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February 3, 2014

Dysfunctional Families: Toolbox
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 04:25 PM *

Remember when we agreed that if I needed to, I could just say, New DF thread, carry on the conversation? I kind of have to say that now, because winter.

But one thing I did want to do is to pull together links to some of the places I go a lot for good advice and that particular kind of comfort that comes from people who know, if you know what I mean. These are the links I forward to people who need them, and the places I go when I need to run some good sense and kindness past my eyeballs.

Comfort food:

  • Captain Awkward, with good advice on using your words and holding your boundaries.
  • Boggle the Owl, consistently kind and with cute owl drawings!
  • Hyperbole and a Half, who knows depression (and a bunch of other tough stuff) from the inside
  • Weightless, a blog about body image and the relationship with one’s body, with intermittent useful-link roundups (thanks, Anon4Now @15)

Useful explanatory links:

Healing snark:

Do feel free to suggest more in the comments, and I’ll add to these lists. And include trigger warnings, please, for sites that need ‘em.

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 “helpiness”/”hlepiness” (those comments which look helpful, but don’t take account of the addressee’s situation and agency). 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: Toolbox:
#1 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2014, 05:37 PM:

Resources I like:

Another Muder piece, which I like for its (very Muder) balance of optimism and realism as it walks through the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves. The Astrologer and the Psychologist

Also, his wife Deb Bodeau's piece on Closing the Book.

#2 ::: Anon4Now ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2014, 07:58 PM:

Here to dump on the thread again, because apparently that's all I do. I'm so sorry that I'm not better at responding and offering you all verbal support. Please know that I do witness, and please know how grateful I am to all of you. (Particular thanks to abi right now for posting the link to Boggle the Owl.)

I just found out my ADHD has caused me to commit a huge, royal fuck-up that could end up costing me over $2000. Apparently, my homeowners' association management company was unhappy with the length of my grass in the summertime. But because I suck big-time at dealing with paper mail because ADHD, I missed several notices about it. I finally caught a notice last month, and we cut the grass again (even though we'd definitely already cut it by that point, and being dormant in the wintertime, it wasn't long).

I finally sat down to process through the huge piles of mail yesterday, and almost immediately found a bill that says they've been fining me $45 a day for the last two months. Even after we cut the grass, because apparently they couldn't tell the difference. To the tune of well over $2000.

I got in touch with them this morning and have opened a dialogue. I hope that I will be able to negotiate a reduction in the fines, or at the very least a payment plan. But I don't know yet.

But I spent all of last night sternly telling myself that I was not allowed to kill myself, because if I killed myself, it would only dump this problem in my partner's lap.

Note: Partner was really kind and supportive and not angry with me at all. He reassured me that it would be okay, that it would work out, that we would manage. He said this morning he wished that he could make the phone call and negotiate with them for me, because I was so freaked out and upset by it. (He can't, because the house and everything is only in my name.)

But I am really, really disgusted with myself right now. I'm pretty much a completely useless excuse for an adult if I can't keep track of mail properly. This isn't the first time I've run into problems because of my complete failure to cope with paper mail, but it's definitely the biggest problem I've caused myself. I'm really, really scared about what the consequences could be.

I will really try not to have social anxiety and hide from responses for fear that I've somehow offended everyone (this is my usual problem). I will really try to update you all on what happens.

My current plan, once I get it settled with them that they're not going to charge me any more fines, is to tell them truthfully that I simply cannot pay them the full amount immediately, and ask them what kind of accommodation or modification they can offer. Depending on what their offer is, I plan to counter-offer $45 for each month I was in violation, which is a total amount I can pay immediately. Depending on how they respond, we'll go from there.

I just hate myself so much right now.

#3 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2014, 08:42 PM:

Anon4now, deep sympathies. Sending good vibrations toward some kind of reasonable compromise with the homeowner's association.

Disregard if helpy, but know that you're not alone. This is not some class of screwup that is uniquely your own and designates you as Unworthy; it's a class of screwup that you share with many, many people.

#4 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2014, 09:33 PM:

Anon4now: If your HOA is anything like my HOA, you may be able to designate your partner to negotiate on your behalf. Might it at least be worth asking the question?

#5 ::: CZEdwards ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 01:25 AM:

Anon4now: what Jacque said. In almost any matter, you can designate a representative to act on your behalf. It may require you to sign a limited power of attorney, but given that you're partnered, it shouldn't even require that. Just tell whomever you're interacting with that Partner will be handling this now, with your agreement. That's the practical side.

On the legal side, depending on where you live, HOAs are in pretty tight legal quarters. There's a case in Virginia and another in Florida and a third in Nevada that may result in HOAs losing their power to fine, or at least requiring very strict procedures for fines, plus significantly more transparency and oversight. My first step would be to dig out the copy of the HOA agreement and start looking up their definitions, procedures and limits. If your HOA is anything like mine, there are actual limits in place for what they can claim and there are appeals and processes available. This may be something to delegate to Partner, if Partner can.

On the emotional side, it's not a moral failing to find paperwork overwhelming, mail especially. There's a reason that businesses use file clerks and receptionists and personal assistants. The fact that your HOA point of contact could not be bothered to pick up a phone and leave a voice mail, or come knock on the door for a friendly chat early on, or even leave an actual note on the door inquiring if something was wrong says that there's not great communication in place anyway. Especially since the foundational idea of an HOA is to foster community and a sense of a neighborhood.

The upside is that it's not personal, and nobody is offended. They're acting impersonally (see above, not acting like a neighbor) which allows you to act in the same manner. Since it's a management company acting on behalf of your board, you can go to the board, who are actual members of your community. You have a serious illness in the family that's taking up much of your spare time. That's a valid excuse.

It's perfectly fine to push back on this, especially if you're in an area that has been experiencing drought (longer grass requires less water and retains soil moisture better, thus improving the health of the lawn) or excessive rain (because cutting wet can lead to infections that result in a worse appearance than not cutting at all).

We all bobble adulthood from time to time. It's a part of the narrative structure of being a grown-up that we leave out, the same way romance novels never talk about wet spots and historicals leave out the privies. Things happen, and personal infrastructure sometimes develops a bug (to thread-jump from Abi's entomosemantics). Stuff runs out, fuel runs low, parts get worn. It is the entropy of living. It really is okay.

If it's any consolation, I had one of these adult bobbles a few years ago -- I got in a minor car accident because I sneezed really violently. I got a ticket (deserved) and took the insurance hit for a couple years (also deserved). It was a minor, 10 mph crunch -- some paint and plastic repairs -- and I was a complete wreck for a couple months, because so many triggers that I didn't know were there came up. It took meds and several sessions with another pro (who apparently likes the challenge of treating other pros) as well as reinforcing my own toolbox to dig out.

And please, please, if this hurts this deeply that you're having to talk yourself out of self-harm, please, please call 800-273-TALK. It's confidential. And check in with your therapist/physician. It's totally reasonable to be delicately, finely wired, but being delicately wired means maintenance.

#6 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 02:00 AM:

abi: Keeping you in my thoughts. The dark is hard on lots of people.

#7 ::: Danish Modern ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 02:51 AM:

I have a difficult question.

I'm someone who has low spoons a lot myself. I have insomnia and various health problems. But I live on my own.

My brother had a serious childhood illness that left him with chronic health problems. They make him constantly tired and often depressed. He has varying levels of spoons based on his health at a given time. My mother supported both of us during our illnesses, and other bad times. I recovered enough to do things for myself, but my brother had a relapse recently. My mother continues to help him, but feels tired and overwhelmed all the time. I feel bad for both of them.

Now for the difficult question: is there a good way to talk to a low spoons person about their spoon management and the things they ask of others? I have bad problems myself, and I know how painful it is when someone suggests I could solve a medical problem by just willing it better. At the same time, my brother has been ill for so long, he never learned to do anything for himself: he can barely cut and peel an apple, he can't do laundry, he doesn't drive.

At this point, it's almost like he's been trained to feel that anything that is even a little bit difficult and unpleasant is something he shouldn't even try to do, if at all possible. He's capable of struggling through some things: a few years ago he completed a degree, between frequent illness-related medical absences. I'm very proud of him for that, and my mother understandably went out of her way to make sure he had every advantage while he was in school. If he said he'd feel more up to doing schoolwork if he had a special meal she had to pick up at a restaurant, she'd pick it up. But now that he's done with his degree, any of the next steps in his career are too daunting. The post-graduate work he'd need to do is too competitive to allow someone with frequent illnesses to thrive in the same way he did in undergraduate. It's hard to see the way forward, and he's had another relapse. All this is understandable.

But he got used to the increased level of accommodation he was getting while pursuing his degree. Now, if he wants that meal from the restaurant, he expects to get it, even when there's other food around, even though it takes double or triple the time and money that a normal meal would take (there are only about five dinners he will eat, and most of them don't overlap with the ten dinners my father is willing to eat, but that's a different subject). Plus, my folks don't have the kind of income they once did, so this is more burdensome than it used to be.

I'm sure my mother spends at least 40 hours a week doing things for him. She constantly feels like a failure because she can't keep the house clean, and she doesn't have time for a social life. I've seen how his demands inhibit her ability to get anything done: she'll sit down to start sorting papers, and get called away to make him a cup of tea in the middle of it, then she'll go back and forget where she was. It might only take her three minutes to make the tea, but it costs 20 minutes of workflow. My brother also constantly criticizes her for the fact that the house is getting messier.

Still, she just keeps hoping that he'll suddenly be miraculously cured, and everything will be better, all while saying she feels like she's so tired she's going to get sick herself soon. It doesn't help that there's no consistent treatment for the damage he got from his illness - some people improve, some people don't. Some people improve on a traditional medicine thing, some people require lifestyle changes, and the doctor who works with these patients is so desperate, he's started to try completely unproven alternate methods if people still have symptoms after he's tried everything that seems more normal. Because of all this, doctors who will treat his condition seriously are rare and expensive. They've tried hundreds of treatments by now, and his illness comes and goes, so they have no clear idea what works and what doesn't. So there's no clear endgame for this, and it might never get any better.

I know what it feels like to be sick. I know how good it feels to have someone to do everything for you when you're sick. the relief from the pain you get when someone else brings you soup, or does your laundry, or cleans up when you puke. But I also know what it's like to be sick and have low spoons but still use those spoons very carefully to survive - to get to the store to get your own soup, and then spend the rest of the day collapsed on the couch, drained. It sucks but it's do-able, and sometimes it gets easier with practice.

When we were both sick at the same time growing up, he was sicker than I was, and my mother triaged. Because of that, there were times when I was a little sick and had to just power through, use up all my reserves, and give up things I cared about it if meant surviving. I still have low spoons periods where I miss out on vital things and end up paying for it later: I once racked up over $160 in library fines because I had only enough energy to go between work and home. I've neglected other, more serious things at times too. So I understand that sometimes you just can't.

Sometimes I feel like I can't, and I'm right, I don't have any spoons left. Other times I feel like I can't, and I somehow push through it. I don't think my brother has experience doing the latter for anything other than stuff related directly to school.

I love them both, and I just want things to be better for them. Every time one of them calls or emails me to tell me how sad and sick and hopeless they are, it breaks my heart. But if my brother could learn to do a few things for himself, things might get a bit better. Peel and cut apples for a small thing. He also had a learner's permit for a while, and got pretty close to getting his license. If he could just do that, and then practice enough to drive the few country roads he needs to travel to get to his friends' house, or to the restaurant he likes, it would save my mother a dozen hours a week.

This was way too long, but the details are important to understanding that I'm not saying "If you don't have spoons, stop being lazy."

it comes down to
1. Is there any good way to discuss with someone how they evaluate whether they really can't do something, rather than it just being difficult and unpleasant?

2. Is there any way to help them find help with this situation from someone who acknowledges that low spoons exist? They've had bad experiences with people saying his illness is just laziness.

My brother has tried therapy, though only a couple times. For a while during his illness, he saw a series of councilors who treated him like crap in the normal way physicians treat people with low spoons. Later though, he found a couple of therapists he liked... but then he liked them too much. He was ashamed at how little he could do for himself, and would only talk to them about milder versions. He'd talk about his trouble with making it to class and being depressed, but not about the fact that he couldn't do basic care-type stuff for himself.

He CAN do some of the stuff he asks my mother to do, sometimes, is the thing. When my mother is asleep, he will make tea for himself, or prepare his own medicine, or just go without whatever he wants at the moment. But when I suggested he do things I'd seen him do when she was asleep, just sometimes, he got upset. "What if you just made your own tea every time you wanted it? Or half the time?" He got upset, and said he didn't want to be like he is, but there's no way to change it other than to just wait for him to miraculously get better, or for them to invent a new treatment that works.

But I know that sometimes there isn't going to be anything that completely works, not for a long time. For my adult life, I've been sick with things that are hard to diagnose or impossible to treat effectively. I'm tired all the time, especially recently, but I keep having to do stuff that's hard even when there's no end in sight.

