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July 8, 2012

Dysfunctional Families: Fish Hooks
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 03:04 PM *

In the previous DF thread, OtterB linked to a post on Responsibility, fault and blame by Michele Sagara. It’s a very good mediation on the imperfections of child-rearing, from the perspective of someone who is both a parent and a child. It closes with an excellent metaphor for these things that stick with us, and how it feels when we try to get away from them:

I don’t want to say “let go”, because that’s a mischaracterization. If something has fish hooks in your psyche, you are not exactly holding on. But…at that point, I could begin the task of pulling them all out.

But the entry’s got more in it than that just last line. It has, running through it like a vein of gold in rock, the reason this community has grown to encompass people whose families were not abusive or unambiguously dysfunctional, but who still find themselves in need of our kind of help.

…lack of intent doesn’t somehow magically make the pain go away. My sister’s pain did not magically go away. So I think it’s really, really important to acknowledge the source of the pain. I don’t think there is anything wrong - at all - with saying, “My parent’s divorce - which was the only solution for the two of them - totally bottomed out my emotional life and my ability to trust or rely on people” or a similar variant.

The inverse, “Husband and I were living in a war zone; we had to split up - but it really undermined my child emotionally, and she’s still paying for it” would also be the same: it acknowledges two sets of unhappy facts.

Sometimes people set these hooks in their children because they’re bad parents, or all-consumingly selfish, or were so profoundly damaged by their own upbringings that they were incapable of doing better. But sometimes these people get hooked without intent or notable failure. Shit does happen.

Sagara’s a parent as well as a child, so she also understands the ways parents can get themselves into emotional knots that exacerbate unintended damage. It’s a good explanation for how otherwise thoughtful, kind people can fumble and fail when dealing with their children’s pain.

But frequently, parents, being people, see what they themselves intended. They take adverse reactions to a lack of intent to harm as a huge, personal criticism - and they deflect. They tell you you shouldn’t have been so sensitive. They are trying to protect themselves, all these years later, from blame. From guilt and the certain sense of their own failure. Failing one’s child is profound. It is the edge of a colossal void. It is one of a parent’s greatest fears.

Terrified people seldom behave rationally or sanely.

These observations are not meant to diminish the very real damage that profound familial dysfunction has done some of our members, nor to excuse the thoroughgoing failures of care that they have suffered. But it goes a little way to explaining, and I hope welcoming, those members of this community who otherwise feel that their troubles (painful as they are from the inside) are not, from the outside, sufficient to give them the right to speak here.

Continued from here. Continued here.

Comments on Dysfunctional Families: Fish Hooks:
#1 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2012, 04:20 PM:

Previous DFD thread (I may have missed the link?) here.

Thanks again, abi.

#2 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2012, 04:22 PM:

Thena @1:

I hadn't put the link in. Have now. Thanks for the attention to detail.

#3 ::: frozen ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2012, 04:24 PM:

Yes, the fishhook metaphor is perfect and the whole discussion is good. I am at a point where I am very much aware of a lot of fishhooks I would like to find a way to pull out, after a lot of years of pretending they were not there (yes, it is not "holding on," it is enduring) and watching some of that unintended pain happen for my loved ones, but the thing is, it's not only hard to tug on these things, it's that fish do not have hands. I am a fish without hands, so how do I start?

#4 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2012, 04:50 PM:

frozen @3:
how do I start?

As you just did. Identifying the problems. Naming them as problems.

The analogy isn't a prison. You're not a fish; you're a human who may simply not have figured out what to do. If you want help identifying next steps, there are people in this community who can help.

#5 ::: Vrdolyak ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2012, 05:48 PM:

"Fish hooks." That would explain a lot.

(I read and witness. Not ready to spill yet.)

#6 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2012, 07:49 PM:

Dash @Circled Strangers/936: Wow. My goodness. You've certainly been doing a lot of very insightful processing. Go, you!

1. Instead, it's "X needs doing" or "Somebody should do X"

Let me introduce you to the NLP Meta-model. It's a marvelous set of techniques for unpacking the abiguities (deliberate or otherwise), and systematizing the vagueness someone is using in their communications. If one then turns around and uses the appropriate clarifying questions—let's just say, one can make oneself a real PITA to the someone who's trying to pull this nonsense. Used properly, one can also cause actual, Useful Communication to occur, as well.

2. She'd claim that I looked fine one day, then say that I "look like hell" the next.

Is she, by any chance, a substance abuser? This kind of disconnected-from-reality randomly positive-then-negative behavior is classic alcoholism, IME. Also common in the users of other mind-altering substances.

3. joking that if we do what she's currently nagging us about she'll just find something new to nag us about

The objective of the nagging is not to cause the work to happen, rather, it is the nagging itself. Probably entirely unhelpful to point this out to her. I commend to your attention a marvelous book: What Shamu Taught Me about Life, Love, and Marriage: Lessons for People from Animals and Their Trainers

4. I feel like I'm making too big of a deal out of this just by typing this, that it's really not that bad.

I think we dispensed with that concern in the last DFD thread.

5. & @943: I feel like there's a lot more I could say, but I don't feel like writing another novel.

We'll be here when the spirit moves. :) (Minor suggestion: given the limitations on text formatting in these comments threads, putting double returns between paragraphs will make your next (eagerly awaited!) "novel" much easier to read.) I, for one, look forward to it.

#7 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2012, 08:03 PM:

I really like the fish hook metaphor. A friend once accused me of being "very unforgiving." Aside from the merits of his characterization, I have always had a lot of trouble with the blanket insistance on forgiveness one often encounters in discussions of family dysfunction. (We've discussed it a fair bit in these threads, as well.)

One thing I've noticed about myself: once I feel safe from the damage done to me by a particular party, I let go. It's not a choice, or a decision. It just happens of its own. This fish hook idea now gives me a clear idea of why.

And this is only one of a myriad of insights garnered from this community. Have I mentioned lately how deeply grateful I am that you-all exist and are available to me?

#8 ::: Ellen ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2012, 08:21 PM:

Fish hooks.

Thanks for keeping this thread going - listening, witnessing, reflecting.

#9 ::: Ellen Has been gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2012, 08:23 PM:

I'm guessing I munged the HTML.

Might the gnomes enjoy a glass of sangria and a few spicy olives?

#10 ::: Persephone ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2012, 11:14 PM:

This has been eating at me for a couple of months now. My own fish hooks tend to be remarks, glances, small moments rather than major events.

My mother and her newish boyfriend and I were all riding somewhere together, and in the course of light conversation I said something jokingly about being a loner in high school. My mother responded, speaking to the boyfriend: "Yes, yes, we [she and my father] kept Persephone down and crushed her spirit and overprotected her and so on, and I've apologized to her for that." The tone was thisclose to utterly dismissive.

First off, I don't think we have had that conversation. Second, this was a strange thing to say to the boyfriend, who's been around long enough to be familiar with the family dysfunctions, but not long enough for that level of comment. Particularly since she knows I'm not crazy about the boyfriend.

And third, in a van, packed in like sardines with a bunch of strangers, was maybe not the best place to make that comment.

Hmm. On closer inspection, this seems like it's related to a second puzzling remark she made on the same visit. I'd been practicing a musical piece while she was in another room. When I was done, I put on some recorded music. When the boyfriend arrived, she called out, "Persephone, is that you singing?" I laughingly replied that "No, that's a professional opera singer."

At which point my mother, who was always united with my father in discouraging and scoffing at my music*, said, "You're better than she is!" And proceeded to tell the boyfriend all about how talented I am. I'd have been touched at her finally acknowledging that gift if she had been actually speaking to me.

There's got to be a common thread here, and a reason, but I'll be darned if I know what it is.

*I realize I've given away my second art form, thus possibly linking this nym with my real name. Ah well. Secrets are hard to keep.

#11 ::: Poster of a random thought.... ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2012, 01:27 AM:

Some of this reminds me of the time, after I'd graduated with a Ph.D. and been working for three years (two of them as a manager) and was running a regular teleconference one morning when my mom was out visiting.

"You sounded very professional," was my mom's approving comment after I got off the phone.

It's really frustrating thing when it's the approving comments that contain the barbs.

#12 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2012, 02:58 AM:

Poster, #11: It's all in the subtext. Remember the flap when someone said that Obama was "very articulate"? Same thing. He's a professional politician, it would be surprising if he wasn't articulate.* You're a professional manager, it would be surprising if you didn't know how to run a teleconference.**

* Although given some of the gaffes I've been hearing since Dan Quayle, not as surprising as it used to be.

** Caveat: a friend tells me that this isn't necessarily the case either, but that doesn't make it any less part of the job description.

#13 ::: Matthew Brown ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2012, 04:53 AM:

Well, exactly: "You sounded very professional" is what you say to someone who's NOT YET a professional. A high school age kid, for instance. Maybe an intern. Someone who's new at it and obviously unsure.

Typical "I'm going to condescendingly treat you as a kid even when you're pushing 30" kind of behavior from a certain type of parent, it strikes me.

#14 ::: Megpie71 ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2012, 09:39 AM:

Phenicious (from last thread)

I've been reading through the last thread, and noticing your problems with career choice and such. I can sympathise - I had a lot of trouble figuring out what I wanted to do with my life when I finished school (heck, I still have similar problems now). One thing I found helpful for me was not so much asking "what do I want to do?" because the answer to that one was always, "I have no frelling idea whatsoever". Rather, I turned the question around: what DON'T I want to do?

Phrasing things that way was actually a big help for me, because at least then I could delimit my search a bit. For example, I knew I didn't want to spend the rest of my life sitting in an office shuffling bits of paper (so general office work was out). I also didn't want to be doing a job where I was standing in the one spot for multiple hours at a stretch (goodbye checkout work in retail). Or even a job where I was standing for a long time (so much for general retail and Shakespearian acting). I can't stand homework (farewell to teaching). I also would prefer not to work outdoors, particularly in winter (so there's a whole range of occupations ruled out).

You mentioned very early on in the whole business that you don't like fire, open flames, or heat sources. Which, to me, sounds like a very good reason for deciding that kitchen work is Not For You. What else don't you like?

Basically, the whole aim of this is to limit the range of choices you have in front of you. Sometimes, the real problem isn't so much "no choice" as "too many choices entirely".

(If this is hlepful, ignore it. If not, feel free to use as much as you can of it).

#15 ::: Megpie71 ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2012, 10:54 AM:

Some thoughts on the topic of fish-hooks.

I've largely forgiven my parents for being who they are. I've been lucky enough to be able to figure out that I'm at the end of a long chain of "man handing on misery to man" (to paraphrase Phillip Larkin) and that in such a situation, blame solves nothing. My parents were the children of emotionally neglectful families with a history of depression - is it any surprise that they didn't know how to be emotionally nurturing people capable of fighting off their own demons? Who were they supposed to have learned this from, and when (given I was born in 1971, and a lot of the psychological theory involved postdates me)?

That doesn't stop the fish-hooks from being there. It doesn't stop the barbs from digging in. And it doesn't mean the blasted things are any easier to pull out at the other end of things, or that they do any less damage.

I know they didn't intend to cause the damage, and I know they were only filling me up "with all the little faults they had, and adding some extra just for me" (Larkin again). It wasn't deliberate, and for that, I can forgive them. However, I can't rely on them to help me remove those fish-hooks, or even saw through the lines, because they're either too busy removing their own, or they've grown so accustomed to the hooks that they don't even notice them any more.

#16 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2012, 11:39 AM:


"What don't I want to do" may be something I should look at in terms more general than half-jokingly listing specific things I know I'm not qualified for anyhow (for example, I don't have the ear to be a professional musician, even if I wouldn't be starting very late, and I'm not small enough to be a jockey).

#17 ::: paul ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2012, 11:43 AM:

I like the fish hook metaphor because it acknowledges two things: 1) It hurts; 2) It will hurt even more, at least for a while, to take it out. (In the physical world, we've been dealing with this wrt the 7-year-old and splinters -- he runs up to ask for help, then runs away as soon as we start probing.)

I'd like to hear other people's opinions on how much of the damage is done by the original injury versus how much by the various coverups, including the intent fallacy. I was angry at my mean-and-crazy grandmother for all the hurtful things she did, but far more angry (ultimately) at my parents for pretending that she wasn't doing them.

Decades later, the "she was of her time and upbringing" explanations have a little bit of force, but only after she is long since dead and unable to cause more damage.

#18 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2012, 12:33 PM:

"Intent don't water the bulldog," is always my feeling when someone pulls out the "but they meant well" card. Intention is only a fair cop when there's attention. E.g., are they checking the results of their behavior, and adjusting their conduct accordingly? If not, then "intention" gets filed under "empty excuse."

As for things like paul's parents' conduct: that gets filed under "betrayal."

#19 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2012, 01:42 PM:

Right with you there, Jacque (@ #18), the only time the intent card can be pulled without the attention/correction card accompanying it is when I get to bluntly reply that if someone "didn't intend" something, they should bloody well figure out an alternative action that better communicates their intentions.

And I like the conciseness of the label "intent fallacy" (paul @ #17). Must remember that!

The thing that helps me out with the fish hooks metaphor is how it allows you to accept your own pain as valid, without loading you with the guilt-trip of somehow still "holding on", exercising your agency and choosing with volition to somehow continue with "inflicting" pain on your own self, especially so that you "get at" someone else (the aggrieved parent, trying to deflect blame, for instance). Because, I *am* <self-censored verb-ing> *not* making a choice here, and definitely not choosing to make the parents' life less happy by needing to have my pain validated.

But also, Jacque (but this time @ #7), I've experienced much the same: the less danger I perceive from people from my past (read: the parents), the less overwhelming my anger toward them. However, this does not transfer into forgiveness or any kind of desire to perform the family-dance-of-support-facade. Those people ate the seed-corn; I am *done*. (Letting go, albeit of a rather different order than the letting-go based on a cooler-headed understanding of one's parents as people-with-flaws).

(Why yes, as long as I suddenly seem in rant mode: they'll have to wait for me to be ready to move on and perhaps toward them again. And, well, too bad if that turns out to be after they're dead. Reference above to "seed-corn, eating of".)

*deep breath in, deep breath out*

Another of the many benefits of having an official diagnosis of ADHD, apart from the big-picture conceptual tools and helpful effects of medications, is how much some of these hooks don't quite catch me as unawares as they seemed to before. That "zero-to-sixty" in a nanosecond of temper/fight-or-flight/discouragement has become a *lot* less pronounced. There's a part of me (hello, better-functioning frontal lobes, with better emotional regulation, impulse control and planning focus - ah ha! that wasn't just me lacking moral fiber, you <self-censored>!!) that can now step back and start to work at releasing that stupid hook, gently, in full awareness that there will still be pain, but at least the end of a particular trigger reflex is finally, *finally* in sight.

Crazy(oh, and Dash, from the previous thread, how the hell did you end up with my mother? That is my mother+traditional Jewish stereotypical quirks? I'll also add I'm looking forward to the next installment of your novel... )Soph

#20 ::: No name, no pack drill ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2012, 01:53 PM:

My father spent all my teens telling me that I knew nothing. If I said something, he'd ask dismissively if I was "some kind of authority" on the subject.

He kept on doing it, when I was out of my teens. I was visiting him, and he was reading an item in the newspaper for which I worked. I expressed an opinion about the subject, and he told me that I had to be wrong. I said that was not the case. Pointing to the article he said "What do you know about it?" "I wrote it," I replied. He looked extremely angry, but said nothing.

#21 ::: Neutrino ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2012, 01:58 PM:

#20: These little moments of victory stay with us forever, don't they? I've had a couple of those myself.

#22 ::: Anon4Now ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2012, 02:28 PM:

Thanks, all. I'm sorry for dumping that rant in the last thread and then disappearing for days. I was scared to check back in case it was bad news and I would get all upset again.

Actually, I'm not sure what I thought someone might say that I would get upset at. You guys don't say things like that on these threads.

That's not the first time I've felt that way and done that in my life. I think it's just plain social anxiety. "I said a thing. Oh God what if it was a completely stupid thing and everyone hates me now?! [run away and hide]"

Working up my courage to start the conversation Lee suggested in comment 910 of the previous thread, next time we're chilling together. I think he'll respond well.

#23 ::: paul ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2012, 02:52 PM:

crazysoph @19:

Also (and this is the way I vicariously learned the sacrament of absolution) even a sincere apology (let alone playing the intent card) has to be followed by not doing it again (as far as possible). It's not "I'm terribly sorry, I agree that what I did was wrong and hurtful, and now that we've cleared that up I'll keep doing it."

#24 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2012, 03:06 PM:

For Phenicious and everyone:

One thing that has worked for me in the past, in helping me think about what sorts of things I'd like to do for a living, is to freewrite a List of 100. I opened up a word processor document, titled it "List of 100 Things I'd Like To Do In My Job", and turned on auto-numbering (so that every time I hit Enter/Return to get to a new line, it would automatically number it for me, so I'd know when I'd gotten to 100).

Then I just listed anything -- absolutely anything -- that came to mind until I got to 100 things, not worrying if I repeated myself, not worrying if I contradicted myself, definitely not worrying if I couldn't actually think of a job that would have that thing, and not worrying if I even made sense. I listed things as "silly" as "Drink really good coffee", and as general as "Help people", and as vague as "Say yes to things."

When I was done, the shape and feel of the whole list gave me some insight into what I wanted. (Here is a blog post containing my list, if you're interested. It shows just how open and unstructured I was about what I wrote down.)

This method could be used with Megpie71's suggestion @14 too -- one could just as easily make a "List of 100 Things I Really DO NOT Want To Do."

One could also make a list of "100 things I'm good at", or "100 things I like to do" (meaning hobbies, relaxation, guilty pleasures, etc.), or "100 things I'm scared of", or pretty much anything else. I find it to be a useful method of getting information on what I'm thinking beneath the surface, on topics that I'm confused and incoherent about when I try to think about them explicitly.

The linked article contains a list of "100 Things To Write A List of 100 About" that I've found useful.

#25 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2012, 03:13 PM:

Instead of "not worrying" in my post @ 24, I should have said "not stopping" or "writing it down anyway." I certainly did feel worried in each of those situations, and allowed myself to feel that way without judging myself for it, but still wrote down the thing that made me feel worried.

#26 ::: broccoli ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2012, 03:30 PM:

crazysoph @19:

The thing that helps me out with the fish hooks metaphor is how it allows you to accept your own pain as valid, without loading you with the guilt-trip of somehow still "holding on", exercising your agency and choosing with volition to somehow continue with "inflicting" pain on your own self, especially so that you "get at" someone else (the aggrieved parent, trying to deflect blame, for instance). Because, I *am* *not* making a choice here, and definitely not choosing to make the parents' life less happy by needing to have my pain validated.

Definitely. And a parent who says, "You are choosing to take offense at what I did in order to hurt me" is compounding whatever they did considerably.

#27 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2012, 04:37 PM:

Matthew, #13: Exactly. Which suggests that the appropriate response would be along the lines of, "Well, DUH."

paul, #17: The difference between the original injury and the cover-up is like the difference between a head cold and chronic sinusitis. The former is an annoyance and makes you feel bad for a while. The latter is a constant irritation and (if bad enough) debilitating. Also, I agree with Jacque that it's particularly bad coming from parents, who are supposed to protect you from shit like that, or at least to acknowledge that it's happening.

crazysoph, #19: I like your "eating the seed corn" metaphor. It's a good comeback for the "oh, but they're the only family you've got" types. "Family" isn't an infinite resource; use it up, and it's gone.

#28 ::: Merricat ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2012, 07:10 PM:

Caroline @24 &al:

I like the idea of a list, but I also think the list I would have made 2 years ago is much different than the list I made today -- I KNOW the list of 6 years ago was radically different than today's list. Partly it's because I know myself better now; an even larger factor is knowledge of the jobs I've worked. I keep finding that no matter how much I think I know about a field, when I've actually been in it six months there are good things I hadn't expected and bad things I hadn't expected.

If your list changes as you get more experience, you did NOT make a mistake; every tangent you follow has the potential to re-appear later on. The first job I got out of college was not an avocation for me, but 2 years later it enabled me to get really awesome free housing.

tl;dr: Like everything else in life, lists will change over time.

#29 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2012, 10:01 PM:

Megpie71, Caroline, Merricat (hope I haven't missed anyone)

That list thing sounds like a pretty good idea. I once did something similar for study/learning strategies; although I didn't get very far, what I did learn was useful. For instance, when I have to write any kind of speech-type thing, I know I can skip over the actual writing and work it out by talking. That doesn't work for everyone but I know from experience it works for me.

My parents seem worried that I'm saying "no" to everything. Maybe I'm being a bit harsh in how fast I turn things down, but in some cases I know I'm right. My mom printed out a bunch of job ads, and among them was one for a hotel front desk job. I immediately wrote that off, because me? Dealing with customers? I know myself well enough to tell that's not going to go smoothly. And yeah, I could get a little better with training, but they're going to want to hire someone with better natural people skills, or something. So I feel justified in not pursuing those jobs. Then again, I'm not actively pursuing any job right now, which is kind of the problem. But that's for tomorrow's appointment with that counsellor, I guess...

But anyway, I should start a list and stop writing about why nothing is possibly going to work.

#30 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2012, 10:30 PM:

An odd thing happened today. But before I get into it I want to say it briefly involves suicide. Not in a lot of detail, but I feel the need to warn for it anyway.

Today I found out that a relative who died when I was very young did not in fact die in an accidental car crash, but rather an intentional one. As in he did it on purpose, because his wife was going to divorce him and take custody of their son.

My mom told me, because she wanted me to have an honest answer if any therapist/doctor asks about family history of suicide. It's good that she told me, I guess. I'm kind of worried though, because I don't actually feel any kind of reaction. I mean, it's not like I knew the guy, or that I didn't know he was dead, I'm not expecting to be shocked. But it's this weird non-reaction that's bugging me. It's like she told me that his favourite colour was teal, like, okay, cool, let's talk about something more relevant, like dinner.

I dunno, I just have this tendency to distance myself emotionally from things that might upset me, and I don't know how healthy it is. From small stuff like when I broke a trinket in anger and justified it with "oh I didn't like it anyway, it was stupid and I didn't want it.", to just ignoring my friends when they move away. On one hand it feels like it makes sense; why should I think about so-and-so, they're not here, they're doing their own thing and if I get sad when I see pictures of them then I'll just stop looking. On the other hand I know it's normal to miss people who you can't be with, and people do make efforts to maintain contact. Not everyone does this "out of sight, out of mind" thing with people.

#31 ::: MouseInTheWalls ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2012, 11:14 PM:

You're not a fish; you're a human who may simply not have figured out what to do.

I'm laughing at this because I actually did get hooked by a fishhook as a child. (Don't stand too close to a crowd of Boy Scouts at the lake...) It was high up on my cheekbone, and I had to hold it in place, while crying, so it wouldn't joggle around too much on the way to the hospital. They tried everything up to bonecutters to cut through the shaft, none of which worked, until the darn thing slid out on its own.

I don't know how that applies to the metaphor exactly, but it's got to fit in somewhere!

#32 ::: unready for her closeup ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2012, 11:36 PM:

broccoli @ 26:

Definitely. And a parent who says, "You are choosing to take offense at what I did in order to hurt me" is compounding whatever they did considerably.

You have no idea how much I needed to hear this right now.

I came out as poly to my parents recently, and my mother took it badly. This weekend I attempted to set some boundaries of the "if you are just going to make nasty comments about my girlfriend then we are not going to talk about her" variety. She went straight for the gaslighting, and accused me of making up things to be offended about, and excuses to reject her.

I've mostly managed to shrug it off as ridiculous, and am feeling proud of myself for that, but these things are always so insidious.

#33 ::: unready for her closeup ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2012, 11:42 PM:

(It turns out email archives and chat logs are a great way to counteract some kinds of gaslighting, though - I went back and reread some conversations I had immediately after the coming-out conversation, just to reassure myself that my memory of events at least matched what I said about them at the time. It's not a perfect technique, because sometimes it's hard to not doubt one's own self-reporting, but it did reassure me that my memory wasn't playing tricks on me. That helped.)

#34 ::: blind wisdom ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2012, 01:34 AM:

unready for her closeup @33 - oh yeah, i LOVE the availability of conversation transcripts to counteract gaslighting. i would have all my conversations over im if i could, just to make sure i would have an external record of what really happened.

#35 ::: broccoli ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2012, 02:08 AM:

unready for her closeup @32:

She went straight for the gaslighting, and accused me of making up things to be offended about, and excuses to reject her.

She says something belittling or nasty to you. You call her on what she's done, and ask her to stop. She then says that you're taking offense on purpose in order to hurt her.

She's making everything about her. It's a lovely mechanism to avoid taking responsibility for what she said to you: if she can get you to concentrate on how much you're hurting her, she's off the hook.

There's an extreme condition of this narcissistic personality disorder. (Bear in mind that narcissists are not necessarily grandiose; some of them relish the martyr role, and lose no opportunity to display how humble they are and how much they do for all these ungrateful people around them.) Unfortunately, even when shown transcripts of what they've said, people afflicted with narcissism are nearly incapable of owning up to what they've done and actually working to change their behavior. (They may make sweeping apologies for dramatic purposes, but these are rarely genuine and are in fact designed to raise the narcissist's opinion of herself rather than to actually apologize.)

Your parent may not have narcissistic personality disorder, but anybody who insults or belittles you (or your girlfriend) and then makes your reaction all about her is doing something poisonous to your relationship. Unfortunately, the only remedy I've found, whether the offender is family or friend, is to give them enough strikes to be sure, and then when sure, to walk away. I hope yours isn't like this, but in case they are, I hope you have good support around you. (It helps a lot to have someone else read that person's communications and say, "Holy crap! That person's being a jerk!")

It's a good thing that healing for us does not require that the offender own up to what they did. (We get to heal and go on without them. This means that they don't get to hold us emotionally hostage and keep us emotionally bound to them. When we get free? That's what they hate. I recommend it. It's like nothing else in this world.)

#36 ::: Bricklayer ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2012, 09:43 AM:

Um, hi, all. Sometime in late March it started hurting too much to even come into the old DFD thread and talk about what was hurting, so I walked away from it; I hope I didn't worry anybody. Those of you who have seen through my Clever Disguise know I'm active elsewhere on the site, at least.

I'm officially declaring my pants bankrupt on the old thread (though I did do a find on it for my nym to see if anyone was talking in my direction while I was away), and will not be catching up on it, I'm afraid.

But I'm going to try to stay current on this one, even if I can't bring myself to post.

Oh, and I found my resume. I know there were people here who offered to look at it for me, only I've forgotten who they were in the past several months, so, um. The gmail address that has how-to-spell mnemonics in it for my legal name (which has 2 ells, 2 tees, and no commas before the @) works for anyone still interested in helping out on kicking it into shape.

Resumes are scary, not least because the kind I learned how to write in high school is desperately unfashionable now, and the currently-fashionable kind looks as strange and alien to me as someone walking around on the street cosplaying Judy Jetson. :->

#37 ::: Persephone ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2012, 10:14 AM:

#36 ::: Bricklayer ::: Yay, a topic where I can actually be of use! I have a strange and wonderful talent for creating resumes that employers love; the last person I helped had a job within a week. Your email clues are defeating me, though, probably due to lack of caffeine. If you're interested, shoot me an email at crneynaqbcny@tznvy.pbz.

#38 ::: Persephone, gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2012, 10:16 AM:

The comment was a reply to #36. May I offer the gnomes some cold-brewed coffee with milk and vanilla sugar?

#39 ::: Torrilin ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2012, 12:05 PM:

Not everyone does this "out of sight, out of mind" thing with people.

No-ooo... But it is more common than you think maybe. Most people are not good at maintaining long distance relationships. It's a skill, and not everyone has it.

A few of my good friends are (mercifully) good at it. I've tried to study the things they do that make me feel good and cared about. And I try and do unto them not just the stuff *I* like, but the stuff they do... because most of the time when people do things, it's because it's their own personal favorite treat. (it's kind of like almost all librarians and English teachers are book pushers)

The other thing I realize is you can't always do All The Things. It's really hard to maintain an intimate relationship without putting in the time. So I make a point of having time for my much beloved little sister. And I make time for my husband. Other people get less time and energy. This does not mean NONE. But I do pick and choose, so my best friend is going to get more effort than someone I met through ballet or French class. And well, my best friend is a grown man, so he can understand why sitting on my nephew or getting groceries is important.

But yeah, treating people like things is bad for me. It makes me act dumber. So I make a deliberate point to avoid thingifying people. I don't always succeed. But really no one always succeeds, and I am getting better at seeing the thingifying.

As far as the suicide goes... just because someone is related to you does not mean they are or were close to you. I am still very sad that my cousin committed suicide in 2005. We had a difficult relationship because we were not the same people, but we looked like twins. This messed with a lot of people's heads, not just ours. But I would not be sad in the same way if my Dad's favorite cousin died. I've met her about 3 times, which is not the same as my relationship with my cousin where we wrote weekly letters to each other for years and years. Don't beat yourself up or make up rules about how you should feel. Let your feelings be real. It's ok and reasonable that your feelings are not the same as your mom's.

#40 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2012, 01:03 PM:

Persephone & Bricklayer: I just sent email offering my eyeballs as well, plus connecting y'all's emails.

#41 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2012, 01:27 PM:

Torrilin, #39: just because someone is related to you does not mean they are or were close to you

This. My father's family is scattered all over the country; most of them I've never even met. Hearing that any of them have died is effectively no different from reading in the newspaper about some total stranger having died; I can feel regret in the abstract, but not in the personal. It will bother me more when my partner's older brother dies, because I have met him a few times and I like him.

#42 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2012, 03:05 PM:

I'm not having a good day.

I went to that appointment I made with counsellor2 and I'm really mad at myself because I didn't make a list or even really think about what I wanted to talk about. So I just kinda sat there going "I dunno" for 45 minutes (that's an exaggeration, I said a lot of stuff and it wasn't totally pointless). We talked about self esteem and my complete lack thereof, and she gave me this thing on "cognitive distortions". She said I seemed to be doing a lot of "discounting the positives" and told me to read the list over. It says to "rate how often you use each Cognitive Distortion", and I tried that at home... It turns out it's damn near impossible to think straight when the thing you're reading is triggering you into MORE cognitive distortion! Long story short I got so angry that I couldn't write properly, and then got even more angry because I couldn't write so I broke my pencil and started hitting myself in the face. So I'm recording that so I can bring it up at the next appointment.

I have no idea how I'm supposed to actually do this thing. Here's one of the "distortions":

"Mental Filter: You focus on a single negative detail such that your vision of all of reality becomes darkened. In general, you dwell on the negatives and ignore the positives. Example: You receive many positive comments on your presentation, but one of your classmates says something mildly critical. You obsess about his reaction for days and ignore all the positive feedback."

At the time, this was pretty much exactly what my brain was doing! So my rating of how often I do that was "ALL THE TIME" in spiky all-caps. I know I'm not actually thinking like that literally all the time, but even reading about it starts me on a downward spiral. By trying to observe something I affect the result. Great.

#43 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2012, 03:32 PM:

Phenicious --

Good for you for recording how it triggered you so you can talk about that at the next appointment. That in itself is a good and useful thing to have accomplished, believe it or not.

It also sounds like it might be enough work -- and enough of an accomplishment! -- for now to just read the list and start being aware of those cognitive distortions, which you've already succeeded at -- and save the rating part for later.

If you would like internet hugs, I offer them. If not, I offer internet warm energy instead.

#44 ::: unready for her closeup ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2012, 04:33 PM:

broccoli @ 35

I think that it's less narcissism than it is the impulse that leads people to cry "misandry!" when they're challenged on antifeminist statements. These comments, and the "a good person like me can't possibly be making offensive statements" attitude that invariably comes out when she's challenged, are sadly of a piece with the biphobic things she's been saying to me for years.

I also believe that she's trying to give good advice, by her lights. That said, intent matters far less than effect here, and (I keep reminding myself) if her goal was my happiness, rather than my conformity to her visions for my future, she would respond rather differently to me saying "you're hurting me."

I was raised such that asserting emotional boundaries often feels like I'm being ruthless and hurtful, which is extremely unpleasant. (I rewrote that sentence a lot until it was true. The first version was "I hate to be this ruthless about it.") I don't like having to do this to my mother.

But I keep reminding myself that, no matter what she says, no matter what she thinks, this isn't me "rejecting her because of her religion." This is me ... doing what I have to, to protect myself, when she makes statements that reject *me.*

I am glad that I have people in my life who will get angry at her on my behalf. I am so glad that there are a lot of them. Otherwise I'd be stuck second-guessing myself. It'll be a good day when I can internalize that, instead of relying on external validation.

#45 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2012, 05:18 PM:

Phenicious @42: I broke my pencil

Yes, I would say you've hit paydirt. Take your broken pencil with you to your next appointment. "Hm. I think we may be onto something!" :)

By trying to observe something I affect the result. Great.

Believe it or not, I think this is good news. And smart you for making a record of your reaction.

unready for her closeup @44: It'll be a good day when I can internalize that, instead of relying on external validation.

I'll bet that day is nearer than you think. :)

#46 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2012, 05:33 PM:

unready for her closeup @44: your mother sounds somewhat like mine. By most people's standards, I've had reasonable success in my professional life, my interests are not particularly abnormal (well, the ultrarunning is a bit unusual), I'm happily married... But my interests and values are not the same as my mother's. I've finally come to realise that whenever I make choices which are different from hers, stand by values which are different from hers, she sees that as a rejection of her. And on some level, at least, she genuinely believes that if only I held her values, agreed with her interests etc., I would be happier - and of course she wants me to be happy...

You can't change your mother, so absolutely you need to protect yourself from her rejection of your choices, which are perfectly valid for you.

Of course, I'm still working on the internalisation myself...

#47 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2012, 06:20 PM:

Unready for her closeup:

What actually seems to be going on is the inverse of what your mother claims: she is rejecting you because of her religion. Or, possibly, using her religion as an excuse to act on her prejudices. And freedom of religion doesn't mean freedom to abuse people in the name of doctrine.

#48 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2012, 06:22 PM:

Persephone, Jacque--

If either of you has some free time and is feeling helpful, I suspect my resume could use something between a polishing job and a complete deconstruction and rebuilding. (Rot-13'ing my email: ie@cnavk.pbz)

#49 ::: broccoli ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2012, 06:37 PM:

unready for her closeup @44:

I also believe that she's trying to give good advice, by her lights.

She probably is. My sympathies; that's a frustrating situation to be in.

That said, intent matters far less than effect here,

Yes. Intent matters, but when she sees she's not having the effect she intends, but is instead hurting you, and she keeps doing it over and over, that says something.

and (I keep reminding myself) if her goal was my happiness, rather than my conformity to her visions for my future, she would respond rather differently to me saying "you're hurting me."

It's a difficult dynamic: someone who is convinced that she knows better than one does where one's happiness lies, and who is convinced that persisting in her actions is a supremely meritorious act.

#50 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2012, 06:56 PM:

Vicki: Email ping sent.

#51 ::: Bricklayer ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2012, 07:22 PM:

So I got sent a link to this story (photos and profiles of 10 "handsome and successful" trans* men). Emotional rollercoaster: Hey, they look great! / But I look like shit. / (longingly) I hope I turn out like that first guy, he's hella hot. / Oh, come on, you know you're going to look like your Uncle Rob. Who at least is believably male, but not anything like THAT guy's body type!

Umyeah. Ending in kind of a healthy place, I suppose, but I hope someday I can get to the endpoint withOUT going through the beating-myself-up steps ... I'm getting better and better at faking having self esteem (in the fake-it-till-you-make-it-real school; my mom was a Friend of Bill for a lot of my childhood) to an outside observer. I just hope someday less of it will be faked, y'know?

My emotional reflexes CAN change, I've seen it happen. Heck, sushi used to be Scary/Adventurous, and now it's comfort food and an edible hug.

#52 ::: Torrilin ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2012, 08:37 PM:

By trying to observe something I affect the result. Great.

Good news: it's working!

Bad news: that doesn't mean it's working well.

For ordinary stuff, I can handle the exercise you did no problem. However, my parents started teaching cognitive therapy to me by the time I was 8. What with the alcoholic grandfathers and the massive history of depression and anxiety disorders on both sides, they saw it as needful... so they taught it about low stress things like "are french fries healthy?" (low stress for me because I didn't particularly like fries) So I've got around 25 years of practice that you don't have... and comparing us is not fair to either of us.

If cognitive therapy is new to you, well... it's a skill. Learning new stuff is hard. It is ok to have a hard time with new things, no matter what they are.

As a family we often talk about how our brains "tell us lies" or "no, that's a crazy thought, I don't do crazy thoughts". As a day to day thing, our brains edit reality to make it easier to think about. And a huge portion of those edits are a sort of cartoon version of reality... true, but only from a certain point of view. It happens all the damn time. The point of cognitive therapy is not to fix all distortions ever and always. It's to give you tools to deal with the harmful distortions.

But since distorted thinking is part of how your brain is supposed to work... trying to edit your thinking can be really uncomfortable. And the reaction you had is not weird or wrong. The self destructive parts are worrying, sure. But it's what happened.

You do not have to finish ALL your homework the night you got it. You can work on it in small bits until the day it's "due". It's ok if you do not "finish" it all. Heck, it might be reasonable to (in a day or so) take the least scary seeming logical fallacy, and instead of tracking it in your thoughts... track it in a TV show or try to find it in internet discussions. Or maybe someone else can come up with an even smaller way to tackle the assignment.

#53 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2012, 09:13 PM:

dcb, #46: whenever I make choices which are different from hers, stand by values which are different from hers, she sees that as a rejection of her.

This is not uncommon, especially for parents who have boundary problems -- they see their children primarily as extensions of themselves rather than as individuals.

And on some level, at least, she genuinely believes that if only I held her values, agreed with her interests etc., I would be happier - and of course she wants me to be happy

This is the toxic expression of the above. My parents had that, to the extent of believing that I had to be lying when I said I was happy with my life, because how could ANYONE be happy with a life that didn't include their values? I was just deluding myself, and it was their duty to bring me into the light*. The only way for me to get away from that dynamic was simply not to associate with them any more than I had to.

* This didn't mean just religion, although religion was definitely one of the things they thought I should be doing differently. It was the whole gestalt of a lifestyle that I saw as being completely dull and uninteresting. The whole suburban "have a spotless house decorated in Country Kitsch, do flower gardening, watch TV, have a social life that revolves around church and little kaffeeklatches with the neighbors, travel only to popular tourist locales, and NEVER EVER talk about anything even remotely intellectual" thing.

#54 ::: unready for her closeup ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2012, 04:40 PM:

broccoli, Jacque, dcb, Vicki - Thank you.

#55 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2012, 04:48 PM:

My (almost) 80-yo technophobic, web-averse mother has bought this:

According to my daughter, she has actually sent emails! Done web searches!

Maybe she'll handle her own retirement accounts now?

She's emailed my daughter but not me.

I'm terrified that she'll sign up for Fb.

#56 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2012, 06:05 PM:

Lee@53: Sympathies. I can cope with my mother nowadays, mostly, but only in short doses. It's better now that I usually have my husband as back-up when I see her; I still have to steel myself to go see her if for some reason he can't come as well.

As for "see their children primarily as extensions of themselves rather than as individuals." Yes, that's exactly it. When my late father told someone how well I'd done, or when my stepmother praises my achievements, I feel they are focused on ME. When it's my mother, I always get the sense that it's HER triumph - "MY daughter" with the emphasis on the "My": she told everyone for years that SHE had got me into Cambridge (a colleague of hers had a good suggestion regarding which college to try for and who to write to to find out more) - and it was very hurtful to me that she was taking away MY achievement (after all, as I recall I was the one who sat the exams and did the interviews...).

#57 ::: obsidian ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2012, 06:27 PM:


It's the little things.

My relationship with my mother is Fraught for various reasons, none of which are really relevant. I don't think she intended harm, and I think that if I told her that she was causing me pain, she'd be horrified. But intentional or not, she managed to instill a number of twitches -- the largest of which is that I'm not actually competent or good at anything.

I've recently made some changes in my life that involved shifting a lot of responsibilities to my spouse because I was taking on a larger role at work. It's pretty much consumed my free cycles, but we knew this going in and we've accounted for it. I am very pleased with how things have worked out so far even though my stress levels have gone through the roof. My mother doesn't seem quite so pleased, however. Some of the day-to-day stuff that I have done for her in the past hasn't been done quite so promptly; others have fallen off my radar. I've explained the situation to her, told her that this is not unexpected and reminded her that I do better with post-it notes and email than I do with verbal communication.

Yesterday evening, she (verbally) asked me to do something minor. This morning, while I was running around getting lunches packed for the family, breakfast made, and clothes sorted out for the day, I forgot. I'm not surprised that I forget; mornings are at max capacity in general, and without visual reminders (I usually cover my house in post-its) of unexpected tasks, I will not remember them. When mom asked about the Minor Thing, I said (truthfully) that I couldn't remember if I'd done it or not. There were a few other moments of chit-chat, and then she made some comment of "Well, maybe you'll get it together one day." The reception on the phone was breaking up, so I pretended I didn't hear, said good-bye, and hung up.

