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August 6, 2013

Dysfunctional Families: Hope
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 04:12 PM *

So Dysfunctional Families regular somewhere else has been talking about the move from surviving to thriving, and one bit struck me especially strongly:

What has helped along the way: patience, kindness, more patience, one warm meal per day (oven-ready meals and the like count!), crying whenever I needed to cry, lots of pictures of cute animals, praise (no matter how undeserving I felt) for every step taken, bare-bones hope.

I want to expand a bit on the last point. I don’t know how other people commonly experience hope, but for me it certainly isn’t this shining beacon or light in the dark it tends to be compared to.

Throughout the years it meant holding on with my fingertips, dragging myself through another day, for no particular reason (at least I couldn’t give one), going on without knowing what I might end up with since the things I wanted to achieve weren’t lost to me, I often never had them in the first place. And somehow I think that hope was beneath it all, in its most basic form. The knowledge every living being possesses, the possibility of growth, of reaching for the sun.

To me, hope has always seemed like the neglected virtue in the trifecta, the one that got invited just to make up the numbers. Love is the “greatest of these”, and I’m certainly a big fan. Faith is kind of a given in the New Testament, with all its mustard seeds and mountains moving. Hope? Classic overlooked middle child.

But then, DF is all about the neglected siblings, the undervalued people, the unconsidered treasures. And I’ve always felt like Hope is that kind of a virtue. It’s that thing I do when I don’t have the resources to go out and love, or faith’s belief that things will get better. Hope is the thing that stays when everyone else is gone; the one I can afford when the other two are too expensive. It’s the friend who meets me where I am and does the thing I’m doing. If all I can do is wash the dishes, Hope will stand with me and dry them. If I’m in the place where I go to cry, Hope is the one who left a box of tissues there. Hope is who I talk to when I unburden myself, because it’s the possibility of a betterment when I can’t bear to believe in one. Hope witnesses.

In Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, hope is the force that defeats “the dark at the end of everything”.

YMMV, of course. Void where prohibited or not in your emotional vocabulary. Objects in mirror may be more wonderful than they appear.


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: Hope:
#1 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2013, 04:25 PM:

Yes. Linda Sue Park has a very good book called Keeping Score which deals with some of this.

Abi, you're doing a wonderful job with the Dysfunctional Families Day posts and threads. Not only with the central idea and the starting posts, but keeping them going as a community develops. The steps you take and the behaviors you model make a huge difference to the discussion, not only as What Would Abi Do? examples but because you have taken this load on yourself when you could have let the threads rest begnomed, unmoderated, and eventually still. You put a lot of work in behind the scenes to keep people safe and safe-feeling, and I don't think I speak just for myself when I say that it's neither invisible nor unappreciated. You are not taken for granted.

#2 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2013, 04:37 PM:

Diatryma @1:

Thank you for saying so.

The DF community is hugely important to me. It is work, of course, particularly because everyone here deserves my very best efforts. But I just create the room. The real treasure in these threads is the community itself. No one person could do what everyone here does together, supporting, advising and witnessing.

And don't discount the value I get out of it: the inspiration I find reading about our members' courage, the insights I bring back to my life as a parent and a fellow human being, and the ways I've learned to cope with my own challenges by reading how people here keep going.

My relationship with the DF community is a complicated thing. But it's not a one-way relationship at all.

#3 ::: Bam ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2013, 04:41 PM:

Little to add except thanks, and a story.

When I was working closing shifts at a coffee shop, and too poor to take the bus home, I would walk the half hour through my not-great neighborhood to get home. I used to take a route that would send me past a house that had wood-block cut-outs of the letters HOPE. One night I noticed that they faced the viewer on the street and not the people inside. That warmed me up inside, and every time I passed it I felt a little better. I still think about that place.

Here's to hope, and the people who give it, and to those who need it, may they never be without.

#4 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2013, 04:46 PM:

abi @ 2... everyone here deserves my very best efforts

As if you were capable of anything else.

#5 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2013, 04:51 PM:

Serge @4:
As if you were capable of anything else.

That almost sounds like a challenge.

But though I am as human as the next one, and screw up my fair share of the time, I must decline to inflict that on the community.

#6 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2013, 05:28 PM:

abi @ 5... Not a challenge, but my own opinion.

#7 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2013, 05:37 PM:

I think this whole business of hope is a big reason why I bonded to Star Trek at an early age, and why it has remained a guiding influence all of my life. The idea that we can do better. That we can be better. It kept that little flame alive, even when everything in my immediate vacinity was committed to convincing me that hope was silly, pointless, a waste of time....

On those (blessedly fewer and fewer) days when I just can't even, I've never completely lost hope. Even if I had to reach, it seemed, waaayyy faaarrr back to find that last example of something that went right, the habit remains. And I can't count the number of times that has saved me.

And then, to find a place like this, I can't estimate how much poorer my life would be without it, and the way it bleeds out into the world from us, its denizens.

#8 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2013, 05:47 PM:

Jacque @ 7... I felt the same way about the show.

#9 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2013, 06:12 PM:

I only post occasionally here, and I do follow along.

Hope is a hard one. I have it, cyclically -- maybe similar to bipolar (which does run in my family). It never quite gets down to zero, but it does fluctuate. And my spoon count is pretty directly related to the amount of hope I'm feeling at the moment. When they're low, I hide.

#10 ::: dimwit ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2013, 07:05 PM:

I'm a lurker and have been for a while. Been meaning to contribute and finally opened a tab.

The DF series are hard to read, as I am from one myself. Father sociopath (not just my opinion, he's in prison now and has had court-ordered evals), with all the evil that implies, both routine and novel.

Not all of my siblings made it. Not all living are intact, and those appearing normal are left with odd vulnerabilities we conceal quite carefully.

I think I held out more for escape than hope. Hope implies optimism, or perhaps someone there to help. Many years later I found hope again, with someone who had her own version of DF too. Together we care for each other as best we can.

I have known many DF-ers, and in retrospect who survived seems very random. Myself most definitely included.

#11 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2013, 07:06 PM:

Progress!

I got home from some running around feeling absolutely exhausted. Realized I have a migraine starting. (I get debilitating, knock you out in a pitch-black, silent room migraines, which fortunately I recently got a really effective medication for)

My first thought was the Tapes: "At least now I have an excuse for being tired."

But I was able to rephrase that to "Now I understand why I'm so tired."

As at least somewhere_else (and I think others) have said, kindness to self is important. Rephrasing so you're not judging is important. This is one of the first times I've been able to reframe something without needing to be prompted to (by Spouse, who takes care of me), especially when it has to do with tiredness/reluctance to deal with required tasks.

Thank you all for the stories, the good advice, and for listening. It's helping - and here's one solid milestone! :)

And I add to the chorus thanking Abi for starting the threads, and for keeping them going through how many thousands of comments.

#12 ::: dimwit ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2013, 07:16 PM:

On a more positive note, a relevant aphorism by James Richardson:

Some things, like faith, cheer, courage, you can give when you do not have them.

#13 ::: The Absent One ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2013, 07:20 PM:

"[Hope is] that thing you do..."

No, it isn't. Not for me. Not even close. My first reaction to reading that was "boy, she just has no clue what it's like" (despite knowing full well that you are, indeed, very well clued in). For hope to be any of those things, it would have to be dependable, to be there when I really, truly needed it, and it's not. Hope is a luxury, something I indulge in when things are going well enough that I can afford to let my dreams out for a bit. Hope isn't a friend; hope is a relative stranger who's got better places to be when I'm most in need. It might be nice if it were otherwise, but it's not.

#14 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2013, 07:42 PM:

I'm one of those who can't live without hope--when I run into someone who is all gloom and doom it really, really ticks me off. It's one of the fracture lines in this family--one person seems to think that mindkind is headed for extinction, and what's worse, she titters when she says it and the disjunct between laughter and the horror of the subject kind of overloads my mind, like it takes too much RAM to get around it. (One Christmas the whole family started talking about accidents they'd incurred and tittering like mad and I came this close to calling them a bunch of ghouls and storming out.) If there is a potluck I am going to bring Titter Tots. Maybe it's a nervous reaction but you'd think they'd have the sense to say they don't mean to laugh or something. That's what one manners book said to do if you involuntarily titter when hearing about something bad. Dad was more like me than like them, and I notice the same of my friends.
That's one of the smaller ways this family has been dysfunctional; much of it is in the past but scars remain. I have some hope that it will get straightened out, but if it doesn't I'm going to find a better crowd to hang with. One relative might clue up and quit trying to pretend they know more about me than I do, but I don't know about the other, and the one who just likes bossing people around at holidays will require different tactics still. We are a small bunch that is eventually going to die out, and I sometimes find that a relief--even though I am the youngest, I am clueless around kids.
As to whether I'm contributing to further dysfunction, I'd say it is mostly by absence. Introversion, different interests, poverty and disability don't help. I know it could be worse but there's many times I am sure that if I had my life to do over again I'd skip the whole thing; there's got to be better parts of the universe to incarnate in. This despite the good things I have seen and learned [mostly on my own.] I have some hope that I might discover some fixes, including some more friends, and one family member promises to leave me some money, if there is some left when that family member dies. But when someone starts up with the total gloom and doom, I've been known to say "If I believed that I'd hang myself", and that shuts it down pretty fast.

#15 ::: Type A Toad ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2013, 08:24 PM:

The Absent One @13: I'm right there with you. Hope is the friend that never contacts you when you're in the depths of your despair, the one who isn't around when you need her most, and the one most likely to disappear when things are bad. She's someone I can't afford to rely on anymore because every time I thought she'd be there for me, she apparently had something more important to do. Hoping has never gotten me anywhere but brokenhearted.

#16 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2013, 09:05 PM:

#13, The Absent One and #15, Type A Toad: I'm sorry to hear that hope hasn't been a thing you could count on. As with the difference between somebody with a functional family having a hard time understanding a dysfunctional family, I don't understand your position, so the best I can do is acknowledge and witness. If I knew a way to offer strength, I would.

#17 ::: knitcrazybooknut ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2013, 09:08 PM:

I posted this on the previous thread. I am feeling really hesitant about reposting, for all the wrong reasons. Jerkbrain says to let it go and deal with it myself, and I should be strong enough, smart enough to figure it out all of my own problems all by myself. I am choosing to tell Jerkbrain to bite me.

Hope has always been my default. I react to "all bad news all the time" people with a straight arm, even when my husband starts ranting about everything that's wrong with the world. That's fine. They can have their opinions. But if it starts impacting me or my mood, they can respect that and take it elsewhere. I enforce this pretty strictly, depending on the situation.

Original post starts...and Ghu help me if it gets gnomed again.

I appreciate the condolences regarding my uncle's death. By way of update, I visited with my aunt and cousins (to commiserate after my uncle's death, see upthread for details) and they were all totally fine with my name change. They asked the standard questions, and we even got into the whole No Contact with my parents thing. I don't want there to be sides in this issue, it's my problem to handle. But they were talking like they were on my side, which was really validating! I love having blood relatives that treat me with respect.

I have some questions. I have some ideas on some possible answers, too. But I would welcome any feedback, help, suggestions.

As our Surviving vs. Thriving thread discussed, there is an inherent difference between surviving bad situations and actively seeking out situations that make us happy. (This can apply to work, home, love, friends.) My experience in my family of origin created a part of my personality that will make the best of any situation. Given a crappy boss, stressful work, antagonizing coworkers, impossible tasks, I will find a way to organize and streamline any tangled mess of a job. I know how to handle these things.

I was just fired from my last job for setting boundaries. I have various means of support that will last for a few months at least. To paraphrase Joe's Volcano, I know I can get a job. But how do I find a job that I want?

Right now, I'm spinning my wheels every day. I screw around on the computer, I take care of household tasks, I help my husband with algebra. There are large blocks of time. I could be doing anything. But what do I want to do? I recently posted on a social website that if you listen carefully, you can hear me trying to grow new brain cells. It's true! And slightly painful in the whole "not moving is now hurting more than movement will" way.

Has anyone else been through this? Any pointers? Right now I know that I'm flailing, and I feel really lazy for not just getting a temp or dishwashing job and getting to work. But I know that I need to figure this out first. What Do I Want To Do? (dammit)

It's never too late to figure out what you want. Right?

My best friend suggested that I write different projects on slips of paper and pick one out of a jar to work on every day. It's a good idea. I haven't done it yet.

Also, I have a really hard time differentiating between "projects that are household tasks that need to get done" and "stuff I can work on". I tend to think, oh, now I can get my filing done, and vacuum and wash dishes and then my enthusiasm naturally wanes and I end up watching hulu for two hours.

Thanks for listening. It helps to articulate the problems. I know that others have more pressing problems (no minimum dysfunction aside), and I witness and try to contribute when I can. This has been a blockade for me most of my life, and now I am being forced to look at it and fix it. Frustrating. Liberating. Exhausting.

#18 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2013, 09:26 PM:

Dimwit, I'm glad you survived and escaped.

On hope: What I like about the Park book is that it approaches hope as a thing to be practiced and worked at because hoping is one of the steps to fixing. But that gets into definitional arguments, and I don't want to say to anyone that if you only understood what I really meant by 'hope' you'd totally agree with me.

#19 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2013, 09:28 PM:

Replies to things in the previous post:

#935, Neil W:

Possibly. I was far from the only person in the office put off by this guy, and this was far from the only thing he did. The worst BS (that was directly related to me - I rarely dealt with him as he is a VP of something or other, but was a sympathetic ear to a few co-workers who did have to deal with him) was when he was complaining repeatedly to people not me: "Why doesn't Invisible do this corporate policy thing that I haven't and won't announce as a new policy? She does other corporate policy thing. I thought we were friends after she showed me how to work the back door! So clearly because we're friends she should be able to read my mind and know about this policy." (Note that other policy had been announced as policy shortly before he joined the company, so people who started following the policy after he started there were actually lagging, not reading his mind and intuiting the policy.) I finally started following the policy after I found out that several of my co-workers were getting seriously stressed out by this guy's complaints to them due to me not doing this new, uncommunicated policy. Which they weren't supposed to communicate to me. (And I don't always pick up on hints very well, so finally one of them did tell me outright, including what this guy was saying to them which I paraphrased above, and also told me not to tell the guy so they didn't get in trouble. Urgh.)

#938, hope in disguise:

so that I can continue to believe that I am interesting to them, that being where the real hard part is

Yeah, I have to rebuild those. The really annoying part is that I had been quite a successful tutor before meeting crappy ex, which *requires* being able to read how much the person you're talking to is understanding and retaining and just plain paying attention to. So you'd think I'd be able to recognize when somebody is interested and asking questions vs. not interested and making polite noises!

because he was totally being that guy

I kind of believed the whole thing about romantic relationships growing out of friendships thing at one point. Crappy ex actually asked, so he's a step more direct than That Guy, but he was the constant friend and we do everything together for a good bit of a year before asking. He also had a heaping helping of "nice guys finish last oh poor me". I've come to the conclusion that while it might be possible for romance to grow out of friendship, it can also be very bad.

I also feel out of place here. But we're posting anyway. Not alone yay?

Not alone yay! Not always feeling part of the group, but at least feeling welcomed. I think that's the best I usually have. There's a good chance that in my case a lot of that is me holding myself just on the edge of the group instead of the group not wanting me to be on the "in" side.

With people I care about, I do remember things like "going to New York this weekend" and then ask them about when they get back, and that seems a lot less intrusive than asking after their family?

I guess there's also the question of which people do I care about personally and which people do I get along with for work (or other group) who are perfectly nice people I just have no drive to interact with them outside of [group] topics but will happily do idle chat about whatever safe topic comes up.

what would you recommend for appropriate boundaries for casual acquaintances? I know that I have a tendency to share too much too soon

I'm still working on that myself. I have been told (by crappy ex, so I take this with a grain of salt) both that I overshare and that I play my cards too close to my chest. I did also have a discussion with crappy ex-sister-in-law which she later referred to as "bonding" and I had absolutely not thought of it that way.

So, hm. Still not sure if I'm unusually low-connection after interacting with somebody, or just lower than average, or the people who have done this to me are unusually high-connection after interaction. It's possible that I'm low-connection; feeling perpetually not a "real" part of the groups I interact and participate in seems like it could be a sign of that.

#20 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2013, 09:29 PM:

The Absent One @13 and Type A Toad @15: Yes. This. Hope is that deceptive thing that appears to offer help, a way out, a solution, and then snatches it away the way Lucy snatches the football from Charlie Brown. It's been like that for far more of my life than not (maybe 90, 95%); when things *are* going well and Hope shows her face, I don't dare trust in it, because almost Every. Single. Time. I have, that trust has gotten betrayed.

I've been known to say that the worst thing Pandora ever let out of that box of hers was the last one. *wry*

(I'm fairly good at maintaining a facade, not letting this particular thing show, because if I *do* let it out, I get all kinds of "your negativity is causing [x thing]" or "it can't be that bad" or "you should be all sunshine and butterflies and flying unicorns", and it takes me too many spoons to deal with that sort of crap.)

(No, things aren't horrible for me right now, but with fixed disability income, increasing disability, increasing medical costs, etc., I do not dare count on things staying at the level they are. It feels like a tightrope walk being performed by someone with severe balance issues over a very nasty abyss.)

(Actually, this week is the best I've had in - I can't even think how many years. Am grabbing onto that and saving all the memories I can...)

#21 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2013, 10:35 PM:

Jacque @931 last thread: I'm not expecting it all to be healed at once -- it took a couple decades to be inflicted, after all. But I do hope for a substantial chunk of progress to encourage me to keep going -- I had been rather stuck.

Also, the tattoo idea (see #928 last thread), having chosen a subject matter, seems to be suggesting its proper location (heart chakra, on the back) and art direction (something based on Tashi Mannox's "Emanate from Emptiness"). Since I haven't had one before and have wanted one a long time, but didn't because I wasn't sure what it should be, this is a big deal. I know this feeling -- it's a design coming together, this cascade of intuitive, happy decisions that fit/work. Like having your characters come to life when writing. I've still been doing checks to confirm the intuition, but so far, the subject, the art, and the location are all turning out to be the hunch or very close. Unless I decide to splurge on custom art from a Tibetan calligrapher...

#22 ::: dia ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2013, 11:00 PM:

#17 - knitcrazybooknut - "Has anyone else been through this? Any pointers? Right now I know that I'm flailing, and I feel really lazy for not just getting a temp or dishwashing job and getting to work. But I know that I need to figure this out first. What Do I Want To Do? (dammit)"

actually, I've always found that having time off is tremendously useful for determining What Do I Want To Do.

What are you interested in? What do you want to learn more about? What are you becoming an expert in, in your spare time?
There's your perfect job.

Who else can use that expertise?
There's your perfect employer.

Make your way to his/her door, and say, You do this. You need people who really care about this. I care. Hire me!

and, remember, it's not what you have done that matters -- it's what you can convince them that you will do for them that makes them bite.

at least that's what has worked for me.


#23 ::: Neon Fox ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2013, 11:50 PM:

So I got this friend, you know?

Maureen started dating her now-husband Brian while involved in an occasional-friends-with-benefits relationship with another man. Brian professed to be, as they say, OK with that, especially on the understanding that he was free to find a similar arrangement if he liked.

The relationship with the other guy ended, in an extremely suckful way, through no fault of either Maureen or him. Two years later, enter Ted. Ted made a pass. Maureen went to Brian and told him. He said sure.

A month and a half and one weekend assignation later, Maureen discovered that it wasn't OK after all. So there was a sit-down, and a talk, and rules were agreed upon.* Neat!

A few months later, it came to light that Brian still wasn't pleased, and felt that Maureen wasn't following the rules correctly. Another sit-down, another talk, clarification of rules.

Rinse. Repeat.

And again.

And again.

It has been about six iterations of this particular dance so far: Maureen says, "Hey, I've noticed that you're not happy about me going to see Ted", and Brian says, "Because you are not following the rules." And Maureen asks for clarification, and gets it, and follows those rules, only to be told no, that wasn't what he meant.

Maureen has about had it with this shit. Apparently there's some sort of issue with how the relationship with Ted started--it was too soon after the ending of the one with the other guy, and Brian feels like he wasn't adequately informed about how it was going to progress. And if that's the case, there's not much to be done; the beginning is poisoned and he's never going to be OK with it. Which would really kind of suck, because Maureen is not a person for half-measures and she's more than a little invested at this point, and also peeved that Brian is trying to guilt her into breaking up with Ted rather than using his big boy words on the matter.

It's...argh. I'm not sure where to go besides argh.

*: Some of these rules are, if you'll pardon the language, fucking bizarre. Like, no significant travel between November and March because Snow! And the peculiar idea that it was somehow Ted's job to talk to Brian, not Maureen's. (That one was nixed, but Brian wasn't pleased about it.)

#24 ::: LGB ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 12:33 AM:

This post is so, so timely for me. I'm sitting here, a little teary, thinking about surviving in my past-and-current situation and looking toward a new situation that I am very rapidly approaching, and the thing that bridges that gap, that holds my hand while I make this terrifying leap, is hope. Thanks, Abi.

Everyone, I'm reading and witnessing and wishing you all good things.

#25 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 01:06 AM:

Neon Fox (23) It looks to me like Brian wants to keep changing the rules. No matter what the rules are and no matter what kind of relationship they apply to, this is not at all good. It's too bad that Brian is the husband, because really, he's the one who should go away. Failing that, there are couples counselors who accept the notion of "open" relationships. If this marriage is going to last, it really looks like counseling is called for.

I/we had a somewhat similar situation sort of recently, and although the counseling didn't really work out, we did develop a way of negotiating that worked for us. I could probably find a copy of our "rules for difficult conversations", if your friend would be interested.

#26 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 01:17 AM:

Moonlit Night, I'm so glad you've found the right thing for your tattoo, and I was glad to hear that your retreat experience was so helpful. Just remember such experiences need to be re-upped every so often. ;)

#27 ::: Ross ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 01:36 AM:

To my regret, the last thread sort of got away from me. I couldn't keep up.

Something that I really hate about having grown up in a dysfunctional family: bubbles.

I haven't spoken to anyone in my family in years. Don't have anything to do with them actually. My depression is managed: I hardly ever spend all day locked in my room (so no one has to look at me) any more. I still have the odd panic attack but I'm getting better at recognizing and avoiding the things that cause them. I can, after much practice, recognize when I'm feeling an emotion and even which one. I can tell the evil little voices to shut up, I can relax around (some) people even.

And then every now and then something will bubble up from the past. An incident I haven't thought about in 20 years. Something that was totally normal up until I was 18 that I forgot about. Realizing something I was told when I was 8 was a lie. Anything.

Hiding from my grandmother for an entire day because I was tired of what I would later recognize as emotional abuse. Knowing never to be where my father could reach me in case he got bored and wanted to hurt me. Hiding gifts from my relatives because I wasn't allowed to let people spend money on me.

My best friend telling his mom that my father did drugs and hurt me, and having my mother convince her I was making it up. A couple years later, the same thing, when I told a day care monitor.

I am reminded of this stuff and it throws me right back, and once again I'm a scared kid hiding in my room, hoping no one will notice me, because being noticed means being hurt. And for a few days, the last three years of work doesn't matter. I'm afraid of everything again, I'm afraid of doing anything for myself, and it's a short hop from there to depression, again.

And as far as I can tell it will always be that way, because I don't even know what all the things are that happened that will randomly bubble up from my memories. I can get better, and be perfectly normal 99% of the time, and still I'm afraid to make plans, or commit to doing things more than a few days away, because what if I'm depressed again when the time comes? What if I volunteer to do something, help an open source project say, or write a website for someone, and I flake out on it again because I saw a web page about chess openings and it reminded me of, well, a story probably no one wants to hear?

PTSD is like that. No matter how much better you get, sometimes stuff bubbles up, and it probably will forever.

What were we talking about again? Oh yeah, hope.

#28 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 02:41 AM:

Actually, it's entirely possible that I have no clue what it's like. Probable, even. I've been down a few deep, dark holes, here and there, but my holes—and the me down in them—aren't going to be the same as anyone else's. That's one thing I always struggle with when I write posts for this community.

In particular, our private definitions for words vary. For instance, faith (for me) has always included a sense that things will get better. Scarlett O'Hara's "As God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again!" is faith. The "better times ahead" thing I murmur to myself when my SAD eats my joy is faith. But I know a lot of people would call that hope.

Hope is less firm and less articulate for me. It's the thing that lets me grimly put one foot in front of the other when I don't believe things will get better. It gets me out of bed when I doubt the day will be worth it.

But everyone who's still with us has made their emotional equations balance in different ways. Should I rewrite the post? Is it too exclusionary? Or is it useful to have something to bounce off against? Or is it sufficiently ignorable that the conversation can continue anyway?

Because the posts that start these threads aren't at all important in themselves. They're important for the conversations they start, define, enable and maintain, conversations which help people.

(But glinda, I'm glad it's being a good week. May it stretch out beyond a week...but in any case, every good day is an undiminishable thing.)

#29 ::: Oil-upon-the-waters ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 10:00 AM:

When I read somewhere else's original post, I recognized something I learned to call courage rather than hope. From Oath of Gold, third book in the Deed of Paksennarion:

"Courage is not something you have, like a sum of money, more or less in a pouch–it cannot be lost, like money spilling out. Courage is inherent in all creatures; it is the quality that keeps them alive, because they endure. It is courage, Paksenarrion, that splits the acorn and sends the rootlet down into the soil searching for sustenance. You can damage the creature, yes, and it may die of it, but as long as it endures, each living part has as much courage as it can hold."

I always thought that was a little easy, since we can lose hope / courage to the point of turning our face to the wall, but that there is a kernel of truth to just keeping on, regardless of what name we give it: hope, courage, endurance, sheer cussedness. For me, I call it stubbornness that keeps me from slipping back towards the crevasse I crawled out of.

My apologies to somewhere else if I am misinterpreting the original point.

#30 ::: Bricklayer ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 10:20 AM:

abi: Your 'faith' is my 'hope'; your 'hope' is my 'grit' (and I have barely any of it most of the time).

To me, faith is the sensation of certainty in (whatever), that it will endure forever amen. Usually there is no concrete evidence or proof of this that I can point to to 'convince' anyone else, but in the main I am not an evangelist so being unable to prove my faiths to be factual doesn't bother me.

For me, faith in different things is faith that they will do their thingness, not that all things are the same: I have faith in my house's ability to endure and enclose us, and in its constancy to do so indefinitely if humans don't screw it up. Thinking of families that might raise themselves in it sixty years from now comforts me.

I have faith in my dogs' attachment to me, and choose to hold faith with THEM in my responsibilities to hold my end of the relationship steady in ways that make comforting sense to their little dog minds.

I have faith in my world's ability to churn on being roughly the same, not turning into an apocalyptic dystopia overnight, and generally being fairly little influenced by my own rollercoastering emotions and life-choices.

Faiths are things I intuit to be true and stable.

Love is, to quote, when another's happiness is essential to my own. When my loves are cut, I bleed, even if they don't love me.

#31 ::: somewhere_else ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 11:05 AM:

Oil-upon-the-waters @29: Good question. The quote fits actually pretty well and I too called it stubbornness in the past. Only now that I have a broader understanding it made sense to me to describe it this way, as hope. The other definitions never worked for me and this "you have to believe it'll get better, hang on" as imperative has been at times deeply upsetting to me. Most likely because it was used by people who had no way of understanding how terrible the despair I felt truly was. I spent an entire year some years ago that way, hanging on just so, keeping on keeping on and that was pure stubbornness I think. But maybe courage to. Can one be courageous without feeling courageous?

Chickadee @11: I'm so glad to hear it! It made a tremendous difference once I managed to keep this up for a bit (btw. still working on this myself). Here is to milestones!

#32 ::: hope in disguise ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 11:44 AM:

the invisible one @19: There's a good chance that in my case a lot of that is me holding myself just on the edge of the group instead of the group not wanting me to be on the "in" side.

I am pretty sure this is at the root of a lot of me not feeling like I belong. That, and: I read somewhere it takes six months to assimilate socially into a group. Which feels like a very, very long time. Especially when it's very quick to reach a certain shallow level of connection with everyone, and then you perceive the deep connections that already exist between everyone else. So I find a vicious cycle there, of not feeling like I belong and therefore holding myself back, on the edges.


Hope is in my name. Hope is at the core of the name I use, every day, that I chose for myself in one of the most difficult parts of my life. I don't have faith in much of anything, except sometimes in Bricklayer's sense. My ability to love and be loved often feels broken, desperate, unreliable. But the one thing that I always can carry with me is a deep-rooted belief that things can and will get better for me, and that most people I know want to give, and deserve to receive, kindness. That wounds heal, or scar. That every season, every year, I am a little closer to who I want to be than I was before. That something will work out, even if it isn't the way I want it to.

At the same time, the most shattering moments in my life have been when hope was snatched away. Yet I persist. Relentless optimism in the face of a world that sometimes seems to grow darker every day is the only way for me to feel any motivation to make it better.

Hope is at the heart of me. But I would never tell anyone else that they must hope; I'll just witness, and silently ask the universe for a little more mercy.

#33 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 11:50 AM:

Abi, I liked the post, and, if I may, I'll do a little riff on it...

Hope was the LAST thing left in the box when Pandora let all the troubles there were and ever will be out of the box. And Hope had a hard time convincing Pandora to let her out.

Hope is what keeps you getting out of bed for one more day -- even if you don't realize that is what is keeping you moving and breathing. It's there, but if you keep it closed up inside you, you'll never feel it.

IMVHO, Emily Dickinson said it best:

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune--without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

#34 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 11:53 AM:

knitcrazybooknut @#17

I can't really offer any advice with the figuring out what you want to do - I've always had certainty (even if it subsequently got knocked out of me by hard, cold reality) replaced by other certainty as to what I *want* to do...

But I can offer advice for what you could do right now. I'm chronically underemployed (contributes to the depression something awful, sometimes...) but this does allow me to do things I couldn't do if I was fully employed. For example, this summer (having the spoons to do so! :) I volunteered at two organizations (an inner city one with a broad spectrum of services helping the homeless, and Habitat for Humanity) because both of these are very important to me, and if I can't contribute financially at least I'll contribute time. Both experiences were incredibly rewarding.

It might not help you to figure out what job to do, but it gets you out of the house and out of your head, and gets you doing something that brings light to other people's lives. Not to mention new skills (potentially - see Habitat builds) and potential contacts.

As always, ignore if hlepy.

somewhere_else @31: Thank you! It was especially important to me as I've been brought up with tired (or reluctant to do something) = lazy = worthless. Being able to say I'm not worthless = priceless.

#35 ::: Chickadee has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 11:54 AM:

Not much around the house to eat - off shortly to visit brand new nephew in [other city]! :)

#36 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 12:27 PM:

'Hope' is the quality which, if you lack it, you are 'in despair'. For some reason, if you have hope, the cynical view says that you are not seeing or experiencing reality, the world as it is, your true predicament. Whereas if you lack hope, if you despair, you are to be congratulated on coming to a correct, unvarnished view of your plight.

But without hope, how will you find the path to a better place?

#37 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 12:39 PM:

Thank you abi.

Faith, for me, is the virtue I haven't much of. Hope, on the other hand--hope has kept me functional. This is a hard time of year for me, still; I have a solid dread that I know is unreasonable and can't do much except wait until New Years. Hope to me is the "I have survived so far; this is survivable; and it doesn't look like it is going to get worse."

A loving wife and cchildren help; a good job helps; but it's still hope that says, maybe this time it won't go completely wrong.

And then this morning, I ran across this recording of a song I grew up singing--a prayer for God's support in insufferable (literally, unsurvivable) circumstances. (Warning: beautiful music, very disturbing woodcuts in the first 10 seconds or so, and the translation is really clunky.) It was a comfort.

#38 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 12:41 PM:

Knitcrazybooknut, would it be useful to take the time off, try a bunch of different things, be at rest, and then look at what you do when you don't have anything else to do? Priorities are what you do, not what you say you do, and a few weeks or months of data could be helpful. Even if all you learn is what you want to have time to do outside work, that's important.

My own stated priority is getting a realjob, but as the past months have shown, that is not a doing-level priority. I respond well to prodding in some directions, but I head other directions on my own. Which means somewhat retooling the jobsearch now that I've seen one single perfect job....

#39 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 03:59 PM:

abi @28 Should I rewrite the post? Is it too exclusionary? Or is it useful to have something to bounce off against? Or is it sufficiently ignorable that the conversation can continue anyway?

Useful for me to bounce things off, and/or I can deflect the parts that just don't work for me.

(This is pretty much a drive-by; I should be up for actual paying of attention on Sunday or Monday. I'ge got an out-of-town (out of *country*; he lives in Iceland!) visitor who bought us tickets for the Pacific NW Wagner Festival, a.k.a. The Ring, so all my spoons are going to that. He's been taking the ferry over to Seattle on the non-performance days, while I just crash. And I'm - not only not expected, but pretty much not allowed - to overdo, so it's like a real vacation, even though I'm home. Amazing.) (And I'm not arguing about it, which is even more amazing.)

#40 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 04:04 PM:

argh, I previewed several times, and there's still an awful tyop.

"I've", not "I'ge".

Sheesh.

#41 ::: St Monday ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 04:15 PM:

knitcrazybooknut @17 (& @925) I'm spinning my wheels every day ... There are large blocks of time. I could be doing anything.

Oh, I so hear you. I want to address this aspect of your post in particular, namely the day-by-day, hour-by-hour grind of freefall.

I lost my job at the end of 2006, and one thing I developed the following spring was to set a timer for 2 hour increments, and tackling only one task during each block of time. I mostly tried to keep the same tasks assigned to the same block each day whenever possible, but I never forced it.

This helped keep the day from seeming too long -- or, for that matter, too short -- and from any particular task from taking over. Scary, intimidating things didn't seem too much: it only gets two hours, then I move on. But I also applied it to "fun" stuff, or stuff I might otherwise feel guilty about for devoting any time to. Naps, reading, junky tv shows, whatever.

Early on, I found myself paralyzed when I thought I had to spend "all day" on something. And not just "odious" tasks, like cleaning the bathrooms, but even things I would otherwise enjoy. I was afraid I might get sucked into it and "lose" the whole day to sitting in a chair reading with a pot of coffee nearby. As a result, I found myself unable to to do anything. The two-hour-blocks gave me structure when everything else was in flux. Also, I found it easier to handle a stressful day out running around, job-hunting, etc, knowing I was never far from a recuperative, structured home-day.

My best friend suggested that I write different projects on slips of paper and pick one out of a jar to work on every day. It's a good idea. I haven't done it yet.

It is a good idea, which, depending on the sort of project, could dovetail with my 2-hour-block suggestion, e.g. 10am-noon is "pull it out of the jar" time.

I've been following these threads fairly regularly for the last few years but have never quite gotten up the courage to post. My own situation has been so fluid and shifting, and one of my main issues has been to anticipate my "inevitable" expulsion from any community I try to join, so why bother? Hey thanks, Family, for engineering that expectation and its all-too-frequent self-fulfillment...

These threads have been so strengthening as I have navigated my own shoals and shallows. Reading, witnessing.

#42 ::: somewhere_else ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 04:46 PM:

Something else I didn't expect: to cry so much. To feel as if my heart were full of stones and I dropped them by the wayside to mark my path, knowing that I won't be going back. So much grief for the parts I leave behind, no matter how necessary, it still hurts, knowing that every step I take takes me further away.

Working on the backlog:
Chickadee @34: I know, it's such a revelation! What you describe sounds familiar as well. It made a huge difference once I understood that needing to take a break or *gasp* to even take off a whole day didn't mean I was a complete failure.

Dash @929: That sounds hard and it is really difficult to figure out what to do next when one is completely swamped. *Hugs* if wanted.

Moonlit Night @928: As others already said, this sounds like a wonderful experience and I'm glad you got the chance to meet so many awesome people, develop new ideas and make new connections! I hope you get to enjoy more of this in the future!

the invisible one @923: Bloody hell, this sounds so familiar re: your co-worker and first impressions and all that stuff.
How do I signal to others that I'm open for testing the waters, but do not wish to spills my guts or become insta-best friends?

Jennifer Baughman @920: "Vertigo at apogee" is a great turn of phrase! If you don't mind expanding, in which context does it appear?

pericat @36: Yes to this! The despairing worldview seems so much more consistent and it so often is treated as the more "mature" or appropriate one. On the other hand I consider it a much greater challenge to retain my will to live in spite of this, to truly work for a balance. Looking for a counterweight to the despair and fear seems to go completely against my instincts.

#43 ::: Suzanne F ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 05:52 PM:

I tend to think of hope religiously, as a life preserver, something to hold on to in the storm, a fragment to shore against one's ruins.

But I also see the ways in which rejecting hope can be lifesaving, as in this Derrick Jensen piece.

#44 ::: St Monday visits the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 06:50 PM:

On my first post ever. I'm guessing it was either some punctuational contretemps, or an expression of gratitude (which, in context, was meant sarcastically). I can offer Their Lownesses some lemon shortbread cookies.

#45 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 07:58 PM:

St Monday, welcome. We look forward to reading posts that aren't gnoming announcements.

#46 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 08:18 PM:

St Monday -- that wasn't the gnomes. That is, your post didn't go to the moderation queue. It was Moveable Type anti-spam that grabbed you. If not for your Gnoming Announcement I wouldn't have known to look in the spam trap.

#47 ::: Dash ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 08:34 PM:

Working on catching up on the new posts in this thread; I forgot how fast things move when a new topic's just starting out.
In regards to hope, I'm a pessimist, so hope often isn't there for me. I'm more often plagued by hope's evil twin, worry- you hope that everything will work out, but you worry that it won't. And I worry rather than hope, even when there's little to worry about and everything to hope for. Definitely a trait I've inherited from my mother, though the exact mechanics of my inheritance aren't entirely transparent to my mind.
Things aren't really as bad as the last post might have made out; I wrote it in the middle of a crying fit. In fact, the writing pushed me from about-to-cry to actually crying- as an aside, I'm rather sick of this trend where discussing my issues brings them to the forefront, and I don't entirely buy my therapist's reframing of "It's like a fever, it has to get worse before getting better." I am still worried about the upcoming school term- there's that worrying again!- but I've gotten much of what I needed to do done. Additionally, I now have tuition insurance (I think I've referenced it, but basically, I get back 75% of the tuition cost if I have to leave school), though it doesn't cover having to leave because of suicide attempts or severe self-injury. My therapist is finally beginning to address the possibility of Asperger's, and though last session was fairly unhelpful and focused as much on the therapy itself as on my issues, it seems to be helping overall. I posted a link on a social network site about introversion, and my mother saw and seems to be understanding the information contained within. There's still stress and worrying, there's always stress and worrying, but things aren't really going too badly at the moment.

#48 ::: The Absent One ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 08:54 PM:

(Posted without taking the time to read everything first--a couple of items caught my eye:)

#16: I do have a source of strength; it's just not (what I consider) hope. Rather, it's what I call "sheer cussedness", the attitude of "by God, I am going to find a way to be happy!" (which seems to map best to Abi's "faith", what with the overtones of Scarlett O'Hara.)

I'm one of the "hope is the belief that things will get better" crowd. I try not to depend on it because, you know, those mountains in the distance just don't seem to get closer no matter how far I walk, and I've been walking for a long time now. Better to look back and see how far I've come--how far back the really screwed up "me" is--than to wait for the mountains to get bigger.

