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May 2, 2013

Dysfunctional Families: Shooting and Shouting
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 06:33 PM *

I’ve been thinking about the ways people fight* for a long time. It’s a “sticky” subject for me: something that draws my attention, over and over. And because I’m a classifier and a categorizer, I’ve been thinking about classes of arguer. In the end, I’ve come down to two: truth-shouters and cutlery-loaders. Both styles are perfectly valid ways of dealing with conflict, but they don’t work well together.

Truth-shouters look to arguments to bring out the things that they’re unable to express any other way. There are some truths that cannot be spoken (or even, sometimes, thought clearly). But the emotional singularity of an argument, when the rules of discourse change, means that these things are suddenly articulable. They can be shouted. (Note that “truth” in this context is “as factually understood by the shouter”. Sadly, anger does not turn truth-shouters into Thomas the Rhymer†‡)

Cutlery-loaders are completely different. For them, arguments are a chance to blow off steam, to express their emotions without spending as much attention on the words they use to do it as they would otherwise. They’re like the characters in the Pirates of the Caribbean movie who, running out of cannonballs, load the ship’s cutlery into the cannon and fire that off.

Needless to say, arguments between these two types do not go well. A truth-shouter will take the cutlery-loader seriously (because arguments are the place for difficult truths.) Meanwhile, a cutlery-loader will assume that a shouted truth is just some random fork and ignore it or, worse yet, counter it with something worse and less true. And it can drive cutlery-loaders nuts to be called on things they said for emotional effect rather than content.

(There are probably other ways that truth-shouters hurt cutlery-loaders in arguments. Being a truth-shouter, I don’t necessarily know them, and hope for instruction. Also, I’ve probably biased this discussion towards truth-shouters. I’d be happy to have a more cutlery-loading view as well.)

The most hideous fights I’ve suffered through or witnessed have been across argument-type lines, particularly when some piece of fired-off cutlery triggers a truth-shouter’s Goddamned Tapes.

I bring this up because a number of discussions in recent DF threads sound to me like truth-shouters trying to deal with cutlery-loaders. It’s worth asking yourself, when an argument goes particularly spectacularly badly, whether the other person is shooting forks while you’re shouting truths (or vice versa).

* In the sense of quarrel, not in the sense of box
† Besides, at least as Kushner wrote him, True Thomas was a cutlery-loader. Awkward.
‡ However neat a Thomas the Rhymer/Hulk crossover fic would be.

This is part of the sequence of Dysfunctional Families discussions. We have a few special rules, specific to the needs and nature of the conversations we have here.

  1. If you want to participate but don’t want your posts linked to your contributions to the rest of Making Light, feel free to choose a pseudonym. But please keep it consistent within these threads, because people do care. You can create a separate (view all by) history for your pseudonym by changing your email address. And if you blow it and cross identities, give me a shout and I’ll come along and tidy it up.
  2. On a related note, please respect the people’s choice to use a pseudonym, unless they make it clear that they are willing to let the identities bleed over in people’s minds.
  3. If you’re not from a dysfunctional background, be aware that your realities and base expectations are not the default in this conversation. In particular, please don’t do the “they’re the only family you have” thing. Black is white, up is down, and your addressee’s mother may very well be their nemesis.
  4. Be even more careful, charitable, and gentle than you would elsewhere on Making Light. Try to avoid “hlepiness” (those comments which look helpful, but really aren’t). Apologize readily and sincerely if you tread on toes, even unintentionally. This kind of conversation only works because people have their defenses down.
  5. Never underestimate the value of a good witness. If you want to be supportive but don’t have anything specific to say, people do value knowing that they are heard.

Previous posts (note that comments are closed on them to keep the conversation in one place):

Comments on Dysfunctional Families: Shooting and Shouting:
#1 ::: Matthew Jude Brown ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2013, 06:56 PM:

Minor nit, but you've typo'd 'cutlery' as 'cultery' three times here. Amusing typo!

#2 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2013, 06:59 PM:

"Cultery" is quite appropriate.

#3 ::: Martin Schafer ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2013, 07:06 PM:

I have a different dichotomy for arguers that I'm sure is related to this but doesn't neccessarily map exactly.

Actually I'll lable what I'm talking about as fights or getting angry rather an neccessarily an argument.

There are the people who explode and shout and half an hour later are unaffected by the outburst and the people who if driven to yelling will still be stewing about the interaction days or weeks later.

I'm definitly the latter and I think most truth shouters are but they wouldn't have to be.

#4 ::: Laura Eilers ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2013, 07:15 PM:

Forgive me, but I've got visions of shrieking cult priests being shot from a circus cannon stuck in my head.

#5 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2013, 07:42 PM:

I wonder if the ambient emotional temperature of the family/culture one grew up in can lead to misunderstandings as well. I realized a couple of years ago that one of my problems in the workplace is that, having grown up in a family where I learned to tell if my mom was upset by subtle changes in her breathing patterns, I now frequently have to deal with customers who display more distress over not getting a free replacement light bulb than my parents would if someone died. Even though I know I didn't just ruin the customer's life, I feel stressed out and upset, like I have to solve their situation or I'm a horrible worthless cold-hearted person. Meanwhile they probably just hang up the phone and say, "good, that's put a fire under them," or "oh well, it was worth a try."

#6 ::: Chaomancer ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2013, 07:46 PM:

I just wanted to thank you for the classification. It made me realise something about the arguments I have with my girlfriend, and how we talk past each other. I'm a truth-shouter and she's a cutlery-loader, and just having that idea makes some of our past miscommunications make so much more sense!

Thank you.

#7 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2013, 07:55 PM:

the invisible one, S&T/971: I frankly don't want to have her over to my place for the foreseeable future, because even if the whole place is absolutely sparkling and she can't find anything about it to criticize, I feel sure that she'll comment about what it used to look like

That is a perfectly good reason for drawing a boundary. Your territory, you get to make the rules.

My usual reaction to people offering criticism (which doesn't hurt) that I didn't find useful has been to appease until they go away, then ignore them and continue doing it my way - while also making sure that they don't see it again, so they can't criticize it.

An eminently logical approach, similar to saying "mm-hm" in various places as appropriate before proceeding to ignore the entire UR DOIN IT RONG lecture. Why get into a fight if you don't have to? I also don't see how anybody gets from that to "you won't take suggestions" when the suggestions being made are not useful.

abi, S&T/980: Thanks. I was concerned about how fast the thread was filling up, with the last few very active discussions.

#8 ::: Laura ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2013, 08:15 PM:

"My usual reaction to people offering criticism (which doesn't hurt) that I didn't find useful has been to appease until they go away, then ignore them and continue doing it my way - while also making sure that they don't see it again, so they can't criticize it."

This is something I always thought of as a Southern characteristic. At the very least it's something I learned during my childhood in the Deep South. It goes hand-in-hand with "kill them with kindness," and I've always had vague guilt feelings about putting people off this way so I can do my own thing.

But perhaps it's not just Southern and perhaps it's not such a bad habit to have. I'll have to reconsider.

As an aside, I'm having trouble fitting myself into these two categories. Where's the one for people who hate fighting and won't do it?

#9 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2013, 08:20 PM:

The idea that different people have different fighting styles, and that some of them are incompatible with others, goes well beyond these two paradigms. Furthermore, you learn your basic fighting style from the people you grow up with, and that can cause problems in later relationships.

My parents were Shouters. At this late date, I can't even guess at whether they were Truth-Shouters or Cutlery-Loaders*, but they both definitely had the pattern of a loud shouting match for about 10 minutes, which would be over and forgotten 2 hours later.

My now-ex's parents were quiet arguers -- they almost never shouted about anything. The first few times he and I had a fight, things got weird. Eventually we each did some adapting, and it was easier for us to argue.

My current partner sulks instead of shouting. This didn't interact well with a few of the habits I still had, but I figured that out fairly quickly. I also learned that when he goes into a sulk, there is nothing I can do to make him come out of it a minute before he wants to, so instead I go about my own business; if it's really bad, sometimes I leave the house for a few hours.

The really potentially destructive pattern my partner has is that once he reaches a certain level of anger/frustration, he will try to throw away objects connected with it, which are frequently things that are important to him. This can get into a vicious cycle, because when he starts to come out of the temper fit, he realizes what he's done and regrets it, and that can throw him right back into the "tossing stuff in the trash" state. Fortunately, this is something I can help with, by calmly pointing out that if he gets rid of X he'll be upset later, and that therefore he should not make that decision right this minute. (Notice that I don't try to tell him he shouldn't throw it out -- that's another thing that's likely to push buttons. I just suggest deferring the decision for a while.)

* I think that when I get to the point of shouting, I'm a Truth-Shouter, but my pattern is a bit different from what abi describes. In my case, it's likely to be that I've tried to say this thing several times and not feeling that I've been heard, so eventually I lose my patience and my temper and shout it instead.

#10 ::: Anon4Now ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2013, 08:23 PM:

Hmm. I guess I'd classify myself more as a truth-shouter, but leaning very heavily on the "as understood by the speaker" clarification. A good bit of the time, I shout things that I'm terrified are true, things I don't want to be true but that seem frighteningly true, in hopes that the other person will convince me that they aren't true after all.

Which I learned from my mother. Well-illustrated by the memory that drew me into commenting on Dysfunctional Families threads in the first place: After family arguments, my mother would often wring her hands and wail "We're a dysfunctional family!"

This was a genuine cry of fear and despair, I believe. But the effect was that I felt guilty and frightened, thinking that conflict meant my family was doomed, and I would rush to smooth things over or fix things in any way I could. In short, the effect was emotional manipulation.

So I don't like that I sometimes do the same thing.

I guess deep down, somehow, I feel like the other person will listen and take me seriously, if I shout out what I'm scared of as though it's definitely true. And they won't take me seriously otherwise.

This was pretty much the only way my mother ever communicated that something was bothering, upsetting, or worrying her. It seemed like the only way she felt she was allowed to.

I guess it really is a case of "the emotional singularity of an argument, when the rules of discourse change, means that these things are suddenly articulable."

But I sometimes wail to my partner "I'm a failure and you resent me for ruining your life!" instead of "I'm really scared that I'm going to fail at this big thing, and I'm really scared that if I do fail, I won't be able to recover. I'm really scared that you'll be angry at me if I fail. I'm really scared that you're angry with me now because I'm not doing well, and that I won't be able to win back your respect."

I'm slowly learning how to say the second thing instead of the first. But the second one still seems sometimes, in my mind, like it doesn't communicate the real emotional content. Like no one will understand that I'm blindingly, shatteringly frightened, and desperately need reassurance and validation and help, unless I'm shouting and crying.

Which, looking at it that way, seems like more of a cutlery-flinging thing. So I don't know.

#11 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2013, 08:39 PM:

I am or at least used to be a variant of the truth shouter, one who used carefully selected excerpts of the truth, ripped out of a years-old context, resulting in as much accuracy as Codemonkey's mam's budget projections.

I can't say for sure that I've gotten better. There's just less worth arguing about as I've gotten older.

#12 ::: AnotherQuietOne ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2013, 08:41 PM:

This opening post makes me realize that I can't remember the last time I got into a genuine high-emotion argument.

And I'm not entirely sure that's healthy either.

#13 ::: Bricklayer ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2013, 08:43 PM:

I am not caught up on the old thread (I shall endeavor to become so), so I don't know if this has been mentioned, but the new Sherlock-Holmes-adaptation network show "Elementary" contains a character, Dr. Joan Watson, who in ever single episode models healthy ways to interact with a really difficult, fight-picking individual, including enforcing safe boundaries and staying productive in the face of blatant sexual harassment ... It's pretty subtle about it if you're not looking for it, she doesn't explain what she's doing, but it's amazing.

#14 ::: SLJ ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2013, 10:15 PM:

As a cutlery thrower, I'm amazed at how few cutlery throwers are here.

But it's not the truth throwers who are hard for me. It's the conflict averse. When I fight, I expect pushback and give-and-take and even to be called on things. When someone just curls up and goes quiet--or harder, insists everything is fine--that combination of styles gets toxic fast.

Still haven't found a solution to that. Always come away feeling awful and like it's my job to learn never to fight or nothing eill change. Which doesn't seem right (and I've never managed it), but no clear what is right, when the dysfunctions of eager-to-fight and terrified-to-fight meet.

#15 ::: S L J ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2013, 10:15 PM:

As a cutlery thrower, I'm amazed at how few cutlery throwers are here.

But it's not the truth throwers who are hard for me. It's the conflict averse. When I fight, I expect pushback and give-and-take and even to be called on things. When someone just curls up and goes quiet--or harder, insists everything is fine--that combination of styles gets toxic fast.

Still haven't found a solution to that. Always come away feeling awful and like it's my job to learn never to fight or nothing will change. Which doesn't seem right (and I've never managed it), but no clear what is right, when the dysfunctions of eager-to-fight and terrified-to-fight meet.

#16 ::: S L J ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2013, 10:17 PM:

Only meant to post that once. Feel free to delete dupes. Sorry!

#17 ::: S L J ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2013, 10:17 PM:

Only meant to post that once. Feel free to delete dupes. Sorry!

#18 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2013, 10:36 PM:

#7, Lee:

First, thank you for saying that my aversion to having my parents in my space for a while is a reasonable boundary. I am usually told that I'm overreacting; if anybody in my past thought I was being reasonable in insisting on something they must have stayed silent. I will probably be telling myself that somebody outside of my head doesn't think I'm overreacting, more than a few times in the coming months; one of the things I picked up from Captain Awkward is that setting new boundaries in existing relationships always results in pushback. It depends on how much I will just avoid vs. actually draw a line, I guess.

I also don't see how anybody gets from that to "you won't take suggestions" when the suggestions being made are not useful.

That's because the person making the suggestion thinks that it is useful. So *clearly*, I'm just being contrary.

#19 ::: thanate ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2013, 10:37 PM:

@3: There's also the set of people who can argue coherently, and those whose brains go all soft under emotional pressure. I generally find that yelling or being yelled at automatically triggers tears and incoherence on my part, neither of which helps me to become less frustrated. The sort of people who can remain rational while angry confuse the heck out of me.

I suspect this makes me closer to a cutlery thrower, in that if I shout anything truthful it's purely by accident, but I don't think I have the sustain.

#20 ::: RainInTheHouse ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2013, 11:18 PM:

#14 SLJ
I used to be partnered with someone (and their family) who insisted everything was fine, and that the conflicts were all me, that I had an anger problem. It was interesting to me that an abuse forum pointed out that if the "anger problems" only came up with certain individuals, then there was a possibility that the anger-provoker(s) kept "cool" as a way of maintaining superiority, while the other was really fighting against that control and "couldn't win". You're painted as emotionally weak to burst out; the topic of contention is of course dismissed and never resolved. It was a revelation to me.

In the beginning I also saw their aversion to fighting not as them being too scared to fight or wanting to keep the peace (it was peace at my expense, frankly) but that "fighting" did't fit the illusion of everything being OK. Maybe it's fear deep down.

On the rare occasions I could provoke this other party to give back, it was cutlery-throwing from them, truth-shouting for me, and I recognised THAT early on. Except, in the counsellor's office and later, what I saw as cutlery was insisted as truth--even when my memory (and in the event of witnesses, witness accounts) recall differently from the cutlery-thrower's story. Can't win again.

#21 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2013, 12:10 AM:

the invisible one @946 previous thread: It's hard to balance setting boundaries with not snapping at people who mean well and have no reason to realize they stepped on your toes. Especially with people who are acquaintances, coworkers or strangers. At least with family and friends, it's legitimate to say that they should pay some attention to your personal quirks and that everyone will be upset over something sometime.

1) it is important to be open-minded when evaluating criticism. "Is this a valid critical point?" and "would the suggested change be worthwhile?" are good questions for doing that. This does not mean you should be easy to push around.

2) Your mom cleaning your bathroom was probably invasive, even if she meant well. Degree depends on exactly what she cleaned up, why, and what she could have found -- bathrooms are full of personal things to snoop through. Someone else scrubbing all the slime and water marks off the shower because they could not stand being next to it might cause me to thank them. Them putting away all my stuff on the counter and consequently reorganizing my medicine cabinet would piss me off.

3) This could have been well-meaning (though perhaps clumsy) encouragement and praise. Or it could be a horrid little jab. Or something in between. It all depends on tone, context, and history. When my mother saids she loves my natural haircolour, it's not supportive, it's an attempt to control what colour I keep it.

4) A lot of those personal grooming comments put you back in the child's position of taking orders and meeting expectations, which is aggravating to anyone and worse for people like us. Also, it sounds like you have a much different hair texture than they do, and so they have trouble judging its status accurately.

5) Your co-worker is probably trying to bond, and perhaps to figure out whether you and she can talk more about clothes and shopping and stuff, or go shopping together. Be gentle when explaining that no, sorry, you don't like shopping but you do like looking good so thank you for the compliments; you'll tell [friend] [coworker] admires her taste. If the coworker persists in expecting you to like shopping after a few of those, then it could be "you don't match my gender stereotypes; I am confused."

And I think your mom might have been rather surprised that you didn't shoot down her new thing. Have other people that matter to her been shooting down her new thing? Or maybe she moves in a circle likely to do so, and cares about what the Joneses think?

I wouldn't take your reaction to the above as meaning you look for things to get upset over. Perhaps you're on the lookout for a certain type of comment because you've gotten a lot of them over the years. It's camoflagued, so it's hard to know if it's really there, or just a trick of the conversational light, and so you look and look, just in case your faculties are deceiving you or you've gone paranoid. I cannot find the reference -- I think it was on Making Light, deep in a thread -- but ancient sagas, probably Icelandic, had been put through some literary and psychological analysis, and the paper-writer had discovered a special type of insult, whose name I don't remember. The key thing is that it did not appear to be an insult to onlookers, because it wasn't in what was said, it was in the unsaid history and context and allusions floating invisibly *around* the spoken words. It had near-perfect plausible deniability, and I instantly recognized it as one of my mother's favourite means of emotional abuse. Back in the day, she could make these apparently innocent comments that would cause me to fly off the handle and make a scene, and nobody ever blamed her because there was nothing in what she said to get upset over, according to them. Are those what your alarm system is looking for?

Can anyone with a better memory find the reference for that kind of insult? I think it would make an excellent DFD thread opener, and that would make it easier to find again.

#22 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2013, 12:27 AM:

the invisible one, #18: Re parents being in your space, here's a story. During the months after my mother died, one of the things my now-ex and I did to try to keep my father engaged with the world around him was to have him come in and take care of the cats while we were out of town. (We did a lot of weekend traveling, and strictly speaking this wasn't necessary -- 2 cats can take care of themselves for a weekend if you leave them extra food and water -- but it gave him a feeling of having something to do.) That lasted until the time we came home and discovered that (1) he had had all our garden dug up and a load of topsoil dumped on it*, and (2) he'd left a 10-page handwritten letter criticizing the state of the house. At that point, we took his house key away and never asked him to cat-sit again. He'd transgressed the boundaries and he lost his privileges.

* This was something we'd discussed having done, but not for him to do it without permission, and certainly not without even letting me know about it first!

#23 ::: Type A Toad ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2013, 12:51 AM:

the invisible one: My mother put away a load of dishes while she was visiting. I'm still mad about it. I was thinking that it was because I'm too territorial about my space, but now I'm starting to think it has more to do with my feeling like I'm being put back in the child position. I think Lee is absolutely right that you get to make the rules in your own space.

My usual reaction to people offering criticism (which doesn't hurt) that I didn't find useful has been to appease until they go away, then ignore them and continue doing it my way - while also making sure that they don't see it again, so they can't criticize it.
Oooo, that sounds familiar. I've pretty good at doing things while hiding what I'm doing. I kinda wish I didn't have that skill set, or at least was able to chose to do hide what I'm doing in the face of advice or not.

#24 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2013, 12:51 AM:

abi @0: Hunh. I would like to believe that I'm a truth-shouter, but I think I'm actually a cutlery-loader. Interesting.

With the difference that, in my case, when I'm loading cutlery, my intent is not to blow off steam, but rather to hurt them and make them go away. Which is a big reason for my "bomb container" reaction, described below.

Martin Schafer @3: There are the people who explode and shout and half an hour later are unaffected by the outburst and the people who if driven to yelling will still be stewing about the interaction days or weeks later.

Ack! We covered that in our Interpersonal Communication Skills class at work. It should have been titled Interpersonal Communication Styles, because it was based on one of those personality-assessment tests (a la Myers-Briggs).

Unfortunately, my workbook is at the office, so I won't be able to reference it until Monday.

Laura Eilers @4: ...from on board a pirate ship, of course...

the invisible one @S&T/971: clarifying questions

Those come straight out of the NLP Meta-Model.

[Wall-O-Text warning. Got a cup of coffee and a sandwich ready?]

Briefly (yar har), natural language is inevitably grossly incomplete in describing/conveying experience. It's impossible for an utterance to contain absolutely all the data necessary to accurately describe an experience. One innevitably relies on one's own experience to fill in the blanks when listening to experience conveyed by others. The catch is that, unless (and even when) both parties are highly attuned, the associations evoked within me will innevitably be different than the experience you're sketching over in your utterance.

(As a trivial example, jot down a quick description of your "parents' car", and then compare it to the un-Rot13ed description of mine: Juvgr naq oebja, obkl '70f fgngvba jntba jvgu n orvtr vagrevbe, juvpu fzryyrq ubeevoyl bs fgnyr pvtnerggr fzbxr.)

With people one is around a lot, the details left out can, to a large degree, be guessed at accurately-enough. Where you get into trouble is when you encounter fundamental structural differences, such as abi's example @0.

It turns out, though, that the information that is left out of natural language is systematic, and has structure, which is why we can (usually) communicate well (enough).

The catch is that most people don't realize that they're leaving information out when they're communicating, or that they are supplying information to flesh out communications that they are receiving.

What the Meta Model does is provide a framework for identifying and recovering the missing information. (And, not incidentally, flagging disingenuous behavior.)

(And being a righteous pain in the ass, if one is so inclined. This is termed The Meta-Monster, which is a phase nearly everyone goes through when learning the Meta-Model. Of course, Karma Will Out, because after alienating all of one's friends by running the Meta-Model on their every sentence for two weeks, one innevitably starts running it on oneself, thus becoming functionally aphasic for the two weeks following that.)

I don't know what my WTFblank reaction looks like to somebody outside my head

There's also something called a trance-induction, which is what happens when someone is hit with a completely unexpected stimulus, and simply doesn't have a canned response for it. They literally go into a little hypnotic trance for a few seconds until their brain reboots and patches together a reaction. If they repeat what you've said, that can be a first-cut attempt at parsing the alien utterance.

I feel sure that she'll comment about what it used to look like.

Which means she's looking for something to criticize, and in the absence of a current target, will dig one out of the archives. Not wanting her in your place is a perfectly sane and reasonable reaction. The last time I talked to my dad, my boundaries were still sufficiently green and flimsey that I didn't even want him to know where I lived. No sense of physical threat; that was just an anteroom of my identity I didn't feel safe admitting him to.

And, bless his heart, he caught that. When I hemmed and hawed, he actually said, "Well, you know, there's always the question, 'Establish your need to know.'" (Which instantly got added to my Blessed Tapes For Keeping Boundaries.) (DAMMIT. He was a sharp guy. And I never got to know him, because I didn't dare get that close to my mother. And I didn't realize that until years after he was dead.)

I blank/freeze

Me, too, though recently I've come to an accomodation with that. I finally unpacked that what was going on was basically that my reflexive reaction was so strong that I didn't dare let it out, lest I leave a smoking hole in the ceiling with charred debris drifting down. I've come to visualize it like the lid slamming down a bomb container. It successfully contains my reaction until I'm away from the situation and have cooled down enough to unpack what the problem is, what my reaction is, and make some considered decisions about what I want to have happen next.

This is why it takes so long to process the situation. Still working on what to do after processing finishes. The "bringing it back up" problem. Will report in when I get some useful ideas.

Having now worked out what this dynamic is about, I'm actually okay with it. I've decided that my habit of not going up the flue when I get hit badly by something unexpected is actually a good thing. It's just that I'd like to have some other options available, in addition.

My usual reaction to people offering criticism (which doesn't hurt) that I didn't find useful has been to appease until they go away, then ignore them and continue doing it my way - while also making sure that they don't see it again, so they can't criticize it.

QFT: Lee's "mm-hm" My mother's "I'll take it under advisement," which I hate(d), because it read to me as highly patronizing (but as I get older, I realize her tone came out of her struggling to defend her own shakey boundaries).

My reaction management strategy is very similar to yours. What has changed over time is an increase in my ability to evaluate criticism for usefulness, and a reduction of my concern over being the target of unsolicited criticism.

Who criticism comes from is very much a deciding factor in how I receive it. Relative social status, times the trustworthiness of the critic's judgement, times my fear of them, times my investment in maintaining their good regard, times my own guilty conscience, are all factors that go into the degree to which a criticism will get under my skin.

My usual reaction to criticism that hurts has been to withdraw.

Huh. My impulse (which I mostly manage to contain these days) is to sling cutlery.

WRT comments responding to my suggestion to codemonkey to check Mam's report with Sharon, I obviously forgot to turn up the brightness enough on the <voice=Jacque-snark> sign. Apologies for wasting everyone's time.

Anon4Now @10: But the second one still seems sometimes, in my mind, like it doesn't communicate the real emotional content.

This would be your hindbrain talking: "Ack! Failure! Ostracized! Predators!" Which tends to be a much, um, louder signal. Great for getting the attention. Evaluating realistic situations? Not so much….

seems like more of a cutlery-flinging thing.

Sounds like the wailing of a terrified, abandoned baby…?

Bricklayer @13: "Elementary"

Oo! (Scampers off to Hulu.)

the invisible one @18: I am usually told that I'm overreacting

"But they're your parents! They only want the best for you!"

Wanna borrow my plushy trout?

setting new boundaries in existing relationships always results in pushback. It depends on how much I will just avoid vs. actually draw a line, I guess.

Well, avoidance is not a bad solution. It's just stressful and inefficient. The key is how firm the boundary is in your mind.

I was fascinated watching my friend Matt renegotiate his relationship with his father as he established himself as an adult. Initially, he came across as trying to get his father's cooperation. Eventually, his father's cooperation was irrelevant. Father would push and just…bounce.

thanate @19: The sort of people who can remain rational while angry confuse the heck out of me.

I actually seem to be becoming one of those people. Usually. Well—sometimes. The key lies in separating the reaction one feels from the outcome one wants. And granting the validity of both, even (especially?) if they seem to be in conflict.

Moonlit Night @21: This could have been well-meaning (though perhaps clumsy) encouragement and praise. Or it could be a horrid little jab.

Or both of the above, all stirred together. With a hearty seasoning of anxiety self-medicating on top.

Your co-worker is probably trying to bond

I have a new coworker who is proving to be pleasantly aware. Asked him last Monday how his weekend was. He said, "Sorry, I'm all about the NFL draft picks this week. I know you said you Don't Do Football." He shrugged and grinned. "That's all I got, right now." I saluted, acknowledged his acknowledgement, and we moved on to 3D printing or something.

It's camoflagued, so it's hard to know if it's really there, or just a trick of the conversational light, and so you look and look, just in case your faculties are deceiving you or you've gone paranoid.

Evolution doesn't penalize you for overreacting to the tiger that isn't there.

#25 ::: Type A Toad ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2013, 12:57 AM:

Addendum: I can't imagine trying to have a conversations about the list of boundaries my parents tromped on because I never verbalized them. Why should you need to tell someone else not to empty your dishwasher? Or to not clean your bathroom?

And of course, the response is 'but I was just trying to help why are you mad!?!?!?!'

#26 ::: tamiki ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2013, 01:07 AM:

On the subject of arguing styles: I tend to need a while to Be Angry, stew it over in my own head and then calm down enough to process what's going on. My dad, on the other hand, likes to circle back with "AND ANOTHER THING!" while I'm still processing.

The worst case of this was the summer after I graduated college; we all went to Hawaii for vacation, and... I think because I took my computer along and made use of it when we were in the condo, he accused me of Doing Vacation Wrong. We were out somewhere when this happened; it's equally possible I just reached my saturation point for the day well before he did.

So we had a spat, and I walked off to let myself process things... and he kept following me and circling back over his points. I think eventually I managed to make it clear that I needed a few minutes to stew.

I also tend to cry as a stress response, especially in an argument. Dad's response: "You do that all the time, you're not taking this seriously, stop it." (At least once there was an "or I'll give you something to cry about"; he didn't follow through, but it was still there.) It was never that I wasn't taking it seriously; it was that I was stressed out and saw no way out other than clamping down and riding out the usually-turned-into-a-lecture.

When my fiancee and I fight, we snap and snipe at each other, I usually end up crying (see: stress response), sometimes she's in a depressive spiral anyway (which never helps matters)... and then we both calm down enough to go over why we had that argument.

#27 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2013, 01:25 AM:

#21, Moonlit Night:

I think you're on to something with the innocuous comment + history = "overreacting". I usually describe it as getting poked on a bruise. (Pretty sure that analogy also came from an earlier DFD thread.)

The cleaning came after comments about hoping that I would get some pride of ownership (on buying the place I have now and moving out of the rental), and getting a cleaning service (in previous rental place which was small and crowded and crappy ex didn't help with the cleaning much), and "how can you stand it" on previous visits, and other things about me being a terrible housekeeper. So even though it was the public bathroom and had zero personal stuff in it, it was yet another jab that looks helpful to somebody else.

I don't know if mom's new thing has been getting her teased or not, it's just something she never ever did before that nobody ever expected her to start. I was definitely surprised.

I'd be more inclined to believe the co-worker was just trying to bond if she hadn't phrased it very much in a "see, that wasn't so bad, now you're going to enjoy it, right?" way. That co-worker and I already did lots of "bonding" stuff over running. She was probably the person I chatted with the most at work. (We don't work at the same place anymore.)

#28 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2013, 01:25 AM:

tamiki @26: My dad, on the other hand, likes to circle back with "AND ANOTHER THING!"

Sounds like he has a leaky bomb container that never gets washed out, but just festers and builds up pressure instead.

My best reaction to that would be to paste an attentive look on my face, go off to my Happy Place, and wait until he ran down. ::shudder::

#29 ::: tamiki ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2013, 01:41 AM:

Jacque: Entirely possible. I know my dad's parents were champion grudge-holders; I think he learned more from them than he likes to think he did, and this might be how it comes out.

General update: Speak of the devil, not two hours after I mentioned my fiancee's parents hadn't made any contact, the door buzzed with a small May Day box from them. It didn't feel as... wossname (condescending, maybe?) as the Easter card, but we're still not sure how to take it.

#30 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2013, 01:50 AM:

#23, Type A Toad: It's a skill I'm also far too good at and I hope I don't have to pull out with the new interest. Unfortunately so far I've been too wary to show him some of the stuff that may provide a route for criticism. But I did play my guitar for him once, mistakes and all.

#24, Jacque: I'm going to read that again tomorrow when it's not past my bedtime. Only thing I'll answer tonight is that my "freeze" on unexpected input is not a bomb container, it seems to be more like mentally running face-first into a wall.

#31 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2013, 03:02 AM:

I've fixed the "cultery" thing. Thanks -- it was gone midnight and my typing wasn't so good.

I'm perfectly happy with being wrong, or incompletely correct, in this categorization. There are more ways to slice up the human population than there are actual humans, but I've found this one to be a useful way of dealing with the ones I've met.

Me, I stick with this description because it keeps on biting me. I've gone back over old conflicts where I didn't understand why I said what I did, and found the thing I had to say and couldn't otherwise. And I've got a couple of cutlery-loaders in my life, and have to kick myself because I keep on taking them seriously until I think of that pirate with the fork in his wooden eye.

The argument-averse/loves argument thing seems to me to be a partial overlap with truth-shouters/cutlery loaders. The truths I shout hurt, or I'd have been able to just say them in a conversational tone. But venting anger is, from what I can see, more satisfying at the time than shouting truth. But I could be wrong. I don't wear those shoes.

I'm fight-averse, and I'm married to another fight-averse truth-shouter. We don't have a lot of fights; we mostly manage our conflicts upstream of fighting. I keep having to tell the kids that just because their dad and I don't fight much doesn't mean that people who do are doing it wrong. I'm worried that if their future relationships contain more arguments than ours, they'll fear that they're doing it wrong.

#32 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2013, 03:51 AM:

Jacque, #24: One of the things that sometimes happens to me when I'm hit with a totally unexpected stimulus is that my tact circuit cuts out and I go into "in the mind, out the mouth" mode for a few seconds. Usually I've re-adapted before blurting out more than one sentence, but boy, I've come out with some doozies under those circumstances.

"Well, you know, there's always the question, 'Establish your need to know.'"

Oh, that's getting added to my arsenal!

One of the things I've learned about myself is that when I respond with disproportionate rage to a trivial utterance or event, it always means that there's something underneath that I haven't articulated yet. I've gotten better over the years at not letting the rage out (or at least, not all of it) -- but that reaction is a red flag telling me that I need to seriously think about what happened once I've cooled down again. Sometimes the result is worth sharing with the person who triggered it; other times it just lets me know something to watch out for, so that it doesn't hit me amidships like that again.

Type A Toad, #25: Once again, I think we're looking at one of the failure modes of Family Thinking. Would your parents have gone into the house of one of their friends and done those things? Of course not! But they think it's perfectly okay to do it to you, because FAMILY. Perhaps asking them to show you as much respect when visiting your house as they would when visiting [old family friend] might be a useful tack to take.

Why are you mad? Because of the overt lack of respect for you that their behavior shows.

If your parents would have done those things in a friend's house, or a neighbor's house, then we're at an entirely different level of problem. But I don't think that's the case, and that's what puts the lie to the "only trying to help" excuse.

the invisible one, #27: That whole "innocuous comment + past history = overreacting" thing also comes into play WRT racism and sexism, and I think the "being poked on a bruise" metaphor may have originated on one of the feminist blogs.

Oh, dear ghod. I bought a new car, and I took it out to my parents' place so they could see it, and the only thing my father could think of to say was, "Well, try to keep this one clean for a change." So. Much. Rage. It felt like being slapped in the face -- and I'm pretty sure it was at least partially intended that way, though he never would have admitted it. He was all about "the only reason we talk so much about your faults is that we love you and want you to be happy."

#33 ::: Jane Austen character ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2013, 04:09 AM:

Thanks Abi for this useful tool to think with. I'm the daughter of argument averse parents, and I think it may have helped make me into a cutlery loader -- because how does one do this thing? The one time I ever heard them argue I was convinced they would divorce, which they didn't - they are still devoted after 53 years. I learnt to gauge their disagreements by the quality of the silence.
But my first relationship was 15 years with an argument loving cutlery loader and he taught me much, not all of it good. Now I am very happily with a total truth-shouter (now 17 years) and on the rare occasions we argue it is shattering for both of us. This will help, I think. So thanks.

#34 ::: a heart in hiding ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2013, 06:08 AM:

What about people who shout what they claim are truths, and then afterwards say you can't hold it against them, it's your problem for taking them seriously because you know they're just cutlery shooters, every single time? It's clear that these are things which they really think and which really (really!) bother them, but they refuse to deal with them in calmer moments. Is it worth just going along with their denial to have peace?

#35 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2013, 06:35 AM:

Truth-shouters who claim it's all forks and knives, huh? Tough one.

Like everyone in denial, they have to understand that there's a problem before they can go on to accepting it. As for anyone standing on the sidelines (or in their range of fire)?

If you're getting actionable intelligence, you can try to action it: take the pressure off the areas that make them blow up; address things not head-on but roundabout; at least know where the land-mines are.

But if someone doesn't want to tackle a problem, you can't make them. Even interventions, the closest thing to making people change, are really about making them want to change.

At a certain point, you have to ask yourself if you want to live with their velociraptors, or if you need to choose otherwise. Knowing what the problem is is the first step to solving it, but it's not a cure-all.

Also, sympathy.

#36 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2013, 07:51 AM:

Dash @955/DFD S&T: If you're having problems remembering what you want to talk about once you're there, then absolutely copy your posts from here to show her.

Codemonkey: Just agreeing with everyone else that your mother is not a reliable reporter, regarding what Sharon said, or anything else. Additionally, that Sharon is not qualified to make a judgement on your ability to live independently.

Re. finances of living in your own place, when I was buying my flat, I worked out weekly, monthly and yearly outgoings, then did the necessary calculations to work out my average monthly outgoings, which then let me know how much money I could afford to spend on non-essantials each month. You're in the lucky position (as I was) of having some money in the bank, so you don't need to immediately start adding an expense of "rainy day money" (or "self-insurance"), because if e.g. something went wrong with the car or the computer, you could afford to get it fixed. However, it's still worth starting thinking about putting some money away each month, once you've got the initial costs of moving done.

The first couple of months will be the most expensive, as you stock up on non-consumable (pots, pans, bedding, teatowels etc.) and consumable (washing up liquid, washing powder etc.) essentials for the first time. Just accept that. I recommend looking in charity shops for really simple cookbooks named things like "cooking for students" or "cooking for one".

Also, cheap stuff generally does its job and or/lasts much less well than expensive stuff. My preference has been to buy cheap stuff initially, then gradually get better/more durable items as I see things that I like and as I can afford them. If you don't mind having mismatched stuff, then charity shops are your best friends for getting good quality cheaply (e.g. Pyrex bowls for cooking, crockery, cutlery, even furniture at some locations). Pound shops/99p stores/Poundstretchers etc. are also really useful and you can occasionally get really good stuff at stupid prices (e.g. linen teatowels for £1 each!) - but they're also full of rubbish. Skip-dipping (dumpster diving for those over the pond) can also be profitable - we've gained several bookcases that way, also a folding table, a set of six folding chairs and some basic tools. You may also find that once colleagues know you've moved into your own place for the first time and are short of furniture, they will offer you stuff, on the lines of "my neighbour is getting a new sofa - are you interested in the old one?"

#37 ::: dcb has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2013, 07:55 AM:

Probably for mentioning the name of a discount store...

I have Turkish Delight for the gnomes.

#38 ::: Froth ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2013, 08:19 AM:

In my family of origin, to speak truth was to have an argument. Training myself to speak relational truths (like "I need to see more of you", or "I really dislike it when you do that") has been difficult. I tense up and my heart races and I can't just casually mention things, because it's going to turn into a fight, I just know it, I'm going to spend the next ten minutes being shouted at.
When I used to lose my temper as a kid, I shouted things that were at least partly true, but also calculated to hurt. Things that implied my target was a terrible person, but which were in themselves factually correct. I don't like that tendency in myself. I don't like the way things spring to mind that are intended to hurt, instead of to communicate.

#39 ::: Neon Fox ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2013, 08:45 AM:

In #32, Lee said, "I think the "being poked on a bruise" metaphor may have originated on one of the feminist blogs."

About ten years ago, I was talking to my dad and his girlfriend and happened to mention something my mother had done that week that had bugged me. Girlfriend (who I quite like) said something about not understanding what the problem was, and I kind of sat there wondering how on earth to explain until my dad said, "She's been scratched on that spot so many times." Same general idea.

#40 ::: Bricklayer ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2013, 09:00 AM:

So Mother's Day is coming up. I can (a) make mild contact with my mother, possibly a "Happy Mother's Day! Thinking of you" email with a few grandkid pictures in it, (b) call her, or (c) ignore the entire situation.

I'm leaning towards (a) or (c) as likely less full of chances for her to turn it around into an attack on me than (b) is. :-/

So far as I know she's still expecting me to get (from who knows where) thousands of dollars to 'repay' her from what I 'stole' from her years and years ago out of my grandmother's accounts. If I took it at all. I have no access to those records without going into a branch in person and trying to get a real person to access nearly-7-year-old bank account statements for me, if they can even do that.

#41 ::: Laura ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2013, 10:11 AM:

Hearing and witnessing.
When we got engaged, my father gave us each a book on fair fighting, toasted us with "may you have good fights!" and let us know that he was so happy. It took a few years before I realized that although his parents snipped, they never fought. Never. They just .... turned away.
We've had many years to adjust to disagreement patterns, and I'm still grateful for the books. (Lost floods ago.)

#42 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2013, 11:08 AM:

My mother hated Mother's Day: she said it was a fake holiday, created by Hallmark and the florists' industry, and she refused to celebrate it. She was steadfast in this all her long life.

Having observed the mishegas and misery other people go through around the day, I am exceedingly grateful to her. Sending good wishes to all those folks who are struggling with what to do.

#43 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2013, 11:25 AM:

#24, Jacque:

Thanks for the information. I'll be reading the meta-model for a while, I think, that's a long page.

I'm not sure what your example of the description of parents' car is intended to be an example of. Not sure what I'm looking for in it.

Rebooting the brain... ha. I wonder whether it would be useful or counterproductive to train a few words into that reboot process, along the lines of "did you really just say that?" or maybe "what, what?" ...which is approximately the entire contents of my thoughts when this is triggered by something somebody said.

Looking for something to criticize... thing is, I never got that impression about mom. It seems that it's just this one topic (two? appearance and housekeeping, I guess) and she's fine for everything else.

For evaluating criticism and suggestions, yeah, it depends a lot on who is offering it. Of course, if after consideration I do take the suggestion, I have got (can't remember from whom anymore) a bit of rubbing it in that I had been doing it wrong before because I changed what I was doing. And I'm one of those people for whom one or two instances of hurt is enough to set an expectation of it in future interactions. So even if I think somebody's suggestion is a good one, I'm sometimes reluctant to let them know that I have taken it. (This is pretty variable, some people and some suggestions don't trigger that reaction.)

#44 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2013, 11:43 AM:

Bricklayer: Banks should be able to pull those old records for you, yes. Especially if it's been fewer than 7 years; I have a fuzzy memory that 7 years is a legal threshold for saving some sorts of financial documents for people, it may also be that kind of threshold for banks. If you can find the spoons (and I know how hard that is; I just spent the week procrastinating on a phone call to my own bank) it might well be worth going in some time before the seven years runs out Just In Case. (Note: Not a banker, accountant, or lawyer; going on very fuzzy memories of something I was told years ago.)

I know that when there was a small, check-related, human error on my part, that involved coincidences that made it look like an error on the bank's part in my checking account relating to a check that had posted several years before, they were able to pull that record with no problem.

#45 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2013, 11:57 AM:

The invisible one @43

Well, how about a cross-cultural example, then?

This article about Viking women's graves and how they've been interpreted suggests that we have brought too much of our own cultural baggage when we look at Viking graves, and thus we misinterpret all sorts of things about Viking women's status.

But it's not just across broad cultural and historical boundaries that this kind of misinterpretation happens.

If I tell you that I went to my sister-in-law's house for Christmas, but I don't tell you everything that happens (after all, I can't: to tell *everything* would require as long as the visit took, even assuming I remembered it all), then you might fill in those gaps based on your own experiences of your own Christmases (assuming you celebrate it, which might not be the case) or your own sister-in-law's personality. You will thus hear a different story than I meant to tell.

I am not sure that that's the sort of thing Jacque meant, but that's what I thought about when I read her post.

#46 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2013, 12:57 PM:

Re: arguments. My tendency is to clam up and try to get away.

One of my mentors taught me that when I was angry:

1. Never yell.

2. Instead, drop your voice down to a volume where they MUST listen to you, and deliver your criticism.

3. You have a choice of tone on delivering that criticism, depending on how egregious you consider the situation to be, i.e., a calm statement, a cold determined steely-eyed statement, or a flat out hiss indicating you're controlling your urge to either deck or murder the object.

4. Never, ever insult the other person -- keep the statement confined to whatever ignited your anger.

What this does is make me think before I react...however if circumstances push me past the point of reason (or if it's a situation of getting the same thing over and over) I will probably start firing cutlery...

I TRY to use my anger as fuel to take action, rather than letting the flame consume me.

#47 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2013, 01:16 PM:

the invisible one, #43: Remember that appearance and housekeeping are the two primary measures of a woman's value for a lot of people. And that it's not just men who enforce that.

#48 ::: knitcrazybooknut ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2013, 02:13 PM:

I learned a lot working in payroll, especially how to defuse an angry person, or even just how to be heard by someone who is yelling. Lori, you're absolutely right about dropping your voice. Here are my tactics:

1. Start speaking slowly and more softly. They will match your speed and volume instinctively. It's hard to do when you're stressed, but it really helps calm the entire situation.

2. Do not try to make jokes to defuse the situation. My stand up comedy routine when stressed is legendary. But this isn't the time - if anything, it may just give the person something else to complain about. (I may be the only one who does this, but this was a lesson hard learned.)

3. State facts. Don't speak in possibilities, or things you hope might happen. State what is. Any hint of a possible fix will only spur them to make more noise in hopes of getting that to happen faster.

4. Be with that person, and feel their pain. Use eye contact. Communicate your concern. Apologize if appropriate. "I'm sorry this is happening." "I'm sorry you're so upset by this." Even if you're acting and don't feel sorry at all, use those methods to let them feel heard. Sometimes that is enough.

I feel like I've veered madly off the beaten path, but these were really important skills for me to learn instead of running and hiding in the bathroom and crying whenever I knew I had to call someone who thought we were stealing their paycheck. Using these skills in my job eventually led to using them in my life, and not being as afraid of conflict and fights, not running away when I disagreed with my awesome husband guy, not ignoring my feelings when they didn't point to blissful happiness. Ignoring my feelings just led to complete explosions that weren't appropriate to the current conflict - I became a truth shouter over disagreements about silverware cleanliness. And those kinds of behaviors made me just like my mom. Um, I'll pass, kthxbai.

Mother's Day ads are making me a little crazy, but really, they're just giving me a chance to have conversations with radios and computers. "How do you tell your mother you love her?" says the ad. "I DON'T," says me. Entertaining from the outside. (Brief update: I haven't had any contact with my mom since I wrote her a no-contact-thanks letter in January, except for the birthday card that I sent back return to sender. Just having her handwriting in my house was driving me crazy.)

Speaking of, does anyone want a piano? I'm in the Pacific Northwest, and this piano is an albatross to me. It needs some keys replaced and a tuning, but I gotta get it out of my house. If anyone is interested, they can reach me at my username plus gmail and a dot of the com. Otherwise, it's going outside to be art and possibly target practice.

Sorry if this is too random, inappropriate, hlepy, sarcastic, or otherwise unpalatable. Best wishes to all.

#49 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2013, 02:25 PM:

#47, Lee: oh. right. *facepalm*

And this from the person who demonstrated instead of stated that women can do "men's" jobs by doing a "man's job" and making it her own the whole time I was growing up.

#50 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2013, 02:31 PM:

Bricklayer @40: I agree with you that (a) or (c) is the way to go. Of those two, I'd recommend doing whichever feels right to you - I'm not going to recommend one or the other because that depends on -your- feelings, not -my- mother-daughter dynamic! If you go with (a), feel free to return here for advice on how to handle any response.

knitcrazybooknut @48: you might want to repeat that piano offer on the OT - larger audience.

Re. arguing/rowing: I'm very rowing-averse. When it does come spilling out (usually when I'm very tired) I'm a truth-shouter. But I'd much rather be able to discuss a conflict while not at that level of emotional intensity. If it does get to serious argument level, then I rarely feel that it's cleared the air, almost never feel better for it. Rather I'll brood about it for days afterwards - feeling guilty if e.g. I've shouted at my husband when really it wasn't his fault but something small he did tripped me over the edge because I was too wound up and too tired; alternatively feeling frustrated for days when someone else fails to listen to my truths during the argument and I've gone through that conflict and it hasn't even helped get me anywhere.

The AVP courses I went on have helped me to handle people better and to understand myself better, so less conflicts arise, but I still feel extremely frustrated after some interactions.

#51 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2013, 02:44 PM:

While I find the distinction between truth-shouter and cutlery-loader very useful in dealing with different styles of conflict management (I'm a truth-shouter), I keep reminding myself not to focus on style over substance. Does the person wish me well or ill? Do they have a cruel streak? Are we making a genuine attempt to resolve differences and reach compromises? Do they bring out the best or the worst in me? Do they respect my agency in my pursuit of happiness, or do they (claim to) want the best for me but only on their terms? Is there respect? Do they listen? My patience is near-infinite when I think people are acting in good faith. It's close to zero when their presence in my life is toxic.

I was unkind to myself for far too long. These days, I try not to have double standards: I extend as much kindness to myself as I do to others, and I don't put up with being treated in ways that I would never treat someone else. (This can be through either confrontation or avoidance, whichever of the two is more productive in the long run. Sometimes it's a combination of both.)

#52 ::: a heart in hiding ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2013, 06:33 PM:

abi @35: Thanks. It's hard to accept that you can't actually fix someone else by trying harder!

Codemonkey: if your mam has been telling your sister things like, "You won't be able to have your iPad any more because your selfish brother is abandoning us!" no wonder she's upset. You really need to talk to her yourself: you can't let your mother be the interpreter of family reality, either to you, or of you.

#53 ::: Camilla ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2013, 09:21 PM:

Whoa. My husband once took some nonsensical statement I'd made in anger, and told me that because I had said it in anger, that was proof that it must be true. (I think that interaction pegs him as the truth shouter and me as the cutlery loader.)

My cutlery loading comes out when the other party doesn't seem to hear me, and I'm trying to get a reaction and prove that what I'm feeling matters. If I'm hearing actual grievances being aired, and getting engagement on the argument, I stay much closer to reasonable and truthful.

#54 ::: Going Under ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2013, 03:51 AM:

Well. Having been in these threads under a different pseudonym, and then started using my regular one, I'm going back under a different one.

Turns out I'm rather closer to the Boston bombings than I would have thought. In and of itself this would be stressful and take some processing. Unfortunately, I can't just not talk to my parents until I've done this. The parents are extremely conservative, bordering on conspiracy theorists. They don't know about my connection to the Boston bombings, and they are (as they do about everything) going to view my opinions on the subject as the product of "my idealism and youthful naivete." (I'm in my forties.) I'm just not sure I can take that dismissal right now, but I absolutely DO NOT WANT them to know that I know these people.

I've felt for a while that when I take an emotional hit, I slap a bandage on the wound and keep chugging on. But lately I've been feeling like I'm only being held together by the bandages, that nothing underneath them has really healed, and that every new hit is reopening half-a-dozen old wounds. I've always been insomniac, but now I'm getting 2-3 hours of sleep most nights, which is definitely not helping.

Life at the moment feels like a really bad potboiler novel, in which I am a minor support character. All these awful things keep happening to the people around me, but none of it is about me, and there's no room in there for me to have a reaction to it. All I seem to be capable of is supporting the main characters as best I can, and then going off and shaking when I'm not in the scene. And then I feel guilty because these awful things aren't happening to me, and yet here I am falling apart over them.

#55 ::: Going Under ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2013, 03:58 AM:

On the topic of the thread. I'm tremendously conflict-averse. To the point where in 25 years, my husband and I have had two fights lasting a grand total of less than 20 minutes. I don't even know if I would be a cutlery-loader or a truth shouter, or which my husband is, because it just never happens.

I think I ended up this way because my father is a cutlery-thrower and my mother a truth shouter - but one who doesn't fight fair. So Dad would scream and shout really awful things - and he loses his temper enough to be really frightening - while Mom would take all these things very seriously, and fight back with every awful truth she knew from years of an unhappy marriage. Fighting was never productive, always horrible, and I just learned to avoid it at all costs.

#56 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2013, 04:43 AM:

Going Under @54:

Generally, I'd prefer, if you're not going to post using your other-ML name in these threads, that you stick to a consistent pseudonym. It helps people to address their fellow commenters with as broad an understanding of the context of the problem as possible, and it is the best balance I've been able to find between privacy and community here.

Can I unite your previous pseudonym and this one under your current pseud email address? I'm not going to ask to link your truename posts to them, for obvious reasons.

#57 ::: RiceVermicelli ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2013, 05:12 AM:

@ GoingUnder@54 - I am so sorry.

When I was about 20, an ex-boyfriend of mine murdered his parents and was involved in a splashy and spectacular freeway-chase-and-arrest combo that made the national news. Telling my parents that I knew that guy is on my list of Worst Conversations Ever. I wish now that I had given myself more time to process the inherent contradictions in a human being who did a terrible thing before I exposed the "slept with murderer" side of myself to my mother. The mourning I needed to do was very emotionally complex, and involved a huge amount of self-doubt and vulnerability. I wish I had taken time to process those feelings before exposing the process to painful criticism and denial. It seemed, at the time, quite important for me to let my mom know what I was going through, and in retrospect, it seems completely ridiculous that I thought telling my mom was any kind of good idea. "Retrospect" in this case was about five seconds.

You may not be able to just not talk to your parents while you process, but are you obligated to talk to them about this?

If you must talk to them about it, it is totally reasonable to script your statements, and some responses to them, in advance, and to arrange ways to protect yourself if they are distressed in ways that are additionally distressing to you.

#58 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2013, 06:29 AM:

Going Under and RiceVermicelli: witnessing. I am so sorry you were put in those situations.

#59 ::: knitcrazybooknut ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2013, 09:11 AM:

Going Under @ 54: I'm really sorry this is happening. I hear you on the "slap a bandage on it and keep going" front. Last June I started feeling like there was air whistling through my pieced together pieces, too. The depression hit hard, and insomnia coupled with exhaustion was one of my symptoms. I had to make some major changes in my life to feel like a person again.

Are you able to get some counseling from someone you trust? It helped me immensely. And keeping your parents at arms' length is a perfectly valid and reasonable protection for yourself.

#60 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2013, 11:06 AM:

Time for some script development, I think. Because of my freezing habits I need to develop some canned responses. (I've already done this for my wardrobe choice that gets the most stranger-comment. I have a range from joke to sarcasm to a simple "thanks!" depending on what the stranger-comment is, and it works well for me.)

Easiest one first, since it is rare and doesn't hurt me, only confuses me. On a comment about my weight, and thanks to Lee for the second half that makes it not sound defensive: "that was over ten years ago, why are you hung up on it?" If the response is a protestation of not being hung up on it, then "So why did you bring it up?"; if the response is a protestation of concern for my health, then "you may have noticed that once university stopped forcing 12+ hours a day of butt-in-chair, I was able to get active and have stayed active since. Why, again, are you concerned?" (I am so lucky to be naturally skinny and healthy that this isn't a problem for me.)

Next one, anything at all to do with my appearance or wardrobe choices: "why is this a problem for you?" If the response is a protestation that it's not a problem (with optional but...) then "so why did you bring it up?"; if the response refers to other people thinking I look "bad" by any adjective, then be the best meta-monster I can be (thanks Jacque! the logical nitpickety-ness of that appeals to me and I've actually pulled one or two of those in the past without knowing what it was called) and remind myself throughout that no matter who thinks I look "bad", I'm not trying to impress them. (Except the new interest, and he tells me I look great. So nyah, mom.)

Third one I'm not sure about. The housekeeping question is one I'm not entirely sure I want to answer with Lee's suggestion of "you're not telling me anything I don't already tell myself". It sounds good in theory but it feels like I'm leaving myself open. I don't know that she'll poke at this opening, but I just don't feel up to leaving any gaps in the armour right now. Not sure what kind of responses "why is this a problem for you?" might get and how I could respond to them. This is also the one that isn't 100% pure opinion, even if it is heavily influenced by it.

For comments about being oversensitive/overreacting I have a whole rant in my head that pops up whenever I think about the subject and sometimes it feels like it'll get her to think about it for real, and sometimes like I'm only attacking with intent to hurt, and sometimes like I'm opening the armour too much, and sometimes like there's no way I'd be able to get through the whole thing without my throat closing up and me starting to cry, and sometimes like it'll get the infuriating response of "but just that one time you should have objected". (In short, it's a narration of an incident where I under-reacted, with the jerkbrain telling me that if I object then I'm over-reacting given an out-loud voice in the narration, which mom was present for, which she commented on me NOT objecting, and which involved an actual, objective, indisputable safety hazard that had the capability to take my arm off had it powered on.)

Now to quiet down jerkbrain who is starting to go on about some Captain Awkward stuff from the other side, namely things like "she doesn't need a reason to not like something, why are you pushing for reasons" (actually, jerkbrain, that was "nobody needs a reason to not like someone else", not free license to make comments about how you don't like someone else's choices without being called on it.)

#61 ::: Going Under ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2013, 12:08 PM:

Abi@55, sure go ahead. I don't particularly mind the ML crew being able to pull up previous posts. I'm just being rather paranoid.

RiceVermacelli@57 - I'm so sorry that happened to you. I can thoroughly sympathize with thinking that confession is necessary when its actually a rotten idea. One of the reasons I'm so certain I shouldn't talk to my parents about this is because of previous conversations about a pedophiliac teacher of mine. Seriously bad idea.

What concerns me about talking to my parents is that, being very political animals, they pretty much will bring up Boston, and because they are who they are, they will ignore or dismiss any opinion I have, and right now I'm too raw to take that without blurting out the reasons why I know more about this than they do.

Huh - I guess I'm a truth shouter then, because if I'm not being hurt by the conversation, I would be perfectly safe from unintentional revelations. I just don't shout them, because shouting is BAD is deeply ingrained in me.

#62 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2013, 12:22 PM:

the invisible one, #60: I should point out here that the "why are you still hung up on it?" bit is a variety of argument sleight-of-hand. "Why" questions are looking for an answer of the form "because" -- but that implies that you've accepted the premise of the question! In this instance (using it as a defense against someone else's attack) it's perfectly justifiable; but be aware that it can also be used against you as a bullying technique ("Why are you being so disagreeable?"), and in that case your response should be to address the underlying assumption ("What makes you think I'm being disagreeable?"). At any rate, you seem to have this one scripted out very well.

no matter who thinks I look "bad", I'm not trying to impress them

Yes, and this gives you another "why" comeback: "Why do you think it's in my job description that I have to {dress | look pretty} for you?" (The "look pretty" version is specifically for men who give you shit about your appearance. It's also a feminist consciousness-raising concept, because a surprising number of men do seem to think that every woman they see has a duty to look fuckable for them.)

#63 ::: Lee has been gnomed again ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2013, 12:23 PM:

I do seem to be having bad luck with the filters on these threads specifically...

#64 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2013, 12:26 PM:

the invisible one @43: Thanks for the information. I'll be reading the meta-model for a while, I think, that's a long page.

It's well worth it, though. I can't begin to tell you how much grief it's saved me over the years. (Not to mention, providing amunition for those times when I decide I need to be a carefully calculated pain in the ass.) (Heh. New sub-category for abi's "truth-shouter:" truth-puller?

"Really? Every single time? In all contexts?? Hmm...?" (toothy grin)

I'm not sure what your example of the description of parents' car is intended to be an example of. Not sure what I'm looking for in it.

Basically, it's a really broad-brush example of "my history and experience is different than your history and experience." "Your parent's car" is the type of "common example" one might use in conversation, and the sort of thing a speaker could assume would evoke a common image in the listener's mind. But unless the speaker and listener grow up in similar places, and are of a similar age, the likelihood that the speaker's parents' car is the same kind as the listener's parents' car is fairly remote. It's not a great example, because most people are at least somewhat conscious of this likely difference. But there are other basic referents that one forgets will be different from person to person.

Take a pertinent example: "Of course your mother loves you!" from someone who's mother did, openly and sincerely, love her. The whole complex of experience around her idea of "mother's love" is going to be completely different than, say, mine, where my mother loved the idea of "daughter," but regarded me as a completely incomprehensible alien who had totally nonsensical ideas about what was appropriate conduct/believes/behaviors for a "daughter."

Does that help any?

I wonder whether it would be useful or counterproductive to train a few words into that reboot process, along the lines of "did you really just say that?" or maybe "what, what?"

Useful or counterproductive for whom? (Sorry, couldn't resist. Like I say, once the Meta-Monster gets invoked, it can be quite the pain in the ass.) Doing so would almost certainly be useful for you. Probably be counterproductive to anyone who depends on your blank/freeze to manipulate your behavior. ::evil grin::

And I'm one of those people for whom one or two instances of hurt is enough to set an expectation of it in future interactions.

This is entirely reasonable and, believe it or not, completely typical.

So even if I think somebody's suggestion is a good one, I'm sometimes reluctant to let them know that I have taken it.

Likewise. For gloaters, it's not about helping you, it's about influencing or controlling you. No sense in fueling this tendancy. :-)

Cally Soukup @44: I have a fuzzy memory that 7 years is a legal threshold

I specifically asked my bank; yes, that's the threshold they quoted me.

Naomi Parkhurst @45: I am not sure that that's the sort of thing Jacque meant, but that's what I thought about when I read her post.

Yeah, that's an excellent example. And one of the core challenges with anthropology, as it happens.

Lori Coulson @46: drop your voice down to a volume where they MUST listen to you, and deliver your criticism.

This is an astonishingly effective technique. It does several things: 1) if the other person is used to/primed for yelling matches, it blows their pattern. (See: trance-induction above.) 2) It, as you say, forces them to listen. 3) It causes them to "lean in" to hear you, which is a more receptive body posture (thus playing their own physiology against their desire to fight). 4) Gives you more control (physiologycally, as well as psychologically) over your own reaction/behavior.

Altogether, very slick.

knitcrazybooknut @48: Start speaking slowly and more softly. They will match your speed and volume instinctively. It's hard to do when you're stressed, but it really helps calm the entire situation.

And if they don't pace you, then start out matching their tone and volume (but sticking to the facts, and keeping the content neutral and fact-based), and then modulate to a slower/softer tone. This, in NLP parlance, is known as "pacing and leading."

(This is also a trick commonly used by law-enforcement professionals to diffuse conflict situations.)

Do not try to make jokes to defuse the situation. … I may be the only one who does this, but this was a lesson hard learned.

Um, no. You're not. And, yes, it is. Ahem. :-)

Be with that person, and feel their pain.

Simply acknowledging their fear is sometimes incredibly effective:

We had a client that was renown for being a pain in the ass, and who would soak up literally hours off time at our office. The second time I encountered her (this had apparently been going on for months or years before I started working there), I had enough data that I realized she was coming back around again and again with the same worry. So I quizzed her a little bit about this worry. Turns out her mother had had an extremely bad experience around this general topic, and the client was afraid of getting into the same tangle. So I read this back to her: "Your mother went through this very bad experience, and you're worried that you'll end up experiencing the same thing?" "Yes, that's correct." "Oh, okay. Well, our office isn't really equipped to deal with that. This resource over here is what you need to bring into play; that's how to protect yourself from this problem." "Oh, okay, thank you." She packed up her papers, smiled, and left. Elapsed time: fifteen minutes. (I had the great good fortune that somebody had called my boss out from his office, afraid of the usual go-round, so he actually saw this go down. Apparently, I'd handled her in record time. And to the best of my knowledge, she hasn't been back since.)

I feel like I've veered madly off the beaten path

Nope. Least, not IMnpHO. (See my comments above.)

Speaking of, does anyone want a piano?

ARRGH! Not appropriate for this thread, but I just went round on this one, from the other side. ::whimper::

dcb @50: AVP courses

Unpack-ez acronym, plz?

Going Under @54: I feel guilty because these awful things aren't happening to me, and yet here I am falling apart over them.

Turns out, PSTD by Proxy is an Actual Thing. (Kids witnessing parents being abused take damage, even though they may not be physically injured themselves, for example.) Just because you're not one of the ones with actual physical injuries, doesn't mean you might not benefit from treatment. And if this keeps happening around you, having heightened reactions make perfect sense to me.

Footnote: It (possibly inappropriately) tickles me that there's a "PSTD for Dummies." Google the title, (and there are free pdf downloads out there.) Also, the "for Dummies" website has a table of contents for this book. (Click on the ToC tab.)

And, for what it's worth, I entirely endorse keeping silent when dealing with people who Should Help But Obviously Won't. No sense in compounding your injury. But do, please, credit yourself with having taken actual, really-and-for-true, damage, and proceed accordingly.

the invisible one @60 Easiest one first

I laud you for your respectulness. This is far more courtesy than I would be inclined to express under similar circumstances. (Maybe this is why people don't generally comment on my appearance. ::evil grin::)

if the response refers to other people thinking I look "bad" by any adjective, then be the best meta-monster I can be

Heh. "Duck season!" One of my favorites is, "Look bad according to whom?" The reactions I get to this are fascinating. My favorites are the ones who sort of blink confusedly, and then plow ahead. It's "obvious" that "everybody knows" what's "good." It simply never occurs to them that taste is relative or subjective. Can you say, "Heisenberg?"

I'm not entirely sure I want to answer with Lee's suggestion of "you're not telling me anything I don't already tell myself". It sounds good in theory but it feels like I'm leaving myself open.

I concur. My impulse would be to say, "well, it's a good thing it's not your responsibility then, isn't it?" Tuning the snide to the desired level, of course.

This is also the one that isn't 100% pure opinion, even if it is heavily influenced by it.

Except that it is. It's your [bathroom], being paid for by your rent/mortgage check, maintained with your [time|effort|supplies], to your standards. Even if you don't maintain it to your standards, that's not justification for your mom's criticisms. That's between you, yourself, and your spoons. It's none of her freakin' business. And her anxiety about it is not your responsibility. This is an excellent excercise in Stuff Ownership.

For comments about being oversensitive/overreacting I have a whole rant in my head

For this one I'd go straight to, "Oversensitive according to whom?" IME there are two directions this can go. One is that they sort of blink, and plow on about you being oversenstive, possibly citing reasons why this reaction is oversensitive. Then it's time for Broken Record: "Because $REASON, according to whom?" "Because $OUTCOME, according to whom?" Just keep responding this way until they wear themselves out.

If they do cite $AUTHORITY, I go to, "Well, sorry, I'm not $AUTHORITY," and prepare to drop it. If they persist, lather, rinse, repeat above, as necessary.

Let me know if you try this, and what results you get.

Going Under @61: they will ignore or dismiss any opinion I have, and right now I'm too raw to take

Oh, dear. I wish you [big, comforting, wonderfulness of your choice]. :-( I haz a mad at them, on your behalf. >:-(

#65 ::: Jacque, gnomed again ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2013, 12:28 PM:

You know, it's an irritating thing that web browsers hide multiple spaces, even in comment windows, so you can't see it when the spacebar has gone walkies. (If that's not the relevant filter, *nevermind*)

Some ice cream sundae, for their lownesses?

#66 ::: Jacque was gnomed only once ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2013, 12:30 PM:

Where did that "again" come from, above? That's weird. Unintended Typing is never a good sign.

#67 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2013, 12:54 PM:

the invisible one @60: for responses to wardrobe and fitness, I like the approach -- I file it as dragging the nastiness into the spotlight. As best I can tell, it's effective for several reasons. One, it should work even better for someone who also gets flak for being a little socially awkward or slow to catch implications, because it uses those established tendencies for self-defense. Two, it forces the insulter to give up or to openly make the jab, which is usually nastier than allowed by ettiquette. Three, the reaction to Two could force the insulter to notice that other people present don't agree with the assessment of the insultee. Four, the persistent spotlighting risks publicly embarassing the insulter, so they have reason to stop. Five, the style/tone can be varied, to achieve either innocent confusion ("But Aunt, that sounds like you mean ______, and you would never say that"), or that you are onto them and will squish them like a bug every time they try it.

For housekeeping, there is the all-purpose "it's my house." And if repeated, you could try some variation on "why don't we go to the _______ then since you aren't comfortable here?"

Camilla @53: I had been looking at the styles at the top, and thinking neither of them fully describes me, and do people switch styles under strain? And there you are saying that when the way you would *rather* discuss/fight keeps not working, that something goes sproing and you start cutlery-loading out of frustration. That sounds more familiar. You see, early in an argument I still have energy to try rephrasing for better understanding, and to not exaggerate and generalize so much. Most problems we argue over seriously relate to bad patterns, and so it's natural to exaggerate and generalize even when it's not meant unkindly. Later when the argument has gone bad because my partner is being thick-headed/pedantic/cold/all-of-the-above, and I'm worn down but haven't quite given up, I'll definitely be exaggerating and generalizing because I need to get through to him NOW and am frustrated. Next I'll be saying either things that are very true but have all the sharp edges left on, because we've been doing this too long now, or I'll say outright untrue things to stop the argument NOW because I can't take anymore.

Other matters -- Codemonkey has been quiet a bit longer than I'd have expected right now. I'm hoping that means he's too busy packing boxes to have time for internet.

#68 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2013, 01:13 PM:

Moonlit Night, re: Codemonkey, I'm worried too.

Been petitioning the Powers to make sure he's ok...

Radio silence is troubling.

#69 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2013, 03:53 PM:

#62, Lee: Thanks for the warning about "why" questions and bullying. I will make sure to only use them for defence and not attack. (Hush, jerkbrain. Punching can be used for self-defense.) Also, that reminded me of "why are you so contrary", argh, I've heard that. Sometimes not phrased as a question. Hm, I think "what makes you think I'm doing this (or not doing this) solely to annoy/spite/be different?" would be appropriate there. Really trying to avoid the "why are you/you're so defensive (so clearly I'm right!)" response.

#64, Jacque:

"carefully calculated pain in the ass" is definitely where I'd be using those questions. I don't do the explodey anger thing and when I get upset I tend to cry and choke, so hopefully it will also help me figure out and point out where the other argument is wrong instead of only be able to feel it's wrong and not back it up (and help me make sure I keep myself honest and away from sweeping generalizations). And I'll be a pain in the ass at the same time, knowingly and to the extent I want to be. What is "fighting fair" when accusations of not doing so are frequently used by somebody who doesn't like being called on their own tactics, or finds themselves not winning the way they thought they would?