But I'm livid. Really. Maybe I'll get it together one day? I have it together. Many of my friends tell me that I do more on an average day than they do in a week. I entered a new phase in my work/life with eyes fully opened, a spouse who was willing and able to support me, and a game plan that is WORKING. Despite my utter terror over failing miserably at my new job, I've overcome a number of Bad Behaviors, and I am getting stuff accomplished. I'm doing well, and in the middle of all this stress, I am managing to remind myself that I am doing well which is an enormous victory in its own right.

I know why she said it -- or at least I can guess. She's hurt that I didn't do the thing that I asked. She (probably) feels like I don't find her important enough to pay attention to. She's lonely. The thing is, if she'd just SAY those things, I would apologize, mean it, and I'd probably manage to do better the next go around because I would remember the conversation. Instead, I get a verbal jab that pisses me off and makes me less interested in trying to be helpful in the future. And so we cycle in again. I won't bring it up because of my flinches; she won't mention her actual feelings because of I vent. And sigh. A lot.

#58 ::: Bricklayer ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2012, 09:22 PM:

Someone on Tumblr posted a link to a quote purporting to be from Winston Churchill: "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."

I've been describing myself for over a decade now as "Depressive by nature, an optimist by choice." And people call me a Pollyanna not infrequently. I do play the Glad Game, and do it consciously, as an attempt to short-circuit my reflexive self-bludgeoning inner voices ...

#59 ::: AnotherQuietOne ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2012, 09:57 PM:

This is just to say
that I have unpacked some of the baggage
that was in my psyche
which I had not expected
to deal with this year

Forgive me,
it is so complicated
and it will not fit back
into the box

#60 ::: SpawnOfTheDevil ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2012, 10:44 PM:

Sometimes, when my mom is being especially fractious, I murmur to her, "You know, if it's unpleasant every time I call you, I will call you less often." She accuses me of threatening her. I respond that it's just the way things work, and apparently she's forgotten that.

Actually, we haven't had a phone conversation in months. I emailed her before Mothers' Day and asked if she even wanted to talk to me, and she said not to do it out of a sense of duty. "Okay," I wrote back, "it sounds like neither of us would get any pleasure out of it, so I won't."

And I didn't.

#61 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2012, 11:57 PM:

obsidian, #57: Your mother said, "Maybe you'll get it together one day." What I'm hearing is, "Why am I not the center of your universe, as you are of mine? Why should *I* have to change *my* preferred way of doing things just because *you* ask me to? You didn't really mean it when you said it was easier for you to work with notes or e-mail, that's just a convenient excuse for you to slack off. *I* don't have to have things written down to remember them, so obviously you don't either, and you're just lying to me."

Or perhaps all of that boils down to, "Why can't you be perfect, the way you're supposed to be?"

If this sort of thing happens regularly, then you might want to consider changing your response a bit. When she asks if you did thus-and-such, that you already told her to leave you a note about, toss it back at her: "Did you leave me a note like I asked you to?" If then answer is no, then "Well, probably not, then. Leave me a note and I'll do it tonight." The idea here is to keep harping on "leave me a note".

BTW, I absolutely hear you about finding it hard to remember out-of-routine stuff in the mornings. Back when I had a day job, I knew that I could remember one or sometimes two "extra" things to do while I was getting ready to leave for work; more than that, and something would be forgotten. I had several useful coping strategies to work around this, among which was to make sure that anything extra I had to take with me (mail, a prescription, etc.) in the morning got put in my purse the night before, so that it didn't matter whether I remembered it or not.

#62 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2012, 12:16 AM:

obsidian: Oh, that's annoying. I've lived around people with limited attention (occasionally been one myself) and limited spoons, and I *know* that if I don't get their attention in the Prescribed Manner it's my fault.

General note, inspired by Lee upthread: Family can be used up, but that doesn't mean you can't build a new one. If the original's no good, sometimes you've just got to declare it a lemon and create a new one. (Family also does not have to mean biological/legal.)

#63 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2012, 06:15 AM:

AnotherQuietOne @59, I like it

#64 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2012, 06:43 AM:

dcb @56:
"MY daughter" with the emphasis on the "My"

Been there. When I did my year abroad back at university, we had two suitcases that were suitable to take with me. Ironically, they both dated to my parents' university travels. One, which my father had taken on his semester in France, was blue and a little smelly. The other, with roses on it, was my mother's from her time in Germany.

I preferred the one with the roses. My mother, struck by the symmetry of the situation, talked about how "her heir was going to Europe", and drew many parallels with her own trip. I finally told her that if the suitcase with the roses continued to be the embodiment emotional baggage, I'd take the blue one.

(And this is where the line between the functional and the dysfunctional lies: my mother, realizing what she was doing, knocked it off.)

Bricklayer @58:

Duuuude. We are much alike.

#65 ::: Bricklayer ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2012, 08:05 AM:

I strive to view my daughter as 'my' daughter in the same sense that this is 'my' country, not in the sense that any given garment is 'my' pants.

English uses one word for all these senses, but intent is very important.

My father abuses 'my child' grammar to the point that he has annexed posessions of my younger sisters, claiming that "Minors can't own property legally anyhow, it was mine really," even applying to gifts given them by him or by other people.

Still learning boundaries, me. But at least I'm trying.

#66 ::: Bricklayer messed up the nym ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2012, 08:07 AM:

Please, almighty gnomes with powers of high and low editing, re-plaster over my paper-thin searcher/view-all-by anonymity? :->

I should probably use a different browser for these posts so I can click 'remember me' and quit having half-awake screwups.

[Solved. Leaving this here only to remind everyone that if you flag these slips, we will resolve them. -- Idumea Clamanda Cowper, Duty Gnome]

#67 ::: Fooey ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2012, 11:27 AM:

When I was young, I was "the bad one". I was the one who was "mischievous". I was the one who was "always in trouble". Also, I was the one who was "bad in school".◘

I certainly remember being always in trouble, though I don't recall doing most of the things I was in trouble for. A while ago, my sister admitted to doing many of those things. I asked my mother, why did she always blame me?

Mother: Because you were always the one doing bad things.
Me: But, I wasn't! Sister just said she did them!
Mother: You were the one who was mischievous.
Me: Sister just said she was the one doing those things. Why did you always assume it was me?
Mother: Because you were always the one doing these things!
Me: But Sister just admitted it was her!
Mother: You know what I mean!

So, the other day, when something happened at work, over which I had no control, and I mentioned it in passing to my mother while on the phone, I really should not have been so blindsided when the first words out of her mouth were, "You did something!". Literally. Direct quote.

I was so angry that I only just managed to not shriek in her ear. I said I had to go and hung up.

Last weekend, I was at her house (I've cut my visits down a lot, but I still go sometimes). Feeling calmer, and trying to use what I'm learning in counselling, I tried to talk to her about it. When I said it was hurtful to me that she had said that, and asked her why she would have assumed that it must be my fault, she said, "Well, I just thought you must have done something." When I told her that it was not OK to just assume random things are my fault, she replied, "You know what I mean!"

What is up with that?? Was I supposed to be issued with a USB port in my head to plug in the Mother-to-Me translator? And why exactly is it always my fault again, anyway?

Ghod, I'm tired of this crap.

◘We were cleaning up old papers, and I had occasion to see both my sister's and my report cards from high school. I got higher marks than she did in every damn subject. And I was an undiagnosed dyslexic◙. The hell?

◙Which of course meant my teachers all assumed I wasn't really trying, because I was "obviously smart enough to do better", so I was just lazy and not paying attention.

#68 ::: Neutrino ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2012, 11:30 AM:

Fooey, what would happen if you replied to "you know what I mean" with "Actually I don't. Why don't you explain"?

#69 ::: knitcrazybooknut ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2012, 11:44 AM:

Fooey, I am here and witnessing. And remarking on how similar this is to my experience! Shocking, I know.

Here is one of my tools. When someone [read: my mom] says something hurtful to me, I use a simple response to defuse the situation. I pretend that I didn't understand or hear what they said. [Actually, at this point, I half pretend and half tilt my head to one side in skepticism.] Then I say very clearly:

"I'm sorry; what did you say?"

Various tones of sarcasm are completely optional. In your trial run, you may want to pretend that you didn't hear what they said at all and are completely innocent.

My mother's reply is usually a beat of silence, wherein she thinks about what she said and actually takes it in, then shakes off actual knowledge and says gruffly, "Oh, you know what I mean!"

At this point, either we move on to another conversational topic, or I reply, as Neutrino suggested, "Sorry, Mom, I don't. Could you explain it to me so I understand?" If it gets to that point, she's embarrassed and will switch it around.

I'm not sure whether your mom will be able to process her own words, based on the conversations you describe. And that's something that you'll need to see if you even care about trying to make happen. Sometimes writing it off is better for your own mental health. But there's nothing to lose by trying, and if nothing else, you can be amused by the situation, as long as you can rise above and become a little more neutral. "Oh look, she's saying something by rote again without thinking about it. It's time for me to pull out the innocent look and pretend I'm deaf!"

It's a really tough nut to crack when logic doesn't actually apply to what they say. But knowing that may allow you to realize that in this relationship, you're the one holding the clipboard, wearing the lab coat, and taking notes on the fascinating, alien behaviors.

Again, your mileage may vary, please ignore if not helpful, or even hlepfulish, and I wish you the very best support in dealing with this. It's no fun. But it can get there over time.

#70 ::: Persephone ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2012, 02:00 PM:

#48 ::: Vicki ::: Email sent! Wasn't ignoring you, just didn't see it till this morning.

#71 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2012, 02:42 PM:

Argh, the bragging about things I did. Especially because that one can be really, really barbed. I've been telling everyone how miffed I am that, last time I visited home, my mother said, "When people ask about my kids, I say none of you are living at home and that's great." Thus belittling the actual accomplishment of not living at home and establishing once again that it is my job to make her look good.

When I started writing, Mom was so proud. She couldn't wait to introduce me as 'my published daughter'. I was going to become a bestseller and buy my parents a house in North Carolina. Meanwhile, Dad was telling his friends about me and how here I was, actually sending out stories, isn't that cool... and I never knew about any of that until years later.

It's a weird balance. I know that this is partly like, "You could sell that!" when complimenting a handmade item, that it's an expression of value and appreciation but one that carries weird baggage. There must be a way for a mother to brag about her kids-- certainly there's one for a father, since mine found it-- but I can't think of one right now.

#72 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2012, 02:44 PM:

Things are kind of eventful lately. Today my ipod got broken, and it was almost entirely my fault. I'm not really upset about it, more inconvenienced (and annoyed because hey, I spent ~$400 on that thing). I'm gonna try to figure out what features I really used so I can decide what to replace it with. Keeping calm and heading to the job centre to get help with some stuff. As I find myself saying a lot: nobody got hurt, and nothing caught fire, it's okay.

#73 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2012, 02:57 PM:

Fooey, #67: You are clearly caught in the Assigned Role trap. This is really hard to break out of, because your mother has so much emotional energy invested in it that admitting she's wrong is going to be extremely threatening. "You know what I mean!" is the all-purpose cop-out under those circumstances. I agree with the suggestion that you push back on that by saying, "No, I don't; I can't read your mind, so you need to explain it IN WORDS."

#74 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2012, 11:25 PM:

Dash @Circled Strangers/936: *hugs* for you if you like. My mother does many of those things, and they produced a lot of the same results.

Megpie71 @14: I have got to try making such do-not-want and want lists about work stuff or similarly tangled issues. They might help me sort my own situation out.

#75 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2012, 11:31 PM:

Phenicious: I understand what you mean about not feeling so much about a relative's death and not knowing if that's okay. I got to meet my various grandparents about 4 times when not very small, and there was little other contact. I barely blinked an eye when each of them died, because, well, they were effectively strangers. For emotional purposes, I did not have grandparents, but it took me until the last couple years to see that fact, and tell myself it was therefore okay not to have a lot of grieving to do for these strangers-who-might-have-been-grandparents.

Being able to see the cognitive distortions is maddening (I really can't tell what's real/true some days about parts of my own life), but it is pretty good progress! After a while you'll be able to step back a bit and say "I'm thinking this way about ______ but I know that's probably biased in this direction -- so if I try and compensate for that, what might be the real situation?" Which often feels weird and uncomfortable, but can help get you out of mental ruts. Also, what Torrilin said about practicing your observation skills on analyzing cognitive distortions practiced by strangers in drama or the internet.

#76 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2012, 11:47 PM:

Syd and anyone else looking for work: I have no idea where most of you are, but I ran across a posting for a nifty part-time job (25-30h/week) in Portland OR with Jarrett Walker & Associates.

He's a transit planning consultant with his own firm, and looking for an assistant with brains. If you like organizing, writing, and are good with computers, you're a good fit. Major bonus points for being a transit planning geek and/or skills in analyzing and presenting data of various types -- are you someone that reads Edward Tufte for fun and enrichment?

If I weren't in the wrong country and getting established in a profession I like even better, I would apply because this job could be a blast!

#77 ::: Fooey ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2012, 11:46 AM:

Thanks for the responses. I'll probably get the chance to try making her use her words this weekend.

I'm also not good at staying calm right now - I seem to have gone from near-catatonia to having all emotions ramped up to 11. I laugh wildly, I cry at commercials, I yell when thwarted. I'm like a child, I think.

When I'm angry with someone, and try to continue talking and keep it together, I seem to fall into a really obvious "keep talking calmly so the crazy person won't flip out" voice, which I can hear but can't seem to stop. It's got to be incredibly annoying to hear someone talking to you like that. My mother gets furious, and pretty much spits at me to stop doing that. It really doesn't help any communication efforts. ::sigh::

#78 ::: hidingnym ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2012, 03:58 PM:

Hello, hiding under another nym for now, but I've been following these threads for some time.
Realized today that some of the fish-hooky stuff is that my danger sensors are on flicker-hypersensitive, and yet sometimes there really is basis for the danger alert---calibrating reactions means I need to check with other people to make sure and yet honor the intuition and the still voice in me saying something is indeed wrong. At a new-ish job, my boss just gave me a very poor evaluation but refused to put his observations in writing and to formally explain why he was giving me such a poor score. I said, ok, if it's so poor, I should give notice now. He just asked me to stay, then asked me to have dinner with him. I turned him down and left the conference room, wishing I had had a recorder to pick up his whispering. He mostly communicates by mumbling and whispering so I need to bend towards him. Later he sent me an electronic message asking me why I left him lonely. Ack. I need this job, I need the money, and I know the office culture of where I work is NOT progressive enough to support someone calling him out on harrassment. I am in a panic now thinking that if I continue here I will need to both navigate past his personal intrusive questioning and also endure unfair evaluations of my work.

And that is a learned fish-hook-y thing, to stay and "bear" it. Because others have it worse, or because I have been through such horrible things that this is a smaller "lighter" thing. Drat.

#79 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2012, 04:35 PM:


No problem, and I got your email. Thanks.

#80 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2012, 06:03 PM:

hidingnym @78: I don't know the structure of your company, but if there's a specifically HRish person up the chain you could talk to (usually the person in whose office the evaluation-paperwork filing cabinet lives), and if you can hold yourself together in character enough, it might be productive to go with a tentative-but-want-to-be-good-employee mien and say, "Myboss said my evaluation was (badnumber) this time, but he was too busy and couldn't tell me specifically what I need to improve. Do you think you could help me find out? I have a hard time telling what he wants, sometimes, and I understand if he's too busy to explain every little thing to me, but ..."

Depends how good your earnest-ditz act is, but it would establish you as (a) wanting to improve and (b) confused about what precisely you need to DO to improve.

Then make sure you have a witness to future interactions along these lines.

#81 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2012, 06:49 PM:

hidingnym @ 78: I am so sorry that happened. Your boss's behavior was totally, inexcusably awful.

I second Elliott Mason's suggestion @ 80. While it was not a case of sexual harassment, a close friend of mine was able to resolve a situation where she was pressured to falsify documents by playing exactly that "confused but eager employee" role to the next level up at HR.

May I also suggest keeping a written journal (at home) of this and any further incidents, including date, time, location, who was present, and what was said? You're not committing yourself to any particular course of action by doing that -- just keeping documentation in case you end up needing it later. (If you happened to save the electronic message he sent you, it's worth printing it out with its supporting details -- timestamp, full header, etc. if you can access them -- and adding it to the written journal.)

#82 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2012, 07:38 PM:

Caroline, #81: Specifically, asking an employee to go to dinner, and then sending an e-mail asking "why you left me lonely," is sexual harassment. It's low-level (as yet), but that's a HUGE warning flag.

I agree 100% with your suggestion to keep documentation, including printouts of suggestive e-mails and the like. I would also recommend buying a cheap voice-activated recorder and having it present (hidden) and running whenever there's a private meeting with the boss.

hidingnym, polish up your resume and start looking for another job now; it's always easier to find a job when you already have one. If anyone asks why you're wanting to leave, an answer along the lines of, "I just don't feel comfortable there" should be sufficient. You don't want to bad-mouth your current employer, and there are a lot of perfectly harmless things that can make for an employer/employee mismatch.

#83 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2012, 08:57 PM:

Trying to get myself to believe that the things I can accomplish ARE accomplishments, not just "stuff everyone can do". Tonight I made myself dinner and cleaned up almost all the dishes dirtied in the process. I gathered up the tree branches I helped my mom cut off yesterday. Being able to mostly function without imploding is an accomplishment. I know this is true but it's really easy to forget when I'm busy hating myself.

#84 ::: hidingnym ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2012, 09:15 PM:

Thanks for the advice, yes I have been keeping records, at least trying to write down how strange it's been. It's not full time employment, so I am vulnerable, and also signed a contract that prohibits me from disclosing stuff about what the work is and so forth, not to mention that I can be given notice at any time, though I too can also give notice.

I received an email late after returning home from work asking that I give more office time to what is supposed to be a flextime arrangement, I emailed back and cc'd the HR assistant to say that if boss condition (imposed arbitrarily I think) is inflexible I can give my notice because I cannot promise all those office hours every week.

Yes, I've also thought of the voice recorder thing, but seriously, his mumble whisper would probably not be picked up in a relatively noisy office. Also, the HR (of which i have only met two) seem to be buddies with him, past experience trying to consult on other matters only seemed to backfire, so am not sure about going to them.

His reasons for giving such a low score were to me, unreasonable: he accused me alternately of trying to be too smart, too fast, then too slow and too lazy. As an independent part time consultant with my own machine/software as part of working terms, I bring my own laptop and pay for my own internet, he demanded that I work more hours onsite, criticized such things as my personal equipment/software choices (mac, dnscrypt) and demanded to know my personal passwords, habits of filenaming, demanding that I show where in my hard drive I saved my files and under what paths, and demanding to dictate Where and What I named my files as I worked on them, and even asked to borrow my laptop with the excuse of "fixing" my files. He and the IT office guy tried to ask for my system password claiming I needed to give it to them so they could "check something". I refused, and had created another user account and didn't let them use my admin account. As far as I know, the only thing I owe him is file submissions he can read, via email, and those are files he is free to rename and modify under new names. I've been suspecting electronic mayhem too, but I can't really prove if there's been file tampering or hacking while I am on the company server, other than to note that files have shifted contents and some have become jumbled as I was connected to the server. I've been frantically saving work in different formats, locations, names, since noting the strange data changing in my open files as I worked on them in the office... on the same night as when he asked me to dinner and I turned him down, I found that a file I had open had messed up cells and data and I had to spend hours fixing it up again. I disconnected from the server and worked offline to fix it, then my boss approached me several times to ask me to go online again on errands he could do himself. He seemed intent that I log on to the server again. This is another issue with me, thinking that there might be something underhanded there too. Why would someone mess with my work? I think that some parties might be more interested in seeing this particular project drag on (more money, more time spent on the project), and also, boss has bristled at parts of my report that he doesn't understand, which he claims are irrelevant to the scope of the project, but I think he simply doesn't understand some of the technical points I have raised and would rather not present it to the upper bosses/rest of the team because he can't explain these points himself. What complicates this situation is that I am in an outsourcing post where frankly, US laws probably will not help me at all, and local laws and culture would side with the boss. The boss above this boss, on the mainland, is someone I Might be able to report this to, but I am fairly certain she won't be able to change things on the ground here, and if I do file a report to her, it will be an exit report. Local boss has already forbidden me from talking to mainland boss saying she is too busy and would not welcome it.


#85 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2012, 09:27 PM:


That sounds like some accomplishment to me! I have trouble with the dishes myself, and they will pile up for days. [[admires your clean dishes]]

#86 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2012, 09:31 PM:

Lee @ 82, oh, sorry, I realize my phrasing was unclear. Yes, what hidingnym's boss did was unequivocally sexual harassment. What happened to my friend wasn't, so I was trying to express "While, unlike this case, hers did not involve sexual harassment…"

#87 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2012, 09:47 PM:

hidingnym @ 84

That is an entire paragraph full of warning signs. Which is just to say: Yuck!

In a similar situation I eventually left, I would alternate between "It was just a bad fit," and "It would be very difficult for me to ever work for [Person] again."

#88 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2012, 10:46 PM:

Hidingnym, that sounds *terrible*.

Phenicious, yay for dishes! I try to keep up with dishes as I make them, but I mostly don't. It's hard to stay on top of everything that way.

#89 ::: Mac under Google-Invisibility Cloak ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2012, 11:21 PM:

Been here for years, quietly witnessing. First time posting in these threads, though.

Strength, wisdom, and joy to you all.

Wouldn't you think, after all these years, I'd be accustomed to calling family members to check in with how things are going, and having them either completely forget to even pretend to care about what's going on in my life, or -- and this might even be worse -- pretend to care, but cut me off mid-sentence after asking something like "so how was your dental appointment?"

My kind and loving partner (and that's sincere, not ironic) pointed out that this sort of interaction is part of why I don't think I'm ever allowed to be sick, weak, or less-than-100 percent. Even with a fever that should be flattening, or an infection that's potentially life-threatening.

And by golly, even though you've worked on 'em your whole life, there are those same old patterns playing out.


#90 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 12:11 AM:

hidingnym: Red flags! OMG red flags. I would suggest that if you find reason to quit in the near future, that you send a message to the highest person you can in the company, detailing your concerns. If only the people around you are doing this sort of behavior, it might be a warning to the higher-ups. And if they're involved, well, they'll just ignore you, so nothing lost.

Scary situation.

#91 ::: Torrilin ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 12:25 PM:

I know this is true but it's really easy to forget when I'm busy hating myself.


For me, making stuff is a useful tool against hating myself. Calligraphy, drawing, spinning yarn, weaving cloth, knitting cloth, photography... I know for other folks woodworking, car repair or building models can have the same effect. Something where the joy of "I made that!" is louder than the internal voice of "I am horrible!". I find it really satisfying to have something I make turn out better in some small way than the previous project.

I tend not to share what I make with other people unless they are the sort who can be more pleased about the "you made it!" and the "you finished it!" than any flaws in the work. I'm terrible at finishing things, and the horrible middle can often defeat a project. Hearing anything even remotely critical about the time it took or the quality of the work can set me back YEARS in terms of finishing things. I'm already beating myself up enough for a dozen people on the subject.

This is actually a concrete way of combating cognitive distortions too. I made it! is a perfectly true statement, even if the thing you made is the best copy you could manage of Van Gogh's Sunflowers. (real, no BS exercise I had in art class once... all the other options were even uglier art, and so somehow in my head, it's hard to copy things I actually like) Figuring out what stuff is sturdy and stable in your life, and the stuff where your brain doesn't twist you around six ways from Sunday is in some ways even more important than anything else.

Since clean dishes immediately get dirty again, it's *really* hard for me to be motivated to do them. I will, but it's a battle. And it's really hard for me to feel joy in them being done since the dirty will happen again in just a few hours. So believe me, getting them tidied right away is a real achievement, and one I am BAD at. If it is joyful for you, that is a good thing.

#92 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 01:20 PM:

phenicious, well done. Small things done successfully are a step out of the swamp. Go, you.

hidingnym, joining the others saying that these are red flags, and that finding another position sounds like a good plan. And documenting.

Mac @89, welcome. It is discouraging to have family play the "So, enough about you, let's talk some more about me" game. Glad you have a partner who listens.

#93 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 01:33 PM:

hidingnym, #84: That sets off more red flags than a Communist Party parade. My immediate reaction was, "She's being set up to take the fall for something." My partner's was, "She's being set up to be fired and not be paid, and possibly also to be trapped there." He suggests contacting the nearest US Embassy for emergency assistance if the latter should occur. I also passed your comment along to a friend who has done contract work, and his response was, "Get out of there ASAP."

#94 ::: hidingnym ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 08:59 PM:

Thanks for the advice, yes I have been keeping records, at least trying to write down how strange it's been. It's not full time employment, so I am vulnerable, and also signed a contract that prohibits me from disclosing stuff about what the work is and so forth, not to mention that I can be given notice at any time, though I too can also give notice.

I received an email late after returning home from work asking that I give more office time to what is supposed to be a flextime arrangement, I emailed back and cc'd the HR assistant to say that if boss condition (imposed arbitrarily I think) is inflexible I can give my notice because I cannot promise all those office hours every week.

Yes, I've also thought of the voice recorder thing, but seriously, his mumble whisper would probably not be picked up in a relatively noisy office. Also, the HR (of which i have only met two) seem to be buddies with him, past experience trying to consult on other matters only seemed to backfire, so am not sure about going to them.

His reasons for giving such a low score were to me, unreasonable: he accused me alternately of trying to be too smart, too fast, then too slow and too lazy. As an independent part time consultant with my own machine/software as part of working terms, I bring my own laptop and pay for my own internet, he demanded that I work more hours onsite, criticized such things as my personal equipment/software choices (mac, dnscrypt) and demanded to know my personal passwords, habits of filenaming, demanding that I show where in my hard drive I saved my files and under what paths, and demanding to dictate Where and What I named my files as I worked on them, and even asked to borrow my laptop with the excuse of "fixing" my files. He and the IT office guy tried to ask for my system password claiming I needed to give it to them so they could "check something". I refused, and had created another user account and didn't let them use my admin account. As far as I know, the only thing I owe him is file submissions he can read, via email, and those are files he is free to rename and modify under new names. I've been suspecting electronic mayhem too, but I can't really prove if there's been file tampering or hacking while I am on the company server, other than to note that files have shifted contents and some have become jumbled as I was connected to the server. I've been frantically saving work in different formats, locations, names, since noting the strange data changing in my open files as I worked on them in the office... on the same night as when he asked me to dinner and I turned him down, I found that a file I had open had messed up cells and data and I had to spend hours fixing it up again. I disconnected from the server and worked offline to fix it, then my boss approached me several times to ask me to go online again on errands he could do himself. He seemed intent that I log on to the server again. This is another issue with me, thinking that there might be something underhanded there too. Why would someone mess with my work? I think that some parties might be more interested in seeing this particular project drag on (more money, more time spent on the project), and also, boss has bristled at parts of my report that he doesn't understand, which he claims are irrelevant to the scope of the project, but I think he simply doesn't understand some of the technical points I have raised and would rather not present it to the upper bosses/rest of the team because he can't explain these points himself. What complicates this situation is that I am in an outsourcing post where frankly, US laws probably will not help me at all, and local laws and culture would side with the boss. The boss above this boss, on the mainland, is someone I Might be able to report this to, but I am fairly certain she won't be able to change things on the ground here, and if I do file a report to her, it will be an exit report. Local boss has already forbidden me from talking to mainland boss saying she is too busy and would not welcome it.


#95 ::: hidingnym ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 11:47 PM:

Thanks for confirming what I have been fearing, that yes, it is harrassment and I need to take steps to protect myself further. I gave conditional notice that I would resign if boss insists I spend more hours in-office. What's been eye opening, though, is the range of reactions from relatives. I've been told to just put up with it, treat it as if my boss had paid me a compliment for being attractive enough to ask out, just keep quiet and be pleasant and try to do my work and pretend he doesn't upset me.
Notably, the abusive ones seemed to be angry first that I had somehow allowed this to happen. One particularly unhelpful reaction was "You're a grown up, you don't need to report this case, it will take up too much time and energy."

I do see that line of reasoning, though, because the bad stuff can indeed escalate if I try to report that incident. I realize that it may be expedient to avoid bringing up the true reason for my leaving if I really am forced to leave to preserve my safety,peace of mind. Saving my little observations and all for the final exit from the company, that seems to be the best thing to do for now. That is why the email I sent telling me I was giving them a month's notice said it was dependent on the insistence that I spend over 24 hours total in the office per week.

As for protecting myself while I am in the office, and protecting my work for that matter, I do not really see what I can do without seeming strangely disobedient. For example, trying to use my own wireless internet subscription instead of company server via wifi at office. Or trying to complete work files while not connected to the internet, which is something really strange to me considering the boss is only twelve feet away at the office, and so why would be be so insistent I be connected to company server at all times while working even if I am just sitting there compiling a report and can be tapped on the shoulder or verbally told instructions?

#96 ::: AnotherQuietOne ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 08:39 AM:

hidingnym - Add me to the chorus of people saying that sounds like a Very Wrong situation and hoping you find a fast way into a better one.

#97 ::: AnotherQuietOne ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 09:46 AM:

In the outer world things are going well enough. I have a committee stocked with experienced people who are smart enough to tell me when I am wrong, and that's good. We have enough promising applications that if the pool closed now we'd be able to hire someone useful, and I feel much better about that part of the situation.

Which is good, because I've gotten distracted from my productive external focus by inner work.

Skipping the details because I don't feel like sharing them yet (this is a disquiet that I need to sit with for a good long time, to make sure I understand it thoroughly before I act) --

... I'm within weeks of my 39th birthday, with a house and a spouse and a steady job that pays a living wage, and I am contemplating a major career change that would involve returning to school and, predictably, massive student debt (of which I do not currently have any, and for which I am grateful.) Bitterly kicking myself for not having thought of "this" (doesn't matter exactly what "this" is) twenty years ago when school was cheaper and I was more mobile and adventurous. Want something more than what I've done, but don't want to risk breaking the merely adequate to chase the extraordinary.

Anyone older and wiser than I am want to tell me that sometimes mid-life career change really does work out?

#98 ::: AnotherQuietOne ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 09:48 AM:

In the outer world things are going well enough. I have a committee stocked with experienced people who are smart enough to tell me when I am wrong, and that's good. We have enough promising applications that if the pool closed now we'd be able to hire someone useful, and I feel much better about that part of the situation.

Which is good, because I've gotten distracted from my productive external focus by inner work.

Skipping the details because I don't feel like sharing them yet (this is a disquiet that I need to sit with for a good long time, to make sure I understand it thoroughly before I act) --

... I'm within weeks of my 39th birthday, with a house and a spouse and a steady job that pays a living wage, and I am contemplating a major career change that would involve returning to school and, predictably, massive student debt (of which I do not currently have any, and for which I am grateful.) Bitterly kicking myself for not having thought of "this" (doesn't matter exactly what "this" is) twenty years ago when school was cheaper and I was more mobile and adventurous. Want something more than what I've done, but don't want to risk breaking the merely adequate to chase the extraordinary.

Anyone older and wiser than I am want to tell me that sometimes mid-life career change really does work out?

#99 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 10:47 AM:

Hidingnym @ #94: That work situation sounds more wrong than anything I have seen or even heard of. This is still extra-creepy even though you seem to be working overseas and therefore we should account for some level of cultural difference.

Of the list, that stuff with wanting your passwords and files *combined* with the problems of your files changing on you jumped out as being extremely creepy and bizarre. So I am going to suggest something paranoid. Is there any chance that there is something on your computer that would be worth their hacking into and stealing? Or someplace you would go with that machine, when you return, that would make it worth infecting with something nasty? Do you have some kind of skill or connection or other personal attribute that would be worth trapping you there for, or worth discrediting you in your home or to your usual/future employers? Think about who you are and what you have access to -- how badly might your current employer or someone they report to want it, or to stop someone else from having it?

Normally I wouldn't consider these as possibilities, but this seems more than one very dysfunctional boss's worth of wrong. Get out of there as soon as you can and keep on backing up your files as many ways and places as you can think of. You may need the evidence.

People, if they try more than casually to stop Hidingnym from quitting, is it time to get seriously scared?

#100 ::: hidingnym ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 11:33 AM:

#99 Moonlit Night. Your questions make me pause. The only thing I can think in response is that even if I could possibly make a list of things to answer those questions, that exercise would only make me more frightened and determined to keep even the most mundane innocuous things away from work. Which is what I have been attempting to do.

It really feels wrong, the level of involvement that boss seems to want from me, or the level of intimate information demanded. I really can't think of myself as that special even if I am, if you know what I mean. On one hand, I acknowledge that perhaps my talents really are that rare and this outfit would have a vested interest in me, or that there might be things in my files that would be of interest to whoever is tampering with my files.

On the other hand, I don't see any way around or through this other than to just double my efforts to back up and use different locations, and basically try to NOT be at arm's length.

#101 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 11:33 AM:

@hidingnym - is it possible for you to use something like sharepoint to store your files? the advantage there is that only one person can "check out" a file at a time, and sharepoints can require login credentials. if you're using excel or other office file formats, you can also password-protect the file contents.

the combination means that you can check out the file so they can't change stuff you're actively working on, and password protect files you're not working on so the contents can't be changed.

#102 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 12:08 PM:

Moonlit Night@99: you're not the only one who started thinking paranoid at Hidingnym's description of what is going on.

My thoughts went along the lines of taking the computer to a really good computer tech that you trust and having them look for malware, keyloggers, and other software that shouldn't be there, as well as potentially treating the computer as if it's been infected by a virus and doing a full wipe and reinstall to make sure there's nothing there that shouldn't be. The only reason to need an admin password is to install or delete something outside the user account's personal files.

Either way, it's probably best to stay off their network as much as possible. If it's an option, I'd go one step further and not use the computer for anything personal at all (or anything other than that job, for that matter) until finished at that very creepy job and it can be verified clean. But then I'm the kind of person who has a password lock on my personal computer even though I live alone. :-)

Also consider plaintext backups for stuff you want to keep after the job is over. MS Office documents (if that is what you're using) can contain macros. Office has got better about letting you know there are macros present before running them after the run of macro viruses sped around the world, but plain text can't contain malware, and the "warn me" setting in Office can be changed without an admin password.

But the best solution would be to find a way OUT of that job. Best of luck with whatever options are possible in your situation.

(Even absent malicious intent, some places are just crawling with computer viruses. One site I worked at, a USB key was used to transfer a file, no funny stuff intended. When plugged back into the owner's computer after half a minute in the local's computer, all the virus scanner alarms went off.)

#103 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 12:22 PM:

Anyone older and wiser than I am want to tell me that sometimes mid-life career change really does work out?

In age and wisdom I doubt I exceed you. But my mentor, John Morearty, had, in his words, "a life shattered in the middle and rebuilt. A journey from professor of philosophy to woodworker/building contractor to peace activist, TV talk show producer/host, and community journalist/community organizer." (He wrote a memoir, thus the articulation.) It worked for him.

#104 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 12:47 PM:

AnotherQuietOne (98): Anyone older and wiser than I am want to tell me that sometimes mid-life career change really does work out?

Yes, it can. I haven't changed careers, but my mother did. Twice.

The first time, after being a stay-at-home mom for some 15 years, she volunteered as a music teacher in my class, then decided she wanted to do that full time. (She had previously taught English for a year or two, before marrying.) She went back for a master's degree in music education, and taught music for 7-8 years. Then she got bored with that and became a legal secretary, eventually getting a paralegal degree. She did that until she retired, plus a stint as choir director at her church. Now, in her 80s, she has a few private recorder students and does volunteer work with the homeless.

#105 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 01:36 PM:

Sumana Harihareswara (103)-- I'm older (Older), but I don't know that I'm wiser. However, I've had ample time to observe people changing careers in mid-life. Teachers becoming woodworkers, doctors becoming ranchers, lawyers becoming potters etc. Of course, some people just fall in love with change, but I see that a good many of these people are still happy and productive in their second careers many years later. I'd say, if you're pretty sure you have the necessary (eg, sufficient capital, the right education or the means to get it, etc), go for it! Follow your bliss, as they used to say.

#106 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 01:36 PM:

Sumana Harihareswara (103)-- I'm older (Older), but I don't know that I'm wiser. However, I've had ample time to observe people changing careers in mid-life. Teachers becoming woodworkers, doctors becoming ranchers, lawyers becoming potters etc. Of course, some people just fall in love with change, but I see that a good many of these people are still happy and productive in their second careers many years later. I'd say, if you're pretty sure you have the necessary (eg, sufficient capital, the right education or the means to get it, etc), go for it! Follow your bliss, as they used to say.

#107 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 01:37 PM:


#108 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 02:23 PM:

AnotherQuietOne @98: "Anyone older and wiser than I am want to tell me that sometimes mid-life career change really does work out?" Someone close to me did an English degree, became an English teacher, worked her way up to Head of Department and Deputy Head of the school - then quit it all to start as a medical student at 35, and had a satisfying career as a doctor. Someone else I know did similarly, at a slightly earlier stage of her career. So yes, it can work out.

#109 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 02:54 PM:

hidingnym: I'm getting the nasty feeling that your life has just changed genre. Be careful, back up your work, and (I advise) get the hell out of there ASAP.

My Yellowstone trip was good news, DFT-wise... while there were lingering echos of old tensions, everyone was adult, and there was no real stress. I got sincere complements from family on how "together" I was and how well I was handling the various stresses. My nephews and niece were adorable as always....

#110 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 03:18 PM:

AnotherQuietOne @98: I know somebody who, near 40 years old with no formal education higher than high school, quit retail, started taking classes, and became an apprentice in a trade. Now doing well as a small business owner and well respected tradesperson.

#111 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 03:18 PM:

AnotherQuietOne @98: I know somebody who, near 40 years old with no formal education higher than high school, quit retail, started taking classes, and became an apprentice in a trade. Now doing well as a small business owner and well respected tradesperson.

#112 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 05:32 PM:

AnotherQuietOne @ 97

I'm not older, but I know several women in their 30s - early 40s who are considering or pursuing similar changes. Most of us have been breadwinners up until now, and are finally stable enough to think about some of those dreams that were deferred for practical reasons, now that we have the experience and resources to be able to find ways to pursue them. If it helps, by the time my husband graduates from his Masters program, freeing me up to go to law school, I will be approaching 40 as well. But I'm more confident about it now, because I'm a lot better grounded than I would have been if I had gone straight into a graduate program, and my experiences to date have given me a lot more to work with, professionally and personally. Also, I have a much clearer idea now, of what I want to do, than I did back then.

I think it's a really positive, empowered thing to be thinking about what you want to do, instead of settling. (Also, my mother went from lawyer, to full-time mother, to math professor, to pension administrator, with a bunch of odds and ends jobs in various middles. So it can be done.)

#113 ::: hidingnym ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 11:44 AM:

I am so creeped out. Boss pretended he didn't get my notice. AND HR said I shouldn't quit, even encouraged me to spend More Time At Office. To add insult to injury, I was told that I should learn more from coworker hired at same time, the one who gets to go home early and also spend less time at office. Very very strange and inappropriate comparisons considering the coworker is handling different material and so our work should not be directly compared. I was so upset at work I nearly wept.

I do not know what to do.

#114 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 01:21 PM:

I was a stay-at-home mom with various part-time jobs (tax preparation, freelance magazine writing, waiting tables, transcribing, etc.) for 20 years. At age 40 I started taking taekwondo along with my husband and all 3 daughters. Daughter #2 and I stuck it out to black belt. I credit taekwondo with giving me the confidence to apply to the Physical Therapist Assistant program at my local community college. I graduated at age 46 and have been working in the field now for just under 5 years. I love it. A combination of loans from family and scholarships from the department kept me from having to do student loans (also community college tuition is very low compared to for-profit).

#115 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 03:30 PM:

hidingnym #113: I do not know what to do.

Stand by your notice, and write off this job. Ignore the boss's (and HR's) "feedback" -- they are not trying to evaluate you, they are trying to bully you into submission. If you have any personal possessions in the office, start taking them home now.

Also, if there's any sign of direct threats (that is, not just "work status" or loss of pay, but against you personally) inform them that you will not be returning to the office due to fears for your personal safety, and you are resigning for cause, effective immediately. At that point, you can probably forget about severance pay, but it's not worth your neck.

#116 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 05:32 PM:

Hidingnym: Is there any chance that there are laws in the country you're in that govern things like data privacy? Or something in the contract you have with them (that makes it clear that they have no control over your computer) that you could cite as a breach of contract? Anything that could bolster your position a little?

And what David said.