As to the others: "faith" I don't think I have anything but an intellectual definition of. I can't offhand think of anything in my life I'd apply it to seriously.

"Love": for most of my life, I simply avoided the word, because I had no idea what it referred to. (I long ago concluded that my mother didn't love me, my birth having been at a really bad moment in family history. In the current turn of phrase, I think she simply didn't have the spoons for it.) However, I've started using it: my (relatively recently acquired) stuffed animals have taught me something about it. (I don't know where they learned it, but they show it very well.)

#28: "It gets me out of bed when I doubt the day will be worth it."

Or, as I've seen it said, "Sometimes, just getting out of bed in the morning is an act of courage." I keep that in mind when the going is particularly hard, so I can give myself credit for apparently-modest acts of courage.

I don't think rewriting the post is needed, except maybe inserting "for me, ...".

Part of what led me to post my original comment was precisely to make it OK for other people to see--and write about--hope differently. The first "challenge to authority" is the hardest; I figured that by getting it done and over with, it would let others feel safe enough to chime in. I'm glad to see the post served its purpose in that.

#49 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 08:57 PM:

Dash @47, glad to hear that you are gradually making your way through the things that need to be done and that things are going okay at the moment. All good wishes that it continue so.

#50 ::: The Absent One ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 09:10 PM:

somewhere_else, #42: "So much grief for the parts I leave behind, no matter how necessary, it still hurts"

I don't recall where I ran across the idea first, but I've long taken it as given that grieving doesn't depend on what you've lost, only that you've lost something. "Bad" things you lose need grieving just as much as "good" things. Those stones you've dropped? They were your stones; they've been there for so long, and now they're not. Good or bad, they leave a void behind them, and part of dealing with the void is crying over what used to be there. (I've found on occasion the need to grieve over the loss of the emotional abuse I got growing up. However weird it sounds to people who haven't been there, it needs to happen.)

#51 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 09:30 PM:

I have to agree that the usual idea of hope (maybe this time it will all be good/perfect optimism) is a fickle ally. That kind of hope disappoints me more often than not, historically. But if I expect things to go badly to averagely, then I get to be delighted if they go well, for a net gain in mood. So mostly I do that and try not to care about other people teasing me for being a pessimist. It's easier when you're prepared for a not-great result.

But the idea presented in the seed post up top, is very different than how I usually think of hope. As if hope exists on a continuum between faith and endurance/persistence, and that just keeping going, one day or one step, counts just as much as really believing I'll win this next round. If that's so, then I've done a lot of endurance hoping, where I may not really believe that it will be better *this* time, but I do believe that it can get better eventually, and that if I don't play I can't win.

#52 ::: The Absent One ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 09:31 PM:

knitcrazybooknut, #13: "It's never too late to figure out what you want. Right?"

It better not be. My wants got buried early on, in the name of getting what approval I could from my parents. (See "having been born at a really bad moment", above.) Some decision I made a few years ago has resulted in them (slowly, oh so slowly!) surfacing. (And are some of them surprising! "I want that???")

My advice: if you don't need a job, don't get one. I dearly wish I could ditch mine so I'd have the time to find out--and experiment with--what I want. Fitting that in around a job is something I'm still trying to figure out how to do.

#53 ::: The Absent One ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 09:56 PM:

dia, #22: What are you interested in? What do you want to learn more about?

Unfortunately, this question assumes that you already have an answer. Not all of us do. The Ways of Dysfunction are many and varied, and one of them is "have no clue what you want". If you survived childhood by ruthlessly burying such knowledge, you have to first remember where you hid it all those years ago, and then put in the work of excavating it again. My guess is that knitcrazybooknut, who has "large blocks of time", but no idea what to fill them with probably is as clueless about her (I assume is the correct pronoun) wants as I am about mine.

What are you becoming an expert in, in your spare time? There's your perfect job

Not necessarily. I had an interest, which I ended up diving into the program of at the local community college. Stuck my fingers in about every aspect of it I could. What I eventually discovered was that it wasn't my perfect job. But it took actually doing it--being interested, learning more about it, becoming expert in it--for me to find that out. Sometimes, what you find out is, "well, I guess that's not for me afer all".

#54 ::: Finny ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 11:21 PM:

Sometimes, letting go is for the best. The two bunnies I inherited upon my mother's death last year will be better taken care of by people who have the ability to do so. I barely have the spoons for me. And myself and the husband will be better, some, without the violent and unending allergies caused by the bunnies' hay, which they cannot go without. Doesn't mean it isn't harder than heck to let them go, though. Taking care of them is all she ever asked of me. And finding them a new home is taking care of them to the best of my ability. I just wish it felt like it, rather than the complete failure as a person and pet owner that it does feel like.

#55 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 11:41 PM:

Great. The housemate I've been having trouble with for months has now managed to poison the good-rollercoaster weekend by telling me that she didn't see me doing any camp chores and therefore I can't have done any and I am a bad person for not having helped. Just what I needed.

Clearly, our clean kitchen and lack of dirty dishes is just an illusion -- she wasn't supervising me, so it can't be real.

#56 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 12:24 AM:

#17, knitcrazybooknut:

I know I can get a job. But how do I find a job that I want? [...] I could be doing anything. But what do I want to do?

Tough questions.

On the job side, I was kind of in the opposite position when I was let go from my previous job.

But when I was freshly alone after crappy ex, there was a lot of spinning my wheels and not knowing what I wanted to do now that my days weren't defined by working around him.

Some of the things that I found helped when spinning my wheels:

* making sure that the things I was doing included fun stuff. It didn't have to be identity-defining, it didn't have to be What I Want To Do Forever. It just had to be something fun that day, from reading a book on the grass in the park, to trying a new activity (volunteering included) to see if I'd like it. (Some stuck. Most didn't. That's ok.)
* taking some time off. This applied both to the job and the relationship; longer for the relationship because there was both rest and healing that needed to happen. But rest after the job was needed too.
* if you've got the resources, don't just grab any temp job. They steal energy that you need for the job search (and for the self search). (Obviously if you don't have the resources, keeping yourself with food and housing is important so that temp job will be a lot more necessary.) I was fortunate that my unemployment cheque plus my savings mostly kept me afloat enough until I found a job.

Also, I have a really hard time differentiating between "projects that are household tasks that need to get done" and "stuff I can work on". I tend to think, oh, now I can get my filing done, and vacuum and wash dishes and then my enthusiasm naturally wanes and I end up watching hulu for two hours.

Well if all your things to do are chores, I'm not at all surprised that enthusiasm wanes.

#47, Dash:

In fact, the writing pushed me from about-to-cry to actually crying- as an aside, I'm rather sick of this trend where discussing my issues brings them to the forefront, and I don't entirely buy my therapist's reframing of "It's like a fever, it has to get worse before getting better."

I lost count of how many times posting here has got me crying. Remembering something that upset me in the moment gets me just as upset days later. Months later. Years later, sometimes.

I find it makes it really hard to talk about whatever the problem is - partly because I get upset all over again and I can't talk when I'm crying because my throat closes up, and partly because some people then react to the current upset-ness, and not the previous thing that was upsetting, so the upsetting thing doesn't get dealt with. Or something. I still haven't got it all straight in my head, so some of the patterns I've seen so far may not be useful in figuring out a way through.

I will say though, that when the counsellor I was seeing tried the whole thing with feel your feelings, it gets worse then better, go through and out the other side ... well, it just kept getting worse, until it seemed like there was no better. So maybe that works for enough people that counsellors and therapists keep using it, but I never found the bottom after which it supposedly got better and frankly I don't want to. I didn't know enough at the time (nor did I have enough self-awareness or self-esteem) to tell her that this was counterproductive in a big way and it had to stop. I'm still a little leery of therapists because of that. (And a few other things.)

My strategy that seems to mostly work for myself has been to distract myself with shiny things (in my case, very often science news and the shiny new ideas set on display there, because shiny new ideas make me happy) until I can think straight, then work on building ... um, something. That will hopefully help me resolve the problem that made me upset. Still working on this part; but the distraction part works quite well.

As far as posting here, it took a while but I have learned to let the tears come as they may because this stuff hurts, tears can be appropriate. I just try to make sure I don't have to deal with anybody for a little while afterward, because if somebody asks if I'm upset because my eyes are still a little puffy and red, well, that tends to yank the tears up again. (Really frustrating.)

#57 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 08:19 AM:

Finny @54, providing a good home for the bunnies is all your mother wanted from you. By finding them a new home, you ARE providing a good home for the bunnies. Being allergic to hay does not make you an evil person. (I know someone who had to give up her cat because of allergies. She wasn't evil, either.)

Please don't doubt yourself. You're doing the right thing for yourself AND for the bunnies.

(Hugs if wanted.)

#58 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 08:22 AM:

St Monday 'way back @41, welcome out of the moderation queue!

That 2-hour-block thing might be useful for my aimless weekends, too; I don't function well with unstructured time.

Thank you.

#59 ::: Bricklayer ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 09:27 AM:

Something that I've done for a very long time to combat depression may help other people. I started doing it before I saw Pollyanna, but it maps very well to her father's "Glad Game": I am a determined, cussed optimist.

When I am, for example, in a car and some jackhole zooms past me in the shoulder of the congested freeway, or cuts me off at a light, or whatever, I take a breath and think, "Y'know, I bet he's having a worse day than me. Glob only knows what he's racing to do; I hope it goes well for him."

The first place I learned the technique was when my mom was working as an office manager for a ... well, I could call them a 'church' except they didn't get into God at all. Their view was to sell you personal growth tapes and seminars to help you find your better self and be at peace, etc, so you could succeed in life. At home, she mocked their quackery, but in our family we've always had something of a superstition around ill-wishing, in the sense that cursing someone (even in your own mind) may redound to you in negative ways.

So when she learned the phrase "Bless them out of your life" from the not-church she was working for, we all accepted it wholeheartedly as half a game and half a way to reassure ourselves we weren't illwishing. It relates to the Fiddler on the Roof joke: "May G*d bless and keep the Czar ... far away from us."

For example: I was working with someone who made my life a hell. It was very tempting to grumble under my mental breath at her all the time and envision punching her teeth so far down her throat (insert extended metaphor here). However, it was fun and kind of virtously satisfying to instead imagine she might meet the LOVE of her LIFE through the MBA program she was taking, and think how convenient it would be if that LohL was from, say, Brussels, so that when they both graduated she could move there with him to get an influential position working for the EU. AND NEVER BOTHER ME AGAIN. Some days she was up-in-my-face enough that I extended the fantasy to her three upcoming genius beautiful children and all the things they excelled at in high school. In Switzerland. While their mother had lovely ski vacations. FAR AWAY FROM ME.

Similarly, I will often go to what my friends think are absurd lengths to devil's-advocate a potential explanation for (insert annoying corporate or personal behavior here) that MIGHT make the actor justified and non-evil, non-lazy, non-stupid in their own minds.

Even if I don't think they're LIKELY, it short-circuits the initial nasty snarl of an emotional reaction that seems to be spinal reflex in my family. :-/

(now if only I could work on doing that aimed at MYSELF it would be nice; oh well, baby steps)

#60 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 09:32 AM:

Several people here (and in the other DFD threads) have mentioned weeping. We've taught ourselves to see tears as a sign of weakness in modern Western society--I don't think it's an accident that "crying like a baby" is one of the first comparisons that comes up when we talk about someone weeping.

Earlier this week one of my co-workers had to have a boil lanced. It was a pretty big one, and she's a diabetic, and so that seemed like the best course, rather than more moderate treatments. It was Not Fun, needless to say, although on a general scale of Not Fun Things it was way below floods and house fires. But, as they say, it needed doing.

Back when medicine was taught with a lot more Latin than it ususally is nowadays, there was an aphorism: "Ubi pus, ibi evacua"--where there's pus, clean it out. Maybe that's what those tears are--sort of the emotional equivalent of clearing out the damage from an infection. Back before reliable antibiotic treatments, a wound might need to be drained and cleaned more than once. Dreadful for the patients, but necessary.

If it would help anyone to think about their tears as a way of cleaning their wounds, rather than a sign of their weakness, this suggestion is yours for the taking.

#61 ::: hope in disguise ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 09:40 AM:

Bricklayer @59, I really like that. I also do the devil's-advocate thing, and once managed to make a particularly cynical friend admit that trying to understand where your opponent is coming from has one potential use: if you pander to their point of view in your phrasing, which requires understanding where they're coming from, they're more likely to actually listen to you and have a non-zero chance of changing their mind. Whereas if you make them feel defensive, they'll never actually hear you. This works much better in intellectual arguments than when I actually have a stake in the discussion, mind you.

I injured my wrist on Monday night, and was struggling with the question of whether to take work off again today - after all, it only barely hurts if I do X movement, but also I was going to have a six hour shift of doing exactly the kinds of movements that were triggering the worst pain when it was actively aching on Tuesday. In the end I decided to take care of myself and not jeopardize my ability to work next week, but now feel as though I have to be productive at home to make up for it. Maybe I'll try the two-hours thing. :)

#62 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 11:38 AM:

I recently found a local mutual help group for something that I'm not going to specify because it's a very raw topic for me. There's a trained leader (non-professional).

The group looks like it could be valuable for me. The problem is that it's a part of life where I have much worse difficulties than most people, so members of the group are being encouraging, and that isn't working well for me, emotionally speaking.

Part of the situation is that I feel like I don't need to have other people motivate me. In a sense, I've been working on this stuff for thirty years or more, and I certainly only did it because I have a strong desire to do so.

Part of it is that after the first few people, it was getting repetitious. Are they saying things that actually make emotional sense, or is it just habitual repetition of what is usually said?

I just kind of let it wash over me. I don't blame them for not noticing, since practically no one can read me when I'm shielding.

And I was praised for my courage. I don't think I know what courage means-- from the inside, showing up at the group is more like fighting past internal reluctance, and then I do whatever.

Writing about how hard it is to deal with being encouraged is a lot harder-- takes a lot more courage-- than showing up at the group. I've been putting off writing about it for days, and this isn't the same as dealing with it with the people involved.

It's possible that I'd be better off if I could absorb being encouraged, and I don't want to make them worried about talking to me about this stuff at all.

I think I'd be better served by hearing them talk about what they're dealing with.

My tentative preferred policy would be to say that being encouraged by three people per meeting is enough.

Has anyone else had problems with being encouraged? Any suggestions about what's going on at my end? Or a tactful way to deal with this? Another possibility is showing up and letting the encouragement fall as it may.

As for hope, I had a good day a couple of weeks ago-- much better mood than usual and more ability to do things-- and it seemed as though I'd had no hope at all in the past in the sense of not having a clear vision of how I wanted things to be better. This may be an idiosyncratic use of "hope", though.

#63 ::: ma larkey ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 11:39 AM:

I have a lot of difficulty talking about hope. The very word has been used against me, as a measure I will never meet, a value I will never be equivalent to, in the abusive family I recently escaped from. For example: genetic donor wrote to me that hir was sorry that of all the offspring I was the one most prone to despair in spite of being named *a word for hope*.
The thing with my having grown up in a very abusive atmosphere is that good things can feel very much like bad things, or if an abuser suggests something that is positive or even good for me, the deeper self loathing that has been implanted by years of abuse kicks in and my dysfunctional reaction is to go the other way just so that I can feel that I am resisting the abuser. It's a very tricky, insiduous thing, something that I am sure abusers are aware of on some primitive level. The mouth says one thing but the heart says another. Be well, the abuser says, take care of yourself. But inside, the message is that you are not worthy of care and you are selfish if you try to be well without staying in this abusive situation.

So yeah, ironically, being told to hope is one of my triggers. Hate hate hate it, even if in its true spirit, feeling that something is going to change, that the utter suffering will pass, is something that is a luxury that I aspire to, much like the Little Match Girl held on to those blazing matches and died in the cold. Perhaps that is all I can long for, that moment of believing that the bad tide will turn, better days will come and the pattern will hold.

I have good days and bad. I forget important things, like where I put my meager cash, or what my passwords are, or even what my own phone number is---but also, the forgetting things has led me to adapt by trying to be present and just be okay with the little that I can still do in the moment of slippage.

Bad news. Abusive genetic donor has written to tell me that a (retrieval operation) is in place, implied, rather, in the form of a "visit" to "talk". Hah, if said person wanted to talk, there's the phone, there's email and there's video-calls over the internet and said person has used none of these things to really meaningfully address issues of broken trust, my need to separate and stay separate, etc. I am frightened because on the long term, I am not going to get any better. I don't have friends nearby who can hide me, or host me, or even take phone calls in the middle of the night, and no, I am not going to allow myself to hope for those things because hope is a luxury, as I said. For the long haul, for me to expect the universe to take care of me? Often that sounds like bunk. An utter lie. And a selfish, entitled reaction.

On the other hand? I am trying my best to row in the other direction and just be grateful for the help I receive and kind to myself because no one else will do these unpleasant things and part of a being a grown-up is NOT complaining. Even if I just let myself complain on this very thread. About hope. So much for that.

Good news, I was approved for a complete discount at the financial aid section of a nearby hospital, and was seen by a county social worker and nurse, and have fingers crossed that an appropriate medical consult with a specialist will take place soon. It could take up to six months though I am hoping it happens sooner. There's that word again. I use it as a verb or a noun sometimes, but gack, when it is something that feels like glurgey lie-filled hlep, that's no good is it.

Also, trying to safety plan into place, but also very aware of how there isn't anywhere I *can* hide at the moment. Not yet. So I don't know.
Plus it may be better for me long-term to just make nice. (yes, I know how terrible that sounds, but if you were in my place, you'd know how it is.)

#64 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 11:54 AM:

fidelio @60: I do try to see tears as wound-cleaning, but sometimes it seems as though there is no end to them -- a bottomless well of pain -- and that trying to clear it out just makes me unable to do anything else. I'm not sure which is true, or if they are both true in different circumstances. I wonder how much of it has to do with whether the event is over with/closed, emotionally. Is it a healing wound, or a festering trauma?

For me this ties into the question/problem of forgiveness, letting go, acceptance, etc. Forgiving requires the person who inflicted the pain to repent and offer amends. "Letting go" or "accepting" often twist themselves into "let the bastards get away with it" even though I can tell that wasn't the intent of the speaker. A real offer of forgiveness cannot be expected from the worst offender, and the second option of letting them get away with it is not acceptable. I have been having trouble finding a good phrasing, a good description for the third option that I know people are trying to suggest. The closest I have been able to get is for the past to be dead and peacefully decomposing instead of shambling around as a zombie. And whatever it is needed to get the past to that state, it has to be something that *I* can do without having to also erase or approve of the original injustice.

#65 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 11:56 AM:

Just so you know, ma larkey, I have a futon (and cats, if allergies are a problem). I live in Pittsburgh, so I don't know how helpful that is, but I am more than willing to offer a place to hide if you need it.

#66 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 12:49 PM:

Continuing me from #56, I just realized that my comment about letting the tears come as they may while writing here sounded a lot like staying with the pain that (supposedly) gets worse before it gets better, even though I'd just said that didn't work for me.

So I thought I should clarify a bit. (Also, I thought about it and realized why it works for me, and wanted to write it down for my own reference.)

In my case, I find that simultaneously holding two contradictory ideas about this particular community lets me handle getting upset and crying without falling deep into the bottomless pit of feeling like a worthless piece of crap, which is where I go in the "stay with the feeling" thing.

First, that this is just words on a screen; there is no person in front of me that I am dealing with. There is no expectation that I will be able to speak aloud and there is no sense that the other person is getting upset because of my upset-ness. (Crappy ex was bad for that. He couldn't handle me being upset and I needed to not be upset even when he had done something to make me upset. Because then he felt bad and blamed it on me.) I only have to put in words what is upsetting me, and not try to deal with all the other things that compound, multiply, and magnify. Nobody is waiting impatiently for me to stop crying so I can talk, nobody is pushing me either to hide or to hold on to the pain, because it's just me, typing words on the computer. My focus can remain on the words and the explanations. The tears come, and my nose gets plugged up, and I get a headache, but because I'm not being distracted by a shifting of focus to my upset-ness and other people's reactions to it and judgments of it, the crying can stay at that level and not keep getting worse, and I can write through whatever the problem is that's making me upset.

Second, that there are real people here who believe me instead of dismissing my pain as over-reaction, who don't tell me I'm not having a certain reaction, who don't tell me my reactions are inappropriate. And, who don't know I've been crying unless I say so. Who are not reacting to the fact that I'm upset, but who are reacting to what I'm upset about. That there are real people here who I can trust to have suggestions that might work instead of suggestions that start with the first step of denying that the problem exists.

The tears-as-pus cleaning metaphor is, to my mind, just another phrasing of going through, it'll get worse before it gets better.

Tears are something that happen. They are not a virtue, or cleansing, or anything positive to me. I count myself lucky that I've managed to construct a mental state in certain situations (aka, here) where they are not wetting the slope down into the bottomless pit.

#67 ::: the invisible one visits the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 12:51 PM:

Hello, gnomes! I only have a couple of pieces of fresh fruit to offer, but you are welcome to sample them.

#68 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 12:54 PM:

Ma larkey, I had worried about you while you were gone. If your middle-of-the-night phone calls are for support and courage or to have someone listening in real time, my work doesn't start until the 21st and I'm free every night but Saturday. This is not meant to pressure you or make you feel that you if you don't take advantage of this, you must not really want, need, or deserve support from any venue. I don't know what you're looking for in a phone call, so I won't assume anything about you or your situation if you choose not to contact me at any point. There are probably professional options for what you're looking for, too, and they may be more helpful.

My email's my username at gmail.

Abi, if this is inappropriate, please redact it.

#69 ::: the invisible one, gnomed twice ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 01:22 PM:

How odd, the gnomes held both my post and the one after it saying so. Not sure what word of power the latter could have been.

#70 ::: eep ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 03:58 PM:

Hi all! Still reading and witnessing, even if I've fallen hopelessly behind in trying to respond again. I'm a lurker by nature, and to be otherwise is always an uphill battle. I'll read something, and my immediate response is an untidy jumble of emotions/images/memories. By the time I manage to sort out the mess in my head and distill it into words, it often feels like the conversation has moved on. Especially when finding spoons and wrangling with the internal censors are factored in. But I'm witnessing, and wishing for the best for everyone, and grateful for the ongoing conversation, even if I'm doing a poor job of being a part of it.

On the topic of hope, count me as another ambivalent party (which is not to say that I would want anything changed about your original post, Abi). I guess, as I define it, the opposite of hope would be despair, and they aren't mutually exclusive. I suppose I've never lost my very last shred of hope, since I do continue more-or-less to put one foot in front of the other. But as a whole, despair has far outweighed hope for me. And when I look back now at those few times in my life when hope was prevailing in any appreciable amount, I can only cringe, because I know what came after.

Nancy Lebovitz @62: Has anyone else had problems with being encouraged? Any suggestions about what's going on at my end? Or a tactful way to deal with this? Another possibility is showing up and letting the encouragement fall as it may.

I have some pretty strong knee-jerk reactions to encouragement (often, though not always). I think, in my case, that there are several possible factors. (1 )The way praise and criticism were handled by the people who raised me (there were three--two parents and a grandparent). It was a carrot-and-stick sort of arrangement, where criticism was specific, except when it was backhanded, and praise was generic, syrupy and code for You Should Be This Way. (2)In grade school, when my tormenters wanted something that I had, they would pretend to be nice ("I'll be your best frie-e-end"). And I knew better than to believe it, but I was so isolated, and so ill-versed at having boundaries, that I always gave in eventually. And then got into trouble at home for having lost whatever thing it was that they'd wheedled away. (3)I have a difficult relationship with expectations/commitments, where the whiff of a hint of these things will cause me to react like a claustrophobic about to be buried alive. (I think this is also tied to my complete inability to set boundaries, kind of like how someone who is immuno-compromised would need to be extra-careful about exposure to germs.)

So for me, encouragement--no matter the actual intent--runs the risk of feeling like "You Should", or "I expect this of you now," which are wired back to (1) and (3), and it also runs the risk of triggering my Why Are They Being Nice To Me alarms, because of (2).

I don't know if any of those ring any bells in your case, and unfortunately, I've not come up with any particularly useful coping strategies. :/

#71 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 03:59 PM:

OK, I've edited the post to make it more, um, self-centered? all about meee? Less hlepy.

I apologize for having written it otherwise, and pushed a bunch of buttons. I could plead jet lag, but really, I just didn't do a very good job of serving the community. (I'm not upset, and I'm not treating this as a grave sin, so don't worry about my emotional state. But it's an important thing to get wrong, and an important thing to make right.)

#72 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 05:04 PM:

abi @71: I could point out that the very fact that people felt they could comment on what aspects of your original posting didn't work for them, without fear of being told they were wrong, having a pile-on get started or anything is indeed proof that you have, and continue to, serve this community well...

#73 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 05:06 PM:

fidelio @60: One thing I find interesting about reading Homer is that the Iliad and the Odyssey predate the rise of Stoicism. Homer's heroes feel intense emotions...and they express them by weeping and moaning, in extreme cases even by falling down to the ground and rolling around in the dirt. That paragon of warriors, Achilles, does a great deal of crying: he cries at feeling dishonored by Agamemnon, he cries for Patroclus, he cries at the thought of his father back at home without a son to defend him. And there is nothing at all in either the narration or the other characters' reactions that suggests any of this is in any way less than manly.

#74 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 05:20 PM:

the invisible one @56: the counsellor I was seeing tried the whole thing with feel your feelings, it gets worse then better, go through and out the other side [...] So maybe that works for enough people that counsellors and therapists keep using it

Ahem, yes, well. What feeling your feelings is supposed to do is lead you to the information within yourself that you need to deal with the problem. As an example, I had a contratemps with a friend some years ago. Coming away from it, I felt weird. Not bad, just weird. But the feeling wouldn't let me go, and through the course of the evening, the feeling stayed with me, and got stronger and stronger, until I realized I was getting angry. And got angrier. (Which was weird, because usually, after a conflict, the discomfort lingers for a while and then goes away.) Went to bed, couldn't let go; reviewing the contratemps over and over in my mind—until I finally spotted something zie said that, when pulled out and examined, really hacked me off. And then it took me another half hour to figure out why it hacked me off. Then, >POP< the anger went away.

So that's a case of when sticking with the feeling is a worthwhile approach. But there are often feelings that are unpleasant that can't be pegged to anything in particular. It's not until after one can identify the experience that's producing the feeling, and why, and then develops the skill / gains the insight / has a clue what to do about the experience that sticking with the feeling becomes productive. Until then, there's no virtue in hurting for its own sake. It becomes like hitting your head with a hammer because it feels so good when you stop. Before one has something to do with the feeling, its virtue lies mainly as a clue to some deeper issue one is struggling with.

That said, being able to feel one's feelings (good or bad) is a prerequisite for experiencing the good parts of life, too.

So unless a therapist can give me more than, "just feel your feelings and it'll (somehow, magically) get better," I would be disinclined to trust their judgement on the subject.

but the distraction part works quite well.

Feels bad feeling. "Hm. What's driving this?" Bad feeling continues. Peeks under rock. Bad feeling continues. Lifts up carpet. Bad feeling continues. "Okay, not getting anywhere. Need to do something in order to feel better / more functional. Oo! Shiny!" In other words, Ur Doin It Rite.

fidelio @60: Maybe that's what those tears are--sort of the emotional equivalent of clearing out the damage from an infection

Sorry I don't have any cites to offer, but I believe there is some scientific basis for this idea. Like (for example) tears are a way of flushing cortisol out of your bloodstream.

I'm not bashful at all about crying. I do try to avoid doing it in public, simply because my fellow mammals react to it by stressing, themselves, and I don't want to deal with the whole conversation that goes along with explaining what I'm on about. But when I feel the need and am otherwise unincumbered, I don't hold back, any more than I would refrain from going to the restroom when I needed to.

Nancy Lebovitz @62: Has anyone else had problems with being encouraged?

Yes, actually. It feels, somehow, patronising. I think the root of it, for me (which realization I've only actually come to this very minute), is that it can be in the nature of trying to get me to feel something I'm (presumably) not already feeling. Like, "you should feel good about what you're doing / what you've accomplished." The operative word here being "should." I react very badly to that, never mind how well intentioned.

Encouragement that does work for me is of the more sincere, straight-up reaction variety: "Oh, that's a neat idea!" "Say, that really helped! Thank you." "Huh. It's nice to know that can be done!" Or even, "here's how I dealt with that issue...."

I think I'd be better served by hearing them talk about what they're dealing with.

Yes, me too. In that way it's more a matter of sharing experience, tips, and tricks, as we do here.

Moonlit Night @64: For me this ties into the question/problem of forgiveness.... I have been having trouble finding a good phrasing

The single prerequisite for forgiveness for me is: "Am I safe from the [abuse]?" If the answer is yes, then I can forgive, and often do without even realizing it. If no, then forgiveness is not available, because it wouldn't be safe. Sometimes safety comes when I learn how to deal with that kind of threat. Sometimes, it's when the perpetrator acknowledges their wrongdoing in a truly mindful way. On the occassions when forgiveness has happened, the past becomes...just another item in the library of experience. But it's not something I "do," as seems to be implied by much of the popular wisdom on the topic.

the invisible one @66: the bottomless pit of feeling like a worthless piece of crap, which is where I go in the "stay with the feeling" thing.

If it helps any, my approach to "stay with the feeling" is: "What's this about?" "What's driving this?" "What did I experience that started me feeling this way?" What's tricky is that, especially on the first few rounds, the driving Thing can be either very deeply buried, or zips past too fast to be seen, or is simply something I haven't been equipped to see, before. Like I said, if I poke at a bad feeling and can't get it to release or unpack, I let it go for the time being. I only press forward if I start discovering things as a result, and then mostly because it becomes really interesting.

the crying can stay at that level and not keep getting worse, and I can write through whatever the problem is that's making me upset.

Yes: this. This is what they really mean when they say "stay with the feeling." But they may not fully understand that this is what it's for. (In which case, they shouldn't be counselors, but that's a whole 'nother rant.) And, for the record, this is generally not something I'm willing to do while being supervised.

Gonna lick the flap and send this off before we have another toxic spill scare. ("What? No, not your building. The other building. ::sigh::)

#75 ::: Dan Lewis ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 05:46 PM:

My hope story:

Hope is an island of sanity in my DF. My son is on the autism spectrum, now 8, and still learning and growing. He can speak and read and cry and hug, but not quite like everyone else. For a while it was doubtful he would even do that. Before his diagnosis, he was slow to gain language. His first word was dada. His second word was light. And that was all, for a long time. Each new major milestone he has crested (mama, I love you, abcs) has brought with it the worst fear of all: what if this is as good as it gets?

I didn't have the same aspirations for my son before he was born that I do now. Mere independence seems like an impossible dream, even if I can imagine my way there.

In our family, my wife tends to pessimism, and I tend to optimism. Not because I always believe the best will happen. But I want to work toward it instead of working away from the worst. Better to aim at the stars, better Socrates dissatisfied.

I haven't received any promises from God for his future. I pray for my son to be strong, healthy, smart, wise, kind, loving... in ascending order. If he can only be loving, at the end of the day I will consider that job well done. But like faith in a God who is silent, I have hope for a future that is covered by clouds.

#76 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 07:23 PM:

knitcrazybooknut@17 I like Martha Beck's book The Joy Diet. ("Diet" as a variety of things you take in, not specifically related to food.) She works through a series of steps on learning to listen to yourself and recognize what you really like to do (not what you think you should like, or have to do.) It was really helpful to me at a point when the obligations of daily living had made me unaccustomed to asking myself, what do I want to do right now? For something more focused on career decisions, you might like this career choice matrix as an organizing framework. It's aimed at students but the general principles are sound.

Nancy Lebovitz @62, I think Jacque @74 has it - too much generic encouragement is like telling you how to feel. "I was in a similar situation and it's worked out" can be helpful (as long as it isn't turning it into All About Me). "I see these qualities in you that will get you through" can be helpful. But "Cheer up, it will all work out" seems really annoying. Perhaps because it was your first time at the support group, everyone felt like they needed to say something to you, and if you become a regular it will become a more normal dynamic.

#77 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 08:08 PM:

#62, Nancy Lebovitz:

Has anyone else had problems with being encouraged? Any suggestions about what's going on at my end? Or a tactful way to deal with this?

I definitely have problems with being encouraged. What Jacque said pretty much pegs it for me too; I usually call it "manipulative" but as that has a raft of other connotations maybe calling it "don't tell me what I should be feeling" would get the point across to those who are certain they're not trying to manipulate me by offering what they see as encouragement.

Even stuff as simple and innocuous as a group run coach shouting completely generic encouragement doesn't work for me. It's one reason I stopped doing the group runs out of my local store, as valuable as they were in the early learning phase. However: there was one coach there who would run beside each person for half a minute, offer a specific comment, then move on to the next person. That was FANTASTIC encouragement because it wasn't "encouraging", it was a comment on what works, what doesn't, something to try so it works better.

So in that vein, maybe it could work for you to suggest to this group what I will suggest to any coach I work with in the future - please don't offer encouragement that isn't extremely specific. I would rather silence than a "you're doing great!" not connected to anything. If there is the trust and personal connection that allows you to explain that it interacts badly with your actual internal motivation, then do so as well if it feels right. (I tend to not tell my boss, for example, that I'm an absolute sucker for a genuine "thank you, that was really helpful", because then I start seeing all instances of thanks as a ploy to hit my motivation buttons and it becomes anti-motivation.)

#63, ma larkey:

part of a being a grown-up is NOT complaining

Is it really? I think that when something bad happens, complaining is a reasonable thing to do.

Perhaps part of being a grown-up is knowing when and where to complain. (You absolutely can complain here. Even if the thread title is "Hope".) But not being able to say, to somebody, some time, that something bad is happening? That sounds to me more like a toxic script than part of being a grown-up.

I don't have friends nearby who can hide me, or host me

Do you have friends far away who can hide you or host you that you just can't get to?

Because - I travel a lot for work so I have airline points coming out of my ears. I could get you there, if you had a "there" to go to.

#73, David Goldfarb:

Interesting, I may have to find that copy of the Odyssey I started way back in high school and never finished, and see if I can get through it this time. I'm a different person now, so maybe, maybe not.

#74, Jacque:

So unless a therapist can give me more than, "just feel your feelings and it'll (somehow, magically) get better," I would be disinclined to trust their judgement on the subject.

That's more or less what the counsellor handed me. There wasn't a lot of working toward the cause of the bad feelings and a lot more of working on making the expression of them go away. That was what I said I needed. Happens I was wrong; something about crappy ex having me believe that me feeling bad was my fault and the problem instead of a normal reaction to being treated like crap.

Sorry I don't have any cites to offer, but I believe there is some scientific basis for this idea. Like (for example) tears are a way of flushing cortisol out of your bloodstream.

I've heard that too. Given the splitting headaches I get from crying, I think I'll pass. Surely there are ways for the body to process and eliminate cortisol other than leaking it out of your eyes.

Yes: this. This is what they really mean when they say "stay with the feeling." But they may not fully understand that this is what it's for. (In which case, they shouldn't be counselors, but that's a whole 'nother rant.) And, for the record, this is generally not something I'm willing to do while being supervised.

Oh. Well. That would have been nice to know ten years ago.

Having slowly figured out my version of this on my own may have something to do with why a couple of years here has done way more good for me than a couple of years with the counsellor who didn't seem to know that. And here I thought it was just because I wasn't in the middle of still being hurt.

Thing is, the way it was always presented, the "feeling" to stay with was always the "feeling bad" part, not the "what is making me upset" part. So when I sit down and work through the "what is making me upset" part, I don't consider that feeling, I consider that, well, considering. Thinking. Logic-ing, even, sometimes. Those are always discussed as if they were the opposite of feeling.

And since a large part of my being able to do that at all hinges on there not being another person right there for the long list of reasons, I have a feeling that I also wouldn't have much luck at this if supervised. There is nobody I know in person who knows that I'm posting here, much less what my username is, and I have no intention of telling anybody I know in person, either. Because as Dash mentioned in the previous thread, knowing somebody that you will see in person is reading ... makes me much less able to be fully open in what I write here. Even if I want to be able to be fully open to that person. Even New Interest.

Also, Jacque, I think I love you. Although I haven't yet figured out, if we should one day meet in person, whether we'll get along famously or I'll be utterly terrified of you. :-)

#78 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 08:23 PM:

the invisible one #66: Crappy ex was bad for that. He couldn't handle me being upset and I needed to not be upset even when he had done something to make me upset. Because then he felt bad and blamed it on me.

We've seen mention of folks like that before; I'd just like to mention that this is a perversion or malformation of empathy.

Abi #0: I agree with several other commenters that what she's describing is certainly worthwhile, it's not what I'd call hope. What she's describing is something that I once dedicated a mailing-list to, though I didn't know what it was. Since then, I think I have figured it out... it's the life-force itself, that underlying drive to keep going.

Hope springs out of that, but so do many other things -- all the drives of life and humanity -- not all of them wholly good. One of the problematic things that come from the life-force is often the enemy of hope -- that's the drive for consistency, "psychic homeostasis". That drive can help people deal with bad times, and let people live their lives even in dire need. The catch is that if it decides that unhappiness is "normal", it will defend that too, still arguing against any change.

For hope itself... I'm cynical enough to call it the last demon out of Pandora's box. And yet, so pretty....

#79 ::: Dave Harmon is gnomed... ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 08:51 PM:

I can offer some Cherry Wheat beer, or heat up some of my Hamburger Helper....

#80 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 09:36 PM:

Jacque @74:

The single prerequisite for forgiveness for me is: "Am I safe from the [abuse]?" If the answer is yes, then I can forgive, and often do without even realizing it. If no, then forgiveness is not available, because it wouldn't be safe. Sometimes safety comes when I learn how to deal with that kind of threat. Sometimes, it's when the perpetrator acknowledges their wrongdoing in a truly mindful way. On the occassions when forgiveness has happened, the past becomes...just another item in the library of experience. But it's not something I "do," as seems to be implied by much of the popular wisdom on the topic.

That's interesting, as a criterion, because it might explain one part of why I can't let it go. Because the answer to "am I safe from _____" is various qualifications of "no." Am I safe from the actual person who did it? Mostly, within the limits of my ability to stop spending time with them or reroute the conversation. Am I safe from the mess she left in my head, which causes me to overreact to false positives? (Meaning both well-intentioned things that have a passing resemblance to things she did, and actually bad but not abusive-level behaviour.) Definitely not. And it will be a long time before I can be anything close to safe from it by any definition.

On the upside, troublesome housemate made me a real apology for her unkind comments last night and acknowledged that I have good reason to be exhausted, and since that result was part of her nefarious plot in taking me to the pagan festival, that it wasn't fair to scold me for it. Maybe this relationship is not heading straight down the sewer after all...

#81 ::: The Absent One ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 10:00 PM:

abi, #71: OK, I've edited the post to make it more, um, self-centered? all about meee? Less hlepy.

<rant>
Can people please go back to spelling "helpy" correctly? It's a fingernails-on-chalkboard thing for me, and is part of why I generally don't read the DF threads, despite being very much in the target audience. Every time I run across it, my reading stumbles over it, and it's easier to not bother trying. (It's not the only impediment, by any means, but it adds just enough annoyance to make it easy to skip the threads altogether.)

