my conceptual space.

Two books I would recommend: Work With Passion by Nancy Anderson, and I Could Do Anything by Barbara Sher. The first one has lots of how to tricks for researching different lines of work.

It's all a bit silly, and I've been getting into arguments with my parents about it since Friday.

I don't know. Given the price of education these days, I don't think it's silly at all to not want to waste thousands of dollars and years of your life training for something that you hate.

Merricat @352: My understanding of the physiology of PSTD (keeping in mind that IANAP). Triggers often don't even reference declarative memory; they just provoke the physical response to a perceived threat. In this case, Mitchell's CISD is of limited use.

the important thing is to build up as much safety and positive associations as you can, and eventually the triggers will chill out a bit

This is certainly true.

#368 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2012, 12:40 PM:

Ross @355: I'm triggered, strongly, by bureaucracies.

Don't know how much help this would be for issues like flying, but would having a friend along to pass the time at the passport office be of any help?

& 356: The Monster of the Modern Age: The Indifferent Bureaucrat! I hope you'll pardon me if I find this hilariously apt. :-)

Melissa Singer @366: "draw John and Sherlock exchanging Christmas presents."

Ah, okay. Hm. I think I've seen something like that, only more general, over on Deviantart. Will have to investigate further. Thanks!

#369 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2012, 12:43 PM:

Seriously, Ross (and sorry for misspelling your name before!) -- if you have the old passport, it can make things much, much easier. There are all sorts of weird things about birth certificates (I ran into a problem with not having the actual certificate, but a Certificate of Birth Registration, which is different). There are simple rules about how long a passport has been expired as to whether it's still good for getting a new one (I think it's 10 years, but I could be wrong -- it may be the) -- and my experience was that I got my passport very quickly using the old one. If it's easy to find it -- use it, if it's within their published parameters.

Aha! Here is the official state department page on renewing by mail, with the information: the previous passport has to have been issued when you were age 16 or older, and issued within the last 15 years. There's a couple of other limitations on pure renewal by mail, and info on talking to them in person.

Doing stuff like this by mail is less likely to trigger my fears. I don't know if it's the same for you.

And googling for "passport renewal" will get you all sorts of services that will charge you to get between you and the bureaucracy. That may be worth it for you.

#370 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2012, 12:47 PM:


You've mentioned crocheting a couple of times; have you tried working at a yarn or craft store?

Does working in a retail evironment hold any appeal for you?

#371 ::: Ross ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2012, 12:53 PM:

It's over! I applied for a passport, and it should be here in 2-3 weeks. Which is plenty of time. So I get to freak out about that for a couple weeks but there's nothing I can actually do to affect it.

My intention was to go in this morning and get a birth certificate, because I don't have mine (and there's no way I'm risking my life to go to my parents to ask for it) and then continue putting together passport things. I got the certificate pretty easily (got two copies, and barely even had to stand in line) and then I thought, why not get it all over with?

So I went back, filled out a passport application, and did that too. The only thing I was missing was a photo, which they took for me. All very simple. MUCH less stressful than my drivers license, or going through airport security.

Ginger, Lori Coulson: it's not that I have anything against bureaucracies or that I think you're out to get me, it's just that the whole thing terrifies me on a gut level. I only realized that that was it when I read that link upthread about how triggers work: I know nothing bad is going to happen, but it doesn't stop the dread. Probably something horrible happened to me that I can't even remember, that I now associate with waiting in line at places with my parents as a kid.

#372 ::: Ross ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2012, 12:57 PM:

Tom Whitmore @ 369: I dug around for it a bit last night, but it's from when I was about 7 years old, and has been expired for over fifteen years. But I was able to get everything taken care of by getting a birth certificate first. I think what made it less painful was that there weren't many lines: apparently demand at the HHS office is much lower than at the DPS, and the whole experience was less dreadful.

#373 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2012, 01:47 PM:

Ross: Really glad to hear you got past it on this one! I hope the trip is truly marvelous for you. Good work!

#374 ::: Merricat ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2012, 02:38 PM:

@368 -- the point is that CISD doesn't work at all, because you're reconsolidating the memory when you're still having physical stress reactions. But, if you talk about a painful memory some time after the event, when you are safe and relaxed and not freaking out physiologically, it becomes less painful. I feel like a lot of "abstract" triggers work the same -- if you can dis-associate them with the bad events, and re-associate them with more pleasant things, they stop being triggers. (Abstract trigger here being something of a generally neutral value that one experienced in a bad way/time -- a certain piece of music, or calculus, or food.)

The problem is, it's a long and arduous and imperfect process.

#375 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2012, 02:59 PM:

Ross: Yay! Congrats on gettin' 'er done!

Merricat: Yes, you're exactly right in that you don't try to treat the trigger when the victim is triggering. As to dealing with triggers in isloation of a specific reference memory, that's where phobia treatments come in, and you're right, you deal with that by "stacking" positive resource states. Doesn't have to be long and arduous: given a competent practictioner, a phobia can be cured in 10-15 minutes. (I'm confident saying this because I have, personally, run a cure on a spider phobia and seen the results with my own eyes.) Ironically, anxiety reactions that aren't full-blown phobias take longer to work on. Again, with a competent practitioner, half an hour is a reasonable estimate. The tricky part, of course, is finding the competent practitioner.

In my case, the problem state is that the problem is so vague and undefined, so it's hard to find a resource state that covers the situation. If it's fear I'm dealing with (and I'm not sure that it is) what I'm afraid of is completly unclear.

#376 ::: Ross ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2012, 05:27 PM:

Jacque: How can someone cure a phobia in 15 minutes?

I've been reading the part of the thread about careers. :(

I'm sort of lucky in that I've always known what I wanted to do (well, for a few years I wanted to be an astronaut, but after age seven or so I've known what I wanted to do) and it's something that's fun and pays the bills. Didn't stop the horrible parents from trying to get me to do other things ("you should learn [my pointless blue-collar career] so you always have something to fall back on when you screw up at your job") or telling me I wouldn't be able to do it ("you'll get burned out by the time you're twenty", "computers are a fad; by the time you graduate they'll program themselves and you'll never get a job"), but I was interested enough in what I do that I kept learning it even though I was totally discouraged that I'd ever get to do it for real.

And then I got lucky and got a couple good opportunities and now I have a career. And apparently I'm good at it even. Not really sure how or why.

I wasn't born into the kind of socioeconomic environment where I really had a reasonable shot at doing this for a living, and I didn't put forth the amount of work that I should have had to to break out of that environment. And I know it; I'm lucky, a fluke, maybe not an impostor (I am actually good at it) but I really don't belong here. So that's the kind of thing I've been thinking about reading these posts. If I hadn't randomly become interested in this, I'd have been in the same position; not knowing what I want to do, not being good at anything, and having no support at all for building a life.

#377 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2012, 06:33 PM:

Ross @376: Jacque: How can someone cure a phobia in 15 minutes?

Here's a good synopsis of the process. This is essentially the recipe I used to cure a friend's spider phobia.

I'm lucky, a fluke

It's been pointed out that luck is an important piece of the puzzle for anyone who's successful in what they do. Of course, Luck = Preparation + Opportunity.

But I submit that the other thing you had going for you is faith in your own direction in the face of active opposition, which is by no means trivial. I hope you give yourself credit for that!

#378 ::: Syd, somewhat disguised ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2012, 06:44 PM:

Oh boy oh boy oh boy...

Interview #1 successfully completed. The property manager is a very nice gal. She asked what I was doing now and when I said, "Looking for work--in fact, I have an interview tomorrow as well," she didn't seem too concerned. She also has no concerns about my not having experience as an apartment manager even though it's an 82-unit complex--"We can train for procedures and policies and such, but we can't train character and attitude" or words to that effect--understands about the cats and seemed pleased when I volunteered to pay for any additional cleaning that might be needed when it was time for me to move on (assuming she chooses me in the first place).

She did describe it as part-time, and I let her know that based on my interview a couple of months ago, I likely couldn't afford to be a part-time manager...but here's the difference:

I would get my one-bedroom apartment rent-free.

I would get my utilities paid.

And I would get a monthly stipend of $1200.

She said she would appreciate a call from me after tomorrow's interview, because she understands if I need to take a full-time job. But I told her what she described would be just wonderful. Anyway, she said she has other candidates to interview but that she should be making her decision Friday or Monday.

I feel REALLY good about the interview. But I will write a lovely thank-you note and see what happens. :)

Interview #2 tomorrow at 11:30 AM. Keeping my fingers crossed that it also goes well. And as I walked from my car to the Women's Room, I heard my phone ring, so I answered. It was a recruiter calling about a fund accountant job in Irvine. He said I might be a little more senior than the client is strictly interested in, but he (the recruiter) liked the look of my resume and wanted permission to put my resume in front of one of the agency's directors (to see if he would recommend passing it along to the client, I guess), so I said of course. And it would be direct hire, not temp or temp to perm.

Then the recruiter asked about my salary expectations, and I said $15-$30K, that I knew it was a wide spread but I have been out of the industry several years, so I felt it was reasonable. The recruiter replied that the range on this particular job is $55-60K.

I said that would be lovely. :)

So we'll see. At any rate, I've had an encouraging week or two!

#379 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2012, 06:54 PM:

Sounds wonderful, Syd! Fingers crossed for you.

#380 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2012, 07:46 PM:

That's great news, Syd.

Is there any chance of getting a health-insurance-included job that could coexist with the apartment management deal?

#381 ::: mea ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2012, 08:13 PM:

Syd --Fantastic news! Keeping my fingers crossed that things keep moving in the right direction for you.

#382 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2012, 09:50 PM:

Syd, appendages crossed here for you as well.

#383 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2012, 10:44 PM:

Best wishes, Syd!

#384 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2012, 04:09 AM:

Syd, sounds like a good start -continuing to send positive thoughts your way. Good luck for today's interview!

#385 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2012, 05:12 AM:

Syd, that's great news!

#349 ::: Jacque :

Very good point about the emergency brake, and I'll add the option of having it partially on.

From where I sit now, living with the emergency brake off is probably more like "it sounds cool, but I have no idea what it would be like, and it could be more dangerous than I can handle".

In re unpacking a possible trigger: I suggest gentle observation of what's going on in your mind. Psychological work is doing original research, and sometimes you don't start out knowing the shape of the thing you're looking for.

I think I've mentioned this before, but I find it's useful to ask myself what I'm actually doing.

Sometimes this turns up useful information, such as that I'm distracted because I'm comparing myself to other people.


In re bureaucracies: I've found that the Philadelphia DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) has been quite easy to deal with for routine stuff, even though people talk as though DMVs are highly problematic.

I think the phobia (and I share it) is about the fear that things could very difficult if something goes wrong, and not having information about what's actually needed if the bureaucracy is difficult.

Without going into details, I know someone who had a hell of a time getting a case of identity theft of a dead relative sorted out. While I don't get the impression that any of the bureaucrats were malevolent, it took a while to find one who knew or cared about what needed to be done to resolve the situation.

#386 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2012, 08:18 AM:

A metaphor check: is the emergency brake on when you're parked and not when you're driving, or are you leaving it on while you drive? Because I've been reading it as emergency-brake-off is definitely better-- more control over how you drive, for one thing, plus less energy wasted-- and when appropriate, you engage it. Or you get to a place you don't need it; I have no idea where Milady Buick's emergency brake is because I live in Iowa.

#387 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2012, 08:41 AM:

Ross, good for you for following through.

Syd, great to hear. Hope today's interview goes well too.

Re phobias of bureaucracy: I suspect some combination of (a) has power over whether you get some thing you need or not, (b) may or may not be helpful (but has a reputation for not), or may flip-flop without warning between helpful and not (c) [I think this is the triggering aspect for many] may change the rules arbitrarily, or seem to, so you think you are prepared but find that not only are you in the wrong, but you're being told that things were always this way and you should have known, plus (d) often requiring waiting in groups of impatient people, never a recipe for bringing out the best in folks.

Re career choices. You may find the information at Career Vision helpful. Full disclosure: I used to work for them, though I haven't for years. Some of the website will encourage you to come to them for career counseling; they do an excellent job, but this is obviously not feasible for everyone. In any case the various downloadable items from the "career resources" tab might be useful. In particular, their Career Matrix might be helpful. (Although, for some reason, steps 3 and 4 in the pdf seem to come before steps 1 and 2). Their perspective is that for long-term career success and satisfaction, you need to be a good match to the job in terms of aptitudes, interests, personality, and values. Success involves making a contribution to the organization: what do they need done that you can do well? Satisfaction involves what you get from it - could be as straightforward as a paycheck when you need one, or as big as feeling like you're contributing to a cause that means a lot to you, or in between - like building skills you will take to your next job.

#388 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2012, 10:33 AM:

#386 ::: Diatryma :

You're right about real world emergency brakes. For people, it can be harder to tell what's the emergency brake and what's sensible use of controls.

Expecting myself to give up excessive caution all at once isn't a good idea.

#389 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2012, 10:47 AM:

Syd, I wish you good luck on all fronts!

#390 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2012, 11:24 AM:


On a political science theory level, I know that bureaucracy helps the rule of law scale up. If you don't have bureaucracy, you have fiefdoms and families deciding who gets the permits, and that sucks. But when bureaucracy goes wrong, you have the insular secretive hidden deciders you'd get with a mafia of humans, plus a robotic denial (to the victim) that there is any channel for empathy or personal appeal.

I've been on the other side of some bureaucracies -- not government stuff, but, for example, running a travel subsidy request process for volunteers. That experience makes me trust larger and older bureaucracies somewhat more than smaller ones, because they often have dealt with edge cases before and so I think it's less likely that I'll slip through the cracks. But that is just one of the factors in what makes me feel calm or panicky about an application process. Bad reputation, lack of confirmation reassurances, profit motive (e.g., health insurance providers), and new jargon make me more anxious and don't help my procrastination.

#391 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2012, 11:40 AM:

Sumana Harihareswara @390 -- have you read TNH's article about being a bureaucrat in Making Book? It's called "Black Top Hat and Moustache", and I recommend it (and the rest of the book) highly. It's published by NESFA Press, fairly widely available for a book published in 1994 (buy direct from NESFA to support small presses, or from an independent bookstore to keep serendipity alive). This has been an unpaid commercial announcement.

#392 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2012, 12:37 PM:

Syd: We does teh happee danse!! (The Universe says: "Ur Doin It Rite.")

Nancy Lebovitz @385: Psychological work is doing original research, and sometimes you don't start out knowing the shape of the thing you're looking for.

This is an exceedingly good point, and one that I tend to forget. The problem is further complicated by the possibility that I may be looking for the "thing" in entirely the wrong place.

I'm distracted because I'm comparing myself to other people.

This is certainly a factor (and, not incidentally, one of the known failure modes for artists). I look out at the field and I see (A) there's a lot of it (e.g., I've got a lot of competition), and (B) they seem to have already done all the cool stuff, and better than I could.

I think part of the issue is that I'm still trying to find my "voice" as an artist, and this insight is going to have to come, almost by definition, from an unexpected direction. But, in turn, this is not unprecedented in my experience. I mean, who in their right mind would have anticipated an hallucination catcher?

WRT bureaucracies, I've found that the main skill needed to deal successfully with them is cordial, dispassionate, grinding patience. Keep your ultimate goal foremost in mind, be pleasant, and just keep going until you get what you want.

Of course, knowing what the specific bureacracy you're dealing with is for is also important. (I got a call yesterday from a lady who—well, let's just say she was paying too much attention to her objective and not enough to the path she had chosen to pursue it, with the net result that she and I were both very frustrated by the end of the conversation. "Yes, we're not being helpful. Because we don't do what you need." ::sigh::)

#393 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2012, 10:29 PM:

Phenicious @ #335 etc: Here is the second half. You can read it or not as you please, but I have to get this off my desktop so that I stop rewriting it endlessly. Your situation is too compelling for my own good.

You seem to be in roadblock mode. That's what I call the state where the primary reaction to an idea is to point out why it couldn't work. I get into it sometimes myself when I feel alone/misunderstood and under threat. Roadblock mode is a holding pattern, not a fix. It lets you avoid effort and change by insisting they will be futile or make things worse. The truth is that you CAN make things get better, and you CAN take on a major challenge or fear and win, if you really want the prize.

It is absolutely fine if cooking is not for you. A trade you hate or are bad at might pay the bills but won’t contribute beyond that to a good or happy life. General Arts and Sciences may teach you useful skills, but I would question its marketability. My honours bachelor in Humanities (liberal arts) taught me lots of useful mental skills but was ignored by hiring managers. I suspect a GAS diploma would have the same problem but worse. Since I used up my family-paid education on the wrong thing, and now have spent $8000 in savings and $30000 in loans to get the right one, I can’t recommend you using up your funding on not knowing what to do.

I think your mother is at the end of her rope, and with good reason, but it's NOT all your fault. It hurts to stand by and watch someone you love waste their life, and she’s had to do it for her sister and husband already, and compensate for his/their shortcomings. You’re the last and the lowest status, so her patience is running low, and you're the safest one to lash out at. Maybe you’re taking her flak for them as well as yourself? I bet that she loves you all and wants you to succeed, but is also incredibly tired, frustrated, and out of ideas.

I too am cursed with feeling that I don’t deserve help. But it is a skill we both need to practice, so ask someone who will be kind but firm to push you into doing what you need to do. My suggestions for "need to do" are working with the student success specialist, more help with the ADHD, and counselling (because I'm picking up an I-am-worthless vibe).

Now for the big one: it is YOUR life. Your choices. Your responsibility. Your joy. It is time for you to figure out what you are good at, what you like to do, and how to get paid reliably for them. Consult people not related to you, and who are intelligent and realistic. Take some aptitude tests and have some friends or teachers analyze you much like I did for my partner. Work out some options with them.

Use some different ways to gather information: talk to graduates, and not just the ones manning the booth on information day. Look up the field's labour market information, such as occupational profiles and employment statistics. Check the KPI surveys and placement rates for schools. Do informational interviews to find out from people in the field what the job and current conditions are really like. Read or watch Sean Aiken's One-Week Job Project (book and Try out a bunch of different jobs — volunteer if you can’t get paid, or ask for lunch money — before plunking down more tuition. There is *something* out there where you will shine.

There is not always a direct path to getting paid for your passion, even when you know what that is. The time-honoured solution is to have a day job and do the stuff you love most after hours. But try also reading this ( for a different approach to succeeding on your own terms. I used Cal’s ideas to help my partner: most of the obvious things he would love to do, only the lucky few can make a living at. So instead he's going to take what makes him passionate and skilled in those things and apply that to more employable fields.

Finally, the freezing up about what you want to do with your life suggests to me that you’re holding in an unbearable amount of pain and fear on this subject. Two causes of that for me were that I knew what I wanted but truly believed I couldn't have it, and that I was taught from the cradle that I was useless. Both hurt like crazy. Neither was true. I don't know what your causes would be, but I can tell you this: leaving the wound alone means no change. And no change means staying forever in your miserable limbo where you keep disappointing yourself and your family, and can never be adult, independent, and fulfilled, because you will not have meaningful and respected work, only distracting toys. So I want you to ask yourself, is this really a good bargain? Won't staying in limbo endlessly hurt at least as much as going *through* the pain of figuring out who you are, what you can do, and what you want, and coming out the other side into something new and better?

Yes, I'm telling you to grow up, but not because it's what I need from you, or to grow into a shape that's convenient to me, the way your parents may be -- I'm telling you to do it in a way that's fulfilling for YOU because it's what YOU need from yourself. You can do it. And plenty of people will be glad to help when you need it.

#394 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2012, 12:28 AM:

I had a comment written out in Notepad, but my laptop died. Then I re-wrote it...and forgot to post it before shutting down last night. Way to go, me! Let's actually do this...

Moonlit Night @354: Sometimes you have to be strong and kick yourself into doing something frightening and painful in order to heal and grow. You can do this, and nobody can do it for you.
I know. I'm trying to not be such a pessimist, but my brain is all "UGH this means you're going to FAIL rrr" so if I sound like an ungrateful jerk that's probably why. Sorry. I'm reading the links you posted, and they're definitely going to be helpful once I can get my head around them.

...And while I was taking hours to write this, you posted the second half! Thank you for that. I'm going to read it and write a separate reply, before this comment gets delayed any more.

Jacque @367: Given that you're burnt out on school, and your mum sounds like she is trying to be helpful, would she be amenable to you taking some time to try something like this?
I think she just wants me to get any job, at this point, so she probably would be.

Two books I would recommend: Work With Passion by Nancy Anderson, and I Could Do Anything by Barbara Sher. The first one has lots of how to tricks for researching different lines of work.
Adding those to my reading list, thanks!

Lori Coulson: I'm pretty sure my local yarn store has enough staff already (it's pretty small), but I could always apply to the craft store. My mother is suggesting I do so, actually. Retail doesn't appeal to me, but I'd be willing to do it. I have a couple places I can ask about summer jobs after I work up the nerve to approach them.

#395 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2012, 02:19 AM:

OtterB, #387: may change the rules arbitrarily, or seem to, so you think you are prepared but find that not only are you in the wrong, but you're being told that things were always this way and you should have known

AKA "we've always been at war with Eastasia"... or just plain gaslighting. If you have been subjected to that sort of behavior at home, it can be extremely triggery to encounter it in the wild.

One thing that sometimes happens around here is that I'll see Thing X and recognize that it's a reference to Thing Y, but not that Thing Y itself is a reference to Thing Z that I haven't encountered. So then my partner and I will be talking about Thing X and I'll mention that it's a reference to Thing Y, and he'll say, "No, it's not" -- when his actual intent is to say, "Actually, Thing X and Thing Y are both references to Thing Z." But it comes out sounding like, "No, you didn't see that Thing Y that you know you saw" and I tend to get quite sharp about it. Fortunately, we have a generally healthy relationship where this isn't part of a nasty repeating pattern, so we can work it out.

#396 ::: Drifting Pen ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2012, 04:57 AM:

(handle slightly disguised to lessen googlability)

I ended a relationship this week after several fruitless attempts to get someone to take my concerns seriously about certain aspects I found problematic.

The clincher? When he said "If you think something's a problem or something I say is hurtful, the burden of proof is upon you to demonstrate why I should give a fuck, because normal people wouldn't react the way you're reacting. Maybe you should think about working on your issues."

What. The. Fuck. Srsly. His word was always good enough for me. If my word isn't good enough for him, I'll go take my word somewhere else, thankyouverymuch.

If his need for "proof" is more important than the fact he's damaging someone he claims to care about, if every discussion turns into a trial where I have to prove my good faith over and over again, the relationship's an error. I expect the same courtesy I extend, and I am not going to waste my time with someone who is always ready to think the worst of me rather than believe that I'm doing my best.

#397 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2012, 08:03 AM:

Drifting Pen, sorry to hear it, but it sounds like out was the right decision. There's certainly a place for a partner to say "you should think about working on your issues," but "why should I give a fuck?" is just ... no. Sympathies.

#398 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2012, 08:10 AM:

Phenicious @394: "after I work up the nerve to approach them" If that were me, it would be my low self-esteem talking. The solution I sometimes try (and which sometimes works) it to mentally pretend I'm approaching on behalf of a friend who is worthy of this assistance and this opportunity (since I'm still working on persuading my subconscious that -I- am worthy of such things).

Drifting Pen @396: Sympathies, but good riddance. Seriously. You deserve better than that.

I've been lucky enough to find someone who loves me despite my flaws and insecurities, has been willing to give me the support I've needed due to those insecurities AND who doesn't feel threatened by the fact that I'm now tackling the problems (which basically boil down to low self esteem), but rather is happy to support me emotionally while I do the digging, to congratulate me on progress, and to share the triumphs with me.

You deserve someone like that as well.

#399 ::: Drifting Pen ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2012, 08:49 AM:

OtterB, dcb, thank you.

It was definitely the right decision, of that I have no doubt. And I consider myself very lucky to have reached a point (thanks in large part to these threads and this community) where I am confident enough and comfortable enough in my skin to recognize when something is damaging to me, say no, not ok, and cut my losses early.

#400 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2012, 11:57 AM:

Drifting Pen @396: Go, you! Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, indeed. A demand like that is a red flag for somebody operating in bad faith.

"why should I give a fuck?"

Just contemplating that. Wow.

#401 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2012, 12:00 PM:

Drifting Pen, #396: Here's a newsflash for your ex: "normal people" (which is to say, those with healthy self-respect) will react to what he said exactly the way you did. Maybe he needs to spend some time working on his issues, because he sounds like the kind of guy who can't handle being in a relationship of equals.

IOW, sorry it happened to you, but good fucking riddance. You don't need that in your life.

#402 ::: Ross ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2012, 12:10 PM:

"The burden of proof is upon you to demonstrate why I should give a fuck"

Um, maybe because we're in a relationship, and caring about how I feel and not hurting me is part of what that means.

Wow. Just wow. Congratulations on getting out of that.

#403 ::: mistergeeky ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2012, 01:04 PM:

Drifting Pen,

A few things come to mind - he seems to be confusing hurting you with meaning to hurt you. If I step on my partner when dancing, it's gonna hurt. The fact that I didn't mean to matters, but if I'm so clumsy I don't even know it...well, I need to be told. And I shouldn't be demanding proof.

Second, if that's the best he can do in issue resolution, he's got a lot of work to do. Yikes.

#404 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2012, 03:04 PM:

mistergeeky @403: Reminds me of a guy I was in a very brief (I mean, like, two days) relationship with. He was clumsy and careless, and every time he would touch me (even just to hug me) he would manage to cause me pain. I'd say "ouch, that hurts," and he'd keep doing it.

I finally confronted him. "Why do you continue hurting me when I've said that's painful?"

"Oh. I thought you were kidding."

!?!?    Call me a Delicate Flower, but where I come from, if someone indicates I'm hurting them, I assume they're telling the truth!

This was the same guy I saw punch himself in the face as hard as he could when he discovered he needed a loan to finish the convention. Never did find out what his history was, but I can make some guesses....

#405 ::: Neutrino ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2012, 03:39 PM:

Drifting Pen, yeah, that's kind of a relationship-ending statement he made there.

I was once in a relationship where there was a physical altercation that crossed the line between play and real conflict; I missed the transition, and the result was that I was injured (still hurts in wet weather).

Now, my position was that he, being the multiply-black-belted martial artist in the relationship, ought to have been careful not to injure me, and certainly ought to have found some way to make it clear when he thought a line was being crossed. (I thought we were still play-rassling when he decided to tear the cartilage connecting my sternum to some ribs in order to escape.)

His position was that in the presence of a martial artist I should have just been careful and that anything that happened to me was my own fault.

It took me some time to decide that he was just wrong and maybe a little crazy. But well before that, I realized that it was unsafe for two people with that particular difference of opinion (and disparity in physical skills) to be together (as in "in the same room," not just "in a relationship"). I ended the relationship without speaking to him again.

#406 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2012, 06:57 PM:

Neutrino @405: His position was that in the presence of a martial artist I should have just been careful and that anything that happened to me was my own fault. Reall. Just: no. See also: Wrong.

#407 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2012, 06:59 PM:

"Really," that is.

#408 ::: Neutrino ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2012, 07:26 PM:

I figured that out eventually, Jacque. It took me an appallingly long time to realize it (and that no, I wasn't the crazy one). Fortunately my instincts got me out of the relationship without waiting for my brain to catch up!

#409 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2012, 07:57 PM:

Moonlit Night @393:
That is a whole bunch of truth right there. I can't really think of a decent reply. I'm having trouble getting past the knee-jerk "OH NO someone is telling me some very useful things! Time to sulk and resent the fact that I didn't come up with this all myself!" thing my brain does.
I've come to the conclusion that I'm too frustrated to be properly civil right now. I'm gonna go eat dinner and probably crochet to calm down some.

#410 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2012, 11:50 PM:

Phenicious @409: Take your time -- I threw a lot of big and difficult stuff at you very quickly. I figured that one, you needed to hear it, and two, that it might be much less painful and hence more fruitful to hear it from someone who's been there and done that, and who has zero stake in the outcome. You seem to be dwelling on the school/jobs/future topic, but also looking for distraction from it. I'm finally learning that when I feel that way about something, it's a signal from my inner self that I need to sit down and think about this thing, hard, but in a safe place and/or with safe people, because it is IMPORTANT. The mental ache/itch doesn't go away until I do.

I don't have much belief in gods and similar, but the last few years have honestly felt like someone Up There has been extending an uncomfortable but worthwhile bargain. The deal seems to be that I will get a life I'd really like to have (at minimum happier, more fulfilled, more loved, mentally healthier), but that to get there, I have to confront my fears, burn off my impurities. So far walking the path of burning coals has been worth it. It is much, much better than going on hurting in my own limbo, where I was doing and allowing so many things that hurt me without even knowing how much they hurt, because I couldn't have kept going if I knew.

#411 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2012, 12:48 AM:

"Normal" people don't use "normal" as a club. FWIW.

I'm re-reading Zenna Henderson's stories of The People, and what's pretty striking is the persistent worry that various characters have that if they're different, they're insane. As in, they can provably do things that humans can't, so that's insane. Not "different" but "I can do these things that everybody says are impossible, so that's insane."

These stories were written in the 50s and early 60s. It's actually pretty distressing to think that most people were so worried about conforming strongly that they assigned extreme mental distress to mere difference.

#412 ::: Syd, somewhat disguised ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2012, 05:41 PM:

Drifting Pen, the jaw drops at teh cluelessness of That One--I'm sorry for your pain, but it does sound like ending it is the right thing to have done.

Phenicious, no helpful comments to offer from this quarter, but heard and witnessed.

Update: nothing concrete anywhere as yet, but hopefulness still abounds.

I never got the promised email from the recruiter who called me on Monday afternoon, but I'm not worried--I just took it as a sign that yes, there are people who actually look at posted resumes, and if one found mind, another will as well.

Tuesday's interview went very well, I think. The compliance manager likes my accounting background: since the project is writing up procedures for every function at the retail level (finance company), then doing the same thing for at least the HR and accounting portions of the corporate office, she wants someone who's at home with the terminology. And the fact I've worked on a project much like this already didn't hurt either. When I confessed I couldn't recall if the contract portion of the job would be part-time hours or full-time, she said she could be flexible as long as the work gets done. (I asked in case I get the offer on the apartment manager position--and the two are fairly close geographically, so that would make it even nicer.)

I was the first candidate the compliance manager interviewed, and she has to do at least 5, so she thought I would hear back from her late next week or early the week after, although it might be sooner if the other interviews can be scheduled quickly enough. Still, I think I did well, and I'm happy about it.

I was even happier when I got a call later on Tuesday afternoon from the admin at the property management company...seemed the manager I'd interviewed with wanted to know if I'd like to go visit the apartment complex and meet the leasing agent.

I said yes. :) That took place yesterday, and I think it went well, too--and I like the place a lot. The manager described it as "long and narrow", which it is, but not in the bowling-alley sense: you walk through the main entrance to a courtyard with a pool, then curve around into the next courtyard, then curve again into the courtyard with the spa. There are on-site barbecue grills, 4 laundry rooms, gated parking... Much to like, considering I haven't lived in an apartment since I was in 3rd or 4th grade. Check it out at (Decided not to link directly there--not sure I'd like it if someone at the management company found their way here and concluded from my posts that I'm maybe not such a good candidate after all, if I'm spilling my guts on the Internet.)

As of now, nothing from the management company, but I figure I'm a strong contender or why have me go out to view the complex and meet the leasing agent? So I'll keep my fingers crossed that I get good news on Monday.

And if they choose someone else, well, I'll be disappointed, but I made it to Round 2--that's got to count for something!

#413 ::: Syd, somewhat disguised, has been en-gnomed again ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2012, 05:48 PM:

Again, sincere and respectful greetings to Roquat Rufus, Rex Gnomi, and his multitalented minions. My latest post has been captured for reasons I know not. I did include the url for the property related to a job interview, but not as a link; I admit as always the possibility of inadvertent use of a Word of Power, or a skipped space causing a spamlike formation.

How do you and the gnomes feel about vanilla rooibos and a plate of pirouette cookies?

#414 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2012, 07:51 PM:

Neutrino @405: His position was that in the presence of a martial artist I should have just been careful and that anything that happened to me was my own fault.

Actually, the rule in my dojang was that any injury that occurred while sparring or grappling with someone of a different rank was (if there was any fault) the higher ranking person's fault. No excuses. If you know more, it's your responsibility to know better.

Drifting Pen, good riddance to bad rubbish.

Syd, HOORAY! Fingers continuing to be crossed!

#415 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2012, 08:10 PM:

Syd, that does sound like good news! Keeping my fingers crossed for positive outcomes.

#416 ::: Neutrino ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2012, 10:33 PM:

Lila 414: Actually, the rule in my dojang was that any injury that occurred while sparring or grappling with someone of a different rank was (if there was any fault) the higher ranking person's fault.

Yeah, that's the rule I'd always understood as well. Kind of a shock to hear "tough shit, you messed with the wrong guy" from a) a very advanced martial artist who was b) supposed to be my boyfriend.

#417 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2012, 12:39 AM:

Lila @414: Actually, the rule in my dojang was that any injury that occurred while sparring or grappling with someone of a different rank was (if there was any fault) the higher ranking person's fault. No excuses. If you know more, it's your responsibility to know better.

That squares with the traditions I've encountered, as well. My experience has consistently been that interacting with higher-ranked students is generally safer than same or lesser-experienced classmates. Exceptions were explicitly cause for concern.

Neutrino @416: Kind of a shock to hear "tough shit, you messed with the wrong guy" from a) a very advanced martial artist who was b) supposed to be my boyfriend.

A flag of glowing neon crimson, n'est-ce pas? I suspect that, on balance, you got off lightly (for which you can credit your good sense). I would have predicted that, were the relationship allowed to continue, "accidental" injury would have been the least of your problems.

#418 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2012, 12:41 AM:

Hi again, I'm just kinda coming here because my brother and I are fighting and he came pretty close to hitting me.

I just can't get him to understand that playing loud videos in close proximity to other people is rude, especially when they're trying to sleep. I know he uses headphones for his mp3 player, he just won't use them for his computer. I kept cursing at him, and that's probably how it escalated that far.

This is how it usually goes: telling him I'm going to bed soon, so it's time to start winding down the video-watching; reminding him as I walk past his room to mine; getting frustrated if this doesn't work; launching into a lecture about how early I/my parents have to be up in the morning; eventually calling in my parents to enforce the rules.

Probably useful information: we're both on the autism spectrum, though I was only recently diagnosed (with Aspergers). He was diagnosed at a much younger age (~4 or 5?) and lately he's been treated as pretty much a nuisance by my father. Like he's an annoying college roommate who my dad doesn't want to live with, but can tolerate by ignoring him most of the time. A lot of the rest of the time is lecturing him, criticizing, and generally "nagging" him about stuff. So my requests for a quiet sleeping environment are interpreted as yet more ordering him around, and I have no power over him beyond calling my dad over from his room.