#117 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 02:55 AM:

Hlepyness warning. Ignore if unuseful, please.

hidingnym, if Boss is acting in ways ranging from bizarre to creepy to downright frightening, and if Boss has warned you off from talking to Mainland Boss, then you might want to consider doing exactly what Boss doesn't want you to do.

Sounds like the job might be a loss, at best. Especially if HR is in Boss's pocket. If so, Mainland Boss might have reason to be grateful for someone providing her with data about this. You're still screwed, but you might wind up screwed-but-with-a-higher-level-protector.

It's not good, if that's how it goes, but it might be less bad than being at Boss's mercy. Just a thought. (Obviously I don't know your actual situation, and you should do what you think is best.)

(I've been resisting posting here mostly because I can't get those kids out of my mind, the ones earlier in the thread, with the relatives who are reluctant to report the neglect because they don't want the kids' parents mad at them. ... Nope, still haven't got anything I should type here about that. I am praying for them. All of 'em.)

#118 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 04:02 AM:

re: elise @ 117

I finally did this with my last boss. I was lucky - their boss was grateful for the information, and after a large number of my colleagues also came forward, the problem was resolved satisfactorily.

#119 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 05:24 AM:

hidingnym @113

Boss pretended he didn't get my notice. AND HR said I shouldn't quit, even encouraged me to spend More Time At Office.

Your boss says you should spend more time in the office. You go to HR and say that if you have to spend more time in the office you'll quit. They say, don't quit, and spend more time in the office.

They aren't sddressing your problem or even treating it as a negotiating position. They're not working in your interests.

(And here I may turn hlepy). I'm only guessing, but it sounds like a combination of overly controlling boss wanting to set you up to take any blame (and himself any credit). I agree with the posts above; you need an exit strategy and then you need to get out before anything worse happens.

Elise @117 is right too; if your boss is doing odd things, mainland boss needs to know. In the worst case, and they already know and/or don't care, then that's your indication to quit that day.

#120 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 12:26 PM:

hidingnym: And just to be a little extra paranoid: have you already received and successfully cashed paychecks from these people? If so disregard. If not ... well, let's just say that I've encountered situations where paying wages was regarded as "optional." And those places didn't have nearly the creepy quotient this one does.

#121 ::: hidingnym ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 12:30 PM:

Ok, it has been another bizaare thing. Boss acknowledged a resignation letter I just sent and cc'd mainland boss. I'm considering a report to send to Mainland but only when I am free and clear of local situation, and am obligated to do another 30 days from giving notice. Strangely enough, even working remotely has my files/surfing seeming not-normal to me, but then that could be my dangermode needing calibration as it always does. I'm going to ask someone about the laws here but am not confident that there are any that will protect me, knowing the culture.

Thanks for all the advice, it is helpful I think, to have sane voices with sane perspectives, when the voices at the office say "work is a blessing.* be thankful there is more and more work. ack to me it feels like a Stepford situation, because the guy who got me this job wanted to quit and escape weeks ago and now he's completely turned around and wears company logo shirts now. Yikes.

#122 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 03:49 PM:

I feel like I'm not doing anything. Last week I went to the college job centre, and made an account on this one site that's supposed to help you find what jobs you'd like based on your personality/other stuff. (Don't know if I'm allowed to name it or if that'll attract gnomes.) I don't think it's going to help, because it doesn't seem very accurate for determining my actual personality (but then again I feel like I don't really know what it is either).

(warning: the following is a big mess of self-pity and cynicism)

Also I'm still not applying for jobs and it's frustrating for everyone. My mom found out that two fast food places are hiring, and wanted to take me there to drop off resumes while she ran an errand. Needless to say, I think I'm not good enough so why waste the paper? (Because it might just get you a job, quit it with the self-pity) I genuinely don't understand self-esteem. It's like, okay, I was able to get out of bed, go downstairs and make a smoothie today. For some people that's really difficult, so if they did those things it'd be something to be proud of. But for me it's really easy! It's not something worth making a fuss about, it's just something I do. And if I DO manage to do something that requires more effort, then who cares? It was probably something I'm expected to be able to do anyway. Nobody's going to pat me on the back for remembering to shower more than twice a week. I know I'm contradicting myself from the other day, but that felt like lying anyway. I don't like myself and I don't believe anyone else really does either. Well, only when I'm entertaining.

Job/anxiety-related question: does anyone else get caught up on all the accidents/injuries that could happen to them at a given job? Like I don't want to apply at a fast food place because I'm going to burn myself or get splashed with hot oil or something stupid and preventable. It's likely relevant that my mom's job deals with workplace safety so I'm more aware of that stuff than your average young adult. I'm gonna bring this up at my next app't with counsellor2, since it's definitely not a thing everyone has.

#123 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 03:51 PM:

Also realizing that paragraph is practically oozing ableism.

#124 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 07:50 PM:

I am looking at not so much a midlife career change as yet another attempt, in midlife, at having a career.

I went to school to become a teacher -- failed. I joined the Navy -- failed. I went back to school, more because I didn't know what else to do, earned a bachelor's degree in my father's field but never worked in it. I became a massage therapist -- never made a decent living at it. I went to nursing school -- failed. I became a nurse's aide in order to gain experience that would help me in nursing school, and supplemented my wife's income in a series of CNA jobs for a few years, in between getting fired or laid off from most of them. Most recently, after a prolonged period of unemployment, I finally got a CNA job that I thought I was doing well at, only to be hit out of nowhere with yet another "exit interview" -- and when I say "out of nowhere", I mean with no previous counseling or cautions, verbal or written (probably illegal in Oregon, but STFW?).

So between a lack of transferable education and transferable work experience and some really severe depression issues, I feel pretty much up against it.

Oh, well, maybe the books will sell.

#125 ::: Merricat ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 08:56 PM:

Phenicious @122:

"Needless to say, I think I'm not good enough so why waste the paper?"

There is a saying that professional writers tell new writers who are anxious about submitting their work:

It is not your job to decide the quality of the work. It is the editor's job to decide that. Don't do the editor's job for them -- they're a lot better at it than you.

"Job/anxiety-related question: does anyone else get caught up on all the accidents/injuries that could happen to them at a given job?"

It's not my main source of job-related stress, but I go through that headspace periodically.

I was lucky in a way, that all my anxious obsessions were patently ridiculous when I started having them ... so I was able, pretty early on, to go "ok, this is out of proportion, this is just my brain playing games, how do I beat my brain at this game it's playing?" Now, when I have anxious obsessions within the realm of possibility, I can still step back and go "ok, this is just a game, how do I win it?"

"I don't like myself and I don't believe anyone else really does either."

At one point I couldn't deal with the idea of self-esteem. It felt really fake. So I chose to stop thinking about myself entirely. No insincere compliments, but also no "I suck so much". It helped; after a few years of having no opinion about myself, it was easier to entertain a more balanced view later on.

John @124:

Jebus, life has been kind of an ass to you. I hope things get easier.

#126 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 09:35 PM:

Phenicious, here's some stuff which has helped calm me down and make it a little easier to get things done-- I don't know whether any of it is likely to be useful for you or anyone else.

It helped to think of my emotional problems as having causes which go back seven billion years. Not that anything was inevitable, or that they're unchangeable, but they're part of the pattern of the universe. This is *much* easier on my nerves than thinking of my emotional problems as horrid defects that I should just not have.

Also, I do my best to not beat myself up for symptoms of depression. When I phrase it that way, it's clear that attacking myself for being knocked out isn't going to help.

I'm going to go a little sideways here for an analogy of how I can get myself to stop hiccuping. I realized that when I have the hiccups, there's something off about my state when I'm between hiccups, and I can stop the hiccups by getting myself to go back to my non-hiccup state from my between hiccups state. I don't think I could do that when I'm in the middle of a hiccup.

I realized today that I'd been going on the assumption that my recent non-self-hating state was what I needed to stabilize, but in fact, if I keep falling into self-hatred, then there's a difference between my between fits of self-hatred state, and the way I used to be-- with pretty serious procrastination, but without fits of self-attack.

Somehow, just realizing that caused a lot of physical relaxation, and I've been a lot calmer. I don't know whether this is going to be stable, but at least it feels much better.

It's possible that you're doing something I've had a problem with-- making doing things (including small chores) into tests of worthiness. At least for me, this is a way of damaging my motivation and ability to focus.

At the most general level, I believe that solving any of this stuff is like doing original research. It can take a lot of poking around to identify the problem well enough so that you can look for a solution.

#127 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2012, 01:37 AM:

Merricat @125, I am trying to be less of an ass to myself. Coming here and hearing what other people have to say about their troubles and their coping efforts helps a lot.

#128 ::: forgot the name ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2012, 09:57 AM:

#121 ::: hidingnym

Anything that feels like a Stepford situation, especially on top of what's already happened, is like those noises trucks make in my country when they back up -- very loud, very insistent warning. The thing about Stepford is that becoming Stepford-esque involves pressure and leverage.

You're under a lot of pressure right now to just go along with things. Your instincts are telling you not to. Listen to them.

Keep cc'ing to main boss, preferably not on the company's internet, and trust yourself. It's quite safe to say your instincts are not wrong in this. (The thing I find about heightened alert is that while it sometimes intensifies what's not there, it also intensifies what is there. Intensifies, not invalidates, and from where I'm sitting you have plenty of reason to be suspicious.)

#129 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2012, 11:14 AM:

Phenicious, when I get into one of those self-hating modes (You're stupid, you can't do anything right, etc.) I try to remind myself that these voices in my head are not ME; they are illusions: interior demons of anger, ignorance, and fear. I do not have to give them any energy and I do not have to either listen to them or believe what they say, especially because they always say the same nasty negative stuff.

I have found, over the years, that simple distraction can work against them. So, when the voices come out of hiding, I give my intellect and emotions something else to focus on. Music works, also a favorite book, or a walk with my dog, even grocery shopping: those are my tools, you probably have or can find others. (Sitting at the computer doesn't work for me, because I spend so much time there that the demons find it a very comfortable place.)

#130 ::: just a mouse ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2012, 01:19 PM:

#122 Phenecious

You are not the only person to think through all the terrible things that could happen at a job. I stopped my offspring from taking a farming job specifically because of the high rate of and severe nature of injuries at that particular type of farm and I thought that was a 'me giving in too much to anxiety' thing. What helped was going through the decision with a counselor, listing my fears, and making a table of likeliness & outcomes (How likely is it to lose a hand in a baler? How well would I/my offspring handle losing the hand? Is the risk worth the reward? Farm pay is very minimal, so it wasn't worth it, which was validation I needed to be at peace.) Long story short you are not one bit alone in this type of fear.

#131 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2012, 12:50 AM:

(just replying to the one comment for now, it's late and I'll get to the others tomorrow)
Merricat @125:
I was lucky in a way, that all my anxious obsessions were patently ridiculous when I started having them ... so I was able, pretty early on, to go "ok, this is out of proportion, this is just my brain playing games, how do I beat my brain at this game it's playing?" Now, when I have anxious obsessions within the realm of possibility, I can still step back and go "ok, this is just a game, how do I win it?"

(I'm about to vaguely describe an unsettling workplace accident video so there's a warning if anyone needs it)

The worst part is that the things I'm worried about are totally possible. It doesn't help that one professor showed us one of those government ads where a worker goes about their routine while talking about what horrible thing's about to happen to them, and how it could have been prevented. A few were so gory they were pulled off the air, I think. Did I mention the prof just played this video with little to no warning? Just, "Oh, this is relevant to the curriculum, right? Let's watch!" I didn't even look, I just stared at my desk but the sound was bad enough. This person was talking about how they were going to be promoted soon, and they wanted to start a family, except they'd never get the chance because they were about to suffer a terrible yet preventable injury. And then WHOOPS SUDDEN WORKPLACE ACCIDENT and there was screaming that sounded like it wasn't about to stop anytime soon. Less gruesome than that are the stories from other profs about being in such a rush that you don't have time to do anything more than slap a bandaid and glove on your hand after getting a nasty cut. Again, not bad compared to that video, and you're not always going to be that busy. But it really got into my head that kitchen work will get you hurt at some point, and you might just have to keep working anyway. So I'm not sure how to deal with those worries beyond just distracting myself.

I guess it's sort of a balance of being aware of the dangers of the job and being confident enough to actually DO the job. Or being confident that you don't want to take the risks, and move on. Then there's me, who got so wound up about getting hurt that I made a dumb mistake and got (very slightly) hurt. Or there's a former coworker of mine who had so little caution he was scary. (Didn't check to see if he was washing his hands with soap or floor de-greaser, "So that's why my hands are burning, ha!") (And then there's the fact that nobody even bothered to tell us how to use the eyewash stations in the labs. Pretty much "This thing is here, if you open it an alarm goes off so don't touch it." I could practically hear my mom going "What are you going to do if someone gets [something nasty-sounding] on their face and nobody knows how to use the eyewash?")

At one point I couldn't deal with the idea of self-esteem. It felt really fake. So I chose to stop thinking about myself entirely. No insincere compliments, but also no "I suck so much". It helped; after a few years of having no opinion about myself, it was easier to entertain a more balanced view later on.

Hm, that's what I end up doing, and not-thinking-about-it works most of the time. Except when I'm forced to examine things and I freak out because I don't know how to be objective. Sometimes I genuinely don't have an answer to whatever question, so I assume the worst.

#132 ::: Dash ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2012, 02:07 AM:

Oh wow, I forgot how quickly these threads move. @_@

And thanks for the support. For the record, my mother is far from a substance abuser... I don't know what causes these mood changes, except that usually crying will make her calm down and apologize. Which... hasn't helped me much either.

I'm posting largely because that crying, and the mood-changing, happened again today. I got home after spending the day at an aunt's house, and I point out that I'd like to look for the back-up to my computer, which has been missing for WEEKS. About fifteen days, to be exact, because she moved it when preparing for a 4th of July party because it was "in the wrong place". Well, it was right next to my computer where I knew where it was. Sounds like the right place to me.

Anyway, today I asked where it was, she said that she moved it, and I made a mildly snide remark to the effect of "Well, at least I knew where it was then." And she threw a fit and said that if I was going to be so nasty, "Good luck finding it!"

...she's denied repeatedly beforehand that she knows where it is, to my face.

I started crying because it's kind of a reflex now, while looking for it and ranting to my father. Eventually my mother came downstairs, saw that I was crying, helped me look for the back-up, and apologized. In that order, for what it's worth.

The back-up's still MIA. We've looked around a lot, but this house has a lot of nooks and crannies, so it's hard to know where it could be. It's not anywhere clear, or where my mother had previously indicated as "the right place" for it (a flight of stairs and across the house and back again from the laptop's usual spot, in a spot particularly piled with clutter). And of course, she was the first to give up on the search and sit on the couch like nothing's wrong. And when I kept crying, she insisted that it was because I'm "tired". Not because of her throwing a fit, or my back-up being missing. My being tired- at a time several hours before my usual bedtime, too. (Although my mother has issues with how late I stay up. But that's a whole 'nother story.)

Something that came up worth noting: My father kept advocating that I not say anything snarky to her ever, to act like it had all been my fault. I think that's the strategy he's adopted- stay calm, don't yell back, and generally ignore the nagging.

But hey, I'm still a teenager (technically), I have the right to be slightly snarky at times, right?, I wrote another novel based on a single incident. Go figure. :)

#133 ::: nyb ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2012, 03:35 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz, #126:

It helped to think of my emotional problems as having causes which go back seven billion years. Not that anything was inevitable, or that they're unchangeable, but they're part of the pattern of the universe.

That was a thunderbolt for me. Thank you. I will now return to lurking.

#134 ::: Merricat ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2012, 06:43 AM:

Phenicious @ 131 "I guess it's sort of a balance of being aware of the dangers of the job and being confident enough to actually DO the job. Or being confident that you don't want to take the risks, and move on."

Yup, that it's exactly. Like mouse at @130, I have kind of a checklist I run through:

-- how likely is this bad thing to happen? (Do I know anyone personally this has happened to? What are the statistics?)
-- if this bad thing happens, how badly will I get hurt? / what will be the outcome?
-- is there anything I can do to lessen my chances or to protect myself after it happens?
-- is this activity worth the risk?

*MOST* of the time, I decide that 1) even if the bad thing is possible, it's probably not going to happen especially if 3) I pay attention to what I'm doing and follow safety precautions. If it does happen 2) it's often not as bad as I think it will be (cut finger instead of amputated finger?) and 3) there will be systems in place to deal with it so things get resolved quickly. And more often than not, 4) it's something worth doing.

#135 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2012, 07:31 AM:

Phenicious #131: The incidents you describe are all things that are obviously Bad to me: one assholish professor, one co-worker to stay Far Away From when he's near the power tools, and a place that is blatantly violating OSHA and probably institutional regulations. Hurting yourself from being too nervous is also common, and one reason not to freak out your workers.

Dash: OK, scratch "substance abuser", try "psychiatric diagnosis". Not necessarily a mood disorder, either (though it could be). Your Dad has made his own peace with the situation, but you are not obligated to use his "solution".

#136 ::: hidingnym ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2012, 01:20 PM:

things have taken a turn for the worse. boss accused me of having a crazy work system, and also alleged that I called the US team members idiots. I immediately resigned (again, second letter) to underline my resolve to not be held responsible for more work. the crazy thing is that boss said that i would not be considered done with my work until he said so, and that he would not accept my report saying i was trying to resort to "trickery" that I had actually done work. He's claimed I need to return the pay given to me for the previous work done. He's also claimed that I am liable for finishing the task he set forth---the trouble is that he is the only arbiter of when it is "done" and the basic problem is that he is an unjust and inconsistent manager.

I need a lawyer, and perhaps more than one, to make sure I cannot be harrassed or defamed. I am so upset I cannot stop shaking. To be called unprofessional. Then to be criticized even for my word choice, and boss alleging I made mistakes in my reports that hinged on simple word comprehension!

Blood boiling, because I am already so sensitive to language and to be accused of not being able to tell the differences between terms is really insulting.

#137 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2012, 01:55 PM:

Heard and witnessed, hidingnym, and if they would be appreciated, many virtual warm, safe, enfolding hugs are being sent your way from Chicago.

#138 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2012, 01:59 PM:

hidingnym, I think a lawyer is a good idea, especially since you have said you are working overseas.

Remember that these attacks on your competence are attempts to put you in the wrong.

Best wishes for getting this straightened out.

#139 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2012, 02:32 PM:

Warning: history

Some days, it is important to remember.

I was 22-almost 23. I had a reasonably successful construction business. I had a nice new GED. I was a doing-pretty-OK Mennonite boy who really really didn't like being told what to do, and was desparate enough to do what I wanted that I bought a house.

This was a big deal. It was required to get church permission to make major purchases. Also and additionally, I wanted to either fix the house up and sell it, or rent it out, and I'd been let knwo that neither of those businesses were ones we considered acceptable. I bought the house anyway.

There was a good deal of discussion between me and the ministry in the next week; it was not a very pleasant week. I wasn't sorry, and I wasn't going to say I was sorry, and they had a standard to uphold that I had deliberately broken.

So on Saturday, I was told formally what I had known from the beginning--that I could not continue to be part of the church. And on Sunday, I went to church, and in front of the people who I'd gone to school with and worked with and visited with, who had given my family enough structure that I grew up with married parents and a sober father, who I had promised to submit myself to and be part of, I was formally excommunicated. I walked out, and drove away, and when I went to visit my friends we talked outside.

It was 15 years ago today.

#140 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2012, 02:39 PM:

hidingnym: Your boss is crazy. And dangerous. But I think you're on the right track about protecting yourself.

SamChevre: Divorce can be painful. But good on you for taking title to your life.

#141 ::: Neutrino ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2012, 02:42 PM:

SamChevre, happy anniversary?

#142 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2012, 02:51 PM:

Thanks both of you.

Put it this way: it was 15 years ago. Right now, just remembering enough to write that post has my pulse and state of mind about where they'd be if I'd been run off the road by a car while riding my bike 5 minutes ago.

#143 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2012, 03:20 PM:

hidingnym, #136: I think at this point it's time to contact the Embassy. You're being threatened with being held prisoner; that should warrant action. Can you physically leave the area, taking your most valuable items with you?

SamChevre, 139: What Jacque said.

#144 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2012, 04:17 PM:

So a thing just happened and I'm not sure how to feel about it. One of the places that'd been advertising for a dishwasher (and I dropped a resume off for that position) just called me up. Apparently the have an opening that involves "light cooking". I didn't want to close that door so now I have an interview tomorrow morning. Kind of scared, not panicking but I know I should be thinking up answers in advance. Also have to plan what to wear so I don't look like I'm 14 years old, call that one reference...

hidingnym: I have no advice but I wish you good luck getting out of there.

#145 ::: hidingnym ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2012, 04:21 PM:

Hi. Thanks for the hugs E. at 137, and yes, Otter at 138, unfortunately it really is his word against mine. I am trying to compile a report to send to US boss.

Lee, I don't think I am quite that unsafe and need to resort to Embassy help, but I am indeed vulnerable. I'm going to try to get legal advice, but my gut feeling is that I simply need to NOT even be in the same room with said boss ever again if I can help it. This is the fish-hook-y thing I guess, the way I want to just run away if possible, battling with the way I want that negative talk to go away by doubling back and trying to be "nicer, faster, better". What frightens me at the moment, and upsets me, is the accusation that I called someone a name, or that I was being deceptive or unprofessional. Aghh. I really did want to keep this job! If I had put up with it, though, I think it would have simply gotten worse.

#146 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2012, 04:56 PM:

Phenicious, congratulations! He shoots, he scores!

May I suggest that since you don't really know what questions they might ask you, attempting to think up answers in advance is kind of a waste of time? There's nothing magical going on here. Dish washing is not rocket science, it's something you can do, and whatever "light cooking" means, (Shoving trays into an oven? Turning on a microwave?) I suspect they will be willing to train you. Remember, you are interviewing them, also.

The worst that happens is, you don't get the job, but right now, there's no reason to assume that you won't be qualified for it and able to do it, assuming you decide, yeah, I can/want to/will do this, after talking to them.

You'll learn something, no matter what. Keep us posted.

#147 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2012, 05:32 PM:

Phenicious @144: One thing I tell people about interviewing for jobs they're not sure they want: think of it as practice interviewing. Also, as Lizzy L said, you're interviewing them to decide if you'd like to work there.

#148 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2012, 06:01 PM:

Phenicious, did your culinary program have you wear check pants and chef jackets? If you don't feel up to finding something adult and appropriate in your regular wardrobe, you could always wear those.

Have to say, though, as a former food service person myself (certificate as a baker/pastry chef, have done any number of back-of-the-house positions, totally useless as line cook) for a kitchen job, if you turn up in non-ratty jeans and a polo shirt, you'll probably be fine. What they really care about is that you look tidy, that's all. Stylish is not in the job description.

And good luck!

#149 ::: forgot the name ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2012, 09:19 PM:

#145 ::: hidingnym

Contact the Embassy anyway. It's a good idea to have a paper trail in place so they know what's going on and can be prepared for when you feel more unsafe. Your boss is trying to trap you. That's something to take to the Embassy. They should be able to give legal advice at the very least, but the important thing is that they know and can keep track of you.

#150 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2012, 09:44 PM:

Part of the Embassy's job is to have the backs of their citizens working in the country they're sited in, hidingnym. You're one of the reasons they're there, so getting in touch with them is appropriate no matter what. And besides, you may well find they're pleasant people. They can also advise you about how to protect yourself under local laws -- they know about those.

#151 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 01:09 AM:

Lizzy L: Phenicious, congratulations! He shoots, he scores!

May I suggest that since you don't really know what questions they might ask you, attempting to think up answers in advance is kind of a waste of time?

Thanks! (not sure where the "he" came from, I'm more a "they" kinda person, haha) Well, it's good to be ready for the "so what are your strengths?" or "what do you know about us/our menu?" type of stuff. So I sort of know what they're going to ask...

Jeremy Leader: Yep, I'm gonna learn something from this interview one way or another.

Rikibeth: What they really care about is that you look tidy, that's all. Stylish is not in the job description.

The bit about looking like a 14 year old is because I tend to get read as younger than I am. It's partly what I wear and partly just my face, I guess. I'm still amused by the time I got asked if I was over 12 (to get a free sample at the grocery store) while wearing my chef jacket/pants!

#152 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 01:43 AM:

hidingnym, #145: I'm going to be very direct here. This is exactly how a lot of women wind up in very bad situations indeed, by continuing to tell themselves that it's really not THAT bad, it doesn't warrant taking defensive/protective action, etc. It's even harder when you've been taught not to trust your own reactions. Your boss is threatening to extort what you've already been paid, and to keep you prisoner until HE determines that you've "completed" the job. This is not an imagined danger. You need every ally you can get.

#153 ::: hidingnym ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 02:52 AM:

Hi Lee@152, and the others who recommended calling the embassy. I have news, there's no help for me there, I was told there is no legal department and no lawyers to consult, and if I need help I must rely on local authorities. There is one set of laws for citizens of a particular color, it seems, and another for those of another color. Sigh, it's so complicated.

I can't say I had my hopes up, but I still wanted clearer answers. I did some background searches via google about the mainland company and apparently there have been lawsuits before where said company blamed former employees for things that went wrong, and other not so great things. I don't think I can go to local authorities because of the high level of corruption here, not to mention sexism, which would probably make any efforts to bring a formal case or complaint seem like more trouble than it's worth.

The upside of the downside is that the very state of corruption and inefficiency in the local state would also make it difficult for local company to take me to court or to try legal remedies for their supposed complaints against me, so it should be so surprising to me that they're using intimidation and emotional pressure instead, to try to get me to "be good" and just do their work for them.

#154 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 07:59 AM:

hidingnym: It sounds to me like it's time to get the heck out. Your employer is trying to extort you and the embassy can't help; it's time to leave.

#155 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 08:53 AM:

I have just finished reading the eARC of Captain Vorpatril's Alliance, the latest book in the Vorkosigan stories.

If you follow that series and are a member of this sub-community, you're going to love it.

#156 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 09:14 AM:

abi @ #155: NNNNGGGGHHH!! I have an autographed copy on pre-order.

#157 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 10:16 AM:

abi (155) is right. Captain Vorpatril's Alliance is good, twisty fun.

#158 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 10:35 AM:

Phenicious at 151: I tend to use gendered pronouns randomly -- mostly because "they" in my mind means plural, and I haven't warmed to the use of "ze". (I also use the word "guys" for humans of any and all genders.)

hidingnym, I add my voice to the chorus wishing you good luck and strength in Getting The Fnrk Out.

#159 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 10:35 AM:

Mary Aileen @157:

It's more than that.

Vg'f gur jnl gung Grw vf Gung Xvq va ure snzvyl—gur bar gung ab bar cnegvphyneyl inyhrf, be yvfgraf gb, be pnerf nobhg. Ohg vg'f ure pubvprf gung trg gurz bhg bs gurve qvfnfgebhf fvghnvba.

#160 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 10:42 AM:

abi (159): You're absolutely right. I had lost track of which thread I was reading, so I missed the import of your reference to "this sub-community".

#161 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 12:34 PM:

abi @159: Yes, I did notice that aspect. My wonderful husband bought the eARC, didn't tell me, just started reading it to me while we were on a long car journey (and we both finished it the next day).

#162 ::: Fooey ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 02:11 PM:

@159 abi

Oh, Yes. So much Yes.

Buying that eARC meant less money for food this month, and I'm fine with that, because Bujold is a different kind of food that I need. Ramen is not so bad, and having to eat it is totally worth what reading that book brought to me.*

*What an awkward sentence.

#163 ::: Laura Runkle ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 02:39 PM:

Abi @ 159:
Vg'f nyfb gung Vina fgngrf fgenvtug hc arne gur irel fgneg - "Lbh pna'g bzvg tvivat zr n tbbq oevrsvat, naq gura pnyy zr na vqvbg - ntnva!" Va beqre gb svaq gurve bja cevingr cnenqvfr, gurl ner sne njnl sebz gurve snzvyvrf. Gurl pbzzhavpngr, ohg rira pbzzhavpngvbaf ner qrynlrq.
Fooey @162: It didn't quite mean Ramen, but it did mean No Other Things In the Fun Budget. Totally worth it.

#164 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 02:53 PM:

eARC subthread: You people are Bad Influences. ::drums fingers::*

* Trying to resist, knowing it's futile.

#165 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 03:44 PM:

Lizzy L @158: Yeah, "they shoots, they scores" does sound a little off.

hidingnym: Wow. I'm crossing my fingers for things to turn out okay for you.

So that job interview went pretty well, I think! I was hoping for a full-time position but that turned out to be more than I'd be comfortable doing. But that's okay, because the interviewer said they had someone picked out for the full-time already, and I was looking like the best candidate for part-time so far. They have a few more people to interview but they said they'd make a decision in the next day or two. It'd be making sandwiches and salads and stuff on the "cold" side of the kitchen 3 days a week, and I think I could do that.

Thanks for the support everyone (:

#166 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 04:17 PM:

Phenicious, that sounds very promising!

#167 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 05:30 PM:

eArc. Vorkosiverse. Dammit. I had work to do today.

#168 ::: Cassy B ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 06:47 PM:

Phenicious @165,

Yay you! Cold side of the kitchen is good; that means you can shut your fears about hot grease and boiling water and so forth into a box, lock it, and shove it far under the bed; I really hope that'll make this whole thing less stressful. Good luck!

#169 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 09:54 PM:

Phenicious, I agree, this does sound possibly a good fit for you. Congratulations.

I will await the dead-tree version of the new Bujold....

#170 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2012, 01:23 AM:

I too am waiting for the dead tree. (I'm moving towards e-books for stuff that Katie won't want to read, but this is something that she definitely will.)

#171 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2012, 05:24 AM:

'Bout third of the way through. Yup, knew it was futile. On the upside, inspired the first painting I've done in about a month. Something about "nyy Vina pbhyq guvax jnf: Npghnyyl, l’xabj…V rkcrpg lbh jnagrq gb qnapr orpnhfr lbh jnagrq gb qnapr."

(Hm. Gettin' on time for a spoiler thread, mebbe?)

#172 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2012, 05:50 AM:

Hm. Am suddenly possessed of an image of our dear abi, some several years hence, cast in the role of Lady Alys Vorpatril.

#173 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2012, 09:55 AM:

Continuing from 126.....

From a different angle, I've been trying what I call the God's eye point of view. I imagine God as a hobbyist who loves everything he's made. (Gender and capitalization as it plays out in my mind.)

The relevant thing for me is that when I'm attacking myself, I'm both looking down on myself from above and feeling very separate from my surroundings. I think there are large blank regions in my physical self-image, but I haven't really explored that.

If I move to what I think of as the God's eye point of view, I stop attacking and I think of myself as part of the landscape. This is a tremendous relief.

This is more of the "only if it's useful" sort of thinking. There's an equal and opposite problem of having boundaries which are too diffuse rather than too solid, but I don't know as much about that side of things.

There seems to be a consensus that compassion is the cure for habitual shame, but there's a reason I didn't mention the word in my previous post.

When self-hatred is in play, compassion becomes yet another impossible standard that I'm a bad person for not meeting.

Fortunately, I care pretty reliably about what's true as distinct from what's kind, so I mostly leverage from what's true. This does tend to lead to more compassion because hammering on myself doesn't work and involves a very limited view of what's going on, but having compassion as an overt goal hasn't been on the agenda for me, and I don't think it would have been a good choice.

#174 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2012, 08:49 AM:

Waiting to Die, Ross, OtterB, LMM, ma larkey, and Syd, somewhat disguised: I wonder how you're doing?

#175 ::: Ross ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2012, 03:09 PM:

The past month has been pretty horrible at work. Someone quit, so I'm now responsible for their job in addition to my own. A lot of people have been angry at each other a lot. I've gotten angry at a couple people myself, which I hate doing. I can now trace why I got angry to a couple specific triggers, though, which is an improvement: there's people blaming me for things that they did, that's one, and people doing a bad job at things because they know I'll fix it for them.

I got the first contact I have had with my parents in almost a year: an unsigned, no-return-address birthday card (but the address was in my mother's handwriting). I just ignored it, but it bothered me.

One thing I've been really curious about: is nausea a possible effect of stress / anxiety? Because it seems like the more stress I'm in at work, the harder time I have eating and keeping food down. At first I thought it was lactose intolerance, which I do have, but I've thrown up stuff that never got anywhere near cheese. And I've started taking Klonopin in the mornings, because it calms me down enough to actually have an appetite around lunchtime. Also, hiding in an empty conference room all day helps. I call it the Fortress of Solitude.

I think it probably is, at least for me, because Klonopin helps and cheese doesn't make it much worse.

Not-work, I've been actually doing well: I think I might have found a board gaming group (first time since college I get to enjoy my favorite hobby), and my therapist has been trying to build up my confidence some with writing games. I haven't done any more IF yet, but I finished one game. I have always been prone to convincing myself that nothing I write is good or fun, but last week I decided "you know, that's probably true, but it's fixable" so I bought a few books on game design and I've been reading those.

#176 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2012, 03:19 PM:

Ross @175: Nausea is definitely a possible symptom of chronic stress. Corticosteroids are a major part of the "fight or flight" response; and if flight is a good idea, getting rid of excess (easily disposed of) weight, like the contents of one's stomach, can improve running-away speed. Not to mention the fact that some predators might eat what you've regurgitated in preference to chasing you down. That's a possible evolutionary explanation, to be taken with a grain of salt: but yes, nausea often accompanies stress. Consider adrenaline supplements, if you're not a vegetarian (most are made from animal adrenals).

#177 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2012, 03:20 PM:

Ross @175:

Good to hear from you. Good to hear that you're keeping your head above water in what's clearly a horrible and stressful situation.

Nausea is a not-uncommon symptom of stress and anxiety. I'm not prone to it, but my son is. Can you identify a few safe, non-challenging comfort foods and use them to keep your blood sugar up?

I have always been prone to convincing myself that nothing I write is good or fun, but last week I decided "you know, that's probably true, but it's fixable" so I bought a few books on game design and I've been reading those.

Would it help to have one of Teresa's "Permission to Write Badly" certificates? I'm sure I can get her to issue you one.

#178 ::: Ross ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2012, 03:20 PM:

Also, Sumana: I forgot to say this, but it really means a lot to me that you are interested in how things are going for me. :) I don't post that much because I don't have a lot to complain about compared to most people here.

Like, you know, hidingnym. Yikes. Reading your posts with interest. Syd too.

#179 ::: Ross ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2012, 03:29 PM:

abi: Thank you! There are usually a few things that work. Sandwiches from Jimmy John's had never made me sick... Until last week when I just had to get out for a little while and went there, and almost threw up afterwards.

I've always had nausea problems. I only figured out that I was lactose intolerant about a year ago, and I live in a place where the regional food is very cheese-centric. I bet a lot of it was stress too though. I'm thinking about a few times I remember being violently ill as a kid, and yeah, a lot of them involve stress from being around my parents.

Permission to write badly? :) The interesting thing I'm discovering from reading game design books is, there's a lot of stuff in them that I already figured out, that I just assumed was stupid because I figured it out. Reading it in a book makes me feel better about it.

#180 ::: Ross ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2012, 03:32 PM:

Tom Whitmore: I'm the opposite of a vegetarian. I actually hate most vegetables. I'm a picky eater (another reason I hate myself).

But yeah, that makes sense. I'll look into that. It would be nice to have something to calm my stomach that's not Klonopin. I mean, Klonopin is great, but it's addictive, and I'm afraid one day they'll stop letting me have any.

Also I got gnomed a couple posts back.

#181 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2012, 05:20 PM:

Ross @179.

If cheese gives you problems, I would suspect you have more dietary issues than just lactose intolerance. The point of cheese-making and the like is that it gets rid of the lactose, making dairy products usable by the intolerant.

There are allergies to milk proteins such as casein, which are not removed by cheese-making. It might pay you to check that out.

J Homes.

#182 ::: Syd, somewhat disguised ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2012, 05:32 PM:

Sumana Harihareswara @ 174, I'm still hanging out around the fringes. Been worried about hidingnym's situation, and applauding all the good advice offered, and sending good mojo for a propitious outcome; following along Phenicious's story and hoping the job opp will be enough in the short term, at least, to allow for gathering of resources and keeping the parental units quiet for a good while. Still reading and witnessing for all.

Wall o' text ahead...

It has occurred to me that I haven't been to see my cats since the Tuesday of the week I had the rental car, which makes it almost a month. When I was there that morning, I told the staff what happened, and that I didn't quite know how I was going to get visiting squared away with not having a car.

I still don't; taking the most direct county bus route (no transfers) or the light rail (ditto) will both land me about 1.3 miles from the vet's, at which point I can walk there and back (with my purse and the case with my computer, which is Not Light). Not to mention the fact that the physical exertion inherent in such a walk will render me what my mom used to call "socially unacceptable" for the rest of the day...unless I want to also pack hygiene accoutrements and a change of clothes.

A different but equally direct route with a transfer to a municipal bus service will get me closer, but the muni doesn't accept the county pass, which means buying a transfer to get there (cheap), then paying full fare to reach the transfer point to the county service on the way back--or waiting until I can buy a monthly pass that's accepted by the county transit system and a whole bunch of muni lines. Which makes perfect sense except I keep managing not to have the necessary funds together at one time, dammit.

All of which, when I get it typed out, looks like nothing but excuses, but there ya go.

And then I haven't even called to check up on my babies, and now I'm afraid if I do, I'll be told the vet wants me to move them a.s.a.p. because I've not been there in so long. At least I haven't gotten a phone call from them telling me that.

The young woman who said she and her husband would be happy to take my cats when they got their own place? The first thing that came up for them, housing-wise, was renting a room in someone else's house, so no soap yet. Also, I keep not remembering to stay in touch with my case manager at PATH (which has the facility where homeless people can keep their pets, just to refresh memories), which is not necessarily the best way of staying on her list.

In other news, the job search continues to be unsuccessful. On the last Monday of July, I "get" to start the county's accelerated job-search program--that is, my social services case manager signed me up for it without seeing if the timing/time of day/etc. work for me. But hey, I'm currently jobless, so what the hell else am I gonna do with my time? I imagine it will be three more weeks of what I didn't get much out of during the program at the end of March, except more so--now with the added joy of taking public transit plus shank's mare 14 miles each way with a stated start time of 8:00 AM! Yee. Haw, even. I'm SO hoping I'm wrong about the usefulness of the content...

Life in the dorm has been challenging lately, with the short-term addition of someone who's normally a "day client", and is a person who seems to live life at the top of her lungs and the knife-edge of her temper. The chip on her shoulder was approximately the size of Mount Everest when she came upstairs the first time, and it did not notably decrease during her tenure upstairs (that is, in the dorm). Said tenure ended with an unsuccessful residency interview a week ago Friday, followed by a weekend of behavior apparently intended to tell all of us just how much she valued the experience.

To the extent that I thought things were going to come to blows between her and one of the other residents.

Not me, but I admit to wishing more than once that the newbie would come down with massive laryngitis, because in her 10 days or so in the dorm, I maybe heard 30 minutes' worth of talk from her that might generously be classified as more positive than negative. Everything else was about how hard done by she was, and how many health issues she has, and how wrong everybody else was about whatever what going on, being talked about, whatever.

I am sorry she has health issues, but she isn't the only person on the planet, let alone in the shelter, who has health issues. And I would wish a life on the street on no one. And I dislike my being judgmental. But I am not sorry she didn't make resident, and I'd be willing to bet it has less to do with her finances than with her generally combative attitude. I think she developed it as a safety mechanism out of fear--"I'm bad, don't think you're gonna be able to f*ck with me!"--but also I think she's been carrying it so long she doesn't know how to drop it, which is going to make it hard to live in any kind of group situation. Hell, if I had her for a neighbor I think I'd want to tear my hair out. And I haven't seen enough from her that's even remotely likeable to inspire me to try to help her.

So how good a person does that make me?

In other news, I got the settlement on my car (physical damage only, as clearly stated on the check and accompanying paperwork). I banked it with the shelter, since I haven't been able to bank any of my GR, and the plan is to consolidate my storage (which process I haven't even begun to map out) and carve out some to pay to the vet while leaving 60-70 percent of it "banked".

I am still being encouraged by friends to contact the insurance company for what would essentially be a pain and suffering settlement, to include: medical, which I haven't used yet but everyone I know who's had an accident says I'll need in 5 or 6 months, and a claim/lien for which I don't want to have just hanging about for that long; counseling, because even though I can get this through the shelter, I would probably not be able to continue for free when I do land a job, and who knows whether I'll have insurance through said hypothetical job that would cover it; and suffering for just how the hell much losing my car has mucked up my life, from not getting a replacement car because I can't afford to insure anything newer than the one I had, to the new difficulties in visiting my cats, to the fact that as a homeless person, not having a car means not having a safe place to keep stuff as well as losing a place I might conceivably need to sleep in at some point.