(Yes, I know where it came from, and it never made sense to me, because English doesn't make words by shuffling letters around, or"truthy" sentences would be "ture" or have "turth" to them. [Sounds are shuffled, yes, but isolated letters, no.] Or, to put it differently, it's a wrod, usable, as best I can tell, only in writing. [What do people say at Gatherings of Light when it comes up?] And the times I've seen it lately, it's being used as an exact synonym for "helpy" anyway.)
</rant>

#82 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 12:27 AM:

invisible one@77: If you do, I direct your attention to book 4, when Menelaos learns of his brother's death, and near the end of book 10, when Odysseus is told to go to the land of the dead.

Absent One@81: Actually, languages do switch letters around fairly often, and for some reason especially so in the vicinity of r's and l's. For just one example, the word "bird", in Anglo-Saxon times, was "brid".

If memory serves me right, the shift from "helpy" to "hlepy" was deliberate, a joke of sorts intended to point up...well, I'm not sure how to articulate what it was intended to point up, but at any rate to increase the lexical distance between hlepiness and helpfulness. I've never had occasion to say the word out loud in conversation myself, but I think I could do so perfectly well.

#83 ::: Dash ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 12:52 AM:

invisible one @77: I just mentioned it in passing, but I do think the idea of these threads as being separated from the physical world (especially, but not solely, in regards to those featured in a negative light in the DF threads) is an important concept to create. For my own part, the only two people who know my alias on these threads are my school counselor and my local therapist, and the decision to give each of them access to that knowledge was not an easy one to make. I did blurt it out in conversation to another Internet group, but I doubt they even remember it, and none know me in real life aside from possible recognition of my RL name. I have directed a handful of friends to the DFD thread as a whole, but not revealed my alias, and even then it's only my close friends who I think would understand and know of my issues already- as far as I can tell, none have really followed up on my directing them here. And one of my biggest fears, one that I have mentioned to my therapist specifically, is that of my mother discovering this thread and my part in it. I'm actually rather curious as to how others balance that separation and connection between the realms, especially those more closely involved in the ML community as a whole. (I know this conflicts with Gatherings of Light, but as I lack experience with those, others can attest to how that works.)

#84 ::: tamiki ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 02:08 AM:

Dash: I've told my fiancee about these threads - haven't linked her so far. She'd know it was me, both from content and from the nym I picked for it (which is a personal joke between us).

I'm not worried about my parents ever stumbling across this; it's not in a circle of the Tubes they'd really encounter. (Even if they did, they don't know the nym.) Oddly, I'm a little more worried about fandom-based run-ins, but that's why I picked something different from my usual online handle. If I were to look into therapy at some point, that would take some consideration.

General update: Still reading, even if I have less to say these days.

My fiancee's dad emailed her at the beginning of last month, and said he thinks the discussion has reached a point where they have to have it in person. She said at the time she'd like to, but not during July, as she was very busy.

Now, though, she's rethinking things. Crash course for new people: Her parents are extremely religious-conservative. I am also female. We think they cottoned on that I was in the picture last Christmas, or at least assumed she didn't invite them upstairs to see the apartment because she had a girlfriend. (I had obscured all signs of my presence and cleared out, but whether they knew or not, I refuse to do that ever again. I don't like feeling like I have no right to be in my own space.)

At the very least, I've advocated, and she agrees, that if it's a face-to-face conversation it needs to be on neutral ground - somewhere she can walk away if she feels the need to. Her parents probably want her to go to them, in which case she'd have no car and either spend an awkward weekish with them after having it out or work herself up into panic attacks dreading it for the whole weekish, only to have it the last day.

She's reaching a point where she'd much rather say things via text. She has a feeling her parents will cut her off, however the discussion unfolds, and her father's argument style involves a lot of interrupting people when he thinks he knows where they're going. If she says things via text, then she can address the points she already knows he's going to make (as she was once in the conservative religious circles herself, and thought long and hard about leaving them; also this isn't the first time they've argued about it) and make her counter-arguments without being interrupted.

We both know this is no guarantee they'll listen, but.

(She does have some extended family on her side. Irony: Her parents are probably expecting that branch of family to step up to the plate as they age, which isn't likely to happen.)

On hope: I'm the one in this relationship who has it. I'm the one who believes in this thing when my fiancee's in the pit of depression and thinks I'd be better off without her. This isn't to say I haven't occasionally had moments of 'what am I even doing with my life?', but in general Abi's original post resonated with me.

(I'm also the one who hopes things between me and my parents can be okay again, even as I'm starting to acknowledge they're not okay and probably haven't been for longer than I've seen the cracks. Even when you see hope as a good thing, it's not always your friend.)

#85 ::: tamiki ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 02:23 AM:

Also on hope: I can't find a direct quotation, but Warehouse 13 really nailed it for me once: It's the fight that matters. The darkness is out there, and it's scary, and it sucks, but trying to make things better keeps the darkness from winning.

(Obvs. this won't nail it for everyone, but I wanted to throw it out there regardless.)

#86 ::: somewhere_else ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 05:03 AM:

Still pondering the comments and how to respond. I by no means meant to imply that how I described my hope has to work for anyone else, but I didn't phrase it that way. I'll try to clearly mark my insights and ideas as mine and only applicable to me (unless someone else likes them too, then they are free to run with them) from now on. To those my words hurt or upset, I'm sorry.

Dave Harmon @78: I'm not entirely sure if you're referring to my words, I'd just like to point out that my preferred pronoun is they.
Life-force is actually pretty apt, especially considering that I went out a long time ago to reconnect to mine. I think I described it as hope, because it's the closest thing to an opposite to despair I've got. It's me saying, hoarse and with tears in my eyes "You cannot have me" on a bad day and creating alternatives, branching out and looking for new options on a good day.

The Absent One @50: Yeah, that makes sense. It might be a void left behind by bad stuff, but there are still pieces missing. I'm quite okay with the crying, I was just suprised, because I didn't expect it. In a way I'm glad you (and others here) understand even though I'm sad you understand.

In that regard I found this quote from Laura Davis very fitting:

Although healing brings a better life, it also threatens to permanently alter life as you’ve known it. Your relationships, your position in the world, even your sense of identity may change. Coping patterns that have served you for a lifetime will be called into question. When you make the commitment to heal, you risk losing much of what is familiar. As a result one part of you may want to heal while another resists change.

#87 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 05:39 AM:

somewhere_else @86:
Still pondering the comments and how to respond. I by no means meant to imply that how I described my hope has to work for anyone else, but I didn't phrase it that way. I'll try to clearly mark my insights and ideas as mine and only applicable to me (unless someone else likes them too, then they are free to run with them) from now on. To those my words hurt or upset, I'm sorry.

There's a material difference between your comment, which was clearly and obviously about you, and me using it as part of an OP, which is me (not you) inappropriately generalizing it. Me. Not you, really not you. Nothing you wrote was at all inappropriate, needed to be phrased differently, or was a problem.

I apologize for using your words in a way that makes you doubt that.

It's like if I took any words that were appropriate in their context and used them inappropriately. It's not the author's fault where those words get quoted.

Please don't feel constrained in what you post. I really don't want that. I was pointing to something you said really beautifully, which really resonated off of me. I hoped that seeing that they resonated off of me might be a good experience for you. My own rubric about them, which is where the problem was, is my own responsibility.

I will think about how/whether I post good comments from the threads onto the front page in the future. Maybe I won't do that again. Opinions?

#88 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 06:52 AM:

abi @87,

In this online community, more than in most, it's important to tread carefully because you're on sensitive ground. (As, of course, you know.)

In this online community, as in any other, there's almost nothing you can say that will be equally approved by or applicable to everyone.

The "here is how I feel" posts are extremely valuable because of the "I thought I was the only one!" reactions. But I think it's okay that sometimes they generate an "it's not that way for me at all," and that people feel equally comfortable to express either kind of reaction. In many DFs, expressing disagreement was prelude to all kinds of unpleasantness. Here, in this pretty darned functional community we've built, you can disagree! And nobody gets all violent or martyred, they just say, "Oh, sorry" (if called for) or simply, "Then how is it for you?"

I think pulling up comments from one thread to the OP for the next is a good way to keep the conversation going. I like to hear what you think; your extremely thoughtful posts are the bedrock of the group. Perhaps, in the spirit of treading especially carefully here, continue to be explicit with the YMMV as you did in your revision to the post. But please don't damp down your own voice.

somewhere_else, as abi said, there was absolutely nothing wrong with your original post. Please don't take other's varying reactions to mean that. Take them as an indication that you tapped into something important, in a way that made people think.

#89 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 07:43 AM:

the invisible one @77: Given the splitting headaches I get from crying, I think I'll pass.

Well, um, yeah. My most recent crying jag (occassioned by a crippling computer malf that I, plus various user support, could not straighten out—have we mentioned that frustration not Zathras skill?) left me feeling like my head was packed with clay, and completely unable to breathe through my nose until about a half an hour after I'd climbed down. Part of it's the dehydration; doesn't seem like all that much fluid is being emitted, but I guess it doesn't take much to throw the balances off. The other part is that it seems that one is pushing all of one's remaining fluids into one's, like, face. Drink plenty of fluids and pop some sinus pills, maybe?

But at the very least, if you're crying hard enough to generate headaches, that suggests you're digging around in some very deep sh*t. As difficult as it may be, you are (IMnsHO) doing some very important, heavy lifting, there.

Thinking. Logic-ing, even, sometimes. Those are always discussed as if they were the opposite of feeling.

Um, er, well. In my (again, not so) humble opinion, the function of the feeling is to get you to the "what's making me upset" part. IME, once I get there, the feeling actually dissipates; becomes non-relevant. I think of it as the can the soda comes in. Hard to manage the soda without the can, but the can isn't the point.

Thinking and logic-ing are different than feeling, certainly, as they will likely take place in different sensory systems. I happen to class anything that happens inside my head as thinking, but a lot of people regard "thinking" as being verbal and sometimes visual. Logic-ing is likely verbal, but this can be either auditory or visual.

Saying feeling is the "opposite" of "thinking" is kind of like saying the lungs are the "opposite" of the kidneys. No, they're just different parts of the same system.

Now, granted, visual and verbal modalities can certainly be used to avoid feeling (though my impression is that other feelings are usually used to avoid unwanted feelings), but any portion of experience can be used to distract from any other portion of experience.

Also, Jacque, I think I love you.

Awwww! Speaking of effective encouragement...!

I haven't yet figured out, if we should one day meet in person, whether we'll get along famously or I'll be utterly terrified of you.

::cocks head:: That's...interesting. I'm assuming you're (mostly?) kidding. But why would I be scary? I mean, it's not like I bite. (Well, anymore. ;-> )

Dave Harmon @78: I'd just like to mention that this is a perversion or malformation of empathy.

Of a piece with, "Look what you made me do!" Failure of ownership. Last guy I was involved with ran this one on me, too, though not quite so extremely. That was my big take-away from that relationship (and the one good insight I got from an otherwise not-helpful counselor): I'm not responsible for how he feels.

abi @87: What OtterB said.

#90 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 08:16 AM:

Absent One, I'm also mildly thrown by 'hlepy' and prefer 'helpy'. You're not alone even in that small-seeming thing.

#91 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 08:35 AM:

abi, it might work to see whether you have permission to quote from someone to lead off a new thread, including checking with them for the context you're planning to use.

#92 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 08:57 AM:

#89, Jacque:

But at the very least, if you're crying hard enough to generate headaches, that suggests you're digging around in some very deep sh*t. As difficult as it may be, you are (IMnsHO) doing some very important, heavy lifting, there.

Dunno. There are definitely some things that are difficult, but even when I "cry happy" because something is just too wonderful, or for no reason I can identify, I end up with a headache. (Seriously. I cry when I sing my national anthem. I cry a little when I sing one of the verses of "carrot juice is murder" by the Arrogant Worms, who are a comedy band. It makes no sense to me.)

Could be something as simple as the way you described pushing all of one's remaining fluids into one's face, and the pressure of that gives me a headache. I do start feeling the beginnings of a headache before the tears start.

Thinking and logic-ing are different than feeling, certainly [...] Saying feeling is the "opposite" of "thinking" is kind of like saying the lungs are the "opposite" of the kidneys. No, they're just different parts of the same system.

It's one of those false dichotomies I guess. Thinking vs. Feeling on Meyers-Briggs. Right brain vs. left brain. Spock vs. Troi. Even the BS stereotype of women being all emotional and men being all rational.

Even the comment a while back, which I found very helpful, that emotions can't be logically reasoned with because they aren't reached by logic. They just are: axioms rather than conclusions. (Which isn't to say it's not possible to figure out what the source of a feeling is, only that it's not a logical conclusion of some input. I found this especially helpful in making Jerkbrain stop it with the "you shouldn't be feeling this" nonsense it learned from mom and crappy ex constantly telling me I was overreacting. I am feeling this, period. Now what do I do about it?)

I've heard a lot, from everywhere, that they're not only different but that they're opposite or incompatible, and those who can do both are balancing opposites and are super powered.

That's...interesting. I'm assuming you're (mostly?) kidding. But why would I be scary? I mean, it's not like I bite. (Well, anymore. ;-> )

Mostly kidding, yeah. Have you heard the phrase "terrifyingly awesome"? And some of your posts have shown a lot more ability to stand up and be loud than I have ever had. (After all, I'm invisible. That kind of makes it hard to stand up and be loud.)

And maybe I'm easily intimidated sometimes. Though apparently some people are intimidated by me, which I haven't entirely figured out, being invisible and all.

#93 ::: the invisible one is gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 08:59 AM:

Hello again, gnomes. My posts must be particularly interesting the last couple of days.

[In this case, it was the phrase "your post", which comes up a lot in spam that's trying to sound relevant. -- Idumea Arbacoochee, Duty Gnome]

#94 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 09:03 AM:

Nancy @91:

That's very true, and I'll make a practice of doing that in the future.

I also think I will also have to ask people's indulgence if I don't manage a substantive post every time we approach 1000. This post was partly a product of, "what shall I write? I have to write something" mode. Jet lag and a complex but unrelated bunch of intense personal stuff contributed too, but the need to write something real, true, sincere, and in keeping with the current state of the conversation was definitely a factor.

Which is not meant to excuse, but only to explain.

#95 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 09:14 AM:

abi @94
I also think I will also have to ask people's indulgence if I don't manage a substantive post every time we approach 1000.
That seems perfectly reasonable to me. "Continue to talk amongst yourselves."

Positive thoughts headed your way for the intense personal stuff.

#96 ::: S L J ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 10:22 AM:

I've always had the hope thing going, through some pretty rough times, in that light-behind-the-darkness, deep-down-I-believe-it's-gonna-be-all-right way.

It took me years--and lord knows how many hurtful comments--to understand this isn't true for everyone, that it's just as easy to be wired for darkness-behind-the-light and so my ways of coping (which are by no means pollyannaish and do involve their share of holding on by my fingernails) are not something that will necessarily work for anyone else.

These days I think of hope as a gift, or a bit of grace. I don't know where it came from, or why it's part of my particular makeup. But I am grateful for it. And it definitely has helped me through.

#97 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 11:17 AM:

the invisible one @77: Given the splitting headaches I get from crying, I think I'll pass.

jacque @89: if you're crying hard enough to generate headaches, that suggests you're digging around in some very deep sh*t. As difficult as it may be, you are (IMnsHO) doing some very important, heavy lifting, there.

I tend to get migraines after heavy emotions (usually bad ones) and crying, but I thought it was just me... It would be reassuring if the grief had a better progress bar, so that I could see that it really will end sometime. It's like watching the computer do something difficult and wondering, "is it supposed to take this long, or did the computer crash?" (My last Windows desktop was an unreliable machine, so I got a lot of practice watching for the crashes...)

#98 ::: tamiki ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 11:43 AM:

On crying headaches: I get those too, especially if it's particularly emotional crying. (Cold Case feels: Not necessarily. Fight with parents: Guaranteed.)

The worst one I can remember was after one of the several times I backed into a cone on the driving test ($Homestate's equivalent of parallel parking), which meant I automatically failed and didn't even get to the road-test bit, which I would've been fine on. My dad decided to light into me about how this WASN'T THAT HARD and WHY COULDN'T I DO IT, never mind that it took me so long to try at all because I realised what a heady responsibility driving a car is. You're handing me the controls to a couple tons of metal and plastic powered by controlled explosions and you want me to do what with it???

So we had a shouting match about it all the way home from the testing station, and then I had to get ready for work (I was on second shift at a factory for the summer). By dinner, my teeth hurt. Thankfully the first-aid room had some aspirin.

One of my dad's things overall is 'this isn't a problem for me so it shouldn't be a problem for you.' Makes it hard to have a discussion about things I get worked up about (on top of the fact that getting worked up about things can make it hard to talk about them anyway).

#99 ::: hope in disguise ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 12:36 PM:

Jacque @74: The single prerequisite for forgiveness for me is: "Am I safe from the [abuse]?" If the answer is yes, then I can forgive, and often do without even realizing it. If no, then forgiveness is not available, because it wouldn't be safe.
This rang a bell/hit a nail/brought on a moment of "oh!" for me. I have trouble forgiving my mother, and feel kind of guilty about this. But she hasn't stopped being problematic. She's stopped drinking, but the alcohol was not the only source of dysfunction in her. So thank you for that.

The Absent One @81: I find "hlep" pronounceable, and as David Goldfarb says @82, this kind of letter-switching (metathesis) is a normal linguistic process. At the same time, I can see how it would be really obnoxious to run across, particularly if you don't have an easily accessible pronunciation.

the invisible one @92: And maybe I'm easily intimidated sometimes. Though apparently some people are intimidated by me, which I haven't entirely figured out
When I tell my friends that I'm intimidated by someone, they are usually like, "really?! Them? They're not even remotely scary!" I suspect that I might find Jacque a little bit intimidating; it's the "person I perceive as cool, therefore is cooler than me" effect. But apparently I have that effect on people, which is so puzzling.

abi @94: Consider my indulgence granted. *sends good thoughts*

#100 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 01:30 PM:

Just to note: the intense personal stuff is actually good. It's a step toward cleaning up a couple of long-running emotional messes. It's just taking some processor power to work all the way through.

Good thoughts are good, of course. But I'm OK.

Let's now return the spotlight to the community, including how I can best serve it.

#101 ::: sara_k ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 02:02 PM:

When I didn't have hope for me, I saw no end, I felt no light, I was able to think of hope for someone else. I couldn't let my life end right then because it would tell my children that there was no hope for them either. That grinding open a path for them through the stones kept me going when something for me would not.

#102 ::: eep ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 02:19 PM:

OtterB @88: The "here is how I feel" posts are extremely valuable because of the "I thought I was the only one!" reactions. But I think it's okay that sometimes they generate an "it's not that way for me at all," and that people feel equally comfortable to express either kind of reaction. In many DFs, expressing disagreement was prelude to all kinds of unpleasantness. Here, in this pretty darned functional community we've built, you can disagree! And nobody gets all violent or martyred, they just say, "Oh, sorry" (if called for) or simply, "Then how is it for you?"

This! All of this! (Can you see me hopping up and down from there?)

As one of those who expressed ambivalence about hope, I've been pondering all morning how to make that distinction. I value hearing how other peoples' experiences differ, and absolutely didn't intend to inhibit anyone else's expression. (The best I'd come up with was an analogy about cilantro, where I love it, but I know it tastes awful to some, and both are equally valid realities for those who are experiencing them).

Abi @0*revised/94: Objects in mirror may be more wonderful than they appear. Thank you for the reminder. :) Positive thoughts from this corner, too.* And understanding for the "what shall I write? I have to write something" pressure. OtterB's suggestion of "Continue to talk amongst yourselves." seems reasonable to me, too.

*I see @100 popped up while I was previewing this, so positive thoughts for the good things and processing power!

#103 ::: tamiki ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 02:21 PM:

sara_k: My fiancee's said before that I've been for her what your kids are for you. This actually came up the other day thanks to a commercial for a true-crime show where someone says she got through a horrific event by thinking of her kids. My fiancee said that what's been thrown at her a lot is 'but you have to have hope/faith in YOURSELF, not something else!'

But if what gets you through the dark days is knowing someone else needs you, then that's what works.

#104 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 04:52 PM:

abi @100 the intense personal stuff is actually good

Glad to hear it.

#105 ::: ma larkey ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 05:02 PM:

Thank you for listening. Thank you, Abi, for keeping this thread open. Just reading and finding out many have similar struggles, or just that there's a safe place to vent here. Thank you Diatryma, I may take you up on that offer to take a call soon. As for the offer of miles(!!!?) I am astounded and grateful. I'm not sure what to do next, taking it a day at a time, I really do not want to start running again. It's good to have options, now to figure out which are actually appropriate.

#106 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 05:03 PM:

Okay, I'm not going to catch up on all the comments I wanted to respond to, and I've got a 16-hour day of volunteering (two events) tomorrow, so:

dimwit@10: Welcome.

somewhere_else @933 & Chickadee @11: Thank you both for that stuff about rephrasing so you're not (negatively) judging yourself all the time but rather commenting factually on what has been achieved, what remains etc. Now trying to apply to myself.

the invisible one @19: My wonderful now-husband and I started out as friends. We met at work, had known each other for a couple of years before he first asked me out and it was more than a year after that* before I said yes... we were it a serious relationship within weeks and have now been married for nearly eight years. So it worked for us. But I realise it wouldn't for everyone.

Ross @27: Listening. Sympathies.

St Monday @41: Another thank you for that "two hours" thing. And welcome to the community.

* due to a previous relationship and problems getting over that.

#107 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 06:08 PM:

#99, hope in disguise:

When I tell my friends that I'm intimidated by someone, they are usually like, "really?! Them? They're not even remotely scary!"

And are you, by chance, not at all intimidated by somebody who some of your friends are intimidated by?

(I think they need to add "... to me" to the end of that sentence.)

#105, ma larkey:

The offer remains open should you decide it is appropriate to your situation.

#106, dcb:

My wonderful now-husband and I started out as friends. [...] So it worked for us. But I realise it wouldn't for everyone.

Could be I just had bad luck in all my previous relationships.

Could also be that I was accepting dates from anybody who showed interest in me. (Largely because I didn't know what it felt like to be attracted to another person, so I thought that enjoying the attention was it, and took what I could get.)

#108 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 08:45 PM:

the invisible one @92: Seriously. I cry when I sing my national anthem. I cry a little when I sing one of the verses of "carrot juice is murder" by the Arrogant Worms, who are a comedy band. It makes no sense to me.

Crying, for me, signifies something that touches me on a deep level, and/or evokes a core value. It's a significator of ... "important relevance," maybe? Things that impact my most intimimate me-ness, both good and bad, if that makes any sense.

Could be something as simple as the way you described pushing all of one's remaining fluids into one's face, and the pressure of that gives me a headache. I do start feeling the beginnings of a headache before the tears start.

When I start to tear up, I feel a spasmy twinge in my eyelids, not dissimilar to the twinge I feel when a sneeze is coming on. My impression is that this is just the tissues arming to secrete. If I notice that, and go ahead and give in to the impulse, the tears (or the sneeze) come and the twinge goes away.

Tangent: Oddly, I've recently noticed that I have a similar sensation (although "dry hot" rather than "twinge") when my body thinks it's time to sweat. I sometimes have to give my skin conscious clearance to sweat. Interestingly, I found the hot weather this summer much easier to deal with (as in, not a problem at all), for keeping this in mind and thinking to sweat when I feel uncomfortably warm. (I was under the distinct impression that sweatting was an autonomic response. Just one more piece of evidence for my Martian origin, I guess.)

I am feeling this, period. Now what do I do about it?

Yes, exactly. I have discovered that it is possible to back it up, examine the input that produced the feeling, contemplate the question, "how do I want to feel about this?" and come to a different conclusion (or consider the issue from a different frame) that produces a different feeling. Actually, as I say this, ISTM that feelings aren't so much axiomatic as they are the product of stimulus + experience. But the bottom line is that they are the product of your equation, which nobody else gets to permit or deny, because nobody else is working with your stimulus or your experience.

An example: the first time I had the experience of actually choosing to not be angry, even though anger was (IMnsHO) an entirely reasonable reaction: Long weekend ends, I've got just an hour before it's time to go to bed. I decide I want to turn the lights off and listen to my favorite album as a form of meditation before I turn in. Fifteen minutes, I'm just settling into the journey the music takes me on—and the phone rings. It was an odd time of evening, so I wasn't comfortable just letting it go to voicemail, so I pause my music, get up, and answer.

It's a sales-droid. "I don't accept phone solicitation, thank you." "I'm not selling anything!" "Then why are you calling me?" "We have this wonderful opportunity—" "I told you, I'm not interested." "This is not a sales call, if you'd just let me—" "And I told you, I'm not interested. Goodbye." I hang up.

But now I'm steaming. Not so much about the sales call; that's like being mad at dogs for peeing on fire hydrants. It's pointless. I'm angry at this joker trying to lie to me about the obvious purpose of his call. Saying he's not doing what he's doing, and I'm wrong for seeing it. Really pissed me off.

Well, shit. Now my peace is shattered, and if I start my album over again, I'll be late to bed. Now I'm even angrier at having my nice evening ruined.

I sit down. I think about this: I have, not too long before, established to my own satisfaction, that, yes, I have the right to be angry. And I have verified that I have the ability to be angry. I've responded appropriately: told the guy off and shut him down. He didn't acknowledge it, but I'll never talk to him again, so it's not an ongoing boundary issue, except insofar as I have confidence I can do this again in the future, as needed. (I since learned to just hang up after my first sentence, without even giving them a chance to respond.)

So: my needs are served. So: what do I want now? I want my peace back. Okay, so let's see if we can do that. So I take all the thinking and feeling about this situation, wrap it up, put it in a box labeled "Done," and set it aside in my mind. I then turn my music back on and very consciously and deliberately focus on the music. This has a very tactile feel to it: closing out other sounds from around me, closing my eyes and turning my mental vision to the images evoked by the music, and away from anything else floating around the edges of my attention. In just a very few minutes, the sense of flow the music brings up reasserts itself, I'm off on my journey again, and I finish my meditation, no longer troubled in the least.

Which is a very long-winded way of saying that it is possible to change how one is feeling. But you'll notice that I do so not because what I'm feeling is "wrong," but rather because I've reassured myself that I can be "done with it," and want to go on to something else.

If I wasn't "done with it," I would have taken a different tack. I stewed about the go-rounds with Mr. P reported in the nCnC comments for most of the following week, but there again, I considered whether what I was feeling was useful and/or desirable. In that case, that situation challenged a competency that I'm still developing, and on boundaries I'm still working out. So stewing was an indicator that I was still processing the experience. So I quit worrying about it and stewed, until I was done (or done enough for the moment). And then the stewing stopped as my mind moved to other things.

A parallel experience to your crappy ex was when this guy I was involved with tried to feed me a similar line: I shouldn't be upset. A) because what I was upset about should be upsetting, and B) because my being upset was upsetting to him, and he didn't want to be upset. It was only after we'd broken up that I got to the point that I could separate his wants and needs (his "stuff") from mine. When we met later, and discussed some about how our relationship had gone, he tried to feed me the idea that I wanted things from the relationship that he didn't want, and I shouldn't want that because what I wanted wasn't "reasonable." At that poing (a couple of years later), I was able to come back with, "Excuse me!? I'm sorry: it's entirely reasonable and appropriate for you not to share my desire for this. But as far as my desire being 'unreasonable,' you may just fuck right the hell off. You don't get to authorize or deny that I get to want anything." I was rather more diplomatic about it, but very clear that this was not something he got to do.

I've heard a lot, from everywhere, that they're not only different but that they're opposite or incompatible, and those who can do both are balancing opposites and are super powered.

Heh. I deny that it's a superpower. I don't deny that it's a skill, and one that can take some time to learn. What it very much does require is the concept that it is possible. Reasonable even. Like women being CEOs. And animals having emotions.

As to balancing opposites: it's not unlike putting salt in the chocolate chip cookies. It's not necessary, but it definitely produces a more rounded, full-bodied flavor. Or growing corn: it takes rain and sun to grow a good crop.

Though apparently some people are intimidated by me, which I haven't entirely figured out, being invisible and all.

Well, consider that tigers can be invisible. :-)

abi @94: I hope this makes you laugh: I've been having vicarious anxiety about starting the new thread. "How is she going to handle it? I mean, we're almost at September 21! Will she post a new Big Idea? Will she want to put up a Big Idea when the day for the Really Big Idea is so close?" It's like taking a sandwich to work. It turns out to be not quite enough for lunch, but does one want to get a bag of chips, which might be too much? Or just make do with the sandwich, in which case one will be slightly hungry in the afternoon? It's a conundrum. (See, this is the stuff my brain chews on when it's left unsupervised.) :-)

Moonlit Night @97: It would be reassuring if the grief had a better progress bar

This made me LOL. Yes. A definite design flaw. Hee hee.

tamiki @98: 'this isn't a problem for me so it shouldn't be a problem for you.'

"I'm cold. Go put a sweater on." Can you say, "insufficient personal differentiation? I knew you could.

hope in disguise @99: She's stopped drinking, but the alcohol was not the only source of dysfunction in her.

Not drinking /= being sober. Go, you, for not letting her off the hook, which can be tempting in that situation.

abi @100: It's just taking some processor power to work all the way through.... Let's now return the spotlight to the community, including how I can best serve it.

I, for one would welcome a "State of the abi" report. I always find your stories to be intensely interesting, and very often insightful and uplifting. Just sayin'.

sara_k @101: That grinding open a path for them through the stones kept me going when something for me would not.

There have been times when, "what would happen to the guinea pigs?" has been the only thing that kept me going.

#109 ::: Jacque, gnoming gnominess ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 08:51 PM:

Hm. Previous gnotice seems to have hung....

#110 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2013, 09:10 AM:

#108, Jacque:

Crying, for me, signifies something that touches me on a deep level, and/or evokes a core value. It's a significator of ... "important relevance," maybe? Things that impact my most intimimate me-ness, both good and bad, if that makes any sense.

Maybe. And maybe one day I'll be able to figure it out. The bit in the worm song is a bit that doesn't really have lyrics even, so I don't really have much to grab hold of when it comes to trying to figure out why. And I didn't used to cry during the anthem; not entirely sure when that started, or what in my life had changed.

I have discovered that it is possible to back it up, examine the input that produced the feeling, contemplate the question, "how do I want to feel about this?" and come to a different conclusion (or consider the issue from a different frame) that produces a different feeling.

The only way I've changed my feeling-response to an event involved basically resolving the issue bothering me, rather than changing my reaction to the issue. Which seems to be more or less what you're describing in the paragraphs following. "How do I want to feel about this?" hasn't been useful to me because I find it far too close to "how do I think I should feel about this?" and not feeling what I should - that's pure ammunition for Jerkbrain.

I can also change what I'm currently feeling by distracting myself. But that's different again.

he tried to feed me the idea that I wanted things from the relationship that he didn't want, and I shouldn't want that because what I wanted wasn't "reasonable."

Oh yeah. I definitely recognize that.

What it very much does require is the concept that it is possible. Reasonable even.

That's what I don't recall ever encountering.

Well, consider that tigers can be invisible. :-)

LOL :-)

#111 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2013, 01:32 PM:

Jacque #108: You give an interesting account of "manually" working through an emotional upset, but I wanted to bring this out: You don't get to authorize or deny that I get to want anything. That is the original meaning of the phrase de gustibus non est disputandum¹ ("there's no disputing taste"). As in, the understanding goes back at least to the ancient Romans. And yet, we still have people trying to pull that crap....

¹ I keep remembering that as simply gustibus non disputandum. A question for Latin fans: is that a natural contraction of the phrase, or just a corruption.

#112 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2013, 04:52 PM:

the invisible one @110: The only way I've changed my feeling-response to an event involved basically resolving the issue bothering me, rather than changing my reaction to the issue. Which seems to be more or less what you're describing in the paragraphs following.

Which is certainly a good outcome. That's what feelings are for, after all. To alert you to things that need to be resolved. So, Ur Doin It Rite. :)

"How do I want to feel about this?" hasn't been useful to me because I find it far too close to "how do I think I should feel about this?" and not feeling what I should - that's pure ammunition for Jerkbrain.

Exactly. Which is why I was only able to come to the place of being able to do this after I had a long history of feeling free and being able to feel how I was feeling. "Yes" is only meaningful if you are free to say "no."

That's what I don't recall ever encountering.

It's certainly is not common. (And is, despite my lifelong love of Spock, my chief quibble with the way Vulcan culture was conceptualized by Gene Roddenberry. I have head-cannon that makes it make more sense, but there's a certain amount of back-story I've supplied to make it work for me.)

Here's a notion for you: you hear people being spoken of as having "integrity." What that means is that they are "integrated," in the sense of bringing all of the portions of their self to bear on a question, and have done the work to make sure their self is balanced and making use of all parts of their experience. What that means is that their emotions and their intellect are working together, and they have addressed any conflicts between them.

Dave Harmon @111: "there's no disputing taste"

Yeah. This stuff is not rocket science. But coming to this accomodation does take wisdom, and the freedom and safety to accomodate difference. None of which is generally available in dysfunctional circumstances. It's not the only wisdom our culture has lost. (Cf, ancient accounts of weeping men, frex.)

#113 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2013, 08:13 PM:

Dave Harmon@111: Dropping the est is certainly quite reasonable and common; the de maybe not as much.

#114 ::: hope in disguise ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2013, 08:58 PM:

My brother just called me.

He's started a graduate program in New England and he's decided to live without an apartment or other secured living space.

The family narrative ever since he announced this has been "Brother is making more Bad Life Choices," and yeah, it's not terrifically smart of him... but he just called me, crying, because he's lonely and scared, because he could get in real trouble for using his storage unit to make food or using property that's up for sale to sleep on.

So I don't know how to feel or what to say or what to think. I want him to not be scared. I want him to succeed. I'm scared for him. And I think he's making some really, really bad life choices. But I don't want to invalidate him; I feel like I'm the only emotional support he's got, in some sense, and being safe for him is more important than letting him know how I feel about his life choices.

I don't know. I just wanted to put this somewhere, I guess.

#115 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2013, 09:07 PM:

#112, Jacque:

Exactly. Which is why I was only able to come to the place of being able to do this after I had a long history of feeling free and being able to feel how I was feeling.

Ah. I haven't quite got there yet. I'm still in the years of learning that I can do that at all; I'm not even close to confident that I can.

It is good to hear that such a thing is possible and not just wishful thinking on my part.

"Yes" is only meaningful if you are free to say "no."

I copied this into my file of useful insights that I wanted to hold on to quite a while ago. (Probably last time you said it?) It's such an important thing to remember.

Here's a notion for you: you hear people being spoken of as having "integrity." What that means is that they are "integrated," in the sense of bringing all of the portions of their self to bear on a question, and have done the work to make sure their self is balanced and making use of all parts of their experience. What that means is that their emotions and their intellect are working together, and they have addressed any conflicts between them.

That's an interesting definition, but the only one I remember ever hearing is only about honesty and "good moral character". (At least when it's applied to humans.) Is this a common definition among people you know?

#116 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2013, 09:33 PM:

the invisible one #115: Is this a common definition among people you know?

Well, it's certainly familiar to me. The idea is that honesty (or better, trustworthiness and moral character depend on the person not being divided against themself, so you're always dealing with "the same person" psychologically -- not, say, Helpful Bob making a promise, but then Penny-pinching or Lazy Bob when it's time to deliver.

#117 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2013, 10:58 PM:

I have been on the road all week, and have not been commenting because I don't have the time to engage properly. But I do want to register strong agreement with The Absent One @81 re "hlepy" -- while it's not nails-on-chalkboard level for me, I've never been fond of it. IIRC, we started out using "helpy", which bears the same relationship to "help" that "truthy" does to "truth". I don't remember when or why that changed, but it does seem like an unnecessary elaboration of an already perfectly cromulent concept.

And it's late, and I don't have the time or spoons to catch up completely tonight either. Note to self: pausing @85.

#118 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2013, 02:01 AM:

hope in disguise: I don't know what to say, except that I knew a student who stayed in a tent in the backyard of a school-owned house for six months because he'd developed allergies to most of the living spaces around. (!) (This was also the person I knew who was allergic to chocolate.) It can be done safely and it can be done in a non-standard fashion (where "standard" is "roof over head.") I think your instinct to give him emotional support is the right one.

ma larkey: Witnessing. In deference to your gut reactions to encouragement, I will just reiterate that I am glad when you keep us updated.

#119 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2013, 07:59 AM:

hope in disguise, we had a friend some years ago who completed a graduate degree (in urban planning!) while living in a tent in the woods. But it wasn't in the conditions that will arise in New England in the winter.

This one is a hard line to walk, in my opinion. Sort of like the discussions we're having here about vague and overgeneralized encouragement, I think it's possible to be vaguely oversupportive. I don't think we do good friends and family favors by saying "Go, you!" while thinking "Oh, this is going to be bad." On the other hand, I know people here have been subjected to lots of harassment under the guise of concern by controlling family, too. So I guess I would tell your brother that you want to be supportive, but that you do have some concerns. And listen, listen, listen.

#120 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2013, 11:47 AM:

#116, Dave Harmon:

The idea is that honesty (or better, trustworthiness and moral character depend on the person not being divided against themself, so you're always dealing with "the same person" psychologically -- not, say, Helpful Bob making a promise, but then Penny-pinching or Lazy Bob when it's time to deliver.

I'm still having trouble with this conceptual link.

What about somebody whose past experience, intellect, and emotion are all integrated and whole on the belief that promises are just words that can be ignored and not commitments, or that it's ok to lie and cheat other people if it benefits themselves?

What about somebody who is still sorting out the integration of intellect and emotion, who often feels internally divided (hi, Jerkbrain!) and who still acts with honesty and trustworthiness?

Maybe this just bounced off the aversion I have to people saying you gotta respect somebody who has a True Belief in something even if you don't share it because they Truly Believe and are consistent within that system, when said True Belief is toxic and harmful to many people. (Note that I have no problem respecting people's beliefs that I don't share, but I draw the line when those beliefs hurt others.)

#121 ::: nCnC* ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2013, 07:52 PM:

* Too lazy to type out the whole thing.

Well, I bailed on being list moderator. Had another couple of go-rounds with one of the problem children, when another of the problem children chimed in.

The weird (and scary) part of this is how quickly people can go from being allies to being enemies. Just *BANG!*

#122 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2013, 07:59 PM:

the invisible one @120: I wouldn't worry about it too much. Dave Harmon has a good definition, but "Integrity" is certainly one of those "I'll know it when I see it" kinda deals.

Also, it's not a fixed state. One can act with complete integrity in one context, but come off as inconsistent and untrustworthy in another. This is, in fact, kinda the state I find myself in @121. I'm reasonably confident of my principles in the general category, but the specific category poses questions I don't yet have good answers to.

But that's another insight, too: Just this last couple of weeks I've had a couple of situations where "I don't know what to say" is the correct response. This is important knowledge, in the way that knowing what "confusion" feels like is important.