How do you tell the difference between not being able to do anything and not wanting to do anything? And can you teach someone who has only ever used that situationally how to apply it to more things in their life? I saw him do the schoolwork even when he was sick, even if he couldn't do that every day. He can do things when my mother is asleep or out of the house. Am I just wrong to try to find ways go get him to do more things even when she technically can drop everything and help him?

#8 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 05:53 AM:

#1 ::: SamChevre

In re "The Astrologer and the Psychologist": Very interesting point about if history is made the only source of truth, then it becomes very tempting to control history.

For what it's worth, I have a lot of Adult Child of Alcoholics symptoms. There is no reason to think my parents had chemical addictions beyond smoking and caffeine.

My conclusion isn't to build up an addiction history for them, it's to conclude that ACOA symptoms result from emotional dysfunctions which are usually but not always caused by major chemical addictions.

#9 ::: Jeanie ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 09:47 AM:

Danish Modern:

Witnessing for you. Boy, it's tough to watch helplessly.

You are doing an important thing: paying attention to what you can do for yourself (even at a distance from the family home) so as not to diminish your mom's spoon level further. Your love and support may be all that's keeping her going some days.

#10 ::: Neon Fox ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 09:51 AM:

I have discovered a disturbing impulse in myself to be gratuitously cruel to someone (a specific someone). Fortunately the opportunity to do so without meaningful repercussion is not likely to arise, but the mere fact that I have the urge bothers me.

#11 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 11:18 AM:

Danish Modern @7: Sympathies.

As always, ignore if hlepy, but have you considered tackling this from the other side? Your mom is exhausted, and some of your brother's requests take a disproportionate amount of time (like 3 min for tea, but 20 min of workflow). Would your mom be willing to start asking your brother to help her? Like, wait until she's finished the paperwork, then she'll make him tea. Or related.

I'm thinking that very often people are willing to go out of their comfort zone to help other people, when they can't or won't do the same thing for themselves. And this wouldn't trigger the accusations of lazy in their heads (hopefully).

I suspect your mom will have a very hard time with this; it's really, really hard to admit that you're not as young as you used to be, and you can't handle as much, and it feels like you're weak and useless. But it's a legitimate request, and she really does need the break.

#12 ::: CZEdwards ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 02:13 PM:

Abi: Thinking of you. Light is coming. (Also, thanks so much for your light box instructable. It's really helping here.)

#13 ::: Quietly Learning To Be Loud ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 02:52 PM:

abi, thank you for the link to the spoons story. I figured out what spoons met by its usage, but it's nice to have the background. I sent the spoons story to several friends with lupus and fibromyalgia.

Danish Modern, witnessing. Also, what Ckickadee said. It's possible your mother is so very used to doing for your brother, it's an automatic response. A good starting point may be to find out if she is aware that your brother gets his own tea when she's asleep. And "when I get to a stopping point" or "I'm almost at a stopping point" may be useful phrases, as it reinforces the idea that mom has many hats while not ignoring the request.

#14 ::: Anon4Now ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 07:14 PM:

Thanks, OtterB, Jacque, CZEdwards. It helps to hear that people screw up sometimes, even in big ways, and that it isn't the end of the world or the end of your worth.

I checked today, and according to state statute and the governing documents of the association, they are well within their legal rights to fine me the way that they have.

I asked today whether daily fines were still accruing, and was told they are continuing to impose daily fines until their inspector makes a decision about the length of the grass. So that's fun.

It's pitch-dark and pouring rain at present, and the lawnmower blade needs replacing. But partner went and got a new blade this morning, so I think I'll try to replace it tonight and re-mow the grass tomorrow afternoon after it stops raining, just in case they still feel like it grew too much in the last month in the dead of winter.

At this point I'm twitchy about what standard they're applying. Since apparently they didn't see any difference after we cut it at the end of December, I don't know how I can prove to them that I cut it if I do it again now. I mean, it's winter, the grass is mostly dead, there isn't much visible change when you run a lawnmower over it. Would they like to watch me operate the mower?

Today they told me they were happy to help me get set up on a payment plan, which eases my fear of this spiraling into liens and foreclosure if I can't come up with the money within 30 days. The management company lady I talked to said I should wait to see what the board ultimately decides about the fines, though. Not sure if that means they might forgive some of it, or if that threatens more fines.

Partner continues to be really kind and supportive and reassuring. He told me last night explicitly that he wasn't going to hold this mistake against me, that shit happens and he's screwed stuff up too sometimes, and that we'll manage and things will be okay in the end, we won't go broke or starve or anything. "It's not exactly great, but it's also not the end of the world," he said. Which is true.

#15 ::: Anon4Now ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 07:24 PM:

Also, here is a blog I go sometimes for good insights: Weightless. Its emphasis is on body image, recovery from eating disorders, and related issues. However, especially in link roundup posts ("Body Image Boosters from the Blogosphere"), there are often links to more generally-applicable pieces about setting boundaries, self-care, and more.

(And seriously. I love Boggle the Owl. These past couple of days, I keep coming back to the Dec 25 post and just ugly crying because it hits so close to home, and it helps so much even to have a cartoon owl tell me it understands and that I'm still a good person worthy of love.)

#16 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 09:38 PM:

Danish Modern, that situation sucks. I'm sorry you and your family are dealing with it.

#17 ::: Little John ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 09:40 PM:

Anon4Now at 15:

The first time around, I missed seeing that post from Boggle the Owl, despite being a fan. Thank you for linking to it here. It's just what I need to see right now.

#18 ::: silence ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 10:42 PM:

Neon Fox: That sounds stressful. Is there some underlying issue you haven't / can't address directly with that person? Can you reduce interaction with them?

#19 ::: Neon Fox ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 11:26 PM:

She's in the next cube. She spends literally hours a day complaining about SOMETHING on the phone in a whisper that's JUST loud enough that I can hear it. Every time she mewls, "But why do these bad things keep happening to me? Why does my husband/dog/boss HATE ME so much?", I just want to go around to her desk and say, "Because you're a terrible person and you deserve it." And only the fact that I have to keep my job is stopping me, at this point.

I have heard her spend an hour on the phone whining to some friend--and let me tell you, her friends must be the world's most tolerant people--hang up, and IMMEDIATELY pick up the phone to call someone else and spend another hour whining about THE SAME STUFF. She does this regularly!

I want to like this woman. She's pleasant enough when she's not moaning and whining. But Jesus Christ on a pogo stick, I just want to smack her whenever she starts up with her fucking Poor Little Me routine.

She's worked here longer than I have; I assume that if gently raising the issue with her were going to help, someone would have managed it already. Also, I admit, I don't want to be the next thing she whines about.

#20 ::: Quietly Learning To Be Loud ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 11:35 PM:

Neon Fox
Ah, that one. You have both my understanding and profound sympathy. BTDT, only mine was schizophrenic. If you have someone you can ask about her behavior, you might find out if you can be moved. I couldn't, but I did get permission to wear headphones, which were normally against policy.

#21 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 11:59 PM:

Anon4Now @14: At this point I'm twitchy about what standard they're applying. Since apparently they didn't see any difference after we cut it at the end of December, I don't know how I can prove to them that I cut it if I do it again now. I mean, it's winter, the grass is mostly dead, there isn't much visible change when you run a lawnmower over it. Would they like to watch me operate the mower?

I think it might make a great deal of sense to pin them down about that: what standard are they using? Length of grass? If so, what is it? Period between mowing? How many days? Etc. While they may be within their rights to hold you to a standard, I think this implies a responsibility on their part to let you know in no uncertain terms what that standard is. And how the heck did they miss the Dec mowing?

I'm in a similar situation with my HOA: I got a note about "stuff" in my carport, which is supposed to contain only "vehicles." If a bike trailer is not a "vehicle," what the hell is it? I will be in negotiations with them once I get the other stuff out of there. (Anybody want a big, hollow log?)

#22 ::: Little John ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 12:53 AM:

State of the Little John:

More falling down as I try to be a real grown-up. I need to talk about it.

I'm late with the rent this month, due to a crisis over the holidays that I posted about a lot. I can pay it, I hasten to add. I went to the leaseholder before the beginning of February, and told her the truth--that my next paycheck wouldn't clear the bank till this Friday. She agreed to take my own rent check and not cash it till then.

Just now, however, I had to grit my teeth and go tell her that it wouldn't be cashable till Saturday. She was understandably annoyed, though she tried to hide it, and she said she'd have to wait till Monday (i.e. the 10th) to deposit my check, since the funds wouldn't transfer over the weekend anyway.

I ran away from her. Couldn't meet her eye. She was being really restrained and nice about the whole thing, but I blurted out, "I'm so sorry," averted my head and ran away downstairs. (Genius move, there. When I'd regained some self-control, I had to walk all the way upstairs again, and pass her again.)

Boy, I feel like a jerk, and with good reason. I've been trying to calm myself, but I am ashamed as hell. Being late with the rent and annoying the landlord is an awful thing to do. Admittedly, it's not happening because I am a spendthrift or a freeloader. It's happening as the knock-on effect of my unexpectedly having to part ways with my parents back at Christmas. It is taking me a long time to get back on my feet after that. In the immediate aftermath, I had to borrow money from a friend, which I'm still paying back.

But even so, I can't excuse myself for being late with the rent. I have a sense of personal honor which is feeling dirty. There doesn't seem to be any way of redeeming this for myself. I'll take great pains to pay the March rent well ahead of the deadline, but that's the basic level of decency--I ought to be doing that anyway. I really want to do something good and helpful and kind, right the heck now, to redeem my own self-respect as a good person, and I can't. That sucks. It also sucks that I ran away after the conversation, as if I could run away from my having done anything wrong. What am I, twelve?

There seems to be no way out of shame. I spent some time trying to calm myself and take away the self-destructive thoughts I was having, but it was hard to relax and breathe evenly; I don't feel like I deserve to calm down. At least typing about it has helped me to get a grip?

So, right now: anybody who's having that awful sense of "Oh shit, I screwed XYZ up, when will I be a grown-up?!" you are not alone.

#23 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 01:02 AM:

Neon Fox, #19: Oh, THAT kind. I had to work with one of those once; fortunately, it was only a summer job during college. Unfortunately, we were working in the same space (I was filing documents as she processed them), and this meant she used me as her sounding board. Her constant refrain was, "All I want is a little consideration!" and I kept having to bite my tongue on saying something like, "Y'know, people might be more inclined to feel sorry for you if you weren't monopolizing the privilege."

The other thing that kept reverberating thru my head was a passage from Georgette Heyer's Venetia:

"One of the advantages of having led a sequestered life is that you have not until now encountered the sort of woman* who cannot refrain from quarreling with all who cross her path. She is forever suffering slights, and is so unfortunate as to make friends only with such ill-natured persons as sooner or later treat her abominably. No quarrel is ever of her seeking; she is the most amiable of created beings, and the most long-suffering. It is her confiding disposition which renders her prey to the malevolent, who, from no cause whatsoever, invariably impose upon her, or offer her such intolerable insult that she is obliged to cut the connection."

I was not at all surprised to discover, when I went back to that company the following summer, that she was no longer employed there. I did wonder (but never asked because it was none of my damn business) whether they fired her or she quit in a fit of pique. There was no way it wasn't one or the other.

You might find a way to casually mention to someone further up the food chain that she seems to spend an awful lot of her work day making personal telephone calls, and that you can tell they're personal because she's not as good at keeping her voice down as she thinks she is. That's a huge no-no in a lot of corporate environments.

* There are men who do this too, but the character under discussion was female.

#24 ::: old enough to know better but still learning ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 07:11 AM:

Little John #22 Sympathies, as someone probably more than twice your age, who still can't always act like a real grown-up.

From a landlord's point of view, (I rent out a room), it is understandable that she might be upset, since she has calculated when she could pay things like utilities.

But don't worry about your being upset and running away. Please. What you see as not-grownup, your saying you're sorry and leaving, signals that you really do care that you are paying late, it is not routine, and you do not intend to repeat it every month.

Unlike my roomer, who routinely pays late every month, with no apology and no warning. Yeah, not, as you say, providing a basic level of decency.

#25 ::: Neon Fox ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 08:14 AM:

Little John: In December I had to call the company that came to fix my furnace and tell them not to deposit the check I wrote them for an extra week. It sucks, but they get fees and things for returned checks; at the very least you spared her that. And you are not a jerk. If you were, you wouldn't feel bad about this.

Quietly and Lee: About a year and a half ago there was a thing where the woman who used to sit here got an office built for her in the storage room. She claimed it was because she could smell the bathroom; at the time I thought it was an inflated sense of her own importance. Now I begin to wonder. I ended up moving because we got a new copier at about the same time and my old cube was the one with wiring heavy-duty enough to hook the it to. The only cube that's empty now is set up so that the occupant has to sit with their back to the corridor, and I can't abide that.

I've mentioned the issue to my boss a few times. Unfortunately The Complainer is not in my department, and as an added complication we work for local government. As long as she gets her work done, and as far as I can tell she's working while she's complaining, I would basically have to have video of her eating babies for her to be fired. I guess that seems extreme, but there's no way her boss doesn't know what she's doing; any steps short of firing that they've tried clearly have not worked.