Advice would be appreciated, but I'm not in any danger right now, so it's not urgent.

#419 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2012, 12:44 AM:

Neutrino @ 416:

Just for comparison, I once sparred with a black belt in my dojang; he barely made accidental contact and kept apologizing for it (I was a much lower-ranked belt). There are people who clearly do not "get" the black belt concept of control. It sounds like the boyfriend was more into the concept of a black belt as a "dangerous person".

#420 ::: Merricat ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2012, 09:06 AM:

@418 I would probably bring up the issue at some point when you're not about to go to sleep, so it's a less tense situation to begin with.

And I'd start by asking him if there's any reason he doesn't use headphones for videos. Depending on how his autie stuff manifests, it may have simply not occurred to him that that's an option.

Beyond that, I'd say, "It's really important to me that I get enough sleep. Can we make a bargain about this? Is there something really important to you that I can help you with?"

"Rude" may not register as a bad thing for him. Making a concrete connection between "I do nice things for other people" and "people do nice things for me" may be more useful.

#421 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2012, 09:38 AM:

Phenicious @418, As always, disregard if inapplicable or unhelpful. I have a teenage daughter who is apparently not on the spectrum (so say experts who have assessed her) but shares some of the issues. She does best with consistent rules about things. "Turn down the volume when I say it's time to go to bed" feels like random ordering around to her; "Turn down the volume at 9 PM" quickly becomes a habit. So maybe, as Merricat suggests @420, try to set up a mutually-agreeable schedule when there's no immediate conflict.

I've heard from other parents that things like time management apps work well because an alarm or reminder from the computer/iPod/whatever doesn't carry the emotional weight of a command from a person.

Also, I hadn't picked up from the previous discussion that you were recently diagnosed on the Aspie end of the spectrum. My guess is that this plays into your career issues. It seems possible that your resistance to trying things out is sensibly based on past bad experiences. Thinking about it that way suggests to me that going for baby steps - some little thing where you're almost guaranteed to be successful - could help you build some momentum for bigger steps. Actually, come to think of it, that applies whether you're on the spectrum or not.

#422 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2012, 02:40 PM:

Phenicious @418 Tangentially, depending on your family power structure, have you talked to you dad about his interactions with your brother? (Is your brother younger or older than you are?) Gently presented as "concerned about wellbeing of dad and brother both," he might be interested to know how he's coming off. Alternatively, quiz your mom about their dynamic?

Following on OtterB's suggestions of "baby steps," one hack that Barbara Sher suggests for situations like yours is to come up with a goal that has similar characteristics, and a pleasant outcome, but to which you are more emotionally indifferent.

For example, she talks about one guy who wanted to become a (forget what; let's say "novelist"), but was heavily invested in the idea and too freaked out by the concept of success, so he was in perpetual limbo about it. Just for the hallibut, and to practice parallel skills, he had a go at submitting some art to galleries. Almost by "accident," (meaning this wasn't a goal he'd particularly been thinking about), he became a successful gallery artist. Having done that, the idea of writing and submitting novels was much less overwhelming.

#423 ::: Fooey ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2012, 05:39 PM:

As I posted last, I had to be out of my apartment by March 31st, only had nowhere to go. I did manage to get extended to April 15th, and I did manage to find a place. However.

Two days before the scheduled move, my long, long, long-time-coming breakdown finally happened. I ended up collapsed on the floor crying so hard I could not breathe, after not sleeping from Tuesday morning to Thursday morning. I finally managed to call the emergency line, who set me up with a counsellor. After speaking with her, I was able to call my cousin and ask for help. She worked like a dog, a dog, to get me ready to move.

I met with a counsellor in person, who referred me to an MD, who diagnosed me with major depression, put me on meds and referred me to a CBT center. The MD said she would not put me on leave, because she thought the schedule of work was good for me. She said she would revisit the leave idea during our follow-up in 3 weeks.

Yesterday, my company announced they are no longer covering short term leave for people in my job group.

Today, my company announced they are closing the center where I work, and I will be unemployed as of July.

I had mentioned to my counsellor that I hate it here, that I want a different job, and he said, "You're in no shape to go job hunting and go to interviews right now. Leave it for later in your recovery".

I have no cushion. I've been living on the edge for years. I'm screwed every way I go. I can't deal with this. I would just like nothing to happen any more.

#424 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2012, 06:49 PM:


Try to breathe. I know things look very dark now, but there are people who care about you, like your cousin, and, well, us. I've got my fingers crossed for you finding another, better, job quickly.

#425 ::: Syd, somewhat disguised, has been en-gnomed again ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2012, 07:53 PM:

Fooey, what Cally said. Sending you good mojo re: health and the job situation.

Update re: my interviews, I heard from the property manager yesterday. She decided to hire someone with slightly more maintenance experience than I have, which I can understand--but she also said the cats would have been an issue, and if she'd said that earlier, I would simply have written this one off as "no chance" despite the go-meet-the-leasing-agent thing. On the other hand, she said she'd keep me on file for pet-friendly buildings, so I guess I must have been suitable in other ways. Disappointed, but I'm still calling it a net win for getting to Stage 2.

And I called the compliance manager I interviewed with for the tech writing job to let her know that the part-time job I'd mentioned being in consideration for? The one that caused me to ask if the contract portion of the job was part-time hours or full-time? Well, it went to another candidate, so if you decide I'm right for this position, I can start any time you'd like, work full days, etc.

She didn't sound all that enthusiastic, but I'm hoping it's only that I caught her in the middle of something (I was actually hoping to get her voicemail, but oh well). Anyway, should know on this one no later than the beginning of next week...and in the meantime, I'll get back on the Resume Pony tomorrow morning.

#426 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2012, 08:01 PM:

Fooey, #423: Egad, that's a lot of bad shit landing on you all at once! That would overwhelm just about anybody, depression issues or not.

Advice (stuff that works for me, disregard if it wouldn't work for you): Don't think about the whole giant block of bad shit all at once. Focus down to a few details that you can deal with one step at a time.

You have, right now, a job and a place to live. You also have notice that the job will be ending soon, so IMO that needs to be your most immediate focus -- finding a replacement job so that you can keep paying the rent. If you find one and they want you to start immediately, (again IMO) you don't owe your current employer anything at this point unless you get a fairly significant severance bonus for staying thru the bitter end.

If you have any spoons left after job-hunting, I'd advise working on getting at least a couple of rooms in your new place into livable condition, because living in a sea of boxes and clutter is itself spoon-draining. The kitchen and whichever room you spend most of your at-home time in will give you the most return for effort spent.

Also, keep a list of the things you've done, so that when the Goddamn Tapes start telling you how lazy and worthless you are, you can point to the list and tell them to STFU.

Last but not least, things should get better when the anti-depression meds kick in. They won't change your situation, but they will give you a higher level of cope to deal with it.

GoodThoughts being sent in your direction.

#427 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2012, 08:03 PM:

Fooey, that is a lot of shit coming down. You have a lot of people who can help you with it, it sounds like, and you'll be in my thoughts if that's all right.

#428 ::: Syd, somewhat disguised ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2012, 08:16 PM:

(To the moderators re: my 425, no gnoming has occurred--I forgot to clean up my screen name after the previous event.)

#429 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2012, 10:57 PM:

a tidbit for those of you who need it: the chillout song, written by ze frank for a woman who requested a song to help her calm down when her anxiety got to be too much.

ze frank used to do the show back when i was in college, and is now doing a show instead. he is amazing. his stuff goes from silly and interesting to profound and heartbreakingly beautiful, with a lot of little tunes and spoken word poetry.

#430 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2012, 03:23 AM:

Syd: Sympathies on the "no" re.the apartment manager job. Here's still hoping for the other one.

Fooey: Yeah, pity the world can't go on hold until you're ready to deal with in. {{{{hug}}}} No practical advice to give - Lee's suggestions look useful. Re. job hunting, you have a couple of months; don't panic yet! Maybe think of something small and practical, like bringing the factual parts of your resume up to date, that you CAN do?

#431 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2012, 06:43 AM:

Fooey, very sorry to hear it. I have no concrete suggestions to offer, just joining the two-part chorus of "that sucks" and "hang in there, you can get through this, it will get better."

Syd, sorry to hear the apartment job didn't work out. Hoping for good things from the other one.

#432 ::: Fooey ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2012, 09:56 AM:

Thanks for... just being here, I guess. I'm trying to do individual things like a)eat dinner b)take shower, etc. Small focus.

Re: boxes. My cousin, the same one who got me ready to move, has also been coming over to unpack things. I have a proper bed again, and she has pretty much put all the kitchen stuff away. I have no idea where anything is, but it's away. Somewhere. And you're right, I don't close my eyes in the kitchen any more.

I opened up my CV, looked at it, and immediately closed it. I have no spoons.

#433 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2012, 11:06 AM:

Fooey @432: Big hugs. BTDT, though not both job-hunting and moving at the same time. Sounds like the Universe decided you Need A Change (har).

Two suggestions: if you can stand it, eat a hearty serving (6-8oz, 200ish grams) of dark leafy greens every day. This may help with the depression. (It does for me.) Guard your sleep with a truncheon. If you're having trouble sleeping, my emergency sleeping-potion is 3x Advil + 1 or 2 Benedryl. Make damn sure you have 10 hours to devote to sleep before you try this mixture, though. Sleep deprivation makes everything MUCH worse.

Syd: You're making progress!! Keep on keepin' on!

#434 ::: Fooey ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2012, 12:19 PM:

#433 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2012, 11:06 AM:

Two suggestions: if you can stand it, eat a hearty serving (6-8oz, 200ish grams) of dark leafy greens every day. This may help with the depression.

I'm hardly able to open cans of soup right now. I had to bully myself into doing so last night. My cousin would make it for me, but I hate to ask her for more.

Guard your sleep with a truncheon. If you're having trouble sleeping, my emergency sleeping-potion is 3x Advil + 1 or 2 Benedryl. Make damn sure you have 10 hours to devote to sleep before you try this mixture, though. Sleep deprivation makes everything MUCH worse.

Thank you; I'm on meds from the MD, so mixing is probably out.

Syd: You're making progress!! Keep on keepin' on!

It is oddly slightly comforting to see Syd's stuff. She's in a way worse spot than I, and managing to keep body, soul, and cats together.

I have 2 cats, one of whom is expensive, health-wise. I will die if they are taken away from me. They save me.

That's not an immediate prospect - it's not even a far prospect, but just the thought is terrifying.

#435 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2012, 01:44 PM:

Re: sleep and depression

It's not just sleep dep that's problematic, it's irregular sleep generally. Obviously, people being people, exactly how your depression and your sleep schedule interact will vary. For instance, I do fine on short sleep,* but oversleeping is a danger sign. I can't really say if it's causative or symptomatic, but it's something I keep an eye on.

And building on what Lee said about lists, I find that taking care of something is tremendously helpful for my mental state. Even if it's something as entirely bogus as paying my power bill, having DONE SOMETHING and being able to forget about it helps a lot. If I'm having a bad month, I'll try to keep an eye on my stock of simple to-do tasks, so I have something ready when I need it.

*Well, for sufficiently grumpy values of "fine." But I don't get depressed, generally.

#436 ::: Syd, somewhat disguised ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2012, 02:42 PM:

Fooey @ 433:

It is oddly slightly comforting to see Syd's stuff. She's in a way worse spot than I, and managing to keep body, soul, and cats together.

And one of the main ways I'm managing is, quite frankly, due to These People Right Here, and to my friends in meatspace. Having an outlet, a place to ask for advice or help or just to say what's on your mind without needing to filter it--invaluable for peace of mind, at the very least.

Thanks, all.

Learning to ask for help is hard. Getting past those Goddamned Tapes that tell one that one does not deserve help, so why ask? Harder. And you know what? Accepting help has been a real killer for me. But the concepts are/were so tightly entangled that taking an action in any direction (muting the tape, asking for help) helped improve all aspects.

You are doing what you can, as you can. You are asking for help when you need it. And you are also accepting that help.

Good for you. :)

Take as much care of yourself as you can, on the rationale that failing to do so makes everything that much more difficult. And if, for a little while, that care is making a cup of tea and sitting on the bed with your cats and just breathing for a while, then do it. Proper nutrition is important, keeping hydrated is important (dehydration will throw a wrench into the works in numerous ways), and I know those can both take spoons you don't have right now.

But you will. Sending the good mojo, and kitty kisses from mine to yours.

#437 ::: GlendaP ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2012, 04:12 PM:

re: Learning to ask for help

A dear friend of mine committed suicide a few days ago. She had a wide circle of friends and many of us thought we knew her very well indeed. She must have been hiding herself behind an iron-clad facade. She presented as one of the most calm, stable, and giving people I've ever known.

If only she'd been willing to let someone peek behind the wall, to admit to her pain, to ask for help, perhaps this wouldn't have happened.

#438 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2012, 04:15 PM:

GlendaP @437:

Gracious. What a painful thing for everyone concerned.

My sincere condolences.

#439 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2012, 04:18 PM:

Sorry to hear, GlendaP...

#440 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2012, 04:20 PM:

Fooey @432:

I opened up my CV, looked at it, and immediately closed it. I have no spoons

...left after taking that first step, but at least I took it.

FTFY ;-)

#441 ::: Variant of last thread ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2012, 10:43 PM:

Fooey @432,
Another person sending sympathetic thoughts your way - I've been unable to open and edit certain social profile sites for weeks. Like what Abi said - picking it up and putting it down again is an act, is work, in itself.

CVs, Linckd Inn profiles, they're all heavy objects. There's some sort of by-our-bootstraps aspect of them - I'm supposed to build and present an ideal model of myself, at a time when I can't imagine myself as similar to that model?

#442 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2012, 12:18 AM:

GlendaP: Mu sympathies.

Fooey: Also consider having some sit-down time in the sun. Nothing more than just sitting outside in the sunshine for ten minutes to get your Vitamin D levels maxed. It may give you a few spoons.

#443 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2012, 12:51 AM:

Adverse Childhood Experiences increase health risks.

You'll have to scroll down a little to get to that bit; the article is about a "disciplinary school" which is getting astounding results by treating troubled kids like troubled kids instead of dangerous animals, and providing them with the tools they need to handle abusive or uncaring home environments.

I decided to post this link here instead of in the Open Thread because I think some of the information about ACEs will be useful to many people here. Especially for people who are in counseling or thinking about getting counseling, because this is information the counselor may not have.

#444 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2012, 11:19 AM:

Lee: I'm still working through the off-shoot links of that page; really interesting stuff. It'll be interesting to track how these ideas percolate through the culture-at-large.

It would be interesting to compile, here, a catalog of resilience-building techniques and practices. I'm not going to start, because I am short of spoons at the moment.

#445 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2012, 11:21 AM:

Lee @443:

I took the survey linked to the article, and scored a 5. Now I'm wondering if THIS is the source of my fibromyalgia...

#446 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2012, 02:09 PM:

More about complex trauma, including the fight to get it into the DSM.

#447 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2012, 02:33 PM:

B. Durbin @442:

Some years ago, I made myself a rule: get outside during the day every day unless I am seriously ill or the weather outside is bad at the blizzard or hurricane level. Not merely cold or rainy or even sleeting.

Because if I don't get the daylight, I start feeling worse, and when I feel worse, I am less inclined to go outside. But having already made the decision makes it easier for me. Is there a blizzard? Is there a hurricane? Factual questions (and I can ask the weather service).

Sunshine is good, but even the light levels on a cloudy day are different from most indoor lighting, and certainly from the lighting in my apartment.

Again, this is a Your Mileage May Vary thing, and I'm posting as much for the idea of having dealt with the decision once, as the specifics of daylight being good for my moods.

#448 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2012, 02:59 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @446: "They purposely hurt themselves"

Something just clicked in my head. I wonder if this might account for some of the self-discipline issues I've had the last coupla years....

#449 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2012, 04:31 PM:

Jacque @444:

It would be interesting to compile, here, a catalog of resilience-building techniques and practices. I'm not going to start, because I am short of spoons at the moment.

I'm short of spoons at the moment as well, but am getting more of them than I used to, and a Resilience Training program I'm in seems to be helping. (It probably helps that I have memories of what having resilience was like. I had a lot of it until the terrible patch, middle of this past decade. I am determined to have some again. Hence the Resilience Training program, and other stuff.)

#450 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2012, 04:38 PM:

I also crave sunlight and the outdoors. Birdsong. Flowers. Trees. Water. Wind. Fortunately, I live in a neighborhood where I can walk in safety -- me AND my 60 lb. dog -- and when I don't feel like looking at houses, there are parks I can drive to.

With regard to Vitamin D: there's tons of research out there which suggests that Americans in general have woefully low levels of Vitamin D, and that Vitamin D makes a HUGE difference to health, in all kinds of ways. Google is your friend.

Also, the ability to synthesize Vitamin D from sunlight varies tremendously from individual to individual. Older (esp. post-menopausal) women tend to lose the ability to do this, no matter how much sun they get. In such cases, a simply blood test and non-prescription D3 supplements can make a real difference to energy levels, joint pain, bone health, etc. IANAD.

#451 ::: Neutrino ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2012, 05:18 PM:

I'd just like to say that I'm sorry I haven't commented more on this thread. In particular, I'm sorry that I haven't made more encouraging remarks to Syd, especially when she needed them most.

Syd, I think this is because your situation aligns so well with my own fears that I get paralyzed when I try to write anything. OTOH the fact that things appear to be looking up for you gives me hope that my less-severe problems will soon be resolved.

I'm still out of work. I'm not getting interviews. I'm doing everything I and my friends can think of (mod my spoon supply), and I have valuable skills. I've been out of work for a while and I'm over 50, and I wasn't jobhunting for a while there because I had cancer (now all fixed, leaving me with some minor residual problems but unlikely to have a recurrence).

I think most longtime MLers now know who I am.

Some days lately I just keep thinking "no one's ever going to hire me" over and over. I have to wrestle myself out of that even if it means I have to not think about my job situation at all for a while, because it leads to despair, which leads to wistful thoughts about the George Washington Bridge.

I know my situation doesn't suck as badly as some other people's. I'm in awe of some of the people on this thread, including Syd, because I think their situation would break me right away. Maybe I'm wrong; after all, I've survived everything that's happened to me so far, and perhaps I'm stronger than I think I am.

#452 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2012, 05:26 PM:

My best wishes, Neutrino.

#453 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2012, 06:45 PM:

Neutrino, send me your CV -- I know you have one of my email addresses. I'll see if the FG can point it towards someone, or conversely, if she can send some of those recruiting emails she still gets, towards you.

[[hugs]] to anyone who needs it. I don't post much on this topic, but I do read.

#454 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2012, 06:50 PM:

Neutrino, I refer you to the previous thread in this series and the consensus that your pain is pain, independent of whatever anyone else has experienced.

Job hunting is always hard.

My husband had good luck in support, if not in referrals, from a 40 Plus club and others have mentioned them as well.

Wishing you well.

#455 ::: Neutrino ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2012, 07:26 PM:

Ginger: sent. Thanks!

#456 ::: Neutrino ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2012, 07:32 PM:

Thanks OtterB.

#457 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2012, 08:30 PM:

Today, I am going to apply for jobs. Some of the deadlines may have passed between me queueing them up and me applying, but I am going to apply for jobs. Some of them may suck a lot, but I am going to apply for jobs. Because I am just that awesome.

#458 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2012, 09:32 PM:

Several people talked above about the difficulty of constructing CVs or resumes or social-self-marketing-profiles (like linkedin), when they don't really believe in themselves. Would it help to imagine a friend who's shared your background, and write a profile about them? That is, someone who's done everything you have, but doesn't have all the hidden flaws that the Awful Tapes point out?

Also, keep in mind that there are people out there desperate to find the right employee, and if you're right for them, hiding that fact from them is hurting them, and not just you.

The other thing that helps is to add things to your resume when they're new and exciting, and you don't expect to need a resume again for a long time, but that's the sort of advice that's usually not seen until it's too late to follow it.

Also, Syd, congratulations on not just making it to interview #2, but making it sticky (in the sense that if another opening comes up with that person, you'll have already made it that far without having to start over).

Fooey, keep in mind that the MD's advice about what order to tackle things in is now seen to have been based on obsolete information; you could try providing them with the updated information before your visit (so they start the visit with the right plan of attack), or you could start by taking it up with the CBT center (if you're going there before the 3-week followup with the MD). Either way, you've at least got people in your corner, and they should be able to adapt to changes in the lay of the land much more easily than you can, and should be able to tailor their advice to the new situation.

#459 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2012, 09:34 PM:

Diatryma, yes you are!

Syd, [[crosses fingers for you]]

Fooey, I wish I could say something that helps. I've had times in my life where just taking the next breath was a triumph. If it helps to know that someone else made it through, well, there it is; I did. (Apologies if this is hlepy)

#460 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2012, 04:16 AM:

I'm certainly a big fan of getting enough light as part of one's overall self-care and coping. I have SAD to the degree where the label is helpful in making me (and others) treat the issue seriously, but many less-affected people still need more light than they're going to get indoors.

Like Vicki, I've had to put rules in place (no, really go out and walk at lunchtime; even rainy-daylight is brighter than this), because depression is like a living entity: it has a sense of self-preservation. It's that little voice telling you taking care of yourself is too much work, and that each marginal step doesn't really make that much of a difference.

A useful side-effect is that I also put myself in the way of unexpected sights and encounters. The nature of those sights and encounters, of course, depends on my neighborhood. But getting out is a way of throwing the dice and seeing if anything good comes out.

#461 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2012, 10:06 AM:

Re: the effect of indoor lighting

One of the hardware chains here finally got LED bulbs down to a price I could afford, so I replaced all the CFLs with warm LED bulbs.

The difference in the light AND MY MOODS* is amazing.

I had not realized how dull and flat the light from the CFLs was until I replaced them.

*Some of this may be the joy of being retired, but not all...

#462 ::: Fooey ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2012, 10:41 AM:

Re- sunlight, Vitamin D:
It's been all rain, all the time here for about the last month and a half, which doesn't help. I do always take extra calcium and D (osteoporosis in 3 grandparents and my mother). This weekend is supposed to be rain-free; my new apartment has a balcony, so I'll see if I can't get a chair and sit out there.

I go to the CBT center on the 15th and see the MD the day after, although the CBT center is a 2 hour "evaluation" to create a treatment plan. I don't know what that really means or what will happen.

Neutrino - no advice, but I hope it turns out for you.

Thanks everyone.

#463 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2012, 02:25 PM:

[posted under usual nym on purpose]

Lizzy L @ 450: Also, the ability to synthesize Vitamin D from sunlight varies tremendously from individual to individual. Older (esp. post-menopausal) women tend to lose the ability to do this, no matter how much sun they get. In such cases, a simply blood test and non-prescription D3 supplements can make a real difference to energy levels, joint pain, bone health, etc. IANAD.

I've just found out that my Vitamin D levels are so low as to be straight-up deficient, according to the NIH.

I talked to my doctor about how exhausted I've been all the time for the past couple years. I thought it was a side effect of the meds I'm on for depression and anxiety. The doctor ordered a battery of blood tests to rule out other physical causes of fatigue. Iron, thyroid, and blood count came back normal. But vitamin D was just below the cutoff point for "deficient."

I was surprised, because I'd heard that 10-15 minutes in the sun per day should be enough to synthesize sufficient vitamin D. And since spring started, I've been getting that much time outside most days. If my vitamin D is this low when I do get some sun, how low was it in the winter, when I spent hardly any time outdoors?

They've got me on over-the-counter 2000 IU D3 supplements now. I've only been taking them for two days, so I don't yet know whether this will solve my exhaustion problem. But the doctor thinks it's worth a shot. I do too -- the supplements are inexpensive (about $6 for a bottle of 100), easy to get (I bought them off the shelf at Target), and easy to take (the pills are physically small, and they aren't causing any GI side effects).

(Please note that you can get too much vitamin D from taking supplements, which can cause health problems. So if you're thinking of taking D3 supplements, I would strongly recommend talking with your doctor first.)

I'm interested to find out that vitamin D synthesis rates are so variable from person to person! I'm going to look up some scientific/medical literature on variability of vitamin D synthesis rates, and what affects it. Any pointers to good review papers or particularly useful studies?

#464 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2012, 03:20 PM:

Caroline, I was where you are a few years ago. My doctor started me off on 4000 D3 units daily. After a year, we dropped it to 3000 u daily. I'm now on 2000 u daily and the numbers are where they should be. It made a discernible difference within a month: my energy levels improved and I started sleeping better.

It's been a long time since I did my googling, and I'm sure there are newer studies out, so no, I have no recommendations.

#465 ::: Fooey ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2012, 03:51 PM:

The doctor's office just called to move my appointment up from the 16th to the 9th. Now I am afraid. They don't want to see you sooner because they have good news.

#466 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2012, 10:35 PM:

So, earlier I said something to Phenicious about a path of burning coals, for confronting fears, growing, etc? Here's the current state of my personal barbeque, which is really quite uncomfortable.

Earlier when I tried to do something awesome at work, it turned out to be a Wiley-Coyote-jumps-off-cliff moment. I unwittingly violated some rules/customs, because nobody taught me how this corporate culture thinks this situation is handled. Then they were angry at me and gave me a dressing-down which pushed most of my buttons very badly and very embarrasingly. They also were not willing to back down -- when later I suggested that maybe I should have been briefed better I got told no, I'd been perfectly well briefed. (It was two sentences tops, and no mention of the thing I ended up doing wrong.)

The whole mess is forgiven if I don't do THAT again, but the outlines of "that" are very fuzzy. I'm afraid to ask what I am and am not allowed to do, partly because of what the answer might be but also because of how it makes me feel, that I have to feel stupid and small and ask permission. The emotional fallout of this mess had me on the edge of breaking down about it for about 2 weeks straight, and I am still tearing up right now a month later, it hurt so much. Meanwhile I have been doing very dull routine work while my boss mostly ignores me for management stuff, especially work related to the Great Budget Cutbacks, which she can't/won't delegate. The routine work is full of yak-shaving, pointless fiddly stuff, and being delayed by randomly needing help, and I hate it. Now that I'm finally making progress on it, I'm also running out of stuff to do. I am nearly bored out of my mind, which I *hate*. I have to figure out how to politely ask for more work, and with another designer some/all of the time.

I have thought about the whole thing a lot and asked friends working in the same and different parts of the same organization a bunch of questions, and I have come to a series of yucky conclusions.

1. The group I am in is a tiny bubble of more suited-to-me culture, though not ideal. It's just the best I've had yet.
2. This tiny bubble is completely surrounded by a very very entrenched culture that will guaranteed drive me crazy by hitting major triggers again and again.
3. At least one coworker used terms like "vicious" and "sell your soul" when describing the mid-sized cultural context. Another told me stuff that indicates that the emotional climate here has been getting worse for a while, though she was more positive about it generally. It will continue to be as bad or worse for the next several years, thanks to the giant cutbacks.
4. Plus, with the cutbacks, the stupidity level is 9 to 11 out of 10, and will stay that way until the Big Boss at least 6 levels above is satisfied. And I hate stupidity, especially stupidity that claims to be about better ways of doing business and saving money, but is actually all about looking good to upper management and who cares how much money is wasted on false starts. I am totally in favour of saving money by actually improving procedures, but so far we're getting our procedures worsened for us such that we must spend more money in stupid and utterly preventable ways.
5. I am not actually getting the benefits that I should in theory be getting from working in this organization, except no overtime. I am underpaid, I am temporary, I have low job security, I have no medical/vacation/etc benefits, and my time as a temp does not count towards the max time until permanent limit, because HR has suspended that policy for the duration of the cutbacks. The HR meetings about the cutbacks were quite clear that contractors will be thrown under the bus as needed to safeguard permanent staff.

Clearly the Universe thinks it's time I learned to jobhunt, which is the most frightening, depressing, and demoralizing activity ever. Staying where I am would have been something of a Faustian bargain emotionally even if I were permanent, but I'm not going to get even that good a deal until the cutbacks are finished or a miracle occurs. Whereas if I learn how to jobhunt, I could find somewhere with a culture that suits me, have an escape hatch if things go bad, and I could get security, benefits, and salary as much as anyone can. The Universe is *definitely* pointing out what path it wants me to take. I know this will be good for me, but dammit, I need some time off before growing pains this bad! I didn't get any after the last several rounds!

#467 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2012, 11:08 PM:

Moonlit Night @466: Wait, are you one of my coworkers? For a sour chuckle, see Liz Ryan's Ten Signs of a Fear-Based Workplace

#468 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2012, 11:08 PM:

Seconding Caroline, above, re the Vitamin D deficiency thing. In my case I was HORRIBLY tired ALL THE TIME. Routine blood work showed my vitamin D was well down in the "deficient" range, such that I was prescribed 10,000 IU (!) pills to take for a couple of weeks and then retested (low normal). Now I take 1000 IU per day plus my regular multivitamin. Much better.

Side note: in my case the deficiency came about after I switched from grocery-store milk to lovely locally-produced organic milk--with no added Vitamin D. Didn't even think about it until after the fact, but I drink a lot of milk, so I had been getting a pretty good amount of supplemental D every day.

#469 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2012, 11:53 PM:

Moonlit Night, #466: You have definitely described an abusive work environment. Getting out will be hard and scary, but staying there will kill you, quite possibly in the most literal sense. Stress kills.

#470 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2012, 10:51 AM:

Moonlit Night @466:

If you must job hunt, take a look at:


Lots of federal agencies look for folks with initiative, in all the positions I held, once I knew the duties I was allowed to do them in whatever order worked best for me.

Now, having Congress trying to shut us down every year sucks -- but there are worse things, you know?

#471 ::: AnotherQuietOne ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2012, 02:23 PM:

(Reusing my handle from earlier threads but can't remember how I munged the email last time...)

It's been a couple of weeks since I caught up on this thread. Not caught up on the rest of MakingLight. Have no more spoons. Fresh out of spoons. Distinct absence of spoons.

I feel like I'm a jar of peanut butter that looks full but has been opened and used from the inside out, so that all that's left is what's coating the inside of the jar, and it's maybe enough for one sandwich if you really scrape, but the reason you've opened the jar in the first place is that you need to make SIX sandwiches RIGHT NOW and this is the last jar of peanut butter (and it was supposed to be full.)

Thank you for witnessing.

Would someone who does not live in my head please remind me that it's OK to take care of myself? I'm ignoring me again in the effort to hold things together for other people, and it's starting to show.

#472 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2012, 02:45 PM:

AnotherQuietOne @471: It is not only okay to take care of yourself, it is a prerequisite for taking care of other people. Oxygen principle, and all that.

#473 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2012, 03:54 PM:

AnotherQuietOne, #471: What Jacque Said. If you don't take care of yourself, sooner or later you will be unable to take care of anyone else. Other people may need to be reminded of this, forcefully if necessary. Also, don't hesitate to ask for assistance from applicable public programs. That's what they're there for.

#474 ::: AnotherQuietOne ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2012, 05:06 PM:

Lee, Jacque - thank you. I've gone for a walk and feel a bit saner. Sunlight helps.

What's happened is another synchronicity of intermediately-sized crises after a months-long series of same, and this time I've come to the realization that "stiff upper lip and soldier on" is just not going to work indefinitely.

See it's like this... okay, back up to... no, well, before that was... Okay, there has to have been a beginning to all this. It's been a chaotic and demanding year since last spring and maybe I won't do a chronology, just a disordered list: job stability issues (mine) including going through government hiring process three times (twice successfully, yay!), one layoff and one temp agency gig, plus lots of overtime in the last six months (including training three or four people on my old and my new jobs) due to understaffing and attrition and being the only person left who knows how to handle X; perennial worries about spouse's job (soft-money position) due to institutional budget woes; spouse's sequence of health issues starting last summer (wisdom teeth surgery, immediately followed by an unrelated minor accident that's led to months of PT and pain and which is likely to need back surgery in the next couple of months); my sequence of health issues including diagnosis and treatment of a long-neglected chronic illness (asthma) immediately followed by an acute condition (gallstones) that led to a month of sick in the middle of the Big Holidays and surgery four months ago; and the assortment of casual stressors including a distinctly non-relaxing vacation with family last summer and some drama regarding Other People's Weddings.

I'm an introvert on the Meyers-Briggs type thingy. I need serious down time to deal with people, and I haven't had a chance to come up for air. Training people is exhilarating but exhausting, and I've been doing a lot of it. Chairing my committee and doing church leadership meetings, similar.

I haven't made art since last August and it's been starting to itch. The other things that have sustained me so far are starting to come unglued, too - it's not restful to veg around the house because my spouse is restlessly hanging around the house too, and he hurts, and he can't do the projects he wants to get done, and this makes him hard for me to live with. (I'm used to him periodically going away for the weekend to do his Boy Scout volunteer stuff and he hasn't been able to do that, which is driving both of us up the wall.) I hide upstairs and play video games, but that isn't enough solitude because I know someone's in the house and could interrupt me at any time.

That's where I was two weeks ago, having gotten through Easter with Family at My House Without Enough Notice and assorted church commitments, followed by two trips to the car mechanic and close to four figures in miscellaneous repairs (and I still need a muffler for inspection next month). Then at my last committee meeting, two days before the last leadership council meeting, my choir director informed the committee that he'd submitted his resignation effective the end of the church year in June. This means that the next few months will include gathering a search committee and finding someone to direct the choir when we reconvene in August. (We generally take summers off.) I'm not responsible for organizing this thank goodness, but as continuing chair of the relevant committee it is proper that I am involved in the process. It's going to be another big time commitment at a point when I was hoping to (finally!) get some time for myself.

There is also the side issue that while our relationship has been strictly professional, I'm very fond of the man - he is a brilliant, talented music nerd of the first order - and I'm both worried about him on a personal level (it's been evident for awhile that he's been under strain, but I've not felt that it was appropriate to break the professional wall) and terribly sad to see him go. I don't know what we're going to do without him, but in my leadership role I am supposed to have answers (or at least people keep asking me for them), and trying to keep my personal feelings out of my public response. I'm losing a lot of spoons this way. It hurts to let the good ones go, even if they were never yours to keep.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, the symptoms that had stopped after I'd had my gallbladder out have started up again, and after I stopped ignoring them and went to my doctor we suspect I may have got more gallstones up in the rest of my biliary tract somewhere. I had an MRI Friday morning but don't expect to have the results until next week. In the mean time I'm intermittently sore and sick which is not helping me cope with ANYTHING.

Things I am grateful for: medical insurance; stable housing; steady work; and supportive communities like this one. Thank you.

#475 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2012, 06:11 PM:


On a purely administrative note, I see that you've recalled your trick for munging your email. I've fiddled with the information in comment 471 to make it tie in.