Oh, "parents' car" was what brought up the different image, not the actual description. I was looking for some different way of responding to the actual description based on different past experience. Yes, I have a completely different vehicle in mind for "parents' car".

"useful or counterproductive" - for me :-)

"And I'm one of those people for whom one or two instances of hurt is enough to set an expectation of it in future interactions.

This is entirely reasonable and, believe it or not, completely typical."

Oh. So "you're oversensitive, that only happened once!" or "you're just looking for something to get upset about, what about all the times when it worked out just fine?" are yet another way of making me think I'm somehow uniquely broken and nobody else reacts like that. (I have interacted with some people who seem to not react that way, but maybe they're hiding it well? Or maybe what I perceive as hurtful isn't hurtful to them, so it doesn't set the expectation of future hurt.)

"So even if I think somebody's suggestion is a good one, I'm sometimes reluctant to let them know that I have taken it.

Likewise. For gloaters, it's not about helping you, it's about influencing or controlling you. No sense in fueling this tendancy. :-)"

How to deal with it when it's something visible and the only way to not let them know that I've done something they happen to have suggested is to not be around them at all? That just sounds bad, because the obvious answer to that phrasing is to not be around that person. But if it's somebody that you like and want to be around except one area where firmer boundaries are needed? (This is why I'm currently not comfortable with mom in my place - but I don't want to keep her out forever.)

"respectfulness and courtesy" - well, as I said earlier, I don't do explodey anger, and I'm pretty sensitive to being told I'm overreacting. This is a way for me to make my point without opening up opportunity for that particular silencing technique.

"Duck season" and "Heisenberg"? The only context I have for the latter is the uncertainty principle, and I'm not sure what you're trying to say with either of them.

The reason I said the housekeeping thing wasn't 100% pure opinion is that it really was dirty, and it was dirty enough to cause me stress and throw up my hands as it being too big of a job and this all without anybody saying anything about it. Now that it's clean it's easier to take care of and keep it clean enough to not directly cause me stress. As much as I like "good thing it's not your responsibility" as a response I'm not sure how to use it in response to a comment (after it was cleaned) along the lines of "did you manage to keep it clean for new interest's first visit to your place?" and "well you have to admit it was pretty disgusting". All I really had for that was a glare and got "overreacting" in return. I agree that my own stress about it is no justification for her comments, but part of why it hurt is that it was true that it was dirty.

"Oversensitive according to whom" doesn't work when she says "I think you're over-reacting" - no ambiguity there about who thinks it. "Sorry, I'm not you" may or may not be useful as a method of getting her to stop, but I can try. Maybe "why do you think I'm over-reacting", but I fear competing "why are you reacting like that" responses. As much as reading "emotions are like axioms, not conclusions" clarified a few things for me, I don't know that it'll have the same effect on everybody. Or maybe focus on the "over-" - "what would be an appropriate reaction?" and see if I'm supposed to smile at hurtful comments or be a doormat or whatever it is she expects but force her to put it in words. Reflecting those answers in a way that points out how they're inappropriate would probably be a lot harder for me to do than the meta-monstering. Did I mention arguing opinion is not my strong point?

#67, Moonlit Night: I have given some thought to making a comment about not inflicting my housekeeping on her if she asks why I decline to have them visit.

#70 ::: tamiki ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2013, 04:34 PM:

On "parents' car": Hell, my sister and I would have two very different pictures of what the car looks like. There's 14 years and different economic circumstances between us.

the invisible one: Ignore if hlepy, but on the topic of being overwhelmed by the mess, would something like Unfuck Your Habitat help? The site-runner (it mostly Tumbles, but there's an actual website now as well) very much advocates doing a little thing just to start, and doing what you can as you can. (I know at least one person on-thread has said before they don't find UfYH's style helpful, so again, ignore if it's not your speed. But it helps me keep from letting the dishes pile up into oblivion, and from getting bogged down by them when I let them go a little long.)

Moonlit Night: I've also been wondering how Codemonkey's doing, especially where the last thread left off...

#71 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2013, 05:19 PM:

#70, tamiki: I've seen the UFYH site before. Bossy doesn't do it for me, and neither does photos of what other people have achieved. When those two are presented together I get a strong reaction of "other people can do it why can't you?" which I dislike. (I understand that some people get "other people can do it and so can you! here's how!" from that, but not me.)

My place is not currently a disaster; it's actually fairly presentable right now. The bathrooms were the only drastically stress-inducing part, and my mom got one of them (as much as it was intrusive and unwelcome and sharpened interpersonal stress, it reduced dirt-stress) and I got the other when I had my "I deserve better" moment a few months back. Once those were out of the way, the less-stressful stuff was even easier to bring it closer to the level I like.

And to keep it that way, I've been using the "don't stand around watching while other people are working" that my parents instilled in me to my advantage, by declaring my roomba a member of the class of "other people" and cleaning for as long as the roomba is running, generally once a week. (About 45-60 minutes.) I'm not really a messy person, so that plus putting dishes in the dishwasher daily is enough to stay on top of it. And when roomba beeps its "I'm finished!" code, I empty its dirt trap, clean the brushes if needed, plug it back in, and I'm finished too.

It works for me. :-)

#72 ::: tamiki ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2013, 05:26 PM:

the invisible one: Entirely fair! I like the idea of declaring the roomba 'other people,' I have to say.

#73 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2013, 06:48 PM:

the invisible one, #69: I don't know if this would work for you, but could you mirror the "you're so oversensitive" tactic? Wait for the other person to be upset about something, and then throw it right back at them and force them to justify their reaction? This may be too confrontational for you, but I've had good results with it on occasion.

I have given some thought to making a comment about not inflicting my housekeeping on her if she asks why I decline to have them visit.

Oh, outstanding! Do your best to make it in an absolutely neutral tone of voice -- just stating the facts, ma'am. That could actually lead to you having a bargaining chip; if she wants you to invite her over, she has to promise to keep her mouth shut about your housekeeping and her hands off your stuff. Make it clear that There Will Be Consequences if she fails to keep her end of the bargain, and that they will be of the "you don't get to come to my house for X length of time" variety.

and @71: That sounds to me as though your mother is insisting that you conform to her personal standards. Once again, not her house, not her rules. As long as you're avoiding filth that would present health issues and hoarder-level clutter, you have the absolute right to decide how spiffed-up you want your place to be. (Quoth she who has her own issues with housekeeping, TYVM.)

#74 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2013, 08:26 PM:

#73, Lee: that might be too confrontational for me, but I'll tuck it away as an idea in case it's needed.

It feels so strange to be planning for what my gut feels like is a confrontation and argument with my mom. In all other areas we get along fine. I have to keep telling myself it's just this area needs boundaries and I'm not starting a fight, no matter what my conflict-averse gut tells me about OMGDISAGREEING *horrors*. Good fences make good neighbours, etc., and while I am planning to be a pain in the ass if necessary I'm not trying to burn anything down.

#75 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2013, 08:40 PM:

Lori @68 and Tamiki @70: yes. Codemonkey has a job, a car, and ample money, so he should be ok on the material world front, especially if he listened to us all about being mildly paranoid about his money and papers. But my feeling is that his situation hit the get-out-or-back-down breaking point before anybody was ready, going by the last few encounters. Especially if Mam had been agitating his sister, which I think is very likely, whether by sheer contagion or on purpose. I see a few categories of scenarios.

Scenario 1 is relatively trivial, like his mam smashed some IT gear or cancelled the internet to punish him and cut him off from us bad influences. (I'm a bad influence! I always wanted to be a bad influence! I've even got the leather coat for it now!) That explains radio silence but isn't too bad since she's probably too nontechnical to know to destroy the hard disk.

Scenario 2 worries me. His mam may not be able to have an apoplexy on demand, but she's been working herself up so much that she could have or have had one anyway. Or agitated his dad or sister into an equivalent fit. Which further demonstrate the problem if so, but it'd be awfully hard on Codemonkey's resolve, and could tip the scales, especially if several of them gang up on him.

Scenario 3 is the lucky one, where he's busy packing because his new flat agreed he could move in early. Or at least staying at a friend's or a hotel because his mam went ballistic when he didn't back down. If so, I hope he gets his books and other precious things out safely.

#76 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2013, 03:16 AM:

Guys, it's also possible that Codemonkey is feeling bossed around and boundary-violated by our conversation. A bunch of us (me included, and I'm sorry) were pushing him pretty hard mid-last week.

Whether or no, discussion of him in absentia, particularly speculation about what's up with him, is inappropriate. It's one thing to say we wonder where he is and hope he's OK. But let's draw the line there, shall we?

#77 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2013, 09:43 AM:

Going Under @54: Sympathies. That's a difficult position to be in (re. Boston bombings). And @61, really difficult re. your parents and likely discussions; sorry I can't think of anything that might help: except, I'm listening.

Re. the rest of @54, also sympathies. In addition to what Jacque said @64 about PSTD by proxy, there's the simple fact that being supportive for other people takes spoons and can lead to your needing outside support as well. I know that when my father died, it was the support I had from my now-husband which enabled me to give support to my step-mother.

Since you're having problems sleeping, is it worth seeing if you can get something to help you to sleep, short term? Just to catch up a bit?

the invisible one @60: Those ready-prepared responses sound great!

Jacque @64: AVP = Alternatives to Violence Project. They started off doing programs in prisons but now work with people all over the place. I went to try to learn better how to cope when people were being angry at or near me. I learned a lot and would recommend them.

the invisible one @69: "when I get upset I tend to cry and choke" Yes, me too. I've been able to unpack the reasons why, for me, and can share if you think that would be helpful.

#78 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2013, 09:55 AM:

Codemonkey, thinking of you. Hoping things are going well, or at least tolerably.

#79 ::: Nameless Regular ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2013, 12:56 PM:

Going Under's remark about being held together by bandages made me think about what's been going on with me, lately. (TL;DR trusting the wrong people really sucks sometimes.)

I propose the concept of "emotional scurvy." One day you're thriving, then your environment changes and you're lacking something essential, and all your old wounds come back to haunt you.

#80 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2013, 01:30 PM:

Not really a dysfunctional family thing, but I had virulent insomnia last night due to my Tapes running at high volume and I need to open a metaphoric vein.

I just had the novel experience of being a bridesmaid for a woman who broke my heart (quite some years ago). People move on, and we wouldn't have suited. But I was badly blindsided by how completely erased I am from the official public version of her life story. Evidently it was only ever and always [insert name of groom] , even during the years when she and I were dating. I did make it through the reception without crying by dint of a couple of long walks around the block.

Kind of makes you doubt everything you ever thought people felt about you.

#81 ::: Codemonkey in NE England ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2013, 01:30 PM:

The good news is that Friday's outing wasn't cancelled after all. I suspected she was probably bluffing -- she often does about such things -- but just because she bluffs about minor things like that, doesn't mean that major threats are also bluffs!

I also tidied up the main cupboard in my bedroom yesterday and decided to get rid of about 24 cubic feet (or 0.75 m^3) worth of no-longer-wanted books and magazines, and my mother didn't try to make me hang on to any of them.

The bad news is that she's now keeping all my bank stuff in her own room, except for the bank card relating to the account where my salary is paid. She hasn't hidden it away (I can see it just going in to the room), but there's no way I could possibly take it out of the house undetected. One thing I could possibly do is sneak in when she was in the bath and steal a few cheques (as they could possibly go un-noticed).

She'd always kept the documentation for my two lesser-used accounts (which contain the most money) in her own room on the grounds that I lacked drawer space to store them, but today (even after telling her that I'd tidied up my drawers to make room for them) she refused to return them, saying that the experience of the past week demonstrated that I couldn't be trusted with them.

#82 ::: Heather Rose Jones has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2013, 01:31 PM:

Probably for excessive self-pity.

#83 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2013, 01:34 PM:

Codemonkey @81

You are an adult. It is your money. What your mother is doing is not only wrong, it could be construed as *theft*.

Get all of your documents and get them out of the house, if you possibly can. Please. It's a very short step from her taking them from you "for your own good", to her hiding them where you can't find them, or locking them away where you can't get to them.

#84 ::: a heart in hiding ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2013, 01:35 PM:

Codemonkey: Call the cops. That's theft. Also, possibly, false imprisonment. She's gone to war with you.

#85 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2013, 01:38 PM:

Codemonkey, #81: That's a HUGE red flag. Your mother has absolutely no right to keep you from having access to YOUR OWN FINANCIAL RECORDS. Please, please go in there and get them -- ALL of them -- and take them somewhere outside the house that's safe. At the very least, take them to your office until you can get a safe-deposit box. This is an obvious attempt to keep you effectively imprisoned by controlling your access to the resources you'd need to escape.

Saying that "you can't be trusted with them" would be funny if it weren't so pathetic. What she is clearly demonstrating is that SHE can't be trusted with them.

This is obviously going to get very nasty indeed, and I'm sorry you're going to have to go thru that. But we're all pulling for you.

#86 ::: a heart in hiding ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2013, 02:13 PM:

Also do you have anyone you can stay with right away? Friends from work? Your old teacher? This is such a huge red abuser flag, I can't even. What will she stop at to keep you from escaping? Who can say? Will she destroy your computer, or sabotage your car? These things happen when abuse victims try to leave.

#87 ::: Codemonkey in NE England ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2013, 02:22 PM:

a heart in hiding @84: Codemonkey: Call the cops.

And what would that achieve exactly, other than saddling me with my sister's care, forcing me to quit my job?

#88 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2013, 02:32 PM:

Codemonkey -- while I agree that your mam has definitely stepped over the line, don't call the cops it isn't worth it.

I do agree with those who are telling you to get your financial stuff and personal papers, and get them out of the house. At this point, you may just want to pack a bag, grab the documents, take your laptop and leave.

She's not just a snoop, she's trying to maintain her position as your jailer -- what she is doing IS abuse, right down to making threats.

#89 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2013, 02:42 PM:

Codemonkey @81:

Agreeing with the others. This is outrageous: controlling, abusive, and completely out of line. There is no excuse whatsoever for it. If your name is on the account, those things are yours, not hers.

You are an adult. British law says that you can indeed be trusted with your own banking materials. Furthermore, you're an educated, employed adult. It's completely outwith the bounds of acceptable behavior to say you cannot be trusted with your own financial possessions.

If you want someone from your circle of friends to confirm this, check with your former teacher. I'd suggest you reclaim your bank materials and store them at your office or on your person. If she hides them, change your mailing address to that of your office and get a new chequebook sent there.

#90 ::: a heart in hiding ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2013, 02:42 PM:

I mean for them to make her give you your stuff so you can leave -- the police get called all the time to intervene in domestic disputes, it doesn't mean she's going to prison. Living in a lower-income block of flats in a lower-income neighborhood, I can tell you that it happens a lot.

Sometimes the couples end up back together, after, which never ends well either.

#91 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2013, 03:11 PM:

Agreeing with those who recommend getting those records out of her control, Codemonkey. Which means out of the house, not just into your room. She has indeed crossed a line here. I could almost think she thinks of you as being in the same situation as your sister -- which you are not.

#92 ::: Ellen ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2013, 03:17 PM:

Code monkey @90: Rather than confronting your mother over the bank documentation, might you consider going directly to the bank on Monday and having further docs and a new set of cheques issued directly to you at a post office box? Or at least have your statements sent directly to you via email (where I live, banks are increasingly encouraging their customers to go paperless in any case), though you'd probably need to get the cheques sent somewhere other than your current home address. The bank may also be able to directly issue you a few cheques that you can use immediately should you need them -it's worth asking if this is possible.

I am assuming here that you are the sole signatory on those accounts. If not, that's a different issue that you would also need to sort out at the bank ASAP.

And for what it's worth, I'm not sure either that bringing police into the mix at this time would help you achieve the outcome you're seeking. Your mother's behavior is clearly unacceptable, but I'm not sure that getting the police involved would help you get to where you want to go. (Speaking as someone who has had experience with tactically engaging the justice system in the past to help sort out difficult family situations)

As always, ignore if hlepy.

#93 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2013, 03:22 PM:

Codemonkey -- If you cannot get the financial papers away from her, go to your bank, explain the situation to them, and get the money moved to a new account. You can make arrangements for a safety deposit box at that time.

One way or another, you do need to get access to your money out of her hands. Also, have your statements (if you still have them mailed to you) sent to your workplace rather than your parents home. You can change the destination of the statements once you're in your new apartment.

#94 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2013, 03:36 PM:


Agreeing with what others here have said: this is classic abuser behaviour. She is taking steps to maintain her control over you.

Unless it's different in the UK, getting a new bank card should take about 10 minutes at your bank. Once you have the new one, the old one will be deactivated. You can choose a new PIN at this time as well.

I say: get your papers, laptop, and go.

#95 ::: GlendaP ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2013, 03:39 PM:

Codemonkey, I understand. For your entire life your mother has been in charge. You've trusted everything she's said. You've obeyed all of her rules. That's a hard habit to break.

But she has absolutely no authority, legal or otherwise, to confiscate your banking papers. Just walk into her room and take them. She can't stop you unless you let her.

Once you do it though, get those papers out of the house immediately. Take them to a safe place as others have suggested.

#96 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2013, 03:42 PM:

For general information:

Another thing that is possible (at least here in the U.S.) when leaving a situation is to get a post office box, which gives one a private new mailing address for all sorts of useful things like financial papers.

#97 ::: a heart in hiding ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2013, 04:45 PM:

Maybe (even just threatening) to involve the police is too much too soon. But she stole his property in order to keep him prisoner. Yes, it's playing hardball, but she struck first and disproportionately. He tried talking to her, and after her gross attempts at guilt and manipulation didn't work, she jumped to an illegal, immoral act to physically prevent him from leaving. This is not someone who can be reasoned, or trusted with anything. This is not the action of a reasonable person who can be relied on to behave within acceptable social parameters, even.

Codemonkey, my fear is that whether you sneak your stuff out while she's in the shower, or do the official end run around to get the papers and funds transferred (abandoning what cash she has already taken) and just leave, she will call the law on you as a thief. Why not? She's demonstrated how dishonest, malicious, and mercenary she is -- and you've told us again and again that she sees your inheritance and work money as rightfully hers!

I mean, does anyone think she's likely to just give up and say, "I always wanted a sewing room" ? This is a drastic escalation on her part.

#98 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2013, 04:58 PM:

Codemonkey, one other thing: what your mother is doing here is known in the trade as "escalation". You've questioned her authority, so she's now taking stronger steps to re-assert it. Calling the cops won't do a thing but make it worse after they leave. The only thing you can do to keep it from hurting you is GET OUT. And at this point, I agree with the people who are saying pack a suitcase, grab your important papers (not just your bank papers, but also things like your birth certificate and the title to your car) and your laptop, and leave TODAY even if you have to rent a room in a hotel for a week or two while your tenancy application goes thru. At this point you can no longer trust your mother not to start destroying your belongings in her attempt to keep you from leaving.

BTW, you didn't say -- you did get that signed and submitted, I hope!

#99 ::: a heart in hiding is gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2013, 05:02 PM:

I have lemon pizzelle and Belgian beer...

#100 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2013, 05:53 PM:

Codemonkey, what your mam is doing with your bank papers is one of the things I had hoped it wouldn't come to. She's confiscated your wallet, supposedly for your own good, and in a way that suggests she believes you are a child or incompetent. If she'll do that to a competent adult, then it is hard to guess where she will stop. Please safeguard your financial and legal things, pack a bag, and leave.

What I'd do: first, without delay, either cancel the cards or change the PINs. Then do whatever else is needed to safeguard the accounts and other important documents *immediately*. Take them from her room, go get new ones issued, doesn't matter so long as they are picked up personally or sent somewhere safe. Move all your own money into accounts your mother has no access to, and tell the bank manager this is intentional. Get all these critical things under security that your mam cannot unlock or talk her way past.

One of the only effective, concrete things your mam can do to keep you in her house and under your control is to remove your access to funds. And that's *exactly* what she's trying to do. That's why we're all urging you to take it very, very seriously.

Please also safeguard your communications, transportation, and employment/income. What I mean is to do things like keeping your cellphone with you and charged so it can't go missing or be rendered inoperable, and keeping your car keys on you. You should probably also call work and let them know that if they get any calls from someone other than you about your work status (e.g. taking leave, having an illness or emergency, or handing in your resignation), that they should call you directly on your cell to confirm.

If your mam escalates this any further, please do not hesitate to call in social services or the police.

#101 ::: tamiki ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2013, 06:10 PM:

Codemonkey: Holy bananas. Get your financial and other vital documents out of that house. If you have weekend access to your office building, I'd take them there straight away in that position; your mother's liable to go through your car for them as soon as she sees them gone.

For a spot of perspective: As toxic as living with my parents was, they never demanded control of my money (that I get a job that would pay me better, yes; that they control it, not so much). The only reason they had guardian access to my savings account after I turned 18 was because I was going to college far from home, and that way if I needed emergency funds they could get them for me; when I moved back in, I moved the account to my name only.

What your mother's doing is frankly ridiculous and completely out of line. Get your papers out of that house, get yourself out as soon as you can.

#102 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2013, 06:10 PM:

Heather Rose Jones, #80: Small wonder you're feeling bruised. It makes me wonder why she even bothered to ask you to be in the wedding! Be extra-nice to yourself for the next few days, and have a virtual hug if you want one.

#103 ::: ricevermicelli ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2013, 06:48 PM:

Adding my voice to the advice given to CodeMonkey.

It is hugely notable to me that your Mam, who claims to be protecting your safety by having someone go to the ATM for you, so that you won't get mugged there, is sufficiently casual about your safety that she has arranged for you to drive to work every day without means to pay for a tow in case of accidents, or buy gas if the need arises outside of an anticipated schedule (as you might well need to do if weather or traffic is bad). Genuine, rational concern for your safety would make her want to assure you were never stranded on the highway. There are lots of ways to limit your chances of gettimg mugged without introducing fantastic new sources of risk.

If you don't know where your birth certificate is kept, don't waste precious time hunting - your driving license should prove your age, and recording authorities will issue you a new birth cert on request. Take the financial papers, your phone and laptop, and your bank card, get into the car and go.

#104 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2013, 07:39 PM:

Seconding what most are saying to Codemonkey.

Please, please, please get your financial and any other paperwork out of there. I'd advise transferring the accounts to new ones tomorrow, as well, and list someone else for emergency contact information/next of kin. Perhaps a co-worker or supervisor at work?

I also think you should keep your cellphone charged and on you at all times; likewise, hang onto your car keys and bank card*. Do you have an emergency contact for work? If you do, call or leave a message ASAP, to disregard anything they'd hear from your mam. Likewise, let the bank know that tomorrow morning.

My instinct also says to get out of there, now, with whatever you can pack. She's already escalated, horribly. I fear the next step would indeed be contacting your workplace and saying you're ill, contacting the bank and saying you're no longer responsible for your actions.

--g, worried

*During the year+ I was in the shelter system, I slept with my purse, containing those things, under my pillow. It's not paranoia when someone is actively targeting you to steal these things.

#105 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2013, 07:40 PM:

Codemonkey - what everyone else has said. She _will_ start destroying your things. She _will_ drain your bank accounts. Get those documents even if you have to call the police to do it and leave NOW.

#106 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2013, 08:26 PM:

Codemonkey -- she may not start destroying your things, or draining the accounts. But you are better off if you remove the temptation, because I believe she will be tempted to. And her record around temptations, with you, is a bad one.

#107 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2013, 08:28 PM:

Codemonkey, regardless of whose advice you follow, please remember that this is not your fault. This is not something you caused. This is not something you could have avoided by being careful enough or polite enough or gentle enough. This is not something you can prevent by being a better person. This is not your doing. This is not your fault.

You are not doing something easy, nor is your path without obstacles. You are a capable adult with many resources at your disposal, and that is not accidental-- you have made yourself capable and you have harbored your resources. You will get through this. You are not doing something shameful. You are not betraying your family.

You can do this. What your mother does is a separate issue. What your mother does is not your fault.

#108 ::: Merricat ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2013, 09:56 PM:

@Codemonkey: It really sucks that your mam is escalating. I know how much you care about your family and their well-being, and I can't imagine the amount of stress you're under at the moment.

I want to reiterate, like many other people have here, that all of your choices have been reasonable, healthy and sane. I hope you're able to keep trusting your judgement and moving towards a life that makes you happy, no matter what she throws at you.

What you're doing takes a tremendous amount of strength. I'm rooting for you.

#109 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2013, 01:18 AM:

Thank you Diatryma @107 and Merricat @108. I think what you both said bears repeating, and I wish I had been better at saying it as well. Codemonkey, you have made tremendous and wrenching changes to your thinking and behaviour already, to be healthier and happier, and to help your family be so as well, and you are very strong to be making so much progress so fast. It hurts like hell to be making some of these shifts even though it's a relief too.

It is hard, Codemonkey, when writing to you to focus on the kind and good and encouraging, because much of the situation you’re in is literally the stuff of my nightmares, or worse than it. My commonest recurring nightmare, with sweat and tangled sheets, is to be back in my parents’ house (usually a dead-end room), trapped trying to complete some endless task that cannot be completed, whether because things keep going wrong or a parent cannot be satisfied. The nightmare never ends left to itself; I have to wake myself up and stay awake a little while to break out. Your and my mothers are too much alike and I can too easily go back to the bad old days in my head. Right now your mam is behaving so badly as to fulfill some of my worst fears about how this would play out. Her ploy to control your money is viscerally terrifying to me, because having your own money is *the* key to getting out (in my parent's dictates and in plain old common sense) and I can’t think of any worse fate than not getting out of there. This is why I’ve been so pushy about you taking precautions against the worst possibilities and moving out ASAP. Many of your posts have me chanting "leave leave leave leave leave..." under my breath in reaction. I am so sorry that your mam could not let you leave the nest gracefully, which was what you needed and would have been far better for her and your dad and sister too.

So when I empathize with you over how your mam is behaving, especially anything where she tries to keep you stuck, I feel sick and terrified. When I think about the circumstances that have pushed your mam into being the person she is today, I realize that my mother was two bad rolls of life’s dice away from being your mam, and me perhaps being in your situation, which is a frightening thought too. Knowing what drives and hurts my mother, a husband who can’t or won’t reliably provide or help run the house, and a child with a serious disability, would be two of the worst things in the world for her and everyone in easy reach. Because of that understanding, I have great pity for your mam, but also despise what's she's doing to all of you including herself. So I feel very strongly for all of you, and that causes me to be forceful about how to interpret events and deal with situations. I can never go back and help my younger self, but I hope I’ve been helping you.

#110 ::: Codemonkey in NE England ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2013, 03:42 AM:

Moonlit Night @100: She's confiscated your wallet

No she hasn't, and I still have a card in my money tin (needless to say, from now on I won't be leaving the key at home when I go to work) for an account with about £20k in it.

ricevermicelli @103: It is hugely notable to me that your Mam, who claims to be protecting your safety by having someone go to the ATM for you, so that you won't get mugged there, is sufficiently casual about your safety that she has arranged for you to drive to work every day without means to pay for a tow in case of accidents, or buy gas if the need arises outside of an anticipated schedule (as you might well need to do if weather or traffic is bad). Genuine, rational concern for your safety would make her want to assure you were never stranded on the highway.

I have breakdown assistance cover with the RAC as part of my car insurance, so "being stranded on the highway" isn't a worry, and I keep about £50 in my wallet routinely (along with a few hundred in my money tin). My mam doesn't control my access to money that stringently!

#111 ::: ricevermicelli ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2013, 07:44 AM:

Codemonkey, why leave thay card at home at all? Why is it not in your wallet or your pocket?

I carry the bank card for my checking, and I think most people do the same. The way it is now, your Mam doesn't control your access "that stringently", but she does control it, and she could tighten the strings at any time.

#112 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2013, 08:57 AM:

Codemonkey, here is a pattern I have noticed: your mam does something that makes you wonder. You describe it here. We collectively say OH MY WORD THAT IS NOT OKAY. You back away and blame yourself for exaggerating and making her look bad.

This has happened many times. I would like to ask you to consider the fact that your instincts have *always* matched ours. When you feel moved to ask us if your mam's behavior is within the average, it NEVER IS. And her behavior is getting worse. Please get your stuff and GET OUT.

#113 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2013, 09:04 AM:

Moonlit Night @100: She's confiscated your wallet
Codemonkey @109: No she hasn't, and I still have a card in my money tin (needless to say, from now on I won't be leaving the key at home when I go to work) for an account with about £20k in it.

I was speaking figuratively about the wallet, but not knowing exactly how things are arranged, it was easy to jump to the conclusion that she was trying to take away all your access to money, not just some of it. It is good to hear that your money tin has a lock, and she didn't try to take everything, but it is still very very bad that she did it at *all*. It should have been an unthinkable option.

I normally carry my bank and credit cards when outside the house, and haven't had any problems after one short spate of losing my bank card. Then I noticed that I never lost my bus pass, got a wallet that holds both, and that solved it.

#114 ::: The_L ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2013, 11:14 AM:

Re: arguing, I've had learned helplessness conditioned into me so well that I have never once won an argument, even on the rare occasions where I am objectively in the right and the other person is objectively in the wrong. These are the things I do when people try to advise/lecture/argue (and yes, my subconscious treats all of those things the same):
- Try very, very hard to focus on something behind the person talking, so it will at least look like I'm paying attention. I could tell you every detail of the clock that my parents used to have in the living room.
- Burst into tears
- Attempt, rather incoherently, to argue my case. This never works, because I can't ad-lib defenses and have an extremely poor track record of being able to predict what other people will say about something.
- Run away ASAP, generally to a quiet room.
- Incessantly apologize to the point of annoying the other person, generally in the same tone as "Have mercy! Please don't lock me in a medieval torture chamber!!" would be uttered by the average person. And yes, I will apologize for apologizing too.

What this means is that I tend to lack the ability to shout truth or throw cutlery, and basically end up flailing around and stressing myself out further.

@Codemonkey: DANGER, WILL ROBINSON, DANGER. You need to Get Out NOW. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. Get as much stuff as you can away from your mam TODAY. Be in another place (co-worker's house? aunt or uncle?) by the end of this week. We are begging you here. Everything I've read that your mam does is off-the-charts levels of Not OK. It is high time you left.

#115 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2013, 12:44 PM:

Codemonkey, go to your bank (or perhaps to another bank, in town, where people won't know your mother) and ask one of the bank officers whether they would agree with her behavior (confiscating your documents and your money tin). Don't try to explain it away or excuse her, just lay out what she's done and ask if that's normal behavior for a parent whose adult child lives with them.

You may not get the same level of OMG BAD that you did here, because unless the bank officer you talk to has experienced a bad family situation they may not recognize how bad that is -- but I'll bet you get something to the effect of, "That's really weird, and not something I'd do to my child."

#116 ::: hope in disguise ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2013, 01:05 PM:

Lee @32: when I respond with disproportionate rage to a trivial utterance or event, it always means that there's something underneath that I haven't articulated yet

Dear gods, yes. This describes 80-90% of my hostile teenage interactions with my mother. I'm still working on that articulation.

(Hi, all! Catching up, witnessing; finals ate me for a good long while.)

I think that I am an argument-averse truth-shouter, if only because I imagine that if I were a cutlery-loader there are things that I would have said to my mother. Also when trying to think about "mean things I have said to people" they mostly turn out to be things that are true, but are things you Don't Say to people you like, which reminds me of a thing I want to talk about because it is unpleasant background noise in my brain.

There was a guy I considered a friend for a while; he was recently kicked off campus instead of being brought up on charges of sexual harassment and/or assault. I figured out, at some point, that he was making himself emotionally vulnerable to me so that I might pity him and eventually sleep with him (he actually cited this xkcd in the context of "not wanting to be that guy". He was totally being that guy, but if he'd been my type physically, I shudder to think what might have happened). There were tons of red flags I only recognize in hindsight; one I sort of got at the time was, he was complaining about how none of the girls he'd dated were awesome like me, and got very offended when I suggested he try dating someone with self-esteem. Anyway, I recently hung out with the ex of his who is a friend of mine, and found out what had actually happened between them. And was horrified. I know I can't change anything now, and if he ever tries to talk to me again (which I think he won't) I plan on telling him to go away and never come near me ever, but it still makes me feel awful to think about.

The_L @114: I am never able to ad-lib defenses either. :( In the best-case scenario, it's a low-stress situation and I'm able to talk my way through to figure out what I'm actually trying to say, but still feel like a fool.

Codemonkey: Witnessing. I hope things reach a place of stability reasonably soon.

Jacque @something: 'NLP' always makes me think of 'natural language programming', as in the field of computer science that is loosely connected to AI.

#117 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2013, 03:15 PM:

Codemonkey -- still pulling for you, and hoping you get away from her soon. Your situation is very trigger-y for me, so I beg forgiveness, since I'm sure I sound crazy when I post.

Please remember, if there is anything any of us can do to help, we're more than willing. Even if we don't live in your area, many of us will have friends near you, who would be willing to help.

#118 ::: Ross ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2013, 03:23 PM:

Heather Rose Jones, 80:

Wow, that's just amazingly thoughtless. I can't imagine what must have gone through her head to have her mentally erase what must have been a huge part of her life, not to mention denying you a part of your life.

The whole thing is just sad. I'm really sorry.

#119 ::: somewhere_else ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2013, 04:13 PM:

@abi, thanks for the new thread and the topic, arguing is unsurprisingly a touchy topic for me as well.

(oldthread, #805) Jacque, I'm not sure whether I'll get back to it. I had to sit back for a while after I noticed that the conversation ended up in a totally different place than I needed it to be. As some said upthread, a couple of old bruises got poked and currently I have no spoons to pick it up again.
Could I ask you to phrase your questions to me as questions in future? I had trouble dealing with what to me read as kind order or assignment, especially since I hadn't agreed to be lectured. I'm fairly certain that you didn't mean for it to come across this way and even though I know I do fail at conveying hurt or emotional impact, please know that this is for hard for me to speak about and important enough to try anyway.

As for this thread, I argue pretty rarely, but when I do I'd say I'm a clear-headed truth-speaker (shouting is out, because of family history). If I think I'm too angry to argue I won't address the topic until I'm sure I can state what bothered me in a more level-headed manner. I do have trouble with arguments when someone tries to 'win' by raising their voice or displaying agressive body language and try to disengage in these situations as soon as possible.

#120 ::: The Occasionally Good ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2013, 06:57 PM:

(abi, if I've used a pseudonym here before, can you connect that with this? I don't recall what I've done or not done. Stuff that I've posted as me can stay out in the open. Thank you.)

Extended core dump follows. Maybe you guys can give me some insight as to where my reactions are coming from, or possible ways to deal with this. I know that just writing this out is helping.

Not family, though family issues must be driving my reactions. I think.

I saw my doctor last week. Zie will soon be my ex-doctor; I've already contacted my insurance, and I can't change providers until next month.

I've had some severe (though not life-threatening) medical stuff going on for over three months now. In this last visit, zie flat-out lied and said there was no further testing to be done and no possibility whatsoever for treatment. (Things on the Mayo Clinic website say otherwise). Zie tried to make my lack of improvement my fault - when zie has done absolutely nothing to help - and strongly suggested that the new problem is actually just one of the old problems. Zie says I'm non-compliant and not invested in getting better, because I won't change from my current therapist to one at zir office (who doesn't have training in the specific therapy I'm getting). (When you've got a therapist who fits and you can see the improvement, you don't change). Zie wants me to go off certain medications, one of which I must take to avoid worsening the neuropathy, with a rationale of "these may be causing your additional pain" - when, in fact, those medications are helping me manage the pain.

I could go on; yes, there's much, much more. Once I've switched to NewClinic, I will request for myself a copy of my records, because I do not trust zir to have presented things honestly. NewClinic will, of course, get those records, as well as those from other doctors and specialists going back about ten years, but I realized yesterday that I need to see them myself. (I'm not exactly young, and I have not ever had to deal with a doctor like this before.)

It took me a couple of days to tease out some of this, and more is still bubbling to the surface.It caught me off-guard, and I don't handle that well. I can't articulate anything if I don't even know what the thing is that I need to articulate. Anxiety disorder, mixed in with some other diagnoses, seems to make it impossible for me to answer anything unexpected.

Which goes back to conflict styles; mine is avoidance. If the issue is important enough, I can sometimes nerve myself up to quietly and factually state my feelings, but that's as far as I can go. If that doesn't work, if very quiet, rational truth-telling doesn't get through to the other person (not convince them, necessarily, just be heard), all I can think is "get away, now." I'm much better than I used to be about this (thank you, [therapist]!), but I still want to flee, after I've frozen.

I really don't have a handle on why I'm so avoidant, though. This situation with the not-quite-ex-doctor, and this topic, have me wondering where that comes from, and why.

#121 ::: Dash ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2013, 09:42 PM:

Saw the counselor today, and even though we didn't directly discuss much of the info from my posts here (I gave her the link to my readall... it does mean she might read what I post in the future, but if I can trust the Internet with it I can trust her with it), it seemed like a helpful session. She agreed that my blaming myself rather than others when others are logically at fault is unhelpful. She also agreed with you guys that I should look into getting a different doctor because my current one isn't terribly sympathetic, and suggested that I see a psychiatrist. Finally, a way to suggest these things to my mother that isn't "Well, I was on the Internet, and..." Great, right?
Of course it's not that simple. When I mentioned the doctor/psychiatrist suggestions to my mother, she first said that we couldn't get in to see a psychiatrist before I leave for abroad (likely, but still disheartening), then that "psychiatrists now only prescribe medication" and that getting medicine from my GP is equally good and more cost-effective than visiting a psychiatrist (I have a feeling there's more to psychiatry than she's giving them credit for, and I don't think my GP can be as useful as a specialist), that she didn't really see the problem with my doctor but MAYBE we could LOOK INTO seeing HER doctor (uncertainty + doctor biased towards mother already = ???), and that MAYBE we could see my neurologist (the whole idea is seeing a relevant specialist, and a neurologist is less relevant than a psychiatrist would be).
I mentioned way back in my first post here that I thought I might have Asperger's, and I mentioned this to my mother as well. She agreed that I have some traits that fit the diagnosis, but seemed to believe that since there's no way to take a pill to cure it, having a diagnosis is useless. The counselor actually seemed to largely agree with this idea, which is one of the few sticking points I have with her. Sure, my symptoms won't be different, but having a diagnosis would mean I have a REASON for them, and thus would prove that it's not just me willfully being weird. My symptoms would be the same, but they'd be more widely accepted by society in general, and my mother in particular.
End result of this conversation? More self-harm. And, now, me posting here instead of working on my last bit of schoolwork.

#122 ::: Dash was gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2013, 09:43 PM:

Gnomes, release my post! I have a great deal of chocolate here that I need to get rid of, so I'm more than willing to share with them.

#123 ::: Camilla ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2013, 11:41 PM:

Moonlit Night @67: Precisely, my cutlery flinging is a frustration response. Only when the canon balls are used up, are the canons loaded with cutlery.

In the current pattern, if I air (the wrong) grievances, at some point my partner will go quiet (so thoroughly that he doesn't even react if I break off mid-sentence). My first response is to apologize/back-pedal, but if that continues to get minimal responses or silence, my next instinct is to re-engage and restate my position, more provocatively, and goad responses out of him. That last thing is cutlery loading.

We've worked on protocols for me to stop and walk away, and the most successful of them is to make a specific appointment to talk about it at a later date, but it still only works sometimes. In that moment, the only thing I want is to feel heard, and I'm willing to pay almost any price to get that.

#124 ::: David DeLaney ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2013, 08:20 AM:

Speaking up for a moment, hoping this isn't just hlepiness bubbling out:

Codemonkey @110: "I still have a card in my money tin (needless to say, from now on I won't be leaving the key at home when I go to work)" ... Adding my voice to the others here, but specifically, in this case, with "why are you leaving the TIN there when you go to work?". Your 'money tin' is one of the Important Things that need to go with you NOW and be gotten out of that house, along WITH the financial items your mom is trying to assert power over and _any_ other finanical stuff of YOURS that's there, your birth certificate and whatever the UK equivalents of social security cards are, and any important papers like passports, diplomas, or anything you'd have Real Trouble replacing if it Mysteriously Vanished in the next few days. If you have a spare laptop get it out NOW and don't have it come back. Things like your bed or your Sunday clothes aren't in this category, you can buy new ones... but things like papers you've taken home from work on current projects are.

In this case, it's EXTREMELY better to get forgiveness, or find out you'll never be forgiven evar you're going to give her apoplexy you're such a Bad Son, than it would be to try to get pernmission. They're yours, not hers. Gather them up and put them where she CAN'T GET AT THEM. If that happens to be your new place, fine; if it happens to be the locked trunk of your car for a little bit, that's okay too as long as she does NOT have keys (and neither does anyone else in that house, come to think of it). But as long as they're where she CAN get at them, you've said she's shown not the least little bit of conscience that would be STOPPING her from doing so in her attempts to keep you under her thumb.

Dash @121: "that she didn't really see the problem with my doctor but MAYBE we could LOOK INTO seeing HER doctor" ... OHHHHHH no no no no no. That way lies ... well, you've been reading Codemonkey's saga, right? I'm assuming you're of age here - I don't recall you saying otherwise - so I don't see why your _mother_ is including herself in your psychiatrist selection or visits, or getting to know ANYTHING about who your doctor is and why, let alone getting input into controlling who it would be?

(Full disclosure: I effectively cut myself off from _my_ mother as much as possible after moving out, I had Issues with her. The place I am standing on and looking out from may not be at all useful.)

...checking your older posts, you mention being in school, but you're also going to go teach abroad for a year? Am I reading it right that you're living with your mother at the moment? Would it be at all helpful to start putting together in your head a small list of "things NOT to casually mention to mother"? The counselor is getting paid to try to assist you; your mother isn't... I'm getting a distinct flavor of an "I mentioned such and such to her and things Got Worse" pattern, too.

You might think about making "finding an abroad-local doctor" a Thing To Do once you're abroad, as well. If the leaving date is close enough that your mother thinks trying to get some psych help wouldn't be useful, it's probably also close enough to make it a REALLY useful breaking point with your current doctor, regardless of what Mother thinks. _And_ you might do some internet checking-around while you're abroad, about home-local doctors to try out, without her looking over your shoulder and making Helpful Controlling Noises? (If things are bad enough now that it can't really wait, the above won't help much alas.)

--Dave, hoping my concern is correctly showing?

#125 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2013, 08:41 AM:

Dash: It's my understanding that, unless you're seeing them as a group, i.e. in couples or family therapy, most psychiatrists prefer NOT to treat two members of the same family, presumably in case issues come up that pit one against the other (which would put the MD in the position of not being able to wholeheartedly advocate for the patient).

At least, that's the way ours explained it to us.

#126 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2013, 09:11 AM:

Dash, I completely understand what you mean about an Asperger's diagnosis. A diagnosis won't help you as much as it would if you were younger, but it might help neurotypical others understand that you are not always going to react the way they do and your reasons are not something that they can convince you to change. A diagnosis gives you a useful anchor point to figure out workarounds without someone saying, "Yes, but that's only for X people." You can say, "I am X, so it's for me." It also gives you ammunition against the Tapes. If your counselor balks, could you tell her that the choices are self-loathing because you are a broken neurotypical person or acceptance because you are a fully functional non-neurotypical person? Really, "I need a reason this is happening because otherwise I hate myself," is a good reason to find that reason. Reasonably. For reasons.

This is coming from someone who classifies herself as on the weird end of the normal spectrum, because normal is a spectrum too. I have my reasons for not seeking a diagnosis of further along the spectrum, but they're mine, not yours. Your reasons are also legitimate. Your concerns are valid.

#127 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2013, 10:13 AM:

The Occasionally Good @120: that does sound like new doctor time, go you for insisting on that. Your soon-to-be-ex-doctor is presenting a lot of things that to the best of your knowledge are bad ideas, as though they were good ideas, and is not providing sensible explanations why. Instead you're getting a disguised version of "do it because I told you to." That "because I said so" is likely to be the trigger for the family issues. What were people in the past able to say "because I said so" likely and able to do when you tried saying "no I won't?"

Dash @121: much like David DeLaney @124, I don't like the pressures your mother is putting on you to have doctors she approves of and that could be biased towards her. Your going abroad is the perfect excuse to arrange new medical care over there, and then again over here, all without her influence, and all under the flag of being a proactive competent adult, which makes it difficult for parents to complain about without looking bad and perhaps making Freudian slips.

I get the impression you're a younger adult, and are supported by/living with your parents at least part of the time? You definitely don't seem happy with your living/parents situation the way it is from what I remember. Is the level of control and influence they have over you now within normal bounds for the situation? Do you want more independence, and what would it take to get it?

It sounds like your counselor suggested seeing a psychiatrist because of the intersection of mental and physical health knowledge. What about getting an official written note to that effect, and having a GP back it up? You could also use some official backup saying that prescriptions for mental health are not simple, to support you in having a psychiatrist abroad. I'm told by friends who take mental health meds that you might have to try several different medications and dosages before finding the right one, and should have someone competent nearby to assess and re-prescribe.

Having a psychiatrist does not mean you will *have* to have medication. My psychiatrist mostly does talk therapy, and hasn't even suggested prescribing me anything.

#128 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2013, 11:02 AM:

Lee @62: "Why" questions are looking for an answer of the form "because"

"Why"-form questions generally recognized as somewhat more open-ended than is often useful. (I like Lee's recycling of it, above, for that reason.)

Another angle to take: "And just who decided that it's my job to {dress | look pretty} [for you]?" This dumps the ownership of the criticism squarely in the lap of the critic.

If Critic is foolish enough to come back with any form of "well, Everybody Knows," then it's on to Meta-Model 101: "Everybody? You mean, the King of Siam says...?" Then, on to "Who, specifically?" Demand citations. This has the effect of dragging into awareness that somebody, somewhere decided this is The Way Things Are, and it is therefore obviously not a Law Of Nature.

the invisible one @69: "why are you so contrary"

For what it's worth, this one is (IMHO) simply "Is not!" "Is too!" playing dress-up out of Mommy's closet. I think it's perfectly legitimate to reply with a simple, "I am not," and then repeat until your opponent wears themselves out. For extra snark, add a little glint in the eye and touch of your tongue to your cheek.

"why are you/you're so defensive"

This one presupposes you are being defensive. To simultaneously expose the presupposition and deflect the accusation, one can go to, "Well, if I were being defensive (acknowledging but not conceding the point), it would be because I am feeling attacked." E.g., "Are you attacking me?"

What is "fighting fair"

I read your question as being somewhat rhetorical, but I'll answer it anyway. "Fighting fair," IMHO, is keeping to the truth, speaking respectfully, and protecting one's own boundaries without attacking the other's.

Pushing the other to clarify their meaning (and, if necessary/possible, cop to their intentions, especially if their intent is manipulation/control, especially2 if their objective is to cause distress) is simply Good Communications Technique. If it forces them to think through what they're saying/doing, so much the better. "Your right to swing your fist stops where my nose begins," and all that.

If they regard your requests for them to specify their meaning as an attack, well then, that's on them, not you.

Oh. So "you're oversensitive, that only happened once!" or "you're just looking for something to get upset about, what about all the times when it worked out just fine?" are yet another way of making me think I'm somehow uniquely broken and nobody else reacts like that.

Right in one.

(I have interacted with some people who seem to not react that way, but maybe they're hiding it well? Or maybe what I perceive as hurtful isn't hurtful to them, so it doesn't set the expectation of future hurt.)

Exactly. (As a general rule, I'd go with the latter as my first guess.)

Basically, it all boils down to this, and it took me well into my thirties before I finally worked this one out.

One only, single, one (1) authority on what is appropriate for you to be hurt by, and how it is appropriate to feel about it is: second-person singular You.

You are the only person with Your experience. You are the only person with Your neurology. Therefore, You are the only person who can guage how much something hurts you, and whether or not that's too much.

(If you watch, I think you'll discover that there are things that hurt you that you look at and go, "Meh. Annoying, but ignorable." And, if you look, you'll discover that there are things that hurt other people that leave you completely unruffled. I predict you'll have to do some sleuthing to discover these; you've been carefully trained to believe that You're Oversensitive, so things that don't fit that persona Don't Count.) (And this, BTW, is why we have compassion and empathy; because everybody's sensitivities are not the same.)

The tactics we've been discussing are great ways to deflect the behaviors of those who think they have a right to define your experience for you. But really, the ultimate goal (IMHO) is to get to the point where you can say, "You know, you have a right to your opinion. Your right, however, does not include the right to define my experience." Or, better still, let them flail away with their opinion (preferably, somewhere else) while you go on about your business, entirely undisturbed.)

How to deal with it when it's something visible and the only way to not let them know that I've done something they happen to have suggested is to not be around them at all?

That's a toughy, and one I don't have a great answer for. I run into the same issue with things like, say, how I dress at work. A couple of strategies I've used:

1. Just go ahead an make the change, and gird myself to hear with the comments, say a simple, "Thank you," and move on. The introductory phase doesn't usually last long, as people have their own lives to attend to. Therefore, not predictive of someone who is invested in telling me how to be, or has a tendancy to dig up old issues.

2. Make the change gradually, so it's less noticeable.

3. Filter my exposure to that person so they're not around to observe the change. This one's tough because it (like lying) takes a lot of extra bookkeeping and is, therefore, fraught with the likelihood of error, at which point one is faced with dealing with the reaction, possibly unprepared.

I'd be curious to hear others' thoughts on this.

"Duck season"

Sorry: this is Me Being Clever. (Um, not.)

This refers to your statement about being the best meta-monster you can be, in response to people trying to make you look bad. Basically, if they're going to give you the opening/reason (and motivation!) to run Meta-Monster on them, then, by all means, let 'em having it with both barrels. Hence, "Duck Season"

"Heisenberg"? The only context I have for the latter is the uncertainty principle

Yes, that was what I was aiming for, except that I think I actually meant Einstein, as in "Relativity." Taste and values are about as relative as it gets.

Sorry for the obfuscation! :-)

Or maybe focus on the "over-" - "what would be an appropriate reaction?"

Yes! This is an excellent option. Also, while it may not be a direction you want to take, it might be worth saying, "And the fact that you say these things despite the fact that I've told you they hurt me—that makes you insensitive!"

Did I mention arguing opinion is not my strong point?

The bottom line, of course, is that "opinion," like feelings and values, are inarguable. One can have reasons for one's opinion, but really. Your opinion is your opinion, and nobody has the right/responsibility to tell you different. IMHO.

I have given some thought to making a comment about not inflicting my housekeeping on her if she asks why I decline to have them visit.

I think this is an excellent approach.

the invisible one @71: And to keep it that way, I've been using the "don't stand around watching while other people are working" that my parents instilled in me to my advantage, by declaring my roomba a member of the class of "other people" and cleaning for as long as the roomba is running, generally once a week. (About 45-60 minutes.)

I LOVE this idea! This is such a gloriously scientifictional notion that it makes me LOL. Have you named the roomba?

Heather Rose Jones @80: I was badly blindsided by how completely erased I am

Yeah, I should think so! "I've moved on so much I don't even want to admit that part of my life existed!" That's very sucky.

hope in disguise @116: 'NLP' always makes me think of 'natural language programming', as in the field of computer science that is loosely connected to AI.

Dueling Acronyms, we haz it! :-) :-)

#129 ::: Jacque, gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2013, 11:03 AM:

Some nice hot tea, perhaps?

#130 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2013, 11:04 AM:

somewhere_else @119: Could I ask you to phrase your questions to me as questions in future?

By all means! I try to do that, but sometimes my Clever Rhetoric gets away from me. I always present in the frame of "does this apply to you?" "Is this what you meant?" "Would this work for you?" But it never hurts for me to remember to be more explicit.

please know that this is for hard for me to speak about and important enough to try anyway.

Well then you get extra points for putting in the effort to do so. Thank you for speaking up!

And please know that I am sorry for phrasing things in a way that make what I say One More Damn Thing To Deal with. I apologize.

Will drop it until/unless you express a desire to pick it up again. (And please, as above, feel free with the plushy trout! "Jacque! You're doing it again!")

I do have trouble with arguments when someone tries to 'win' by raising their voice or displaying agressive body language and try to disengage in these situations as soon as possible.

Ick ick ick! I ran into one of those yesterday when an angry client called. S/he wouldn't let me answer hir question and finally worked hirself up to the point of demanding to talk to my boss. "Thank you, and good riddance!" I thought, as I handed hir off. I'm usually pretty impervious, but this one had me flashing back to dealing with my mother. Had some pretty uncomfortable dreams last night. ::shudder::

#131 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2013, 11:27 AM:

The Occasionally Good @120: but I realized yesterday that I need to see [the records] myself.

Actually, current wisdom suggests keeping a copy of your records for yourself, from what I've heard. And, yes, sounds to me like Dr. Zie needs to be kicked in a long, flat ballistic to the next county.

Dash @121: Can you ask your therapist to provide reasons why a psychiatrist would work better for you than an MD?

since there's no way to take a pill to cure it, having a diagnosis is useless.

There may not be a "pill," but there are coping strategies and workarounds. Folks on the spectrum here can speak to this better than I can.

would prove that it's not just me willfully being weird.

This is non-trivial.

#132 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2013, 12:00 PM:

Jacque @ 128

To be completely and utterly fair (a state of mind I was not able to achieve during the wedding/reception itself), the relentless hammering away with the mythologized version of her life was largely coming from others. So I don't know whether she simply never got around to telling any of her friends and family (many of whom I socialized with at the time) that we were More Than Just Friends back when we were dating or whether they simply chose to forget/ignore it. Both options seem equally plausible.

#133 ::: Dash ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2013, 12:45 PM:

To clarify my living situation, as it has come up in regards to how to proceed from here:
I am a full-time student, and live at home when school is not in session; my parents also cover the school expenses which are not covered by scholarships, so if I'm going to cut off ties with them it ought to wait until I've graduated and thus no longer using their money for school. The teaching abroad is not for a full year, but for most of the summer, and I do not know the local language, leading me to believe that finding a useful doctor there would be difficult and perhaps more trouble than it's worth. I do not have a driver's license and my father works full-time, so my mother more or less controls my transportation when I am at home, including but not limited to doctors' appointments. And "her doctor" is a MD/GP, not a psychiatrist.

#134 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2013, 02:18 PM:

Diatryma, #126: Really, "I need a reason this is happening because otherwise I hate myself," is a good reason to find that reason.

Agreed. Unfortunately, when you're dealing with people who don't believe your reason exists, that comes across as Looking For Excuses. As in, "you'll never get better as long as you keep looking for excuses not to." And that's what it sounds like Dash is up against, both with hir doctor and hir mother.

Dash, #133: That sounds to me as though you've identified an important step, and one that possibly can be taken before you leave: get your driver's license, so that you are not completely at the mercy of your mother for transportation.*

I speak here from long and bitter experience; my parents used my lack of independent transportation as a control lever the whole time I was in college. I had options for working around it, mostly in the area of "begging friends for rides", but it was a huge pain and has left me with Issues about being trapped due to lack of transportation. It sounds as though perhaps you don't have many friends to call on, so another option would be public transportation -- is there any where you are, and how would you go about using it? Under the guise, of course, of "I don't want to bother you with having to drive me around."

* Note that the pushback on this is likely to be "You don't need a driver's license -- we'll drive you anywhere you need to go." The corollary and catch to this is that they get to define "where you need to go".

#135 ::: Anon Amos ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2013, 05:53 PM:

Dropping in for a moment to ask for Good Thoughs. I'm managing with a supervisor who is of the opinion that if you aren't doing her way, UR DOIN IT WRONG, and has all sorts of complaints about how I'm doing my job, and I'm apparently not doing anything right. This is very tiresome, and I'm rolling up on sketching out some pushback, but it's very hard to do without letting any snark or snide slide into my tone.

Oh yeah, and did I mention? We're in the midst of our Month From Hell.

#136 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2013, 10:34 PM:

Anon Amos,


#137 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2013, 12:27 AM:

#128, Jacque:

This one presupposes you are being defensive.

Well, often I am being defensive. And on reading your suggested reply, I suddenly realize that I defend because I feel attacked, or I've been attacked in the past so I'm preparing for one at that time. Kind of the same reason I finished my roomba-interaction description with "it works for me" - I'm used to being mocked for things far less silly than that, so I try to head it off before it starts. In person that would have included a shrug or dismissive wave of the hand or something that tried to minimize my attachment to the concept. It sometimes makes the target smaller.

It's unfortunate how many people think that the more defensive you get the more what they're saying must obviously be true and that somehow this gives them licence to keep at it.

Right in one.

I've learned this one several times over this past year and a bit that I've been participating in this community. It's been very helpful, and yet still needs to be learned multiple times.

It's not always intentional, too. Sometimes just the fact that nobody talks about something makes me think nobody else experiences that something, which is isolating in itself. Add to how I so rarely feel like I "belong" in a group, and that reinforces the feeling that I'm a real odd one. In the past I've sometimes referred to it as simply "being an alien".

you have a right to your opinion. Your right, however, does not include the right to define my experience.

I'm keeping this one.

The bottom line, of course, is that "opinion," like feelings and values, are inarguable.

And yet people argue politics and religion all the time...

Have you named the roomba?

Despite my penchant for speaking of inanimate objects as if they had a personality, I don't generally give them names. However, I have been thinking of finding a Jetsons sticker pack somewhere and putting Rosie the Robot on the roomba, because robot maid! The roomba doesn't talk back nearly as much as Rosie did, though. I think this is a feature.

#138 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2013, 10:16 AM:

the invisible one @137: It sometimes makes the target smaller.

Another consequence of having been systematically trained to devalue your perspective, I'll wager. I'm all for non-attachment but...not for that reason.

more defensive you get the more what they're saying must obviously be true and that somehow this gives them licence to keep at it.

This seems to be in the nature of the principle, "don't run away from the mountain lion." It's like a predator reflex. I try not to forget that humans are predators.

The issue I'm struggling with right now is that if I'm in conflict with someone, maintaining an assertive protection of my position, rather than an aggressive attack of theirs (which is even harder if there are points about which they are right). I generally do okay, but particularly where authority figures are concerned, it's really hard for me to refrain from lapsing into passive-aggressive, expecially when I've become angry.

still needs to be learned multiple times.

It takes a while for it to sink down to the hind-brain. Especially if you've been trained to value other peoples' experience over yours.

nobody talks about something makes me think nobody else experiences that something, which is isolating in itself.

This, IMnpHO, is the real value of the Internet. People are talking, and on a scale unprecedented in history.

"being an alien"

Hi! I'm from Mars. Where are you from? Yeah.

I think this is a feature.

:-) :-)

#139 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2013, 10:47 AM:

#138, Jacque:

systematically trained to devalue your perspective

Partly. And partly to pretend that I don't care about something so potential attackers don't see it as much of a target whether or not I actually care, whether it's something I did just for giggles or something that is more important to me, which I value and can't take mockery on.

I realized a while ago that I have no personal stuff on my desk at work, no badges or bumper stickers on my car, no decorations on my front door, basically very little that shows my personality on any public-facing space. And while I know I'm far from the only person who doesn't personalize these things, a large part of the reason I don't is because it allows me to be that much more anonymous and invisible. It took me a couple of years of thinking about it before I finally managed to put a NaNoWriMo sticker on my laptop, and making that decision was remarkably stressful.

#140 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2013, 11:24 AM:

the invisible one @139 partly to pretend that I don't care about something so potential attackers don't see it as much of a target whether or not I actually care

Yeah. This is a hard one in many respects. Because it's easy to say, "Why do you care what other people think?" But (a) some people have, through hard experience, learned that what other people think CAN hurt them. And (b) Everybody cares about what other people think. To some extent it's a feature, not a bug. Otherwise we'd all be sociopaths, or at least hopelessly self-centered. We learn not to grab food from other people's lunches or to maintain some basic standards of personal hygiene because we care what others think, and that's good. It's not necessarily obvious to kids that the same principles don't apply to, say, what kind of books you read or the fashionability of your clothing. The trick is learning boundaries - whose opinions on what topics matter to you - and counting yourself as one of those people whose opinion matters. And if this has been poorly modeled or taught as one was growing up (by intrusive parents, for example, or bullying peers) then it has to be relearned. And it's hard.

#141 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2013, 01:18 PM:

the invisible one, #139: I realized a while ago that I have no personal stuff on my desk at work, no badges or bumper stickers on my car, no decorations on my front door, basically very little that shows my personality on any public-facing space.

I've always tended to that sort of thing myself, with occasional minor exceptions. In my case, it's at least partially a hostile "It's none of their goddamn business!" thing.

Although I do find that having an Om symbol hanging on the front door is actually better repellent for religious salesdroids than the "No Soliciting" sign, which they have a remarkable tendency to assume doesn't apply to them. We've sometimes observed them walking across the yard to the door, seeing the symbol, and turning away without bothering to ring the bell.

#142 ::: upset ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2013, 04:16 PM:

On truth shouting vs cutlery loading:

I was thinking about behavioral models on engaging with cutlery loaders, because my husband is very clearly a cutlery loader whereas I grew up with a truth shouter*. (Shouts a lot of things, doesn't remember a word of it thirty minutes later, where I have historically assumed he was truth shouting and thus spent a few months tiptoe-ing around the cutlery until he voices confusion at my behavior.)

In any case, I thought about examples in the media after someone upthread suggested Elementary as a good example to study. And I need some help here--all the examples I can think of are of Truth Shouters. Someone breaking down at the height of the argument type of situation. Maybe this is for narrative convenience?

Because the only Cutlery Loader example I could think of was Syd from the recent Looper, which isn't a great example because, um, he's barely a toddler, and I'm looking for something to pattern my behavior on. And on further thought, all I can think about are vague impressions of the cutlery loader shouting something unforgiveable, and another character forgiving them. Also not a great example.


*Actually, in retrospect my mother is a cutlery loader who, instead of admitting that it was cutlery, decides that since it was shouted, it must be Truth, rather than admit she lost her temper in the heat of the moment. But only sometimes. It's hard to tell when it's Truth and when it's Cutlery, and sometimes Cutlery is insisted on as being Truth when she's angry, but only for the duration.

#143 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2013, 05:50 PM:

upset @ 142

This is an excuse for me to recommend Let's Pretend This Never Happened. Admittedly it's a book rather than media, but not only does it show a fun side of somewhat random behavior (like recommending books when media is requested), it's the clearest example of cutlery-loading I can think of.

And I'll give it a mixture of recommendation and trigger warning. The author had a very painful upbringing with non-trivial damage resulting from it, but on the other hand she's very funny.

And she's managed to make something rather good out of the damage without leaving me feeling inadequate. I simply blame it on my father being a snippy CPA while her father would throw live bobcats at people because he genuinely believed they would like having live bobcats thrown at them.

#144 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2013, 09:26 PM:

Dash @133, I agree with Lee that you should insist on getting your driver's license. Even if you don't actually drive much, it'll probably save you plenty of money and hassle compared to getting it later yourself, which is what I have to do. Check your local rules against my sitatuation below, and then start pushing for it. Your parents should have a hard time refusing without revealing their real reasons against it, and if they do slip up it will give you additional leverage, since there are lots of solid objective reasons to parade:
- Your driving is a convenience for your parents as you can transport yourself and run household errands.
- Possessing a license does not require you to immediately buy a car, should anyone be worried about the finances of that.
- It's a useful piece of ID.
- You are of age and responsible.
- Your parents want the best for you, which means they should help you get it instead of putting you in a position where either you lack independence or must spend a lot of money to remedy the lack (see below).
- Avoiding this unnecessary spending as detailed above is a prudent and frugal choice.
- The ability to drive is a qualification for some jobs, including white-collar professions where one visits clients and suppliers regularly.

Where I am, getting a license as a solo adult is much more difficult and expensive than getting it while living with parents. Our graduated licensing system starts with a written test ($) then assumes that you have the regular use of a car and experienced driver to babysit you for a year of practice. If you do not, then as well as taking driving school ($$), you'll probably have to pay for extra hours to have adequate practice time ($$?). Then you test for your G2 ($) and spend another year as a provisional driver, but you're allowed out by yourself and to use highways. Then you test again for your full license ($). When you have it, you can't sign up for a car sharing service as the locally available one requires you to have had your full license several years. So if you need to drive you have to rent ($$) or buy ($$$$) a car, and then you have to pay the insurance. Because you are a solo inexperienced driver, it will be much more expensive per year ($$$) than it will be 5-10 years later, or if you had followed the social custom and been registered for your parents' car at a substantially lower cost. You can't be on the insurance of someone you don't live with, so no sharing with an older friend unless you share a dwelling. I guess the presence of parents is a magical panacea to prevent accidents, sufficient to make a 20 year old with their dad's car less of a risk than a 30something who just bought their own and has every reason to take care of it. It will cost me at least several thousand more to get and use a driver's license, than it would have cost my parents to let me learn, and the result is that I *still* don't have one because I keep needing the funds more for rent and food and bills.

So get that license! It doesn't matter if your parents lock it in a drawer until you leave home; the important part is having it so that it can age into usefulness, like wine.

#145 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2013, 11:09 PM:

Moonlit Night, #144: Woof! It wasn't anything like that bad when my now-ex got his first license. He'd never gotten one as a teenager because he had epilepsy, and for a while it wasn't as well controlled as it could have been. And between him being an indefatigable walker, and his parents and then me being willing to drive him places, and our workplaces being quite close together, he didn't really need it for quite a while. But then the company I was working for decided to move, and it wasn't going to be practical for me to drive him to and from work any more, and it had been 10 years since he had a seizure, so we went for it.

First he had to get a learner's permit, and I don't recall offhand what that cost but it wasn't outrageous. Then he took a driver ed class, which was no more than $200 IIRC. Then I took him to the testing station and he took and passed the road test, and that was it. His actual license didn't cost any more than mine did. If I'd been willing to give him the driving practice, he wouldn't even have had to take the class, but neither of us thought that was a good idea. :-)

So obviously the requirements vary widely from state to state, and Dash will need to research them.

#146 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2013, 11:37 PM:

Lee @145: I'm in Ontario, and I have no idea how strict our licensing process is compared to elsewhere since I am little travelled. I wish I knew somewhere useful to complain to about the accidental discrimination, so that it might be fixed.

#147 ::: Ross ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2013, 12:12 AM:

Abusive statements I have known: "I know you better than you know yourself."

What it means: "I have a better idea what's going on in your head than you do, so I have the right to dictate your own thoughts to you. If you think you are thinking something else, then you're simply wrong."

How I wish I had responded: "Well no, there is actually a reality outside your head and I'm part of it. You don't get veto power over my thoughts."

#148 ::: Dash ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2013, 01:07 AM:

I might look into getting a driver's license, but I don't have much time to practice (particularly before going abroad), and I'm kind of scared. Part of the reason I don't have one is that with my ADHD and my poor performance in driver's ed and my managing to hit something while practice-driving at slow speeds, I'm afraid my driving skills are questionable and the general public may be safer without me driving (it perhaps doesn't help that my parents are highly critical of others' driving skills). There is some public transportation near home, but not a ton. And I have indeed lost touch with many of my friends from home, and most of those I still contact also lack a driver's license or available car.
Random note: With parents now, and twice now, my mother has sweared and, presumably because I am eternally the young and innocent child in her mind, immediately denied that she sweared (Exact quote from the latest instance: "Oops! I didn't say that.") Gaslighting at its most blatant. But if I confronted her, she would undoubtedly shrug it off as a joke.

#149 ::: tamiki ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2013, 01:33 AM:

Dash: If there's someone less judgey than your parents that you could practice with, I recommend asking them, if you decide to go for your license. Since you know your parents are hyper-critical about driving in particular, it may help to get them out of the equation for a spin around a parking lot. (As ever, ignore if hlepy.)

#150 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2013, 03:26 AM:

Dash @121:
She agreed that I have some traits that fit the diagnosis, but seemed to believe that since there's no way to take a pill to cure it, having a diagnosis is useless. The counselor actually seemed to largely agree with this idea, which is one of the few sticking points I have with her. Sure, my symptoms won't be different, but having a diagnosis would mean I have a REASON for them, and thus would prove that it's not just me willfully being weird. My symptoms would be the same, but they'd be more widely accepted by society in general, and my mother in particular.

If it would help, here's a description of my relationship with that particular term.

I've never been diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, because I've never gone through the process of seeking a diagnosis. Some of that's age (I predate the time when it was a common diagnosis), some of it's gender, some of it's having developed adequate coping mechanisms back when I thought I was just a weirdo.

But ten or fifteen years ago, I sat down and took a long, hard look at myself. I looked at my family history (grandfather and father not diagnosed, but meet the criteria beautifully; autism in the collateral lines; younger brother diagnosed; nephew diagnosed). I looked at the places where I miss what others understand, looked at the things that drive me nuts (clutter, noise, rule- and context-free situations), considered the things I do better than most of the people around me (pattern-seeking and -matching, rule and systems design).

So I did a bunch of online tests, and did a bunch of reading. The tests all came in as borderline Aspergers, and the remediations suggested tended to work for me. And I thought, this is either Asperger Syndrome or a Greek of the same name.

Which is all background to what I wanted to say, which is that using the term for myself has been an enormous help to managing my life and my interaction with the wider world. It allows me to give myself a freaking break on things that I struggle with. It helps me figure out ahead of time whether new situations are going to require additional effort to cope with. It explains a heck of a lot of problems I've had, and points me at some strengths I wouldn't have known to look for.