I think it's going to have to be headphones. I hate headphones.

#26 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 09:29 AM:

Little John @22 I have a sense of personal honor which is feeling dirty. There doesn't seem to be any way of redeeming this for myself.

First, I want to suggest that being unable to look your landlady in the eye and running away is far superior to another common mode of reacting to feeling shame, which is to become belligerent and try to minimize the problem or blame others.

Re the sense of honor ... I do understand this. But I don't think that honor is binary. You may have smudged yours; you haven't shattered it beyond repair. You polish it back by, as you intend, being careful not to do the same thing again. In this case there doesn't seem to be any need to make amends to your landlady other than not repeating. If it would help you feel better you might think of paying it forward in some way, e.g, when your financial situation is on more stable ground, make a contribution to a local charity that helps people who are having trouble making a rent payment.

Have you read Bujold's Vorkosigan books? I'm thinking of the scene in A Civil Campaign where Miles is talking to Ekaterina about honor and says something like, "The problem with principles like death before dishonor is that eventually it leaves you with only two kinds of people: the dead and the dishonored. It's a survivior's problem, this one."

#27 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 01:00 PM:

Little John @22: I have a similar core-level aversion to messing up on stuff like that. But here's some credit you can sincerely take: you let her know, beforehand, that the rent was going to be late. Furthermore, you had the courage to be straight up when you learned it would be later than you'd initially estimated. This Is A Good Thing. The sleazy move is to not say anything, be late with the rent, and then get pissy or make excuses when the landlord has to come after you for it. So, as "screw-ups" go, this one is really quite mild, IMHO.

It has been my experience that most creditors can deal with late payments as long as you talk to them.

#28 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 02:52 PM:

#19 ::: Neon Fox

Is a white noise machine a possibility?

#29 ::: Neon Fox ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 03:10 PM:

Nancy: It might be. I don't know how loud it would have to be to drown her out, or if that would be enough to bother other people, but I can look into it.

#30 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 06:41 PM:

I've been a landlord too, and I can assure you that there are far worse things tenants can do than pay the rent late. Absolutely none of my tenants had a perfect payment record. Just let me know what to expect (so I can plan to pay some of my own bills late if necessary).

#31 ::: Bodhisvaha ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 07:17 PM:

Little John @22: I bet that everyone muffs a rent or mortgage payment at least once in their life. You were considerate and did a good job: you tried to get the money in time, when that didn't work you told them ahead of time, and you had a schedule for when you would. Then when the schedule changed, again you told them ahead of time, and had a new date, and that date was soon. You mentioned the leaseholder versus the landlord -- what about making the leaseholder dinner or some such as a peace offering?

Everyone's seen me before, but new year, new pen name. Abi and I felt that we ought to make it more difficult for the recently relocated Dragon in my life to follow me around the internet. Just in case.

#32 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 08:02 PM:

Neon Fox @19

I'm not sure what it is that you hate about headphones, so this advice might be useless, but there are other options for noise-cancelling.

If headphones hurt your ears, custom-fitted earbuds or high-quality earplugs can be better. I've seen a few tutorials on how to cheaply make fitted earbuds with sugru, (here's one from boingboing) and there are other methods if you google. And here's a slate article that reviews a bunch of earplugs.

I wish there were better options for stuff like this. I once worked in a three person office where almost everybody was fairly quiet, and it was the best focus situation I've ever had.

#33 ::: charming quark ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 08:28 PM:

Otter B @ 26:

I've never read the Vorkosigan series, but I think I'm going to have to soon, just for the life lessons.

#34 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 08:54 PM:

#29 ::: Neon Fox

It doesn't seem as though it would need to be very loud, just enough to smudge out what she's saying.

#35 ::: Bodhisvaha is gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 09:36 PM:

Got gnomed a couple hours back. Homemade beef bourguignon?

#36 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 10:00 PM:

charming quark @ 32

"just for the life lessons."

The women are overrated. Aim for Miles. Or Gregor. Trust me. It's much nicer to be rich, powerful and (optionally) delusional than it is to be sensible and realistic.

#37 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 11:56 PM:

Overrated by whom?

#38 ::: Anon4Now ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2014, 11:17 AM:

Jacque @ 21:

Well, when I first called in to say I didn't understand the Dec and Jan notices because the grass was short, the reply I eventually got was (in essence, and not paraphrased very much) "The grass may appear short now because it is dormant and pressed down from the recent snow, but we have pictures from the summer showing that it was always too long."

So essentially, it was too long* when it was actively growing, and because they believe it died back rather than being mowed, they still consider it "too long". Because it's died back, mowing it in December didn't make much of a visually apparent difference -- you couldn't look at it and say "this has obviously been mowed," because it's mostly brown, withered, and lying flat on the ground to start with.

I am really hoping they'll "re-inspect" and decide that it's OK, but I'm afraid they'll refuse to believe it's been mowed until it grows long enough to show a visible difference after mowing, which will probably take another couple of months.

(I'm also, probably irrationally, afraid that they'll be slow about re-inspecting and making a decision in order to teach me a lesson, since I took so long to contact them.)

Even more frustratingly, we were not actually able to buy a new mower blade, because apparently our lawnmower is uncommon enough that no hardware store in the area keeps the blades in stock. Between partner and me, we checked at four different chains. I was able to order one online, but it won't come until Friday afternoon. Even if I cut the grass as short as humanly possible on Friday afternoon, they won't come to verify it until Monday at the earliest.

*Note that we are not talking "three feet tall and all gone to seed and looking like an abandoned field." We are talking "shaggy." So the dead grass doesn't look like a field full of stalks or anything. It looks like the picture from this article.

Note too that it's not like we never mowed it. I don't think there's any point in going back and arguing about how often it was mowed in the summer and fall, but it's still frustrating.

#39 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2014, 11:42 AM:

Anon4Now, I don't suppose there's any way to get someone out there with a ruler and actually, you know, *measure* it?

#40 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2014, 12:37 PM:

Anon4Now: Go out and take a picture of the lawn with a ruler. Possibly followed by mowing and another picture. (Sorry if this is hlepy, or if your lawn is currently covered with snow)

If they warned you in summertime and you mowed the lawn a couple of times since then, and they didn't notice, then it's clearly not too long now. That's what they're trying to fine you for, not the summertime. It's worth fighting over $2000. It may not be successful.

Likely there's some procedural stuff that you missed. But it may not apply if the underlying issue was resolved before the time of the fine and they don't have decent enough records to substantiate their claim. On the other hand, HOAs have enough claim on your property that they can make life very miserable for you if you ignore their bills/fines.

Also, delegating this to a willing someone is a good idea.

#41 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2014, 12:56 PM:

Anon4Now: Yeah, this "too long" business wouldn't really fly with me, since that begs the question, "too long for whom."

And I, personally, think you would be entirely within your rights to pin 'em down about having mowed in December. They need to give you the benefit of the doubt: if they can't prove you didn't mow, they likewise can't prove you didn't mow, and charging you $$$$ on their say-so isn't really acceptable unless/until they can give you some concrete metric to refer to. Since you're already talking a fair chunk of change, if it was me, I'd be really tempted to send them a letter to this effect, and shell out whatever extra money it would cost to do so on an attorney's letterhead. (Remember, a legal wrangle costs them money, too.)

My argument to them would go as follows:

  1. Please define what "too long" means, in some specific objective metric. E.g., 4 inches/one week/whatever. Failure to do so means that they're not arguing in good faith, and if push comes to shove it might be worth pointing that out to them.
  2. Please stipulate that the lawn was mowed in December (or prove beyond a reasonable doubt it wasn't. Heavy clue: they can't.) and adjust the penalty amount accordingly.

I am really hoping they'll "re-inspect" and decide that it's OK, but I'm afraid they'll refuse to believe it's been mowed until it grows long enough to show a visible difference after mowing, which will probably take another couple of months.

See also: Cassy B. & eric's suggestions. This is actually an excellent idea; see "specific objective metric" above. In some sense, it doesn't matter whether it's been mowed or not; what matters is whether it meets their criteria. If they can't articulate their criteria clearly enough to tell if your lawn meets it or not, then they got no business charging you loads of money for failure to comply. See also: not arguing in good faith.

I'm also, probably irrationally, afraid that they'll be slow about re-inspecting and making a decision in order to teach me a lesson, since I took so long to contact them.

Well, I doubt they'd be paying enough attention to want to "teach you a lesson," but as protection against bureaucratic inertia, it's a good idea to keep dated copies of all correspondence you send them, along with copies of everything you receive from them. It's also probably not a bad idea to send them any future communication with "receipt acknowledgement requested," or, if snail mail, registered mail. Whenever you (or your partner) talk to someone on the phone, make copious notes, as well as note date, time, and name of person talked to. Send a follow-up email reviewing the points discussed in the phone conversation.

#42 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2014, 03:27 PM:

Ignore if hlepy, but an office friend said she had a similar problem with her condo board. It went to the lawyers, the lawyers made lots of money, and the condo board was told they weren't allowed to charge whatever fee it was they were trying to get out of her.

So don't hesitate to contact a lawyer about this; their provision (if it doesn't include specific standards and timelines) may very well not be legal.

#43 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2014, 03:28 PM:

re: #42: sorry, that last was for Anon4Now.

#44 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2014, 04:22 PM:

I've just updated the OP with the resources people have suggested in-thread.

Thank you for the kind comments, particularly from Clifton and CZEdwards. I'm coming to realize that January and February are brittle months for me.

Note that Bodhisvaha has done the thing ze has done with my prior permission. The rules on nym consistency stand unless you discuss the matter with me ahead of time and I agree to it.

And I am reading and witnessing, as I always am. The existence of this community is a great thing in my life, even when I'm not commenting. Love you all.

#45 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2014, 05:27 PM:

Anon4Now: One other thing I thought of -- Pictures of other people's lawns, especially if they're indistinguishable from yours.

#46 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2014, 05:29 PM:

eric: Brilliant!

#47 ::: claustrophile ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2014, 09:35 PM:

Just checking in quickly.

First session with New Therapist went about as well as I could reasonably expect it to. I was as open as possible with her, although the effort of doing so left me incredibly drained afterwards. And then two days later I had a final session with ex-Current Therapist, which was very very useful. Most of the session consisted of a meta-conversation about how things went with New Therapist, how to engage in therapy and with therapists, how to speak up about my needs when things aren't working, what issues I still need to work on, and so forth.

Thank you all, for being here. This place is one of the safest I know. These days I'm always reading and witnessing, although I seldom speak up.

#48 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 03:21 AM:

Jacque @ 37

Well, it was a little flippant. Though I do seem to have an awful lot of quietly practical rationalists in my life. It's okay, because too many dadaists soup the shoe. But where my friends tend to appreciate the tendency of her forward-standing women toward a calm, capable understanding and vast acceptance, I find the same women much harder to believe in than Bujold's wildly flawed men.

#49 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 04:42 AM:

KayTei: I find the same women much harder to believe in than Bujold's wildly flawed men.

Which is different, and much more interesting, than what you said @36. Because now I'm interested in what makes these women hard for you to believe in?

By contrast, for example, I find Ekaterin very believable, and somebody I think I would like to have as a friend. Not least because she has a steadiness about her that reminds me of our wonderful abi.

#50 ::: The_L ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 06:48 AM:

Holy crap, "Red Families, Blue Families." The first red box hurt to read.

Update on my situation: Parents are talking to me again, although fiance is still not welcome in their house. Went to a dog fair with my mother, and it was nice. She was treating me like an adult friend, instead of something to rein in through emotional manipulation.

I think I can handle being around my parents on special occasions, which, while not being optimal, is still not half-bad.

#51 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 10:23 AM:

abi, I've been feeling more brittle as well; a combination of circumstances has just gotten and gotten and gotten at me, and I feel as though I've lost a lot of momentum on personal growth and on resilience. It's so hard to tell myself "this is temporary" when it drags on for so long.

(No advice or questions please.)

#52 ::: Jeanie ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 12:34 PM:

#51 Sumana
Hearing this, and keeping you and the others who post here particularly in my thoughts.

#53 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 01:29 PM:

Hearing also, Sumana -- and it's nice to be able to hear it in your actual voice, after meeting you.

#54 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 01:55 PM:

Good luck with the therapist shift, claustrophile.

Good to hear you're finding some kind of accommodation, even if it's not ideal, The_L. I hope your parents come further round.

Sympathy and wishes for strength, Sumana.

#55 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 02:03 PM:

I stopped in to wish abi strength in waiting for the return of the light. Extending that to Sumana Harihareswara @51 also. Wishing you more flexibility as soon as may be, and a protective cradle until then.