On the other other hand, through the happy coincidence of my coffee house client needing some work done, I was able to take the train to Redlands to see one of my friends play a show! I hadn't seen him in at least a year, maybe longer, and hadn't seen him play live in much longer than that, so I was glad I got to go. My first thought was to rent a hotel room for a night or two and not sweat the transit thing, but my case manager at the shelter made known to me the fact that, were I to rent a hotel room under my own name, I would officially be Not Homeless for purposes of social services benefits.

So much for the hotel idea. But I enjoyed the train trip--for example, the station at El Monte has covered sections of its platform, and atop those covers are metal cutouts of lions and cubs engaged in amusing things, like circus lion-taming, or taking a photo with a plate camera while a cub plays with Dad's tail--and considering it was nearly 95 degrees when I arrived at the bus stop nearest the venue (still several blocks away), I spent a few hours having lunch (and cooling off!) at a conveniently located Chain Restaurant.

The venue was a coffee shop, or rather, the patio of one. So of course I stayed inside until someone showed up with a Very Large Bass-Suitable Amp, then moved outside to make sure I got a shady place to sit. The someone was not my friend, but the other player for the show--actually, I guess it was his show and my friend was "guesting". At any rate, much entertaining ERB (Extended Range Bass) noises were made, fun was had, and I then hightailed it to the bus stop, thence to the train station for the schlepp home.

I had fun. :)

#183 ::: Ross ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2012, 05:33 PM:

I get problems from all dairy products I've tried, except in very small quantities. There's still lactose in most cheeses, especially soft or processed cheeses (the harder and more aged a cheese is, the less it has, and that is consistent with what I've observed, that a little parmesan sprinkled on spaghetti is all right but a lot of mozzarella on a pizza will make me sick).

#184 ::: Syd, somewhat disguised and gnomulated besides ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2012, 05:35 PM:

My comment in the neighborhood of #182 has been captured. Unknown if there were Words of Power or missed punctuation-related spacing issues, or if another cause exists.

Coffee, dear gnomes?

#185 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2012, 06:03 PM:

Ross, #175: Good to hear from you, sorry that work is such a pit of suck. IIRC, you live in the Houston area; the invitation to get together for coffee (or bubble tea) sometime still holds. Also, you like board games; does that include the Mayfair "Empire Builder" line? Because David Goldfarb and I both like those, and they're more fun to play when you have at least 3 players.

And here's a mantra for you: "If you can't make a mistake, you can't make anything."

Syd, #182: IMO, what that makes you is someone who has barely enough spoons to handle your own day-to-day life, and a perfectly understandable reluctance to have to spend any of them dealing with a loud and combative dorm-mate. You have enough compassion to feel sorry for her, but helping her is not your job right now, so you don't need to feel bad about that.

#186 ::: Neutrino ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2012, 06:14 PM:

Ross, are you aware of lactase tablets? The main brand is (ROT13) Ynpgnvq, but there are others. They provide the enzyme that lactose-intolerant people aren't making.

I know about this because I used to be lactose intolerant. After years (and I suspect lots of yoghurt) I tried eating dairy without taking the pills and had no problem at all. I think that in my case the intolerance was due to antibiotics killing off my intestinal fauna, and they eventually repopulated, restoring my ability to digest dairy.

#187 ::: God of the just, I'll never win a peace prize ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2012, 09:09 PM:

"I'd like to hear other people's opinions on how much of the damage is done by the original injury versus how much by the various coverups, including the intent fallacy. I was angry at my mean-and-crazy grandmother for all the hurtful things she did, but far more angry (ultimately) at my parents for pretending that she wasn't doing them. Decades later, the "she was of her time and upbringing" explanations have a little bit of force, but only after she is long since dead and unable to cause more damage."

Paul @ 17 -- It's a little bit terrifying how precisely your comment mirrors my own life.

I'm pretty well at the point, now, where I'm not angry at my parents anymore -- just resolved to not do what they did. I'm pretty sure they will be good grandparents to my eventual spawn, and my husband and I talk a lot about the boundaries we intend to draw (and have already begun to draw, as needed).

I wholeheartedly, emphatically, unequivocally disapprove of the way they (and the rest of our small extended family) handled her (and, previous to that, her father -- the alcoholic, abusive source of everyone's dysfunction), but I think I can fairly say that I have forgiven them. It helps, tremendously, that she is dead now, and thus I know for certain that my children will never have to deal with that.

I haven't talked to my parents (and rest of family) about how much their attitude damaged me and my sense of self-worth. I am very fortunate in that I escaped anything worse than anxiety and what is probably some kind of neurosis. They know I didn't like her (nobody liked her, but we had to love her -- she was our mother/grandmother/sister, after all), and they didn't make me spend weeks with her alone after I asked them to never send me back again, but I'm not sure I'll ever be able to discuss things freely with them. For all her faults, she was my dad's mother -- and you can't betray your mother.

Peace to you, and to everyone else here. You are witnessed.

#188 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2012, 09:27 PM:

Ross: I'm very into board gaming and can point you at several groups, if you'd like. (I'd certainly love to meet with you and Lee to play a crayon rail game, as well.) You can contact me via email to GMail. (My user name is goldfarbdj.)

#189 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2012, 09:48 PM:

Syd @182:

Wishing someone else a bad outcome doesn't make you a bad person, if you do nothing whatsoever to make that happen.

Double that because what you were wishing was an outcome just bad enough to keep her out of your hair, not (for example) imagining a horribly painful or embarrassing death.

And triple because she's not someone you have any previous commitments or obligations to, or good history with.

#190 ::: Hey Nonny Nonymous ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2012, 09:51 PM:

Well, here I am again.

Last time I told you that a man had married my grandmother for her money.

Well, she has died. Now I am going to be at a memorial service.

Wondering whether it will be a real memorial service or that guy's football.

I take comfort from this crowd, I value your outrage against people being ripped off, and your incisive ability to recognize vanity and bullshit.

We thought he was the twinkie. He turned out to be the twonky.

#191 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 12:14 PM:

Moments of reflection, this last weekend.

A summer-cold of about 10 day's duration took a sudden turn for the worse. As in, discovering at some wee hour of the morning that I could no longer draw a full breath. Fortunately, that was a passing episode. But the next morning, a Sunday, I prevailed upon DH to do the necessary investigation of medical help access, taxi-calling, etc. because I simply had no more energy to do that.

After the visit to the doctor-on-call (time from initial contact to appointment: less than 60 minutes. Cost: 32 euro. Cost of prescribed drugs: 8 euro), I was profusely thanking the DH for his support in my decisions earlier in the day. And he replied, "But of course. I know you don't ask unless you believe it's really serious."


Because, yeah, one of those fish hooks set by perhaps well-meaning parents? "No, you can't be sick - you're not vomiting/running a temperature/turning blue."

I am so grateful to DH, and to the people here who can listen without a need to defend the "proper authorities", and - even more - affirm that "authority" is indeed a most corruptible credential. Not that it is always corrupt, just that one is definitely okay when regarding it critically.

Crazy(*hack* *splutter* *cough* and still thinking of folks here posting currently acute problem situations - good thoughts to all!)Soph

#192 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 12:51 PM:

Is there a gracious way to inform someone that the best way they can help in a situation is by not hleping?

Specifically, I would like to avoid being subjected to the lying, made-up conversations with my mother about "what they decided," verbal and emotional abuse, manipulation, talking about people behind their backs, attempting to wrest control away from people who are doing perfectly competent jobs because "nobody else is capable enough to do it right" and said person needs to feel in control, sneaking around reading business documents that are none of the person's business, attempting to force people do do what the person wants through sheer assertion and repeated invalidation, attempting to fix things that are not that person's responsibility to fix in ways that are not as helpful as that person ostensibly intends, attempting to divide and conquer, attempting to go through and/or dispose of belongings that do not belong to that person, and passing it all off as "trying to help" because "it's that person's SISTER" (so any means whatsoever are justified).

Because things are running very smoothly and kindly and supportively, and I have no particular desire to go through a hell like that person put us through the last time this kind of end-of-life situation arose.

I am trying to decide if it's better to just have a series of polite but firm demurrals (at the risk of their not getting it and trying to stir things up with other people behind my back), or if I need to get seriously explicit about what is necessary for said person to see me or any of my children ever again, because if said person makes a hash of my mother's end of life experience, it will be a long and terrible forgiveness process.

#193 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 02:20 PM:

KayTei, I have no advice to offer; it sounds like a tremendously charged and difficult situation. Please accept my sympathies and best wishes for a peaceful (as much as it can be) resolution.

#194 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 02:55 PM:

Phenicious @ #165: Congrats on the job! Making money and placating parents while figuring out what next, or confirming what you already think, or both at once, should help. Also, it never hurts to have a backup career, especially one that's portable and where someone is always hiring.


#195 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 03:36 PM:

So I just worked up the nerve to call back about whether or not I have a job. Aaaand the person I need to talk to just went on break. Now I'm supposed to call again in an hour or so. Okay, time to go have some lunch to congratulate myself on:

A) calling
B) not hesitating too much to hit the dial button
C) giving myself a deadline ("call them in 5 minutes") and adhering to it
D) not sounding like a goofus on the phone

#196 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 04:31 PM:

KayTei: I have no wisdom either, but send you my sympathies and what courage I can lend.

Phenicious: Good for you. I rather dislike the phone myself, so I may have an inkling of what that took for you. Bravo.

#197 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 04:47 PM:

Phenicious -- good for you! Hoping for good news, however you'll interpret that in six months.

#198 ::: Ross ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 05:25 PM:

Neutrino: I use lactase tablets a lot; one tablet will enable me to eat approximately one slice of cheese, so like the amount of provolone on one Jimmy John's sandwich, or maybe one slice of pizza. The hard part is telling which of my nausea attacks are from eating cheese and which are from anxiety.

I really miss breakfast. When I wake up early for work, I'm usually so anxious that I can't eat anything.

Lee and David Goldfarb: That sounds fun! I'm trying to start a Meetup group for board games, if you want to look into it: search for the Katy Boardgame Society.

So, work has been horrid today. We can add to the list of things that will set me off "people trying to rewrite history". You know that new project I was put in charge of? All morning was me telling the last person in charge of it "we should really do it this way" and him saying "but you said we could do it the other way" and me saying "that's a damn lie, I never said that".

He did back down when I pulled out my phone to call a coworker (on vacation) and ask her if either of us had said what he thinks we said.

And now I'm only having conversations about things like this in text any more.

#199 ::: Ross ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 05:27 PM:

Neutrino: I use lactase tablets a lot; one tablet will enable me to eat approximately one slice of cheese, so like the amount of provolone on one Jimmy John's sandwich, or maybe one slice of pizza. The hard part is telling which of my nausea attacks are from eating cheese and which are from anxiety.

I really miss breakfast. When I wake up early for work, I'm usually so anxious that I can't eat anything.

Lee and David Goldfarb: That sounds fun! I'm trying to start a Meetup group for board games, if you want to look into it: search for the Katy Boardgame Society.

So, work has been horrid today. We can add to the list of things that will set me off "people trying to rewrite history". You know that new project I was put in charge of? All morning was me telling the last person in charge of it "we should really do it this way" and him saying "but you said we could do it the other way" and me saying "that's a damn lie, I never said that".

He did back down when I pulled out my phone to call a coworker (on vacation) and ask her if either of us had said what he thinks we said.

And now I'm only having conversations about things like this in text any more.

#200 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 05:40 PM:

Whew, my heart is pounding from all these phone calls! End result of a couple more calls: no decision yet, and they're focusing on choosing the full-time person first. But they said they'll keep my resume for when they're hiring again next month, if I don't get this job. Yay, re-enforcing the idea that it's good to pursue things!

#201 ::: Cassy B ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 07:28 PM:

Phenicious @200, go, YOU! Nerving yourself up for followup calls is HARD. Good on you for doing it.

#202 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 07:55 PM:

Ross: There is already a Houston-area boardgames Meetup group. Since you mention Katy, I should make special note that there's a group which meets every Saturday at the Denny's on North Fry Road.

My schedule is pretty flexible, so meeting for a crayon rail is mostly up to you and Lee.

#203 ::: God of the just, I'll never win a peace prize ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 08:55 PM:

Ross -- I suffered for several years with what turned out to be a milk allergy. I tried to use lactase at first, and it helped slightly (for all I know, I'm both lactose intolerant *and* allergic to milk) but it wasn't enough.

Abj, vg'f haoryvrinoyr jung V hfrq gb tb guebhtu -- vafgrnq bs ebyyvat nebhaq ba gur sybbe va cnva rirel avtug, gelvat gb svaq n cbfvgvba va juvpu zl vagrfgvarf pbhyq rkcry nyy gur tnf gung unq ohvyg hc, naq erznvavat va (erqhprq) cnva hagvy zl obql svanyyl qrpvqrq vg jnf gvzr gb cbbc...lrnu. Arire shpxvat tbvat onpx gb gung ntnva.

I miss cheese, and other dairy products, but they're not worth it. I recommend trying to cut them (all of them -- even the parmesan on top of things) out of your diet, if you're pretty sure dairy is the problem, and see if that helps.

#204 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2012, 12:18 AM:

Out of town on business and need to catch up on the thread, but on a quick scan wanted to say - KayTei, is navigating that minefield something that counseling staff from the hospice service can help with? My guess is they're used to end-of-life situations bringing out one form or another of family dysfunction.

Sending good thoughts your direction.

#205 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2012, 01:42 AM:

Ross, one thing I've learned is if a verbal agreement might be mis-remembered later, it's a good idea to follow up with an email saying "I just wanted to make sure we're in agreement that..." and reiterate the key points of the agreement. This is especially important if the verbal agreement differs from some earlier written record.

I learned this the hard way. I talked to my boss about telecommuting one day a week after my kid was born, then a month later he sent me an email saying I wasn't allowed to telecommute any more. I went and talked to him, and I thought we reached an agreement that I'd continue part-time telecommuting for a few more months, and he'd let me know if this caused any problems. A few months later, he called me into his office, furious that I "was still telecommuting after he'd told me to stop", and pointing to the email as evidence. He had no recollection of the discussion after the email; to him, the email was proof of his version of events.

He stopped being anyone's boss a few months later (due to similar but worse issues with another employee), and all my bosses since have been mellower. I still discuss potentially difficult issues like schedule accomodations face-to-face, where it's easier to tell if the other person has a problem with my request, and I can explain any misunderstandings immediately. I try to remember to send an email summarizing any verbal agreement, so there's no chance of conflicting memories later.

#206 ::: Torrilin ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2012, 07:43 PM:

If anyone's dealing with cognitive therapy... Rachel Brown (who wrote the mildly famous LJ guide to PTSD) is taking classes to become a counselor/pshrink. She's written up a neat review of one of her class books on cognitive therapy for psychiatric professionals. It's brief personal notes format, but since she's both a PTSD survivor and a therapy student, there's a lot of stuff where I'm bouncing up and down going yes yes people leave this out or don't really make it clear in therapy or books all the time!!!

If you're up to thinking about how your brain thinks, it's good stuff.

KayTei @192: Hlepy people react differently. My best friend's parents have a giant mess of different hlepy to actively hurtful behaviors, mostly in the vein of verbal abuse or passive aggression. After about 10 years of listening to his grumping and making suggestions, we're finding that his parents react very strongly to being treated with good manners of the most formal and distant possible sort. It's not exactly a positive reaction, but they STOP HLEPING. (they in fact throw temper tantrums like two year olds at being treated politely... but my friend does not find a temper tantrum hlepy, and it's easy for him to see that it's an inappropriate response)

My little sister and mother-outlaw are both pretty anxious people, and their method of hleping is to freak out if Bad Things (from their POV... not necessarily objectively bad) happen to people they care about. It'll be a long, tiring and overdramatic freakout. So instead of informing them instantly when a Bad Thing happens, the family waits and tells them about Bad Things when there's a way for them to aim their anxiety. They don't aim their reactions in the same way, but they do have predictable responses. We also often choose to inform them of Bad Things in ways that are less scary. They both have a hard time with text based communication, so calling or having dinner together is a much better way to give them news that they find stressful.

Your hlepy person will not react the same way. But you probably have a fair idea how they react to some things. If you can talk with a counselor or some other professional, you can probably get good ideas on how to at least steer the person to a reaction that's less bad. Good may or may not be happening, but I don't know that good is as necessary as STOP HLEPING.

#207 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2012, 09:37 PM:

Ross, Syd, thanks for responding. I'm glad to hear from you, and wish you well, even if I don't have much to say.

I realized after hitting the publish button that, by specifying a few people, I may have given the impression that I'm NOT wanting to hear updates from other folks who have gone quiet. I didn't mean to do that; if you thought "she didn't mention me so I should stay silent," I'm sorry!

Personally: I ran into an issue recently around my family history. I gave a talk that was partially about things we learn, from our families and other backgrounds, that keep us from participating in open source software and open culture projects like Wikipedia. As I was preparing this talk, I showed an early draft to some folks at work -- including another woman of Indian origin -- and got some very tough but fair criticism about generalizations I was making about India. I also showed a draft to my sister and she, too, gave me tough but fair and loving criticism, giving me a different perspective regarding things I was saying about my upbringing. I digested their and other feedback, restructured the talk (removing sweeping generalizations and adding more thoughtful nuance about the legacy my family gave me), and am very happy with it now. And the audience liked it, and I've gotten nearly unanimously positive comments.

Intellectually I know that it's very unlikely I could have written the finished balanced, loving-but-critical talk without going through a process of drafting and refinement. And I'm very glad that my sister and I were able to work on this speech together; we shared our different perspectives on our different childhoods in the same household, and it brought us closer together. But I'm embarrassed that these coworkers, especially my Indian colleague, saw what probably looked like an unmitigated (and poorly written!) rant about India and coming from what I think about my past when I'm having a bad day; the side of me they saw was a side I'd rather have kept a little more out of the workplace. And it never feels good to let down people I admire.

#208 ::: Dash ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2012, 12:50 AM:

KayTei @192: I don't know what you should do, but I often feel much the same way with my mother. Hopefully it'll help to know that others face similar situations- I know it's been helpful to me!

Not much has changed about my situation. I watched Brave today, and that movie resonated with me in a similar way as Tangled did- the mother trying to help, the daughter having an entirely different opinion and thus not wanting to be helped in that fashion. (Is this a proper place of using "hlep"? I'm still a bit confused about that word's meaning and usage.)
Also, it sounds like my mother's quitting her part-time job, because one of the people she works for wanted her help with billing, and Mom won't do it because oh that boss is so bad at billing and her files are all tangled up and they'd be so hard to untangle and that's not my job and she shouldn't be taking advantage of me and assume I'll help just because I'm her friend. Several of which are faulty assumptions, at least from what I know of the situation, but that's my mother. So I'll get more time with her before school starts, for better or for worse. At least it's good to know that it's not just family where she'll insist somebody is INCAPABLE of doing something and yet won't bother helping them do it the "right" way.
Somebody- I forget who, ironically enough- said that they feel weird posting updates and asking for sympathy here because other people have it so much worse. That definitely goes for me as well.
At least I'm witnessing if nothing else.

#209 ::: Ross ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2012, 01:57 AM:

I appreciate everyone's cheese-related advice, but, well, I think I'm gonna go with my gut (pun definitely intended). I've tried various ways of avoiding dairy and certain dishes, and by now I have a diet that's a little narrow but mostly works for me.

Today was a better day. Annoying coworker wasn't there, and I actually got a decent amount of work done. Then came home, fell asleep all evening (taking klonopin makes you sleepy), and actually had a good, non-nightmare dream for the first time in months.

Maybe tomorrow after therapy I'll have enough spoons to do something like crack open a game design book again.

#210 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2012, 12:30 PM:

Ross 199: As Jeremy points out at 205, the experience you describe with your coworker is the origin of the "just to confirm our conversation" bullet-point email, cc'd to your mutual boss, if any, or at a minimum to your boss.

#211 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2012, 02:09 PM:

Torrilin @206: She's written up a neat review

That link produces a 404 File Not Found error.

#212 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2012, 06:39 PM:

Jacque--try this link to Rachel's Dreamwidth posting:

(There's a note there pointing to the nonworking LJ URL, so I don't know what's going on.)

#213 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2012, 07:38 PM:

Torrilin@206, Jacque@211, Vicki@212

I figured out what was wrong with the original link@206. The URL in the link ended in .htm while the correct URL ends in .html

#214 ::: Broken Pottery ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2012, 08:19 PM:

Two of my siblings are visting. One I haven't seen in years and the other much more recently. Everyone is talking about me but no one is talking to me. There have been several times I've come into a room to have the conversation disappear into uncomfortable silence leaving me only the handful of words I heard as I entered the room to know what they are saying about me. This is emotionally rending me because I WANT to talk to them about this and understand what they are feeling but I don't feel I have the right to pressure them to have a conversation that will make them unhappy or uncomfortable. Instead we just talk about everything that doesn't matter.

I find myself thinking about the couple remaining heavyduty painkillers I have tucked in my drawer that knock me out for about 48 hours. Just one now and one in 2 days and I could sleep past all of this pain. Except of course that if I knocked myself out to avoid them THAT would become another issue that they all talk and worry about when I'm not in the room.

#215 ::: LMM ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2012, 10:21 PM:

@174(ish?): Still here, off and on.

It's increasingly clear that a number of the issues I've been encountering work-wise (not socially, necessarily, but productivity-wise) are just due to the fact that I have had almost no hands-on training. I'm in a lab setting in an entirely different field. I can follow procedures, but that's about it.

And the coworker who should have trained me, unfortunately, just hasn't. I don't know why. We're friendly enough, but she's paranoid about me even looking at her data -- and apparently that extends into teaching me how to do basic techniques.

All of which means that the steps that aren't made explicit in most instruction manuals are things I had to learn from the internet -- usually after screwing it up a few times. There's several really basic things I have had no luck on, and I've flat-out asked to watch her do them -- not even to have her do them with me, not even to have her do them unnecessarily, just to have me see what she's doing when. She's essentially refused. And I've been here long enough that I *should* have learned these things already. Had I realized that this was the dynamic that was going on six months ago, I probably could have done something to prevent it -- but as it stands, I'm kind of stuck.

It's not like there aren't procedures, of course. But I think I'm definitely misreading some of the points ("overnight", for her, I recently discovered, means "eight-ish hours"), and, without shadowing her, I don't know what I'm misunderstanding.

I've got a hunch at the moment. And if or when I figure out what I'm doing wrong, I'm going to be faced with the question of whether I want to look like an idiot or whether I just want to throw her under the bus.

#216 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2012, 11:51 PM:

Broken Pottery, #214: You have every right to force them into a conversation that makes them unhappy/uncomfortable when the topic is what they're saying about you behind your back! Geez louise, were they born in a barn? As an opener, I suggest that when you encounter one of those sudden silences, you smile sweetly and say, "I didn't catch all of that -- would you repeat it to my face?" (Modify to "do you have the courage to repeat it" if appropriate.) Wotta buncha maroons.

#217 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2012, 12:21 AM:

"I can't fix problematic behavior if nobody tells me it's problematic," is another tack, if you aren't feeling up to belligerence.

hidingnym, sympathies and please keep us updated, since you're in an uncertain position. I'm glad to see updates from everyone else.

#218 ::: Broken Pottery ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2012, 12:31 AM:

I appreciate the vigorous support Lee but the situation is a little more complicated than that. I know (approximately) what they are discussing. I committed a crime and have criminal charges pending that will likely have about a 3-year (1-year served before parole) sentence. What I did hurt my family deeply, some more than others because of the nature of our relationship and history. What is happening is the incredibly WASPy behaviour of not talking about the elephant in the room while said elephant is present because if we did something like that we might encounter emotion and that is treated as pretty much the worst possible thing that could ever happen. Because of the harm my actions caused to them already I don't feel entitled to cause them more pain simply because it would make me feel better or bit more like a human.

#219 ::: Jeremy Leader has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2012, 12:52 AM:

Broken Pottery @218: I have a couple random thoughts, please ignore if hlepy. First of all, everyone deserves to feel like a human being, no matter what. Second, have you apologized to them? If not, one possible opening when you enter the room and they suddenly stop talking might be "I know you're talking about X, and I need to apologize for the impact it's had on you." (If it didn't directly impact them, maybe "and I want to tell you how sorry I am for the impact my actions had on family member Y") If you've already apologized to everyone, I'm not sure if there's any value in repeating it, or not. It's possible (taking a very optimistic view here) that they stop because they don't want to hurt or upset you by discussing a sensitive topic; if you show you're willing to talk about it, maybe that will make it easier for them.

I should mention that I'm much more worried than usual that I might be wrong, and my suggestions may be purest hlep. So if they seem that way to you, or if your gut is giving you warning signs, please treat my words with all the respect due free advice from a stranger on the internet (i.e. NONE!).

#220 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2012, 12:56 AM:

D'oh, my previous comment @219 was graciously released by the gnomes with no delay, my apologies for the false alarm!

#221 ::: hidingnym ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2012, 09:05 AM:

@217, and the rest who have been so kind, I've been not reporting to work for a week now. Consulting a lawyer to be certain I've covered the worst case scenarios of "them" going after me, but lawyer said it wasn't that likely. Meanwhile dealing with the emotional aftermath of leaving a job where the work itself would have been great, where the hours would have been survivable, if only I had been better/more patient/more of this or that. Yeah, those tapes, they all suck. The perfectionist OC in me going, "ohhh no, you left yet another thing undone, you suck". Add to that the feedback from some people who think that I am crazier to give up a job that pays money, in this difficult economy.
Balancing that with doses of dark chocolate, trying to read Ursula LeGuin, and seeing a friend to have coffee who reminds me that it isn't the Only job in the world, just one that I happen to need to leave.

#222 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2012, 11:59 AM:

hidingnym @221, glad to hear that things seem to be working out as well as could be, given the highly sucky situation you found yourself in. And, yeah, the tapes will tell you all about how you should have done it differently. You are right to recognize them and do your best to ignore them.

Sumana @174 and @207. Thanks for thinking of me. Really not much trouble in my life at this point. I am usually here reading and witnessing, just not commenting unless I have something to add. Your problem with the draft that exposed more than you meant it to - I think your intellectual reaction of being glad that the draft has been improved by input from others is correct, but I would have the "Ack! I've exposed myself and let people down!" reaction too. Do you think it would help your feelings about it to close the circle with your coworker by thanking her again for the feedback that improved your talk and perhaps commenting that it was useful to get the perspective that helped you separate your own individual experience from the more general cultural experience? You may have done this already at the time.

Broken Pottery @218, I can identify with the WASPy preference for ignoring the elephant in the room and in particular avoiding all public emotions. I would give the same advice Jeremy Leader did @219 (including the part about ignore if hlepy or unsuited to the local conditions.) If I remember correctly, when you were originally discussing this here, you were concerned among other things with the effect of the situation on your son. I suggest, very carefully and with all the usual disclaimers, that at the place you now stand, the best thing you can probably do is model the behavior of "I have seriously screwed up, I regret it deeply, I am doing my best to mitigate the harm I have done and to cause no more."

Syd @182, continuing to wish you better arrangements and glad your life includes at least some enjoyable moments along with the many not-so-enjoyable.

Phenicious, good for you in having the interview and doing the followup. Hope the part-time job comes through; it sounds like a reasonable mix of income and something positive to do, while leaving enough time to work on the longer-term issues of what you DO want to be doing.

LMM @215, is there someone else in the lab you could go to about this without throwing coworker under the bus? Because it doesn't sound like a situation that's going to get better with time.

#223 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2012, 06:17 PM:

OtterB, thanks for the suggestion. I had thanked her in person but I'm not sure whether it made a strong enough impression, so I've now sent an email.

#224 ::: Of The World ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2012, 05:52 AM:

I have a question for the ADD folk here.

A friend of mine suffers with OCD, but has a book on dealing with the condition that I think is really useful. It's got a comprehensive section on practical CBT techniques that can be used to manage obsessions- for example, a "vicious flower" diagram that maps out the process of spiraling bad thoughts. The book also details, I suppose you'd call them mind-hacks, for dealing with OCD by moving focus from "Theory A" (the negative thoughts) to "Theory B". I understand these CBT techniques are quite widely used.

The thing I like about this approach is that there's a clear, useful set of tools to use to deal with OCD. Obviously it's a different disorder, but does anyone know of any straightforward mind-hacks like this that are useful for ADD?

#225 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2012, 12:19 PM:

Of The World, 224: Tobias Buckell just posted about that yesterday, in fact. (At least, I'm pretty sure ADHD-experiences are similar to ADD-experiences.)

#226 ::: upset ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2012, 12:51 PM:

I didn't expect to join this conversation on this note, as I have other demons boxed away somewhere, but this one's nearly chewed through. It's relevant, somewhat, to everyone's job search. It's just that I'm not the job seeker. I'm part of the problem.

A coworker is getting "laid off" today. I put it in quotes because that's the official line. The real reason? He openly challenged his manager (one of five shareholders in the company).

Responsibility is on both sides of the line. The soon-to-be ex-Coworker is, at times, not great at following directions and needs frequent reminders. The Manager, however, likes to solve conflicts by telling people that he's the boss and other people are subordinates. He's a smiley, chatty, good-looking-and-knows it bastard who frequently tries to get me to do his dirty work for him.

Where am I in this? I'm the one wearing the HR hat (and all other not-clearly-defined responsibilities) in this 20 person company. Coworker is also the son of a family friend, so I deal with the trauma at work and at home. I've been trying to coach the coworker on work politics for over a year now, and also point out, as neutrally as possible, where Manager's people skills could use some improvement.

Oh, and the Company Founder sides with Manager, because Company Founder wants to keep upper levels as stable as possible. Apparently this means mollifying power-tripping manager. Company Founder pointed out that everyone else in the office has found ways of working with/around Manager except for Coworker.

Sorry for disorganized Wall-o-text. I have been moping about this for days now. Has not been helped by frequent reminders from my parents about how Coworker needs the job and needs the money.

#227 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2012, 01:32 PM:

That's hard, upset. Politics are a Big Deal especially in small companies where it's not possible to get away from the problem.

#228 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2012, 01:38 PM:

upset, #226: What, exactly, do your parents expect you to do about the situation? Do they think you have the power to overrule Manager and Company Founder all by yourself? Do they want you to be the next person being "laid off"? From what you say here, you've done your best by your co-worker and he more or less blew you off. Shouldn't most of the onus be on him rather than you?

#229 ::: upset ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2012, 03:32 PM:

Lee @228: Your questions made me realize that I may be projecting my own assumptions in feeling that I'm expected to somehow do something. This is tied up in other DFD-related issues, particularly a deep-seated desire to please, including at the cost of my own interests. That's something I need to learn to recognize as it occurs, instead of several years down the line.

As far as onus/ coping solution after being blown off has been to crabbily wonder why someone ten years older than me needs my handholding at all. This sentiment is neither useful nor productive, and yet it's still my standard Tape.

Complicating the feelings: I am myself looking to GTFO of here. It's been seven months since I started actively jobsearching, networking, meeting new people, etc. It's draining. If I were not here, the balance of power would look very different. That starts me down the path of, "I haven't left yet because I'm not good enough, so maybe I should look, and oh no, now I'm looking so hard that I'm just dialing it in at the day job, and have left no time to coach coworker/remind him that he needs to keep his head down and be a good worker bee so he can afford his monthly rent...."

Add to that the fact that my parent is a decisionmaker for a major client of the Company, which is how both I and the Coworker got here. That's why Manager can fire the Coworker with impunity--he thinks my presence will shield the company from retribution. If I were not here/had already landed a job, Coworker would likely be at my position, and therefore have "standing" to openly quarrel with Manager. And if Manager still wanted to pull the same stunt, he'd have to weigh the cost of losing some 60% of business income.

So in summary, part of why I'm upset is this lingering sense of guilt. It's why I said I was part of the problem....

Um. I didn't mean to use ya'll as therapists....

#230 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2012, 06:49 PM:

upset @229, we don't do therapist, but we do excellent sounding board, with a side order of "have you considered this perspective?"

#231 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2012, 06:59 PM:

upset #229: It sounds to me like you've done everything you reasonably could for Coworker, and as much for Manager as well.

#232 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2012, 11:10 PM:

For those that have followed abi's lead @155: Please tell me, does this work?

(It belongs in this thread because it represents the first art I've done in most of a month, and I had the Goddamn Tapes playing in my ear the whole time.)

#233 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2012, 11:53 PM:

For what values of "work", Jacque? I like the colors, the composition, and the shapes, but I don't know where you're trying to go with it.

#234 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2012, 01:21 AM:

Oh, dear. I guess that would be a "no," then.

#235 ::: Mea ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2012, 01:30 AM:

Jaque at 232

YES it works. Very evocative image. It makes me want to know the story, and makes me think that, like the TOR series a month or so ago, there could be several very different stories spun from your artwork.

#236 ::: Mea ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2012, 01:35 AM:

Oh, just went back to read Abi at 155. I haven't read any of the Vorkosigan stories.

Jaque, your picture makes me more inclined to read it than the book review.

#237 ::: Bricklayer ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2012, 01:47 AM:

In re upset's anecdote about Manager ... When I was laid off from my last Big Corporate Job, about 8 years ago, I knew it wasn't entirely personal, because a third of the company was going, including Employee #3 (hired when it was just the married-couple of founders; also, in the 5 years I worked there, at least 8 other people's jobs had been calved off all the things he was doing).

However, it was also VERY personal, because my immediate manager, head of my department, loathed me for reasons that definitely included a severe mismatch of her preferred communication style and my ability to process inbound information. She would regularly write me up on performance reviews for crap she never told me at the time was a problem -- five months earlier. And for things that I had an email trail to prove didn't happen that way.

I wasn't a "team player". I wasn't "friendly". To her, she meant.

When I mentioned to HR that I felt kind of persecuted by her constant attempts to get stuff on my permanent record that made me look uncooperative and unproductive, I was told, "But nobody else in the department has a problem with her ...?"

When I was hired, someone else ran the department. In fact, she was the person hired immediately before me, a couple months earlier. When the manager who hired me went on to bigger and better things, about 3 years into my tenure, a lot of people in my department found reasons to cross-train/sideways-promote themselves out from under her, leaving only people (a) who had always been friendly with her or (b) whom she had hired. Needless to say, if someone's communication style in the interview showed a mismatch with hers, they weren't hired.

Um, yeah. It took several years of not-working-there to convince me it wasn't entirely my fault that I couldn't adapt myself to her (completely unstated) needs. And several years of therapy and reading threads like this one to help me see how some of her antipathy might well have been due to communications mismatch and what turned out to be gender issues -- I did NOT act like, or value, anything much that the other women in the (woman-dominated) department liked. Even the butchest of the remaining women. And I had very, very little in common with anyone in the department who didn't flee her toxic management style.

Oh, and every time I sought resources to either lighten my crippling, soul-destroying workload or to find out how to cross-train myself into the documentation department, she acted like I already had everything I needed, why was I bothering her to spoonfeed me anything? Other managers asked me to talk to her.


#238 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2012, 01:42 PM:

Mea: Thank you! Tell me: is it clear what it is?

Same question for Tom: I concluded (perhaps hastily) from your comment that the subject is unclear.

#239 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2012, 01:59 PM:

Bricklayer @237: One thing I value in the last two major employers I've had is that management is a skillset. Furthermore, it is a skillset that is separate and discrete from any personal talents, characteristics, or technological know-how. Especially different than technical know-how. And they provide training in those skills.*

The thing that makes it especially hard is that, particularly with technical types, the nature of managerial skills means it much harder to identify when Ur Doin It Wrong. And given that—especially—technical types value/require specific, well defined, objective criteria for success or failure, management becomes a fertile ground for, well, "unfortunate circumstances."

* This should not, however, be confused with successful implementation of that training.

#240 ::: Dash ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2012, 04:11 PM:

So, time for another novel/rant about my mother. I think these threads have become just a place for me to share rants about my mother that I couldn't share elsewhere. Not sure what to make of that. :/
So yesterday, we were visiting my step-grandmother, and the conversation got onto how my mother had always wanted more than one child. My mother commented that instead of getting twins like she wanted, she got "one with a lot of issues", me.
...that comment was not acceptable, and I made that clear to her. Especially around my step-grandmother, who I truly care for, but don't have the time to visit nearly as often as my mother does. If that's the kind of stuff she says with me around, I can only imagine what she tells my step-grandmother when I'm not there.
Later, when alone in the car with my mother, we discussed the comment further. She claimed that "issues aren't necessarily bad things." (What? That's a clear part of the word's connotation there. Also, it implies that they're largely my fault. Our crazy dog, with inexplicable phobias and an innate desire to maim other dogs and other small animals, has issues. I don't.) And then she listed what she thought of as my "issues". Along with the expected (Mild ADHD, which has been treated from a young age with medication, which itself has caused some "issues"; Being partially deaf in one ear, which she's only this past year done something with besides consulting the school-appointed audiologist; Having chronic herpes of the eye, which is basically recurring pinkeye, and hasn't happened for a while), she mentioned my being "bright" as an "issue".
...I struggle to find the words to express how wrong that statement is.
For one thing, even if I take her word for it that she doesn't mean "issues" in a negative sense, the word implies that it is something that needs to be dealt with, something that requires attention. My mother has had multiple opportunities to attend to the "issue" of my intelligence, and has more or less neglected them.
She could have had me moved up a grade, as was done with my little cousin, who is bright but honestly less so than my younger self. (I asked my mother about this earlier, and she claimed that "They asked for (her to be moved up), we never asked"- my point exactly!- and something about "well, she's old for her grade, you were young for your grade already"- which has nothing to do with my intelligence, only hurting my performance in gym class, which was already horrible and perhaps could have used the excuse of being a year younger than the rest.) She could have found me a better middle school, one that had gifted programs that didn't suck. (Oh, you looked at a single school, then promptly abandoned the idea when finding out it belonged to a different religion? I searched for hundreds of colleges while attending high school, and eventually went to one nominally of a different religion. You could've spent some of the time you spent watching soap operas and eating Cheetos searching for a better school for me, rather than bemoaning my middle school after the fact.) You could've supported my application to the state-funded high school for gifted students. (Admittedly, she switched me to the best high school in the school district, but it's no state-funded gifted school.) You could've encouraged my good grades instead of expecting them... there's so much you COULD have done about this "issue", but I honestly don't see how it was such an ISSUE for her, since my mother did very little in paying attention to it.
I made it clear that that "joke" was unacceptable, and she promised to never say it again. No word on whether she understands that my statement "Just because it was meant as a joke doesn't mean it doesn't hurt" is more general than the single joke, or whether she'll actually stop saying that particular "joke", let alone the rest of her line-up of hurtful ones. At least I tried to do something to make her more aware of her role in my "issues", but who knows if it'll stick...

#241 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2012, 04:47 PM:

Jacque@238: It was clear to me what it was, given the title I saw in the URL. I'm not sure whether I would have gotten it without that clue. The bases of the domes need some things that are more readily recognizable as buildings, I think. (I also cannot resist pointing out that "Komarr" is spelled with two r's. Sorry.)

Dash@240: A place to post that kind of rant is explicitly what these threads are for.

#242 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2012, 05:27 PM:

Jacque -- I'm not a Bujold reader (I just haven't found the book that dragged me into her world yet). So the subject (I infer) isn't one that I'd know about.

It's a landscape, with various domes bubbling up in it. That's as far as I personally go. And given that -- I look at color, dynamics, and the other elements that make it artistic.

#243 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2012, 07:45 PM:

David Goldfarb @241: Komarr

Yes. Ahem. Yes. :) :)

The bases of the domes need some things that are more readily recognizable as buildings

Yes, you are correct. I ran out of gas before I managed to put them in. In the plans for Mark II.

Tom Whitmore @242: It's a landscape, with various domes bubbling up in it.

Okay, that's reassuring. At least we aren't at, "That's a very nice banana, Timmy!" "It's not a banana! It's a horse!!"

Part of the challenge, I'm finding, in doing an illustration (as with any artwork) is to learn to "see" a thing properly before I can render it in a way that it's clear to a viewer who's not me. Also (and I've found this to be true of writing, as well), after staring at for so long, I can't tell if it communicates its subject clearly, or it just evokes imagery in (only) my head.

The other thing I notice, is that thoughtful, detailed critique is actually strangely reassuring. I grew up with competition-based critique that was (subconsciously, at least) designed discourage and oppress, and so unsurprisingly, have been fearful about putting my stuff out there where Somebody Might See It.

But well-considered peer critique, I notice ( (in writing, as well), actually clarifies my own confusions and misgivings about a piece, and is therefore not traumatizing at all. I still haven't really convinced my hind-brain of that, however.

Thank you all very much for your comments. Very helpful and interesting!

Now if I could just find something useful to do with that fantasy (presumption) that I will just step onto the world stage as a Realized Artistic Superstar and set about collecting all the accolades due me. (Rebellion against my mother's side of the pendulum, which was "You'll never make a living at it.")


Well, on the topic of Bad Management, homeowners in my condo complex are getting a letter today informing us that, because of all the maintenance that hasn't been done over the last [decades], we are being levied a special assessment, due September 1, in the amount of $4K.