My relationship with the word "cure" in this context is complex, because Asperger's is more of a description of a personality type that doesn't fit the world very well than it is a disease to be treated. I don't want to be cured of being me. I just want to mesh with the world better. (This is in contrast to depression, which I would be just fine being cured of. I'd be no less me without it; indeed, quite the opposite.)

#151 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2013, 08:29 AM:

Dash @ 121/abi @ 150

abi's experience is pretty much spot-on the same as mine. I like being me; I like the people I work with*; I like my oldest son; having "Asperger's/spectrum" as a category in my head makes a lot of things with all three easier to understand, and predict, and cope with.

*I'm an actuary; the combination of attention to detail and attention to patterns required mean that autism-spectrum personalities are probably more common than not in the field. Kind, nice, smart--quite frequently; think walking in circles talking to themselves is perfectly reasonable behaviour--also quite frequently. First time in my life I ever felt entirely comfortable was when I started working as an actuary--I had finally found a place where I like the others.

#152 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2013, 09:01 AM:

Dash: there is one way in which having a diagnosis, confirmed by a professional, can be an advantage: it gives you an entry to disability access services. I don't know how much longer you have left in university, but those services are definitely present on a campus environment, and it may be helpful in negotiating the terms of the Americans with Disabilities Act, or your local equivalents, when you enter the work force. Of course, the tricky thing about acknowledging something like that is that it may prejudice employers against you, in an interview or after hire, depending on when you disclose, & they can usually find some way to blame their actions on something else.

Nevertheless, I'm in favor of diagnosis.

#153 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2013, 09:08 AM:

Dash @148, at least in my area there are some driver education classes that specialize in teaching people with various kinds of learning disabilities or non-neuro-typicalities (which is the bucket into which I would throw both ADHD and Asperger's in this context). Extra practice, use of a simulator, etc., might be helpful. Google may be your friend here. It does sound like you wouldn't have time before you go to your summer teaching job, though.

#154 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2013, 09:44 AM:

#148, Dash:

my poor performance in driver's ed and my managing to hit something while practice-driving at slow speeds, I'm afraid my driving skills are questionable

A lot of people, including me, make more mistakes when under stress. For me, that includes when somebody is watching me, whether or not they're critical; if they criticize it gets worse.

I'm not sure who was with you when you were practice driving, but from the sounds of it if it were your parents they may have induced stress levels high enough to hit something. An instructor can also cause stress if they aren't a good fit for you.

Even if I'm demonstrating something that I've done properly dozens of times I'll still be most likely to fumble if somebody is watching. Once at work I was running some new trial tests; after having done them all shift with no problems, the other guy came to take over and work the next shift. While showing him what I had been doing so he'd do the same tests and the results would be useable, I fumbled several things in the steps, including dropping and breaking some lab glassware - all because suddenly I had somebody watching what I was doing. It had nothing to do with me not being good at what I was doing, only with not being good at having people watch me.

If you can find somebody other than your parents who doesn't cause you stress to help you practice, maybe you could also start with some low-stress games to get used to handling the car without putting anything at any kind of risk. I'm thinking as examples, empty parking lot and the games of "squish the paper cup with a particular wheel", or "park/drive between the lines without squishing any paper cups".

#155 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2013, 11:13 AM:

Dash, a driver's license is useful, but if it is *you* who doesn't want you to have one, that is a completely valid choice. I have several friends out of college who don't drive (I'm helping one of them move to Pennsylvania in a couple months) so it's not something you have to have to be a functional adult. Many of us weight the equations differently-- for me, getting a license, maintaining a car, and driving everywhere is less stress than figuring out buses, keeping a pass, and changing my schedule. If your equation is different, that's okay.

I think the important things are that it is *your* decision, not anyone else's, whether your parents' or ours, and that you feel free to change your mind if circumstances change.

#156 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2013, 11:26 AM:

As a maybe-hlepful aside, when my sister learned to drive (she was graduating college and needed to drive to work), she could not abide having any direct family member teach her, but our stepmom (our dad remarried after the divorce) was able to teach her to drive. I think the emotional distance really helped there--our stepmom hadn't had any part raising us, so while she and my sister were on good terms, the interaction wasn't so full of stressful close-family interactions somehow.

#157 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2013, 11:40 AM:

I've been thinking off and on about the original post, and I'm hard put to identify myself as either a truth-shouter or a cutlery-loader. When I finally break, I guess I'm a truth-shouter, but I have an intermediate stage, where I think I'd call myself a cutlery-swallower. Because when I get angry, all that stuff is to hand, but I'm oversocialized in the fact that Getting Angry Is Not Acceptable. So I stuff it down instead of throwing it. Long term, this is not good for the insides.

#158 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2013, 11:51 AM:

#140, OtterB:

We learn not to grab food from other people's lunches or to maintain some basic standards of personal hygiene because we care what others think, and that's good. [...] The trick is learning boundaries - whose opinions on what topics matter to you - and counting yourself as one of those people whose opinion matters. And if this has been poorly modeled or taught as one was growing up (by intrusive parents, for example, or bullying peers) then it has to be relearned. And it's hard.

Yes, that about sums it up. And I think that may have been what both ex and I were not connecting on (or implicitly including/implicitly filling in using different assumptions) in the discussion of how unhealthy it may or may not be to ignore other people's criticisms. He may have been thinking ALL criticism ALL the time ignored.

#150, abi:

I looked at the places where I miss what others understand, looked at the things that drive me nuts (clutter, noise, rule- and context-free situations), considered the things I do better than most of the people around me (pattern-seeking and -matching, rule and systems design).

Oh. Well, that might possibly explain a few things. Do you by chance have a reference for some of the coping strategy stuff you found useful? Some of those I can only avoid right now.

#159 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2013, 12:47 PM:

In North America, it is very important to have a driver's license, if you are physically able to drive. Just as a piece of ID if nothing else; and if you are ever interested in getting a car, having "full license" for some time matters for insurance purposes, even if you haven't been driving.

There are lots of places (see NotAlwaysWorking, for instance) where a DL will be taken as ID, and nothing else will (passport, "proof of age", military ID, ...) and where they are going to ask for it. Yeah, *they're* the ones that are wrong, but that doesn't help at the time.

Also, depending on where you live, valid driver ID may be the easiest pass through "I can vote" - which is possibly the most critical thing you can do with your life. Those *special* Voter ID laws coming in in states where certain people don't want people like Dash (student) or me (liberal) to vote, but can't actually deny it, for instance.

I would suggest everyone in NA get a license, even if they aren't going to drive, just so they're bootstrapped when it turns out they have to (or, they're the only sober person at the party, or the driver in the family tripped and fell down the stairs, and you have to take them to the hospital, or for the next few months when they're in a legcast and can't drive, or...)

(Nothing in this previous should be taken as a suggestion that if you're not comfortable driving for any reason at a particular time (including lack of practise or stress reactions or...) that you should get behind the wheel anyway.)

Graduated licensing (in general) is a good thing, and yes, it sucks if you don't go through the "get it while you're a child of a driving family" thing. I lived in K/W for a number of years, and the graduated license would have restricted me from the Conestoga Parkway - which effectively means "takes twice as long to get anywhere in my own town". Never mind not driving the 400-series highways, which makes going anywhere *else* take significantly longer. Funny story: I almost got dropped into the graduated license when I moved there - even though I'd been driving on my own for 7 years. But I'd been driving a motorcycle, and only had a M-equivalent license (valid for learner on a car) until about 6 months before I moved out. I filled in the form correctly, and they asked me at the desk "you have only been driving for 13 months?" "a car, yes." "how long have you been driving?" "motorcycle, 7 years." "Okay, we'll just fudge this number, or you'd have to be G2, and that makes no sense..."

But that's just another reason to get the DL ASAP, even if you're not actually driving; to get you in the timestream, if you move to a place where there's a more restrictive timestream.

Others, still witnessing; glad to hear about the progresses; work is getting better, but I still have issues to work out (but I don't cry every time something doesn't work any more); and I have to think about argument styles. All I know is that I get angry, and have arguments, but can't afford to lose my temper - because I also lose the next 5 or so minutes of my life. The people I'm around don't though.

#160 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2013, 12:49 PM:

Shorter Mycroft: having a Driver's License and driving aren't equivalent; getting one is useful even if you aren't going to be driving.

#161 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2013, 12:50 PM:

Diatryma, #155: Seconded. I have one friend here who does not drive, for reasons that feel appropriate to her; she's worked out adequate methods of coping with it, and that's her business. As previously noted, I have Issues about lack of independent transportation, so that wouldn't be an option for me.

#162 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2013, 12:59 PM:

Mycroft, you don't have to have a DL to get a state-issued ID (at least in the US; I don't know how other countries handle it) otherwise those voter ID laws would be extra-discriminatory. You can go to the office where they issue ID and get a state-issued ID that looks much the same but isn't a driver's license.

#163 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2013, 01:13 PM:

abi, I appreciate the Truth-Shouter/Cutlery Shooter distinction because it's about about a way that communication can fail between people who aren't especially fouled up.

#164 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2013, 02:02 PM:

Ross @147: Abusive statements I have known: "I know you better than you know yourself."

"Damn! They let you take telepathy? Wow. I wish we had Telepathy Class in my high school. That woulda been so cool...."

Heh. I can't put words to the slow burn of fury that tactic brings up in me.

Dash @148: A lot of public transportation nowadays has provisions to carry bicycles, which increases one's range even further. Might be worth looking into as an interim solution...? (And it's lots cheaper.)

#165 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2013, 04:14 PM:

162 Naomi: I agree. I also know that those non-Driver IDs are "just as valid" according to the government; less so by the random bouncer at the bar, or the random person validating identity for a credit card purchase, or...

I've had (been with) people denied entry with a valid passport, never mind a "identity card". It's wrong, and it *shouldn't* happen, I agree. Life is just easier with a real DL, even if it's never used for its intended purpose. Plus, it's a good argument to use for people who want a driver's license but have people who "will always drive you where you need to go".

#166 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2013, 05:39 AM:

the invisible one @158:
Do you by chance have a reference for some of the coping strategy stuff you found useful? Some of those I can only avoid right now.

I don't any more. Most of what I do is to understand what things are likely to overwhelm me and minimize them in my life, identify the feeling of becoming overwhelmed so I can address it early, and teach the people around me not to do the things that drive me nuts. (Privilege check: I know that not everyone is surrounded by teachable, supportive people. Not all of these tactics will work in an environment containing, or controlled by, people who aren't.)

High on the list of things I am careful about:
* visual clutter I tend to be the one to tidy the house, because I'm the one who can't take it first. If I haven't the spoons to clean the whole house, I'll clean one room and take the laptop in there for refuge.
* auditory clutter The kids like to watch YouTube, and for parenting reasons, we try to discourage headphone use. Instead, I've been teaching them to turn things down so that they can hear their own videos, but not obtrude on the other's (kind of the reverse of dueling stereos). But sometimes I just have to leave the room, or put on my own earphones. (Background music is also tiring, but less so than background talking.)
* tactile overstimulation Gusty wind drives me bats. When I'm overstimulated and stressed, I don't like to be touched, not even hugged. (When I'm upset, I do, but with practice, my family has learned the difference.) Telling people this, and telling them that it's not that I don't care about them, has been a useful tactic.
* social overstimulation Knowing when I'm simply talked to death, and giving myself permission to go away from it, is important. This is particularly the case because my son is intensely verbal and not very good at figuring out when it's time to stop talking without clear verbal prompts.

Over time, I've learned to identify the feelings in myself that arise when these things are going to overwhelm me. I call it feeling "hassled": it's a too much -- too much -- too much rebellion of the senses. Fortunately, it's always clear what is pushing me over the edge; the trick is identifying other contributory factors (I can take more social stimulation when I'm not cycling through the wind).

When I'm getting that feeling, I remind myself that it's an environmental issue rather than a more structural problem and work to de-stress before I tackle whatever else is going on. ("Can we talk about this with the stereo off/once we get indoors/up in my [tidy] workspace?") If I need someone to stop doing something, I tell them so without blaming them ("I love you too, and I appreciate the support, but I just need to not be touched right now. I'll come over and give you a hug in a little bit.")

The theory about Asperger Syndrome that makes the most sense for me is that it's an input channel issue. Most people do a certain amount of pre-filtering on their inputs...basically, deciding what to ignore before even being conscious of it. Aspies do markedly less of that, and so are dealing with a lot of detail clamoring for attention. That's useful for noticing what others miss, and the practice dealing with it means that we're really good at extracting patterns from massive inputs (server logs, data files, real life). But it's tiring, and we need to accept that we're going to have to be careful in contexts that cost us more spoons than they do some other people.

But who in life doesn't have such restrictions? My (non-Aspie) husband gets really bothered by smells, particularly when he's under stress. He has to work to tolerate or remediate them; he has to ask me to cooperate with him in dealing with this sensitivity.

#167 ::: Brakefast ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2013, 07:23 AM:

My dad can start a lecture perfectly reasonably, illustrating some complaint (a PROBLEM with YOU of course), but gradually piss himself off more and more while talking about it, until at the end he's a seething beast, hurling insults and raging with red face. All without a single word from the other person. What a fucking idiot.

#168 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2013, 07:59 AM:

Brakefast, my dad was similar when I was growing up, and oh how unfair it felt. He even got angry talking about other people and it felt so unfair to have to experience his anger when no one in the house was even the culprit! "Some people" were, and he was ranting at and about them, and he had a way to work himself into a rant, but he didn't seem to have self-soothing mechanisms to calm himself down at the end. I guess losing himself in his hobbies helped, although I don't think I put those pieces together till just now.

I wish I were more comfortable with my own anger and could more calmly deal with others' expressions of anger. I've made some progress at work, which is helpful.

#169 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2013, 08:01 AM:

abi, are you me?

visual clutter: yes, and to make it worse, cleaning it up takes an insane amount of spoons for me, no matter what system I use, and maintaining it is also problematic.

auditory clutter: how much do I love my big cushioned over-the-ear headphones? Luckily, my kid is older, and I don't have as much of a parenting issue with headphone use, so I generally only have to resort to them (with baroque/classical music, which helps) when there's a shared TV show I don't want to watch.

tactile: fortunately, my friends group is pretty good about a consent culture, so I can say "Yes, I'm very happy to see you, but no hugs right now, I'm not holding it together well enough for hugs." Because one of the stressed/overstimulated situations is when I've just arrived at a con.

social: yep, even though I love social contact, there comes a point where I'm done and need to go hide for a while.

I really do need to dedicate some time to cleaning up. I know it will make other things in my life more manageable.

But so much yes to all of that, and, indeed, the hacks you describe are so similar to mine.

#170 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2013, 11:24 AM:

#166, abi:

I definitely get overwhelmed when there's too much sound around, usually with regards to multiple conversations. This is one reason I don't really like group situations; above a certain number of people, and the conversation fragments into multiple threads. I also have a hard time holding a conversation when the tv is on, but that applies whether the sound is on or not. The movement draws my eye and I find myself trying to figure out what it means.

I also get distressed (and sometimes start to panic) in a case of too many people in too small of a space. A small space by itself isn't a problem, I'm not claustrophobic, it's very specific to the "too many people" part of it. I can be out on a street and get that reaction. (I was once in downtown Seattle on black friday. That was horrible.) It's worse when I'm with other people because I have a hard time recognizing faces, so I very easily lose people in a crowd and have the increased stress for that. If alone I can kind of mentally curl in on myself and set a target and get through the crowd by treating the other people as moving obstacles, but if I'm trying to keep track of another person I can't do that. Only time so far I was in a crowd with the new interest, I couldn't let go of his hand until we were out of it.

Touch is an odd one. I love wind and weather, but if one of my own hairs falls onto my arm I have to get it OFF. I have an extremely short list of people who are allowed to touch me, but in the highly choreographed situation of martial arts practice, having a complete stranger grab and restrain me is fine.

What really got me in your initial description was the mention of situations that were rule-free or context-free. Social interactions where I have a defined role are far easier for me to handle, and I have a special hate for the kind of "game" where one of the rules is that you don't tell people what the rules are. (Most recent ex loved those.)

I'm going to try to notice what exactly it is about situations that make me grumpy or panicky, for those I haven't already identified.

#171 ::: upset ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2013, 02:23 PM:

Quick check-in to drop off a link: Depression Quest: an Interactive (non)fiction About Living With Depression. It's an in-browser text based rpg where you play the role of someone suffering from (clinical?) depression.

I just went, "oh. is this not normal?" from inside the fog of my not getting enough sleep for several nights running. If there's someone here who's certain that they DON'T suffer from depression, I'd be obliged if they would post their experience with the narrative, as right now I can't tell if it's me or the lack of sleep talking.

It does make me want to get a kitten, though.

#172 ::: she pushes down ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2013, 04:29 PM:

I haven't been around for a thread or two, I think? I'm doing well -- seeing a good therapist weekly, getting ready to apply to a low-cost psychiatric clinic, working through a lot of Stuff, getting well rested up and living low-stress.

But, as my friends keep having to remind me, I have a hell of a lot of Stuff to go through, and it's not surprising that I occasionally run into something that hits me all in a lump.

This time it's... oh, where to start? Um -- let's see, I have two different scheduled incidences of pet-sitting for housemates in the foreseeable future, so when a neighbor asked one of said housemates to pet-sit, it was perfectly logical that I should get handed the job on Housemate's recommendation (because she's too busy at the moment).

This is not about Housemate. I have no complaints about her part in this. We'd previously discussed me taking this neighbor's next pet-sitting job, she'll back me up if I change my mind, it's all good. This is about my Goddamn Tapes that promptly started up.

The train of thought went something like this: "Hurrah, Responsibility! I get to have people trust me and give me Things To Do, and there is nobody around trying to sabotage me and telling everyone I'm an irresponsible little shit like my bio-incubator [I refuse to call her my mom] always did back in the town I left! ...but, but, what if I Fail? What if I really am an irresponsible little shit? What if I just freak out from the sheer weight of responsibility and head for the hills and nobody feeds the cats? ONOES CAT MURDERER!!!!" :P

And I can't make my brain shut up and prove I'm not going to do that, because -- I never have proved to myself that I'm Trustworthy and Responsible. (It was one of her big things, to pull out a random request she'd made of me and rant about how I hadn't done X when she TRUSTED me to and so she COULDN'T TRUST ME EVER and therefore I wasn't allowed to... go to a specific event or something.) I don't even know why - I find this really frustrating, that I always do it and I can't nail down why - but every time I get close to Succeeding at something that feels "big", that's going to convince someone to trust me, I panic. I do drop everything and run away.

(I don't think I would this time, because ONOES CAT MURDERER trumps OMG RESPONSIBLE ADULT?!, but... scared. :P)

Does anyone else have this tape? Have you found a thing to do about it? Halp. ;S

#173 ::: she pushes down ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2013, 04:31 PM:

I have been gnomed. Would Their Lownesses like some rainbow sherbet?

#174 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2013, 07:32 PM:
it's a too much -- too much -- too much rebellion of the senses.
I get that in places that are loud, especially when they're unremittingly loud -- my wife's employer does an annual holiday party, and while the earlier parts are usually pleasant enough, they always seem to end it with a DJ playing music with the volume all the way up. At the most recent one, she went off and danced, while I stood by a heat lamp (it was outside), as far away from the noise as I could manage without having to go off and shiver in the cold and damp. And I've been at several wedding receptions that were problematic. (I remember a cousin's, that was in a small venue, where there was nowhere I could go to make the music quiet enough that I could recover. I could get to where I wasn't actively losing it, but not actually recovering.)

Many people seem to enjoy loud music. (Case in point: the organizers of those parties and wedding receptions.) I find myself wondering whether they don't get that reaction, or whether they get it but somehow find it pleasant. I asked my wife, but her response wasn't clarifying.

Fortunately in my life as it is, it's not often a major issue.

#175 ::: Dash ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2013, 10:19 PM:

upset @171- I'd seen that link around, but never actually played through it until tonight. It definitely helped me connect some dots, and I ended up sending the link and the links to the Hyperbole and a Half posts about depression to my father (not my mother, though he'll probably end up sharing them with her). I had a minor relapse today, in which I abruptly could do nothing but stare into space sadly while my parents yelled at me to chill out, so I figured it was worthwhile. They already know I've been feeling depressed (not about the self-harm though), but maybe having more information will help them understand. Probably not, but it's worth a shot.

#176 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2013, 01:06 AM:

Mycroft @165

Huh. Have you really seen people turned away because they have state ID instead of a driver's license? Where? I'm finding that hard to believe, as I've never had a single problem in the twelve years I've had non-driver ID, and I've never heard of anyone having trouble with it.

Here in Washington, the only difference between a driver's license and state ID is that one says "Driver's License" at the top, while the other says "Identification Card." Otherwise, they look the same, with the same security measures, UV features, etc.

Now, a passport I can understand. It should be just as valid, yeah, but there are reasons a bouncer might worry: It's issued by a foreign government, I have no idea what one is supposed to look like (granted, I don't actually know what a Missouri DL/ID looks like either, but I have a general idea) and fairly often it's not in English so I can't even be sure it says the right things if it is real.

#177 ::: Bam ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2013, 07:42 PM:

She pushes down @172:

It's interesting that you should call yours a tape, I think of mine (if indeed it is similar) as a stuck record. And rather than jumping out of the stuck spot when I think sensibly about something, the groove just gets deeper and deeper until my head is screaming at me and it's all that I can hear. At which point I begin to think I should go turn myself into the police (because obviously I've done something/will do something horrible) or, in the darkest of moments, kill myself. It's all terribly exhausting.

In my case, my tape/record is a manifestation of OCD (the fun "obsessional" part). Sometimes my brain just has the klaxon jammed on and, before therapy, I could be in fight-or-flight for days.

Since you asked, and if it's not too hlepy, here's what I have learned to do when tape/record start up or realize it's been playing. First, I remind myself it's not me, it's disordered thinking that's happening - chemical messages shooting down the best-worn pathway, my brain on auto-pilot. Then I promise to explore the terror and the worry when I have time and space to cope with it (in therapy sessions or alone) and then I distract the crap out of myself. Baking is a favorite way - just enough fiddly stuff to make me focus, but if my mind wanders the consequences are pretty minimal (it's amazing how much carbon one can scrape off a cake and still find it tasty).

In my case, just being able to remind myself that my stuck record is a symptom of an illness and not a terrible truth has been massive. I'm learning that peace and panic are like the tide. They come and go, sometimes cresting higher or coming in faster than I expected them to. Right now, for example, things are getting hard (birthdays, mother's or father's day, anniversaries all make April-May-June very difficult). I haven't been to my therapist for a while, but I think it's nearly time to go back.

Alas, I want to find a new therapist (the last one implied a few times that I was boring her), but the idea of starting over is daunting to me.

(Apologies to all if this is all to hlepy and long-winded.)

#178 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2013, 09:49 PM:

Bam @177: The idea that a therapist would be bored seems very unprofessional to me. Is it possible you mis-understood something the therapist said? I could imagine a therapist indicating to you that you were stuck in a rut, that they'd heard the same description of a problem many times, but that would presumably be said as an attempt to try to get you out of the rut, not because they were bored. It seems like something worth discussing with the therapist.

On the other hand, would changing therapists really be "starting over"? Wouldn't you still have any gains you've made and self-knowledge you've acquired with the current therapist, even after you switch. You and the new therapist would have to become familiar and comfortable with each other, and the new therapist would have to learn about you, but wouldn't you still be ahead of where you were when you started with the first therapist?

#179 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2013, 10:43 PM:

#178 ::: Jeremy Leader

The idea that a therapist would be bored seems very unprofessional to me.

Therapists are human, too, and some of them are unprofessional. Some of the them are burning out.

#180 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2013, 07:49 AM:

Nancy, true, but the point of the transaction is not for the patient to entertain the therapist. If the therapist has gotten to that point, it's time to change careers, or at least take a long vacation.

#181 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2013, 08:27 AM:

I was disagreeing with Jeremy's idea that a bored therapist is so implausible that a client should assume that the therapist isn't actually bored.

#182 ::: Bam ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2013, 09:36 AM:

Jeremey Leader @178 She kept looking at her watch, like she had something in the oven. I'm acutely aware of the needs of people around me and, thinking about it, my feelings of needing to find another therapist might have more to do with being afraid I haven't somehow pleased my therapist and less to do with thinking she wasn't sufficiently present. Food for thought.

Nancy Lebovitz @ 179 As you say, therapists are human too. I was the last patient before an extended vacation, so I can see how she might have been excited about the end of the day rolling around.

#183 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2013, 09:48 AM:

Has she shown signs of not paying attention to you in general, or was it just the one session?

#184 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2013, 01:28 PM:

Happy NOT Mother's Day.

Those of you who have chosen motherhood and are happy with it, and those who have (or had) close, warm relationships with your own mothers, I'm glad for you. But you are not the only people around, and my concern today is with the others.

For all those who have chosen, for their own good reasons, not to walk this path, only to be told every year that they are worthless because they have not reproduced, no matter how much good they have done in the world...

For all those who have suffered under the myth that "of course ALL mothers LOVE their children" -- in the teeth of direct evidence that your mother did not love you, or should not have had children at all...

For all those whose mothers have been sources of pain rather than joy, denigration rather than support, relentless criticism rather than caring...

For all those whose relationships with their mothers are fraught, and are sick and tired of being told that you MUST "love and honor" a person who brings nothing but drama and anguish to your life...

For all those who find this day more of a burden than a blessing...

You are not forgotten. And you are not alone.

If there is a woman who has had a positive impact on your life, and who is going to be ignored and/or treated as a second-class citizen today because she hasn't procreated, this would be an outstanding time to tell her that you appreciate what she's done for you.

#185 ::: Dash ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2013, 01:31 PM:

The day started out so well... I wished my mother a happy Mother's Day, told her good news about my grades, and everybody was happy... until my mother found out that the schedule for the day would have to change, because of the decisions of relatives who are not myself or my father. Regardless, shortly after getting that announcement, my mother interpreted my leaving the room while she was ranting to my father as equivalent to me swearing at her, denied that I had given her the warm greeting that "everybody else" got, and construed every attempt that we made to let her decide what to do for the day as sarcastic (some were, most weren't).
I also told my father about my self-harm, with a promise not to tell my mother. He called it "crazy stuff", gave me hlepy advice about how everybody has problems and you can't please everybody, and agreed that I should see a psychiatrist, though my mother is still against the idea.
Happy egg donor day to me...

#186 ::: knitcrazybooknut ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2013, 05:10 PM:

Lee, thank you so much. I don't have handles on all of my feelings today, but I really appreciate your post.

I am witnessing, I am here, I am listening.

#187 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2013, 07:41 PM:

Lee #184:

Although nobody's ever told me I'm worthless for that, I still make it a policy to celebrate Non-motherhood Day today. Extra goodies, just 'cause!

(Otherwise, the day's main effects involve ordering flowers for me elderly mum, and avoiding restaurants because they'll be crowded as hell.)

#188 ::: Dash ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2013, 07:50 PM:

Another thing of note that came up today: We got an inexpensive gift for my grandmother. It transpired that it was not the specific type which she prefers, but she said that it was fine regardless. Afterwards, my mother commented along the lines of, "Oh, she says it's fine, but she'll probably throw it out or give it to somebody else."
And she wonders why I have trouble believing when people tell me they like me, or when she tells me that I'm a good person... when she's trained me to suspect that all positive statements are lies.

#189 ::: Bam ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2013, 09:43 PM:

Lee #184: Excellent suggestion - I have contacted someone to whom I don't show enough love and gratitude. It's nice to feel included in the warm-fuzzy of the day.

And for the rest, grateful thanks.

#190 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2013, 10:18 PM:

Re: Mother's Day: Happy Dysfunctional Families Day East.

#191 ::: J. ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2013, 11:34 PM:

@Dash no. 188: There's a double layer of jerkitude to that particular remark, considering that normally a gift is 100 percent the possession of the recipient and they may dispose of it in any way they please as long as they are tactful. And your mother reframed this completely normal social process in the most hurtful possible way.

#192 ::: tamiki ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2013, 12:12 AM:

My fiancee decided not to call her mother. We both sent cards, but since they haven't returned any of her calls and have barely acknowledged any other forms of communication since December... yeah.

I called my mother and did the standard Happy Mother's Birthday thing - and then spent more time talking to my dad. Mom seems to be spearheading the 'yes but DO YOU HAVE A [FULL-TIME] JOB YET?' thing now that I'm out of the house, which just makes everything awkward, and Dad and I are having an easier time talking. He asked if I'm still writing (I am) and whether I'd submitted anything (I haven't, largely because I haven't written anything publishable and partly because I don't know where to start looking for calls) and left it at that.

On the topic of home improvement you're glad to miss, my parents have refinished the floors in the front of the house literally for the first time since we moved in (that'll be 20 years in the fall). And it turns out the window frame on the only north-facing window that didn't get replaced when I was ten has dry-rotted itself out of existence. Mom's also expressed interest in repainting the living and dining rooms (where all this excitement is going down), but Dad said the floors aren't quite done yet, so they haven't done that.

My fiancee and I also observed that, at least in the work and church circles we've been able to see in action, the local culture treats Mother's Day as 'hey, all ladies are awesome, whether you have kids or not.' We both grew up in places that are more 'only if you have a kid.' I think I like the 'all ladies are awesome' version.

#193 ::: Type A Toad ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2013, 01:02 AM:

Called my mother to wish her a Happy Mother's Day.

Got to listen to her tell me all about how my brother is feeling down because he quit his totally dead end job to move in with my parents so he can look for something better. He's been unemployed for a few weeks now and is kinda sad about it.

I've been unemployed for two years.

I knew there was a reason I was playing sudoku on my phone trying to avoid making that call.

(Lee, thank you so, so much for your post @184)

#194 ::: Type A Toad ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2013, 01:05 AM:

Dear Gnomes, I promise that when my scallops are cooked tomorrow, I will save you a portion. They're frozen at the moment but I promise to add extra garlic to make up for their lateness. Could I have my extra spaces back please?

#195 ::: J. ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2013, 02:22 AM:

Hey, I just now realized at ten something at night that I have never once thought about my own mother, all day long. Same as my father on Fathers' Day. I got to enjoy my Mothers' Day flowers, movie, and getting-out-of-chores without any taint. In fact, right now, she's sort of a flat image in my mind's eye, like an old photograph. I would have to sit here and think for a bit to pull up the old bad memories. I can choose not to have them on instant replay.


That's pretty awesome.

#196 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2013, 11:57 AM:

Dash, #185: Ouch. Sympathies. Your mother sounds... rather disconnected from reality.

Type A Toad, #193: Yeah, that's just all kinds of special. And not in the good way.

J., #195: That is awesome. Go you!

#197 ::: Blue ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2013, 12:39 PM:

Jacque, THANK YOU for the meta model information. We have a family trip in July with my Sister-in-Law-From-Hell, and I am already starting to lose sleep, freak out, and get really stressed. This is really, really helpful, because SILFH makes Pronouncements, and my mother has decreed that no one is to argue with her, ever. I have the flashcards bookmarked at work and at home, and I am hoping to be ready to deflect at least most of her nastiness by July.

#198 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2013, 01:14 PM:

Blue @197: my mother has decreed that no one is to argue with her, ever.

And that's the beauty of the Meta-Model. One can cleverly disguise one's challenges as simple, innocent, information-gather questions.

Mwa-ha-hah. Good luck, and may the Force be with you.

(One is moved to wonder why your mother thinks SILFH's opinion should be sacrosanct, but that's another question altogether.)

#199 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2013, 01:15 PM:



#200 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2013, 02:15 PM:


Codemonkey, I hope everything is going well with you.

Likewise ma larkey, wherever you are.

#201 ::: Blue ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2013, 11:23 PM:

Jacque @198
Because she is sensitive, and if she gets her nose out of joint, we will never see her kids again. And I'm older, so I should be more mature. It's crazy making.

#202 ::: Lis ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2013, 12:34 AM:

Bam@182 - I don't want to be hlepy, but I just want to say as a therapist, I've had a few people interpret me looking at the clock as not wanting to hear what they have to say. That's not it. It's that for various reasons it's really important for sessions to begin and end at their appointed times as much as possible, so I always have to budget time in my head. So I'm thinking, "It's really important for her to talk about this, but I've only got 20 minutes left, and if I want to talk about journalling homework this week it's going to take five or ten minutes to fine-tune the assignment into something useful, and after this story we're going to have to talk about these issues I see so that'll take five minutes, maybe ten, so should I just let her keep going and dump the journalling because this is important or should I try to wrap it up or...?"

So it is really, really not about wanting to get my clients out of the office. It's wanting to do all the mental work of knowing when it's okay just to spill and when it's time to move along for them, so they don't have to be the one wondering if they've talked for too long.

Uuunfortunately, it backfires sometimes. :/ And it makes me sad that sometimes that backfire means the person is less likely to seek help in the future.

#203 ::: Codemonkey in NE England ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2013, 06:28 AM:

I'm thinking that maybe I am too immature to move out -- last Wednesday my mam moaned at me because I'd taken the keys for my money tin with me, meaning that she'd had to use her own money to pay my £20 car tax bill that arrived that day! (I paid her it back once I got in from work.)

One of the things she said (as a moan, rather than something she seriously considered) was "maybe I should have got you up on Saturday for you to go and pay it yourself, instead of me doing this favour for you?" I put the keys back where they were as I was caught off guard and wasn't in the mood to actually defend boundaries. I think one of my problems is that I (psychologically) find it almost impossible to confront my mother about anything -- this may in part be due to intimidation, but mainly because of the sense that however miserable my own life is, my mother's life is a hundred times worse. At least I (for instance) get to be in a more-or-less normal environment while at work!

(Of course, if I had proper boundaries in place, she wouldn't have been opening my car tax bill anyway when it arrived in the post, but it's a interesting insight into her way of thinking -- she definitely thinks she's acting for my own good here.)

On the matter of why she doesn't like me taking my bank card with me -- she also says she's afraid I'd lose my card (and she also gets my dad to withdraw her own money at the ATM on a similar basis, so it's not as if she's singling me out). When Dad was in hospital, Mam got me to get her money out of the bank while on the way to the shops.

Despite everything (including a heart in hiding's comment that her decision to keep my bank books in her room amounts to an act of war), I still view my mother as "victim" (or at worst "questionable") rather than "enemy". I'm thinking of how Moonlit Night mentioned that at least her mother wasn't saddled with a disabled child and a borderline-unemployable husband! I'm also not worried about her draining my bank accounts or destroying my possessions -- both because such acts would definitely put her in the "enemy" column in my mind (and I suspect she realizes this), and also because it would seem right out of character for her. If she did buy herself something nice I'd be pleased for her (possibly even to the extent that I'd be willing to forgive the fact that she took my money to buy it without asking), and she's only ever deliberately destroyed someone's possessions on one occasion (some of my dad's vinyl records -- in reprisal for my dad breaking lots of my mam's things through his carelessness).

As an aside, my parents were indeed overcharged (by close to £200) on the winter gas bill -- we discovered this when the spring bill arrived this month, with a gas component of only about £40!

Lee @S&T 914: The giant flaw in the Inherited Obligation worldview is that it provides a shelter for abusive behavior, putting the burden on the victim to take it without complaining because FAMILY.

Doesn't the Negotiated Commitment worldview contain an equally giant flaw though: that it presupposes the existence of a generous welfare state (which in ConDem Britain, is increasingly in doubt)? Perhaps my mother is also traumatized by the privation our family (along with many others in the local area) suffered during the 1984 miners' strike? There's also the fact that that my mother cared for her own parents for so long -- my grandfather was a coal miner who was forced to retire at 60 by ill-health, and my mother actually moved out of Peterlee back to her parents' village (even though this meant moving into an inferior house) when I was a baby, specifically so that she'd be there to look after them if need be.

#204 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2013, 07:01 AM:

Codemonkey, 203: she'd had to use her own money to pay my £20 car tax bill that arrived that day!

OH MY GOD WHAT, no, that's not okay. Go back and look at the bill. I will eat your mother's toaster if it's got a deadline less than a week away. She had NO RIGHT and NO NEED to do that. She is lying to you again.

You think of your mother as a victim because that's how she has carefully trained you. Suppose she accidentally broke your hard drive. Would you then deliberately smash all of her crockery? No you would not, because you are not an abuser. Your mother *is* an abuser, and she is harming you. I don't care why she's the way she is--I care about getting you out. You can help her AFTER you save yourself.

#205 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2013, 07:22 AM:

Codemonkey @203

You know what happens when you live alone? You pay your car tax when you get home from work instead of your mother doing it first. Maybe you pay it late. Maybe there's a fee. It sounds like you can afford that. Alternately, you learn to be really careful about that stuff, and pay it as early as possible.

Hell, I just bounced a rent check, because I screwed up some transfers between accounts and didn't realize it until it was too late. Bouncing a rent check is a way bigger deal than a late car tax payment, right? You know what happened? My landlord called me up, I said "Oh shit, sorry," I sent another check to cover the NSF fee, and that was that. (It helps that I've been here almost three years with only the occasional late check, and that I'm a quiet, undemanding tenant. It also helps that a couple times, she's called me to say my rent was late and I've sent another check, only to have both checks arrive the next day with postmarks verifying my claim to have sent the first one in on time. But that's not superhuman stuff, that's just basically doing okay and building up a track record.)

You probably aren't a perfect adult. No other adult is either. Your mother's standards are way higher than the standard the real world will hold you to. You will be okay. You'll probably do a lot better than I do, and you know what? I've been living on my own for almost a decade now, screwing up a lot of stuff that doesn't matter and a few things that did, and still doing just fine.

#206 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2013, 07:50 AM:

Codemonkey @203, do you know how to tell if you're mature enough to move out?

Move out.

The ABSOLUTE WORST THING that will happen (and I really, really doubt that it will) is that you'll fail to live successfully on your own and you'll have to move back with your mam.

Which puts you right back where you already are.

But if you don't move out, you'll never know if you can live on your own... until your mam and dad die, and then you'll have no choice, and no time to learn how to live on your own, and twenty years more inertia of learned helplessness.

Remember; everyone makes mistakes when they first live on their own. EVERYONE. They can be embarrassing, and sometimes expensive, but they are not generally life-threatening or important. You might forget to pay a bill on time. You know what? People who have lived on their own for twenty years forget to pay bills on time; you pay the late penalty and move on. You might forget to buy groceries and run out; you know what? Peanut butter or tuna fish on crackers makes an ok dinner until you can get to the store (speaks the voice of experience)....

Please, please, please, sign that lease. Remember, it's a LEASE, not a mortgage; you can go home to your mam after a year if things don't work out. This is NOT a permanent decision; it's a trial period. Give yourself a chance to try.

#207 ::: Codemonkey in NE England ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2013, 08:31 AM:

It seems like both TexAnne and Devin zeroed in on the first paragraph I wrote, ignoring the rest of my post! Of course there was no urgency in that tax bill (as long as it was paid before the end of the month it would have been OK) -- if I had been living on my own I'd have probably paid it the next day during my lunch break (I'm pretty sure that a bill like that is paid at the Post Office).

My point about how I was "immature" about my passive response to the way in which my mother decided to pay the bill for me. (As opposed to aggressively defending the new boundary I'd decided to set re my money tin.)

And the reason I want to understand her is the hope that it may help me work out how to get permission to leave (given that I now have an inkling for what leaving without permission could unleash).

#208 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2013, 08:32 AM:

Codemonkey, on late bills: one of my roommates is very good at spending exactly as much money as she has. Part of this is not paying bills until she gets a, "No, seriously, pay this," notice. She'll pay two or three months at a time when the late notices pile up enough. It is a way to be.

I have a lot of sympathy for your mother, as do you. She's in a very difficult situation and she doesn't see a way out.

Her methods of coping with it and interacting with you, though, are not functional. Opening your mail is not functional. Belittling you is not functional. Moving the goalposts when she isn't outright changing the game is not functional. I can guess at her motives, I can feel bad for her situation, but even if I give her every single benefit of the doubt, I support you moving out.

Even if your mother's motives are pure as the driven snow, even if she genuinely wants what's best for you, even if she will be happy for you when you succeed, this household is not working for you. Your mother's motives matter less than her actions. If, in desperation, she is acting like a malicious abuser, it is appropriate to treat her like one. When your relationship is more functional, you can address the desperation rather than writing her off as a malicious abuser. But it is appropriate to judge her actions rather than her intent.

This sounds like an oxygen-mask situation. You will be better able to help your mother* when you are safe yourself.

*though you don't have to feel obligated to do so

#209 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2013, 08:34 AM:

Codemonkey #207: Dude, you are not going to get permission. That would mean your mother having to admit that she's lost, and that you're not going to be her thrall for the rest of her life if not longer. You need to get out now and deal with her retaliation as the next problem.

#210 ::: Codemonkey in NE England ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2013, 09:00 AM:

When I discussed with my former teacher (on Facebook, if that matters) about her phone conversation with my mother, she mentioned that my mother had questioned my ability to manage independent living (re cooking, cleaning, budgeting, drying my hair etc). The ex-teacher never mentioned my mam saying anything about how I couldn't be allowed to leave because I was needed at home...

#211 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2013, 09:27 AM:

Codemonkey @210: That's because 'needed at home' is a problem with a clear solution (getting her more help), whereas "Codemonkey just can't HANDLE it! Ha ha ha he's so funny and immature, I have to take care of him" implies there is no solution, ever, you have to just stay and stay.

#212 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2013, 09:28 AM:

Codemonkey @210

drying my hair etc

Drying your hair? SERIOUSLY? Look, I'm a functioning, independent adult (well, I'm married, but I'm perfectly competent to live on my own as well). I'm probably close to twenty years older than you, and mostly neurotypical, as best as I know.

I have waist-length hair. And I don't bother to dry it. Ever. (Well, unless I'm going out to dinner or something and having wet hair would be rude, but I mostly shower in the morning.)

I live in a cold climate; it gets well below freezing for most of the winter. And I leave for work in the morning with (gasp) wet hair. (The heater in the car mostly dries it by the time I get to work.) I've never gotten pneumonia.

Although the time I went to check the mailbox and my hair froze in the thirty seconds I was outside was... interesting. (The temperature that day was approximately -26 degrees C.) My hair sounded like tiny, high-pitched windchimes tinkling by my ears... <grin>

If she's clutching at straws like "drying your hair" (and I seriously doubt you have as much hair to dry as I do!) then she's just desperate to keep you home. I really, really doubt that she'll ever give you permission; if you wait for permission, you're just never going to leave.


#213 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2013, 09:58 AM:

Codemonkey: I agree with Dave. You will never get your mother's permission to leave as long as she lives. She will probably try to guilt you into staying after she dies, too, for the rest of your life.

The good news is you don't need anyone's permission, you can leave today.

#214 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2013, 10:56 AM:

You know, it's important to talk about this DF stuff, but it's also wonderful to run across a counterexample. (From Terri DiSilva's blog.)

#215 ::: tamiki ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2013, 10:57 AM:

Codemonkey: We're zeroing in on the car tax bill because that's an important piece of the puzzle as well. She doesn't need to open your bill and pay it; you're right there! And it's not like you were in danger of missing the due date.

(In college, because I was Weird about online banking and my bill was never that bad, my credit card bill went to my parents' house rather than my dorm. The college's mail-forwarding system was slow enough that I would run a real possibility of missing the due date, otherwise. When I was home over the summers, and after I moved back in, I resumed responsibility for it.)

Also... given what you've said about your father's deteriorating health, I wouldn't trust him with my ATM card. There's a real chance he'd lose the card just because his brain is no longer functioning completely as it once did, or even simply forget where he put it.

On the topic of whether you're mature enough, you certainly present yourself quite maturely here. Parent-child dynamics can be pretty weird when the child gets older; my parents were nowhere near as bad as some discussed on this thread, but one of my biggest problems when I lived there was that I'd revert to teenage processing whenever we got into an argument.

Your mother is a victim of bad circumstance, yes, but that is only a reason. It does not excuse her actions. She's still an unreliable narrator with impossibly high standards and a toxic person for you to be living with.

You're not going to get permission. Sign the lease and move.

#216 ::: tamiki done got gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2013, 10:58 AM:

I can grill up a grilled cheese for Your Lownesses. Garlic cheddar!

[The words "online banking" caused the delay. "Online baking," however, is fine. -- JDM]

#217 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2013, 11:12 AM:

Codemonkey, #203: You've already gotten a lot of good advice, but I'll recapitulate some of it here anyhow.

1) There was no need for your mother to freak out about the car tax bill. It could have waited until you got home, and no damage would have been done. Also, you're absolutely right that she should not be opening your mail in the first place, "favor" or not.

2) She's afraid you'll lose your bank card. This is what I describe as a "rabid squirrel" reaction -- my parents freaked out about me watching squirrels because they were convinced that any given squirrel in the yard MIGHT BE RABID OMG!!!! That she treats your father the same way reinforces my evaluation. This is a case of taking a very low-probability outcome and elevating it to the level of near-certainty, no matter how unrealistic that is. There's no more reason to think that you might lose your bank card than there is to think that I might... and I've carried mine in my wallet routinely for over 30 years and have never lost it once. It could happen -- someone might snatch my purse tomorrow -- but I'm not wasting time and energy fretting over the possibility.

3) I still view my mother as "victim" (or at worst "questionable") rather than "enemy".
These things are not mutually exclusive. She can be a victim herself and still behave in ways that qualify as "enemy action" toward you. One of the hardest things for a lot of people in damaging situations to grasp is that an action does not need to be maliciously intended to be harmful!

4) I hope you're right about the unlikelihood of her draining your accounts and/or damaging your things (or holding your important papers hostage). But to some extent, this is a risk-vs-consequences calculation. If you're right, but you take the precautions anyhow, no harm has been done to anyone, and the worst that happens is you've undertaken a little extra work. If you're wrong, and you fail to take the precautions, the results could be catastrophic for you.*

5) Was that overcharged figure for gas one of the ones she presented to you in her "this would be your budget" calculations?

6) The existence of a "welfare state" social safety net does make the Negotiated Commitment form of relationship easier, but it's not an essential. Remember that in non-abusive relationships, there's not a lot of difference between the two -- people who feel loved and respected by their parents are generally happy to take care of them, even if that requires some personal sacrifice. The place where the social safety net really makes a difference is for those who don't have an extended net of family relationships to call on.

7) I'm not surprised that you crumbled in the face of your mother moaning at you. She's spent DECADES training you to do exactly that! For a better evaluation of how "mature" you are about handling conflicts, look at how you deal with your boss and your co-workers. I'll bet you don't interact with them the same way you do with your mother.

8) You will never get her permission to leave. If you wait for that, you'll wait until she dies, and she may very well try to extract a "deathbed promise" from you that will bind you even beyond that. She wants you to agree to be the carer for your sister for the rest of your life. If you don't want that (which you have said you don't), then you need to take control of your life with or without her permission to do so.

"Nobody in the world, nobody in history, has ever gotten their freedom by appealing to the moral sense of the people who were oppressing them." That's good advice for individuals as well as for oppressed populations. Why would your mother ever agree to change a situation which has so many advantages for her?

and @210: Of course she wouldn't say anything about you being needed at home and so can't be allowed to leave! That would make her look selfish, and might draw criticism from her friend about, "Look, he needs to have his own life, and you need to find other solutions." But if she frames it as "Codemonkey can't take care of himself," that enlists the people she's talking to on her side of the argument. After all, she's just concerned about you...

And yeah, "drying your hair" WTF?? If you have a standard "masculine" hairstyle (which I'm betting you do), that's a complete non-starter -- most men's styles are wash-and-go.

* Another place you hear this kind of risk-vs-consequences analysis is for women who think there's something skeezy about a guy or a situation that she's in with a guy. If she's wrong, but she takes the precautions anyhow, the worst thing that may happen is the guy gets his feelings hurt. If she's right, and she ignores the "something isn't right here" feeling because of social conditioning, she can end up raped or dead.

#218 ::: Cassy B. has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2013, 12:00 PM:

Codemonkey @210, here's another thing to consider. Please ignore if hlepy, but I honestly believe what I'm going to say is true.

If you move out, she'll throw a tantrum. She'll yell, she'll moan, she'll say horrible things. It will be very, very hard.

But you've made it pretty clear (although you probably don't think of it this way) that your mam can't afford to do anything too drastic because SHE NEEDS YOU. She is NOT going to cut off contact with you. She's not going to stop you from visiting her, since you're practically the only social contact she has. She's not going to cut off contact between you and your sister or your father.

You actually have the power in this relationship, although she will never ever admit it. All she has is threats, and moans, and nasty comments about how ineffectual and helpless you are.

It's no wonder she thinks you're hopeless; she's been looking after you for so long, she probably thinks of you as a child. And to some degree, you will be awkward at first; a person who is never allowed to walk will have weak legs until they get some exercise; you've never been allowed autonomy and so you need to exercise those muscles.

There's a very old saying, and it's usually true. "It's better to seek forgiveness than ask permission." In this case, permission cannot and will not be granted. So go ahead and sign the lease.

Once you have a signed contract, all her whinging won't change that fact. And unless she wants to go to a judge and try to get you ruled as incompetant (and how will she explain the fact you completed school and hold down a job?) there's not a thing she can do to break your lease.

#219 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2013, 12:01 PM:

Codemonkey, you ARE living with an abusive person.

No rational adult destroys their life partner's treasures because that partner accidently broke some precious item of theirs...

As for the tax bill? I don't see immaturity, I see learned helplessness, or possibly resignation.

And having someone who is not able to do simple chores (your dad) take the money out of an ATM...robbery waiting to happen...sigh.

Frankly, I'm going to be surprised if you ever move out. To me it seems like she's got you too well trained to ever do so. Good luck taking care of your sister.

#220 ::: Cassy B. has NOT been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2013, 12:03 PM:

Sorry; @218 I was not gnomed. I didn't check my nym.

#221 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2013, 12:14 PM:

Codemonkey: I'm going to talk about that whole "he can't manage independent living" thing.

If your mother doesn't think you can manage independent living, how in the world does she think you can be a carer for your sister? If she thinks you can and should be a carer for your sister, then she has to think you are competent to care for yourself, too.

How else are you going to learn to manage independent living than by actually trying it? If, God forbid, something happens to your entire family tomorrow, then you'll HAVE to manage independent living, won't you? Far, far better to try it now, knowing that, if you truly can't hack it, you've got a safe harbour to go back to.

But you know what? I'm betting you can hack it. Yes, you'll burn some meals. Yes, you'll run out of underwear because you forgot to do laundry on time. Yes, a bill will fall behind the shelf or something and you'll get a "second notice". Note: these are all things that happened to me when I got my first apartment.

THESE SORTS OF THINGS HAPPEN. They, and other similar things, happen to pretty much everybody who is living independently for the first time. And the only way to learn how to handle them is to handle them. To learn to be a better, or at least more attentive, cook. To keep better track of the laundry. To have a bill-filing system.

There are things that you'll screw up as a newly independent adult living on your own. But you know what? It's not the end of the world. This is how you learn. You don't have to be perfect. You don't have to do things perfectly. You just have to learn, eventually, to get the most essential things done.

Back before I was married, I used to quip that I'd never marry anybody who had never lived on his own for at least six months, because there aren't any laundry fairies in my house. (I was wrong, there. There is a laundry fairy, and it's my husband. He's taken almost total charge of clothes-laundering. But he also knows that I'm perfectly competent to launder them myself when I need to!) And I'm the one in charge of fixing the plumbing and other simple home repairs.

Living by yourself shows you your blind spots, and it also teaches you to deal with them. By moving out now, you'll be acquiring those skills without the added stress of having no safe harbour in case of emergency. And you'll be getting your own stuff out of the way for the Council workers to do their thing.

A lease isn't a mortgage, as others have said. Think of it as training wheels. Someday, whether tomorrow or 20 years from now, you WILL be living independently. Isn't it best to acquire the skills when you're still young?

Sorry for the Giant Wall of Text.

#222 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2013, 12:34 PM:


I have a lot of sympathy for your mother.

I also have a lot of sympathy for you. You have spent years doing things her way. It's very hard to break those patterns.

I do not think it serves you well to go from doing what your mam tells you to doing what we tell you, so it's good that you question the advice you get here. I think this group as a whole is good at helping people think through their situation and their options. Many have practical advice from their own experience in dealing with difficult parents. In the end, whether or not you act is, of course, your decision.

But your situation as I understand it boils down to, "I want to be able to manage my own affairs and make my own decisions about my activities, like any independent adult, BUT I also don't want to upset my mam." Possibly with a side order (that your mother placed for you) of "BUT I'm not sure I'm competent to do so." And what you're hearing back, in one form or another, boils down to "You sound to us like you ARE competent to do this. But you cannot have both independence and family tranquility. Becoming more independent WILL upset your mam in the short run, even if it's better for everyone in the long run."

If there was nothing else going on in your family, you might gain increased independence without having to move out. You would be able to say things like, "Mam, please don't open my mail, I'll take care of my own bills," and she would say, "Oh, sorry," and change her behavior. You would negotiate things like when you were going out and when you were taking your mam shopping and find solutions that worked for both of you.

But in your current situation, it sounds like every single one of those interactions would be an unwinnable battle, with gaslighting and moved goalposts. It will wear you down, and even if it doesn't, I think that would be more stressful for your mam and for you, than making a clean break (by which I mean, moving out so that you handle things independently, not breaking off contact altogether.)

The downside to moving out is that, after giving it a serious and lengthy try, you decide you would rather live at home and you move back in. The downside to staying is that nothing changes.

#223 ::: Bricklayer ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2013, 12:49 PM:

In re the entire Codemonkey thread, a personal observation:

It was not until I had been living separately from, and largely not-seeing-at-all, both my parents for a period of 8-10 months that I was able to begin to notice just how MESSED UP the ways they interacted with me were. When my mom moved across the country and I got several years of only-occasional, very-distant phone and email contact, and then went to go stay with her for a week-long visit, the change was night and everloving day, and suddenly very, very visible to me.

I'd spent the time growing to fit a different pot, learning skills, interacting with people who DIDN'T have a detailed roadmap to every single frelling button I posess, etc. And then suddenly to be a more mature observer of patterns of hers that were largely unchanged? It was a shock, and very educational.

I think taking a 'trial separation' from a difficult situation, whether a marriage or whatever, can provide useful distance about whether the setup was actively harmful or whether there were just confounding circumstances (like overwhelming household stress, or in Codemonkey's case, his mother really needing access to a lot more help being a carer).

I'm not sure if you have to detox as thoroughly as I did -- I basically cut off all contact completely. Still, sunlight helps growth.

#224 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2013, 01:13 PM:

::FUME:: "You're laughing too loud! You're disturbing the clients!"

Um. I kinda doubt it. (I've sadly concluded that this particular coworker has no sense of humor, and is determined to force their humorlessness on everyone around hir.)

#225 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2013, 01:54 PM:

By the way, Codemonkey, the internet is full of "tips and tricks" tutorials, even for things like drying your hair. Sites like eHow and wikiHow pay (or paid) people by the instructional article, and some of them ran out of esoteric things to teach. So they wrote up mundane, everyday tasks.

YouTube is also full of how-to videos for basic life skills.

Treat these challenges like an unknown error message at work: ask people, Google, find reliable sites to go to for information. Given your educational and professional attainments, you've got the resources to manage any challenges that living on your own could throw at you. Seriously.

And remember that you can only learn by being free to make mistakes without someone standing over you, judging you, and calling you a failure if you're not perfect the first time. If you're not in an environment like that, you won't learn—but it won't be because you're unintelligent or incompetent.

#226 ::: J. ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2013, 04:29 PM:

My favorite first-apartment story was the time I proudly made dinner for my fiance from a cookbook. The coleslaw recipe called for 2 teaspoons chili sauce to give it a little zing. I had never heard of chili sauce, but obviously it was a sauce made from chili peppers. So I got out the Tabasco bottle and a teaspoon . . .

I did learn how to cook and he never teased me about the time I almost burned his tongue right off.

#227 ::: Persephone ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2013, 05:45 PM:

Once I visited my then-fiance, now-husband's apartment and agreed to cook the pasta for a get-together that evening. I asked how long the pasta should boil, and I have no idea what his actual answer was, but what I heard was "forty-five minutes."

I was on about minute 15, cheerfully stirring, before he thought to ask me why the pasta wasn't done!

On the flip side, one of my favorite memories is spending a week alone in a new apartment. (Husband was coordinating the move across two U.S. states while I went ahead and started my new job.) I missed him dreadfully, but the feeling of independence and accomplishment was astonishing.

#228 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2013, 05:54 PM:

Codemonkey: You have a PhD. In my experience, that means that you have demonstrated that you can enlarge the boundaries of human knowledge by doing original research. It also indicates that you manage to follow through and complete something. Both of those things are HARD compared to day to day life of getting the bills paid, fixing the car, and drying your hair.

If it helps, look on this as a research project, with you as chief experimenter and sole subject. Figure out what it takes to live as an empirical experiment.

The emotional parts are hard. I'm not going to discount that. But the mechanics of doing it are not. There's nothing there that persistence and the application of a little money won't get you through.

#229 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2013, 05:55 PM:

Codemonkey: That "immaturity" you perceive in your passive response to your mam's overcontrolling business with the tax bill is passivity she's trained into you. It doen't mean you're too immature to move out. It means that, as long as you stay, you won't mature past that. You need actual independence to build the habit of acting like an independent adult around your mother.

And I'll reiterate what many others have said: you are NOT going to get her permission to leave. Ever. She's made that clear. So you need to leave without that permission, and the sooner the better.

#230 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2013, 07:03 PM:

Maggie Scarf's Lies, Secrets, Betrayals has the best abstract description of emotional abuse I've seen-- the abuser maintains a stance of "I'm always right, you're always wrong". Along with everything else, it's an epistomological attack.

It is impossible to please or convince someone who's emotionally committed to that stance.

#231 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2013, 12:56 AM:

Codemonkey @203: everybody reverts somewhat to earlier roles when dealing with their parents, even after years or decades away. It is an annoying parental superpower that shows up as a running joke in lots of books and movies. So don't be too harsh on yourself for not flipping like a switch, when your mam has spent your lifetime and more training the rest of you that if you go up against her, you will be sorry and you won't succeed anyway. (It's the two-fer that makes it work really well.) It is going to take time and distance to undo that.

Your mam's role (victim/abuser/martyr/...) is not simple or singular. It is plural, complex, and intertwined. Given the close resemblance to my mother, the role you need to understand best is martyr, because it's the keystone of the structure. Martyrdom starts with family/social needs/expectations putting the martyr-to-be into a trap. The trap is a situation that's demanding, unhappy and hurtful, the kind of situation where you give up your growth or dreams for a goal. The goal is usually a worthy thing, like someone else's safety or health or happiness. At minimum it will have been presented as such to the martyr-to-be. The martyr is stuck in a bind where they can't meet the needs and expectations of others while also taking care of themselves and having room to grow. They can't win by the rules, but they also can't or won't give up, and either can't or don't think of changing the rules. When this keeps up long-term, without enough rest and replenishment and joy to make up for the outlay, something gives. What gives is the martyr's ability to give. Something that was willing service at the start turns into duty and obligation, and finally to self-imposed slavery. The martyr gets more and more trapped and damaged, more and more resentful. And the damage and resentment oozes out like poison, even from actions that are well-meant.

The pressures of martyrdom are how your mam ends up doing unacceptable things all the while believing it's for your own good. What the unacceptable things really do is to undergird the martyrdom. People stuck in martyrdom do unacceptable things to themselves for the sake of other people, and so they have to dull their perception of what's unacceptable, to tolerate what they're doing to themselves. It's understandable that a martyr will NEED their sacrifice to be worth making, but this is where it gets dangerous. A long-term martyr starts needing martyrdom to be the only viable option, because if there were solutions that could have satisfied the others *and* themselves, then what was the point of all that pain? That's a painful, mournful question to answer. To avoid the question, they have to go on martyring, so they NEED to prove to themselves and others that the martyrdom and the pain are the only way to achieve the goal. They need so badly for the sacrifice to be worthwhile that they will distort their own and other's perceptions, trap us, martyr us, constrain our growth and our dreams, do unacceptable things to make us need them, all so that they can sustain their ability to martyr themselves some more for us in an endless loop.

The most effective means you have to decisively set new boundaries and change expectations -- theirs and yours -- is to make a clean break between old and new, so that nobody can pretend there's no meaningful difference. People run in grooves a lot of the time, like broken records, especially in dysfunctional families like ours. Your mam's house is part of the groove walls -- by which I mean both the physical house, and the patterns of behaviour you associate with it, especially it being your mam's territory. Right now you're trying to climb up the sheer cliff wall of a groove many decades deep, and to haul the others along with you. But moving out is one of the biggest clean breaks there is -- that's picking up the needle and setting it on fresh vinyl so that you can record entirely new grooves, ones that don't infringe on your autonomy or competence. Against the new music, the old stuff will be dissonant and stand out. Your family scratching the needle across the record to get back to the old groove will really stand out, just as Bricklayer was saying in #223 -- the same effect happened to me, once I was ready to notice it.

The old patterns will try to linger, though. Be on the lookout for that and don't beat yourself up when you fall back into old habits. Just get back into your new intended pattern and don't get worried so long as you're making progress.

#232 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2013, 10:09 AM:

Moonlit Night, holy cats, your analysis of martyrdom and acceptable/unacceptable behavior is so perfect I want to share it with everyone. It resonates.

#233 ::: Moonlight Night ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2013, 12:39 PM:

Diamatrya @232: I spent a substantial chunk of time the last several years doing my best to figure out how my mother ticks, and therefore how I am pre-inclined to tick, because I really need to understand it to escape it. But of course, to sustain the surface calm, I can't ask her about how the most disturbing recesses of her mind work; I have to observe and extrapolate and infer. So I could be wrong, but this theory fits the evidence I do have well.

Sacrifice is one of the most human abilities -- most heroic, most tragic, most vulnerable to dysfunction and abuse. I have been thinking lately about what factors tip sacrifice from heroic and tragic into burnt-out, dysfunctional and abusive. So far I think the key factors are duration, intensity (ratio of rest and replenishment to sacrifice), and proof of value. Is there a defined point where it will be enough, or be over, which allows for informed/enthusiastic consent? Is it a short burst, a slow trickle, or a continual heavy bleeding? Is there clear and adequate proof that the sacrifice is worthwhile and appreciated by its target? Is the goal big enough to be worth the price being paid?

People usually think of sacrifice as something priceless, but the entire point is that the person making it pays a price. Based on these threads and what I hear about psychology, I'd say there is such a thing as emotional economics. Sacrifice is a bargain, a cost paid to obtain a good, and as such it has a spectrum of affordability. An affordable sacrifice can be treated as saving to repay a debt or make an investment, temporary pain for a long-term benefit, or a slow trickle that can be accommodated for. But some sacrifice bargains are more like indentures or enslavements, and those, I think, are the ones that twist the people paying them, because they haven't got enough left over to live on after making their payments. That leaves them the emotional equivalent of perpetually hungry, cold, and ragged. And when you get hungry, cold and ragged enough, you steal to survive.

#234 ::: Hiding a little ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2013, 12:59 PM:

Seconding Diatryma, what a great analysis. Really resonates with how I found myself trapped in martyrdom by my ex-husband; it did take a calculation of the emotional economy of staying versus leaving to get me out. There was clearly a point where the slow trickling-away of value crossed the line of personal expense. It's so hard not to become a slave to sunk costs, though.

#235 ::: J. ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2013, 01:03 PM:

Someone explored this using the metaphor of the burden and the bearing wall. IOW, a family is like a house. Some parts of the house hold up others. BUT--in a functional family, people take turns being the burden and the bearing wall.

Taking this metaphor further, if somebody develops a heavy emotional investment in being the bearing wall all the time, then there has to be a burden. And if nobody in the family is feeling burden-y, then by golly the wannabe bearing wall will make them one.

But, Codemonkey, all this is a group of blindfolded people feeling around a patient elephant. We can offer some detailed critiques of particular features, but you can step back and see the whole picture.

As a formerly enmeshed daughter, I strongly advise stepping back--physically. Or more precisely, stepping out.

#236 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2013, 01:17 PM:

I also like Moonlit Night's analysis of martyrdom.

I will point out that I can think of several religious/mythical/narrative accounts of martyrdom (including my own Christianity) that emphasize the importance of the voluntary nature of the sacrifice. Voluntary sacrifice for a worthwhile cause is noble. ("It is a far, far better thing...") Voluntary sacrifice when a less costly option was available but unknown is tragic. Voluntary sacrifice well in excess of the value of the cause, or ignoring a less costly alternative, is more pathetic than anything else.

And demanding that someone else make a significant sacrifice they haven't chosen? Is misguided at best, and probably abusive.

#237 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2013, 04:24 PM:

Moonlit night: another factor in the sacrifice equation: Is there a feasible alternative that will accomplish the same goal?

I'm thinking of a friend of my parents', who categorically refused to accept any help whatsoever in caring for her husband (including the help of their adult children). The husband was much larger, much stronger, and afflicted with severe dementia that often made him belligerent.

She died (more or less from exhaustion). Shortly after her death, he was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.

I can't help but think that had she accepted help, not only might she have lived longer (though that might not have been a plus from her point of view), but her kids wouldn't have lost both parents in quick succession, and her husband would probably have gotten better care, to boot.

Sacrifice is sometimes necessary. Sometimes, not so much.

#238 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2013, 03:10 AM:

Drawn out of hiding by abi's #166.

Thank you so much for saying that, about Aspergers and input channel issues. That bit of info puts a whole bunch of things into context for me.

Update: Now using insulin pump, as of last Monday. Things are better in some ways but also feel more precarious, I think. I don't know how to talk about it right now. I'm looking into college programs and employment support stuff. I've fallen a bit behind on reading the thread but I'm still here.

Re: cutlery/truth. I think I'm in the truth-shouting camp. I tend to say stuff that I believe is true, in an attempt to convince the other party or get them to back off. What made me realize that was something I said the last time I argued with my dad. I basically told him flat-out that I don't like him, and some other related truths that would require more context than I'm prepared to explain right now.

Funny thing I realized: I'm very sincere, in that I have trouble hiding/not expressing my emotions or putting up a front. (Conversely, my mother can be so mad she's swearing a blue streak and still answer the phone politely, most of the time. Then once she's off the phone it's right back to the yelling.) Also I feel like I don't know how to argue a point that I don't believe, which was probably part of why I struggled with essays in high school. That also makes doing positive affirmations really tricky. I know that saying something is supposed to reinforce my belief in it, but it's hard when I can't bring myself to say it in the first place. I'm trying to get around that block by approaching it from other angles.

(Maybe everyone's bad at this at some point, but they do it anyway and get better with practice. So I'm not so much ill-suited to pretending/acting as inexperienced?)

#239 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2013, 03:58 AM:

Codemonkey, an addendum to what I said @217 about the social safety net: the other thing that it does is provide people in unhealthy family situations with choices. It is little wonder that many people who believe in the Inherited Obligation family model loathe the social safety net with a passion -- and the more dysfunctional or abusive their treatment of their families, the more they hate it. If there's no unbreakable net of familial obligation to chain their victims into their roles, if there's another option out there, those victims might LEAVE.

IMO, whenever you hear someone ranting about how the "welfare state" encourages children to turn their backs on their parents, there's a better-than-even chance that you're listening to a parent who has damn good cause to worry about that happening -- and not because the children are selfish little ingrates, either.

#240 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2013, 08:47 AM:

Lee: I think you're on to something there. One of the basic household rules we had when our kids were little is "you can't pick on someone who can't get away", e.g. on car trips. It helped. (Though I have to say my kids did and still do get along remarkably well.)

#241 ::: eep ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2013, 11:43 AM:

Lee@184: Thank you for this.

Moonlit Night @231: This is so helpful to see spelled out like this. Thank you. (As someone who comes from a long line of martyrs and has to constantly fight that programming).

Phenicious @238: Funny thing I realized: I'm very sincere, in that I have trouble hiding/not expressing my emotions or putting up a front. ... (Maybe everyone's bad at this at some point, but they do it anyway and get better with practice. So I'm not so much ill-suited to pretending/acting as inexperienced?)

I think that people who are neurotypical can find this hard sometimes too, otoh, I think it's something that can be extra-hard sometimes if you are on the spectrum (bearing in mind that each of us experiences that spectrum in our own unique way). For me, it manifests as sometimes spending a lot more spoons than I think probably the average person does for roughly the same outward result. (Also means that when I'm low on spoons, my more "autistic" traits are closer to the surface).

Practice and experience can help, and being aware of how one's spoon supply affects/is affected by the effort can help. Reminders that one is not alone can help, too. If this post (and the links it contains) on authenticity, by Lynne Soraya at Asperger's Diary, were in hard copy form, I would have worn the pages out by now. :)

#242 ::: eep is gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2013, 11:47 AM:

Two links, sorry.

I'm afraid I don't have much to offer at the moment. Cocoa perhaps?

#243 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2013, 10:53 PM:

We did a belated Mother's Day thing yesterday - took Mom out for high tea. :) It was lovely, and we actually had a great time!

It was still stressful as hell.