In the dim and dormant times
When the cold around us twines
Then we're brittle as old vines

Underneath the roots still cling
In dark await the hope of spring
Til leaves unfurl and tendrils sing

#56 ::: Bodhisvaha ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 03:11 PM:

At work: we are, thank goodness, *not* missing a credenza less than a month before the project installation. (Translation: I *don't* have a hard-to-fix problem that I should have caught weeks ago. It would not have been fun to try now to order a new piece of custom furniture and ship it to the project site on time, if the credenza were in fact missing.) I am so tired of dragged-out zombie projects that are leftovers from two years ago. I need something new and fun and where I get some more creative control.

#57 ::: hope in disguise ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 03:58 PM:

Reading and witnessing, all. Sympathy and strength for them as need it.

I am beginning to wonder if something in me is calling the crises out so that I always have one to worry about. I have successfully made Sometimes-Suicidal Friend not my responsibility (I think) but now, oh, now a new thing comes up: I'm not sure how safe I feel around one of my housemates. On a physical/sexual level.

Another housemate thinks that probably it's just a monumental misunderstanding around boundaries, but is that because:
a) I am genuinely overreacting due to a cultural clash (between the sort of atmosphere we have here, and 90-95% of my generation?) and sensitivity derived from past experiences?
b) She doesn't see the problem but it is in fact there?
c) Community closing ranks around the aggressor?
d) Something else?

I'm afraid to rock the boat, but soon I'll have somewhere to go for a week or so (a dear friend's grandmother just died and I'm going to cook for him and hold him while he works his way up to "functional human" again), and right before leaving I can be like "hey Housemate, it makes me way uncomfortable when you make sexual comments about me." And I have the phone numbers of several Adult Humans with Cars and Airs of Authority, including my professor [who has urged me to find alternate living space*], so in the worst case scenario I will be able to escape.

But damn I have to wonder if I'm just making problems for myself.

* I'm supposedly doing an independent study ethnography of the house, and he's supervising it, but he pointed out (probably correctly) that my safety is in fact far more important than my academics

#58 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 05:42 PM:

hope in disguise @57: For what it's worth, I think it's highly inappropriate for a housemate to make sexual comments about you in the first place, whatever the circumstance. And creepy that he won't stop after being asked to stop. So no, I don't think you're inventing a problem.

#59 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 06:17 PM:

To those who could use a wee Qte. (Gustav at 10 days old.) </ani-gif warning>

#60 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 07:04 PM:

abi: Very brittle for me too, me too. (Hearing you also, Sumana.) Slogging through.

#61 ::: charming quark ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 07:05 PM:

Jacque @ 59: Squee! Thank you!

#62 ::: hope in disguise ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 08:44 PM:

Chickadee, fwiw, I haven't asked him to stop. :\ Shy, socially anxious, a little afraid of rocking the boat.

Jacque, d'awwww

#63 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 10:34 PM:

hope in disguise @62: The first part still stands, but at least you have a metric for how to gauge his reaction when you do ask him to stop. Any response other than "I'm sorry, I didn't realize I was making you uncomfortable, I'll stop" indicates creepy, scary guy. Double (or triple) if he tries to put it on you - the usual "you're just being too sensitive" or "you don't have a sense of humour" crap.

I'm so glad you have outside resources here. (like your professor)

#64 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 11:24 PM:

Jacque @ 49

Oh, it does look conflicted, doesn't it? It's really that... hm. From my personal experience, that kind of locked-down self-possession takes a lot of energy to maintain and carries a significant cost whenever your personal stressors let up or your body's needs can no longer be forestalled by sheer willpower and desperation. So when I see Cordelia and Ekaterin and Lady Alys and all those other women who invariably demonstrate inhuman self-control and good sense (if occasional self-doubt on Ekaterin's part), I look for the inevitable nervous breakdown or temperish outburst or other release outlet. But none of them seem to have any such thing! (Their men, on the other hand, have a wide range of different ways of coping with stress, most of them not incredibly healthy ones.)

To eat all that accumulated grief and show no sign of difficulty aside from the occasional strained look about the eyes... that's impossible. No person is that self-contained. And that standard - that women should be unflappably competent and level-headed supports for their less self-controlled male counterparts - is one that I've run into a number of times, in varying forms and severities. I think it's terribly destructive for the women involved. It's something people aspire to and I wish we would stop glorifying it because the human cost is not worth the illusion.

I'm not saying people can't have grace under fire, or be extremely good at managing crises (though good still isn't perfect).

But I do think that this idea of women who lack all emotional outlets, who never express any emotion other than calm competency, who have no damaging vices or obsessions, and then to continue in that mode for years upon years upon years, while your male kin consistently handle things less well than you do yet somehow none of the women ever visibly crack? It strikes me as extremely improbable in the kind of high-stress, high-stakes, high-fear society they're ostensibly a part of.

#65 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2014, 01:21 AM:

KayTei: Now, see, I'm with you 100% where Ekaterin is concerned. Had Miles not entered the picture and caused her cage to break open, I could easily see her soldiering on until she ground herself to dust. I think the neat part of their relationship is that, in a large sense, what she gets from Miles is a chance to give herself permission to be supported.

Cordelia, OTOH, strikes me as just basically very grounded. And I also think she gets a lot of support from Aral. And also her cultural upbringing. She's steady and competent because that's just the kind of hairpin she is. Though she, too, does have her limits. Let us not forget that she <R13>oebhtug gur urnq bs ure uhfonaq'f rarzl ubzr gb uvz va n fubccvat ont. Gung jbhyq pregnvayl fhvg zl qrsvavgvba bs "grzcrevfu bhgohefg." Frr nyfb qhaxvat gur urnq bs gur [gurencvfg, jnf vg?] va gur svfugnax ba ure jnl gb rfpncvat onpx gb Oneenlne.

<trigger warning>
Part of the reason I find her believable is that that's me. When I found myself on my knees in the street spitting blood after going over the handlebars of my bike when I was in junior high, it was me who was telling the kid standing on the sidewalk nearby, frozen in shock, in very matter-of-fact terms, to go get my mom. "Yo! Hellooo? Go get my mom, please."

Similar situation with my brother? Good Samaritans bring him home and decant him onto the living room couch, where he sits wailing his head off while my parents get ready to cart him off to the ER.

So: mileage obviously varies, but Bujold's women work extremely well for me. Particularly having grown up with a conspicuous absence of women I was able to (nevermind wanting to) identify with. First time I ran into one of those was Whoopi Goldberg in Jumpin' Jack Flash, when I was 30 years old.

#66 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2014, 01:31 AM:

Oh yeah, and: the reason I love fictional people-who-are-women like this so much is that they came as such a welcome contrast to the "flighty, hysterical" women that were the norm when I was growing up.

#67 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2014, 02:02 AM:

Jacque @ 65

I've always read the scene you referenced as rather more cold-bloodedly practical. I'm not sure I see it as acting out, so much as her best effort to salvage a bad situation. It's a little too controlled and professional to be an outlet.

But as you say: in the short term... even in the longer but reasonably finite term... I find it believable. I've done it and I've seen others do it. It's when they never seem to show a hair out of place that I find myself looking for the indications of their human frailty. Three choices, right? Break down in anticipation, in the execution, or afterward. But in my experience, everyone breaks at some point, given a prolonged enough sequence of horribly stressful events.

But I think the thing that really troubles me about it is the clean-cut gendered division of emotional responses. The men have a wide range of diverse (albeit often dysfunctional) coping strategies. In contrast, the women all suck up tragedy like vacuum cleaners. I'd feel better about Cordelia if it were just Cordelia and that was who she was; cool, that's within the realm of human variation. But when it's all the women we get to see in any detail, it starts to trouble me a bit, because it starts to feel like establishing a subtle expectation that I don't think it's possible to live up to in real life.

#68 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2014, 10:04 AM:

KayTei #67: Possibly its an expectation of the fictional society, with the novels showing selection bias for the protagonists?

Also, I have not read these novels -- do we actually get the women's POV, enough to know that there aren't breakdowns off-"camera"?

#69 ::: RiceVermicelli ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2014, 10:16 AM:

Jacque @ 65, KayTei @ 67 - I have to say that I'm with KayTei here. Those incidents don't ring as outlets to me because if those things were the way Cordelia processed the stresses of her life (which have been astronomical for decades) we would see a lot more of them. There would be a trail of bodies. I find that kind of calm and practicality admirable, but unlikely - do women in Bujold never get to growl? Aral takes his personal protection detail on scream and vomit lightflyer rides, what does Cordelia do? Does Ekaterin ever stand at the top of the stairs and yell that she is having a bath and had better not be interrupted no matter who's dying? Has Alys ever taken herself to a shooting range, paid off the staff to get everyone else out, and shot up targets while screaming? Is Drou known and feared at dive bars in the Caravanserai? Because she should be.

There's a scene in Captain Vorpatril's Alliance where Grw'f snzvyl unir n tb ng Vina naq Olreyl gb frr vs gurl pna svther bhg jung Vyylna'f ubbxf ner. Jul ner gurl abg gelvat gb svther bhg Nylf'f ubbxf gbb? Fur'f irel boivbhfyl xrlrq va gb gur ybpny cbjre fgehpgher va n znwbe jnl. Jul qba'g gurl vqragvsl ure nf n cbgragvny gnetrg?

#70 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2014, 12:17 PM:

Abi, thanks for your mention in the Girl Genius thread that policing apologies can be a problem.

As for the women in Bujold, I didn't notice it as a pattern or get bothered by it, but this reminds me that I really hate "never complained" as a term of praise.

#71 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2014, 01:45 PM:

I'm not sure about Ekaterin yelling that she's having a bath and nobody better disturb her unless the house is on fire, but I can very easily see Lady Alys doing something like that.

She might not actually yell, but I can hear a very, very growly tone of voice where she's informing a servant-on-duty that she's Not Available.

And remember the bit where the doctor was evaluating Cordelia's "fatigue" after she returned to base, and recommended exercise? (I forget whether this was just-post-wilderness or post-Winterfair-shopping-expedition, but it hardly matters.) While Bujold glossed over how the "misunderstanding" got cleared up, I'm certain in my heart that Cordelia broke out into hysterical laughter bordering on sobbing at that, and that was what it took to get someone with the sort of security clearance who could figure out how much the doctor was allowed to know to explain things to him.

#72 ::: ricevermicelli ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2014, 02:42 PM:

Dave Harmon @68, they're good books, you should read them, but they only occasionally show up the female viewpoint - most of them anyway.

My own mom is one of those uber-competent people who seems able to keep it together no matter the crisis. She's a doctor, and the stories from her colleagues, about my mom staying cool, are hair-raising. In an emergency, she is invaluable. She seems, however, to have reserved herself the right to Not Cope with everyday household disasters. The dog throwing up or a pot boiling over is the end of the world. She comes down eventually. It's annoying as hell, because she inevitably loses it with her nearest and dearest. I can hold it together for the day to day stuff, but I'm wretched in emergencies. It can take me three or four tries to correctly dial 911.

#73 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2014, 02:52 PM:

KayTei @67: But Cordelia does break down under sufficient stress - remember in Shards of Honor fur raqf hc jvgu n fghggre rgp. nsgre fur'f fcrag gur jubyr wbhearl onpx gb Orgn jvgu gur uhtr cerffherf bs univat rffragvny frpergf gb xrrc juvyr orvat pbbcrq hc jvgu n cflpuvngevfg gur jubyr gvzr. Naq gur ovg jvgu gur svfugnax qhaxvat jnf cenpgvpny, ohg nyfb irel qrsvavgryl (va zg zvaq) Peqryvnn yrggvat bhg fbzr bs ure sehfgengvba jvgu gur fvghngvba.

We're shown Ekaterin close to breaking in her choice ertneqvat yrnivat Gvra.

Kareen doesn't manage to keep her cool jura orvat chfurq ol ure cneragf..

Martya is shown univat n qrsvavgr fnqvfgvpny fgernx jura fur'f gur bayl bar jub vf nyybjrq gb fcrnx gb rirelbar ryfr...

But in general, it's clear that Barrayaran society disapproves of women showing their emotions all over the place, probably particularly Vor women, and the characters reflect this.

#74 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2014, 02:57 PM:

dcb @73: Not to mention Elena's reaction to Zvyrf gelvat gb xrrc ure sebz zneelvat Onm orpnhfr ur'f va ybir jvgu ure, naq nohfvat uvf cbjre nf ure yvrtr gb qb fb.

#75 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2014, 03:38 PM:

There's a point in one of the later Vorkosigan books where (I think) Miles says something about Gregor's coping mechanism being to become over-analytical, and where did he learn that. To me there was a clear implication that he'd learned it from Cordelia, and that over-analytical was her coping mechanism as well.

#76 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2014, 03:59 PM:

Chickadee @74: Yes. And her reaction to learning about gur "eryngvbafuvc" orgjrra ure sngure naq ure zbgure.

OtterB @75: Good point.