("I am grateful I have a job." "I am grateful I have a job." "I am grateful I have a job." ...)

Okay, well, I guess I won't be getting my windows replaced this year. ::SIGH::


Dash @240: she mentioned my being "bright" as an "issue".

"So let me be clear, Mom. What you're saying is that you're not qualified to be my mother?" }:-)=

"issues" ... implies ... something that needs to be dealt with

Something that needs to be "fixed." Yeah.

Well, go you, for being willing and able to step up and explain to her the ways in which she's hurting you. Maybe someday she'll begin to clue in.

#244 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2012, 10:30 PM:


I haven't read the book in question and I'm not an artist so my comment isn't exactly a "peer" comment, but:

First thought was "ooh! pretty!", second thought was that it was a Mars colony city built in bubbles oh wait you referenced a series abi linked to so maybe not Mars but some other planet, then after admiring the pretty shiny bits for a while longer I noticed that what was inside the bubbles looked more like lights than city buildings.

(I'm not kidding about my first thought, either. I may have said it out loud too.)

#245 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2012, 11:03 PM:

the invisible one @244: Aw, thank you! Mars colony, yes definitely the effect I was going for. And "ooh! pretty!" wins every time! :) :)

You're a "peer" in the sense of: you like pretty things; you have enough of the relevant knowledge base to interpret the content, and you're an independent human being with title to your own thoughts, feelings, and preferences.

#246 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2012, 11:12 PM:

Jacque, my first thought was "what a delightful flight of soap bubbles!", followed by trying to make sense of the rest of the picture.

I think the major problems are that the domes don't look like they're actually on the ground, and there isn't enough sense of distance so that it's plausible that a slew of buildings would look so small between the foreground and the background.

I'm guessing that putting reflections of the ground on the domes would help.

#247 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2012, 11:26 PM:

Jacque at 232: works for me. My immediate reaction was "Oooh!"

Reminds me of some professional SF cover art.

#248 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2012, 12:28 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz @246: I think the major problems are that the domes don't look like they're actually on the ground

Yes, exactly. (See? This is what I'm talkin' about!) I hit a snag trying to give the ground texture, and at the same time have the domes in deep enough shadow to play up the city lights. Also, problems of scaling, that would have been materially aided by putting in some buildings, as David Goldfarb points out above.

One of the things I very explicitly set out to do was to approach this as a study, wherein I'm figuring out what I'm trying to do, rather than expecting it to spring fully-formed from my forehead, as it were.

And, jeez, Lizzy. Go ahead. Make my day!  8-D

I feel a little self-conscious keeping this conversation here in this thread. But I feel it connects from a coupla standpoints. 1) The picture was a direct result of abi's bringing the book to the group's attention. 2) It's me testifying about (somewhat) successfully battling back against the programming installed by my own dysfunctional family. And 3) it's for other people who are struggling to claim title to their own lives. Tackling the challenges of poor upbringing are much easier (IME) when one can see examples of the process of climbing out of the pit.

However, if this conversation would be better suited to the Open Thread, I request the mods to let me know.

#249 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2012, 12:35 AM:

Drive-by venting ahoy:

I was perusing the forums on a certain well-populated site devoted to yarn-craft (being vague to avoid gnomes and google, however unlikely that might be) and found myself getting tangled up in some anxiety-type thoughts. What set me off was that someone mentioned to the OP that acrylic yarn + fire = a melted mess. I know this, it's logical, it was relevant to the discussion, even. The catch is that I'm using acrylic yarn right this second (well no I'm typing and I only have so many hands, you know). I mostly use acrylic! From where I'm sitting I can see half a dozen items I've made from acrylic yarn. And I just got reminded that if any of those items caught fire while someone was wearing them the burns would be pretty bad! Bad for burns, which are already horrible. So I'm probably going to get that thought again when I work on my current projects.

So I kind of came here to vent that. Also reminding myself that it's really not likely that anything's going to catch fire right now. And even in a kitchen, which is made out of fire hazards, there is no way I'd be wearing a big snuggly acrylic scarf. Should probably come up with a list of situations in which this fear would be justified (ex: making items for donation, don't know if the recipient is around fire a lot, so use your judgment).

(also I feel like this is more of a journal entry and thus doesn't belong here because I'm not acknowledging other people so I'm being not-friendly-enough or something, which is all kind of blown out of proportion)

#250 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2012, 12:51 AM:

Phenicious: Well, you have reported Known Issues with fire. It can be tough, managing phobic responses.

If it makes you feel any better, I've worn acrylic fabric for years; some of my favorite clothes are acrylic. While the burning danger is somewhat different with synthetics than with natural fabrics, I don't know that it's necessarily any worse. (Jim Macdonald could address this question better than I.) I think the real issue (phobias aside) is that one's friends be sufficiently prepared that the question never arises.

#251 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2012, 01:08 AM:

me @248: 4) Displaying how useful criticism works, in a safe and healthy environment.

#252 ::: Mea ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2012, 01:37 AM:

Jaque: discussion of your picture is totally appropriate here, because it (wince) perfectly illustrates our discussion of our internal critics. You know what you are trying to achieve, and are holding your illustration to that standard. Those of us looking at it without your internal voices react like the invisible one @244 (who very much captures my reaction) and Lizzy saying it is a SF cover (that was what I was trying to say with my reference to the TOR blog stories all riffing off the same illustration).

The best thing I got from our earlier discussion is that it is important to give yourself time and mental space to play around and "make failures" because each so-called failure (because it falls short of your idea of what you are trying to achieve) teaches you something AND let's you play with your creative side. So looked at with fresh eyes, a lot of interal-voice branded failures are actually evoking " ooh, that is pretty" responses. The skill in being the artist is being open to both voices - keep trying to achieve your standard, but recognize the success you are getting along the way.

Wes, that is a wall of text. In other news, I made a pair of pants that were good enough to wear to work! Learned lots about sewing, and could list a lot of the imperfections, but I am letting the "I did something!" voice win the argument.

And Jaque, your earlier discussion of trying something 100 times in order to get good has been really helpful. I'll have to post when I get to sewing project #100 (that will be long in the future! I'm not yet in the teens).

#253 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2012, 02:09 AM:

Mea: Well, if you're managing pants that are good enough to wear to work, I'd say you'd have to be picky indeed to require 100 attempts to "get good." Pants are hard, and I say this as someone who's been sewing off and on for forty years.

The skill in being the artist is being open to both voices - keep trying to achieve your standard, but recognize the success you are getting along the way.

And there's yet a third voice, which I've actually begun to achieve somewhat in the last few years. "Oh dear. That's not what I was after at all. But it is rather interesting. Hmmmm." It can be really hard to be okay with wandering off into the weeds. Harder still to do so deliberately.

#254 ::: Dash ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2012, 02:44 AM:

David Goldfarb @ 241- ...yeah, but I have a mental block about sharing this kind of stuff, perhaps about being social in general. That's probably one of the fish-hooks, my fear that I'm doing something wrong in even fairly straightforward social situations. The funny (read: weird) thing is, I think I went from one extreme to the other. As a little kid, with unmedicated ADHD, I probably erred on the side of being overly talkative; between ADHD medication and fish-hooks, I then became very shy and socially cautious. Now I'm off the medication, trying to overcome the fish-hooks, and getting closer to that balance. :)

Jacque @ 243: I was trying to avoid using the word "fixed", but that's probably the truest way to put it. She did support it in some ways, but not in others, and I feel like there's so much more she could've done. That's true in a lot of ways, actually.

#255 ::: Dash ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2012, 02:46 AM:

David Goldfarb @ 241- ...yeah, but I have a mental block about sharing this kind of stuff, perhaps about being social in general. That's probably one of the fish-hooks, my fear that I'm doing something wrong in even fairly straightforward social situations. The funny (read: weird) thing is, I think I went from one extreme to the other. As a little kid, with unmedicated ADHD, I probably erred on the side of being overly talkative; between ADHD medication and fish-hooks, I then became very shy and socially cautious. Now I'm off the medication, trying to overcome the fish-hooks, and getting closer to that balance. :)

Jacque @ 243: I was trying to avoid using the word "fixed", but that's probably the truest way to put it. She did support it in some ways, but not in others, and I feel like there's so much more she could've done. That's true in a lot of ways, actually.

#256 ::: Hey Nonny Nonymous ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2012, 10:13 AM:

well,following up to what I said at 190, the service happened. I am glad I could be there for my family. The family was able to tunnel through the protocol and attend the service and then leave without having an awkward confrontation with Latest Husband.

But do I have to keep ducking this particular boom as the ship sails on for the rest of my life?

#257 ::: Hey Nonny Nonymous ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2012, 10:15 AM:

I've gbeen gnomed!Gwhy gdid gthat ghappen?

#258 ::: LMM ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2012, 11:14 AM:

@249, 250: Most synthetic chemists are acutely aware of the dangers of synthetic fibers melting -- if you're working at the bench, you wear cotton or wool fabrics, *especially* when you're working with pyrophoric reagents. At the same time, it's not an official regulation, and I've violated it once or twice, albeit unintentionally.

But (official caveat: this is where I transition from stuff I know absolutely to general, albeit somewhat informed observations) a *lot* of modern winter outdoor wear contains synthetic fabric. Even down-stuffed winter coats usually are made from synthetic material, as are the linings of the felt coats that are currently fashionable. Ditto for microfibers and most of the cheap gloves and hats and scarves you buy in stores. So, honestly, the wearer of the things you make is unlikely to be more at risk than they were to begin with.


And onto personal issues....

So, the new drug I'm on (Lamictal) is generic, and it's one of the many psychiatric drugs that are known to vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. The maker that my (insurance-mandated) pharmacy uses is reportedly one of the worse ones out there. It worked for me, somewhat, though definitely not as well as I would have liked. My shrink wrote me a prescription *explicitly* requesting the Teva version, which is generally held to be as good as the name brand (if not better, just because the pill is easier to take).

The good news is, I'm pretty sure it's *way* better than the generic version I was on. The bad news is, the reason why I'm pretty sure of this is because of the side effects. Mental fuzziness is a well-known side effect, and the dosage I'm on is reportedly about as high as one can get before people start reporting issues. I'd noticed with the other manufacturer that I wasn't able to spell as well as I used to, but that was a side effect I was willing to accept.

I've taken the Teva for two days now, and, both times, I've noticed that I've been, well, fuzzy in the mornings. Slightly dissociated, if that makes any sense. And I'm having a *far* harder time not just with spelling but with finding the most appropriate phrases and typing well. (I'm having to rewrite sentences several times to get them to say what I want, and my typing coordination is definitely off.)

Maybe this will go away. There's a possibility that I'm a slow metabolizer and I could just drop my dosage. I suspect I could switch to the slow-release version -- the effects I felt with the prior formulation were typically in the evenings, when the drug was wearing off.

But it's worrying. And I've always prided myself on my writing ability, and if the mental fuzziness also extends into conceptual thinking, I'm going to have to reconsider what I plan on doing.

On another note, one of my cousins is quite likely on the spectrum. I hadn't met him for several years, but when I saw him recently, he exhibited a lot of the symptoms. (He's incredibly literal, for example, and relatively inflexible.) My mother agrees, but pointed out that his parents would neither take the diagnosis well nor know how to deal with it. He's young enough that it doesn't matter as much, but I'm not sure what they're going to do in the long run.

#259 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2012, 12:44 PM:

LMM @258: A personal anecdote about synthetic fibers -- A few years back I brushed the snow off the snowblower with my mittened hand and realized afterwards that the (probably) nylon outer surface of the mitten (they were very warm but cheap insulated mittens) must have come into contact with the exhaust pipe of the snowblower for fraction of a second; it was entirely melted through to the insulation layer, and some of the insulation (it looked like cheap fibrous cushion stuffing) was melted, too. If I'd been in contact for much longer, I'd likely have some serious burns. But the mitten did not catch fire, for whatever that's worth; it just melted (which would, I acknowledge, be a Bad Thing if it had been the layer in direct contact with my skin).

#260 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2012, 01:47 PM:

LMM: I'm on Lamictal, and I haven't checked the manufacturer of my generic -- and the only way I can deal with mine is to take it at night, so the effects are mitigated by morning.

It's not as dramatic as the Trileptal. That one causes serious physical dizziness -- taking that one at bedtime is essential for me, because if I took it in the morning I wouldn't be safe to drive until afternoon.

I'm not getting interference with my ability to write, at least. (If anything, it's helped, because I'm not utterly paralyzed by depression.) But memory like Swiss cheese? Yeah. I wasn't great before, but it's amplified it. You know, for the USEFUL parts of memory like appointments and where I put my keys. (They're clipped inside my pocketbook on a tether. If I don't do that, then they are lost for three days and I have to take the mechanic spares.) Doesn't seem to affect the part of my memory that gets me sent out of the room during Jeopardy.

I think maybe you're on to something with the dosage; if the formulation you're taking now is more effective than the one you were on before, maybe it DOESN'T need to be up as high. Worth asking your doctor. I'm on lower-than-expected doses of my two because at the standard ones, I get wicked side effects, and the lower doses still seem effective.

Good luck with it. Lamictal is tricky, but if it's the right drug, it is SO worth it.

#261 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2012, 03:36 PM:

Returning after a week away at a conference:

Jacque: Re. "Does this work @ 232, Yes-and-no, like others have said. General effect yes, dome-covered cities on a hostile-atmosphere world, but a slight feeling that they're not rooted. I think some of the bubbles have (or look to me as if they have) a bit more than half of their surface above ground, and they need to have slightly less than half visible to seem properly grounded? And more visible buildings inside would help with bubble scale. Maybe add tunnels connecting some of the bubbles?

Ross@ 175: Yes, I used to get stress-nausea/stress-retching all the time (and even stress-vomiting on occasion, like before exams). Much less often now, thankfully.

Tom @176: adrenaline supplements Ross doesn't need - adrenaline is what's high during flight-or-flight responses.

Ross @ 180: I've found simple calcium carbonate antacid tablets work when I've got a sort-of acidic feeling and feel like I need to burp but can't (so start retching) - the tablets let me burp instead and then the nausea settles down. YMMV, but worth trying, when they're so cheap.

Syd: Thanks for the update - I've been going over to read your blog from time to time.

Dash @240: So, three medical conditions (not exactly your fault...) and the fact that you're bright, are "issues". Yes, it's your mother who really has the issues.

#262 ::: dcb has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2012, 03:37 PM:

And I've no idea why I've been gnomed, but I can offer chocolate???

#263 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2012, 04:15 PM:

dcb: Yes, adrenaline is what's high during fight-or-flight; and when these high levels are maintained for a while, the adrenals start to shut down, causing adrenaline fatigue. So the supplements can help keep someone's body at a "high-enough" reaction level without making the adrenals have to work so hard they shut down.

I would recommend, however, checking with a Real Doctor about this (preferably a good naturopath with a wide range of working skills in supplements).

#264 ::: Sica ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2012, 04:33 PM:

Jaque at 232

Another thing that pushes things a bit closer to "not work" than "work" for me personally is that the reflections on the domes are all the same. So they look like resized and cloned copies of each other.

If you think about how they're sitting on the planet the sun isn't going to be hitting them all at exactly the same angle so the reflections and the lense flare style ping! light is going to vary. The smaller ones will also probably have a different pattern than the big ones.

You'd also expect not to have completely clean line on the bottom, there are some rocks and stuff on the ground there so some of those would obscure the very bottom of the domes in places. I adding that would really help the domes feel more grounded. It might help if you have access to a garden with some dirt and then take a transparent bowl and turn it upside down and grind down into the dirt a bit. You'll see that you won't be able to see the completely clean circle of the bowl opening anymore, some dirt will obscure it in places.

Another thing is to think about the depth of field (i.e. how sharp things are and how in focus vs. how far away they are from the viewer). Lots of different depths of fields work, there is no wrong there really.

However we're used to things loosing detail the further it is away so it's possible to use that to give the illusion of bigger distance etc. Having absolutely everything in sharp focus works fine too, lots of paintings go that way and some lenses in cameras will let you do that in photos too.

Anyway what I'm getting at is that the background mountains are lower in detail than the rest, the foreground is quite detailed and then the domes are super detailed and sharp, even the ones that I read as being supposed to be far away. This makes the domes in one sense seem closer than the foreground and definitely very far from the background mountains and because the domes are sharper than the ground they're sitting on that's another thing that adds to the feel of them not being grounded

Having typed all this out, please know that I mean very well with the tips and tricks I've mentioned. There's definitely promise in your image and I'm pretty sure I can see the vision you have in your head about what it should look like. I'm just trying to give out some tips and tricks that would help bridge the gap between what you visualise and what you produce (everyone struggles with that gap). I've done quite a lot of digital art and photography and I'm fully aware that my suggestions might not work for you. I'm just mentioning things that my brain notices and what has worked for me in the past.

#265 ::: Ross ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2012, 05:12 PM:

dcb @ 261: That sounds exactly like what happens to me. I'll try taking calcium carbonate. Thanks!

#266 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2012, 06:00 PM:

Jacque @245: Oh, that's what you meant by "peer". There are so many different ways one can be a peer, but the one I'm most used to seeing/hearing/using is in terms of skillset. So, writer to writer, artist to artist, engineer to engineer are peer relationships in my head. I'm not an artist :-) It actually never occurred to me (until you said it) that liking SF and space enough to immediately recognize a Mars colony concept was every bit as much a marker of a peer group!

Cassy B. @259: What you saw is exactly what is dangerous about synthetic fibers. They don't catch fire: they melt, stick to your skin, and cause burns that way. They're *very* hard to get off once melted onto something. (Fortunately my experience with that has been entirely with synthetics melted to inanimate objects, so it was merely a nuisance to clean.)

A dangling synthetic scarf may be more likely to swing out and touch something hot, but it's not likely to catch fire. It'll melt into a mess where it touched the something hot. Animal fibers like wool and silk stink and shrivel instead of melting, but usually don't catch fire either.

#267 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2012, 07:23 PM:

dcb @261: All of the above, yes.

Maybe add tunnels connecting some of the bubbles?

There are tunnels there, really, honest. But they're swamped by the domes, and apparently victims of the image's resolution. :)

Sica @264: Yup, likewise, all of the above. And what you said about doing scale-model studies. Another aspect is the domes' reflections interacting with each other. Also, reflections of the putative building lights on the insides of the domes.

There are so many aspects interacting in the image that one of the challenges is to make it "work" without turning it into a graduate-thesis level project. I'm trying very hard to take a deep breath and not get discouraged. I'm also trying to take comfort in 1) it being harder because this is the first time I've tried something like this (the lion's share of my work is in portraiture), and 2) later works benefiting from "basic research" done for this one.

I've done quite a lot of digital art and photography

Oh, I'm all about the getting comments from People Who Actually Know What They're Doing, believe me! And thank you!

#268 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2012, 10:26 PM:

I'm trying to type something up but I might not post it here. I just want to say that I appreciate these threads and the people in them. Also posting here has helped me be able to phrase things better, I think? Writing stuff down as if I'm going to post it helps me keep things from getting way off-topic (because it has to be clear enough for strangers to get the gist of it, and not so detail-heavy that they'd get bored). I'm feeling slightly overwhelmed* by life in general right now so I'm gonna get some sleep. Good luck and internet-hugs to those who want them.

*slightly as in "how am I meant to keep all these plates spinning without dropping too many?" not like "oh crap everything's on fire and I've lost all my left socks". sometimes I wish I could have some things taken care of for me, but doesn't everyone?

#269 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2012, 11:31 PM:

Phenicious, I'm a reasonably competent adult, and I'm here to tell you, adulthood is a Giant Pain In My Ass. And apparently I have some Goddamn Tapes of my own, involving being burdensome to my friends. This thread keeps reminding me that it's OK to ask for help.

#270 ::: ma larkey ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2012, 12:12 AM:

I've not been posting, holding back, thinking to myself, it's enough that I said all these things in previous threads and it's more than enough trouble that I need to keep bottled in, and to even attempt to uncap it would cost too many spoons.

But I'm tired and fed up and need to vent, and this is still a relatively safe place to vent, so.

I've been saving up, wanting help getting both practical help and medical, and yet realize that until I actually *leave* I will always have this terror of having stuff taken from me by my abusers. Sometimes it's small things that set me off. Recently a godmother who has been out of touch came to town and I had lunch with her, but it was only through her old buddies, the parental units. It was painful, because my godmother kept saying what a perfect family we were.

Then this morning, my mother forwards this email---one of those sappy stories that has been floating around, about a little girl who approaches a pharmacist with a jar full of her savings, and asks to buy a miracle. Then by deus ex machina the pharmacist has a brother right then and there, a famous neurosurgeon who happens to be able to fix the tumor of the little girl's father. My mother forwarded this email to me, with that forwarded tag: "please return to me if applicable." The story ends with this statement saying we all need miracles.

I cannot tell you how angry and hurt I am by this email. Thinking to myself: She of all people wants me to tell her She needs a Miracle? She of all people telling me that she hopes for some kind of magical release? Release without accountability for the things she has done to me?

I'm so upset am shaking. I realize I should leave soon. I'm terrified.

#271 ::: ma larkey ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2012, 12:12 AM:

I've not been posting, holding back, thinking to myself, it's enough that I said all these things in previous threads and it's more than enough trouble that I need to keep bottled in, and to even attempt to uncap it would cost too many spoons.

But I'm tired and fed up and need to vent, and this is still a relatively safe place to vent, so.

I've been saving up, wanting help getting both practical help and medical, and yet realize that until I actually *leave* I will always have this terror of having stuff taken from me by my abusers. Sometimes it's small things that set me off. Recently a godmother who has been out of touch came to town and I had lunch with her, but it was only through her old buddies, the parental units. It was painful, because my godmother kept saying what a perfect family we were.

Then this morning, my mother forwards this email---one of those sappy stories that has been floating around, about a little girl who approaches a pharmacist with a jar full of her savings, and asks to buy a miracle. Then by deus ex machina the pharmacist has a brother right then and there, a famous neurosurgeon who happens to be able to fix the tumor of the little girl's father. My mother forwarded this email to me, with that forwarded tag: "please return to me if applicable." The story ends with this statement saying we all need miracles.

I cannot tell you how angry and hurt I am by this email. Thinking to myself: She of all people wants me to tell her She needs a Miracle? She of all people telling me that she hopes for some kind of magical release? Release without accountability for the things she has done to me?

I'm so upset am shaking. I realize I should leave soon. I'm terrified.

#272 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2012, 12:34 AM:

ma larkey, still reading and witnessing, and still in complete agreement with you that you need to get out. You do, oh, you do.

That said, there's clearly something I'm not seeing, because I am unsure why a piece of glurge (warning: link goes to Urban Dictionary) like that email forward, and the accompanying sentence, should have such a profound effect. If you feel like unpacking that would serve to calm your shakes, rather than make them worse, I'd be willing to listen, here or in email.

If trying to explain it would only make you feel worse, don't do it, obviously. I offer a virtual cup of tea and some shortbread cookies instead.

#273 ::: ma larkey ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2012, 06:04 AM:

I have a confession to make. I've been posting under another name, hiding under it, because I was irrationally operating under that tendency to compartmentalize my work problems away from my other ones which I've posted on other threads. Also, my situation made me identifiable in some ways and me feel unsafe posting under this name for that other issue. I apologize to the community for the untruth and for the omission. I have received so much support here, and you all deserve the truth where it can be told. Thank you. You'll never know how much even just posting here helps, and how your responses keep me going.

Yes, it's dysfunctional, irrational and unfair behavior. I'll try not to tax your patience.

#274 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2012, 06:34 AM:

Just as a general thing, please contact me ahead of time if you feel there's a reason to post in this sub-community using an identity other than your usual DF one. I'm generally uncomfortable with it, but if it is necessary, I'd prefer to work with you ahead of time and find safe ways to clue the community in.

No one wants to make people feel unsafe—but unsafety can come from both sides: from feeling too exposed and from feeling that one is operating with shifting social cues and too little truth to work with.

It's my job to help people balance that. I'm glad to assist.

#275 ::: Torrilin ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2012, 08:19 AM:

re: broken link

Thanks for the fixing guys :). I got hit by the parent train (in a good way) and then went in for hand surgery. So I'm 2 finger typing while I recover. Dad dealt with his surgery angst by fixing ALL the things, and Mom tidied my kitchen. It was a less stressful visit than usual because I had stuff for them to do and I did not pretend to believe them that they'd do what I said :D. (yes daddy, I know you said you'd paint, but you never paint...)


Yes, some of the fiber properties are undesirable. Most fibers have some undesirable properties, even silk. This means you need to use judgement about which problems are more serious. For adult type people, it is a good idea to expect that they will have some sense and they won't try to crawl into a lit fire when wearing heavy winter clothing. For a baby or toddler, this is perhaps a big assumption... you'd need to think about fireplaces and winter camping and how much supervision the kid tends to have. But it's also important to recognize that knitters, crocheters and weavers can't prevent a baby from crawling into a fire by the power of our craft. So instead of angsting about the perfect fiber, I offer friends free babysitting instead. I tend to like kids once they can talk and moms are often dying for some time where they're not the only adult in the house. I'm sure there are other reasonable ways to handle this sort of worry, like only making stuff for grown ups.

re: CBT and ADD/ADHD

I'm not aware of any particular uses of CBT for ADD. I tend to experience ADD as more a neurological problem. The physical structure of my brain is different. There isn't any amount of different or more correct thinking that will make my brain "normal".

To me where CBT comes in is in dealing with the emotional reaction. It is not NICE to feel like your brain is broken or damaged or that you are stupid. It's also not exactly true. I have strong points and weak points, and some of the strong points are really awesome. Like it takes forever for me to develop a habit, so I have a hard time developing bad habits. But it can be really hard to see the strong points, so CBT can be helpful for whacking on distorted thinking where all you see is badness.

#276 ::: Broken Pottery ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2012, 12:58 PM:

@219 Jeremy Leader & @222 OtterB,

I appreciate the suggestion because while that aligned with my own thinking I have some rather serious doubts about my own capacity for good judgement so having some validation of the idea helped.

I did speak to each of them. I expressed my sorrow over how my actions hurt them and noted that they seemed uncomfortable talking about the issue when I came around but that while I wouldn't pressure them to do so I would be available and willing to talk to them if they wanted to. Both have now left, neither having chosen to talk about the issue further or indicate that they would like to do so in the future. Despite it being perfectly reasonable of them and having no sign that they won't choose to in the future (both conversations got a "ok, I'll keep that in mind" response) I feel rebuffed (and upset with myself about feeling that way) that neither chose to take me up on my offer.

#277 ::: Persephone ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2012, 02:36 PM:

#258 ::: LMM ::: My husband was on Lamictal for years for a seizure disorder. He's a very large man and his system just metabolizes medication right out, so the dose they had him on was pretty spectacular. He had a lot of mental fuzziness and memory issues. Like, couldn't remember the names of coworkers or places he'd recently been. He knew the person or place perfectly well, but couldn't grasp the name.

He just finished stepping down and off the meds a few months ago, and says he's much improved. I believe the mental issues disappeared as the dose got lower, though I'd have to ask him to be sure.

#278 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2012, 02:45 PM:

Broken Pottery @276: It sounds like you've done everything you can. It's hard to feel like there's nothing more you can do, but at some point you just have to give them time. Maybe they'll come back later to talk to you about it, maybe they never will. At least you know you did your best to improve the situation, now it's up to them.

#279 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2012, 03:21 PM:

Broken Pottery @276: I feel rebuffed

Don't dispair. You did "express my sorrow over how my actions hurt them." Even though they were not in a place to acknowledge that, it's amazing how much positive difference an admission like that can have over the long term.

The last time I talked to my father, he acknowledged my difficult place in the family. At the time, I was unable to process that fully, and he passed away shortly after, so I never got a chance to discuss it with him further.

But much to my surprise, I found that my internal relationship with him began to heal spontaneously. So be of good cheer (less-bad cheer?). It may take time to play out, but your comment will probably have good effect.

#280 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2012, 04:32 PM:

Jacque @232: I love the ephemerality of the domes, the harshness of the light outside the domes, and the fragility of the lights within. Is this meant to be one of the terraforming works? I don't see actual buildings within the domes. (I haven't read Captain Vorpatril's Alliance, yet, but huge Vorkosigan fan here, so, with the 'abi' hint, I could tell exactly what you were getting at.) It's obvious you've read the descriptions, and you've thought about how to adequately render everything from the thin atmosphere to the brownish-yellow of the rock and "peat moss".

Update at #243: aha! See these domes for further development!

(reads further) I think I do agree with Nancy Lebovits @246 -- I'm not entirely sure how you might manage it, but possibly a little light back-scatter along the ground along the edges of the domes, where little bits of light would get refracted through?

*hugs* Please don't get discouraged!

I would totally put a print of this on a wall. And I don't even really like browns and yellows.

#281 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2012, 07:10 PM:

Jennifer Baughman @280: Aw, thank you!

Yeah, relationship of the domes to the ground is an interesting puzzle, amplified by being (I hope) in semi-shadow. There's a lot going on there, and rendering it without it turning into noise, or blurry mush is an interesting challenge. Especially when viewed from a distance of a couple of miles, which is what I'm aiming for.

Further research is required. The mid-ground is formless mainly because the thing I tried to give the ground texture FAILED, and I was exhausted, and not willing to stop until I had something that was at least marginally presentable.

I would totally put a print of this on a wall.

If you've a mind to, by all means, though I'd recommend waiting for Mark II.

#282 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 04:14 PM:

Had second session with counsellor2 today. Came in with sort of a list of what I wanted to talk about, but it was very brief and not detailed and I'd forgotten the thought processes behind what I'd written. Mom decided she needed to say something, so she was there for a minute at the start. Basically she said what I'd already gone over, that she and my dad are worried/anxious/upset by me not going to school, she doesn't want me to be an agoraphobic working minimum wage forever and ever until I die, etc. Some other stuff too but I don't want to write a novel. Also she wanted me to tell the counsellor about my Asperger's diagnosis, because apparently that's relevant? Probably, but it didn't come up and counsellor2 didn't ask why I was fiddling with stuff and looking everywhere but at her, so whatever. It would have maybe made it easier to explain why I would need a huge amount of time to write an email about volunteering. (We agreed that volunteering = structure/confidence building = good, so she suggested I look for places that need volunteers. And then she asked if I was likely to actually contact anyone, and I said no because emailing is terrible and takes me forever, and phoning is just nerve wracking. And then I had to try explaining WHY writing is so hard but I didn't do it very well.)
Aaand now she's taking me to a job fair. Applying for jobs just takes all the energy out of me, I swear. Going hat shopping afterward so that's something to look forward to I guess.

[I feel like I need to make a private blog or something for all this. Some kind of archive that isn't connected to my real name or pictures of me. I have more paper journals than I need, but I can never keep up writing everything out by hand.]

#283 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 06:42 PM:

A tiny update: The job fair was okay. No time for hat shopping, but I'm feeling better. And now I'm going to dress up in silly outfits and try to keep a somewhat positive outlook. Cheers.

#284 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 06:45 PM:

Just realized that I didn't specify the "she" who was taking me to the job fair; it was my mom. That was added in a hurry, and then I ran out the door.

#285 ::: Nameless ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 07:02 PM:

Phenicious, your mom probably wants you to mention your Asperger's diagnosis because (I assume) it affects who you are and the things you are comfortable doing. My depression means I will never be comfortable in a high-stress workaholic position, and has contributed to personality factors (I am risk-averse, I need to get all the details pinned down before I open my mouth with a plan), so I tried to keep that in mind last year when I was job-hunting. Which reminds me [[hands over some job hunting luck]].

#286 ::: Bricklayer ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2012, 10:54 AM:

Emotional whipsawing today.

- I must finish making diagrams (and samples, not unrelated) for the beadwork class I'm teaching this Sunday. I will not be able to effectively do this after dinner tomorrow, so it must be finished before then. Everything else for the classes I'm teaching this weekend is at a 'good-enough' stage, though refinements could of course occur.

- Last night some long-distance artistic collaborators of mine that I've always felt kind of hanger-onnish about -- they're so much cooler than I am! -- called me up specifically to ask if they could PAY MY PLANE FARE to import me to New York for an in-person rehearsal, preparatory to a late-October gig we have. Zomg guys, they like me, they really like me!

- At a friend's insistence, I've been working on my LinkedIn profile, in the hopes I might someday be seriously sending out resumes. Everyone I know is SO SUCCESSFUL, YO, and the website wants me to list my accomplishments and skills when 'really' I'm a horrible fuckup who can't ever be on time for anything or fulfill my obligations or even do laundry .... umyeah. I do know those are erroneous voices, honest, but they're LOUD, y'know?

- I need to force myself to leave the house today to accomplish at least a few of the out-of-house, time-sensitive, terrifying errands currently pending. So far in the last two weeks I've managed to step outside my house's door when no other adult is present ... twice. And not at all in the past 9 days. :-/ Baaaad brain weather.

So that's me.

#287 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2012, 11:12 AM:

Bricklayer @286, I'm sending good vibes your way. And congratulations on the invitation to New York!

#288 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2012, 11:22 AM:

Bricklayer: I hear you on all fronts.

And congratulations on the invitation to New York. I still get the equivalent, "you want to pay me to come talk to you? are you nuts?" thing in my head, too.

#289 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2012, 06:16 PM:

This post is about abuse issues in the BDSM community, but I think some of it has much wider application. Summary: trying to "work around" a person who is a known problem is like having a stair missing on your stairwell and just stepping over the gap rather than fixing it.

#290 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2012, 12:28 PM:

This research report made me think of the comments some have made in this group about having trouble knowing what healthy family interaction looks like when you didn't experience it growing up.

American Family Assets Study

They use "assets" in the general sense of "resources," not just referring to financial or material assets. I've run across things by the Search Institute before; they're a player in the "Positive Psychology" space that looks at what makes people happy and functional, not just at what makes them unhappy and dysfunctional.

#291 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2012, 06:22 PM:

Hi. I just want to ask something because it'd make me feel better to have an answer. What is too menial/off-topic to post here? Anywhere I post regularly, I eventually start posting everything that's bugging me, including really trivial stuff like "oh man I'm hungry but don't feel like eating". So I just want to have an idea of what to screen out. Maybe it'd be easier to know what IS relevant? Job stuff, stuff related to what I've already posted...

I'm mentioning this because I feel like I don't have a very good brain-to-keyboard filter. I tend to over-share once I get comfortable. Then I feel like I'm putting people off with all my stupid sincere overemotional blah blah blah. So then I stop posting anything because I can't trust myself to keep my thoughts to myself.

#292 ::: LMM ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2012, 06:33 PM:

So, as it turns out, when it comes to social issues, CBT seems to be *highly* triggering for me. I'm not sure if the person I'm seeing contributes to the problem, but being questioned repeatedly when I say that several people don't like me doesn't do anything except make me upset. Particularly when my therapist fails to suggest plausible alternative interpretations. (To me pointing out that a coworker actively mocks me when I say things: "Well, that seems childish. I can't believe that someone would be doing that at her age." -- "Yes, but she does it *only* to me.")

Ultimately -- and this is my fault, really -- it doesn't help that most approaches to social *conflicts* for me (as opposed to just nervousness, etc.) tend to make me feel defeatist. If the problem is with the other person -- if they're just an asshole -- then that doesn't change anything; I'm just screwed. I can go around with the comfort (such as it is) that it's not *my* fault, but I've never been a believer in that unless the situation was in the remote past. And if the problem is me ... well, digging into even remotely awkward situations is incredibly triggering for me, and it tends to cumulate with me throwing my hands up in the air and declaring that, in that case, I'm still screwed.

I'm going to keep going, I guess. I'm just not convinced that I'm capable of dealing with it.

#293 ::: Merricat ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2012, 07:37 PM:

Phenicious: It's hard to say "x is allowed" and "x is not allowed" because, well, there are so many ways that weird dysfunctional family stuff can hit a person. People have talked about food issues before, and fairly trivial stuff before, and just talked because they needed someone to hear what was going on.

A helpful question to ask as you post might be "can the community help me with this thing that's bugging me? (even if it's just that I need someone to listen and acknowledge that it bugs me)" Or, if you're worried about taking up too much space because there's Just So Much Stuff, you could start a webjournal and make sure it links from your username, and post the "highlights" as it were.

If you WERE to cross the magical "off-topic" line, someone would gently point it out and link you to another area of the blog (open thread?) where you could talk about that thing. No one will get mad at you or ostracize you for posting something unrelated, you know? And people will still want to know how you're doing and if they can help. The worst case scenario is "someone will say something, you will feel mildly embarrassed, and everyone will have forgotten it five minutes later."

(I make suggestions based on my own cognition; take what is applicable, ignore what is not.)

@LMM I don't think your therapist sounds like a particularly good one. For me, "I can't believe someone her age would do that, it's so childish" doesn't convey validation of my emotions, it conveys disbelief in my reporting of the situation. CBT is supposed to help you put things in perspective, not to minimize and dismiss your very valid reasons for distress.

Skimming your second paragraph, though, it looks like you're more interested in working on conflict management skills than cognitive management skills? I don't know if CBT would fit that goal even if you had a therapist on your wavelength. I'm not sure what would.

#294 ::: Merricat has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2012, 07:39 PM:

Alas, I seem to have invoked some Words of Power.

[It was a formatting thing. Three spaces in a row throw things to moderation now, since the spammers have started using multiple spaces between words in their comments as a way of defeating simple phrase-based filters. -- Oonorn Pilitus, Duty Gnome]

#295 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2012, 08:17 PM:

LMM: Taken literally, "that seems childish. I can't believe that someone would be doing that at her age" sounds like the therapist is doubting you, and has rather little experience with people (Doubting the existence of any people who ever act childish? Really?). Then, it occurred to me that it might just be a really poor choice of words. The therapist might be expressing her support, in effect saying "it's amazing that someone would do that, that's awful". In other words, using "I can't believe" for rhetorical effect, rather than in it's literal sense of "I don't believe your statement". It would come down to what else the therapist says, and their tone of voice.

#296 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2012, 09:10 PM:

Phenicious, I would say that some things are good to post here, some on the Open Thread, and some to a reasonably-stocked* Facebook page. But I subdivide my minutiae fairly stringently. Facebook is for personal quick bits, like 'I am napping all the time.' Twitter's for professional and social justice things. Livejournal is longer, Making Light is if I feel it's relevant to others here, writing advice goes to the Alpha blog.

*meaning that you have people at least probably reading it

#297 ::: LMM ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2012, 09:52 PM:

@294: I think she meant it more as "I think you've misinterpreted this situation; let's come up with another motivation."

Which might be okay if it weren't for the fact that I've seen this confirmed a thousand other ways. I'd much rather approach this as "Lots of people dislike me. I'm not sure why. How do I work on this?"

#298 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2012, 01:12 AM:

LMM @ 292 and 297 - my first interaction with CBT was with someone who had a lot of compassion and skill.

I learned later he was quite exceptional: a lot of people use CBT-style challenges without either the skill to mop up the results in their session nor the good will needed to support the client in the first place. And I have yet to meet the CBT therapist who understands that when the session becomes another markedly pointed polemic on the (in)effectiveness of the technique, it's perhaps time to consider whether he/she wasn't the one needing to do the reality check?

That said, I'd encountered (on a purely non-professional basis) a related approach, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, which goes back to the client's experience of the world, and seeks to accept that it exists, while supporting the client's desire for changing that experience. (Hence the "dialectical" part of the name.) I've found I have a LOT more energy to do some of those changes, when I first understand myself to have been heard, either by the counselor or even just my own self. (And, just to be clear on this, the therapist saying, "I understand what you're saying" is not sufficient. I won't insert a long story about the polar opposite of this, as I fear making this more about me than you.)

It may feel counter-intuitive to not go immediately into the mode of "fix it NOW", but it's worked when the CBT approach has only served to solidify my anger and rebellion... (what you'd called "triggering", I think.)

In the midst of the frustration and embattlement you feel at your situation, it can help immensely to find some small gesture of kindness you can give yourself. Balance it with a similar gesture to someone else, if you feel you "must" balance it (we all know we are "not supposed to be selfish", thanks to our upbringing). But when the rest of the world has you convinced of its depths, it's worth being appreciated, even by your own self.

Crazy(and preparing to visit the gnomes, suspecting she may have named a word of power...)Soph

#299 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2012, 04:08 PM:

Phenicious @291: What is too menial/off-topic to post here?

Here's my strategy for that. I keep a separate window open to the comment box to enter heat-of-the-moment responses. Then, at the end of a session, instead of posting the comment (unless it's really obviously an IMHO Value-Added comment), I copy the comment session off into a text file. Then, if a thought keeps biting at me, and/or if, on review the next day, the comments seem to be properly Value-Added, I follow through and post them.

This has the dual advantage of producing a "journal" in as much detail as needed that I can refer to later, and it serves as a buffer to filter out the "menial" stuff that is of interest mostly just to me.