More personally, it sounds to me like you've taken the most important step already: you've figured out that you can't just plug onward pretending everything is fine. So, now that you've pulled the emergency cord, is there anything you can do to start plugging the spoon leaks?

It sounds, to this hlepy soul, like you're one of those people who can't see a gap without trying to fill it. But it's not humanly possible to fill all the gaps. Can you somehow persuade yourself that you don't have to singlehandedly plan how to manage without your choir director? Nor even to answer questions like you were going to be doing that? "I don't know" is a fine answer, particularly if it's true, and it sorts out the people who are standing around asking questions as a way of expressing concern from those with valid issues to add to the mix.

As for the pressure of missing creative time and solitude...I don't know what art you make, but could you take an hour here or there at a coffee shop planning art, if it's not something you can do away from home? I've spent time contemplating book structures and designing bindings, and found that it counted toward the feeding of my soul, when I didn't have time to bind. But, of course, that may just be me.

Or can you exile the spouse to some other activity outside the house, even so far as the local cinema? Would a couple of hours of guaranteed solitude be helpful?

I'm casting about, and I'm sure some of this is completely useless. But it comes with good wishes for both your physical and mental health. And do feel free to discard it all if it isn't helpful, or burn it if it's actively hlepy.

#476 ::: AnotherQuietOne ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2012, 08:36 PM:

Thanks, abi.

Art is going to have to wait until I have the spoons to do it. (I do lots of things, depending on what strikes my fancy - painting and various textile arts mostly.) Creative activities are ultimately spoon-generators, but I have to prime the pump as it were, and lately all my alone time has been spent trying to sleep or staring out the window across town (both of which have restorative value, but not enough.)

I think - when I'm being sane - that externally my responsibilities are limited. I'd talked to the minister regarding the choir director search and let her know that I knew my participation was important but I wasn't sure how much time I could put into it given other circumstances. There will be a formal search committee and I don't think I will necessarily be on it, which is fine.

No, this is internal and all about the Goddamn Tapes - the ones that insist that my problems are not all that bad compared to Other People's (or not real problems at all); and it's my duty to take care of things and see that they are done properly by someone, if not by me personally; and that I should (wo)man up and cope instead of wallowing in self-pity and laziness; and above all that I shouldn't ever let anyone know I'm vulnerable in any way because then they'll know where to poke me when I let my guard down.

The above paragraph neatly explains why I'm having my pseudononymous internet meltdown in this thread :-)

#477 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2012, 10:03 PM:

AnotherQuietOne @471: the Goddamn Tapes

It's a shame we can't convert these to an energy source; given their insistence and ubiquity, I expect we could power the Whole Of Modern Civilization with them, if we could just find the socket for the power plug. ::sigh::

that insist that my problems are not all that bad compared to Other People's (or not real problems at all)

I think we covered that one in the last DFD thread. :-)

Given your list of issues and activities above, it's pretty clear to this outside observer that if it's one thing you're not, it's lazy.

#478 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2012, 03:53 AM:

Yes, I know those Tapes. I have them too, and right now they're playing at deafening volume.

I was recently given an upgrade to one of my most-played ones. What used to be a simple "you're overreacting; other people's troubles are worse than yours" is now "stop whining about your first world problems*, self-indulgent privilege girl", set to a dubstep background of Gollum saying "nobody likes you". Can barely hear my friends and family over it, some days.

I think they're like the radios in "Harrison Bergeron", but what they disrupt is not our intelligence but our wisdom and kindness. And it's not about whether they're wrong or right (yes, my problems are tiny in comparison to many others'); it's about how much they break our joy and rob us of the power to make the world a better place.

I wish to hell they would stop.

* the Tapes are hip, and keep up with the hashtags of the times.

#479 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2012, 08:09 AM:

AnotherQuietOne, deep sympathies. I can see myself in some of your comments, particularly in the need for alone time, and having someone else in the house meaning knowing you can be interrupted. Can you ask your spouse explicitly for 15 minutes or 30 minutes in which you won't be interrupted for anything that doesn't require a 911 call? Can you find your quiet time outside the house? (In a church, in a park, sitting in your car in some out-of-the-way spot)?

I don't want to be hlepy or impose another "ought," but I recommend a book I first read some years ago, Stopping: How to be Still When You Have to Keep Going, by David Kundtz. Really good advice, among other things, on taking advantage of the brief moments between things to re-center yourself instead of fretting anxiously about the next thing.

Abi, the tapes as the radios in Harrison Bergeron, yes. That's a disturbing image; I'm sensitive to auditory overstimulation and have little tolerance for random noise, much less for hostile noise. A bombardment of it definitely reduces my functioning.

I know the Tapes aren't subject to logical refutation, but perhaps, like the Devil or one of the tempters in The Screwtape Letters, they don't care to be laughed at? I had an experience probably a year ago when I was trying to incorporate more prayer time in my life. And one of the first mornings I followed the new schedule, I got a strong rendition of the tapes saying, "Look at the mess this house is in, isn't it self-indulgent to take time to gaze at your navel when you should be doing something productive, why would you think you are important enough that God wants to have a conversation with you anyway..." And I couldn't help it. I laughed, and said, "Well, that's ridiculously obvious, don't you think?" And I think I broke that particular tape, because it hasn't been back. (Not that others don't still play. I hear "first world problem" too, though probably not as strongly as you do, because "well, I have a first world life, what do you expect" is usually enough to tone it down.)

#480 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2012, 11:34 AM:

Actually, I think the tapes can interfere with intelligence, or at least it seems that when I've got the self-hatred running less intensely, my ability to write down an address accurately increases a lot.

It wouldn't surprise me if the tapes can take up a chunk of working memory.

The Radical Acceptance of Everything is about developing kind curiosity about everything in your mind (it isn't about radical acceptance of everything in the world), observing it, and letting it change. I've gotten a little good from working with the material myself (I could probably use a partner) and a good bit of the book (including the chapter about the inner critic) is available online.

#481 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2012, 03:51 PM:

From a Feldenkrais site:

Humans don’t get to decide what they find threatening, stressful or painful any more than a cat does. That decision is left to ancient unconscious systems that can’t really be reasoned with. So when you are working with a wounded animal, wild or human, make sure you communicate with those prerational systems, and not just the surface ones that know how to make polite conversation.

#482 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2012, 03:51 PM:

From a Feldenkrais site:

Humans don’t get to decide what they find threatening, stressful or painful any more than a cat does. That decision is left to ancient unconscious systems that can’t really be reasoned with. So when you are working with a wounded animal, wild or human, make sure you communicate with those prerational systems, and not just the surface ones that know how to make polite conversation.

#483 ::: Syd, somewhat disguised ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2012, 07:20 PM:

Haven't heard about the writing job yet, but since the time frame given me by the compliance manager was end of last week/early next week, I figure I'll continue to keep my fingers crossed.

Meanwhile, a Shoe Has Dropped.

The shoe being the vet letting me keep my cats at his office.

I think I've mentioned that my cats have been in the office's isolation kennel for the last couple of months. Well, I was there today for my kitty visit and the vet came in and said, cutting to the meat of things, that it's coming into his busy season and he really needs his iso ward back, so I need to find an alternative location for my cats.

Which, had I been able to do that three months ago, would have eliminated my needing to ask him if I could leave them with him in the first place.

He was very nice about it, and he didn't give me a deadline, but it's clear that sooner would be muchmuch better than later--it didn't even occur to me that he's had patients that should have been in iso but couldn't be due to the risk of contagion to my cats, and he said today that he's been asking clients to leave their carriers so he could leave those pets could stay in them.

So now, of course, I feel guilty for asking for the favor in the first place, and guilty that I've imposed on him for so long, and guilty about however many poor sick animals have had to stay in their carriers instead of in the kennel, and enormously guilty that I haven't worked harder to find a job so I could at least pay him something, although money wasn't mentioned at all and he framed it as solely a space issue, and...and...and...

And if he does give me a deadline and I don't have any alternatives by ghods, I can't even think direction.

Asking again for good wishes, etc., that spots for my kitties and me open up posthaste at PATH/Petco Place, because I frankly don't know what I'll do otherwise.

[I take it you'll believe me when I say that in the back of my head, the Goddamned Tapes started up with, "Well, you idiot, you should have known it was too good to last!" I hate those fucking things.]

#484 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2012, 09:36 PM:

Syd: best wishes (wishing hard).

#485 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2012, 12:02 PM:

Friendships shatter
like glass dropped on a hard floor
hearts break more softly

#486 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2012, 01:40 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @480:
Depression makes me appreciably harder of hearing, both in terms of volume and in terms of turning speech into comprehensible meaning. Because my son's distinctive diction teeters on the edge of comprehensibility anyway, this can be difficult. But it's a useful warning sign as well.

and @481:
That is a hugely useful quote. I will have to remember it as I sort through this pile of crap I got dumped on me.

Jennifer Baughman @485:
Amen, oh man, amen.

#487 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2012, 01:50 PM:

Syd @483:

Oh, dear! I'm really sorry to hear that.

I wouldn't worry about imposing on the vet beyond his desire to be imposed upon. The nature and tone of his communications, even as you retell them with your own concerns, sounds like someone happy to do a favor for a human and her cats, and sorry that his ability to help doesn't extend further.

I'll keep my fingers crossed, both about the job and about the housing. And, indeed, for a sudden and complete breakdown of your internal Tape player.

#488 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2012, 03:22 PM:

Syd: Sympathies. Sending more good wishes in your direction. Most of all, wishing for you to get the job, but also for accommodation. When can you go ask again about the PATH/Petco place?

#489 ::: AnotherQuietOne ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2012, 06:04 PM:


Aargh, fuck. I wish I had more to give but, "Heard and witnessed. Good luck."

#490 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2012, 08:14 PM:

Jacque, Lee, and Lori, thank you. The Canadian public service isn't as fear-based and toxic as a private company could be, but for the foreseeable future it's flailing madly. Whether our PM is wrong or right to have slashed the federal budget, the net effect is still that the organization has been cornered and attacked by something that it can't fight and can't flee. I have talked to a bunch of friends who work in different bits of it, and they said that even when times are good I would need some more patience and a lot more stupidity tolerance than I have. So, between being Canadian and already bit by government jobs, I think I had better try taking a different tack for my next round. :)

To make things worse, the group is short of non-boring work and my boss is too busy to notice me much, so I am getting incredibly bored as well as bogged down. Going to work is starting to give me mental hives, there is so little challenge and variety right now.

#491 ::: Variant of Last Time ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2012, 01:16 PM:

Random realization of the day - I have, in the past decade, grown into myself reasonably well. I am, however, working in a company founded and filled by larger-than-life characters.

Some of the usual guides and advice I take on dealing with people at work assume ordinary managers (within a standard distribution of people). The LtL people don't exactly fit. It isn't me, it's them.

#492 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2012, 01:57 PM:

Variant of Last Time @491:
Random realization of the day - I have, in the past decade, grown into myself reasonably well. I am, however, working in a company founded and filled by larger-than-life characters.

Congratulations on doing that growing, and on realizing it. Important stuff, both things.

One day you will work with people who aren't so...expansive, and then all of this time with them will pay off. It's like the times, back in high school, that we trained with the men's shots so that when we put the women's ones in competition they'd feel light.

#493 ::: AnotherQuietOne ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2012, 09:44 PM:

The good news is that I don't appear to have residual gallstones.

The less good news is that we still don't know what's making the kobolds jab me in the liver with a pointy stick from time to time.

I'm really not liking this "made of middle-aged meat" thing. Where did my youthful invincibility go?

#494 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2012, 10:07 PM:

Therapy turned up a facetious-but-maybe-accurate diagnosis of why my mother is so toxic: this very intelligent and driven woman has probably been bored out of her mind for over 40 years. For comparison, I've been going a bit squirrely because I've only had trivial/boring tasks for the last month at work...

#495 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2012, 10:11 PM:

Haven't really been up to helping lately and would rather not hlep. But I can be useful about specs to look for on lightbulbs -- benefits of better lighting mentioned by Lori Coulson in #461 -- so I'll offer that up.

Summary: to get better lightbulbs, get the right lumens, the right colour temperature (if unsure aim for the 3000s), and the highest CRI you can afford.

Lumens: how much light output -- this is what companies should be using when saying this CFL or LED is equivalent to a 40W or whatever incandescent.

Colour temperature, e.g. 3000K or degrees kelvin: how warm or cold the light is. Incandescents are very warm light, around 2500 - 3500K. Halogens are often warm white, 3000-3500K. 4000K is a cool white, often seen in office/business use fluorescent tubes. Daylight bulbs and the noonday sun are around 5000K and quite blue, too much so to use at home for most things.

CRI (colour rendering index): this is how well a bulb renders colour, with 0 being not at all and 100 being the sun. Most incandescents are 80 to high 90s. Lousy fluorescents will be in the 70s and low 80s. Good fluorescents are in the high 80s to low 90s. LEDs are too new to generalize about -- look up the specs before buying. There are also expensive specialty high-CRI bulbs for people working with colour -- not good value for general use but great for your easel or worktable.

#496 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2012, 02:10 AM:

Jennifer Baughman @485


Sometimes broken pieces can be glued back. I'm not sure I can find glue that works on softer hearts. Perhaps it goes by another name: time.

#497 ::: Fooey ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2012, 11:20 AM:

I've been reading all the stuff people posted in response to me; I can't reply individually to everyone, but I wanted to say I read it, and 'thank you'.

New news: When I saw the doctor yesterday, she told me that my blood tests had come back with something "a little abnormal": my liver levels were "a little high". She said more, but then my head was making buzzing sounds, and I... I don't know what I did. Turned off, or something. I must have looked normal, 'cause she just kept talking, but I don't remember the rest of the appointment.

Anyway, I had more blood tests this morning and will have to have an ultrasound on my liver.

I feel suspended. Or, disconnected, maybe. I told the counsellor my buffer is full and I can't process anymore, which he said is OK and I will process it when I have room.

When I got home, I washed the floor and rearranged the cabinet to make myself feel like I had accomplished something.

#498 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2012, 11:24 AM:

(At first I thought Open Thread, but here feels more right.)

The fruit rots slowly on the vine:
hard minds lead willing hearts astray.
I wait, and sip the bitter wine.

To face your demons you decline
and all you love you now betray.
The fruit rots slowly on the vine.

With whom you dare not intertwine
you blithely bind your fate in May.
I wait, and sip the bitter wine.

To silent fear both are resigned;
your kindnesses you keep at bay.
The fruit rots slowly on the vine.

Blind to the burden you assign
to girl and boy swept in the fray.
I wait, and sip the bitter wine.

The bitterness may fade with time.
Now I can only look away.
The fruit rots slowly on the vine.
I wait, and sip the bitter wine.

#499 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2012, 12:07 PM:

Spring comes, thaws winter's
Cruel grasp, warms the barren souls;
From cracked hearts, hope sprouts.

#500 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2012, 12:08 PM:

A heart in shadow cannot see the light
that rises like a balm of better times
long past, or soon to come. And in its fright
and rage, strikes out, regarding all its crimes
as justified. While in the sullen climes
of the twilit spirit, a memory bright
recalls the road that leads beyond the rimes
of guilt, the squalls of fear, the shoals of spite.
Though painful, walk the road until its end
and find that there the heart still has a friend.

(I'll talk about it later, probably, but I'm tired of having crises interfere with my ability to do everything else!)

#501 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2012, 03:02 PM:

Hi again. Sorry to break the poetry streak, but I just wanted to check in. I've put in about 8 resumes/applications to various kitchens around town. I've called teachers at my high school to confirm they still want to be references for me. It feels like I've done a lot, but I really haven't, and my parents are getting fed up with me.

My mom's threatening to take my laptop "until school starts back up" (she's convinced I MUST do second year, because a couple profs said it was like "night and day" to first year so it can't be that bad right). If I don't get with the program she said I'd better start looking for apartments AND jobs, because apparently this is enough to warrant kicking a 19-year old with diabetes and ADHD out of the house? I don't think she'd actually do it, but she's not going to let it go unless I get some kind of soul-destroying job. I've refused to apply to most of the ads she's pushing at me. She figures that because I survived working as a dishwasher last summer, well then I can make it through this one too. Never mind that I've got a brain that gets overwhelmed by something as simple as a co-worker singing along to some music. I'm talking crying with frustration and wanting to punch a guy who's just trying to get through his own shift.

I'm sorry, I should stop boring you all with my nonsense but nobody's told me to shut up yet, so it's probably okay to keep posting? I'm still reading everyone's posts, I just can't think of anything useful to say.

#502 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2012, 03:12 PM:

Phenicious (501): Absolutely, keep posting. If venting helps you cope at all, that's one of the things we're here for.

I have nothing constructive to add, but I am (we are) here and listening.

#503 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2012, 03:15 PM:

Phenecious @501:

Actually, applying to the first lot of jobs, and calling people up to ask favors like references is a lot to do. Hopefully something will come through, or you'll continue to find suitable jobs to apply for.

I think it's perfectly valid to say, "No, I didn't apply for that job because I went off, of my own initiative, and found these vacancies instead, and applied for them." Most parents would be pleased with that level of get up and go.

I'm sorry, I should stop boring you all with my nonsense but nobody's told me to shut up yet, so it's probably okay to keep posting? I'm still reading everyone's posts, I just can't think of anything useful to say.

You do have the Tapes on at high volume, don't you? I'm so sorry to hear that. Of course it's OK for you to keep posting.

I'm the mod and I say so.

Keep well. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you.

#504 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2012, 03:16 PM:

Also acknowledging the fact that I have problems with taking up space and "irritating" people. I first tried calling my old high school a week ago, and I gave up because I didn't want to risk bothering the secretary. I finally did it last night because I called late enough to get the answering machine instead of a person who can get annoyed with me. I realize that I'm blowing things out of proportion and trying to be friends with every person I interact with, which is flat-out impossible.

#505 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2012, 03:21 PM:

Fooey! Clean floor! And new cabinet arrangements! But especially the clean floor. Go you!

Phenicious, you are not boring or intruding or bothersome in any way. I hope things start getting better soon.

#506 ::: Persephone ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2012, 03:47 PM:

Phenicious @504, recognizing that you can't be friends with everyone you meet in daily life -- and that it's okay not to try -- is a huge accomplishment in itself. Don't discount that.

I only started learning this a couple of years ago, when I was in physical therapy for a muscle issue. The physical therapist was polite and helpful, but that was all; she clearly wasn't interested in getting to know me. Since I had to see her every week for almost a year, this bothered me for a long time. I thought it was me.

I don't know what triggered it, but I did finally realize that it's okay not to be friends with the entire world. That's made it a lot easier to deal with bureaucracy and the random people you meet for five minutes as you go through life: if there's no expectation that they all be my BFFs, I don't have to let them walk all over me! I can be firm if I need to, or even stand up for myself! I can take up space and ask for what I need, even if people are annoyed by it!

For someone raised with the "everyone else's needs come before yours" idea, this was a huge revelation. Thanks for helping me articulate this and recognize how far I've come with it.

#507 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2012, 05:49 PM:

I read something a last week about there being a fine line between self-care and self-destruction sometimes. That it's tough to know when saying "No, that makes me uncomfortable, I don't want to do that." is preserving your spoons and when it's stunting your growth. Just gonna leave that here.

Mary Aileen @502, Diatryma @505:
(: Thanks for the reassurance.

abi @503:
I think it's perfectly valid to say, "No, I didn't apply for that job because I went off, of my own initiative, and found these vacancies instead, and applied for them." Most parents would be pleased with that level of get up and go.

Ah, nope, those were all jobs she suggested and I just kind of gave in and let her drive me around to them (or stand over me until I emailed them). She's been pushing me to CHOOSE SOMETHING, pick a different college program, apply to jobs at the mall, whatever, but change is scary and I don't want to get stuck somewhere. Although, if someplace did hire me, it probably wouldn't be for very long. It took my first job only three months on their payroll (rather than the job centre's for the 6 weeks preceding) to realize I wasn't improving and fire me. So that's an exit strategy, if a poor one.

You do have the Tapes on at high volume, don't you? I'm so sorry to hear that. Of course it's OK for you to keep posting.

The funny thing is that nobody's ever even said that I'm taking up too much space or bugging them or whatever. That's all my own paranoia and social awkwardness, combined with my tendency to over-analyse what other people think of me. It's the fear that I'm dominating the conversation and redirecting everything to be about ME. That's a thing I used to do all the time with my friends and I got SO irritated with myself once I noticed I was doing it, so I was convinced everyone else must dislike it at least as much. (in retrospect that's pretty self centred in of itself, the whole damn earth doesn't revolve around me) And lo, the revelation that a ton of my issues are centred around appearing self-sufficient and intelligent. (That doesn't really follow from the rest of this paragraph, oops.)

Yeah, it's something I need to apply to how I deal with random people. Gotta balance my general "don't be a jerk" approach with "don't be a doormat".

#508 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2012, 07:04 PM:

AnotherQuietOne #493 I'm really not liking this "made of middle-aged meat" thing. Where did my youthful invincibility go?

Amen -- I just arranged physical therapy for my shoulder (rotator cuff) and foot (tendonitis).

Can't reply in detail to most of this, but still witnessing.

#509 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2012, 09:51 PM:

Pendrift @498 and Jennifer Baughman @500 especially, very evocative.

Phenicious, I have nothing to offer but confirmation that we're here and listening.

Fooey, hoping for better news on the medical front. Next time you see the doctor, is there a friend or family member who can go with you (someone you'd like to have with you) to help you listen? Also, don't hesitate to say that you didn't process everything last time and could he/she repeat it?

#510 ::: Syd, somewhat disguised ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2012, 07:30 PM:

Lovely poetry, Pendrift and Jennifer Baughman.

Phenicious, Fooey, nothing of substance to offer, just the assurance that I'm also still reading. Should I come across anything helpful rather than hlepy, I shall post it.

For me, it's been one of those mixed-bag kind of weeks, and I'm sorry, but here I go again. (Yes, abi, my Tapes are running, but I'm going to post in spite of them.)

So, Sunday, the chat with the vet. Monday, I was accepted as a resident into Union Station, the homeless shelter where I've been overnighting for 2 months. So that's a yay. And my new case manager, with whom I met both Tuesday and today, is very cool, and also a cat person, so double yay on that. Tuesday afternoon I got what you might call a "Dear Applicant" email from the writing job in Santa Ana, which has, as usual, sapped all my enthusiasm for looking for work because I would have been GREAT for that job and why don't they want me? If they don't, why should any other employer? Grrr, arrrghh, and other sounds of dissatisfaction, disaffection and depression.

On the plus side, I sent out Two! Resumes! this week. One, via an agency, was for an ongoing contract job working for a mid-Wilshire ad agency doing entertainment-related projects; it sounds remarkably like a job I applied for last month at the same agency--even had the same agent on the email address (no name, just an alphanumeric identifier, but still, same as last month). SO I fired off another resume and got a little cheeky in my email, since the more formal approach hadn't gotten me anywhere.

Cheeky apparently doesn't work, either, since I got no personal response.

The other job is hardly worth calling a job, considering my current situation: 8 - 10 hours a month doing bookkeeping for a non-profit. But my new case manager sent it to me, so I fired off an email anyway, because how can it hurt?

And then we had Adventures in Bureaucracy, in that my GR payment didn't get credited last week, so I got to make phone calls and sit in the DPSS office and finally found out the issue was that last month, Form ABWhatever didn't get from Section 1 to Section Z or some such nonsense. Issue now solved and funds have been credited--yay--but it made me late for my Large Storage payment, triggering a late fee--boo. And I keep getting emails from PayPal to activate my current card, and I keep looking through the last batch of mail I picked up and have decided I never got the damned thing in the first place, so that's one more thing to wrap my brainpan around.

To add the chemically processed maraschino cherry atop the sundae of my week, one of the new residents in the dorm is a world-class snorer, so I'm not getting to sleep at a decent hour, and when I wake up--and I've woken up between 3:00 and 5:00 AM every morning this week--I can't get back to sleep.

I am constantly on the edge of tears, I'm angry, I'm frustrated, I'm scared, even as I'm relieved I don't have to worry about calling every morning to make sure I'll have a place to sleep at night, I am so frakking sick of sitting down at my computer with the stated intention of looking for work and playing games instead that I'm ready to cold-cock myself, I am so tired of talking about myself and not having anything positive to say--or not positive enough, and nothing feels positive enough.

But tomorrow night, I get to go to Venice to see one of my friends and his band (at WitZend, 1717 Lincoln Blvd., 90291, 7:30 PM, $10, for any local Fluorospherians who don't already have plans) (and my friend is putting me on the guest list, since I won't have enough for the door charge once I put gas in the car), and my case manager has approved a late-return-to-shelter pass and put 2:00 AM on it, saying not to worry if the staff was cranky if I actually got back that late because my being able to have anything that feels like a normal life is more important than keeping the staff from being cranky.

I want a normal life again. Why can't I figure out how to get it?

#511 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2012, 07:55 PM:

Syd: witnessing. Don't have spoons for much else due to low-grade illness.

Also, earplugs. I use those little foam ones--they won't make things silent but should take things down to a low enough level to allow for sleep.

I have a lot of them (there must have been a sale) and would be happy to send a quantity to you if you would like and there is a way to do that via our esteemed mods. (I know, it's a silly thing to offer, but they can be surprisingly expensive for little bits of foam and why should you spend money on an experiment?)

#512 ::: Ross ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2012, 08:21 PM:

I think I found another trigger this week.

Triggers I knew about are things like being yelled at, not having access to transportation (and an escape route), not having a hiding place, and being broke. This week I think I found a new one, which was not really a pleasant experience:

Dog whistles.

Not like, literal dog whistles. I can't hear them and neither has any dog I've ever owned; I'm half-convinced they're a myth. I mean when people say something that would ordinarily make me very unhappy with them, but in a subtle enough way that they can deny it.

For (a very anonymized) example. This afternoon, someone at our company sent out an email about a bug. This person all week has been subtly taking jabs at how well I do my job, publicly, but in such a way that I get angry over the wording and no one else cares or notices. It's all in wording or subtext, totally deniable, except that it's been happening so often.

At first I didn't actually know what was going on, only that every time I'd hear him talk I'd walk away angry. This afternoon I finally figured it out, but not what to actually do about it.

I can either ignore it, which I normally do, or I can flip out about it, at which point he and everyone will say "no, no, that's not how he meant it at all, geez, get a grip" and I'll look like a crazy person. So I ignore it, mostly. This week has been very bad about this.

Anyway. That's a dog whistle. It also functions somewhat like gaslighting, because it makes me either doubt my own sanity ("maybe it's just a bad wording? I'm freaking out over nothing?") or makes others doubt my sanity.

#513 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2012, 08:31 PM:

Syd, heard and witnessed and as always hoping things will get better for you.

Ross, it is often hard to figure out what's worth addressing directly and what just needs to be let go.

#514 ::: Ross ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2012, 09:01 PM:

OtterB: Hopefully, now that I recognize that this is what is making me so angry, I can notice it, say "yep, that's this guy trying to trigger me because he's a jerk", and ignore it. That's kinda what I do with my other triggers: "I'm getting angry about this because I can't escape if I have to, I'll go take care of that first and then come back". Being able to recognize it is a big deal for me.

I wish I had recognized it on Monday though, before I let this guy ruin my whole week.

#515 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2012, 10:56 PM:

Ross, you might think about saving the paragraphs in which he takes the subtle jabs at you in a single text document. This kind of deniable undermining is the sort of thing that may need to be brought up to your supervisor at some point, and having a whole long list of them available to show will make the underlying pattern much easier for someone else to see. Also, it will give you the feeling of being able to do something about it, even if that something is only a passive defense.

Also, are you the only person he does this to? I would bet not, and if you can identify his other target(s), they are potential allies if the shit hits the fan.

#516 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2012, 01:23 AM:

Ross, I was about to say "document, document, document," but Lee beat me to it. And "that's not how he meant it," should always be countered (mentally, at least, and certainly to management) with "but that's how he *said* it." Wording is important. We can't decipher intentions.

#517 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2012, 01:51 AM:

Following Jacque @ 433:

Two suggestions: if you can stand it, eat a hearty serving (6-8oz, 200ish grams) of dark leafy greens every day. This may help with the depression. (It does for me.)

For easier dark leafy green consumption, I have lately been doing green smoothies.

Here is how I do it:

  • About 4 loosely packed cups raw baby spinach ("baby" here meaning "smaller, more tender leaves")

  • 1 banana, peeled, sliced, and slices frozen overnight

  • 1 T peanut butter

  • 3/4-1 cup soy milk (vanilla is particularly good)

Place in blender in this order: spinach, frozen banana slices, peanut butter, and soy milk. Turn on blender. If it won't blend, add a splash more soy milk, and try again. Blend until smooth. Pour into tall glass and drink through straw.

It is a lovely chlorophyll green color. To me, it tastes of peanut butter and banana, and does not taste of spinach at all -- which I am pretty sure is some kind of alchemy.


Use any fruit you like, cut up in relatively small bits (so the blender can handle it) and frozen. Red or purple fruit (like berries) will make the color more of a muddy brown, but they'll still taste good. Some supermarkets sell bagged, pre-frozen fruit; mine does. I have successfully used frozen sliced peaches, frozen diced mango, and frozen diced pineapple (alone and in combination).

Use any nut butter you like. Nut butter may also be omitted; I once completely forgot to put it in and the smoothie still tasted fine. (Nut butter does add good protein and fat, though.)

Use any milk you like -- coconut, almond, rice, even cow's. I haven't personally tried anything other than soy milk, but I can't see any of those milks turning into total disasters.

Depending on the sweetness of your milk and fruit, you may want to add a spoonful of sugar, honey, or other sweetener. When I use unsweetened soy milk and unsweetened peanut butter, I generally add some sweetener.

#518 ::: Oh, Kay... ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2012, 05:35 AM:

This is probably about as short as it's going to get.

I've been seeing more of my brother than usual, and I'm feeling much the same kind of thing Ross mentions @512. I'm pretty sure my brother still holds a grudge against me for not being a more perfectly-behaved teenager.

My husband has promised to watch for it, but hadn't noticed it, so I can't tell how much is real... Except, I think I've had at least one conversation with my brother about how it doesn't matter to him that I was doing my best in a horrific situation, he basically thinks I wasn't trying hard enough, anything I say to explain what was going on is an excuse, and I basically deserved all the contempt and hostility that was aimed at me, because Mom wouldn't have been so hard on me for no reason, so I must have been a pretty terrible person, because that's the only thing that could have justified it.

I can't even really remember it (the conversation or anything that I might have done to him -- I mean, we hardly had anything to do with each other, even as kids, but I don't really remember a lot of those years in detail, so...), and I can't argue it, because he's just basically completely made up his mind and it's like bouncing off cement.

But the more I think about what went down as a teen, the more everything I kept getting really nailed on looks like stuff that would have been a predictable outcome of half-healed TBI or the medications I was taking. But I never had any school support or accommodations or rehabilitation or anything. I was just supposed to act normal, and do a better job than I was apparently doing. I mean, the only treatment I ever got for any of it was the drugs to control the seizures (which were horrible, if there's any doubt).

So now it's 30 years after the initial injury, and I'm a successful professional with a successful life, and I've given up entirely on normal, because eccentricity is a much better cover, and more fun. But it seems like even that isn't quite sufficient (to the extent that my husband worries about it, because I get distracted and absent-minded and cut off in the middle of sentences and such). I don't even know if there's anything left I even can do, or how to find out (my google fu is completely blocked on this one). And a little, I keep thinking -- all these resources aren't for me, they're for people in much earlier stages of recovery, or who are much worse impaired than I am.

And in the meantime, Mom's busy telling me it wasn't that bad, and I should stop focusing on it, and it just wasn't that big a deal, and other people have it so much worse. Though, when I called her on it, she denied saying it, so... whatever. I keep having this argument with her, that she doesn't get to define my experience for me. But insisting on the legitimacy of my own narrative is making her miserable, which is a guilt trip and a half.

Yeah, I got nothin' on this one.

#519 ::: Oh, Kay... ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2012, 05:35 AM:

This is probably about as short as it's going to get.

I've been seeing more of my brother than usual, and I'm feeling much the same kind of thing Ross mentions @512. I'm pretty sure my brother still holds a grudge against me for not being a more perfectly-behaved teenager.

My husband has promised to watch for it, but hadn't noticed it, so I can't tell how much is real... Except, I think I've had at least one conversation with my brother about how it doesn't matter to him that I was doing my best in a horrific situation, he basically thinks I wasn't trying hard enough, anything I say to explain what was going on is an excuse, and I basically deserved all the contempt and hostility that was aimed at me, because Mom wouldn't have been so hard on me for no reason, so I must have been a pretty terrible person, because that's the only thing that could have justified it.

I can't even really remember it (the conversation or anything that I might have done to him -- I mean, we hardly had anything to do with each other, even as kids, but I don't really remember a lot of those years in detail, so...), and I can't argue it, because he's just basically completely made up his mind and it's like bouncing off cement.

But the more I think about what went down as a teen, the more everything I kept getting really nailed on looks like stuff that would have been a predictable outcome of half-healed TBI or the medications I was taking. But I never had any school support or accommodations or rehabilitation or anything. I was just supposed to act normal, and do a better job than I was apparently doing. I mean, the only treatment I ever got for any of it was the drugs to control the seizures (which were horrible, if there's any doubt).

So now it's 30 years after the initial injury, and I'm a successful professional with a successful life, and I've given up entirely on normal, because eccentricity is a much better cover, and more fun. But it seems like even that isn't quite sufficient (to the extent that my husband worries about it, because I get distracted and absent-minded and cut off in the middle of sentences and such). I don't even know if there's anything left I even can do, or how to find out (my google fu is completely blocked on this one). And a little, I keep thinking -- all these resources aren't for me, they're for people in much earlier stages of recovery, or who are much worse impaired than I am.

And in the meantime, Mom's busy telling me it wasn't that bad, and I should stop focusing on it, and it just wasn't that big a deal, and other people have it so much worse. Though, when I called her on it, she denied saying it, so... whatever. I keep having this argument with her, that she doesn't get to define my experience for me. But insisting on the legitimacy of my own narrative is making her miserable, which is a guilt trip and a half.

Yeah, I got nothin' on this one.

#520 ::: Oh, Kay... ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2012, 05:46 AM:

Sorry for the double post. My browser crashed, and I didn't cancel out the right window fast enough when it reloaded. At least, I think that's what happened...

#521 ::: Merricat ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2012, 09:24 AM:

Kay @518/19 -- "I don't even know if there's anything left I even can do, or how to find out (my google fu is completely blocked on this one). And a little, I keep thinking -- all these resources aren't for me, they're for people in much earlier stages of recovery, or who are much worse impaired than I am"

I think it's worth contacting one of those resources, or your primary doctor, and just laying the situation out before them -- even if THEY are not the right person to help you, there's a good chance they'll be able to point you towards more appropriate resources.