Between talking to Spouse, therapist, and good friend, I figured out why. The reason it was fun was that I've drawn a map of the minefield. I know exactly what facts not to mention, what details of my life not to let slip, and what topics not to bring up. So, we have a really good visit. But I'm still investing tons of energy into the conversation in a way that isn't visible - remembering what not to tell her, or guiding the conversation away from land mines.

Helps when I feel guilty that I still don't want to spend time with her.


#244 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2013, 11:19 PM:

Chickadee, #243: That's a good analysis. So what's happening is that you're like the duck -- from the shore, it looks as though you're just floating serenely along, but you're paddling like hell under the surface! And yes, that's going to be tiring and spoon-draining, and small wonder that you don't want to spend any more time doing it than you absolutely have to.

Still, I would say that having the map does indeed count as a success.

#245 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2013, 01:12 AM:

Lee, #244: Thank you. A duck - that's a great image. :)

If I may share an image my husband came up with, for dealing with times when I feel inadequate or with self hatred:

(background: I often try to deal with distressing situations with "rational voice" - what are the real consequences of screwing up, what disaster will (not) happen if I don't get it right, etc.)

Picture yourself as a kitten up a tree. Cats *cannot* climb backwards. Literally, the only way down is to jump or be carried. You're scared, probably hurting, and panicking.

Rational voice is at the bottom of the tree with the ladder, trying to get the kitten down. Yelling at the kitten (telling yourself your feelings are illegitimate, saying "you should be over this by now," etc.) will not get the kitten down. In fact, it will scare the kitten further up the tree.

Be gentle with the kitten. Speak softly, and carry a dish of tuna. Soothe. Love.

In this way, you can deal with the panic attack/self hatred/frustration much more efficiently and effectively, and help to stop the cycle of self-hatred.

He only came up with it yesterday, and it's already been really helping. :) Figured it might help someone else here.

#246 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2013, 01:35 AM:

I like the duck analogy—it's useful for those things that look easy and effortless and are anything but.

Good success, Chickadee, and I'm glad you don't have to discharge that obligation more often, since it takes a lot out of you.

#247 ::: GlendaP ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2013, 02:43 AM:

Another thought about the duck analogy: When I'm feeling terribly inadequate compared to other people, it's useful to remember they might be ducks. Even if they appear calm and in control, they might be paddling like mad under the surface.

#248 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2013, 02:55 AM:

Persephone @ 227

Forensic linguistics suggests that what your fiance intended was "four to five minutes". WIthout context, the two phrases are essentially indistinguishable.

#249 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2013, 07:56 AM:

Chickadee: I have a close relative with whom, on a much smaller scale, I have to practice the same "remembering where all the mines are" technique. So I know what you mean, and I agree--it's draining, in the same way monitoring a textbook reading or following a conversation in ASL is--because you have to pay close attention every second. You can't let your mind wander AT ALL.

#250 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2013, 07:57 AM:

(I should clarify that ASL remark: that applies to me, as a very imperfect user of ASL. I'm sure that for a fluent user, although you still have to keep your eyes on the signer, the attention factor is much more relaxed and includes some "autopilot".)

#251 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2013, 08:39 AM:

I now feel obliged to mention that the duck analogy is not original with me. I don't remember where I picked it up, but the context was definitely "something that takes a lot more effort than it looks like from outside".

Heather Rose Jones, #248: Thank you for mentioning that. I'd been wondering what it could have been, and that does make perfect sense.

#252 ::: Pfusand ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2013, 09:29 AM:

Many people here have pointed out that old habits are hard to break. I once asked Someone Who Knew, how long it took.

Forty tries. FORTY.

(I interpret this as thirty to fifty.)

So, to all those people out there who are beating themselves up because "I've tried over a dozen times to stop this", please know that you've made a good beginning, but that it is really, really, REALLY hard.

#253 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2013, 01:44 PM:

An exchange on Twitter between @scalzi and @chaosprime a few days ago, in which the latter mentioned cargo cult asshole behavior (someone sees people winning by being assholes, and tries to become a huge asshole to win harder) made me come up with a General Cargo Cult Theory of the Quest for Happiness:

See (seemingly) happy people. Get it wrong about what makes said people happy. Copy wrong things. This doesn't work, so copy harder. Rinse, repeat. Damage may occur to self and others.

It is so so very hard to recognize this going on in oneself or in other people, especially if it's sincere and well-intentioned. And it is so so very hard to tease out the individual habits that make up this approach from the ones that are actually helpful, and harder still to break them. Strength to all of us who are trying. I'm still reading, witnessing, and struggling along.

#254 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2013, 04:01 AM:

#253, Pendrift:

I suspect a similar type of cargo-cult thinking applies to the relentlessly happy "think positive thoughts and good things will come your way!!!" people.

I wonder if they see successful and happy people being happy and thinking good thoughts and all the stuff they promote, and completely miss the work it took to get there, the risks those people took that others tried as well but didn't get the same success, the unacknowledged privilege that gave them a leg up, and all the other factors, and latch onto the "think positive thoughts" part alone.

While I acknowledge that having a generally positive outlook makes it easier to both see and take advantage of opportunities (and conversely, depression and anxiety make it incredibly difficult to see and act on them) thinking positive thoughts alone doesn't create these opportunities and it certainly doesn't magically make everything better.

Also, do you happen to have a link to that conversation? I don't follow twitter but it sounds like it would be interesting to read.

#255 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2013, 01:40 PM:

the invisible one @254: I think this link captures most of the conversation, but I'm not very skilled in the ways of tweet-linking. You might have to click "expand conversation" a few times to expand some of the side-branches.

And now we'll see if linking to the little blue bird gets me gnomed...

#256 ::: Jeremy Leader has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2013, 01:43 PM:

As I expected, a link into the guts of the little blue bird has brought me to the attention of the gnomes. Perhaps some Trader Joe's chocolate granola for the diminutive masters of the regexes?

#257 ::: The Occasionally Good ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2013, 11:36 PM:

Reading; witnessing.

Today I picked up the copy of my records from the current clinic. There are so many lies in there... says I refuse to use a certain type of inhaler, without mentioning that using it gives me severe tachycardia; lists various psych disorders I *don't* have, up to and including suicidal ideation; and I've only skimmed the 100 or so pages. Says I have a history of alcohol abuse. (Um, no.) Says I'm currently experiencing suicidal ideation. (Really, no.) It's so far from true it would be funny, except... well, these are the records that follow me to next doctor and color their treatment of me, if I don't figure out how to handle it. I've got not quite two weeks to calm down and figure this out.

Is it/would it be inappropriate for me to go through, correct falsehoods, and give it to the new doctor, with a comment about "apparently my last doctor didn't listen very well"? Because there is so much absence of truth there.

I just... I don't get it. What's [Doctor]'s payoff for doing this? I'm angry, and bewildered, and and and...

#258 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2013, 07:00 AM:

Pendrift #253: I'd see that cargo-culting as a common example of a more general issue: people (or other "actors") who don't take feedback, are likely to become a hazard to those around them, and even to themselves. (They're also likely to become assholes. ;-) )

That is, getting a wrong idea is one thing. ("If you can't make mistakes, you can't make anything" and so forth.) But the next step is reality-testing and responding to the results, and that's where cargo-culters fail.

#259 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2013, 07:52 AM:

Reading and witnessing.

Chickadee @ 243: That's rather like my visits with my mother. There have been times when the only safe topics of conversation were the weather and my sister's children. Seriously. So I always have to gather myself up, because even when we're off to an event together and thus have a ready-made conversational topic, I have to be ready to catch myself and not talk about certain things, and either stop my response to things she might say or be ready with lots of precise facts (she of course sees no need to be able to prove what she says, because her opinions are self-evident truths). So it takes up energy.

The Occasionally Good @257: Sympathies, and well done in getting the records. I've asked a GP (general practitioner, UK) I know what might be the best approach for this and this is what's been suggested: get an appointment with your new doctor. State that you've changed doctors, that you asked to look at your records and that you're really unhappy because so much of what's in there just doesn't seem right to you. Then give just a couple of examples: "for example it says I have a history of alcohol abuse and I really don't, and there's no evidence for such a history. Similarly I did say I couldn't use X inhaler, but that's because it gave me such horrible tachycardia." Then see if the new doctor responds sympathetically/reasonably, or not. I hope this is helpful.

#260 ::: Bricklayer ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2013, 09:36 AM:

Good things, bad things, exhausting things.

My in-laws have been in town for a week, which is not bad in itself. In theory, it can mean getting a respite from being my kid's primary carer. It also means I get to converse with my FiL, whom I adore, and get him to keep me company on long walks, which is very good.

In practice I've still been kidcare primary all week except for a good stretch yesterday.

Because of the granddad-in-town, we decided that Beka should skip this entire calendar week of school, so she's home MWTh when she'd usually be somewhere Not My Problem.

However, my inlaws go home this afternoon. Tomorrow afternoon, a different friend comes to stay the night before they, Beka, and I roadtrip up to WisCon for the long weekend ... and I get to be a single parent (with good daycare coverage during the day) for a further five straight days. ARRGH.

I'm kind of wiped today even thinking about it. However, I do feel mighty for standing up and saying yesterday that my FiL should watch the kid indoors while I planned, bought materials for, engineered, and installed a new (bigger, better designed, in the right place) sandbox in our yard. It took most of the day and it was tiring, but differently tiring than kid-chasing all day, so that's good? It's also something we've been about-to-do for months and now IT IS DONE YO.

Today I get to try to catch up on laundry and start packing clothes for me and the kid so it's not all still left to do at dinnertime tomorrow.

Oh, and I have to take the kid to her swim lesson in two hours, which is a triggery noisy mess that usually ends with her pissed off, oppositional, punching me, and running away towards cars. FUN! At least if Granddad is done checking out of his hotel and down here in time to go with, maybe I can do some weightlifting down the hall at the Y while he sits on the pool surround for half an hour in my stead.

The best thing about the upcoming long single-parent weekend for me is that my spouse will have nearly a whole calendar week on his own to bachelor it, get things done 'without us underfoot', bicycle to work every day, and suchlike, which should rest and respoon him admirably. I hope like hell it makes him more willing to step in and give me occasional respites, and improves his mood in general, because that would be awesome.

#261 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2013, 01:42 PM:

Dave Harmon @258: That is, getting a wrong idea is one thing. ("If you can't make mistakes, you can't make anything" and so forth.) But the next step is reality-testing and responding to the results, and that's where cargo-culters fail.

I agree. What I tried to express (too pithily, it seems) is that we all get wrong ideas for any number of reasons, and fail at reality-testing for a long time not out of sheer contrariness but because we're programmed not to respond to the results, aka Goddamn Tapes and their ilk.

Wrong ideas from what parents, or other authority figures, or partners, or society, tell us will make us happy, and we trust and believe them and want to live up to those ideals. People who tell us that if only we did such and such a thing everything would be great, then keep moving the goalposts. People who genuinely want us to be happy - but on their terms. Not having the self-confidence to speak up and assert our own needs, for often complex reasons. People who don't respect our agency. Not having good role models for healthy and functional relationships so that we don't know what those are supposed to look like. And so on and so forth.

When most of our energy is spent trying to live up to impossible standards or to meet unattainable goals, and then beating ourselves up for our failure to do so, there's precious little of it left for realizing that we're trapped in a cargo-cultish dynamic. The form is easier to chase because it's visible; people know what the house-spouse-white picket fence-perfect job-fat bank account-gorgeous figure and 2.4 kids model looks like. The invisibility of the function (the kindness, respect, consideration, empathy, compassion, generosity, love, and sharing that are keys to happiness—regardless of form—are all intangible) is what makes it so elusive.

#262 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2013, 02:05 PM:

Phenicious @238: affirmations ... Maybe everyone's bad at this at some point, but they do it anyway and get better with practice. So I'm not so much ill-suited to pretending/acting as inexperienced?

WRT affirmations, see my comment to somewhere_else & Lila elsethread. Shorter me: I don't even try.

WRT masking one's inner state, I got much better at that than is reasonable, at a very early age. Thanks to me mum. Basically, if you had a response that was unacceptable (for whatever reason), you'd quickly find yourself in deep kimchee. The problem came when it got to the point that, to keep myself safe, I had to hide my true reactions from myself.

Lee @239: a parent who has damn good cause to worry about that happening -- and not because the children are selfish little ingrates, either.

"What? Give them reason to want to stay? Why, that's just crazy talk!"

Chickadee @243: minefield

This, in short, was why I had to develop the armor that I did. Which was imperfect, because the mines would occassionally move. Took me a solid ten years, after I moved out, to start to dismantle the armor. I've finally got it whittled down to a reasonable thickness. But it still makes me very reserved, on a lot of topics.

Pfusand @252: Someone Who Knew

And I'm now curious as to SWK's field of expertise. And are they taking new clients? :-)

The Occasionally Good @257: A quick Google using the phrase what if my medical records are wrong produces this as the top result. Specific to Washington state, so laws may vary by state/country. There are a couple of other potentially useful looking links in the results list.

#263 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2013, 02:07 PM:

Pendrift @261, I had interpreted your post @253 (and I think perhaps Dave Harmon did also) as pointing, not to you, but to other family members as the cargo-culters. Tapes are instilled, for example, by parents insisting on everyone in the family making the proper offering to the cargo cult gods. ("Do this! It will make you happy! It makes everyone happy! And if doesn't make you happy, don't dare say so!")

#264 ::: OtterB is gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2013, 02:08 PM:

Too many exclamation points, I think. (I originally typed that as "too many explanation points," which is its own kind of error.)

#265 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2013, 03:29 PM:

OtterB @263: Or, if doesn't make you happy, Ur Doin It Rong!

#266 ::: Pfusand ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2013, 04:08 PM:

Jacque @ 262:

Alas, SWK retired, and moved many years ago.

#267 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2013, 04:19 PM:

Pendrift #261, OtterB #263 : as pointing, not to you, but to other family members as the cargo-culters.

That was indeed my interpretation. And I'll point out that there's some difference between cargo-culting out of simple ignorance, versus being indoctrinated.

#268 ::: J. ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2013, 04:07 AM:

@The Occasionally Good #257: My sympathies re the severely inaccurate records. I've been told by people who appear to know whereof they speak that at many practices, although they are supposed to complete each file immediately after the appointment, HCPs leave them all until the end of the day or even longer, then attempt to reconstruct them from memory.

Sometimes there are other reasons, however. My recent annual physical yielded a comment from the physician to the effect that my history of Condition A was a worrisome factor because it meant that I might well develop Condition B.

Now, for assorted reasons, I had been extensively tested for Condition A. In fact people at that practice were so fixated on my developing Condition A Any Day Now Guyz that they neglected to test for Condition C, which almost put me in the hospital. But I never showed even a borderline positive result for Condition A.

Nevertheless, somebody had written "History of Condition A" in big letters in the concerns section of my file. As far as I can tell, this was simply because people who look like me "always" get Condition A.

A few years ago, I would have been stunned with betrayal and left in silent tears. But I got mad instead, and pointed out that my file would (SHOULD!) (fortunately did) clearly show the repeated negative tests for Condition A and would the doctor kindly fix the damn file? He said he would. I hope so.

Still, it's a nasty feeling when somebody who's supposed to have your complete trust screws around with vital information, isn't it?

#269 ::: somewhere_else ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2013, 08:46 AM:

Jacque @ 130: Thanks and thanks for the encouragement!
...One More Damn Thing To Deal with, yeah, that's a pretty good description. I'm glad this is a space where that's understood and can be actually talked about.

That client you had to deal with sounds unpleasant indeed and I'm sorry you had to deal with bad dreams afterwards!

A while ago I read somewhere about the unfairness of abusers getting to walk away after they messed up your life without (most of the time) having to deal with the fall-out and you example just seems like a "milder" version of this. It's really not cool how entrenched this stuff is.

Today started a bit slow, which is to say without having properly slept and completely unmotivated to do anything, but I'm happy that I managed to keep a kind mindset so far. It's really fascinating to watch how the new patterns actually do work even though (societal tapes) I still somewhat expect them to fail at some point. But in the end I'm always less stressed and get more stuff done the more I remind myself not to think negatively about the few things I've done on a given day.

#270 ::: somewhere_else ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2013, 09:09 AM:

(posted a bit too early, see also "your example", here is the rest...)
Of course I still struggle, I worry that it's somehow a cop-out to acknowledge that I'll get only two things done with my current amount of spoons instead of the eight to ten I'd like to do. But since I won't get even those done if I beat myself up about the whole situation, being nice to myself even though I think I can neglect it (ha, neglect again) is the way to go.
Another observation I made relates to emotions. Since the only MO I had as a kid was "enduring stuff" I'm trying different ways of dealing with emotions. The background anxiety won't go away anytime soon, might as well test a couple of ideas... Since I don't have the time to work through it every time fear shows up, I now try to get it moving.
Enduring stuff means holding still* for me, in thoughts, emotions of course as well as physically, though I can be stuck and still go about my day, but living is something else./sarcasm
*Obviously a valid strategy especially if there is no way out at the moment.
Getting the energy moving helps to get stuff done. It frustrates me that I cannot just shed the weight, but I can stay with it and give it some room without it ruling my entire day (week, month).
So, to go back to an earlier metaphor, I'm still climbing that fucking mountain, but I'm climbing and occasionally the view is fairly decent.

#271 ::: Ross ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2013, 11:20 AM:

Good news and bad news:

Good news is, taking melatonin makes me sleep better, and I've got more energy during the day and get more done.

Bad news is, it makes my dreams more vivid and easier to remember, so I still have nightmares every night, only now I remember everything that happened in them.

#272 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2013, 12:37 PM:

Ross -- oh joy, for some reason my dreams have been a lot more um, active and memorable lately. No change in meds to explain it though.

Some are good, it was nice to see Gordy again even if I didn't recognize the hotel or the convention. But the others...

The worst is the one where I'm trying to get people to the basement level of a hotel during a con because there's a tornado headed for downtown Columbus. And the dream has an omniscient viewpoint, because while I'm herding fen I can see the damn storm spawning sibling funnels... Oh wait -- we must be in the Hyatt Regency, I can see the tornado because the hotel is walled in glass...

#273 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2013, 01:10 PM:

Ross @271, sleep is good but memorable nightmares are not. Did you start the melatonin fairly recently? Because if you've been short on REM sleep for a while, I think there's often a catch-up period when you have more dreams and more vivid dreams, and then it levels out again.

#274 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2013, 01:11 PM:

This "sadness reprieve" speaks to me about what we do in DFD threads.

#275 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2013, 01:41 PM:

somewhere_else @269: But in the end I'm always less stressed and get more stuff done the more I remind myself not to think negatively about the few things I've done on a given day.

That's exceedingly cool that you're developing reliable techniques to keep yourself in a good headspace. That's one of the most crucial kinds of personal power to have, IMnpHO.

I'm slowly learning that "I only got this much done today," because that's all I have capacity to do, and therefore, I damnwell do deserve props, even if it would be "only," according to the Tapes.

I'm still climbing that fucking mountain

There are days when I feel like I'm pushing a bowling ball uphill with my nose.

occasionally the view is fairly decent.

And know that it gets better!

#276 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2013, 03:27 PM:

Here's a large list of coping techniques that one person has found useful. As she says, feel free to add or adapt as necessary for you.

#277 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2013, 07:16 PM:

Regarding vivid dreams....

It's allergy season, and people may not realize that one of the off-label side-effects of pseudoephedine ("Sudafed" and one of the active ingredients in Claritin D) is hallucinations. My husband had to stop taking the stuff after he started having really vivid nightmares; he mentioned them to a pharmacist friend who told him the likely culprit, and when he stopped taking it his nose stuffed up but his nightmares went away.

So even if your regular medication hasn't changed, those over-the-counter allergy meds might have side effects to bear in mind.

Hope this helps.

#278 ::: Ross ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2013, 08:09 PM:

One of the things I like about melatonin as opposed to other put-me-to-sleep pills is that the sleep actually feels restful, and not like the sudafed hallucinations that aren't really at all the same thing as sleep.

I've had nightmares every night as long as I can remember, it's just that now, they stick with me better, that's all. :(

#279 ::: hope in disguise ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2013, 08:41 PM:

Reading and witnessing, all.

I started jobbing again yesterday; it's a nice part-time summer job, and they were happy to have me back for the summer. I've even been offered some pseudo-manager hours, which are paid at a nicely boosted rate! At the expense of missing most of $hobby practice, alas. But I am prioritizing the money for now.

Also my mother has said she will try to make adult amends now that I am not a child, which I guess is a start. I'm supposed to think of things she can do to be less awful for me to be around; for some reason I cannot think of any when it is asked of me. She also relented on the "please do not use that nickname I have repeatedly asked you not to use" issue apparently.

So, overall good, but also I am tired for various reasons, physically and emotionally.

Lee @276: thank you for the link! Hopefully it will help at the times when all I feel like I can do is sit and poke despondently at the internet.

Like now, apparently. Someone got angry with me on tumblr and I'm taking it a bit hard. :(

#280 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2013, 09:29 AM:

Today's XKCD is relevant. Be sure to read the mouse-over text.

#281 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2013, 01:50 PM:

Lee@280: I read the mouse-over text. *Shudder* Yes, precisely.

#282 ::: Dash ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2013, 06:48 PM:

Abroad now, and lacking in spoons. Traveling alone in a place where I don't speak the native language is taxing, even though I know I will meet with fellow volunteers soon. There are a variety of other things reducing my spoon count as well-- an ear infection (which, along with accents, makes communication difficult even without the language barrier), not knowing the area, getting there while sleep-deprived due to lack of flexibility in flight times, etc. Hopefully the next few days will be better.

#283 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2013, 08:26 PM:

Dash @282, all those things are really stressful at first, as you know, so cut yourself some slack until it gets better. It's a cool thing to be doing, but that doesn't mean that every moment will be delightful.

#284 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2013, 02:18 PM:

Dash: Have never tried this, so don't know if it would actually work, but have a notepad and pen handy, and draw quick stick-figure cartoons to convey your needs...? (Efficacy probably depends on culture; likely to be more useful in cultures with European-derived languages, I imagine.)

Anyway, if you try it, lemme know how/if it works.

#285 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2013, 08:24 AM:

Dash: Hang in there! You've (correctly, I think, certainly they seem very plausible) identified the probable major stressors of the situation. Accept that yes, this initial time is going to be stressful and you may have to use all your spoons simply to deal with these initial problems. The ear infection is plain bad luck! Being stressed in this situation is normal, not a sign that you're a failure.

Also note: just because you're all volunteering for the same cause/same project doesn't necessarily mean you will all get along well or all like each other - so be prepared for that. Also, you may find that you overwork and get too tired and have a minor breakdown (e.g. a crying fit). That's okay; it happens. Have the crying fit, then look at how you might be able to re-jig things so you don't overwork again.

Hope it all smooths out for you soon.

#286 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2013, 07:57 PM:

Ross: Yeah, Evil Rob stopped using melatonin after experiencing one of those wakeups where your ability to move is still shut down, but you're awake. It lasted long enough that he swore off melatonin forever.

#287 ::: Codemonkey in NE England ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2013, 08:56 AM:

On the bank holiday yesterday (after taking my family out for an outing) we got a phone call that my dad's dad (my last surviving grandparent) had died this morning. I didn't feel much as I never had a real relationship with my dad's parents (in fact, even my dad only tended to visit them once or twice a year, and had such a close relationship with my mam's parents that they virtually regarded him as a son rather than a son-in-law). My mother had a go at my dad saying that at least when her parents died she felt no regrets as she'd always kept closely in touch with them and never kept anything secret from them.

I think it's the second time that my mam's said to me that she wishes I could have the same kind of relationship with her that she had with her own mother -- she mentioned that while they often had heated arguments, they never fell out with each other, and she was always willing to keep her informed on how her life was going. I'm sure my mother regards me as cowardly because of my "secretive" behaviour, and because I've decided to forgo having a social life because I don't want to have to share the details of it with her. It seems like she regards privacy between family members as positively anathema -- is this common among people who grew up in village environments? Could one of the issues she had with my dad be a culture clash, originating in his own big-town* origins? Back in the incident about a month back when I thought of signing to rent a flat without telling her, she told me that not only did people in her experience only move out if they got married, but they also brought their parents along with them when they were viewing potential properties.

She was always highly critical of my dad's parents for being too eager to get him out of their house (to the extent of having him join the army, even though a history of being bullied at school demonstrated he clearly wasn't army material), which may have been a reason why she went to the opposite extreme (so worried about something happening to me that she virtually keeps me prisoner) when raising me. She also criticized her brother for the same thing (and feels vindicated now, given what happened to my cousin).

Sorry if I seem to be rambling on about my mam, but I'm desperately trying to figure out what makes her tick! I find the notion (which a lot of people here seem to be supporting) that there is absolutely nothing I can do to get my mother to give me even grudging permission to move out to be absolutely terrifying. What are my prospects for changing this, either by getting more support in place for her (how would I do this?) before I move out, or by offering to stay within her village when I get my first place?

If I did the latter, I'd still be able to trivially visit my mother on evenings if I had nothing else to do, and I could come round to help them when the council men come to renovate the house (and perhaps store some of their stuff in my own place, if I have any spare space to do it). Perhaps one reason why she was so hostile to my moving out is because she believed she'd need me to help them out when this time comes?

*Sunderland didn't have city status when my dad was growing up, although it was certainly big enough (population 177,000) to be a city!

#288 ::: Ross ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2013, 11:00 AM:

I really like today's Boggle the Owl.

#289 ::: tamiki ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2013, 11:36 AM:

Codemonkey: ...Okay, first of all, the time to criticise how someone chooses to stay in touch (or not) with their relatives is not immediately after you find out said relative died. That was a VERY low blow on your mother's part. (I'm sorry for your loss, such as it was.)

I don't know if seeing privacy between family members as a Bad Thing is a small-town thing, but it's definitely an unhealthy thing, especially now that you're an adult. You do have a right to do things that will make you happy without explaining them to her; after all, it's not as though you're interested in taking up a life of crime or anything.

Whether people bring their parents along for property viewing depends on the person. Even if we'd been near enough to one set of parents to have them along, my fiancee and I probably would have gone by ourselves to view apartments. And while those shows on this side of the Atlantic about hunting for houses might be somewhat staged, I can't think of many off the top of my head where the potential buyer brings their parent along; generally it's either their spouse (who will also be living there) or a good friend. (Ignore if hlepy, but if I were you, I wouldn't bring your mother along anywhere near a large purchase I was considering. She'd find something to hate about it.)

She's not going to give you permission to move out; that would interrupt her groove WAY too much. Her groove is dependent on you staying indefinitely.

There is only so much extra support you can bring in, before or after you leave, that will be effective without her acknowledging she needs it. It'll be easier for you to try to help her with it when you're not bogged down by being in the problem; a lot of people here bring up the flight-safety 'secure your own oxygen mask before helping others' rule.

I bet that, if you were to offer to stay in the same town, your mother would counter with "Why do you need to move at all, in that case?"

I don't know if there's any way for you to have the same relationship with your mother that she had with hers, or if that's even a worthwhile goal (my gut says no). If there is, I really, really doubt it's going to happen while you're trapped in her groove.

#290 ::: RiceVermicelli ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2013, 02:42 PM:

CodeMonkey - it's possible that what you're seeing with your dad is the result of his dysfunctional upbringing by people who weren't all that fond of him. That's not the only possible interpretation of the data. The issue might have been money, or tradition, or a lack of opportunities at home, or some other thing entirely. You'd have to ask him. I will say, however, that it's an extremely rare case that one has absolutely no regrets about things undone or unsaid when family members die. So your mam may not be speaking completely honestly, and she's certainly being unkind to your dad at this moment.

I have never brought my parents along with me when looking at rentals. In the college town I live in, a parent on these look-throughs is a signal to the landlord that the parent will be meddling at all stages, running the lease past their lawyer, and calling the management if there are problems. If the parent is co-signing the lease, that's reasonable. Otherwise, it's not. Bringing your folks along may make you look like a worse prospect to some landlords, particularly if your parents fling drama about the move. So no, I wouldn't bring your mam to look at apartments, nor would I feel bad about that.

I don't think she's going to give you permission. I think you could bend yourself into horrifying knots trying to convince her there, but since I think she isn't going to bend, you should spare yourself the contortion. Decide what will make you happiest, in terms of moving, and do it.

(FWIW, and ignore if hlepy - I have quite a good relationship with my somewhat overbearing mother, because I moved out as soon as I could, and kept my life frantically secret for a few years so that I could build what I wanted without exposing the early attempts to her opinion. Some distance in late adolescence was vital. Someday my own children will be independent people who do unwise things. I hope they never get in so far over their heads that they need to give me all the details.)

#291 ::: somewhere_else ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2013, 04:13 PM:

This day has been weird. Dunno why, maybe just the weather. I just wish it would be a bit easier to get some of the longterm stuff planned and done. Most days right now I manage to get through with most of the basic needs covered and I'm actually quite happy about that, don't get me wrong. I'd just like to have a break from the brain weirdness now and then and work on more complex stuff without needing to plan even the smallest steps weeks in advance.

#292 ::: Vrdolyak ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2013, 05:11 PM:

Still reading and witnessing.

Codemonkey: Your attempts to understand your mother's struggle and state of mind are laudable, but they are holding you in Earth's gravity well and preventing you from attaining escape velocity. And I get your need to explain (and I don't mean that maxim about understanding all is forgiving all) and justify her, but you seem to be talking yourself into not leaving.

As usual, ignore if hlepy.

#293 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2013, 05:34 PM:

Codemonkey, I suspect your mother will never give you permission... but also will never NOT give you permission. If you ask her straight out if you can leave, you will hear something to the effect of, "of course you can move out, you have my permission, but you know that good sons don't and you need to take care of your sister and if you really cared about me you'd buy a big fancy house and you'll never be able to take care of yourself... but you have my permission if you do all these impossible things first, of course you have my permission, what kind of mother wouldn't give her permission except that you'll get taken advantage of by everyone but that doesn't mean you don't have permission except you wouldn't if you really loved us."

I'll note that my parents never gave me or my sister or brother permission to move out of their house... they just expected it. Maybe not exactly when or how it happened in each of our cases, but they didn't think that we would even need permission to do so once we became adults.

#294 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2013, 06:09 PM:

Codemonkey: if this already feels like a pile-on, please ignore.

Has it occurred to you that, once you move out, it won't matter whether you have your mother's permission or not?

#295 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2013, 07:35 PM:

Ross @288: Thank you for posting that link to Boggle the Owl. I'm reading back through, and alternately cheering and crying. Lots of very, very good words.

Lee #244: Thank you again for the duck image. It's helped enormously - letting me internalize (as opposed to know academically but not emotionally) the idea that it really *is* a lot of work to visit when it isn't emotionally safe.

Lila #249, dcb #259, Jacque #262: thanks - helps to know I'm not alone!

On the upside, I'm seeing signs that Mom is really trying to figure out what's going on, and change the behaviours that upset me! I didn't recognize it at first because she was doing it so badly that it came off as more of the same (or worse). But she learns. And the biggest thing is that she's honestly trying! (and in so doing has actually defused a couple of the mines in the field. :)

Still stressful going over there, still have to watch out for certain topics, still need a good spoon supply going in for it to be a pleasant visit, but... hope. Progress. Not for the fantasy ideal mother-daughter relationship that she dreamed of and tried to create, but for something resembling a healthy relationship. I still have no hope for a healthy adult friendship (she's not nearly self-aware enough to change enough for that), but at least something I can ... not "not cringe at" (too negative), not "enjoy" (too positive), but have and value and hold dear.

Context for this: going over there the other day to spend several hours weeding their raspberry patch (thumb-thick roots on those suckers!), with family lunch in the middle and games after. I was exhausted when I got home, but I really saw the effort Mom was making.

Thanks to everyone in this community for help and support and listening to ranting along the way!

#296 ::: Win ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2013, 07:45 PM:

I'll note that my parents never gave me or my sister or brother permission to move out of their house... they just expected it.

This. In fact, after a certain age, it was a case of needing permission to STAY.

#297 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2013, 10:16 PM:

Codemonkey, you say that you find the commenters' position that your mother will never give you permission to move out "terrifying".

Perhaps we haven't emphasized enough that you don't need her permission?

#298 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2013, 02:21 AM:

Codemonkey, I'm sorry to hear about your granddad. I had almost no contact with extended family for the same reason, and all my grandparents are dead too. I get this weird disconnected feeling when I think about it, because I know I should feel loss, but I don't actually, because I barely knew them.

I can see why your mam so valued her relationship with her own mother. That kind of closeness is precious. Perhaps some of your mam's desire to know all your business is that she wants to have, or be, a close confidant again. But the kind of relationship you're describing sounds much more like best friends or spouses than parent and child. Most people don't want to tell every detail of their adult personal lives to their parents, especially not to the parent of the opposite gender.

Normally families expect children to grow up and move out, usually in their late teens or early twenties. Yours has refused to imagine that you could ever grow up and move out, so instead of being prepared for the change, they will be shocked and stage an emotional storm. It'll be rough, but it will pass. If they were going to let this be easy it would have been done already.

You have every reason to focus on figuring out how your mam ticks, and you'll keep working on that even after reaching your current goal of becoming independent without hurting your family more than required. You deserve to have your mam give you her blessing, her permission, to leave the nest and fly. But all the signs say that she isn't emotionally capable of it, and that nothing you can do will change that. Your input is fine -- the showstopper bug is in how she processes it, and you can't get at the source code in her head and heart causing that. So you have to give yourself permission, make your own blessing, and jump. Later she may shove her foot down her throat trying to give you half a blessing in retrospect.

You wanting her approval, and her only ever loaning it briefly and partially (rather than giving it fully and unreservedly) is a core dynamic that keeps you trapped and helpless. You do not *need* her permission or approval. You *want* it, but because she cannot truly/fully give it, you cannot successfully possess it; you can only waste your time and energy chasing the will-o'-the-wisp. You could come home tomorrow with a pregnant wife and a marriage certificate, but there would still be an endless parade of apparently objective and reasonable excuses to derail your plans, and your mam will never admit that the parade will be endless. She will always pretend that if you fulfill the currently posted conditions, that then you can win, because then you will keep playing the game by her rules. You have already lost years of your adult life to this pretense.

Logistically, my recommendation is this. You should view properties on your own -- it's all your money, you're more than old enough, and it should be wholly your decision where to live. The ideal spot is a 1 bedroom place that's pleasant, closer to work, and convenient to amenities and shops. The most important amenities are places and groups for people of the right interests, ages, and genders to gather, so that you can build that social life you'd like to have. It should be moderately convenient for you to visit the family home, but not so close that they will come over more often than you want them to. The idea is for *you* to have control over your space and privacy, while being close enough to show that you're still family and will be around for help and social time. After you move, offer regularly to visit or be visited, but don't let them rely overmuch on you. If they are being unpleasant, politely withdraw and wait patiently for them to try again with better manners. Encourage them to adjust and cope, and don't let them scuttle your plans and priorities unless there is a real problem or emergency.

Strength and good fortune, Codemonkey. We're all cheering you on.

#299 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2013, 04:52 AM:

Codemonkey writes: offering to stay within her village

Prediction: your mother will ask for a key of your new place, "just in case".

#300 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2013, 06:04 AM:

Riffing on a few responses to Codemonkey - perhaps less of a pile-on if I do it this way? *wan grin* We'll see.

My take on closeness vs privacy within families is this: even in healthy families, the physical proximity of sharing a house provides a certain amount of enforced closeness. A culture of respect for boundaries between family members - particularly in any relationships of inequality on the hierarchical ladder (parent-child) - would provide a necessary counterweight this. Particularly for the very young, who have to learn how to become individuals while still very dependent on their parents for survival.

It's been my experience that the more concern expressed by people (family or not) with regard to my sharing (or lack thereof), the more reason I ended up needing my boundaries. When I've had reason to say to someone, "I have no wish to discuss this topic right now" (less confrontational than "with you", cf Suzette Haden Elgin and her Gentle Art of Verbal Defense books), the response will always indicate the level of respect I have from my conversation partner. "Okay, I respect that," - good. "But you're keeping secrets from me! What did I do wrong? You're so mean!" - not so much.

Also, someone reacting in the second way, I've noticed, frequently has a vested interest in circumventing my boundaries. Sometimes, it's as trivial as trying to read what papers I've discarded after a role-play gaming session. Other times it's pointed questioning about my relations with some other family member. (Minor digression: one parent practically invited me to accuse the other of "inappropriate behavior" towards me as a child. "But how could you not want to talk to me about that??" I didn't know then, but learned later, this was called 'concern trolling'.)

Thinking a bit on a related matter, of getting permission - or at least a blessing - from one's parents to move out. If it looks impossible to get that permission, that's already pretty unsettling. But I wonder if the terror could be about something bigger? Is it the prospect of never getting permission that hurts most? Or maybe having to contemplate life after confronting such an impossibility? After all, what would it really mean? Confronting the choice before one: acquiescing to the current situation (and stay), or accept that permission is not forthcoming and then setting one's own course in full knowledge that this is Not Approved.

In either event (and probably more possibilities I'm not covering for the sake of brevity), this all is quite possibly unfamiliar emotional territory. Particularly if grabbing one's freedom with one's very own hands, one of the prices of this is moving into an uncharted space, in one's own head and sometimes also in society.

That's where friends can help, and I hope, dear Codemonkey, that folks here continue to be of help. We're here and you're there, at the coal face. Thank you for letting folk here know how you continue to get on, and I want you to know that I am appreciating your efforts. Particularly as mentioned above - being in an unfamiliar territory is quite confrontational of one's identity. Be kind to yourself, in all your dealings with your own self as well as with interactions in your family. You deserve to be happy, and you do NOT deserve the pain of love given on condition that you are someone else's ideal of a good son.

Crazy(and apparently rather preachy, today... I'll see if I need to answer to any charges of having been helpy)Soph

#301 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2013, 08:09 AM:

I was just abroad and am now home, and just wanted to say that I hope Dash is doing a bit better. Travel can be hard.

#302 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2013, 08:31 AM:

Codemonkey, I'm so sorry that your situation is fractally difficult. You're trying so hard, so absolutely hard, to change your personal situation without making your mam's worse, and that is a worthy goal.

I hope you find your way to independence. You deserve it. Your family deserves it, if you want to think of it that way. You can do this, as difficult as it is, and while it looks like you won't be able to do it without upsetting your mother, I think you'll be stronger enough afterward to make up for it.

#303 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2013, 12:42 PM:

crazysoph @300: "But how could you not want to talk to me about that??" I didn't know then, but learned later, this was called 'concern trolling'.

*CLICK* You just put a name to a slightly squicky behavior of a former coworker. S/he seemed to particularly relish sharing tales of misfortune, and seemed puzzled when rebuffed. Ew.

#304 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2013, 12:44 PM:

Codemonkey, everyone else has pretty much said what I was thinking, so there's no need for me to reiterate it. I do think that Lila is spot-on here; once you're free, you won't need her permission to break your chains.

It seems like she regards privacy between family members as positively anathema -- is this common among people who grew up in village environments? Could one of the issues she had with my dad be a culture clash, originating in his own big-town* origins?

This is probably a combination of several things. Small-town vs. bigger-town could easily be one of them. Some of it may be regional culture; my mother grew up in the American South, and never lost what I considered to be the habit of spying on and then gossiping about the neighbors, because that's what they do in that culture. Some of it may be another piece of the Red Family / Blue Family divide. But I think the most proximate cause is likely to be boundary issues pure and simple -- she doesn't understand where she stops and you start. And if she had that kind of relationship with her own mother (therapists call it "enmeshment") and thinks of it as the normal way for parents to interact with their children, you've got a problem that you can't fix -- because it's her problem.

Back in the incident about a month back when I thought of signing to rent a flat without telling her, she told me that not only did people in her experience only move out if they got married, but they also brought their parents along with them when they were viewing potential properties.

The first part of that is definitely an Inherited Obligation Family thing. As for the second... my parents were maddeningly overprotective and controlling, and definitely had boundary issues (especially my father), but they would never have expected me to drag them along when I was apartment-hunting, nor would I have considered doing so. That is NOT normal parental behavior.

I am very sorry to hear that she was able to scare you away from signing the lease. What I said at the time still holds true: now she knows what kind of behavior will work to keep you firmly under her thumb, and the next round will be even harder. You're also stuck in a nasty catch-22 -- as long as you live with her, she'll consider you a child incapable of making your own decisions or living independently. And there's only one way to break that vicious cycle, which is to take your freedom. She will never give it to you.

#305 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2013, 12:24 AM:

So, every so often I read something (like links 1 and 2 at the end) which talks about the stress response cycle — fight/flight/freeze followed by relief when the threat stops. The basic message is that you have to finish feeling your feelings and clear the decks. I had/have to live, study, or work with the threats in my life most days, so I probably have a good half-lifetime’s worth of unfinished stress cycles kicking around. So the idea of finishing them, getting out of the stuck record, is an interesting but overwhelming prospect. My life handed me a lot of things where freezing or flying were the best options, but the threats never left no matter how much freezing or running I did. Fighting back was also not usually an option. Today, many of the threats are false positives, but I take them harder for all the old unresolved things kicking around, and I can’t reliably tell the real threats from the accidents early enough.

The writer of those articles suggests thinking about the happy ending of the scary story. But I can’t create the happy endings that I need without help I don’t know how to get. My worst fears and hurts revolve around insecurity, and many of their expressions are realistic and rational fears, like ending up unemployed and going broke. I am all too aware that my safety and basic needs depend on other people valuing me, caring about me, helping me. I’m all too aware because I have plenty of experience that I can’t count on others to help, protect, or employ me, amplified by Goddamn Tapes. And I don’t have enough counter-experience of people valuing, helping, and loving me to the degree necessary to wipe out a lifetime of being unwanted and inadequate in the eyes of my parents. It’s like having a black hole installed; all the love and approval people offer gets sucked in and falls into a bottomless pit.

So I’d like to try this finishing my emotions thing, but I’m not sure I can. What if there is so much sadness, anger, and grief that I never come out the other side? When I do let myself pay attention to it, I seem to have an endless supply of negative emotions, and they don’t seem to end.

It does not help that right now I'm on an unexpected vacation because my contract at work ended before they got organized with the new one, and they have no way to guarantee I'll be re-hired, although we are all doing our best to make that happen. It's nothing personal when I think about it objectively, but what it feels like is yet another Sword of Damocles to prove to me that helplessness and insecurity is the best I'm ever going to get. I needed the vacation, I love the vacation, but I'm furious at them for how and why it's happening, and I can't tell them so with the emotional force it deserves without paying for the indiscrection.


#306 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2013, 11:48 AM:

Moonlit Night, you might find Healing Trauma by Peter Levine to be useful.

It's based on the idea of going through a stress/recovery cycle (Levine may have been the first person writing about this), it's got a CD, and the first exercise (the only one I've done) seemed like it did some good.

#307 ::: J. ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2013, 01:07 PM:

@Lee no. 304: Indeed. The only reason to take a parent along while apartment hunting is if said parent is a plumber or in some other trade that involves professional knowledge of what a decent place to live should have in it.

@Codemonkey: At one point I found myself in a situation where I could either claim my freedom or preserve my existing relationship with my mother.

She was considerably gentler with her enmeshment: I was the petted, favored child of an alcoholic. My assigned function was to provide affection on her terms and fix her drinks. I began to understand how screwed up my life was when I was headed toward adulthood. I claimed my freedom. It hurt like hell. But I look back from a vantage point of years of therapy at the life I lived in her house and feel literally sick. Still, at the time, I felt like a traitor.

I think this is a common struggle for people whose parents wish to engulf them and make them into extensions of themselves. (And if we resist, we are often accused of selfishness. Look up C.S. Lewis's Screwtape Letters for an interesting discussion of this type of relationship; he identified it as flat-out hellish.)

#308 ::: qpo (spoiler) ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2013, 04:26 PM:

Posting under a different nym, just in case... Not DF but dysfunctional work - I think this is the most appropriate thread but Abi will no doubt tell me if I'm wrong. Wall-o-text apology.

I have a job which I've previously called my ideal job, doing something which I consider very worthwhile, and which I know is needed. This is something which I have done for most of my working life, envisaged doing for the rest of my working life, have put in a heck of a lot of unpaid overtime over the last 17 years or so (and for which I am underpaid anyway), considered as my life's work and intended permanent legacy.

A few months ago there were major personnel changes in the organisation, resulting in it now being headed by someone who doesn't know me personally and doesn't understand what I do or its importance. Everyone else in my department has been made redundant and I'm at least half expecting the same to happen to me once a particular funded project has been completed. My immediate manager shows no respect for me and neither respect for, nor understanding of, my work. My current manager and the head of HR responded to my obvious unhappiness by giving me a two-on-one bullying session ("beatings will continue until morale improves" school of management) during which they interrupted me every time I said something they didn't like or gave examples contradicting what they were saying. Surprisingly enough, this has all led to my feeling low and demotivated.

So I'm seriously considering looking for another job, in a related field. The area I'd like to get into isn't one in which huge numbers of appropriate jobs come up - which means that if I don't go for one now, there might not be one if/when I do get made redundant. I didn't get the first one I applied for (which turned out at interview not to be what I'd expected from the advert anyway) and now something else has come up which may be very appropriate, and I'm thinking about applying.

And yet, and yet... - I feel that if I do get another job, I'm abandoning my life's work, and all my work will have been wasted, if it doesn't go forward (and I can't really see how it can, without me). So, I have the choice between staying, and hoping that my morale and emotional state will improve, and hoping that the job will continue, or seriously trying to get another job, and, if I get one, feeling guilty about leaving my life's work - because although I fantasize about being allowed to take it with me and continuing working on it in my spare time, I have to recognise that's unlikely to happen.

And I recognise that part of it is that I'm scared - what if I get a new job and I don't like it? What do I do then?


#309 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2013, 04:41 PM:

(qpo) spoiler @308: Personally, I think a life's work is like a life: only visible in retrospect, definitely not clear in prospect. I speak as one who hasn't had a clear life's work -- I've done a lot of things, each one of which has been pointed at by others as "major" or "important" but none of which has claimed primacy in my life. So I think it's okay to remain in flux and see what happens -- that there will always be new things to do that are worth my time and that excite me, and that I'll never manage to know everything about anything so I get to stay curious. As Jon Singer said at one point, "If you know, you can't find out." And I happen to really love being curious.

#310 ::: Nameless Regular ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2013, 05:58 PM:

qpo (spoiler), 308: Are you me? Because I'm in the same boat, doing valuable and underpaid work, for people who can't or won't see it. With bonus bullying, even. I've actually been made redundant, I've had several interviews but no offers.

I don't know what to do. This work has been a big part of who I am for a long time; I'm fine with leaving it, I think, but I don't know where to go from here. I'm pretty sure I'm not at risk of hlepiness because I have no idea what to suggest...

#311 ::: Dash ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2013, 06:20 PM:

Sumana Harihareswara @301- I'm not so much better as having different stressors now. I've been in and out of a crying fit for the last day out of worries that I'm not pulling my weight among the volunteers, that I don't know what I'm doing, that the other volunteers see me as a burden...

#312 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2013, 06:56 PM:

Dash @311, ignore if hlepy, but you've been there for, what, a few days? A week? NONE of you new volunteers know what you're doing yet. Some of them are just better at faking it than others...

Hang in there. Learning a new job (volunteer or paid) is stressful, but you'll get it.


#313 ::: Dash ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2013, 09:24 PM:

I relapsed. I'd gone without self-harm since Mother's Day and I relapsed. And then my fellow volunteers had to try to make me feel better. Yet another instance of me just getting in the way.

#314 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2013, 10:08 PM:

A snarky Note to Self that may be useful for some folks here.

#315 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2013, 08:43 AM:

Dash @313, you are not dragging down the other volunteers. Believe this. Please.

Ignore if hlepy, but I'm really, really sincere here.

Pick yourself up, brush yourself off, bandage as necessary, and move on. You'll get this. Really. Other volunteers will need your help, too. You'll give it. That's what communities do; they support each other. You need support now and that's ok; you'll pay it forward with someone else.

#316 ::: tamiki ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2013, 10:33 AM:

Dash: Deep breaths.

Self-harm is not an easy thing to stop. Try not to ride yourself too hard for the relapse, and try to let your fellow volunteers help - as Cassy said, you'll get a chance to help someone else later.

You're not a horrible person because of this. As I often remind my fiancee, your brain is lying to you.

Ignore if hlepy, of course. Hang in there.

#317 ::: qpo (spoiler) ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2013, 02:22 PM:

Nameless Regular @ 310:

Thank you. It helps knowing I'm not the only one in this position. I hope it helps you as well, knowing you're not the only one.

Dash. Like the others say, deep breaths. Give yourself time.

#318 ::: David DeLaney ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2013, 09:23 PM:

Dash: Reading and witnessing. You've done nothing irreversible or unforgivable.

Codemonkey: A quick note that I agree with others that, based on what you've said? You're not getting her permission. ...but also agreeing that: you don't NEED her permission. She is not the boss of you. She is the mom of you; that's way different, and what she wants for you is way different than what you need.

(Also, a small but very important point: DO NOT EVER GIVE HER THE KEY TO YOUR APARTMENT, FLAT, OR HOUSE. No matter what sort of emergency situations she verbally envisions for you that make her neeeeeeeed to have one just in case. Trust me/us on this one.

Yes, this implies "don't let her talk you into letting her move into "your" new place with you". There are fairly good reasons for that, which she's attempting to get you never to see...)


#319 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2013, 12:09 AM:

Dash @311: I've been in and out of a crying fit for the last day out of worries that I'm not pulling my weight among the volunteers, that I don't know what I'm doing, that the other volunteers see me as a burden...

When I find myself feeling anxieties like this, I've finally learned that the first thing to do is check my spoon supply. You are in a situation that is guaranteed to be exhausting and stressful. I find it unlikely in the extreme that you are being any more of a "burden" to your fellow volunteers than they are worried that they are being. Please be gentle with yourself, and budget yourself extra sleep, nutrition, and fun.

#320 ::: Bricklayer ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2013, 04:26 PM:

Ohgod ohgod ohgod I may actually be attempting to make therapist appointments again sometime in the next week ... it's been, um, well over 4 years since the last time I attended a therapy session, and that therapist was really more of a life coach (and, while supportive and friendly, was offering a different register of help than I was actually interested in).

I remember times when therapy was really helpful to me. However, I also remember that even in those cases there was a 4-6 week (one appt/wk) period in which apparently nothing was happening, except me opening myself up to bleed and be vulnerable every week and therefore making myself less able to repress/simply fight off all the Bad Feelings. If the therapist turned out to be helpful for me, the 'active improvement' stuff would begin to be noticed post the 4-6wk period.

So now I get to try to winnow a large group of 'on my insurance; nearish my house' people who have only tiny descriptions online down to a smaller large group I will call to see if they're taking new clients, which will self-limit down to a reasonably sized pool of people with whom I will have a First Appointment. Argh.

I wish I could even think of things to ask them to try to preselect a decent fit, besides "I'm trans, is that a problem? Trans stuff isn't my MAIN issue, my main issue is depression" and "I'm really not interested in spiritual advice, especially Christian."

Suggestions welcomed.

I'm definitely going to google the names and see what comes up, though I'll take all online reviews with large portions of salt. If they have a more detailed "what I do and what I'm good at" section somewhere out on the web, though, that would be helpful in making my decision of who goes on the first Long List.

#321 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2013, 07:09 PM:

Bricklayer #320: I wish I could even think of things to ask them to try to preselect a decent fit, besides "I'm trans, is that a problem? Trans stuff isn't my MAIN issue, my main issue is depression" and "I'm really not interested in spiritual advice, especially Christian."

I suggest rewording the first to "I'm trans, but that is not what I'm here for. Do you have a problem with that?" You don't want to be asking them if you being trans is a problem....

#322 ::: Bricklayer ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2013, 07:27 PM:

Dave Harmon @321: But whether they have a problem with the fact that I AM trans is in fact something I want to know about them. And some days, trans stuff WILL be what I'm there for, that day; just on the whole my gender is not The Problem, it's just a facet of me.

#323 ::: The Occasionally Good ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2013, 07:35 PM:

Still reading, still witnessing, have things I'd like to say to people but am still mired in my own mess. That should change fairly soon, though.

#324 ::: The Occasionally Good ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2013, 07:47 PM:

It's been a month since my last appointment with the Doctor from Hell, and I think I'm still somewhat in shock that they lied about my medical conditions, about the medications I do and don't take, about my emotional state, about everything.

The appointment with the new doctor is tomorrow. I'm apprehensive, of course. Logically, I know it'll be OK, but emotionally? I've now got a fair amount of baggage from the last one. Also, it's been over three months now, of not getting a diagnosis for the new, severe, and limiting thing going on with my health, and my spoon level has continually been in negative numbers.

I told my therapist what had been going on, and the misinformation listed under "psych" in my records from that doctor. She's sent me a copy of the overview she'll be sending with my psych records when the new clinic gets them, and she's demolished Every. Single. One. of those inaccuracies. Demolished, removed the debris, and plowed salt into the ground on which they were built. I have the best therapist ever (well, best for me). And I know how fortunate I am to have her.

dcb @ 259: Thank you! That does help. I still haven't quite figured out how to limit the examples, as there are so many that are so seriously wrong. (If I had a dart board, I'd pin several of the things on post-its, and choose that way.) I'm working on writing out a sort of bullet-point list I can work from, and will go in saying I've had some cognitive function damage from [another thing on the list of things I cope with], so I need to have things written down so I don't miss anything important.

Jacque @ 262: That is perfect (you got the state right, even *smile*). Once I get on top of the whatever-it-is that's going on physically, I'm definitely going to go that route, and get the records amended.

J @ 268: This doctor actually types everything in during the appointment, while we're talking, so it can't be excused by "other things happening between appointment and time records are filled in". Alas. There's the saying, "Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by stupidity" - in this case, I think the reverse is true. I'm trying hard to let go of needing to know why.

Nevertheless, somebody had written "History of Condition A" in big letters in the concerns section of my file. As far as I can tell, this was simply because people who look like me "always" get Condition A.

This is One Of The Things this doctor has done, from an earlier visit. And refused to correct the record. In retrospect (that 20-20 hindsight thing), I should've started looking for another doctor then; but, again, I've been running on zero spoons, and the thought of the effort required to find another doctor, in reasonable distance, in my insurance network, had me nearly in tears. (Turns out, my insurance people were unexpectedly helpful with that.)

Still, it's a nasty feeling when somebody who's supposed to have your complete trust screws around with vital information, isn't it?

Oh yes. It's that "who painted the target on my back, and how many knives are deeply embedded?" feeling.

#325 ::: tamiki ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2013, 07:49 PM:

Bricklayer: Maybe "are you comfortable working with trans patients on issues that have nothing to do with gender?"

#326 ::: The Occasionally Good is visiting the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2013, 07:50 PM:

I can share some salmon with lemon, ginger, and thyme; some pasta with garlic and basil; fresh peas; raspberry sorbet.

Too many spaces? Punctuation errors?

#327 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2013, 07:50 PM:

Bricklayer @320 and 322, right, you don't want them concluding that all your other issues are because you're trans.

Good luck finding a good fit.

#328 ::: Bricklayer ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2013, 12:32 AM:

OtterB @327: There is also a nonzero subset of the psych*ist community (asterisk to show diversity including -ologist -iatrist, etc) that holds opinions about transgender'ism' and transsexuality that I find personally somewhat offensive. Not least because they hold that I personally cannot exist ...

One prominent holder of and evangelist for these particular theories/tropes is a respected (by some people, anyway) academic at a fairly major institute of higher learning in my city. I wouldn't want to find out four weeks in that my prospective new therapist was one of his disciples, thanks.

This is why "do you have a problem with the fact that I'm trans?" is high up on my list of winnow questions, followed quickly-but-separately by "and that my trans-ness is not my major problem right now?"

#329 ::: Bricklayer needs a nym rescue ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2013, 12:33 AM:

Darnit. Wouldn't you know, all that time polishing the comment and I STILL miss the nym attached to it? Argh.

#330 ::: k8 ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2013, 01:10 AM:

Bricklayer: I found my therapist through a trans* friend; my friend (who lives in another state) emailed me when he knew I was looking for a therapist and basically said 'hey, there's a website I have used that lists therapists who are queer-friendly and specialize in LGBTQ patients, and here's one in your neck of the woods.' He didn't send me the website, unfortunately, but I would imagine googling would probably find some options for you. I was in a similar boat - fairly comfortable with my gender stuff (I'm genderqueer) and looking for someone to talk to about depression and coping in general, but I still wanted someone to whom I didn't have to explain/defend my gender identity to. It's worked out fairly well for me, and it means we can also easily discuss gender stuff as it's come up.

Good luck. I'm not sure there's much that's more nerve-wracking than trying to find a new therapist.

#331 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2013, 11:33 AM:

Bricklayer, k8: That would probably be the Kink-Aware Professionals site.

#332 ::: Bricklayer ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2013, 02:46 PM:

k8, Lee: Yes, which lists no therapists in my state, just a couple of lawyers. Also, any outside recommendation sites have to be cross-checked against my insurance company's (ten names at a time!) list of people who I'm covered to see.

Hiding in a corner about it today as I try to rise above unexpected nausea and lower-GI unhappiness to actually attempt to get out of the house and acquire the tux I'm going to need by Saturday ...

I've been kind of MIA here for a while because of feeling massively overscheduled and underspooned, and it's not about to get any better. If I were at my very best this week (lots of spoons, cheerful, good attitude) what I need to get done by Saturday would be an utterly trivial amount of work. But I'm coming off of 7 days of in-laws in my house, one interstitial day, a 5-day road trip to another city where I was single-parent responsible for our kid, then most of a week of 'normal' at-home schedule with day care where I basically slept all day and hid, and now it's Wedding Week.

The Friday after Wedding Week I get to fly to Toronto for a week with the in-laws, again ... and then the day after we get back from that, attend a bat mitzvah. With my hyper kid who probably won't want to sit through the ceremony. And then drive nearly 2hr from the ceremony to the reception, where our presence is not really optional.

And to think I was thinking a couple of months ago that June looked fairly schedule-light!

#333 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2013, 03:19 PM:

Bricklayer, 332: Strength to your arm. That sounds...kind of brutal, actually, and I'm relatively enspoonified right now.

#334 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2013, 04:50 PM:

Bricklayer: Co-signed on TexAnne's "Strength to your arm." That's one hell of a lot of stuff to recover from, and likewise a hell of a lot of effort coming up. Especially with all that in-law time so closely spaced. And flying and driving & ceremony time with an active kid... oy gevalt.

SUGGESTIONS BELOW, IGNORE IF HLEPY, and forgive me if I'm restating things you already know about Jewish practice:

Something to consider: will the bat mitzvah girl & her family understand if you arrive for the ceremony, but spend the bulk of it supervising your kid playing outside, either on whatever play equipment the synagogue might have, or, in a pinch, entertaining her with bubbles and sidewalk chalk? Unless this particular synagogue's practices are very different from the ones I grew up with, there will be a coffee-and-cakes-type reception (probably more like bagels, but you get the idea) at the synagogue, directly after the ceremony, in addition to the later reception that's a two-hour drive away.

I know for sure that my family would have understood if a parent of a young kid absented themselves from the sanctuary during the service and brought the kid back in during the oneg shabbat (the coffee-and-cakes deal, which is provided for the whole congregation, even those who aren't going to the family's reception later) which is social and busy and where a noisy active kid isn't going to be a massive disruption, and where everyone's free to coo over the kid instead & maybe get in a word or two with you.

The bat mitzvah girl is giving a difficult vocal performance up there. I know that back in 1982 I would have been much more relieved about Exit of Restless Kid than upset about Guest Missing My Special Once In A Lifetime Performance. Heck, if the guests in the sanctuary had been completely different people than the ones at the reception, I wouldn't have noticed, because I had the typical the-audience-is-a-big-blur perception -- I'd only have noticed if there were distracting noise. Of course, if there had been a restless kid at mine, they'd have had to play in the hallway, because I got an active blizzard for my bat mitzvah. Super inconvenient for the out-of-town relatives, but awesome for me, because my out-of-town summer camp friends were forced to stay the entire weekend, aw darn, so terrible.

I'm kind of assuming you don't have an aliyah - that is, being honored by being called to the altar to say a blessing over a section of the Torah reading, because I'm assuming you're not Jewish. If you do have that particular active role in the ceremony, it's going to be interesting balancing that with the needs of your kid, and, again, I say, "Strength to your arm."

#335 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2013, 05:15 PM:

Bricklayer: That is a full schedule - both just-passed and to-come. Any chance of a day, at your in-laws, where grandparents look after the kid and you get a day to go off by yourself and just relax?

And I second Rikibeth re. the actual Bat Mitzvah ceremony: turn up beforehand, say hi, absent yourself and boistous kid from the ceremony, join everyone again once it's over.

#336 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2013, 05:25 PM:

Bricklayer: Woof. And I thought our schedule over the next 6 weeks or so was frenetic! (Three weeks of major con-prep thrash followed by 3 cons on successive weekends -- one local, one in OKC, one in Baltimore.) Thirding the wishes for strength and cope to you.

#337 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2013, 05:39 PM:

I hate this process of reapplying for what ought to be my job. I'm applying for it through as many agencies as will let me, but I still can't be sure I'll get my job back. And nobody bothered to tell me anything useful about how this process worked ahead of time, and they only barely told me other important data like the contract length.

The job is only halfway a cog job, but the application process is all cog job, and a bad one at that.

Today's mini-crisis is over one of the agencies (the last one to react) telling me that I can only apply through them if I give them exclusivity. I haven't heard of this before and I don't like it -- what's in that for me? Because all the other agencies replied first, the answer will be that I'm so sorry, it's too late to promise that; you decide if you want to represent me anyway. We'll see if they bend.

#338 ::: Bricklayer ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2013, 06:57 PM:

Rikibeth, you're right, I'm not one of the tribe, though I'm friends with and related to a huge number of Jews. And by some standards (i.e. "would Hitler have killed her?", which was my stepmom's mother's standard) my daughter has some claim to Jewish ethnicity. She was also finally big enough to sort of participate in the Passover seder this year, which was fun (she keeps randomly singing nonsense syllables to the Dayenu tune, months later).

The upcoming inlaw visit at their house may be surprisingly relaxing; aside from the two nights at the indoor water park (which will probably be frenetic) John and I have a hotel room and are NOT staying at his parents' house; the kid may be having continual sleepovers with her many cousins and NOT BE SLEEPING WITH US HALLELUJAH. Or so I can hope, anyhow.

And, hey! Yesterday I got to a grindingly-spoon-eating chore that's been piling up for about a year: weeding the kid's drawers for size- and weather-inappropriate clothing, and then instead of simply throwing them in the 'not current clothes' open box on the porch, going through all the buildup of same and sorting them out to box up properly for long-term storage, labeled for size. Go me ...

Also, I did manage to get my tux rental arranged today (though nothing else that was on my to-do), so that's a relief. Now to see on Thursday, at the pickup-and-check-fit visit, whether they have any formal pants that can handle my Epic Ass. She measured me, so I figure she's had fair warning. :->

#339 ::: Bricklayer ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2013, 07:00 PM:

Oh, and as regards therapist search, I absently typed 'chicago gender therapist' into Google just to see what I would get, and HOSANNA there's a really neat multidimensional well-designed search engine on Psychology Today's website that lets you filter by zip code, specialty, treatment philosophy, insurance ... it's really amazing, and will make this job far less impossible. Turns out 'transgender issues' is one of their flag fields upon which one can filter.

#340 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2013, 07:09 PM:

Bricklayer, hooray for the in-law visit possibly giving you some respite time from the kid! And count me NOT SURPRISED that she got infected with the Dayenu earworm.

I'm optimistic about your tux trousers. Tux-wearing people come in lots of sizes, including Enormous in several dimensions. And trousers are easier to adapt than jackets, when it comes to that. The interesting bit will be getting the combination of "waist" size and inseam -- I'm betting some hemming up will be involved.

And I bet you'll look fabulous.

#341 ::: k8 ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2013, 03:10 AM:

Bricklayer - hooray for Psychology Today! And hooray for one less spoon to have to scrounge up, as to echo everyone else, your June is making mine look relatively light in comparison. Best of luck with all that, and I hope you get some good quality time to do absolutely nothing at all in there. (:

#342 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2013, 08:30 AM:

Bricklayer #332: I'm with Texanne, that schedule is pretty rough -- wishing you strength!

#343 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2013, 09:55 AM:

Bricklayer, if you think you might want to wear a tux in the future, enquire about buying some and having them tailored for you. Many rental places do this, and used rental tuxes and other formal wear can be inexpensive compared to a couple of rentals. It's a common thing among music majors.

I think wearing a tuxedo for after-six at a con would be quite dashing.

#344 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2013, 09:58 AM:

That would be buying one and having it tailored. Let's not be to extravagant.

#345 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2013, 10:17 AM:

Bricklayer, this is late advice, I know, but have you consided contacting The Center on Halstead for referrals for an understanding therapist?

They work specifically with LGBTQ folks.


Just a thought; ignore if hlepy.

#346 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2013, 10:23 AM:

Bricklayer, seconding the suggestion of a secondhand tux. It pays for itself pretty quickly - when my younger brother discovered that he'd be going to three proms one year, my parents did the math and bought him a tux. He then wound up wearing it all through college and at my wedding. If you can afford to buy, it's a good choice, on the Vimes' Boots principle.

#347 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2013, 12:52 PM:

I bought a used tux when I had occasion to wear it twice in one year, and it was cost-effective. Most definitely so! Haven't worn it since, but it should still fit. (Famous last words....)

#348 ::: Dash ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2013, 01:07 PM: today I got to experience what might be the most counterproductive lecture ever from my volunteer coordinator. In between hlepy advice like "you need to cheer up!" and "stop being so hard on yourself!", he stated that he didn't feel comfortable having me teach English in a school (you know, the whole reason I'm here) because of my depression, that my depression is interfering with my volunteering (incidents have only occurred outside of volunteering time so far), and that they might have to send me back home early- after contacting my parents about the issue.
He claims that it's not because I'm incapable, but that's the only way I can read his remarks (or perhaps he's saying that I'm incapable for the time being, but same difference), and being told more or less that I'm a bad volunteer because of my depression is only making my depression that much worse. And I really am not looking forward to answering my parents' questions about all this... I want to volunteer, and I really don't want to go home, but apparently the volunteer coordinator who I just met a week ago knows what's best for me better than I do.
If I do get sent home- and it sounds like, if others agree that's the best decision, I won't have much choice in the matter- then I'll be letting everybody down. My parents, my school, the other volunteers, the volunteer organizations... and I'd spend the next two months fielding hostile questions from my mother. I don't think I could take that. I really don't.

#349 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2013, 01:13 PM:

Continuing on the "buy rental knockoffs" - make sure not to get anything "in style", but you will know that better than I already, I'm sure - end of June is a great time, as heavy tux season/Proms dries up, and the rental places will be wanting to closet clean (End of summer, as heavy wedding season winds down, is also a good time).

Also, rentals are made specially for frequent (and gross as well as fine) adjustments in ways that tailored-to-someone would not be; which would usually mean that someone comefortable with clothes surgery will find it even less hassle if body shape changes, even drastically, in future.

Granted, it's less likely you'll be using the extra 5 inches of leg or arm...

#350 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2013, 03:30 PM:

Oh, Dash, that just sucks raw rocks. I wish I had a good suggestion beyond whapping him upside the head with a dead fish.

#351 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2013, 04:12 PM:

Dash: That's tough. Is there anyone you can talk to, to say: "Look, stopping me volunteering is just going to make me more depressed. I'm okay while I'm actually volunteering. If you can just ignore that I'm depressed and let me get on with what I came here to do, then I'll get less depressed.

Good luck.

#352 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2013, 06:48 PM:

Dash, that sucks. Is there anyone else you can talk to, someone with more power and clue than the coordinator?

#353 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2013, 07:40 PM:

Bricklayer, I just read a detailed history of a scandal involving one of the people mentioned in that article, so I can see why you'd want to avoid them.

#354 ::: Dash ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2013, 08:35 PM:

I officially got kicked out of the program for my depression. I had serious suicidal thoughts tonight, and told my mother, which was probably a mistake. Still tempted to do something- self-harm, maybe, or continue the fast I've begun since breakfast. But maybe this is what it takes to get help, to get my mother to take my problems seriously.

#355 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2013, 08:50 PM:

Dash @354: I realize they're probably just doing what they think is best for the program, but it happens to be THE WORST for you.

The only small plus side to this is you might have an opportunity to have your GP refer you to a psychiatrist, if you're going to be at home. Having to deal with this on your own, when everyone around you seems to be conspiring to drag you down even farther, must be difficult. I feel for you.

#356 ::: Bricklayer ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2013, 09:06 PM:

Allan Beatty: Indeed. If it's the one I'm thinking of, let me note for the record that sleeping with your study subjects (correction: getting BLOWJOBS from your study subjects without ever reciprocating at all) is ethically not considered best practices, and would not pass any Human Subjects Review Board I've ever heard of.

Tuxedos subthread is the sort of thing I'm tempted to take from DFD-land back over to the Open Thread. :-> I've been watching for tuxes in the thrift stores I frequent, because I have a secondhand tux (bought for the younger brother of my sorta-cousin when they were going on a long cruise requiring formalwear) that fit me for many years. It no longer fits me, and is slightly too small for my husband, so it is one of the items I'm trying to find a good home for (that and the prom dress I never ended up wearing to prom; they would both have gone to WisCon's clothing swap except for limited baggage space considerations).