#300 ::: dragonet2 ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2012, 09:48 PM:

Like others, I've tried to write this over and over, I keep leaving it and coming back. I've mostly been discussing AND venting on my facebook page, which is in my own name, but my family reads stuff there and they revere my mother. I do not want to start a family shitstorm.

Yes, I've had a major life event. Losing my left foot because of neuropathy and a staph infection is a trauma.But i'm on the healing side of it and the depression I'm having bouts of is way over the top for me. And I'm not very self-analytical, it is not in my nature. Neither is the depth of these waves of depression.

I think I'm replaying my mother's mantra of 'no matter how good you do, there is something else you're a failure at so you can't win.'

I'd get straight As in school and she'd go, 'that's nice but you're still fat.' The reasons were way more endless, but that example
is one of the reasons I sort of glided thorough high school.

And i'm okay if I'm busy, but I do still get tired and until I get my leg, it's way more effort to do stuff than before. And when I'm tired and alone, the tape starts up again. I have never been suicidal, but it does make me so down that i become immobile or play the same computer game over and over and over and over

I'd rather not take antidepressants, I am a walking ;'if this can cause x side effect, i'll get the side effect' or it will make me stupid and sleepy (Vicodin does that, but i'm not taking it anymore because the phantom pain quit after they took the giant splint off...that is the only thing it has helped.)

Any advice, even a silly, out of left-field mantra might help. I've run out of ideas. And I'm really tired of this shit.

Thanks for listening.

#301 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 02:29 AM:

dragonet2: Is there a chance that the depression is disallowed anger? Not wanting to start a family sh!tstorm is probably a reasonable objective, especially while you're reconfiguring your life around your new state.

But I wonder if the price you're paying is that you're denying yourself the option of speaking your own truth to those you need to hear it...?

#302 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 04:45 AM:

dragonet2 @ 300 - I would concur with Jacque's response. Also, the major life event you describe, and still waiting for the proper supports, will sap the energy of a superman. Any attempt to address the one without the other will get... complicated, I think.

There's a rather interesting book called The Noonday Demon: an Atlas of Depression by Andrew Solomon. In it he describes depression from a variety of considerations: historical, socio-economic, medical. He gives a thorough look at the available medications (of the time), and apart from disclosing his own biases, doesn't otherwise promote or demote drug-treatments for depression. (He does, however, relate some rather strange stories of side-effects, which left me with a deeper appreciation of how medication remains more art than science.)

However, reading that book is a longer-term project, I recognize.

Mantras... hmmm, they can be very personal, and what works for someone else doesn't work for me. Or once did not and now does. For what it's worth, one of those is "This, too, shall pass."

Keep us posted, please?

Crazy(and contributing, for some values of "contribute", to the novel-length comment sweepstakes)Soph

#303 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 09:38 AM:

dragonet2: One that has helped me, from time to time, is "it's not about me, it's about her."

My mother's view of me is much like yours of you--no matter how well I am doing in some area, there are others in which I am failing. (this is, of course, true--one cannot succeed in everything if one is human)

Some of those failures are obvious, like weight, and some--including weight--are things my mother has contempt for. So, the same kinds of digs.

The older I get, the more I understand that these are reflections of my mother's personal fears and prejudices. She's afraid of being fat herself, therefore my being fat is threatening and frightening. She's afraid that if she relaxes her housekeeping an iota, all will fall into chaos. She's afraid, in certain ways, of being noticed. She's afraid that if she's not hypervigilant at all times, someone will be mean or insulting to her (so she's often mean or insulting first) or will take advantage of her somehow (especially now that she's old).

But that's her. Not me.

Our relationship is increasingly superficial because I just refuse to engage with her when she's all crazy and blaming. I regret that in many ways. But I'm saner, which I don't regret at all.

Best of luck to you.

#304 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 11:36 AM:

A thing which seems to be good for me: if I have a fit of self-attack, do self-care afterwards. For me, that's kinestethetic (?) self-comforting-- letting myself relax and feel better.

It's taken me a while to get to that. I don't know why (I have some guesses) but feeling better didn't feel safe(?) possible (?) until it did.

A more recent thing: I've been reading Eric Franklin's books on anatomy and visualization. His Dynamic Alignment for Movement has a lot about the ribs, especially their joints and their movement during breathing. After reading it and doing some of the exercises, I realized that I was holding my ribs up and didn't need to. Giving up that piece of effort feels a lot better, and I think it's lowered my anxiety.

#305 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 01:10 PM:

Nancy @ 304

There is definitely something to that. When I finally got my asthma diagnosed and treated, I discovered that my panic level also went down. I can diagnose an asthma attack by how anxious I feel, pretty reliably. (AFAICT, it's my body trying to tell me that something is wrong and maybe a little that the physical sensation of the emotion (chest tightness) triggers the emotion it feels like.)

#306 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 02:25 PM:

dragonet2 @300. I have been helped by meditation techniques. The process of trying to sit in silence (mental as well as physical, for whatever time you can to begin with) has gradually taught me the ability to recognize a thought (a tape, a trigger), name it, and let go of it. So I can tell myself, "Oh look, that's the 'never good enough' tape again" - not trying to repress it, not letting it in to start its endless loop, not trying to reason with it or beat it to death by anger at the original sources or at myself for still falling into it. Just recognize, relax, and release.

#307 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 06:00 PM:

OtterB @306: "Oh look, that's the 'never good enough' tape again" ... Just recognize, relax, and release.

That's something I could do well to take up; especially since I've been making a serious push on the artwork, I've been hearing a lot from my Fearful Self.

#308 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 06:22 PM:

Dragonet2 @ #300: I also have a family situation where confronting them (even calmly) with what they did and do is likely to be counterproductive. To make sure that was logic and not the goddamn tapes deciding, I talked it over several different times with my therapist. We always conclude that confronting them has a much higher chance of making things worse than making them better, and if it's not going to help, then nobody needs the drama. Instead I try to keep family contact to a minimum. I am also gaining some immunity to them as it becomes more and more clear that they were the problem and they were sick all along.

Fish hooks (going back to the thread intro) are a great analogy for how I feel about family stuff. Some were accidental; others were lovingly threaded in complicated patterns; many of them criss-cross. All of them have barbs. Letting go is for grudges; it’s not for cruelty done to someone small and trapped and helpless.

What I don't have is a productive way to express and end the anger and pain, along with all the lovely beliefs that helped cause them. I want them all to be finished, history, scars instead of wounds still tender, bleeding, or festering. I think we both need ideas on how to do that. My best so far (haven't tried it yet) is to do some kind of ritual. I'm not sure if there are spiritual forces out there or just psychology, but either way it probably can't hurt and may help. Other suggestions, anyone?

#309 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 08:33 PM:

me @306 has gradually taught me the ability

This should more accurately be "is gradually teaching me..."

It's not like I've nailed it. But I do see progress.

#310 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 10:57 PM:

The death of a 36-year-old Austin woman has been ruled to be homicide because it can be traced to severe head injuries she received as an infant. The woman was removed from her family at the time of the injury, and spent her entire life in care due to the extent of the neural damage. The alleged perpetrator was her grandmother, who has since died, so the case is considered closed.

On the one hand, a tragic story; on the other hand, at least the record will officially state that this was a death due to abuse. That's better justice than she would have gotten as recently as 10 years ago, and certainly better than she got at the time of the incident.

#311 ::: Bricklayer ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 11:48 PM:

This weekend was a whipsaw of egoboo and impostor syndrome and terror-of-failure and obsessive-need-to-be-USEFUL and overpreparation-to-ward-off-fear, for me.

I'm exhausted right now, but I think it will end up being productive.

Going into each class I taught, the very loud (and lying, lying, LIARPANTS -- but loud) voices in my head kept dinning that I was underprepared, I would suck, everyone would see that I was the Emperor With No Clothes, what right had I to commit to teach these classes when I am incompetent, everyone will laugh at me AND be hurt by me AND ....

The reaction from my actual, in-real-life students was overwhelmingly (!! in more than one way) positive in all cases except the one where I ended up with 150% more students than I expected and was kind of hopping to try to give one-on-one instruction to too many people.

And even in that class, the general reaction was pleasure at having started to learn a new skill, and willingness to go home and keep trying to do it, even though they didn't have a Finished Successful Product to take with them when they left.

This is all a win, and I'm still shaky about it.

It seemed relevant to the thread.

#312 ::: Bricklayer needs a nym rescue ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 11:49 PM:

One ohnosecond later, I realize I hit post and never actually edited the who's-posting ...

Sorry, and thanks in advance to our diligent gnome team.

#313 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 02:34 AM:

Elizabeth Bear has posted a blog entry on the reality of PTSD in comparison to its use in fiction. I suspect this community will appreciate it. I certainly did.

#314 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 02:39 AM:

Merricat @293: Or, if you're worried about taking up too much space because there's Just So Much Stuff, you could start a webjournal and make sure it links from your username, and post the "highlights" as it were.
Yeah, I posted that because I was having a lot of "wow who even cares about what I'm saying?" thoughts. I'd go to my twitter or whatever, start typing something and then stop because it seemed too boring and like it didn't need to be public. Linking to a blog might feel less like I'm spamming the thread, so I might do that. Thanks!

Diatryma @296: Makes sense, I definitely don't have the same audience in mind for my facebook vs my twitter.

Jacque @299: I did something like that the other day, actually. Ended up realizing that no, that particular event I'd just spent two large paragraphs recounting wasn't really meant for this thread (even if it was good for me to write it out). I hadn't thought of saving it all in one file, though, which is another good idea.

Bricklayer @311: Good to hear :)

Household stuff: My parents just got a new mattress delivered, and gave my brother their old one. The preparations for that involved a lot of vacuuming, sorting through the debris that had collected under beds, throwing things out etc. I wasn't asked to help but I ended up pitching in for the cleanup anyway. I don't mind, it's good to know I'm saving my parents the back and knee pain from vacuuming in awkward positions! And it's also nice that stuff got done, and junk that's been hanging around for a decade or more is finally gone. And I finished putting together one of my bookcases (finally! just one more left) and getting a stack of cookbooks put away. Then I spent a lot of time sleeping today since it was so dark out. So this has averaged out to an okay weekend in terms of feeling productive!

Also I've written up some thoughts about communication, based on an article I read a while back. It's essentially me trying to explain why I have such big hangups re:sounding "smart" in writing. Once I get that to where I'm satisfied with it (is that ironic, since I'm writing about my writing issues?) I might post it, or at least a link to the piece that inspired it.

#315 ::: various nyms from befote ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 12:48 PM:

Witnessing wanted
am in a meeting that cover somewhere.around 40% of my experience /expertise. I've had 0% input into the agenda. I'm sitting silently in back out of the main conversation

I want to leave but shouldnt. Where are some tools to be amused and distracted from this day?

#316 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 01:11 PM:

various @315, do you want to be engaged in the conversation? If so, questions in a neutral tone of voice that begin something like, "My understanding is ..." might help you step in.

If you don't want to be engaged, try a bingo sheet. How many obvious arguments / same-old, same-old / or predictable dead ends can you identify?

Phenicions and bricklayer both, congratulations

#317 ::: various nyms ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 01:49 PM:

Otterb @316.
I wanted to be engaged in the design of the meeting. I'm waiting to see if anyone asks my opinion. Not sure if this is passive aggressive or self-protective.

#318 ::: Dash ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 07:53 PM:

Haven't been reading this in the last few days, just caught up now, still witnessing and thinking over my own case. Nothing major has happened recently, and I've been busy getting ready for a semester abroad, so I just haven't returned here until now.
A few small things have happened, of course. I've been noticing how my mom will swear over small things, e.g. my friend eating more pizza than my mother thought she would and not leaving enough for dinner, yet adamantly refuses when I try to fix the situation, e.g. give her what pizza there is left instead of eating it myself.
And reading over this triggered a memory I haven't thought of much, and maybe I should deal with more. A few months ago, I won a raffle for mental health screenings, and in telling my mother this briefly mentioned that I had tested borderline for depression, "But that's not much of a surprise." My mother was shocked. Which is strange, because I've had depression before, have chronic crying fits... it's something that's been on my mind for a while, and I just assumed my mother had caught on. I wonder if I should look into that more. I've been to therapists multiple times before, and they never seemed to help much...

#319 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2012, 03:04 AM:

I was feeling upset about stuff earlier, so I started writing. I'm not upset now but I want to say some things.

I probably do have some kinda depression thing going on, based on how I find myself feeling/thinking sometimes.

I don't know how to have a social life anymore, I feel like I don't know how to hold a conversation or approach people. I realise that's not uncommon, I'm not saying it is or that I'm somehow exceptional. I'm just saying it.

I'm trying to differentiate between social anxiety and change-related anxiety and danger or pain-related anxiety. Like dealing with unfamiliar people and I'm terrified of them not liking me. Or being scared to sell my flute because then I won't have it in case I suddenly feel like rejoining band. Or freaking out because I'm scared that the liquid nitrogen demonstration is going to slowly displace all the oxygen in the room and I'll suffocate and die.

There's other stuff I have written but it's really late here so I'll shelve that for now.

#320 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2012, 04:33 AM:

Phenicious @ 319. Breaking down the problem into pieces, defining them, is good. Hopefully that should assist you in tackling the problem(s) - one bite-sized piece at a time.

As an example from my own life, which may or may not be helpful: I have a (lack of) self-confidence/self esteem problem, and I cry too easily - when I'm upset, or frustrated, or angry, or relieved... The crying is Not Helpful(TM), is worse when I'm tired, and every time it happens at work it further lowers my self-confidence etc. (negative feedback spiral).

So, while working on the self esteem on the one hand, I'm also trying to control the crying thing. I had a bit of a breakthrough in understanding it (with help from my husband) when he accurately pointed out why I cry when I'm angry: when I get angry, 99% of the time I don't show that anger (due to past experiences). Instead, I go straight from anger to frustration - and the bottled up frustrated emotion comes out in tears. So, I've invested in a hypnosis download that's designed to tackle "inappropriate crying at work" and I'm trying to use turning my wedding ring around and around on my finger as a way to release emotion/give me calm before it builds up to tears. Not enough time yet to know if it's working.

#321 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2012, 11:41 PM:

dcb @320

Oh my, that sounds a lot like me. Lack of self-confidence; crying when upset, frustrated, angry; not showing (much) anger but going straight to frustration and tears. My past experience was that getting angry doesn't accomplish anything, in the sense of being dismissed or ignored. I just ended up at frustration anyway, so why not go straight there?

My current job doesn't stress me in ways that lead down that path and has helped boost my self-confidence, so it hasn't come out at work in a while, but I know it's still there.

I wouldn't have thought doing some physical fidget was a way to release emotion. I'm curious to hear how well it works, if you want to share more later.

#322 ::: Nancy Lebovitz sees spammity spam spam ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2012, 03:15 AM:

This may or may not be relevant to anyone who goes straight from anger to frustration, but I seem to have a habit of imagining speaking to someone and then imagining that they'll ignore whatever I was trying to get across to them.

In the real world, sometimes I can convince people on the first try, and sometimes not-- but that reflexive assumption probably means I give up more often than I need to.

#323 ::: Nancy Lebovitz didn't see spam ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2012, 03:37 AM:

Sorry about that-- I forgot to update my name entry.

#324 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2012, 06:14 AM:

the invisible one @321: yes, very similar. Re. the ring turning, I'm trying to give myself something to focus on other than "not crying" (sitting thinking "I must not cry, I must not cry" seems to have the opposite effect to the intended one - rather like "don't think about pink elephants") and it's a reminder that someone loves me enough, and holds me in high enough esteem, that they want to spend the rest of their life with me. Additionally, I'm trying borrowing Theo Waitley's reminder "inner calm, inner calm" (Liaden Universe, if you don't know the character - and nothing to do with the ring turning, just another part of my multi-faceted attack on this problem) - which makes me think of Theo, which stops me thinking about crying.

Nancy Lebovitz @322 ; me too, I'll go over and over the scenario in my mind, visualising all the ways in which they will ignore me/dismiss what I'm saying etc. etc. Amazingly enough, this is not helpful.

#325 ::: dcb has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2012, 06:16 AM:

Fruity bread on offer to the gnomes, and apple tea.

#326 ::: AnotherQuietOne ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2012, 06:28 AM:


This, yes, THIS.

I've been dealing with that "preemptive assumption of rejection" lately compounding a case where something important actually got believed on the first attempt, and the conversation could, in theory, move forward.

Not having to fight hard to be heard at all, really set me off balance as far as what to do next - kind of like trying to force open a door that swings easily, and you stagger....

#327 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2012, 10:44 AM:

#326 ::: AnotherQuietOne

I think of it as feeling like trying to step on a step which isn't there.

The same applies to defusing a potential quarrel. Especially online, I can go from (internal, or possibly yelling at the screen) "You m*****-f****** piece of S***!" to typing something very reasonable in less than a minute. I could probably use a middle ground.

#328 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2012, 05:33 PM:

Popping in to witness, and offering virtual tea (or iced tea, as the case may be) to all who are in need of refreshment.

My husband and I have been having some guided conversations lately to help address some issues we've been having. Family-of-origin attitudes have come up in a key way as underlying mis-matched expectations of behavior, not too surprisingly! I think things are improving, but it's a long road, even to address seemingly straight-forward situations.

#329 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2012, 10:16 AM:

dcb@324: More of a talisman than a fidget then. Hm, what can I use as a comparable talisman. It's worth a try, if I can find something.

You are so right though, thinking "I will not cry. I will not cry." is ... less than helpful.

I'm not familiar with either the character or the universe you mention, but the concept brought to mind <clouds reflected in still water.>

Nancy Lebovitz@322 and AnotherQuietOne@326: That pretty well describes something I did just the other day at work. The boss asked me to say a few pointed things to a supplier and I sweated over an email for probably a couple of hours, going back and forth with myself about whether they'd take it as a suggestion for improvement or get defensive or ignore me because face it, I'm not a huge client and all those "make more money in less time" books that I've looked inside are aimed at sales people and talk about cutting out the less profitable clients and that really sucks for people like me who are one of the smaller, less profitable clients and oh hell just send the email already I need to do some actual work today.

And then after all that the supplier phoned me and said I was 100% correct and apologized. I was so stunned all I could really do was give this nervous little laugh and more or less repeat some of the stuff I'd written out.

Preconceived notions suck. Especially when they're wrong.

#330 ::: J. ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2012, 05:45 PM:

It's funny what comes up to bite a person. I was laid up with a headache today and as usual my mind went wandering. I remembered the time the school sent me to a counselor inside the school and as I struggled to articulate how terrified I was of my older sister's rages, the counselor told me it was just sibling rivalry. And later on the school sent me to another counselor outside the school who listened to me struggle to articulate how much like a space alien I felt around other people, and how bullies seemed to be everywhere, and when he went to answer an urgent phone call I peeked at his notes and they said "borderline antisocial." And the truth was that I was a sexually abused and emotionally neglected kid without a person in the world who could help me figure out how to at least act normal.

It's been more than a year since the bully on our hill moved away. She showed classic signs of having been sexually abused and emotionally neglected herself. But she was a bully on top of that, so I banned her from the property.

I just found out a couple of days ago that one of her new neighbors is a mandatory reporter. She's about the age I was when that counselor told me I just had a bad case of sibling rivalry. When she's the age I was when that other counselor labeled me "borderline antisocial," I wonder where she will be.

#331 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2012, 02:39 PM:

Via Steven Brust on twitter, here's an excellent checklist/aide-memoire for helping someone to escape an abusive situation (it also looks useful if you have to leave yourself).

#332 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2012, 03:30 PM:

the invisible one @ 329: - Rider at the Gate, yes? Similar, in a way. Theo is young and bright and full of excess energy and... Hm, more similarities than I would have initially thought, really!

Re. the incident with your supplier, yes. I have to keep reading to myself the list of rights which starts "I have the right to be treated with respect and consideration."

#333 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2012, 04:20 PM:

Abi @331: I wish I'd had that checklist twenty years ago when an acquaintance (a good friend of one of my good friends, but someone I only knew casually) tried (and failed) to leave her husband. (She did get out eventually, but it took her a lot longer than it should have. It got far enough that we all showed up to guerrilla-move her out of her house while her husband was at work... but then she waved off the moving crew when we got there.

I still feel rather guilty about that.

But she did get out, a few years later.


#334 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2012, 06:37 PM:

dcb @332: that's the one :-)

One would almost think that needing to learn inner calm was a common thing.

#335 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2012, 03:05 PM:

For those who struggle with anger-to-crying (please ignore if hleppy): Do you know what your anger feels like?

Mine is a dark brown heaviness in my lower abdomen.

Historically, my anger-fail hasn't been tears, it's been shutting down. (Which, on balance, is probably better than the mushroom cloud that the shut-down is supressing.) Which means that I was completely unable to respond to a problem situation in the moment.

Lately, though, I've actually been feeling my anger when it begins. The nice thing about that is that at that point, I still have access to my brain, and can decide how I want the situation to work out, and make actual, like, choices about how to bring that about. A lot of times, the person at whom I'm angry doesn't even know that I'm angry.

#336 ::: Vrdolyak ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2012, 11:48 PM:

Jacque @335: Sometimes anger feels like a gas burner just turned on. That's actually the safest because I know what that is. Might still do something less-than-smart, but it won't be destructive.

The anger that I fear is the one that builds over time and has physical symptoms and chokes me, because that explodes and then takes years to burn out because the merest breath on the embers reactivates it. There are sometimes tears, but they do not relieve.

Some of this is not being permitted anger in childhood, but where did the rest of it come from?

#337 ::: Dash ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2012, 12:34 AM:

So today was my birthday. I was hoping my mother would be tolerable today, but nope. Guilt-tripped me over the one thing I really wanted to do and used it in arguments as to why I had to do shit for her, misplaced a coupon and yelled at me to find it for her before finding it in her pocket, claiming she hadn't called a phone call a "message" (when, again, she yelled at me to do something with it) when she definitely had, rushing us and then yelling that we were stupid to wait in the car when she still had shit to do, judging various family friends while pointing out how horrible it is for them and others to judge people, insisting that I check voicemail messages while at the dinner table and throwing a fit when I pointed out how rude that is... between that and my father saying what he'd do if it was his birthday and literally counting the minutes until my birthday was up, and my best friend texting the whole time and insisting how lame and pointless my plans are, it really wasn't a terribly fun birthday.
My father and I have been commiserating about how annoying my mother is when we're alone. Today she started yelling at us when we were all in the car already with the windows up, and I pointed out how nice it was to not hear her yelling, and we all laughed. Shame that moment had to end, and the yelling to penetrate that safe space.
I'm glad I'll be elsewhere for her birthday. I'm glad I'll be abroad, where I'll probably Skype once a week. She's bossy enough on normal days, let alone on her birthday... and of course she's insisting that I call her the instant the flight touches down without bothering to research cell phones or anything else that would make that feasible, requiring communication I don't particularly care for while forcing me to do the work. Typical.

#338 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2012, 02:30 AM:

Happy belated birthday, Dash.

I vote you celebrate your mother's birthday by being extra-nice to yourself in your safely distant location.

(On landing, maybe a text message? Relatively cheap international contact, nicely fire-and-forget.)

#339 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2012, 02:41 AM:

Oooh, Dash! Send her a telegram! You've got plausible deniability! Just tell her that it was the best of the limited options available!

Also, happy birthday!

#340 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2012, 01:35 PM:

Dash: Belated Happy Birthday. Sympathies for having your day messed up.

#341 ::: Dash ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2012, 03:26 PM:

The telegram idea made me laugh out loud. Thanks, KayTei.
I'll probably just get a cheap cell phone, but that actually led to another argument/crying fit last night... apparently, even when I want the phone to be only for emergencies, 99 cents a minute is too expensive. Le sigh.

#342 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2012, 04:02 PM:

Dash @ 337:
Wow. Witnessing, and agreeing that being away from your mom sounds like it'd be good for you.

Counsellor update: Second-to-last appointment was today. I still feel like I didn't say what I meant to, which never stops being frustrating. I brought up the Asperger's thing, and then couldn't really remember/express why it was important to mention. I'm beginning to think that talking it out with a person isn't really helping that much. I mean, it's always good to get feedback and feel like I'm being listened to. But I really don't like how often I end up saying "I don't know", whether as "I genuinely don't have an answer to your question" or just space-filler. For example, she asked me at one point what kind of things I say to myself when I'm angry, or something like that. Self esteem stuff, what I'm picking on myself for. And I couldn't think of anything! That's upsetting, because I've written (and deleted) that stuff often enough that I feel like I should be able to remember. The fact that I often don't know how I feel about certain things has been bugging me for a long time. I mean, some things you can say "alright I guess I just don't have any strong feelings about that" but not everything.

#343 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2012, 11:14 PM:

Phenicious: Have you tried writing out these things and bringing them in with you? I've even heard a few suggestions in earlier iterations of the DFD threads to just print out your own posts here, if they cover things you want to bring up with a counselor.

I blank on things in live conversations sometimes even when they're *not* stressful. It's one reason I prefer emailing at work, so I can get all my thoughts in order. If it's time-sensitive, I'll send the email then follow it with a phone call. The email makes sure nothing gets forgotten.

#344 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2012, 05:12 AM:

Self-sufficiency is both a great strength and a great weakness. I've gotten used to fending for myself, to finding my own entertainment, to living life on my own terms, to taking pleasure in my own company (and these are good things!); the flipside is that it makes it very difficult to form relationships because I send out such a strong independent vibe that people get the impression that there's no room in my life for them, or that they will at best be afterthoughts, or that I think I'm too good for them. Which means I continue to find ways of keeping myself amused even though it can get pretty lonesome, because y'know, can't count on other people to be there for you when you need 'em, even just for company, so yeah, I'll invite them, but they're probably going to turn me down anyway, which I planned for, which makes them feel like afterthoughts. Vicious cycle much? It's one of my failure modes.

Sigh. Venting, mostly. This was brought on by a chance encounter with an acquaintance in the bus yesterday; we used to be invited to the same activities. And he said "gosh, I haven't seen you in ages! How come you never join us anymore?" Um, because the usual organizers stopped inviting me a year ago, and a couple of them have been avoiding contact*. He hadn't noticed I was no longer included in the cc: field. I got some small comfort from the fact that he seemed genuinely upset and perplexed about it.

A couple of budding relationships have ended recently in part because of this, because the other persons kept feeling that they were just bothering me (when I explicitly said they didn't, and that in fact I was delighted to spend time with them.) Yes, I know that that aspect is mostly down to their insecurities; the fact that I specifically made time and expended effort to be with them and ask to do things with them should've tipped them off that they were the opposite of unspecial to me, and I'm better off without people who can't appreciate those efforts for their true worth. Better alone than in bad company, as the saying goes, but on bad days, alone gets lonely too.

I have meaningful friendships, real and true and deep ones with amazing people. But they're all in different countries. It would be nice to have buddies to hang out with and not feel defensive about who or what I am. Also, I want a pony.

*though I think this has more to do with certain lifestyle choices I've made.

#345 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2012, 11:08 AM:

Today so far: went to bed ridiculously late, woken up by my mother holding a help-wanted ad and saying "I want you to call this guy. Don't ignore me." Naturally I flung the paper at my dresser and tried to go back to sleep. Got up an hour later, went to make breakfast. Basically wound up in a yelling match with both my parents. "Just call and say you saw the ad for a dishwasher in the paper!" cue my refusal because having her pushing me into this is Not Helping(and I thought she wanted me to call immediately, but she just wants it done today). Also my stock response that nobody will hire me because I'm too slow/not good enough/whatever. Cue my dad calling me whiny and spoiled because "Everyone's first job is a disaster! You. NEED. A. Job." nevermind that my first job was not that bad. I'll spare you all the play-by-play. So now I'm back upstairs typing on my (replacement) ipod and eating my breakfast. What a good way to start a day, right? Nice to know I can count on my huge self esteem problems to make things interesting.

#346 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2012, 04:18 PM:

My birthday, and my mother's birthday, are fast approaching. They are just a few days apart and have been a source of strife for me for many years. My mother often insists on joint celebrations, which was charming enough when I was a child and even a younger adult but I'm over 50 now and surely entitled to a birthday of my own? She also often insists that I spend at least part of my birthday with her, so even if I make plans on my own, they rarely actually take place on my birthday, especially if my birthday falls on a weekend. I've never been able to quite figure out why my birthday is so important to her. She has one of her own, kwim? And it's all of 3 days later.

I wound up actually not celebrating my 50th in any real way because it was too big a hassle to try to plan a party for myself around whatever she was cooking up (which she never tells me about more than a week or so in advance, because of course I couldn't possibly be busy . . . ).

So since we're not talking to each other right now--literally, since the last time I screamed at her and hung up on her when she was once again blaming me for something that was Not My Fault, which was a couple of months ago now. Even at my brother's annual summer family bbq, I don't think we exchanged more than a couple of words--I have kind of been ignoring the whole larger birthday thing, which probably isn't completely fair as she's turning 80 this year.

Yet she hasn't said one word about wanting to make note of her birthday. She did 5 years ago, when she turned 75--threw herself a big party because (she actually said) she didn't trust me or my brother to get it right. Wouldn't let us pay for any of it either. And the party was a topic of conversation for about 6 months before it actually happened. Not this time. And I know she's been feeling older and there's been a lot of unhappy stuff going on (death of my great-aunt, which makes my mother the oldest in the family; my mother's next youngest sister and husband starting to have health challenges and having to sell the home they've lived in for more than 30 years; her last remaining friends either moving away or being hospitalized), so I didn't really want to call attention to her turning 80--"hey, guess what, you really are old!"

My daughter (who says this feels like being in the middle of a divorce, for which I have apologized) ferries information back and forth, for which I thank her. She tells me that my mother has *twice* gone to a senior/community center not too far away. Shock! And is planning to go again! Further shock! Even though she only enjoyed one of the activities she tried.

Apparently mom recently forgot to cancel a time she was going to pickup her car from the garage--she decided to make the trip by train instead (because she had assumed my daughter and I would be making the trip with her, while we were planning to take the train because there was another person coming with us whose schedule was not predictable . . . but did my mother actually call to ask if we wanted to drive with her? She did not, and then was upset/angry on the day of the trip to discover that we had other plans. This was for the family bbq mentioned above.). When she didn't turn up, the garage attendant called the super, who called my mother, who of course was not home, since she was on the train. The super didn't have mom's cell phone number (or mine), so when he got no answer to his call, he attempted to enter her apartment, fearing that she was dead (as happened to someone in the building a few years ago). His key didn't work. He called the police, who refused to come break in since mom wasn't technically missing (thank goodness--I can just imagine her reaction when she came home to _that_). Mom has now given the super a new key and her cell phone #. She thinks the whole thing was funny, as do I, though I feel sorry for the garage guy and the super. My daughter thinks we are ghouls and this is Not Funny at All.

Back to the birthday stuff . . . my daughter told me yesterday that my mother informed her we were having dinner together for her birthday and that my brother and his family have been invited. She has chosen a local restaurant that makes decent food. I am not allowed to tell the restaurant it is her birthday and no one is to sing. I am not allowed to buy a gift. I am not allowed to buy flowers. I am not allowed to buy or order a cake. I am allowed to pay for the meal--this is progress! Cards as also acceptable.

She wanted to have this dinner on the day I have already chosen for my own birthday celebration. My daughter told her that would not work, that I had already invited people and gotten acceptances, and I likely wouldn't be able to fit both things in (such a smart child I have). So mom has had to settle for the following weekend.

She is still insisting that I see her on my birthday, but I'm going to figure out how to not do that. It shouldn't be hard even though it's a Saturday.

My mother and daughter also discussed the question of my mother giving me money for my birthday. My mother insists that I "always" lose the checks she gives me. I have lost _one_ check. Others, I sometimes do not deposit for several weeks because until recently there was no way to deposit a check at my local branch outside of banking hours (it's a small, non-national bank that had a very stupid ATM) and I almost never get to the bank during banking hours since I, you know, _work_, and have a ton of errands to do on Saturdays.

Still others I choose not to deposit and I've flat-out told her why, though she does not believe me. I have taken in recent years to tearing them up in front of her. Those are the "gifts" she gives me with statements like, "buy yourself a new coat" or "why don't you get yourself some jewelry." Things which demonstrate her continued lack of understanding of who I am or what I like/wear/do with my time as well as her inability to recognize that as an adult, I make my own decisions about when I need a new coat . . . and have been for some time now . . . .

I have more than once said, "if you give someone money as a gift, you can't tell them what to do with it. once you give it to them, it's theirs." But if I spend "what she gives me" on something other than what she told me to spend it on, she busts my chops and tells me I've wasted it. Worse still is if I don't actively spend it, but use it to pay a regular bill (to me, money is money) or to do something she (for whatever reason) disapproves of. Even theater tickets don't always pass muster--and my mom loves the theater--because I take my kid with me instead of just using the money for myself. What's up with that? I know--it's a control thing.

Anyway, my mother was complaining about this to my daughter and my daughter said, "she" (meaning me) "will spend it if you just give it to her and don't tell her what to do with it." Which is the same thing I've said to her. But this time something penetrated, because apparently mom sputtered for a bit and then said, "if I give you" (meaning my daughter) "the check, will you make sure she" (meaning me) "deposits it?" And my daughter repeated, "she'll deposit it if you just give it to her with no strings attached."

So we'll see.

Anyway, for _my_ birthday, I'm putting together a group to go bowling. It's not a party and I've made it clear to everyone that they will have to pay their own fees (once I know how many people are coming, I'll know what that will be), that no gifts or cards are required. I just want to _do_ something for my birthday. My daughter is pissed because I've told her she's not invited even though she half-gave me the idea, but there will be no other kids there and she'll be bored, even though she will know most of the adults present. (and besides, if I let her come, I have to let a friend's 10-yo come, and much as I like him, I want a child-free event)

I'm rather excited that I have 7 acceptances and 3 maybes. That's more than I thought I'd get. Next week I'll have to nudge the maybe people and call the bowling alley.

#347 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2012, 06:01 PM:

Melissa: Two thoughts:

1. Sounds like compelling grounds for (another year, since you've already got plans for this year) arbitrarily deciding to celebrate your anti-birthday next year.

2. This year, go ahead and go to your mother's dinner. Call ahead to the restaurant, and add one more place to the reservation. Then, when you arrive, walk in to the restaurant carrying a giant plush teddy bear (preferably with a conspicuously birthday-present-y bow tied around its neck, tie-fashion), and plop it down in the spare seat. Then sit down in your chair, and proceed with the evening, offering no explanation.

Then, improv on whatever reactions present themselves. ("I specified, no presents." "It's not a present." End of clarification.)

Might be too gaslighty for local tastes. Or might be whimsical/snarky enough to blow entrenched reaction patterns. (Or, just think, periodically through the meal, about showing up with an unexplained giant plush teddy bear, and let everybody wonder what the hell you're smiling to yourself about.)

#348 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2012, 06:02 PM:

Oh yeah and: Happy Birthday (by whatever means necessary!) :)

#349 ::: Syd, somewhat disguised ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2012, 07:15 PM:

Pendrift, I am in strong agreement re: the benefits and possible downside to being strong and independent. Herewith receive, if desired, one Patented Internet {{{Hug}}} and a large batch of good finding-local-friends mojo.

Phenicious...yikes. So NOT a good way to start the day. Sending you also, if desired, your own {{{Hug}}}, and if I had any ideas that might be of help, re: either the job situation or the parental-unit one, I would offer them. Sending instead strong hopes that in the very near future, the best possible solution presents itself--and that you will be looking in the right direction when it does.

Melissa Singer, Happy Birthday, and may you have fun! Re: your mother's event, I'm inclined to like Jacque's suggestion @ 347, but then, I have a twisty, tricksy sense of humor. Here's hoping you find the solution that works best for you and your mother.

***Standard "Syd Wall of Text" Warning***

I'm in week three of the county's "accelerated" job search program, which differs from the basic program (I attended that one in March) mostly in that this facilitator (a) understands that regardless of our immediate backgrounds and/or current distressed circumstances, we're all adults with functioning brains and (b) is actively forwarding job listings to us based on the kind of work we've done or are interested in doing. The latter is something Basic-Level Facilitator skipped completely, and it's the one thing making this bearable.

Because my social worker signed me up for it at a location three trains' distant from my shelter, and there's nothing to shade the waiting line to get into the building, which means the recent hot and humid weather has made "dressing for success" rather a joke. ("Hey, I sweated through my top before 7:45 this morning, Mr./Ms. Potential Employer! Aren't you impressed?") Which makes it sound like I've had interviews scheduled, and I haven't, but it does add an interesting twist to the what-if-I-DID-have-an-interview-today? scenario.

Here's another difference: we're being given one or two days a week to do independent job searches--that is, no three-train schlep, yay!--and are cut loose early on the days we do have to report in person...because this particular social services office doesn't have computers for us to use to conduct job searches while on site.


Oh, well. I'm still keeping my fingers crossed, and have been sending out resumes on listings in, or much closer to, my former profession (accounting-related) as well as whatever copy editing or proofreading or similar jobs I can find. mostly, I'm still getting either dead air or "Dear Applicant" emails in response.

In other news, I have discovered the reason my pay pal (heh, hope to avoid notice of gnomes for that mention) card has been declined the last couple of times I've tried to use it is that I have a frickin' negative balance: the rental care company charged me for the CDW fees my agent specifically told me would be covered by my claim once the person who totaled my car was officially judged at fault.

The problem, according to both my claims adjuster and the other party's, is that Insurance Company NEVER covers CDW in cases like this. Oh, and even though my agent said he spoke to my adjuster on this very subject (due to my being broke and all), the adjuster says she never spoke to my agent--and the other adjuster says she didn't speak to my agent either.

So the money I was going to throw at my phone bill (which has been slapped with a $40 reconnection fee that I honestly do NOT remember being told about when clearing up June's overdue bill) no longer exists, so the money I was going to throw at Storage #2 has to go to the phone, and my case manager at the shelter asked me this past Monday how my job search is going because, hey, I've been a resident three months already (as part of a 90-day program that can be extended to 6 months, one month at a time after the 90 days), and unspoken was "You know, this little idyll can't go on forever."

My friend E is absolutely convinced that the reason I "forget" things (like calling her back, or similar failures to follow through) is untreated depression, and I NEED to just find a job, any job, to get through this and she has every faith in me that I WILL get through this but I really NEED to do X, Y and Z, etc., and she knows it's no picnic for me to be going through this but it's almost as hard for her to watch... One more reminder, however well intended, that my situation scares the living daylights out of people, and therefore one more thing that makes me even more hesitant to post anything here for all the reasons the Goddamned Tapes have ever brought up.

Also, while I was standing in line outside the social services building this morning, I saw a dog run over by a car. The dog, which looked like a Jack Russell terrier/Chihuahua cross, rolled out from under the read end of the car and ran away, and seemed to be without overt injury, but I'm worried the poor little guy might have internal damage...and am frustrated as hell I can't do a damned thing to help him, even if I could find him. (I looked for him after I was done for the day, but I didn't see him.) The driver didn't even stop, which is the kind of thing that makes me want to believe in one particular version of hell.

On the plus side, one of my friends at the shelter took me to see my cats a couple of weeks ago, and the little fuzzballs are doing fine. As advised by one of the desk staff, I'm calling once a week to check up on the kitties so nobody thinks I've disappeared or abandoned them. And that same staff member, when I mentioned during my visit that I still had no other alternatives lines up re: kitty domiciles, told me not to worry about the cats: they're safe and being taken care of and I should concentrate on myself. (Sorry if this is duplicate info, but it didn't occur to me to search back and find my last comment...and now I'm afraid if I do that, I'll wind up deleting this one as too damned whiny.)

Also, one of the facilitators at the job program run via the shelter (attended during the first two weeks of June, starting the day after The Car Was Killed) referred me to an agency (general office work, mostly), so I went last week to fill out their paperwork and take some assessment tests. Due to their system getting glitchy, I only completed two on site, but my results on those two were quite encouraging to me (85-90% correct vs. average 80% on one, 94% correct vs. 75-80% correct on the other) and the agent I met with was quite enthusiastic--said she and her office partner were both excited to meet me, based on my resume.

Anywho, the agency sent me a link to finish the third assessment, which I did early this week, and I have to check in with them and see what else, if anything, needs to happen before I can maybe start getting sent out on temp jobs.

I...AM...JOB! (I hope I hope I hope...)

Also, E and I are going on Monday to the very large local facility of a healthcare organization whose initials are KP (in case the full or first name is a spam subject) to do their onsite testing for office skills. She's filled out their app online, and I'll do so this weekend, and E says once you're in their system, they send out emails alerting you to new job openings of possible interest. So that's a possibility, along with the 12 or more apps I plan to do this weekend...

I am keeping my fingers crossed that something good breaks in my direction before I break. And I'm sorry to be a downer on a Friday.

#350 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2012, 07:51 PM:

Syd, it's always good to hear from you. You aren't whining, you're doing a combination of updating - which we want to hear - and venting - which this is open territory for.