#522 ::: Neutrino ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2012, 12:57 PM:

Syd, reading and witnessing and wishing you well.

Oh, Kay..., I agree with Merricat. Explore whatever you can. And I definitely wouldn't listen to your mom and brother on this topic.

#523 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2012, 04:26 PM:

Oh, Kay, I agree with Neutrino and Merricat. If getting it is not prohibitively expensive or otherwise problematic, then something like a neuropsychological assessment might be useful. Those can pinpoint subtle processing issues that you might be compensating for (but compensating gets tiring). And information is helpful.

#524 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2012, 09:17 PM:

Yes, Kay, I wouldn't listen too much to your mom and brother on this; even with the best will in the world, they still have a vested interest in minimizing how difficult it was for you, because they didn't notice. If they admitted they didn't notice, they'd have to face their guilt at not noticing. And that's hard.

Investigate those resources when you have enough spoons; the worst they can do for you is nothing. And they might be able to help, or know someone or something that can. If you don't investigate, nothing is the best that they can do.

#525 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2012, 11:08 PM:

AnotherQuietOne (#493) Oh, honey, wait till you find out what it's like to be made of *aged* meat!

I held out pretty well until I was honestly *old* but then everything broke at once, or anyway within a few years. When I visit my rheumatologist, he checks my arm and leg strength, and when he says "Pretty good!" I think "Pretty damn pitiful, you mean." I didn't think I'd last forever, but the longer I lasted, the longer I hoped for a slow, dignified decline. Alas.

#526 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2012, 01:32 PM:

Syd: Good that you've got the shelter - and sympathies for the snoring. If foam earplus don't work, how about going to sleep with earbuds in, playing music? I resorted to that once in a shared room at a con. Of course, that assumes you have a music-maker and are in a position to keep it charged up, so apologies if it's hlepy.

Sympathies for not getting the job, and good luck for another one to come along. Hope you enjoy your evening out.

Kay: as has been said already, your mom and your brother do not get to define how bad it was or wasn't for you. Absolutely you are deserving of any resources you can find & access.

#527 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2012, 02:31 PM:

Syd: Congratulations on getting the resident status! That's a major load off your mind, and it hopefully gives you someplace stable to Do Stuff for self-care and "homework" type stuff.

And even a part-time job will help keep your hand in, help you avoid "settling into" being out of work, and make sure you get at least some contact with "normal people".

Ross: Amen to Lee, document document document.

Oh, Kay: Amen on getting a neuropsych workup and checking out the resources. Professionals in the field know perfectly well that TBI has effects over someone's entire lifetime, and they will pay attention. And sympathies regarding your abusive mother and brother.

#528 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2012, 07:14 PM:

Will check in for a proper catch-up tomorrow, but for now:

Anyone wanting a good movie to watch: Lars and the Real Girl. The scriptwriter's starting premise: "What if society responded to mental illness with kindness and compassion?"

#529 ::: Oh, Kay... ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2012, 07:55 PM:

Thank you all for the support. I've set up an appointment with my doctor for Friday, to see if I can at least get a referral... So, I guess we'll see how that goes.

(Also, yes, a deliberately transparent effort at separation; it's rather more relevant to me that this subthread not be easily found via my usual handle, than that it be truly unidentifiable...)

#531 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2012, 12:57 AM:

Sumana Harihareswara @530: A phrase I usually attribute to Jon Singer, who is who I first heard it from:

"If you know, you can't find out."

And finding out is fun, for me (mostly).

#532 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2012, 11:14 AM:

Syd, somewhat disguised @510: I would have been GREAT for that job and why don't they want me?

One of the more difficult, but highly recommended, strategies is to call the hiring manager with whom you interviewed, and ask them if (1) they will give you feedback as to how you could have interviewed more effectively, or what qualifications you could have had that would have won you the job* and, (2) can they recommend anyone else that would be beneficial for you to talk to?

This sux righteous rox, because the answers commonly are "No," and "No." But what you're really doing is putting a little bug in the manager's ear that, "here's this person who's still persisting." Then, in a couple of weeks, call them back, with the question about possible contacts. Then, a month later, do this again. If you get hung up at the receptionist level—ask the receptionist these questions. It's kind of a backdoor way to add to your network.

I did this once after getting passed over for a job, got "No" and "No." But then, lo and behold, a month later the hiring manager called me and asked if I still wanted the job. Hell, yes! Turns out the guy they'd hired suddenly decided to move to Washington.

* And this should make you feel better: when I asked this question for the job that I later got, the manager said, "Well, he just had a lot of experience with [software]." Which was interesting, because I'd been working with [software] since it had been introduced. Turned out what he did have was an impressive resume and sales pitch. I got to work on some of the documents he'd produced before he left. What he didn't have was quality: the guy introduced as many errors as he fixed. Spent all his time making fancy but superfluous graphics. Moral of the story, just because somebody else go the job, doesn't mean they're any "better" than you are.

Ross @512: That's...low. That's bullying, with extra passive aggressive cowardice on top.

Say, this probably isn't your style, and would require a cool head, but it's fun to think about anyway: whenever Mr. Bully comes by and does his schtick, you could ever so casually—and tangnetially, of course, no connection to what he said at all, why do you ask?—mention this article you read about passive aggressive bullies and that it's really a sign of cowardice that they can't just come out and say what they mean, and people like that are really just so pathetic, wouldn't it be better for everyone if they just came out and asked for what they wanted? *blink* *blink* have you ever met anyone like that? *blink*

Or, just think it, real loud, and smile angelically. "What are you grinning about?" "Oh...nothing...." That'll mess with his head.

Also, Lee's @515 is a really good suggestion. Additional benefit: gives you something concrete to analyse, and I'll bet effective responses will suggest themselves once you accumulate a dataset to study.

Caroline @517: Smoothies are a gloriously sneaky way to surreptitiously injest nutrition that would otherwise be unpalatable. When I was having appetite issues due to medication, this was a lifesaver.

Nut butter...? Never occurred to me, but I'll bet that would be good.

Oh, Kay... @519: But insisting on the legitimacy of my own narrative is making her miserable, which is a guilt trip and a half.

"So, Mom, let me see if I understand you: your dismissal of the validity of my experience makes me miserable. But if I insist that my experience is valid, that makes you miserable. Have I got that right? Okay, so what are we going to do abou that?"

Is family counselling an option?

#533 ::: Vacation from last time ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2012, 02:19 PM:

I just got back from a short trip, a vacation, and being back at work means that I feel my stress rise. I got teary-eyed driving in, wondering how the day will go. I'm not in a position to accurately judge how much of these feelings are from how I'm reading what's going on here, vs. what's going on here.

Why? I can tell I'm putting a worried spin on every bit of information coming in, and I know that (statistically, based on past similar feelings), things aren't what they feel.

Today is not the day to be making decisions or imagining what could happen if I move elsewhere, but it's so tempting. I need to make it through the next 3 days, through a Big Meeting (a positive meeting, objectively) before I do or say anything hinting in the general direction of not being here longer term.

I'd just like to say, here, that I'm going to get through the next 3 days.

#534 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2012, 12:15 AM:

#530 ::: Sumana Harihareswara :

Thanks for mentioning this-- when I was a kid, I was told repeatedly that I "had no common sense", was "inconsiderate", "needed a keeper"... probably more of the same that I'm not remembering at the moment, and never with any explanation of what the actual issue was.

"Inconsiderate" worked especially badly, because by that point, I didn't have any motivation to care about how my behavior was affecting my mother's feelings.

The long term effect-- which I'm digging my way out of-- was for me to assume that I was just supposed to get things right, without having any process of learning.

#535 ::: Vacation from last time ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2012, 04:44 AM:

I made it through a day of work without saying anything of a self-fulfilling, bridge burning nature.

However, I did jut finish up a 3 hour argument/ discussion with my partner about why I spent the first hour back home talking about how hard not-bridge-burning has been. Being worried all the time is making me prickly. Being reminded of how prickly I am makes me prickly. I wish I could just get through a day of not caring / of not worrying so much about shoes dropping that I push the shoes myself.

#536 ::: Throwmearope ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2012, 09:21 AM:

@Vacation 533 and 535--

Only two days left. Hang in there. Then take your partner out for a nice meal or something. And apologize. Hopefully both of you will feel better.

I just got past a huge hurdle at work (learning an entirely new computer system) that made me very grumpy. (This is an understatement of major proportions.)

My husband said that it couldn't be all that bad, because I didn't talk about it at home.

I told him it's bad enough to live through it at work, without reliving it at home.

Anyway, I took him to see the new Avengers movie to make up for my bad behavior. I think it helped.

#537 ::: AnotherQuietOne ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2012, 09:55 PM:

Reading and witnessing. Haven't got much useful to say.

I may never have mentioned that I turned out not to have a serious health problem this month, so yay that, as far as it goes. We suspect I've pulled the unpronounceable internal muscle that runs from the back of the ribcage through your innards to the front of your groin, which can impersonate a variety of serious ills. I am now using the "You annoy me; if I ignore you will you go away?" management system. Improving, if slowly.

This is just as well, because I've spent the last couple of weeks detouring through seriously "Dark Night of the Soul" territory. Avoided crying in public (mostly), had some necessary conversations and a few unnecessary ones, worked through some things that were unresolved and said (some of) the important things to the important people. It's incomplete, but sufficient.

I'm probably going to end up on the choir director search committee, if not chairing it. But I think I can do what needs to be done now.

It's more complicated than this, but my spousal unit is lurching up the stairs and will want to TALK to me any minute now.

#538 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2012, 10:01 PM:

AnotherQuietOne and Vacation - reading, witnessing, respecting what it takes to keep going sometimes.

#539 ::: Of The World ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2012, 08:08 AM:

Listening and witnessing, and following this thread closely, even if I don't post much.

I had an appointment with a mental health nurse recently. My GP referred me there after I spoke to him earlier in the year. At the time, he was pretty skeptical about ADD, but supportive about referring me on.

The first thing the nurse said was that she was unfamiliar with ADD, which I'd half-expected but it was still really disappointing. It went almost exactly as the GP appointment did- skeptical about it being ADD, supportive about referring me to the specialist I've asked for, but also very gently trying to convince me I was mistaken.

What's frustrating is that I don't feel I've gone into these appointments stamping my foot and demanding a preferred diagnosis- I'm not convinced one way or the other myself I know what's going on. All I know is that there is something up, and that there's been something up for a long, long time, and I'd like to find out what it is one way or the other. An attempt at gentle dissuasion is not helpful, not after the mental energy it took just to book the first appointment. What I tried to get across, but I'm not sure I was successful with, is that even if it isn't ADD, or mild depression, or whatever, there is certainly something up. If they doesn't think it's ADD, then fine- but I would like to know what they think it is, because it sure as hell isn't "absolutely fine, just a bit wobbly."

All I want is to get to someone who's knowledgeable about ADD, speak to them and give weight to their opinion. Not my own, not what I've gleaned from books, and not from these people who admit they don't know anything. To be fair, the nurse is going to try and get me booked with my preferred specialist, and I've got another appointment next month to see how far she's got.

#540 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2012, 09:23 AM:

Of The World @539, it does seem unfair that extra spoons are required to get to someone who can help diagnose your spoon deficiency. Good luck with it.

#541 ::: phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2012, 10:29 AM:

I'm still reading and wishing everyone strength. I'm posting from my ipod, because my mom actually went through with her threat to confiscate my laptop. I know it's because I've been dragging my feet something fierce. I'm only hurting my chances of getting a job by not even applying. You know how it goes. I knew this was going to happen, but that doesn't stop me from being pissed about it.

I can't really do anything well when I'm upset. I'm gonna finish breakfast and read my friend's blog to calm down, since I can't actually talk to him without my laptop. And then maybe this won't seem so ridiculous.

(My ipod is running out of battery, so if I stop responding that's a probable cause)

#542 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2012, 11:41 AM:

Of The World, #539: The first thing that jumps to my mind when reading that is, "If they don't know anything about ADD, how can they be so sure that's not what it is?" That might be a fruitful question to ask in the face of "gentle dissuasion"... which in this case is nothing but a scaled-down version of "it's all in your head, stop being hysterical".

even if it isn't ADD, or mild depression, or whatever, there is certainly something up. If they doesn't think it's ADD, then fine- but I would like to know what they think it is, because it sure as hell isn't "absolutely fine, just a bit wobbly."

That's a good, straightforward statement of the situation. If you put it to them that way, it's likely to be dispositive for whether or not they think you're just imagining things. At that point, you can decide what needs to be done next.

#543 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2012, 12:58 PM:

My anxiety is really screwing me over right now. My parents know that I get messed up by big changes but their approach is just "Oh, this always happens, you eventually got over it last time, just skip to the part where you deal with life like a normal adult." Nevermind that I'm not a normal adult, I don't have any decent coping strategies and I keep making my face bleed because I can't stop picking at it. I need to do the job thing but I don't have the spoons.

#544 ::: Renatus ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2012, 01:25 PM:

Of The World @ 539, I agree with what Lee says @ 542. I'm also sorry you're having to go through the runaround. Some people just won't or can't wrap their minds around the idea that adults can have ADHD/ADD that learned coping skills aren't actually coping with -- and it seems like it's always the people who don't know much about the disorder but are the gatekeepers to people who DO know. Pfeh.

Anyhow, wishing you luck, and the strength to keep pushing. I found that persistence is key when trying to get a referral, because the gatekeepers tend to be so pigheaded.

#545 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2012, 01:59 PM:

Phenicious @543: I wish I was there, so I could grab each of them in turn by the lapels and scream in their faces: "You're not helping!!" Which probably wouldn't help, but anyway. {{{hugs}}}

#546 ::: AnonCowardSevenBillion ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2012, 04:29 PM:

Syd, Jacque@532 speaks truth about calling people back after not getting a job.

When I was unemployed during Bush Jr.'s first recession, I was desperate enough to interview for insurance sales positions. After one of several rejections, I called my interviewer back to see if there was any other way we could go about getting me in the door. My interviewer told me that not even one in a hundred people was persistent enough to keep trying after the first rejection; and, he went to bat for me internally within the company. Ultimately, it didn't work (which is probably for the best anyway; I find that kind of aggressive gregariousness exhausting), but that one little interaction was instructive; it showed me behaviour I could take back to my own field and use to stand out at a time when every opening was getting hundreds of applicants.

Don't get me wrong, it's beastly tough to call someone back who's turned you down once already; but it does make an impression.

#547 ::: Variation of last time ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2012, 11:47 AM:

Oftheworld @539,

When I got my diagnosis I first dealt with one or two cynics-about-ADD and it was stressful (adults with ADD, and the nature of ADD in women, were both more unknown than today). Their lack of knowledge should give them pause, and instead it slows your search for help down.

In my case I then spoke with a occupational therapy nurse at my HMO: ADD shows up as a workplace problem, and so she knew exactly which doctors understood ADD. I hope I'm helpful and not hlepy in noting the nurse -- perhaps there's an equivalently knowledgeable nurse?

#548 ::: Oh, Kay... ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2012, 07:13 PM:

Jacque @ 532
"So, Mom, let me see if I understand you: your dismissal of the validity of my experience makes me miserable. But if I insist that my experience is valid, that makes you miserable. Have I got that right? Okay, so what are we going to do abou that?"

Oh, uh... yes, well, exactly like that, actually. Sadly, family counseling is highly unlikely.

On the plus side, I had my appointment today despite my deep and abiding conviction that my doctor was going to dismiss all of my concerns, and she's referred me for both a neurological workup and a sleep apnea study, which I already thought were probably within reason, and she also sent me for a bunch of lab work (which I hadn't anticipated, but I guess makes sense).

Fortunately and ironically, today is the first "good" day I've had in several weeks, where I felt like I could think clearly instead of having to push aside a heavy brick wall and hold it there, while I tried to think or get things done with any energy and attention left over from dealing with the heavy brick wall. That alone neatly swept away any lingering concerns I had about whether it was dramatic enough to warrant going in...

I'm ridiculously excited this afternoon.

#549 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2012, 08:20 PM:

Oh, Kay—I hadn't thought about the lab work, but that makes sense. Dealing with any biological oddities such as anemia or vitamin deprivation first makes fixing or coping with psychological difficulties much easier.

#550 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2012, 08:37 PM:

Oh, Kay @548 Good new, sounds like. Excellent.

#551 ::: ma larkey ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2012, 11:10 PM:

I haven't been writing here or reading this thread, but am grateful it is still here. Recently had good and bad things happen. Got job offers, am still waiting for final word on those. Competed short contracts so I do have money coming in, but still not enough for a proper flight plan if ever. The creepy/bad things that have happened: gaslighting from my mother and sister, who heard my good news and apparently were alarmed I might suddenly disappear. Things have disappeared from my bags which I keep here at the apartment, only my mother has keys. I thought I'd done a good job of hiding my valuables by spreading them around and not keeping them in a single place to be raided. How wrong I was: one of my journals that I've been keeping for the last twelve years is missing, along with a pouch of jewelry, pens and some papers, which include my passport application forms and other important documents. Another thing that went missing is a small wallet where I usually keep my bank and credit cards--I'd recently changed wallets because my journal went missing, and realized that I was a gaslighting target yet again. The last straw for me just now was discovering that my digital voice recorder which I keep for personal reminders near my pillow is missing. The only people who might have taken it include my sister and her kids who've dropped in to visit and my mother.

I am very upset. But I can't go anywhere at this point. The friends that I used to call seem to have distanced themselves, either out of fatigue or just the way life rolls, with their own difficulties to handle. I feel so alone.

#552 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2012, 12:08 AM:

ma larkey, #551: Do you think your missing items are still in your mother's possession? If so, you can file a police report describing the missing items and saying where you believe they can be found. If the jewelry has any significant value, you can prosecute for theft as well.

Also, you obviously need to stop telling the rest of your family any news which might point to you being able to get out from under their control. Lie to them if you have to.

#553 ::: Lee has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2012, 12:09 AM:

Probably for a Word or Phrase of Power.

#554 ::: Oh, Kay ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2012, 11:39 AM:

ma larkey @ 551

I agree with Lee. I would at least not mention anything to them until you are out.

Also, is there a reason you don't change your lock and "forget" to give your mom the keys?


Yes, good news. And the bloodwork came back smack in the middle of the normal range, so at least I'm probably looking at something small and manageable (rather than, you know, kidney or liver failure, which had also both been on the table). So that is also good news.

#555 ::: ma larkey ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2012, 12:49 PM:

Lee and Kay, thanks for thinking of that, I am trying to address the issue while considering issues of safety. I don't know what the exact value of the missing jewelry pouch is, whatever it is, it can't be worth all that much, that isn't what really bothers me: it's the loss of my journal and my recorder that really hurts. I'm still digging through storage hoping against hope that I misplaced some of the things that are missing, but at the same time, I am terribly aware of spoon shortage.
You are right though, the less said to them the better. I just wish I was a better actress.

#556 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2012, 12:50 PM:

ma larkey @551:
Would it be possible to get some kind of offsite storage? A safety deposit box might be overkill, but some kind of storage locker?

#557 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2012, 12:56 PM:

Ma Larkey, that sucks. I agree with Lee that a police report could be useful. If nothing else, it makes a paper trail.

#558 ::: ma larkey ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2012, 01:19 PM:

Thanks Abi and Diatryma: For now, this will have to be my documentation. I've discussed this with a friend who offered to hold some things for me. Trying to get a measure of calm and perspective, because the truth is that things are more complicated than I can sketch here, and I can't possibly lock Everything up. Also, throw in forgetfulness that is shades more than average, and so I have to own that as well.

#559 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2012, 05:11 PM:

abi, #556: In this instance, I don't think a safe-deposit box would be overkill at all, especially not for things like important papers. A small one isn't terribly expensive, and even if somebody's mother steals or duplicates the key, she's not going to get in without a matching signature; banks check that.

The downsides to this are that (1) you can only get to your stored items during bank lobby hours, and (2) it's useless for things you want to keep around for everyday use, like inexpensive jewelry or a voice recorder. But paperwork, especially of the legal-document kind? Oh HELL yeah.

#560 ::: Oh Kay ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2012, 06:12 PM:

ma larkey @ 555

Sentimental value and your sense of security are also things of worth. It is not just the monetary value of the things that have been stolen that is in question. The police should also understand that. (Especially if you wanted to fill them in on some of the rest. Ye cats...)

I understand the frustration about memory and available spoons for searching, however. Would your friend who is helping you store things also be willing to come over and help you look? It feels like a thing I wouldn't mind doing for a friend -- being in the same room means it's basically productive social time, which is my favorite kind.

#561 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2012, 11:16 PM:

ma larkey: Witnessing.

#562 ::: Of The World ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2012, 09:10 AM:

I just wanted to thank everyone, again, who's replied here, and who stays around to listen.

Variation of Last Time #547: Not hlepy at all. If the next appointment doesn't go well, I'll need a plan B and approaching it from an occupational angle seems a sound idea to me.

#563 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2012, 05:46 PM:

ma larkey @555: Remember that the lost recorder should be added to a police report as well. "Personal electronics" are notoriously a target of burglars, after all. }:-)

#564 ::: Anon Amos ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2012, 05:58 PM:

So, okay, I've got this boss, see? Who occassionally wants to change the behavior of subordinates. So far, so good. But Boss's method of doing this is to send out a vague email "reminding" "everybody" to be, say, "pleasant and professional." In fact what Boss wants to say is "Please, Subordinate, stop doing [annoying behavior]."

Too often, the subordinate in question is me. I finally got tired of it today, and nailed Boss's foot to the floor. "If you want me to do or stop doing something specific, you need to tell me what you want me to do. I can't read your [expletive deleted] mind."

And, for bonus points, this exchange occurred in email, so I now have a written record to refer Boss to, the next time this comes up.

SIGH. I'm still feeling hacked off, and I only got a somewhat oblique acknowledgement of my original point. But at least I tried, right? Stood up for myself, instead of just smoldering in resentment, right?

#565 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2012, 06:29 PM:

Anon Amos, #564: Yes, you did well in standing up for yourself.

Something which might be contributing to the situation with your boss is the classic Ask vs. Guess conflict. (In addition to the article itself, go read the Metafilter thread linked from the first paragraph. You'll find out a lot!) If your boss is a Guesser, he may find it extremely difficult to just come out and ask for what he wants, and uses this vague-hinting method because that's what he grew up with.

Or he could just be a passive/aggressive, manipulatory asshole who relies on plausible deniability to evade consequences. It is unfortunately true that Guesser behavior can produce results indistinguishable from this.

#566 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2012, 10:19 AM:

Anon Amos @564: Go you! Standing up for yourself (and documenting the incident) is a good thing.

One time at work I told a co-worker, "Look, TELL ME what you want done -- I'm a witch not a mindreader." Everyone laughed...but the co-worker stopped dumping things on my desk and assuming I knew what needed to be done with them.

#567 ::: Anon Amos ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2012, 11:33 AM:

Lee @565: Ask vs. Guess

Ah yes! Very good. I had speculated something of the sort, but didn't have the vocabulary to express it. PIm is not generally a passive/aggressive asshole, although hir's behavior yesterday was definitely edging into that territory. Zhe is young, so hasn't had the opportunity to get some of these ideas forcibly pounded into hir's head by Life.

I want to sit down with PIm and talk about this explicitly, so the lines are clear. Don't know how that would go. Also, not today; I'm still in a nasty mood (see below).

Lori Coulson @566: dumping things on my desk and assuming I knew what needed to be done

The sad part is I pull this one myself. Then I get called on it. "Oh, I'm sorry, I forgot. You're not privy to the conversations in my head. My bad."

Well, yesterday seemed to be National Stand Up For Yourself Day in my part of the world. Leaving work, peddling up the hill, I detected another bicycle coming up close behind me. Then my weight started to shift; sure enough, it was Cow Orker. He thought it would be clever to grab hold of my backpack and pull. "GodDAMMIT, Cow, DON'T DO THAT. Jesus Christ!" He let go, and said something like, "Sorry, I was just giving you a little extra resistance...."

"You do NOT mess with someone's balance, on bicycles, in traffic!" And certainly not someone you know only very casually at work. Sheesh.

"Yeah, sorry, I was just being young, I guess," he mumbled. We peddled along for a bit, but I didn't relent until I heard an apology that actually sounded somewhat sincere. After that, I held my brakes so he could go on ahead, without me.

Again, I was grateful: I responded—I thought—promptly, emphatically, and specifically, and I didn't cave into the impulse to let him off the hook, but rather gave him time to experience his discomfort.

He's generally a reasonably nice guy. He's in his twenties, but about twelve, in Adult years. He's made minor, lame, juvenile "jokes," before. I'd pretty well guessed who it was as he approached, so I had time to choose how I wanted to respond. Good thing I identified him, though; if I'd thought it was a stranger doing that, it could have gone very badly—for both of us. As it was, I spent the ride home fuming, and stewed for much of the evening.

#568 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2012, 01:09 PM:

Anon Amos, #567: HOLY CRAP. Did you explain to him exactly how close he'd come to being on the ground bleeding? I ran that incident by my partner, who's an active cyclist, and he said that was grounds for a kick to the fork -- only barely mitigated down into "unforgivably stupid" by the fact that you had identified him prior to his making contact. CWAA, especially since it sounds as though he relies on "boyish charm" to get him out of dealing with the consequences of his idiocy.

This guy doesn't hang out on any cycling forums, does he? Suggest that he post about his little joke there.

#569 ::: Anon Amos ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2012, 01:35 PM:

Lee: I didn't get that far in my thinking until later in my trip home, after the initial adrenalin rush started to abate.

The kick in the fork option is not one I would have tried—too easy to get my foot tangled in his wheel. The Nuclear Option I would have gone for would have been a hard swing backward with my fist; even that would be chancy if he was still hanging on to me; we could both have gone down.

Well, I'm comforted. It sounds like, if anything, I underreacted. He does hang with cycling culture; I may make that suggestion.

I've contemplated assigning him some homework: "proper structure for an apology", "personal boundaries," and "privilege." The "boyish charm" guess is dead on, which is one of the reasons I don't really like him very much. WRT "privilege," it obviously simply failed to cross his mind that I'm not a member of his relatively impervious demographic. If I decide to have a little sit-down with him, I might point out that I have personally experienced on my bike: drunken drivers throwing half-full beer bottles at me, someone stepping out from behind a telephone pole, looking both ways, and then coming straight at me, and living in a city with a motorcyclist driving around, slashing cyclists with a knife as he passed. He got very lucky, trying this on me.

I'm really grateful that I seem to have pretty fast reflexes and good situational awareness.

Maybe he'd garner some Wisdom from the experience.

#570 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2012, 04:44 PM:

"I was just being young, I guess," is the statement of someone who expects to be let off the hook. It's kind of like beating yourself up all the time because if you only do it hard enough, your abuser won't do it later, but in this form, it's used as an excuse.

#571 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2012, 06:20 PM:

it's used as an excuse

Though it does suggest to me that there is at least some faint glimmer of a clue in there. Now the trick would be to fan it to flame....

#572 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2012, 09:08 PM:

Anon Amos, #569: My partner says that it makes a difference what kind of cycling forum he hangs out in. If it's populated by serious riders (especially bike messengers or commuters), he'll get his head handed to him. If it's primarily hot-dogs, not so much.

It might be fruitful to point out that "boyish charm" goes very stale by about age 30 (if not well before), and that overgrown adolescents tend not to prosper outside of professional sports.

#573 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2012, 09:13 PM:

"The scary part wasn't so much that I could have lost my balance and cracked up. It was how I almost reacted before I realized it was you." Don't give details. It's scarier if you don't.

#574 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2012, 01:17 AM:

Lee @ 572

"It might be fruitful to point out that "boyish charm" goes very stale by about age 30 (if not well before), and that overgrown adolescents tend not to prosper outside of professional sports."

I think this is dead on. I'd pull him aside, not for a remonstration, but for some mentoring.

"Hey, I just wanted to give you a heads up. I know the kind of thing you did yesterday might be kinda cool when you're hanging out with guys you know, but if it hadn't been me, you could have been in a lot of trouble. Someone else might have chosen to press charges for assault, or it could have resulted in serious injuries for either one of us, and I'd hate to see you go through that kind of thing over what you meant to be a friendly prank." If he seems receptive, I might even go so far as to suggest that pranking in the workplace can get you slapped with a harassment allegation, like you wouldn't believe.

I've had those kinds of talks with colleagues, often on questions of diversity, and while they can feel a little fraught at the time, my experience is that the people I've approached that way were generally appreciative to receive feedback in a friendly, supportive way, before they unintentionally got themselves in trouble. Of course, I also pick my battles pretty carefully, so YMMV.

#575 ::: Anon Amos ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2012, 10:51 AM:

Just chatted with him, covering most of the points listed above. He admits that this sort of thing would be entirely unremarkable with his "hot-dog" racing buddies. Conclusion: "I'm sorry. I'll keep my distance from now on."

One hopes this will be a Lessson Learned.

(And once again I feel grateful for having been capable of a modulated response.)

#576 ::: Syd, somewhat disguised ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2012, 07:40 PM:

A couple of folks have dropped me a line wondering where I am, how things are going, etc. I'm fighting for spoons at the moment, so with the permission of one of those folks, I'm posting my email response of a couple of days ago:

Well...the short version is that things have not gotten noticeably better, but neither are they hugely worse. Just...somewhat.

Mostly it's frustrating: frustration at "The System" that seems set up (or at least implemented) in a way that's intentionally discouraging; at myself, for waiting until the last minute to do something that I could have completed over a week instead (somewhat mitigated by the pleasure of accomplishment, then intensified by a run-in with said System); again at myself, because I'm noticing myself getting (silently) judgmental about some of the people I see at the shelter and at the Women's Room, and judgment isn't my job (or my right); at the political climate and the economy and whole bunches of other related things that I can't control but that are more than able to control me--at least in the outward, real-world sense; at myself for a third friggin' time because for the last two weeks, I turn into a waterworks at the slightest provocation--or no provocation at all, at least in the overt "This happened and I cried as a result" sense and it totally doesn't SOLVE anything and it doesn't even make me feel particularly better...

And the main thing that's kept me from posting on ML is my fear that my next entry (whenever it is) will be the one that finally taxes the Fluorosphere's patience because I never seem to have any progress to report: Still unemployed, still broke, still scrambling to make ends meet and still feeling guilty every time I mention money because I feel like that's all I ever talk about.

On the other hand, I'm writing more, and the woman who leads the writers' group at the Women's Room says my stuff is good, and she also is encouraging me to write the oft-discussed book, so that's worth a smile.

[end email]

So, yeah. Still here, still reading and witnessing, still working to not play the Pain Olympics in my head with my experiences coming out as the losers, still offering good mojo to all who wish it, and still hoping to find a bloody damned job sooner rather than later.

Thank you all. :)

#577 ::: Syd, having been gnomed, is more than somewhat disguised ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2012, 07:44 PM:

Respectful greetings to Roquat Rufus, Rex Gnomi, and the Duty Gnomes. My comment # 576 has been captured for reasons unknown.

It's a little warm today...iced tea with mint, perhaps, and some pound cake with fresh raspberries?

[Perhaps a different dummy email address? -- Arbelo Halfpennywaite, Duty Gnome]

[A different dummy email address means a new (view all by) -- Aureata Pyritine, Support Gnome]

#578 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2012, 09:50 PM:


You don't owe us progress or any particular amount of diligence. That's part of the point of this thread, I think.

#579 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2012, 10:04 PM:


Seriously, we worry about you.

[[more hugs]]

#580 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2012, 10:08 PM:

Syd... This place is here for people who need it. You talk, we listen.

#581 ::: Cassy B ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2012, 10:59 PM:

Sid @576,

PLEASE don't worry you'll drive us away. You have far more real things to worry about than most people have to deal with; you don't need to add that worry to your plate.

We're here for you. Mostly all we can do is listen. But we're listening.

{virtual hugs}

#582 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2012, 05:48 AM:

Syd, agreeing that it's good to hear from you occasionally. Details if you feel like it, but a simple "Still here, no news" is fine too.

#583 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2012, 06:52 PM:

Long time, no update, but I've been reading and witnessing.

Life seems to be semi-stabilizing, finally. Husband and I are both on ADD meds, and the difference in our lives is amazing.

I described it to one of my co-workers as follows:

You're behind the wheel of a car. All the windows are covered in grease, so you can't really see clearly, and the controls aren't reliable. The grease won't come off the windows, no matter what you try, and you know you've got to get from point A to point B anyway. So you do your best, you do the things that are supposed to work, but they fail as often as they succeed, and it's hard to tell where you are compared to where you're going, and sometimes you hit patches of black ice and you just go spinning off, blind, lost, and waiting for the inevitable crash.

ADD meds give me a good car and a sunny street. They're letting me start unlearning the coping habits of decades and build new, more sustainable habits. I can start working on the learned helplessness, the tendency to let unpleasant but necessary chores slip, the general sense of malaise.

It's not perfect; Husband is still unemployed and looking for a job, but he has about 6 months left of UI, and he's working on building up freelance work if he doesn't get a day job. (Something he could not have done off the meds.) The work he's doing helping market Kickstarters seems to be turning into something, and the writing he's been doing on Facebook has got him an offer for freelance writing.

Friend's drug-addict grandson, after much drama, has run away for the third time; at this point, everyone involved is washing their hands of the situation. There are options available to him, should he choose to accept them; otherwise, he gets no financial help from us. It's a horrible choice to have to make, but it's the only one that keeps us sane, and he needs to feel the consequences of his decisions.

Ridiculous Cat is settling in nicely with the others, after a mere 2 months, and his antics have provided an enormous emotional boost in weathering the past two months.

Contact with my sister has been far less fraught and far more rewarding than I'd ever thought; once I came to terms with the reality that her childhood sucked just as much as mine did, that we were, ultimately, both survivors, I was able to forgive her, and it delights me that we're really sisters again.

Still don't have a lot in the way of money, UI's not much to replace Husband's salary, but we're getting back some spoons, and that means I can start taking care of some of the things I've promised lately, and then dropped in a frantic attempt to shore up the levee.

Syd @576, *hugs* Expect an email from me this weekend, and I really am sorry for not getting back to you sooner! And don't feel like you're boring anybody. The System's a shande, the job market's a disaster, and every day you get up and do something is an achievement.

#584 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2012, 01:09 PM:

I read something that made me realize my need to have things worded PERFECTLY is fuelled by how being articulate and being "smart" are so tied together they're treated like the same damn thing. My fear that any tiny mis-step in an email or letter is going to make me "look stupid" and be immediately dismissed is really hard to reason my way out of, because it's partly rational. I should take notes on all the stuff I'm figuring out in case I ever, through some unlikely series of events, work up the courage to actually see a counsellor. I have more to say but it's all kind of poisonous self-loathing and I don't want to sabotage other people with my pessimism. So for now I'm just checking in to say I'm still alive, or something. I'm still reading everyone's posts, and I'm wishing you all the strength to keep going.