#123 ::: Type A Toad ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2013, 11:24 PM:

abi: Thank you for the changes to @0. I was in a place of great despair when I wrote @13, and while I'm doing better now, I have started wondering what keeps me going. Because something does. I suspect it's stubbornness. Part of what upset me is that I so want to have hope, but it makes the fall that much harder. I envy people who have the kind of hope that says things will get better.

invisible one @92 Though apparently some people are intimidated by me, which I haven't entirely figured out, being invisible and all.
I've had people tell me (secondhand) that I'm intimidating and it just boggles my mind. What's so intimidating about being over here in the corner, scared shitless, and hoping no one notices me doing anything wrong? Maybe they're interpreting the silence as disapproval or something? I don't know. Boggling.

invisible one @77: Crying does that to me too. Depending on how bad I've been crying, my eyelids will swell up so much that I can barely get them open and my nasal passage will close. I will often spend the next day with facial pain so bad I can barely function. I hate crying. But I don't seem to have any control over it. Angry? I cry. Hurt? I cry. Confused? I cry. Frustrated? I cry. Any other big emotion? I cry. And then we're straight to swollen eyelids and stuffy sinuses and leftover prescription pain meds and eye drops and nasal steroids and ice pack land. Once upon a time I had my emotions closed off enough that none of that stuff got through and now that I've opened it up I don't have any say over it. (note: self, talk to potential new therapist about that right there)

Re: identities: Ross knows who I am and my partner knows I post here (he reads ML but doesn't keep up with DF threads). Those two are really the only people in my life I trust enough to say in person any of the things I'd talk about here. The only other person I would be this frank to in real life has ignored me out of her life and I can't trust her to treat me with care anymore. Team Me has taken quite a culling these last few weeks.

#124 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2013, 10:49 AM:

Jacque #122: Um, do you need a reference cleanup between #121, #122 and here?

First, I beg to differ that "bailing" in that context is being untrustworthy, unless you just abandoned the mailing list without telling anybody.

Trustworthiness doesn't mean "I said I would do this, so I will smash through storm, ice, stone and lava to accomplish it"! It suffices to give it your best shot, and if you discover you can't, to give fair notice when you let go of it. Obviously, you want to give as much warning as practical of dropping that ball, but you are entitled to walk away from an impossible task!

A machine analogy: We all want our devices and machines to work always and forever, but that's not how the world works -- like people, any machine has conditions where it just can't function. For a machine or a person, "trustworthiness" includes giving notice of problems and impending failure -- f'rex, the "no signal" notice on your phone, or various lights on a car dashboard (oil, battery, engine temp, door warning...). It does not mean silently plugging away in damaged condition until the crankcase is dry and the engine is destroyed.

the invisible one #120: What about somebody whose past experience, intellect, and emotion are all integrated and whole on the belief that promises are just words that can be ignored and not commitments, or that it's ok to lie and cheat other people if it benefits themselves?

It's technically possible to be "integrally evil", but that's not someone to be valued, because "pure what?" still matters. More, in normal usage "integrity" focuses on integration with the social world around the person, with internal integrity "implied". Even a dedicated Satanist¹ or a high-functioning sociopath will recognize that moral imperatives or no, double dealing and betrayal have consequences -- and you can't exploit people's trust if nobody's willing to trust you.

Note that, someone who you know can't be trusted, but can at least be relied on to follow their own interests, can still be handled as a tool, if you have power over whatever it is they want. A big part of the shock factor in the last few years of American politics, has been from many politicians failing even that standard.

What about somebody who is still sorting out the integration of intellect and emotion, who often feels internally divided (hi, Jerkbrain!) and who still acts with honesty and trustworthiness?

They are courteously keeping their internal divisions internal, and presenting a "proper" interface to the world. What other people care about is your external integrity -- speech action, behavior. Internal divisions aren't already a failure of external integrity, just a hazard to it -- if the internal drama produces bad behavior, then that's the actual failure of integrity. Even if you're torn up inside, it's possible to choose a course of action that doesn't inflict your internal process on other people. The organizational version of this is "sort out your differences in private, so you can present a unified front (statement, policy, action) to the public".

That said, the divisions can still cause you to be unfair to yourself, which leads to other sorts of trouble. (See my comment to Jacque above.)

¹ Way back in college, I read LaVey's Satanic Bible and Ringer's Looking Out For #1 in the same week, and laughed my head off. They pitched pretty much the same core ideas, with different decorations. IIRC, they were also published within a couple of years of each other, back in the 60's.

#125 ::: Dave Harmon hs been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2013, 10:50 AM:

Possibly for blathering on, more likely for failures of punctuation and such.

#126 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2013, 11:24 AM:

#124 ::: Dave Harmon

Note that, someone who you know can't be trusted, but can at least be relied on to follow their own interests, can still be handled as a tool, if you have power over whatever it is they want. A big part of the shock factor in the last few years of American politics, has been from many politicians failing even that standard.

It was also shocking (at least to me) that you couldn't trust enough people in business that way, either.

#127 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2013, 12:41 PM:

Dave Harmon @124: Um, do you need a reference cleanup between #121, #122 and here?

Nah, but thanks for keeping an eye out for me! No, the pseud is just to deflect casual Googling.

If somebody is reading closely enough to actually pick up the connection, I'm not too concerned.

First, I beg to differ that "bailing" in that context is being untrustworthy

It's not the bailing part where I felt I was being untrustworthy; it was the part that came before that. Wherein I was confronting input that I couldn't fully unpack, and therefore was not confident that my response was (a) appropriate and (b) consistent with my stated policies. I guess where "trustworthiness" was an issue was where I was not trusting my response to the inputs.

And thank you for the affirmation wrt "trustworthiness." It's an interesting experience to encounter a situation where one finds oneself saying, "You know, I just don't know what to say to that." There was some interesting Sleight-of-Mouth and rules gamesmanship going on in that situation. The one that was very clear-cut (once I had a baseline) was the guy who, when confronted with something he doesn't understand, responds with insults and verbal abuse. (Gee, and here I thought the useful thing to do would be to, like, ask for clarification. Silly me.) Once I had that worked out, I summarily stepped on his head, and much to my surprise, actually seem to have gotten through. He apologized (though what he was apologing for was not what I was objecting to), but I have every confidence it will happen again.

(See: this is why it's useful to know what "confusion" feels like, so you don't just react with, "Ow! Don't like!" BITE BITE BITE.)

So, yeah. I've actually put up an offer that if people want a forum moderated by me, I will start one. But that will be an entirely different kettle of greeps, as I will then be clear and undisputed Tzarina, and if I don't like the cut of somebody's jib, I'll have complete freedom to kick their furry ass to the curb.

I'll be curious to see if anybody takes me up on it.

Note that, someone who you know can't be trusted, but can at least be relied on to follow their own interests, can still be handled as a tool

And if one doesn't want or need to make use of this person, this insight into their character is still useful from the standpoint of staying outside of their blast-zone. Well, where possible. When the party in question is an 800-pound gorilla, this presents a whole new challenge.

#128 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2013, 04:43 PM:

Context for following: my parents kept my bedroom *exactly* the same as when I moved out (I've mentioned this before - comment #1 on Sitting and Rising) and I finally got rid of my bedroom furniture. The friend I gave it to brought a buddy to help him move it into his trailer, so it was done by the time I got there.

What he didn't tell me at the time was how my parents reacted.

Mom (predictably) was fussing and flapping and all upset that it was going away. My dad just shook his head at her and wandered off. Mom then went on to say "I don't know why she's giving this away, because she'll need it when she moves back home again!"

Have I mentioned that I have been happily married for over seven years?

I don't even have words.

#129 ::: Chickadee has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2013, 04:43 PM:

Still nothing to offer - just got home. But I could bake some brownies. :)

[Borked link there, possibly because of lack of quotes around the URL. It's worth testing those at preview if you have 'em a lot. — Idumea Arbacoochee, Duty Gnome]

#130 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2013, 04:55 PM:

Jacque #127: Yeah, bagging on an unwinnable situation is entirely fair play. "My uncle the executive", well after his ordinary retirement, was invited to take on a struggling small company to try to turn it around. He got there and promptly discovered that they'd lied to him about basic stuff like cash-flow. That gave him a legal and moral right to walk away from his contract on the basis of "adverse conditions". He didn't, but admitted later that he should have. And yes, the company had failed.

When the party in question is an 800-pound gorilla, this presents a whole new challenge.

Even for a 800-pound gorilla, predictable is better than not. As an aside, I note that the head of the Gorilla Project (home of the famous Koko) has explicitly said that they couldn't manage without their charges' cooperation -- the gorillas can handle the big gates to their enclosure rather more easily than the humans can.

#131 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2013, 05:12 PM:

Chickadee @128: My response? That clunk you just heard over the internet was my jaw hitting the ground. The several following thuds were me beating my head gently against the desk.

Your mother has problems with the concept that you grew up and got your own life, much?

#132 ::: Dave Harmon has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2013, 05:19 PM:

Again. I have blueberries to share....

#133 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2013, 05:23 PM:

Chickadee @128, Mom then went on to say "I don't know why she's giving this away, because she'll need it when she moves back home again!"

<blink> <blink-blink> You're quite right, there are no possible words.

Confirmation, if needed, that your mother's perceptions only tangentally line up with reality. It's probably good for her, and definitely good for you, that the bed is out of there...

#134 ::: tamiki ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2013, 05:38 PM:

Chickadee: That sounds like something my fiancee's parents would have done, if they hadn't moved house since she moved out.

As it is, they have boxes upon boxes of her old stuff that they're hanging onto 'in case she wants it.' This includes things like her baby clothes - which, even if she wanted kids, she wouldn't dress them in '80s fashion. When she was in more regular contact her mother would keep her on the phone for ages going through boxes to see if she wanted any of it.

#135 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2013, 05:54 PM:

Chickadee @128: "I don't know why she's giving this away, because she'll need it when she moves back home again!"

Oo. That sent a chill down my spine. Not a bad hologram of a recurring nightmare I have....

#136 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2013, 06:02 PM:

Chickadee @128: "I don't know why she's giving this away, because she'll need it when she moves back home again!"

Oo. That sent a chill down my spine. Not a bad hologram of a recurring nightmare I have....

#137 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2013, 06:08 PM:

tamiki @134: I've experienced that too - the keeping boxes upon boxes of stuff "for my future children." Some of it I've convinced her to give to my cousins' children (it still being in the family, it's therefore okay). Oh, and lots and lots of stuff that's "too good" to throw away. Never mind that anything coming out of their house stinks of mildew from the numerous floods they've had in the basement. (they fixed the source problem and retiled the basement, but it's in the drywall. They just don't smell it any more.) And a lot of what she considers mine is mine by children ownership rules - i.e. it's the kid's shirt, but the kid's not allowed to give it away.

Anyhow, the point of this was to give you the tactic I've found most marvellously effective for getting rid of things.

I say "Sure, I'll take it!" and bring it back to my apartment. From whence it magically disappears to the dumpster or a local charity or a friend or... wherever. It's up to me, and she doesn't have to know. Gotten rid of SO MUCH stuff that way... :)

#138 ::: Bricklayer ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2013, 06:52 PM:

I wish I knew what was up with me and napping. Lately I've been having far-more-frequent-than-I-want sleep-all-day days. And it doesn't feel like 'sleep,' exactly; it feels like going under a general anesthetic. I start out feeling crappy and draggy and no-brain so I lie down with a book and the next thing I know it's 4 hours later or something, and I still don't feel RESTED, necessarily.

I know I must need the sleep (because I have a hard time falling asleep in the daytime without biological underlying causes), but I wish I felt like it was GETTING me anywhere. The past three weeks, nearly every day I haven't had the kid home all day at least 3 hours have disappeared up the pipe, and today it was basically all my potentially-productive hours.

In two weeks, kid starts her new school, and becomes entirely my problem from 10:50 until after Daddy is home and has eaten dinner. Oh, and at that 10:50AM point I have to already be at her school.

Have I mentioned I've been unable to force myself to leave the house on days I'm home alone for over a month now? Even to go in the back yard and water trees/etc?

Not looking forward to this big change. No idea how I'm going to get through it. :-/ On the plus side, $1000/mo is going to be $40/mo, and husband's stress level will rocket downwards, which has got to be good overall.

I've only been surviving (to the degree that I do) her home-all-day days so far by penning her up for nap and trying to limit my anesthesia time to that timeslot -- but often she's yelling out her door and otherwise trying to interact with me before going down in a way that disrupts my ability to get any rest.

#139 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2013, 06:52 PM:

I've personally got a different variant of the parents keeping stuff forever -- I keep stuff they kept. It's been difficult for me to throw out old check registers and cancelled checks -- I've learned how to do it -- but there's a part of me that doesn't feel that I actually own anything, I'm just an archivist/caretaker for The Stuff until its real owner shows up.

This has good and bad sides to it: I do have a larger number of letters from my grandparents to my father which give fascinating insight into their relationship.

The relative functionality of my family did not include training me to really own stuff and be willing to release it when it's no longer useful. It might come in handy when I need to learn juggling to have 4 sets of juggling balls, right? And don't get me started on T-shirts from events I worked on....

#140 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2013, 10:04 PM:

Bricklayer—that's sounding like potential physical issues, like anemia or something along those lines. I would suggest that you may want to get a general physical, because if there is an underlying issue, you'll want that worked on. (Even if it's something as vague as my SiL's persistent and seemingly causeless deep anemia—she has to go to chemo for iron sludge every few weeks, no kidding. But it keeps her ambulatory.)

#141 ::: Anon4Now ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2013, 10:24 PM:

Bricklayer @ 138, oh gosh, I know that general-anesthetic feeling. For me it was caused by particular SSRIs. It took me a long time to really believe it was the meds and not a personal failing of mine. But it was the meds, all right.

So if you can, I'd recommend reporting your daytime sleepiness to your doctor -- especially if you've started any new meds or new dosages. But even without potential meds involvement, that sort of major daytime sleepiness can be a sign of something funky going on with physical health -- and it might be something easily fixable.

But gosh, I feel you on that general-anesthetic daytime sleepiness experience.

#142 ::: Bricklayer ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2013, 10:36 PM:

Anon4Now @141: I'm not on any meds, except occasional loratadine and ibuprofen (which hardly count, being OTC and sporadic at-need).

I've never been anemic before; occasionally when I go to donate blood my blood isn't quite iron-y enough to allow it (droplet doesn't fall fast enough in the copper solution), but usually eating some beef and resting up for a day or two fixes it and then my droplet drops like a stone.

I have at various points in my life been repeatedly tested for low thyroid, because I have certain constellations of symptoms that it would be really NICE if they were all caused by low thyroid ... Then they could all be treated wham-bam and would make sense. But I keep coming up fine on the tests, so apparently (as of my last basic physical, which was in March) my thyroid's fine.

I would suspect my usual general serious sleep deprivation (child-caused), but she's been pretty good about sleeping through the night for the past week or so, and yesterday I even woke up awake on my own in the morning (instead of dragging up at the alarm).

I wouldn't say I've been fully compos mentis or rested for a good long while, though. I'd thought yesterday's waking was a good sign ... and then I have today. Dammit.

Also, once the kid goes into her new school my ability to get to medical appointments of any description becomes almost entirely nonexistent, unless I can go to one that is very near her school and over by 10:15 ... which doesn't seem likely.

In the DFD department, my husband's reaction to being told how my day went was a frustrated sigh and "It must be nice." Because clearly I chose to be unconscious from about 10:30 to about 4:15 because IT'S SO MUCH FUN. Bonbons on the couch! Grrf.

#143 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2013, 11:40 PM:

Bricklayer, it also may be Fibromyalgia -- that's how mine started. And the "sleep that doesn't produce rest" is REAL familiar. In some manifestations, it can feel like you're catching the flu. In others, it presents like a rheumatoid arthritis flare.

I've had both, but with proper meds it can be controlled. It also does really really weird things to REM sleep.

#144 ::: Codemonkey in NE England ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2013, 04:06 AM:

On the subject of moving out I've basically decided to lie low until the council does their renovation work some time in October (wish I knew the exact dates though, as I'd ask my parents if there was anything I could do to make it more smoothly for them). Only once that's done (and my mam has been able to re-spoon somewhat, which should be easier once she has a kitchen in a decent state of repair) will I risk bringing up the subject again. And when I do get to that point, I'll try to describe what moving out would mean to me. I know mam wants what's best for my sister and I (she's described us as "her world" on multiple occasions) and is willing to struggle to get it -- such as with getting me into a different comprehensive school to escape the bullies (she actually threatened to keep me at home if she didn't get her way there, even if it meant she was sued and taken to court for it) and with keeping my sister in mainstream education as long as possible (she thinks -- rightfully in my view -- that special schools tend to achieve little except containment, and that she wouldn't be able to read and write at all if she'd been in special schools all the time). Maybe she'd try to find a real solution if after she re-spooned I spelt it out to her just how miserable and constrained I felt living with her, especially if I offered some more concessions? (I don't know what those might be, but I do know that my money in the bank is currently doing me no good at all...)

Until now I'd thought that my mam's main problem was loneliness, but yesterday (when my dad went off to hospital in the afternoon) she said that she was actually pleased to see him go (contrast with when I go out to work on Monday morning, when my mam says "a black cloud comes over her until Friday evening") and was disappointed when he came back ahead of schedule. Perhaps my dad's aphasia means he poses the same kinds of challenges as a person with dementia? (I know carers of dementia sufferers tend to be more stressed than carers for people with other disabilities.) Certainly, when I went this year to the Sunderland Air Show with my dad (while mam took my sister to Durham on the bus) my mam actually said that she felt sorry for me! I was very relieved that my sister didn't insist on going to the air show this year (as it meant that my mam wasn't there bored out of her mind -- unlike my dad and I she has no interest in aircraft).

Moonlit Night @S&S629: 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 what mam really yearns for is a bigger house rather than a one closer to amenities -- on Sunday she said she wished she had one so that "I'd have somewhere where I could display my puzzles". I think (unfortunately) it could be tied up with how in spite of the iffy space situation in our current house, she's still clinging desperately to me and doesn't want me to move out. That's probably why she turned down all those houses in Peterlee for which I printed details last year (she did indeed say they were all "too small"). In the past month or two she was lusting after a 4-bedroom house (with two conservatories) in a development just over the road -- she said one of the conservatories could house my sister's exercise gear, and the 4th bedroom could house my book collection. :'(

#145 ::: Codemonkey in NE England ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2013, 04:07 AM:

One thing I am currently doing to prepare for moving out relates to computer arrangements -- I plan to create an account for my mam on my dad's computer sometime in the next week or so (although initially I'll be hiding it using a Windows registry hack) as it would surely make her far less dependent on me if she learned how to use a computer! As I mentioned back on S&S646, my mam noted approvingly that since my sister started surfing the 'net on her laptop, she's become far less clingy -- maybe my mam would stop clinging to me so much if she could use a computer herself?

One thing I've already done with this in mind is to move all my own e-mail to my Gmail address (except messages from my ISP of course), so that if I move out the account could be smoothly transferred over to her. I wonder what the procedure would be for changing my ISP e-mail address to my mam's name when the time comes? Of course I'd set the computer up so I could remote log in to it to fix any technical problems which may arise.

Which browser should I set as the default? Internet Explorer (as it comes with Windows and may more likely be mentioned by books for learning Windows), Firefox (the browser I currently use myself) or Chrome (which is increasingly popular and seems to be simpler in design than the other two)?

She's never used a PC before at all (and even struggles with more basic electronic devices -- she never learned how to do a timer recording on a video recorder, for example), and I'd like her to be able to the tasks which she currently asks me to do. These tasks mostly consist of printing off documents in Word and using the internet to check supermarket receipts (the main supermarket we use has a price-comparison programme where you can check your receipt against 4 rival supermarkets and print off a money-off coupon if one of the rivals was cheaper) and to enter promotion numbers from the weekend newspapers.

What would people here recommend I should do to help her learn, other than the first thing that comes to mind (namely buy a copy of "Windows Vista for Dummies")? I also intend to prepare documentation specific to the tasks I'd like my mam to be able to do, but I fear I may find this hard to do without a source of more general information, as she wouldn't even know what it meant to "double-click" something, for example. By the way, if you this kind of computing advice would be inappropriate on this thread, by all means post on the current Open Thread instead. (Please let me know though if you do!)

#146 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2013, 08:59 AM:

#145, Codemonkey in NE England:

Regarding teaching somebody with zero experience to use a computer, one thing I've noticed works the best is not to show them and write down instructions for them, but instead to have them do the task with you directing (at most pointing at the screen, absolutely no touching the mouse or keyboard on the teacher's part no matter how painfully slow it feels) and, especially, have *them* write down the steps involved, using their own words. They often write down something that you as an experienced computer-user have taken for granted for so long it doesn't even register as a "step" anymore - but if it's missing, stuff just doesn't work.

(The conventional words for things on a computer may not be in their vocabulary. If they write "picture of [something]" rather than "[program] icon", for example, that's totally ok and they don't need to be corrected at this point, because that's just extra frustration and extra things to try to hold in their head. My grandmother calls MSN Messenger her "list of names". The important thing is, she knows she can click on a name and have a typed conversation with that person.)

#147 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2013, 09:13 AM:

codemonkey, you will do best teaching your mother to use the computer if you can find something that she would like to do with it. If you just have her taking over tasks you currently do, there's not much payoff for her - not only is it more work for her, it reminds her regularly that you are still planning to move out, and she has no reason to facilitate that. Is there a hobby she might like an online group about?

#148 ::: Pin Cushion ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2013, 10:31 AM:

Wow. I can't read all the comments right now and may never be able to read all of them. I was just talking about hope yesterday with a good friend, and how I've run completely out of it, and today I found this post in my RSS feed. Hope is something that smells good to me, something I want to have, something I need to have, but I've been hanging on by my fingernails for so long that the idea of hoping for anything scares me because Experience tells me it's never gotten better in all the years I've been hoping up until now, and Futility tells me it never will get better, and Desperation is shrieking at me, "Get out of here while there's still something left of you to salvage!"

My birth family is dysfunctional. The family I was raised with is dysfunctional. The family I married into is dysfunctional. I've learned to accept all of this and say, with equanimity, "That's just the way they are" and find something good to hang my happiness on with them. Or just move as far away from them as possible so that the moments I'm actually with them are bearable, a kind of bittersweet reunion that lasts just long enough to enjoy while I'm there and still be thankful that we are separated by a couple thousands miles when it's over.

I tell my kids, "We all make mistakes. We all fail. My mother failed me in some ways, but she tried her best and she was a better mother to me than her mother was to her. I fail, but I try my best and I am a better mother to you than my mother was to me. You will fail too, but I hope that you will be a better mother to your kids than I am to you."

My kids came to me not from my womb but from abuse and trauma. They were already broken when I got them. My first kid is proof to me that I've done something right as a mother. My second seems to be proof that I can't do anything right as mother. For four years, I've been telling myself, "It will get better." And it hasn't. And I keep saying, "I've given up hope." Until something happens and I realize that I'd been secretly nurturing hope and telling myself, "This time. Maybe this time it will be Different." But it never is.

My Challenging Child intentionally provokes me to see if I'm going to be safer than her first parents. I could go into a litany of all the ways she tests me, but what it all boils down to is that she has these shards of pain and fear and hopelessness in her, and every time she tries to take one out, she pushes it into me. Every day as her mother, I feel like a pin cushion, a voodoo doll, a punching bag. Being her mother is the most painful thing I have ever done and it leaves me feeling hopeless, and other emotions that I don't dare name right now because I'm sitting in a coffee shop and don't want to end up bawling my eyes out here in public right next to where everybody is waiting to pick up their coffee orders.

Hope is a bitter pill. I want it. I need it to survive, both emotionally, psychically, and physically. I've already been pushed to the brink of evaluating whether or not a ceiling beam in my basement was high enough off the ground to hang myself from. I'm fighting to stay away from that ledge right now. And my Challenging Child is pushing me farther and farther away from her, and closer to that ledge. And sometimes I dance away from her because I'm tired of being stuck with broken glass and needles and lances every time I get near her.

Maybe I don't understand hope. Maybe Hope isn't who I think she is. I feel like she keeps failing me. Like I keep expecting her to make everything better, but she doesn't. Maybe she's the one thing that keeps me from saying, "I can't handle this anymore" and doing myself in or running away or sending her back. Some parents do that. That's never been in my vocabulary though. I've never even been able to understand that. Until my Challenging Child came home. It's still not in my vocabulary, but I have understanding and compassion now for the people who do say, "I can't do this anymore." Maybe Hope is what keeps me from saying that. But she's not someone warm, she's not safe, she's not comforting. She's just this cold stubbornness that says, "I'm not giving up this time. Maybe next time, but not this time."

#149 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2013, 10:54 AM:

Pin Cushion @148, witnessing. And <hugs> if you want them.

#150 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2013, 11:53 AM:

Pin Cushion @148: Reading. Witnessing. Hugs if they're welcome. And please come here first if you ever find yourself evaluating that ceiling beam again.

#151 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2013, 12:33 PM:

Pin Cushion, you are doing good things. I think you are also working to teach your children how to avoid some of the dysfunctional patterns you recognize, if only by stubbornly refusing to cast your Challenging Child away. I don't know if it will work, or how soon it will work, but I can't think of anything else that will.

Codemonkey, I think that your plan to move out is sound with one caveat: fix in your mind, or even write down, that this is it. You've been trying to move out for so long, and this is as painless as it will get for your mother. I don't think there will be a better time for you to move out in terms of her emotions. Even if it seems to be tearing her apart, if this timing doesn't work, no timing would.

For computer instruction, I tend to mimic the way I learned about computers. I go for games and the internet leading me to new things. I don't think browser choice matters much; people generally think that what they learned is easiest to learn and to use.

Also, remind her that there's not much she can do to the computer that can't be fixed. That's a big part of kid-learning.

#152 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2013, 01:50 PM:

Pincushion @148 - your phrase "cold stubbornness" leapt out at me. There have definitely been times in my life when that kind of stubbornness was the only thing that kept me going forward. I will do this, I will get through this, I will not stop no matter how hopeless it seems. I think that is a form of hope. Although I tended to think of it as a kind of faith - faith (belief without proof) that things would get better, or different, or something in the long run if I just kept doing what I could. Not a faith in anyone or anything, except the general workings of the universe, so maybe hope is the better term.

#153 ::: St Monday ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2013, 01:56 PM:

[I meant to post this (or, rather, an earlier version of this) before the weekend, but life, etc.] Thanks to all for the welcomes. And I was glad to get out of the spam skimmer. Ishy. At least I had the forethought to bring some shortbread cookies with me.

I've been reflecting on "the Hope thing" and based on my own experiences, I keep coming around to a tool analogy. If I've only ever seen these things -- hope, love, faith -- as unpredictable, dangerous tools; if I've been trained to believe I am incapable of using them without doing harm to myself and/or others; if I've only ever seen them put to coercive, or painful, or destructive ends; and if, when I have tried using them, the handle unexpectedly came off, or it jumped in a weird way and cut me; then, after a while, why would I ever reach for them?

So this in turn got me thinking about trust. Personally, I seem to trust hope somewhat more than love or faith, since I've much more frequently seen those two latter put to very bad ends. And for me, hope is a deeply internal thing, beyond the reach of the harmful people in my life. But I can easily imagine how, under slightly different circumstances, my confidence in the idea of hope could also have been shaken.

I should add that my trust in love and faith has grown over the years, the more I've seen the good people in my life using them responsibly and skillfully, the more I've practiced using them in safe places with people I trust, and the longer I've been away from the negative and destructive influences. And I've come to realize I was lucky that the damage was sloppy and incomplete, leaving greater swaths of my inner self untouched than I had once thought. I was never a victim of malice, just stupidity. (However, Hanlon's Razor and Grey's Law, n'est ce pas?)

Pardon the abstractions: I don't, as they say, have the spoons at the moment to tie these thoughts and observations to my story.

#154 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2013, 02:00 PM:

Pin Cushion @148: Maybe I don't understand hope. Maybe Hope isn't who I think she is. I feel like she keeps failing me.

I'm not sure where I am with "hope." I think where I put my money is on "faith." Faith that, if something isn't working in my life I will, at some point, either figure out something new to try, or that something I hadn't encountered before will come along, and I can use that to change my situation.

In your place, here's what I would recommend: If you can list out one or two things your child does that is difficult for you to deal with, maybe we here can put our heads together and come up with something to try that will change the dynamic.

Lather, rinse, repeat; this is how I've solved most of the challenges in my life that I face.

#155 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2013, 06:49 PM:

Meeting on Thursday! Time to revisit comments about encouragement-- and thanks to everyone who commented. Even if my experience is different from yours, finding out exactly what was different is important for me.

Tentative idea about thing to say, "I want to feel sure of my own motivations, so please don't encourage me." Alternate possibility: "I'm not sure how I feel about encouragement, so could you keep it down to once or twice per meeting?" Or maybe I'll just encourage them back.

#63 ::: ma larkey:

No guarantees here, but I found that cutting back on self-hatred helped with my memory/mental focus. This makes sense in retrospect. Self-hatred is distracting as well as painful.

#70 ::: eep:

I've got a real hot button about being told what to feel, but for whatever reason, being encouraged doesn't activate it, possibly because encouragement seems to me like being ineffectively pushed to do something rather than being told to feel something.

For whatever reason (and there's probably something important there), I am just about impossible to motivate. And I hate oratory-- if it gets a grip at all, it sounds like "someone is trying to push me into something I don't want to do and which will probably be bad for me".

The thing that being encouraged activates is more like "I can't affect other people's emotional expression, all I can do pretend to not mind and wait for it to be over". This is probably very bad stuff, but I'm only feeling a little pain thinking about now, and didn't feel any at all when I thought about it on first reading of your comment.

#73 ::: David Goldfarb:

I wonder what the relationship is between stoicism and niceness-- they seem like somewhat different versions of shutting down how much desire you feel, except that you get much less credit for niceness.

#74 ::: Jacque:

Another thing that feeling your feelings can do is taking down shields against *ever* feeling very much and/or a particular emotion.

I think a way feeling your feelings can go wrong in practice is too much emphasis on painful emotions.

#74 ::: Jacque:

There are definitely some status issues involved with encouragement-- I do feel like I'm being put into a one-down position when half the group is being individually encouraging.

#77 ::: the invisible one:

In re the good running coach: The Talent Coach has both the usual 10,000 hours material about focused practice (practice to make specific improvements), but also a section about successful coaching-- and what the author found was excellent coaches who gave skilled advice rather than motivating through either praise or criticism.

I've seen a lot of complaints about complaining. They used to make me feel bad about the amount of complaining I do, and then I realized that complaints about complaining are still complaints.

#92 ::: the invisible one:

How does using the term "jerkbrain" work out for you? I mean, what happens when you apply that label to something you're thinking?

It feels like an unsafe direction for me to try, even though there's a part of my internal monologue which is utterly poisonous.

I'm not sure whether my feeling uncomfortable with using "jerkbrain" for my internal attacks is discomfort with setting boundaries or concern that using dismissive language just feels off to me. It may just be that it feels like a problem with my mind/emotions rather than my brain.

Which DF thread had a lot about internal attack monologues?

#138 ::: Bricklayer:

Very tentatively offered-- could it be mono? Also, I gather that thyroid problems can be hard to diagnose.

#156 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2013, 09:32 PM:

Reading, witnessing, commenting will resume in a couple of days, still very crashy after last week's wonderful overdoing.

(New nightshirt: "4 Nights | No Sleep | [4 opera names] | Seattle Opera Ring 2013" *happy babbling*)

(where'd that "happy" sneak in from, anyway? Not complaining, just... wow. I knew I've needed a "vacation from my life" for a long while now, didn't expect to actually get it - while still sleeping in my own bed. Wow.)

#157 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2013, 10:20 PM:

#155, Nancy Lebovitz:

How does using the term "jerkbrain" work out for you? I mean, what happens when you apply that label to something you're thinking?

Mostly, I think, it helps me separate my actual thoughts about the current situation from the mixture of negative self-talk, bad past experiences, and bad things about myself that other people have told me so many times that I internalized it. Once I've separated it, I have a chance of dealing with it without the negative self-talk dominating and making me (as) upset.

Learning to identify what is Jerkbrain and what is genuine/current/relevant is in some areas still ongoing.

I'm not sure whether my feeling uncomfortable with using "jerkbrain" for my internal attacks is discomfort with setting boundaries or concern that using dismissive language just feels off to me. It may just be that it feels like a problem with my mind/emotions rather than my brain.

My usage of it (at least in my thoughts) isn't intended to be dismissive, even if I do often tell myself "that's just Jerkbrain talking" as part of a way to calm myself down. Jerkbrain is a jerk and a sneaky bully that I have to deal with, and that I can't ignore because it lives inside my head with me. Holding it separate from myself is distancing so I can see it more clearly - writing stuff out sometimes has a similar effect.

It's also not intended (in my mind) to separate the concept of "brain" and "mind" or "emotions", whether or not, scientifically speaking, they should be separated. It's a way to shine a light on the bad patterns and unhelpful habits of thought to see where and how they're bent, or twisted, or knotted up, and what other memories and emotions they're attached to. And when I started, that tangle looked pretty big and I had a weak flashlight. (The flashlight gets stronger the more you use it, which is backwards but useful. Maybe it's one of those new body-heat-powered flashlights that gets brighter the longer you hold it. Digression ends.)

The distancing, I think, may be one of the most important parts of the concept of Jerkbrain for me. I have trouble dealing with strong emotions when in the middle of them. When those strong emotions are part of old programming that isn't actually valid or applicable anymore, I can't see that it's not valid until I can get that distance. Just being able to sometimes identify and name an emotional response as Jerkbrain and push it into that named space has been a huge step forward for me in terms of being able to recognize that, for example, new interest isn't going to hate me forever and leave because I tentatively set a boundary, and if he were to do that, it would be his problem and not because I'm a horrible person for having a boundary. So thoughts that need to be pushed away like that so I can think about the real issue at hand are "Jerkbrain talking", due to past experience with other people in the past actually stomping on my attempts to set boundaries (or whatever Jerkbrain is making noise about), and something to deal with instead of something to believe about the current person or the current situation.

Not to say I label all negative emotional responses or expectations as Jerkbrain! Learning to identify Jerkbrain vs. a real, current response based on what's happening now is an important part of it. So for example, me not wanting to sit with my mother on my right side on the last visit because that week I had a particularly dark scab on my right arm and I expected her to tell me how awful it looked - that's not Jerkbrain, that's the voice of experience. (And she did exactly as I expected.)

I've found that Jerkbrain has a lot of self-defence skills, too. One of them I ran into recently was a bit of self-defence where Jerkbrain was preventing me from telling new interest that I needed reassurance by telling me that if I got what I was asking for it would be just appeasement to make me shut up and stop whining, it wouldn't be real reassurance. (That was taken from bad past experience.) The self-defence bit for that was if I mentioned both halves of it, then new interest would leave because I'm both whining AND broken. Some pretty effective self-defence moves against me, they stalled me at that point for a while. Jerkbrain really didn't want that light shone its way.

I first encountered the general concept here, under the name "the Goddamn Tapes". That name wasn't all that sticky for me, because mine didn't seem to go in the repetitive, crushing loop that most of the people using that name for it described. (It's pretty crushing, but it didn't seem to be a repetitive loop in my case.) Later, at Captain Awkward, I saw it named "Jerkbrain", and that name and description resonated with me, so that's the name I use. If you're looking for DFD threads on the subject, "the goddamn tapes" or just "tapes" (to catch the euphemistic versions) would probably be a good search phrase. The most recent three threads seem to have the most hits for "tapes" but I'm not sure if any of the others have more discussion without using that particular word.

#158 ::: Phenicious ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2013, 10:23 PM:

Hi, I'm having a really bad time right now and I don't have anything important or interesting to say but I want to say...something? I don't know, sorry.

I'm overwhelmed by everything I have to do for school, which is to say, regular easy normal-person stuff that every student has to deal with so I'm actually just a stupid baby who can't handle life. I'm being deliberately over-dramatic because seriously, look at how ridiculous that is. Yes, self, EVERYONE has to deal with diabetes and anxiety and Asperger's and and and. Literally, every single student and everyone who's moving out on a deadline. You are obviously just defective and need to download the latest patch for your completely made-up anxiety.

On top of that, jerkbrain has me in this really frustrating double-bind type situation. I simultaneously want to vent my feelings and be heard, AND think that I need to shut up because I am somehow the most annoying, self-centred person ever, so nobody should be subjected to my tantrums. I just logged myself out of a certain social network because I kept spamming my followers with all these ridiculously venomous self-hating posts. It got to the point where I was frustrated that nobody had stopped following me yet, because how could they just...tolerate me like that? I don't know, I really don't.

Some other stuff has happened but I'm not up to writing it up right now. I read all the responses to my last comment about food, so thank you to everyone for that. And also thanks to abi for the new thread.

I'm going to eat something now and hopefully I'll feel better.

#159 ::: Finny ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2013, 10:31 PM:

What a weekend. Weekend trip to Edmonton was fun. Coming back to the father in law threatening to call people to dispose of everything in the house (that he owns but we live in, with no rental agreement as we cannot by law have one since we are all relatives), and to the news that we are about $2000 short to paying off all our bills, as we are behind on them, not so much. Any ideas on how to get $2000 fast, to cover bills so that we can then look at setting money aside to try and move out?

#160 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2013, 01:24 AM:

On the subject of hope...back in the day, I used to play the RPG Shadowrun with buddies, and we did a thing called "passing time." Basically, you want to learn a new skill or set something up or build a thing or whatever, everybody agrees that six weeks have passed in-game and bam. Time Passes. The team has a new robot, Bob's broken leg is better, and the police aren't looking for you any more.

When I struggled worst with depression, horribly hokey as it sounds, I kept thinking "God, I wish I could just pass time!"

I felt like I was surrounded by big plastic garbage bags of generalized despair, and I couldn't move in any direction without tripping over one, and I knew I could haul them out because...um...what other choice was there? Not get over it? (Work ethic does not allow this "mortal wound" nonsense! There are deadlines to meet! Work ethic laughs at this foolishness!) But it was going to take so long to haul them out, and I wanted to hurry up and be in that future where the garbage bags were all gone and I could look back and laugh (or at least make grim snorting noises.)

Some days the depression seemed to be less about what had happened and more about how damn long it was going to take to get over it. But I suppose I always assumed that I would get over it eventually, which is hope or faith or at least not realizing the alternatives, and that if I could just pass enough time, that bit would be over and I could get on with...something.

#161 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2013, 09:03 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz @155 and the invisible one @157: I usually call mine the mother-monster or the guilt-monster, thanks to its origin, but had no trouble pegging the Goddamned Tapes and Jerkbrain as the same thing. It's the nasty insidious voice in my head trying to tear me down and keep me stuck. It is basically a caricature of my mother that has been installed in my head and does a combination of keeping me in line and protecting me. Back in the day, keeping me in line *was* a form of protecting me, so it gets upset when I do things that, while good and functional in the real world, were a good way to waste time or get hurt when I was growing up.

It's part of me and it's not me. My own "cynical and experienced" voice overlaps with it a lot, especially when dealing with relatives -- but cynicism is just that, while jerkbrain wants to push me down and make me depressed and helpless so I can't escape. Its three main functions:a mental model of my mother biased to her worst, guidance for becoming the me that she wanted, and armour against her. The guilt-monster is some kind of mental shell that I grew to survive my mother, and the environment outside used to be worse than the spikes and acid inside. Things have changed. Now I want to outgrow it, take it off, and I can't find the buckles.