If I'd been good and actually gotten around to tux-shopping seriously a month ago, acquiring one Of My Very Own was a priority, but ... life intervened. A lot. And it stopped being anywhere near the top of my to-do list until, um, suddenly IT WAS NEEDED NOW. So I'm renting one (and my stepmom is paying me back for the rental) for this occasion, and will consider acquiring one for con purposes (and whatnot, but mostly cons) in the indefinite Someday Soon. I'm especially open to a tux in an Amusing Color, not just black, if I happen across one in my size for reasonable pricing. :->

#357 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2013, 09:25 PM:

Bricklayer, #356: intervened. A lot. And it stopped being anywhere near the top of my to-do list until, um, suddenly IT WAS NEEDED NOW.

Oy. Welcome to my life. One of the few things I dislike about living with my partner is that we seem to be in permanent Crash Crisis Priority Mode about nearly everything, and especially about things involving either maintenance or advance preparation. It's not really either his fault or mine, it's just that Weird Shit keeps cropping up; and there's a fair amount of it that would be fixable if we had enough money to throw at it, but we don't.

#358 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2013, 09:29 PM:

Dash, I'm so sorry. I wish you strength and spoons to deal with your mother on top of everything else.

#359 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2013, 10:54 PM:

Dash: Reading and witnessing. I...recognize that place.

One of the kindest things anyone ever did for me was the friend who took me out to mini-golf just after I got my shattering news, to distract me from my initial impulses to do harmful things. It didn't fix anything in the long run, but in the short term, it kept me alive.

If I could take you out for mini-golf, I would.

#360 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2013, 12:34 AM:

Dash, that sucks. It sucks a lot. I hope you're all right and that the next time the universe kicks you, it breaks its foot and has to hobble around telling everyone it made a bad decision when they ask about the cast. I dislike your program, though I don't know which one it is.

I wish you strength and endurance.

#361 ::: GlendaP ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2013, 01:12 AM:

Dash, reading and witnessing.

#362 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2013, 03:32 AM:

Dash: reading and witnessing.

#363 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2013, 08:02 AM:

Dash: Sympathies. That's... not helpful.

#364 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2013, 08:33 AM:

Dash, I am sorry. Please hold on and use this as the opportunity to get better help.

#365 ::: protecting others' privacy ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2013, 09:26 AM:

More in the category of "I'm the dysfunctional member of my family", and a deeply ashamed plea for help:

Due to a lack of money (I am unemployed, my parents support me so that their grandchild won't starve) I had been driving my car unregistered and uninsured for two years.

In April I finally got caught, and the car was towed.

I got a rental. I put it on the "for emergencies" credit card that my parents pay.

I was far too ashamed to admit the circumstances to them, so I told them it had been a car accident.

In order to get the car re-registered, I not only would have to get the car insured, but also pay off back taxes and some old parking tickets.

The knowledge of all this money that I didn't have sent me into a depressive cycle, so I was stuck and didn't do ANYTHING for about a month.

I finally got the courage to admit the situation to a friend and beg for help. She bailed me out of the back taxes and parking tickets, and I'm doing office work for her for the next three months as payment. (We worked out an hourly rate and everything.) Not every day - one day a week - but still.

Yesterday I got the car insured and registered. I need to go pick it up.

Remember how I let it sit for a month?

The storage charges are up to $1500.

Which I cannot ask my parents for, because then I'd have to admit what really happened, and at this point I'd be in as much trouble for lying as I would be for the original situation.

I've let my friend know. I don't know if she can help me out, because her money isn't unlimited either - the earlier bailout was done by taking advantage of the limits on her credit cards. While she still HAS the room within her credit limits (I know this, because I do her taxes, among the other office chores), it's still a burden.

I've asked my boyfriend, but I have no idea if he can help, either. He's been squeezed for a while because his wife is out of work and they're still paying for day care.

I've asked the towing yard if they can set up a payment plan. The owner is supposed to call me back when he gets in.

I'm 43 years old. If I weren't so damn dysfunctional I'd never have been in this situation to start with.

abi can see who I really am, because my identity is obvious from my mangled email.


#366 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2013, 09:39 AM:

Dash, may I offer tea, sympathy, and hugs? That really sucks.

#367 ::: protecting others' privacy ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2013, 10:22 AM:

cancel financial distress call, though the emotional one is reduced to the chronic state, with a slightly higher burden now. The acute emotional distress is mostly relieved. My boyfriend's come through. Bless him.

#368 ::: tamiki ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2013, 10:29 AM:

Dash: I'm so sorry. Hang in there.

protecting others' privacy: Ouch! That's rough. I'm glad people came through for you.

#369 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2013, 04:24 PM:

Dash: Reading, witnessing.

protecting others' privacy: That sounds really not-fun, but it's good to hear it's not worse than it is.

#370 ::: protecting others' privacy ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2013, 04:36 PM:

update on the car/money situation: boyfriend was only able to cover $500.

I don't know where the rest is going to come from.

so I guess I'm begging again. If I get it done by friday, the whole house of cards won't tumble down on me.

[Obfuscated name. Which I do know, btw, as a ML regular of standing. —Abi]

#371 ::: protecting others' privacy isn't so private ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2013, 04:41 PM:

aib, i need a nym munging...

#372 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2013, 04:41 PM:

I can coordinate funding/communication if needed.

#373 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2013, 05:10 PM:

Abi & Protecting Others' Privacy, I can pitch in with a check for $50, but I don't have paypal and I'm not sure that a check mailed today or (given that it's late afternoon and the post offices will be closing shortly) tomorrow would get there by Friday...

Still, my email is (rot13) pnffl@obbxjlezr.pbz. Give me an address and a payee and I'll send the check right away.

#374 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2013, 05:13 PM:

Abi, I don't mind the offer @372 remaining on the board, but it occurs to me it might violate forum policy (some forums are funny that way) so please feel free to delete it if it is. But contact me regardless...

#375 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2013, 06:21 PM:

Cassy, nothing in this conversation violates any Making Light policies.

#376 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2013, 07:29 PM:

Abi, glad to know it.

I should clarify that I've been on forums which strongly discourage either cries for financial help or offers of same; I'm very glad to know this is not one of them. In those other forums' defense, I presume they're worried about people preying on the gullible, but your assurance that PoP is a long-time member is good enough for me.

#377 ::: Persephone ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2013, 10:21 PM:

protecting others' privacy @370, I may be able to chip in too. How can I get you funds by Friday?

#378 ::: protecting others' privacy ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2013, 10:26 PM:

Persephone, I have a PayPal account (and a debit card I can use to access the funds from it without delay) and abi will pass the address along to you (when she wakes up again). Thank you.

#379 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2013, 03:12 AM:

I have sent Protecting Others' Privacy's PayPal address to Persephone using the email address from the back end, and to others who have contacted me privately.

If anyone doesn't know how to contact me privately, it's my username at this dotcom.

#380 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2013, 04:09 AM:

Protecting Others' Privacy: I've just e-mailed Abi - another rung of the ladder should be on its way to you soon.

#381 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2013, 11:36 AM:

I just sent something to Protecting's PayPal. I hope it helps.

#382 ::: protecting others' privacy ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2013, 02:57 PM:

I believe I've thanked everyone individually, but I want to do so collectively & publicly here. I'm currently waiting at the DMV with all the paperwork in order, waiting to get the plates to put on my car. Such a relief.

#383 ::: tamiki ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2013, 03:16 PM:

protecting others' privacy: huzzah! I'm glad things have come together.

#384 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2013, 04:26 PM:

protecting others' privacy @382: That's great news!

#385 ::: Laina ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2013, 05:50 PM:

protecting others' privacy @382: Glad to know the car has been rescued and you can breathe a little easier.

#386 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2013, 05:31 AM:

I just ran across something really useful-looking on Captain Awkward. I may pull it to the front page for the next DF thread, but I wanted to bring it here and add it to the soup pot now.

Something that informs my work as a therapist a lot is the idea that people often lose track of their lives and fall into dysfunction when they stop being the subjects of their own stories, and turn into objects in other peoples’ stories. Instead of being able to decide who you are and what you want, all you can think about is what *everyone else around you* thinks you are or should want.

This makes me think of the stories Codemonkey (about whom I continue to wonder and hope) tells. But there are so many people here whose family tries to turn them into objects in a narrative they don't really matter in, and obliterate the stories of which they're heroes.

#387 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2013, 07:50 AM:

That entire comment reminds me of something I heard in a recent conversation: "You were a precocious kid like me—and we were programmed to please."

It wasn't even a matter of feeling like I wasn't telling my story anymore at some point. Until about 3 years ago, I never felt like I was telling my story in the first place.

#388 ::: Bricklayer ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2013, 07:57 AM:

So my sister's wedding went amazingly well, given the various DF ways it could have trainwrecked. Starting with the fact that my stepmother (who works two jobs) kept trying to be the mother of the bride, the matron of honor, AND the wedding planner, which led to a lot of important things falling by the wayside or being ill-planned or executed on the day.

From the point of view of the attendees, everything was hella late but awesome, so that's about the best it could have gone, I suppose. :->

My dad reined in his Captain Inappropriate tendencies to a degree I did not know he was capable of, FOR WHICH SO MUCH THANKS.

I gave my daughter unlimited 'tablet' time with my touchscreen device (onto which I'd freshly loaded a bunch of games she'd never seen before), so Normal Four-Year-Old Tolerances were mostly not exceeded, despite the schedule being a trying one from her point of view. She checked out of the last few 'everybody in the bridal party' photos but was in the important family ones, so who cares. She tolerated the very long, very delayed dinner at the reception (because the bride's return to the hotel was well over an hour later than the hotel was told to expect, I bet they didn't actually start cooking a lot of it till she got there, so the courses took forever) amazingly well, engrossed with my tablet and not making a fuss.

Then she got her cake and her dancing and was charismatically, awesomely entertained (and entertaining; the wedding photographer was totally rapt for a while) for way longer than I thought she would be before a minor trip-and-fall tipped her over into ALL THE CREYS. "This room is TOO LOUD. I wish it were not flower-girl day. I want to go home and stay there ALL THE DAYS!"

But by then it was 10:30 at night so I totes sympathize. :->

I got to talk to several family members I don't see often, and John was not pushed past endurance by either (a) kid misbehavior (he was child-primary yesterday) or (b) Family Shenanigans, of which there mostly weren't any.


Also, there were lightsaber battles. Because this was a geek wedding. :-> And I got to explicitly come out to some relatives who hadn't taken the mild blanket-to-family announcement seriously. Including my grandfather's first cousin, who took it all way calmer than I was expecting someone of his generation to! So yay.

And I got to carry my sister around on a chair in the hora, so I'm happy. :->

#389 ::: Bricklayer ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2013, 09:31 AM:

Oh, and also: Dancing stormtroopers. Taken by me and slapped into ani-gif format, so kind of rough, BUT STILL AWESOME.

#390 ::: Bricklayer ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2013, 09:34 AM:

The best thing about my brainstem having decided I really wanted to be completely awake at 5:30AM the morning after the wedding is that I got to crop, edit, and post my pix before anyone else. FIRSTIES, yay. :->

Sleep would have been better, but if I had to be awake, at least I got bragging rights out of it. And the Happy Couple can wake up to facebook notifications of schmoopy photos of them slowdancing together.

#391 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2013, 11:59 AM:

Bricklayer @388-390: Really glad that your sister's wedding went so well, particularly that it didn't involve you running out of spoons (your daughter running out of spoons at 10.30 at night is to be expected!). Well done in your fore-thinking for keeping her entertained; that kind of occasion can be boring for a young child).

Thanks for the dancing stormtrooper - fun.

And well done finding something positive and constructive to do with your early-morning awake time. Hope you get a chance to catch up on sleep.

#392 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2013, 12:10 PM:

Bricklayer: I believe the right reaction here is "Mazel tov!"

And hooray for tablets and their superior kid-amusing powers.

She lasted until 10:30 at night? Seriously impressive. Plenty of adults are starting to fray around the edges by then.

side note, I salute your sister's bravery about the chairs. I laid down the law ahead of time that there would be NONE OF THAT, THANKS, at my own wedding, because however improbable it seems for a person who loves roller coasters as much as I do, I am TERRIFIED of the chair-lifting bit.

And hooray for your family reacting calmly to your own news, too.

Here's hoping the next week goes just as well or better!

#393 ::: Persephone ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2013, 01:07 PM:

Bricklayer, I'm so glad the wedding went well! Sounds like your June is getting off to a sane start at least.

#394 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2013, 01:08 PM:

Hooray for the wedding going well!

And dancing stormtroopers under multi-colored lighters are even better than regular dancing stormtroopers.

#395 ::: Persephone ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2013, 01:08 PM:

Ack! Abi, could you obfuscate the name in the previous comment, please? The wedding was discussed both here and in the open thread, and I inadvertently crossed nyms too.

#396 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2013, 01:30 PM:

Persephone @395:


#397 ::: Bricklayer ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2013, 02:16 PM:

Rikibeth: The officiant actually had to teach most of the attendants how to say "Mazel tov!" properly for the break-the-glass moment ... because a bigger collection of goyische whitebread blondes (from his side) I've seldom seen. :-> Three of the chuppah-holders were from 'our side,' but it was particularly wanted to get a groom-related person involved. Given the small selection (only a subset of his family/friends could come; many of the males of it were already groomsmen), only one was available; when recruited, his reaction was along the lines of nervousness that he might 'do it wrong' and 'was it hard'.

For the readers who've never attended a Jewish wedding, the chuppah is kind of like a ceremonial mini-shade-fly, a square of cloth atop four poles. The poles each rest on the floor, and a guy at each corner holds onto them and keeps them from shimmying around. NOT HARD. :-> Though it does mean you're standing up there the whole flipping time, which my elderly cousin found wearing eventually (but he was very happy to do it, just spent most of the reception sitting down after).

In re the chairs, we really only got her waist-high (forearms under the seat, horizontal), because half the hoisters only grabbed it adequately for that lift. Her husband went a bit higher, but not much (I think his average lifter was taller). I think there ended up being like six of us surrounding her, lifting her in a standard hotel-ballroom type chair, so I'm not sure there was any chance of mishap; certainly her torso was surrounded on all sides by bodies. :->

The goyische attendees at the reception were also generally somewhat taken aback by the hora, sitting and watching it as if it were a National Geographic display. Usually when I'm at weddings with one, almost everyone ends up involved by the end, but for us, it stayed below about 25 people.

#398 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2013, 03:42 PM:

abi, #386: Thank you for that link. After reading the initial post plus as many of the comments as I could deal with (many of them were actively painful for me to read), I have re-thought an aspect of my own relationship with my partner and will be changing some of my behavior accordingly.

#399 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2013, 05:03 PM:

Lee @398:

I've found it a very thought-provoking thread myself. I have some scripts to rewrite. Not so much about objects in others' stories, but about the main thrust of the letter and the subseqent advice.

#400 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2013, 06:56 PM:

Bricklayer: I've only been to a few weddings that used active chuppah-holders in addition to static support for the poles. My family seems to think it's unnecessarily Orthodox, or something.

OTOH, I've never been to one where the chair-lifters didn't raise the couple over their heads. Not for me, thanks!

It's only recently that my dad and his brothers have determined that they're no longer able to show off with a kazatzke. Given that they're all in their seventies now, I suppose it's to be expected. They never did bottles-on-the-heads, though, because our family doesn't go in for the homburg hats to support them.

I wonder if the white-bread relatives who sat out the hora would also have sat out a conga line? They're about as simple and about as participatory. I suppose that it's long enough past Harry Belafonte's heyday that they wouldn't have heard Hava Nagila through him, either.

Still sounds like it was a successful wedding.

#401 ::: Bricklayer ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2013, 07:11 PM:

Rikibeth: I can testify that Greek Orthodox wedding receptions feel familiar to someone used to Jewish weddings. :-> There's even a very hora-like line/circle dance thing, and the guys holding their arms wide while they do Manly Dances (to many similar-rhythmed songs).

My (British but very hellenophilic) father-in-law is particularly hilarious once you give him enough grappa, because he's been to Greek-island village weddings and will attempt ALL the local dance moves with a mien of intense put-on seriousness. I'd love to see him at a proper Jewish wedding reception. Though I'm not likely to get another out of my nearish family for a decade at least (given ages and proclivities of cousins). Ah well. This was a good one. :->

#402 ::: Codemonkey in NE England ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2013, 04:42 AM:

It's been a rather busy past week for me -- last Saturday (the 1st of June) I went to Durham Fine Furniture (formerly Durham Pine -- but another firm bought the name) with my dad to pick up a new bed for my sister (her old slide-store bed had worn out). So at least I know a good place to buy flat-pack pine furniture, for when I do eventually manage to move out! My mam always had a low opinion of the Swedish superstore, saying their wares "look like garden furniture" and anyway. our nearest is about 30 miles from home anyway! (Less than 2 miles from work though!) I had to help my dad put the new bed together (even though it was identical to my own bed, which he'd put together the week before his brain haemorrhage), as he was getting so confused with it, after which he smashed up the old worn-out bed so I could take it to the local dump (which about a one-mile drive away).

My dad attended his dad's funeral on Wednesday, so I dropped him off at his aunt's house in Sunderland on my way to work. I remember my mam saying how her own parents arranged their funerals to cause the minimum of distress to my sister and I -- not only did we never attend (I went to work as normal, and my sister went where she goes as normal), but they were also arranged for about 10 am, so that I wouldn't even have to see my mam and dad in mourning clothes. My mam thinks this was very considerate of them, and suspects that my cousin had a nervous breakdown (which resulted in his being fired from his job) largely as a result of being required to attend his mother's funeral. I'm not sure if losing his job is the reason he lost his home though -- my mam got her dates wrong the first time she told me and he was actually foreclosed only a month after he lost his job (which implies he had been in arrears beforehand). I think that even though he'd put down 50% of the value as a down payment, he was still asking for trouble trying to buy a house when in a minimum-wage job -- perhaps it was one of those mortgages where the interest rate shot up after the first 2 years?

(Incidentally, as an aside, I wonder how much history explains why mam regards private renting to be something to be avoided at all costs? After all, from roughly the 1960s to the 1990s almost no-one rented privately in Britain, as private landlords were largely wiped out by a combination of regulation and the large-scale post-war council house building programmes. Thatcherism reversed this as almost all of the council houses were sold off. I'd agree that private renting and/or apartment living are bad ideas for families but I don't see why they're a bad idea for singles or couples. Perhaps it's mam's "children should live at home until they're ready to raise a family of their own" ethic coming into play here?)

I had the Thursday and Friday off work, because on Thursday my car was due for its servicing and MOT. I took my dad along with me for a look out (we went into Durham on the bus while waiting for the car to be sorted, not having to pay thanks to my dad's bus pass), and my mam also told me to check out the furniture shop again (as she'd seen a set of drawers which had been reduced, and which she was begging me to let her buy me). I decided to go for it, but putting it together was something of a nightmare (again my dad and I shared the work, and I ended up having to re-fit the fronts to the drawers as dad didn't glue them properly and they ended up coming off!) I think mam's plan was that my old set of drawers would go in the shed to make things tidier there (it was currently an utter disaster area inside).

On Friday, I went out with my mam to Hartlepool -- she regarded it as a treat for me as I got some fish and chips there and played on some arcade games, but we also got some shopping done as well. While we were out, dad was assigned the job of clearing out the shed to make way for my old set of drawers (which to my mam was a good way of forcing him to do something about the shed). My main job the next morning was taking Dad's junk from the shed to the dump (there were 2½ car-loads of junk, which given that the shed still looked fairly full after the job was done, would explain why it was so horrendously untidy before!)

#403 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2013, 12:08 PM:

Codemonkey in NE England @402: Re. renting, that could easily be one of the reasons for your mother to object to it. Nowadays, the main objection is that with rent and house prices what they are, it's impossible for most people to both pay rent AND save a deposit to buy - hence more people staying home for longer.

However, that's not the position you're in - you have enough for a good deposit. Nor are you in the same situation as your cousin was in: you're not on a minimum-wage job. The reason I'm suggesting renting first (and I think the reason several people here are suggesting it) is that buying includes a number of extra costs (survey fees, Solicitor's fees etc. etc.) that you don't want to pay out for twice if you can help it. Renting first would give you the chance to live in your own place and (a) make mistakes if necessary (wrong area, wrong size of property, wrong type of property); (b) involves a bit less paperwork and (depending on your contract with your landlord) maybe a few less bills to keep track of and pay (not less money, but lesser number of bills). Once you have rented one or two places, and have a better idea what you're looking for, and where, THEN you can buy.

For example, you may find that you love/hate (delete as applicable) a converted/purpose built flat; a single level/split level property; having/not having a garden; having/not having a garage; having/not having off street parking; having gas/electric cooker; having a combi boiler/conventional boiler and hot water tank; having carpets/laminated wood flooring (you'll be very lucky to find decent real wood flooring!); being/not being on a main road; being/not being on a decent bus route; being/not being near a large supermarket; being/not being near a decent railway station; being/not being near a park.... There are all things you might want to consider when buying - and you'll have a much better idea what's important to you after you've rented a place or two.

Note: I'd highly recommend getting all bills onto Direct Debit as soon as possible, preferably having them come out your account (if you have a choice) about a week after your salary goes in (that gives wiggle room in case it's late for some reason, while still having the main expenses go out before you're tempted to spend the money in your account).

#404 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2013, 01:03 PM:

Codemonkey, it's admirable that you're still trying to make sense out of what your mother tells you. But the thing you have to remember in doing so is that your mother is an unreliable narrator, and because of this, there may not be any way to make her statements reconcile with reality. There are certainly some topics (such as your competence to live independently) on which she is perfectly happy to say whatever she wants to be true at that instant, no matter how contradictory it is to what she said last year or last week.

Consider also that her complete and unreasoning aversion to the idea of renting may be due to something she heard and internalized decades ago from her parents or similar sources.

For example, my father never bought a used car in his life -- he had a mantra about it: "Buying a used car is buying someone else's headache."* None of my friends (who were generally far less well-off than he was) had observed this to be the case. Nonetheless, when I bought a used car (because the make and model I wanted was no longer available new), he gave me endless shit about it... and that car served me well for years, and went to my husband in the divorce, and continued to serve him well for years. And the car I drive now was bought used; it required one fairly major repair at that time, and another one a few months ago, and aside from that has proved to be a real workhorse -- we put 40,000 miles a year on it easily, with all our convention travel. But I have no doubt that if my father were still alive, he would still be haranguing me about how foolish I was to buy a used car.

* In fact, that's considerably more true now than it was in his day, when people were encouraged to trade in their old car for a shiny new model every year -- and very few cars develop severe problems in only 1 year.

#405 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2013, 01:25 PM:

Codemonkey, I'm glad you've had a non-stressful week or two with your family. It's a good recharging time, especially if you plan to move forward with moving out. This is a good time to make decisions-- you can trust yourself not to be acting in crisis mode. It's also dangerous because if your life were always this calm and functional, you wouldn't need to move out or feel nearly as much pressure about staying.

#406 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2013, 03:08 PM:

abi @ #386... yes, please, on the top post.

Crazy(and that thread was *SO* informative - dank je wel with a wink towards the gnomes...)Soph

PS witnessing other threads, not able to be present/supportive to the level I'd like; too much HLN at the moment. *sigh*

#407 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2013, 03:26 PM:


(side note) Where did all my time go?

#408 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2013, 04:37 PM:

abi @386: Huh. Reading CA's description of the paralyzing anxiety induced by her parents...another angle of parallax. That anxiety is very familiar to me. I never connected that to my mother's constant critique of me, though. Huh.

#409 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2013, 08:41 PM:

(I wrote this up last Wednesday but delayed posting it; things have since settled down but not resolved)

Still witnessing, and reading everyone's posts.

There's a bit of a situation going on in my house. The individual events are stressful as it is, but it's worse when you factor in our established dynamics and dysfunctions. I've tried to be concise because I don't have the spoons to type up all the history.

-My older brother was planning to college this fall.

-My brother, G, and I are both on the autism/asperger's spectrum somewhere. He was recognised/diagnosed years before me, which has coloured people's (including our parents) perceptions of him. He's getting more mature as he gets older*, but we're still sort of treating/thinking of him as how he was in the past, I think. There's a lot of history, like I said, and I don't really have the spoons to get it all in order right now. I guess it's like he was "cast" as the disabled one, and I was the comparatively "normal" kid. Like, I just had ADHD and diabetes and a "nonverbal learning disability" but I was smart, so it was a given that I would grow up and Do Things and look after some things for G.

* I'm kind of ashamed at how this feels surprising, like it wasn't something we expected him to do. It's complicated.

-As some of you may remember, I went to college for a two-year culinary program. I did well grades-wise, but I didn't enjoy it and didn't want to keep going. I posted about that in more detail in the DF threads a month or so before the school year ended. That starts with the second post under my read-all-by, for reference. If you don't want to read the backlog I'll spoil the ending: I essentially dropped out after the first year ended (switched to the one-year version and filed the paperwork to graduate), with no intent on going back for round 2. Parents were not happy. I do want to go back to school for something, but I have no idea what. I'm trying to work on that.

-The program my brother was accepted into is more of a support program for people with intellectual disabilities who want to go to college. The student gets to do a different program with this one as a...modifier, I guess? I'm not sure how to explain it. When I was at school, there was a young man doing the culinary program through this "support" program. He got accommodations like an assistant (not sure what the official title is) who went with him to most of his classes, and more time to complete the program. He took less than a full courseload (eg, 4 semesters to complete a 2-semester program) while qualifying as a full-time student. So ideally, that is what G could do.

-There's only 10 seats for that program at this college, because that's how many assistants/support workers they have.

-Your choice of programs is limited to ones that have open spaces left AND accept students from the support program (it has a name, but I'm hesitant to use it since it's a regional program and I'm trying not to make my location too obvious).

-He had narrowed his choices down to veterinary assistant or culinary. I was advising him against culinary, for reasons I felt were valid but I'm not actually sure about that. Our parents were stressing that he make his final choice very carefully, since this wasn't an easy program to get into, and it's pretty much his only avenue to go to college.

-He had a meeting with the coordinators on Wednesday, and found out that there aren't any spots in those programs. The only openings left are in two programs he has very little chance of succeeding in (graphic design and music), so he's pretty much out of luck. Parents aren't happy.

Okay, this is what I wanted to say about all this:

I am feeling stressed out by all this! My mom was in the hospital** for the last week of May. One visit just turned into her and dad trying to make it Very Clear to G that he had to take this Seriously. I was sort of trapped by politeness in the room with this lecture that was really uncomfortably close to what I'd been told before. I eventually left the room, but it keeps coming up. Not the part about being So Very Lucky to get into this program, but the part about how it's time for him to grow up and "the fun part of your life is over" and work/school being mostly Suffering. Actually, that was my dad, that's all stuff he said.

**she's not exactly better, but she's home and waiting on the doctor(s) to get their act together so she can go back and get things dealt with before they get worse.

I think both our parents have similar/the same concerns for their kids, but my mom doesn't have this undertone of "...but you're probably going to fail, because you're lazy/childish/selfish/unwilling to work, and the way you sit around refusing to try is pathetic" when she talks about how I need to get a job. With my brother, there's the addition of "stupid", which is barely an undertone. My dad treats us both with kind of derision, and it's been clear for a long time that he thinks G is an idiot. I say "us both" but he also derides my mom's karate and language classes. I think he feels like she's abandoning him/"the family" in favour of her hobbies, which are stupid anyway, so she's extra rude for having them. [sarcasm] Why can't she just watch movies with him or something? Why does she keep going to the coffee shop by herself? Jeez. It's like she doesn't like being at home all the time! [/sarcasm]

Dad's role in all this is, I dunno. He's barely helping. He's useful, but not supportive; he'll drive you where you need to go and he'll buy what you put on the grocery list, but he mostly fends for himself. My mother, like I said, was in the hospital. She'd been having gallbladder attacks for a while now, and the last one was bad enough to have her hospitalized. Short version: she's fine, but uncomfortable. She has to be careful about what she eats now, and my dad has made only a token effort to support her. As I said: he buys the food she asks for, he's not trying to sabotage her. But the "family meals" (which means everyone except my brother) he's been making have been in no way tailored for her. The last two meals were things my mother cannot eat, and when I pointed this out to my father he essentially said that her needs (very low fat, small portions) were so specialized that it wasn't worth the bother and she could make her own food. I really wanted to slap him but I didn't. Mom and I have discussed these things and we agree that he's kind of shitty. Sigh. I've got a lot more to say about my dad specifically but I'll save it for later I guess.

I'm worried for my brother. I hate hearing my dad talk about this like G is bound to fail. I'm irritated with my dad for being so damn unhelpful and selfish. I'm trying to help my mom but I'm low on spoons and still adjusting to the insulin pump (also food-related; that's kind of another post in itself).

#410 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2013, 09:31 PM:

Witnessing, and to Phenecious @409 that's horrible! Hugs if you're open, and a listening ear.

To Bricklayer #397: A hora! I would have been in there like a dirty shirt! Sitting it out and staring like it was a National Geographic special. Pah. Some people's children! *g* So glad the wedding went as well as possible. :) And holy cow - the kidlet lasted until 10:30? That's amazing for any kid!

A quick note from this end. Thank you Abi for posting that link to Captain Awkward. I read the letter, and the response, and it helped. Suddenly, I understand why the woman my husband frequently describes as graceful was convinced until very recently that she was an awkward klutz. I probably was, around Mom and the "best friend" she wouldn't let me let go because the girl treated all her friends so badly the rest all left her, so she had no one else.

In other news, I was at my parents' place today helping Mom to repaint the living room/dining room/entry area (just a refresher, so only one coat, but still a really big job). I came home feeling that all the grumps and snapping were entirely my fault, and that I should really be more responsible and patient and lalalalala. Ranting to Wonderful Spouse made me realize that no, it's not okay that she (in the heat, granted) called me a liar and accused me of making up/misremembering things that she said. I talked about this earlier - it's not gaslighting because she honestly has an entirely different memory of the past than the people around her. I ended it by saying "If I have to be able to quote back to you verbatim every thing we've both said, then I might as well go home." Mutual apologies, and things went back to mostly comfortable.

I just wish she'd quit interfering with what I'm doing ("helping") after the first, second, or even fifth time I ask her politely, and not wait for me to yell at her... It's training me to be grumpy around her because that's the only way she ever listens...

#411 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2013, 10:01 PM:

Phenicious, I think it's really good that you're talking to your mother about your father's shittacular behavior. Have you mentioned it to G? It might help G to have someone else confirm that your father's manners are not helping in the slightest.

#412 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2013, 12:47 AM:

Phenicious: reading and witnessing.

#413 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2013, 11:11 AM:

Phenicious, do you know if it's possible for G to defer his admission into the support program until next year to get into a specific training program? It would seem like they would want to set him up for success.

More generally, reading and witnessing but short on time to respond.

#414 ::: Variants on a Theme ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2013, 12:15 PM:

Hi all-
I could use some good thoughts heading my way...
a couple of key folks at the office (one of which has shown up in my prior 'person at office triggers memories of dysfunctional childhood' posts) are behaving a bit ominously [odd quiet treatment, no new projects heading my way].

I'm feeling some fear ahead of a meeting with the big-boss later today. Hoping its my usual worrying about what doesn't happen, because I don't actually want for my fears & tapes to be validated.

#415 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2013, 12:46 PM:

Variants @414,

Good thoughts, as requested.

#416 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2013, 12:55 PM:

Variants @ 414... May your fears be unfounded.

#417 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2013, 01:20 PM:

Variants, good thoughts going your way.

#418 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2013, 03:53 PM:

(Been reading and witnessing the whole time...just responding to the last few.)

Jacque @408:
I find that there's nothing that makes me so thumb-fingered as being watched, particularly critically. And there's nothing that makes me so foot-mouthed as having everything I say examined under a microscope for ill intent.

But it's still hard to identify the phenomenon at the time, and realize it's a toxic situation rather than just Dorky Me coming out again.

Phenecious @409:
I hope that breaking the silence with your mother about your dad's behavior helps. So often, having someone else see the problem helps turn it from your problem (which it isn't) into his.

Also, see the subthread about how having someone relentlessly critical and expecting you to fail affects your chances of success.

I've been learning a little bit about NVLD lately, for $reasons. How did you find out about it? I've read that the typical diagnosis pattern involves kids who were doing well at school losing ground for what looks like no good reason (until someone figures out the diagnosis) -- did that happen to you? Could that be tied to your father's perpetual miasma of disappointment?

Chickadee @410:
Well done for tackling the issue. Maybe one day you can have the conversation about changing behavior before you have to grump. Here's hoping.

Variants on a Theme @414:
I'll keep my fingers crossed for you.

#419 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2013, 05:06 PM:

Phenicious: Otter B @ 413 already said what I was going to suggest. Other than that - sympathies for the situation. Also, it's not surprising you're stressed out. Additionally, well done in getting started with the insulin pump - I know that was a big thing for you. Hope you get properly adjusted with it/used to it soon.

Variants on a Theme @414: Good thoughts being thought for you.

#420 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2013, 05:34 PM:

Phenicious #409: FYI, NVLD is currently considered part of the autistic spectrum. AIUI, the spectrum at this point basically runs: subclinical (no disability, thus no diagnosis), NVLD, Asperger's and classic autism. There's also Pervasive Developmental Disorder, which is a miscellaneous bucket for the category.

#421 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2013, 05:40 PM:

Abi #418: That's more or less what happened to me, but in college (basically, when I couldn't coast on raw intelligence anymore). I wound up self-diagnosing (yes, NVLD) from a book at age 39.

#422 ::: Dave Harmon has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2013, 05:40 PM:

Probably punctuation irregularity.

#423 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2013, 05:45 PM:

Dave Harmon @420:
I'm seeing a lot of disagreement about whether NVLD is on the spectrum. Certainly, in my neck of the woods, it's not a parallel construction with autism or Asperger's, not in diagnosis or in the way (for example) schools deal with them.

Given what I've come to understand of the two, I think it would be an unhelpful elision to map them together. NVLD is about which hemisphere of the brain functions best in processing inputs and producing outputs. Both autism and Asperger's tend to include sensory issues as well as processing ones.

There are things they have in common, such as trouble reading non-verbal social cues. But NVLD generally includes difficulty with pattern-matching, while autism and Asperger's both count that as a strong point.

(This is a very high-level summary of what I've been learning, which means it's almost certainly wrong.)

#424 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2013, 07:59 PM:

abi #423: IIRC, "your neck of the woods" (Netherlands, Europe in general) is well ahead of we USAians on matters autistic, so you're probably better informed.

I'm not sure just what you mean by "pattern-matching" -- I have difficulty recognizing faces (and other things), but am quite good with jigsaw puzzles and the like. I've recently known a couple of Asperger's folks (one my age, one "kid" of college age), and have been thinking of myself as "half an Aspie". Probably time to do some more research, but weeding out the bogus stuff from searches on this is a PITA.

#425 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2013, 08:00 PM:

PS: I also do get sensory overload easily.

#426 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2013, 12:56 AM:


I knew, going in, that I tend to have a better time if I limit my visits - optimal is about once every three weeks. But "we're repainting the interior of the house, can you come help?" seemed innocent enough. I mean, I'd go over there, do efficient job, come home - limited interaction and focus on a common goal, right?

Never mind Mom's procrastinating badly and then denying it vehemently when I said it was bothering me that we were going so slowly, and much more interaction than I'd hoped for.

Today was the third day in a seven day period. It was... well, I don't usually swear much, and I was flinging f-bombs wildly when I got home and was able to unpack to Wonderful Spouse.

Apparently, all the problems in the relationship are All My Fault, because I'm always misinterpreting what she says and it hurts! Not that she gets defensive when you ask her to change a behaviour (she reads it as you're telling her she's a freak and a failure), not that she rewrites history so she honestly doesn't remember anything cruel, hurtful or inappropriate that she's said - nope, it's me lying and making things up and taking what she says out of context, etc. etc. etc.

Until I had a reliable outside witness (boyfriend/ fiance/ now husband), I thought I was this freak who made up stories in my head then told them to other people as fact, in particular about what Mom had told me. I met Spouse when I was in my late twenties. That's a hell of a lot of training.

And now, this. I promised earlier to go back for one more painting job. I hope I can put it off for a month to let things cool down... It'll be a two consecutive day thing.

At the very least, I'm now aware that it's not my fault. I'm not a grumpy, self-centered person who picks fights and always needs my own way and lies about other people. Not saying she is - just saying I finally *know* that I'm not.

#427 ::: Fooey ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2013, 04:52 AM:

Can I just check something?

You are sitting around the table with several people. Some of you start talking about $subject. One person says, "$subject really upsets me. Could you please not talk about it when I am here?" (tone of voice is 'upset')

How do you respond? I mean, what's an appropriate reaction?

#428 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2013, 05:15 AM:

"I'm sorry. Let's talk about something else. Last time we got together, you said you were getting a pet wombat. How's it doing?" (Assuming arguendo that the upsetting topic was neither pets nor wombats.)

#429 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2013, 07:59 AM:

Fooey @427:

What Abi said. "Oh. Sorry. How 'bout them Cubs?"

Which is to say, acknowledge the hurt/mistake and IMMEDIATELY move on. Don't dwell on it; don't ask why, and absolutely don't keep talking about it.

There is one, and only one, exception: if it is absolutely vital territory to talk about that cannot be put off (like, "I'm sorry you're so upset I'm going into the hospital in two hours, but we really, really have to make logistical plans right now.")

This sort of thing is rare but it does happen; even in such circumstances, acknowledge the hurt and don't minimize it or question it.

Later, in a private setting, it MAY be appropriate to explore why this subject is painful. Or not. That is so very dependent on the people and situation that there's no hard-and-fast rule, but it's dangerous territory so tread lightly...

#430 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2013, 08:22 AM:

abi and Cassy B. are right. Also, the wombat has an unfortunate tendency to eat gold lace off people's best hats, though it doesn't hurt his digestive processes (she says, looking at the wombat stuffed toy that is sitting across the room next to the sloth stuffed toy).

#431 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2013, 10:11 AM:

Fooey, that sounds like a completely appropriate request, as it is, and the response I hope I and most people would give it is, "Oh, sorry. What's your favorite puppy?"

The puppy thing is because I often don't ask for a change of subject so clearly; I say, "Wouldn't 'puppy reviewer' be the best job ever?" or, "What's your favorite puppy?" until the person, often the boy (specific, not generic), changes the subject. Your change of subject is much clearer.

#432 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2013, 10:20 AM:

The other potential exception would be if you genuinely need to ask about the borders of the topic, but you only get one of these and it has to be asked neutrally, not with annoyance. E.g., should we just drop $issue, or would you rather skip politics altogether?

#433 ::: Bricklayer ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2013, 10:25 AM:

A Sherlock fanfic that touches on a lot of DFD-related stuff and involves a protagonist coming from a place of having been pushed down repeatedly by her husband to step out, make choices, and WIN: entitled "Rigging screws, size 1 3/8 inch, galvanised".

No knowledge of Sherlock required beyond 'he's an amazing detective'; he is in no way the main character of this piece. Caution: The plot involves the investigation of a murder, and the protagonist has been living in a VERY DFD situation for years ... and it's written with all the internal scripts one develops in that situation. May be triggery for some people.

I found it really hard to read but amazing and cathartic and I just have no words.

#434 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2013, 11:17 AM:

#426 ::: Chickadee

One of the realities we of the DFD set must struggle with is that, yes indeed, some people WILL NOT EVER acknowledge their part in any interaction that has injured you, including the reactions, "It really hurts me that you're telling me you're hurt!" or "But it's only because you're SO misinterpreting my intention!"

Crazy(because, yeah, every family will call the eight-year-old girl "Stink-pot" until she cries, but hey, it's all because we love you!)Soph

PS Uhm... heh. To me: triggered, much?
PPS Chickadee,... strength to you.

#435 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2013, 01:13 PM:

crazysoph @434 One of the realities we of the DFD set must struggle with is that, yes indeed, some people WILL NOT EVER acknowledge their part in any interaction that has injured you, including the reactions, "It really hurts me that you're telling me you're hurt!" or "But it's only because you're SO misinterpreting my intention!"

Oh yes!

Chicadee @410/434: Sympathies. My mother wanted me to not only be able to quote verbatim but also, her words, by themselves, taken totally objectively, without intonation, body language or history of our previous interactions, had to be objectionable. If I couldn't prove that then, why, I was being oversensitive again!

There's a reason why I carefully limit my time with her, particularly if I've not got my husband there to back me up. I wish it wasn't that way, but it is.

#436 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2013, 01:52 PM:

Bricklayer @ #433, read, appreciated and bookmarked. Thanks for the rec!

#437 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2013, 02:20 PM:

Phenicious @409: Good to hear from you! Any of those fronts would be pretty stressful by itself, so it's no wonder if you're feeling overwhelmed. Your dad is being horrible. I have this feeling that I'll be hlepy, but today is a no-confidence day and it could be that speaking. Please ignore any hlepy bits?

Your dad is definitely being a jerk when it comes to your mother's medical needs. Someone just out of the hospital shouldn't be forced into cooking all her own meals. I'm glad that your mother can see that he's behaving badly -- it gives you something to build on when it comes to concerns about how he treats you and your brother.

The way your dad talks to you and your brother about needing to grow up and suffer is the opposite of an incentive to grow up. Sure, there is some suffering, but the autonomy and pleasures of learning, growing, finding a vocation and building a family or community are worth a lot. But as I know far too well, it's really hard to be confident and build a good life when you're surrounded by the expectation of failure and inadequacy. Every slip no matter how small feeds the negative perceptions, and there are so few successes big enough or flawless enough to counterbalance them. It makes me wonder if your dad is unhappy and/or disappointed about his own life, and is taking it out on the rest of you. What does your dad have in his life that makes him deeply happy and fulfilled?

Is anyone applying a lot of pressure to G that he must go to college *this* year, even in a program G knows he hasn't much interest or chance of success in? If so, it seems to me that G is being set up to fail and take the blame for it, and that's not going to be good for either your brother or your family. He doesn't just need to complete the program; he needs to be motivated and skilled enough afterwards to make it in that field, and both music and graphic design are creative fields with a lot of competition. Instead, could the assistance program reserve him a slot for next year, when he can get into a program of his choice? And in the meantime, is there some way he could try on the careers he's interested in, to make it easier for him to choose right? Like volunteering for a local vet and a commercial-style kitchen?

#438 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2013, 02:29 PM:

Chickadee, #426: At this point I think you would be well within your rights to withdraw your offer of further help altogether. "The last time I came over to help, we both ended up angry and depressed. I don't want to put you thru that again."

Note that this is a variety of judo argument -- it's going to be very hard for her to argue against something which is couched in terms of concern for her feelings.

Fooey, #427 et seq.: I agree with all of these responses, under the stipulation that this is occurring in a normal conversation.

What no one has yet mentioned is that the "Please don't talk about this, it makes me uncomfortable" gambit can also be used to silence people who are trying to express their own discomfort with some type of dysfunctional behavior (cf. Chickadee), and the appropriate response to that is very different. (And will have to be described by someone other than me.)

Bricklayer, #433: I just finished that one last night, and it is absolutely amazing!

dcb, #435: That's even more toxic than my mother. When I quoted her back verbatim (less than 5 minutes later), she would swear up and down that not only had she not said that, she hadn't said anything that could be interpreted as that, and why was I lying to her? MAJOR gaslighting, but it failed because I knew perfectly well that she was the one who was lying -- and she never dared to pull that when anyone else was in earshot.

#439 ::: Codemonkey in NE England ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2013, 06:26 PM:

Lee @404: There are certainly some topics (such as your competence to live independently) on which she is perfectly happy to say whatever she wants to be true at that instant, no matter how contradictory it is to what she said last year or last week.

I think I'd be able to ignore my mother if she questioned my competence to live independently (or my financial ability to do so). what's so far kept me from making my move is fear of reprisals (such as destruction of my possessions) were I to move out without permission, or fear that moving out would cause my mother to have a nervous breakdown.

Consider also that her complete and unreasoning aversion to the idea of renting may be due to something she heard and internalized decades ago from her parents or similar sources.

Quite possibly it was because something her parents told her -- the fifties were apparently the heyday of Rachmanism in Britain, and I can definitely remember my mam saying (it was several years ago, as we were visiting grandma when she said it) that the situation was going back to what it was then, where "if you didn't have the money to buy a house, you were reduced to renting filthy old rooms".

I've sometimes used the "renting = used car, buying = new car" analogy myself in my own head, by the way.

Diatryma @405: Codemonkey, I'm glad you've had a non-stressful week or two with your family.

There was still one unfortunate incident in the supermarket on Friday though. When mam was queuing at the check-out I started biting my lip and slapping my arm against my thigh, which prompted her to order me to wait in the car! Afterwards she said that everyone in the shop was looking at me and that I "looked like someone with Tourette's", and that she couldn't understand it as she hadn't been saying anything unpleasant to me or asking me any questions!

The awful thing is that I knew exactly what triggered it but didn't dare tell my mother what it was -- she'd mentioned she wanted to buy me a new duvet, and for some reason I thought "oh, yet another thing to guilt me into not moving out (given that I'd be unlikely to keep my single bed for long if I got a place of my own)".

At least last night my mam actually said while with me "the only bit of normality you have in your life is when you go to work" (obviously acknowledging that the home situation is taking a heavy toll on me too). Tomorrow my parents will be visited by someone from the Stroke Association -- hopefully mam will do what she said she'd do yesterday, and let our visitor know just how dire her situation is now (which may result in her getting some more badly-needed help)! I think one problem in our house (which makes mam reluctant to ask for outside help) is that my mam is extremely reluctant to have visitors to the house because she's so ashamed of how much my dad has wrecked our kitchen.

I'm wondering if after the visit (on Friday perhaps) whether I should try contacting the Stroke Association myself (and preferably the same person who's visiting tomorrow, if I can track her down) to let them know that my mam has become so desperate for companionship that she's trying to block me from moving out (to the extent of keeping my bank books in her room, to prevent me from getting money without permission). Would that help my mam get the help she needs?

I've also found a (UK-based too) web forum created specifically for siblings of disabled children. I haven't posted there yet, but I expect it could be useful too.

#440 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2013, 06:52 PM:

I've got a serious problem with a self-hating internal monologue, and what's worse, it pretty much comes into play (frequently, not all the time) when I try to do something useful, and mostly shuts up when I'm killing time.

I may have blown a very good freelance possibility because I couldn't get myself to do the work.

The attacks aren't reasonable or relevant, and I wonder if part of what sets them off is my having a little more energy than usual.

The problem is amplified by what is probably too much exposure to human potential stuff. I don't go in for the harsher versions, but I still end up feeling as though if I were a better person, a worthwhile person, I'd be able to push through and accomplish something.

I realize this isn't reasonable. And also that beating myself up for symptoms of depression isn't reasonable. I can take that to heart on some things, but not about getting stuff done.

Meanwhile, I can't figure out what I really want, and it wouldn't surprise me if I'm blocking myself from finding out because I'm dealing with so much anxiety about doing ordinary things.

#441 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2013, 07:31 PM:

Codemonkey, I think that contacting the association is a good idea.

#442 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2013, 09:39 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @440, there is a book on procrastination that might be helpful if you haven't already read it, but I don't want to trigger more unhelpful self-blame or imply that You're Doing It Rong. If you're interested, I would be happy to say more.

#443 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2013, 11:36 PM:

OtterB, thanks for asking. You might as well mention it-- even if I can't get good from it, others may.

I'm going to be a little more explicit about my situation. If I start doing something useful-- sometimes if I think about doing something useful-- a voice in my head is pretty likely to say something along the lines of "You incompetent piece of shit". These days, it's less likely to follow up with "Why don't you just kill yourself?", but I've heard quite a lot of that.

The problem isn't that I'm suicidal, exactly. It's that I've got a voice in my head that is apt to tell me to kill myself. For a while there, if I tried to access what I really care about-- you know, to prove I'm good enough and have a passion like I'm supposed to-- I'd get back something about killing myself. Or possibly dying.

My inability to force myself past (into?) the anxiety is probably self-protective.

Part of the problem is feeling like there's something wrong with me for having the problem.

I could be kidding myself, but I don't think I've got normal procrastination.

#444 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2013, 12:36 AM:

I'm getting my thoughts together for proper replies but I wanted to contribute something re: Dave Harmon's #424:

I'm not sure just what you mean by "pattern-matching"

Pattern-matching for me manifests as recognizing/being fascinated by reoccurring melodies, words (eg, cloche: French for bell; a bell-shaped hat; related to "clock", clock towers have bells. I love that sort of connection), symbols etc. I'm not sure if this is to a greater degree than most people or not, because my dad's the only one who's said anything about my picking up on melodies, and he's sort of on the spectrum himself. It's funny, actually: he can tell guitarists apart by the sound of their playing, yet he's impressed when I recognize an actor by their voice. There are probably lots of other kinds of pattern-matching, but those are my examples.

#445 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2013, 01:19 AM:

Nancy @440 and 443: I have a slightly different set of problems, but it's the same basic pattern. Giant snarl of anxieties and negative ideas (helpfully installed by my mother and assorted helpers) like some giant tentacle-beast in my head. It wakes up for job-hunting or things related to it, such as thinking about money when income is low, and drags me down into helpless terror and despair. At first I can still get things done though it's slower and harder, but the longer the need to jobhunt or scrimp goes on, the harder it gets to do anything productive, especially if it's big or involves asking other people to help. Eventually, either I distract myself with frivolities or I end up having a breakdown. Until a few years ago, I just assumed that this was normal job-hunting anxiety and that the problem was that I sucked. When the employment services counselor insisted on referring me to the counselling services counselor, I started to twig that perhaps something was really wrong, and the whole therapy and discovering emotionally abusive mother thing all cascaded from there. But little progress has been made on the "jobhunting is the trapdoor over a black hole in my psyche" problem. And I also feel that I should be productive on a regular basis, and I start beating myself up or going into useless self-pity when I can't. I just had almost a month off and I made barely any progress on anything that I really cared about. How the hell does it happen?

Today I finally managed to explain in one go to my therapist how very bad the reaction to joblessness or jobhunting gets -- terror, despair, nausea, sobbing, screaming, etc. -- and that it's been around a long time and keeps getting slowly but steadily worse. I think perhaps it keeps getting worse because of the amount of times I have to force myself to do things through the fear, while rarely getting any good result. Most times, the fear is right, and it's fundamentally a very real, sensible, rational fear, even though it's exaggerated to irrational levels. I now have a shiny new prescription for anti-anxiety medication. I really hope that will help, because I want very much to finish my portfolio and go hunting for a better option than my current somewhat dysfunctional employer.

Addenda: the temp agency called -- my employer has finally gotten organized enough to give me my job back, and it's such a relief that I went from breaking down or hovering on the edge all morning to this evening being under control and somewhat relaxed. But I can't even manage to be happy about it, because I only lost my position in the first place thanks to their own disorganization and crazy internal politics. Instead I am seething at them for having put me through this little bit of hell, and for their inconsiderateness and lack of foresight. They gave the impression that I'd be back in a week, and it's been almost a month, and if their pay system weren't permanently in arrears, I might have gone broke because they couldn't be bothered to tell me that I'd be out of work that long. Is there a polite and professional way to tell a boss that you trusted him to do his damned job, he screwed up and scared you half to death, and that if he ever does that to you again that you'll send someone to break his knees? Especially when the screwup is really many tiny screwups and delays by many people, and a very dysfunctional staffing policy coming from many many levels above?

#446 ::: Variants on a Theme ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2013, 01:57 AM:

Cassy B., Serge, Rikibeth, Abi, dcb- 415-419:
Thanks for the good thoughts.

Just remembering to write these worries out, and thinking about how we all share in this - we all have to deal with our tapes, was a big help for a weird day. I didn't stop the tapes entirely, but I could tell myself that what I was hearing was tapes. This distance gave me slightly more energy to deal with one of the perpetrators of the silent treatment.

#447 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2013, 03:17 AM:

Codemonkey @439:
what's so far kept me from making my move is fear of reprisals (such as destruction of my possessions) were I to move out without permission, or fear that moving out would cause my mother to have a nervous breakdown.

The former is a change from how you used to think, or at least post here. It sounds like a realistic fear, and something you can plan for.

The's possible. But if so, that's a sign that she's in pretty terrible emotional shape even with you around. I think starting to put feelers out to get help for her is a good way to address that. I can guarantee you that anyone with any experience of familial dysfunction will (as we have done here) see the warning flags in even the blandest description of your home life.

(If someone doesn't, then move on. They're too sheltered to help. You don't want to be the family they learn the hard lessons on.)

But don't make moving out contingent on getting her the support structure. It's an ongoing effort, and one you can keep working on when you're no longer in the house. Indeed, you may get more help if she can't hide her situation by pouring it all on you.

When mam was queuing at the check-out I started biting my lip and slapping my arm against my thigh, which prompted her to order me to wait in the car! Afterwards she said that everyone in the shop was looking at me and that I "looked like someone with Tourette's", and that she couldn't understand it as she hadn't been saying anything unpleasant to me or asking me any questions!

I don't know if you know -- British Aspie culture may not use the term -- but that's called stimming (useful if you want to google it).

Nancy Lebovitz @440&443:
Well, I am glad to hear the "kill yourself" voice is less pervasive than it would be. I'd really rather you didn't. I think we all would.

Is there something "wrong" with you for having that voice inside you? In the sense that it's not optimal, yes, clearly. But that's "wrong" the way that a broken leg is wrong: it's an affliction, not a definition.

You, the core you who is afflicted by this voice, are not wrong. You are very right. I've been interacting with you online for a number of years, and I assert this with good reason.

Moonlit Night @445:
What you can say to your boss depends, of course, on your relationship with him and your work culture. But I suspect a "thank goodness that's over with! I found that quite stressful. I hope I don't have to go through it again!" is fair comment under pretty much any circumstances.

Variants on a Theme @446:
Sometimes just having the strength to keep going is a victory for the day. I'm glad you had that. I hope things improve.

#448 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2013, 03:36 AM:

Patterns and pattern-matching:

Lots of little things all over my life:
* I love numerical palindromes. A number like 36563 pleases me in a way that others do not.
* We used to have colored plastic hangers, at the same time that I had a bunch of colorful shirts. I used to hang the shirts on matching hangers. It felt pleasing to do so.
* I enjoy, on a deep nonverbal level, the sight of a long train with similar-sized cars going around a curve.
* One of my systems diagnostic techniques is to read raw server logs. I can often see patterns in them that others don't, ones that turn out to be significant when analyzed.
* Same thing works for some forms of cipher.
* Much of my moderation is based on pattern-sets. When people use specific words or constructions, or when the commenter/reply ratios go in certain directions (or a host of other, equally articulable things happen), I know to sit up and take notice. I know a lot of moderators who don't do it that way.

All of these things, and many more besides, form a (ahem) pattern of behaviors, strengths and delights that I term "pattern-matching". It's a body of techniques to deal with a large volume of insufficiently-prioritized inputs (which is a fair description of how many Aspies experience the world).

Pattern-matching might not be the correct term. It's also part of the (sorry) pattern with many Aspies to categorize and label things internally, so quite often the vocabulary varies from person to person.

One thng about NVLD is that, on its own at least, it tends not to include the creation and application of patterns as a way to deal with the world. Certainly, the person I know who probably has it has learned pattern-creation and -matching as an external skill. It's not native thinking for them; they have to talk through a lot of what I see and do instinctively.

(Though there's a fair argument that "talking through" is "doing instinctively" for someone with NVLD.)

#449 ::: Pro ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2013, 07:40 AM:

Nancy @446:

I say this not to attempt to diagnose you over the internet, but to add a data point that may or may not be useful to you or others.

My wife spent twenty years with thoughts much as you describe them (being told to kill herself, for example), and she thought it was just a super-negative inner critic. Turns out it was ... actual voices, as in psychosis that went away when she was prescribed meds.

It's likely her father also had them and that's where the "inner critic" story came from, but she honestly had no idea everyone else didn't go around with the same thing, just coping better.

But whatever is the cause of what you're dealing with, what you're dealing with is hard and painful and real and you have my sympathies.

#450 ::: Pro ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2013, 07:41 AM:

I meant Nancy @443. Ah, morning brain.

#451 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2013, 08:55 AM:

Abi #448: I certainly look for patterns, but my fascinations are not on the level you describe. I consider a lot of things in terms of mythic archetypes (I like Shinoda-Bolen's personality systems), elemental systems (like Earth Air Fire Water), Tarot Trumps, etc. But the sets can't be too large, e.g. I don't associate to the Tarot pip cards.

Maybe more after work, I need to get moving here....

#452 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2013, 09:16 AM:

Dave Harmon: I can associate to the Tarot pip cards, when I'm in practice (haven't been for years) and when I'm using a fully-illustrated deck on the Rider-Waite model. Vivid emotionally-charged pictures? I can do those.

But that's not pattern-matching, precisely, because the emotional impact of the numbers doesn't carry across suits, or anything like that.

But in a standard deck of playing cards: four seasons, fifty-two weeks, and the number of pips in the deck adds up to 364.

Phenicious, as for voice identification: you mean there are people who don't? I've been told I'm bad at faces, though I suspect it's just that my housemate and I process "similarity" on different cues, but if I'm sitting not looking at the screen, a familiar voice will cause me to lift my head and go "It's THAT guy!"

How else was one supposed to recognize the guest actors in alien makeup on ST:TNG before IMDB existed?

I've learned to identify Jamie Bamber's voice in both UK and American versions (which is a trick, as he does some very fine gradations of class markers for different roles in his UK accents, but the timbre doesn't change much) but when directors have Ioan Gruffudd use an American accent I'm lost.

Okay, my fangirl is showing. As those are the main two actors who I care about seeing in guest roles. :)

#453 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2013, 10:56 AM:

Rikibeth @452: That talent actually gave me a problem in Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, because the 'lifelike' CGI humans were just close enough to actually realistic that they kept fighting in my head with my instinctive knowledge of what the actor-whose-voice-that-is looks like, and disrupted my identification loop in a way that a plain straight-up cartoon wouldn't.

It was also good enough that it looked like bad acting and not bad CGI, which is definitely a paradigm shift. :->

#454 ::: Win ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2013, 12:21 PM:

Yeah, the few times I've had an "actual" voice in my head (if that makes any sense) it was quite different than what I think of as "tapes." I think Oliver Sacks points out in Hallucinations that most people have auditory hallucinations at some point, but the stigma attached to "hearing voices" is great enough that it doesn't get talked about much. At a level to interfere with one's life is different, though.

#455 ::: J. ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2013, 12:35 PM:

@Codemonkey #439: Also worth considering: In a country where professional help is available, possibly even for free, why should you be your mother's prop against decompensation? Just because it's what she's used to doing? Using a plunger on the sink every single time one does the dishes may be familiar, but it doesn't obviate the need to have a plumber look at what's going on!

And you don't have to be the plunger if you don't want to.

#456 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2013, 12:42 PM:

Moonlit Night @445: "jobhunting is the trapdoor over a black hole in my psyche"

That's a really...apt description. This has been the presenting problem every single time I've sought help from a counselor. And I have never gotten useful (any?) assistance with it. My abreaction isn't quite as bad as yours...quite.

And I could really use some help on this, as I am currently in a job that, while adequate, is only just, saps my emotional and physical energy, and has me perpetually on the brink financially. I need to find a better job. Doing so is...not happening. And hasn't been for five years.

#457 ::: Fooey ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2013, 12:48 PM:

@everyone who answered: Thanks.

#458 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2013, 01:32 PM:

Jacque @456: It's going to be a while before I'll know if the anti-anxiety drugs are any help. If those are enough to get a spiral of confidence started then maybe that will fix it.

I have one other lead. The guilt-monster is too big and snarled to count on gradually untangling, so either I need to find the magic thread, or a cleaver to cut through it. But many of the ideas in the snarl relate to authority and how authority is allowed to treat you. The logic behind my spinelessness and despair seems to be that the original authority, parents, treated me very badly and it was very personal. But parents are supposed to treat you better than others do, so what can I expect from strangers like employers? Deep down I expect people with control over my income to treat me badly, and for the reasons to be personal, and since they have control over my income, I have to take it, because I can't count on surviving if I walk away. And unfortunately, I keep on ending up in employment situations where they do treat me badly enough to reinforce the pattern. (Probably not self-sabotage -- more likely lack of confidence preventing me from escaping the pattern.) If there's a way to get at the idea of authority and how it's allowed to treat you, or even just strongly separate parents-as-authority from employers-as-authority, it might help.

#459 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2013, 01:47 PM:

Codemonkey, I understand the fear of reprisals, but she'd destroy your possessions? Do realize how childish that is -- if your mam would REALLY do this, she needs help that you can't give her. She NEEDS professional counseling.

Another data point: Are any of the items you fear she'd destroy irreplaceable? If they are something you can walk into a store and buy another, then you've got more than enough money in the bank to do so. Anything you can't buy, if it's small enough, you might want to store it at your office or lock it in the boot of you car.

#460 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2013, 03:39 PM:

Codemonkey, what Lori said just above, and also on a practical note: in the US, you can hire movers who will not only move your things in a truck, but pack them up for you on the day you move. It isn't cheap, but if you had strangers in, physically boxing up your things, do you think your mam would really confront them to destroy stuff? And you'd be right there, telling them what was yours and what wasn't.

#461 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2013, 03:47 PM:

Moonlit Night: Sympathies. Can't help, because I've got similar problems and I've not worked out how to selve them yet. I've had problems both with bosses specifically triggering Stuff implanted by my mother, and with a general low self-confidence/self esteem so that I'm not good at challenging behavour when persons in (work) authority over me treat me badly. The AVP (Alternatives to Violence Project) courses I went on have helped, and having a fantastic husband has helped, and doing modestly well at my fairly-recently-chosen physical hobby has helped,, and ending up in a volunteering leadership role has helped - and yet, at the time I get bullied /verbally put down by my manager, I don't know how to respond. And I now have nobody at work I can discuss anything with, or express concerns to. It's hard.

#462 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2013, 03:49 PM:

Codemonkey -- regarding the stolen bank books:

Take some time off work during banking hours. Go to the bank and tell them that your bank books/cards have been stolen, and get replacements. The bank will change the account numbers, also have them change the address on the account to your workplace, and have them send your monthly statements to your office.

If you do this, under no circumstances do you let these items out of your custody. Either keep them in a safe deposit box at the bank, or if your desk is lockable keep them at work.

#463 ::: Codemonkey in NE England ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2013, 08:09 AM:

I hoped that the visitor from the Stroke Association would have set something in motion that could have provided more help for mam, but unfortunately she dismissed the visit as "a waste of time" when I got back. Maybe if I contact them myself they could suggest something?

Incidentally, this morning I decided to look up some statistics from the 2011 Census to check my mam's assertion that "people here live with their parents until they find a partner". This data was for my own village plus two similar villages nearby (the organization of the census meant I couldn't exclude those without also excluding about half of my own village).

I have noticed that more than 1 in 6 households are made up of a single person under 65 (showing that my mam was misinformed, or perhaps blinded by nostalgia?), but I've reproduced the data in more detail ("dependent child" means under 16, or between 16 and 18 and in full-time education) by below in case it brings anything else to light about my local area.

I'd be interested to know if anyone sees anything unusual about my local area, based on this data...

One Person: 32.0%
--- 65+: 14.3%
--- Under 65: 17.7%
One Family: 63.7%
--- All 65+: 8.8%
--- Married Couple: 32.6%
------- No Children: 12.7%
------- Non-Dependent Children: 7.4%
------- At Least One Dependent Child: 12.6%
--- Cohabiting Couple: 9.8%
------- No Children: 4.0%
------- Non-Dependent Children: 0.8%
------- At Least One Dependent Child: 5.0%
--- Lone Parent: 12.5%
------- One Dependent Child: 5.1%
------- Two or More Dependent Children: 3.5%
------- All Children Non-Dependent: 3.9%
Other Household Types: 4.3%

#464 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2013, 09:54 AM:

Lee @438: Thank you for the suggestion. Though judo wouldn't work - it would just trigger martyr complex. :(

I was all set to withdraw the offer of further help and deal with any fallout when Mom did something incredibly stupid. Even she admits it was stupid. It resulted in her breaking her right (dominant side) wrist, and she's in for surgery today. :(

Basically, she decided that an open hole in the floor (under the paint-shielding cardboard) would be more stable for the ladder than a register cover that might tip a little (range of millimeters, hampered by covering cardboard). You can predict the results. :(

So I'm concerned for Mom (though she seems to be doing fine), but also frustrated that it means I have to go back and finish the painting job - and possibly other stuff that she wants done that my dad can't handle. (as a note, they split the regular housework fairly equally, and he's agreed to pick up the slack while she's out)

For the moment, she won't be in the house while I'm painting, so that's several major problems avoided. And I'm deciding where to set boundaries so I don't end up just doing her crazy renos for her.

What I'm concerned about is that she's the one who taught me that to not be actively doing stuff ALL THE TIME, regardless of illness or pain, means that you're lazy. She never said so directly, but she definitely modelled it, and the pattern of her criticisms of other people reinforced it. She's going to hate herself, or else overdo it and hurt herself worse... This will complicate the boundary setting. :(

#465 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2013, 10:55 AM:

Codemonkey in NE England @ 463: I don't think it's important what the statistical average is in your town, or how it differs from another area. What's important is what's right for you.

#466 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2013, 11:52 AM:

janetl: I can see how concrete statistics might be comforting for Codemonkey, though, as a way of reassuring himself that his mam wasn't describing objective reality, only her biased perceptions. The more reassurance on that front, the better.

#467 ::: protecting others' privacy ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2013, 12:14 PM:

Moving towards functionality:

I'm starting to acknowledge the fact that bipolar disorder is an actual life-affecting disability for me, not with despair, as has been the case, or denial, which has got me in trouble repeatedly, but with a practical eye towards strategies for survival.

Acknowledging that I may never be able to follow the pattern of "complete schooling, get 9-5 full-time job, support self entirely independently, earn enough to retire" is something of a relief, when I treat it as a statement of fact rather than a statement of failure.

As it happens, my impairments (I'm calling it that for now, as I'm not going through the process of getting my disability officially recognized by the government) don't stand in the way of helping a friend who has an officially recognized disability that involves mobility impairments.

She's getting by on limited income because she's got low expenses, including an inherited house with more bedrooms than she uses.

I've got the ability to go up and down stairs, drive a car, and shovel snow, and all the related daily stuff that's automatic to me but challenging to her.

We both think that my moving in with her is a great idea, because it'd lower both our expenses -- no rent for me, someone to split the utilities with for her -- and she gets how to support me in a downswing the same way that I know about walking slower and carrying stuff.

And if I have lower expenses, I might be able to meet my needs with part-time work, maybe home-based and flexible-schedule, so when my brain chemistry isn't cooperating, I don't lose a job just by not showing up.

And then I won't have to be the dysfunctional one in my family who has to be supported.

Cross your fingers for me.

#468 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2013, 12:20 PM:

Protecting Others' Privacy, that sounds like an ideal sitation for both of you.

#469 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2013, 12:27 PM:

Me, above: sitation=situation. Bad fingers; no biscuit.

#470 ::: protecting others' privacy ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2013, 12:48 PM:

It's not quite a done deal yet -- ideally, I'd like my current housemate to move along with me, as I value her company, and she would also save a great deal of money, but she's not 100% sold on the project yet, though she concedes its advantages. She's not well acquainted with my other friend, though I believe they'd get along readily -- but current housemate is highly introverted and somewhat doubtful about adjusting to a new person.

Still, I believe that when I can show Current Housemate some clean, empty bedrooms upstairs, she'll like it. Due to mobility issues, Friend was never able to manage any sort of estate clean-out when she inherited the house, and the bedrooms have acquired a significant layer of Stuff on top of their previous furnishings. I'm currently going over one day a week to address that (this is part of my agreed-upon indenture to pay back the money she lent me for the car bailout). I'm making a lot of progress, and it's a surprising amount of fun.

#471 ::: Pfusand ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2013, 01:25 PM:

Codemonkey @ 463,

So, you've learned that four times as many single adults live alone as live with their families. I don't think this surprised you, did it?

You wrote, "I hoped that the visitor from the Stroke Association would have set something in motion that could have provided more help for mam, but unfortunately she dismissed the visit as "a waste of time" when I got back."

This "she" is your mother, the unreliable narrator?

Then you wrote, "Maybe if I contact them myself they could suggest something?"

I would definitely contact them and ask for a copy of the report -- Do you have a post office box yet? Why not get one near work?

Really, you need one. Just a little one.

#472 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2013, 01:40 PM:

protecting others' privacy @467: that sounds like an amazingly sensible solution for both of you. I really hope that it works out. If it can work out for all three of you (including Current Housemate) then even better.

Also: I think you're incredibly brave to come to that realisation and then go on from there to what is, or might be, possible.

#473 ::: protecting others' privacy ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2013, 02:51 PM:

dcb: It's actually a relief to re-cast it as "partial disability, illness" than to keep berating myself as "lazy" and "failure".

I mean, I've proved I can do some things well. The first original novel I ever wrote was accepted at one of the first three publishers I tried, and it comes out next month. And I also sold two shorter works, and I'm continuing to write.