#585 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2012, 02:39 PM:

Phenicious @584: If you need to say something, please do; if nothing else, getting it out of you and exposing it to the critical eyes of others can help you fight it, or escape it, or even just understand where it comes from. I haven't seen a "bad feelings" quota on the thread yet, and I don't anticipate one.

And I entirely understand the connect between 'articulate' and 'smart'. Language is one of the primary means through which we communicate, and it's an easy (though lazy) assumption to make that 'inarticulate' is equal to 'stupid'. For that matter, consider how frequently the phrase 'well-spoken' is used to describe people of color in this country, as if they are expected to be gibbering barbarians with neither words nor wit at their disposal.

It's one of the unspoken expectations of our culture.

And absolutely take notes!

(BTW, you appear to me as someone who's perfectly intelligent and remarkably articulate.)

*hugs and strength*

#586 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2012, 03:50 PM:

Jennifer Baughman @585:
(BTW, you appear to me as someone who's perfectly intelligent and remarkably articulate.)

*hugs and strength*

First of all, thank you.

I really don't want to get into why I don't like being told I'm "smart" or "bright" because i've had that argument so many times with my mother and it never goes anywhere. Anyone who compliments me is going to get a whole dump truck of baggage and resentment dropped on them. I'm gonna go eat lunch or something and avoid getting ready to get driven around dropping off resumes. I'm kind of having a meltdown in the living room so I'll be back later I guess.

#587 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2012, 05:13 PM:

Forgive me; I certainly didn't mean to rasp up against any raw nerves. From your previous posts, though, I have a few ideas on what you've been up against...

The belief that 'smart' means 'omnicompetent'?
The belief that raw intelligence equals motivation?
Disapproval when you make mistakes, or ask questions, because "being smart" means you should already know whatever it is you're asking about?

I noticed upthread you mentioned you have ADD. Are you under any treatment for that? If not, is there any way you can pursue it? I can only affirm that having my own ADD issues treated has been like night and day. Also, it's very difficult to decide what you want when your brain's going seventy different directions at a time. Truly; you're not a horrible person because you don't know what you really want, and because you have trouble with certain things.

#588 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2012, 10:30 PM:

(I had this ready to post hours ago, but got sidetracked by resumes and making dinner)

Jennifer Baughman @587:

Sorry, not your fault. I'm just kind of a mess right now. I got into a fight with my mom a while ago (after I'd managed to calm down from earlier) because she wasn't there to see that I'd been too busy flipping out to get ready to go drop off resumes, and it went downhill from there. Long story short it's the same fight we've been having for months now, and the underlying situation is not getting better. Mostly because I still don't really want to apply for jobs.

The belief that 'smart' means 'omnicompetent'?
The belief that raw intelligence equals motivation?
Disapproval when you make mistakes, or ask questions, because "being smart" means you should already know whatever it is you're asking about?

Yeah, pretty much. I've been told repeatedly that "you're not an expert, nobody starts off good at everything, stop being so hard on yourself". And yet! My brain still believes that I should be able to do things well without ever having worked on them. I did stuff like rarely practising my flute (because doing something outside of its setting just doesn't work for me, along with motivation-related stuff) and getting frustrated that I wasn't ever improving. That eventually culminated in me walking out of band practice for two sessions in a row, and getting so worked up about it that something went weird in my brain for a few hours. I haven't touched an instrument since. So yeah this is kind of exactly the junk going on in my brain.

Are you under any treatment for that? If not, is there any way you can pursue it?

I've been on meds for ADHD since I was in grade 2, I think. Pretty long time, enough that I don't actually know what it's like to go without them for more than a day or two. And yeah, they definitely make it easier to stay focused on one thing, instead of eating everything out of boredom and cackling at things that are only slightly funny. There's some other stuff that wasn't diagnosed until recently, namely that I've got Asperger's Syndrome, and the varied brain-quirks that go with that. So that makes certain stuff ridiculously not-intuitive.

#589 ::: Merricat ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2012, 06:41 AM:


If you like, this can be your "revision ground" -- if you've got something you want to say to someone, but you're scared you don't have the right words, give us a draft and we'll tell you whether it makes sense or not. (It probably does, but sometimes the reassurance is nice.)

My experience is that people in support-type jobs 1) are used to people having difficulty communicating* and 2) really do want to know what's on your mind, even if it's "stupid".

*Sidebar: I'm an ESL teacher. One of the "sensitivity" exercises we did was being assigned to write a paragraph about our recent Thanksgiving ... without using the letter "e". It was a really informative experience, having all these thoughts and having a limited and imprecise vocabulary to express them with, and all the words you'd normally use are off-limits.

#590 ::: Merricat ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2012, 07:22 AM:

I wanted to add a more positive note, as well --

I mostly don't discuss my family situation, because we've mostly managed to climb from dysfunctional to functional. At this point, we all like and respect each other very much but can't spend time together without pushing every button the other person has. We try to deal with it gracefully and mostly just limit how much we interact, so that we still WANT to interact in the future.

I ended up spending four days straight with my mother and sister -- normally well beyond my tolerance -- and it was ok. Not perfect. Sis & I were in pretty incompatible headspaces. But my mother and I usually bring out the worst in each other, and this time we managed to mostly not do that. And I think -- I, at least -- got a little bit of insight about some things I hadn't figured out previously.

#591 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2012, 12:37 AM:

@Merricat #589:
If you like, this can be your "revision ground" -- if you've got something you want to say to someone, but you're scared you don't have the right words, give us a draft and we'll tell you whether it makes sense or not. (It probably does, but sometimes the reassurance is nice.)

Thanks for the offer, but I'm not comfortable taking up that kind of space here. Usually I just write a bunch of drafts and squish them around until they seem okay, or ask my mom for help with stuff like cover letters.

(A thought: the fear of being wrong is really good at stopping people in their tracks. The first time I posted on ML, I got stuck trying to figure out which information to put in which box. Last year I dragged a long-ish, mandatory survey out for over a month, because there wasn't anyone to tell me I wasn't interpreting everything wrong. My mom hasn't filed her or my dad's taxes from the last couple years for similar reasons.)

My experience is that people in support-type jobs 1) are used to people having difficulty communicating* and 2) really do want to know what's on your mind, even if it's "stupid".

I think my whole "You MUST avoid troubling people at their jobs, AT ALL COSTS" thing is a Tape, mostly from hearing my dad talk about his customers. He comes home from his (commission sales) job and vents. About the impossible-to-please customers, people who are "just browsing", people who only buy things on deep discount, the ones who take up his time and don't even buy anything, it goes on. So now it's written in my brain that people who deal with the public all day are already so tired of people like you that you're better off making as little noise as possible. Or else they'll hate you, at least until they forget about you.

I realize most people who choose those types of careers actually enjoy helping people, and that I'm not such a force of nature that I can ruin someone's whole day by accident (exceptions exist, but still). I need to record over that Tape with things like "You are not obliged to please everyone. Don't try to get everyone to like you. Don't be afraid to ask for what you need.". Hmm.

#592 ::: Mea ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2012, 10:03 PM:

#591 Phenicious - the fact that you identified the tape as from your dad venting is huge.

My parent was a professor who came home and vented about students. It wasn't until after I graduated college that I realized that was why I NEVER talked to my professors if I could help it. I assumed they all were annoyed and irritated by their students. I wish I had figured out the connections earlier.

#593 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2012, 11:00 PM:

Syd, thanks for checking in. We do care, and we do worry.

#594 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2012, 10:15 AM:

I had a slightly similar experience to Mea's and Phenicious's. I was very anxious just before my first day of high school. My older sister tried to calm me down. I basically said that it sounded like a horrible place, from all the things she'd told me. She got embarrassed as she realized and said that she'd just been venting about the bad things and hadn't talked about the good things.

So it's at least sometimes possible for the other person to recognize what they've done! Sometimes.

#595 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2012, 12:25 AM:

Merricat: That's awesome that you were able to make progress on that.

Phenicious: "the fear of being wrong is really good at stopping people in their tracks." Yes. And most people don't get a safe space to be wrong (or mistaken, or less-than-perfect) when they're growing up. It's good to see if you can find that safe space* to try something you know won't work out quite right, because it gets you used to the idea of not being 100% perfect.

*Probably not easy. Probably a very difficult thing.

#596 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2012, 04:15 AM:

Still witnessing, and dealing with my own stuff.

While reading a post-mortem of a highly-charged impeachment trial, I came across this passage which brought to mind all the "but I didn't do it on purpose, and you're overreacting!" excuses that have been trotted out to so many of us.

The Revised Penal Code punishes felonies accompanied by dolo, or willful intent. However, it likewise punishes felonies that are committed by means of fault (culpa) which, according to Article 3 of the code, is a wrongful act resulting from imprudence, negligence, lack of foresight, or lack of skill.

In effect, even if the non-disclosure was not intentional or attended by malice, it can still be made punishable when accompanied by culpa or fault resulting from imprudence, negligence, etc. This negates the defense’s theory of good faith.

It needs to be read in context (there was a shocking lack of good faith on the part of the defendant, for one thing), but the point stands.

Outcome matters. Damage matters.

#597 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2012, 11:26 AM:

Hallo. I'm still applying for jobs and dropping off/emailing resumes. I've made a list of pros/cons of having a job, to help me pull my head out of the fog of "jobs are terrible they're torture and everyone will hate you". It doesn't really work in that respect, but when I'm not flipping out it reminds me that, yes, there are definite advantages to working vs. sitting at home all day. 

I've heard back from two places; one's just a confirmation we-got-your-resume email but I have an interview with the other place next week. So now I just have to pull myself out of bed and call some potential references. Two of whom I haven't spoken to since leaving/being fired, and I'm scared they'll both turn me down for not asking at the time. That's probably not true, and I know the third person I need to call will say yes. It's just a matter of dialing the numbers and trying not to trip over my words too much.

Sigh. I have to call two people at minimum, before I meet up with my friends tonight. There's a goal.

#598 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2012, 11:49 AM:

Phenicious: Go, you. Remember when you've made the phone calls to be pleased with yourself. (Don't launch into "but I have done these other 800 things.") Good luck with the interview.

#599 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2012, 12:07 PM:

Still reading, still witnessing.

Congratulations on getting to interview stage, Phenecious! That's a good thing in itself. And, as OtterB says, remember to keep noticing and valuing these incremental steps.

#600 ::: AnotherQuietOne ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2012, 11:04 PM:

Reading. Witnessing. Dealing with my own stuff. [1]

Good job karma thoughts to Phenicious, Syd and anyone else who might be needing them at this point.

[1] Which includes a lot of deep reflection on values and vision as well as the implementation thereof. [2]

I started going to the church I attend five years ago almost exactly (it was about this time of year.) If someone had told me when I walked in those doors that five years later I'd be making music staff & policy recommendations to the board of directors while trying to fill BOTH music leadership positions at the same time... (Back at #474 I noted that our choir director tendered his resignation in late April effective this month; last week the accompanist resigned effective the end of June as well. Both cited personal reasons and had apparently NOT discussed their plans with each other prior to making their respective decisions. I love my introverts but HOLY FLYING SPAGHETTI MONSTER WILL YOU PEOPLE COMMUNICATE ALREADY.)

On a personal level, I really need closure. It's a major change in a set of relationships with people I've worked with narrowly but closely for a long time. I don't think I'm going to get it, though, for a variety of reasons that mostly boil down to "Doing the proper thing, even though it hurts."

[2] This is the "dark night of the soul" territory I mentioned at #537. I'm aiming for a capsule version with the serial numbers filed off, not because there's anything salacious in the details, but because they are so intensely personal that it would be wrong of me to turn them loose on the internet, even hiding behind a pseudonym that's fairly well disconnected from my usual pseudonym...

A piece of it is the grief that comes from understanding deeply and too late the personal cost hidden in gifts of service and love.

Another piece is the deep responsibility born of that understanding which becomes an obligation to make right that which cannot be wholly mended by paying it forward.

It's a bit like being the first one to sober up toward the end of a wild party and coming to the realization of who's been picking up the tab all night, and knowing that means it's your turn.

There is also the unsettling realization that doing a thing rightly is not always sufficient to be doing the right thing.

I need closure. And it seems likely that I will not get it, because all parties involved are charged with doing things rightly, which may preclude doing right things.

As predicted, I have ended up on the policy/search ad hoc committee. I have also, in my continuing role as relevant committee chair, been tasked with organizing the farewell party.

Can I just bitch? I can do long range vision. I can do policy. I can do planning. I can even do back-of-the-envelope cost benefit analysis. But I feckin' hate organizing parties, and I am having great difficulty finding volunteers during graduation season.

Is it September yet?

#601 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2012, 12:54 AM:

"Can I just bitch?"

Yes, yes you can. This is the steam vent thread.

#602 ::: cayce ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2012, 01:34 PM:

Um. Hi, again. This is going to get long, so thank you to anyone who actually reads it.

I'm at my parents' for the summer, and it isn't working out so well. (Understatement.) I'm not so easily controlled as I used to be, and my mother is taking that as a threat. I'm still not the most assertive person in the world, but I've had my moments - at least two or three of not just rolling over and taking it - and she's acting like I've attacked her.

Yesterday I stopped her in the middle of lecturing me on how my pain issues are my fault because I don’t sleep enough/eat regularly/get enough exercise - this after I’d gotten back from a doctor’s appointment where I was told I probably have a slipped disc - and I only stopped her by calmly saying “I know you think that, but I didn’t ask your opinion on this” and walking away. (I have chronic pain unrelated to this, so I've heard it a million times from her - and probably heard her voice a million times in my head this week before I brought myself to make the appointment.)

She followed me outside screaming about how I am an awful person and I can't treat her this way. She started yelling about things that made no sense - she apparently "refuses to be in a relationship with someone who treats her this way", which is just a crowning moment of irony - but when I asked her, all she would do was repeat "you can't treat me this way!" without any concrete examples.

And on the second night I was back, my stepfather hit my brother hard enough to knock him to the floor. His leg went numb. I asked my brother about it later - he said that "sometimes Dad just gets really angry. I'm okay, I don't even have any bruises today."

I keep telling myself it's not that bad. The incident yesterday morning happened as I was leaving, because I had to go get my back x-rayed. I came back a few hours later to my mother sending me up and down the stairs multiple times (no way that wasn't intentional) before telling me she needed to talk to me. And then she...I don't even know what happened. It all makes zero sense. She told me I could still stay here, but she was no longer including me in anything. She still expects me to do everything she says, but I'm no longer a member of this family because I don't act like it.

Which, okay, look - I have chronic pain, mental health issues, and I'm autistic. No, I don't drop everything every time she asks if I want to do something with everyone - I'm already exhausted from 16 hours a week of classes and working 20 hours a week and trying to keep up with all the things she demands I do. I make an effort to talk to everyone and spend time with them when they're home. I wasn't sure if this was maybe a valid thing, because of that, but other people who know the situation have told me that it's not a valid thing, and she's just being her. (And she complains that I look tired or in pain when she asks me to do things, instead of being cheerful about it. I can't even fathom what goes on in her head.)

Anyway, that was...I was completely stunned and very confused because as I said, I hadn't actually done anything. She demanded to know why I was shaking my head, and - somewhat (legally) drugged by that point - I opened my mouth to say something about being confused, and what came out was "you're delusional". She flipped, told me I was the delusional one, told me I was awful and everything ever was my fault and I could ask any person in this house and they'd tell me that, and...I just can't. I've had people telling me for so long that I'm not the one at fault for all of this, but that doesn't make it easier to ignore - and it's hard not to feel like maybe if I were just normal, this wouldn't be happening. She doesn't hate what I do, she hates the person I am, and I can't fix that.

I told her I had to get ready for work and went upstairs, called my girlfriend, and sobbed for an hour and a half. Somewhere in there I asked when I was allowed to leave, when it would be "bad enough", at what point I was allowed to just say "fuck it, I'm done with this" and walk out. And then I realized what I was saying, realized I'd probably stay here no matter what happened with all kinds of justifications, and then I realized I'm free to go at any time. It wouldn't be easy, but it would be possible.

So I made the terrifying choice, after thinking about it for the rest of the night and talking it over with several people: I'm leaving. I'm moving in with my girlfriend, who's six hours away. We're making hesitant plans for her to come down in about a week, which gives me time to wrap things up here and gives her time to find one of her coworkers (read: cops) to come along just in case.

I keep going back and forth on this. It's back every time I'm not around them, because I start thinking I can handle it, it's not that bad, and it's not the sort of thing you can undo. No insurance, no money for college, I have no idea how to be an adult, it's going to be really, really hard...and then I'll be around them again and realize that I really, really can't do this anymore. When I came home from work yesterday they were literally pretending I wasn't there. And while I'm having trouble convincing myself that that's anything wrong enough I can be upset about it...I just can't keep doing this.

But I have no idea what I'm doing. I have no idea how I'm going to, say, afford my meds without insurance, let alone the other things my current doctor wants me to be doing for my back. I have someone who offered to help me figure out how I can go back to college wither this fall or next year - I've only got two semesters left - but I just. Gah. There are so many things, and I don't have money, and I'm going to need to find a new job, and I'm just really, really terrified.

The point of writing all this is mostly that I'm sure some of you have done this, and I would really appreciate any tips or...anything, really.

#603 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2012, 02:28 PM:

Hang in there, cayce, and I'd agree that you must get out of there as soon as possible.

First, contact your university/college and let them know about your change in finances. Lots of schools will provide financial aid to students in your situation.

Next, go talk to the state welfare office and see what help you may qualify for -- food stamps, Medicaid, etc. Also, talk to your physician about this situation, they may know of other organizations that can help you.

Often the federal government has employment programs that will help you finish your degree. They used to be called "stay in school" they may have a new name these days.

Having your girlfriend bring backup is a good idea. Energy and good wishes headed your way.

#604 ::: Lori Coulson has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2012, 02:30 PM:

Greetings to the current crew, I brought along some banana bread to go with the tea.

#605 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2012, 02:31 PM:

cayce @ 602

"my stepfather hit my brother hard enough to knock him to the floor. His leg went numb. I asked my brother about it later - he said that 'sometimes Dad just gets really angry. I'm okay, I don't even have any bruises today.'"

First things first. Your stepdad is not allowed to hit your brother. That is abuse. That it goes on often enough that "I don't have any bruises today" is his threshhold for "I'm okay," is not normal. I am telling you this, because sometimes it is hard to know, when you only have the baseline you grew up with. Healthy people don't hit other people, no matter how angry they get. People go to jail for that sort of thing.

Now, for your own safety, I wouldn't call your stepdad or mom on that directly. I would either call the police (especially if your brother is a minor), or I would encourage your brother to make his own escape plans -- but only after you're safely out.

Because that's the other thing. Your safety is most important here. Your well being has to be your own top priority right now. You have to take care of yourself, to be in any position to help your brother.

Personally, I also wouldn't announce that you're leaving -- just do it, and do it so fast and so secretly that no one has the opportunity to try to stop you.

Also, your mother sounds really abusive. Obviously you are already starting to recognize this, but I just wanted to reinforce it. This is not your fault.

As far as health care, sign up for Medicaid. Just make sure you give them your girlfriend's residence and phone number, instead of your parents', and that you don't have any paperwork around the house where someone invading your privacy could find it.

For that matter, social services exist for people in exactly your sort of situation -- you didn't do anything wrong, but you're in a bad place, and you need help. You are entitled to that help from the government, but also look into local charities. If you feel guilty, pay it forward by volunteering when you're restabilized.

Mostly, though, I just want to say -- go you! Brave job!

#606 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2012, 03:03 PM:

Caye, that is a big and scary decision, and I'm glad you're making it. The realization you had, that you wanted it to be bad enough for it to be okay to leave, but you'd stay even then, so what's keeping you there-- that is important. Congratulations and remember that you're doing a really good thing.

Right now, your brother is not your top priority, but even if he were, you are modeling appropriate behavior here. You're getting out, and you're getting out safely. You are saying that there is a problem and it's not you, so even if you could do nothing else, you are giving him a precedent to follow.

#607 ::: cayce ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2012, 03:11 PM:

KayTei @604 -

Yeah, I know. He's ten, and I only hesitated to report it because he had no visible marks and my parents would have known it was me, but now that I'm leaving, I will.

I still don't know how I'm going to manage actually walking out - there aren't really any good options. Either I leave with whatever I can fit in my car and call once I'm at my girlfriend's place to tell them I'm not coming back, or I bring some other people along to confront them in person, get to bring more of my things, and maybe part on somewhat less definitive terms. I mean, I guess I could also inform the local police I'm leaving, get rid of my SIM card, and just never contact them about it, but...I don't know. I'm still trying to figure it out.

I need to stop holding on to my overly-optimistic hope that if I bring people with me and tell my family I'm leaving because I need space, they'll keep me under their insurance/car insurance/keep paying for college. Sigh.

I'll look into that. I have no idea where to start, but I'll look into it. There's just so much stuff that needs doing.

#608 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2012, 03:20 PM:

cayce @602: On one of the earlier threads here I said something like, "To anyone who writes 'this is so long that nobody will read it': you are wrong." Still true.

It definitely sounds like, overwhelming as it is, you're doing something that needs to be done. I wish you well.

#609 ::: GlendaP ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2012, 03:24 PM:

cayce@606: Is "your" car registered in your name? If it's in your parents' name, don't take it without their agreement.

#610 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2012, 04:02 PM:

cayce, it sounds like you are doing something big and scary that needs to be done. I'm glad you've got help in person. You've got a cheering section here.

#611 ::: Syd, somewhat disguised ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2012, 04:52 PM:

First, I am using a different fake email address, as suggested by the gnomes after they captured several comments in succession. Bless their hardworking little hearts. :) Can someone please let me know how to tie the two emails together for "view all by" purposes?

Second, thanks to everyone on ML for continuing to be awesome, including in re: checking up on me as well as letting me know that I can say what I need to get out of my system regardless of whether I feel it's "worthy" of reportage. (As Hagrid said to Ron about the slugs, "Better out than in." I will at least try to minimize splatter.)

Third, I am still reading and witnessing and offering good mojo of whatever variety is needed/wished for.

Fourth, I have, on the suggestion of the facilitator of the writers' group at the Women's Room, started a blog about being homeless. (The url is in the appointed place, so I guess that means clicking my nym will take interested parties to the blog page?) One thing I'd like to do is use some of my comments here as jumping-off points for posts. Is it permissible to essentially copy and paste said comments, with a notation at the beginning that "This post started life as a comment on Making Light on (thread name, comment number)."? Or should I link to the original comment, then expand on it in the post? Something else I should do?

Also, on my About page there, I have linked to this comment to explain disemvowelling. Is there going to be an issue with doing so? Obviously I want to give Teresa credit, but in a way that won't potentially lead to problems here.

Suggestions/directions/guidance greatly appreciated. :)


That's the short description of the last few days. Longer description follows, with the standard wall-of-text warning, set to Infinite Jest levels. At the end, though, I ask for help on crunching some numbers re: salary, withholding, etc., so anyone who might be interested in giving me a hand there can skip ahead...

Okay. So, I was looking forward to sleeping in last Sunday (Memorial Day weekend)--I mean, if they're going to let us sleep until 7:00 AM on weekends/holidays instead of the usual 6:00 AM, why not take advantage of it?

The flaw in my plan was a pair of new residents, a mother and daughter who are apparently from Texas (whether originally or just recently, I don't know). Mom was in the bed on the other side of the divider from me, Daughter in the bed on the other side of the divider from the gal across the aisle from me.

I feel like I'm describing it poorly. Sorry. Imagine four twin beds arranged in two side-by-side pairs, then these pairs butted together on a short (head/foot-of-bed) side, these beds then separated by plywood walls. Seen from above, the dividers form a cross with a long vertical bisected by a short horizontal, and each of the four beds has one long and one short dividing wall. Against the walls of the room, two beds are separated on the short side by a divider. Each "bed unit" has an aisle about three feet wide between it and the next unit. Based on the shape of the room, there are 8 beds on one side in a 2-4-2 configuration with a wall separating the last 2 beds from the area containing the lockers, and 11 beds in a 2-4-3-2 configuration on the other. The beds themselves are a platform arrangement, twin mattress on plywood platform in/on metal frame that has 4 metal drawers for storage.

Now that you're all thoroughly confused and/or bored to tears... ;)

Anyway, Mom's cell phone goes off in alarm mode at 5:fecking:15 Sunday morning. Being separated from her by a 3/4-inch-thick slab of plywood means that her alarm also woke ME. But she didn't let it just keep going off, so I had hopes of being able to go back to sleep despite the Snorer (who seems to not be quite as bad during morning hours as evening hours).

Then Mom started opening the drawers under her bed. And rummaging around in them. And rummaging around in the plastic bags she put in the drawers.

Do you know how noisy plastic can be at 5:15 or so in the morning? Neither did I.

And of course, after the opening of the drawers comes the closing of the drawers.

Did I mention the drawers are metal? Secured with padlocks? Most styles of which exist in the dorm as the key rather than combination type?

After listening to this for a while, Mom went her locker. All lockers are of the sort you might find in a school. In other words, metal. With metal doors that have squeaky hinges. And which are secured with mainly key-style padlocks.

At which point Daughter starts unzipping and rezipping some piece of luggage. And makes her own forays into her storage drawers and locker.

'Long about 6:00 AM, somebody on the other side of the dorm let her cell phone go off in alarm mode...and did NOT silence it immediately. Nor did she turn it off, because it went off again, for its maximum length of time, about 15 minutes later.

Sometime during all this, the gal in the bunk in front of the gal with Cellphone Alarm Version 2 started rummaging around in her (large) purse, knocking together makeup containers and rattling pill bottles. And another gal got up and made herself a cup of instant coffee (a water device offering both hot and cold H2O resides at the end of the hall outside the dorm)...using a ceramic cup and metal spoon.

Tink tink tink went the spoon against the cup.

And the capper is when Mom wound up in the "hygiene" area of the dorm (tile floors, hard surfaces, sinks against the wall farthest from the door into the dorm, shower stalls on either side, toilet stalls in a secondary room off the more general-use area) chatting with Coffee Gal, and not in a voice level that indicated either of them were aware they were standing in a Ghu-damned TILED ROOM with NO door separating them from PEOPLE WHO WERE TRYING TO SLEEP.

I lost it. Would have been funny in a movie/TV show, probably, with me in frustration and high dudgeon, barefoot with bed-head hair and arms akimbo and wearing a lilac tank top/shorts sleep set and trying not to stamp into the area by the sinks and saying in a hissing whisper, "Do you MIND??? People are trying to sleep and we can HEAR YOU!!!" and other commentary to that effect.

At which Mom turns and walks out with the words, "You can just go shout at Staff, but I'm not going to stand here and let you shout at ME," and sashays--seriously, she sashayed--back to her bed. Admittedly, my whisper was likely far more penetrating than I intended, but it was still a whisper. Coffee Gal, with whom I normally get along well (and who, by the way, is the gal I wrote about in the previous DFD thread (I think), the one who came up to me the first time I went to Union Station for breakfast and a shower--took her a couple of months, but she wound up a resident here, too) stood there looking utterly gobsmacked, because she'd never seen me lose my temper.

After I explained, more quietly, to her what my issue was, I went back to my bed for my robe and went to the staff office to tell SOMEbody what was going on. I mean, it isn't as if we all hadn't been told, repeatedly, to be respectful of our dormmates and be quiet during lights-out. But the overhead light was off and I didn't see anyone in the office, so I went back to bed. Shortly therafter, Mom went to Daughter and said, "Let's go down for a smoke, I'm so upset," or words to that effect.

THEY found Staff. And complained that I had confronted them, and based on something one of the other gals told me shortly thereafter, apparently claimed I'd threatened one or both of them with bodily harm.


When one of the staff came in to call lights-on (which includes actually turning on the lights, as you might already have supposed), he also announced that residents should refrain from confronting each other but instead find a staff member and speak to that person about the issue instead. Oh, boy. I put my robe back on to follow him, and it was at this point that the woman catty-corner from me in the "bed unit" came over and said, sotto voce, that she had also sought out Staff to report the morning's goings on (because she too had been awakened by Mom's alarm and been kept awake by everything already related unto y'all), and it was from her that I heard about the "threats of bodily harm" thing.

So when one of the staff got back to the office, he found me waiting for him, and I prefaced my remarks with, "I'm the instigator of this morning's confrontation," and off I went. At least he understood, and he did say that just because the office was dark didn't mean it was empty, so if I needed to I should just knock or open the door to check, etc., but not to try to handle stuff like this myself.

Which is fine with me, actually, although I do have to think hard about whether what's bothering me is worth the potential problem for whoever I'm thinking about reporting--we are all in this boat together.

I went off, had my day, came back...and the fun and games started again after dinner, which is generally Shower Time. Oddly enough, this also featured Mom and Daughter, in the form of one or the other of them walking in on one of the other residents who had, apparently, forgotten to lock the door of the wheelchair-accessible shower room, which some people prefer because it's 2-3 times larger than the standard shower stalls. She who had been Walked In Upon expressed extreme displeasure and opined that maybe they'd better be a little more careful about just opening doors, and Mom (I think) retorted that "maybe YOU ought to lock the damned door!"

Which I will grant might be a valid point, but on the other hand, how hard is it to put your ear to a door to see if you can hear the shower running? Anyway, things escalated verbally, and they all wound up in the office in sequence to tell their respective sides of things, and in the back of my head I'm thinking, "Wow. What a little common sense--not to mention common courtesy--would do for ALL of us here and now..."

Life in a homeless shelter. Who knew?

That was the start of my week. It also included a not-so-subtle reminder from my case manager that I need to start banking 70 percent of my income (the income I have left after paying my storage and my phone and etc., ha ha ha), then a note from her asking if I want to be enrolled in the shelter's version of the GROW jobs program that starts next week (I said yes--how can it hurt?) and notifying me of the housing workshop that also starts next week, and how attendance is vitally important for my successful participation in their transition program, yadda yadda...

I know it's important. But I can't save what I don't have, and now I'm afraid if I can't find some kind of job that they'll cut me loose because I'm not working the program, or not hard enough, or something.

Then there was the FB note from one of my friends, on behalf of his wife the artist, telling me, in essence, that the comments I've been leaving on her posts about what she's got available for sale--the ones where I say I'd love to buy X, if only I weren't broke--are (a) happening on pretty much ALL her posts, (b) giving her a sad because she feels so bad for my situation, and (c) are quite possibly costing her business by scaring off potential buyers, and they both love me and sympathetic to my situation but could I please STOP doing that?

Proof, apparently, that even when I think I'm being clever, I can both depress my friends AND cost them money! This led to my feeling guilty about commenting that way when I SHOULD have known it might depress people, and I SHOULD have been able to figure out that, the art world being what it is, Artist Wife already hears "I'd love to buy but not enough money" too damned much, and guilty about making her feel bad on my behalf.

I even understand why he wrote to me, and I don't assume for a moment that it was easy for him, considering how long we've known each other, but understanding it doesn't make my feelings any less hurt by the fact that I haven't had so much as a note from either of these people since fecking NOVEMBER and it's THIS that finally gets me a message? Even accepting that what I'm going through is scary as hell for bystanders. [/end Goddamned Tape #4,287,910]

On the plus side, I got a call from a recruiter who found my resume on one of the job boards I use (the one that Builds Careers, in case its real name is Word of Power). She wanted to me about a proofreading job at a medical equipment company, which I thought was kind of cool. Unfortunately, it's in Irvine, making it very expensive to drive there just in terms of gasoline prices (call it a 90-mile daily round trip in a car that maxes out at 21 mpg...) and leaving out the increased car insurance, and even a monthly rail pass would be about $270, not including the cost of monthly parking. Based on their top hourly rate--even assuming the company chose to pay me said rate at the outset--my initial number-crunching indicated I'm be working just to get to work, so I thanked the recruiter but said it wasn't feasible. To which she replied she understood, but she'd been very impressed with my resume and would keep an eye peeled for likely jobs posted by other offices of her agency, and suggest those agents give me a call.

And now, of course, I'm having second thoughts about whether saying no was the right thing, and did I make a mistake in my preliminary number-crunching and do myself out of a great opportunity and should I CALL HER BACK and see if the job is still open?

The help I need with number-crunching is this:

Assume hourly rate of $10 (my guess at minimum for the job), then $13 (company's max), and 40 hours per week (agent didn't say it was part-time; if so, that would definitely make this a no-go). Take into account all federal and state withholding (I've been using a combined withholding rate of 35 percent, which I think might be high but I tend to use Single Zero because I hate writing checks for tax payments on April 15) and calculate approximate net monthly pay.

Deduct $270 for a Metro Link pass that will let me also use the Metro Rail system to get downtown to connect with Metro Link to Irvine. Parking might NOT be an issue, as the two stations closest to me are described as having numerous FREE parking spaces (possibly with proof of ticket/monthly pass, but the site doesn't say) (I can't leave my car at the shelter during the day due to the space being needed for staff).

What will that leave me with, per month? I swear I did this and came up with an unfavorable answer, but redoing it makes it look far more feasible than I first thought. And I only spoke to the recruiter on Wednesday morning, so if I AM wrong, I can call her back Monday morning and tell her I dropped a decimal or something and has she already placed someone, if not let me try after all!! :)

If I have something I can save 70 percent of, I shall be MOST happy. And it would be nice to read on the train.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled lives.

[Regarding the email address change: Syd's new email address means that her old (view all by) needs to be linked here -- Aureata Pyritine, Support Gnome]

#612 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2012, 05:00 PM:

cayce: good on you for making that decision.

I would also say avoid the confrontation. Just leave, and don't tell them that you're going. Confrontations are hard enough when they're about smaller problems, and you don't want to give them the chance to browbeat you into either not leaving, or feeling guilty for leaving.

Later, if you feel comfortable doing so, call them and let them know, when the worst they can do is shout at you and you can hang up on them. (Since the stepfather has no problem with knocking down your brother, you may want to phone them from some place NOT your new home. Calls can be easily traced, and he's already established that he's willing and able to assault a person. Call display plus the online reverse phone directories would give him the address if you use a land line.)

Another option would be to leave a note when you leave instead of phoning them, then maybe phone them after everybody has had a chance to cool down.

And as GlendaP pointed out - make sure you don't take anything that legally belongs to your parents. While I was never in your situation, I note that my first cel phone was on my parents' account, and my first bank account had my mother as co-signer, because it was set up before I was old enough to legally sign a contract. It can be surprising what family has access to sometimes.

I wish you the cleanest and most painless exit possible.