#162 ::: eep ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2013, 09:13 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz @155: I want to feel sure of my own motivations
This phrase shines a light for me.

Phenicious @158: Sympathy. Witnessing.

#163 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2013, 09:36 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz @155 "I want to feel sure of my own motivations, so please don't encourage me."

Maybe "I need to learn to listen to myself, and while I appreciate the encouragement, it becomes part of the noise and makes it harder to hear my own voice."

UrsulaV @160 big plastic garbage bags of generalized despair
This is an awesome image. Some times I don't have the energy to take out the mental trash, even though I know I'll have more energy once it's not cluttering my living room. Instead, I sit around metaphorically eating pizza and throwing the greasy boxes on top of the pile of trash.

Pin Cushion, welcome.

Phenicious @158, thinking of your double-bind situation of wanting to spill all the stuff but not wanting to air it in front of people. Does journaling work for you? Some years ago someone on ML recommended a book called "The Artist's Way." (There's also an Artist's Way at Work.) One of the practices the author recommends is called "morning pages." First thing after getting up, you hand-write three pages, no more, no less. No censoring, no stopping to think, just brain dump and strings of associations, whatever comes out. Sometimes this turns up recurring themes or creative new ideas. More often it's akin to cleaning out the clog in the sink. If dumping self-loathing on paper digs you deeper in the hole, it wouldn't help, but for me, sometimes once I've dumped it out I'm more free of it. I did morning pages for several years and still return to it occasionally if I'm feeling particularly tangled.

All, reading and witnessing.

#164 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2013, 11:04 AM:

Continuing what OtterB said in #163 about journalling - first, thanks for acknowledging that, for some people, an unfiltered brain dump compounds the problem. Many don't realize that and I frequently see unfiltered freewriting promoted as a universal benefit to all. (Usually on fiction writing forums.)

What I wanted to add is that whether or not an unfiltered brain dump digs the hole deeper, sometimes a filtered brain dump can still help. The filter is something that keeps what I'm writing close to the topic I'm trying to figure out and keeps the self-loathing off the page, while otherwise letting all thoughts through. During the brain dump, I will usually go back and edit things to clarify as I think of it, instead of appending the clarification half a page down in the order I thought of it as in typical freewriting. I find that doing so makes things significantly more clear, because when I read it over after I'm done writing, the written summary of my thoughts doesn't jump around the way my thoughts had been so I see all the related bits together. It's all very opposite to freewriting in its details but it's still effectively a brain dump and for me, it works much better than freewriting does.

I think in words, very strongly, and putting my thoughts on paper in proper sentences helps me clarify muddled thoughts. Also when I write out what my thoughts are stuck on, getting that on paper seems to free my mind up to think past the stuck part. For those who think in images or other modes, I don't know what an equally helpful equivalent would be.

#165 ::: Anon4Now ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2013, 11:08 AM:

Bricklayer: Sigh at your husband's response. Went through that with my partner too. While I think he gets that it was the meds now, I still don't think he quite groks just how much it was Not A Choice for me to sleep so much.

A thought: another physical thing I had going on, contributing to the sleepiness, was Vitamin D deficiency. You can get mail-order DIY blood tests for that, so you wouldn't have to go out to a doctor to check it. (If it turns out you have low Vitamin D levels, supplements are pretty cheap and easy to get.)

All: Reading, witnessing.

#166 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2013, 11:22 AM:

I think a piece of what's going on at my end with not wanting to attack my attack voice is some kind of worry that so much of my energy is there that I don't want to shut it down, even though its effect is to shut down a lot of my ability to do much.

Another thing is that I ran across something that might be important a few days ago. I felt like an internal wall went down, and it was as though there was a baby crying (howling?-- I haven't had a lot to do with babies) behind the attack voice.

I don't know what's going on there, but the attack voice is so compulsive and desperate to shut me down that it wouldn't surprise me if there's some strong motivation.

I can't hear it now or find that wall (and I don't know what led to it being available for a day or so), but it might be something important.

#167 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2013, 05:19 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz #166: Hmm. Do you know anything about the Jungian Shadow? Your GTs are acting like a Shadow manifestation -- impounding your energy (also other parts of your psyche) and trying to convince you not to reclaim it. And yeah, attacking it is not what you want to do, that just sends more energy its way. The way to defeat it is to drain and reclaim the energy that it's stolen.

For many folks, a big part of that is delegitimizing the voice -- robbing it of authority and scariness -- and that's where mocking it and dismissing it as "Jerkbrain" comes in. You seem to be working along a different path, that of "insight" -- trying to cut open the shrouds it defends iself with, and pull its contents into the light. These are not necessarily incompatible, but different methods work better for different people.

#168 ::: Pin Cushion ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2013, 09:23 PM:

This is a ridiculously long reply, because I'm trying to respond to 100+ posts -- and I've already cut it down to something smaller twice.

All: Witnessing. Emphatically for dimwit @10, Finny @54, Nancy Lebovitz @62, ma larkey @63, and Chickadee @128. There are so many ways I can relate to each of you.

Bricklayer @59: I used to assume that the jackhole who cut me off had explosive diarrhea. :) I *love* the concept of blessing someone out of your life -- thank you for sharing that!

Nancy Lebovitz @62: Sometimes I do not want to be encouraged, I just want to be heard. Sometimes I want to hear how other people have handled similar situations, to see if anything resonates with me. I think if it were me, I would continue showing up and notice my reactions and try to label them, at least privately. Sometimes labeling them, "I feel X because Y" helps me get to the root of why I react a certain way. Sometimes it takes some digging. And sometimes, I think that I don't like the encouragement because I feel like they don't really understand or they don't "get" the depth of what I'm feeling. And sometimes they don't -- because I'm shielding. I was in group therapy for some time, and did a LOT of shielding at first. But after opening up more (gradually), I found it to be very helpful. (We also had a wonderful facilitator.) Sometimes I think witnessing is more important than encouraging because encouraging doesn't acknowledge the person's experience but kind of glosses over it.

Bricklayer @138: I had the same problem. Until about four years ago, I have always been able to cat nap. After the Evaluating the Ceiling Beam incident, I went to a doc, told her what happened, and got me some Happy Pills(TM). The Happy Pills worked remarkably well but I completely lost my ability to take a 10-20 minute lap. I went down, I was OUT for an hour at the very least. Sometimes four. Even after weaning myself off of the pills (under doctor supervision but against her wishes), I never recovered the ability to take a catnap. Untiiilll I started taking a Vitamin D supplement. My current therapist suggested Vitamin D when I told her all the natural and OTC supplements I had been trying to make a home-brew happy pill. Ever since going on Vitamin D, I have regained my ability to nap. Related? Possibly -- this is purely anecdotal evidence.

Cassy B, Chickadee, Diatryma, oliviacw and anybody I may have missed: Thank you. And specifically to oliviacw @152, I don't even believe that things will get better -- just that I will get through it. Some days, my mantra is XX More Years (until the Challenging Child is old enough to leave home and be considered a legal adult at which point I feel she will disappear from our lives completely which leaves me both relieved and empty). I guess I've got this idea that Hope is warm, maybe related to Optimism, and I have neither of those feelings. Just numbness and dogged perseverance.

Jacque @154: Thank you also, and while I appreciate the offer and the spirit in which it was made with my whole heart, I will likely not take you up on it only because my experience is that well-meaning strangers and friends who don't have experience with the kind of trauma my Challenging Child has gone through and her specific diagnosis often provide well-meant suggestions that do nothing but frustrate me. I know that this community is not like any other community I've interacted with outside of adoption-specific trauma-centered communities, but I'm gun-shy of sharing specific details with anybody who has not been carefully vetted first. But sincerely, truly, deeply, Thank You. (For most people, I just nod, say thank you, and politely blow them off -- I feel I owe this community and you an explanation of why I will not take you up on the offer though, out of respect for the community.) We have an entire team of therapists working with our family, and I have a carefully selected team of personal confidantes who I gripe to and seek advice from. It's good, and necessary sometimes, I think, to be able to just stand on the mountain and scream, "THIS SUCKS!!" and hear echoes back and be witnessed, for which I'm deeply grateful to this community.

And OtterB thank you for the welcome.

Also Bricklayer, Anon4Now suggested, like my own therapist did, getting your Vitamin D levels checked. I never bothered. I did a little research at WebMD to see how safe it is to take Vitamin D supplements and just put myself on them. Since this is the second time I've heard that you should get your levels checked first, this may be important, but I never did it. /sarcasm on/ And look how happy and well-adjusted I am now! /sarcasm off/

Also to all: thank you for sharing your experiences, struggles, things that have worked for you, etc.

#169 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2013, 11:11 PM:

abi, #87: I would not like to lose the possibility of concepts from the comments being promoted to the front page. Without that, we would have lost (or at least not been nearly as easily able to find) the remarkable comment referenced in the top-post of "You Must Be This Unhappy to Ride". Perhaps just being more aware of when something may or may not be generalizable?

Jacque, #89: Unfortunately, the idea that feeling is the opposite of thinking is one of the memes that got widely spread by Star Trek, where Spock was the logical one who "had no feelings" (only he did; it was a lot more complex than that). In the show, there was a good reason for that dichotomy -- Spock's logical arguments and McCoy's emotional responses laid out for the audience the things that Kirk had to take into account in making his decisions. We do not live in a TV show. In real life, the separation is nowhere near as neat and compartmentalized (at least, not for most people); both aspects can be part of the same thought process and have to be considered as such.

tamiki, #103: I think that's a variant on the idea that you can't rely on someone else to make you a complete person -- which is a valid ideal. But reality trumps ideology every damn time, and if what you've got that keeps you going is "but someone else is depending on me!", then you go with that until such time as you can get to something else.

ma larkey, I just want to say that I am terrified by the phrase "retrieval operation". Given what you've already said here about your family-of-birth, I would strongly advise not meeting with any of them at all, even "just to talk". If you do meet with them, have someone else there (better still, several someone elses) who can get you out if necessary, and under no circumstances should you eat or drink anything they offer you. I have a nightmare vision of you being drugged with roofies and put on a plane back to hell.

Jacque, #112: I like Diane Duane's take on Vulcan culture, which holds that the entire "suppression of feelings" thing stems from a mistranslation in one of the early versions of the Universal Translator. The Vulcan word should have been translated as "mastery" -- Vulcans do indeed have feelings, but they consider it rude to display emotions in public, so they don't.

hope in disguise, #114: Well, it's been done before, so it's not unthinkable, just strange and out-of-mainstream. Does he have a plan for the cold weather? (Bearing in mind that the cold weather up there has been getting more extreme in recent years.)

Chickadee, #128: Yeah, that's eyeroll territory, all right. Furthermore, even in the unlikely event that some catastrophe were to occur that might cause you to move back, I would bet that you'd want new furniture that was more to your adult taste. Your mother's grasp on reality seems to be more than a little shaky.

tamiki, #134: I'd be sorely tempted to take the boxes (a few at a time!), go thru them myself, and donate/recycle/toss as necessary.

Bricklayer, #138: Once the new money starts coming in, can you schedule a full physical exam? Excessive sleepiness such as you describe can be a symptom of several physical problems, and it would be worthwhile to at least rule that out before looking at anything else.

Pin Cushion, #148: Hearing and witnessing. Also, seconding the plea that if you ever find yourself looking at that beam again, try coming here first.

#170 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 12:53 AM:

Pin Cushion @168: Thank you also, and while I appreciate the offer and the spirit in which it was made with my whole heart, I will likely not take you up on it

Not a game for amateurs, got it. I fully understand that there are issues that do not admit of home remedies. You've called in the professionals, so have things as under control as the state of the art allows. Well, I hope that at least we here can offer some respite in the form of sympathetic witnessing.

Oh, and I'm totally on board with the vitamin D thing. This last winter is the first time in probably thirty years that I haven't spent February everting myself down the plumbing.

I like Diane Duane's take on Vulcan culture, which holds that the entire "suppression of feelings" thing stems from a mistranslation in one of the early versions of the Universal Translator. The Vulcan word should have been translated as "mastery" -- Vulcans do indeed have feelings, but they consider it rude to display emotions in public, so they don't.

Yeah, that's a much more succinct version of my retcon.

#171 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 08:48 AM:

I like Diane Duane's take on Vulcan culture

Her Romulans are vastly better than the on-screen ones from TNG forward, too. If you haven't read the Rihannsu series, I recommend it highly; Amazon has My Enemy, My Ally as an ebook.

#172 ::: obsidian ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 12:22 PM:

The discussion of vitamin D reminds me to go take mine. I don't find that it helps me so much with being tired, but in the winter and during particularly gray streaks, I find that I am much less bothered by the mood swings when I take vitamin D. It could be a placebo effect, but I will take a placebo effect that makes me feel better.

On the subject of hope, there are times when my depression is severe enough that I don't see hope at all. I simply see a very grim determination to put 1 foot in front of the other. The work ethic that UrsulaV talks about hits me as well. There is no choice but to keep going, but it's very hard to see how that equates to hope.

I am, however, hopeful that some of the toxicity that manifested in my relationship with my mother will be skipped for the next generation. I remember having screaming fights over homework well into seventh or eighth grade. My eight-year old child and I clash over homework, but the clashes are much more productive than my screaming matches ever were.

I am not a teacher. I recognize that. But, I have learned when it is time for me to disengage from trying to provide instruction, and she is learning to let me have that disengage time. (Incidentally, if anyone has any recommendations for being a better teacher to your child, I would appreciate them. I'm muddling through, but I would love some guidance.)

We had a tricky episode last night, but neither of us ever raised our voices, and we used a whole lot of I statements. At the end, we even came up (together) with a plan for how to handle similar assignments in the future. With luck, this will skip a whole lot of the tension in the future.

In other news, I'm trying a new approach to dealing with my mother's micro aggressions. I still can't tell whether or not I'm reacting all out of proportion or not, but recognizing that there are certain statements of hers that a) drive me crazy and b) I do not have to respond to them seems to be helping me at least.

Two examples:
The school year is about to start, and I will need to go out and get school supplies. My husband and I look at the online list of supplies several weeks before school starts, note that there's nothing complicated on it, and put it aside to be handled on the weekend before school. My mother gets Terribly Concerned that we haven't bought school supplies yet and goes out of her way to get me a paper copy of the list. When I tell her that I don't want a paper copy of the list (because it will be lost, and is really Just One More Thing to Keep Track Of), she says, "Well. I was just trying to be nice. Unless you don't want me to be nice?" To which my response was a loud "REALLY?" in a disbelieving tone of voice. Then, subject change.

I call my mother last night and ask her if my child has left a copy of her homework in mom's car. Mom checks and says "Yes." I say, "Okay; I will get husband to come by on his way home and get it from you." Mom says, "Why don't I just drive over and give it to you?" I'm wary and try to push for husband to pick up the homework. Mom insists on driving the 4 miles to my house and dropping over the homework herself. She drops it off, and as I'm heading back into the house, she says, "I really should start charging you mileage." I ignore her and continue into the house.

It's not big. It's certainly not nearly as dreadful as some situations, but that's almost as tiring because there's nothing I can point to definitively and say "This is WRONG." I spend time double and triple checking to make sure that I'm not crazy. When I finally pulled 'microagression' into my vocabulary, I was thrilled. It sums up everything so nicely.

#173 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 12:45 PM:

Carrie, #171: Oh, yes, definitely. But one caveat for anyone wanting to read the series -- the last 3 books (Swordhunt, Honor Blade, and The Empty Chair) are effectively one long story that's been broken up oddly, and should be bought and read together; they don't stand alone very well.

Aaaand I'll stop with that, because I don't want to introduce a thread-hijack.

#174 ::: Bricklayer ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 12:50 PM:

Quick response. I am not hopeful about my ability to get in to see my doctor, as there have now been three solid days of being unable to force myself to make phone calls (or internet appointments), cutting my margin down to, well, today or Monday to see anyone before my days become full of no-respite-available childcare. My dentist is going to have to wait an indefinite amount of time before my next cleaning, too. :-/

Vitamin D is a very good idea; at my March appt my doctor recommended (some large number of mg) doses daily to me.

However, I am apparently incapable of remaining meds-compliant for more than a couple of weeks at a time ... which sucks, but I see no way around it. I have implemented every procedure I can think of to remind me to take them, to make it EASY to take them, and still I drift into weeks of "Wow, I guess I never took any of those pills in my weekly pill-counter, um, ever. Am I going to today, I wonder?"

#175 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 01:36 PM:

Bricklayer, this is probably a stupid question, but when you notice you've not taken any of the pills in the pillcounter, why not just take that day's pills then, instead of wondering if you'll take them that day? Is it that you have to take them at certain times? I know that my calcium pills are supposed to be taken with meals, but if I forget, I still figure it's better to take them without meals and get some benefit than not to take them at all....

#176 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 02:39 PM:

On the taking of pills: Many years ago , faced with remembering to take one pill every day, no excuses, I tied it to doing it with something I was guaranteed to do every day--brush my teeth. As the list of pills grew, they just got added in to that.

#177 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 04:51 PM:

6 Toxic Relationship Habits That Most Many People Think Are Normal

It's basic 101-level stuff, but possibly useful nonetheless. I notice that all of them are rooted in poor-communication issues.

#178 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 05:06 PM:

obsidian @172: It sounds like your mother has anxiety about tasks that need to be looked after by other people. And projects that onto others. I would be curious about the outcome of asking her about that. (Which may not be a door you may want to open, however.)

Cally Soukup @175: I still figure it's better to take them without meals and get some benefit than not to take them at all....

My hack for that is to pre-count them into a pull organizer, and load each dose with a heaping quarter-teaspoon or so of Metamucil powder. (Obviously, take with plenty of water.) It's Pixie-Stick-like enough that I can just toss it off, and seems to serve much of the buffering function that food does.

#179 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 05:13 PM:

Jacque: darn, I was really hoping that was going to be something called a pull organizer rather than a pill organizer [grin]. The metamucil trick sounds like a good one. What I mostly do with pills that "should be taken with meals" like calcium pills is to eat a granola bar when I take it. I've got a pretty good stash of granola bars at the moment, as a local big-box grocery store had a Really Good Sale on them a while back, so I stocked up.

#180 ::: obsidian ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 05:25 PM:

Jacque @177: One of the largest -- at least one of the most memorable -- high school fights that I had with my mother came about when I said "That's my mother, the martyr" in response to something she had said. I don't even remember what comment she made, but I'm sure it was something along the lines of the "I should charge you mileage" or "if you don't want me to be nice" statements. She flipped out, and I decided that I just wouldn't touch such statements in the future.

In general, so long as I have reasonable amounts of spoons, mom and I get along decently. We have a general truce centering around Not Speaking Of Certain Topics, and life moves on. The problem is that I have a newish job that takes up a lot more mental energy these days. I don't have the emotional reserves to buffer myself against her low-grade toxic moments. I knew going into the new job that this would be so, and I discussed this with the spousal unit and the close-knit group of friends, and they're fine. Mom is having a lot harder time adjusting to things like "If you need obsidian to do something, you *must* email her" or "obsidian has a lot less time these days; she still wants to see you, but you have to do the initial reaching out more often." Friends have responded well and been supportive. Mom thinks I should quit.

#181 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 05:49 PM:

obsidian @180: Mom thinks I should quit.

Because it is, of course, All About Mom. ::sigh::

#182 ::: nevermore ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 08:45 PM:

Colour me as another lurker who's been witnessing others' stories but felt that my own problems weren't sufficient to warrant shoving them in front of other people's noses, but this time the person who is normally my main emotional support is the problem, and if I don't talk to someone I'm afraid of what's going to happen.

I've been clinically depressed ever since puberty, pretty much—to be exact, I have what's called double depression (dysthymia + major depressive disorder). The medication I've been on for the past several years usually keeps it mostly under control so long as I avoid certain kinds of stress. Mostly. These past couple of weeks, I've felt like I'm slipping under again. There's no obvious reason for it, and it's probably just a cyclic low that would normally correct itself in a couple of weeks more without any other action being taken.

But.

I live with my parents. I was unemployed for several years, but while I do have a job now, it's easier for everyone involved for me to stay here—it's convenient to where I work, the rent's low (but not zero), and it's useful for them to have someone on hand to look after the cats should they decide to travel. Usually we rub along okay and stay out of each others' hair.

Unfortunately, my relationship with my mother has always had certain Issues. She has boundary problems (in all fairness, I probably do too), subtype saviour/martyrdom complex. She does things she claims are for me without asking whether or not I want them. Some of the things she does I am genuinely grateful for, but the problem is that whenever I refuse a request of hers, I'm suddenly "selfish" and "ungrateful" and she goes off on great flights of "I do all this stuff for you and you won't even . . ."

I'd rather she didn't try to help me if she's going to use her help as a means of blackmail. At least then I would know where I stood, and be able to bargain on a reasonable basis for what I actually need, instead of what she thinks I need. I bend over backwards a lot of the time not to ask her for anything because I know she'll just use it as more ammunition, and I give in to almost all of her requests (fortunately, she doesn't make many, either). It doesn't help that she's the sort of person who finds screaming arguments cathartic, while I'm extremely conflict-averse (as in, being involved in an argument makes me miserable for days, even if it's over something trivial).

Tonight she asked me to do something that would basically have eaten all of my Saturday morning and half of the afternoon. This was something I had told her repeatedly that I would not do while I remained employed, even though it's one of the unasked-for things she's convinced herself is for me.

I refused her. I'm a hyperintrovert and I just don't have the spoons for six hours of dealing with strangers right now (which is what this would have entailed), not on top of the job and feeling like I'm sliding back down the depression rabbit hole. Predictably, she exploded, and my father, who's the one who normally talks her down again, wasn't present at the time.

The end result is that I'm still crying two hours later and I have fewer spoons than ever and am even further down the rabbit hole and can't see how to break this pattern. Part of the problem is that she always initiates these confrontations when she's been drinking (not to what would normally be considered excess, just a glass or two of wine, but she seems to have become progressively less able to handle it as she's gotten older). And part of it is that in some ways I'm almost as broken as she thinks I am—I have more health problems than just the depression, I have to be careful how I spend my energy, and it's difficult for me to work and handle even a minimal slate of housework.

It hasn't quite gotten to the point where I'm checking the height and load-bearing capacity of the ceiling beams, but I can see the path that would lead me to where I felt the need to do that, and it terrifies me even though I know things will probably look better in the morning. What's even worse is that I can still hear her voice in the back of my mind calling me selfish—after all, isn't putting your needs before the requests of others selfish? Recognizing that as a trap unfortunately isn't sufficient to tell me how to get out of it. I want to stop it, but I'm terrified of what stopping would entail. Given the choice between metaphorically gnawing my own leg off to escape and waiting for whoever laid the trap line to come along and put me out of my misery, which do I choose? I just don't know.

#183 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 09:40 PM:

Nevermore, your selfish math is off. Putting your own needs before the requests of others is not selfish. Needs outrank requests. You are exercising self-care by putting your own needs before others' requests.

People doing false favors and then asking for compensation seems to be particularly toxic. I don't know what to say except that it sucks and I'm sorry you and others have to deal with it.

#184 ::: Pin Cushion ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 10:29 PM:

Catching up on old Dysfunctional Family Day posts and this struck me:

One of the most difficult things about trouble at home, both when you’re a kid and ever after, is that it’s invisible. The pressure to hide family dysfunction is enormous, both from those inside the situation and from society at large. And that magnifies the problems a hundredfold. Secrecy is the abuser’s friend. Meanwhile, it isolates you, blocking off any chance of help or solidarity.

If one more person tells me how "charming" or "exuberant" my Challenging Child is, I will punch them in the teeth. (Not literally. But I will want to. Literally.) Today in therapy, CC admitted something I have known/suspected for a long time That she does specifically target and provoke me. That she thinks it fun to get my goat. (I have caught her grinning with evil glee when I get fired up, so I have suspected this for a long time.) And that she does it as a form of stress relief. I have felt like a pin cushion with her for most of the last four years, but here is the first place where I have specifically put into words that I believe she uses me as a pin cushion to deal with her own pain and she confirmed it tonight with zero prompting from me. (The old me, the one who hasn't been worn down to nothing after four years of this treatment, feels compassion and love for that child with so much pain. This me, the one who is walking around like a raw, bleeding wound 24/7/365 for the past four years is alternating between numb and angry and hurt.) To everybody else, she acts like an angel. Everybody loves her. I get all of her abuse. And I want to punch everybody who tells me what a little angel she is but I just smile and nod and eat glass instead. (My church reverend sees right through me though, and I adore him for it. He saw me react to someone recently when I was told what a darling angel CC is. He barked a laugh, said, "I saw that" then started cracking up. I love that man.)

#185 ::: Pin Cushion ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 10:46 PM:

Oh and Jacque @170: Thank you so much for understanding. I have learned not speak of this to outsiders at all. Ever. I get told she is "just a typical teenager" or "my kid did that too" and they don't understand it is literally (okay, not literally, but it feels that way) 24/7/365 with this one. They don't see how she is nicer to me when there are witnesses and how she deliberately goes after me when she thinks I don't have any options. They also don't hear her groaning "Nooooo" in her sleep. Every. Morning. I wake up a half an hour before her, and every morning, right before she wakes up, she seems to have the same nightmare as her psyche works through the damage and chaos and terror inflicted on her by the man and woman who were supposed to protect her and love her but didn't.

#186 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 11:54 PM:

nevermore @182: One of my therapists pointed out to me that "selfish" is not a bad thing -- it involves taking care of one's self. The term for the bad version is "greedy." Keeping those separate has been a very useful bit of language-fu for me, and I offer it to you if it is helpful. If not, no problem.

#187 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 11:55 PM:

nevermore, you might find it helpful to remember a phrase that has come up in these threads before: When the airplane loses pressure, put your own oxygen mask on before attempting to assist someone else.

It's not selfish to keep yourself breathing. Ever.

Pin Cushion: In an odd way, CC's behavior is an expression of trust. A warped and twisted form of trust, with a lot of fear behind it, but still something she wouldn't do with anyone else. That's not very reassuring when she's poking you full of holes, I know. Witnessing.

#188 ::: Dash ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 02:12 AM:

So. The last few days have been... eventful.
Not enough spoons to get into it all in detail, so I'll summarize: Started new meds (might've mentioned this before). Had big family celebration #1 after a day out with part of the extended family. Had birthday, less dysfunctional than the last but more moodiness on my part. The next day, more smallish extended family outings and Things To Do and minor set-backs along the way and... I seriously considered suicide because of a complication at the DMV, and my mother almost committed me to a mental hospital. Maybe she should have. I think it's the new meds at fault and will be seeing the doctors tomorrow to discuss it. Not taking my meds today has made me apathetic and notice my mother's dysfunctions (suggesting that there is a problem in the extended family and then insisting that my father deal with it rather than do it herself, yelling at up for using electronic devices while waiting for her to come downstairs so we could go to yet another extended family outing because apparently we didn't look ready to go and therefore were resisting leaving) without reacting to them outwardly (crying fits, arguments, more crying fits). My father still thinks that it's as simple as "You shouldn't think that way, look on the bright side!", while my mother denies that I was seriously suicidal and was worried about that the bystanders in the DMV would take me seriously when she didn't believe that was warranted. Not sure how to make her understand the depth of my depression short of using the proverbial ceiling beam. I think I'm still going back to school in a week, but I'm not sure I should... though the insurance's not allowing suicide attempts to get money back should at least put a damper on that particular urge, even if "because it would cost my parents money otherwise" is a rubbish reason to keep living...

#189 ::: Bricklayer ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 04:29 AM:

Sharing an experience while trying not to come off as trivializing ... Pin Cushion's interactions with zir child remind me a lot of a weird behavior of my (abused in puppyhood) dog, so I wonder if there isn't something buried in our deep brain architecture that makes this sort of behavior reflexive/make sense/seem to stop the hurting? NB: I do not think dogs are equivalent to kids, just looking at a potential biological echo.

Specifically, when he is feeling (more) insecure and worried (than his usual very high baseline), he will very deliberately do Things That Are Not Allowed right in front of an adult pack member while that pack member is watching. Almost as if saying, "Punish me punish me!" so he can watch our response. The temptation is to go apeshit on him the eighth time he does it that week because HE WON'T LEARN WHAT THE HELL, but that only makes him feel more insecure. The only thing I've found that breaks him out of the loop (aside from life getting more predictable or removal of whatever triggered his anxiety) is to react almost fair-robot-wise to whatever he did, applying the Designated Punishment with no fury-music in my voice or body language, and then treating him like everything's ok when punishment is over. Presumably this reassures him that (a) we are a functioning pack with an active justice system and (b) doing one bad thing doesn't mean we're going to abandon him by the highway and leave, or whatever. Or ten really bad things in one week. Dammit.

OH MY BOB is it hard to keep trying to separate my emotional reaction to being treated that way/having my stuff ruined/etc repeatedly (and I bet would be nigh impossible if it were my kid doing it, as she could be far more inventive at hurting us/provoking punishment)! My husband doesn't even try, which is counter productive, but he didn't grow up with dogs and I can't convince him some of his behaviors come off differently In Dog than they do in human.

#190 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 04:38 AM:

Dash @188:

Please, please, please discuss your suicidal thoughts to your doctor when you go tomorrow.

To everyone in this community:

Sucidal feelings and suicidal ideation are serious shit.

This is not stuff that we in the DF community can deal with competently. We can, and do, and will, encourage anyone dealing with it to seek help. We'd be interested in hearing what kinds of help you think would be of use, and perhaps among us we can think of resources that someone dead out of spoons can't.

But as a baseline, Google "suicide prevention" and your country name and call a hotline. The people who answer those phones are there immediately, and are trained to deal with these things effectively. They'll take you seriously, and direct you to resources that you can use.

All we can do is listen, care, and witness. Which we do. But sometimes that's not enough.

#191 ::: Dash ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 12:21 PM:

@abi 190: I will; in fact, I already told the psychiatrist about them over the phone and negotiated getting off that medication and onto one that works differently. And I'm not suicidal right now, I just was in that moment. I forgot to mention in my synopsis the volunteer abroad program reiterating that I wouldn't get anything from them aside from a credit to go back to the place and people that made me suicidal in the first place and suggesting that everything that happened was my fault and they did nothing wrong. That... was probably also a contributing factor. And that came on my birthday. What wonderful timing there.

#192 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 05:56 PM:

Augh, time has done that whole getting away from me thing. Again. So just trying to hit the high points and address specific questions...

somewhere_else #42: It's from Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosiverse. That particular phrase occurs in Komarr, in a conversation between Miles and Ekaterin, after ure nohfvir uhfonaq unf whfg tbggra uvzfrys xvyyrq guebhtu furre fghcvqvgl. (ROT13 for spoilers, just in case.)

"...Snvyher, snvyher jnf tebja snzvyvne gb zr. Pbzsbegnoyr, nyzbfg, jura V fgbccrq fgehttyvat ntnvafg vg. V qvq abg xabj npuvrirzrag jnf fb qrinfgngvat."
"Uhu." Ur jnf yrnavat onpx, abj, uvf ernqre sbetbggra ba uvf ync, ertneqvat ure jvgu uvf ragver nggragvba. "Lrf . . . iregvtb ng ncbtrr, ru? Naq gur erjneq sbe n wbo jryy qbar vf nabgure wbo, naq jung unir lbh qbar sbe hf yngryl, naq vf gung nyy, Yvrhgranag Ibexbfvtna, naq . . . lrf. Npuvrirzrag vf qrinfgngvat, be ng yrnfg qvfbevragvat, naq gurl qba'g jnea lbh va nqinapr. Vg'f gur fhqqra punatr bs zbzraghz naq qverpgvba, V guvax."
Fur oyvaxrq. "Ubj irel fgenatr. V rkcrpgrq lbh gb gryy zr V jnf orvat sbbyvfu."
"Qral lbhe cresrpgyl pbeerpg creprcgvba? Jul fubhyq lbh rkcrpg gung?"
"Unovg . . . V fhccbfr."
"Zz. Lbh pna yrnea gb rawbl gur frafngvba bs jvaavat, lbh xabj, bapr lbh trg bire gur vavgvny dhrnfvarff. Vg'f na npdhverq gnfgr."
"Ubj ybat qvq vg gnxr lbh gb npdhver vg?"
Ur fzvyrq fybjyl. "Bapr."
"Gung'f abg n gnfgr, gung'f na nqqvpgvba."

Bricklayer #142: You are describing the symptoms that ended up, after over a year of misdiagnoses, to be severe sleep apnea. Sleep that doesn't produce rest, plus daytime exhaustion... Definitely hie thee to the doctor.

W/R/T your husband's reaction: I had to sit my husband down and tell him unequivocally: "Look, when I tell you 'Honey, I'm really tired', that's not code for 'I don't love you anymore', that's 'I have sleep apnea and my body is forcing me to pass out.'" Mind you, I had thought that the second interpretation was obvious, but apparently not.

Lee #169: arie'mnu. I can almost quote that whole scene verbatim... and I second or third the Bloodwing Voyages, starting with My Enemy, My Ally. I want to grow up to have as much mnhei'sahe as Ael t'Rllaillieu.

#193 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2013, 01:40 AM:

Bricklayer@142, by way of Jennifer Baughman@192: Certainly severe daytime drowsiness is one symptom of sleep apnea. I've seen pictures of you in which you look like you have a thick neck. That's associated with OSA. You don't have to be overweight: my birth father uses a CPAP, and he's relatively thin. Does your husband say that you snore loudly? Do you have trouble with acid reflux at night?

Breathing machine therapy helped me so much, so quickly, that I get a bit evangelical on the topic.

#194 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2013, 01:41 AM:

Cally Soukup @179: darn, I was really hoping that was going to be something called a pull organizer

Something along the lines of one of these? Alas, the only flies I have are of the insectile variety. :-)

Diatryma @183: Nevermore, your selfish math is off.

Oh, very nicely phrased! I like that construction a lot.

nevermore @182: She does things she claims are for me without asking whether or not I want them.

That's really interesting. Just last night I was thinking of a former friend who did this to me (and just about everybody else she knew). I finally had to break off contact, because her giving me what she needed to be given became a real problem for me. It sounds like you'd prefer not to take that tack with your mom, for which you get extra endurance points, in my book.

Pin Cushion @184: Today in therapy, CC admitted something I have known/suspected for a long time That she does specifically target and provoke me. That she thinks it fun to get my goat.... To everybody else, she acts like an angel. Everybody loves her. I get all of her abuse.

What was the therapist's take on this?

You have the inverse of the classic Dr. Phil client who thinks their child is an angel, because the kid only acts up when they're not around. (I'd say they got the better deal, sadly.) Thing is (and you know this, so I know I'm preaching to the choir here), even if somebody has a great deal of pain in their life, this is no excuse for causing pain to others, particularly the ones who are supposed to be taking care of one. I think you'd mentioned that she seems to be testing you, seeing if she can push you to the point of reacting like her dysfunctional blood family? That's a tough one, particularly the depth of the damage she seems to be suffering from.

One of the things that makes that sort of thing especially hard is that (well, speaking in my case, at least) the anxiety is less about "will [caretaker] stick with me?" than it is about "can I be safe and protect myself if they go off on me like those others did?" And until I became conscious that was the question I needed to answer—and began answering it—everything seemed randomly and potentially dangerous.

My church reverend sees right through me though, and I adore him for it.

I assume you've consulted with him, also, about dealing with this? I'd be interested to know what he says.

(Erg. I just realized I folded my response to Lee's "Diane Duane's take on Vulcan culture" into a response to you. Sorry!)

& @185: literally (okay, not literally, but it feels that way) 24/7/365

Except that it is. I mean, you're not interacting with her absolutely 100% of the time, but that kind of persistent stress eats holes into your consciousness that are there all the time, whether or not you're actually in the presence of the stressor.

One of the weird things I learned the last time I was unemployed and had dug myself into seriously deep financial kimchi was that it's always there, whatever the "it" is. I hadn't realized it before, but my brain is always doing little status checks on everything that crosses my mind, however fleetingly, and however tangential to my focus of the moment. "Have I got enough food on hand for the guinea pigs?" "Are all my bills paid up?" "Have I followed up on that last job app?" Which seem like trivial thoughts—until the answer is no, and you don't know when the answer will be yes or how you're going to get there.

Finally getting a job and getting my finances back on track was certainly wonderful for its own sake, but what's even more important to my piece of mind is that, when I walk out the door for work in the morning, I know that I've got the day's lunch in my pack, dinner is in the fridge, pig food is fresh and stocked up, my bills are all up to date, and and and....

And the doubly pernicious thing about chronic stress is that it erodes your ability to deal with...stress. So even if you're not actually faced with a challenge right now in the immediacy of the moment, you know that it's there and that it's coming. So, yeah, as far as I am concerned, you damn well do get to claim credit for dealing with it 24/7/365. And the fact that you refuse to walk away is...well. "Impressive," seems to fall rather short of the mark.

Dash @188 & 191: Yikes! Well, we sure as hell take you seriously! I'm glad you got your meds tuned. During that stressful period mentioned above, I got put on an anti-depressent, which was good. But the bad news was that they put me on a fairly high dose (because I was bordering on suicidal that day)—which tipped me over into fetal-position anxiety. Fortunately, dialing back the dose did the job. But that chemistry shit is really tricky. And, yeah, birthdays. If I had my way about it, I'd probably just hide under a rock for the week before and after.

Bricklayer @189: HE WON'T LEARN WHAT THE HELL

Actually, I wonder (and I have absolutely no concrete reference for this so take it with appropriate salting) if it's not some of the "don't think of a blue horse" syndrome? For whatever reason, he has the impulse to do [bad thing], and in his little doggy mind, he thinks, "I'm not supposed to do that, I'm not...." But the brain does not get negation, and in the order to make sense of the idea "don't spill the milk" (for example), one has to imagine spilling the milk. And since behavior follows thinking (and I'm damn well sure this applies to dogs as well as humans)....

One trick to deal with that kind of thing can be to install an incompatible behavior. I'm thinking of the bird trainer who got tired of his bird landing on his head. So he trained the bird to land on a nearby tree-stump, instead. And then he got to reward the bird for landing on the stump, which is more effective reinforcement than punishment, anyway.

Like I say, though, I have absolutely no back-up for this notion, so treat as hypothetical.

#195 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2013, 11:32 AM:

Jacque, #194: You have the inverse of the classic Dr. Phil client who thinks their child is an angel, because the kid only acts up when they're not around.

Actually, though I really hate to say this, what I think Pin Cushion may have is an abuser-in-training. That's one of the classic techniques, and a form of gaslighting. "How can you say CC is hurting you? She's so charming!" If the professionals can't get her to break this pattern, I fear for everyone in CC's future relationships.

#196 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2013, 01:58 PM:

Pin Cushion - I have adopted two children, and worked in an adoption agency for five years. Your CC sounds like a classic case of RAD, which I'm sure you know, and I'm really glad to hear that you have a team of experts on your side. I can't give you better advice than you're getting, but I'm witnessing, and I believe you.