#77 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2014, 04:16 PM:

Now that the conversation has expanded a bit, I think maybe it's safe to confess that my @37 was an, careful response to @36

#78 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2014, 09:20 PM:

I'm glad you are all obfuscating your discussion of details, because I just found myself a copy of Cordelia's Honor (Shards of Honor and Barrayar in one volume) and bought it with a christmas-gift-card. :)

On a less specific note, as I'm about 1 chapter into Shards of Honor, it could also be that the characters (or the author) is reacting to the cultural perception that women who show any emotion other than happy are overly emotional/hysterical/irrational and if they want to be taken seriously they have to keep it together at all times or their input can be dismissed. And thus we get heroines who have no visible cracks.

#79 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2014, 09:54 PM:

I discovered the series in 2010 and inhaled it. I re-read it last month, and it stood up well for me, though I got a little bored with Miles' juvenile military accomplishments. This analysis has been quite interesting. I've always considered the series a form of Competence Porn, and had thought of Cordelia as being over-the-top competent (without it reducing my love for her at all), but I hadn't registered the emotional element. Very interesting.

#80 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2014, 10:37 PM:

Jacque @ 77

Sorry about that! One of those things where I didn't intend the comment very seriously, so my brain forgot to alert me that others might take it amiss. Whoops...

#81 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2014, 11:31 PM:

KayTei: Thank you. And I'm realizing that others who have expressed the sentiment are not the only ones who are feeling brittle.

And I am being reminded that, while sometimes calm is calm, other times, calm is disconnected. Which is, um, not the same thing.

Maybe it's time for a frog.

#82 ::: old enough to know better but still learning ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2014, 12:38 AM:

Bujold's characters are as real to me in the back of my mind as my family. Whom I see or hear from less often than I reread my favorite books (about every couple of years).

Not saying that that is good...

#83 ::: J. ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2014, 04:09 AM:

Boggle the Owl's blanket fort reminded me of the Teddy Bear's Picnic. I learned about this when I was in therapy for assorted nasty triggery stuff and also childhood neglect. Here's how it works:

If you sometimes think wistfully, "I wish that [caregiver] had [emotionally nourishing thing caregivers do for children]--I never had that/it stopped when the dysfunction got worse--it sounds/was really nice," go ahead and do it for yourself. If you remember a childhood ritual you did get to have with nostalgia, and find yourself thinking about it when you are stressed out, go ahead and do it again. Basically, if what you really want right now is the kind of thing that helps a little kid feel better, be both the caregiver and the child.

When I gave myself permission to sleep with a stuffed animal, color elaborate "Yours to Color" posters with my very own pen and pencil set, softly sing myself lullabies, stomp in puddles, and check out classic children's books, I felt better. Eventually I stopped needing to turn to the rituals, because I had had as much as I needed of them and that part of my past could rest. Or in the lingo of the times, my inner child had played as much as she wanted in a space that was safe from intruders, so she could happily go to sleep while my adult self carried her along. And that's the Teddy Bear's Picnic.

#84 ::: LGB ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2014, 05:29 AM:

Hi everyone. I’ve been meaning to check in—it’s even written on my to-do list—but I haven’t had energy to gather my thoughts and actually write them down. Things are going ok, I guess. Everything seems hard and uphill, and I’m dismayed to find that I keep feeling more upset about all the relationship crap I’m dealing with, not less. I wonder when that will turn around?

Although I haven’t been posting, I have been reading. Support and strength and light all around. This time of year is extra hard for me too.

This post on Captain Awkward the other day hit me like a punch in the stomach. Yesterday I was telling a friend how difficult it was for me to read and it upset me all over again. I feel like it was posted specifically for me because nearly all the patterns the letter writer describes? Describe my marriage. The details are different, but the shape of the relationship resonated SO HARD.

The LW described her SO: He is a rationalist who is deeply against living by social norms and just sees them as defaults, and is “non-default” about pretty much everything including work path, values etc., as well as lifestyle which is EXACTLY K. He sees himself as supremely rational and impervious to all the silly social conditioning that affects everyone else. He didn’t express it by leaving broken glass lying around (although, now that I think about it, there was that time he had to make a very important point by smashing dishes on a tile floor...), but he’d demonstrate his superrationality by finding things that caused a response he didn’t approve of and doing them much more often to “help me work on my inappropriate reactions”. Like the time he said I had ugly teeth and made me order to “helpfully” point out that it’s irrational to allow someone else to affect my self-image like that.

This: Through his logical arguments he has forced me to see that I was being irrational ... and that it is merely a personal preference I have ... rather than any objective issue

and this: He thinks if someone is objectively right, they’re right, and emotions that correspond with that are the issue of the emotional person.

and this: He is also extremely strong-willed and intellectually well-backed-up and is not used to being challenged emotionally, so I don’t think he realizes how unpleasant it can be. I’ve explained this explicitly now and he found the concept very hard to relate to.

...are perfect descriptions of a million arguments I’ve had. You go around and around and around and your opinions are all, somehow, “irrational” and if you eventually become upset—well, your feelings and reactions to things are your own responsibility to deal with. Not to mention you’re probably overreacting, because no reasonable person would find whatever-it-was upsetting. And if you leave the conversation, then you’re obviously not even responsible enough to try to resolve disagreements like a mature adult. There’s no winning.

The LW talks about the numerous situations where I was deeply worried about an aspect of our relationship, felt like we had tried as much as possible to fix it, and ended up trying to break up; however he would always convince me that we hadn’t really tried and that he wanted another chance to do better and his reaction to the LW’s leaving: he thinks I’ve made a mistake with the breakup, and that I did not adequately justify my reasons for ending it. I ended up seeing it from his perspective and apologising for being irrational and hurtful. YEP.

The drugs thing...not so much, or at least, not illegal ones. K did spend about 3 years intensely searching for the Magical Cure for his depression (very bad chronic depression, which I 100% acknowledge is legit and very difficult to deal with). This meant that he spent about 3 years taking one new med after another, or combinations of meds—all legal and prescribed and everything. He did sometimes decide to change his dosage or just stop taking things all on his own. And let me tell you: different medications have different effects! It got to be very stressful whenever he decided the latest treatment was worthless and he needed to try something else, because I never knew quite exactly who I’d be living with. Would he be lethargic or irritable or sleepy or angry or...? I couldn’t really say anything about how anxious it made me, though, because didn’t I want him to find a treatment that worked?

Captain Awkward’s response was great, which was good to see, but the whole post was upsetting. I just skimmed the comments and it looks like the LW took CA’s excellent advice, so at least I can stop worrying about her being stuck in that awful relationship.

Today was difficult too. I attended a class on taxes for small business owners—continuing education for my job—and apparently I have Issues around business, accounting, and finance. *sigh* Did I mention K’s a businessy guy with a fancy MBA? I’ve been spending a lot of time sorting out our assets and liabilities recently and I’m becoming more and more angry about the way his way—the “correct” way—to manage money (which he was always in charge of, because what do I know about complicated things like finance?) seemed to always come out in his favor. It seems very convenient, but then of course I always wonder if I really don’t understand these things and I’m unfairly assuming the worst about him. As I do (just ask him). I’m going to take the whole issue to an expert next week for an unbiased opinion.

Anyway, I spent all morning in the tax workshop and you know that state of not-quite-anxiety-attack where you’re breathing too fast and your heart rate is elevated but you’re managing to keep it together and for goodness sake not start crying for no reason in a room full of colleagues? That. I had been looking forward to learning how to better manage my company, but I ended up feeling like a horrible loser failure who’s doing everything wrong and K must have been right, I just don’t understand these things. Dammit.

I did learn some things. And I have a list of things I can start doing better from now on. And I took some useful notes and I have handouts and the presenter’s card and everything, so I guess that’s good. It was just so discouraging.

So that’s how things are going. I’m hoping to find an expert or two and get the divorce papers finished and filed soon. This is not a fun process. I’ll be glad when it’s over. (Then I have to figure out 2013 taxes...)

One step at a time, right?

#85 ::: hope in disguise ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2014, 09:03 AM:

J. @83: That's lovely. :) Most of "I wish I had got more of this" for me seems to involve wanting to do things with my father. Which is a bit hard to manage when we're in different states. I do still sleep with my baby blanket…

LGB @84: :( *jedihugs if appropriate* I've only ever had to deal with a little of that, in friendships I could walk away from, and it was awful. I'm so sorry you had to deal with that from a spouse.

One step at a time, one day at a time. I hope it gets better soon.

Someone on the Book of Face, talking about divorce, said "It seems that the younger generations are all about "whatever makes ME happy and screw everyone else - - I got mine!" Real relationships take work, and that includes give and take - - compromising - - which doesn't fit into the new paradigm."

Obviously, I was offended. So: "Obviously I'm biased, being one of the generation that you don't believe is into compromising, but my surface justification for what may, for all I know, be deeply selfish impulses, is this: I want to find a partner to whom I can make a lifelong emotional commitment. This means I need to find a partner such that we can both be really happy during the happy parts, and appropriately supportive or patient during the bad parts, because we both deserve to not settle for someone who isn't awesome."

I am proud of myself, for not snarling at him like he maybe deserved. :3

#86 ::: Silence ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2014, 11:43 AM:

LGB 'I just don’t understand these things'
You don't understand things without being taught and you are taking steps towards understanding. So congratulations and good work on taking those steps.

#87 ::: old enough to know better but still learning ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2014, 01:25 PM:

J at 83: lovely. My mother slept with her teddy bears in her last months. (And before.) She said "We have to keep the teddy bears warm." After she had pushed off all her covers.

hope in disguise @ 85:
Re relationships. Good for you in wanting a relationship which is worth working on.

For me, not so much. I perceive it as an advantage of being older that I can say "Tried that once, didn't like it" and not feel guilty or irrational. I'm glad I tried it a few years ago, now I don't have to feel like I missed something. But what I missed was my private space, and not being mad all the time at something stupid or unthinking. (Saying he was proud of me for doing something simple and stupid, as if that was a lot for me to accomplish.) (Not showing up, and not warning me ahead of time so I could go get my groceries on the bus, rather than having to walk up a steep hill carrying them on the weekend. Made me so mad.)

I'd spent a lot of years alone, getting to the space where I am comfortable with it, and prefer it.

#88 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2014, 10:49 PM:

LGB: *jedihugs* from me too, and I love that term. Everybody has to learn things; you don't just magically know them. Taking control of your financial knowledge is a great step.

#89 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 01:00 AM:

It seems to me that gaslighting/emotional abuse and anxiety have a particularly nasty feedback loop.

#84, LGB: I have also found CA to be a source of clarity for me in many things. There's something about other people's situations seen from the outside, that are more clear about how dysfunctional they are. I've also felt that punch in the gut from reading something on CA, or here in these threads. It's ... not pleasant, but I've learned to look at it as the feeling of gaining something. Knowledge, mostly.

I had been looking forward to learning how to better manage my company, but I ended up feeling like a horrible loser failure who’s doing everything wrong and K must have been right, I just don’t understand these things.

It sounds to me like you aren't a failure, but somebody who is having a pretty strong learned stress reaction that's interfering with learning the subject.

#90 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 01:00 AM:

Server error. Will this shake my post loose?

#91 ::: The_L ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 07:05 AM:

My cousin saw my mom the other day. Apparently, she is heartbroken, and said that she's been "losing me" for years.

This is the exact opposite of what I experienced until the recent blow-up about me cohabitating before marriage. When I first moved out, I felt like I had a better relationship with my mom than ever before. We were friends. We related to each other as adults. It was wonderful.

Hel, 6 days before she said that, we were out together and had a good time. I felt like everything between us was more-or-less normal again.

And the day after I said it, the woman who'd said last year that she wanted to check out Faire some time suddenly responded to "Faire season's started. If you want to meet me here at any point, just let me know," with "No thank you. I don't think it's for me." I would think this had something to do with Jay, but my cousin assures me that Mom's felt this way since well before Jay entered the picture.

See, I can't tell something's wrong if the other person is putting on a brave face and pretending to be happy. If something has been wrong for that long, why hasn't she said anything?

My mother accuses me of being tight-lipped, of never telling her anything. Well, Mom, I kinda had to get that from somewhere.

#92 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 07:25 AM:

Jacque, #41: since that begs the question, "too long for whom?"

Sorry, you've just triggered my Inner Pedant. Despite the presence of the word "beg", this phrase has nothing to do with asking or suggesting; it is a term of art which specifically means "taking the conclusion you want to prove and presenting it as your premise", aka "arguing in a circle". The HOA may be begging the question here, though!

claustrophile, #47: Good for you! May this be a harbinger of good fortune in the future.

The_L, #50: Yeah, that analysis does tend to hit between the eyes. But once you've had a chance to process it, it's also a useful tool for evaluating family interactions.

hope in disguise, #57: Do you mind providing examples of the sexual comments? If you're not comfortable with them, it's a problem under any circumstances, but some circumstances are more likely to be physically dangerous than others, and that could be indicated by the type of comment.

Stopping @84 because I need to go to bed.

#93 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 08:08 AM:

The_L, comparing your @50 to @91 leaves me with the impression that, to your mom, "losing you" = "you developing independence instead of doing and thinking exactly what she wants, or at least making it possible for her to pretend that."