But that's not a living, not yet. And I don't know if it'll ever come up to the level of a 9-5 job.

But if I can arrange for the security to keep doing it, instead of trying to do things that don't work very well for me... I'll feel a lot more successful.

#474 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2013, 05:09 PM:

Codemonkey writes:I have noticed that more than 1 in 6 households are made up of a single person under 65 (showing that my mam was misinformed, or perhaps blinded by nostalgia?)

Many of the households who are now married only got that way by moving out of their parents place first. Me and every other married couple I know except one are in that bracket. So the proportion of households made up of people who moved out while single is a lot, a lot higher then the figure for currently single people shows.

You don't want to, but you should probably think about the possibility that your mother is not misinformed or nostalgic.

Does she ever admit to you that she tells your father and your sister lies, because, well, you know, she sort of has to?

#475 ::: Codemonkey in NE England ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2013, 05:38 PM:

Pfusand @471: So, you've learned that four times as many single adults live alone as live with their families. I don't think this surprised you, did it?

Actually, it seems to suggest the numbers would be about equal. (7.4% + 0.8% + 3.9%) = 12.1% of households have at least one parent living with one or more grown-up children, and there are probably some grown-up children living with their parents and younger children as well.

Still, it's not the "almost all single adults still live with parents" that my mam claimed though.

Incidentally, I wonder how much her Inherited Obligation family views were coloured by bitter memories of the 1984 miners' strike (which she mentioned yesterday while we watched Billy Elliot together, which is set during that strike).

She mentioned that she depended on her parents to pay for our food and electricity at the time (we didn't have a phone then), especially as I was on a special diet (no artificial colourings) at the time to combat my hyperactivity, which meant I couldn't eat the free school meals. She gave thanks also that I was too young to still remember those times now...

#476 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2013, 12:07 AM:

Know what else sucks about jerkbrain? When jerkbrain says that telling somebody what jerkbrain says is just fishing for reassurance and you totally shouldn't do that you pathetic invisible one.

Probably I should put both halves of that together and tell new interest about it all at once. But then jerkbrain says it's just more fishing for reassurance and besides new interest will back away because you're a broken invisible one too.

Most of what jerkbrain says is mostly ignorable now, because new interest keeps proving jerkbrain wrong, but I'm having trouble getting past this one because it directly attacks the whole bit about telling new interest about it.


Posting with minimal editing before jerkbrain can stop me.

#477 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2013, 01:41 AM:

the invisible one, #476: It makes perfect sense to tell people who have demonstrated that they wish you well about the saboteur in your head. Knowing about that gives them the ability to tell when it's happening and provide you direct support against the sabotage.

Jerkbrain obviously knows this as well, because otherwise why would it be trying so hard to stop you? This is the strongest weapon you have against jerkbrain jerking you around -- of course it wants to convince you not to take that step!

#478 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2013, 03:31 AM:

Hastily written update:

Both my parents are having surgery this summer, possibly quite close together. My dad's is for carpal tunnel issues in both hands. They'll do one hand, wait for him to recover, then do the other one. Recovery is supposed to take about 6 weeks total, during which he won't be able to work. So there goes his income. My mom's job is better-paying and actually has benefits, so she'll be getting some money while she's off. Still, the next while could be pretty rough.

Related ominous news: Mom asked the pharmacy to give her a record of all my prescriptions from last year(?). It adds up to about $11 thousand per year? I think?? It's a lot. Fortunately most of it is covered by mom's health insurance, but that stops once I turn 21 in November. However, if I'm a full-time student the cutoff age becomes 25 (I'd guess that if I stop being a student before then, the coverage stops).

There's other factors that I don't really understand but it's looking kind of bleak.

So essentially, for my parents to not go bankrupt, I have to apply for disability pension and somehow go to college this fall. Mom brought up going back for a second year of culinary; I objected and she dropped it for now. I'm kind of frozen at this point. This requires me to make decisions and not just avoid everything that makes me uncomfortable.

Mom and I have been escaping the house a lot lately. We drive around and do errands and visit my grandmother and go for walks, etc. She likes to go hang out at $CoffeeShop and study to avoid sitting around the house.

We went grocery shopping on Saturday with my dad. While mom was checking out, he was read a magazine and didn't notice when we were done so we just left him. We kept walking out of the store, laughing about how he'd look up and wonder where we went. He reached the car as we were unloading the cart; he didn't say anything about it. At the time I was thinking this is probably indicative of how it's kind vs him? "Haha, he's still there! When do you think he's going to notice we're gone?" It reminds me uncomfortably of how my mom hid her karate training from him. It was funny, in a way, that he just didn't notice anything. I kept the secret, her social circle at the dojo were all in on it and didn't talk about mom going to class in front of my dad. We were laughing at him because "How do you not pick up that your wife's been going to karate for months?" but from the other side that's kind of awful. I don't know.

The divide between dad and the rest of us needs to be addressed, I think. Mom doesn't like him that much; I think I mostly stopped caring about him beyond being irritated. I don't know what G thinks. I really only open up about this stuff to my mom, and I don't ask what other people think except in relation to what I'm telling them.

I realize I've left some people hanging who replied my comment #409. I'm sorry, I'm low on spoons and sleep. I just wanted to post this because it came up today/yesterday so they're still fresh in my mind.

#479 ::: Phenicious visits the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2013, 03:33 AM:

I would offer my cereal but I already ate it.

#480 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2013, 03:39 AM:

Codemonkey: Further data for you. I lived outside my parental home from the time I started my PhD. Within a year after starting full-time employment, I got my own flat (and mortgage!)*. My now-husband bought his first flat about a year before I got mine. His (younger) sister had already got hers.

I am -extremely- glad that I had my own place - mine, all mine - before before meeting my now-husband and (some time later) buying a house together. Those years in my own place were really important to me.

Honestly, nowadays the only adults I know who are living with their parents are (a) those who are doing so to save on rent while they save enough for a deposit so they can get a mortgage; (b) those who have moved back in with an elderly parent or parents because said parent(s) are getting frail and can't manage alone.

You need some time living by yourself, so you can, for example, choose to read through Friday night and to 3 am on Saturday morning to finish that new book, then get up at noon, if that's what you want to do, without needing to have any concern for how it will affect other members of the household.

You need to have the experience of being the one paying your bills and working out whether you're better having them on Direct Debit (I highly recommend that), and choosing your furnishings, and doing your own shopping and cooking and cleaning.

As an aside for how illogical your mother is being: she wants you to end up as your sister's carer, but isn't encouraging you to learn to take care of yourself, even!

*This was thankfully just before property prices in the UK really went stupid.

#481 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2013, 08:34 AM:

Phenicious @478,

Regarding your health insurance issues, under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), as of 2014 you can be covered under your parents' insurance until the age of 26. This is irrespective of whether you are or are not attending school, whether you live with them or separately, and whether they are supporting you or you are supporting yourself.

Link to official summary of relevant clause.

This is assuming you live in the US, anyway. And I'm assuming you are, because the rest of the First World is less likely to throw people under the bus healthwise.... <wry>

#482 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2013, 10:07 AM:

The invisible one, if your jerkbrain is saying, "If you tell anyone about this, it's just fishing for compliments and nothing they say is genuine," you might be able to thwart it by introducing the topic and asking not to be complimented throughout. Compliments given after a suitable pause (or spluttering disbelief that simply cannot be contained) seem more genuine to me, and thus less likely to support jerkbrain.

Phenicious, I agree that the Dad vs Everyone dynamic is pretty dysfunctional. I wish I had ideas on adjusting it, but I really don't.

#483 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2013, 12:29 PM:

Cassy B @481 in re Phenicious @478: I believe that Phenicious is in Canada, which means that basic insurance for doctor-provided health care is not a problem. What is a concern in this case is the pharmaceutical coverage, which isn't provided by government plans generally. Either you pay out of pocket or you get supplemental private coverage from your employer.

Phenicious - wishing you the best duirng this summer. It sounds like there are a lot of issues to juggle.

#484 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2013, 01:42 PM:

OliviaCW and Phenicious; my mistake. I assumed US, because it's usually in the US that insurance becomes a problem.

#485 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2013, 05:39 PM:

In re pharmaceutical coverage in Canada: I only know about Quebec, which has a provincial drug plan for those without access to a private plan. Other provinces may have something similar, but I'd have to do more research.

#486 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2013, 06:12 PM:

I found this on the various provincial/territorial drug plans:

I hope I'm being helpful rather than hlepy. I'm keeping a good thought for everyone, all the same.

#487 ::: Cheryl has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2013, 06:13 PM:

For the link, I suppose.


#488 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2013, 07:48 PM:

Ontario has the Trillium drug plan. Needs some paperwork, not too onerous in my partial understanding.

#489 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2013, 09:59 PM:

Alberta has Blue Cross. Has some frustrating exemptions (anything to do with mental health, for example, doesn't count as "real" so if you apply after being diagnosed with depression, forget getting your meds covered...), but after a 3 month blackout period they'll cover all physical pre-existing conditions.

#490 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2013, 12:30 AM:

#477, Lee: yeah. That's probably why jerkbrain is hitting all the most sensitive spots right now.

#482, Diatryma: it was reassurance, not compliments, and the kicker is that I do want reassurance... but reassurance given on request is harder to believe, so how do I say that I need it without making my reaction immediately turn to "oh, they're just saying that to make me stop asking and being clingy".

After two relationships in a row where the other person pulled farther away from me while saying they were still interested but not showing it, I've become rather insecure about this subject.

#491 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2013, 04:47 PM:

Phenicious: in regards to college, do you like pattern recognition (as many of the folks with ASD here seem to)? Data analysis is a possibility, and even though there's not a major in that, per se, it's a generic term that can be applied to a lot of fields. Marketing, for instance, or logistics.

Just throwing out some ideas; I don't know what you like, and quite honestly, I changed my major drastically after a year of college, so I'm not surprised that people don't always know what they want to do.

#492 ::: Codemonkey in NE England ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2013, 05:30 PM:

Bit depressed that it's my mam's birthday tomorrow and couldn't think of anything to buy her :(

I couldn't think of any DVDs to get her -- the ones she'd be interested in usually come out for Christmas -- and she specifically told me not to buy her any ornaments or household stuff.

abi @447: The's possible. But if so, that's a sign that she's in pretty terrible emotional shape even with you around. I think starting to put feelers out to get help for her is a good way to address that. I can guarantee you that anyone with any experience of familial dysfunction will (as we have done here) see the warning flags in even the blandest description of your home life.

What aspects of the "blandest description" of my home life would you have in mind? And yes, I'd agree 100% that my mam is in dreadful emotional shape, even with me around. Where should I look for help? Who would be placed to help people suffering due to isolation and caring responsibilities for multiple disabled people?

dcb @480: Honestly, nowadays the only adults I know who are living with their parents are (a) those who are doing so to save on rent while they save enough for a deposit so they can get a mortgage; (b) those who have moved back in with an elderly parent or parents because said parent(s) are getting frail and can't manage alone.

My situation is a bit like the second of your scenarios, except instead of frail elderly parents it's one disabled parent and one disabled child, and the still-able parent feeling overwhelmed and lonely. Mam told me that she actually feels more stressed out now going out with my dad than with my sister, which is really saying something!

You need some time living by yourself, so you can, for example, choose to read through Friday night and to 3 am on Saturday morning to finish that new book, then get up at noon, if that's what you want to do, without needing to have any concern for how it will affect other members of the household.

One thing my mam said yesterday evening is that I'm so addicted to the Internet that "I'd stay on it all night and end up getting fired from work as a result" if they weren't there to control my usage! She also said my house/flat would be "like a midden" because I wouldn't be able to pull myself from the computer for long enough to clean it. Maybe she was just lashing out because going for shopping with dad had stressed her out (as mentioned above)? She made those jibes after I expressed sympathy with her after she told me how little of the allotted housework my dad had done that day, only to be met with "well why did you sit on the computer all Sunday afternoon instead of offering to help your dad? The only big help you did was picking up the bits he cut off the conifers to put in the bin, and that was only because I asked you to!".

Could some of the troubles I have with my mam be because she's a cutlery-loader masquerading as a truth-shouter, to get back to the original topic of this thread?

Oh, and one last thing -- you mentioned that ma larkey had to "flee her culture of origin" at one point on these DFD threads -- would you mind telling me which culture that was?

#493 ::: Pfusand ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2013, 06:07 PM:

Codemonkey @ 492,

"... it's my mam's birthday tomorrow and couldn't think of anything to buy her..."

... and now it's eleven pip emma, your time.

"I couldn't think of any DVDs to get her -- the ones she'd be interested in usually come out for Christmas..."

Well, did she get all the ones she wanted last year? The year before that? Oh, what the heck: Get her "The Court Jester" starring Danny Kaye.

#494 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2013, 06:43 PM:

B. Durbin #491: in regards to college, do you like pattern recognition (as many of the folks with ASD here seem to)?

I do, I guess? But I'm not sure if that's enough to be applicable to anything job-wise. I really, really don't know. I feel like I don't have any idea what I'm good at or interested in. Or rather, what I'm good "enough" at or interested "enough" in to be worth the time and money commitment. I was trying to find out by doing some administrative volunteer work at the Y, but there wasn't a spot available in that department. So instead I'm doing cleaning (which I know I'm not interested in or good at professionally) while I wait for an admin position to open up. I've got my foot in the door at least.

Data analysis is a possibility, and even though there's not a major in that, per se, it's a generic term that can be applied to a lot of fields. Marketing, for instance, or logistics.

I'm looking into marketing and business. I've done a media course that involved some advertising, and there was some business-type stuff in the culinary program. I'm inclined towards areas I have a little experience with. I'd maybe be okay at it? I don't know. I want to just say "screw it" and apply to whichever five programs look the least terrible. But that sort of "Whatever, I don't know enough to identify any problems, so I'm just going to assume there are none" attitude has gotten me into trouble before. So I'm essentially frozen because I don't have enough information to confidently act, and contacting the program coordinators for more information is intimidating. I feel physically kind of awful right now, between my terrible sleep schedule and my blood sugar just doing whatever for no discernible reason. I just want to give up. I always want to give up as soon as things get difficult.

I get anxious about talking to people when it requires me to act "normal". I'm really not confident in my ability to do the whole polite social performance. I just want information. I want them to just tell me things and not expect me to be cheerful or look at them or whatever.

Sorry, I'm really moody right now and everything looks sort of hopeless.

#495 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2013, 07:11 PM:

Codemonkey: ma larkey prefers not to give details that would identify her geographically (and naming her culture of origin would do that) as she is concerned about reprisals from her family. But she has described the premium placed upon "family first", to the point where local "friends" and extended family suggested that staying with her family outweighed her physical safety.

Fortunately, she got out.

#496 ::: Dash ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2013, 08:15 PM:

Thanks for the kind words and encouragement, everybody. Still reading, still witnessing. I'm back home now, and while things still aren't great, I'm certainly not as on the edge as when I found out I would have to leave the program. I'm still not happy with how any of that was handled, and thinking about it and dealing with it seems to have become a new trigger, which is problematic when I have to contact various people to solve various issues caused by my leaving early. Most important is figuring out how all this works with the funds which my school gave me to volunteer in the first place, and how much we have to give back now. My mother keeps telling me not to worry about finances, but I can't help it. I'm supposed to see a therapist soonish, and a few people have offered for me to visit them during the summer, which may help to break up my mother's nagging. I also noticed that my mother certainly wasn't as kind to my father on Father's Day as she wanted us to be to her on Mother's Day (the nagging continued, with any lessening of it being nigh-undetectable), but at this point that doesn't surprise me. I'm just hoping to end up in a better place at the end of this summer than I was at its start.

#497 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2013, 09:28 PM:

Codemonkey, one of the "blandest description" points that abi probably has in mind is her keeping your bank book, cash card, and other financial documents hostage so that you have to ask her permission to access them -- and pitching a hissy when you actually removed them from the house without said permission. In the words of my old friend Dusty, that just ain't right.

Everyone here: still reading and witnessing, even when I can't think of anything useful to say.

#498 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2013, 09:39 PM:

Phenicious: I think you mentioned seeing a job counselor a while ago? By any chance, did you ever complete a Strong Interest Inventory? I did with my job counselor, and found it really helpful.

There's a sample report here, if you'd like to see it:

#499 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2013, 11:14 PM:

Phenicious: It's perfectly understandable that you're feeling overwhelmed, and that amount of sheer whelm is putting you in a bit of paralysis. It takes some training to be able to break a big impossible task into little manageable tasks, and when you're feeling overwhelmed, self-training is just one more task in the sheer wall.

Interesting. My spell-check agrees that "whelm" is a word.

#500 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2013, 12:22 AM:

Cheryl: Yes, actually, three years ago. I take the report with a grain of salt, since I know my answers weren't accurate. I tend to short-circuit when asked to quantify things about myself, since the questions asked are rarely well-defined. Things like, "Do you enjoy working with your hands? (Strongly disagree/disagree/neutral/agree/strongly agree)" need a whole lot of clarification and context before I can answer realistically.

I think it's a problem of not understanding the parameters. What counts as "good at" or "interested in" something? Also applies to many descriptors I've had applied to me. I reject smart and ambitious and capable because my understanding of those terms is really warped; I don't have sufficient evidence in my favour so I just disqualify myself. Which makes sense, because you can't know whether you've met a criteria if it hasn't been defined.

(I've also done Typefocus and Career Cruising; I'm more confident about those assessments because I periodically re-take them to correct false negatives.)

B. Durbin: It's perfectly understandable that you're feeling overwhelmed, and that amount of sheer whelm is putting you in a bit of paralysis.

Yeah. It's kind of funny how so many of my problems boil down to fear of making mistakes. From selecting a college program to making a sandwich for my mother: What if I do it wrong?? Well, then you did it wrong and hopefully you learned something. But still, I Did It Rong and now I'm going to have face the consequences and/or do it over the right way. I probably won't die as a result but I'm scared to put my resources/hope into something that's not going to pan out the first time. Of course, I have zero confidence in myself to do anything I haven't already succeeded at. On one hand, I feel like I'm stupid and awful so of course I'll flunk out of any program I get into. But looking at past performance, I'll probably get decent grades even as I procrastinate and barely sleep. I'll feel like hell, but it's unlikely I'll fail.

Sigh. Being able to see the flaws in my jerkbrain's logic doesn't help shut it up much. It's frustrating for everyone involved.

#501 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2013, 01:02 AM:

Phenicious, #500: Also, when you're short on spoons to begin with, the idea of "wasting" some of them on Doin It Rong can feel much scarier and more paralyzing than when it's just a matter of going back and fixing a problem. Because that's serious energy/cope that you've just "thrown away" on something that didn't work out right.

#502 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2013, 01:17 AM:

Codemonkey, I want to second what Abi said to you in #447. You've worried about your mam having a a situation like this, a breakdown is only the tip of an iceberg of feelings and conditions. Breakdown or no, you living there or no, your mam needs help and therapy to deal with the iceberg. If you leaving can provoke a breakdown, then so can many other unavoidable events that would normally be jarring but manageable. You should probably ask the Stroke Association what their visitor thought, too. In the same situation, my mother wouldn't be honest because that would be admitting failure and inviting strangers to interfere in her life. Your mam may well feel the same.

When your mam said you're addicted to internet, she's speaking her impression out loud, not an objective truth. My mother used to say similar things about me and my reading novels, because she was suffering and wanted to make someone else suffer too. It's lashing out, but it's also trying to tell you something. Your mam is speaking the truth of how she *feels*, but the factual details are exaggerated, either by her feelings or her need to get your attention. So the objective meaning of it is that you spend enough time on the internet to make her upset, and that you spend enough less time/effort than her on family chores to make her upset. Even a relatively small consistent effort to move in the direction she wants could have a substantial emotional payoff.

Phenicious, that's quite the prescriptions bill. With this new context, I see much better why your parents have been pushing so hard for you to enroll in something, anything -- until the cut-off age, your being in school is excellent value for money. Approximately $6000-8000 a year for tuition and books buys your prescriptions and a postsecondary education, which is a value of $17000+ per year. It's okay -- and pretty darn normal -- that you don't know what you want to do yet, but there is something you'll want to do, even if it's not immediately obvious. The financial advantage is big enough to make up for some error in selecting a field, so make the best decision you can and try it out for a semester. I know what it's like to be paralyzed by decisions -- sometimes it's better to make a move, be learning and doing, even if it wasn't the best possible course, than it is to stay paralyzed by the choices.

Is there a friend that you could ask to help you with visiting the program co-ordinators and counselling services? (There's usually an office that tells potential students about the programs offered.) A friend who knows you well enough to fill out some of those aptitude tests for you, and thereby bypass your discounting yourself?

I think the data analysis lead from B. Durbin in #491 is worth checking out -- you can do the same basic thing in or for many fields. Business analysis or process analysis might also be interesting if you're forever coming up with ideas on how to do things better. Having 2+ wells of expertise is often valuable, even when one of them is something you'd think was ordinary, like being good at writing, or good with computers, or good with people, which is a great argument for doing more than one program, or not minding if you try something and change your mind. The juxtaposition might turn out to be your specialty.

#503 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2013, 10:11 AM:

Moonlit Night, #502: So the objective meaning of it is that you spend enough time on the internet to make her upset, and that you spend enough less time/effort than her on family chores to make her upset. Even a relatively small consistent effort to move in the direction she wants could have a substantial emotional payoff.

Enh, maybe, and maybe not. Remember that Codemonkey's mother is a goalpost-shifter, which means a strong likelihood that if he starts working on whatever she's complaining loudest about right now, her focus will immediately change to something else that he's Doin Rong. That's what I had to deal with -- nothing I did was ever right or ever enough -- and his mother sounds rather worse than my parents ever were.

#504 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2013, 11:49 AM:

Been reading and witnessing, trying to pull my own spoons back together. Husband and Sister both got jobs in May, and things, though tight, were starting to look up.

Husband lost his job yesterday. Long story short, he was one of several reps to try to deal with an angry customer; she complained about the lack of service, and since he was in his probationary period, he got to be the goat. There was no notice, there was no hint; it came out of nowhere. And he was pretty much out of UI when he started this job.

We're in debt up to our eyeballs, mostly to keep us going and to pay childcare until my sister's paychecks started coming in. (pay-day loans, which I didn't want to take, but we didn't have any other options.) We make too much for tanf.

The only thing that keeps me from finding some non-obvious way to kill myself, so Husband and Sister get the insurance payout, is knowing what it would do to them. I don't know what to do. I'm trying to stay strong for Husband, but I don't know how much I have left. This isn't despair. This is so far past despair that I have no words for it.

Monday was my birthday. Happy birthday, me.

#505 ::: Jennifer Baughman is gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2013, 11:50 AM:

Word of power, unfortunately.

#506 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2013, 12:12 PM:

Oh, Jennifer Baughman. I am so sorry.

#507 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2013, 12:40 PM:

Jennifer, reading and witnessing. I wish I had any suggestions.

#508 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2013, 02:31 PM:

Jennifer Baughman, that sucks. My husband had a similar experience a few years ago - after a long period of unemployment he landed a promising position that ended rapidly for reasons that were ... not fair or right. He spent a long time trying to figure out what he could have done differently; it was a useless tail-chasing exercise. Wishing your husband employment in an organization that treats its people better, sooner rather than later, and wishing you sufficient spoons to cope.

#509 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2013, 06:41 PM:

Jennifer Baughman @504: Reading and witnessing. A virtual {{{{{hug}}}}}is all I can offer, and sincere sympathies.

#510 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2013, 10:33 PM:

Jennifer Baughman @504: Witnessing and best wishes. That's a crushing situation.

Lee @503 and Codemonkey: Lee, you have a very good point about the goalpost-moving. Codemonkey's mam is hurting badly enough that alleviating the pain in one spot isn't much of a drop, but does make the other hurts seem louder by comparison. I've been out long enough for this to have changed, you see, so I was giving good advice too early: my mother's expectation of me is that I will be useless, rude and cause fights, but it's been a long time since I was the most important source of pain. I've had my own space and low contact for a decade, and nowadays can usually be civil and sometimes be kind, so I'm not inflicting new pain to react to. Her behaviour towards me is slowly changing for the better. Weird but true.

#511 ::: Codemonkey in NE England ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2013, 02:16 AM:

What Lee said @503 about my mam being worse than his parents deeply worried me, because didn't he (IIRC) end up having to cut off contact with his parents?

I kept trying to reassure myself that "no, she's not THAT bad!" but after yesterday I'm not so sure.

My mam's birthday is always fraught, both because my dad hasn't bought her a birthday present in at least 15 years, and also because she shared her birthday with her own mother (which she loved dearly and still misses terribly -- she would have been 89 yesterday).

I feel a tad guilty that I could think of anything to buy her this year, although I did manage to give her £50 (originally £100, but she gave half of it back to me). She doesn't like taking money from me in lieu of a present, because she said that it'll probably end up being spent on me or my sister or on groceries, rather than on anything nice for her. I also bought her a bunch of flowers on the way back from work, which I guess was the one glimmer of light in a very dark day for her.

Lee @217: I'm not surprised that you crumbled in the face of your mother moaning at you.

To me, "moaning" is how my mam responded to not being able to get in my money tin when the car tax bill arrived, or how my dad responded when I obsessively talked about leaving home when ferrying him to the dump with the rubbish. My mam's hysterical reaction when she caught me in the act of trying to rent that flat is in a whole different league! (If she'd just "moaned" -- as I define it -- I would have signed that lease anyway.)

When playing games last night, it was clear that dad must have told her that I'd been talking to him about leaving home, and she said "if you leave home you might as well stick a knife in me before you go, I'd kill myself if I was left alone with him!"

Moonlit Night @510: Codemonkey's mam is hurting badly enough that alleviating the pain in one spot isn't much of a drop, but does make the other hurts seem louder by comparison. I've been out long enough for this to have changed, you see, so I was giving good advice too early: my mother's expectation of me is that I will be useless, rude and cause fights, but it's been a long time since I was the most important source of pain.

Indeed, she's hurting horrifically, and I don't think I've ever been a major source of her pain (let alone the most important source). The most important source of her pain is my dad (especially post-stroke) with my sister being the secondary source...

#512 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2013, 08:17 AM:

Codemonkey #511: My mam's hysterical reaction when she caught me in the act of trying to rent that flat is in a whole different league! (If she'd just "moaned" -- as I define it -- I would have signed that lease anyway.)

So now your mam has learned that she can stop you signing a lease by getting hysterical.... :-(

Also, you say you "couldn't think of anything to buy her", but that's after she was blocking off whole categories, and I'm sure she wasn't giving any hint of what she might actually want. (Aside from stay with me for ever and ever and ever...) That's more manipulation....

#513 ::: Dave Harmon has been gnomed. ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2013, 08:20 AM:

Not sure why, but dashed off in haste.

#514 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2013, 09:44 AM:

Jennifer Baughman, I should add that if you were to kill yourself, you would be missed not only at home but here.

Codemonkey, I agree with Dave Harmon on all counts.

I worry that, instead of moving out, you'll find a way to make living at home more bearable and stay there. You will almost certainly be able to help your family more when you are outside its immediate sphere of influence. It is not supportive or helpful for a parent to have a hysterical reaction to an adult child of your abilities and resources moving out. Your mother has reasons for it, but her reaction doesn't address them-- she's clinging desperately to the short-term semi-solution while you try to find a long-term full-solution.

Ultimately, you are not and cannot be responsible for her actions or reactions. You are not goading her or taunting her that I can see; you have not threatened her that you'll move out if she doesn't do X or Y. From everything you have told us, you are behaving as a reasonable and supportive adult.

When you move out, your mother may freak out. She will almost certainly freak out when you tell her. She may do something you fear-- harming herself or others-- but this is not a reason not to move out. It is a reason to be prepared, to alert support staff for your sister or from the Stroke Association, to ask a friend of the family to keep your mother company for the first night, but not a reason to avoid moving out entirely.

It may help to think of your mother in the same way you do your sister, however inappropriate the analogy is as a whole. When your sister was a child, was the entire family hostage to her reactions? If she threw a sufficiently large tantrum or if you feared she would hurt herself in reaction to something like travel, a change in routine, or going to the dentist, your family probably did their best to support her while still continuing the plans. Whether it's autism or a different fear of change, at some point, all you can do is say, "I'm sorry this hurts you. It still has to happen. I'm doing my best to keep it from hurting you." And then you keep doing what's necessary, even though it hurts your family, because it is necessary.

#515 ::: tamiki ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2013, 12:57 PM:

Still reading, and wishing support to those who need it.

Codemonkey: As I see it, you may not be the primary source of your mother's pain, but you're certainly enough of a source that she's lashing out at you. Getting out will cause her some pain in the short term, but in the long term, you may be better able to help your whole family.

I don't have enough context to say if her threats to kill herself if you move out are melodrama (in which case, scummy of her) or genuine (in which case, SHE NEEDS PROFESSIONAL HELP)... but I do think it's worth noting this is the second one I remember you mentioning.

And frankly, if she spends her birthday money on something other than something nice for herself, that's her problem. If she can't be bothered to give you direction on a good present, at least you still gave her something.

#516 ::: GlendaP ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2013, 01:09 PM:

Jennifer Baughman: {{{{{hugs}}}}}

Codemonkey: A random thought, inspired by Diatryma @514 regarding fear of change. You're Asperger's and your sister is autistic, right? Is there any chance you mother is also somewhere on the spectrum? Back in her youth anyone remotely functional would have gone undiagnosed and grown up coping however they could.

#517 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2013, 01:36 PM:

Diatryma, Codemonkey:

When your sister was a child, was the entire family hostage to her reactions? If she threw a sufficiently large tantrum or if you feared she would hurt herself in reaction to something like travel, a change in routine, or going to the dentist, your family probably did their best to support her while still continuing the plans.

Codemonkey can answer this better than I can, of course, but the impression I've gathered from his descriptions is that, no, actually, the entire family was often hostage to his sister's reactions. The things he reports his mam saying about being ashamed to be seen in public with a child displaying unusual behaviors? Plus, the entire family is held hostage to her reactions sometimes -- note the lack of council-paid, council-required repairs getting done because she refused on the basis of the disruption they would cause. Whether she laid her reasoning on not upsetting Codemonkey's sister or on Codemonkey's father's condition or on the relative positions of Venus and Mercury, it was her decision creating the blockage & thus holding the entire family hostage.

#518 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2013, 01:40 PM:

Jennifer Baughman - my sympathies.

Codemonkey - Lee is she, not he. Her name is ambiguous, so it's an easy mistake to make.

#519 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2013, 01:47 PM:

Unclear antecedent in the following post: the "she" in the example about the council repairs refers to Codemonkey's mam, not his sister.

#520 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2013, 02:14 PM:

Codemonkey, #511: Actually, I am female, but I do have a gender-ambiguous name, so sometimes people get confused.

No, I didn't completely sever contact with my parents; I just made it very superficial and sporadic. We might go for weeks at a time without contact, and I traded one harmless (to me) repeating fight about "You never TELL us anything about your life!" for having to defend every goddamn thing I did, no matter how small because it wasn't the thing they'd have done and they wouldn't shut up about it. My mantra became, "What THEY don't know can't hurt ME," and it served me well for many years. Example: my then-in-laws were invited to our annual Chocolate Decadence party every year; my parents weren't even told that we were having a party, because I didn't want to listen to them whine about me wasting money, and how unacceptable my housekeeping was, and how my friends were just trash and wasn't I a little better than that? (Which last was totally untrue, BTW -- but some of them didn't look like suburban white-bread, and that was enough to set my parents off.)

I kept trying to reassure myself that "no, she's not THAT bad!"

Look back at the top-post of either the last DFD thread or the one before that. It says, right out where everyone can see it, that when you have to keep telling yourself that it's not THAT bad, it IS that bad. People who aren't living in a dysfunctional-to-abusive situation don't have to try to convince themselves that it's not that bad, because it's not. This is a HUGE RED WARNING SIGN that you cannot afford to ignore.

Seriously, go look at this list of warning signs about abusive relationships. Some of them won't be applicable to your situation because it's a parent/child relationship rather than a romantic-partner one, but I was able to count 11 items which (from what you've said here) do apply to you.
- You avoid certain topics out of fear of angering your mother
- You feel that you can't do anything right for your mother
- You wonder if you're the one who is crazy
- You feel emotionally numb or helpless
- Your mother humiliates / yells at you
- Your mother criticizes you and puts you down, both to your face and to others
- Your mother ignores / puts down your opinions and accomplishments
- Your mother blames you for her own abusive behavior
- Your mother has a bad and unpredictable temper
- Your mother has threatened to commit suicide if you leave
- Your mother limits your access to money, the phone, or the car (mostly to money, which is another Huge Warning Sign that we keep harping on)

My mam's hysterical reaction when she caught me in the act of trying to rent that flat is in a whole different league! (If she'd just "moaned" -- as I define it -- I would have signed that lease anyway.)

David is exactly right about this, and it's also what I said when you first mentioned that your mother had found out and had a fit. You have now handed her the key to keeping you there forever, because you've demonstrated that "becoming hysterical" is a lever that works on you. You've rewarded the bad behavior, and set a precedent thereby. You can still get out, but it's going to be significantly harder.

Think about this also: right now you're effectively living in an echo chamber. The only opinions you hear which are counter to your mother's ravings are here, from us. She is trying to isolate you from anyone who could provide a reality check -- and I'm also sure that's part of what the complaints about the amount of time you spend online are about, because that's a potential window into the real world for you.

she said "if you leave home you might as well stick a knife in me before you go, I'd kill myself if I was left alone with him!"

Aha. Now, without realizing it, she's handed you a lever. Quite aside from this being another one of the Big Damn Warning Signs, threats of suicide should always be taken seriously, and medical and social-work professionals know this. At this point you can call the caseworker, or her doctor, and say, "I'm planning to move out on my own, and my mother has threatened to kill herself if I do. How can I get her the help she needs?"

Be prepared for your mother to tell them that she said no such thing; we already know that she's perfectly willing to lie about you to anyone in the interest of keeping you in the cage. They will be aware of that possibility as well, because suicide-threateners do that sort of thing.

#521 ::: Lee has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2013, 02:15 PM:

Wall-o-text, plenty of opportunity for errors of the mad-lib variety.

#522 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2013, 03:01 PM:

Codemonkey, if you have not watched Disney's "Tangled," I suggest you do so. It may give you some insight to your present position.

#523 ::: Codemonkey in NE England ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2013, 03:14 PM:

Dave Harmon @512: So now your mam has learned that she can stop you signing a lease by getting hysterical.... :-(

I think the fact that my mam is resorting to extreme measures to force me to stay shows that she knows that I desperately want to get out (and that lesser measures therefore wouldn't change my behaviour).

Diatryma @514: Your mother has reasons for it, but her reaction doesn't address them-- she's clinging desperately to the short-term semi-solution while you try to find a long-term full-solution.

I wonder if there'd be any way of getting my father out of the picture? (Doesn't my mam have a right not to be a carer -- or at least in this case, a right not to be a carer for two people?) Perhaps if she only had my sister to care for, she'd be willing to tolerate my moving out (even if grudgingly).

He's the one who makes most of the mess in our house (my mam remarked on how clean the house was when dad was in hospital, and after my two mammoth cupboard cleaning sessions on consecutive Saturday nights, she was the one doing most of the cleaning), and it seems clear that he's stressing her out more than my sister is (which is really saying something, given that in a lot of ways my sister has the mind of a six-year old!) Maybe my dad's developing vascular dementia? :O

Most times when my mam goes into town for shopping now, she goes alone just to escape from him -- even though it means she has to pay over £5 bus fare, which she wouldn't if dad was with her due to his "plus carer" bus pass. Can't say I blame her myself!

Incidentally, I wonder why my mam tries so hard to make him do housework when he's so manifestly incompetent? This goes to the extent of refusing to tell him what she wants to eat until the allotted chores are done, and then complaining afterwards when it means that she gets her meals way later than she should (or even gets nothing at all).

tamiki @515: It is a reason to be prepared, to alert support staff for your sister or from the Stroke Association, to ask a friend of the family to keep your mother company for the first night, but not a reason to avoid moving out entirely.

Well, someone from the Stroke Association is visiting again Monday, so they'd get more informed then (although I've also e-mailed them to inform them of the situation myself, although there seems to be a queue for responses).

There may be problems with Sharon (my sister's social worker) though -- her mother has been taken into hospital with bowel cancer, and her step-sister is also in hospital after being seriously injured in a car crash. :(

And frankly, if she spends her birthday money on something other than something nice for herself, that's her problem.

Actually, she's already spent £24 of it on two cardigans for herself. :)

GlendaP @516: Is there any chance you mother is also somewhere on the spectrum?

I very much doubt it -- she's way too selfless for that (aren't people on the spectrum generally rather self-centred?) In spite of everything, I must say that my mam is an excellent carer -- I know that in her shoes I'd have had a complete nervous breakdown many years ago!

I wouldn't be surprised though if my father was an undiagnosed Aspie -- perhaps that's one reason why he couldn't get another permanent job back in the '90s?

#524 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2013, 03:51 PM:

Reading, and witnessing.

I want to keep updating the thread on my situation. I just need to consciously make myself share this; left to my own devices I'll keep everything to myself and only vent when it gets really bad. What I'm trying to get at is I feel like I'm talking too much about not a lot but I need to put this where someone will see it.

I'm making progress with the application. I've chosen four programs to apply to so far; I'm allowed up to five and I'm afraid to move forward without using every slot. They're all either business or radio broadcasting, because that looks kind of interesting (I have really no experience with it, but it seems a bit less 100% Serious Business than, well, business).

I keep thinking, "But how the hell would I get a job in radio??" and then avoiding looking into that. I'm trying to keep in mind that college is a useful experience; I'll get some new skills and hopefully learn something about myself or my interests. And if it's an out-of-town school, then I'll have that experience of living away from home which I really need. Right now I'm just falling down on the whole contacting people thing. It's relatively straightforward, but I don't have the spoons to put together a script and I'm too tired to deliver it properly anyway.

Does anyone else feel like those motivational "You don't have to face this by yourself!" type quotes are just...wrong? Like, I get the sentiment: don't keep everything to yourself, asking for help is allowed, etc. But in practice it's more like, the people who can help me are on the other side of a wall that I have to scale in order to actually request help. Or in the case of my family, they have their own issues or they're just not capable of helping. I don't know. I'm keeping my mom updated but basically this is up to me.

Last night (today?) I stayed up until 5 or 6am fixing my blood sugar, for the third time this week. I keep having these high blood sugars that steal all my energy/will to do anything but stare into space. I don't even know what I'm doing wrong most of the time. I should be emailing the diabetes educator about this but that requires communication spoons I don't have. Sociability spoons? Politeness spoons? Whichever spoons are used for refining a pile of thoughts and questions into a presentable narrative.

#525 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2013, 04:09 PM:

Codemonkey, something I missed the first time:
when she caught me in the act of trying to rent that flat

Listen to yourself! You make it sound as though you were committing some kind of crime! "Caught in the act" is not a phrase people typically use about acceptable behavior. Your mother considers this unacceptable, and she's suckered you into buying into her worldview -- maybe not consciously, but your word choice reveals it.

#526 ::: tamiki ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2013, 04:09 PM:

Phenicious: I DJed for a couple years in college; it was a blast. Good luck!

#527 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2013, 05:25 PM:

Phenicious, that feeling you describe: familiar. Also, in my case, complicated by my feeling that I SHOULD be able to do it all myself because I am SMART and shouldn't NEED help.

#528 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2013, 06:14 PM:

Phenicious: You are not talking too much. Please keep sharing.

#529 ::: GlendaP ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2013, 06:46 PM:

Codemonkey @523: she's way too selfless for that (aren't people on the spectrum generally rather self-centred?) In spite of everything, must say that my mam is an excellent carer

I'm not the best one to speak to this -- I'm sure others here are more knowledgeable -- but as I understand it, behavior that appears self-centered is mainly due to failure to correctly interpret social/interpersonal cues.

Also, from what you've told us here, it seems to me your mam may be doing well at taking care of your family's physical needs, but she's very bad at taking care of emotional/psychological needs.

#530 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2013, 07:55 PM:

Phenicious: progress is progress; you continue to move forward. It's fine to bounce stuff off us. There are times when this group is not as helpful as people who are there in real life, but there are also times when we are more helpful, since we're not invested in any particular outcome for you. We just wish you well. If you're not sure what you want to do, business seems like a flexible thing to study because it can be applied in so many ways. If something more specific like the radio works out, even better.

Codemonkey, I know you weren't there when the person from the Stroke Association came before, but I'm wondering if your mam is being clear about the situation with them. Is she likely to feel like she needs to put up a good front, not air dirty laundry in front of strangers, etc.? It's an understandable impulse but if she minimizes the difficulties to the visitor, that person may not realize how much help is needed.

#531 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2013, 01:56 AM:

Codemonkey, your mam *is* that bad, and she needs professional help, for both her mental health and for caring for your sister and dad. Even if you gave up on having your own life to become co-carer for your sister and dad, you still can't help her as much as she needs, because she needs a therapist, a co-carer/housekeeper, income, and a social support network, which is at least 3 full-time jobs with different fields of expertise, several involving postsecondary education. Mam would still need a therapist, income, and a support network, and so would you.

Your mam's big sources of pain are the past, the ongoing obligations to your sister and your dad, and the unflattering comparison of her life to a normal life or the life she wanted to have. There is nothing you can do to remove those burdens -- you can't undo the stroke or the autism or the past. What can help is a therapist and more properly trained help for your dad and sister and the housekeeping. Mam trying to load her burdens onto you is not going to remove them from her; it's just going to double them so you both smother under the weight.

She's insisting on your dad doing housework because of resentment and need to control. She will do whatever she can to make him pull his weight in the household because he never has in her eyes, and she can't make him. It would be a blessing for them both for a person or group knowledgeable about stroke victims to care for him a large fraction of the time. Even if your dad's state alone didn't justify it, having a mental health professional assess the emotional state of your mam and dad and their relationship darn well ought to. Your telling the Stroke Association or social worker the full unvarnished truth of the situation could be a route to getting that care. I cannot see your mam doing the same unless she had a nervous breakdown in front of them.

You should move out, soon and definitively. This state of indecision, where maybe you're going, maybe you're not, is very hard on you and your family, and leads to no good for any of you. Your staying would be a gift to your mam, but she will never fully trust and accept it, because she will always remember you wanted to leave. Staying will slowly kill you, and isn't much better for them. But when you move out and the change is final and solid, they will be able to put their energy into coming to terms with the new normal. So make it happen. Secure your financial and ID documents and other important things, find a place you like, sign for it, arrange for movers -- make it a done deal and do NOT relent or postpone. Your mam and possibly other family will throw tantrums -- let her/them throw them and you stay unmoved. Just go silent or get out of range. Let her/them keep throwing them until exhausted -- do not let any sort of bad behaviour on her/their part lessen your resolve. If the tantrums or vitriol become unbearable, pack a suitcase and go stay at a friend's or a hotel. Diatryma in #514 and Lee in #520 gave you really good advice on this point -- if any of them threatens to harm, or begins to harm theirself or others over this, take them seriously and call in the appropriate medical or social work authorities immediately. Period. Either you will have gotten them the help they needed, or curbed their bad and manipulative behaviour, or both.

#532 ::: Codemonkey in NE England ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2013, 03:01 AM:

OtterB @530: Codemonkey, I know you weren't there when the person from the Stroke Association came before, but I'm wondering if your mam is being clear about the situation with them. Is she likely to feel like she needs to put up a good front, not air dirty laundry in front of strangers, etc.? It's an understandable impulse but if she minimizes the difficulties to the visitor, that person may not realize how much help is needed.

Before the first visit from the Stroke Association, Mam was very clear that she was going to tell them just how bad her situation was, so if she didn't that implied that she'd lied to my face then.

Why would she tell me that she was going to be honest, and then when the visitor actually came, claim the situation was better than it really was? To me it seems her loss (missing help she could have got) would outweigh her gain (not airing dirty emotional laundry with outsiders).

If the Stroke Association have been misled on our situation, I think it's more likely down to what my dad said (he often does downplay the severity of his issues). Maybe I need to contact them myself to reinforce my mam's position?

Moonlit Night @531: Mam would still need a therapist, income, and a support network, and so would you.

I'm having difficulty parsing this: do you mean that Mam needs these things for my sake as well as her, or are you saying that I need a therapist of my own?

#533 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2013, 03:11 AM:

Phenicious @524: If you can only find four programs that interest you, apply to those four. After all, while "using every slot" might be the best if you could find five programs that interest you, applying to four is vastly better than not applying at all! And applying to four at least somewhat interesting programs is better than applying to five that you have utterly no interest in.

In general, I think that also applies to things like job hunting: give yourself permission to do a mediocre job of it, if perfectionism is preventing you from doing it at all. Your self-criticism probably means that your "mediocre" may out-do someone else's complacent "excellent".

#534 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2013, 03:24 AM:

Codemonkey @532:
Before the first visit from the Stroke Association, Mam was very clear that she was going to tell them just how bad her situation was, so if she didn't that implied that she'd lied to my face then.

Not necessarily. She had a particular intention. She told you about that intention. But perhaps her courage failed her, or she didn't feel comfortable with the person, or she changed her mind. People do, all the time.

Also, that approach -- that implication that if you change your mind later you retroactively lied when you stated an intention -- is a huge, huge red flag about the ways that your family's emotional life runs. It sounds like your mother uses the term "lie" to mean a lot more than most people would (saying something that you know isn't true at the time you say it). I suspect, given the context you've provided, that she uses that word to beat up on people in the household a lot. Because if lying is bad, and you stretch the definition of lying, then you have more bad behavior to berate and punish for.

I think when you do get out and start getting into relationships, you're going to have to re-learn a lot of your assumptions about interpersonal interaction. The good news is that the patterns you'll need to break are unnecessarily wretched. The bad news is that habits take breaking.

#535 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2013, 04:14 AM:

Codemonkey writes:
To me it seems her loss (missing help she could have got) would outweigh her gain (not airing dirty emotional laundry with outsiders).

That's perfectly logical, so it's nothing like your mother's thought processes at the moment.

I think it's possible that she told you what she thought would keep you off her case ("I'll tell the Stroke people everything!", and then told the Stroke people what she thought would keep them off her case "We're managing wonderfully!".

People who do this sort of thing often don't plan it or think it out - they just say whatever will get them through the next 5 minutes.

#536 ::: slow learner ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2013, 12:01 PM:

Haven't posted in this thread before, but I've been reading. Still trying to find the words for my own situation.

Codemonkey, when your mam told you she'd kill herself if you left, this became a hostage situation. She's telling you that she'll kill to keep you there. Whether or not she is actually suicidal, that is a very serious threat. I highly encourage you to tell someone in authority that she's threatening suicide and that she is the sole carer for your dad and your sister.

Now that she has crossed this particular line, I do not believe you can make things 'return to normal' just by backing down and not 'provoking' (scare quotes very much intended) her by taking steps toward moving out. Once she's made that threat successfully once, she's likely to make it again, for other 'offenses' too.

I'm so sorry she's treating you like this.

#537 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2013, 02:20 PM:

Codemonkey, I am sorry it's turning out this way, but you can't let it stop you. If you do, the current situation will just drag on forever. But if you keep going, you will get through the horrible part, instead of getting lost in it. I fear that slow learner in #536 might be right that if threatening suicide works once, that she'll do it again. So don't let it work.

"Mam would still need a therapist, income, and a support network, and so would you." -- I mean that even if you become a carer that you still can't also be her therapist, her source of income, and her entire support network. And because doing all that at once is beyond the workload anyone can tolerate, if you tried to do it all, you would soon be just as overworked, martyred, and miserable as she is.

You do need a therapist of your own. This group is a great resource, but you are lucky enough to have the insurance coverage or money for actual therapy, so do yourself a huge favour and get one soon. Don't wait ten years later like I did, and get one that understands Aspergers and autism since those are central issues in your life. As well as it being good for you personally, getting yourself a therapist with connections to the larger health and social work system, and giving them an overview of your family situation, could be another good route to getting both you and your family the help they need.

I don't know what your mam or your dad actually did tell the Stroke Association or why -- what I do know is that either of my parents in the same situation would have great difficulty admitting they needed help, especially help from outsiders, especially help with anything emotional or psychological. I also know that if I tried to convince them that they should sign up to get a helper from an outside agency, that it would go nowhere because being embarrassed, losing control, and letting strangers into their private domain seems even worse to them than the status quo. There is a gap between admitting one needs help and being willing to go get it and take on all the consequences of doing that. So you shouldn't take it on faith that the association and social worker know everything they need to know. In your position I would go talk to both the Stroke Association and the organization that helps out with your sister, and say to them, "I'm planning to move in the next few months and I want to check that my family will have the support they need" and then go into the discussion of what they think the situation and help needed is versus what it actually is.

Dammit, all this is making me rethink my own family's situation and what if anything I ought to do. I think I'll leave that for another post.

#538 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2013, 03:35 PM:

Moonlit Night @537 - your comment about your parents having difficulty admitting they need help gave me a flashback to my mother, and an incident about 5 years ago now. Anyway, back then my mother had been diagnosed with bladder cancer and had just been through major abdominal surgery to remove it and associated other organs that were suspect - she had a lot to recover from! So she had just been released from the hospital and a worker from a home-care agency came to the house to evaluate her needs as she continued to recover. One of the questions she asked my mother was how far she felt that she would be able to walk unassisted. Now mind you that my mother had needed help to come up the stairs into the house, and also that she 66 and hadn't been in particularly good physical condition before the surgery. "Oh," my mother said, "a mile, maybe." Yes, perhaps, if you gave her two hours and a lot of chairs to sit on along the way. Fortunately, I was at the house and I rephrased the question, asking that if I took her to the grocery store, would she be able to walk briskly back to the milk section and back to the front, or would she need a cart to lean on and to pause frequently to rest. The latter, she admitted, and so she qualified to get the help she needed. But even after such a major operation with being obviously very much in basic physical recovery, she needed help to admit that she needed help.

(My mother did recover pretty well from that surgery, but they discovered a year or so later that the cancer had spread, and chemotherapy only gave her another 8 months - she passed away about 3.5 years ago).

#539 ::: oliviacw has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2013, 03:36 PM:

Probably for too many spaces, or something of the sort. A nice crusty ciabatta roll with butter for the gnomes?

#540 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2013, 07:28 PM:

Phenicious, go right ahead and talk as much as you need to. It does need to be out there where it gets heard and where you can get responses outside the range you could get otherwise.

Congratulations on progress with the schools -- I'd say to aim for something useful or widely applicable that's out of town, because living away from home is going to be hard but do you a world of good. Business is employable and flexible, and you may well find a specialty you enjoy in it, since it's so broad. One reason to try radio would be to give yourself a shot to develop a voice and use it in public, out loud. But you can do it by volunteering at the campus radio station if you would rather hedge your bets by taking business. Maybe you can fill slot 5 with a program that has something valuable to teach you, even if you don't finish it or don't want to do it for years on end.

Sometimes it can be pretty darn difficult to request help. I really struggle with that sometimes. I think that at least some of your family want to help, but can't see you and the problems you're working on clearly enough to actually *be* much help. Which is where going to school out of town comes in -- you'll get away from all the old expectations, and have an opportunity to reshape yourself without the criticisms and old bad patterns being pressed on you.

#541 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2013, 07:33 PM:

Before I go out bike riding, a bit of good news. Work finally got its act together late last week and finished re-hiring me under a new contract, so this week I've been at work.

#542 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2013, 08:29 PM:

Moonlit Night @541, Hurray!

#543 ::: B. Durbin is gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2013, 12:25 AM:

Phenicious: I've actually worked in radio, and my takeaway is that yeah, it's really difficult to get a job in radio (and difficult to keep one.) HOWEVER, the skill set you would be learning isn't restricted just to radio. It's related to sound design, editing, podcasting, voice work, and a whole lot of fields that aren't contracting the way radio is.

I once had a contract job for a company that did telephone trees, editing the 600,000 street names of Las Vegas as spoken by their voice talent. I've done freelance video editing for fun, and been able to assist with microphone setups and troubleshooting. Crazy stuff like that.

Don't turn down something that interests you because you're afraid you can't get employed. Heck, my husband has a degree in history with a minor in English, and his current corporate job in logistics and data analysis started with a job he got because he'd worked in a warehouse.

Jennifer Baughman: Also {{{{{hugs}}}}} May something fabulous and incredibly wonderful come your way.

#544 ::: Ellen ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2013, 08:00 AM:

Still reading and witnessing. Sending wishes for good things to Phenicious, Jennifer Baughmann and Code Monkey (and to others who may be in need of some cloudbusting), and a "YAY!" to Moonlit Night.

#545 ::: Bricklayer ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2013, 08:22 AM:

Just a short check-in, because my oldest niece (let's call her Alice) -- who is 12 -- seems to consistently, for the entire time I've known her, have the emotional maturity of a girl at least 4 years younger than her actual age. I know another 12-year-old who is about to do her bat mitzvah (let's call her Betty) and I would trust Betty to do an entire range of things from care for my child unsupervised for hours on end to go to the store by herself or even cook a meal using real stoves ... whereas Alice provably (this past weekend) cannot be trusted to keep one eye on a younger sib at a water park without wandering off to have her own fun -- and then, when confronted about it, say, "But I never SAID I was WATCHING him!" No, you just took him away from the family table and all the adults, saying coaxingly to him, "Want to ride the lazy river?" Which sounds a helluva lot like volunteering to keep an eye on him for at least one activity. To me. Grr.

It doesn't help, I'm sure, that Alice's younger sister (Cathy, for argument's sake) is one of the most stunningly mature children of ANY age I have EVER met (she's 9 or 10, and as self-posessed as a 30-year-old and with most of the emotional poise and ability to be patient that goes with adulthood). Being constantly compared, their whole life, when Cathy has a FRAKKING SUPERPOWER, effectively, and Alice is working from something of a deficit ... I'm not saying their parents make the comparison (in fact, their mother is a licensed speech therapist and educator, and has dealt with every family conflict I've seen them have with poise and skill), I'm just saying the comparison is laying around there.

Alice, in my presence, threw emotional yelling fits about things that I would expect my FOUR-YEAR-OLD to throw. She schlumphs around, and huffs angrily when reminded of something she already knew, and tries to cadge and 'get away with' additional desserts, and forgets the orthotics and medications she needs to take (unless a parent is riding herd on her constantly).

This girl is 12. How much longer might it take her to grow the social skills of a medium-together 8-year-old? No idea. I know she's getting some kind of aid through their school system, but I've known her for half her life now (on and off), and it the gap between her calendar age and her emotional maturity isn't really narrowing, which worries me.

Not that there's anything I can do, from states away ... I just worry. :-/

#546 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2013, 08:50 AM:

Bricklayer: I'm not surprised you're concerned. I would be, too. I would expect and hope that her mother is both knowledgable about the resources open to her and active about using them, and is already on it, beyond what you could do at a distance. I'd think that offering tactful sympathy/support to her parents, who must often be frustrated, might be the best thing you could do. I can't, at the moment, come up with a tactful script for that support; maybe others here could?

One thing that surprises me is the orthotics. When I hear "orthotics" I think shoe inserts. I use shoe orthotics myself... and when I don't, my feet hurt. I associate the sort of "forgetting" you describe with uncomfortable devices, like dental retainers/overnight headgear. So I'm left scratching my head at that!

I have a sneaking suspicion that Cathy's developed her superpower in reaction to Alice's behavior... she may feel pressure to be mature so she won't burden her family further. I doubt that pressure is externally applied, but I bet she's generating it herself. Kind of a "children of alcoholics" pattern, but it shows up in siblings of special-needs kids, too.

I join you in your :-\

#547 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2013, 09:11 AM:

Rikibeth #546: I have a sneaking suspicion that Cathy's developed her superpower in reaction to Alice's behavior...

Part of that would be "differentiation" -- building her identity as separate from her sister's. Unfortunately, that works both ways, and Alice's behavior is probably aggravated because "Cathy is the responsible one, so I'm not".

Bricklayer: Has Alice ever been away from her family (including Cathy) for an extended period of time, say a couple of months of sleep-away camp? Naturally, it would need to be a situation where she doesn't have adults covering for her or accepting her behavior as "that's just how Alice is".

#548 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2013, 01:54 PM:

Thank you all for the good wishes; they do help. Diatryma, I broke down in tears after reading your comment -- I really needed to be reminded that I mean something to people. Thank you.

I'm not quite in the emotional hole I was Wednesday; I've come up with a few options, and disaster won't fall on us immediately. (Or, in the immortal words of Mr. Incredible, "I've still got time...") Husband is taking the steps available to him, and without going into detail (because it may get legal), there is room for cautious optimism. I think the worst thing about Husband's job loss is that we're most likely not going to be able to go to Worldcon this year (unless some sort of miracle occurs). Husband really wanted to do the writing workshop, and it was going to be our first big vacation in years (not to mention our first Worldcon).

Phenicious @524, figuring out four programs to apply to is really great! I wouldn't worry about the fifth if you can't find something else that interests you. And I took some reassurance and inspiration from you, and from the advice offered you. Some progress is better than no progress. Some progress has been made, therefore net positive.

As far as the diabetes goes... I know a lot about diabetes, both types. It's hard to deal with under the best of circumstances. Everyone's body is different, and the various types of insulin are different, and there's so much that isn't food-related that can throw your blood sugar off. Illness, stress, and variations in physical activity are three possibilities.

If hlepy, feel free to ignore, but let me toss out a few ideas that might help narrow down those questions/thoughts for you? If you've been more active in the past, and your activity has decreased, you may need to increase your bolus; physical activity burns more glucose, so if your bolus was adjusted to a higher level of activity, you need to adjust for the greater amount of glucose not being burned. If you're ok right after a meal, and then your highs break out a couple hours later, you might need to add a bolus of a longer-lasting insulin type about an hour after the meal. You might also be more sensitive to certain types of carbs, and have to adjust differently for them.

And you know what? It sucks. Out-of-bounds blood sugar has a measurable detrimental affect on how your brain works, it depletes your reserves, and even on a good day, keeping a normal blood sugar is a part-time job, especially when you're working on establishing a baseline. And it's ok, and perfectly normal, to feel frustrated by the process.

And please, do keep posting. (Something I also need to do, because I forgot how much I needed it.)

Codemonkey, the advice here is good, as always, but I'd like to address this: aren't people on the spectrum generally rather self-centred?

In a word? No. My experience with people on and off the spectrum is that the two are orthogonal. If nothing else, consider how much you manifestly care about what is going on with your family. And the number of people here on the DFD forum who are self-described as being on the spectrum, and who have offered a staggering amount of compassion and caring. However, being concerned with your own well-being != self-centredness. Honestly, what you describe of your mam isn't selflessness--it's the self-centredness martyrdom. "Look at how hard I work to keep this household going. No matter how much I tell your father to do, he just makes things worse, and you spend all your time on the internet."

Rikibeth, w/r/t Bricklayer's niece: I have the same kind of orthotics you do, where my feet shriek in agony if I don't have them. However, he may be referring to corrective orthotics to correct turned-in feet or other foot-leg childhood issues. If so, I wouldn't be surprised if a kid just didn't want to wear them (like braces, or a spinal harness for scoliosis) because they can hurt, even though they're necessary for long-term health. And someone with Alice's lack of emotional maturity isn't going to be seeing the long-term.

B. Durbin, thank you for the wish of something fabulous.

We have, however, added a new cat to the house: a one-year-old orange tom whose previous owners (and their other cats) were too old to handle a teenaged cat. His original name was Angus, but that didn't seem to fit--he's neither beef, metal, nor an inveterate tinkerer. He is, however, silly, cheerful, floppy, and more than a little tricksy, so the name that finally settled on him is Jack-Jack (which shortened from "Handsome Jack"). He has not, however, (to my knowledge) burst into flames.

And last but not least, an unreserved Huzzah! to Moonlit Night.

#549 ::: Dash ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2013, 03:30 PM:

I was at a family friend's house for the last few days, and while there I had an experience that opened my eyes in a way relevant to this thread: Namely, the couple that I was staying with had an argument. Comparing and contrasting their argument styles to those of my family has shown me, in ways that abstract ideals could not, the deficits of the latter.
This couple- let's call the man M and the woman W for the sake of argument- had never fought in front of me before, as long as I can remember, and we've been very close with them for quite a while. The cause of the argument was, roughly, that W was performing a chore and M was hovering over her and correcting her missteps, which W naturally found frustrating. The similarities to my mother's habit of asking me or my dad to do X and then complaining that we did X wrong was evident, and W's angered "Well then, why don't YOU do it?" has been in my mind many times but never spoken aloud.
Additionally, the actual content of the argument, and the resolution, both differed from my usual experience at home. While W did call M names, she never expressed his misstep as being part of a pattern, which seems to be a common thread for my mother- "You ALWAYS do this!" And one particular exchange was refreshingly straightforward about expressing their feelings: "I'm so pissed at you!" "You've got no reason to me!"
The resolution was surprising in large part because there often isn't a clear resolution with my family, just one party retreating or ignoring the other until the yelling stops. In this instance, W apologized for calling M names and swearing at him and coaxed M into apologizing for his part in the argument, and the two hugged and kissed before leaving the room. Later, W repeatedly apologized for arguing in front of innocent bystander me and praised my efforts to defuse the argument, both things which would never happen here.

#550 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2013, 06:46 PM:

Jennifer Baughman, I'm glad you have a bit of a reprieve.

#551 ::: Codemonkey in NE England ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2013, 04:53 AM:

It doesn't rain but it pours in our house, on Friday evening the chest freezer broke down so I had to go out with my dad the next morning to get a replacement (and after it was installed, take the old one to the dump). She said afterwards "I don't know what I'd do without you", but it didn't stop her guilt-tripping me about houses the next day. Again she accused me of planning to cling to that money until after she was dead, but I was thinking "I'm not blowing my savings just to live in a posher prison!" (there's me using the "posher prison" metaphor this time...)

GlendaP @529: Also, from what you've told us here, it seems to me your mam may be doing well at taking care of your family's physical needs, but she's very bad at taking care of emotional/psychological needs.

And I think what I really meant to say was less about her competence as a carer, but more about admiring her endurance under terrible conditions. As I said before, I think I'd have had a breakdown years ago if I'd been in her shoes.

Moonlit Night @531: Staying will slowly kill you, and isn't much better for them.

An exaggeration for effect, maybe (if not, please explain in more detail)? Perhaps it's saying something though that now I definitely see myself as a prisoner though...

abi @534: She had a particular intention. She told you about that intention. But perhaps her courage failed her, or she didn't feel comfortable with the person, or she changed her mind. People do, all the time.

Possibly -- I hadn't thought of that!

Also, that approach -- that implication that if you change your mind later you retroactively lied when you stated an intention -- is a huge, huge red flag about the ways that your family's emotional life runs. It sounds like your mother uses the term "lie" to mean a lot more than most people would (saying something that you know isn't true at the time you say it).

I'm not sure it was relevant in this particular case (as this was about me thinking my mam was lying, not her accusing someone else of it), but yes she does sometimes use the term "lie" to mean anything other than telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth...

Moonlit Night @537: I fear that slow learner in #536 might be right that if threatening suicide works once, that she'll do it again.

Not sure that any lesser actions of mine (at least, any that I would be likely to do in the first place) would provoke such an extreme response -- perhaps it's because I feel internally like I ought not to do stuff without permission as long as I live with my parents (because they're letting me live there for only a nominal rent).

#552 ::: GlendaP ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2013, 05:33 AM:

Codemonkey @551: I feel internally like I ought not to do stuff without permission as long as I live with my parents (because they're letting me live there for only a nominal rent).

Wait a minute! I thought they would be subject to some sort of extra bedroom tax if you weren't there. Sounds to me like the financial obligation is the other way around.

And that's aside from the greater issue. When adults share living quarters, a certain degree of cooperation is necessary for matters directly related to those living quarters, but they certainly aren't required to ask for permission on every detail of their lives.

#553 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2013, 08:32 AM:

Codemonkey: I'm not sure it was relevant in this particular case (as this was about me thinking my mam was lying, not her accusing someone else of it), but yes she does sometimes use the term "lie" to mean anything other than telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth...

I think the point was that if your mam has a habit of defining "lie" so broadly, you may have picked up this definition for her, and it's not a useful way to frame "lie" in ordinary human interaction.

In fact, it feels to me kind of like dealing with a child of eight or younger. You tell them something at some point. Say you tell them you'll stop for ice cream after some dull task. Then something else happens - you leave the car's lights on, its battery goes flat, and by the time you get a jump start you have to go directly to pick the child's sibling up from day care or you start getting charged late fees - so you have to say "Sorry, we can't stop for ice cream after all, I really wish we could but no," and the child says tearfully, "You LIED!"

Explaining the difference between a willful lie and an unexpected but unavoidable change of plans is one of the more aggravating tasks of parenting.

If your mam is still using "lie" that way, it doesn't say wonderful things about her emotional maturity. You have Asperger's, but that only means it'll take more conscious effort to learn the nuances between "lie" and other forms of untruth, some of which are unconscious or retroactive rather than willful or caused by malice aforethought. It doesn't mean you can't learn them... but your mam's example of declaring all such things "lies" is Not Helping.

Also, this: I feel internally like I ought not to do stuff without permission as long as I live with my parents (because they're letting me live there for only a nominal rent).

That's another reason why you'd do well to move out. That's the position of a minor child, not of an adult. Living with them is keeping you from behaving as an adult, and that's not good for you.

#554 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2013, 09:55 AM:

Codemonkey #551: As I said before, I think I'd have had a breakdown years ago if I'd been in her shoes.

Quite arguably, she has had a breakdown -- she's certainly not in good psychological shape! Abusing her disabled husband and handicapped son, refusing external aid (notably "defending" the house against attempts to fix the kitchen, and likely stonewalling the Stroke Association), and so on.

#555 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2013, 02:17 PM:

Moonlit Night, #540: Which is where going to school out of town comes in -- you'll get away from all the old expectations, and have an opportunity to reshape yourself without the criticisms and old bad patterns being pressed on you.

I need to add a caveat to this. You're definitely right that a fresh start with people who don't already have an image of you in their heads (with which they will interact instead of with the person in front of them) can be a big help. But it won't do anything about the things you take with you, the issues that are part of you and the way you interact with other people. It's a help, but not a magic cure-all, which is a common mistake people make. See also The Fantasy of Being Thin, which makes the same point about a different issue.

Codemonkey, #551: I was thinking "I'm not blowing my savings just to live in a posher prison!"

Good for you! That's a major step forward.

she does sometimes use the term "lie" to mean anything other than telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth...

Does she also consider phrasing for tact to be a form of lying? IOW, if "telling the truth" can be done gently or brutally, does she consider it a lie to use the gentler option? That's a trait that sometimes (but not always) goes along with what you're saying.

#556 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2013, 02:28 PM:

Codemonkey, I understand what you mean about admiring your mother's endurance. But that endurance isn't working out so well, and it has a very high price for *all* of you.

I am quite serious about how staying will slowly kill you. I see what's happened to my parents after my older sister and I moved out. We'll start with my father: when I was there for my mother to control and abuse, he was the respected head of the household. Now he's an invalid who's treated like a 6-year old boy. He was very very intelligent, but has few social skills and has always been something of an absent-minded professor type. He never noticed how my mother abused me and my sister, so he can't recognize it now that it's targeted on him -- he's the only person around to control and abuse now, and she's got to get her abuse fix. Then in the last few years my dad had a medical problem that caused some brain damage and messed up his balance and stamina, so now he's an old man who is merely very intelligent. He has trouble walking or caring for himself, he sleeps a lot, he gets nauseous, and he thinks he's stupid, so he believes he can't do his very intellectual professions anymore. He's retired now and hangs around the house watching TV or reading, and complaining about how incredibly bored he is. My mother is always around to criticize him or tell him what to do as a part of taking care of him, and you can just *see* whatever life and verve he has left drain out of him when she starts telling him what to do. He'll sit at the table with his hands over his ears trying to block her out while she orders his life for him. He is *miserable*.

My mother reports that lately he's been talking about how his life is pointless now that he's stupid and bored so perhaps he should just kill himself, so it seems that my mother plus the medical problems have driven my father suicidal. My mother can't muster up sympathy for his plight, and I can't blame her for that. She's slaved away at the house and garden to serve him and us kids most of her adult life, and he's not holding up his side of the bargain anymore by earning lots of money and doing manly home maintenance tasks. Instead he lies around complaining about how boring it is to have a life of luxury, to a woman who's barely had a day off from cooking, cleaning, laundering, weeding, moving heavy objects, etc. for at least 4 decades. She is perpetually exhausted. She falls asleep when she sits still more than 30 minutes, and sometimes less than 10. She even calls herself the house n*gger, in complete seriousness and with enormous hurt and resentment. And she says, that lately she's been thinking, that if she had murdered him in his bed decades ago and gone to prison, that she would have been out by now, while having refrained means she's still enslaved to him.