#197 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2013, 05:03 PM:

Pin Cushion @185: I believe you about the baiting. My mother used to bait me quite deliberately, because I couldn't fight back. Even now that there are outsiders who will believe me, it's very hard to point out exactly how she does/did it, because the insult is in the context and history, not the words or the tone. And it wasn't something I could explain to people without the groundwork of explaining my family is abusive, because they would try to explain it away as harmless teasing. And I would know that was wrong, but also that they meant well by suggesting it.

Codemonkey @144 & 145: Best of luck with the moving plans. Be strong and keep forging ahead! Even if she cannot reconcile herself ahead of time, your mam wanting what's best for you could still be the key to her coming round.

As for loneliness and your dad...everyone wants company beyond their household, and gets sick of people in their household sometimes. On top of that, perhaps your dad's condition requires enough care that your mam needs a rest from it. My parents have that trouble now.

A bigger house can be a huge benefit, but beware of filling it up! We moved to a place about twice the size, and we had nearly enough furniture and things to furnish it, with very little shopping. We have been making efforts to only buy what is useful or loved, and go on having more *space* instead of having more clutter. Oh, and as we unpack, we're trying to get rid of things we don't actually want or use.

#198 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2013, 12:34 AM:

Dash @ 191: "I forgot to mention in my synopsis the volunteer abroad program reiterating that I wouldn't get anything from them aside from a credit to go back to the place and people that made me suicidal in the first place and suggesting that everything that happened was my fault and they did nothing wrong. That... was probably also a contributing factor."

Well... yeah. Total lack of sympathy and victim-blaming seems as though it's a huge stress. Pile that on top of someone who's already dealing with a huge amount of stresses and the results are not pretty.

#199 ::: Codemonkey in NE England ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2013, 08:30 AM:

the invisible one @146: Thanks for that -- it could be a useful tip!

OtterB @147: That could be a more difficult issue unfortunately. My mam has access to my sister's iPad (which would be far easier to use than a PC would be) and yet she rarely seems to use it. And worse, the main thing she does seem to use it for is to intensify her depression about not owning a house by using Zoopla to see how much local houses have gone up in value over the last decade or so. :'(

What I have been doing recently computer-wise was to get my dad's computer back onto the Internet. It's a long way from my router, and although I had a USB WiFi dongle, it was only last week that I managed to track down a Windows Vista driver for it (it installs automatically, but only on Windows XP and older systems). I also defragged his hard drive and cleaned up his file associations (although I couldn't get .flv files to play in Windows Media Player, so I installed Media Player Classic for that purpose).

Once I'd done that, I removed my dad's presence from my own desktop computer (I also have a laptop) -- adding a login password to my own machine, and moving all the data he'd downloaded (and the Firefox bookmarks he'd added) onto his own machine. Both Firefox and Chrome are now set up on that machine, but I think he prefers the former as it's what he's used to. (And since I got no strong advice on browser choice, if I show mam how to use the PC I'll probably teach her Firefox too).

I did get a few complaints from my mam about "why are you spending so much time on his computer when you've got your own?" or sometimes "why are you wasting electricity by having two computers on at once?", so any further stuff will probably wait until mam's not in a position to watch me (eg she's in the bath, or taking my sister somewhere on the bus).

Another conundrum about teaching my mam how to use a PC -- should I teach her on my dad's computer (as that would be the machine she'd be using if I moved out, and its Windows Vista matches my sister's laptop) in spite of being in an awkward position at the bottom of the stairs (nowhere else to put it unfortunately), or should I teach her on my computer where she'd be able to sit comfortably, even though I'm running Windows 7 (which may cause confusion when I moved out and she had to use Vista)?

#200 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2013, 08:46 AM:

Codemonkey, 199: If you give your mother access to your machine, it will be just another thing to make her upset when you go. Teach her on a machine that is staying with her.

And give her a separate account on the machine you choose. I don't think she and your dad should share an account. They're both adults and they both need privacy. I don't think your mam has had enough of that in her life...

#201 ::: Moonlit Night ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2013, 01:48 PM:

Codemonkey @199: Teach your mam on the computer that's staying, especially as it also matches your sister's laptop. (Bonus!) There are lots of people in the world that don't take to computers naturally, and they get thrown by changes (like OS versions) that natural computer people see as minor or cosmetic. You should also teach her the same browser that the others use for this reason. Then, when something minor goes wrong or they can't find a function, they have the best possible chance of helping each other.

I also think it's a really good idea to make her her own account so that her and dad can have some privacy. You might want to also give them all standard user accounts rather than admin accounts. There can still be an admin account on each computer where you keep the password.

#202 ::: hope in disguise ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2013, 07:44 PM:

B. Durbin @ 118, thank you.

OtterB @119, things seem to have gotten a bit better since that first night, emotionally, and he seems able to talk to the parents. Which is reassuring.

Lee @169, he did some research on winter camping and bought some winter gear, but hasn't field-tested it. One of my friends brought up the possibility of several feet of snow at once, which worries me... He also spent the last four years in a southwestern desert state. I don't know. I'm going to be keeping $500 in my checking account and the ZipCard nearby, as I'll be 8 hours closer than the parentals.

All, witnessing.

#203 ::: Codemonkey in NE England ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 08:16 AM:

If I teach my mam how to use a computer, I'd be giving her a separate account anyway as I wouldn't want her being confused by icons for programs she wouldn't be using.

My concern is getting her interested in computers in the first place (what she craves is face-to-face interaction, which of course a computer couldn't deliver) -- I thought that on dad's computer that may be harder because there's nowhere comfortable for her to sit. Insisting she learns on dad's computer may also make her more resistant if she guesses that I'm teaching her in order to move out.

Another possible issue is that dad's computer has a very cheap replacement keyboard (IIRC it was only £1) which has a US rather than a UK keyboard layout (but bizarrely Dad's Windows is still set in UK mode, which means some keys don't do what their labels say they should).

#204 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 08:38 AM:

Codemonkey @203, can you perhaps get her an inexpensive laptop computer that would be hers alone? And that she can use in her own chair, or where she likes? That turns it from "Making you use your husband's computer uncomfortably" to "generous gift from loving son who wants you to be happy"... even if it's a cheap machine (and I doubt she needs an expensive one, given her likely usage.

Just a thought; ignore if helpy.

#205 ::: nevermore ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 11:44 AM:

(not sure if I entered the correct email, but it hardly matters)

Jacques @194: Thankfully most of what she offers is small stuff and I don't get a constant drip-drip-drip of blackmail based on it--if either of those things weren't true, it would be a lot more problematic.

The blackmail only comes out during the explosions, which are really quite rare--once a year or so, on average, and usually with contributing extenuating circumstances. This one just happened to occur when I was in a particularly bad spot myself, and so I freaked out more than usual. Over the weekend, things cooled down and I was able to respoon a bit, thankfully, although I'm starting to think my meds may need to be adjusted, because I'm still further down the rabbit hole than seems reasonable under the circumstances.

So, yeah, nothing much to see here anymore. Semi-functional relationship with a few cracks around the edges that tend to be ignored until someone trips on one, and that happens seldom enough that it's easier just to avoid the edges as much as possible rather than trying to repave the whole thing, with all the disruption that would cause.

I wish the other posters' problems were as easy to resolve.

#206 ::: Dash ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 02:13 PM:

Jacque @ 194: Yeah... one thing I learned at the latest doctor's visit is that anything that can make you better can make you worse, especially when you still fall into the risk category of young adult like myself. And birthdays are definitely stressful, especially when they overlap with other peoples' birthdays and various members of the extended family visiting town... and when you're an introvert/socially awkward, which makes all these social interactions all the more painful and anxiety-inducing.
B. Durbin @ 198: Yeah, that was definitely a factor... I'm just writing it off as that whole chain of organizations being full of jerks and hoping that maybe the funding organization at my school will be less so when I more fully explain my side of the story to them. I hate the double-standards at play here; if I had gone home for a broken leg or an epileptic outbreak or some such, my school undoubtedly wouldn't have asked me to pay back anything. But since it was a mental illness at fault, no such luck or sympathy.
Lee @195: This post struck home for me- while CC may or may not be abusive (though "dysfunctional" certainly seems applicable), my mother is another case of only acting up when in private/with us. As I mentioned way back in my first post here, for a while I never even considered her being problematic or dysfunctional because in my friend group, she was always the COOL mom. The one who drove us places (because I lacked the option to drive, due to subtle but significant discouragement/disinterest on her end coupled with my own anxieties). The one who cared about what was going on in my life (overly so, in fact). The one who was permissive (because she'd raised me such that I knew better than to use/abuse those freedoms, and had a talent for nominally allowing something while making it clear that doing so would be a Bad Idea). And for a while, I never bothered to look into how and why those descriptors fit, that there were the parenthetical caveats causing problems... I still don't think of her an an abuser, if only because in my mind that means the problems were dealt intentionally, but she's certainly had a hand in encouraging my personal dysfunction, and it sounds as though CC may well be doing the same.
General update: Things are going a lot better now. I'm off the problematic medication and on a new one, which is working out well so far; not only have I not had a crying fit/breakdown while on it yet, but last night I managed to both recognize and defuse an incoming crying fit, which is a big step and shows that something must be working. Still a lot to do before going back to school, but I think- I hope- I can handle it.

#207 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 07:34 PM:

Dash @206:
The one who drove us places (because I lacked the option to drive, due to subtle but significant discouragement/disinterest on her end coupled with my own anxieties). The one who cared about what was going on in my life (overly so, in fact). The one who was permissive (because she'd raised me such that I knew better than to use/abuse those freedoms, and had a talent for nominally allowing something while making it clear that doing so would be a Bad Idea). And for a while, I never bothered to look into how and why those descriptors fit, that there were the parenthetical caveats causing problems...

This describes my mom to a T.

I'm in my thirties now, and am finally recognizing and breaking free of those invisible chains. One of my friends who had a similar mom did so in her early twenties. In both of our cases, though, it was because of the friends we'd made and the support they gave us.

I hope you make the sort of friends in university that I did - the ones who carried me through the darkest depths of can't-leave-the-house depression and brought me out the other side. Who are still dear friends to this day.

University's a great place to meet people, even if you're socially awkward. If you want advice with meeting people (even though by that point I was no longer socially awkward - at least, I had fewer landmines to detonate in that respect), I'll be here. And I'm sure there are many others who could offer good advice!

#208 ::: Variations on a Lime ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 05:58 AM:

Hope: In the past week I've had hope drop by almost every day - not staying all the time, but stopping long enough to eat the kibble I put out for it. I don't yet write (looking at my real-nom history here or on LJ), but I'm able to caption.

As I get over my last job, I still think my big realization is that a workplace can be a bully even if no individual person is a bully as such. My reactions to and the stress of that job were identical to dealing with a bully. This took some time to see because I couldn't name my manager or coworkers as bullying [I've had to deal with bullies as a child and in adulthood].

Perhaps I went through a variant of "to name something is to have power over it"-- which is "to be unable to name something can let you not see its power over you." I delayed leaving the job because even though it wasn't healthy to be there, I couldn't name exactly why the job wasn't good for me. I still can't, but I'm glad I'm away from it.

#209 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 03:53 PM:

Dash @206
for a while I never even considered her being problematic or dysfunctional because in my friend group, she was always the COOL mom. The one who drove us places (because I lacked the option to drive, due to subtle but significant discouragement/disinterest on her end coupled with my own anxieties). The one who cared about what was going on in my life (overly so, in fact). The one who was permissive (because she'd raised me such that I knew better than to use/abuse those freedoms, and had a talent for nominally allowing something while making it clear that doing so would be a Bad Idea). And for a while, I never bothered to look into how and why those descriptors fit, that there were the parenthetical caveats causing problems... I still don't think of her an an abuser, if only because in my mind that means the problems were dealt intentionally, but she's certainly had a hand in encouraging my personal dysfunction

Variations on a Lime @208:
my big realization is that a workplace can be a bully even if no individual person is a bully as such. My reactions to and the stress of that job were identical to dealing with a bully. This took some time to see because I couldn't name my manager or coworkers as bullying [I've had to deal with bullies as a child and in adulthood].

Two thoughts:
1. Intent isn't magic.
2. You know a tree by its fruit.

It seems to me that this stuff is like cilantro is to the people for whom cilantro tastes like soap. You try Mexican foods that have it in them, and decide that you don't like Mexican food. Then one day, you try cilantro pesto—not Mexican food at all! But it still tastes like soap.

Because it's not the Mexican food. It's not the stuff you grew up with. But it's still cilantro, and you know what that tastes like, and there it is. All soapy.

#210 ::: Pin Cushion ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 04:59 PM:

B. Durbin @187 and Bricklayer @189, you are both onto something for sure. It's kind of funny. Our first kid took three years to get home, and once she was home, she settled in within a year. With CC, she came home much sooner than I had anticipated, and the settling-in process is taking much much longer.

Jacque @194: One of the things that makes that sort of thing especially hard is that (well, speaking in my case, at least) the anxiety is less about "will [caretaker] stick with me?" than it is about "can I be safe and protect myself if they go off on me like those others did?" I suspect this is the case with CC. We'd thought it was the former question at first, but therapist's comments lately are leading me to believe it is much more of the latter now. And no, I have not consulted with my church reverend about dealing with this, just because most people are not working from a trauma-informed perspective so I've never considered talking to him, although he is extremely adept at radiating acceptance and understanding. Which is probably why he's such a good rev. (And no worries about the Vulcan culture fold!) And thank you. I don't feel impressive, but thank you. If I expressed some of the thoughts that go through my head some days, "impressive" would not be the word I'd use LOL

Lee @195: The thought that she's gaslighting me has crossed my mind more than once. CC had a very good "mentor" to teach her how to be an abuser. Possibly two. I hate to blame CC's first mother in this, but some of the things that are coming to light recently make me think she was part of the problem and not just another victim of CC's sperm donor. The hope is that early and continued therapeutic intervention will help. But we'll see. Some days I have hope for CC, other days it's just a countdown until she turns 18.

Juli Thompson @196: One of the first things we did when CC came home was spend all of our savings on a neuropsych evaluation to rule out/identify learning or developmental disabilities, and she was officially diagnosed with RAD (as well as a couple other diagnoses). And thank you.

Moonlit Night @197: The well-intended suggestions are the hardest thing - I think you get that from what you described as your experience with your family. This is why I just smile and nod and eat glass when people give me well-meant but wrong or even useless suggestions/platitudes.

Thanks to all for witnessing, understanding, listening, and getting it -- even when "getting it" is acknowledging that you don't get it.

#211 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 05:22 PM:

"Well-meant but wrong or even useless" is of course exactly what we have the word "hlepy" to describe.

(I think the L-E spelling evokes for me the image of someone typing so quickly and carelessly that they don't even notice they've transposed the letters. They mean well, but they're not paying attention.)

#212 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 05:35 PM:

Variations on a Lime @208: a workplace can be a bully even if no individual person is a bully as such.

If you'd care to describe this phenomenon in more detail, I'd be much interested.

Pin Cushion @210: I don't feel impressive, but thank you. If I expressed some of the thoughts that go through my head some days

For my money, that ability to not express the thoughts that go through one's head consititutes at least half of "impressive." Leastways, that soaks up huge amounts of my effort in difficult interactions, I find.

I hate to blame CC's first mother in this, but some of the things that are coming to light recently make me think she was part of the problem and not just another victim of CC's sperm donor.

Some of the most difficult aspects of dysfunction is untangling the Gordian Knot of influence and counter-influence. It's extremely rare to survive dysfunctional circumstances without developing some dysfunction of one's own. In order to navigate the dynamic, one has to be able to model the dynamic, and when it's the primary dynamic one is exposed to, it's really hard to keep it from infecting/infesting one's worldview.

The hope is that early and continued therapeutic intervention will help. But we'll see.

Some of the help that I got as a teen didn't actually manifest, or make it into my worldview until I was well into adulthood. The good news there, though, is that it did (eventually) manifest. This doesn't make your life any easier now, however. :(

#213 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 05:39 PM:

David Goldfarb @211: They mean well, but they're not paying attention.

The ones that make me nuts, which are the pinnacle of "hleppy," are the ones who want to feel like they mean well; they just want the credit for "doing good," but can't be bothered to check that the effects of their actions are good. Which is one step worse than what you describe.

Which is why the defence "he meant well" doesn't cut much ice with me.

#214 ::: Pin Cushion ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 09:40 PM:

Jacque @213: Some of the help that I got as a teen didn't actually manifest, or make it into my worldview until I was well into adulthood. The good news there, though, is that it did (eventually) manifest. This doesn't make your life any easier now, however. :(

I always told myself I would focus on the long view, knowing that friends who were major fuck-ups in high school went on to be successful, good people, and knowing that my mother and I had a shit relationship until I was in my late 20s. So hearing that is helpful...for the long view. The short term is hell, and more hell than I had realized when I signed up for this job, but it's good to be reminded that sometimes, in the long view, it does pay off. (Sometimes.) This is probably why I rely on my cold, numb stubbornness to get through this and not "hope." I hoped for my first child that she would grow into an amazing young woman, and she is. I've stopped hoping anything for CC and am sticking to cold stubbornness.

#215 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 09:46 PM:

Pin Cushion: There are times when you just have to fall back on whatever gets you through the day. At the very least, I think you can truthfully claim to be doing the very best you know how.

I am reminded of a bit of sour humor a friend shared: "Sometimes, on the road of life, you're the windshield, and sometimes you're the bug."

Well, at least you found your way here, right?

#216 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 11:18 PM:

It's also true, of course, that some hlepiness is not well-meaning. One of the classic examples is the question, "How do I deal with this Windows problem?" answered by "go to ubuntu.com/download..." -- there the hlepy answer is pretty clearly not well-meaning, just intended to score points.

Pin Cushion: I suspect that your "cold, numb stubbornness" is in fact an instance of the way that Abi is using the word "hope". Regardless, you have my good wishes.

#217 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 12:20 AM:

Pin Cushion, you are doing good work. I've worked short-term with some very difficult kiddos and it's very frustrating to do everything you can and still be hurt. But that cold stubbornness is right: you are doing what you think is best for CC in the long term, not because it is easy, not because it is fun, not because it hurts less, but because it is best for her in the long term. I hope that cold stubbornness carries you through to the point that you can say CC is now in a better place than the short-term solutions would have taken her.

There are so many things that would be easier. But they would not be better for her.

#218 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 09:28 AM:

Jacque @212--I cannot speak for Variations on a Lime, but this is how my workplace is abusive:

Rigidly-set goals for production, tied into rigidly-set goals for quality.

An evaluation system that applies a disciplinary system designed for people who are behaving badly to people who are just not as productive as the goals say they should be.

An extreme hiring freeze of over two years duration, preventing the filling of any vacancies, combined with the tendency of people to flee for other jobs as they reach their breaking point, which means the workload for the remaining staff goes up but never ever down, is currently making this worse, but the first part of the bullying system was in place when I started here many years ago.

One of the less happy aspects of performance management for failing employees is that they are often expected to record all the actions they take during the workday, to be sure they aren't wasting time--when the reason they are behind in the first place is that they have more work than a normal human can do.

The system in place was not designed by sadistic assholes, and most of the people managing things are not sadistic assholes, although I think at least a couple could be described as Unconscious Micromanaging Jerks*. But in operation, especially in our current circumstances, it's a bullying system, because it was designed on the assumption that all employees are equally competent and productive, no matter what the workload or expectations, that they all thrive on stress, and that there is not such thing as a human breaking point**. Until recently, no one who could change anything has looked at this set-up and noted its flaws, and there have been very few efforts to divert those tasks that could be diverted onto other shoulders.

*As opposed to Intentional Jerks: "Does it hurt when I do that? Good!" or "Even if it hurts when I do that I have to do it for the Greater Good," or "If it hurts when I do that it's your own fault." Plus others, I do not doubt.

**ObLioninWinter quote: "If you break it's because you're brittle."

#219 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 12:11 PM:

fidelio: "Sperical employee of uniform density." ::shudder:: thank Ghu I haven't worked for one of those in a while....

#220 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 12:32 PM:

Jacque #219:

"Where all the employees need to be above average".

#221 ::: Crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 01:58 PM:

"Where all the employees need to be above average".

Talk about moving goalposts!!

Crazy(but, apparently, not enough)Soph

#222 ::: somewhere_else ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 02:08 PM:

Soooo damn tired. I hate to change my sleep schedule around. It's for a good reason right now, but I seem to get less flexible the older I become. Good news though, most of the new patterns still hold. It's still good though to remind myself to consciously work on upholding those new patterns or in other words "don't stop taking the medicine, because it started to work".
On top of that seasonal moodiness seems to set in so I'll be on the lookout for any significant down swings and try to remember that I do in fact have different and better tools now and most importantly - I'm in a different place now. This is actually one of the hardest things to accept right now.

And thanks abi for your answer! I recognize now that I was in a somewhat weird brain space then and I'm still learning when blame is warranted (and even real) and when not.

#223 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 04:00 PM:

Does anybody else, when they go to the doctor (especially a specialist, especially male), feel like they're being called into the principal's office?

I'm finally getting around to doing a bunch of screenings I've been putting off.

The GI, during the initial consult for the colonoscopy, says, "Why did you wait so long?"

I gave him a mumble answer involving time spent not employed, so no insurance, etc.

But I've been stewing over that conversation for the last day, finally pulled this feeling into consciousness. When I see him next, my plan is to tell him my feeling above (without the -ist pieces), and then relate that the last guy I worked with (1) didn't listen worth shit, and therefore reacted to assertions I hadn't made, (2) in the rare case when he did seem to hear me, was very impatient with anything I said or asked, and (3) just really didn't wasn't interested anyway since I didn't have cancer. The whole experience left an extremely bad taste in my mouth. (And this-all purely aside from the hysterectomy resulting from the iatrogenic squamous cell carcinoma.)

I plan to tell Dr. New Guy that, if he wants a "compliant patient," he needs to acknowledge what I am doing—i.e., I was in his office, dammit—and not scold me for something I didn't do.* (Plus, these people seem to find it incomprehensible that, in the absence of health insurance, I might not want to shell out a grand (and sure as hell ain't gonna do it yearly), just to "confirm that everything's okay.")

My PCP isn't so bad, but even so, during my checkup Thursday, she made doe-eyes at me about getting a chest X-ray (both my parents died of lung cancer. The fact that they were life-long heavy smokers, and lived in a house with a high radon count, suggests strongly to me that this outcome does not hold a strong genetic component. That, plus other family history of people typically kicking off at 95.) and a heart-scan—even though my bloodwork numbers generally look very good, and there are no indications that anything is wrong. Neither of which test would be covered by my insurance.

I mean, really, I'm all about Teh Prevenchunz, but I get really impatient with the attitude of deploying $NC tests as if I was brushing my teeth. Not to mention the attendant free-floating anxiety this whole business provokes.

* See also: SpawnOfTheDevil @Parade/479: "Any advice that includes use of a time machine may be safely disregarded."

#224 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 12:42 AM:

Jacque: Yeah, it's much nicer to have a doctor looking forward and not backward. I've had really good luck with doctors, including one picked out for me by the insurance, so stories like yours give me the feeling of "That's not how it's supposed to go!"

#225 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 02:17 AM:

Jacque @ 223

It may not be quite on point to your post, but I found that when my dentist asked me that question and I told him I got scared off dentists after my last bad experience, he went out of his way to work with me. (I think it helped that I obviously had a lot of bad dental work in place, which kind of... er, validated my poor opinion.)

So it can be a legitimate opening to a useful conversation. I think your idea of following it up on your next visit is a good one.

After lots of painkiller and many post-dentist self-prescribed milkshakes, I am finally starting to be able to take my dentist appointments in stride...

#226 ::: KayTei is visiting the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 02:21 AM:

It's cool. I have challah and leftover brisket for sandwiches. Or cookies and milk. Depending on preference.

#227 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 03:50 AM:

B. Durbin @224: "That's not how it's supposed to go!"

I concur. In addition, the bad doctor seemed to be of the opinion that chronic flare was an entirely acceptible therapeutic outcome. Me: not so much. Fortunately (and largely irrelevant to anything he recommended), I have since been far more successful at keeping myself healthy. (Yay, vitamin D!!)

KayTei: it can be a legitimate opening to a useful conversation. I think your idea of following it up on your next visit is a good one.

I am mindful of a similar distemper I was suffering in the week preceeding my last teeth cleaning. The hygienist I wound up with (how does a practice pick, anyway?) is good-natured and seems pretty competent, but my first session, I had to have a Rather Firm conversation with her about the level of force she was using. Also, I'm not in love with the scaler they use. I was feeling grumpy because, the previous visit, she'd gone back to being pretty rough, and had talked me into letting her use the scaler again, even though I'd been specific that I prefered the hand-cleaning (and actually feel that the result is better). So I was grumpily angsting about having to have Another Conversation. But I held my tongue when I sat down, and she presented me with the option of doing hand-cleaning except for a couple of trouble spots, and this turned out to work very nicely, so I was really glad I had given her the opportunity to succeed. 'Twouldn't surprise me if the dynamic with Dr. New Guy works out similarly.

Part of my ill-feeling today is, I strongly suspect, a function of not sleeping worth crap the last few days. (Note to self: really time to drop some weight and get back on the percussive breathing.* Sleep apnea, er, sucks.)

* Percussive breathing is a technique taught by my last Pilates teacher. Forceful, rhythmic breathing, in and out. Promotes control and pulmonary capacity.**

** When they decanted me into bed after my hysterectomy, the nurse presented me with a "spirometer," with the instructions that, by the end of the weekend she wanted, me to be able to inhale (leaf, leaf, paging through the little manual)—

I pick up the thing, deduce its purpose, and take a sample drag: 3000ml.

—2400 ml. Oh. Okay, got that covered....

This all on the strength of the percussive breathing, and despite getting no explicitly aerobic exercise during that time in my life. Belatedly noticed also that during that period, that I was sleeping much more soundly than I was used to, whereby I deduced that I was also toning up the nasal-uvular area.

#228 ::: Jacque, gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 04:11 AM:

Perhaps to share some snoozes?

["Pilates", actually. But we do have a hammock in the Tower if you need a nap.—Anglesea Vervain, Duty Gnome]

#229 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 05:59 PM:

First, the inspiration for this. (specifically the first half of it)

This is why I only read his blog when I have spoons - or when I'm so low on spoons that I need to cry. But beautiful, no?

Some historical context: about eight years ago, I got food poisoning so bad (along with sequelae - in medical terms I was very much a zebra) that I wound up in hospital for three weeks, including several days in ICU. Very nearly died.

I read that post yesterday. Last night, as I was lying in bed waiting for sleep, I remembered my last memory as I was losing consciousness in the hospital - before I was rushed to ICU. It was the touch of a soft, slightly puffy hand, holding mine. Later, Mom told me it was her hand. I have no idea how she would have been there, as it was during the plasmapheresis treatment, but I don't doubt it - it felt like her hand. The last thing, potentially, I would have felt before I died.

For all my problems with Mom, for all the issues in our relationship, for all that she frustrates me and won't accept me as I am - for all that, she loves me. More than anything. She would have traded places with me in a heartbeat if she'd been able.

On that foundation, perhaps we can build something new. Even if we never become close, there will always be love.

#230 ::: The_L ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 10:03 AM:

Hope. Things have gone a bit belly-up recently, and hope doesn't seem to be in great supply for me right now.

Recap: in Feb. '12, I met an awesome man. We are now engaged, set to marry in April. This summer, we planned to move in together as soon as my lease ran out at the end of July.

My parents were Not Happy about this. Not only is he Jewish, but he makes slightly less than I do, and we just can't have that. They insist that he's after my money. (I'm a teacher. Nobody marries a teacher for the money, except maybe in Finland.) They tell me they will never speak to me again if I do this.

They are paying my cell phone bill, my auto insurance, and my health insurance.

I move in with my parents instead.

This, of course, utterly crushes my wonderful fiance, who knows how much Dad has hurt me over the years. Even worse, my parents have been trying to drive a wedge between us. They've continued to accuse my fiance of being Not A Nice Person, they insist that "you need to think long and hard before you marry him," they tell me what a slob I've become because of him and You Don't Want To Be Like That, Do You?

Plus, last month was a split-shift month for me (my workplace has an unusual schedule), which only added to the stress. Everyone who knows about my situation insists that I need to leave my parents' house yesterday.

This week is my week off. At the end of the week, fiance and I are going to DragonCon. The day before we leave for the con, my parents are leaving for a resort in the Bahamas.

My fiance has offered to help me move my stuff from their house (not a huge amount, since the furniture and a good bit else is in a storage unit) to his during that day.

I don't know what to do. I know I need OUT again (how did I ever cope with my parents before?) but at the same time, I don't know if my parents' dickery really entitles me to be even more of a dick by leaving "like a thief in the night" without even telling them.

Further complication: I just renewed my car registration. It will arrive probably after DragonCon.

Advice?

#231 ::: The_L got gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 10:04 AM:

Maybe it was all the italics tags.

[It was the words 'auto insurance.' -- JDM]

#232 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 11:54 AM:

The_L, #230: You're not being a dick, and you're not leaving like a thief in the night. You're escaping from a situation that you recognize as toxic to your mental (and possibly physical) health. You made a mistake in moving back in with them, but that doesn't mean you're stuck with a bad choice once you've realized that it was a bad choice.

Your parents do not get a veto on your marriage, and if they're blackmailing you by holding a financial lever over your head (as well as the emotional blackmail you've already described), that's a Huge Red Warning Flag.

If they refuse to give you your mail during the interval between you moving out and getting all your changes-of-address filed, sic the Postal Inspectors on them -- that is SERIOUSLY illegal.

#233 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 12:08 PM:

The-L @230: Oh my. :( Rough situation. :( My sympathies.

Take this for what it's worth, ignore if hlepy, etc.

Take your fiance up on his offer. Do you have mail forwarding? (it's something I've used extensively, for normal moves, granted, but all the mail addressed to you at your previous address gets sent to your new one for 6 months or a year - so you catch birthday/seasonal cards as well) Alternately, you could ask the post office to hold your mail.

It seems like a dick move to move out like that, but your parents are making it next thing to impossible to move out otherwise. They are not treating you like an adult with agency and independence. They are according you no respect.

As for trying to drive a wedge between you and your fiance, I know you know it's all lies, but it sits in your subconscious. It's more toxic than it seems, because it'll pop up later in times you don't even expect it.

Mom *approved* of my fiance and she still managed to damage our marriage. In my case, it was with harmful (very often repeated) advice like 'you can never get angry with your husband or he'll leave' and 'men have such fragile egos that you can never criticize them ever.' I knew it was crap, but I still ended up seeing a psychologist to sort out the anger-repression and self-hatred from not allowing myself to get frustrated with Spouse, ever, for any reason.

Moving out allowed me to set boundaries. The latest thing has been limiting contact. I haven't actually spoken to my mom in several weeks, or seen her in over a month, but we've been in e-mail contact. This allows me to, for example, read the e-mail she sent me last night, think about it, type out a reply in a text editor, and then send the edited reply. My depression hasn't been half as bad since I limited contact, and no longer feel obligated to talk to her regularly (and deal with her not recognizing me as an independent adult).

The financial thing is tough. It ties you to them. :( Is there any way your fiance could pay for your stuff for a while? Or any other way you can get free?

I hope this helps. In any case, my sympathies, and hugs if they're welcome.

#234 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 12:25 PM:

Addendum to 233: I talk about setting boundaries wrt your parents. I just realized that makes less sense in the context of your parents threatening to cut you off. My apologies. The idea of parents cutting all contact with the kids just does not compute for me (having escaped from an enmeshed relationship with my mom)

So, consider that paragraph to be "if your parents are bluffing" and they do choose the course of sanity and maintain contact.

#235 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 12:58 PM:

The_L @232:

Agreeing with Lee. Go for the move, and good luck!

However, I also recognise that this a big step for you and that it's not easy, particularly with the financial elements.

(Of course, if they say anything after you've moved, you could point out that living together will confirm whether or not you're compatible, and if he's really so awful, surely it's better to discover that now than after you're married? *)

Chickadee @233: What you said resonates. In my case it was just such low self esteem (in large part due to my mother) that made it difficult for me to truly believe, every day, that he really did love me and still would even if I got ratty occasionally.

* Not that I'm expecting you will find that, at all. But certainly when circumstances forced me to move in with my now-husband for three months (in a one-bedroom flat with me taking over most of the main room because I was working from home) it was a good test of whether we really were happy together day-to-day.

#236 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 01:45 PM:

The_L @230:

One thing my parents told me, from personal and familial experience, is that it is a foolish parent who takes against their child's life partner. Your parents have not chosen a very good long-term strategy, judging by how you talk about your fiance.

I agree with people who say that moving out is not anything like being any kind of a thief in the night. That sounds like Tapes to me.

#237 ::: Pin Cushion ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 02:53 PM:

I am missing spoons. Literal spoons. There should be eight, we have four. I told my husband, "I think CC stole my spoons." Then barked a laugh. Yes, I think my Challenging Child did steal my spoons. Both literal and figurative. On the good news front, school starts next week and I have two job interviews lined up, plus a nibble on a third resume I sent out recently. ::crossing fingers, toes, and eyes::

#238 ::: The_L ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 04:47 PM:

"Of course, if they say anything after you've moved, you could point out that living together will confirm whether or not you're compatible, and if he's really so awful, surely it's better to discover that now than after you're married?"

I said that before, when they threatened me. Mom's response was, "If you have doubts, then why are you doing it?" Well, gee, Mom, maybe you and Dad spent most of my life programming me to constantly second-guess myself? But yeah, they still don't buy this.

According to my parents, no man would ever propose living with an unmarried woman if he intends to marry her at all. The fact that we're engaged doesn't change this. Furthermore, they insist that if things go south with my fiance (and they're insistent that things WILL go pear-shaped), I will be forever unmarriageable because of having Lived With A Man.

"The financial thing is tough. It ties you to them. :( Is there any way your fiance could pay for your stuff for a while? Or any other way you can get free?"

My car's almost paid off, so I could certainly pick up cell phone and auto. I'm switching to my company's health insurance plan, which takes effect in October, and while meds will cost a bit more in the meantime, at least I have enough savings to afford them. Money's not the issue here.

"So, consider that paragraph to be "if your parents are bluffing" and they do choose the course of sanity and maintain contact."

I...don't see Dad as bluffing. This was the first time he was angry at me that he didn't raise his voice. I cannot emphasize enough how terrifying the lack of yelling alone was.

It's just frustrating. When I was living on my own, I was finally getting along with my parents. I developed a friendship with Mom, and was able to tolerate Dad in small doses. Now, I'm going to lose that, because they had to make the situation out as having a "bad guy."

What doesn't help is, when I'm staying with them, I get more afraid. Living with him seemed so obvious and right before. Now, after just a month, after asking 5 different corners of the Internet and several IRL friends what to do and getting the same damn answer, doubt is still trickling in. Why are my parents doing this to me? Do they want me to suffer?


@Pin Cushion: I've got my fingers crossed for you! Employment is a great way to get figurative spoons back, and school will make it possible to go through CC's room and see if you can recover your literal spoons. :)

#239 ::: The_L ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 04:50 PM:

Ohfuckohfuckohfuck. My bank accounts are in my name and my parents'. Is there any way to disconnect them from my account without them having to be there? I have this horrible premonition they may try to use that access against me in some way.

#240 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 04:55 PM:

The_L @239, I am NOT a lawyer, and I've never tried anything like this, but...

Would it be possible to open new accounts in your name alone (or yours and your fiance's name, if you prefer, but I'm pretty sure that'd just throw gasoline on the parental fire), transfer the money over, and CLOSE the old accounts? Or transfer most of the money and leave the account open, if you think that'd keep things calmer?

People talk about unscrupulous spouses doing this sort of thing before scarpering, so it seems to me to be a stategy that might work. (Get confirmation from someone who actually knows something about this, however; I freely admit that this may be very hlepy advice.)

#241 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 04:56 PM:

The_L:

Is it perhaps time to use some of your vacation time to open some new bank accounts in your own name and transfer your money into them?

Also, every post you make sounds like you really need to get out of there. And it also sounds like you know it, deep down. Listen to yourself. Despite your parents' best efforts to undermine your self-confidence, you seem to have a good sense of what you really need to do right now.

#242 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 04:59 PM:

The_L; what Abi said. To quote Yoda, "trust your feelings." You're panicking that they'll keep you tied to them by your finances; that means that the chains are real and not imaginary.

You can do this. Hugs offered if welcome. And virtual chocolate mousse (because everything is better with chocolate mousse....)

#243 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 05:42 PM:

Do we notice a pattern, here? Of over-controlling parents trying to chain their children "at home?" What in the name of creation makes them think this is a reasonable, loving thing to do?

#244 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 06:18 PM:

Jacque @243: I think I have an inkling of it, from talking to a friend with three young children (1, 3 and 6). She loves them desperately and finds it really hard to spend time away from them. (note that the eldest is in public school; she's not homeschooling.) She wants the best for them, and recognizes that some day she'll have to let go (and I know her - she will let go in an appropriate way), and it'll be terribly hard for her.

Now this is someone who's self-aware and healthy enough to realize that excessive attachment is a bad thing, and that closeness =/= stifling all urges to leave.

What if you have someone with that same drive to love their kids *without* the balancing mental health or self-awareness to recognize too much, too long or too tight?

I don't think this is remotely what's happening in The_L's abusive situation, but I can see it in my mom, and I can see it in some others.

#245 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 06:24 PM:

The_L, #238/239: *boggles* What century are your parents living in? That sounds just like my mother bleating about "why should he buy the cow when he can get the milk for free?", and she's been dead for 25 years. Also, newsflash -- nobody except right-wing Christianists considers a woman who isn't a virgin to be "damaged goods" any more. Wotta maroon!

Re the bank accounts, get new ones NOW, in your name only, and then transfer all but about $10 out of the old ones. I don't think you can close them without your parents' signature, but if you don't get that money out of their reach, they can drain your accounts -- this is a common tactic used by abusive spouses if they think their victim is contemplating leaving.

Side thought: If you can, take this opportunity to switch to a credit union instead and ditch the usurious banking fees. A lot of credit unions now have geographic criteria for membership; the one I belong to will accept anyone who lives, works, or goes to school within 10 miles of one of its branches.

#246 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 06:41 PM:

The_L, seconding what others have said. Getting out seems to be in your best interest. Also, if you have a paycheck direct-deposited, remember to change it to the new account. Wishing you strength.

Pin Cushion @237, good luck with the job interviews and, of course, with CC

#247 ::: tamiki ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 06:47 PM:

The_L: I believe I was able to take my parents' names off my savings account by myself, but it's been five years since I did that so I may be misremembering; also your bank's mileage may vary. (I left them on the account while I was in college, since I was out of state and it was a local bank, in case I needed them to get me emergency funds; when I moved back in they fully expected me to take full custody. They were never on my checking account.) But under the circumstances, it might be better to open new accounts in your own name. Get out of there as quickly as you can; it sounds like staying with your parents isn't doing you any favors.

#248 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 08:17 PM:

The L, I don't think your parents want you to suffer, but they do seem to want you to do Right because that is the One True Way to Happiness. And it is bullshit. It sounds like you know what you want to do, but want to have no doubts, and your parents are very good at making you doubt everything except them.

Take the time to move out and disentangle them from your finances. Take the time to be with your fiance and remember who you are, singular and plural, when you have space to be who you are.