#613 ::: alsafi ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2012, 05:14 PM:

Cayce, just in case it helps to hear, I did what you're doing. And it wasn't the easiest thing I ever did, by any stretch, but we made it work, and I'm very happy with how my life has happened since then. In my case, I walked away and moved in with my girlfriend (now my partner of 17 years) before I had graduated from high school. Seventeen years later, I have a college degree, a job, a house of our own... a really good life. So please know that I'm pulling for you, and at the risk of hlepiness, there might be some workarounds available to you for stuff like healthcare and such--depending on where you live. If you want to, you can email me--I know how stressful the "get the hell out of here" period can be, so you might not have the time and spoons for much, but if I can help, I'd like to, and pay forward for the people who helped me at the time.

#614 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2012, 05:17 PM:

Disguised Syd:Assume hourly rate of $10 (my guess at minimum for the job), then $13 (company's max), and 40 hours per week (agent didn't say it was part-time; if so, that would definitely make this a no-go). Take into account all federal and state withholding (I've been using a combined withholding rate of 35 percent, which I think might be high but I tend to use Single Zero because I hate writing checks for tax payments on April 15) and calculate approximate net monthly pay.

Deduct $270 for a Metro Link pass that will let me also use the Metro Rail system to get downtown to connect with Metro Link to Irvine. Parking might NOT be an issue, as the two stations closest to me are described as having numerous FREE parking spaces (possibly with proof of ticket/monthly pass, but the site doesn't say) (I can't leave my car at the shelter during the day due to the space being needed for staff).

$10/h full time is $400/week is $1,600 for 4 weeks. A month is a few days more than that but it doesn't hurt to budget a little pessimistically.

65% of $1,600 (remaining after 35% deductions) is $1,040

Less the $270 metro pass leaves $770.

#615 ::: Syd, somewhat disguised ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2012, 05:21 PM:

cayce @ 604/606...who-boy, that is HARD. Congratulations for realizing that you can leave. I too am happy you have in-person resources who can help you achieve it. Anything that follows here that turns out to be hlepy, please feel free to ignore.

Were I in your situation, I would contact as many local friends as possible about helping you get ALL your possessions out of the house in one swell foop, because my guess is that once you leave, you won't be able to get back in the house--unless you could find out from your brother if there would be a time coming up when your mother and step-father would both be out, and I would hesitate even then because it puts him in the position of being the only person who could provide that info to you. Which, given what you've said, has the potential to be a dangerous thing for your brother.

I agree with KayTei re: (a) keeping your plans to leave secret from mother and step-father and (b) checking into Medicaid, help from social services/charities, etc., re: how to cover your financial bases when you leave home permanently. If you haven't checked into scholarships or grants for schooling, then by all means let the friend who offered help in that area work on it for you--one less thing for you to worry about during this time.

Re: your brother, I suggest asking your girlfriend to ask one of her friends on the force to check into what's needed to get him out of there after you've made your own safe escape. At least then you'll know.

You are brave. Please remember that taking even a small action is still taking action, and that small actions will accumulate.

Be safe, and be well, and remember that, as others have said, we are here cheering you on.

#616 ::: disguised ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2012, 06:18 PM:

Being bipolar means spending the entirety of the uber-expensive college reunion you've been eagerly anticipating for months either picking fights with close friends or wanting to sob because apparently the new meds don't do shit when you pull a (travel-mandated) all-nighter.

#617 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2012, 07:25 PM:

Cayce @ 602:
...I have no idea how to be an adult...

Cayce - this comment of yours jumped out at me, and I felt the need to respond. It's meant to be reassuring, not hlepy, but I apologize in advance if this misfires.

I don't know how to be an adult, either. I'm 35, married almost 9 years, own a home and a car, have a freshly minted college degree, and I'm still handling things on a "fake it till you make it" basis. For all I know, I may be faking it the rest of my life, which could be a long time (women in my family often live into their 90's).

It convinces most people, even if it doesn't always convince me.

#618 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2012, 08:05 PM:

cayce @602: So I made the terrifying choice ... I'm leaving.

YAAAAAAYYYYYYY!!!!! ::applause:: ::applause:: ::applause::


Ghods, I get a rush of joy and excitement just reading your account.

GO effing YOU!!!

(You account has me flashing on nightmares I've had ever since moving out of being stuck back in my parents' house, and my situation wasn't a tenth of what you're going through.)

Your decision does sound scary, but you are not without resources. If I read you right, you have school, you have a job now, and you have friends. You are equipped to handle this, though it will be a challenge. That you are working now is a huge advantage in looking for other work. (What do you do, if you don't mind my asking?)

If you are an urbanite, contemplate the possibility of dispensing with the car. (A problem, I could see, if you have pain and mobility issues.) Can you bicycle? Aside from the obvious (all else being equal) health benefits, cars are a huge expense. I would have to double my income to maintain my lifestyle and own a car, frex. Not for everyone, but a thought. Also, if a car is something you can live without at least part of the time, consider signing onto a car co-op, like Zip-car. Apparently much more manageable than owning one.

& @607: There's just so much stuff that needs doing.

Sit down. Make a list. Then rank each item on two scales: urgency and importance. Can clarify your decisions marvelously.

#619 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2012, 08:31 PM:

Syd: Well, at least you have plenty of material for you blog, right? ::ducks!:: :-)

WRT your blog vis-à-vis ML, were it me, I'd copy my comments from here onto the blog; you may find that your blog requires slightly different presentation than here. But also link to ML. That way you can have two sets of conversations: the ongoing one here, as well as your own more targeted one on your blog. And linking back to here may allow others in difficult circumstances to take advantage of the accumulated wisdom here.

In fact, might not be a bad idea, if your blog layout allows, to put a little sidebar index to the ML threads so people can, if they so choose, read through the whole conversation going back to the beginning. I would do this because the tone of the conversation has evolved considerably over time, and all of it is pertinent to different situations.

#620 ::: Jacque, gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2012, 08:32 PM:

But, hey! Pizza!

#621 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2012, 08:36 PM:

disguised @616: Oof! Nothing useful to offer, just sympathy and hugs, if desired.

Singing Wren @617: I don't know how to be an adult, either.

"It was a big breakthrough for me when I realized that there are no adults. Just us, making it up as we go along."
—Lois McMaster Bujold

#622 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2012, 09:53 PM:

Cayce: Go you.

And if the following isn't too hlepy:

"I have no idea how to be an adult".

It's something we all take a while to learn. Being where you're around functional adults (not like your parents) will help. You can observe what they do and ask about what you don't understand. And you can get help too, from loved ones and friends, from your college, from social services. Even now, I admit there are some "adult" things I largely rely on my spouse to handle, and vice versa.

A writer/musician friend of mine decided to produce a book about what she learned striking out on her own, titled -- you guessed it -- How to Be An Adult. A bunch of her friends (including me) emailed her experiences and ideas as well when she was working on the book. The book doesn't say much about situations involving dysfunctional families or special health concerns, but I found it a useful general guide for college-student sorts of folks wondering how to deal with what comes next. (I'd look for suitable passages to quote, but I've given my copy to my niece.)

#623 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom meets some gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2012, 09:55 PM:

I wonder if they like marzipan.

#624 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2012, 11:45 PM:

cayce, you've already had a lot of good advice. The things I can think of to add:

1) Are your parents' schedules predictable enough that there is a window of time when neither of them can be expected to be at home? If so, then choose that as your "pack-up-and-load" time, because it'll give you the chance to get more of your stuff out of there -- and I agree that once you're out, you can pretty well expect to kiss everything that didn't go with you goodbye. If you're lucky, they'll just dump it on the curb on trash day, and you might be able to grab some of it then.

2) If your bank account has your mother's name on it, you need to establish one in your own name only (using your girlfriend's address), and then withdraw all the money from the other account and transfer it over. Even if your name is the primary one on the account, your mother can get to that money if her name is also on it; this is a standard trick used by sleazy soon-to-be-exes when there's a joint account.

3) Being an adult gets easier with practice. You're doing the right thing to set yourself on that road. Good luck and GoodThoughts go with you.

#625 ::: somebody ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2012, 11:58 PM:

cayce, in preparation for your exit, if there is a copy of your birth certificate in the house that you can take without being noticed, it may come in very handy to have.

#626 ::: cayce ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2012, 01:38 AM:

This is all really good advice, thank you. Replying individually to everyone would get to be a bit of a mess, so I'm just going to lump it all in one, but I appreciate all of you.

Because of the timing, I'll be surprised if I can go back to college in the fall - my graduating in the spring (and the schedule of classes I needed to do it) was predicated on my taking two classes this summer at community college - that was the entire reason I was staying with my parents in the first place. Now I'm leaving in the middle of the first class session, and while I'll be talking to my professor Monday, being able to finish the class long distance is unlikely. (And then I'd have to be able to find and pick up the second class local to my new place of residence, which is also unlikely.) Still, all the related suggestions will be useful sooner or later.

I will definitely be seeing what kind of state/government assistance I qualify for. I'm moving six hours away and into a different state, so there's going to be an abundance of paperwork, I'm sure, but I'm definitely going to look into it.

My car is unfortunately registered in my mother's name, which is even more painful given that I paid for it myself. I talked to my girlfriend tonight about this, and while the place I'm moving to isn't exactly a major city, I should be able to get by without a car. (Of course, having grown up in an area with a serious lack of public transport, this will be yet another learning experience.) (I have no idea if I can bicycle - I've never been particularly good at it, but it's worth a try; two possible places of employment nearby are ~2 miles out. And Jacque, thank you for mentioning Zipcar, which I had never heard of - it turns out there's one practically in her development, so I'll definitely check into it.)

I've had my own bank account for some time now, but there's an old joint account with nothing in it that I should probably see about taking my name off of, if not closing it. There's also another account I'm going to try to get to - I don't have the account number, and it was originally a custodial account, and I have no idea if there's anything in it, but it's worth a try.

The job I have now isn't...well, it's retail. But I've also been a lab assistant (I have most of a biochem degree), worked at an elementary school for two years, worked at a daycare for one year, done a few other things, and assuming I can track the people down, I'd get glowing recommendations from all of them. So yeah, that's definitely one thing I have going for me.

My cell phone is under my parents' account, but I've had a separate prepaid one since I knew I'd be coming back here for the summer. (I was afraid they'd take mine and my laptop and I'd have no way to contact anyone about it.) That will do for now.

As of tonight, my girlfriend and I have a plan for the actual leaving part: before I go to work on Friday, I'm going to pack what I can into my car (possibly this will happen throughout the week, or I'll leave some of my things with other people). She's going to drive down and meet me at the place where I work, we're going to transfer everything to her car, I'm going to drive my car back to my parents', get out of it, get into her car, and then we're going to leave. So yeah - anything left behind is left behind for good, especially since I'll be six hours away. I don't want to risk leaving a note in case they find it too early, and I'm terrified of calling them to tell them, so...I don't really know, yet. That part I still haven't figured out.

I've been away for almost two years, and I took my important documents with me, so thankfully I still have all of those.

I've started going through my things to figure out what I'm taking. It's amazing how much and how little everything has changed - when I was about 3, my grandfather's brother gave me a small teddy bear so I would have something constant in my life. I took that bear from one relative's house to the next. I took it to school with me. Whenever I was sent somewhere new, it was the first thing I packed. Tonight I tucked that bear into a shoebox that's going out to my car at the next opportunity. With any luck, this will be its last escape trip.

#627 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2012, 08:02 AM:


Maybe write a note, and put it in the mail Friday, maybe after you get in your girlfriend's car Friday evening? That gives you a day or two of space. (They might worry at not seeing you, but that's not your problem.)

I'm glad you have your bear; they can be enormous comfort.

#628 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2012, 10:01 AM:

Cayce, good luck!! I wish you all the best.

#629 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2012, 10:59 AM:

Echoing those wishing you luck, Cayce.

#630 ::: alsafi ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2012, 11:10 AM:

Good luck, Cayce!

#631 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2012, 11:18 AM:

Cayce -- once you're at your girlfriend's place, you can call Childrens Protective Services in your former state and report the abuse of your brother anonymously.

Also, if you haven't done so, get a copy of your transcript from your school.

Dear Moderators -- I know we have a lot of scientists on ML, if Cayce is willing to let you know where he's going, and if any Biochemists on the list are looking for a lab assistant in that area, could you facilitate contact?

#632 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2012, 11:29 AM:

Yay Cayce! *jumping up and down and cheering*

Cut the abusive or in-too-deep-denial ones off sharp and clean. If they want you back in their lives, it should be on your terms, in your territory, and on their best behaviour. Because whatever good things your family has done for you, they've also made you live in a cloud of emotional poison and tried to keep you trapped in it. I'm telling you this because I haven't had the guts to do it properly, even though it would be good for me.

Once you are safely away, you should definitely contact the authorities about your brother, and try to give him a way to reach you that doesn't give your parents a way to find and punish you. You'll be able to help each other heal with the insights you each have into your family dynamics.

#633 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2012, 11:30 AM:

Cayce - forget the note, or the phone call. Just _go_, then get a restraining order ASAP (maybe your girlfriend could find out now how to do that in her state.). Don't take anything they might legally be able to prove is "theirs".

Good luck!

#634 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2012, 11:49 AM:

I also have an idea for those who want to improve their grip on human relationships/behaviour. Watch some reality tv for material to analyze. A friend of mine hooked me on The Amazing Race about a year ago, and while the premise is fun, what's been really good is the wealth of close relationships to analyze objectively, because I don't know them, and therefore am free to think or say anything, and have nothing to lose. The result gets rather illuminating after you work through several seasons. (Now I'm going through some of them again, and taking notes. I want to see if there are common themes beyond "dysfunctional teams do worse than they should and have less fun.") Likewise, you can watch people's prejudices out themselves when Team X does well. It could also provide great material to use in therapy with a family member to say "you do that too, and it causes problems for us just like it does for them."

#635 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2012, 12:56 PM:

Wow, Cayce, best of luck. Everyone else, I'm still witnessing.

#636 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2012, 12:58 PM:

Wow, Cayce, best of luck. Everyone else, I'm still witnessing.

#637 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2012, 01:39 PM:

Cayce: good luck. Hope all goes well.

Syd: Sympathies for the room-mate problems. Well done in getting to a job offer and I hope that the sums work out or another one comes up in which they -do- work out. Recruiter being impressed with your resume is a definite step forwards.

#638 ::: Vrdolyak ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2012, 02:32 PM:

Wishing you well, Cayce, and praying for parental obliviousness to your escape plan. (I am slightly paranoid in these matters.)

#639 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2012, 02:52 PM:


In my state (New York), the title of the car is the document that says who owns it. Another person can register and insure the car, with the owner's permission. I lent my car to a relative for a year or so; I had to go to the DMV with him and the title and say that was okay in order for him to register it.

Does your state have a separate title and registration, and if it does, is the title in your name? Is it worth the fight?

Kudos to you for getting out, and I wish you all the luck in the world!

#640 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2012, 04:09 PM:

Cayce, good luck.

On being an adult: in my experience (no kids) what defines adulthood is having kids around. Everything else gets lumped into What People Like Me Do, and of course Like Me means still a kid, right? But once there's a kid around, you have to be an adult. So of course, Cayce, you're not feeling adult right now; you don't have someone you have to feel adult *for*.

#641 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2012, 04:41 PM:

Well done on making the break. I'm wishing you all the luck in the world.

I'd be happy to coordinate any offers of help, either using the email addresses people supply on their input forms or, if that's not the one you want to use, by any contact to [my name at the top of this comment] @ [this domain].

That address is also useful if you figure out how to be an adult. Drop me a line and explain, willya? I've been faking it all this time.

Much sympathy on the sleeping situation; that sort of thing does drain the joy.

But it's clearly a heck of a CV you have up there, if you're getting these kinds of contacts. Where there's one, there may very well be others. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you.

I'm sorry to hear you've had a downturn. I hope that when your schedule irons itself out again, you can repair the damage -- and that that damage isn't as great as you fear.

#642 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2012, 04:49 PM:

On "being an adult"... my experience has been that what made the difference was no longer having to justify the decisions I made about my personal life to people who assumed that their permission was necessary. That included things like my decision not to have children. Other people could argue with me about it (and have), but they can't force me to come up with a justification which is acceptable to them. It's my decision, and they don't get a say.

#643 ::: Syd, somewhat disguised ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2012, 05:07 PM:

Jacque @ 619, no need to duck: I can't pitch anything as far as CO--not much of a throwing arm. :) But yes, plenty of material, and it has the potential to spread a bit. As in, one of the residents was on the phone to the Metro folks re: trying to find out about buses that run near hir new job location--so that if hir boss is going to be hard-nosed about "no, you can't leave 5 minutes early to catch the bus you need", zhe isn't left waiting for an hour or stuck walking 4 or 5 miles back to the shelter late at night.

Which ties in to a recent article in the local weekly about public transit being focused on "sexy" trains that serve higher-income workers rather than buses that serve lower-income workers. Considering the county has already had one lawsuit about transit discrimination, this has the potential to be more than a little political.

The writing coach suggests I not get too political on the blog, keeping it more...I don't know, emotionally accessible? But there's always that account I set up at Daily Kos for the political angles.

On the other hand, I like your suggestions re: linking back to ML in the sidebar. Did you mean I should (suggestion-should, that is) reference the threads that carry portions of the conversation re: my specific situation; the most recent DFD threads (where the bulk of the convo has taken place); all the DFD threads (for potential utility to all comers); or ML in general?

If you just answer "yes", I may pitch something your way after all. ;)

dcb @ 637, thanks. I've been re-crunching numbers and there are still a couple of ways it could work in my favor, but I have to verify with my case manager how much I have to save. That is, I know I have to save 70% of my income, and I have assumed the intended meaning is after-tax income; the question I'll be asking is, since I know I'll have a minimum fixed cost of $270 for transportation, can I treat it as a "deduction" against income for purposes of savings. As the invisible one calculated in #614, having to save 70% of $1040 is a lot different than having to save 70% of $770.

Of course, the company (assuming the spot hasn't already been filled) might decide I'm worth the $13/hr rate, which gives me a tad more leeway. But still, I have storage to worry about, even when I consolidate everything, plus the cell phone (about which I'm hoping to work out something with my carrier, considering how long I've been a client, but the contract only started in December, so who knows whether they'll go for any adjustments?) and car insurance and gas and registration... In a word, yikes.

But I'm definitely going to call the recruiter on Monday morning, since the worst she can tell me is she's placed a candidate already.

cayce--you've already received much excellent guidance from the Fluorosphere, so I'll just wish you a highly successful departure with many wonderful things in your future.

#644 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2012, 06:08 PM:

Suggestion to everybody on behalf of Syd: If you haven't already, put a link to Syd's blog on your homepage, for to boost her signal, concentrate her Google Juice, and perhaps maybe aim some hiring energy in her direction.

Syd @643: You should a link prominently somewhere in the general form of "How to hire me for [services]."

cayce @626: I have no idea if I can bicycle - I've never been particularly good at it, but it's worth a try; two possible places of employment nearby are ~2 miles out.

At the risk of hobby-horsing:
1. Have you ever ridden a bike? If so, you'll pick it up again (the old "just like riding a bike" is not a cliche without reason). If not, I can give you tips on how to learn easily without killing yourself.
2. Biking is an excellent low-impact form of exercise; you may find it even helps your back and your overall pain issues.
3. If you don't own a bike and can't borrow one, some cities are developing the zipcar equivalent for bikes; time-share bicycles. (I personally want to own my own: they're like clothes; you can borrow others' but they're unlikely to fit well.)
3a. Some cities have a "community cycles" program whereby you can trade time to build them some bikes (and learn bike maintenance for only the cost of your time) in return for getting one of your own for free. (In Boulder it's build four, get one.)
4. For my money (depending, of course, on terrain and traffic), 2 miles is an excellent distance to get a middlin'-light workout (once one gets into shape, of course). While building up your conditioning, see if the city in question allows commuters to put their bikes on the bus. Bus uphill, bike back down, until you get into shape.

As I write this out, I realize it's a non-trivial project in its own right, so this is something you could put off until other, more urgent needs are met. But: reasonably doable. (All IME, of course. YMMV, void where &c.)

I'm terrified of calling them to tell them, so...I don't really know, yet. That part I still haven't figured out.

Were I in your place (and, actually, I was, once), I would (did) take entirely too much pleasure in quietly fading into the shadows and just leaving it up to them to figure out I was gone. }:-)=

I realize your situation is terrifying and Fraught, but I do hope you won't mind too much if I take great vicarious delight in your adventure? It was a solid fourteen years between the time I made my Decision (at age 8) and fully making my Escape (at 22), and my hindbrain remains unconvinced to this day (thirty-three freakin' years later) that I'm well and truly Out.

abi @641: cayce: That address is also useful if you figure out how to be an adult. Drop me a line and explain, willya? I've been faking it all this time.

Hell, post a comment here. I, for one, would sign on for a Clue. (Though no guarantees I'd use it.)

And, abi, may I point out that your "fake" is so far beyond most people's master-work that it doesn't even bear comparison? IMnpHO, of course.

Syd If you just answer "yes", I may pitch something your way after all. ;)

Oh, drat. Where's my garbage-can lid when I need it?

Sidebar: Post a link to ML in general, followed by a link to each of the DFD threads (with titles, and perhaps starting dates) for potential utility to all comers.

Individual posts: link to directly your related comments, maybe at the bottom of your post. "For more on this topic, see: [link]"

Okay, I'm covered now; let fly. ::wheee!!!::

#645 ::: Jacque, gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2012, 06:09 PM:

gnome, gnome on the range....

#646 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2012, 07:01 PM:

Syd, add me to the list of people happy to see you updating. Nice, on the blog. Keep going!

#647 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2012, 07:49 PM:

Lee @ 642

That's it, right there. I agree with Diatryma @ 640, that one thing that can trigger feeling like an adult is having kids around, but honestly, if I'd realized that I was waiting to have kids to own the legitimacy of my own decision-making, I would have made different decisions about myself. I think the belief that we are only adults in relation to younger people has the potential to be extremely toxic. At some point, you are entitled to be an adult, no matter who is around. Period.

But I also think it has to do with how people around you treat you. I've noticed that a lot of people treat childless adults who are younger than them like children, but treat much younger parents as adults, even when they are making much poorer decisions. It's hard to maintain belief in your own legitimacy when the people around you are constantly undercutting the validity of your choices and subtly telegraphing that you just aren't quite "enough."

#648 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2012, 08:59 PM:

KayTei @647: Huh. You've just pointed up something I should pause to be grateful for. I don't recall ever encountering anyone who treated me as a kid based on my reproductive state. I also don't catch crap because I don't have kids.

Don't get me wrong; I don't doubt that that kind of thing happens. Nor that it's a raging pain in the ass to be on the receiving end of.

Maybe it's because I'm (a) utterly oblivious, so any attempts to run that one on me sails right over my head (wouldn't be the only thing), or (b) that the concept of being a parent is so utterly and completely outside of my umwelt that it would no more occur to people to fuss at me about having kids than it would to expect the housecat to do the bookkeeping.

Anyway, thanks, and my deepest condolences to anyone who does encounter this nonsense.

#649 ::: Mea ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2012, 09:04 PM:

Syd, somewhat disguised: my ability to find your link to your blog is nonexistent today. Could you repost?

And I'm astonished at your energy under amazingly trying circumstances. I know that sleeping in earplugs isn't a solution, but I hope you have a pair. The foam ones have kept me from lashing out at my co-workers in cubicle land.

#650 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2012, 09:58 PM:

Mea (649): Click on Syd's name at the top of #643 to go to her blog.

#651 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2012, 10:04 PM:

KayTei, #647: I've noticed that a lot of people treat childless adults who are younger than them like children, but treat much younger parents as adults, even when they are making much poorer decisions.

This is largely culturally driven. Our culture has two main rites of passage for acceptance as adults: getting married and having children. Some people are more strongly affected by those expectations than others, and some people will accept either one, but there are a significant number who hold out for both (hence some of the contempt for single mothers, who are seen as "kids having kids" no matter how old they are).

I noticed that the way my mother treated me changed significantly after I got married. My father may have been holding out for the having-kids part, or then again it might just have been the space-alien wiring in his brain and nothing would ever have made him see me as an adult. In any event, I don't have to worry about it any more.

Which brings me to another thing that sometimes triggers the "okay, I'm an adult now" response -- having both of your parents die. Some people seem to have trouble making that adjustment while they actually stand in a child relationship to anyone. That's a nasty one to have to wait on, though, because for most people it's going to be well into their own adulthood before it happens.

#652 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2012, 10:39 PM:

Lee @#651, responding to KayTei: This is largely culturally driven. Our culture has two main rites of passage for acceptance as adults: getting married and having children.

Well, I do fall into the "single mom" paradigm, though I'm over 50, but I am glad to see that you say "largely" culturally driven.

Because in some families, no matter how old you are, you can still be considered a child.

I was a parent and had been living in my own home for more than 5 years when one of my cousins was married; I was not sent a separate invitation to the wedding but was included in the invitation sent to my parents. I was, I should mention, in my late 30s at the time. (It's amusing now but was painful at the time.)

I would say it took about ten more years for some family members to stop behaving as if I was still a kid, and some (well, my mother) still haven't.

#653 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2012, 10:45 PM:

cayce and Jacque, regarding bikes:

I'm also in favour of cycling to get around, but then I live in a decently bike-friendly city. If you do decide to try the cycle commuting route, I would add to Jacque's comments:

1) craigslist has provided me with cheap bikes that aren't the shiniest but haven't yet left me stranded when I use them for a few months. $30-40 seems to be a decent price range for that sort of thing - less and it's probably in the "needs rebuilding" category. (I think the most I've had to do on one of those so far is tighten a few bolts, adjust the tension on the shifter cable, and oil the chain.) If the brakes work and the tires have ok tread and hold pressure, you can ride it even if the frame isn't quite the right size for you, until you save enough to buy a better bike. (Though look it over and test ride it before buying, and carry a patch kit - which you should do even on the best bike ever.) If there's a community cycles thing such as Jacque describes, that would be a better option - you'd at least know exactly what you're getting in a bike with the right size frame, as well as getting some skills in the bargain. I learned a bunch of my bike maintenance skills from a community cycles place, even though I didn't buy a bike from them.

2) I highly recommend scouting your potential cycling route on a weekend (or other non-work day) before riding to work. The needs of cars are very different from the needs of bicycles. If you choose to cycle, make sure you know what your route is and how long it takes you before you have to be on time for work, because the best cycling route will probably be different and may be longer than the best driving route. Google maps cycling directions have been improving over time, so that would be a good place to start. There are some errors in the directions however; I send in a problem report every time I see one, and Google *does* actually fix them, but they're still there.

But, you know, *first* get yourself rescued, get yourself settled in to your new place, then later figure out if cycling is something you want to do. Because as Jacque said, this is a project in its own right.

#654 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2012, 12:18 AM:

Cayce, more good wishes going your way. Everybody else has said what's worth saying, so ^see above and add a nod.

the invisible one: "$30-40 seems to be a decent price range for that sort of thing" Wow. I knew that our local cycling mecca was distorting the market, but I hadn't realized it was distorting it quite that much. (A used frame will often run into the hundreds of dollars, because cycling is A Serious Thing in a local city.)

On that note, it never hurts to ask around. I was given a bike recently because said giver is A Very Nice Person who knew I wanted a bike of that particular type and happened to have one unused in his garage (because he'd moved on to bigger and better things.) The worst that can happen is nothing and the best that can happen is everything.

#655 ::: jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2012, 12:25 AM:

the invisible one @653: craigslist has provided me with cheap bikes that aren't the shiniest

Oh yeah, and, FWIW, the only really effective bike lock I've ever found is a good coating of grime and rust. I do lock my bike, but back when I had "shiny new" ones, that only seemed to slow down the bike thieves.

carry a patch kit

Actually, I tend to carry a spare tube (belt) and a patch kit (suspenders, see also: banishing spell); leastways if I'm far enough away from my destination for it to be a pain to walk. I find it more copacetic to just swap out the tube in the event of a flat and patch the puncture it at home. Patching in the field is doable, but a pain; innevitably comes up at night, or when it's raining, or other adverse conditions. And if you can manage it, get a bike with wheels that allows thorn-resistant tubes, and spend a little more to get Kevlar tires. (My current bike requires seriously weenie tubes—which I may change this summer, because last fall I couldn't go a week without a flat. REALLY annoying, as I'm used to going years of daily riding between flats.)

(Actually, anymore, I'm so spoiled by excellent local transit that has bike-racks on the busses that I don't bother carrying a kit anymore. If a tire goes flat at home, I just ride the bus—though this means I'll be late, since bus time is same as bike time, plus walk to and from busses and waiting. If it goes flat at work, I just heave it on the bus and take it home. Like I say, spoiled.)

(First time Moshe Yudkowsky visited me in Colorado, he was joking about the bike racks on the airliners. Like I say, really spoiled.)

#656 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2012, 12:28 AM:

B. Durbin @654: A used frame will often run into the hundreds of dollars, because cycling is A Serious Thing in a local city.


Running joke around Boulder is the spandex-clad cyclist, putting their $5K bike on the roof-rack atop their $500 car.

#657 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2012, 12:28 AM:

B. Durbin @654: A used frame will often run into the hundreds of dollars, because cycling is A Serious Thing in a local city.


Running joke around Boulder is the spandex-clad cyclist, putting their $5K bike on the roof-rack atop their $500 car.

#658 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2012, 11:44 AM:

Melissa @ 652
"Because in some families, no matter how old you are, you can still be considered a child."

I find I have this flagged as a warning sign for potential abuse. It's not enough to be sure by itself, but it's enough to put me on notice to watch for other subtle problems.

#659 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2012, 12:52 PM:

Melissa, #652: I was a parent and had been living in my own home for more than 5 years when one of my cousins was married; I was not sent a separate invitation to the wedding but was included in the invitation sent to my parents. I was, I should mention, in my late 30s at the time.

This actually fits into the pattern I was describing above. You were a single mother who had not gone thru the rite-of-passage of marriage, and therefore still considered to be a child; your parenthood and personal independence were just trappings, like a child playing dress-up in her mother's clothes. Or you can look at it from the feminist angle and say that since you hadn't yet been handed over to a husband, you were still considered the property of your parents. Very likely elements of both were in play. IYDMMA, has that attitude changed as you yourself have gotten older?

KayTei, #658: I agree. It's not dispositive by itself, but it's a yellow flag. And the closer the relationship in which it happens, the stronger the warning signal -- which is to say, if it's the parents who can't let go, that's a worse problem than more-distant relations.

#660 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2012, 01:23 PM:

Best of luck, cayce. You've got my wholehearted support. If it's possible for you, please keep updating us on how you are. (In case my location is anywhere useful to you, I've e-mailed abi to offer local help.)

Syd -- I'm still reading and thinking of you, sympathizing with you and cheering for you. All kinds of fingers crossed for you.

#661 ::: Ross ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2012, 02:05 PM:

Not being considered an adult: I got this both ways, actually. When I was a kid and they didn't want to be bothered with taking care of me, it was "we think of you as an equal": so I can handle making my own food, fighting off school bullies, keeping (my part of) the house in one piece when my pyromaniac drug-addict father was in a destroying-things mood.

Then when I went to college and started living on my own, it was "We'll always think of you as our little baby" and "you don't really want to move away, do you?" and "we just want to take care of you, why won't you just let us help you?" Which, of course, actually meant "you're doin it wrong, you shouldn't be able to make any life decisions for yourself".

I never really got to be a kid, but the nice part of that is that by the time I had to, I was willing to stand up and fight to be an adult.

#662 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2012, 02:09 PM:

Lee @#659 wrote: Very likely elements of both were in play. IYDMMA, has that attitude changed as you yourself have gotten older?

Undoubtedly true, but still odd considering I was nearly 40, kwim?

As for getting better, the answer is yes but depends heavily on the generation of family I'm thinking about. My generation, no problem--I'm the oldest and spawned first; I've _always_ been an adult as far as most of them are concerned, as I'm nearly 6 years older than the next one down (my brother), and then 8, 10, 30, and 32 years older than my first cousins. 3 of these people are married and have children; their spouses mostly consider me adult but strange (fine with me).

My mother's generation don't all get it, but it's part personality and part age, I think.

To my mother, I will always be not just a child but a bad child, the one she can abuse at will. I've started writing down the stuff she says to me because I'm tired of the revisionist history; so far this just leads to bigger fights. Too bad, sez I. She's beaten me up emotionally for my entire life and I'm not taking that shit anymore.

(Well, I've taken less and less of it in the last 15-20 years, but the process really accelerated once my daughter was born and I began to have to protect her from my mother--which I have mostly done successfully, I think, as my kid does not have food issues, ego problems, or depression and is now 16, by which time these things can often be spotted.)

So far, we just have bigger fights and then go weeks or months without speaking to each other--pleasant weeks/months, as far as I'm concerned. I hang up on her when she begins blaming me/not listening to me/insisting something happened _her_ way as opposed to the _real_ way.

My older aunt acknowledges me as an adult and has basically since that horrible wedding--I think her older daughter (not the one getting married at the time) read her the riot act. Her husband considers himself the paterfamilias but has always come across to me as something of a sleaze, so I interact with him as little as possible. That's not hard since he's not online and I see them only a few times a year--I see her more since she's still working even though she's 70 and we email and occasionally meet for lunch.

My younger aunt I think still dislikes me, the level of this has ebbed and flowed over the years. I don't entirely blame her--she's only 6 years older than me so was still a child when her parents became grandparents and that can't have been easy. Also, a lot of our basic approaches to parenting have been very different, and she often felt, I think correctly, that people in the family often compared our children (hers are 2 and 4 years older than mine) while they were growing up. Her sons are nice young men, and the differences between their childhood behavior and my kid's childhood behavior were undoubtedly due to a combination of factors including gender, personality, and parenting styles.

Be that as it may, I suspect my aunt primarily thinks of me as a pain in the arse. (albeit an adult PITA, I think) Her husband has no trouble relating to me as an adult because that's the only me he's ever known.

fwiw, of course.

Look, I know how the drill goes--oldest daughter, unmarried, takes care of mom. And I do.

But there are certain things I won't do, including move in with her (which many people suggested after my father died, because "it would be easier for both of you,"). And I take a lot of her shit for the sake of my kid, who somehow has managed to have a mostly good relationship with her, possibly because of my continual drumbeat on certain issues (Do not discuss, food, weight, or dieting with your grandchild) and the kid's ability to recognize her bullshit.

#663 ::: Fooey ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2012, 03:05 PM:

Cayce: leaving is always frightening. That doesn't make it the wrong choice. Even good change is stressful. Based on what you say here, I believe you are doing the right thing. Illegitimis non carborundum, as they say (now someone will correct my Latin. As they should).