Glad to hear the furballs are doing well.

I do not know this through personal experience, but I've heard several times that the best way to get assignments through a temp agency is to politely call them regularly to check in and see if there's anything for you.

You're still hanging in there, and we're still here cheering you on.

#351 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2012, 09:31 PM:

Syd: thank you for checking it. It is _never_ a burden to hear from you.

Jacque and Syd: while that is something I might do, it would only cement the image my family already carries of me, as a weirdo who does not understand social graces. BTDT far too many times. I get less grief when I pass for normal.

Also, I don't want to horrify my mother. Large stuffed things are right out for her . . . at one point my daughter had won a Very Large Bright Orange Fish at Coney Island and asked to keep it at my mother's (it was a very cheerful fish and my daughter was sleeping at mom's on a more regular basis).

For two years, every second or third conversation I had with my mother included her asking me when she could get rid of the fish.

And thanks for the birthday wishes, premature though they be. They are much, much appreciated.

#352 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2012, 10:01 PM:

Melissa Singer, happy upcoming birthday, and good luck on negotiating celebrations with your mother that allow you both to enjoy them.

#353 ::: Dash ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2012, 10:21 PM:

@Melissa Singer: That stinks. Although multiple family birthdays are close to mine, I've never been pressured to have some joint celebration, although I usually don't have a "birthday party" to share anyway... I just found your story interesting because it seems like birthdays can bring out the worst in mothers- yours, mine, and doubtless others' as well.
All I can think to say definitely tends towards hlepiness, so I'll just offer up my witnessing and sympathy and hope that helps.

#354 ::: Mea ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2012, 03:36 AM:

Syd: adding my voice to the choir. Updates and venting are good, and I'm glad you wrote.

Sending you good wishes.

#355 ::: Jacquem ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2012, 05:04 AM:

Syd: I second OtterB's rec about gently nagging the temp agency. My experience has been that if you don't nag them, you'll never hear from them.

On the Care and Feeding of Temp Agencies

My strategy, not least to assuage my "Am I bothering you? I don't want to bother you, but" GDTapes, is to call up, ask for my case-worker or whoever's taking their calls, and cheerily say, "So, what have you got for me today?" The form of the question presupposes that they do have something for me. To start, I call every Monday and Wednesday. Then, once I've gotten a gig, I call at the end of the last workday of a gig with, "What have you got for me tomorrow."

Be prepared: With every temp agency, the first few gigs seem to be serious scut work: a day or two of stuffing envelopes, or standing at a copier for 8 hours a day for two weeks. I think they like to test the commitment of their new candidates. After you've demonstrated basic competence with showing up where directed, on time, and getting through the day without conspicuous [psychotic breaks], then they seem more likely to dish out better/longer-term gigs.

Also, sign up with several temp agencies; some are better than others, and even the good ones have work only intermittently, even in a good economy. If you've got five, then you have someone to call every day without nagging any one too much. If there's one that you never get gigs from, drop them from your list without a qualm, and move on to the next one on your list. Also, be prepared to get offered gigs that are totally outside of your skill/interest/capability set. There are times when they're scrabbling for any warm body after all the obviously "qualified" people either turn it down or are unavailable.

If it's available, sign up for autodeposit of paychecks; you get your money more quickly and this saves a lot of running around, which you especially in your currently transport-impaired condition can do without. Be warned, though: some agencies will drop the autodeposit if you don't do any gigs for them for some specified period of time, like a month or two. Keep track of that, because it can be a real pain in the ass to be expecting a deposit and have it not show up.

Also, if your deal is accounting, look around; there is at least one accounting-focused agency (AccounTTemps, Robert Half), and my experience with them was quite good, though YMM certainly V. Add'ly, the Half organizations will share clients around if a big need arises; I wound up with AccounTTemps on one of my better gigs through OfficeSource because the employer needed, like, a thundering herd of people for one particular job.

Oh yeah: a lot of agencies have online trainings you can take in their offices. It sounds like you've got the computer skilz down pretty well, but if there seems to be a gap that a certificate would help make you more elligible to fill, that can be a quick-and-dirty way to fill it in. (Don't plan on actually learning anything, though. My experience with the training software was ... not impressive.)

BTW, I have to apologize: even though I was one of the voices loudly encouraging you to write a blog, I confess I haven't been reading it. My own experience of dangling off the edge of the Abyss back in '07 is still a little too fresh in my mind, and I've got a couple-three financial mini-crises forming up on the horizon here this fall, so I'm not looking for any extra sources of anxiety just now. ;->

But I nevertheless am delighted that you are doing it.

And: I...AM...JOB! (I hope I hope I hope...)

I had to laugh when I saw this, because I was just thinking, "Are you sure your name isn't Job?" As in, the biblical character. The ghods certainly seem to have decided that you need to brush up on your coping skills, these days.

#356 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2012, 06:01 AM:

Okay, here's my vent for the day:

We're having an outbreak of dysfunctional condo HOA Board this fall.

After two years (during which I decided to ignore the whole HOA mess, as I've got Enough On My Plate Just Now, Thank You) of consistent negligence/incompetence (in which they seem to have, among other things, gutted the legally mandated emergency reserve fund), my HOA Board issued a special assessment at the end of July, due September 1, to the tune of $4.1K. (Multipied by ~270 units, this is a fair piece of change.)

The good news is that, unlike previous assessments ($1K each in '06 and '11), this one really seems to have gotten people's attention, and all sorts of folks have come out of the woodwork saying, "Um, excuse me? Like, WTF?" And some of the extra attention actually seems to be accompanied by some serious wisdom and competence. So I'm pretty sure this will work out. It's probably going to be expensive, however it shakes out, but my hope is that, in addition to cleaning up the current mess, this motivates the current membership to tune in a little more systematically and pressure the board into making damn sure this doesn't happen again anytime soon.

During the '06 HOA outbreak, I tried to muster some resistance, and actually ran for the board (didn't get elected, thank all the ghods), but that kind of petered out, and '07 came (see comment about the Abyss above), and then I got a job, and went back to Having a Life.

This time around, some stronger personalities with actual leadership skills and relevent knowledge and experience have stepped forward to lead the charge, so *whew!*, looks like I don't have to do that.

As I was walking over to the clubhouse for the homeowners meeting, my mac under my arm to take notes (I take really bad notes), I was thinking "Wouldn't it be great to record this meeting for future reference. Hm. Don't have a video camera. Don't have the scratch to buy a camera. This is the future, surely there's something—" I was then of course struck by a BFO: I have a mac under my arm. Mac has iMovie.

So, with all of five minutes settup, I was able to video-record the meeting, and the audio while weak, is actually surprisingly clear. (The files are huge, of course, so the next project is to clean out the closets that have been accreting unsorted Stuff on my hard drive for the last two years, so there's another Project I don't need, but oh well.)

Also, I have other relevant Seekrit Skillz to bring to bear, so I seem to be volunteering to be Tech on this little production.

So I'm actually feeling reasonably optimistic about all this.

The other source of financial insecurity in my life right now, though, is that one source of income, to the tune of a few hundred dollars a month, is drying up next month. I'm only Just Making it right now. I need to Do Something About That, but you know ::whine:: job hunting. And besides, there are many aspects of my current gig that I'm loathe to turn loose of without a damn good reason.

So I'm simultaneously angsting about and procrastinating on coming up with with my impending financial shortfall.

So, yeah, I Haz Ankshuss.

It's really nice to have this place to come to to whine proactively.

#357 ::: ma larkey ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2012, 11:44 AM:

And here I can write about small mercies. My birthday was this week and I was feeling very low. I didn't expect anyone to do anything at all, and prefer to hunker down and pretend that my birthday is just another calendar day, to the extent that I don't even post it on social media so many contacts think my birthday falls on another fake day, which suits me just fine.

Since I was assaulted as a child I have never felt like celebrating a birthday. I submerged the shame, guilt, fear and never talked about it for years and years till college. I have memories of a children's party for me where I can't even look into the camera, and I remember bursting into tears when the gifts were arrayed on a table for me to open. I felt like I didn't deserve it, and the anger leaked out in tears, disbelief that anyone could possibly want to give someone like me, someone so worthless now, something good.

It's a combination of self esteem issues and introversion and just plain getting embarrassed when people sing happy birthday to me (has happened in more than one restaurant in my lifetime and I don't want a repeat). Is it my dysfunctional family that made it more fraught, to try to celebrate a life beset by secret pains and pressure to submerge this and pretend otherwise? I don't want to be an ingrate, or insolent, and yet that is the refrain that haunted me, the Tapes That Say Am No Good Unless I Play Along.

Last year I felt it was more realistic not to do anything for my birthday but enjoy my own company, and cook myself a small but decent meal, and read a book from the pile of unread books that I have hoarded. Such a small thing, but this year, I told myself I would also just do more hiding in my cave. A friend visiting from out of town included me in a family gathering, and I was touched because she even bought me a cake, so I had a table with friendly folk, and cake, and even if I told them not to sing, it was enough, and touching, and affirming somehow, to meet others even if technically I was just piggybacking on someone else's party.

I divided up the cake and made people eat it right there, since I didn't want to be eating it all by myself and I didn't want to go to the blood-relations that day. I suppose that's enough. It's painful, though, to circle back to the truth, that my own blood relations aren't great company for me, birthdays or no, because of the things that can't or won't be said, or ironed out, or resolved. I can only pretend so much. And even if there are moments of grace, there is such a price to sitting through too much time of putting a good face on a bad bad situation.

It's funny, an acquaintance at the dinner party this year where I was given the cake remarked to me that she saw fear in my face when I was handed the cake box. I have to admit, I can go all out preparing for anyone else's party but my own. I have made desserts for hundreds of people. But ask me to handle my own birthday cake and I quail. Good thing the cake didn't have candles or writing on it, or I wouldve burst into tears.

#358 ::: Syd, somewhat disguised ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2012, 05:21 PM:

Melissa Singer, well, as I said, I have a twisty sense of humor. Of a certainty, wishing to avoid being slapped (again) with the negative nonconformist label is completely understandable. Especially in light of your mother's feelings about large stuffed animals. I therefore echo OtterB's good luck wish.

Jacque, please, no apology is necessary re: my blog and your decision to read/not read it. I'm writing at least as much to get stuff out of my own system as to inform (and potentially entertain: I have something in the works about Having an Outing that will definitely be more upbeat than what I seem to be putting up most of the time) anyone else.

So, in general, and to everyone, when/if you have the interest and/or time and/or spoons to read my blog, you are cordially invited to do so, and I will value any feedback or comments you care to offer, either there or here. Should you lack any combination of time, interest or spoons, please feel free to not read it--I still value the fact you're pulling for me. And trust me, I know it isn't the sunshiniest place, so I completely understand if self-care says you should skip it for the nonce.

I said "nonce". I think I like that. :)

Also, Jacque, I'm sorry about the pending departure of a formerly stable income stream, and I will keep my fingers crossed and send mojo with the idea that you can find a suitable replacement without having to leave behind the gig you are loath, leave behind.

To OtterB and Jacque, re: temp agencies, yes--the gentle-to-perky "Hi, any gigs for me today/this week?" approach is definitely one I need to add to my bag. That I have trouble with it no doubt refers back to one or more of the GD Tapes dealing with self-esteem and "not bothering busy people with trivial stuff". Therefore, I am now publicly reminding myself that I am not trivial stuff! :)

ma larkey @ 357, your plan for last year's birthday is something I've done for myself on a number of birthdays/holidays, although for reasons not including anything like what you experienced. But I am also glad that this year, the piggybacking-on-someone-else's-party gave you an entertaining time with congenial company. May you continue to have more of whatever you like best.

Also Jacque, your comment about Job made me chuckle. And not just because I sometimes do fight the urge to think, "Really, if this is $DEITY's idea of getting me to believe, I think sending me a nice fat lottery win would be a MUCH better inspiration along those lines..."

#359 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2012, 07:26 PM:

I realized something today, with the help of my mother. We were sitting at the kitchen table, and I noticed my dad had once again left a mug of coffee at his placemat. It was cold, had probably been sitting there for at least a couple hours. I started complaining to my mom about how it was unsanitary, and I'd TOLD him not to do that. I believe I even posted about it once.

And she said, essentially, that all I can do is say my piece, and he can make the choice to listen to or disregard it. It's something I've definitely heard before, how you can only control your own actions. I've sort of come to the same conclusion about getting my brother to lower the volume when he's using his headphones so he doesn't go deaf. I realized that I don't have to give any of my energy to that cause if I don't want to. So now I think I get my mom's frustration with me. "At some point, I'm just gonna step back and say 'I'm done', let you deal with the consequences yourself."

(Now, while I can wash my hands of my dad's mug hygiene, I'm not going to let up on him for the things that affect the rest of us. How do you teach your 62-year-old father to not track dirt all over the carpet? Sigh.)

#360 ::: nonserviam ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2012, 10:13 PM:

I probably shouldn't post here. My family isn't dysfunctional (actually, it's scarily functional). But my brain is, and it intersects with my family, and I need to rant.

I have anxiety issues. There are very few people (perhaps a dozen) that my brain considers Safe People. Everyone else is Scary. If I'm in a good brainstate, I can deal with them. If I'm not, being around them can induce sobbing and frantic attempts to propitiate the people so they won't hurt me.

My parents are, unfortunately, Scary.

They don't *mean* to be. For obvious reasons, they're somewhat distressed that their oldest child is scared of them and wants to hide from them to the point of refusing to leave one tiny room for days. Occasionally they point out to me that they didn't do anything to deserve it and that they love me and want what's best for me and that no one will love me like my parents. I know that. I know they didn't do anything to deserve it. But I can't control my anxiety issues.

Even worse, I'm really bad at setting boundaries with people I'm scared of (I tend to freeze and let them do whatever they want in hopes it doesn't make them madder) and they tend to sulk when I set boundaries-- particularly since my boundaries are pretty far out.

If I was asking for what I actually want... I don't want them to talk to me when my door is closed, unless it's important. I don't want them to touch me without asking first. I don't want them to repeat the same criticism of me multiple times, because criticism triggers my anxiety, or to criticize me when I clearly know what I'm doing. I don't want to fucking talk to them about my crazy. I want them to ask me what I want when I'm breaking down crying and do it without complaining.

And I feel like those boundaries are unreasonable with family? Particularly family like my dad, who expresses his love through worrying about you, and expresses his worry through telling you what you're doing wrong. I know it's just his way.

And everyone else lets their parents touch them, and talk to them, and I don't know if I'm madder at myself for having these anxieties or them for not respecting them.

In a few days I'm moving to my own house and I'll never have to live there again, and in two years I'll be out of college and supporting myself and I'll never have to talk to them again. This comforts me a lot.

#361 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2012, 10:20 PM:

Jacque, #355: Nitpick -- IIRC, Robert Half imploded in a cooking-the-books scandal some 15 years ago; even if the name survives, I wouldn't suggest signing with them. But yes, sign on with multiple agencies and call each of them at least once or twice a week -- that's one of the ways they screen applicants, and those who don't follow up fail the test.

#362 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2012, 03:01 AM:

Lee @361: Do you have more info about how wide-spread the scandal was? They're supposedly the biggest accounting and finance staffing agency in the world; perhaps they've recovered from the implosion (in 2009 they were apparently on Fortune's list of most admired companies, for whatever that's worth). Here in Los Angeles, they're also big in technology staffing; between the 2 businesses they've got about half a dozen locations within a 15 mile radius.

nonserviam @360: One way to show one's love for one's family members is to respect the boundaries they've requested; might it help to point this out to them? Maybe it would help to frame it as a temporary request, tell them "I'm going through a tough time right now, you could help by...". I think implying that it's temporary might make it easier for them to deal with. Or not, feel free to ignore if irrelevant or hlepy.

#363 ::: Mea ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2012, 03:07 AM:

360 nonserviam: "If I was asking for what I actually want... I don't want them to talk to me when my door is closed, unless it's important. I don't want them to touch me without asking first. I don't want them to repeat the same criticism of me multiple times, because criticism triggers my anxiety, or to criticize me when I clearly know what I'm doing. I don't want to fucking talk to them about my crazy. I want them to ask me what I want when I'm breaking down crying and do it without complaining."

ALL of that is reasonable. And reasonable boundary to set with family.

Hard as heck for many family members to respect but your boundaries are reasonable.

#364 ::: Mea ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2012, 03:08 AM:

360 nonserviam: "If I was asking for what I actually want... I don't want them to talk to me when my door is closed, unless it's important. I don't want them to touch me without asking first. I don't want them to repeat the same criticism of me multiple times, because criticism triggers my anxiety, or to criticize me when I clearly know what I'm doing. I don't want to fucking talk to them about my crazy. I want them to ask me what I want when I'm breaking down crying and do it without complaining."

ALL of that is reasonable. And reasonable boundary to set with family.

Hard as heck for many family members to respect but your boundaries are reasonable.

#365 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2012, 06:54 AM:

"I know it's just his way."

I tend to hear that as "his behavior really is problematic".

I do think that being repeatedly overridden adds up.

#366 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2012, 09:32 AM:

nonserviam (360): (Ignore if hlepy) Would it help to write out what boundaries you want and leave it for them to read? You could copy it from your post above. That way you wouldn't have to try to articulate it in their presence when they're making you anxious.

#368 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2012, 09:59 AM:


Your family may not be dysfunctional, but repeatedly criticizing you in the same way when they know it triggers anxiety is dysfunctional behavior. Touching you without checking, when they know this makes you unhappy, is harmful. And ignoring a closed door when you've explained that it's a "leave me alone unless this is an emergency" is dysfunctional.

Granting that your parents mean well, and that what you are asking for is non-standard, they should find ways to actually support you. You, the specific child they have, not what [they think] a "normal" person would want. Nor is it that unusual for a young adult to want to maintain boundaries including "if I close a bedroom door behind me, leave me alone."

My partner Adrian sometimes says "we have to work with the Vicki we have" when I'm regretting that I can't do XYZ, or have limited energy, or that I react badly to something. She's right. It's not always easy, but we need to work with the Vicki we have, and you and your parents need to work with the Nonserviam you have, not with an idealized person who has no weaknesses, or at least none that don't mesh with their weaknesses.

#369 ::: Merricat ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2012, 12:59 PM:


"If I was asking for what I actually want...

And I feel like those boundaries are unreasonable with family? Particularly family like my dad, who expresses his love through worrying about you, and expresses his worry through telling you what you're doing wrong. I know it's just his way."

I'll be repeating a lot of other people on this, but ...

1) All of your desires & boundaries are completely reasonable, towards all of the people in your life. (I have a lot of the same boundaries, even with family ... ESPECIALLY with family. And it's not an anxiety thing for me as much as a personality thing; I like space, both emotional & physical. Family can be really bad at handling that, so I'm super-stringent with my boundaries towards them.) You do not have to live by the same standards and boundaries as the people around you -- even if everyone else in your family is extremely physical, you do not have to be.

2) It's great that you recognize your dad is motivated by love ... but he's older than you, and he's the parent, and he (presumably) does not have your anxiety issues. By my standards, that means that HE should be the one accommodating his behavior to your needs.

I'm glad you're moving to your own house, and I'm glad you're going to be financially independent in a couple of years ... moving out will probably help things a lot.

#370 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2012, 11:52 PM:

I had another revelation, if you want to call it that.

"Adult" has many definitions and isn't a single all important thing to strive towards, or reject because you think you'll never have it. It looks different on different people and in different situations. This isn't new, it's been said here and other places. The connection I just made is that these things are also true for "smart", which is a word I reject really forcefully when it's applied to me. "Smart" and its synonyms =/= perfect, unattainable, standardized super-competence. (I'm not sure what exactly it is, though.)

So I need to hold onto that and not forget about it now that it's out there. Because that's a thing I tend to do, being better at coming up with the ideas than applying them.

#371 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2012, 04:32 AM:

Jeremy, #362: Oops, my face is red! A quick Google shows that what I'm remembering was Arthur Andersen, not Robert Half at all. But I was working from a very old, slow laptop all last week, and didn't check when I should have.

Phenicious, #370: Another thing to remember is that "smart" isn't a single continuum. Most people are smart about some things, and not smart about others, and you can't use the latter to disprove the former.

#372 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2012, 06:49 AM:

Phenicious, 370: FWIW, and ignore if hlepy: my current working definition of "smart" is almost a synonym of "curious." It'll probably continue to evolve, but that's what I've got right now. "Coming up with stuff" is also part of it, for me. I'd much rather teach somebody who's curious and creative than somebody who fits other definitions of smart.

#373 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2012, 09:18 AM:

Syd @358--Keep this in mind perhaps: You are their job--or using your skills to fill their clientele's needs is. They can't do that job well if you are ready to help out and remind them you and your skills are available. It's a different take on things, I know, but it might let a different set of tapes: "I should be helpful!" take over.

Good luck with all of these steps. I know the California state government has personnel issues right now, but the local civil services may also have slots worth looking into.

#374 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2012, 09:25 AM:

Oops: That should be: "They can't do that job well unless you are ready to help out and remind them you and your skills are available."


#375 ::: Dash ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2012, 03:14 PM:

So I was recently diagnosed with hyperthyroidism- finally a reason for my lack of energy, something I can use to get my mother off my back!
...not quite.
She's been suspecting me of using it as an excuse much more than I actually have been, and ignoring when my lack of energy legitimately interferes with desired chores.
For instance, yesterday, I had absolutely zero energy between said thyroid problem and vg orvat gur svefg qnl bs zl crevbq, naq guhf zl srryvat qenvarq naq npuvat sebz gung. I literally spent an hour alternating between using the bathroom and lying down in the room closest to it, with more time spent getting the temperature in the house to a reasonable temperature (it's summer, heat intolerance is a symptom of hyperthyroidism, and my mother left the air off without me knowing how to turn it back on, so I had to mess with fans to get it reasonably cool in the house) and reading/vainly trying to sleep. For most of the day, I didn't even have the energy to get food or drink for myself, which doubtlessly didn't help my lack of energy.
My mother has nagged me about not getting my laundry done, since I said I likely (not definitely) would yesterday, and apparently being on the computer "all day" means I feel fine and should stop whining.
When I pointed out said lack of energy, that being on the computer requires less energy than doing laundry, and that I hadn't been on the computer all day, her response (paraphrased): "Well you had the energy to be on the computer so you could've at least done your thank-you notes!"
Things that came to mind in response to that:
We were talking about laundry, not thank-you notes. Way to completely change the subject when you realize I'm right about the current one.
And did I mention the part where I could barely move, where I had trouble keeping my eyes open? Yes, clearly that was the time to go in the other room and write thank-you notes.
My actual response (paraphrased): "Okay, you're right Mom, I'm sorry."
Didn't help that my dad gave me crap about not feeding the cats when he got home. Again, stairs plus no energy equals bad idea, and I really don't need to be getting this nagging from both parents, thanks. I ended up doing most of the desired chores shortly after their arrival, but apparently since it wasn't done when they expected it to be done, it doesn't count or something.
I've also noticed how my mom will address the pets in a not-so-subtle effort to get me to do something. E.g. "Layla, go get me some fudge."=I'm too lazy to get the fudge, so you go do it, Dash. I'd say something about how the pets clearly aren't going to do chore X for you and you should be more direct about this, but at worst she'd snap at me and at best she'd just do it again later, so I don't think I'll bother.

#376 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2012, 12:32 AM:

Last appointment with the school counsellor was today (technically yesterday now, this comment has been chilling for a while). I finally wrote down stuff to talk about, so it went well in that respect. Afterwards it occurred to me I totally forgot about something else I wanted to mention. Oh well, she told me about a counselling centre downtown, so I'll give them a call.

Some of the things I got from this appointment:
- I started a list of stuff I'm good at, titled "You Are Not Terrible". It's pretty short so far but I'll keep working on it.
- Next time someone (probably my mom) compliments me, I'll do my best not to reject it.
- I actually submitted the form to graduate from the one-year culinary program. A little late, but it's done now and I didn't even have pay. Well, I did, but it was already done.

So that's all good. Later at home some weird and kind of alarming health stuff happened, as it occasionally does. I'm not sure exactly why but I can guess it has something to do with my traitorous ovaries affecting my diabetes. This kind of episode is part of why my parents and I aren't sure how well I'd do living on my own at this point. I'm not sure how helpful my endocrinologist or our family doctor would be (the family doctor in particular has made some weird decisions that don't exactly inspire confidence) but I might as well talk to them about it. That's about it for now, I'm off to bed. Good luck to those needing it.

#377 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2012, 01:23 PM:

re: fedilio @ 373

D'oh, I should have thought of that.

I've walked people through the whole CA state service testing and application process before this; I'd be happy to do it again. (I am a total flake about e-mails, so, you know, let me know here if I should be checking my e-mail though I'll try to remember to be good for a few days; the one that isn't a spamtrap is xevfgra (ampersat) gunyrearg (period) pbz.)

On a more general note, I am still tracking this thread, but I'm a little overwhelmed with estate stuff, so if I don't speak up it's not that I'm not still sympathetic, I just haven't had the time or energy to craft careful well-considered responses. Or even short, vague ones, which I somehow find even more difficult. (You have no idea how many times I've reread this post, trying to make sure it's unexceptionable. I'm going to just post it now...)

#378 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2012, 07:39 PM:

For Pern fans: How Menolly returned to Half Circle Seahold, and what happened when she did.

Menolly's father is offered an opportunity for redemption, and he spurns it, and Menolly realizes that no matter what he says or does, she is still free. Sometimes there's no happy ending, but there is closure; this story rings very true.

#379 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2012, 08:20 PM:

I was a bad parent yesterday.

It had been a long week, though for no particular reason (had an author lunch, which tends to eat spoons, but that was Tuesday), and learning of Jo Sherman's death just seemed to send me over a cliff of sorts. Not sure why--we're not that close in age; her life is not mine; etc.--but nonetheless, there was a larger impact than I expected.

So I wasn't up to being sociable, even with my own child. And we were supposed to go to dinner with family friends . . . except that the one of these friends who is my daughter's age had done a really bad thing to my daughter a few months ago, and they hadn't spoken to each other since June, and my daughter was sooooo mad . . . . And then, a couple of weeks ago, the other person apologized, and my daughter is trying to be friends again, though she has said she is not sure when or if she'll be able to trust this other person again . . . . And here am I, still filled with fairly righteous indignation about the other person's behavior. _I'm_ not ready to forgive and forget; I'm the one who had to pick up the pieces more than once over the weeks following the incident; I'm the one who had to talk to the other person's parents about what was going on; I'm still angry that this other person could treat my daughter that way.

(This makes me suspect I will be willing to commit bodily harm on the first love interest to seriously stomp on my child's heart. That's not good.)

Anyway, by the time I got home, I was just done. Fried. And, for whatever reason, having a lot of trouble articulating it.

So I begged off dinner and then went home to discover a sink full of dirty dishes, more dishes and uneaten cheese on top of the printer, my daughter's laptop on the couch, overflowing trash bin, etc. And I fell apart.

Had a fight with the kid by text and phone. Nasty, calling her out on her lack of work around the house and how tired I was of coming home to a mess every night and needing to do half an hour of cleaning before I could make dinner--which she was better at before our recent vacation but since we got home she lapsed entirely into prior behavior. How I was just so tired, in general. How I was tired of her changing her plans on short notice (two unannounced sleepovers), how she had responsibilities at home, and more.


I am usually more flexible about her plans--teens' lives are chaotic--but I am a bit worried that she has to finish a big project before school starts in a week and a half. Though the project isn't due until a few days after classes begin, there's a lot still to be done. And this week she's been very social, and I want her to start the year off right (it's junior year, so important), and I'm worried that she'll default to social because she's mending fences with this friend and is trying to see one friend she hasn't seen really all summer because of conflicting schedules, plus there's a boy on the horizon.

Not really an excuse.

Left the apt. this morning before she got up and she was out when I got home. In an hour or so she'll be home, though, and I have to figure out how to apologize without sounding like a crazy person. But I was a crazy person yesterday.

#380 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2012, 10:11 PM:

Melissa, #379: I was a crazy person yesterday.

That sounds like a decent place to start, if you ask me. You've had a rough week, you were out of spoons, and while you had cause to be upset, your reaction was out of proportion and you're sorry. That lays the important groundwork, and I suspect you can take it from there.

#381 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2012, 02:05 PM:

I'm still reading and witnessing. Useful responses are thin on the ground, because all of my spoons are being soaked up by this HOA nonsense.

(And, I really feel Melissa Singer's @379. Responding usefully and thoughtfully when stress is high and spoons are low. Knock on wood, I've only taken one person's head off so far, but as far as I'm concerned, it was rightfully on offer.)

#382 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2012, 03:34 PM:

Melissa #379: I entirely sympathize; Husband and I have recently been in a similar cycle. I would come home stressed and exhausted, he was also stressed, and expected me to do X to help him deal with the stress, but he wasn't taking into account my own condition. The situation would simmer until a weird combination of brain chemistry and night-time blood sugar tipped him into rant mode, and I'd end up getting maybe 3-4 hours of miserable sleep, wake up in a foul mood from being tired and hurt, to start the cycle all over again. We didn't really break it until I had a full-on meltdown one Friday, and we spent that weekend just trying to recuperate and reconnect.

From the perspective of the person who got exploded all over, please let me reassure you that a sincere apology and an explanation of why it happened should go a long way, especially since, from all your posts, your daughter is empathetic and level-headed. I hope it went well, and I hope that you're both feeling better today!

#383 ::: Jennifer Baughman is Engnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2012, 03:38 PM:

Sadly, it's too hot here for baked goods, though I can offer cold cane-sugar root beers or lemonade? Or perhaps some of the husband's pork chili verde?

#384 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2012, 04:03 PM:

It's really inconvenient having job ads be a thing that kicks me into depression. And my mom just said as much, so I know I'm not the only one who thinks so.
Feeling rude for using this as my venting space right now, but if I've learned one thing it's that strangers on the internet don't hate me for having problems. I mean, not that my friends and family DO hate me, but I feel bad forcing them to listen to me. I guess because I spent a long time being that person who was always over-sharing and in retrospect I think it made people uncomfortable? I'm gonna stop before this turns into a diary entry.

#385 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2012, 05:06 PM:

Phenicious @384, recognizing your triggers is a good place to start. Since you'll be following up with the counselling center, that would probably be something to take to the new counselor.

Congrats on submitting the form to graduate from the one-year culinary program.

Continuing to wish you well.

#386 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2012, 02:11 PM:

Phenicious @384: I totally get the "job ads trigger depression" thing.

1. Open Sunday newspaper to Classifieds.
2. Turn to Jobs section.
3. Feel gut tie into knots.
4. Go eat a quart of ice cream.
5. Go to sleep for four hours.
6. Lather, rinse, repeat.

I keep looking for a way to run my "window-shopping for sparklies" reaction on "looking at help-wanteds," but I haven't gotten there yet.

#387 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2012, 07:31 PM:

Jacque @386: Not to pile on to the Death of the American Newspaper, but in some fields there are far better sources than newspaper classified ads. I've been told that in many areas, craigslist is much more useful. It probably varies by location, and type of job, of course.

#388 ::: upset ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2012, 09:29 PM:

Ok, so I *think* I have gotten up the guts to post. WALL-O-TEXT warning applies.

To begin with: My mother and I share a car, since she doesn't need the car on a daily basis. So most days, I drive it and when she needs it, she'll have my dad drop her off at my workplace, drive off with the car (with her own set of keys) then come back when I'm off work, whereupon I'll drive her somewhere, usually a thrift shop or a Target, and drop her off for my father to pick up later.

She spent the entire car trip today coaching me on how to deal with my cousin, who I will be seeing this weekend, in between repeated complaints about how my dad's family treats her (according to her, they treat her like shit. it's nothing new; I've heard all of these complaints since I was in elementary school). Aside: is it ever appropriate to spill your guts to your child about how her grandmother and assorted relatives treat her mother like shit? Is this a normal Asian thing that's getting messed up in translation? Was the mother-son dynamic in Curse of the Golden Flower criticism or representative depiction of the culture?

I asked her what she did today; she spent the entire day shopping for gifts for my cousin (who has twin baby girls). I commented that I would've just one-and-done'd that particular assignment. She said that one should still make a bona fide effort. Fine. Be a martyr. It's none of my business.

Then we were pulling off the freeway and she asked me if I were even job hunting. I disliked the phrasing, and snapped that she should talk to my father, since I'd already talked to him about it. She said, "oh, so you're not looking anymore? you've given up?" and then she had the gall to say that dad doesn't tell her anything, that nobody ever talks to her. Gee, I wonder why?

She also said that my dad was always trying to get her to be less critical with me. She asked me if it were true that she were always critical. I pointed out what she just said re: job search, and she denied having said it. She said she was just making conversation. I suggested neutral topics for conversation, like the question I asked about how she spent her days. She said, "and I answered that question! What else do you want me to say?"

Later on--maybe in an effort to make conversation?--she brought up that she'd recently signed up for choir lessons, and dad thought they were too expensive, and she complained that dad never thought his golf games were too expensive, but then commented that he hadn't actually said anything to her. And then she said that she thought it would be good for her to get out of the house--I agreed--and then she added, "because nobody talks to me I'm liable to get depressed".

This from the woman who thought my sibling and I were weird for showing signs of depression (sib got diagnosed with a long-term clinical case earlier this year--psychiatrist actually said "I'm surprised you actually made it this far without having gotten diagnosed), and who swore up and down that she was never depressed.

A few thoughts.
- Aha, there's the source of my twitchiness when it comes to how I spend money. Parents are always making value judgments about how I spend money. Well fuck you, it's my money. Still, the tapes are hard to turn off.

- Part of the issue here (apart from the obvious gaslighting) is that she phrases things poorly and then expects people to see past the phrasing--but other people don't deserve the same courtesy (which is a large source of the frustration with my dad's family).

- She gets offended if you call her on it and then plays the martyr.

- Part of the reason I snapped is that the phrasing (which is present in both parents, but exponentially worse with my mother) is always couched in such a way as to make me feel inferior. It's never, "tell me about your job search; how can i help" but feels more like, "tell me about your job search so I can tell you what you're doing wrong"--or worse yet, "tell me about how your job search isn't bringing you the results we all want so i can tell you what you should have done to avoid this situation."

And of course, that's the tape that triggers the most often. "i should have done x to avoid this". I have regrets, I really do. However, assuming that I don't isn't really helping me. Also, part of the major reason I don't have a job right now is because my grades and confidence went haywire while trying to keep undiagnosed-depressive sibling afloat through hir undergraduate years.

Apologies for disjointedness. I have learned that if I don't get it all out in one go, I will proceed to gaslight myself into thinking that the issues are minor. Or perhaps I'm overthinking this because I'm not getting enough sleep due to the job search, and everyone's normal and I'm just oversensitive?

Advice welcome, and to forestall any apologies for hlepiness: nobody can be more hlepy than my mother.

I do want to be a good daughter. I really do. But I'm not sure it's worth sacrificing my own best interests for, and yet I'm afraid to pay the cost of not doing so....

#389 ::: upset among the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2012, 09:32 PM:

Clearly I can't even preview my posts correctly. Too many semicolons, likely.

#390 ::: AnotherQuietOne ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2012, 10:02 PM:

Still reading. Not thinking of anything terribly useful to post, so not posting.

The good news is that the music director search process is almost completed.

As soon as that's done I can get on with my mid-life identity crisis.

#391 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2012, 02:27 AM:

upset, #388: Aha, there's the source of my twitchiness when it comes to how I spend money. Parents are always making value judgments about how I spend money. Well fuck you, it's my money. Still, the tapes are hard to turn off.

BTDT. One of my father's favorite words when talking to me about money was "squander" -- which, to him, meant spending any money at all on anything he wouldn't have spent it on. This ruled out every one of my personal interests; it ruled out going out to dinner for anything but my birthday (or, after I was married, our anniversary); it ruled out spending any amount of a windfall on anything at all that was for myself. To him, money was something you spent frugally on food, housing, etc. and any leftovers went into savings and were never touched. Yes, Depression-era mentality -- he was born in 1920. That didn't make it any easier to deal with, except by the simple expedient of not letting him have any information about my finances and listening to him sulk. But I wasn't living with him at the time, either!

the phrasing (which is present in both parents, but exponentially worse with my mother) is always couched in such a way as to make me feel inferior

Yeah, my father was good at that too. Do you get "have you stopped beating your wife"-style no-win questions as well, where any answer you can make is wrong? Do your parents routinely offer you "help" that is actively not-helpful, offer it to you over and over again to elicit repeated refusals, and then do the "But we want to HELP you, why won't you let us HELP you" thing?

Deciding where the boundary is between "being a good daughter" and giving up your own life is hard. Is there anyone your trust in your life, outside of the family, who you can talk with about it?

#392 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2012, 09:02 AM:

upset @388:

This reminds me a lot of my relationship with my mother (right down to how it's the phrasing or even the tone of voice, that changes the reasonable query into the "you're doin' it wrong and I would do it correctly" one), so I hope I can help a bit. We are encultured, and probably biologically wired, to want parental/maternal approval. We are also encultured to want to be "a good daughter". This can clash with also wanting to be accepted as a human being in our own right, not just as an appendage, and accorded the respect which, as a person, we deserve.

My first recommendation is to find one of the sets of "basic assertiveness rights", print it out in large friendly letters and put it somewhere where you can read it, often. The set I have goes: "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

I'm still working on this myself, and I'm pretty sure that it comes down to a lack of self esteem. First you have to convince yourself that you ARE worthy of respect and consideration from others - including from your mother. This can be difficult when your mother has spent her life making it clear in lots of little ways that she is worthy of consideration and you are not. I've got a supportive stepmother and a supportive husband, and I'm still working on it (*sigh*).

So: you ARE worthy of respect and consideration. If your mother doesn't give you that, it's a fault on her part, not a confirmation that she's more worthy than you and you're being a bad daughter if you don't put her first.

#393 ::: upset ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2012, 12:38 PM:

Lee @391: On Spending Money:

Yes, similar Depression-era mentality, though not due to the Depression. The result has been that I'm unable to differentiate between needs and wants, because clearly anything that's not necessary to staying alive is clearly a want and therefore an indulgence.

This was illuminated for me recently in an exchange with my husband, who was looking over the credit card transactions.

Him: Did you spend X dollars at Y location yesterday?
Me: (instantly defensive) Yes, bought Z because i needed it because A, B, and--
Him: I really don't care what you buy. Buy whatever you want. I just wanted to know the charge was us and not someone else.

In my parents' defense, they really did grow up with limited resources--playing baseball with a 2x4 and a properly-sized rock, for example, because nobody could afford the real thing. I'm realizing that their worldview is such that if they could succeed with so little and make so much of their opportunities, then why can't the younger generation do the same with a greater economic buffer? Never mind that the world has changed in the interim, such as paid internships being the exception rather than the rule.

Yeah, my father was good at that too. Do you get "have you stopped beating your wife"-style no-win questions as well, where any answer you can make is wrong? Do your parents routinely offer you "help" that is actively not-helpful, offer it to you over and over again to elicit repeated refusals, and then do the "But we want to HELP you, why won't you let us HELP you" thing?

I think so, I don't want to think too much about it right now because it's anxiety-inducing. Answering this so's you know I didn't ignore the question!

On Talking to someone outside of the family: Working on it. The cultural factor has been a tripping point. Usually my father's been the mediator between my mother and everyone else, but even he recognizes that she's not really willing/able to make a permanent change.

dcb @392:

A set of Basic Assertiveness Rights (hereinafter in monkey, not prison) is a great idea. It appears I still need to get used to the idea, because thinking about what my own set would look like is starting to making me anxious in that, "can I really do that? but that's scary!" way. It's probably telling that rephrasing your suggestion as "looking at ways to "work with the mother I have" per Vicki @368, but without giving my own interests up" makes it that much easier to think about.

Tangentially: I remember being able to "manage" my mother when I was younger, similarly to the discussion in this game review: Papa y Yo. I'm halfway torn between wanting to play Papa y Yo for ideas, and staying farrrrr away due to potential triggering.

#394 ::: upset was gnomed but is no longer ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2012, 12:47 PM:

Is it the wobbly capitalization on the personal pronoun? I can offer cheese-stuffed cheesy rolls and some excellent tea!

Oddly enough, gnoming (however briefly) makes me cheerful. Who'd have thought?

#395 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2012, 12:53 PM:

Jeremy Leader @387: there are far better sources than newspaper classified ads.

Okay, so my age is showing! :-)

How about this:

"1. Open Sunday newspaper to Classifieds. Access your job opportunity source of choice."


"Um, no. Steps 3 to 6 still apply."



#396 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2012, 01:16 PM:

upset @388: I do want to be a good daughter. I really do. But I'm not sure it's worth sacrificing my own best interests for, and yet I'm afraid to pay the cost of not doing so....

My I suggest this: focus on being a good daughter by your lights (including dcb's very useful list); don't worry about qualifying in her book.