The fact that she didn't say anything about it before doesn't necessarily mean that she was deliberately withholding something from you. She may be retroactively rewriting the story in her head so that glimmers of independence or disagreement, previously part of a narrative in which her influence guided you back on the correct path, are now viewed as early warning signs.

It does seem possible she will eventually adapt to the New Normal, but that's mostly adjustment she has to make for herself. All you can do is hold consistently and honestly to your boundaries.

#94 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 09:48 AM:

The_L @91--So, there's this thing called "empty nest syndrome", where parents (mothers are often more open about it, but I think it can affect either or both parents), go through a certain amount of shock and discombobulation on finding that their children, who have been (or seem to them to have been) one of the main focuses of attention and effort in their lives, grow up and leave. All of a sudden, they (the parents) are no longer "needed", or are needed in entirely different ways than they have been used to for years. It can be a pretty bumpy and stressful time in well-functioning families, but things do generally even out and people adjust to the new reality. But that sense of "losing" one's child is one of the things people experiencing the empty nest situation often talk about.

This may be what your mother is dealing with, and she may be able to adapt and move on to accept the new era before her, because lots of people do. I suspect it's something, given your family circumstances, that you can't take up directly with her with much hope of success, especially given how she feels about your marriage plans. But if that's a part of the problem, time alone may help resolve it; it's not at all uncommon, and most people who go through that manage to adapt and move on to the next part of their lives.

#95 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 11:10 AM:

Thank you for the kind thoughts, all! Various medicines and a weekend of rest and reading and writing helped me a lot. You might like a thing I wrote about the doldrums. I feel a lot more even-keeled right now.

Apropos the Toolbox that started this thread: I'm working on a personal blog post about the models we use to understand the world. Part of the draft:

For each of us, certain clichés are as foundational as the G, A, T, and C in DNA. I ought to really catalogue mine someday, but here's a start. I tell people about the career Venn diagram, or exit, voice, and loyalty, or my rhetorical triangle. We cargo cult, or expand the Overton window, or arbitrage, or decide it's an efficient market. We decide that at least we'll earn some XP, or satisfice or do cognitive load-balancing, or concentrate on our core competence, or try to fix the kyriarchy. I think about that law of user interface, that if you make something 10% easier then twice as many people will do it. I remember
the three skills of adulthood.

As the saying goes, all models are wrong, but some are useful.

Also, That Bad Advice is wow. I read it all the way through, as unstoppingly as how I read Not Always Right/Not Always Working/Not Always Learning.

#96 ::: Sumana Harihareswara, a gnomed one ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 11:11 AM:

It has been some time since a comment of mine was gnomed! A rare honour. Dear gnomes, perhaps you would like a bit of couscous with mushrooms?

#97 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Speaker to Tall People ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 11:35 AM:

I've published Sumana's comment.

It's a lot more difficult to get gnomed now that we have the new spam detection system. You can still manage it with enough links in your comment, as demonstrated above.

Do note that if you don't get the Actual Gnome Message about the Glass and Steel Tower, the Words of Power, and the Threefold Test, (and you haven't had a server error) your comment will actually have gone into the spam bucket (as Bodhisvaha was). In that case, please...wait, let me put this on its own line.

If you are not explicitly told that your comment is in the Gnome Tower, and if there is no server error, please post a "been gnomed" comment immediately.

The reason for this is that if you haven't had a server error and aren't in the moderation queue, you're in the spam sewer. And if I'm going to put the stilts on (waders do not help in this case. It's a height-and-depth thing.) and go looking for it, having a very precise time-frame for my search helps enormously. Those sewers are vast and dark, and though I'll happily go where alligators fear to tread for this community, I'd rather not linger there if I can help it.

#98 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 01:31 PM:

hope in disguise, #85: When I read comments like that one, I always wonder whether the person making the comment is themselves trapped in a severely unhappy relationship, but unwilling to take steps to get out of it because COMMITMENT! (Y'know, like Ekaterin.) And therefore every divorced person they encounter is an uncomfortable reminder that perhaps they have wasted X years of their lives on this when they could have had something better. A similar paradigm applies to people who are extremely hostile about/toward the childfree -- do they see me as having made a decision they wish on some level that they had made? In any case, your response was very good.

old enough, #87: From the examples you give, I don't think that partner was anything to write home about, and if that was your first/only experience of relationships, I'm not surprised that it soured you on the whole concept. In a relationship that's worth having... I won't say that stupid/thoughtless things never occur, because people are human. But they're infrequent, and don't weigh heavily against the good aspects. However, finding a good relationship takes time and effort and is still heavily dependent on being in the right place at the right time to meet someone compatible. And I can't blame you at all for deciding that this isn't what you want to do at this stage of your life.

The_L, #91: Oh, that's forty different kinds of nasty right there. How much do you want to bet that, after pretending to you that everything was okay, she's been complaining to everybody else that you didn't even NOTICE how unhappy she was, and you never do notice, and and and...

This is a variation on Standard Abusers' Trick #1, "treat your victim differently in private than in public, so that no one will believe them when they talk about how you behave to them." It's a little inverted from the more-common version of "nice in public, abusive in private" but she's still putting on a different face for you than she does for everyone else.

OTOH... after reading #94, I am reminded that one of the issues I still struggle with is viewing parental behavior thru a filter of "the enemy". As fidelio points out, it could be due to something much simpler and less actively malicious. As the person on the ground, you're the one best equipped to figure out which is more likely.

Sumana, #95: That's quite a lot of food for thought packed into a very short post! The "exit, voice, and loyalty" triumvirate especially is one I may adopt into my own toolbox.

#99 ::: Wanting some privacy ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 03:01 PM:

I'm pretty stuck. I know a fair amount about what could make me get moving or feel better, and I can't get myself to do any of it. (Yes, I notice the sense of self vs. self, but it doesn't help.)

I don't know whether I'm stuck for any particular reason-- there's nothing extremely obvious-- or whether I'm panicking at the idea of possibly getting better.

Just being able to post this is a slight sign of improvement.

#100 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 03:07 PM:

LGB @84: I just don’t understand these things. Dammit.

Probably no help at all but: This is a thing. An actual, normal thing. The people who handle learning big new stuff well? It's not that they don't feel the anxiety. They've just got tricks to cope with it.

Lee @92: since that begs the question, "too long for whom?" Sorry, you've just triggered my Inner Pedant. Despite the presence of the word "beg", this phrase has nothing to do with asking or suggesting; it is a term of art which specifically means "taking the conclusion you want to prove and presenting it as your premise", aka "arguing in a circle". The HOA may be begging the question here, though!

Sorry, reading that, my brain just fell out, plop. Since I lurvs me some pedantry, too, what would be the correct construction?

#101 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 03:40 PM:

Jacque @100: The pedants would prefer "Asks the question", or "Brings up the question", or "makes me want to ask". The construct you used is, as Lee said, a term of art, or jargon, for a specific named logical fallacy, which you weren't invoking. Using anything else with the meaning you want won't trigger the Inner Pedant, since you aren't invoking the specific name.

I have long since given up being a pedant about such things. "Begs the question" is a poor translation from the original Latin name "petitio principii", and relies on an antiquated use of the word "question" (meaning the thing under discussion) that used today only under similar formal uses ("moving the question" is a parliamentary procedure for ending debate and bringing a motion to a vote, and in this case, the "question" is the motion to be voted on).

Your usage is exceedingly common (to the disgruntlement of pedants), and in modern language makes more sense than the rhetorical jargon meaning. As such, I personally have come to accept it as a better meaning for the phrase, and try to use "circular reasoning" or "assuming the thesis" or "petitio principii" instead of "begging the question" when referring to the fallacy.

#102 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 03:58 PM:

Lee & Buddha: Huh. Learn som'in' new every day!

#103 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 04:11 PM:

Jacque @102: Congratulations, you are one of today's lucky 10,000.

#104 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 05:15 PM:

Buddha: Yeah, no kidding. My family tried valiantly to train me to not ask. ("Jacque, your ignorance is showing.")

I still don't "get it," around the "begging the question" thing,* but at least now I know there's an "it" I don't "get," and I have a vague shape to what it is. And yesterday, I didn't even know it was a thing!

* "Today, I have no brain."

#105 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 05:24 PM:

Wanting some privacy @99: Not a fun place to be, for sure. BT,DT. Do you have some feeling of what you're looking for in posting here? Labels? Suggestions other than your usual repertoire? Plain old sympathy?

If you're wondering about labels, that's a pretty classic symptom of depression; also of burnout, from long-term persistent stress; from my experience, that sense of "I know what I need to do and I can't lift a finger to do it" also has some overlap with the "unfocused" or "inattentive" form of ADD.

I'll hold back on suggestions until I'm sure that they wouldn't be too hlepy. They're all very contingent anyway.

FWIW, I'm not sure I fully believe in the "panicking at getting better" idea, certainly not that it's a common thing, though I've certainly heard it before. Usually IMHO what's going on is either simpler or much more complicated.

#106 ::: The_L ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 06:21 PM:

@#98: I don't view her behavior through an "enemy" lens; quite the reverse. I remember her saying, over and OVER when I was a kid/teen, "I don't know why you keep viewing me as the enemy!" when I was doing no such thing.

@#99: Privacy, I have the same problem a lot. I have the particularly evil triple-threat of ADHD, depression, and chronic anxiety, all of which can contribute to this. It's also often a case of just not having enough spoons, in which case you need to find a re-spooning activity to help you out. Unfortunately, IANApsychiatrist, nor do I know you well enough to give you much in the way of personalized advice. Best of luck giving yourself that metaphorical kick in the pants.

#107 ::: hope in disguise ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 06:29 PM:

Lee @92: there were one or two nonstressful comments, on the fineness of my ass. There was a very worrying comment that amounted to me having teased him by having a nice butt at him in the nude hot tub with seven other people (he may have used the phrase "wiggling that ass in my face" I'm not sure). There was this confusing comment, most recently, which set off the worrying:
Me talking about okcupid: I get a lot of dumb messages, like "lol u look like u give good blowjobs," which I don't reply to.
Him: You do look like you give good blowjobs, though.
When pressed (how can tell?!?) he declared it a joke. It's been going on very very sporadically since December. Another housemate thinks he might be doing a very bad job of trying to make me feel sexy and desired. Which also fits the evidence...

Lee @98: I do hope he's as happy with his wife as he says he is, on the "is a person" principle. And he mostly respectful'd up after that.

#108 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 06:33 PM:

Jacque, #100: Since I was too tired to go a-Googling last night, here is a good definition for "begging the question", with examples. Buddha Buck has provided several good alternatives that won't make people with formal-logic training* twitch**.

* A small proportion of the general populace to be sure, but I would suspect the instance to be higher among the regular commenters here. :-)

** Hearing a character on NUMB3RS who was an actual pedant misuse the phrase made me literally shout at the screen. That was a case of the writers not knowing something the character would have known.

#109 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 07:12 PM:

#99, Wanting some privacy:

I know a fair amount about what could make me get moving or feel better, and I can't get myself to do any of it.

I have found that sometimes, a re-spooning activity that gives me the ability to do the stuff I need or should do gets locked behind guilt at not doing the "shoulds", so I can't use that strategy. I haven't figured out a reliable solution for this one yet.

Unfortunately, sometimes the re-spooning activity takes on too much "should" and then it because a task to avoid as well.

#106, The_L:

I remember her saying, over and OVER when I was a kid/teen, "I don't know why you keep viewing me as the enemy!" when I was doing no such thing.

That suggests that she's the one looking at things with the "enemy" lens.

#110 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 07:27 PM:

Wanting some privacy @99 on knowing what you need to do but not doing it

I am not a poster child for success in this area, having been struggling with it for years. That said, two books I find sporadically helpful are:

Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath, and
Improv Wisdom: Don't Prepare, Just Show Up, by Patricia Ryan Madson

Improv Wisdom, in particular, discusses such helpful maxims as "Start Anywhere" (quit looking for the perfect plan and ideal starting point and jump in) and "Dare to Be Average."

#111 ::: Jeanie ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 08:25 PM:

Tricking self into tasks that eat more spoons avoiding than just doing dept.:

I do them a little at a time. When I've got to do laundry, I'll strip the linen while I'm still in bed and drop the wad of sheets/pillowcases on the floor. Kick it affectionately towards the back stairwell a room at a time as I wander through (apartment's laundry is in basement two floors down). I won't sleep on the mattress pad, so worst case is at least I'll get the other set of sheets on before bedtime.

Refer to list (I'm big on lists) and change out a room or area at a time - towels in bathroom, floor mat by front door. Clothing, lingerie bags. All get dumped in that corner of the kitchen (not visible to clients from my studio).

Sometimes laundry happens within a few hours of the first step. I give myself a window of four days, average two.

I had to convince myself that it was okay to do laundry while I still had clean underwear. Likewise, grocery shopping while I still had milk. Etc.

Second is how to regard the growing lump - "Hey, look at me getting ready for laundry! The kitchen towels and hotpads have been added!"