Hell, my advice is 'elope' here. That's a more bridge-kindling idea, though. But it is an option. Anything you do that is less drastic than moving out while your parents are gone, a DragonCon wedding, and letting them know from the honeymoon-- anything you do that isn't that is *moderation*.

#249 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 08:30 PM:

Diatryma, #248: I don't think your parents want you to suffer, but they do seem to want you to do Right because that is the One True Way to Happiness.

Bang on the money. And because it's the One True Way, they can't believe that anyone could be happy doing anything else. So when The_L says she wants something different and that she's happy that way, they hear "she's in denial". All of this is For Her Own Good And She'll Thank Us Later When She Comes To Her Senses.

And yes, it's absolute and utter bullshit. It's the denial of agency, of individual personhood. It's boundary issues running amok, and the only way to get away from it is to literally get away from it.

I once had my mother tell me in so many words that I couldn't possibly be happy because I didn't go to church and have children and spend all my after-work time doing housecleaning. Yeah, right.

#250 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 11:43 PM:

The L: I second pretty much everything other folks have said. Your relationship with your parents has turned toxic; temporarily, one hopes. It's not your fault.

Open new bank accounts and move the money in your old accounts to the new accounts. (Make sure the old accounts don't charge a fee if you don't maintain a minimum balance -- if that is the case, you will need to leave whatever amount the minimum balance is in the account.) I assume you are not a minor. Do it NOW.

With regard to your mail: get a post office box, and direct the post office to send all your mail there immediately. If you do it right away, the license should go to the P. O. Box. If it doesn't, and your parents withhold it from you, you can apply for a duplicate license: simply tell the Motor Vehicle people that the license never arrived. It happens all the time. Presumably you have the old license or other ID to prove that you are you.

You are not being a dick. You are protecting yourself and making adult decisions. You are not required to submit to blackmail and you are entitled to live a life that makes you happy. Have a great time at DragonCon!

#251 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 12:22 AM:

The_L: Do this, in this order:

1) Put in a change of address. Where it says "date effective" put the current date. Send the mail to your fiance's house, why not, after all?

2) In most places, any signatory to a simple joint bank account can draw out all the money and close it. Do so. If you can't, draw out as much as you are allowed to. Don't worry about the minimum balance; if the balance is too low, the bank will close the account; no problem, it's not your account any more.

3) Open a new account, in a different bank.

4) Move in with your fiance.

5) Marry your fiance. Agree to have a party later if there needs to be a party, but in most places, you can get married on only a few days' notice.

6) Don't talk to your parents unless they remain polite.

7) Live happily ever after! (Millions have done so.)

#252 ::: The_L ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 05:08 AM:

I've been wanting to switch to a credit union since not long after a bank whose name rhymes with Smells Cargo bought out my old bank. (We've all heard the horror stories about that bank at this point, I'm sure.) It was just such a hassle that I got lazy and stayed with the bank.

I'd even agreed to a "student" checking account with my mom's name on it because then I wouldn't have to maintain such a high minimum balance.

Now, I have the perfect excuse to leave and never have anything to do with Smells Cargo again. :)

#253 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 08:58 AM:

The_L @252: That's the spirit!

Seems a number of us here have had parents insisting that if we only did things Their Way (TM) we'd be happy, and since we're not doing things Their Way (TM) we can't possibly be happy (and if we're unhappy, why it's obviously because we're not doing things Their Way (TM) that we're not happy, and if we are happy, well it's because we're deluding ourselves...).

If my mother had had her way, I would spend an hour every morning doing my hair and putting my face on*, wear mainly skirts/dresses and always high heels, of course, and have joined the Bridge Club and the Music Society at university, where I would have had a social whirl as Secretary/Social Secretary/Chair of one or more of these genteel societies, met a Nice Jewish Boy (TM) and been happily married and produced nice Jewish grandchildren for her.

I don't and didn't and I'm happily married and my non-Jewish husband loves me AND likes me as I am, and we have zero children, by mutual consent.

*Which would be 15 full days or nearly 23 waking days per year (counting a waking day as 16 hours) wasted, as far as I'm concerned.

#254 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 01:57 PM:

The_L: Reading and witnessing, and chiming in agreeing with the above advice.

The post office is very good about forwarding mail, and is used to people changing it to move (or hold it for vacationing folk).

You've got a place to bolt to -- your fiances; and time with which to do so.

So -- Run for Your Life -- because your parents will control it if you don't.

#255 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 12:27 AM:

I do like the idea of telling your parents that you'd intended to change to a credit union and this just seemed like a good opportunity. Plausible deniability can be useful.

#256 ::: Pro ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 01:34 PM:

I've recently run across a book that is really helping me identify emotions and figure out more effective ways of managing them than either repressing or expressing. It's called _The Language of Emotions_ by Karla McLaren.

Basically, she argues that emotions are doing real work, and if we can channel them productively, they help us heal. She talks about how to channel them, too, so it's not just theoretical.

Throwing it out there in case it helps someone else.

#257 ::: The_L ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2013, 08:51 PM:

@dcb: Well, I did meet a Nice Jewish Boy--I'm just not Jewish! My Catholic parents were kinda thrown for a loop. :P

I'm Out now, but I'm still so, so very scared. I won't be able to go to the bank until tomorrow morning, and so much could go wrong. Plus, I'll have to change my direct-deposit info at work, etc.

OTOH, I feel that I handled parental-notification fairly well. I had to type it up to be able to get it out, so I can copy-paste it (which I will do in the next comment, to keep it from being one huge novel).

#258 ::: The_L ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2013, 08:53 PM:

The note:

"I am sorry to do this so suddenly and without warning, but I simply could not stay with you any longer. The environment in your home has become mentally toxic for me. This is not your fault.

I know you never intended any harm in your parenting methods, but the damage is still very real and has haunted me for years. [fiance] has spent this year and a half comforting me, encouraging me to pursue my own interests and make my own decisions, and helping me to heal and grow as a person. He was the one who held me and talked me down when I had a panic attack, or a bad memory kept replaying in my head. He was the first person to tell me it was OK to cry if I needed to.

This is why it hurts me so deeply when you accuse [fiance] of having bad intentions in our relationship, of wanting my money, or of theft. He has always been patient with me, always encouraging me to be the best I can be. He has been a perfect gentleman in our interactions. Hearing you say nasty things about him cuts into my heart like a knife. It is an almost physical pain.

Now, a lot of the unhealthy thought-patterns are weaving their way back into my brain. I start second-guessing myself at every turn, even when I was certain of a decision (however minor) before moving back in with you. As it did before, living with Dad feels like living with a tiger. I never know when the tiger is hungry or angry, and I was always used to devoting a good bit of my energy to making sure the tiger didn't notice me when it was in a bad mood. This is why I always used to lie and hide things from you--because I knew that once Dad found out, I would be "attacked" and there was no way out of it. This is also why I spent so much time hiding out in my room, where Dad never went.

My coworkers are telling me they haven't seen me look so rough during a "double" in a long time, and I know they're right. It's reached the point that [coworker], who is NOT the sort of person to offer this kind of thing at all, has said, "Do you need a place to stay? Because my daughter just moved out, and I could rent you her old room."

For the first time in months, I've had trouble sleeping, not because the bed is in any way uncomfortable, but because the old fears and insecurities have returned. I've gone back to walking on eggshells, to hiding away in other rooms to avoid you. This is not healthy or normal behavior, and I know it also hurts you to have me living there and still hardly see me.

I have decided to move in with [fiance]. I am not doing this to hurt or spite you. I am only doing what is best for my own health. I am sorry to do this so suddenly, but I couldn't work up the nerve to tell you in person (see the above about old, bad mental habits that are still so hard to break). I will understand any decision you make at this point--I know this probably looks horrible, and impulsive, and immature, but I do assure you I've been considering this decision very carefully. Whatever you decide, know that I love you and always will.

If you'd like to discuss this with us, let me know. You do have my cell phone number. :)

L"

It just seemed unbearably nasty to take my stuff, leave, and not even say, "Oh by the way, I'm moving out."

#259 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2013, 09:02 PM:

The_L, all good wishes for strength to you during this transition.

#260 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 12:03 AM:

The L, that looks like a very good note to me. I hope that everything turns out far more beautifully than you imagined.

#261 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 04:03 AM:

The_L: Well done in getting out, and in writing the note. Good luck for getting the financial stuff sorted, and for many happy years living with your now-fiance.

As for the Nice Jewish Boy: yes, well, I looked for one that would mesh with me, failed to find one, met my now-husband and finally worked out that a God who wants you to be miserable just because the person you love, and who loves you, happens to have been born into a different religion, isn't worth following. But it can cause problems if parents can't see that.

Pro @256: Glad you've found a helpful book. Don't think it's what I need at the moment, but I may look at it some time.

#262 ::: The_L ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 09:53 AM:

@dcb: It's not that... It's more that they fear our kids will be confused, somehow, by us not presenting a united front of We Are X Religion So You Should Be, Too. Or that we are somehow unable to compromise and take our kids to more than one kind of religious service.

I honestly think they're freaked out by the fact that I'm not Catholic anymore. I've told Mom I was Pagan, and the bad reaction I got prevented me from wanting to talk to her any more about it.

...Which meant that she totally threw back in my fact about how "we don't even know what religion you are nowadays."

#263 ::: Bricklayer ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 10:59 AM:

Not caught up on the thread, and I need to ... just a quick check-in.

We are now more than a week into the "I have the kid all day every day except 2 hours around lunch, when she has preschool" schedule. I'm tolerating it better than I thought I would, partly because I can have a mopey slow-run-up morning before having to gear for dropoff/pickup.

The two things that are falling off my spoon budget are having any brain at all to keep track of things or enjoy stuff for myself, and remembering/being capable of eating on a regular basis. Over and over I'll feel weird or dizzy or my stomach hurts, and when I think about it I realize it's been 5+ hours since the last time I ate (right now, at 10AM, I last ate some peanuts around 2:30 yesterday afternoon) anything but soda, which is my primary fluid input. I've been managing to get down more plain water per day than used to be my norm, so yay - and yesterday i walked 6+ miles, broken up in errandy or drop-off-to-school chunks. So that's good.

I thought it was because things haven't worked out to let me have a Cream of Dinner glop sitting in the fridge waiting for me, but yesterday I made one for lunch and there's still some there now, and here I am still not eating it. Or anything. Dammit.

Today I can't just skive by on no blood sugar, either; I have a dentist's appt during her school and I have to drive besides. I think I'll go get a bowl of Cheerios and see if, once I've gotten around that, I can face other stuff.

#264 ::: Bricklayer got gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 10:59 AM:

Probably punctational.

#265 ::: Bricklayer ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 11:20 AM:

The_L @262: Raising thoughtful, faithful interfaith kids is a long-solved problem. Judy Blume was CONTROVERSIAL for putting an interfaith family at the heart of Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret back in the 70s, but it was certainly happening even before that. And the Margarets of the world are grown-up and raising kids.

I daresay there are probably several Internet Parenting Fora you could visit for advice on setting up your family in a way that feels good to both you and your (future) husband.

Also, "We are Religion X and so are you and you are GOING to go to church" is a known method for getting your kids to grow up to be atheists or agnostics (or at least go through an I Hate Religion period before coming back to some faith) ... it does work sometimes, but when it fails it fails spectacularly. It may be the only method with which your parents are familiar, though.

#266 ::: The_L ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 12:47 PM:

Well. Parents also took me off their cell phone plan, car insurance, and health insurance.

So I got my own car insurance, and the workplace health insurance kicks in in October. Now all I need to do is get on a phone plan again.

#267 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 01:24 PM:

The_L: If you don't mind a pay-as-you-go cellphone, Virgin Mobile is fairly decent, says a satisfied customer.

Funny, I'm a Pagan that's investigating the Catholic church...blessings on your journey, wherever it takes you.

#268 ::: The_L ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 04:10 PM:

Lori: Most of my issues with the RCC are either political in nature, or based on some rather unfortunate subconscious programming. Whether you choose to convert or not, best wishes for a happy and fulfilling spiritual life. :)

#269 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 04:32 PM:

The_L, I can think of reasons why I might take my young adult off the family car insurance or off the family cell phone plan. For the ones not involving outright criminality or gross negligence approaching criminality, I would negotiate some kind of a transition period. I cannot think of any good reason for dropping her from health insurance when she had less than a month waiting period to transfer to a new one. This strikes me as classic flounce.

#270 ::: The_L ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 05:00 PM:

In re: health insurance, I was planning to change to the workplace plan anyway, since BCBS is increasing prices again and the workplace plan isn't. This is just making it happen a little bit faster.

As for the others, I've already paid for my first 6 months of car insurance (at about the same rate my folks were paying for me before), and I'm getting added to my fiance's cell phone plan on Friday.

It sucks, but considering how abruptly I left, they could just as easily have NOT given me warning. Then I'd be well and truly screwed.

#271 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 06:02 PM:

The_L @262: Very pleased you have such a supportive fiance, since your parents appear to be making some efforts to prove their immaturity. Stay healthy for the next month!

Re.the religious side, how you bring up any hypothetical* children is the business of you and your spouse-to-be, not your parents. It's one thing for them to gently point out that there could be problems, and ask if you've thought about them, but if you reply that yes, the two of you have considered and discussed it, then it's no more business of theirs.**

* You haven't got any yet, so they're hypothetical.

** Some years ago, a friend of mine told me how when she and her fiance went for a pre-marriage session with their RC priest, he was relieved to find out they agreed about e.g. when (and whether) they wanted children. Apparently the couple just before had come in and it turned out in the course of the conversation that -he- had been assuming that as soon as they were married she would give up her job, be a housewife, start producing lots of babies, while -she- was assuming she would continue in her career and at some time in the future have one or two children. They didn't get married.

#272 ::: The_L ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 06:21 PM:

My parents insist that Jewish people will never fully accept a Gentile in-law, or an in-law who converts to Judaism. They also insist that the fact that we'll be paying rent to fiance's parents means that they don't love or accept me at all.

They'd also probably be shocked if they realized fiance is only the last of a long line of SO's to tell me, "L, you really, really need to get out of your parents' house."

#273 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 06:59 PM:

The_L: Good for you! Now that you're well and truly out of the toxic environment, it probably won't take long for you to recover the progress you'd made. It was having made that progress which enabled you to recognize that you were backsliding, which means that even during the worst of this you were doing better than before.

Your parents may also be worried that with multiple religious options available, your children may grow up to be atheists. I've come to think of religion as being rather like smoking, in that people who don't get into it relatively young tend not to do so as they get older either.

@265: That's actually a step forward. If they've relinquished the financial chains, it means they recognize that this trick no longer works, so why should they bother using it any more?

#274 ::: The_L ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 07:39 PM:

They also haven't touched my bank account. To be frank, I only suspected they would when I was feeling unusually paranoid the other night--they're not thieves, after all. They just don't know how to deal with emotionally-sensitive kids, or like how much society has changed since the 50's.

My brother feels betrayed because I didn't tell him what was going on, and because the whole family felt like I was being secretive about my relationship with Fiance the whole time. Which taught me something new: I don't know how to talk about relationships to family members AT ALL. I apparently default to waiting for people to ask me questions.

(By the way, I read tons of Judy Blume as a kid, but was actually forbidden from reading Are You There, God? for reasons I no longer remember. I may have to go back and read that some time.)

#275 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 07:40 PM:

Regarding the kids-must-follow-your-religion thing, yeah, familiar. It seems to be considered an utter failure on the parents' part if they don't indoctrinate their children to the point of not even considering other religions.

Note that I'm Roman Catholic, and was raised as such, but I've actually thought about it at this point.

You should have seen Mom's reaction to a couple of occasions...

(note: I was so busy trying to be the Perfect Daughter that it didn't even occur to me as a teen to resent going to church. That said, it happened to so many kids I know that I can't help but agree with the comment at 265 about that being a good way to raise atheists)

Occasion 1: first year university, attending a Lutheran college. First time in my life I'd ever seen people my age who took their stated faith seriously. Mom was convinced (and terrified) I'd convert. Not even to a non-Christian faith! And it was still a thing of horror!

Occasion 2: I wanted to take a world religions course so I'd know something about non-Christian religions. Mom hit the roof. I backed down and took something else. Now that I'm free of her (somewhat), I really should pick up a world religions text book.

Any recommendations for a good introductory book for either world religions in general, or a specific religion?

#276 ::: Chickadee pings the mods ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 07:41 PM:

Is the comment at 265 written under the correct pseudonym? My apologies if I'm mistaken, but I think it's the main thread one, not the DFD one.

#277 ::: The_L ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 07:57 PM:

@Chickadee: TBH, most books in the religion section of your library tend to be pretty good. I'm partial to Christians and Pagans by Dr Gus diZerega, myself. The only Christians I can think of who would be offended by it are extreme fundamentalists. And maybe your mother, given her reactions to a possible Lutheran conversion!

#278 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 08:11 PM:

Chickadee: I'm a big fan of The Jew in the Lotus, myself. It compares Judaism and Buddhism.

#279 ::: Jacque, gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 08:12 PM:

for a simple book rec. Some fresh strawberries, for their lownesses?

#280 ::: Bricklayer ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 09:19 PM:

Chickadee @275: Not a textbook, but possibly a place to start might be How To Be a Perfect Stranger, which is really for situations like "Oh man I've only ever gone to my church but my good Hindu friend's mom died and I need to go to her funeral with him -- what's going to happen there? How do I not come off as a ignorant asshole white guy??"

It's a fairly straightforward read, and might provide frameworks to hang later learning on.

I'm pretty sure this is the current edition of the textbook we used in my Freshman world-religions survey class (at Jesuit high school). It was good then; don't know this edition.

#281 ::: Bricklayer got gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 09:20 PM:

Probably for Amazon links, or malformation of same.

#282 ::: Bricklayer seconds Chicakdee ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 09:22 PM:

The @265 needs a nym rescue so I don't accidentally sockpuppet or something. And I've been being so careful, too. :->

#283 ::: Merricat ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2013, 08:13 AM:

The_L @272: My mother was Jewish and married a non-Jew, and although I think her parents would have been more excited about a Jewish boy, they were always perfectly kind to my dad.

(Our particular flavor of interfaith was all-out Jewish -- synagogue, holidays, Bat Mitzvahs -- plus secular celebrations of Christmas and Easter. My dad couldn't care less about Jesus, but no one and nothing was going to take his Christmas tree away from him.)

#284 ::: Bricklayer ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2013, 09:22 AM:

Merricat @283: Interestingly, my (ethnically) Jewish mother-in-law is the one who is enforcing CHRISTMAS ON THE 25TH AND NO OTHER TIME winter giftmas customs. Left to ourselves, my husband and I would prefer to raise our child to give gifts on Yule in honor of the Solstice (and to know about Christmas and Santamas as other people's holidays, plus do Hannukah separately with her Gunga, who is a practicing Jew).

When we go up to visit the Toronto in-laws during school winter break, though, my mother-in-law is absolutely the Immovable Object on presents-shall-be-opened-the-25th-and-we-shall-call-it-Christmas. No idea why. She's not Christian in any other way at all. Her husband is an example of "If you want to raise agnostic children, be a minister" -- his dad ran several Unitarian parishes and he's very anti-being-in-a-religious-group at all, plus doesn't particularly care about any one religion's doctrine. My sister-in-law (also lives in that household) is sort of a lapsed Pagan, as am I, and my husband is a rabid atheist (some of the things he says make Hitchens sound reasoned and polite).

Nevertheless, all pressies given in that house for winter Giftmas are CHRISTMAS PRESENTS DAMMIT. It is a mystery. :->

#285 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2013, 10:29 AM:

#272 ::: The_L: Pfft. I'm tempted to ask my Protestant BiL across the room to reply to that.... We're both hanging out while the rest of the family goes to Rosh Hashana services.

Or my Hindu uncle (does an Indian immigrant count as a Gentile?), who'll be coming down to c-ville for my nephew's Bar Mitzvah.

#286 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2013, 11:07 AM:

The_L @272: "My parents insist that Jewish people will never fully accept a Gentile in-law, or an in-law who converts to Judaism." That's true of some Jews, unfortunately. I was spitting mad the first time I discovered that some Jews didn't fully accept people who had converted - after all, that tradition goes all the way back to the Bible and Ruth was fully accepted!

However, there are also plenty of Jewish people and Jewish communities which are very accepting and open about both converts and non-Jewish partners, and I think that's increasing. For quite a few years there was an annual seminar "I'm Jewish - My partner Isn't" in London. It stopped a year or two ago I think because it was felt to be much less necessary than it had been. However, I found it very useful several years ago when I was angry about the fact that the Reform Synagogues of Great Britain wouldn't conduct mixed marriages*.

Actually couldn't by the law of the land, anyway, but also wouldn't, which I found hurtful.

#287 ::: Girl with a Spade ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2013, 10:07 AM:

I don't feel like I have a right to be here, but I've been reading the threads, and it has helped.

My parents weren't abusive. My grandparents most definitely were. My maternal grandparents were terrible parents who used to lock my mother out on the balcony as a child, until she had her emotions under control. My paternal grandfather terrorized his wife until the day he died. My father and his siblings were fed and then largely ignored.

My parents weren't abusive. And yet reading through these threads I keep hearing an echo inside me, and I keep returning to this subject and I keep wondering why fictional stories of mean, controlling mothers cause such a reaction in me. Whenever I try to do something for myself, when I try to achieve something, I can feel them dragging at my legs, slowing me down. Sometimes it feels like I am carrying my whole family on my back.

My parents weren't abusive, but they are definitely dysfunctional. And they failed at protecting me.

From the scalding hot coffee that I managed to pour over my own baby hand. From the strangely oppressive Kindergarden that had a cloud of despair hovering over it - I thought for years it was the strict catholicism, until my mum told me that the woman who managed the Kindergarden had a small daughter who was likely dying. From standing in an open window on the fourth floor as a toddler. From their terrible fights. From the knowledge that my grandparents were terrible parents (terrible people?). From the story of what a hard and difficult man my wonderful, wonderful grandfather used to be. From the story of the wooden hairbrush my grandmother broke on my mother's back once. From the terrible split that has been running through my mother's family for generations. From my mother's control freak boyfriend with his sudden anger and random vindictiveness, and his pushy parents who wanted to turn me into the perfect little granddaughter at the expense of what was most important to me. From the cruel stepmother who has been fighting a territorial war with me from the very first day. From all the changes and all the chaos that just never stopped.

From their own desperate need for me to show them that everything was ok, everything was fine, everything could continue just the way it was. Their need to feel alright was more important than my need for protection.

I'm beginning to suspect those echoes I'm hearing are the voices of my parents whispering into my ear all my life, telling me their stories so they don't have to listen to them.

They all tried so desperately to escape that they pushed everything several layers underground, leaving me defenseless against things I couldn't see and didn't realize were happening. They left it all to me to sort out.

And now I have so much digging to do.

#288 ::: Girl with a Spade ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2013, 10:19 AM:

And there is so much more and it is so hard to put into words, because all I know is that there is something really wrong. But it's hidden so very well.

#289 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2013, 11:09 AM:

From a previous thread:

One of the ongoing themes in Dysfunctional Families Day threads—one that’s certainly been present this year—is the doubt whether one’s own situation is “bad enough” to be a problem. It’s not at all surprising that people who have been repeatedly told, in words and in deeds, that their feelings don’t matter should struggle with this.
Given that, let me direct your attention to David Harmon’s incisive comment at 861 of that thread:
S: My internal voice keeps saying “it’s not that bad”, “other people have it worse”,
Actually, the presence of that “internal voice” is itself a warning sign.
In a healthy environment, most people don’t need to convince themselves they’re not being abused.

#290 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2013, 12:21 PM:

The_L @ 272

It's hard to say, really. My Jewish inlaws were extremely pissy that I didn't promise to convert before even starting to date their son. It was a nasty enough series of exchanges that I dug in my heels and refused to convert.

But they've mellowed, especially since my mother got sick and even more once my daughter was born. In a crisis, I trust them about as far as I could throw them, but we have a functional working relationship for the day-to-day stuff. I know that my FIL is particularly focused on preserving peace within the family, and has made a concerted effort to mend relationships, now that it's clear I'm not going anywhere (that started right after the wedding).

But the reaction of everyone else to our marriage was incredibly positive and supportive; I know that a lot of our Jewish friends (and my BILs and SIL) made it a point to tell my in-laws that they were profoundly out of line.

My FIL and SIL are both converts and nobody thinks anything of it.

Which is just to say that there's a lot of room for variation, over time and between different people. I wouldn't worry about your mom's doom-saying, if you and your fiance are happy.

#291 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2013, 02:58 PM:

Girl with a Spade @287/288: Welcome. Do read what Nancy Lebovitz quoted @289. We're here and we're listening and witnessing, whenever you feel the need to share what you're digging up.

#292 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2013, 04:23 PM:

Girl With A Spade: Welcome. I hope you find help and peace here.

Regarding the book suggestions from earlier: thank you everybody! How to Be a Perfect Stranger is on the shelf at my local library. The Jew in the Lotus is now on hold. (hurray for academic libraries!)

Unfortunately, no one local seems to have Christians and Pagans. :(

Bricklayer: could you please post the name and author of the world-religions survey textbook? The link is broken. Thanks again!

#293 ::: Chickadee has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2013, 04:24 PM:

Risotto with home-made chicken stock, perhaps?

#294 ::: Bricklayer ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2013, 04:51 PM:

Chickadee @292: It's World Religions: The Great Faiths Explored & Explained by John Bowker. The cover is way more photographic and whizbang than it was when I was in high school but I remember his name and it seems to cover the same basic faiths.

Probably there are lots of other good ones out there.

#295 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2013, 06:26 PM:

I recently read God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World by Stephen Prothero. The book covers Islam, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Yoruba religions (such as Santeria and Candomble), Judaism, and Daoism. The author outlines what each religion considers to be the primary problem of the human condition and its solution for that problem.

#296 ::: The_L ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2013, 07:24 PM:

Reference from another blog: I've been debating whether or not this thread is more DF, or outright abuse? (Trigger warning: emotional repression, discusses Michael and Debi Pearl.)

#297 ::: Variations on a Lime ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2013, 07:27 PM:

Girl with a Spade at #287 and 288

Adding to what Nancy wrote at 289: if these threads resonate with you, if you're recognizing analogies even without being able to name them - that's reason enough to stay more.

Just like sleep loss can reduce your ability to recognize how tired you are, stress can reduce your ability to see stress.

Sometimes the clues and hints you give yourself about how life is going are meta-clues: meta-verbal ("isn't it odd that I can't say what's odd?"), or meta-intellectual ("I ought to be be thinking something else about this situation, but what?"). If stress hides your ability to detect stress, then these types of clues might be what you work with.

For example, in my case, certain posts in the DF threads resonated with me and made me think "could I be dealing with similar issues? Perhaps I'll start to look into this."

That at the same time I'd, say, been writing less in a year than I used to write in a week-- well, from my perspective now not writing was a flashing-red-light of warning, but a month or a year ago, it didn't make me think of much at all. Those hints and resonances and barely articulable clues were my first steps on a key journey: today it's been over a month since I've quit my job*.

All to say that trusting yourself includes trusting yourself as you are at the moment - calibrating your personal scales differently because of stress. A quiet beep or a gentle flash might be just that, or could be a loud bright alarm that is dimmed by the sunglasses and earplugs you needed to block something else before.

-----
* not a dream job if it stops your ability to dream, to riff on Bujold


#298 ::: Variations on a Lime has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2013, 07:31 PM:

one perfect multicolor heirloom tomato, sliced thin with a sparkle of salt and a sheen of balsamic vinegar? mmmm, summer.

#299 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2013, 07:46 PM:

The_L, #296: Beating children with objects is always abusive. A lot of the rest of that IMO falls under the category of "lazy parenting" -- the parents don't want to put in the work of helping the child grow and eventually become a functional adult, they just want a quick fix for the immediate problem, and be damned to the trouble they're setting up for their kids down the line.

#300 ::: tamiki ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2013, 08:29 PM:

Girl with a Spade: Welcome.

Bricklayer @265: What I saw in high school (Catholic; many of my classmates had been in church-affiliated schools all the way up, but I came back after four years in public school) was that the constant religious atmosphere either galvanizes someone's faith or does it in. This is by no means a complete data set, of course, so others' mileage may vary.

My parents were pretty relaxed about church-going, but the lack of real answers when I had questions about how it all worked helped steer me into a cheerful agnosticism. (So did such wonderful religion teachers as the one who dismissed us to lunch by rows and the one who told us we couldn't have debates in class anymore because not enough people were agreeing with church doctrine - which I took as a sign of us being people who know what it is to have a debate.)

#301 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2013, 09:02 PM:

Girl with a spade @287: From the previous thread about "fishhooks" - it doesn't have to have been abusive or intentional to have caused pain.

I wish you well in your excavating.

#302 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2013, 07:11 AM:

Girl with a Spade: Adding to Variations on a Lime's list of "hints to look for": Both dreams and intrusive fantasies can also carry clues about what you're dealing with.

#303 ::: The_L ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2013, 10:10 AM:

Speaking of dreams as hints: I often have oddly-realistic dreams set in my grandmother's house.

The dream-version of my grandmother's house is generally almost-identical to the real thing, with one of 2 differences:

a) An extra bedroom/bathroom, and a big, luxurious pool and tropical flower garden in the backyard that looks like something out of BH&G's wet dreams;

b) The back bathroom is all nasty and moldy, and nothing in it works. The toilet clogs, the shower won't work right, and I never even bother to try the sinks.

These are both pretty consistent; I tend to have either one set of differences or the other in dreams of my grandmother's house. Can't help wondering what that says about me.

#304 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2013, 12:12 PM:

#287 ::: Girl with a Spade

What you've written about being haunted by something is very resonant for me.

I'm having an incredibly hard time of not being able to do some useful things, and it reminds me of it being exhausting to be around my mother. (She's been dead for quite some years, but....)

One of the reasons I stopped talking to her is that I'd be knocked out for two weeks after an apparently harmless phone call. I don't know whether there was subtle abuse, the mere sound of her voice brought back bad habits, or whether it was just too much of the wrong kind of work for me to be careful around her. That last seems the most emotionally plausible.

I try to be in better emotional shape-- happier, better able to do things, but I get too frightened, and pull back. I don't know really know what the issue is.

I'm apt to beat myself up for not being as courageous as I think I should be, which doesn't help.

There may be a way out of being afraid of recovery, but at this point, I don't see what it is.

#305 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2013, 12:17 PM:

The_L #303: Can't help wondering what that says about me.

Depends on what your grandmother's house means to you. Also, the separate mods may reflect different experiences, which may or may not have been literally in the house.

#306 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2013, 12:24 PM:

Regarding further book recs: The Bowker is not in the local library, but a search for him as author brings up the Oxford Concise Dictionary of World Religions. It is on my list to pick up next time I'm at the library. :)

The Eight Rival Religions book is also on the shelf, at the same library branch. My backpack is going to be heavy after my next library trip!

tamiki @300: that's horrible teaching! (also sadly I can totally see the latter happening - don't know how many times I've been told "The Catholic church is not a democracy!" when I try to challenge some teaching or other that I think is unjust and unbiblical, without any real explanation for why we are expected to believe it)

Regarding parental teaching: my parents were actually really good about answering questions and really teaching me; the problems arose when I wanted to ask an authority other than them or my godfather. (i.e. take a university level class on Christianity) When Mom hit the roof about the world religions class, I said "okay, I'll take this 200 level class on Christianity instead" and Mom's response was "Didn't I teach you anything? Why do you need to take a basic class on Christianity?!?" My response was WTF??? You did not teach me at second year university level, and you explicitly told me to take that type of course! (one of the best courses I've ever taken, btw)

#307 ::: Bricklayer ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2013, 12:38 PM:

Chickadee @306: The Oxford Concise is his main work; the textbook is sort of a distilled, easier to read popularization of a lot of the same info. If Big Academic Texts don't scare you off, you might like it very much.

If your library shelves nonfiction by subject (esp. in Library of Congress order or similar), look around on that same shelf or two once you're there in person and see what looks interesting.

#308 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2013, 01:12 PM:

Bricklayer @307: I'm a professional academic. I'd be in trouble if Big Academic Texts scared me. :P (though I must admit, most papers put me right to sleep. Learned how to french braid my hair in an attempt to stay awake! *lol*)

I will definitely be looking around while I'm there. :)

#309 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2013, 02:06 PM:

Chickadee, #306: don't know how many times I've been told "The Catholic church is not a democracy!" when I try to challenge some teaching or other that I think is unjust and unbiblical

Funny how we don't consider absolute dictatorships to be a good thing in any area outside of religion...

Also, a 200-level class is not "basic" by definition, unless your university had a totally weird course-numbering system.

#310 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2013, 08:56 PM:

Lee @309: By no means basic. Mom was just freaked out that I was seeking religious instruction from other-than-her. I think she took it as saying she was incompetent, inferior, or incapable of giving me proper instruction (given her reaction to similar situations). Yes, she has issues. :(

#311 ::: Tony Zbaraschuk ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2013, 09:38 PM:

_God is Not One_ is very good, and quite up to date. You might also try the older_Religions of Man_ by Huston. (I think it's been published under multiple titles.)

#312 ::: Dash ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2013, 01:43 AM:

I've been reading and witnessing fairly faithfully, but haven't known what to say here. Guess it's time to fix that.
Upon reading the last batch of posts, two things resonated for me:
Variations on a Lime @297: been writing less in a year than I used to write in a week
Nancy Lebovitz @304: knocked out for two weeks after an apparently harmless phone call
I'll start with the second one first; I've noticed for a week or so now that my mother's phone calls, simple innocuous phone calls, seem to inevitably degenerate into me stressing and crying and having a breakdown. While the content of the call is harmless enough, something about it nonetheless is not harmless to me. I tried explaining this to her, but since I can't put my finger on what's wrong (and it might be the sort of thing I wouldn't want to tell her anyway) it wasn't a very useful explanation for either of us. She said she'd take it easy on the calling, but... I highly doubt it.
The writing less in a year than I had in a week has been true for me ever since entering college, actually, and although I've become more interested in writing again recently, I haven't been able to break that inertia. My working theory was that it was simply a matter of knowing that I wouldn't finish my writing projects (a skill I've always lacked) and thus not bothering to start, but... maybe it is a stress thing. I enjoy college, but damned if it isn't stressful.
As for more general updates... this medicine doesn't seem to be working any better than the last- it may not be making things worse, per se, but I'm definitely really touchy and small things will set me off. I'm getting really frustrated with not having definitive labels for any of my conditions, but testing remains on the back burner for now. I have an appointment with a psychiatrist in the same town as my school, which has been a bit of a sticking point here, but it's not for a week and a half; I do have a therapist here as well, but I'm not sure how much he's helping. I started an unpaid internship working with children, but I think I'm going to have to give it up because stress. And little things keep coming up in my classes and stress. And I don't have transportation to and from various required field trips and stress. And I'm considering dropping my minor and stress. And I don't have a second reader for my thesis and stress. And I don't have a real advisor at school during this entire semester and stress. And everything just keeps building up... and now I'm tearing up and remembering why I tend to get lax about posting on here. At least I have friends here... but then I feel like I'm just dumping on them and they don't really want to hear my incoherent sob stories. I feel like I'm near a breaking point... I just want to make it to graduation, and then I can fall to pieces more properly.

#313 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2013, 05:23 AM:

Weird, back to having my data intermittently drop out of the "Don't make me type all this again" fields....

Dash: Sounds like to me that you're baseline level of stress is very close to capacity, which means that any little thing will cause it to spill over. Having no effective outlets only compounds the problem.

WRT the hidden Issues in your mother's calls, one thing to try (modulo spoon availability) would be to record a call and transcribe it. That way the linguistic patterns are easier to pick apart, and it's easier to spot the hidden assumptions and verbal judo gambits.

Does she do email? One thing to try would be get her to communicate that way, which would save the transcription step.

Doing a quick scan of your VAB reminds me that you find yourself questioning your actions and decisions, in response to her criticism. Constantly second-guessing oneself is incredibly draining, which I'm sure you know, but it never hurts to remember this stuff explicitly. So that's one hole in your fuel line.

At least I have friends here... I feel like I'm just dumping on them and they don't really want to hear my incoherent sob stories.

I, for one, would like to suggest that you could safely pack this concern up in some nice soft tissue paper, put it in a pretty box, and set it on a shelf in your mental closet for now.

The "sob stories," no matter their level of coherence, are what the DFD threads are all about. Remember, even when you feel like you're just dumping another problem onto the living room floor, at the very least there may be other people in the room who are going through something similar, sometimes without realizing it, and hearing someone voice their experience will suddenly relieve them of that horrible, nagging feeling of being a perverted outlier, and they can realize that, "Hey! It's not just me? Maybe I'm not a [negative, confidence sabotaging image], after all."

#314 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2013, 08:34 AM:

Dash @312, but then I feel like I'm just dumping on them and they don't really want to hear my incoherent sob stories.

Witnessing. That's all I can do, but it's what I can do. And I really, truly, honestly want to read your (and everyone elses') "incoherent sob stories". Truly. Cross my heart. Because even if all I can do is witness, I hope that my witnessing helps.

#315 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2013, 09:40 AM:

Dash @312: I, for one, would be very sad if you quit posting here. We care about you, and want to hear what's going on. If we can help with suggestions, great! If all we can do is provide a listening ear, that's super important too.

Regarding suggestions: I second Jacque @313's suggestion re: e-mail. Like she said, e-mail (or transcribing phone calls) can help you to see mental judo/mind tricks that aren't obvious right away (especially if you're stressed enough!) - even unintentional stuff. If your mom's open to it, you can ask her not to do thing A, and if she's not - at least you're aware of it.

The advantage I've seen in e-mail is that it gives you a breathing space between receiving the message and having to respond to it. This has made a huge difference to me with my mom (now granted, different relationship!) but I think it's more broadly applicable in stressful conversations.

Hugs, if you're open to them. And all the best in school!!!

#316 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2013, 09:50 AM:

Addendum to 315 (responding to Dash @312): A thought (ignore if hlepy). In those conversations with your mom, is she frequently bringing up "did you do this?" or "have you arranged that?" or "do you know how you're going to get to your field trips yet?" Those are seemingly innocuous questions, but (in my experience at least) having someone repeat them at you is incredibly stressful! This could be part of why you're crying at the end of every phone call.

Something to consider, anyhow...

#317 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2013, 12:26 PM:

Chickadee #316: Oh, yeah. My mom has a wrinkle or two on that: She's got a whole list of things, and she tends to dump the whole load without regard for my current condition. Taking my dog to the vet, or just finished a shopping run? Well hey, she's got me in the car, perfect time to run down the things she wants me to fix in my apartment, some ways I could meet new friends, stuff I need for the upcoming bar mitzvah, the vitamins I should be taking.... Each of these has to be acknowledged, or I'm "not dealing with things", and then it's on to the next thing.

She's gotten a lot better at not doing that since I started snapping at her occasionally¹, but she still slips sometimes, especially since it's a sideline of her more basic tactic of unloading her anxiety onto me. (She's anxiety-driven, I'm anxiety-blocked.) And yeah, I've been kicking back on that too, but old habits die hard.

¹ Especially since I said explicitly that yes, I was keeping shields up because she didn't know when to quit. Also, wasn't it funny how she used to scold me for not paying attention to other people's back-off cues?