This, of course, will require you to define for yourself what constitutes being a good daughter, which will take some time and work. But becoming a functioning individual requires this anyway, and you're already doing that, right?

#397 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2012, 02:51 PM:

upset, #393: I really don't care what you buy. Buy whatever you want. I just wanted to know the charge was us and not someone else.

Oh, that exchange sounds familiar. In my case one of the huge triggers was having someone ask, after I'd gotten off the phone, who I was talking to and what we'd talked about. It took a couple of explosions (which from the other person's POV came out of nowhere) before I was able to figure out what was going on; my parents had routinely used those questions, and interrogation-style grilling about the conversation, as a launch point for telling me yet again everything I was doing wrong. And then it took more time for me to internalize that when my roommate or boyfriend asked the same questions, it was just casual curiosity and all they wanted was a brief answer. You can retrain yourself out of having that reflex reaction, and it's amazing how much better you feel once it's gone. It sounds as though your husband will help if you ask him.

On Talking to someone outside of the family: Working on it. The cultural factor has been a tripping point. Usually my father's been the mediator between my mother and everyone else, but even he recognizes that she's not really willing/able to make a permanent change.

Professional counseling may help, if talking about "family stuff" with friends is an issue. What's important is getting an external perspective from someone who isn't involved themselves in the family dynamics.

And here's another affirmation that you may want to add to your list:

I am a functional adult; I am no longer obliged to justify my decisions to my parents.

It took me an embarrassingly long time to realize that, after I had moved out on my own -- but once I did, my life changed significantly for the better.

#398 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2012, 05:23 PM:


#399 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2012, 05:25 PM:

Lee @397: I am a functional adult

Oh dear. I am really in need of the upcoming long weekend. I misread the above as:

"I am a fundamentalist adult."

Now there's a scary image....

#400 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2012, 05:27 PM:

upset @393: Glad if you're finding the idea of BARs useful. I didn't make that set up, but I can't remember exactly where I found it. They're in various forms all over the place in articles/books/websites talking about assertiveness. I first encountered them when I went on an AVP (Alternatives to Violence) course, to try to tackle my problem in dealing with people who are angry (Terry Karney recommended AVP and I think they are good).

Here's another set:
"Keep in mind that you have the following rights:
- The right to decide how to lead your life. This includes pursuing your own goals and dreams and establishing your own priorities.
- The right to your own values, beliefs, opinions, and emotions — and the right to respect yourself for them, no matter the opinion of others.
- The right not to justify or explain your actions or feelings to others.
- The right to tell others how you wish to be treated.
- The right to express yourself and to say “No,” “I don’t know,” “I don’t understand,” or even “I don’t care.” You have the right to take the time you need to formulate your ideas before expressing them.
- The right to ask for information or help — without having negative feelings about your needs.
- The right to change your mind, to make mistakes, and to sometimes act illogically — with full understanding and acceptance of the consequences.
- The right to like yourself even though you’re not perfect, and to sometimes do less than you are capable of doing.
- The right to have positive, satisfying relationships within which you feel comfortable and free to express yourself honestly — and the right to change or end relationships if they don’t meet your needs.
- The right to change, enhance, or develop your life in any way you determine."

And another:
"Basic Rights of Assertive Behavior
1. I have the right to act in a manner that promotes my dignity
and self-respect, as long as I do not violate the rights of others
with my behavior.
2. I have the right to be treated with respect.
3. I have the right to say “No” without feeling guilty.
4. I have the right to feel and express my feelings.
5. I have the right to take the necessary time to calm down and
6. I have the right to change my mind.
7. I have the right to ask for whatever I wish.
8. I have the right to do less than what I could if I were using all
my reserves.
9. I have the right to ask for information.
10. I have the right to make mistakes.
11. I have the right to feel good about myself."

If it helps (so you don't think you're being selfish), you can think of it as "I have the right... and so do you"

#401 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2012, 05:32 PM:

If it's of any use, let me say something as an official, accredited, real-life mother:

My definition of a good daughter is one who is mature and independent enough to make her own decisions and own the consequences of them.

This goes whether I agree with those decisions or not, whether things come out well or not, and whether she ends up needing my help afterward or not. I know that I will find it more difficult when my kids are grownups. But there's no rule that it's gonna be easy.

#402 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2012, 05:55 PM:

abi: we need more mothers like you!

#403 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2012, 10:08 PM:

OtterB @385: Thanks. I've been doing a lot of pattern-recognizing lately, and it is helping somewhat.
Jacque @386: It's even worse when it's someone else who's brought up jobs. So you're not even mentally prepared for it, it hits you out of nowhere :\
dcb @392: That list is VERY helpful. I saw it a couple threads ago and it's now pinned to my bedroom door, so my parents can see it too.

Earlier, I had kind of a long, rambling one-sided conversation with myself. Sort of trying to rehearse what I'd say to a counsellor. I wanted to talk about how I have a really hard time making myself do certain things, like practising flute. I could write a whole essay on that, but I won't. The point of this post is to say that somehow, this is what made me finally take my flute out of its case for the first time since I quit going to band last September. I tried playing a couple notes, and I can tell I'm way out of shape but at least I got a sound out of it! I don't think I'll be going back to band for this September, but if I can get myself to practice, I might be good enough by the new year. (the band does one concert in December and one in May, so it's basically a new "semester")

So I've taken a tiny, important first step. (plus, now I know my cleaning brush-thing hasn't gone mouldy sitting in there this whole time)

#404 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2012, 03:51 PM:

Phenicious @403: Glad to know the list is useful to you as well.

Congratulations on taking your flute out and playing it. Hope that continues. One of my regrets in life is giving up the piano so young/soon that I can't play for pleasure, now.

#405 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2012, 10:28 AM:

I've always found it easier to motivate myself to practise a musical instrument if I like the song I'm playing. Some band music I practised because I had to, some I played because I liked and wanted to get good at it. One difficulty I always had with practising band music on my own though, especially before I knew the song well, was the gaps filled by other instruments that weren't there.

I recently discovered and downloaded some solo pieces for my instrument that I would like to play well because I like how they sound. Bonus is that they are truly solo pieces and there are no gaps for other instruments. I just looked and they have a few hundred flute solo pieces, in a variety of styles and difficulty levels.

Maybe this could be worth looking at?

#406 ::: eleanor ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2012, 07:58 PM:

I just wanted to say, with Father's Day just past, how nice it was to realise that my father is learning and improving. It was the most comfortable conversation I've had with him on the phone - short, not awkward, without the normal hangups.

Still reading and witnessing the thread.

#407 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2012, 02:54 PM:

I'm trying to figure out how to call the counselling centre but it's anxiety time, apparently. I have the number and my cell phone right next to me, I just have no idea what to say so I can't even get started. I mean, I was told they'd ask for basic stuff like my name but I don't know what else? So I'm just afraid that they'll ask something I don't know the answer to and I'll just have to hang up and call back when I do know. That's probably not going to happen but it's not impossible. This sucks.

Also my dad came into my room and made me feel like crap for not going to the employment services office or calling the counselling centre today. Basically he just said I'm "going to be very sad" when he and mom kick me out, because they're not letting me live with them forever! And if I keep avoiding reality, I'm just going to end up on the street or something because that's how life goes when you try to be a kid forever. And every time he picks up my prescriptions from the pharmacy he makes a point of telling me exactly how much they'd cost without my mom's drug plan, so "you'd better get a job, kid". And I bet he thinks this is going to motivate me, instead of making me want to spit in his coffee.

So in summary my dad is doing the exact opposite of helping, anxiety sucks, and I think my mom wants me to start paying rent soon.

#408 ::: Syd, somewhat disguised ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2012, 04:07 PM:


On this day I officially request from the Fluorosphere crossed fingers, candles lighted, good mojo, the white light, and/or any expression of wishing good luck/dropping a positive word in the ear of the universe. Because I had a Conversation today, and I should know the results of the Conversation in a week or so, and if it pans out the way it sounded like it would, I will be in a very good place indeed.

Not that y'all haven't already been doing this, and I know it, and am incredibly grateful for it. But this has the potential to be...just, wow. I'm sorry to be cryptic, but I SO do not want to jinx myself. (That I think that's even possible is a GD Tape. Out, out damned Tape!)

I am still here, and still witnessing, and still sending good thoughts and good mojo and any other form of support desired, to all who feel the need of it.

#409 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2012, 04:36 PM:

Syd (408): Sending good thoughts your way. VERY LOUDLY, to try to drown out the GD Tapes.

#410 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2012, 05:21 PM:

Phenicious @407: I just have no idea what to say so I can't even get started.

Here's a script for you: grap some paper and a pencil, then dial the phone.

Ring Ring

Phone: "Counselling Centre, may I help you?"

Phenicious: "Hi, I need some help, but I'm having anxiety, so I have no idea what to say. Can you help me get started? Also: you may have some questions that I can't answer right now; can I get your name so I can call you back later with those answers?"

IMPORTANT: Also be braced for getting voicemail. (I find that knocks the wind out of my sails like nothing else.) It helps a lot to have a script ready in case you have to leave a message:

"Hi, my name is Phenicious. My phone number is NNN-NNN-NNNN. Again, that's NNN-NNN-NNNN. I need to ask about [signing up for your services.] I can be reached at [best time of day]. Also: I'm not familiar with this process, so I'm having some anxiety. If you can tell me what information I need to have handy, this will help me a lot. Again, my phone number is NNN-NNN-NNNN."

(Note about leaving voice messages: I always appreciate it when callers leave their number at the start of the message, so I don't have to listen to the whole thing if I miss a piece of the number the first time.)

And, yes. Your dad is Not Helping.

Syd: Wishing you luck!

#411 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2012, 06:06 PM:

Syd @408: GOOD LUCK, thinking of you...

Phenicious @407: Sympathies. It used to take me a couple of hours to screw up the courage to telephone someone I didn't know for work-related purposes. Then if they said no I was pretty much wrecked for the rest of the day.

Jacques's suggestions are really good. Particularly regarding having your script written down in advance for if you go to voicemail. And if that happens, read out your name and telephone number s-l-o-w-l-y, so the person on the other end has a chance to write it down!

Remember: it's a counselling centre. They're probably used to people being anxious at them!

#412 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2012, 07:25 PM:

Syd -- good thoughts sent from here as well!

#413 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2012, 07:51 PM:

Phenicious @407 and Sid @408: Good thoughts to both of you.

#414 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2012, 07:52 PM:

Syd, all good thoughts coming your way.

phenicious, you could also say, "I was seeing a counsellor at [institution name] but I'm no longer a student and he/she suggested I make an appointment with you."

I would also suggest being ready with a one- or two-sentence statement of your main concern. (e.g. "I can't decide on a career and I'm having a lot of stress and anxiety about it.") You don't need to give details to a receptionist-type person, but they might legitimately want to know a little about your needs in order to know what kind of an appointment to schedule for you.

If you were in the US, I would say you should have your insurance information handy, but as I recall, you're in Canada.

eleanor @406, congrats on having a positive conversation with your dad

#415 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2012, 09:05 PM:

Just checking in to say I'm still reading

Good Luck Syd!

Phenicious, I was going to suggest the script idea, but someone(s) beat me to it.

My mother has somewhat reverted to type. Oh well. I'll try again later; Rome wasn't built in a day.

#416 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 11:16 AM:

Good luck, Syd! I've set my cats to sending good vibes your way!

#417 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 11:47 AM:

Best wishes, Syd!

#418 ::: Nameless Regular ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 05:30 PM:

I wish to thank everybody who's posted in these threads. It's made it much easier to recognize that my workplace is dysfunctional. It's a family when they want something from me, but when I ask something of them? You're reading this thread, so you can probably guess. Veiled threats from the new boss, and passive-aggressive bullying from the second-in-command, don't help.

Cross your fingers and add some extra mojo to the job-hunting energies floating around.

#419 ::: Syd, somewhat disguised ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 07:59 PM:

***taps mic*** Is this thing on? Good.





Those of you who read my blog entry about my recent interview--that place. Founder-guy? Indeed was the founder and president, and according to the head of HR, he's one of the reasons I got the offer: he was impressed by my willingness to discuss the tough bits.

I start October 1.

And I'm 99.9% sure I also have a housing solution, including the kitties! But I don't have anything in writing yet, so I'm keeping quiet about that bit lest I get too cocky and jinx it.

And I want you all to know that your support, in all its multifarious forms, has helped me get here. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Yowza. I'm kinda jazzed.

***does insanely awesome happy dance***

#420 ::: Dash ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 08:06 PM:

Still witnessing.
I'm abroad now. My mother's been clingy to me on Facebook, but I suppose that's better than the RL version. One of the members of my group has been triggering some of the same thoughts and feelings- mostly by her being similarly stubborn in her insistence that her idea is RIGHT and why would ANYBODY do something THAT way, and in my feeling like I'm not really being listened to- but the rest of us seem to agree that she's being unreasonable, so that's good.
Overall, better than the summer so far, I think.

#421 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 08:09 PM:

Yay for Syd's great news!

#422 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 08:12 PM:

Syd FTW!!

#423 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 08:13 PM:

Syd #419: YAY! Congratulations!

#424 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 08:27 PM:

Congratulations Syd!

#425 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 08:35 PM:

Syd (419): YES!!!!!

#426 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 08:38 PM:

Syd, that's terrific!

#427 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 08:48 PM:

Syd, I've had my fingers crossed since I read your interview blog-post, because it sounded like such a good fit. Yay for good fits actually fitting!

#429 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 09:24 PM:

Whoo-HOOO! You go, Syd!

#430 ::: Tamlyn ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 09:28 PM:

Yay, Syd!! That is awesome news :)

#431 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 10:15 PM:

YAY 4 SYD!!!!!!!!

#432 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 10:17 PM:

SYD!!!!!! I am so stoked about this. Yay, you!

#433 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 11:02 PM:

Hurray, Syd! Way to go!!!

(Hey, Dash, have you tried explaining to your mom that the best way to contact you overseas is by telegram, because modern technology hasn't caught up over there yet? I think you should explain to her that the alternative to telegrams is to hire a local worker to follow you around carrying a mobile cell tower, which is good for the local economy, but far outside the range of whatever allowance or earnings you have available to you*, so you're going to have to let all your cell phone calls go to voicemail and pick them up when you get back to the U.S. because you don't have any way to access them since you parted ways with the wealthy and extremely generous stranger you chance-met on your arrival and with whom you struck up a meaningful yet ultimately transient friendship which you are yet still reluctant to discuss in any depth because of the ways in which it has forever changed the way you view the world, which you are still struggling to understand your own self, but which generous, wealthy, deep, and otherwise meritorious individual had, prior to their departure, loaned you their own individual mobile cell tower and cell tower worker, out of the goodness of their inherent wisdom, benevolence and, dare I say, heart, which is how you were able to receive her previous calls and which explains how this is all entirely rational when you stop to think about it, and not at all suspicious or internally inconsistent.)

*Not to mention the prohibitively high price of individual cell towers these days, let alone mobile ones!

#434 ::: Mea ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 11:18 PM:

Syd - FANTASTIC news!

I bet the folks on the open thread would be just as happy as we are. But it is your story to tell.

And WOW, you earned that job

#435 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 11:47 PM:

Yay Syd! Once you're settled into your NewJob! and (hopefully) your NewHome!, then you can get started on writing that book about what it was like to be caught in the bank-mortgage-fraud meltdown.

KayTei, #433: *snerk*

#436 ::: Lee has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 11:48 PM:

And I'll bet I know why. I used the M-word.

#437 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2012, 12:01 AM:

Congratulations, Syd! Here's to your new job, and to your getting your housing straightened out!

#438 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2012, 12:26 AM:

Syd: Congrats on the job, and fingers crossed for you and your cats!

#439 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2012, 12:55 AM:

Congrats Syd!

#440 ::: Ross ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2012, 12:56 AM:

Way to go Syd!

#441 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2012, 01:13 AM:

Yay Sid!

#442 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2012, 01:25 AM:

Wow, Syd! Congratulations!!

#443 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2012, 02:44 AM:

Huzzah, Syd! (And good luck, Dash!)

#444 ::: Dash ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2012, 05:36 AM:

I don't think that'd work KayTei, I'm in Western Europe. But it made me laugh, so thanks.

#445 ::: Dash ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2012, 05:43 AM:

Also, the gnomes are probably going to eat this post because I'm linking to something, but here's an article I found on Cracked of all places that seems pretty relevant:

I've got 4 and 2, definitely.

#446 ::: Dash ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2012, 05:44 AM:

I made a second post, gnomes please release it! I know why it got blocked, because of a link to an article I thought might be helpful, but I think it's worth seeing.

#448 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2012, 07:46 AM:

Syd, wonderful news!

#449 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2012, 08:50 AM:



#450 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2012, 09:00 AM:

Dash: glad you've put a little distance between you and the crazy.

Syd: LOUD VICTORY CHEERS and a dancing John Scalzi!

#451 ::: Lila got gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2012, 09:02 AM:

Probably for egregious use of all-caps in congratulating Syd.

May I offer Their Lownesses some chili-dusted dried mango slices from Trader Joe's?

#452 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2012, 11:52 AM:

Hurray for Syd and Syd's Kitties! (I knew Ridiculous Cat was looking suspiciously smug this morning... ;) )

Syd, I really, really admire the way you've kept going through this whole nightmare, even when you despaired the most. *hugs* You deserve this!

#453 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2012, 12:42 PM:

Syd @419: WOW! Fantastic news! Congratulations! Mazel Tov! I read your blog entry about the interview and I think it's great that the boss was so impressed with you.

May this be the start of a New Year that is good and sweet.

Dash: congrats on the distance, sympathies for the difficult group member. But it's good that you can recognise the problematic aspects AND are getting agreement from others in the group that they are, indeed, problematic.

Nameless Regular @418: Sympathies for the situation; really glad if we've been able to help your thought processes, and good luck in the hunt for a more functional job.

#454 ::: dcb is gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2012, 12:43 PM:

Home-made cinnamon & raisin bread on offer...

#455 ::: Ross ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2012, 02:22 PM:

Dash: Yep, I have every one of those except #5.

#456 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2012, 03:37 PM:

Dash @ 444

Perhaps I forgot to mention that as a result of developing several new technologies that overlapped in unexpectedly catastrophic ways, most of Europe has been reduced to dark age technology since approximately 2004. Of course, the American media has supported a massive government coverup so as not to embarrass our valuable allies overseas...

#457 ::: knitcrazybooknut ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2012, 04:18 PM:

Dash, thanks so much for the article link. It really explains a lot of my behavior over the last 40 years. I would add that #5 - Obsessively responsible vs. completely irresponsible - can be alternated randomly in parts of someone's life or from year to year (boyfriend to boyfriend), just to spice things up a bit. Woo. But thanks again for the reference. I have some processing to do with that one.

Syd, I can't tell you how thrilled and happy I am for your new job. It truly sounds like a brilliant company, especially for their kind treatment of you and their acknowledgement of "life happens". Great job under crappy circumstances and all the best to you. I am so vicariously excited!! Please keep us updated.

I haven't posted in a while. I am always reading, always witnessing, always drawing on the amazing energy, support and community you've offered here. Thanks to all of those who give space, time, effort, credulity to let this Happening happen. And for those who just want to vent, I really want you to vent. Reading your stories inspires me every single day.

#458 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2012, 06:52 PM:

Syd @419: ***does insanely awesome happy dance***

Hallelujah! Yaaayyy!!!

#459 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2012, 02:26 PM:

Yay for Syd! Good work with all the persistence and all that! I hope you are able to figure out better transportation and/or housing options before the job starts, or at least shortly thereafter.

#460 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2012, 02:57 PM:

Dash @445: Oof! Your timing is auspcious—just last night, I was pondering the struggles I've been having with Getting Stuff Done.

I've got mountains of stuff I need to do, both for work and home, but even thinking about tackling it feels like a punch in the stomach (or rolling a rock uphill with my nose). It's weird, because if feels like I'm "rebelling" against my mother's telling me what to do—even when it's stuff I want to get done. It's very puzzling and frustrating.

This article reminds me of some of the why. But what I want now is to figure out how to fix this.

(I actually have a related thing that I eventually solved: motivation for doing artwork. That one was a combination of discovering that the "impulse" to do artwork often comes a half-hour or so after eating a good meal, which implies a blood-sugar connection, plus finally identifying what kind of artwork I want to do, as distinct from what I "should" do.)

In case it's not obvious, I'm soliciting thoughts and recommendations here.

#461 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2012, 05:12 PM:

Jacque @ 460: It's weird, because if feels like I'm "rebelling" against my mother's telling me what to do—even when it's stuff I want to get done. It's very puzzling and frustrating. Yes, i still get that sometimes. Anyone who finds an answer/solution, please share!

#462 ::: dcb has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2012, 05:14 PM:

I'm guessing that my phrasing was drive-by spam-ish?

Still got raisin and cinnamon loaf to offer.

[We love raisins! We love cinnamon! (It was the word "I" as a small letter.) -- Ireeo Norpis, Duty Gnome]

#463 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2012, 02:29 AM:

Hi, folks. Felt like checking in. I did get around to making that counselling appointment, so now I'm trying to put together what I want to say. Not much else has happened, or at least not much that feels worth mentioning. Still trying to clean up around the house, and feeling like it's not appreciated. But I know it's important so there's that. I haven't gone anywhere outside my neighbourhood in a week or so, but it feels like longer. I keep getting caught up thinking about money and what's really "worth" spending it on. But I need to return a library book tomorrow, so I could make an afternoon of that. Life feels complicated, sometimes. Well, that's all I can think of right now, so I'm off to bed.

#464 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2012, 10:35 AM:

Jacque @460, dcb @461: My mindhack for that one, when I catch myself doing it, is to note that my initial impulse to rebel means that $authorityfigure still has a hold on me, reverse-psychologically speaking, then to mentally thumb my nose at said $authorityfigure and say "HA. I'm going to do what I want/need to do, and whether it's what you'd have told me to do or not is irrelevant. This one's for me. Also, I am having a cookie."

I've found myself needing to do this less and less over the years.

Re: BARs, I never really had my own set written down, but heartily echo the sentiment. What I've realized is that there is a double-standard; it feels different when it's me, to paraphrase Jim C. Hines. That I should make allowances for other people's flaws, but not for mine; that other people can make demands on my time and energy, but I shouldn't bother them. That I should be kind to people, but it's ok if they're not kind to me, I need to be more understanding. The usual Goddamn Tapes.

So my current version of BARs is down to one line: I shall hold people to the same standards I hold myself to, and any leeway I choose to give there is entirely at my discretion. But it's OK to want to be treated with the same respect, kindness, generosity, fairness and charity that I expect of myself in my dealings with the rest of the world, and to push back or walk away when I don't get that.

#465 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2012, 04:07 PM:

Also: I will try to be as kind and generous to myself as I am to others, and forgive myself for fuck-ups too. Charity does begin at home.

#466 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2012, 08:31 PM:

Pendrift, #464: That's exactly right. If you can't let yourself do something beneficial because it's what Someone Else would have told you to do, you're still every bit as much under their control as ever. When they no longer control you, it doesn't matter what they would have said.

#467 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2012, 10:25 PM:

Been reading and witnessing for a while, but have also been riding the line between tired and exhausted.

Syd, congratulations on the fabulous new job with a company smart enough to hire you!

Phenicious, sounds like life is still kinda sucky for you, but it's obvious that you're making progress. I also get depressed by job ads -- to the point where after a couple hours I feel that I don't qualify to do anything, even though I often had half or more of the skills/qualities they wanted. Job ads and cold calls/letters and followup are my black hole. Once someone wants an interview, I perk up quite a bit, but there are so few interview requests compared to submissions, even if things are going well. Your parents are Not Helping. Teasing your children with when you're going to throw them out in the street is not funny. Also, I used to play alto sax, and I envied the flute players who didn't strain shoulders carrying their instruments.

#468 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2012, 11:21 PM:

Work is one of the three major things that has had me between tired and exhausted. My partner's school funding finally got sorted out (grants, not loans, even!) though it had me scared-out-of-my-mind-but-ignoring-it for months. At least in combination with my contract at work expiring end of September, and nobody making any kinds of useful noises about whether they'll keep me. They keep giving me new work, so they probably mean to, but whether they will submit the paperwork in time...I asked my temp agent to look for something else for me because every expiry so far they leave me hanging to the last minute and it is very stressful. Plus, I am significantly underpaid.

It says something about how work has been going lately that I was all bouncy this afternoon because my boss spent at least an entire hour, maybe even two or three, working *with* me. Both parts of this have been unusual for many months. My boss is both a senior designer and half the acting manager. (She and another lady swap it around.) Before the acting manager part happened, she was a lot more like this afternoon where she actually spent time with me and designed as a team, instead of using me as her overqualified assistant. I have concluded that the behaviours I don't like are not abberations; they are the new normal, and I definitely do not like this new normal.

If they renew my contract I need to stand up for myself. One, by explaining to the other acting manager that I would like to have a different senior designer to work with. Something like..."I know ______ is very very busy, so I have been patient and flexible, but she has been _____... I know it is not personal, but I find those behaviours very stressful and want them to stop. I also am not confident about resolving them in ways x y z because of observed behaviours a b c. So I want to work with someone else and see if they have a more compatible style. I can continue working with _____ on some projects so long as she stops taking me so much for granted." Another issue is that if they renew me at my current underpaidness, I need to politely explain about how I learned how much either they or a mysteriously similar department pays other junior designers, and I am quite capable of doing the work required in the job description plus I have other valuable tech skills not common in the department, which have been praised by management including you. Can you explain to me why other junior designers are worth $x while I am only worth $y? Do you think this discrepancy can be resolved? Roughly when?

It's federal government, so I can't just say out of the blue, "I'm only signing if you raise me to $x/h". Not without being ready to walk away if it doesn't work, which I'm not. But if I bring it up in a way that gives them a few months to work on it, it's much friendlier and much safer for me. Plus, their (in)action will be useful evidence of whether they want me badly enough to work at keeping me.

#469 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2012, 11:31 PM:

dcb @ 461

Well, I can state from experience that one solution is for your mother to die and you to start moving on from it, but that being a sucky and guilt-ridden experience of its own (as well as being undesirable for many other reasons), I advise using your preferred tape-rewriting techniques as a preferable alternative.

#470 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2012, 06:09 AM:

Kate Beaton (of "Hark! A Vagrant!") did a Mother's Day comic and ended her post about it with "Remember to call your mother today. She loves you." The next day she updated with an apology:

...Mother's Day to me has been a sincere and cherished memory, but I understand it can be trite and unfair in others' lives. I guess the best we can do in this old world is to try and be mindful of the feelings and experiences of those around us....

I appreciated Beaton's update, and thought others here would, as well.

#471 ::: Anon4Now ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2012, 11:54 AM:

Dash @ 445, thank you for posting that article.

#1 was the one that hit me like a heavy thing. It made me realize anew just how much my mother's untreated depression and anxiety did affect me growing up, because of the scary emotional explosions. I learned to become very very very aware of her moods, to read her tone of voice and body language in every minute subtle detail. I learned when I could subtly manage her moods, and I learned when it was better to match her mood in self-defense.

In short, I learned how to read her moods and I learned to take responsibility for them.

I've learned to do that with everybody. All the time.

I also realized anew how I am still struggling with how to handle anger in a normal, healthy way. Since I got my own depression and anxiety treated, I no longer explode, and that's good. But now I just avoid. If I can't discuss an issue in a totally non-emotional way, I just don't discuss it.

Furthermore, when someone else expresses anger or frustration with me, even when they've done so calmly and reasonably, I react emotionally by feeling really outsized amounts of guilt, and beating myself up really badly. (#2 from that article.)

I just … have no idea how normal people handle anger.

I'm thinking of buying this book: When Anger Scares You: How To Overcome Your Fear of Conflict and Express Your Anger in Healthy Ways. Has anyone here read it? Thoughts? Recommendations for other books or resources?

#472 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2012, 12:26 PM:

Anon4Now @471: Don't know anything about that book. However, I CAN recommend a weekend course (Level 1) with AVP - Alternatives to Violence Project - if you can find one near you. I went to improve my ability to handle the anger of other people, but I saw how much it was helping people with anger management problems as well - and it helped me to realise how much I bottle up my own anger and turn it inwards (and get frustrated and cry because I'm frustrated, and get thought of as weak because I cry and...).

Anyway, I'd really recommend it. They're deliberately inexpensive and have systems to help if people really can't afford it. I went in the UK but they're also in the USA (where they started) and elsewhere. - Google for them.

#473 ::: AnotherQuietOne ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2012, 03:45 PM:

Just checking in. Have been too swamped the last few weeks to do much reading.

Belated Yay to Syd on the job front!

In my own HLN, we've hired a fabulous person to be the new music director; she starts tomorrow. So I am done being the chair of the search committee and the substitute choir leader (we sang two pieces last Sunday under my direction, one of them loosely arranged by me, and if you didn't know I can direct a choir or arrange music, well NEITHER DID I, but it needed doin' and I wasn't in a place to argue about it) and I can now get on with my midlife crisis currently in progress.

I have, in the course of events, come down with a serious case of theology. Really not sure where this is going to end me up.

#474 ::: AnotherQuietOne has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2012, 03:47 PM:

No idea what caught the gnomes' attention this time.

Care for some warm apple pie?

[Three spaces in a row. The only thing gnomes love more than warm apple pie is more warm apple pie. -- Rion Dupruy, Duty Gnome]

#475 ::: Dash ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2012, 05:12 AM:

As the one who posted that article, I suppose it wouldn't hurt to explain more about my reaction besides "Oh, I'm 2 and 4".
I've known for a while that my overblaming myself is not normal, is a problem, and likely has something to do with my mother's guilt trips. The article just helped confirm that for me. That's number 2.
Number 4- not being able to finish things- is the one that really interested me personally. I've noticed that I can never finish creative projects, except when needed for school, and even then it's usually last-minute. But I thought that was my ADHD at work, and nothing else. Which, admittedly the ADHD is probably a factor, but when I was on medication for it, it seems strange that that continued to such a large extent. And the explanation given in the text made sense when comparing it to my life- while my mother would never overtly criticize my work, she never showed any interest in my writing and often criticized my interest in going into writing as a profession (an idea I've forgone now, but largely due to said problem with finishing things...), while my father simply wasn't home enough to show much interest. It becomes a case of "If nobody cares, and I'm losing interest, why bother?"
I've come close to tears twice now thinking about my issues. Bit the bullet and Skyped my mother, but wasn't particularly happy about it. And one of the things that almost made me cry, a website I stumbled upon last night, really made me think. It was about how dysfunctional parents often have personality disorders, and that this can become a vicious cycle.
My mother did seem to fit many of the signs given on the website (Light's House), but I've been suspecting a personality disorder for myself, albeit a different kind than my mother's...
Having children is one of the things my mother nags me about, though I'm still in college and not even dating (or interested in doing so). My mother has made it clear that she wants grandchildren, one way or another- and not just passing on her genes (as I've broached the possibility of being an egg donor, and she doesn't find that acceptable), but children that I raise. Correction: children that she has contact with.
I'm not sure if I want children. I like the idea of passing on my genes, but I'm not sure if the world needs more people, or whether I could handle that type of responsibility... and reading that website makes me think that I too would likely be a dysfunctional parent, and I don't want to do that to somebody else.
The issue isn't coming up any time soon, luckily, but it's something that scares me a little.

#476 ::: Dash ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2012, 05:14 AM:

Gnomes, release my posts! The gnomes have been active recently, haven't they? *shakes fist*

[The gnomes are active because the spammers are. Shake your fists at them, if fists you must shake. —Pinnosa Quilisma Neumes, Duty Gnome]

#477 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2012, 12:04 PM:

Sumana Harihareswara @470: "Remember to call your mother today. She loves you."

::hurk:: Wow. My mother has been dead twenty-odd years, and I had divorced her ten years before that. Reading that line still makes my gorge rise.

Props to Beaton for acknowledging that her experience is not universal.

Dash @475: My mother has made it clear that she wants grandchildren, one way or another- and not just passing on her genes (as I've broached the possibility of being an egg donor, and she doesn't find that acceptable), but children that I raise. Correction: children that she has contact with.

I would point out to her (politely, but rather sternly), that there are doubtless many organizations that would be grateful to volunteers in their daycare services.

#478 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2012, 02:58 PM:

Dash, #475: Props to you for being aware of your potential limitations as a parent. This is in fact one of the most common reasons for people deciding to be childfree -- not wanting to continue a cycle of dysfunction.

Also, if your mother wants you to have children for the purpose of having grandchildren that she has contact with... how much damage would she be likely to do them? Would you be able to protect them? Would you be able to walk away if you couldn't, and would they understand that it was to keep Grandma from hurting them? I've known people who had to make that decision, and it's very hard on everyone involved. I'm not wanting to be a scaremonger here, but these are things you need to think about.

Or, for that matter, the opposite situation -- Grandma lavishes on your children all the support and affection that she never gave you. In some ways, that would be even worse.

You probably know this already, but it doesn't hurt to repeat it: you do not owe your mother grandchildren. There may come a time, as you work thru your own issues, that you will be less ambivalent about wanting children of your own, but that decision should only be made on the basis of what you feel is right for you. It's one of the most personal decisions you'll ever make, and nobody but you has the ultimate say. Yes, that includes even the most loving and supportive of partners; having someone like that in your life may be a factor in your decision, but it's not the defining one. (And a supportive partner will recognize that.)

#479 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2012, 11:04 PM:

Dash: I agree with Lee. You do not owe your mother grandchildren. And now I'm thinking of some friends of mine who have cut off contact between their kids and their grandmother, because she's particularly problematic right now. (Part of it is a culture issue, but that's as much as I know because it's not my business.) Those grands were going to be moving quite close to my friends and they were not happy about the increased level of stress, because it's easy to cut off contact when you've got half a days' drive, but a lot harder when the distance is mere miles. Thank goodness that the grands seem to be accepting the situation, because my friends really didn't want to have to issue a restraining order.

Like I said, I don't know the details, but yeesh. Toxic grandparents are No Good.

#480 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2012, 12:41 AM:

The Ragu Particle sort of freaks me out. On the one hand, yay hamsters! On the other hand... it's very clearly implied that the sick hamster DIED, and the parents just went out and bought another one, and the new one isn't even the same color, and they're LYING about it. Talk about "not the message I think you wanted to be sending"...

#481 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2012, 01:00 AM:

So I had that counselling appointment today. It went okay as far as introductions go, I think. (This feels quite rant-y and I felt guilty about that, but then I realized this stuff belongs here)

But at this point it's kind of overshadowed by my dad's reaction. I've avoided talking to him about this, because, as I've said, he's Not Helpful. He asked how "that meeting" went, because he gathered from mom and I talking that I had an appointment today, but not the nature of it. So I just said it happened, and I was working on stuff. Tried to drop the conversation, but he apparently wanted to really rub it in that I need to be working. I honestly get the impression he thinks the end goal of this is to get me sorted out so I can get a job like I'm supposed to. Instead of, you know, helping me get a more realistic view of myself so I can have a better chance of not shutting down at the very prospect of self-evaluation. Which in the end will hopefully make applying for jobs less awful, but it's not quite as straightforward as he thinks it is.

I don't want to get all he-said-they-said here, but highlights include him saying he doesn't actually care that he's not helping, and that he hates that I "sit around giggling into [my] laptop all day". Not the first time he's all but said he hates that I have the damn nerve to enjoy myself. Also told me "you're just an asshole". Then I walked out, even though I'd have loved to throw something at him.

So my dad's idea of good parenting is insulting his children, that's confirmed. Most of the time it's directed at my brother, but I'm not exempt. At least he knows from his own experiences that physical abuse is Not Okay, but apparently the emotional kind is absolutely fine! I should probably bring this up at the next appointment. Still reading and witnessing, have a good night everyone.

#482 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2012, 10:30 AM:

#480 ::: Lee:

Strong agreement, and I don't think spaghetti sauce is going to make the situation better.

#483 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2012, 04:06 PM:

Lee @480: Yeah, no shit. Jeez.

Phenicious @481: This is me, valiantly resisting the urge to write a letter to your dad.

#484 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2012, 04:10 PM:

Phenicious: On further reflection, I wonder if it would be worthwhile to ask your counselor for some advice on how to communicat to your dad that, not only is he not helping, he's actually making matters worse.

If he says he doesn't care to that, then it becomes clear that his agenda is not about you getting a job. Rather, it's about him feeling free to be an abusive prick, which strongly suggests that your getting a job wouldn't change anything, so why bother? Oops! Did I just say that out loud?

#485 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2012, 05:28 PM:

Phenicious, your dad's behavior sucks. I'm sorry you have to endure it.

#486 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2012, 08:17 PM:

Dash (475): Perhaps your mother could have some more children -- or adopt them.

That's what I did. When I felt the need of more little folks in my house, and my children didn't look like producing a bunch of grandkids, I adopted some more children of my own.

Suitability of this solution depends on many factors I can't know from here, including particularly age. For myself, I decided that I would not adopt any child more than 50 years younger than myself. It's been great! I have a lot of kids, but I have only three grandchildren: one is genetically related, one is my son's step-son, and one is my foster-son's daughter.

#487 ::: Syd, somewhat disguised ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 01:58 AM:






And I can have my cats!!!!!

***Kermit flails***big shoe dance***20000kW grin***

#488 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 05:42 AM:

Syd!!!!! Wonderful!!!!! When do you move in?

#489 ::: AnotherQuietOne ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 06:36 AM:



#490 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 08:12 AM:

Syd, You've got a place for your cats? {happy dance} Everything is better when you have your cats! So glad things are turning around for you!

#491 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 10:42 AM:

Congrats, Syd! That's awesome!

#492 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 11:44 AM:

Yay Syd!

#493 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 11:46 AM:

A friend from elseweb posted about her experiences in childhood, and I thought it might be helpful to her to see this thread and possibly participate in it. I've told her it exists. I don't know if she'll come here or not, and I don't expect I will.

Posted under my regular ID on purpose, because I don't think this one should be private.

#494 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 01:29 PM:

Xopher @493:

She is, of course, welcome.

#495 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 08:18 PM:

Phenicious @481: Yeah, I'd bring up your dad's behaviour at the next appointment. It might also hold some keys to why you shut down trying to evaluate yourself, or mostly say nasty things about yourself.

I think Jacque @484 is right on the money, pending more proof. So when the situation goes the direction your dad said he wanted (e.g. you getting a job), does he notice? Be proud, say thank you, give out rewards? Or does he move right on to the next insult? If the latter, then chances are high that either he's the kind that will never be pleased, or that getting to be an abusive prick is very important to him.

If either of those is true, start detaching now. If he can't be pleased, you will never be able to cause or count on his good opinion, and wanting it will only cause you pain. If he loves to be abusive, then he has been demonstrating for ___ years now that prickdom is more important to him than his family. You know better than me if either of these are true. But if they are, please let me save you some time and agony by helping you see it clearly.

No matter *what* is actually motivating your father, it would be a good short to medium term goal to create a position of strength, where you can get out of his sphere of control, don't care what he thinks, and can tell him to go f**k himself when he’s being appalling. It would also get rid of some (a lot?) of the static currently messing up your attempts to figure out who you are and what you want to do. Right now I bet rather a lot of energy is going into either being or trying not to be what one or both parents want, and it'll probably go on that way until they back down or you move out.

By the way, I’m in Ottawa — if you’re in the region too, and want to meet up and talk, we can probably figure something out.

#496 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 10:08 PM:

Phenicious, my partner had an excellent point: "stop caring about" doesn't mean "stop paying attention to." Keep noticing your father's reactions to events/actions. Best not to be surprised, given the chances that it won't be pleasant.

#497 ::: radiosongs ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2012, 09:57 PM:


just curious if there will be a new post for DFD tomorrow? If so I would rather wait until then to post my whole big messy story, rather than leaving it at the bottom of here...

#498 ::: GlendaP ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2012, 10:44 PM:

radiosongs @497: Welcome to Making Light. This comment thread is still quite active. It will probably be a couple of months before there's a new DFD top post. Feel free to go ahead and comment here whenever you're ready.

#499 ::: radiosongs ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2012, 12:47 AM:

Thanks Glenda :)

I am still figuring out how to tell the whole story, but in the meantime, I've been going through my old online journals trying to dig up memories of my family that I had put away. And I ran across one of those surveys that used to float around myspace and such, and found this gem:

"Has your family ever disowned another member of your family?, I'm gonna be first."

It feels like a victory to look back and realize that underneath the hurt and loneliness and fear and shame, underneath the self-blame and the doubt and the justifications for the abuse - underneath all of that was a ferocious little girl who knew she was going to get out of there. And she was right.

#500 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2012, 04:49 AM:

Actually, I am going to post (indeed, have posted) a new thread for the day. In addition to the ongoing conversation, I think it's important to take the time to explicitly and visibly mark the day.

I hope we'll hear from you there, radiosongs. Welcome to the community. We're here for you.

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