We've already talked about what harm my mother has done to my sister and I. Out of obligation, my mother has been living a life that drives her crazy, which has caused her to mistreat every family member in proximity, to the point where *they* go crazy. My mother is such a control freak that she drove her staunchest supporter to escape in just a week: my mother's sister broke an ankle over a year ago, and stayed with my parents for about a week after the surgery because someone could take care of her and there were fewer stairs. My aunt normally lives on her own in a house with bed and bath upstairs, kitchen and living spaces at ground level, and laundry in the basement. My aunt always supports and defends my mother if I dare suggest my mother treats me less than well, and does some of the same bad behaviours towards me herself. But after a week at my mother's, my aunt *insisted* on going home to her two-storey house, because she would rather use a walker and crawl up and down a full flight of stairs multiple times a day with a broken ankle than put up with my mother taking care of her even one more day. If they hadn't driven her, she would have called a taxi for the cross-town trip. (The question of my mother's mental health is *still* closed with my aunt despite this experience.)

So yes, your mother is slowly killing you, because she is making you miserable and keeps you from growing up and making your own decisions, which could be so boring and constraining as to cause depression and suicidal thinking. You will never be able to live a fulfilling adult life under these conditions, and so far it seems the only way to change them enough is to move out. (Would your mam respond well if you suddenly started coming and going as you please, not reporting or explaining your actions, controlling your own finances completely, and dealing with your own meals, laundry, and other chores? Even if you paid a full rent to them? I doubt it.) Your mam is slowly killing herself too, and the emotional climate can't be good for your dad and sister either. That much martyrdom is just plain toxic, no matter how good the intentions.

#557 ::: Bricklayer ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2013, 02:46 PM:

So so so many things are Not Fixed and still problems, but:

MY DAUGHTER IS ENROLLED IN PUBLIC PRESCHOOL! Starting in late August, our tuition bills for her will go from just under $1,000/mo to $78/mo, and the commute to take her to school changes from "a 45min spur off each of her Daddy's morning and evening commutes" to "about a 15min walk from our house."

It's also going from 8+hrs of care three days a week to "half a day" (8:10AM to 10:50AM) all five weekdays. I'm still not sure if that's a win; certainly, my childcare responsibilities may well become more onerous without entire 'fall over exhausted' days available to me. Also, it largely precludes me seriously seeking out employment again anytime soon, not that I'd actually planned to do so ... hoped, maybe, but not planned.

On the plus, the daycare is about a block and a half from our YMCA, so I may well be working out more days in a week than I do now, including being conveniently down there for their 9AM fitness classes. :->

Given the bureaucratic stupidities of the system (like getting a less-than-7-day warning, by letter, of a 3-day 'mandatory' enrollment period -- enrollment in person only! -- for the entirety of which we were GOING TO BE OUT OF THE COUNTRY), I was v. v. v. stressed about this morning's "special" delayed enrollment opportunity, AND IT IS DONE. And the teacher didn't particularly blink when I dropped the "by the way, yes I'm technically her mother, but we're a Papa-and-Daddy family" thing on her. Dayenu, for now at least.

Now I get to start trying to track down exactly what my mental-health cover is so I can find a therapist to make a feeling-out appt with ...

#558 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2013, 03:10 PM:

Bricklayer, hooray!

#559 ::: Anon Amos ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2013, 04:55 PM:

Okay, came into work this morning and found an appointment for my "yearly evaluation" on my calendar.

"Yearly" seems to be whenever my boss decides there's something unacceptable about the way I'm doing things. (Sometimes it's February. Sometimes it's, you know, June. When asked, once I was told "we don't do yearly evaluations.")

That I only ever hear about what I'm Doin Rong makes it really hard to motivate myself to "improve" my "performace."


Here's hoping maybe there's something I'm doing "right" this year.

#560 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2013, 06:26 PM:

Progress! I have made 5 college-related phonecalls today, mostly about residence. This doesn't seem like a big deal to me, since I hung up on 2 of them (That is, I got to the answering machine and then didn't leave a message. There were several numbers for that department and I was trying to see if anyone was in today). But it is, considering that I tried calling a local radio station last Friday, but I was so paralyzed with fear of Doin It Rong and commitment that I got a headache and started crying and then gave up for the day.

I keep saying, if I could just pull the information I need out of the air or some inanimate object, I'd be fine. Talking to "important" people involves making a good impression and sounding put-together and like I'm not just some weird kid who uses the word "pizza" as a space filler. Not to mention that getting the radio info (what's working at a radio station like?*) probably involves setting up a meeting with someone, which means more calls and making sure I have a ride and look presentable...

*Speaking of which, thank you to B. Durbin @543. I've been looking around the Site That Tumbles for broadcast students talking about their coursework, which has given me a bit of a reality check. This is also a great reality check, both in terms of what I'd be learning and what I could do with that.

Moving on: I got my mom to call her work today and find out whether I'd still be covered for November/December if I got into a program that started in January. It would require a lot of paperwork, but it's not out of the question. So I'll be applying to at least one January-starting program. That would be good, since it'd give me a bit more time to prepare. I think it's the same deadlines for paying, but two extra months before I have to actually be there with all my stuff. Still haven't actually finished the application process, since commitment is scary and what if I chose the wrong 5 programs?? Well, brain, what if I chose the 5 best-available-for-me programs, but I lost my chance with any of them because I took too long and they all closed? But what if I'm Doin It Rong?!1? Arrgh. I'm either paralyzed with overthinking things or blindly rushing forward without thinking. No, I'm not, but it seems that way.

I noted last Thursday (after a rather anxious few days) that if nothing else good comes out of this, at least I've learned some things. I thought it over and realised that I'm fine talking to strangers and other "intimidating" categories of people as long as I have a script and feel comfortable following it. Like, I was completely okay talking to (and meeting) some woman who called because she'd found my brother's cell phone on the sidewalk. I didn't have to tell her about myself or make a good first impression beyond "polite and thankful". In the culinary program, the first shift I did as a server in second semester was fairly stressful, so I'd been using that experience as proof that I'm just not cut out for dealing with strangers in a professional setting**. But, looking at what specifically had me panicking, it boiled down to "Someone please tell me what to do so I don't mess this up!". It's like, I'm aware of how I can do it wrong but not what specifically to do to get it right. I don't really do well with too much freedom. I need structure or else I just kind of stand there afraid to do anything in case it's the wrong thing. Or, with no boundaries imposed, there's nothing making me do anything uncomfortable so I just don't.

**Another flaw with this logic is that it was my first time serving for that class, and my second-ever time serving. Perfectionism says "You messed up! That sucked, you're terrible, don't ever try that again!" but really, brain, things generally get easier after the first few times. I was incredibly nervous before my first couple shifts volunteering at the YMCA. Now I just kind of go and do the thing and it's no big deal. The first time I had to change the cartridge in my insulin pump, I was shaky and I threw out the first cartridge because I didn't know how to deal with air bubbles. Now it's fine and just kind of tedious. Et cetera! [expression of good-natured exasperation @ brain]

So that kind of opens up some jobs that I'd ruled out as too people-focused. Another thing kicking me out of inaction is the fact that sending my brother and I to college at the same time is going to be incredibly expensive, especially if I stay in residence. I can't really afford to be as picky or hesitant as I've been. Of course, being more open-minded and slightly more confident about my ability to do some jobs doesn't change the job market. But still!

I've got more to say but I'm about to head out with my mom.

#561 ::: Dash ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2013, 06:47 PM:

Saw the psychiatrist (the new one in my home area, not the school one) today. Turns out she doesn't do therapy, but she agrees with me that I might have Asperger's and that testing for it should be a priority rather than a "maybe someday" thing. She went further than I did, actually- she thinks that my "depression" might be primarily Asperger's-related frustration, which hadn't occurred to me but does seem in keeping with the evidence. The cost of a lot of this is still up in the air- both for the testing and for the volunteering abroad- but I'm glad to at least have a plan for going forward.
Additionally, I talked with my best friend a few days ago, as she's struggled with some similar issues. Some of her advice was helpful, some was hlepy or seemed downright odd. But having another perspective certainly helps things.

#562 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2013, 08:55 PM:

Bricklayer, sounds like a win.

Phenicious, that's a useful thing to recognize about yourself. I'm the same way: I hate open-ended phone calls or interactions with new people, but I'm okay with ones where I have a clear role.

Dash, that sounds like a step forward for you, too.

#563 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2013, 09:59 PM:

Phenicious, #560: But, looking at what specifically had me panicking, it boiled down to "Someone please tell me what to do so I don't mess this up!"

That's a good thing to know about yourself. One of the ways you can express this in interviews is to say something along the lines of, "I'm very good at following directions, but terrible at figuring them out for myself. I need guidance while I'm in the learning-curve phase of the job, but after that I'll be able to do it without supervision."

Incidentally, with practice even the ability to cope without instructions can improve. Being a traveling vendor has done wonders for me about this -- when I get to a site and have to deal with the unexpected, it no longer throws me for a complete loop! Things that I used to panic and call my partner about, now I just take in stride and do whatever seems appropriate to handle them.

#564 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2013, 12:19 AM:

Phenicious: "what is working at a radio station like?"

I've only ever worked at the newstalk-style of station, not the music places. These days, it's all computers, and what you are mostly there for is the insertion of commercials, sound levels, and moments of complete panic. On that last, basically think "when everything breaks." The way I used to describe my radio job was "boring, if you're lucky." Since it was a news station, the only times it wasn't boring were mechanical failure or really bad news.

As for "what it's like," most colleges have a radio station and students have time in there learning the ropes. That way, you get a feel for how it is in a low-pressure situation.

#565 ::: tamiki ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2013, 12:44 AM:

Phenicious: I can't speak to radio as a job, but I can speak to radio as a former DJ.

If the college you end up at has a radio station of its own and you're still interested in getting into it, do join up! They won't turn you loose on the air with no guidance; US radio is subject to federal regulations, even when it's non-commercial, so the existing DJs help train new people. I'd imagine Canadian radio isn't too different in that regard.

My shows were all music-based. There were certain requirements to play new music from the station's collection during my show, but otherwise, I had some freedom to play what I wanted. (There were some language restrictions on daytime shows; my senior year, I had late-night shows, where so long as I read a disclaimer that the song's views were not the station's I could play things that broke those language restrictions.) I was basically there to flip between songs and read PSAs (but, as I learned when I was training, you can't say they're PSAs).

There were A LOT of rules to take in; I found it a little daunting at first. But partly because there are so many rules, you won't be left to muddle through it yourself; it's worth making sure everyone knows what they're doing.

I had a blast DJing, to the point where I choked up when I did my last show before graduation.

(Have to say, though, I don't miss the anxiety dreams. I had one where the radio equipment was for some reason in my parents' study and not working right. A year after I stopped.)

#566 ::: Codemonkey in NE England ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2013, 09:25 AM:

Moonlit Night @556: I think it says a lot that when I read your message, I thought "your mam is a control freak with a martyr complex, but other than that your family was basically functional". Perhaps it's giving me a new perspective on just how horribly screwed up my own family is!

Your mam is unhappy because she overworks herself (due to the ethical system in which she was raised) whereas mine is depressed primarily due to boredom and above all loneliness. Also, at least your dad sounds like he was effective in his traditional gender role of provider, which mine never was (even when he had a job, we were too poor to afford a car -- only his redundancy money enabled him to buy an old car). Most of the issues my dad had which mam complains about so much (laziness and untidiness to name the two main ones) pre-dated his stroke. I think my mam's overprotectiveness may also be down to bad experiences at our former residence -- when I was in my teens we twice had our living room windows smashed (once with a milk bottle and once with a brick IIRC), and once when my mam went outside someone shouted at her "Get back in the house to see to your looney kids!"

Just out of interest, is your mother actually black? It would be even crazier if she was a white woman calling herself a "house n*gger"! :D

By the way, I phoned up the Stroke Association this lunchtime to remind them of the e-mail I sent them last week (which includes a link to my "view all posts" page, for the purpose of providing further info about my situation) and also to request contact details for the people who are actually seeing my parents. What would you suggest would be the best way to approach them?

#567 ::: Bricklayer ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2013, 10:53 AM:

Codemonkey @566: I (I'm American) was assuming Moonlight Night's mom is definitely white, because white people (of a certain age, background, and class) referring to menial labor as 'n*igger work' or people who do it (or, in general, poor or claimed-to-be-slovenly people) as 'white n*iggers' is, unfortunately, not an unknown thing.

See also the very different meanings of 'black' when applied to groups of people in the UK or the US: around here, if you called someone of visibly Pakistani (say) heritage 'black' you'd get really, REALLY strange looks from everyone involved no matter their color. In the US, 'black' almost invariably refers to the descendants of enslaved Africans owned in the South (or the Carribean), to the point that people argue that Barack Obama 'isn't really black' because his parents are an Iowan mother and a straight-from-Africa African. He doesn't have the cultural context of growing up in the multiple-generations-descended-from-that-Southern-mess milieu, which is really at the heart of what most Americans mean when they call someone black nowadays.

(IANA-sociologist, I just read about it a lot and watch documentaries ...)

#568 ::: Codemonkey in NE England ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2013, 02:47 PM:

Bricklayer @567: The main difference between UK and US ethnic parlance which comes to mind for me is that in the UK "Asian" is synonymous with "Desi" while in the US it is more likely to refer to East Asians.

#569 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2013, 03:41 PM:

So, okay. I have Something I Need To Do. One of the ways spoon-shortages manifest is an active aversion to doing those things. When I try to "discipline" myself to do something (especially when I'm feeling low on spoons, but even when I'm not), that aversion just gets stronger, until it's virtually impossible to "make" myself do it.

If the requirement is extrinsic, the aversion is all the stronger.

WTF is up with this? Anybody else run into this?

#570 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2013, 03:46 PM:

Jacque @569: Absolutely!

Somewhere I read an essay about "applied procrastination", but I can't seem to find it again. The basic idea was to always have some big project you're supposed to be working on, in order to trick your brain into making progress on your 2nd or 3rd priority tasks.

I've never quite gotten it to work for me (is that a tipoff to "hlepiness"?), but maybe you can find some use for the concept?

#571 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2013, 03:47 PM:

Jacque, yup. I find that dwarf bread helps. Nothing gets the house cleaner than a deadline.

(Dwarf bread: from Pratchett. Dwarf bread ensures that you will never go hungry, as you will eat just about anything else to avoid it. All sorts of things look like food when the alternative is dwarf bread.)

#572 ::: somewhere_else ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2013, 04:27 PM:

What is no fun at all? Right, panic attacks that are just below the surface. I mean, panic and anxiety are no fun, but right now I'm also exasperated? Bored? Anxious as hell but with a side of "Get on with this already, would you, I've got stuff to do.", oh well.
In other news, lots of things are going on so I'm pretty busy and don't get to read as much here as I'd like. To all those struggling right now, good luck, perseverance and most importantly, kindness!

#573 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2013, 04:58 PM:

Jeremy Leader #570: "applied procrastination"

The late, great, Art Buchwald had a classic column to that effect. This probably would be dating back to the 70s or so.

#574 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2013, 05:54 PM:

Jacque @569: "Anybody else run into this?"

Does anybody *not* run into this?

I generally find that the aversion barrier melts away if I can get past it and into the work. This may be peculiar to me, however.

The best I've been able to figure out is (a) publicly committing to deadlines; (b) applied procrastination among projects that all need to get finished.

#575 ::: knitcrazybooknut ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2013, 05:57 PM:

Hey Jacque, forgive me if I extrapolate/interpret incorrectly, but I have struggled with various forms of procrastination for all of my years, and there are quite a number of them. (both, actually)

One of my sayings about my family used to be: The best way to get a [lastname] to do something is to tell them they can't do it; and the best way to ensure that they never do something is to tell them they have to.

Incomprehensible authoritarian alcoholic fathers (or narcissistic river-in-egypt surface-dwelling mothers) yelling that you have to do something for no reason would give any adult pause. As a kid, it just makes you dig in your heels and think, "bite me." I've had a lot of time to work through what tasks "must" be done, and what tasks are things that I actually want to do. The teasing out of those pieces is tough, and I'm still working on figuring out what I want to do because I actually want to do it, and what I "want" to do because I think I have to.

Ye gods. Even the grammar starts getting complicated.

I could go on, but for practicality's sake, I have a question:

Can you break down the thing you have to do into smaller steps?

If so, can you say that you'll do one step per day, and ONLY one step, no matter what?

If you can talk yourself into a steady stream of doing just the one step (or maybe quantifying it into 20 minute increments), you can make the workout deal with yourself. That is, say to yourself that you'll do one step, no matter what, even if you're doing it complaining and kicking and screaming the whole time. Even if you do it with a bad attitude, you've still done it, and there's only x steps left to do.

If disciplining or this kind of bargaining doesn't work for you, what about a reward? Could you set up a reward system for yourself? Is there anyone who can hold money for you until you prove that you've completed the task?

In the end, a lot of the techniques I use when I'm procrastinating on something involve looking at the task and figuring out why I don't want to do it. Sometimes our intuitive selves know that we shouldn't be doing something. Paperwork gets misplaced, files get lost, sometimes for a reason. You might want to think about what this task represents to you, what it might resemble in your past, and make sure you see all the pieces before you power through and get it done.

I hope this helps.

#576 ::: knitcrazybooknut gnoming today ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2013, 05:58 PM:

I bet it's the parens. I'm terrible with those.

#577 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2013, 06:26 PM:

Oh, right, the get-a-little-done-every-day plan. Possibly not applicable if you are revolted by the idea of even *looking* at the project. But it may be possible to do a tiny amount if you know you can stop right away.

If I do a little bit every day, it will add up to a lot of progress, and -- this is important -- *this works even if I am unable to believe it*. (Like Niels Bohr's horseshoe in the other thread?) (Okay, not really like that, but the parallel amuses me.)

#578 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2013, 06:35 PM:

Jacque: Ye gods, yes. It's bad enough that it's on my therapist list. So no, you're not alone!

In my case, I have a feeling that part of it was my mom driving herself past the point of exhaustion because of all the things she "had" to do - and lazy is the worst possible insult in her world. Now that I've gotten past the idea that everything must be done, perfectly, NOW, I'm working on the resulting backlash of not wanting to do stuff if it's in the "must be done" category... :(

So, dwarf bread. It works for me, too. (Thanks Diatryma! I'd used the tactic, but now have an awesome name for it. :)

#579 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2013, 06:41 PM:

Taking a large task in smaller chunks works well for me too. "I'll do X piece of it, and then take a break and do something else." Even better if you can make the something else be another task (or part of a task) that needs to be done, but "do X and then go read ML" works too.

If it's a cluttered room, the "ten things" trick seems to work pretty well. Clear up 10 things -- they don't have to be large things, and moving them to the room where they should go counts even if you don't actively put them away, as long as they're not in the clutter pile any more. Then do something else for a while. Lather, rinse, repeat; the key is to take little bites that add up to more stuff being cleared away in a day than gets added to the pile. And it's surprising how much of a difference sorting/filing/tossing 10 little bits of clutter 2 or 3 times can make in a messy area.

#580 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2013, 06:54 PM:

Jeremy Leader @570: "applied procrastination"

Well, except that this isn't your garden-variety procrastination. (Which for me is stuff like tossing the envelope on the heap "to file later" instead of opening it, tossing the envelope in the recycling, and putting the contents in the appropriate file.)

This is more "I need to do X. I've got time to do X. But the more I think about getting up to do X, the more repellent X becomes (even if it's an otherwise innocuous action) until I can't even stand to think about X, and go do something else just to release the stress." It's very weird.

It's even worse if X is something I'm supposed to do to satisfy (pacify?) somebody else.

#581 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2013, 07:15 PM:

Jacque at 569: oh hell yeah.

Many of the techniques which others have mentioned have worked for me as well. Depending on what kind of task it is, I have also found it useful to Ask A Friend to Help. As in: I call my best bud and say, Girl, I have to clean my kitchen and it is making me absolutely crazy to even look at it. Wanna help me?

Best Bud comes over with work gloves and a mop: she washes the dishes, I dry, she scrubs the cabinets, I put the dishes away, she sprays the oven with the horrible smelly poisonous oven cleaner, I mop the kitchen floor, we both eat the ice cream, go for a long walk, and then return to jointly deal with the oven. The next day I clean out the refrigerator.

But sometimes it's a task that another person cannot help with.

Good luck.

#582 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2013, 07:38 PM:

On applied procrastination, beware of the form of cat-vacuuming where you spend all day reprioritizing and recategorizing and rescheduling your to-do list without ever actually doing anything on it. Of course, your to-do list might actually need a little bit of that kind of attention, but the reick is knowing when you are reaching diminishing returns.

#583 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2013, 07:41 PM:

The *trick is knowing when to stop.

#584 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2013, 07:48 PM:

Phenicious: I keep saying, if I could just pull the information I need out of the air or some inanimate object, I'd be fine.

That's called wireless internet. ☺

When I was a kid, I would write out a script before making a phone call. Now I have more acting experience and can do a bit of ad-libbing.

#585 ::: LGB ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2013, 10:49 PM:

Greetings, DFDers! I've lurked here for a long time because I so enjoy the places on the internets where whole groups of people are kind and supportive to each other. (I'm a fan of such places in real life, too, come to think of it.) I have learned a lot from the conversations here. Thank you all. I haven't ever posted before, but I'm reading, witnessing and sending good thoughts.

Regarding the procrastination sub-thread, I wonder if this is the essay about constructive procrastination Jeremy Leader @570 mentioned? If not, it's another essay on the same topic. I find it's sometimes a good way to trick my brain into getting things done when it's full of don't wanna.

I also break large and terrifying jobs into tiny, unthreatening pieces and do only one piece a day. It seems to work--slowly--but it also seems to require some discipline and habits of thought (such as trusting that the tiny steps will eventually add up to visible progress) that I've only developed in the last few years. I don't know whether any of this may be useful, but it's what's currently working for me on that front.

#586 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2013, 11:03 PM:

Procrastination/getting things done discussion: I think I use dwarf bread too. When the alternative to un-fun work is being punished with bad grades, I do the work. Not until the class is practically upon me, but yeah. It's definitely facing an unpleasant task to avoid a worse fate. (incidentally, I'm rereading Guards! Guards right now, Pratchett hi-five)

Progress: This morning, mom and I finished the program selection part of the application, which is to say I made my decisions and she paid the $95 fee. Transcripts will be sent to the colleges I've chosen on Wednesday, hopefully. I'm glad that step's done. Next comes a ton of research while I wait for the schools to acknowledge me (no offers so far, but then, the transcripts aren't even processed yet).

I've already done some research on a couple of schools. This seems like a non-sequitur, but I want to talk about the way I got stuck trying to decide what to commit to. I was trying to make my final selection while not actually being in that final stage. It's like how I'd write essays for exams: get the whole thing down how I want it the first time (which was generally frustrating and inefficient) and then re-write it neatly. I don't really know how to do a first draft. I feel like it's just an incomplete final draft, instead of a first draft, second draft, so on. Anyway, I'm bringing THAT up to connect it with how I try to get everything perfect all at once/before I move forward. Even when I have to carry a bunch of things from one room to another, I don't take a couple items at a time. I try to carry as much as I can at once, because somehow struggling to hold it all seems better than making more trips. I over-pack when I'm going out, because what if I regret not bringing that book? I'd better take it just in case. And my crochet project, and a water bottle, and my headphones... I do it less now, but it's definitely still happening. I might need that umbrella, even though I've already got my raincoat. Perfectionism and fear of making mistakes comes through in all sorts of ways.

Now, I'm focusing on residence and how/when to apply. I was thinking about that this morning, when I couldn't sleep*. Mom and I are probably going to drive to one of the campuses soon, because after she has surgery she'll probably not be able to drive for a while. (Dad's surgery is apparently going to be this winter, so it's not quite the pileup of incapacitated parents we thought it might be. Just my dad not being able to work during the busiest season of the year, and then there's Christmas... I'm going to talk to mom about this.)

I'm not really thinking about things like being homesick or living with strange new people right now. I'm concerned more with the things that...I guess, aren't in the handbook? The diabetes and medical stuff like my prescriptions. I mean, that makes sense, making sure I can get the things I need to stay alive and functional is quite important.

Yesterday I called the residence office at the nearest out-of-town college and tried to ask about what students do for picking up their prescriptions. There's apparently a weekly shuttle that goes to a mall with a drug store, so that's good to know. I think this would be easier to ask in person, I was trying to not take up too much of her time on the phone so I didn't actually explain the whole situation. Once again, I'm sabotaging myself by trying to take up as little space as possible.

*shoehorning in that I am really tired right now. I stayed up quite late and then couldn't sleep for the longest time. I got maybe two, three hours of sleep between six-thirty and nine this morning. So if I seem a bit all over the place, that's probably why. I'm still going to post this update today, because following up/responding becomes harder the longer I wait.

#587 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2013, 12:21 AM:

Bricklayer @557: Congratulations on the preschool!

Codemonkey @566: for the Stroke Association, what you need is a clear question/course of action and a short summary of the situation. I haven't ever done anything of the kind myself, but keep in mind that these people are busy and need the outline before the details. Provide details as needed to flesh out points where they want clarification or that they aren't understanding or taking seriously enough. I suggest starting with something like "I'm _______'s son, and I'm going to be moving out shortly. I want to check what kind of support my family is eligible for when that happens. I also want to make sure that the description of the household situation is up to date and complete." That should get you directed to the right person or department, and then to locate your father's file.

My mother is white, and used to lecture me on the linkages between abolition, feminism, and the civil rights movement over the kitchen table. She called herself a "house n*gger" to make it utterly clear that she feels like a slave, degraded and taken for granted. It was a huge shock to hear it, not only because of her meaning, but because we did not use that kind of word, ever.

My family had much better economic luck and no disabled people until recently, so on the practical level it was a lot more functional than yours. But emotionally, my family is in very bad shape and has been for decades. My therapist is seriously impressed that everyone is still alive and that I don't have any major personality disorders. My sister has anxiety issues, my dad wobbles in and out of of depression, my aunt has control issues and perhaps some hoarding/OCD, and my mother seems to have all of the above and possibly more. The best thing I ever did for myself was to move out of there, and one of my biggest regrets is how long I had to wait to do it, and how many years it took to recognize the truth of the situation after that. I lost so much time!

So if you think that emotional climate is kittens and rainbows compared to your house, that's really saying something. Myself, I look at it and think, "there but for the grace of circumstances goes my family," because so many of the attitudes and dynamics are similar aside from those circumstances.

#588 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2013, 12:51 AM:

LGB @585: Thanks, that's the one!

#589 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2013, 01:42 PM:

Phenicious @586: I'm concerned more with the things that...I guess, aren't in the handbook? The diabetes and medical stuff like my prescriptions.

The Google phrase

managing diabetes while at college

produces a useful-looking set of results.

#590 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2013, 03:31 PM:

Jacque @589: Thanks, I hadn't actually thought to phrase it like that.

#591 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2013, 03:36 PM:

Phenicious @586, most colleges have a health center or clinic also, and they might be a good source of advice on the diabetes and prescriptions thing.

#592 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2013, 06:43 PM:

Phenicious @586 (pentium!) -- on drafts of papers, I found Howard S. Becker's Writing for Social Scientists to be incredibly helpful. Becker is that rare beast, a sociologist who writes really well. A bunch of useful quotes from it can be found here -- it should tell you, free, whether you're actually interested in looking at the book.

#593 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2013, 12:30 AM:

Phenicious @586: I'm good at essays, so I'll tell you my process. What made me good at essays was the teacher who told me that it doesn't matter how many paragraphs an essay has, what matters is that it has a well-structured argument, divided into an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. Each section can have as many paragraphs as you need them to -- once I had a split body, with two themes that each had 3 paragraphs.

Research: Usually we picked topics from a list, so I knew what to read up on. I took notes or flagged things with stickies, often with notes. I had a deadline for when to stop absorbing information and start working on my outline.

Braindump: I'd write out all my thoughts about the topic, with no order at all, one idea per line, in point form, until they were all in a pile in the text editor or word processor. I also included lines for quotations I was very likely to use.

Create a structure/outline: next I sorted the points into groups. The groups would be rough at first but got more refined over time. Once it was clear what groups I had, the ordering of groups and points would start suggesting itself. Word's outline mode was very good for reorganizing them. Partway through, I'd see that I now had 1+ groups that felt like introduction, 1+ that felt like conclusion, and a bunch that felt like the meat of the essay, usually 3+. I would add headings to show the paragraph's position and main idea, such as "Body 2: Inanna, Warrior Babe from Hell". Then it was time to take a second pass, and put my points in order within the paragraph groupings, so that the ideas flowed well.

Do the outline, even if you don't make it very detailed. Nobody can write a good 5-paragraph essay with material that naturally falls into 7 paragraphs. Instead they will have 5 paragraphs with amputated lumps of paragraphs 6 and 7 sticking out of them in random directions, which confuses readers.

First draft: Once the structure seemed to be right, it was time to save the outline as a new file, and then start fleshing out the points into complete sentences, adding quotations, and marking where I needed citations. I made sure to add points where needed: an introduction should mention the body points in the order I'll cover them, a conclusion should recap them, and body paragraphs need opening sentences to lead in and closing sentences to lead out of their main point. Sometimes when I had written my points very clearly and my structure was strong, it would feel like the essay was writing itself. Sometimes, turning points into sentences would cause the flow to break up -- when that happened I usually found there was a better place to put that point, or a new phrasing that would fix the problem. If I had to move more than two or three points, then maybe I needed to go back and revise my structure before writing any more.

Revise and touch up: I liked to revise at least once from the first draft, and sometimes I would trade with someone else for editing and proofreading. Another pair of eyes makes a huge difference. I would usually have at least 3 drafts before submitting, and they were better quality if I could take at least a few hours away from the project. This was a good stage to check that I had enough quotations and citations to show that I had researched as well as thought and written. I also did word counts occasionally -- my problem was always going over, not under. Reading the essay out loud to myself really helped for finding sentences that were too long, or choppy, or confusing, and for figuring out their punctuation. Once the wording was nailed down, it was time to do the finishing touches, like spellcheck, punctuation, citations, formatting details, title page, notes, and bibliography. Use a citation manager -- they are a godsend.

#594 ::: upset ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2013, 12:52 PM:

Phenicious @586: May I just flag this beauty of a sentence?

"Just my dad not being able to work during the busiest season of the year, and then there's Christmas... I'm going to talk to mom about this."

This to me is incredibly brave. You're not avoiding the problem at all--in fact, it seems like you're seeing it come up on the horizon and proactively mobilizing your resources to deal with it now. This is awesome!

#595 ::: Morose Sage ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2013, 04:21 PM:

I've followed these threads on-and-off for years, and after events just this past weekend I can conclusively say my family is dysfunctional enough to qualify.

I'm not actually sure I have a family anymore, at that. I'm very near actively avoiding contact with them right now because they're just going to bring more bad news (excrement is hitting the fan in the Midwest while I'm interning in the MidAtlantic; my life is falling apart and I'm not there to see it happen). And even once I'm ready to handle speaking to them again...I have no idea what's going to happen.

The worst bit is it isn't anyone's fault. Or so I'm used to saying. It's a mental illness.

But even mental illness isn't an excuse for attacking someone.

So one of my long-held beliefs ("he isn't really capable of that") is being questioned and I don't know what the answer is going to be in the end, or what I'm going to do about it.

Even hlepiness would be appreciated at this point.

(Also, while keeping pseudonyms, I think I recognize something characteristic in Rikibeth's encouraging answers. If you are who I think you are, you'll recognize the reference in my handle. Hello! Fancy meeting you here!)

#596 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2013, 06:02 PM:

Morose Sage @595: Reading and witnessing. Sympathies. Willing to listen if you want to say more. All I can say at the moment is: remember it's not your fault either.

#597 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2013, 07:43 PM:

MoroseSage, the only place I'm really pseudonymous is on tumblr, because AuntieHornblower reflects my fandom persona so well; even my pen name, Julian Griffith, links back easily to Rikibeth.

That said, something about the situation sounds familiar, even if I'm not parsing your pseudonym right this instant. Feel free to drop me a line (rikibeth at gmail) if you want to unmask in private!

#598 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2013, 08:48 PM:

Morose Sage @595, sympathies for such a difficult stage in your life.

A couple of points that have been raised here in the past. First, there is no minimal level of dysfunction required. If the conversation here is helpful, it's helpful. Second, pain is pain even if nobody intended it or is to blame for it. Knowing that behavior patterns that cause you pain have their roots in mental illness may affect how you respond, what you expect for the future, etc., but it doesn't mean that things that hurt magically stop hurting.

#599 ::: Morose Sage ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2013, 08:59 PM:

@Rikibeth: indeed, Auntie Hornblower. I've only changed a different 'M' for my name seemed fitting, as I'm kind of morose right now. Although on the much brighter side, I did get the chance to recommend Julian Griffith to someone the other day. She was looking for hot historical romances and I told her to just wait for yours!

I'm still trying to parse what happened, but basically during a psychotic state a manic-depressive family member attempted suicide for the second time, attacking another family member who tried to stop him. The attempt was unsuccessful. These family members are my parents, and they are most likely splitting up. I say 'most likely' because, even after this, they have been together for more than two decades through increasingly nasty paranoid episodes... It would be almost a relief if they did split, but I don't know if I'll ever want to contact the ill family member again. Which seems cold of me, and I'm worried nobody else will be there to look after them. But I am not qualified to look after other people.

It's also now hitting me that this was a "before" and "after" type event, and we are now irrevocably "after". I spent the evening sitting in a park crying. Someone stopped to ask if I was "meditating or injured". "Neither, thanks," I told her. "I'm grieving." So. Grieving. Not sure I'll ever stop.

#600 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2013, 09:26 PM:

first of all, (((hugs))) to you, Sage, and I apologize for my absence from tumblr.

I'm fresh out of advice. And comforting words seem hollow.

If you'd like to get a sneak peek at the story I just submitted to Torquere, though, it might at least give you 6500 words of distraction. It's moderately schmoopy, and they do not get eaten by the sharks at this time.

Let me know and I'll send it along.

#601 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2013, 05:09 AM:

Morose Saga @ 599

Please let me provide some reassurance on one count - quoting first:

...but I don't know if I'll ever want to contact the ill family member again. Which seems cold of me, and I'm worried nobody else will be there to look after them. But I am not qualified to look after other people.

I think you're already there with the important bit: you are NOT required to expose yourself to more danger and stress, no matter what society tries to employ as a trump card against your natural desire for safety and self-care. Neither the family card, nor the "worse-off than you" card, nor the "but s/he's got a 'condition'"...

Yes, mental illness may be involved: that will affect the way people parse their surroundings, but the responsibility for their choices remains their own. And such a person must own up to their choices and their effect on you, if this contact between yourself and this other is to maintain a healthy dynamic.

Anything less is manipulation on their part.

Shorter hlepy-me: you are NOT cold, you are simply expressing sensible reservations about how the presence of someone you describe can de-stabilize your own life.

Crazy(and looking for forgiveness - the above comes from years of having beaten up her own self for being deficient in familial-love, when in fact it was simply having lookout for herself within a chaotic situation; of course, that situation did not stop the Damn Tapes from constantly running...)Soph

#602 ::: crazysoph would like a word with the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2013, 05:11 AM:

*sigh* I wrote "Saga" and it should have been "Sage"

Crazy(and hoping that's the worse sin her previous comment has committed...)Soph

#603 ::: Codemonkey in NE England ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2013, 08:27 AM:

Moonlit Night @556: So yes, your mother is slowly killing you, because she is making you miserable and keeps you from growing up and making your own decisions, which could be so boring and constraining as to cause depression and suicidal thinking.

I did do an online depression test a few days ago which came up as "moderate-to-severe depression". And often when I'm alone in the car (where no-one can here me) I say to myself "why does she have to KEEP ME HERE!"

Moonlit Night @587: My family had much better economic luck and no disabled people until recently, so on the practical level it was a lot more functional than yours.

Who else on these DFD threads is/was in a situation most resembling my own? (ie, prevented from moving out by a parent who is overwhelmed by responsibility for disabled relatives...)

So if you think that emotional climate is kittens and rainbows compared to your house, that's really saying something.

I think I ought to take that comment back now that I've read your posting history. It seems like your family was severely dysfunctional from the get-go (and your mother's family when she was growing up was even worse), whereas as I can't really find anything to fault with my family for the first ten years of my life (except carlessness -- my dad had failed two driving tests in his teens, and could afford to continue lessons once he got married). Although perhaps one warning sign is that my mam (as far as I can remember) had few if any non-family friends even then -- I remember her saying that "80% of the people around here are (riff-)raff, and half of the remainder are snobs." (I expect the "snobs" was a reference to people who bought their council houses under Thatcher's Right to Buy scheme, and thus thought of themselves superior to those whose houses were still council-owned.)

Things started to get a bit fraught when dad lost employment in the early '90s (with a fair bit of "why don't you get a job" carping from my mam), although dad passing his test (on his 4th attempt) and getting a car (the first three were old cars, then we got on Motability because of my sister's disability) sort of made up for that.

Things didn't get really nasty until about 2006 or so, when my grandma became totally housebound (she'd weakened after a major heart attack back in 2001). While before, my grandmother had been able to walk up to the village front street to buy her groceries, now she had to have my dad deliver them. Also, my mam had to visit them every morning to make meals for them, leaving the kitchen work in our house to my dad (and the downstairs of the house began to get dirtier and more decrepit at about this time). It was the death of my mother's parents (which deprived her of a bolthole when things got unbearable in our own house) plus dad's deteriorating medical condition that caused our family situation to go from bad to catastrophic. It culminated in his 2012 brain haemorrhage, but which had been suspect for at least three years before that. He'd been dropping off to sleep occasionally in the middle of the day, and in the year before the brain haemorrhage I had to drive for any family trips out, as my mam didn't trust him to take her further than the local shops.

#604 ::: Codemonkey in NE England, gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2013, 09:01 AM:

I wonder what Word of Power I hit this time? (I'm sure my post contained no URLs...)

#605 ::: Morose Sage ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2013, 09:45 AM:

Thanks, Crazy Soph. It's one of those mantras that gains strength from repetition, I think.

Woke up this morning to an angry email from the other parent, because I didn't contact the family yesterday to check how they were doing. Assumed the answer was "not well" and wasn't aware there was an obligation to pool our miseries. Not helping the "I'm a selfish, crappy daughter" tapes, but there you go.

#606 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2013, 10:20 AM:

Codemonkey @603: Reading what you wrote in response to Moonlit Night forcecully brings to mind the comment featured in the OP for one of the previous DFD threads: the need to convince oneself that "it's not that bad" is in itself a warning sign.

#607 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2013, 10:42 AM:

Codemonkey, your mam wants to keep you there, but she cannot legally or physically do so.

Tell the bank about your documents being stolen (she has stolen them by putting that tin in her room) and get replacement ones. Sign a lease. Hire a professional removal firm so she can't damage your stuff before you take it away. Get out before your depression escalates to life-threatening.

Call the Stroke Association and tell them about your mam's talk about killing herself. Call her GP. Put that problem in the hands of the professionals. Suicide threats are really beyond a layperson's level.

Talk to your GP about your own depression and see what they suggest -- talk therapy, medication, changing your circumstances.

Get out.

#608 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2013, 11:57 AM:

Morose Sage, #599: You are not required to put your own life or health at risk for someone else's sake, whether or not they're "family" and regardless of there being anyone else to take care of them. There's a highly toxic meme in our society (to which women especially are subjected) that our lives must come secondary to anything anyone else asks of us, and thousands of women per year die of it. Just wanting to make sure this is clearly stated.

... and I see that crazysoph already said that, but repetition can't hurt.

#609 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2013, 12:26 PM:

Morose Sage @599: I don't know if I'll ever want to contact the ill family member again. Which seems cold of me, and I'm worried nobody else will be there to look after them. But I am not qualified to look after other people.

<hlep>Note that, if you decide you want to give care, "looking after someone" can be fulfilled by "finding someone to look after." I don't know anyone with a lick of sense who would demand that an unqualified family member take full responsibility for a seriously (dangerously?) ill family member.

Nosey question: is there a diagnosis (formal or otherwise) associated with this psychosis?

Google has become my first stop in situations where I haven't a clue. In this case, it turns out that

how to deal with psychotic family member

is a pre-loaded search phrase. The results look potentially useful.

#610 ::: Morose Sage ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2013, 12:35 PM:

@Jacque: it's manic-depression with psychosis. My sister and I have unsubstantiated theories of schizoid or paranoid personality disorder, given the depth and consistancy of the paranoid psychosis (which manifests as extreme distrust of the medical profession, especially psychiatric medications. Literally the reason we can't have nice things). It's formal, with a history of hospitalization that gets longer each time I turn around. For all the good that does.

Now what can I do about the parent who *has* succombed to the meme that women must care for all members of the family no matter what, and is hurt that I won't follow in her footsteps?

#611 ::: Morose Sage ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2013, 12:37 PM:

I should note knowing whether she was a truth-shouter or cutlery thrower would be very helpful in parsing the email. I don't *think* my unwillingness to be seen with her in public as a teenager (if I fact I ever felt this; memory does not serve) has any relevance whatsoever to this situation, but she seems to think it does. I am not ready to manage two irrational parents on top of this.

#612 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2013, 12:48 PM:

Sage: your mother does sound more like a cutlery-thrower. That bit about you not wanting to be seen in public with her sounds like projection.

As for succumbing to the meme: you can't control other people's actions. Sometimes all you CAN do is remove yourself from the situation.

#613 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2013, 12:52 PM:

Morose Sage @611: Sounds like a cutlery thrower to me - she's hurt, and from the sound of it feels trapped (whether or not she's consciously realised that) and she's responding by lashing out - and from the sound of it by trying to get you to take on the burden so you can both be miserable - I suppose on the "misery loves company" basis.

#614 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2013, 01:09 PM:

Morose Sage @610: manic-depression with psychosis ... schizoid or paranoid personality disorder ... extreme distrust of the medical profession, especially psychiatric medications.

Ouch. The distrust is doubtless symptomatic, and also kind of a deal breaker.

Now what can I do about the parent who *has* succombed to the meme that women must care for all members of the family no matter what, and is hurt that I won't follow in her footsteps?

Well, you know, she is free to choose the life path she feels best suits her needs. Taken as a given in this community, but bears repeating: This does not include the right to choose your life path.

In your place, I would employ the Broken Record with the following track: "I'm happy for you that your choice fulfills you. I do not make the same choice." End of discussion. Repeat as necessary. No elaboration, no explanation, no justification.

If she protests "hurt," my line would be, "I'm sorry you choose to interpret my choice that way. You have my empathy." End of discussion. Repeat as necessary. No elaboration, no explanation, no justification.

Shorter me: honor her choice, stand by your own, without apology or excuse. (Easier, of course, said than done.)

Morose Sage @611: my unwillingness to be seen with her in public as a teenager

This (if it happened) marks you as a healthy, self-differentiating teenager. And that's all.

And: what Rikibeth said.

#615 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2013, 01:34 PM:

Sage, Jacque: As You Know, Bob, I'm the parent of a teenager (about to set off for college at the end of the summer). A *million* times this, what Jacque said about self-differentiating. I actually think my teenager has been unusual in the minimal amount of "Mom, you're EMBARRASSING me" that I've gotten. However, I've allowed my teenager perhaps more independence than the current norm, with little to no ill effect that I can see, and I mostly haven't tried to butt in on my teenager's activities... even when we share fandoms and are going to the same events. My teenager is amused that I speak tumblr, and recognizes my genuine engagement with the culture... but complains that Dad, who is NOT a tumblr denizen, attempts to speak in its argot and gets it WRONG and that is SO EMBARRASSING.

So. Y'know. Being embarrassed about one's parents is awfully normal, and I think the only reason I don't get it enough to notice is that I'm a really weird mom.

#616 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2013, 03:02 PM:

Morose Sage, this is an oxygen-mask situation. You do not have an obligation to harm yourself so the person harming herself has company. "Taking care of others" can also be, "finding a more effective way for someone else to take care of them," particularly in this case, where it is pretty clear that the situation is above your and your parent's pay grade.

Codemonkey, it sounds like your situation has been precarious for a while and it has taken a good few hits in the past decade. But that doesn't excuse it. Whether your family has been borderline-functional, functional-but-only-under-ideal-conditions, dysfunctional, missing-stair-functional, or any other variant, it is not functional now and it doesn't look like there's any way to make it functional under the current circumstances. Like Morose Sage, 'taking care of family' probably means 'finding someone qualified to handle it'. Your family's problems are too big for one person. They are above your pay grade.

#617 ::: Robert Poste's Child ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2013, 03:50 PM:

Codemonkey, I've never written in these Dysfunctional Families threads before, although we certainly have bits of dysfunctional behavior here and there, but really nothing to compare to most of the posters here. You asked in #603 for other posters in situations resembling yours; I might qualify in some respects, although in my case I feel that I am not being taken advantage of. I know describing a situation that (I hope) is not very dysfunctional can be damaging to do in these threads; please believe that I don't mean it in a "my family works better than yours" sort of way, or any kind of oneupmanship, just that since you asked about similar situations, I thought that describing what works about my family arrangement might give you some ideas.

I am a primary caretaker for my aunt, who has various mental issues including non-progressive dementia and severe learning disabilities. My parent is her next-of-kin and accepts that zie is responsible for her, but feels that zie is unable to live with her. When my aunt had some psychotic episodes several years ago and was no longer able to live alone, we put her in a very good care home for a year, where she complained of great unhappiness and was also in very bad physical shape. After that, we brought her back to her house and I moved in with her. While here, she has improved in physical health; although she still complains of unhappiness quite often, she is very clear on the fact that she wants to stay in her home.

Everyone in the family agrees that living with my aunt is a job. I do her cooking and cleaning, take her to occasional appointments, and deal with household emergencies; in return, I'm paid a small wage and receive free rent and utilities. Even so, this arrangement only works for me because of several factors. One is that I am not trapped here. It's amazing what a difference it makes knowing that if I ever am absolutely unable to go on caretaking, I can move out. We've even explained to my aunt that if this happens, she will have to return to a care home, not in a threatening way, but so that she understands that if she controls her behavior as much as she can, she has a much better chance of staying in her home. I think this has actually made a difference in her behavior. Another factor is that we have additional caregivers coming in regularly to give me a break and do cleanliness activities. She does not require twenty-four hour supervision, thankfully. My parent visits regularly and takes charge of most of her medical and financial affairs.

To sum up, caretaking is hard, hard work, and I can't tell you the number of times that I've thrown my hands up and said "No more!" I believe that taking care of family is an important and ethical thing to do, but ONLY if you can do it without destroying your own life or the lives of your other family members. So far, the balance for me has always fallen on the side of my continuing to be a caretaker, because the current arrangements work for me and I have supportive family members trying to make it easier. (Possibly I should add that my other parent feels that my parent is taking advantage of me and that zie should be taking more responsibility.) I wish your mother had access to some of the advantages I have, but that doesn't excuse her taking out her pain on you. When my aunt has a particularly bad day and I am tired and cranky, that wouldn't excuse my yelling at her or any other family member, no matter how much I'm tempted. And I completely support your right to decide that caretaking is not for you! In an ideal world, our governments would be paying enough for this very difficult job that the only people who had to do it would be those who wanted to. I do respect that you are concerned about your family, but I agree with many other posters here that you should take care of yourself first, and perhaps then you will find yourself with so much more energy and willpower to make good changes for them. I know that I would never have the energy to deal with my aunt without the private space, time alone, and family support that I currently have.

#618 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2013, 06:36 PM:

Morose Sage, #610: You can't do anything about her. That's part of the meme too -- the idea that you can make someone get better if you can just find the right words or do the right things. This is something she will have to come to terms with on her own. If/when she starts to do so, then it will be appropriate for you to offer her your support and encouragement. But it's like breaking an addiction -- it cannot be done from the outside, or by anyone but the person themselves.

Rikibeth, #615: My partner had much the same kind of relationship with his daughter when she was in her teens. She had a lot more "freedom" (largely defined as "treating her the way we were treated when we were her age, not the way most parents treat teenagers now) and a lot less pressure to conform to external norms (because we don't conform to them either) than most of her friends at school did, and was widely envied for having the coolest parents ever. And, being a smart cookie, she knew better than to abuse the privileges she got, lest they be withdrawn. By and large, we gave her a lot of space to define herself within, so that she didn't need to rebel very hard in order to get that space.

#619 ::: Morose Sage ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2013, 06:59 PM:

Lee: >>By and large, we gave her a lot of space to define herself within, so that she didn't need to rebel very hard in order to get that space.

One of my professors still tells the story of the activist's daughter who acted becoming a cheerleader. Gives me a chuckle to remember, although your point does stand.

I guess I'm not thinking of doing anything on my parent's behalf (I'm barely out of my minor years, I *couldn't*) as doing to...protect myself? It's just I have this awful feeling of no longer being able to trust either parent 100%, because one is dangerously out of their mind and the other one is irrational with Bad Feelings (TM). Which I understand, also being irrational with Bad Feelings (TM), but I'm trying to keep those to myself.

@Robert Poste's Child: I am sincerely glad your family has found a solution that works (mostly) for you all. Even if you are family, caregiving *is* hard work, and it *should* be paid!

#620 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2013, 08:05 PM:

The difference between being a paid caretaker as a job and being a family member is that the paid caretaker gets overtime after 8 hours. And goes home, to relax, and the rest of their life. The family member always seems to be on call 24/7/365.

I have every intention of taking care of my mother when my father dies, mostly by hiring other people to do it. The emotional cost is too high for me, and finances should allow it.

Besides, she'll probably get better care from a professional who's specialized in elder care than she would from me, anyway!

#621 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2013, 12:22 AM:

Morose Sage @599: to me it sounds like the situation has gone well beyond what a non-specialist can handle on their own. So you and the family shouldn't try to handle it without one. I agree with everyone else that you should protect yourself by staying clear, but perhaps the Goddamn Tapes would be appeased by your chipping in some help to locate a specialist?

Codemonkey @603: Listen to Rikibeth in #607 and Diatryma in #616. They make much sense.

I'm certain my mother would have been much better off as an independent or an equal. There was always a lot of caretaking, with a medium-size house and several sheds, actively gardening most of a 2-acre yard, 2 kids, and a husband who never cooks, cleans, or launders. My aunt provides a counter-example -- she stayed single and has had a fruitful working life in a specialty she loves, and is merely eccentric. It's a great pity that my mother married and became a housewife instead of becoming an archaeology professor or landscape architect.

Most people would have done badly in your mam's situation. She must feel so hemmed in, and it just kept getting worse over the years. She desperately needs to rest and to do some things for just herself, but there's never the time because she hasn't got the support network. I know this trap pretty well. Do I guess right that in her mind, she can't slack off, because either nobody will do it, or they won't do it properly? My mother does that and has backed herself into a corner where no-one with sense will help her because of all the Doing It Rong lectures.

I have the start of an idea to loosen the Doing It Rong trap, but it'll have to wait for another day.

#622 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2013, 12:25 AM:

Caretakers are at a higher risk of death than the people they're taking care of—that's statistically borne out, and stress and depression (and suicide!) are major factors in that risk. My in-laws have done a lot of caretaking in the last couple of decades, and only once has it involved mental issues (age-related dementia, in that case.) The particular caretaker in that instance was definitely overstressed, but my SiL finally managed to get free from her job and come home to assist, and since she is a trained elder-care nurse, this was actually in her skill set. And yes, they paid her for her work.

Morose Sage, do not feel guilty that you're not up to taking care of someone whose mental issues are beyond your level of experience. It's an extreme stress, and most people aren't up to it. Honestly, that's the sort of situation where "it takes a village" really should apply, because putting all of that on one person? That's pretty horrendous.

#623 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2013, 12:48 AM:

I rarely have anything to say, but I am reading everything, and witnessing.

I haven't really had the spoons to keep updating, which I'm kind of frustrated about. I still don't, but I'm going to at least lay out some of it.

College applications: I've gotten offers of acceptance from three programs. A fourth, one of the radio programs, requires applicants to pass a quiz on "Canadian and current events", so they've sent me a letter with instructions on how to take the quiz. The acceptances came back quite quickly, all within the first week after we paid the application fee. So that's encouraging. The current events quiz is less encouraging, because while I haven't looked at it I definitely haven't been paying attention to the news. I'm aware of some stuff I've seen people talking about on the Site that Tumbles, but not much. I feel guilty about that, because I'm so focused on my own corner of the world that I'm ignoring the rest of it. But I think this is kind of a "survivng vs thriving" situation. I'm spending most of my time distracting myself from my problems (or thinking about certain problems to distract from the rest) because there's so much I have to deal with. Not as much as some people but it's a lot and it's stressful. So no wonder I haven't had the spoons to read the newspaper or listen to the radio. Physically, I've got the diabetes-related brain fog, a sleep schedule that I keep making worse, and whatever I'm doing wrong to make my hands/wrists so tired... How do people actually do anything?

I read a thing the other day that was sort of reminding people that being "attention-seeking" isn't a bad thing at all, even though it's often seen as frivolous and stupid. Humans are social, things in your brain start going weird if you go without adequate social interaction for too long. That is probably a factor in what's going on with me. I'm fine with the people I live with, but every time I see a number that's not my dad, mom, or brother on the caller ID I seriously consider just not answering. I mean, I already don't answer weird 1-800 numbers or out-of-town calls. But earlier I had to sort of force myself to pick up the phone when my aunt's number came up. I thought, she's just going to ask to talk to my dad, and he's not here, so it's fine if I just don't talk to her, right? I dunno, sometimes I'm fine taking messages for people and other times I'm really not. I feel like I've gotten worse at social things since I stopped going to school (and thus stopped regularly socialising with people outside my family).

Um. This is kind of rambling and not entirely what I set out to say. I'm just going to post it as-is and go to bed; Mom and I are going to do a campus tour of one of the schools tomorrow. Thank you and good night.

#624 ::: Codemonkey in NE England, gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2013, 10:53 AM:

Diatryma @616: Codemonkey, it sounds like your situation has been precarious for a while and it has taken a good few hits in the past decade. But that doesn't excuse it. Whether your family has been borderline-functional, functional-but-only-under-ideal-conditions, dysfunctional, missing-stair-functional, or any other variant, it is not functional now and it doesn't look like there's any way to make it functional under the current circumstances

I wasn't looking to excuse the situation, rather I was aiming to provide readers here with a bit of historical background. Another point in that vein is that when I was at school my classmates accused my mam of being too strict because she didn't let me go out after school, but when one of them finally saw where I was living, he said "I don't blame her for keeping you in the house, given how much of a dump your area is". Note that I'd gone to a different comprehensive school to most children in my area (my mam took advantage of my Asperger's to get me into a better school, for which I'm extremely grateful), and a fair proportion of my primary school class-mates (including most of the ones that bullied me there, and motivated my mam to get me into a different secondary school) later ended up on drugs or in prison.

It wasn't until I started work (5 years ago) that I really started to yearn for a social life (in real space rather than cyberspace).

Moonlit Night @620: Most people would have done badly in your mam's situation. She must feel so hemmed in, and it just kept getting worse over the years. She desperately needs to rest and to do some things for just herself, but there's never the time because she hasn't got the support network. I know this trap pretty well. Do I guess right that in her mind, she can't slack off, because either nobody will do it, or they won't do it properly? My mother does that and has backed herself into a corner where no-one with sense will help her because of all the Doing It Rong lectures.

I think you may be projecting your mother's situation onto my own mother! My mam isn't spending all her time slaving away at housework -- rather she spends her time sitting in her bedroom begging for someone to keep her company! So "hasn't got the support network" is a key problem for her, but in a rather different sense from your mother. Which people should I look to in order to accomplish my goal ("stop my mam clinging to me so tightly, so that I can move out")? Would calling a counselling organization such as Relate be a good start, do you think?

By the way, I did get an e-mail response (back on the 25th) from the Stroke Association which included direct contact details for the staff seeing my parents, and also including info for various carer-support organizations (one of which I know my mam is already familiar with, as I saw some leaflets from them when I was in her room). A link to an aphasia support organization (aphasia means the kind of problems my dad now has with both spoken and written communication) turned out to be less useful, as it turns out they have no branches further north than Birmingham. :(

I'm still not sure how to use the information available to me in order to accomplish my goal.

#625 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2013, 10:55 AM:

Phenicious, that's great news about the applications. Is there at least one that you'll be happy with if you don't get into the radio one? Seems to me you were vacillating over the radio program to start with -- I couldn't tell if that meant you were ambivalent about wanting to do it, or doubtful that it would lead to a job even though you really wanted to do it.

Consider also that if it requires keeping up on current events, and staying informed on that eats too many of your spoons, it might not be a good fit for you after all -- and that's not the end of the world. You have three other programs to choose from.

I'm a multiple career changer, here. And one of my fields was culinary. I did the pastry and baking program -- and I loved it, and while the economy was good it didn't matter that I could NOT do a good job on cake decorating, because there was plenty of work for breakfast-and-catering-type jobs -- but then the economy went splat, and I couldn't support myself on that, and I was only an adequate prep cook, and I did NOT have the chops to be a line cook, and then I started taking life-saving medication that had the side effect of a mild hand tremor, so cake decorating? Even LESS of an option than it had been before, and it did a number on my knife work, too.

So yeah. Studying for a new job track now, and there have been a few bobbles in that, too.

I've got a novel coming out shortly. I've sold some short stories. That is a thing I can provably do. But unless I make way more on the novel than I realistically expect, there's no way I can do only that. :(

You have options. You'll find a way.

#626 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2013, 12:02 PM:

Couple of little nuggets from last night's TED browsing. Back in an old thread, Bricklayer mentioned a game called SuperBetter. Here's a video of the creator, Jane McGonigal, talking about how it came about.

And here's a little tidbit that seems to be pertinant to many conversations here, about how body language impacts, not only how others percieve you, but how you perceive yourself.

And there's actual science mentioned in both of these.

#627 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2013, 12:25 PM:

Codemonkey, if you wait for your mother to be less clingy before you move out, you will never move out. While you are there for her to lean on, even though you're not enough, she will never change.

Move out, stay in close touch with the support organizations, but move. out.

#628 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2013, 01:43 PM:

Codemonkey: Just a thought. If your income can support it, have you considered hiring a housecleaner to come in regularly, once or twice a week? I've found that a professional can work wonders in just an hour or two per visit, and over the course of several trips even some chronic problem areas can be gradually chipped away.

If having a cleaner house will genuinely help your mother respoon herself, this is an amazing bang-for-your-buck strategy. And you'll know after the first month or so if it genuinely ISN'T helping.

#629 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2013, 02:04 PM:

Codemonkey @624: I think you may be projecting your mother's situation onto my own mother! My mam isn't spending all her time slaving away at housework -- rather she spends her time sitting in her bedroom begging for someone to keep her company!

I'm trying to avoid projecting by asking you to check whether I have guessed correctly about some extrapolation or assumption, and see, you just proved that this was a good idea! :)

You have everything you need to accomplish your goal of getting your own place, except for having made up your mind to GO! Set a deadline for yourself and do everything Rikibeth said in #607. It will make such a difference to your health and happiness!

You can move out and still do your best to support your family. Knowing what help is available from the local support services will give you confidence, peace of mind, and options. When your mam insists that only you can do ______, you'll know what choices there really are for getting _______ done.

Just keep in mind that while you can give people opportunities and information, it's *their* job to do something with them -- you know the old proverb about horses and water. If the housework and care for sister and dad are under control, what about suggestions for improving your mam's social situation and self-care? What can be done to strengthen and enlarge her network of friends, and get her more time out of the house? Can she spend some more time with friends she already has? Join some kind of club or class for an activity she likes in order to meet new people? Go to meetings for carers-of-________ to talk to other carers, and find people to trade favours with? What does your mam like to do, and what's needed for her to spend more time doing it? Would having her own bus pass or learning to drive help?

Unfortunately since I live in Canada, I don't know much about which UK organizations are going to be most helpful. UK residents, can you help out?

I've also got some new ideas now about why a better house has been such a focus for her. A better house means a lot of things besides a better house -- it means prosperity, a better neighbourhood, different neighbours that might be good friends, pride of ownership, and being happy to bring people over for company. All of which she's been short of. The house itself isn't the fix, but perhaps it's become a symbol of what it would be like to have all those things.

#630 ::: eep ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2013, 04:28 PM:

Hi all,

Still here. Spoons have been stretched pretty thin for posting, but I've been reading and witnessing, and grateful for this space. I've been going along thinking I'd update my situation when there was anything to update, but I have to remind myself that "Still alive, kind of in limbo" is an update, of sorts. :/

So, an update on the pressure to relocate situation that I had posted about (in the previous thread by now, I think)—
After much script-rehearsal and false starts, I confronted the parent who was the agitator and tried to get a clearer picture of how a compromise might be reached. What could I do to help facilitate their relocation, what do they actually need from me to make it happen. I explained that I was even willing to relocate part-time when I'm not working. The one thing that I absolutely will not do is give up my job.

Zie insisted (profusely) that there was no pressure intended, and that there was no need for me to move out of the house I'm currently living in. A tentative arrangement was made for me to go to a social gathering (in Otherstate*, staying there for at least one night) at which the all the parties involved would be attending, so they could present their case and we could try to work out a compromise. I spent a lot of spoons and stress preparing, mentally and practically (I don't do social gatherings well in the best of circumstances, and travel—especially the packing— is also highly stressful to me). Then, as the date approached, there was more and more uncertainty and waffling on their end, until ultimately, it never happened.

Since then, I have made several attempts to get some kind of resolution (or even progress), but I stopped, because it started feeling like it was being turned into This Thing I Was Agitating For, instead of something that THEY had been after ME about.

There are more complications now, but I will have to try to consolidate my thoughts on those for another post.

*where Otherstate = State They Are Trying To Get Me To Move To. It's a drive of several hours.

#631 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2013, 04:12 AM:

eep: Well, happy Independence Day, with an extra helping of irony on top! :-)

#632 ::: Morose Sage ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2013, 07:29 PM:

Mmm, irony.

Today I had separate talks with both parents, who this morning had a talk with social workers and a behavioral psychotherapist (if that's the proper term: a behavioral psychologist who is a therapist). Things are looking and sounding much more reasonable. There was a medication malfunction--the antipsychotic was way underperscribed. I'm very, very frustrated with how often the antipsychotics are underperscribed (there is a Pattern). That's being addressed and there's six-month programs and 2-year plans and the split is happening between my parents, but they're both talking to each other about it and there isn't malice. Plenty of hard feelings, but it's not that we hate each other in this family, our situation is just unliveable.

I was a little worried when the parent who had had a psychotic break was the one who agreed most with my career plans (what does that say about my planning?), but it turns out the difference was he's been talking to my sister, who I talked to about my plans, so he actually knows what I want to do. Whereas I never felt the need to keep my mom as updated so she doesn't know what my plans are and it worries her. I guess we've started to clear that up.

In any event we may have a chance to talk face to face about this in Las Vegas, where we're going for a funeral after a completed unrelated loss in the family.

I was worried for a while that it comes in 3s, but then I remembered my uncle who is hospitalized and, though no fault of his own, was rather the trigger for the entire psychotic break/incident that started this week.

Loose ends are starting to be wrapped up. I feel a bit like a Gothic novel character with how purely chaotic it all is, and would like to have words with my author, but there it is.

#633 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2013, 07:47 PM:

Sage, I'm really glad to hear that things are settling down some.

You are probably your author's favorite character -- they always dump all the problems on their favorites. Well, I don't -- I'm too much of a softy. I always have to hunt for the source of conflict in my stories!

But good luck with things moving forward more calmly.

#634 ::: gallaure ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2013, 10:29 PM:

I'm going to apologize for the length, but there's a bit of catch-up here.

It's been ages, it seems. I first posted on the 2011 DFD thread, the one with the header about that scene in Tangled that just hit home to me. I posted on the subsequent thread also.

That was Sept 2011, and I was pregnant with my son. My mom was being crazy, as per usual. I was severely depressed. I learned from the 2011 thread what narcissistic personality disorder was and pegged my mom as being it. I learned what gaslighting is, and about running out of spoons. We weren't making much money, and I'd just had to stop working at my bar because being pregnant while working on your feet in a smoky bar is no good. I would give birth at age 36, so technically I was across the high-risk marker due to age. We didn't have insurance yet from hubby's new job, and had to wait for it to kick in on Jan 1, 3 weeks before our son was due, and hope the insurance covered us despite us being so new to the policy.

October, my husband's father died, so they never got to sort out their dysfunction. At the very least, their last communication was him finding out that it would be a grandson. He dropped dead of a heart attack four weeks later. He lived 3000 miles from us, so dealing with all that was heinous at such a distance, and I could be of little assistance while my husband desperately needed me. Thanks to subsequent events, we still have not scattered my father-in-law's ashes. The box containing him is in our liquor cabinet. Holding that (surprisingly heavy) package is the closest I ever got to meeting him, despite my being with my husband for nearly 7 years at that point.

My aunt had gotten married in March. My mother got engaged to a man she'd just met two weeks later, since she was jealous of her sister. My mother never told me about the engagement. Other than showing up randomly at my work when I was not working and sending me one random text, she did not try to contact me. I was on the phone with my sister on her wedding day - neither my sister or I was present, and that's how I knew she was married. My Grandmother found out the day OF the wedding what day it was. I met my mother's husband on Christmas. They, along with my uncle, proceeded to gaslight me that they had all called and texted me numerous times to tell me.
He seemed nice, but then again, all the others did, too at the beginning.

Early January, my mother tried to make everything about her again. She threw my sister out. My sister moved in with her BF. Mom did not realize that was all I needed - to have my sister out of her range of harm. That meant I didn't have to deal with her anymore, and she couldn't hurt my sister by unloading on her if my sister wasn't there. I stopped talking to Mom mostly at that point.

That was the weekend I was due. I delivered 3 weeks later.

$460,000 and 23 days after that, I finally got to take my son home. I had to beg to hold him for a minute in the delivery room after they'd stabilized him. My husband didn't get to at all. I didn't get to hold him again for 12 days. That was the first time I heard him cry as well, because they were able to take the ventilator out for a day - it was the most precious sound I had ever heard in my life, those wails demanding I care for him personally NOW. I gave in gladly.

He had a form of hypertension which made his blood unable to be oxygenated as it sped past his lungs - the resultant hypoxia have him a seizure at 15 hours. He has a form of brain damage known as Cystic Encephalomalacia, which basically means dead spots in the brain, and adults can get the same thing via head trauma or stroke. He has two big spots in the left brain. The difference with kids is that their brains are still developing, so you never know how it will work out. They were telling us to expect severe developmental disabilities, cerebral palsy, tics, language or cognitive difficulties, mobility issues, but we would not know how it panned out until, well, it panned out. Meanwhile, we should join support groups for families of children with developmental issues.

He stabilized within a couple of weeks, and we all had to teach him to eat before he was allowed to leave. The nurses and doctors were amazing. The insurance company didn't blink and there was a $200 copay for $444k worth of bills, and a $200 copay for the other $16k. We had the name of a cardiologist, a neurologist, and a urologist (he had a slight urinary tract abnormality which would need surgery) and a date for the pediatrician and some in-home nursing visits.

My dream of brestfeeding him died due to his nipple confusion from his hospital stay - I managed to pump and feed the bulk of his food from me for 9 months, though - and we had little money for formula. That was when the vomiting issues started. We thought it was the formula, but we were wrong.

In June, hubby got a better-paying job with a major raise, and we needed it badly. It meant moving 150 miles on the fly to a crappy smaller city where we knew my Dad, at least, but that was it. Two weeks later, my son was airlifted to the city we'd just left for emergency surgery. It turned out that he had two congenital strictures (tight spots, like how lane closures create a traffic jam on the freeway) in his large intestine. We also realized that in the NICU he'd had a necrotic form of colitis, and in healing, bits of his intestine had grown together. A surgeon cut out part of his gut, disconnected the adhesions, and performed a colostomy - I now had to learn how to change a bag on an infant as well as deal with diapers. We brought him home from that exactly one year ago. The colostomy was reversed two months later, and the urinary correction done a month after that. Double diaper with a week-long catheter was easy compared to the earlier stuff. But I had kissed my cloth diapers goodbye months before, since they'd been incompatible with the colostomy bag anyway. My granola mom image got burnt to the ground. Oh well.

I thought I had been through hell, and then I realized what I'd endured was nothing compared to watching my child nearly die so many times, to see him just fight and fight for his survival knowing that I could do nothing at all to help. It was his battle, his war. Not so very long ago, he would not have survived.

But at 8 months old, he'd kicked morphine 5 times. He'd beaten back multiple hospitalizations. He had people who looked forward to seeing him every day at our local coffee shop. They saw him walk at 10 months, saying words at 9-10 months, smile at them, learn to wave, shake hands, fist bump, blow kisses, and RUN. He has a fan club in half a dozen places now, and they all adore this beautiful, engaging child who astounds me daily. He has recently started to have seizures, but they are being effectively controlled by medicine right now. He may be showing some CP, but this is all new, too new to say for certain. All I know is that he has words, eats whatever we offer him (kale, pesto, swordfish, duck, lima beans, plain yogurt) and acts as if nothing ever happened. He brings us books constantly, and we read to him at least 10 to 15 books a day. He brought Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban to me the other day, and we even got to page three. He's brought it a few more times, and we keep going. He loves his dog and his cats, and adores Elmo. We go see daddy at the library where he works for storytime. I got a Neil Gaiman book autographed for him a couple weeks ago. He plucks fruit and vegetables off the produce counters at the market and chomps into them with gusto. He likes the carts at Home Depot which look like cars, mainly because he gets a steering wheel to play with. He gardens with me, and feeds the fish in the pond out back, and picks herbs to sniff them. Sometimes, I can't believe that this is the same child I brought home, and I think he must be some little changeling who is all of these wonderful things. Then he looks at me, and I realize that the love we give him is the thing that decided him - he had something to fight for - and this is my child who chose to fight and stay and teach me amazing things about life. I am so very fortunate. He is now 16 months old. He hasn't been in a hospital now for more than half that time.