About me: I'm doing better, I guess. It's hard for me to tell. I think I feel separated, or disconnected, from my depression. Like, the feelings are all still there, but they're behind a wall, or in a box, maybe.

Last weekend, just because I needed a new adventure, I was taken away from my mother's house by ambulance due to (rot13 for grossness) frirer naq ivbyrag ibzvgvat. The paramedics said they thought I was having a heart attack.

Once I got to the hospital, the triage nurse noticed my arms were completely covered in hives - so completely that I actually could not see any normal skin between my wrists and shoulders. More were on my legs, but nowhere else on my body. I had no shortness of breath, no chest pain, and rather low blood pressure (110/something). The triage nurse thought I was having a heart attack. The EKG looked fine. They took blood, put me on a drip with anti-nausea meds, and said I had to wait I forget how many hours to have more blood tests.

I was moved to Observation, where I was monitored and tested and etc. etc. The tests kept coming back negative for heart attack. The doctor kept saying he really thought I had had a heart attack, because I'd had all the symptoms, so he would order more tests.

Thirteen hours later: no heart attack. Either food poisoning, or an allergic reaction, or some combination of both.

So, yay! no heart attack, I guess.

The weird part: I was not upset. I mean, I'm a bad patient, and I really didn't like the initial ibzvgvat nggnpx, but other than that, being told I was probably having a heart attack didn't even impinge on me. For most of the time I was there, I was just bored and uncomfortable. Every time the doctor would say to me, "we really think you had a heart attack", I would just say, "OK".

Ever since, I've been ruminating over that. Aren't most people a little freaked out by getting that news?

Other than that whole episode, I've been doing mostly OK. I've been running at a level, anyway. I have a list of things that must be done in a day - get up, feed cats, make bed, dress, go to work. Come home, MAKE REAL FOOD EVEN IF I'M TIRED AND EAT IT, wash dishes, lay out tomorrow's clothes and lunch, whatever housework task is set for that day (vacuum, wash floor, laundry, etc.). Only once all of this is completed may I sit down, otherwise, I'm really afraid that I'll fall back into my old "get home from work, sit in a chair and stare at nothing for several hours".

I'm afraid to miss any part of the list. I'm so afraid that I (without realizing it) spent 3 hours looking for a vacuum attachment because it was absolutely imperative that I vacuum and I could not fail to do so on pain of something terrible would occur. I finally found it, spent the 5 minutes it took to vacuum that one bit of rug... and then realized what I'd been doing. I was exhausted, and it made no sense at all. I could have picked up the rug and shaken it outside (it's small); I could have done something else and vacuumed the next day. But I was so focused on not missing anything on my list that I spent hours looking through every nook and cranny, every not-yet-unpacked box and bag. I gave myself a raging headache.

I guess most of the time I'm doing better. I don't feel the persistent, horrible sadness all the time, I don't give up when the first little thing doesn't work, I'm sleeping better.

Work-wise, I'm now creating the training documents for the people that will be replacing us. I'm supposed to travel to actually do the training. I do think it's a little surreal, but again with the disconnected thing. I think I would be finding it a lot more stressful without the medication and counselling. At any rate, my counsellor and I have decided to call it a good thing, since I will now have "Managed Service Desk Transition" on my CV, and will have the opportunity to visit a far-away country, which I never would have gotten to otherwise. It also keeps me on the payroll for an extra couple of weeks.

Good thoughts to any here that need them, and I really to appreciate the ones I get back.

#664 ::: Fooey ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2012, 03:11 PM:

me @663 "really to appreciate the"

"do". do appreciate, dammit. Sorry.

And, wow, that was long.

#665 ::: Persephone ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2012, 04:16 PM:

The discussion about whether your family considers you an adult or a child crystallized something for me. I liked my mother's previous boyfriend partially because he treated me like an adult. I'm not so crazy about the current boyfriend partially because he treats me like someone else's teenage kid. (I'm 32.)

#666 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2012, 07:37 PM:

Syd, regarding the far-away job: copy-editing, right? Is that something you could do at least partly off-site? FWIW, I once spent a year commuting from near Pasadena to Irvine, and even ignoring the dollar cost, the time and personal energy cost is pretty daunting. In my experience, companies tend to be more amenable to this if you're a contractor than if you're an employee, but either way, given that you've already told them "no", there's not much to be lost by asking!

#667 ::: Syd, somewhat disguised ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2012, 09:23 PM:

Jeremy Leader @ 666 (oooooohhhhh....), actually, I spent the weekend re-crunching numbers and second-guessing myself. When I spoke to my friend E yesterday, she said, "Call back and give it a shot. At the very least, you'll get more face-time experience!" So I did that this morning; the agent I'd spoken to was out of the office, but the one who answered the phone said yes, they were still seeing candidates for that position, and did I have availability this week?

Which is why I'll be driving to Irvine Wednesday morning for an 8:00 AM interview. At which I will definitely bring up the possibility of at least partial telecommuting--thank you for reminding me that exists, because I still have "being an employee means being in some company's office" stuck in my head.

Also, I've already told my case manager at the shelter about the interview, and asked the "bank 70% after metro pass" question. Her response: "If you get this job, we'll make it work."

I really like her. :)

Therefore, I am once again requesting the good-job mojo from the Fluorosphere, specifically: that if this is the right job for me at the right time, the interview will go well and I'll get an offer within a week (if not sooner). I offer similar mojo to all who might need it, tailored to their specific circumstances.

#668 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2012, 11:04 PM:

Cayce: I don't have any advice, but I'm crossing my fingers for you to get out safely.

Syd @ 667: Job mojo....activate!

And now for some rambling:

I'm trying to understand why I'm so contrary, even when what I'm going against is good for me. When my mom says "stop picking at your face, you'll get scars" or tries to swat my hand away from my face (especially in public) I want to keep doing it just to spite her. Recently, I decided that I do need to stop, and it's totally different. I'm the one saying "you've already got scars, stop now or it'll get infected" and pulling my hands away. And it's okay because I made the decision to do it, it's for my reasons, not hers. But if she starts nagging me again, I think I'd still disobey her. I don't like that, because I am actually trying to stop, and beating a combination of muscle memory and addiction is frigging tricky already. Like, my hands are automatically on my face and in my hair all the time, and my brain says "yessss good continue" despite knowing that what I'm doing is actually harmful to my health! Jeez, brain.

I started thinking about this again because of something that happened the other day. I was getting caught up in the classic "Don't go back to people who've already helped you, you don't deserve their attention" Tape, and my mom just flat-out said "Stop apologising for living!". I realise that's good advice, I shouldn't let people's imaginary reactions have so much power over me. But my immediate, knee-jerk response was "No!". Just flat-out denial. I don't want to show other people that they can just order me around and I'll DO it. Like, if I'm talking during a movie and my dad gets fed up and says "SHHHHHH WILL YOU. BE. QUIET.", I just kind of mutter "no" and leave the room. Because that's preferable to shutting up and sitting there obediently. I'm fine with doing tasks that are assigned to me, because they're somehow different. My brother, meanwhile, seems to take directions as a personal insult sometimes. This whole family probably needs therapy, honestly.

#669 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2012, 11:11 PM:

Phenicious: I'm often contrarian as well. If someone tells me to do something, I'll find a way around it -- when I find the reason in myself to do it, it's really easy to just do it. I don't know where it comes from either. I just want you to know that you're not alone here.

#671 ::: Syd, somewhat disguised ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2012, 01:15 AM:

HLN: area woman reports that her car was struck while driving home from the library; location of accident was at the intersection half a block away from her destination.

Details: area woman had the right of way through the signal-controlled intersection, was not speeding or otherwise at fault, and was hit by a young woman making a left turn across area woman's lane of travel. Young woman admitted during the exchange of information (and several times thereafter, including in front of witnesses) that she was paying attention to cars making right turns into the lane she was hoping to occupy, and NOT paying attention to oncoming traffic, i.e., area woman's vehicle.

Area woman's car now features a severely crumpled hood and passenger-side front-end panel, and a destroyed radiator, passenger-side headlight and front bumper. "Everyone says it could have been worse," area woman reports, "and I know that--both the other driver and I were uninjured (although I expect I'm gonna be sore soon) and the damage to my car is probably repairable. But knowing it could have been worse doesn't actually make me feel any better."

Rescheduling Wednesday's interview might take place. Area woman hasn't decided yet.

She reports being tired.

#672 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2012, 07:06 AM:

Fooey @663, sorry to hear about your little adventure involving a hospital visit. In general, sounds like you are better but still not where you want to be.

Phenicious @668 That's a tough one, that knee-jerk reaction against being told what to do, even if it's something you want to do anyway. I think being aware of it is half the battle.

Syd, great news about the interview but oh, no, on the car! Hope you can find something to tide you over until you can get it fixed.

#673 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2012, 08:49 AM:

Phenicious @ #668: yes, I expect the whole family does need therapy. It's also made up of people who seem to rub each other the wrong way and who are at overexposed to each other. My hard-but-worthwhile advice for this is that if they won't give you some space when asked to (I bet they won't!), that it's time to get your life in enough order to move out. You need the space, spoons, and sanity from that.

Some people are more contrarian than others, but order anybody around too much, and they'll start doing contrary things sometimes just to prove they have free will. An environment that makes you say "I don't want to show other people that they can just order me around and I'll DO it" probably features a lot of unnecessary ordering around. So the contrariness might improve dramatically just living in an environment where you are treated more respectfully.

Unfortunately it is really hard to convince a parent, especially a controlling or dysfunctional one, to treat you with respect as an adult, when in their opinion you haven't been behaving like one. Conversely, one might not have the spoons to be adult and rational when it also means submitting too much, and end up being all rebellious-surly-teenager. You could be stuck in this vicious cycle, where you're too much on edge to prove to the people putting you there that they should change their behaviour.

This is why moving out and supporting yourself (or at least making a substantial contribution) could short-circuit the whole dynamic, especially if you move somewhere your folks don't want to visit often. It would let you prove that you're an adult, in terms they might understand. It would give you space and time AWAY from these people and their demands, so you can figure yourself out when you're not being rubbed raw. It would remove at least some distractions from your world so you could do better at work or school. Getting a job or doing some volunteer work might give you a chance to learn how to relate to adults as an adult. So maybe, since you hate your current college program anyway, you should take a year to move somewhere else and work for a living while you sort yourself out?

#674 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2012, 09:46 AM:

Syd: What horribly bad luck. Here's hoping that the other person's insurance company pays up, quickly.

I guess there's no practical way for you to get to tomorrow's interview without the car? Don't forget to call and explain the problem!*

Phenicious: this is a common problem, particularly when you're at the stage of fighting to build your own identity and make your own choices. Been there, done that - still do, sometimes. I'm gradually learning to respond in a non-commital way to anything my mother suggests, allowing me time to go away and decide whether or not I want to do it, after the knee-jerk response of "she said do X therefore I won't" which has become ingrained due to years of fighting against being moulded into the shape she thinks would be best for me... . Doesn't help that if I do decide to follow her suggestion she preens in an "aren't I marvelous/see even my daughter acknowledges I'm right" manner.

*Hope that's not condescending/hlepy, just that with everything else you have to do it might get forgotten.

#675 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2012, 10:27 AM:

Syd, that's terrible. I'm glad you weren't injured, and I hope the interviewer is understanding if you ask to reschedule.

Is there the possibility of a loaner car? Some car repair places have them.

#676 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2012, 10:46 AM:

Syd: (trying to not be hlepy) if you hurt worse today, please get checked out. My brother was in a minor car accident, felt fine after, and several days later was diagnosed with whiplash and had to wear a brace for a while.

Otherwise, ye gods and little fishes! Hope all is swiftly mended.

#677 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2012, 11:44 AM:

Phenicious, #668: When my mom says "stop picking at your face, you'll get scars" or tries to swat my hand away from my face (especially in public) I want to keep doing it just to spite her.

The rest of this is control issues (and boy, do I hear that!), and as you note, it's much easier when you are the one making the decision. But that bit in bold? THAT is personal disrespect and boundary violation, and I'd go up like Vesuvius if someone did it to me.

This is also another aspect of the "being treated like a child" thing; your mother might nag and argue with another adult, but she wouldn't do that. Physical intervention of that sort should not happen past about age 5. I don't have any useful advice here, but I want you to know that you are absolutely right to be upset about that behavior.

And what Moonlit Night said, with the caveat that even if you get your own life in shape by moving out, you may find that visiting your parents throws you right back into that old dynamic again. Also, that it may leave you with problems accepting orders from a boss; this can be worked around, but beware of a boss who uses the same interaction style as your parents -- the only real cure for that is to change jobs.

Syd, #671: Dear ghod, that sucks. Did she have insurance? Sending GoodThoughts that you won't be minus transportation for too long.

#678 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2012, 01:36 PM:

Syd -- seconding what Melissa said @676. Don't accept an insurance settlement until you've been checked out by someone who understands whiplash: an excellent chiropractor or massage therapist. Sometimes insurance companies want to move very quickly so they don't get hit with unexpected bills later, that they really should pay.

#679 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2012, 02:37 PM:

Phenicious @668: Offered in the spirit of "it's not just you;" my mother still tries to fix my collar/tuck in labels/adjust my purse strap if it's twisted. In public, without saying anything first.

For some time now my response has been to move away quickly (I don't really care if it looks like a flinch or makes her feel powerful to see me shy away) while saying, as unemotionally as possible, "I am an adult. Please tell me if you think there's a problem and I will take care of it." While she hasn't completely stopped, this has cut back on her attempts; I think she's embarrassed to be called on her shit in public, especially in front of other family.

I confess that I have similar urges, which I attribute to a base level of primate behavior (and childhood conditioning); I want to pick threads and stray hairs off people and fix labels. But I have learned to either draw the person's attention to the thread/hair/label and/or ask if I may remove it, or, with people I know really well, say, "sorry, primate behavior" as I pluck away the offending item.

I'm currently training my teenager to do the same; she will suddenly peer closely at me and begin looming close, usually because I have shed an eyelash. I'm trying to impress upon her that she _must_ ask permission, even of her mother (as I do with her), before making contact.

When she was really little, for a time I popped her fingers out of her mouth (when we were trying to break the finger-sucking habit in kindergarten). After a couple of weeks, we developed a signal, which her teacher could also use: catch her eye and tap your nose and she'd remove her fingers from her mouth.

(Of course, I wore my sweater inside out for several hours this morning before noticing, so perhaps I need someone to give me that once-over once in a while.)

#680 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2012, 02:41 PM:

My apologies if this posts twice; I got a "network error" report the first time.

Phenicious @668: Offered in the spirit of "it's not just you;" my mother still tries to fix my collar/tuck in labels/adjust my purse strap if it's twisted. In public, without saying anything first.

For some time now my response has been to move away quickly (I don't really care if it looks like a flinch or makes her feel powerful to see me shy away) while saying, as unemotionally as possible, "I am an adult. Please tell me if you think there's a problem and I will take care of it." While she hasn't completely stopped, this has cut back on her attempts; I think she's embarrassed to be called on her shit in public, especially in front of other family.

I confess that I have similar urges, which I attribute to a base level of primate behavior (and childhood conditioning); I want to pick threads and stray hairs off people and fix labels. But I have learned to either draw the person's attention to the thread/hair/label and/or ask if I may remove it, or, with people I know really well, say, "sorry, primate behavior" as I pluck away the offending item.

I'm currently training my teenager to do the same; she will suddenly peer closely at me and begin looming close, usually because I have shed an eyelash. I'm trying to impress upon her that she _must_ ask permission, even of her mother (as I do with her), before making contact.

When she was really little, for a time I popped her fingers out of her mouth (when we were trying to break the finger-sucking habit in kindergarten). After a couple of weeks, we developed a signal, which her teacher could also use: catch her eye and tap your nose and she'd remove her fingers from her mouth.

(Of course, I wore my sweater inside out for several hours this morning before noticing, so perhaps I need someone to give me that once-over once in a while.)

#681 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2012, 04:04 PM:

Melissa Singer @662: Too bad, sez I. She's beaten me up emotionally for my entire life and I'm not taking that shit anymore.

I divorced my parents at 22 and avoided them as much as possible for the two years I was out of the house before that. But I wound up having to go over there a few times to clean up residual business. One evening, I said something Triggery, and my mother started trying to run one of her Trips on me. I declined to play the first time. The second time, I said, "If you persist in this, I will leave." The third time, it was with deep and joyful pleasure that I Got Up And Left. Don't know if she learned anything from it; never got the chance to try it on me again.

Phenicious @668: I'm trying to understand why I'm so contrary, even when what I'm going against is good for me.

This was one of the hardest tangles for me to work my way out of. My mother used to impose this big heavy Imperative of "Be Independent."

I was a mess for years, getting tangled up in unhealthy dependencies and then getting fucked up about being trapped. And then I finally worked out that being independent was independently (ahem) an innate value of my own. Evidently my mother simply didn't trust me to want it for myself, so she felt compelled to impose that value on me from the outside, against which I innevitably rebelled.

Once I worked out that I wanted to be independent for my own reasons, I was finally able to extract and destroy that Goddamned Tape.

I don't want to show other people that they can just order me around and I'll DO it.

This is entirely reasonable. It is (or at least was with me) about maintaining your personal autonomy. The way it manifested for me was that I would do, unasked, tasks that I knew were assigned to me that I had previously agreed to. I would comply with a spontaneous request if I was asked respectfully. But if a parent presumed I "should" do something that I had no chance to "buy in" to, they had to ask. I wouldn't do it on my own initiative. Felt like if I did, I would be tipping over into black hole event horizon of Infinite Expectation, and there would be no end to what I was expected to do. Again, just to preserve some small shred of autonomy.

But if she starts nagging me again, I think I'd still disobey her. I don't like that, because I am actually trying to stop, and beating a combination of muscle memory and addiction is frigging tricky already.

In my case, it was thumb-sucking. I resisted all efforts to break me of the habit, including some pretty aggressive deliberate shaming on the part of my father to make me stop. It wasn't until I was well out on my own and had otherwise cleared out a lot of the old bats from my bellfry, and had eradicated old Tapes, that I finally (without even realizing it until months—or maybe years, I'm not sure—later.)

I was very protective of my thumb-sucking habit, and while it may have been counterproductive for any number of reasons. (I'm not happy with the way my face is shaped, not in small part due to an absence of corrective orthodonture.)

But that self-soothing was a crucially important coping mechanism that allowed me to get through my childhood as unscathed as I did, and I credit it in no small part with my ability to resist any peer (or parental—!) pressures to take up the various forms of substance abuse and/or other addictive behaviors that were available/pressed on me at the time.

Shorter me: you are doing what you need to do to protect your Self. Be kind to yourself, recognize that a lot of that is context dependent, and when you don't need those behaviors anymore, they may very well dissipate on their own.

This whole family probably needs therapy, honestly.

No argument there, right?

@671: Oh, Syd, it just never ends, does it? Jeez. You sure you weren't Job in a former life? :-)

Though, as I think about it, it fits a pattern: back in October of '07, I was in the worst of my before-becoming-reemployed crisis. One particular afternoon, I was rushing home from a temp job on my bicycle, trying to get home in time to have my neighbor catch photos of my favorite guinea pig before she died (which she did about half an hour after he left), all before an HOA meeting where I was on the side of the homeowners against the HOA in a conflict over an expensive assessment many of us couldn't afford. I'm peddling along up the street, about half a block from the turn into my building. Go to make the left turn, "I should look—no, I don't hear anything back there, I'm just gonna turn—" SCREEEEEECHHH!! "Oh, crap. Here we go...." >>CRUNCH<<

Fortunately, my karate training saved me; I rolled back over the hood while my bike went skidding off on its own up the street. Driver of SUV was freaked out, but uninjured and vehicle undamaged. Cops were called, accounts exchanged, I (properly) got the ticket because I'd been riding recklessly.... I went home, got pix, cuddled guinea pig until she passed, took a handful of Advil, blew off the meeting, and Went To Bed.

Deepest sympathies. We hope the other woman's insurance covers repairs/replacement of your car in a timely manner, plus loaner while you need it.

Lee @677: Also, that it may leave you with problems accepting orders from a boss; this can be worked around, but beware of a boss who uses the same interaction style as your parents -- the only real cure for that is to change jobs.

Oh, sweet Ghu, word.

No, the only real change is to regain enough self-possession that people trying to run controlly trips on one evoke only mild, benevolent amusement. But: I'm halfway through my fifties, and am only now finally starting to get a grip on that response. Prior to this evolution, Exit Stage Left is certainly a necessary and appropriate tool for the kit.

Melissa Singer @679: "sorry, primate behavior"

"Social grooming amongst the Naked Apes." :-)

I had a classmate in Jr High who, after I'd warned her that I Bite, continued waving her hands in my face. Entirely without volition, I nipped her, but good. She stood there in shock, holding her hand (skin unbroken, it must be said). "She bit me! She bit me!" "I tried to warn you," I said. She didn't wave her hands in my face after that. Not necessarily a recommendation, but...? }:-)=

#682 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2012, 04:41 PM:

Syd @671:

Well, crud. It's just one damn thing after another, isn't it?

(hug), if you want it.

#683 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2012, 05:19 PM:

I was very protective of my thumb-sucking habit, and while it may have been counterproductive for any number of reasons. (I'm not happy with the way my face is shaped, not in small part due to an absence of corrective orthodonture.)

If it's any comfort to you, last I heard there was no evidence that thumb-sucking caused any dental problems at all. One early study concluded that the long-term consequences of thumb-sucking amounted to "one clean thumb."

#684 ::: cayce ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2012, 05:41 PM:

Thanks for all the good wishes.

In the past few days, as I've been informing the necessary people that I'm leaving, I've had far more of them approve of my decision than I expected. Not that the approval of others would have changed my mind one way or another, but these people know enough about my family for it to be a relief that none of them have told me I'm overreacting. My manager at work, local friends that needed to know for one reason or another, non-local friends that haven't seen my family in years - people who have been around at different times, and so far all of them have confirmed that it's not only my perception, and that it's not - as my mother keeps trying to tell me - completely and solely my fault. (Or my fault at all.) I did not expect that.

All the luck I've been wished seems to be working - everything has gone smoothly so far, and it looks like my parents will actually be out for a friend's birthday at the time I'm planning to leave. I've thought about not leaving a note, but they'd likely call the police, so I have to leave something, even if it's just "I'm leaving, don't look for me". (Which is all I plan on writing - if they haven't figured it out by now, they're not going to.)

Thanks for all the bike advice - it's worth a try.

The past three days have been busy. Withdrew from my classes (the refund check that will be mailed to my new address is an unexpected gift), changed my contact info on just about everything (which reminds me I should probably get rid of the email account my parents know of), tried unsuccessfully to get to the savings account my mother opened for me, successfully got to and closed a different account my mother had opened for me, opened a new account at a different bank, sorted through most of my belongings and brought things out to my car, contacted a local friend about covering for me for a few hours after I leave, made an excessive number of backup plans, replied to emails from the seriously awesome people on the internet who are offering help to a stranger thanks to my girlfriend's blog feels like it's been much longer than three days.

Staying busy must be helping, because I feel curiously calm.

#685 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2012, 12:34 AM:

Thanks for the feedback/reassurance, folks. I'm gonna get some sleep, since I've got two job interviews tomorrow. I think they'll go well, but that's just because I haven't thought too hard about them. Off I go.

#686 ::: Syd, somewhat disguised ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2012, 01:28 AM:

Hi, all. First, thank you. :)

I did call to reschedule the interview: I went to the Women's Room for the writing group and had a conversation with the director, who has become a great friend. And in the course of that conversation, she said, "Well, we could probably come up with a way to get you there and back--but will you really be up for an interview when you get there?"

Come to think of it, since I have this tendency to burst into tears at odd moments, probably not. So I called and explained the situation and asked if they were still interviewing next week. And the agent said the job I was coming in for was still open--and other positions were coming open as well--and yes, they would be continuing to interview next week, and when I got things a bit more squared away, I should call and get on the schedule.


Yes, I plan to ask the claims adjuster about getting in to see my chiropractor, since I'm not really sore (or not yet) but am experiencing more than a few twinges in my left clavicle and right shoulder... The only visible aftereffect is a bruise about the size of a silver dollar on the inner part of my left upper arm, which I assume is due to contact with the shoulder belt.

Note: I almost wrote "my upper left arm", which might have led people to believe I also had a lower left arm...

Re: insurance, I haven't had a chance to speak to a claims adjuster yet--well, okay, the one who's been assigned to me on the basis of the other gal's accident report called me this afternoon when I was at the body shop getting my luggage out of the trunk; she'll call me back in the morning. And after I speak to her, I'll talk to the other party's adjuster, who left me a voicemail this afternoon.

I did, however, speak to my agent, and asked how likely it was that I could get a rental, considering I don't actually have a credit card. He told me that I should ask for a direct-payment arrangement, which means the other party's policy will be billed for the rental, rather than my having to do it myself and request reimbursement. So that's hope-inducing.

Oh, and abi? Hugs are always welcome. Thank you. :)

#687 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2012, 01:30 PM:

Cayce, you are in my thoughts and prayers.

Please let us know when you reach your new destination.

I'm so glad the other folks in your locale have been so positive about your need to leave, and that things are going relatively smoothly. May they continue to do so...

Happy Trails!

#688 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2012, 03:36 PM:

Xopher HalfTongue @683: If it's any comfort to you, last I heard there was no evidence that thumb-sucking caused any dental problems at all.

Well, I do have a conspicuous overbite, so that's significant. But, yeah. It was obvious to me from the very beginning that the pressure to quit was all social/peer pressure ("But what will the neighbors think!?") -based, and therefore was entirely dismissible in my value set.

One early study concluded that the long-term consequences of thumb-sucking amounted to "one clean thumb."

Well, and some odd callousing.... :)

cayce @684: Yaaaayyyy!! ::cheers & applause::

Syd, @686: Well, if you have to go through this nonsense, at least it sounds like your Universe is taking adequate care of you. And good on you for keeping us updated here.

#689 ::: Jacque, gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2012, 03:37 PM:

Oo! They've brought out the fancy china.

#690 ::: GlendaP ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2012, 03:52 PM:

cayce@684: Staying busy must be helping, because I feel curiously calm.

Sometimes making the decision is the hardest part. Once that has been accomplished, the actual doing is often much easier. Emotionally, that is.

#691 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2012, 05:08 PM:


The overbite probably isn't your fault, and it may be at least partly your parents' (along with anyone else who chose what to feed you as a child). There's some research suggesting that a soft diet in childhood means that the growing jaws get less exercise than on a harder, chewier diet [that seems pretty clear] and that this in turn means less bone growth and hence overbite. I got this from the news/overview article "An Evolutionary Theory of Dentistry," by Ann Gibbons, in the most recent issue of Science (volume 336, 25 May 2012, pages 973-975). The softer diet may also be causing more impacted wisdom teeth.

The article says that, other than the usual advice to eat less refined sugar (and feed less of it to children), it's too soon to make recommendations, but one person says he's been giving his children beef jerky to help exercise their jaws. And the refined sugar thing is about cavities, not overbites and other effects on jaw shape.

#692 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2012, 05:15 PM:

cayce: Hope the actual move-out goes smoothly. Well done with all the preparations, and great that so many people are being supportive, locally.

Syd: good to see you're getting some support there as well. Hope you can get that interview re-arranged, and transport sorted and everything.

#693 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2012, 05:25 PM:

Vicki wrt dentistry: huh, interesting. (One forgets that They keep Learning Stuff.) Very interesting; thank you. (And that would all make sense in light of the overall notion of bone growth being a dynamic and responsive process, very much influenceable by usage.

WRT sugar: that ship sailed, probably before I was born. 8-)

#694 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2012, 08:27 PM:

Syd: Ouch!. Like abi said, "one damn thing after another".

Cayce: Re bicycling, before you commit to that you need to check how well your area and commute support it. When I came here to Charlottesville, I got a bike because the town was supposed to be so bike friendly. Problem was, my development happens to be nestled into the intersection of two major local highways, with traffic that I can't deal with. I'd have to take the bike on the bus just to get anywhere with bike lanes. The bike's been gathering dust for 5 years.... :-(

#695 ::: forgot the name ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2012, 10:40 PM:

Hey, checking in.

I'm just crawling out from under a ridiculous month-long depression. The trigger this time was that my pyschotic older sister, despite being acknowledged as psychotic, violent, manipulative and flat-out cruel (thirty years after the onset of such behaviour), is still going to be allowed to stay in my house (the house I live in) anyway at the end of the year because 'she's our daughter' and we (I) should be sympathetic.

Yes, her life is so hard that it's worth risking her hitting me, stealing my things, screaming at me in one of her abusive fits, clinging to me to be grateful when she sometimes makes me coffee, and forcing me to be awake at all times of day to listen to her ranting.

Because her life is so hard, you see. It's terrible to have a paid vacation overseas for months and months to 'grow up'. It's terrible to have so many friends that she can run through their goodwill like water and never run out of places to stay or offers of food. It's terrible that apparently she can send emotionally abusive screed after screed to our mother for weeks with no repercussions.

Meanwhile, I am a fat, lazy daughter because I've been too depressed to vaccuum and I need to get over myself, stop eating so much salt, and be thinner, and eat better, and take care of myself, and what is wrong with me? Why don't I want to be an accountant? Why don't I want to do something with my life? Why don't I want to have a guaranteed job after uni? Why would I do that? (Social work/psych degree.) What's wrong with me, you lazy, selfish bitch? Why don't you grow up?

So, yes. I feel very sympathetic. I feel sympathetic enough that I'm entertaining fantasies of killing her. I wish either one of us were dead. I wish my academic future didn't hang on this assignment due tomorrow that I can barely read the instructions for without thinking about how to best walk under the wheels of a truck.

#696 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2012, 10:50 PM:

Oh, hell, forgot the name, that sucks a lot. I'm sorry.

#697 ::: Cassy B ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2012, 11:12 PM:

forgot the name @695,

PLEASE don't walk under the wheels of a truck. We'd be devastated. (And the poor truck driver would have nightmares for life....) Same goes for trains, buses, bridges... (ok, well, the bridge wouldn't have nightmares. But the people fishing you out of the water would....)

Sending supportive, coping thoughts.


#698 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2012, 12:52 AM:

forgot: You mom is Wrong to inflict this on you. We wish that were the end of the discussion.

#699 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2012, 01:05 AM:

forgot the name, #695: Your mother is wrong. Your sister is wrong. YOU should not have to live in fear of your life and health. Are there any assistance services you can turn to? Go in when you've got a nice set of bruises, and say that you need to get out of a physically-abusive and dangerous situation. Get yourself out of there, and leave the two of them to their little self-reinforcing circle; they deserve each other. And YOU deserve a life.

#700 ::: forgot the name ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2012, 03:57 AM:

Thanks, folks -- it helps. :)

Lee, 699:

I care so much more about the food thing, honestly. The end of the year is an oncoming nightmare, but all it'll do is compound the current problem, the food thing. She just keeps doing it, and hiding anything and everything sweet in new and exciting places, and if she buys things and shares them, she takes them away if we eat 'too much' or enjoy them 'too much', for whatever variable of volume versus her mood applies that day.

I feel like I've said all this before upthread somewhere, and I probably have, but I've struggled so hard to break myself out of starving myself under the belief that it was better to be thin and dead than fat and alive, and every time it comes up again I barely eat for a few days. And when I do that it suddenly turns into concerned 'oh, what's wrong, why aren't you eating, eat eat eat', but when I do eat, it's SUGAR FAT SALT SUGAR FAT FAT SALT ARE EVIL (seriously, she says they're evil and will kill me and I should have none of these things if I want to live, which is a FANTASTIC INCENTIVE for a suicidal person, y/n?), and then I don't eat, and hoard things like plain sugar and chips and noodles which I genuinely enjoy but she goes through my rubbish even if I dump it straight into the council bins so I have to eat fast when she's either not home or awake and be really careful, and then she'll say something like DON'T EAT THE SKIN FAT FAT BAD BAD at dinner (when she's the one who cooked and left the skin on the chicken) and it all cycles again. I JUST WANT TO EAT.

... right, obviously I needed to rant. Sorry!

#701 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2012, 08:57 AM:

Forgot @ #700, it sure sounds like your family is using you as its whipping girl. I agree with the others that you should get out, but I'll take a crack at the food problem first. My mother does a little bit of the "eat delicious treats I made"/"stop that it'll make you fat" double whammy. Not much, but enough to see it's a trap, conscious or unconscious. And that's what this is: a setup to make sure that no matter whether you take option 1 or 2, you can be told off.

So break her script and create an option 3 or 4 or 5 that she doesn't know how to respond to. What would happen if you started cooking and eating food that is healthy and tastes good, and stuck to it? Any doctor should happily recommend that to you over yoyo dieting, which is what she has you doing. Start making meals with plenty of vegetables, fruits, and protein, and allowing reasonable amounts of bad-in-excess things like starch, salt, fat, and sugar. Lots of spices and garlic and tasty base ingredients like onions to give flavour. Top it off by eating a small but well-deserved dessert and being totally unmoved by complaints or glares.

My mother finds my healthy tasty food rather unnerving, especially because my partner and I do global cuisine, not straight-up boiled British. (We're all in Canada, but my mother is mostly an old-style British cook.) My mother can no longer complain that my food isn't varied or healthy enough. So now she complains that my food is TOO interesting and tastes TOO good. I take that as the compliment that it is -- for the food, and for foiling her.

Double-whammy your mother on it by starting to get more exercise too. I have asthma so many kinds of exercise don't work for me, but I've learned to like weightlifting. Also, it gives you an excuse to eat more protein, which is good for many of us!

#702 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2012, 12:52 PM:

Forgot the name, oh, food issues. I also have them, but not the same ones. I'm usually able to get past them by turning, "I shouldn't eat that because I'll get fat/I need to eat less," into, "Fuck that, I have food issues, and they are not going to pretend to be body issues." I am lucky enough to be helped by the fact that 'thin', applied to me, has always meant 'weak'. Your situation is different, of course, since your mother is so dramatically abusive. I hope you're able to get out soon.

It may help to remember that any damage the food or being fat does to your body is less than the damage your mother is doing.

(please let me know if I'm being helpy. My food issues are kind of atypical.)

#703 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2012, 01:28 PM:

got, #700: You're right, the food thing is definitely worse. Slaps and blows may break your bones, but what your mother is doing to you can destroy your health permanently. Unfortunately, it's much easier to "prove" that you're being physically abused by being beaten than by being systematically pushed into malnutrition / starvation / a binge-purge cycle*. Is there anyone at all (a doctor, an advisor at school, even a layperson who knows you fairly well but isn't a friend of your mother) that you can talk to about this? Because the solution for the food thing is exactly the same as the solution for the violence -- you need to get out of there. Change is hard, change is scary, and there's a lot of temptation to say "at least this is the devil I know" -- but you are gambling with your LIFE here.