It's been quite a while since I stressed about maintenance tasks like these. Having cut myself slack where time isn't critical, I don't procrastinate on important stuff where it is.

#112 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 09:22 PM:

The_L, #106: My mother used to do that "why do you treat me like the enemy" thing too, which suggests to me that the trigger for it is "you not wanting to do what she wants".

hope in disguise, #107: Ew. I'd find that pretty skeevy too, unless it was coming from a known and accepted flirt-buddy. As a general rule, overtly sexual comments about the body of a woman who you are not dating is Bad Manners, and any exceptions to this must be made by the woman on a case-by-case basis.

Well, as has been mentioned, the test will be his reaction to you telling him it makes you uncomfortable. If he is actually "trying to make you feel sexy and desired" but doing it poorly, he'll be apologetic (and possibly mortified) and will stop. If he tells you that you're being too sensitive or otherwise refuses to accept that he could be doing something wrong, that's a bad sign.

WRT Mr. "young people are so selfish" -- if he really is happy in his own marriage, then it's probably a failure of empathy. He's never had a problem that would have been a deal-breaker, so he doesn't believe that such a thing exists, so anyone who divorces must be doing so for purely selfish reasons. How does he react to the news that divorce rates have been dropping overall for the past decade?

#113 ::: Quietly Learning To Be Loud ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 11:02 PM:

OtterB @110

Improv Wisdom sounds like it would be a useful book for me. Since "start anywhere" always left me frozen, because I might choose the wrong spot, I found the emergency preparedness maxim to be helpful. "Start where you stand" gives me both guidance and a defense against "why did you start there ?" (Start where you stand. This is where I was standing when I decided to start, so this is where I started. I was amazed that my mother accepted this with no further questions. )

#114 ::: hope in disguise ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 11:36 PM:

Lee @112: yeah. Prof suggested that he might be confused about where the boundaries lie, which I was not expecting to be a line of discussion I was going to be okay with but then it was, actually, okay. The environment in which he exists is very different from the one in which he previously existed despite having several similar people (previous environment being one that same professor described as "alcoholic bootcamp"...) so the boundaries are ill-defined and I come from yet a different microcosm of culture.

I think Marriage Gent might not know that, or might not care:

the current statistics state that ALL marriages (which are supposedly based on some form of love) end in divorce, I've never seen a breakdown of the length of those that end in divorce. My guess would be the majority would be 20 years or shorter
He might attribute it to a reduction in the number of marriages. At any rate it's not worth going back.

I just figured out today that my mother was raised with Strict Father/Inherited Obligations morality, then spent the first 11 years of my life drinking, then clashed with me in my teens over the fact that I hadn't absorbed the authoritarian "children automatically respect their parents" message. It makes so much more sense now.

OtterB @110, maybe I should investigate that Improv Wisdom book. Though I might get similar value out of doing enough contact improv (I'm bad at physical contact, I'm bad at improv, let's do this thing... It is actually really nice though when I'm comfortable with the people)

#115 ::: Bodhisvaha ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 12:27 AM:

hope in disguise @107: I like Lee's advice here in #112. It may be a solution and it ought to work as a diagnostic, especially on someone who might not have the experience and social skills to have thought through what these comments might sound like from the other end.

#116 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 12:44 AM:

Well I seem to be into the "anger" phase of grief. At some point since I posted last week about the urge to explain to the ex, the tone of those explanations/model conversations in my head changed. Now there's a lot more lashing out, deliberate hurtfulness in those explanations. Definitely a time to not contact him.

One of the things that's in my head that wants to be explained (or maybe used as an attack) came from Captain Awkward a couple of weeks ago: "It’s a horrible feeling when people have to walk on eggshells around you and you know it, and it’s made worse when you know the only reason they’re not calling you on your shit is because they think of you as a headcase who can’t handle being treated like an adult human being."

He said that he was afraid to say anything about me telling him too much because it might hurt me. He said he was afraid to tell me I was overreacting. (To which I told him to *ask* why such a strong reaction instead of *telling* me it was inappropriately strong - but he didn't do that either.)

And now that's been added to my list of reasons to be suspicious of people trying to have a relationship with me. I thought it was bad enough that I was worried (based on past experience) that a guy would stop paying attention to me as soon as he'd "caught" me. Now I also have to worry that a guy is going to earn my trust then dump me and tell me I'm too broken for him to handle. Oh yay. I get to be the "don't touch me and I won't tell you anything personal" person in a relationship.

You know, despite the fact that I'm not done with the grief thing yet, even if he did want to try again I don't know if I could trust him again. Or maybe that's the "it's never going to change" part of hopelessness, and it would be possible for me to trust him again, if he demonstrated that he was trustworthy. (How? I don't know what to look for.)

Is it weird to simultaneously feel the hurt and anger, and stand back and observe and comment on your own emotional responses? I don't know if I've heard anybody talking about that split before. It's almost like there's two versions of me, and one of them isn't feeling the emotions, just watching them. Is that normal?

#117 ::: Jeanie ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 01:46 AM:

...two versions of me, and one of them isn't feeling the emotions, just watching them. Is that normal?

Leaving aside "normal", oh, yeah. Hardest is when they dispassionately watch me fouling up and make acid comments.

#118 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 03:04 AM:

I think people need a kitten chaser: or in this case a cat-and-squirrel chaser (apparently the squirrel was rescued, grew up around the cat, and has come back a year on to say hi to the cat).

#119 ::: LGB ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 03:05 AM:

I’ve been thinking some more about why last weekend’s tax class was so unexpectedly upsetting and surprise, surprise: there are layers. There are probably more layers that I haven’t excavated yet, but here are several that I’ve managed to identify.

The most obvious one is that I discovered just how much I don’t know about running my business and saw that there are a lot of things I’ve been doing badly without even knowing it! And I hate being sloppy. Hate. It. I have a well-trained default response, which is to be angry at myself for not already knowing the things I don’t yet know. Thanks, hope in disguise, Silence, B. Durbin, the invisible one, and Jacque for your encouragement and gentle help reframing the problem. It’s not an I’m-an-idiot problem; it’s an I-haven’t-learned-this-yet problem...and attending a class is a step on the way to solving that kind of problem. I’d love to see things I don’t know more like this xkcd, but retraining my brain is a gradual process. I appreciate the nudges in that direction.

Another layer is some kind of learned helplessness about all things business. Somewhere along the line, I must have absorbed the idea that business, finance, and all related topics belonged exclusively to K and I Just Didn’t Get It. I don’t know when—I don’t remember feeling anxious about managing money when I was in college or when I moved out of my parents’ house—but it certainly causes a lot of anxiety now. And then I get angry at myself for picking up such damaging thought patterns, which isn’t actually helpful. Oh, the invisible one, the thing you mentioned about feeling your feelings and simultaneously observing them? You’re definitely not the only one.

The third layer consists mostly of FURIOUS ANGER at K. If, as he says, he’s a great expert in business and management and finance, and if (I think I need to make this assumption explicit) he wanted me to be successful, then why the f*%# didn’t he help me set up my business in a more organized and streamlined and businesslike way?! (I keep running into HUGE THINGS in my marriage that make no sense, but that somehow I somehow never noticed. How did I miss so many things? Why did I fall for so many really stupid ideas? Why can I NOW see clear patterns running through the whole relationship that used to be invisible to me?) Did he not know? Did he not care? Was my “cute little” job just not worth taking seriously or investing any time and thought into? Huh. I guess there’s a nontrivial amount of sadness mixed with that rage. Good to know.

On the other hand, I had choices and made decisions along the way, too. I could have approached my business differently and taken it more seriously myself. It would have been hard, but I suppose it was really my responsibility and I haven’t done a very good job with it so far.

Well. What was the line about advice requiring the use of a time machine? I guess I can only make decisions starting now. I’m trying to make better ones (much easier now that I’m allowed to treat myself and my ideas as if they matter!) and I think I’m moving—slowly—in the right direction. I hope so, anyway. Thank you all for your thoughts and support.

#120 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 06:31 AM:

the invisible one #116: Is it weird to simultaneously feel the hurt and anger, and stand back and observe and comment on your own emotional responses? I don't know if I've heard anybody talking about that split before. It's almost like there's two versions of me, and one of them isn't feeling the emotions, just watching them. Is that normal?

Not at all weird, that's (mild) "dissociation", a natural defense mechanism against overwhelming situations.

#121 ::: Merricat ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 07:47 AM:

invisible @116:

I do the same thing, both when I'm upset and on a regular basis, and I like Terry Pratchett's framing of it:

"As a witch, Tiffany possesses First Sight, the ability to see 'what is really there' (as opposed to Second sight, which shows people what they think ought to be there). She also possesses Second Thoughts, which are defined as 'the thoughts you think about the way you think'. Whilst other witches are said to have this trait as well, Tiffany also recognizes some of her thoughts as Third Thoughts, (the thoughts you think about the way you think about the way you think,) and Fourth Thoughts, (the thoughts you think about the way you think about the way you think about the way you think.) All these thoughts sometimes cause Tiffany to walk into door frames."

(Note to self: There are things in both #116 and #119 that resonated with me, and I want to come back to them when I have a chance.)

#122 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 10:44 AM:

LGB @119: Thank you for the XKCD link. It is awesome - and good to remember. :) Especially when I'm feeling dumb.

I think I understand a bit of the rage/grief you're feeling toward your ex about the business stuff. He's an expert in it but didn't think you or your skills worth his time/effort/thought (or alternately, worse explanations...) Certainly, it's resonated with something I've recently somewhat resolved. (feel free to skip to the end of this (So, net), because a lot of it is processing through my own crap and only tangentially related to your situation)

I've been processing through why I've felt so incompetent as a teacher for so long, even though it's my passion (and my career). In my case, Mom didn't intend to cut me down, it's just her lifelong behaviour patterns and blindness to her effect on others that caused a lot of damage. Her entire family needs to feel superior to other people to feel good about themselves, and this was reflected in her constantly criticizing other teachers (at home, never to their faces, and never to colleagues) for Doin It Rong. If you're not doing it Mom's way, you're Doin it Rong.

Now Mom was an elementary school teacher for 30-odd years. Her way of teaching/class prep/etc. was exhausting and time-consuming and involved a lot of reinventing the wheel. But I felt lazy for not wanting to reinvent the wheel. And add to that, lot of the advice she gave me about how to be a better teacher went directly against what she herself did (and considered to be Good Teaching Practice).

Because another of her problems is she lives in fear. Not that she'll acknowledge it, but she's a very fearful person. And the worst thing you can do is to damage your reputation. (i.e. she once told me to take down a blog entry where I criticized the current prime minister for cutting science funding - called him an idiot, specifically - because leaving it up could result in me not being able to get an academic job) And once I told her how important student evaluations are, all of a sudden she's all about getting better student evaluations (which basically means giving everyone good marks whether they deserve it or not) and not good teaching.

So, net, through her own behaviour and in some cases through epically bad advice (which fortunately I knew enough to ignore), she left me with the idea that she's the expert and ultimate teacher, and because I won't do things her way I'm lazy and a bad teacher. (in her favour, she'd be horrified if I told her this - she's very good at doublethink and compartmentalizes what she's doing) The reason I mention this here is that you may consider whether K was actually awesome at business, or if he was just convinced he was - or even just that he was good at business, but thought he had the One True Way of being good at it. On top of all the toxicity of your relationship which I am SO GLAD you escaped.

The other reason for my mentioning this is that as I've learned that Mom did not in fact have the One True Way of teaching, and in fact her way was often inefficient and unnecessarily work intensive and in some cases wrong, I've been able to recognize my own skills - and learn new ones, which was incredibly hard when I was hating myself for being incompetent.

Be kind to yourself. Be patient with yourself. Come here and vent/rant/cry as often as you need to. Because it can get better. And we're here to listen.

#123 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 10:47 AM:

A note regarding what I was talking about in #122: Mom was an elementary teacher, and I teach at the university level. Another problem we had was that she couldn't see the functional differences between the two, at the level of discussion we had anyhow.

#124 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 11:20 AM:

the invisible one @116, that's actually one of the desirable outcomes of a regular meditation practice, that an observer-you learns to recognize and name your emotions without being swept up in them.

LGB @119 You are doing the unpacking that you had to be out of the relationship in order to have the time and brain-space to do. I think you've hit the nail on the head that if K was the business expert he claims to be, and if he took your work seriously, and if he wanted you to succeed, he would have helped you set things up better. And that, therefore, at least one of those "ifs" is not as true as you once believed.

Re taking a less judgmental stance toward yourself in the learning process, I recommend, with some hesitation, a book called The Practicing Mind, by Thomas Sterner. The hesitation is because I haven't found this book quite as helpful as the others I mentioned upthread - it doesn't quite connect with me where I am - but I think it has a valuable message. One of the author's points is that becoming skilled at anything (music, sports, parenting, etc.) requires practice, and that your practice is more effective if, instead of beating yourself up over perceived failures, you take a more dispassionate attitude and recognize the gap between your current performance and your desired performance and work to close it.