My cousin, who is very much a sister to me, became so incredibly close to me during this trying time and she adores my son. Our true friends have shown themselves, and they are delightful people for whom we are thankful. My husband has learned so much about familial love from our boy. We both are now experiencing rage at our parents for what was done to us because we cannot fathom doing these things to him. It makes no sense to us. We're still processing.

My mother has tried to explode and cause drama. Still, she has never met my son, and likely will not. I have no way of knowing if she will just be weird, or if she will be violent, so I cannot leave him with her. I won't allow her to do to him what she did to me. Neither my sister nor I have spoken to her in months. My grandfather, her father, died a few days before Christmas. Her husband died a few days later, and a bit suspiciously at that. (It's not the first time, either - she's driven partners to their deaths before) She took over my Papa's funeral with her drama, and I'll just have to add that to my "can't forgive that" list and move forward.

She went through a bit of publicly insulting me on Facebook and harassing me by text, but I have paid no attention to her. I have made some new amazing friends who were suffering similarly, and I am glad that I have been able to assist them through difficulties with their own mothers. I continue to discover my wealth of human treasures in my life, and I daily feel blessed.

I've grown a lot, as you might imagine. I'm aware that I will never be perfect, and I will make my own mistakes. My son's special needs may mean that he will need homeschool, since I cannot fathom handing him over to poorly paid, overworked special education teachers, but that's down the road a bit. If that's needed, then I will have to get my crap together on the fly, but I'll do it if that's what he needs. I'm writing a lot more, as is my husband. Anne McCaffrey died during this time, and as her books saved my life, I mourned her deeply. As you also might imagine, I have cared very little for myself, and the depressions I managed to put off due to crisis are trying to shove in at the cracks. However, I had an epiphany that I no longer am interested in suicide. That's a first in over 25 years. My reasoning is that killing myself would be the worst possible child abuse I could ever do to my son. There is nothing worse I could do to my husband. So, it's not an option. Whatever my errors will be, it won't be that. I'm relieved and challenged by this. I'm elated that this particular spectre is banished. I'm terrified at what I might have to survive now. But I have a very powerful set of reasons to live. I'm daunted by that, not having an out. But I'm intrigued at this wanting-to-live thing. I'm coping. ;)

I still live in my head a lot. I'm still trying to deprogram my anger-as-first-response methods, and trying to talk more through issues. I can see I've become a better me. I can see that my husband has become a better him.

There's no such thing as 'perfect', but I believe in 'as perfect as can be' for this particular time and life. I'm there. I never thought I would say that.

I've dropped by these threads from time to time to read, but never could muster the energy to write all this down. My strength is come back. I can't say how long it will last, but I will ride it while I may. Just know that all of you here, you helped me. Just knowing you were all here, a community which cares, helped me. Thank you. Thank you ever so much. And now that I have more light of my own, I send it to you to light your way, much the same as you lit mine. You are loved. You are cherished. I believe in you. I see your struggles, and they are not in vain.

I say this again, in case it may help: You are loved. You are valued. You are important. Never forget that.

#635 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2013, 12:15 AM:

Gallaure, I am so, so glad your son is all right and that you have found brightness within yourself. Your hyperlocal tiny person sounds like fun, and if he showed up in one of my classrooms* I bet we'd get along fine.

*Substitute paraeducator, which means I go to all the special-ed rooms but am never in charge of them.

#636 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2013, 12:52 AM:

Congratulations, gallaure, on your wonderful child, your wonderful husband, and being able to get away from a truly awful situation. May things only get better for all of you.

#637 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2013, 03:14 AM:

Oh, gallaure, now I'm all weepy. You've turned a whole bunch of lemons that life handed you into the very finest lemonade.

Also, you're more living proof that neither difficult circumstances nor a dysfunctional upbringing lead inevitably lead to bad parenting. (This puts you alongside many parents in this thread, as well as my mother.)

Thank you very much for posting.

#638 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2013, 05:28 AM:

gallaure: Wow. Just ... wow.

#639 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2013, 09:33 AM:

Like abi, I'm weepy with happiness for gallaure ... I am so glad you posted and I am so happy for you and your family. Your love is amazing.

#640 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2013, 10:30 AM:

I've been thinking about my industry and its practices and how they intersect with what we get taught as children.

I went to an Agile/Scrum training workshop. In Agile, the default answer for "how do we deal with this new unexpected change?" is a conversation, rather than adding some new software tool or rigid process. It might be a structured conversation, but the point is: be adults, talk it out. Change will happen, but if you have the same goal and you talk freely about your needs, you'll be able to work it out without having to build a teetering stack of rules, specifications, and five-year plans.

In an Agile approach, software teams build stuff iteratively, and Agile workflow suggests that at the end of each iteration, the team hold a retrospective. How did the team work together? Was there a bottleneck, a missing stair, a bit of friction to solve? In this meeting, individual contributors are supposed to be able to say, "Manager, this screwup cost me time" or "Teammate, I think this didn't work" or "I'm really glad we did that because it cleared up my confusion."

My god. I try to imagine people making themselves vulnerable to each other in this way, negotiating and staying calm and generally acting mature, and it just seems like a high bar for those of us who didn't grow up learning these skills. There are some parents who don't take bug reports.

I guess this is a really huge topic -- how some families and schools prepare the kids with healthy strategies for managing uncertainty and ambiguity, and some don't. I think about newbies' anxiety a lot, as a community manager. Sometimes an unconference is the wrong choice for an event, because when you're learning, you need *something* to be a rock to cling to. And if you feel unsafe, emotionally, then rigid processes, a world where you don't need to negotiate or attempt theory of mind, clear rules on exactly how much patience to exert and whom to trust with what, all feel like quite a relief.

I haven't yet read "The Time Bind: When Work Becomes Home and Home Becomes Work" by Arlie R. Hochschild, but an insight from it increasingly strikes home for me: "It seems the roles of home and work had reversed: work was offering stimulation, guidance, and a sense of belonging, while home had become the place in which there was too much to do in too little time." I think for a lot of knowledge workers, there are way more failsafes and processes ensuring that their work lives are fulfilling than helping make home life fulfilling. For instance: guarding against interruptions, and what Paul Graham calls the battle of "Maker time" versus "Manager time". Did/do your parents and partners help you get big long stretches of uninterrupted time to make things? Or do they feel like they can interrupt whenever, for whatever reason?

All our environments should nurture people -- including work and home -- and encourage trust, patience, and calm, productive communication. I guess I am thinking about how there are some workplaces that try harder to do right by their folks than some homes try. And what happens when a scared worker arrives at one of those new places, and finds that she is someplace she's allowed and expected to be healthy? If I am her manager, can I help her thrive?

#641 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2013, 11:02 AM:

Morose Sage, glad things are sorting themselves out. Some years ago we had a sort-of similar situation with my husband's sibling and one of their parents; it's very hard for the bystanding relatives.

gallaure, so glad to hear things are going well for you and your husband and that your son is doing so very well. I'm sure you know this, but parenting a child with disabilities is a marathon and not a sprint, so do continue to pay attention to the things that re-spoon you for the long haul.

Sumana @640, that reminds me of a rule of thumb for teaching kids like my daughter to use augmentative communication systems: teach new content with familiar technology and new technology with familiar content. Which makes sense, as I think about it, as a general rule of human learning. We learn by making connections, so give people something familiar along with the unfamiliar.

#642 ::: Morose Sage ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2013, 05:04 PM:

Thanks, OtterB and Rikibeth.

gallaure, with everyone else I congratulate you and am truly happy to hear of your successes and hope things continue to get better and better for you.

Sumana, "It seems the roles of home and work had reversed: work was offering stimulation, guidance, and a sense of belonging, while home had become the place in which there was too much to do in too little time." hits on the head a feeling I've been having lately with how my job search and leaving home have coincided. As does newbie anxiety. Glad to hear there are managers who are careful to look out for it.

#643 ::: Ellen ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2013, 09:16 PM:

Sumana @640: Thank you for this observation. I work as an Agile coach and trainer, and there's no question that the people stuff is the hard stuff: the process changes are relatively simple compared to creating the safety that supports people in speaking with each other truthfully in the workplace about what is happening between them.

With respect to the inversion of home/work roles in our lives (definitely a huge topic!): I've been fascinated over the past few years observing the changes in the personal lives of some Agile coaches/practitioners (myself included) as we've realized that "Whoa! This truth, trust and transparency stuff might apply to our personal lives too!". And I've seen people make some pretty big positive personal changes as a result.

Lots for me to think about from your post. Thanks again.

(hoping not to be gnomed for excessive gratitude)

#644 ::: Ellen is gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2013, 09:23 PM:

Possibly for excessive thankfulness?

I can offer some grilled halloumi and garlic scapes to their lowlinesses.

[Unusual spacing. -- JDM]

#645 ::: gallaure ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2013, 10:52 PM:

#635 - Diatryma :

Thank you very much!

On re-reading, I realized that I sounded negative towards public educators in general and paraeducators specifically. I want to apologize for that. You have a hard job, one that few could do. No one in your line of work is paid nearly enough, especially considering the workload. I don't want to add to that load when I am capable of doing well for him. Also, no one realizes he has an illness by looking at him, but he couldn't be put in with the "normal" kids if he has seizures - he would need to be in with educators who have been trained to deal with that. This is bound to make dealing with school very very difficult, and we perhaps ought to avoid the issue altogether. Plus, he's really cute - I'm afraid a teacher is gonna try to keep him someday! ;)

I bet you would get on very well with him. Who knows. Maybe, one day, you'll meet and get on like a house afire.

#636 - Cally:

Thank you so much! There's a long way to go, but we are up for it, I think!

#637 - Abi:

Thank you! I was terrified that my being a bad parent was an inevitable thing. It turns out that I was wrong! I had to change my Granola Super Mom (now with fewer carbon emissions!) ambitions and work with reality, but I'm doing OK. I can be assertive in getting help for my son without making our lives worse though tantrums like my mom did. I can feed him as well as possible, accept that sometimes things are just out of my control, and that Grammie is going to give him cookies - that's ok! I set WAY too high a goal for myself initially, and I have now turned to something which is achievable - try every day to be better, and work with what I've got. Fortunately, I have a lot of people willing to help, and I am learning to ask for it. That's a big one for me.

I'm glad you posted, because I also needed to thank you for starting these threads. Without them, I would not have learned how to deal with certain things, and I wouldn't have had honest voices giving me excellent advice. I learned that it was OK to let my mom go, and ok even to feel bad about that, but that I deserved better. What you've built here is amazing, and this crowd you've called to listen has made it so. Thank you.

#638 - Jacque:

I remember us chatting a bit in the old thread, I think. 'Wow' is accurate to my daily mood. 'Shellshocked' is another good descriptor. The past sixteen months has been a blur punctuated by explosions and darkness. I'm astounded at how well we've come through. I felt like I'd sort of abandoned this group, and wanted to come back and say that things can be bad and still be very very good.

The nutty thing is that most of my friends have no idea any of this happened. I never posted any of this on Facebook or to my writing groups or anything like that. Quite a few were stunned at the photo I posted of the final total for the first hospital bill. I'm starting to be able to talk about it without feeling like I'm in quicksand. It seemed appropriate to come here again.

#639 - Sumana:

Thank you! I hoped it would inform of my progress as well as bring a bit of light! I wouldn't say my love is amazing, but my son's is; through him I have been given the gift of growth, and I am so very thankful for that.

#641 - OtterB:

Thank you, and thanks also for the reminder. There are so many more battles coming, and I'm trying to prepare for them while being hopeful and happy. We will know more at his 18 month assessment. I have appointments at least once a week for six weeks straight at the 18-month mark, which would be less onerous if I didn't have to pack up the boy and drive so far for them. That will be an exercise in patience, but after that, we will hopefully know more.

I am intrigued by your teaching methods you've mentioned. May I ask what your hurdles are, or at least which DFD thread you started in so that I can dig for myself and ask intelligent questions here?

#642 - Morose Sage:

Thank you! I hope things will continue to improve as well, and I also hope that I will have sufficient spoons to keep everyone updated more regularly.

#646 ::: Codemonkey in NE England ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2013, 05:59 AM:

I'm a bit annoyed that my mother bugged me about my weight yesterday -- she knows that I'm buying extra food at work (but I can't tell her that it's comfort-eating because I'm so depressed at not being allowed to move out...)

Rikibeth @627: If you wait for your mother to be less clingy before you move out, you will never move out.

I don't plan to merely "wait for my mother to be less clingy" -- what I aim to do is find alternative social contacts for her so she doesn't have to cling to me so much!

Moonlit Night @629: I've also got some new ideas now about why a better house has been such a focus for her. A better house means a lot of things besides a better house -- it means prosperity, a better neighbourhood, different neighbours that might be good friends, pride of ownership, and being happy to bring people over for company. All of which she's been short of. The house itself isn't the fix, but perhaps it's become a symbol of what it would be like to have all those things.

I think that's very true -- she did after all say to me at one point (I mentioned it back @S&T332) that a better house by itself would be nothing more than a posher prison.

When we learned our former house was to be demolished, my mam refused to take a house in the same neighbourhood (for my sister's sake) . As I mentioned before, there were a fair number of undesirables there, and we twice had windows smashed -- although our current neighbourhood is nicer (and especially quieter which is important for my sister) she does say that she feels more lonely now. She thinks that our current neighbours must have little to do with us, because they resent us for not owning our house (and therefore lowering the value of their own properties).

Perhaps things could improve once the renovation work is done (and maybe the reason why my mam reacted in such an extreme way when I tried to escape was because she thinks she'll need my help to move stuff around when the work is to be done). If we get a decent kitchen again perhaps my mam would be willing to have non-essential visitors again (which she's currently too ashamed to have). Also, buying our current house would seem more reasonable then (and not only would it avoid the stress of an actual move, but it would be also considerably cheaper than buying a house elsewhere due to the Right to Buy discount) and would possibly solve two issues (better standing with the neighbours, and no Bedroom Tax if I moved out).

Incidentally, although learning to drive would be out of the question for my mam (because she has such a high anxiety level) I think it would help a lot if she learned how to use a computer. She did after all note approvingly how my sister wasn't clinging to her so much now that she's learned how to surf the 'net on her laptop. (She'd had the laptop since 2008, but for some reason she used it only as a word processor until she got the iPad last Xmas.)

#647 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2013, 08:41 AM:

gallaure @645,

I had to change my Granola Super Mom (now with fewer carbon emissions!) ambitions and work with reality, but I'm doing OK.

This? IMO is one of the key determinants of good parenting, that you parent the child you have rather than the child you expected to have or thought you had, and that you can get your head far enough out of your own needs to see the child you have with some clarity. (Generic, not specific you.)

Most of my history is under my usual nym and so will show in my "see all by," but I've accumulated a fair amount of posting history.

Short me: There is nothing I would describe as dysfunctional in my family of origin, but I find these threads especially welcoming and helpful anyway. I may have collateral damage from a long-ago family situation. I posted anonymously once, several years ago, about that and don't mind making the connection now. #195 on this thread

My daughter with special needs is 19. She doesn't have an overall diagnosis; she has some cognitive disabilities, very little speech (although she uses some sign language and communication software), ADHD, and some overlap with traits on the autism spectrum (e.g. a dislike of change, and a preference for order - give her a checklist and she'll follow it). She is also incredibly observant (will notice a new haircut or new clothes long before my husband will :-), and also notice people who are unhappy, doors left ajar that should be closed, etc.), likes books, swashbuckler movies, horses, unicorns, birdwatching, and farming. She is, as are we all, a complex and unique individual.

I talked a little bit about coming to terms with having a child with cognitive disabilities in post #157 on this thread

There are so many more battles coming, and I'm trying to prepare for them while being hopeful and happy.

Yes, this. It's a balancing act, to worry about the right things and leave the rest to the future. My mantra was that I could control what I did, but I couldn't control what the outcome would be.

You have time before you need to make choices about school. Time may show subtle learning disabilities in your son - or not. Special education includes, or should, a range of supports depending on the needs of the student, which might include training for staff or adding an extra aide if in fact seizures are the only thing keeping him out of the regular classroom. We have had excellent school system support in our current location; our previous district was not as good - not horror-story bad, but seemingly intent on making her fit into one of their existing slots rather than actually devising a program for her individual needs.

I don't want to derail this thread too far into "kids with disabilities" territory but would be happy to talk offline if you'd like, my email (rot-13) is ROOvmbg@nby.pbz

#648 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2013, 04:48 PM:

Codemonkey @646: It is a very good thing to help your Mam find new social contacts, and to help make sure the renovations happen. (Then your mam could throw a block party and invite the neighbours?) So would teaching her to use a computer so she can be more independent. (Although that is going to open up the wonderful world of tech support...) All that is good, and you should keep doing it.

But don't look at those things as any guarantee that your mam will stop clinging. Even if there is some spontaneous change, it may not be enough, and going by what you've been saying lately, your health and happiness depend on getting more independence. I would not bet on your mam stopping clinging for anything short of forcing the issue. So keep doing those good things AND set a deadline to move out. It will be better for all of you to just do it instead of floating in this insecurity, where you're there but don't want to be.

If it had just been the help for renovations, your mam should have said something like, "but what about the renovations? we'll need your help!" As best I can tell, she will never be ready for you to move out. Ever. The natural time for her to push you out of the nest was before or around the end of university once you got a job. You'll have to just do it, and let her learn that you'll still be around for company and help, but that you have your own life to live.

#649 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2013, 05:18 PM:

Codemonkey, your mam doesn't have to cling to you now. She has other options. She doesn't want to use them, but she has them. Giving her other options she says she'll like better is a step, but it's not the whole solution.

#650 ::: Dash ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2013, 12:13 AM:

Update time, again. I thought I wouldn't have much to say, and I tend to avoid updating when that's the case, but today has proved me wrong.
In general since my last post: I'm going to a therapist, and a psychiatrist, but it's still early days, and I still have problems with self-harm and occasional suicidal thoughts. It's been a somewhat stressful time, filled with lots of things to do and people.
Tonight, during the car ride back from another event filled with many people and other overwhelming stimuli, my mother started nagging my father about a remark he'd made, and when he pointed out that it was his birthday and she thus shouldn't be criticizing him so harshly for such a misstep, she claimed that what day it is shouldn't matter. For some reason, this got me to enter the argument on my father's side and air out many of the grievances I have towards my mother. I mentioned the Mother's Day fiasco and how I tried to be nice despite her entirely hostile interpretation of my actions because it was Mother's Day (see post 185- admittedly, it's also because I'm afraid to risk angering her on ANY day of the year), and she claimed to have no idea what I was talking about. I mentioned that she seems to forget things that aren't convenient for her worldview, and she denied that accusation as well. I pointed out that she's been putting off making an appointment for me while always claiming that such procrastination is the selfish territory of my father and myself alone, and she claimed to not know what to say to make the appointment and that I could do it myself- both things that apply to many of the things she asks me to do, but that she never accepts as excuses, and also somewhat contradictory in that if the usual appointment-maker cannot figure out this task, then how can I? She also claimed, after I sarcastically noted that I wouldn't call her on her birthday since what day it is shouldn't matter, that I never do anything for her birthday, though I generally call, often have presents, and when at home, would often go out and do things with her. However, the argument was never actually resolved, and upon arriving home, my mother acted as though it has never happened. I have a feeling that if I were to ask about it a few days from now, my mother would claim to not remember it, whether out of actual lack of memory of an incident proving herself to be imperfect or to make me question my own memory of her imperfections. (I really think her supposed lapses in memory are genuine. I really hope so...)
Incidentally, while at the event in question, I confided to my father that my mother's taught me that all insults are genuine while most compliments are polite lies (as in post 188), and that this has tainted my self-esteem; in essence, that my mother seems to be a cutlery-loader disguised as a truth-shouter, and has taught me that the world is filled with truth-shouters who double as polite liars. His response? "You shouldn't think like that." Okay, but I DO think like that, so now what? My father may not be the source of the problem in this family, but he certainly excels at giving hlepy advice.
But the day wasn't over there! Upon arriving home, I found an e-mail from my school telling me how much I owe them due to my leaving the volunteer program early. It's not the full amount granted me, but it's most of it, a sum of thousands of dollars. I don't need financial help- we can handle it, and my mother would probably resent suggestions that we couldn't even if it were true- but I feel so guilty that my mental issues have caused this expense for our family, even if it couldn't easily be avoided. I still need to talk to the volunteer program officials and negotiate my program credit and present my side of the story, but when I wrote a draft of an e-mail my mother was very critical of my presentation of the problem, which only compounded my existing avoidance and anxiety over the task. This seems to be a recurring problem in my life; things that need to be done, especially regarding my mental issues, are also things that I avoid doing and that stress me out.
Still reading, still witnessing.

#651 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2013, 03:54 AM:

gallaure @634: Wow. Congratulations on your son, on coping with everything, on getting this far! I think you're amazing.

Ignore-if-hlepy: You mentioned I'm still trying to deprogram my anger-as-first-response methods Now, I don't know how practical this is wrt your son (as in, is he okay for you to leave with your husband for a Friday evening and all day Saturday and Sunday (going home at nights)), but I recommend looking up "Alternatives to Violence Project" and seeing if there's a Level 1 course you can get to.

Codemonkey: I'm afraid I think your mother will continue clinging to you, and not look for nor be receptive to the idea of alternative social contacts, until you move out into your own place and she can't just turn to you all the time. By all means help her become computer-literate, if she'll let you, but you need to get out of there. To put it bluntly: why should she bother to expend energy on exploring other social contacts when she has her social contact on tap and doesn't even need to be nice to the other person in return?

Dash: Sympathies. Reading and witnessing.

#652 ::: eep ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2013, 10:00 AM:

So. Here are some things that I can say about this ship, which I am in, and which is taking on water faster than I can bail.

Both parents are suffering from deteriorating health, at a rate that is accelerating.

One parent has advancing dementia, and I think probably is also an alcoholic. The alcoholism is a Thing We Don't Talk About In This Family. I only became dimly aware of the possibility after a friend with direct experience of living with alcoholism made some matter-of-fact reference to this parent being one. Confusion ensued, because I did not realize that he was being serious, and he did not realize that I could possibly be unaware of it (I was already an adult at that point). I mention it not so much because it affected me—I was raised by teetotalers as far as I knew growing up—but because A. I think it's probably a big factor in the health issues, that is going undisclosed, and B. to illustrate the level of denial, and Appearances Are Everything, that I have been steeped in my whole life. You don't talk about things. You don't bother people. If someone offers to help you, it is rude to accept. Feelings are for hiding.

I have struggled to reprogram myself a bit, BUT—and this is where things get tricky—not around my parents. Add to that the fact that they were controlling to the point of smothering, and that the only way that I eventually found to cope and get a tiny measure of breathing room was to hide *everything* from them.

Basically, we are strangers. Very polite strangers, with a side order of ten tons of awkward repressed baggage. Now it has come to a point where Appearances demand more than polite nods and discussions of the weather. Aaand... massive fail.

For a start, I am completely incapable of being a caretaker. I can barely take care of myself, on a good day, and I don't actually have all that many good days. I'm in the middle of struggling with my own self-rescue, trying to face up to the reality that I am more than "just a little" on the autism spectrum, and to rethink decades worth of neurotypical-based expectations. Basically, years of biting off more than I can chew, because "I *should* be able to do this. I just need to TRY HARDER". You can only keep running in the red for so long, and my own losing battle to Maintain Appearances has turned into a rout. This is not something that I am prepared to discuss with my parents, much less extended relations.

I had already written most of the above yesterday, and then we had a... discussion. I "shouted" some truths (no voices were raised, but speaking truths to their faces feels like shouting). Got even less sleep than usual last night. They need someone to make them do certain things, or it will go very badly soon. But I don't think I'm capable of going beyond Strongly Encouraging, To The Point of Feeling Rude. (My partner, who was with me the whole time, swears that I handled it really well, at least). This is like trying to describe the tip of an iceberg, from the deck of the Titanic. I think I'll stop for now.

#653 ::: Anon4Now ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2013, 10:59 AM:

eep @ 652: From what you describe, I agree with your partner: you handled it well.

One thing that lots of people with alcoholics in their lives have noted: You can't make other people do anything. You can only control yourself. You can, and should, tell them the truth -- which is exactly what you did. But you can't make yourself responsible for more than that.

Dementia complicates things somewhat; there are more issues of whether the person with dementia is truly capable of making decisions. However, it sounds like the person with dementia has a spouse without dementia; primary responsibility should lie with that spouse (including the responsibility to ask for help if they need it).

IANAL, but legally speaking, AFAIK, you may not actually be able to make them do anything, if they don't want to do it. It's hard not to still feel responsible. At least it is for me and my parents, with one of their parents who has dementia. But in a very literal sense, we cannot make that person do anything they refuse to do. I've had to adjust my guilt levels to account for that fact -- an adjustment that wasn't easy, not at all.

But in general: You are not required to harm yourself in order to help other people. Please take care of yourself, first.

On a more self-involved note: Your sentence here really resonated with me: Basically, years of biting off more than I can chew, because "I *should* be able to do this. I just need to TRY HARDER".

This, this, a thousand times this. This is why I fought through years of medication side effects making it near-impossible to function before finally asking my doctor if there wasn't something else we could try. This is why I didn't even seek treatment for depression and anxiety for years. This is why everything. If things aren't working out, it's always my fault and my responsibility; I should be able to make this work, I just need to try harder.

#654 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2013, 02:08 PM:

gallaure @634: You mentioned I'm still trying to deprogram my anger-as-first-response methods

dcb's @651 is an excellent suggestion. I, for one, am a huge fan of RTFM*. In the meantime, a more immediate thought: consider that anger is a secondary emotion, in response to fear, pain, or frustration. It's useful to be able to catch the precipitating feeling before it escalates into anger. Takes practice, but it's entirely doable, if my experience is any guide.

* Read The, um, Manual. I.e., letting somebody else come up with solutions to my problems. :-)


eep @652: Anon4Now has covered a lot of this ground already, but to repeat:

The alcoholism is a Thing We Don't Talk About In This Family

Check. I remember, one summer during gradeschool, mentioning to a visiting friend that, "My dad drinks a lot." (With a weird sort of pride. Well, one takes one's distinctions where one can, right?) And my mother hastily said, "Shh! We don't talk about that."

I could possibly be unaware of it

Check. I still can't reliably identify innebriation. Growing up, that was the baseline, so it still reads as "normal" to me.

the only way that I eventually found to cope and get a tiny measure of breathing room was to hide *everything* from them.

Check. In my case, my mother was so good at this that I had to hide it from me to keep it safe.

Appearances Are Everything

Check. But: in the immortal words of Randy Pausch, "My dad always said, 'if there's an elephant in the room, introduce it'." Which you did. Go, you!

"I *should* be able to do this. I just need to TRY HARDER"

Check. One doesn't need to be on the spectrum to suffer from this one.

But I don't think I'm capable of going beyond Strongly Encouraging

And, IMHO, you shouldn't have to. They are, presumably, grownups. If they refuse to take care of themselves, even with Strong Encouragement, it's not unreasonable to let them experience the consequences. One of the more pernicious aspects of codependency (which, if you grow up in addictive circumstances, you've been trained into, irrespective of the state of your own sobriety) is that one is conditioned to believe that the well-being of the people around one is one's responsibility. No, it is their responsibility, including the responsibility to ask for and/or accept help where appropriate. If they refuse to do that, that's their responsibility, too.

Do you have AlAnon in your area? You might find it beneficial, if only to know that you are not the only one to travel down this road. And having exemplars who are farther down this road than you might be helpful.

And, if you're of a mind to give your partner an extra hug on my behalf, please do so.

#655 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2013, 04:30 PM:

Re: AVP (Alternatives to Violence Project). I went on the course because I had a real problem in coping with people who were being angry at me or even around me. It helped me a lot. It's helped me along an (ongoing) voyage of self-discovery and improving self esteem and assertiveness. I also saw it hugely help some people who went in with serious anger management issues - including people who sulked in initially having been sent and really not wanting to be there.

I'm happy to provide people with more information - here or by email. Note that nobody is forced to do anything they don't want to do; you can opt out of any individual session during the course.

It impressed me enough that I would probably have ended up taking some more courses and learning to be a facilitator, but something else came up that I now volunteer at regularly, and the timings would clash.

I do think that age-appropriate versions should be taught in all schools, starting at primary school.

#656 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2013, 04:37 PM:

gallaure @634: wow. So inspiring. You're still dealing with tough things, but - wow. As abi said, the very finest lemonade.

dash @650: I can't speak to most of your problems (though ouch!!! and hugs, if you're open to them), but I am familiar with the not-gaslighting-honestly-forgetting mother. So. Incredibly. Frustrating. The circumstance that really turned things around for me (in fact, helped me to realize that is was her forgetting conveniently, not me making up unpleasant things) was having a reliable external witness. Do you have anyone like that? My situation wasn't nearly as fraught, so I didn't really end up with one until I met my husband, but a good friend could serve the same function. Basically, someone to tell you "no, you're neither crazy nor a liar. She forgot conveniently again." As always, ignore if hlepy.

eep @652: reading and witnessing. Also, Jacque says some very wise things. (I love the line about introducing the elephant in the room!) And about co-dependency: so true. You are not responsible for their decisions. Hard as it is, you have to step back and realize that they're your parents (and legally responsible adults), so if they make a catastrophically bad decision, it's entirely on them. You've done the right thing. (bravely!!!)

#657 ::: Dash ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2013, 05:41 PM:

Chickadee @656: Actually, I've been using this place for much the same purpose; admittedly, my own reports may be biased, but I can at least check back and see that yes, she DID claim that on Mother's Day, I didn't just make that up on the spot! My father helps too, when he's around, but the DFD threads are serving as a fairly useful note-to-self for these sort of things.

#658 ::: Type A Toad ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2013, 08:11 PM:

I have struggled to reprogram myself a bit, BUT—and this is where things get tricky—not around my parents. Add to that the fact that they were controlling to the point of smothering, and that the only way that I eventually found to cope and get a tiny measure of breathing room was to hide *everything* from them.

Basically, we are strangers. Very polite strangers, with a side order of ten tons of awkward repressed baggage.

eep@652, I read that and it nearly made me weep because that describes my immediate family relationship almost exactly. I've moved Very Far Away and I still go out of my way to hide things from them and to not tell them what my life really looks like. It'd just be Wrong anyway.

Reading. Witnessing. I don't get back here as often as I would like, but you all are a bright spot in my poor depressive brain.

At this point, I'm starting to have serious thoughts about a new therapist. My current one is very focused on my parents being the source of all my troubles and that confronting them is the solution to all my troubles. I don't even know what kind of relationship I want with them. I can't seem to separate what I want from what is expected of me because I've almost always done what's expected of me without any thought to what I want and my therapist is so focused on getting me to confront them that I don't think he can see how much work I have to do before I can even consider that confrontation is a viable option.

Other people here seem to have polite but distant relationships with your parents. Could any of you talk to me about how you got to that point? I guess I'd just like to know what my options are other than cutting them off, which I'm not certain I want to do.

#659 ::: Quietly Learning To Be Loud ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2013, 10:35 PM:

meandering by again, in a pause from chaos (good chaos, starting a new life chaos)...(far from my family starting a new life)

Type A Toad #658

Under far too many circumstances, confronting your family only allows them easy access to all the buttons they programmed in to you.

#660 ::: Quietly Learning To Be Loud ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2013, 10:45 PM:

Oh, and one way on how to get a polite but distant relationship: years and years of getting busier and busier. It was amazing when I found I had rebuilt myself into something that would some day become awesome (still working on it), without my mother's meddling. I had slowly moved away, in time and some space, and it just happened. Years. I don't recommend it as a plan, because looking at years of this is...daunting. It sorta happened to me, but it worked. It may not work for someone else as a whole plan, but it might be something to integrate in to another plan, or plans.

Fortunately for me, to my family, work is all, and any absence excused by "I gotta work this weekend" was acceptable.

#661 ::: eep ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2013, 11:00 PM:

Anon4Now, Jacque and Chickadee, much gratitude for the replies and reassurance. Finally managed to get a little sleep, and feel slightly more together now. I realize, reading back over my post@652 that I could've been a bit clearer in my transition from the part I had already started typing and the part that I added, post-Discussion. Anyway, I did not actually introduce the Really Big Elephant with a capital A; now that I've re-spooned a bit, I realize that's what it seemed like I was saying, and I'm sorry for the confusion. The truths I stated were more along the lines of pointing out that the strategy of, Maybe Everything Will Just Go Back To How (we like to think) It Was Ten Years Ago, If We All Pretend Hard Enough, is not really working out well for anybody. However, "Introducing the Elephant" is now my new favorite "next band" name! ;)

Jacque @654: Check. In my case, my mother was so good at this that I had to hide it from me to keep it safe.
Oh, ouch, yes. I have made so many terrible, terrible decisions in my life because I wasn't able to see the big picture clearly for all the parts that I'd hidden from myself.

Also, anger is a secondary emotion, in response to fear, pain, or frustration. It's useful to be able to catch the precipitating feeling before it escalates into anger., is getting pinned at the top of my mental bulletin board with a special-priority star-shaped pin.

There is more to be said about The Iceberg, but that will have to wait for a few more spoons, I think.

Type A Toad: I saw your response as I was previewing—much sympathy. I will let other, wiser folk speak to specifics, but it sounds reasonable to me to want to try a different therapist in your circumstance. I wish I had any helpful tips to offer on the "separating what I want from what is expected of me" front, but that is still a major bugbear for me, and I am an unreliable witness.

Spoons and strength to us all.

#662 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2013, 01:08 AM:

Hey all, still reading and witnessing. Continually grateful for this space and the people in it. People reading silently, you're awesome too.

Still doing the getting-ready-for-college thing. I'm feeling anxious about various impending deadlines and decisions that have to be made. Sometimes I feel like I'm on top of things, but then I remember all the stuff I haven't done yet. Sigh.

This Monday, my mom and I had a tour of the second college. This one is in a city ~2 hours away; she had to do a mid-morning teleconference so she drove us up the day before. It was okay, I think. Had some points in its favour regarding the city and its location within it (pharmacy and bank reasonably close by bus) over the first one we toured (outskirts of town, 1 regular bus route and a once-weekly shuttle to the mall; prescription/bank situation would be doable but inconvenient). The residences had more living space than the smaller school, another point to School 2. But, the program I applied for there is Business, which appeals to me less than the radio ones. If I could move the radio program from School 1 to that campus somehow, it'd be great. But I can't, so I have to decide.

Also, there's a second radio program in Ottawa, which I haven't been offered an acceptance to yet. I have to get things set up to do an assessment before things can move forward there. It's probably not even that difficult, provided I can get my act together and study. Setting it up means either driving all the way to Ottawa to take the test, or possibly taking it at the local college (but I have to talk to them about it first, obviously). Mom and I have talked about the various dis/advantages to being in a Big City. Farther away to drive, but there's a train to [Hometown] so they might not have to pick me up at holidays.

This is a lot to think about and I'm kind of overwhelmed. I've been asking my mom for help so at least that's making things easier. Dad is just sort of uneasy about this whole thing. Mom says he's worried they'll pay all this money only to have me get fed up before Thanksgiving weekend. Fair point, I can see things going badly if I don't reach out to the various services available to me. (Counselling, tutors, learning strategists...)

Oh, something I'm glad I did: Monday morning, I called the counselling centre I was going to earlier this year. I set up an appointment with my old counsellor for next Tuesday, since I think I've made some progress since I last saw her. Basically, I was being stubborn and scared, and didn't know how to make myself do things like apply for jobs. She said she couldn't really help me when I refused to cooperate, and I should come back when I had a job interview or similar. That was maybe a bit hlepy but she was right in the end. I think I'm more open to trying things now, but I've got no clue how to navigate around all the brain raccoons. There are some patterns I've recognized since last time, so hopefully this will help with some things.

Also troubling: the offer for the closest radio program closes next Friday. I probably won't choose a program until I've seen her, which will be cutting things very close for this one. Sigh. If all else fails, I've applied to an office admin program at Local College that starts in January... Not glamorous or super exciting but it's an option.

(Okay, I'm falling asleep where I sit so I'm going to go to bed. If anything doesn't make sense, it's probably because I'm so tired. I need to stop with this half-awake commenting, hah)

#663 ::: Mea ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2013, 01:25 AM:

To Type A Toad #658:

1. Plans differ since parental responses differ. My family are in agreement that we don't want to poke eachother's buttons. Mostly. So what works for me might not work for you.

2. First, I recognized that there were important conversations I would never have with my parents. I identified the topics/issues and thought through them on my own (with conversations with third parties and other relatives as necessary and appropriate). Working through issues one has with parents doesn't have to involve a conversation with them.

3. I identified a whole bunch of "don't go there" topics. I don't bring them up. If brought up, I deflect the conversation.

4. I told myself the story of each parent's life, and why they have the personality they have. Imagining Jane Austin describing them helped immensely, since I could then just identify typical behaviors instead of reacting to them.

5. Deflection of sensitive topics with humor and switching the topic and firm boundaries ("I don't want to talk about that right now" plus quick conversation deflection to topic of interest to THEM)

6. Identify safe topics (pets are GREAT) and come prepared with "isn't that shiny thing over there interesting" stories.

7. Deep breath. Deep breath. Don't react when they are WRONG about politics or other topic where generation change makes arguments pointless.

8. Live in another city, plan short visits, stay someplace SAFE that is neutral territory and gives you a break.

9. Identify the good things and the common ground, And the elements of behavior or personality you like or admire. Anything? I have a lot in this category, which makes the list of coping mechanisms above worth it.

10. Identify allies. Siblings, spouse, friends, other relative? Who can help? How much should you share? It varies with the person.

11. Humor and laughter. Afterwards, with your allies. As deflection.

#664 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2013, 10:42 AM:

Type A Toad, #658: That description of your therapist reminds me of the old adage that "if the only tool you have is a hammer, it's amazing how many problems start to look like nails". IOW, if "confrontation" is the only solution your therapist can come up with, no matter whether or not you feel ready for it, then I agree that it's time to look for a therapist with more tools in his toolbox. (And you might consider phrasing it that way in your exit interview, too; that therapist may have other clients who could benefit from him getting a bit of a swift kick in the habits of thought.)

Also, what Quietly Learning to be Loud said @659. Confrontation is not a magic cure-all, and if your therapist thinks it is, that's a Huge Red Warning Flag.

One thing I found very helpful in maintaining a contact level with my parents that wasn't spoon-draining was never to see them alone. I would always be sure to have someone else along -- my husband, or (after the divorce) a trusted friend. This gave them a strong incentive to be on "company manners", which generally deflected the worst of the issues. And when they slipped up, it provided me with a reality check; the first time he said, "Wow, your mother was really out of line there," after a visit is a memory I still treasure.

#665 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2013, 01:47 PM:

Type A Toad @658: I don't think he can see how much work I have to do before I can even consider that confrontation is a viable option.

I think this is a very wise observation on your part, as is your resistance to confronting them before you have your own internal compass set. That your therapist can't (won't) see this would be extremely troubling to me, too. In point of fact, I ran into precisely this problem with a therapist I dealt with once. Made the mistake of following her recommendation, and was most unsatisfied with the results.

I can't seem to separate what I want from what is expected of me because I've almost always done what's expected of me without any thought to what I want

This also sounds very familiar to me. Harking back to the Surviving and Thriving thread, this has probably been the primary marker when I've been stuck in Surviving mode: all I wanted was to Get Away From My Mother. Even once I was out on my own, that was my primary imperative, up until about, say, the last three years or so. (Which is to say, from age 20 up to 53.) And it took all of that time for me to find my grounding, such that I could actually conceive of interacting my my mother in anything approaching a non-adversarial manner. (Moot point, as this hasn't been possible for the last twenty-odd years. But it does make a difference to my internal brain weather.)

Were I to do it over again, the thing I would focus on first would be: what kind of relationships do I want (with anybody), and then refine that back down to "with my mother." (In that particular case, a lot of it would have to do with working through and addressing the rage that dealing with her left me with, which is (was) a Project in its own right.)

And to start that project, I would systematically examine the relationships I have with people around me now, sort them into two columns: "Want" and "Don't Want." And then start listing out the characteristics of each that put them into those categories. (Pro tip: Love doesn't hurt. Healthy relationships feel good.) Then, one step further, on the "Don't Want" characteristics, can I flip them around and identify their desired opposites? Say, "isn't critical" becomes "is supportive." And like that.

I would be very curious to hear your therapist's rationale for putting so much emphasis on confrontation.

At the very least, if confrontation is the solution, what, exactly does the desired outcome look like? Does he expect that you will tell them to FOAD? That, after the confrontation, they will realize that they've been Wrong and Cruel, and will forevermore only greet you with kittens and unicorns? It sounds like he's making a clear picture in his brain, and I'd be very interested to know (a) what that picture is, (b) whether it is (given your qualms) even possible, given your current skillset and conditioning, and (most importantly) (c) if it's a picture that you even want.

What does he say when you express your reservations to him?

eep @661: The truths I stated were more along the lines of pointing out that the strategy of, Maybe Everything Will Just Go Back To How (we like to think) It Was Ten Years Ago, If We All Pretend Hard Enough, is not really working out well for anybody.

Heh. Local chiropractor has a sign in his office: "The five most dangerous words in the English language: 'Maybe it will go away'."

"separating what I want from what is expected of me"

Oh yeah, and extra-credit points for spotting when "what is expected of me" is the same as "what I want." I was tangled up for years until I worked out that my rebellion against my mother's blind imperative to "be independent" was crashing head-on into my own powerful drive to, um, be independent.

Phenicious @622: Not directly relevant to your current situation, but something (that I think I ran into here) that might be a handy asset as you get moving with school: Study Hacks.

navigate around all the brain raccoons

Hee hee <*SNARK*> I just ran across something that I'm hoping will help me with my own mental pests: The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. Friend was describing his core thesis to me, and something went *click!* Will report when I actually get into it.

There are some patterns I've recognized since last time

Care to innumerate, for the benefit of fellow pattern-sufferers?

Mea @663: I told myself the story of each parent's life.... I could then just identify typical behaviors instead of reacting to them

Your whole list is glorious, but may I say: this is just brilliant?

#666 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2013, 02:51 PM:

Jacque, thanks for two reminders:

The Power of Habit, which I checked out of the library and liked a lot and hadn't yet remembered to buy a copy of, and

Randy Pausch's Last Lecture. I need to make time to re-watch the whole thing. Because, yes.

#667 ::: eep ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2013, 03:49 PM:

Lee @664: One thing I found very helpful in maintaining a contact level with my parents that wasn't spoon-draining was never to see them alone. FWIW, this is a strategy that has been very helpful to me also.

I have to get in touch with my parents again today, and it has zapped my brain straight to anxiety-hell.

Let me see if attempting to define some parameters will help talk my brain down off the ledge.

Parent A (from my posts in Surviving & Thriving, the one who was agitating for me to move)
-beyond doubt, my most direct genetic link to the Autism Spectrum
-growing number of health problems
-has family in Otherstate where arrangements are available for them both to live in an assisted environment

Parent B
-deteriorating health on many fronts (esp. mobility)
-some dementia, but not enough to be pliant
-probable alcoholism
-cannot drive, cannot do certain things for zirself, nearly to the point where zie cannot be left alone
-biggest source of the Appearances Must Be Maintained dynamic

Under better circumstances, A is awkward and indecisive, but functional. Now, faced with the increasing burdens of B's rapid deterioration, and (and this is the really big issue), B's steadfast refusal to deviate from the mandate of maintaining All Appearances, at all cost, Parent A is losing it. Every time I'm in contact anymore, Parent A is in a state of meltdown. By the time I get home, I'm in a state of near-meltdown. I have offered to help in any concrete way that I am able, to facilitate their relocation.

Everytime I am in contact with them any more, A latches onto me with all the force and terror of a drowning person. But zie doesn't want to hear realistic alternatives. This most recent discussion, I couldn't get two coherent words out of zir as to what zie wants to do, that wouldn't involve magic. It gets harder and harder to make contact, knowing that I'll be put into a position where I will have to be harsh, or be pulled under, and each time it gets a little worse.

#668 ::: Mea ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2013, 11:00 PM:

Jacque - wow, considering how much wisdom you have shared on these threads, I'm thrilled to see your comment. Especially since I tend to be a bit of a hit and run commentator (since I am still busy contemplating what I want to share with the intertubes and what I would rather not).

#669 ::: eep ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2013, 01:04 AM:

Well, I did it. It felt like World War III, but Partner assures me that I did well and was reasonable throughout.

So, it's established (I hope) that I am willing to help with making necessary changes, but that I won't continue to help preserve the (untenable, without the aid of magic) status quo. In the process, I pretty well got confirmation of what I'd suspected, but could never get anybody to admit: that the whole reason for pushing me so hard to move was essentially to use me as bait to get Parent B to go along with it. And also got, not quite an introduction maybe, but a fairly unequivocal acknowledgement of the Elephant.

Now I need to remember how to breathe and see if I can stop shaking.

#670 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2013, 04:23 AM:

eep @669: Well done! Very pleased to know you had Partner there for support and reassurance.

Type A Toad @658: I'm agreeing with Lee @664 re. "never to see them alone". My relationship with my mother is much better than it used to be, but I still try to avoid being alone with her. Thankfully it's now rare that I don't have my husband with me when I see her.

#671 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2013, 05:39 PM:

Mea @668: I tend to be a bit of a hit and run commentator

Well, seems clear to me that, should you care to comment more, we would benefit. And keep in mind that "commenting" is an intersecting set with "sharing." Comments in the form of useful strategies, as with your @663, are, IMHO, disproportionately useful.

eep @669: Sadly, "World War III" and "doing well" are not mutually-exclusive states. But: go, you! See also: go, your partner! For shaking: hot bath, warm soup, and lots of partner-snuggles, maybe? Also: breathing is good. :-)

#672 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2013, 01:23 AM:

gallaure, reading that post was a roller coaster. Lots of "yay!" and "oh." I'm glad that it ended more towards the "yay!" than otherwise, especially as regards your boy. I'm glad to hear back from you.

#673 ::: Codemonkey in NE England, gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2013, 03:11 AM:

eep @667: Seeing that list reminds me of how bad my own situation really is. My dad isn't an alcoholic, but some of his symptoms from the stroke damage are reminiscent of dementia in some ways.

However, neither of my parents can drive (I presume your Parent A can drive, since you didn't mention that zie couldn't but you did for Parent B) -- my dad can no longer drive due to the stroke while my mam was too anxious to even attempt lessons! Also, we have no supportive family members whatsoever -- mam only now has a brother (not on speaking terms with) and a cousin (now homeless), while my dad's family never had much to do with us (perhaps -- if my mam is right -- because my sister and I weren't raised as Catholics).

And of course, AFAIK your parents aren't saddled with a disabled child who cannot hope to live independently (like my sister).


A big cause of stress in our house at the moment is that the washing machine packed in on Wednesday. I brought home a replacement yesterday, but it seems to be faulty -- it won't start, with a light indicating that door isn't shut properly (even though the door seemed to click and I can't figure out any other way to shut that door). I'm worried that dad won't be able to adequately describe the problem on the helpline, and that my mam will refuse to make the call herself. It was awful being berated by my mam last night -- "you've got a PhD in physics and yet you don't even know how to install a washing machine! You're bloody useless!!"

#674 ::: Codemonkey in NE England ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2013, 03:13 AM:

Oops, I wasn't really gnomed on that last comment, so could you remove the "gnomed" from my name there? (And from #624 for that matter).


#675 ::: Codemonkey in NE England ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2013, 03:14 AM:

Correction -- it's my cousin (my mam's nephew) who's homeless, not her cousin...

#676 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2013, 05:50 AM:

Codemonkey @673:
"you've got a PhD in physics and yet you don't even know how to install a washing machine! You're bloody useless!!"

Waaaaaay out of line, again. Move out, for your own sake. You can still help them from without, and you continue to expose yourself to so much unnecessary harm and abuse from within that the damage will likely impair your capacity to help if you stay.

#677 ::: Emma in Sydney ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2013, 07:30 AM:

Codemonkey, just to echo Pendrift here: that's no way to speak to another adult. I have three adult children and I would no more dream of speaking to them like that than I would of flying to the moon. It's NOT OKAY.

Even if, and it's a big if, she thought that, she has no business letting it out of her mouth. Ever.

Just in case you are used to being spoken to like that, I wanted you to know that healthy parent-adult child relationships do not work like that. You need to move out.

#678 ::: Emma in Sydney ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2013, 07:31 AM:

Actually, I wouldn't speak to my 9 or 12 year olds like that either.

#679 ::: Emma in Sydney ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2013, 07:32 AM:

Actually, I wouldn't speak to my 9 or 12 year olds like that either.

#680 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2013, 08:46 AM:

Codemonkey @673: Even when someone is sufficiently upset to say something that nasty, the someone is supposed to *come back* and give a heartfelt apology promptly once they have calmed down. People do get upset and say nasty things, but they're expected to admit fault and ask for forgiveness too. So I'd be waiting for that apology, in your position.

#681 ::: slow learner ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2013, 10:51 AM:

Codemonkey, if no one in your household can get the new washing machine working, why are you the one who's 'useless' for not being able to get it to work?

Here are some things a reasonable person might have said or thought in that situation:

"Maybe having a PhD in physics doesn't teach you how to install a washing machine, and lots of very highly educated and intelligent people need help with technology they're not familiar with."

"None of us can get this working, so we'd better call the company and ask for help. What a good thing they have a helpline, since normal people frequently do need to call for help when installing things."

"Codemonkey can't fix this, and he's the most technically inclined person in the household, so this probably isn't a normal installation problem, and the new machine might be faulty and need repair or replacement."

#682 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2013, 11:40 AM:

Codemonkey, #673: Argh. That's actually a fairly common thing in dysfunctional thinking -- the notion that "being smart" (or, in your case, having a degree) means you should automagically be able to do anything, with or without training and/or aptitude. And yes, it's horribly demeaning.

Would it help if you wrote out a description of the problem for your father to read when he calls the help line?

#683 ::: Codemonkey in NE England ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2013, 02:13 PM:

I got a refund for the faulty washing machine and brought back a second replacement with my dad this afternoon -- it would have been late this evening, but I was able to leave work at lunchtime today due to a fortuitous power failure. And this one seems to be working just fine.

One thing I've noticed about my mam is that she seems to have what I'd call a "day-by-day" temper -- if something makes her angry she'll be angry for the whole of the rest of the day, but you'd hardly notice it by the next morning. I think my mam did call the helpline this morning (although she had to make a lot of other phone calls as well, because she wanted a refund rather than a repair).

#684 ::: Dash ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2013, 04:28 PM:

Moonlit Night @680: I mentioned this in an earlier post (post 549, in contrast with a more functional couple's arrangement), but you reminded me how dysfunctional my mother's arguing really is with this post. My mother, when angry, uses insults such as the example Codemonkey gave quite frequently, and apologies are very very rare- I can't remember any off the top of my head.
Codemonkey @683: My mother has that same sort of "day-by-day" temper, though I'd never had such a concise term for it at my disposal beforehand. She definitely takes her anger out on my father or myself when angry at external circumstances, like the Mother's Day incident mentioned on 185 which was caused by sudden changes to previously-arranged events that caused us to miss out on them, or an example from today, in which... I'm not sure exactly what the stimuli was this time to cause her anger, probably a number of things. We went to a funeral of a not-too-close family member who probably could've lived years longer had she bothered to go to a hospital when the difficulties started, and there were inevitable wrinkles in arrangements and conversations, and our house phone is down, and we're trying to sell my grandmother's house but there were various complications with the listing... The result was her yelling at me to write an e-mail to the program official explaining the problems with the volunteer coordinator (a task mentioned in my post 650 as well), and when I explained that it stressed me out to think about it, she said that not getting the e-mail done and having her money on the line stressed HER out (while I don't think the e-mail in question will affect the finances in any way, and thus should probably be a low priority, and if she's so concerned about it why doesn't she write one?) and that therefore I was being inconsiderate to HER feelings, ending with a threat to make me pay more of the cost than initially agreed (with a tagged-on "Of course you know I wouldn't really make you do that, but just consider...") She also yelled at my father to contact the school organization seeing if they'll recalculate the amount owed in our favor, which also probably won't work and should probably be done by her rather than him.
I know this has rather escaped the original purpose of replying, but I'd like to say that Codemonkey, I think there are some similarities to be found in our living situations and dysfunctional family life. I just hope the two of us, and everybody else on this thread still suffering, can escape the toxic relationships causing such pain sooner rather than later.

#685 ::: Type A Toad ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2013, 04:50 PM:

Quietly Learning To Be Loud @659&660 - Under far too many circumstances, confronting your family only allows them easy access to all the buttons they programmed in to you.

Weeell, that quite succinctly explains my reluctance to tell my parents anything about my life, which confronting them would involve.

I'm working on distance, but I feel guilty for it - every time I avoid calls from my mother, I get the 'why can't I ever get a hold of you it makes me so sad' talk. Never mind that what I'm trying to do is enforce a talk every two weeks (holidays, birthdays, and major events aside) kind of boundary and she just talked to me three days ago. I guess I need to work on the guilty feeling and take some pride that I even have an unspoken boundary to try to enforce at all. I suspect she's lonely.

eep @661 - Solidarity and strength in return.

Mea @663 - you are Brilliant. Thank you thank you. I'm going to write out every one of those and start making some plans accordingly. That is exactly the kind of advice that I find helpful.

Lee @664 - re: hammer/nails. I'm somewhat concerned that it may be my fault. In my experience, previous therapists have latched onto a specific something in my life that is my Problem and if only I were to solve that Problem, my life would be wonderful. My first was convinced my Problem was my romantic relationship. My second was convinced my Problem was my job. This one is convinced it's my parents. I can't help but wonder if the way I approach therapy is leading them to this line of thinking or if I've just hit a string of ones that do. Also, do other people regularly run into therapists that only seem to have a passing remembrance of the previous session? That also seems to be a trend for me.

Jacque @665 - At the very least, if confrontation is the solution, what, exactly does the desired outcome look like?

I absolutely need to ask him that. At one point he had me write out pros and cons of what a closer relationship with my parents would look like (because of course confrontation = closer relationship) and I could not come up with a single thing to put in the pros column. That got me really thinking that maybe a closer relationship with my parents is not actually what I want. And the parenthetical just gave me a huge light bulb moment as I was writing it.

What does he say when you express your reservations to him?
That its something we can work on once I decide what kind of relationship I want. And then he seems to forget that we had that little conversation by the next session. (hey look, another light bulb) I suspect he thinks of confronting my parents as lancing a boil - get all the shit out so things can start healing. I'm beginning to think that what I have is a life-long raw patch and sticking needles into isn't going to help matters.

I've never tried to define what I want in relationships with others. Mostly what happens is people adopt me in a friendly sort of way and if something happens that bothers me, I'll pull back and/or disappear. Sometimes this takes months/years. Sometimes this takes minutes. Being a military brat didn't exactly instill in me the skill to keep friends. I'm slowly learning them by rote now that I'm an adult. I still have no idea how to approach people with the idea of making friends, but I figure I'll learn it eventually.

Lee & dcb @670 - My hangup is that my parents embarrass me and the fewer people I expose them to, the better. I didn't go through that phase as a teenager (that would have required my having separate opinions and I didn't start having those until college) and now I can't seem to get out of it. I don't even want my partner to have to put up with them any more than he has to (we have the same deal with his parents). They don't change behavior when he's around vs just me; I'm just upset someone was around to witness it. Their normal behavior, seen from the outside, honestly isn't all that bad. Even from the inside I don't believe it's deliberate. It's that so much of what they do and say scrapes against my raw spots and my poor coping strategies and my anxieties that I'm an emotional wreck afterwards.

I feel like they're my parents so they're my problem to deal with. Fortunately, they live a continent and an international line away so visits are less often than they used to be but unfortunately of longer duration. I can't deny that distance from family wasn't a benefit of moving to Canada.

#686 ::: Froth ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2013, 09:12 AM:

I'm finally out of the crisis enough to talk about it.

So... my housemate sent me frighteningly angry emails, threatening to call the police if I was "uncivil", calling me a lot of bad names, and telling to get out of his house. I got. That meant I was sleeping on friendly sofas and trying to figure out how to arrange a new rental.
Then I got taken into hospital for four days and diagnosed with type one diabetes. Injections every time I eat for the rest of my life. I'm actually pretty okay with that - I'm used to the idea that the body you're issued with doesn't necessarily work right - but it's another level of complicated.
So now I'm living with my parents, four hours away from my primary social network. I don't have a driving licence, but we're working on that. I don't have a job, but I'm a bigger fish in a smaller pond here, and I'm reasonably hopeful about finding something.

My parents are being liveable enough, right now. The housemate was a lot more stress than this. This is just... cramped. I want a flat, and a car, and a kitten. That all means I need an income, and until I get a job, nothing changes.

It's suboptimal, but it's surviveable.

#687 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2013, 04:57 PM:

Froth @686: Sympathies, congrats on making it this far, and good luck for job, flat, car and kitten in the near future (everything is better with a cat - ours tells us this all the time).

#688 ::: neither Chan nor Cousteau ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2013, 04:39 PM:

I need to tap the community's wisdom regarding both forum moderation and verbal self-defense. I'm a regular commenter using a thinly veiled pseud so this comment isn't easily Google-able. You'll know me by my pets which are like capybara only much smaller. :-)


I'm the moderator of the email list for my RL community, and an issue has recently flared up around a common college-town practice. When students move out, there are often unwanted household goods left behind, some of which are too big to put in the rubbish bins, and may be in good enough condition for reuse. Departing renters will often leave them near the rubbish/recycling bins so others can come along and take them for reuse.

The community has a rule against this but, in addition to other lapses in maintenance we've suffered in the last few years, our List of Rules hasn't been distributed to new populations of renters in quite a while. There is also no signage near the bins indicating that this practice is prohibited. And the rule makes no mention of what one is supposed to do with these items, beyond quoting an unenforceable fee for their removal.

Being summer, we're seeing a lot of student traffic in and out of the community, with a sudden upsurge of orphaned possessions.

The Situation:

One of my neighbors recently posted a rant on our email list about this issue, using the words "ghetto" & "slum." Another neighbor objected to the first word, feeling it to be racist and classist. I stepped in and confirmed this ruling, and added the second term. The ranter objected, saying he would rather discuss solutions than worry about being "politically correct."

My problem:

The larger conflict arose, however, around his stated opinion (not in the least bit humble) that All People Who Do This are lazy, nasty, ill-mannered, and badly brought-up. "They only do this because they can't be bothered to follow the rules, and besides, the rules are never enforced!" (Which last is a fair point.)

The tone of the conversation went resolutely south with this: "Gur fvzcyr snpg vf gung znal qb abg jnag guvf ceboyrz uvtuyvtugrq haqre nal grezf jungfbrire, fb V nz punyyratvat gur CP nfcrpg bs guvf pbairefngvba. Vf gurer nal jnl sbe zr gb fnl gung anfgl crbcyr ner znxvat bhe ubzr ybbx yvxr n qhzc orpnhfr gurl ner ynml, naq orpnhfr bhe pbzzhavgl cenpgvprf ab rasbeprzrag? Be nz V orvat gb abg gb gryy gur rzcrebe uvf unf ab pybgurf?" (Rot13ed against Googling.)

In retrospect, I should have just said, "No. When you can discuss specific behaviors, refrain from general character assassination, and resist presuming to read other people's minds, then we might have a conversation. In the meantime, keep your rants to private email."

But my brain shorted out at "PC," and crashed completely on that last sentence. Plus, I got really angry (though I did manage to stay cool and keep my temper), which is still making it hard for me to think about this clearly.

I tried to refocus the conversation on what cultural factors fed into the practice (desire to recycle, lack of viable alternatives), and what we could do to encourage the desired behavior.

He responded by calling my comments "PC excuse making," and accusing me of trying to censor him. (Which Troll-Bingo square is that?) His tone became even more aggressive after that.

Three reasons I didn't just summarily step on his head:

  1. His invective was aimed at me (the mod) and not some other group member; "You may not treat me this way" vocabulary refuses to present itself to my brain.
  2. I didn't know what to do with his dismissal of my perspective as "PC excuse making."
  3. He is otherwise one of the most intelligent and sensible of our group members. This verbal assault is completely out of character for him, and leaves me completely gobsmacked.
  4. He is also one of the most valuable members of our community, working hard and supplying excellent expertise; I didn't want to risk alienating him completely.

Intellectually, I know this is a tempest that will likely pass, even (possibly especially) if I assert my Authority. But my hindbrain is all, "Nope. Huh-uh. Not gonna go there." Also, I was really struggling to keep my temper by this point.

We went another couple rounds, me struggling to stick to process, and he getting progressively more provoking and dismissive, actually calling my arguments "bullsh*t".

When he invoked drunk driving and sexual assault as parallels, it became clear that No Communication Was Happening. I bailed, and spent the rest of the afternoon and most of the next day fuming.

If anybody wants to subject themselves to the full catastrophe, email me at (rot13ed) pnilureq at the mail of G, and I can send you a link to the thread.

So: thoughts?

#689 ::: neither Chan nor Cousteau ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2013, 05:03 PM:

Oh yeah, icing on the cake: I'm likely going to be encountering this person at the community meeting tonight. If anyone cares to suggest a script, I'd be most grateful.

#690 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2013, 06:38 PM:

neither Chan nor Cousteau: Cute pseudonym!

I don't have a whole script to offer, but some points that might help:

1. Face-to-face is not email. Face-to-face, there are many non-verbal avenues for feedback when something is offensive, without having to verbalize it. Upset people are often more polite face-to-face than via email. This could work to help lower tensions somewhat for both of you.

2. Whether it's PC or not, insulting people is rarely the quickest route to a solution to community problems (unless the problem is "there are too many people contributing to this community's wellbeing"!).

3. Insult is in the eye of the beholder. If people are thin-skinned, and something not intended as an insult insults them, they are still insulted; see #2.

So maybe you could approach this person with something like this:

"You are always a really valuable contributor to this community. Our community is facing a real problem, which needs a solution. You have helped point out the problem, but the words with which you did so may have offended people. Can we back away from the words, and discuss the problem and possible solutions without judging the people participating in the problem? And keeping in mind that we have to recruit those people to support any solution we come up with?"

Make it clear that your highest priority is solving the problem. Calling people names and attacking their upbringing is a distraction from that priority, no matter how justified or unjustified the name-calling and attacking are. It's relevant to the problem-solving to say "your choice of language is interfering with finding a solution and recruiting support for it". It's not relevant to the problem-solving to have a larger discussion about "political correctness" or who should be allowed to say what.

#691 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2013, 06:47 PM:

Neither Chan ... will you get a chance for a private word, or will all your discussion at the meeting be public?

I'm thinking of something like saying outright, you are usually one of the most sensible of our group members, and the conflict we had seems out of character. Can you tell me what button I pushed? I don't think that discussion was productive, but I'm stuck. I can't just let that kind of name-calling take away from the community feel of the list, and I don't want to just shut you down. Then see what he says?

#692 ::: neither Chan nor Cousteau ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2013, 06:48 PM:

Ooo, I particularly like your point, that language choice is interfering with recruitment and problem-solving.

#693 ::: neither Chan nor Cousteau ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2013, 06:56 PM:

Oops, forgot to credit Jeremy Leader in my @692.

OtterB: That's very good, too. And reading that, I realize that before I can use it, I somehow need to deal with my own hurt and anger. Being told repeatedly (by somebody I had come to trust) that my diplomatically-phrased, carefully-framed opinion is "PC excuse-making bullsh*t"—basically being dismissed out of hand, with a side of venom, is really upsetting me, and I just don't know what to do with that. My carefully considered impulse is to invite him to FOAD, and I'm pretty sure that won't help the situation. ::wan smile::

#694 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2013, 06:11 AM:

Neither Chan - how did the meeting go?

#695 ::: neither Chan nor Cousteau ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2013, 08:00 AM:

OtterB He didn't show up to the meeting. However, on the email list, somebody else chimed in with concerns about the terms "ghetto" and "slum." He came back with, "Gur vzzrqvngr sbyybj-hc guernqf qvfphffvat cbffvoyr cbfvgvir fgrcf fubjrq gung grezf gung cnvag htyl zragny vzntrf pna or irel rssrpgvir va pbzzhavpngvba bs n ceboyrz."

Again, I'm stumped as to how to respond, given that the positive steps were suggested by me, in a marginally effective attempt to drag the discourse back out of the weeds. I responded with, "Wait—how do you figure that?" Classic staircase wit: what I should have said was something like, "I don't think the problem communicated was the problem you think it was."

I'd actually like to present a dissection of, and ruling on, the last couple of really bad exchanges. But they took place last Sunday, and I'm afraid the window of opportunity has passed by now, and I'd come off as beating a dead horse.

(What I'd really like to do is tell the guy to take a flying fsck at a rolling doughnut, and then stomp off in a snit. But it would be kinda nice if at least I could stay out from under the bridge.)

#696 ::: Oil-upon-the-waters ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2013, 10:30 AM:

Neither Chan nor Cousteau @695

It is not water under the bridge. You are moderator; his behavior was unacceptable. You can be honest that it took you time to deal with the personal attack(s) by someone you had always worked well with / respected in the past and formulate a method of dealing with this type of behavior in the future. And then share with the list how you will deal with this in the future: banning? disemvoweling? rot13 the offensive bits? Even if he has totally tuned out anything you have to say, this will help the others on the list so they don't decide that he is right in his methods.

I hope this isn't hlepy.

Btw, I have frequently wondered Chan or Cousteau. If neither then what? I consider it courteous to use people's preferred name pronunciation, even if it is just in my head. (Obviously, you can't answer that while avoiding Googling.)

#697 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2013, 11:07 AM:

Thoughts on the mailing list kerfluffle:

1) Reframe the problem. The problem is that people want to recycle useful items -- as I recall, that fits very well with the norms of your extended community -- and have no easy way to do so. So what's the solution? If your guy says, "That's not my problem," then you can legitimately tell him that he is making himself part of the problem.

2) Is there any thrift shop in your area that will do pickups? (DAV used to be willing to pick up large items when I lived in Nashville.) If so, perhaps tipping them off to check your dumpster area during student-leaving-time might help.

3) Similarly, putting such a notice up on the local Freecycle board might get people coming by to remove discarded items before they build up into an unsightly pile.

4) The thing that's making the conversation go south isn't that his words are PC-offensive, but that they are exacerbating the problem, because nobody wants to engage with a trash-talking asshole. (Perhaps the deployment of that phrase would drive the point home?)

5) Complete speculation here. Is there any chance that there's a gendered issue involved here as well? He doesn't mind using racist and classist language, and vigorously defends his privilege to do so; might he be brushing you off because of sexism?

6) I agree that "letting it drop" sends the wrong message. There must be some acknowledgement that trollish behavior will not be tolerated, or your entire list is likely to go to shit the next time he starts up. And there will be a next time, if he now has the idea in his head that this crap works.

#698 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2013, 02:16 PM:

Neither Chan nor Cousteau: Is there some authority figure within the community that you can ask to mediate? Someone you both respect that will take on the task (even someone who isn't an authority)? This is a classic type of problem which is much more easily solved with the help of an interlocutor, because the communication between the two of you is currently fouled. Neither one of you is able to listen to the other rationally (obvious in his responses, and you've said as much here).

It's definitely not too late to deal with this -- and semi-privately is currently better than publicly, because in semi-private, neither one of you has as much "face" to save. With the right person, you can mention your annoyance and pain without it becoming a weakness that others may attack; and he can back down more easily from the ground he's currently salting.

#699 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2013, 06:24 PM:

neither @ 695
"He came back with, 'Gur vzzrqvngr sbyybj-hc guernqf qvfphffvat cbffvoyr cbfvgvir fgrcf fubjrq gung grezf gung cnvag htyl zragny vzntrf pna or irel rssrpgvir va pbzzhavpngvba bs n ceboyrz.'"

Oh, whoops. You can't afford to let that go unchecked now. It just means that when he cares about things, he'll be an obnoxious jerk until he gets what he wants.

Personally, my advice would be to go back into that exact thread, quote him back at himself, and add the comment "I was trying to ignore your unpleasantness, not encourage it. As a result of your stated policy, if, at any time in future, I determine that you seem to be provoking people in order to get the response you want, I will ban you from this forum and you can find somebody else to voice your concerns in a way that is not offensive and insulting. I did not want to be confrontational, but I will not allow you to abuse the members and moderators of this community. It is not an acceptable tactic."

#700 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2013, 08:18 PM:

Neither @695, I was going to suggest waiting until he does it again, and having your response ready then, because you know he's going to do it again sometime soon. But KayTei's right. If you're a designated moderator, and he's just said to you "I got what I wanted with my unpleasantness", it's perfectly reasonable to respond to that by explaining what he actually got from his actions, namely the expenditure of his one free warning before you take action.

Oil-upon-the-waters @696: Search for a poster in this thread with the appropriate first name (spelled like Cousteau spelled it, though I assume pronounced differently).