* Strictly speaking, this is not the right description, because binge/purge is something one does to oneself. But having someone else push and then withhold food produces much the same effect. Oh, and guess what? Both that and malnutrition can make you fat.

#704 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2012, 06:30 PM:

@700: Hmmmm. Let's see, if we were going to systematically and deliberately install an eating disorder, how would we go about it? Oh yeah! Hire forgot's mom!! Jeez.

Moonlit Night @701: "eat delicious treats I made"/"stop that it'll make you fat" double whammy

The technical term for this is "double bind," and it's one of the more reliable ways to drive your victim crazy.*

Double bind situation is a state where patients are caught in paradoxical communication based on power relations.

As Moonlit points out, it's not about food, it's about power and control. I like her solution. Though I predict Mom will find all sorts of ways to try to undercut forgot's efforts, because, "Hey! Power!"

WRT exercise, I have lately become quite enamored of kettlebell. There are videos on the 'Net, and one can construct a little lightweight el-fako kettlebell by putting a largish can of soup in a sock and tying the ends together. One can simultaneously get aerobic and resistance training, and it's easy to modulate the amount of exercise to a level appropriate to one's fitness level. (I'm currently using a 1lb "kettlebell" made out of a coil of electrical cable bound together with a shoe-string.) It's quiet and one can do it in a fairly small space. (Caveat IANAD or PT, exercise caution, etc.)

Everyone is right: the real solution to this is to Get Out. But if you can't manage that, Foiling Mom is a project that will pay long-term dividends in its own right.

Your mother doesn't know it, but she should count herself lucky that I'm not within Conversation distance of her.

* Do that to an experimental animal, and you'll soon have them cowering in a corner pissing themselves. There is a large school of thought that this is one of the ways you build an anorexia-bulimic. Quick Googleing suggests they won't even let you run double-bind experiements on humans.

#705 ::: Jacque, gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2012, 06:31 PM:

Oh! Scones, today! Yum!

#706 ::: Merricat ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2012, 07:43 PM:

@700, I don't know if this is a useful resource NOW, or a useful resource at some future point when you're out of your mother's control, but the Fat Nutritionist blog ( has a lot of really good thoughts about food and eating and being healthy.

#707 ::: forgot the name ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2012, 08:37 PM:


So it's not just that I can't be trusted to feed myself? I feel crazy every time I try to talk about this, because she makes such nice food and she's really sweet and she goes to a lot of effort, but it turns into this ... thing where I feel so incompetent at feeding myself and so wrong and unhealthy and helpless it's a wonder I can even breathe by myself. (Actually, she says I don't breathe properly either.)

I can try to cook, and I have, and she's made comments to the effect of 'oh, it would be so nice not to cook! A relaxing evening!' but she will take the spoon or whatever out of my hands because I'm Doing It Wrong.

That's always after constant commentary on the Right Way To Do It and how I'm doing it all wrong and why can't I learn to do it this way and why am I doing this and that's too much salt fat sugar butter what are you making how much are you making are you really going to eat that for leftovers I never do it like that that too much rice that's not enough sauce what are you doing with the gravy no no skim off the fat we can't have fat in gravy what are you doing with those bones why are you doing it that way you should be careful don't touch the stove oh in my day we did all our beating by hand you're so spoilt these days where did you get the recipe what's it from oh is it low-fat what's wrong with my recipes etc etc etc ---

-- and it all winds me up tighter and tighter that I'm afraid to take the spoon back lest I cry or hit her. She has to stand next to me and constantly get my attention to make sure I hear her, and it's one of the few situations where she will actually repeat herself perfectly just to make sure I understand. Almost no other time outside of food-shaming and Forgot, You Do Everything Fucking Wrong. Just that.

I've given up on cooking. I try to sneak a little of learning how when I'm alone, but I have to eat whatever I make in case she finds leftovers, and there's very little I can trust to be edible first go especially when I'm so inexperienced, know what I mean?

I did have an eating disorder for a long time, and I'm fighting myself not to relapse as much as I'm fighting myself, and she knows I had problems in high school (but I still wasn't thin enough. A fat anorexic. IMAGINE THAT.) If I don't do something and restrict a little after these conversations I end up gagging every time I try to eat and living off half-juice-and-water concoctions for days.

It's not just me that this is a problem, right? I don't think I'm THAT crazy.

#708 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2012, 09:21 PM:

forgot @707, it's not just you. Seconding Lee @703, if you can find someone local who can help talk you through this - through your doctor, through school, whatever - then it seems like that would be to your benefit.

Ignore if helpy. I was wondering if consulting with a nutritionist and then following his/her recommendations might help the power struggle with your mother by giving you expert judgment on your side.

#709 ::: knitcrazybooknut ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2012, 09:37 PM:

forgot, it's really truly not just you. Just reading that sequence of events was making my head explode. Counselors, friends, internet people - many times these are just people to whom you can say, "Can you check me on this? How does this sound to you?"

Please totally ignore if hlepy (maybe we need an acronym by now?), but I was reminded of a book by Julie Gregory, titled Sickened. Her mother had Munchausen by Proxy syndrome, and one of the ways it manifested was that she didn't feed her daughter well, or teach her how to cook or eat in a healthy way. I am not a doctor, but your story and hers sounded very similar in that way.

I am listening and really hope you can reach out and get what you need to make some positive changes. Take care of yourself as best you can.

#710 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2012, 09:48 PM:

Forgot the name, this is not just you. Lee and OtterB are right, someone local and better able to intervene might be a big help to you. Your mother sounds terrible.

#711 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2012, 10:26 PM:

forgot, #707: Ye ghods and little fishes. This is even beyond control issues and power struggles; IANApshrink, but I wonder if knitcrazybooknut might be onto something with the bit about Munchausen's by Proxy. Does she get a lot of attention from her friends by talking about what a trial you are, and if so, how much does your health (or presumed lack thereof) enter into it?

Being outside the situation, I can tell you how I would react to that. It would go one of two ways: either I would push her out of the house by main force and lock the door until I was done cooking (and then tell her that she could either eat it or go hungry, since she didn't want to cook for herself), or I'd leave and go eat somewhere else. I realize that you don't really have those options -- this is not intended as advice!

What is intended as advice is this: get a little voice-operated recorder, and stick it in your pocket before you start something that you know is going to turn into one of these scenes. And then the next day, take it to someone who can help you get out of there, and play it for them, and tell them how this happens every time you try to do anything she's asked you to do.

Seriously, this is horrible. I think you might be better off homeless than living with that.

#712 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2012, 11:17 PM:

forgot the name: It's not just me that this is a problem, right? I don't think I'm THAT crazy.

Oh my goodness, no. Well, to the extent that you exhibit any craziness, please credit it being carefully chosen craziness with the intent of surviving her crazy. And she is a first-class wackadoodle, IMO.

Sounds like we have a bunch of things going on: narcisism (attention always has to be on me me ME), anxiety (somehow, if she's not the center of attention, she disappears—I often suffer from this one), and control-junkie.

No, really, any crazy you feel is a direct product of her double-binding you, plus a side of gaslighting.

Okay, you've tried cooking. Doesn't work. Good to know.

I'm afraid to take the spoon back lest I cry or hit her.

Which wouldn't be an unreasonable response. But probably best to take the high road, wot?

I like OtterB, knitcrazybooknut, & Lee's suggestions.

In the meantime, while you come up with a long-term solution, if you have a grocery near to hand, can you buy (if you have the cash to do so) little amounts of vegetables here and there (apple here, broccoli rosette there, etc.) and eat those while you're out of the house? Might improve your overall nutrition and general functioning, which might give you more spoons to deal with your situation.

#713 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2012, 12:07 AM:

Lee is right. If you can get your mother's behavior on tape, that's going to be a real asset when you Get Out Of There.

Your mother is not acting in your best interests. And she will never admit that her behavior is intended to be harmful.

#714 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2012, 12:47 AM:

Forgot @ #707, wow! your mom has a Kitchen Control Thing as bad or possibly worse than my mom. For context, my mom has major anxiety and control problems, maybe with some narcissism thrown in. My therapist says she'd need at least 15 years of therapy to be substantially less toxic, and he's not sure she could ever actually get all the way mentally healthy and safe for other people to be around. And your mom might be able to teach mine some things about badgering and manipulation. That is the level of illness you're dealing with here.

No question that you should record an example or two of this and take it to a qualified therapist, and explain about how often and consistently this happens. Do you have have access to free or cheap counselling through your school? (Counselling allowance is part of tuition here.) When living with someone this toxic, staying alive and not insane is a major accomplishment. My therapist has been telling me that every so often, and I'm learning to believe him.

It is not you, it never was you, it is her. It always was and will be her. She is never going to be satisfied for more than a few moments, and that is not your fault. It is her problem and hers alone. I don't know what caused it or what feeds it, but I promise you it is far too big and well-rooted to be fixed, unless she wanted to and had professional help, and perhaps not even then. So you need to focus on convincing yourself that she is sick and terribly harmful to you in body, mind, and spirit, and that she is not going to get better under any likely circumstances, so you need to protect yourself and get out and away, and STAY out and away.

I offer you lots of *hugs* and I hope that you find some safe and sympathetic people to talk this over with live, and help you protect yourself, really soon!

#715 ::: cayce ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2012, 02:11 AM:

forgot the name @707 -

You know, I was on a state website the other day looking at name change information and somehow (having to do with public records and alternative methods) ended up on the state's page about domestic abuse. I can't count how many times I've told my girlfriend my mother makes me feel crazy, and how many times my girlfriend has told me it's them, not me, but it's hard to believe. I was on the phone with her while I was on this website, which meant I had to explain when I scrolled down and read "psychological abuse can be characterized by using threats, playing mind games, making the victim think that they are crazy, and other acts that instill fear in the victim."

So no, it really is not just you.


In other news, my little brother just asked what time I'm going to be home from work tomorrow. Ouch.

And my mother's ridiculousness should not still be surprising me, but once again, she has reached a new level. (Silver lining: without this, I'd be reconsidering walking away from my brother about now.)

Thing I learned today from my physical therapy appointment: I have hypermobility syndrome, and it's very likely the cause of not only the new and exciting nerve pain in my back and legs, but also all the other pain!
Thing I learned from my mother today: she has been aware of this since I was a child. She has been aware of this, never thought to inform me during all the time I was trying to figure out why my body hated me, and further, actually told me it was all in my head or because I don't sleep enough or whatever her reason of the day was. Those times I've suddenly lost the ability to turn my head or move my shoulder overnight and woken up in pain? Bones were actually in the wrong places! All the times I...well, the list is long, I'll spare you. But it would be fair to say I'm not very happy with her at the moment...

#716 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2012, 04:51 AM:

cayce @ 715: {{{{{hug}}}}} (very gently, so as not to upset your joints). Also (having picked jaw off floor) ARRGGHHH! Well, if you needed any evidence that your mother doesn't have your best interests at heart, that would be it by itself.

forgot the name @ 707: No, it's not you, it's her. I think the recorder idea is a good one, also (as suggested by Jacque) buying and eating tasty (to YOU - you're the only one whose taste counts, in this) healthy fruit and vegetable snack foods outside the house - an apple here, a nice young carrot there, a satsuma - whatever.

My mother also does the "if you're not doing it my way you're doing it wrong" (about anything) with a side helping of "if you don't do it my way/like the things I like then you're rejecting me personally which is an awful thing for a daughter to do, but of course, do whatever you want to do - just be aware that *sigh* you're going to make me very unhappy." Yeah. Control issues!

#717 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2012, 06:59 AM:

forgot the name:

You're breathing wrong?
Breathing wrong??!?!!??

Your mother is ... um ... fucked up in ways I cannot even find words for. It's not you.

Please let me repeat that (& join the chorus): IT'S NOT YOU!

#718 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2012, 09:00 AM:

cayce @715:

(Silver lining: without this, I'd be reconsidering walking away from my brother about now.)

From what you've said earlier, you're not walking away from him - you're getting yourself somewhere safe, from which point you can more effectively help him.

#719 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2012, 09:23 AM:

cayce: about feeling oddly calm, I had that happen once. It lasted until I got myself out of there, and then I cried a lot. Please don't be surprised if a meltdown happens to you. It's not a sign of weakness, it's a sign of feeling safe enough to let the walls down.

forgot the name: boy, is it ever not you.

#720 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2012, 09:40 AM:

cayce @#715: The first rule of helping other people is making sure you don't become a casualty too. You have to get yourself out so you can have a safe place from which to help your brother. As they say on airplanes, put your own oxygen mask on first.

#721 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2012, 10:13 AM:

cayce: echoing TexAnne @719. I was very calm when in true crisis management mode, and only broke down from the shock and relief when survival/safety was no longer the foremost concern and I had a bit of leeway.

forgot the name: sheesh. Definitely not you.

Still here, reading and witnessing. Good luck, good thoughts to all.

#722 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2012, 11:13 AM:

cayce @ 715

re: hypermobility syndrome

Oof. Sorry to hear. But it is nice to have an explanation for all that pain so you can do something about it, I hope? (As an aside which does not excuse your mother, mine is much better when I am getting enough sleep, but that is not enough to fix the entire problem. Though it sounds like you have it much worse -- I've been fortunate enough to have only popped joints a couple times.)

Really glad to hear you're getting out.

forgot the name @707

Nothing new to add, except that, again, no, it's not you, and the recording thing sounds like a good idea, as does trying to find a therapist who can advise you...

#723 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2012, 11:55 AM:

From forgot the name at #707 I feel crazy every time I try to talk about this, because she makes such nice food and she's really sweet and she goes to a lot of effort, but it turns into this ... thing where I feel so incompetent at feeding myself and so wrong and unhealthy and helpless it's a wonder I can even breathe by myself. (Actually, she says I don't breathe properly either.)

The thing that leapt out before me as I read this passage, apart from the commenters already noting the "breathing wrong" detail, is how you focus on how your mother makes such nice food and she's really sweet and goes to a lot of effort... which is equally valid for if someone wants to make you feel loved, AND for the time someone is setting up another Fail-Trap for their target.

You're a good person, forgot the name, to want to respond to the overt kindness and nurturing in a positive way. BUT, and this is the clincher - the other actions of your mother, and her choices with regard to your welfare, are not in line with someone who genuinely cares for you.

During my own separation process from my birth-home, a psychiatrist wanted me to discuss why I was refusing to meet my father (who was passing through town, but coming from a long way, so presumably was Making The Gesture similarly to your mother's efforts at making nice food). He asked me to consider, "If you went to meet with him, what would change?"

I considered that for a moment, found an answer that scared me, then realized it scared me because IT WAS TRUE, and I gave that to him: "Nothing would change at all; for my entire life, the dynamic has been that the kids were responsible for pleasing the parents, and had to change according to the adults' needs." There were some illustrative examples I won't bore you with (water under the bridge and all that), but that answer satisfied the psychiatrist, and the topic of meeting with my parents was never again brought up in a session.

That question's become my gold-standard for weighing a decision on what action to take, "If I did X, what would change?"

Crazy(and rooting for not only forgot the name, but also cayce, Syd, somewhat disguised, Phenicious, and other folks posting updates; also, a HUGE THANK YOU to the folks providing the support of the sympathetic ear, while I am mostly lurking in the background)Soph

#724 ::: Anon4Now ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2012, 12:27 PM:

cayce @ 715: Your story reminded me of just after I'd finally broken ties with my emotionally abusive high school boyfriend. I was out at a coffee shop and went to use the bathroom. On the inside of the stall door, there was a poster listing the signs of domestic abuse, including emotional and mental abuse (with a number to call for help). Because I am constitutionally incapable of seeing words and not reading them, I read the whole poster while I used the bathroom. I was stunned when everything I'd just been through was right there on the list.

I remember being hit hard with the realization "I wasn't crazy. His behavior was what was wrong. I wasn't out of line with reality; he was."

So cayce, and forgot the name, and everyone else here: It is not you. You are not crazy.

It is okay to trust yourself. If someone is speaking or acting/reacting to you in a way that makes no sense with your observations, experiences, and understanding of reality -- it is okay to believe that you are right. If you somehow always end up scared or hurt, or somehow always end up in the wrong, no matter what the situation -- then that relationship is not normal, and it is not healthy and not safe for you, and you are entirely within your rights to do what you can to get away from it. It is okay to believe that the other person's behavior is what is wrong.

(I want to put those posters on the inside of every bathroom stall door in the world.)

#725 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2012, 11:40 PM:

In one thought I wish I had seen a poster like that before I got married; in the next I recognize that it probably wouldn't have made a bit of difference. After all, I was such a difficult person, and he was just so wonderful to put up with me. (He said the same thing, and I wonder now if it was an "I love you more" contest to induce me to say how difficult I was, whether consciously or unconsciously started.) He would tell me I was smart, but if I held a different opinion than his mother, I was wrong and there was no discussion about it. (Partly because I'm terrible at debate, so I didn't push it.) He insulted me and I insulted him back and it was all in play, right? but what you hear the most is what you come to believe. I'm so demanding, we would joke, on the rare occasions I asked him to do something. They got rarer over time.

It took a few months away from him and the help of a friend to recognize what he had been doing to me.

And to this day I worry that I do and have done shitty abusive things to other people when in a relationship. I have done some of the things described here, and I don't know where the line is between normal frustration and abusive, between reminding and nagging, between helping enough and "helping" so much the other person feels like I'm taking over, between doing what I want to do and selfishly ignoring the other person's likes and dislikes, between doing what the other half of the relationship wants to do and being a complete doormat. Even between living and modelling the lifestyle and behaviour I want to live in and with, and acting superior. (A co-worker saw me running after work recently, and he drove the rest of the way home feeling guilty. When he told me this the next day, it bothered me, just a little itch in the back of my mind, for the rest of the day. He said it with a smile, and it probably doesn't actually bother him at all that I like to run. And yet.)

I see now that an abuser moves the line out of the norm. I still don't know where it is. I still wonder how much it really was moved, and how much I did wrong too. Nobody's perfect. Doing some things wrong is understandable. I'm sure I pulled some shitty moves on him too - which doesn't excuse what he did, but what he did doesn't excuse what I may have done. It bothers me that I can't tell.

Looking back, I'm happiest when I'm single. I'm currently single. This is good, in my mind.

#726 ::: cayce ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2012, 04:27 PM:

I'm here! Everything is fine, but it's been eventful. More when I'm on my laptop instead of my phone, but I'm here and safe.

#727 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2012, 05:19 PM:



Tell us more when you can, but meanwhile,

Yay for You!

#728 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2012, 05:35 PM:

cayce: All praise be to whoever's listening that you're safe. Go you!

#729 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2012, 05:37 PM:

Yay cayce! Look forward to hearing more when you get on top of things, but it's good to know you're out of there.

Still reading, still witnessing.

#730 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2012, 05:52 PM:

Cayce, glad to hear it.

#731 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2012, 06:35 PM:

Awaiting the full report, cayce -- congratulations!

#732 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2012, 07:59 PM:

Way to go, cayce :D

#733 ::: ma larkey ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2012, 02:04 AM:

I've been trying to read and witness, and agree totally that one of the weapons of an abuser is paradoxical communication. witness: one "friendly" parental unit after another texting, calling, offering to shop or get needed supplies for me, offers which I have largely refused. The odd time when I do try to take them up on their offers, then they renege on their promises when I bring it up and make it seem as if I was the one begging them to do these errands.

I've been offered a job, and taken it, I start this coming week. I am bracing for the sabotage at this point, imagining my mother going through my things again. She handed me this "antique" watch supposedly as a gift when she saw that I had been wearing an older repaired and cheap watch because she'd stolen my good one (gaslighting par extraordinaire of course for her) and she was distressed that I wasn't letting myself be distressed about it anymore. Two can play that game, I thought, and told her that I distinctly remember her taking my expensive watch and putting it away, she must have forgotten where she put it. So, she hands me this ugly antique watch and then spends the next two hours ( a dinner meeting with folks I had to agree to as a mollifying tactic) badgering me every ten minutes about where I was keeping it, did I lose it already. Sickening.
Nope, I am not wearing that second toxic watch. I'm going to hide it in her dresser.

#734 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2012, 02:35 AM:

Yay, cayce and ma larkey!!

Nope, I am not wearing that second toxic watch. I'm going to hide it in her dresser.

Oh, that's evil. ::toothy grin:: Probably shouldn't, but I approve.

the invisible one: Yeah, that's the legacy: make you doubt your perception.

#735 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2012, 04:23 AM:

Jacque @ #734 -- oh, yessss, I so am seconding your approval of ma larkey's proposal for the toxic watch @ #733.

Crazy(bwa ha ha ha, for ma larkey's mother, a taste of her own medicine - or, as the Dutch say, a cookie from her own dough)Soph

PS voor mijn medestudente en lotgenote abi, "koekje uit eigen deeg". ;)

#736 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2012, 08:07 AM:

Dankjewel, gekkesoph! En LOL bij "lotgenote".

#737 ::: cayce ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2012, 02:04 PM:

Proper update:

Road construction meant that my girlfriend was an hour later than we had planned on, and then my best friend wanted to get dinner with us before we left, and there was rush hour traffic, so we didn't get in until around 2 am. (Parents weren't even home when I left my car keys and a short note in their mailbox.) About two hours into the drive, I gave my cell phone to my girlfriend so I wouldn't be tempted to check it - when I did in the morning, it was unsurprisingly nothing but my mother yelling at me. This is slightly at odds with the messages that were left on my girlfriend's phone, which were all from the police department.

We were understandably wary - I'm 22, I left a note, we called her boss who informed us that a) my parents should not have been able to file a report for another 30 days and b) if it were her, she wouldn't have even accepted the report.
My girlfriend was calling NJ police to verify the guy's badge number when her doorbell rang. Local police - and thankfully no one she knew, since neither of us had proper clothes on. My mother apparently reported me as mentally unstable and potentially dangerous, which is why the police took the report in the first place. (My mother. Of course she did.) The police were very nice, and once they realized this was obviously not true offered to keep our address off the job card and told us to call if my parents show up. Nice people.

Hopefully that will be the end of it.

Otherwise, yesterday was a lot of lying around watching ridiculous movies. Her cat has not tried to eat my face, and seems to like me. I'm not horribly allergic to the cat, either, which came as a pleasant surprise. Being here still feels strange, but I'm hoping that will wear off in a few days. (Or I could magically be okay with asking for things and letting people feed me.)

And now there is a cat demanding pettings. It's hard to take yourself too seriously with a cat around. :)

#738 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2012, 02:09 PM:

Excellent news, cayce! And add me to the list of people who will be interested to hear the full story, when/if you feel like sharing it.

Ma larkey, also good news. I'm happy to see you standing up for yourself and your own needs.

#739 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2012, 02:10 PM:

Ha, timing is everything!

#740 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2012, 07:02 PM:

@735-6: Trans/unpack 'lotgenote,' alstublieft? Mr. Google gives me the general sense, but I deduce there's a joke here that isn't translating...?

cayce @737: nothing but my mother yelling at me. This is slightly at odds with the messages that were left on my girlfriend's phone, which were all from the police department.

If you still have the message, I would forward it to aforementioned police department. Just in the interests of, you know, proper record-keeping. (Ahem.)

It's hard to take yourself too seriously with a cat around. :)

This is, of course, one of their primary functions.

It is very good to hear that you have extracted yourself.

#741 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2012, 07:08 PM:

Cats are wonderful for perspective, cayce, in a lot of ways. Though they are prone to doing a certain amount of gaslighting ("What do you mean, I've been fed? Did that other human lie to you again? You know s/he always lies about feeding me, and I can only trust you to give me appropriate dinner and kindness.").

#742 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2012, 07:19 PM:

Tom Whitmore @741: I don't remember who we heard it from, but Juan and I are much given to quoting the Cat's Three Yowls:

"Nobody ever feeeeeeds me!
Nobody ever pets me!
Everything here is miiiiiiiiiiiine!"

#743 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2012, 07:21 PM:

And hey, good on you, cayce, for getting out! You are mighty, as we say 'round this house. Good on your girlfriend too, for aiding and abetting and being mighty right along with you.

#744 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2012, 07:45 PM:

Congratulations Cayce for getting out, and to Ma larkey for finding a good thwarting tactic!

#745 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2012, 09:13 PM:

ma larkey, #733: badgering me every ten minutes about where I was keeping it, did I lose it already

In front of other people? After you'd answered her clearly once? That may have been a tactical error.

Nope, I am not wearing that second toxic watch. I'm going to hide it in her dresser.

Good for you! As you say, two can play that game. And when she finds it, ask her again about your good watch.

cayce, #737: Yay! And double yay for police with common sense -- that could have ended badly if your mother had gotten hold of the wrong sort of authority freak. But once again, two can play that game; if she persists, go down to the station yourself and file a report against her for harassment and filing false police reports.

You will be amazed at how much more relaxed you feel with several hours between you and your parents. The difference was a shock to me when I moved from Nashville to Houston, and (1) my parents weren't nearly as bad and (2) I was an independent adult, not living with them.

#746 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2012, 06:28 AM:

Jacque @740 Trans/unpack 'lotgenote,' alstublieft? Mr. Google gives me the general sense, but I deduce there's a joke here that isn't translating...?

lotgenoot (or its female inflection that I use with abi), means literally a companion in one's fate; the best English translation would probably be "fellow sufferer", and the joke is highly contextual: both abi and I are adult-learners of Dutch (I being married to a Dutchman, she being a resident of the Netherlands), and yes, it sometimes can feel a bit like a fate, communicating (or trying to!) in this lovely language.

Crazy(and back to her study-table, to try and pass a Japanese exam)Soph

#747 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2012, 10:25 AM:

Yay, Cayce and MaLarkey!

#748 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2012, 11:00 AM:

crazysoph @746: Ah! That makes perfect sense. And I can even see the joke now. Thanks!

#749 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2012, 02:29 PM:

Jim C. Hines on the right to say NO.

You have the right to set boundaries. You have the right to have those boundaries respected.
* Not "You have the right to say no as long as you're nice enough."
* Not "You have the right to say no but I'm gonna try to change your mind."
* Not "You have the right to say no unless I think you're wrong."
* Not "You have the right to say no once you can give me a satisfactory explanation as to why you’re saying no."

Hines is awesome, as usual. Also as usual, do read the comments, especially the one which starts the second comment thread.

#750 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2012, 03:27 PM:

Trying not to despair too much about school/job situation. (Spoiler alert: I'm despairing.)

I've had interviews with 3 places (not counting one I had in April that I definitely screwed up) and one has already called back saying they don't have a spot for me, but they'll hang on to my resume. The other two said they'd call back this week, so I'm waiting on that. In the meantime, I should be applying to more places, but I'm just...kind of fed up? I mean, I realize I'm really lucky even having the option to pick and choose where I want to work. And my mom says I should work on looking more enthusiastic for interviews, I don't know what she wants.

School-wise, I'm still not feeling it at all. My mom believes I'll do better in second year because she talked to a couple of profs at Starbucks one time and they said it was "like night and day" to first year. Well, from what I've gathered listening to the second-years, it's still freaking difficult! There's still projects and you need to be more than competent with your technique. And I'm...not. I haven't practised at all since school ended, because it's not fun! It's practice, which to me means it's something you slog away at because if you don't you'll just get worse and end up punching yourself. I realize that to most people, "practice" actually means "doing something so you can get better at it", but it makes me want to give up. I'm one of those people who gets angry when they're not good at something with minimal effort. It's a freaking anomaly that I didn't give up when I couldn't get a sound out of my flute the first few times and I have no idea how I lasted 6 years. Oh wait, yes I do, it's because it takes more energy to get into/out of a pattern than to stay where you are. So, laziness.

Anyway, what brought that on was getting my school fee invoice in the mail. The first installment of my tuition is due early next month. I still haven't paid my mom back with the money the school gave me for last semester, because she wants me to wait until she's done my taxes. So essentially I'm screwed unless I can find someone who can get me out of this stupid program and explain to my parents that putting your kid into a trade WILL NOT GUARANTEE THEM A JOB. Because they still believe it will! Whenever I tell my mom that I do not under any circumstances want to go back for another year, she just says she regrets not taking an extra year of university. That at the time, it seemed like a big huge mountain and she just wanted to get out of school, but now she realizes that year would have given her more opportunities. So if I don't go back then I won't get any better. But if I do then I know I'll just get even more stressed and end up staying up until 2am doing projects and get frustrated and start crying during labs and AUGH. And none of that is valid, apparently, because I got decent marks last year! The fact that my mother can see a bunch of B+s and A-s and think, "Oh, well I suppose that means last year was A-OK!" instead of taking me at my goddamn word is the worst.

#751 ::: Neutrino ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2012, 03:36 PM:

Hooray, Cayce and MaLarkey! Good to hear of some people winning.

#752 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2012, 04:15 PM:

My mom called a few minutes ago, and I asked her what she meant by "more enthusiastic". It boiled down to: I don't seem enthusiastic about the whole job thing, so I might be broadcasting that to the interviewer. I'm not doing that, but whatever. I tried to get across that I'm not willing to go back to school, and got the same rebuttal I always get:

"Was last year really that bad, though?"

Along with its friend, "Well, what are you going to do instead of culinary school, then?"
Sigh. I don't know. I really don't know and that's all the justification my parents need to say "Well, then, you might as well go back! Either that or start paying rent, we're not supporting you if you're not doing anything." Because sitting here at my laptop trying to work through this junk doesn't count as "doing anything", apparently!

#753 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2012, 05:00 PM:

ma larky @733:
I agree with the others: I think you should totally gaslight your mother back. Then remember her reaction, because I bet it will be entirely different than you'd get from an innocent woman.

And best of luck with the new job!

cayce @737:
Well and courageously played. Your parents will probably continue to make nuisances of themselves, but you're better-placed to deal with them now. Also, a big hug to your girlfriend for her support.

Jacque @748:
Sorry to make you feel left out there. (And sorry to everyone else, too.)

Phenecious @750 & 752:
Hearing and witnessing. I can't think of any advice that won't be hlepy, vague, or both.

What I will say is that it sounds like you're spinning your wheels a good bit. What feeds your soul? What calms you down? Can you do something to ground yourself a bit more? It might give you energy to look for ways out of this situation.

#754 ::: Neutrino ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2012, 05:25 PM:

ma larkey, does your mother read books? Does she ever leave them lying around with bookmarks in them?

Move the bookmark. If it's a book she hasn't read before, move the bookmark ahead by about 25 pages. If it's a book she's rereading, move it back 25 pages. Move it again after every time she reads it.

#755 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2012, 05:41 PM:

abi: Not an issue. Gave me an excuse to look something up!

Neutrino @754: Oh, that's just plain mean. I'm going to have to remember that one.

::sigh:: and speaking of hleppy: I have a coworker who is sweet and clearly well-meaning, but her way of being "supportive" and "sympathetic" consistently denies the internal experience of the person she's trying to support. (E.g., me.) Latest example:

Me: "Okay, Jacque's getting grumpy. Time to go home."

Her: "Oh, Jacque, you're okay."

Harumph. Haven't had a Talk (yet), mostly because I haven't thought up a good way to bring it up. "You know that thing you do? It really ticks me off." Probably not productive.

#756 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2012, 06:57 PM:

I'm in the minority here: though I sympathize with the desire to "get back at" an abusive relative, I'm against the idea of ma larkey gaslighting or otherwise retailating against her mom.

Don't do it. Please. You're better than she is, and you're at enough risk of harm already.

#757 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2012, 06:59 PM:

Jacque, 755: Ouch. But at the risk of being helpy, perhaps what she means is, "Jacque, your grumpiness is invisible to me because you have not ruined my day with it." Like the way you bump into some people, apologize, and they say, "Oh, no, you're fine."

#758 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2012, 07:24 PM:

@ abi: Yeah. I made some tea, did some food-related stuff for me. I've made dinner and now I'm feeling better.

#759 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2012, 07:30 PM:

Lila @756: If you're in the minority on that, I'm right there with you.

It's a bad idea to become what one abhors, no matter how "good" the reasons. For one thing, it just keeps them living in your head, even after you escape.

#760 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2012, 07:52 PM:

I agree with Elise and Lila. I think hiding the watch is okay, but the bookmark thing -- while a fun idea -- would be going a little too far.

#761 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2012, 09:01 PM:

Hiding the watch is defensive, but anything else is offense-- and not only is it nice to have the high ground, it is good to know that you are not what she says you are. If she says you're uncaring and selfish, don't give your subconscious any ammunition to agree.

Phenicious, I wish I knew what to say to your parents that would make them back off, but all I can do is hope that your situation improves. Treating it like just an employment problem isn't going to help. I hope something changes and you gain the resources to fix the whole thing.

#762 ::: ma larkey ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2012, 10:36 PM:

Thank you all for your thoughts. I agree though, that I shouldn't give more spoonage to "getting back" if it means an overtly hostile act. I did hide the watch somewhere where I hope she won't find it right off, just so that I put it in a "safe" place and can report that I didn't lose it. At the same time I am also aware that no matter what I do, she'll find some way to twist it if she wants. I must have missed something but the reference to a 'bookmark' flew over my head.
Started work, discovered just how dysfxnal it is--they hired this other person to do the same job, and hir has a signed contract and I don't yet, something very weird and off about that, plus hir kept hanging around me even during breaks and kept commenting on everything I did to make sure I knew she was different/better/worked faster. It was very very weird, the vibe I got from hir, and from boss as well. I found it rather offensive that hir seemed to make a point of announcing hir was the complete opposite of me, no matter what, down to hir choice of dress, eating exercise, habits--at first I thought she was just comparing notes and wasn't worried at all, then it got too personal. Commenting on the size of my bag, wondering what it was I was carrying, wanting to know what I was going to eat on break then watching me eat it, hovering near the WC to see when I finished without hir going in too.
Sigh. Then I did the thing I only do when I feel cornered, which is to google hir name. Found a sample of hir work and it is NOT inspiring at all, so no wonder hir is feeling competetive via passive aggressive posturing.

#763 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2012, 10:39 PM:

Okay, so I tried to explain to my mom what I'm doing on my laptop all day other than "playing". This is pretty much how it went:

Me: I'm trying to explain my situation to people on the other end of the internet, and try to figure out what to do.
Her: Well, do you know who these people are?
Me: No.
Her: That's exactly the point!
Me: No, it's not...?
Her: There's people on the internet who'll tell you to kill yourself, and tell you how to do it.

At that point I just laughed and said that no, this is really not that kind of environment at all. And then she got huffy because apparently finding things laughably ridiculous means I'm getting amusement from the money she'll have to spend on my medications. Um. Sorry if this is getting a bit live-blog-ish, I just want to record all this. I feel like I'm making her sound worse than she is. Moonlit Night made some really good points in #393 that I keep having to remind myself of. She's a person under a lot of stress,