#318 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2013, 05:05 PM:

Chickadee, #315: Heartily seconding the idea that moving conversations from phone to e-mail (with attendant lag in response time) can make a HUGE difference. When my father sent me an infuriating e-mail, I could rant at the screen for 5 minutes and then compose a response that ignored all the trigger phrases -- which in turn made baiting me with the trigger phrases much less fun, and so he did less of it. (Sadly, this tactic does nothing to combat infuriating-by-cluelessness.) Some people prefer to write a first draft of the nuclear strike they'd like to launch, then delete it and (having gotten that out of their system) go on to write the much more measured response that they'll actually send. But the big thing about this tactic is that it uncouples the immediacy of having to respond and gives you time to think, decompress, and deal with it on your own turf.

David H., #317: Oh ghod, Captive Lecture Mode. I think it's one of the near-universals of dysfunctional parenting -- and it NEVER, EVER does any good. Does nodding and going "uh-huh, uh-huh" count as "acknowledging"?

#319 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2013, 09:00 PM:

Lee #318: Does nodding and going "uh-huh, uh-huh" count as "acknowledging"?

Sometimes for a while. I think lately she may actually have figured out that someone shifting from conversation to nod-and-grunt is a Hint.

#320 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2013, 11:19 PM:

Still witnessing.

The_L: I have lots of dreams like that. I call them "house dreams" and they often include interesting architecture. Generally they're one of two places: the house where I grew up, or the administration building of my university crossed with a mansion the university owned. The latter actually makes sense, since the mansion was one of those built with the servants' stairs and a whole part of the house hidden, and since I went to a number of retreats there, the intertwined nature of the hidden parts work into dreams a lot.

Mind you, I have no idea what these dreams mean, but they're usually interesting as far as the architecture goes. And the things you find in the rooms that never existed.

#321 ::: Bricklayer ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2013, 11:59 PM:

Tomorrow is the first day of a slightly-different (more demanding) schedule, plus a not-every-week special extra timesink just for tomorrow.

Oh, and I'm taking the kid to school on the bike+ride-behind kid trailer, which terrifies me on the (irrational) grounds that I'm going to lose control of the bike and kill us all plus be late. Or something. Argh.

Trying to list out the things I can preload tonight (because I'm hyper and my sleep sched is broken -- two nights in a row of the kid waking me up repeatedly and now my brain doesn't want to even try) so if she wakes me up TONIGHT and I'm on no sleep tomorrow I can hopefully grab and go. Or have things clumped into convenient forget-them-all-together bags or something.

#322 ::: ma larkey ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2013, 12:20 AM:

I'm at loose ends again. On one hand, there's hope because I finally have an appointment with a specialist in a week, to get closer to being seen as officially ill. On the other hand, current host is also ill and told me she is going to move out and thus needs me to move out as well. It hurts because I feel she is not telling me the real truth, I feel that she is merely trying to be rid of me before the holidays in November and December. I don't have a place to move to next. Genetic donor called me today to tell me that maybe I was only feeling ill because my posture was bad or because I wasn't looking for work aggressively enough. More Denial that I am Sick, Hooray, so Very Helpful.

I feel so unloved, even as Genetic Donor said she loved me and was worried about me. My host seems wrapped up in her own problems and I realize that even if I call her grandmother as a form of respect, I do not get the same respect back. I spent my birthday ungreeted and unacknowledged. Even if the following weekend I offered to cook dinner for my host, my sick mentor, and her married daughter, after that I still felt lonelier.

#323 ::: ma larkey ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2013, 01:00 AM:

Please know that I haven't been reading the threads, so I am only know trying to pick up on what's been happening. Lee, yes, I know, that is a nightmare of mine, too. I don't think my genetic donors are capable of flying out here without warning me, that would really be excessive, after all, the guilt I still carry and smart from is effective enough to pull at me. But I think the folks are merely trying to cut off my avenues of support to force me to return to them. They can't actually kidnap me, unless they can declare me as medically serious and incompetent to make my own decisions.

My current options are to move out into a motel in town immediately, or to move my things into storage and bide more time here in my host's place. I am really upset and feel unsupported emotionally at times, so confused. I'm suffering headaches and backaches and wish there was some magical way to be well enough to pack all my things and clear out of here because I feel so hurt and betrayed by my host whom I considered almost family but the affection has not been returned.

I'm also upset because I feel my host is my genetic donors' ally and I cannot really tell her what my next moves are without compromising my privacy. However, I have been sending email to my folks.

I have an offer from a godmother, another ally of my parents, to host me till January, but that's way over on the opposite coast and after that, where would I go? Plus the fact that my case applying for aid may be derailed if I move out of state to another at this stage in the proceedings.

#324 ::: The_L ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2013, 10:06 AM:

@ma larkey: One thing I've noticed in your last two posts, over and over again, is the concept of your side vs. your parents' side.

Why do some parents do this? Why do they make it out like any form of disagreement or difference is tantamount to outright enmity?

#325 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2013, 04:52 PM:

Dash @312: Sounds like overload to me. Sympathies; I've bBeen there and it's lots of No Fun (TM). I call it the "downward spiral", in which I have too many things on my "to do" list, so that whatever I do, I feel guilty 'cos I'm not doing the other things, or to mmany/too large things in my "things I'm worrying about". Can't offer anything concrete to help, except listening (which sometimes helps me when I'm in one of those spirals). Do (if at all possible) get enough sleep.

ma larkey: Listening, witnessing. Sympathies for the lonely birthdau. Good luck for the appointment.

#326 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2013, 05:31 PM:

Echoing here Jacque@313 and Cassy B. @314. Dash, and ma larkey, and everyone else: we want to hear from you.

#327 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2013, 07:29 PM:

N'th'ing what others have said to Dash and ma_larkey (and others, over the history of these threads). I rarely post, because I'm not that good at interpersonal problems, so I don't have much advice to offer, but I'm reading, witnessing, and wishing you all well.

I'm sending what positive energy I can your way, not that I think that works, but maybe it works even though I don't believe in it, so it can't hurt to try.

#328 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2013, 03:43 PM:

ma larkey: I'm so sorry to hear your situation's still not happy. :( Belated happy birthday!

Abi: I just wanted to thank you for giving me language to help a friend. :) She's a truth-shouter, and one of her friends is a completely oblivious cutlery loader who's telling her she's blowing things out of proportion and shouldn't be hurt by the horribly hurtful things she says when she's mad. (I saw a transcript of part of the conversation. How even a cutlery loader could say such things is beyond me...) But I have words to explain how they have such different perspectives on the argument. Having words to explain with something is the first step to dealing with it, I hope.

#329 ::: The_L ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2013, 05:41 PM:

Well, my insurance is taken care of. I'm not really sure how to go about giving people my updated cell phone number, though, since they all travel in different circles. Advice?

#330 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2013, 09:34 PM:

The_L @329: would mass BCC e-mail work? That's what we typically do for address/phone number/misc. contact changes.

#331 ::: Variations on a Lime ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2013, 03:09 PM:

So, me and my old job:
I'm doing some consulting to help the new people take over my old projects. The new people are wonderful and the goals of this consulting are lovely.

But this isn't nearly as easy as I thought it would be, revisiting the scene of the stress - I'd welcome a few good wishes.

#332 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2013, 03:24 PM:

Variations on a Lime @331, Good wishes!

#333 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2013, 05:14 PM:

Variations on a Lime @331: good wishes from me as well.

#334 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2013, 05:40 PM:

Variations on a Lime, #331: GoodThoughts being sent.

#335 ::: Variations on a Lime ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2013, 01:07 AM:

Cassie B, dcb, Lee: thanks for the wishes!
They helped: I didn't get stress hives until after I got home. This is a win.

#336 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2013, 11:46 AM:

Variations on a Lime: Congratulations on your accomplishment! Going back to that kind of a place is hugely difficult. Sorry I didn't get my well-wishes in before the day, but I'm so glad you were able to do it, and that the stress hives held off until you were home!

#337 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2013, 12:10 AM:

I have tentatively identified something that I need to work on to get further into "thriving", and I was wondering if anybody had any possibilities for approaching it. Also a question on what's polite vs. rude behaviour. (Since I've learned from here and from Captain Awkward that some stuff I'd always been led to believe was rude is actually not. Like boundaries.)

So I'm not sure exactly what caused it. It may go back to elementary school, when I would find out about birthday parties that the entire class was invited to... the day after they happened. It may go back earlier, but I can't remember anything specific. Essentially, I almost never feel quite like I am welcome, or belong. And while as an introvert I'm fine with entertaining myself by myself, sometimes I would like to be included in plans, where those plans are things I'm interested in.

So one question is, does anybody have any idea what the etiquette is around letting people know that you'd like to be invited? Specifically without being pushy and guilting them into inviting you even when they don't really want to, and obviously without inviting yourself.

I know that just inviting yourself along is rude, and not saying anything leads to not being invited when otherwise you might have, and where in between can the fuzzy area between rude and polite be narrowed down a bit?

I stressed and fretted and was unhappy for well over an hour upon finding out New Interest was going out for a birthday dinner with his parents and I didn't get an invitation to join them, before I finally managed to work up the nerve to ask if I was invited as well. (I was invited. Found out the other day he didn't invite me because he thought I wasn't interested.)

I wouldn't be surprised if part of the armour I built for myself included not being interested in events I wasn't invited to, which turned into pre-emptively not being interested in events I didn't expect to be invited to, which turned into other people believing I wasn't interested and thus not inviting me, even when I was.

What I want to figure out is: how can I learn to show that I'm interested in [doing] something? How do people show that in a non-pushy, non-creepy way? New Interest said once, a month or so into the relationship, that he wasn't sure if I was even interested in him, and there I was all dizzy with being distracted by how much I was interested. Then he didn't think I was interested in joining him and his parents for his birthday dinner. (?!) So I guess I don't know how to show what I like, or want, or am interested in. (Which is also a self-defense technique. I was mocked for what I liked, so I didn't admit to what I liked. I have finally got to the point where I can admit to stuff I find fun, but still have a hard time admitting the stuff that I'm emotionally involved with.)

The other thing is, is there anything I can ask him to do to help me out? I obviously can't put it all on him as this is stuff in my head that I need to sort out, but external reassurance is kind of important when the stuff in my head is related to how other people see me, and don't want me around. (Which doesn't always seem to be the case now, which is kind of baffling and sometimes a little freaky.)

#338 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2013, 04:31 PM:

the invisible one @337: I struggle with that myself sometimes.

Ideally, if you're in a relationship with someone, you should be able to ask them "is it OK if I tag along, or am I being pushy", and be able to trust them to answer honestly one way or the other. With people you're not as strongly connected to, it's harder, because maybe they're just accepting one's presence out of politeness. It's worth reminding yourself that your defenses are almost certain stronger and higher than they need to be, and politely asking if you can come too probably won't bother anyone.

If you ask several times, and they still don't spontaneously ask if you're interested when planning the next event/outing, then maybe decrease the frequency with which you ask. More likely, after you've asked a few times, they'll start including you by default.

A while back I started occasionally saying "mind if I invite myself along?" to things like lunches with co-workers, when it's not a group that I obviously don't belong to. Once in a while the response will be something like "oh, we're going to a meeting in OtherTown, so we're eating lunch there", and I'll say "ok, maybe next time", and nobody seems bothered by it. I don't think inviting yourself along is rude, if you make it easy for people to decline, you treat it like no big deal one way or the other, and you don't do it every single time you see them.

Also, if someone tells you about something that you would have enjoyed, it's ok to tell them "that sounds like I would have enjoyed it; can I do that with you some time?" Maybe they won't want to. or maybe they'll just forget, but sometimes they'll remember, and invite you to the next similar event.

#339 ::: Variations on a Lime ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2013, 10:52 PM:

With my consulting I've just had a #337 and #338-related happening. I don't have any specific suggestions, just a "me too."

While there on location at my former office I overheard talk about a small gathering at coworker's house. I wasn't on the invite list as such, but then most of my former coworkers weren't on the list either and they still work there.

My reaction: a flood-feeling of fear of being alone on the outside. [This dates back to being one of the two excluded (and bullied) persons back in my 3rd grade class]. Then I experienced a second feeling of "I've only been gone a short time, and these are (were?) friends, am I now invisible?" Not that they'd have known I was going to be there that day, but it didn't stop the feelings.

I know that work friendships/friendly-like activities can turn into real friendships but aren't necessarily so. It does feel strange to be seeing the old crew but not being in the old crew.

#340 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2013, 12:42 AM:

the invisible one: You might also mention, in a general way, that although you are often not up for certain gatherings, you do like some of them. That's a very scary thing to do, but if you have someone at work who you feel comfortable with, you could let that person know. "I don't go to a lot of things because I don't have the energy to, but I do appreciate being invited, and once in a while I can go."

I've had times in the past where I wasn't getting invited to a lot of things because people thought I wasn't interested. I'm fairly blunt, though, so when I found out the problem I could address it directly. YMMV. Just be assured that sometimes, people assume disinterest when there's nothing of the sort.

#341 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2013, 02:01 AM:

the invisible one @337: how can I learn to show that I'm interested in [doing] something?

Do you and New Interest have a practice of having meta-discussions about relationship questions? I've always found that to be a really useful practice, especially if one makes a habit of doing so on a regular basis, in a non-charged circumstance. Sort of like making time to clean the kitchen and sort the laundry, kind of thing.

As a first step, print out this comment and show it to him. It outlines the shape of your difficulty quite nicely. Then, ask him how he knows when people are interested in something. This might give you some guidelines for behaviors to practice. Also, observe yourself when you are interested in things, and tell him about these; this might give him better information to go on.

In our family, we have a practice. When we need to find out about or clarify the meanings of behaviors, we say, "Calibration question:...?" This is explicitly a metaframe to allow us to discuss questions like this in a neutral, non-emotionally-charged way (no complaint or criticism implied; simple wanting to (or needing to let) know).

It might also be worth pointing out explicitly your issues around the question of being invited, and let him know that your seeming disinterest is not a reliable indicator of your actual interest, and explicit inquiry is welcome.

When dealing with people one is not in close relationship with, such as coworkers, it's more difficult. I don't have good recommendations there, except to say that to the degree one can manage it, explicit questions (not connected to any particular incident but general discussion of group customs) can sometimes be useful. It's tricky, though, with people doesn't know well.

#342 ::: Girl with a Spade ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2013, 07:25 AM:

Thank you all. Thank you for welcoming me, and thank you for these threads. It really, really helps.
I'm still feeling rather shy about posting, but I'm reading. Good thoughts to all who want them.

Nancy Lebovitz @289: I had actually come across that quote browsing the DF threads. It's what enabled me to post at all. And yet… it was excruciating. And I just couldn't leave out the first sentence. But I made two posts, I'm really rather surprised at myself!

OtterB @301: I hadn't gotten to the "fishhooks" thread yet, so I went and had a peek. This part struck a chord:

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

Wow. Yes. This.
In my case they didn't even have to say anything. As a child I worked really, really hard to give the impression that everything was completely fine, and I didn't have any resentment or sadness about anything. Because if something was wrong my mother would be desperately unhappy because it meant she was a BAD MOTHER. But this was never spoken in so many words. Nobody told me to behave like that, so I did it to myself… right?

One of the worst things is that I never get apologies from my mother, I get explanations.
I do this because X bad thing happened to me
I'm sorry, it's just so hard for me to do that because of Y
Z makes me feel like this, so I do (hurtful thing)
I'm sorry, but it's just like that.
I'm sorry, but…

Neither of my parents has ever been very good at taking responsibility for things that are not their fault, but nevertheless their responsibility as parents. With nobody to take the blame I'm left with either a fundamental belief in the nastiness of the universe, or the choice to turn it inwards and make it all my own fault. Bad things cannot be changed, it's just the way things are.

Variations on a Lime @297: The first inkling I had that something was wrong was my inability to reliably do my work, work that I love. I was doing coaching/therapy to help with my procrastination, deadline panic, etc. When I answered a lot of my therapists suggestions with "I tried that, I just can't make myself do it reliably" she asked me whether I was possibly more depressed than I realized. I burst out crying. And here I am some while later digging up a lot of painful family stuff.

The beeps and flashes I get when reading about DF are hardly quiet or gentle, but they have always confused me because I just couldn't figure out where they came from. Before starting therapy I had a monumental blind spot with regards to my mum, and I'm still in the slow process of teasing things apart and making sense of them. Reading the DF threads has been incredible helpful in figuring things out. Since last posting I've had a few realizations.

My mother has always been extremely controlling of me, but in a very subtle way that was not overtly harmful. She tried very hard to break the cycle of abuse, but she still uses a lot of the tactics. Mainly to manipulate me such that she squeezes things out of me that would otherwise be freely given: love, information, attention, time. It's really, really hard to spot (like a few levels above plausible deniability) and it's taken me a long time to recognize. She takes (took) away my choice in these things, because if I were free to choose I might choose against her. Not a good feeling.

She was so scared of my turning into a rebellious teenager that she very effectively got me to suppress that part of myself. We used to be the inseparable mother and daughter team. I used to think that was a good thing.

Nancy Lebovitz @304 and Dash @312:
I cannot let my mother anywhere close to my work. She will worry, and I will explain to her EVERYTHING that is going on. And she will have helpful suggestions, and when I dismiss these out of hand she will worry some more, because I'm not even trying and I seem so unenthusiastic and her suggestion could HELP. Then I will explain to her that I have in fact considered what she suggests and these are the reasons why it does't work, and I am doing the best with the resources I have, and these are all the thoughts that went into making an informed decision, is she convinced yet that this is the right course of action? At the end of the conversation my mother will know everything about everything in my life, and I will have no energy left to actually spend on my work. I've also only very recently realized that all her helpful suggestions imply that whatever I'm doing isn't quite good enough and needs improvement.
Not to mention a whole host of immobilizing fears she has transplanted into me. I hold them at arms length above my head and say "these are your fears, these are not my fears". When I let her get too close they all come tumbling back down and bury me. Failure is not an option. If we fail the wolves at our heels will catch up and tear us apart.
Any attempt of mine to set clear boundaries is interpreted by her as an attack. As a bonus I may get compared to my father.

My dad… well, that's painful story for another day.
They took up so much space, and they paid so little attention to my (invisible?) problems, and they never left me in peace. I made myself small so I would have enough room to breath. I poured my heart's blood out trying to fill the cracks in my family. I'm so exhausted.

And also really, really pissed off.

#343 ::: Girl with a Spade ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2013, 08:17 AM:

Concerning fish hooks and intent:
When I was in Kindergarden/primary school my mother and I were out shopping. She was stressed out and wanted me to do what she told me to. I wanted something else. She grabbed my hand and pulled in one direction. I pulled in another direction. I ended up with a sprained wrist. She didn't intend it, and she felt terrible afterwards, but I had a sprained wrist.
It never ended well when I wanted/needed something different than she did, although the results were rarely so obvious.
Wait, I don't remember her apologizing. She probably just explained thoroughly that she didn't mean to sprain my wrist :'(

#344 ::: Codemonkey in NE England ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2013, 11:03 AM:

I'd been meaning to post back here for quite some time, but didn't get around to it until now...

Jacque @243: I think severe anxiety on the part of parents has a lot to do with it (in the general case). My mam told me once about someone who went to primary school with me (he was two years older than me) who got good exam results and went to university, but ended up blowing it by getting a girl pregnant and taking drugs.

In my specific case, I think the the main reason is the sheer hell of having to care for not one but two disabled family members (my autistic sister, and my stroke-damaged father). The fact that she resents her husband for his failure to provide for her (along with various other reasons) only adds yet more pressure.

Diatryma @S&S514: 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.

Do you have any idea what a "long-term full-solution" might possibly look like?

I'm worried that my mam seems to think it's utterly unthinkable that I'd actually leave -- one example of this is that she told me that when I bought my next car (which would be in 2 to 3 years' time) I should buy a four-door version to be more convenient for my sister, and that she'd pay for the resulting extra cost.

(I also overheard mam about a week or two back telling dad to get her some more money from the ATM "to stop it going over", which sounds to me like one of the reasons she's so generous to me is because the money from my sister's and dad's disability benefits would increase her bank balance to the point that she'd be ineligible for other means-tested benefits.)

GlendaP @S&S529: 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.

One incident that's coming to mind is when we went out for an outing on the August bank holiday -- my sister got really distraught, and I was gobsmacked when she said it was because she was thinking about the Syrian victims of the chemical attack! (I didn't think she was that up on current affairs!) My mam then said (with not a trace of anger in her voice though) that in spite of her autism, my sister probably had more empathy than myself and my father put together!

Personally, I don't want to to make myself ill worrying over anything which I can't personally do anything about...

#345 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2013, 12:29 PM:

#338, Jeremy Leader: Sounds sensible. Unfortunately I think being included by default isn't great either, because then I'll be turning down lots of invitations when it's more socializing than I can handle, and that's both tiring for me and a great way to get the inviter to stop inviting. (I learned that from crappy ex. I eventually couldn't make myself suggest fun things to do anymore because he'd turn down every one of them.)

#339, Variations on a Lime: I don't usually get the flood of fear at being on the outside, but otherwise, yeah. I usually get the overwhelming feeling of being broken and thus a Bad Person. (That's why I say sometimes that I'm loneliest in a crowd. I see a group of strangers having fun and I'm not included and ... Even in cases where if I were included I'd be overwhelmed by too many people and not have much fun.)

#340, B. Durbin: That's a possibility. Not sure yet who at work I could say such things to, but something to think about.

Sometimes it's less that I want to specifically do something with those specific people, and more that I hear about a couple of co-workers going on a weekend hiking or camping trip, and I feel the lack of anybody to do that with. (Most of this was before New Interest. Fortunately, he likes camping and other outdoor stuff.) Because going for a hike alone is ... not recommended. Also, these are trips with all male co-workers, and I'm female, and I don't know if that's part of why I wasn't invited, despite talking regularly to those male co-workers about hiking and camping such that they would have to know I enjoy that sort of thing. Sometimes there is genuinely disinterest on my part. Every lunch there's a gathering in the kitchen and a bunch of co-workers eat lunch together and talk and laugh and so on. I joined them a couple of times, but the topic wasn't anything I was interested in and so I didn't participate in the conversation, just ate my lunch silently. So I stopped joining them.

#341, Jacque: I'd been leaning toward setting it out explicitly. Maybe not via handing him my exact comment, but something else with substantially the same content. Trying to more explicitly set up a meta-discussion framework is a good idea. We do talk about stuff sometimes, but I don't want our limited time together (I think I mentioned it before, but: we both travel for work. Sometimes we only get to see each other once or twice in a month) to be dominated by all the stuff to talk about and it feels like this stuff should be a face to face conversation. (That may be a problem in itself, because I have a tendency to freeze, cry, choke, forget what I wanted to say, and what I do remember comes out kind of incoherent. I've sort of managed a few things but a lot of the time I can't and then eventually it all explodes out, usually in an email, and I kind of dump it on him all at once.) He's also said that he doesn't want to talk about abstracts and generalities, he wants to talk about *me*. That was in the context of talking about what we like, but ... stuff sometimes sticks where maybe it shouldn't.

#346 ::: Dash ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2013, 12:40 PM:

Not too much to say here, but I too feel the difficulty of finding the sweet spot of getting invited to things while not feeling like you're forcing yourself into them or making others go along with it. Today's a party weekend at my school, but I have no idea what my friends are doing to celebrate, though they're undoubtedly getting together in some way; this is far from the first time this has happened, and though I'm not up for hard-core partying, I'd still like to know what's going on and have the option of joining in rather than being forced to be antisocial. And last night I tried to get some people together for an activity, but most of my friends already had prior commitments I hadn't been invited to either, and the few that were free I felt were just going along with it to be polite and I was pushing them too hard, and it all fell apart before we could make anything of it.
Also, I noticed one pattern in my mother's conversations which may be responsible for them being triggering- she always asks me if I'm okay, which has become a trigger for me to not be okay. Today's phone conversation was a particularly lengthy and telling version of this pattern: she asked if I was okay, I gave a positive but noncommittal response, she asked if I was telling the truth or just saying what she wanted to hear, I said I was feeling fine now, and she asked if that meant I might not be fine twenty minutes from now. And gee, twenty minutes later, I wasn't fine. Whoda thunk it. (Admittedly, the stressor that put me over the edge was an unrelated difficulty with my schoolwork, but still.)

#347 ::: Dash ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2013, 12:56 PM:

Also, when we were engaging in a conversation over the Internet as I prefer, my mother interrupted it to call me, saying that "it's just easier for me." Well, great, except what about my preferences? You're not the one having the mental breakdowns, why do your preferences trump mine? Oh, right. Because I'm "the kid". Even when I graduate, I will be "the kid". Even when I get a full-time job and you're still working your oh-so-tough two-day-a-week job (can you sense the sarcasm there?), I'll still be "the kid". There's no getting away from it.

#348 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2013, 01:20 PM:

Dash @347: My response to that is (and has been for several years now) to simply refuse to answer the phone. Got a lot of fallout at first, but it was a boundary I chose to set and enforce.

Don't know if it'll work for you, but it's a perfectly acceptable response to someone who will never in her lifetime accept you as an adult. (I speak from experience as the permanent "mother's baby" - her eyes, not mine)

#349 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2013, 01:42 PM:

Girl with a Spade, 342 and 343:

These three things:

Before starting therapy I had a monumental blind spot with regards to my mum, and I'm still in the slow process of teasing things apart and making sense of them.

I cannot let my mother anywhere close to my work. She will worry, and I will explain to her EVERYTHING that is going on. And she will have helpful suggestions, and when I dismiss these out of hand she will worry some more, because I'm not even trying and I seem so unenthusiastic and her suggestion could HELP.

and especially

She was so scared of my turning into a rebellious teenager that she very effectively got me to suppress that part of myself. We used to be the inseparable mother and daughter team. I used to think that was a good thing.

Are you sure you aren't my long-lost sister? Because you're pretty much describing me here.

The therapy that showed me the monumental blind spot started almost exactly one year ago. And the therapist figured it out within half an hour of meeting me - "You realize it's all about her, right?"

For what it's worth, it is possible to (slowly, painfully) extract those fish hooks, and find out who *you* are under all the layers of trying to be who someone else wants you to be.

It sounds like our moms both live in a state of constant fear (though mine will not acknowledge it, even though it warps her behaviour). For example, when I got married, she was convinced that my being happy about my in-laws meant that I was going to abandon her for them. Unfortunately, this sort of clinging fear has meant that I'm severely limiting contact with her for my own sanity. Rejecting her fears - as you say, holding them over your head and saying "your fears, not mine" - is exhausting, and it's been a long process to truly expel them.

She doesn't get to hear about the details of work any more, because when I mention *anything* she wants to be Helpful and suggests Solutions to my Problems (which often aren't really problems) and is Terribly Hurt when I don't immediately accept and use them. My mom (and yours, by the sound of it) is the very definition of hlepy. Also, that whole idea that her suggestions mean that what you're doing isn't good enough? I'm dealing with the fallout from that, and finally understanding why I never, ever, in my entire childhood felt that what I was doing was good enough for my parents.

And yeah, refusal to acknowledge the hurtful action and actually *apologize* for it. So. familiar.

So, welcome to the thread. You belong here. We will help you or just listen or whatever *you* need.

(As a note, I consider the wonderful community here one of the biggest factors in my understanding and dealing with the relationship with my mom. I hope it is as helpful for you.)

#350 ::: Dash ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2013, 04:06 PM:

Posting again. Today's conversations with my mother have been... enlightening.
I tried to explain to her that I preferred talking via messages online, because I feel that I communicate better with time to think about my responses and that when I talk I say things without thinking and regret them later. My mother's response? "So you're not comfortable speaking with your own MOTHER? That's crazy!"
...well, my various psychiatrists and psychologists and therapists would like you to know that I'm crazy, though I doubt they'd phrase it that way. My mother's partially gotten over the "you're not depressed you're just moody" phase, but the new "it's a physical illness just take more meds" phase isn't really any better, especially since it seems like the meds either don't help or make things worse. And using the word "crazy" wasn't really helping matters when I was just starting to get over my latest breakdown. Also, thanks for providing a good example of why I don't like talking, because I know I'll get a nonchalant rebuttal like that whenever I try to speak seriously.

#351 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2013, 06:56 PM:

#346, Dash: though I'm not up for hard-core partying, I'd still like to know what's going on and have the option of joining in rather than being forced to be antisocial

That's exactly it. I often choose the "antisocial" option, but having it not a choice...

#350, Dash: I feel that I communicate better with time to think about my responses

Despite what your mother says, IMO that's not at all "crazy". It's not entirely a matter of not being comfortable talking to whoever, but also a matter of saying what I want to say, clearly. Doing that verbally and extemporaneously is a skill and one I don't have a good command of, especially for emotional or highly-charged issues. (And from the sounds of it, nearly every interaction with your mother is highly-charged in some way.)

#352 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2013, 07:19 PM:

#342, Girl with a Spade:

And she will have helpful suggestions, and when I dismiss these out of hand she will worry some more, because I'm not even trying and I seem so unenthusiastic and her suggestion could HELP. Then I will explain to her that I have in fact considered what she suggests and these are the reasons why it does't work, and I am doing the best with the resources I have, and these are all the thoughts that went into making an informed decision, is she convinced yet that this is the right course of action?

I had an ex who did that. He seemed offended that I didn't "at least TEST" his idea, since I'm doing science and all, and scientists test things instead of just rejecting them. Never mind that his idea went contrary to some fairly well known principles - well known to people in the field, anyway. I stopped telling him about problems I was working on at work.

I suppose there are some people who can be trained out of that, but I wouldn't know how to figure out who or how. The only way I know how to deal with it is to not tell them about the problems in the first place.

#353 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2013, 08:44 PM:

Chickadee, #349: when I got married, she was convinced that my being happy about my in-laws meant that I was going to abandon her for them

And so she clung to you even more, which in turn made you less inclined to spend time with her, to which she responded by tightening her grip even further, which... can you say "vicious circle" and "self-fulfilling prophecy"? Especially if your in-laws are not clingy and respect you as a person. The contrast can make a situation that you had been accepting as inevitable become suddenly unbearable instead.

She doesn't get to hear about the details of work any more, because when I mention *anything* she wants to be Helpful and suggests Solutions to my Problems (which often aren't really problems) and is Terribly Hurt when I don't immediately accept and use them.

Heh. I've talked before about my old mantra -- "What THEY don't know can't hurt ME" -- and this sounds like a more-specific version of it. I found that it was much less nerve-wracking to have one essentially-meaningless fight about how "You never TELL us anything about your life!" over and over again than to deal with the Death of a Thousand Cuts that happened whenever I let anything important slip, because no matter what it was, I was Doin It Rong and they had to explain this to me, at length and in chorus.

Dash, #350: "So you're not comfortable speaking with your own MOTHER? That's crazy!"

That's also one of the classic Verbal Attack Patterns, which are marked by that style of unwarranted emphasis. These are what most people mean by phrases like, "it wasn't what they said, it was how they said it" -- VAPs can make the most innocuous of sentences into poison-coated spears, while still leaving the attacker plausible deniability; by repeating the bare words of what was said without the tone, suddenly you sound like the irrational one for objecting.

For more information about VAPs, read The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense by Suzette Haden Elgin. Even if you don't get to the point of being able to counter them, my experience is that merely recognizing when someone is deploying that tactic makes you much less vulnerable to it.

#354 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 04:10 PM:

So. Contact moratorium. Didn't talk to Mom on the phone for the better part of a month and a half - e-mail contact only. The one phone conversation was a reminder of why. Not going to be spending Thanksgiving with them. Not visiting them during term - next time will be Christmas.

Couldn't get out of today - Spouse and I met my parents for brunch. Food was lovely. Conversation reminded me why I set the contact moratorium.

At first it wasn't bad. We kept the conversation on topics of interest to them - their church, their garden, their friends. When it strayed to us, they tended to lose interest fairly quickly (or we changed the topic because neither of us wants to be told how to run our jobs).

Then, Mom starts in on how my cousin H. needs to just take responsibility for her own life and quit blaming her parents for everything. a) H. has never blamed her parents for her life and b) being a child of a verbally/emotionally abusive mother and a verbally/physically abusive father will result in a lot of scarring that can't be just dismissed by willpower, even *if* the person at any point is exposed to healthy marriages of friends (which H has not been). H. is re-creating her parents' marriage in every relationship she has. She's abusive as hell, and *destroyed* two absolute sweetheart men (married them, then abused them), and is now dating an abusive guy. (who Mom hates because he's Arab, considering his race to be the root of his abusive behaviour. Prejudice, anyone?) I called her on the statements (and underlying assumptions) rather emphatically.

On the "up" side, this is the first time I've ever heard her acknowledge that most of her siblings are, or were until recently, abusive. (is this really an up side?) OTOH, she still maintains that her parents were saints. *shrug* They've been dead since I was a toddler, I can only speak to the fruit of the tree.

It was a bit strained after that, as you might imagine…

I am ashamed that I took out all the repressed frustration and anger on my poor husband on the way home (though he's already forgiven me - speaking of saints :P ) but - I hurt. I want my relationship with my parents (especially my mom) to not be like this. And Mom won't change. And I have. And every time we're with each other it becomes more painfully clear that my best hope is to limit contact and try to let as much as possible roll over me like water off a duck's back. (as my good friend with a similar mom says, "Smile and nod. Just keep smiling and nodding.")

Thank you all for listening. I mourn for the relationship I thought we had (best friends! Mother daughter team!) and for the lost opportunities for genuine communication. And I appreciate the support here - the assurance that it's not my fault that things went sour, that I'm not a bad daughter, and that it's okay to cut contact with someone who harms me, however unintentionally.

#355 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 05:37 PM:

Girl with a Spade @342 I made myself small so I would have enough room to breath. I poured my heart's blood out trying to fill the cracks in my family. I'm so exhausted.

And also really, really pissed off.

This really resonates with me for reasons I'm not sure I understand, as it was not one of my family interaction patterns.

This community, several threads ago, took to heart the comment of a poster (forgotten who, sorry) that "advice that requires the use of a time machine can be safely disregarded"

I think it's a comparable maxim that relationships that make you smaller are not in your best interest.

Codemonkey @344 I'm worried that my mam seems to think it's utterly unthinkable that I'd actually leave -- one example of this is that she told me that when I bought my next car (which would be in 2 to 3 years' time) I should buy a four-door version to be more convenient for my sister, and that she'd pay for the resulting extra cost.

She is trying very hard, out of manipulation or out of panic, to make it unthinkable. By a combination of treating it as a given that you will stay, and making things desperately unpleasant for you when you consider leaving, she wants you to do things the way she wants.

Chickadee @354 I mourn for the relationship I thought we had (best friends! Mother daughter team!) and for the lost opportunities for genuine communication.

I have come to the conclusion that it's harder to mourn the things you wanted but didn't have than it is to let go of the ones you had when the time comes to do so.

#356 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2013, 08:39 PM:

Everyone:

Still reading and witnessing, dealing with medical issues again so not up for much commenting, but this one really struck me.

Dash @ 350, and Lee @ 353:

"So you're not comfortable speaking with your own MOTHER? That's crazy!"

I kept trying to remember the term for that; thanks, Lee, for reminding me of VAPs. I've got the Elgin book, of course; may try to interest the Kindle account owner/sharer in getting that for our Kindles. Very, very useful book.

#357 ::: The_L ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2013, 09:27 AM:

@Lee #353:

Heh. I've talked before about my old mantra -- "What THEY don't know can't hurt ME" -- and this sounds like a more-specific version of it. I found that it was much less nerve-wracking to have one essentially-meaningless fight about how "You never TELL us anything about your life!" over and over again than to deal with the Death of a Thousand Cuts that happened whenever I let anything important slip, because no matter what it was, I was Doin It Rong and they had to explain this to me, at length and in chorus.

This is part of the source of the rift between me and my parents over the fiance--I was never sure how much was safe to tell them, or how much was normal to tell your parents about someone you're dating, so I defaulted to waiting until they asked me questions about him.

Speaking of, the only contact I've gotten from my parents since the move:
1. Informing me that they'd removed me from their cell plan and insurance;
2. Telling me to change my forwarding address (no word on any mail I'd received--how should I breach this topic?)
3. I asked if mom still needed me to sub for her on a certain week and she said no.


I should be relieved, so why does it hurt so much? I know my father's an abusive jerk, so why do I tear up remembering times when I was 3 and would sit in his lap giving nose-kisses? And how can Mom stand going along with him?

#358 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2013, 11:06 AM:

The_L @357: It's okay to mourn what you've lost. As OtterB so aptly told me @355, I have come to the conclusion that it's harder to mourn the things you wanted but didn't have than it is to let go of the ones you had when the time comes to do so. You have some very special memories and I suspect they remind you of the daddy you should have had in the place of an abusive jerk. It's really hard. It's okay to cry.

Regarding the mail, would it work for you to just send them a short e-mail asking directly if they have any mail for you?

#359 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2013, 12:21 PM:

The_L @357, because some things in the relationship are very bad doesn't mean that there aren't some good things as well.

Re the mail, they may be marking anything that comes as "not at this address" and returning it, but you could ask. I would send a brief neutral email saying that you have changed your forwarding address, but would they please let you know if you get any mail in the interim. Since they are avoiding personal contact and you would probably rather do the same until things have had time to scab over a bit, suggest some non-contact way of pick up. (They let you know it's there and [leave it on the side porch / leave it inside the screen door / give it to Aunt Whoever to give to you ]).

#360 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2013, 01:02 PM:

A comment I found elseNet that might be useful to some people here:

It's tough to take tough love from someone who sees you on a less-than-annual basis.

#361 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2013, 01:20 PM:

Lee, as a general thing I mistrust "tough love". I'm not going to say it never works, but a lot of the people who like the idea seem to be more focused on the tough than the love.

I think the idea of saying one sharp thing to someone and having it solve the problem is a fantasy that has a very strong emotional hook.

#362 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2013, 02:29 PM:

When 'tough love' means 'not running in to fix everything for your child as if they were two years old forever and ever' it can be a constructive parenting tool, because kids are not two years old forever and ever. Like every other parenting choice though, it ought to be age- and situation-appropriate.

Like Nancy, though, I find many applications of the term dubious.

#363 ::: fidelio is gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2013, 02:30 PM:

Bad punctuation, I'll bet.

Want some roasted vegetables with millet?

[You fell prey to the Curse of the Three Spaces! And now I want to write a poem about three kinds of space: the space outside of us, which creates our solitude; the space we occupy, which anchors our presence; and the space within our minds, which shapes the world. Or something like that. — Goldenrod Avemore, Duty Gnome]

#364 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2013, 04:00 PM:

Goldenrod Avemore: The Three Spaces sounds like it ought to be a Buddhist tract.

#365 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2013, 04:20 PM:

Jacque @364: combined with a paramedical tract from Uncle Jim on how to treat third-spacing.

#366 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2013, 04:54 PM:

It would be part of the 3 space way, which really, it you look hard enough is 1 space or all the spaces, simultaneously.


#367 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2013, 10:07 AM:

Being as it's Dysfunctional Families day and all, I've put up a new post. I'm going to close this thread; feel free to continue the conversation over there.

Also, may this Dysfunctional Families Day be as good for you as possible.

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