#125 ::: hope in disguise ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 12:02 PM:

Bodhisava @115, yeah, that's probably where I'm going with it, when I have a convenient escape route.

the invisible one @116, observing one's own emotions: I just had the odd experience of observing my brain moving into (and then out of) a state in which, in the past, I have been entirely overcome with the urge toward physical destruction (of other things). So that was interesting, and new. And disconcerting. (The more I read about medieval Christianity, the angrier it makes me, apparently)

LGB @119, good luck

#126 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 12:20 PM:

#117, Jeanie:

Hardest is when they dispassionately watch me fouling up and make acid comments.

I've never figured out why I can't stop myself and take the advice of the watcher.

#119, LGB:

It’s not an I’m-an-idiot problem; it’s an I-haven’t-learned-this-yet problem.

Very few things are an I'm-an-idiot problem.

Many things can feel as if they are.

Why can I NOW see clear patterns running through the whole relationship that used to be invisible to me?

Because when you're in the middle of the pattern, you can see only the local view. Only when you step outside, can you see the true pattern. It takes some pretty impressive pattern-modelling skills to see the true pattern from inside.

Look up at the stars. Do you see a spiral galaxy?

I could have approached my business differently and taken it more seriously myself.

(much easier now that I’m allowed to treat myself and my ideas as if they matter!)

I just wanted to put those two statements side by side.

Jeanie, Dave Harmon, Merricat, OtterB, hope in disguise: Thanks. This is the one place where I can ask about stuff that isn't talked about in public and thus makes me wonder if I'm crazy or broken, and find out that not only am I not alone, it has a name.

I wonder when I learned to meditate. Apparently I can control my brain activity pretty well too; my local science centre for kids has a brain-wave reading thing set up as a little competition. You put a thing on your head and compete in who can calm their brain the most. It moves a little ball away from you and toward the other person if your brainwaves are "calmer". I won easily.

#127 ::: CZEdwards ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 01:18 PM:

LGB @84 & 119: yep, I recognized the shape of that relationship, too. One of my parents did/does that, and a now long-ago ex who is ex for that reason among others. That ultra-rationalist gaslighting BS is so insidious and so undermining. One of my mantras for dealing with that is a quote from VNV Nation: I cannot turn my feelings down beyond my means to turn my thoughts around. People who prefer not to comprehend that emotions have a neurochemical basis and it takes time to reverse from an open tap of epinephrine are, in my opinion, being disingenuous, since in my experience, they can be just as impervious to my logic as I am to theirs.

Re your STBX and the financials always coming out in zir favor: there's a scene from Heinlein, IIRC (To Sail Beyond The Sunset, I think) where the protagonist is going through a divorce and division and partner B makes up the division in such a way that he gets the goodies. So partner A says she wants his list. In typical Heinlein fashion, it goes much easier for the protagonist than in Real Life, but the point is still valid. If, as he says, the division is actually equitable, he won't mind taking either List A or List B. (It's also a place to use the ultra-rationalist gaslighting BS as jujitsu -- something as neutral as a division of property or accounting shouldn't have anything as messy as emotion attached, right?)

Personally, I think it's reasonable to think the worst of a STBX during the division and separation phase because it's a necessary counterweight to the emotional habit of thinking the best or giving the benefit of doubt. In that phase, the partnership has become adversarial, and even in the most generous and amicable breakups*, the separating partners are relearning to be their own advocates and to learn that they no longer have the other person as their advocate. After the dust settles and the courts rule, then the old habits can be revived to an extent.

I'm glad you're angry at the way he didn't share the benefit of his actual expertise (or Dunning-Krueger'ed his expertise). That's a betrayal of his faith in you and your abilities and diminishing of his view of your importance. I'd be really annoyed if my software security artist partner turned out to be bit-torrenting my backup drives instead of locking them down, or even just relying on security through obscurity rather than the security in depth he tells me we have.

Also, there are multiple ways to manage one's business economy, as long as the books balance. Cash flow, credit, annual reconciliation, monthly reconciliation -- they're all valid models and there is no One True Way for all businesses. (I'm an accountant's kid -- small purchase, cash-based businesses with daily receipts use a far different system than bid and contract, which is nothing like a large scale corporate environment.)

Personally, I'm in the same place with taking over full management of the farm. I understand household/small department economies, but the business side of farming was outside of my area. The book I've been using (and applying to other aspects) is Fearless Farm Finance by the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES). I find it an excellent basis for understanding cash flow, data collection and analysis, investment, working capital and labor. I wish they had a whole series of small business manuals, because they've got good writers and advice. I know I'm not expert yet, and that the first couple of years will require a secondary check over my shoulder (this is what my mom, the accountant, is doing). You may have to pay for expertise, depending on your area, but you're also taking classes. (I don't have the option of classes, because I live in a place where farming means dry land range and irrigated agriculture, but the farm I'm managing is Midwestern lowland with very little pasture/range and no irrigation. They're such completely different systems that even the business overlap is minimal.) This stuff can't be downloaded into your brain -- it takes practice and external check-summing of your skills as they develop. Don't forget that the default state of learning is confusion.

*AKA unicorn divorces.

#128 ::: Jeanie ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 01:23 PM:

People who prefer not to comprehend that emotions have a neurochemical basis and it takes time to reverse from an open tap of epinephrine are, in my opinion, being disingenuous, since in my experience, they can be just as impervious to my logic as I am to theirs.

Amen, sister. Repeated because it bears repeating.

#129 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 01:40 PM:

CZEdwards @127: Don't forget that the default state of learning is confusion.

Oh, ghods. If only somebody had told me this forty years ago. (Of course, I would still have head to identify what confusion felt like, but still.)

#130 ::: Anon4Now ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 03:13 PM:


I mowed the lawn again on Saturday. I took many photographs before and after mowing, both wide shots of the yard as a whole and close-up shots of the grass in several spots around the yard with a measuring tape showing its actual length. The wide shots look almost identical before and after, but the close-up shots do make it apparent that mowing actually happened (because I set the mower to its lowest blade height).

I sent the photos to the management company by e-mail, with a dispassionately reasoned argument that the "before" and "after" photos show almost no difference, nor do they show any visible difference from the management company's own photos from December and January inspections; therefore I believe that the grass height was not in violation in December and January; therefore I request removal of the daily fines from my account.

At the moment, I have received an e-mail from them saying essentially "It seems to be fine now, just make sure to keep it mowed when it starts to grow again." No clear answer on the fines. I'll ask again. I think the HOA board has to make a decision about the fines.

I'm cautiously hoping for the best, though.

I'm happy that I was able to get out of the spiral of self-hatred and despair, and actually argue/advocate on my own behalf. Having you guys here as a reality check helped with that. ("Wait, how did they miss the December mowing? That's not okay, they can't just pretend like that didn't happen. I did mow it, and if they couldn't tell that I mowed it, doesn't that imply that it probably didn't really need to be mowed in the first place? In which case, why were they fining me?")

#131 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 03:42 PM:

Anon4Now @130, yay! Congrats on getting yourself out of the downward spiral, and on putting together a fact-based and dispassionate argument. Wishing good outcomes on the fine, as well.

#132 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 04:31 PM:

OtterB, #124: Another important thing to consider about practicing stuff is that it takes longer to do something while you're still learning it than it will take you once you've mastered the skill.

Some years back, I was listening to my partner's daughter practicing piano pieces -- and she was trying to play them at speed and making the same errors over and over again. She was practicing playing it wrong, because apparently the teacher at school had never told her that the way to start was by playing it slowly enough to be accurate and then working on picking up speed. That was about muscle memory, but the same principle applies to mental skills. Strive for accuracy first; speed will come later.

CZEdwards, #127: My now-ex and I managed a divorce with no argument over the distribution of property and no screaming matches in general, and without my having to think of him as "the enemy" or think the worst of him. This may be uncommon, but I think that describing it as a "unicorn divorce" (i.e. a thing that does not exist) is telling me that either something was wrong with the way we did it, or that I don't exist.

Anon4Now, #130: Good for you!

#133 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 04:53 PM:

Anon4Now: Yayyy!! I particularly like your summary in parens in the last paragraph.

Lee: Or, she could be saying that this sort of divorce is a very happy thing, devoutly to be desired, but far too rare in occurrence. That's how I read it.

#134 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 07:37 PM:

Words of wisdom encountered elseNet:

"Even if the problem is real, Depression's opinions about it are all lies."

#135 ::: claustrophile ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 09:04 PM:

Adding to the conversation about learning new things, a post about how 'stupidity' isn't a particularly coherent concept:

(The author also has a cool/potentially very useful article about the hierarchy of requests at the top of her unlocked posts, but I'm not going to link it here for fear of the gnomes).

#136 ::: old enough to know better but still learning ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 11:22 PM:

Lee #98 Thanks. I had had some relationships when I was younger, in graduate school. But after I failed at that and moved to California, nothing for 25 years. Not consciously deliberate on my part. But I adapted. (Definitely not in the right place - but the place was a head-space.)

And in fairness to my former friend, I should say that that (#87) was not all there was to it, just some of the most annoying part.

invisible one #126
Very few things are an I'm-an-idiot problem.
Many things can feel as if they are.

Once upon a time, my little brother told me I wasn't as smart as a milk carton. (He denies it.) I was 18, he was 8 (approx).
You know those cartons which are sometimes marked on the wrong side, and don't come open? I knew it wasn't true, but that is the way it feels!

#137 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 11:29 PM:

#135, claustrophile:

That is an amazing post. Yeah, one bug = many related mistakes.

The hierarchy of requests though. Also very good, and from it:

people can easily blur the line between [asking rudely] and [asking politely] -- that is, accuse you of asking rudely because you were low-status enough to have to ask at all

This has tentacles into so many places.

#138 ::: Wanting some privacy ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2014, 01:03 AM:

#105 ::: Clifton:

As for what I wanted, to some large extent I wanted to break a logjam by saying what was going on, or at least some fraction of what was going on.

I'd lost the motivation to poke around in my head, and that loss was really spooking me.

Very tentative theory: An obvious new thing was that I was experimenting with combining constructive relaxation (lying on your back with your knees up-- has a good reputation for relaxation in general and relaxing the psoas* in particular) and palming (putting my hands over my eyes-- reputed to improve vision and definitely causes deep relaxation). Both get recommendations for twenty minutes a day. Why not combine them? I'd done the combination three or four times, and gotten up to about seventeen minutes on the last one.

I'm feeling better. I'm going to give the combination one more chance, since getting so knocked out might have been a coincidence. Tentative hypothesis-- maybe the combination lowered anxiety a lot without opening up any energy for motivation.

#106 ::: The_L and #109 ::: the invisible one:

I'm not sure whether exercise is a crucial re-spooning activity for me, but it's definitely entangled with shoulds, fear, and fury. This is a shame, because some moderate exercise makes me feel better.

As nearly as I can tell, I ran afoul of some human potential stuff which arguably wasn't as good as it needed to be and certainly hit me hard on a sore spot which I didn't know I had. (I'm not naming the human potential stuff because the person promulgating it has cleaned up his act considerably. However, I don't seem to be able to get it completely off my mind, even though I don't obsess about it as much as I used to.)

The way I heard it, people prove they aren't fucked by being in a loving sexual relationship. Women, especially, prove they aren't fucked up by being attractive-- that is, not fat. That's how they succeed in getting a good deal in the Beauty for Power courting marketplace.

Unfortunately, I've never been in a sexual relationship, probably as a result of early abuse. (I don't have specific memories, but it would explain a lot.) "Who you're with is who you are"-- guess I don't exist.

And I do have what seem to be reflexes around more energy=more risk, and it kicks in at fairly low amounts of energy.

#111 ::: Jeanie

Sometimes I can do the tiny increments thing, and sometimes I really do seem to just want don't-do-much-of-anytning mode.

#118 ::: dcb :

Cat and squirrel chaser was appreciated.

#119 ::: LGB

I frequently expect myself to just know how to get things right. The first time. Without effort.

This is a problem, and (with the usual perversity of such things) only responds to being undone patiently. I actually have made some progress. I don't know whether it's possible to make the whole thing go away.

From another angle-- there are three people in my social circle who've talked to me about mysterious lack of practical support from their parents, generally combined with high expectations. This doesn't exist by itself-- there were other indications of hostility.

*a muscle connecting the lower spine and the top of the thigh. Important for a lot of common movements and reputed to be a place where trauma gets stored as tension. The only muscle I know has whole books written about it.

#139 ::: CZEdwards ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2014, 02:12 AM:

Lee @ 132: I am sorry I appeared to say your experience was somehow wrong or impossible; my failure there so my apologies. Jacque's definition is closer to the effective term of art from which my usage derives. (It was a community, contemporary usage from "Hear hoof beats, expect horses, not unicorns." It may have been a pre-internet regionalism or unique to that specific community group. I've used the expression since, and it is generally understood, but I don't know if it exists in communities before me.)

I learned the term in a divorce mediation group in which I interned. It was a handful of couples who were going through more or less amiable separations, at least amicable enough that they could be in the same room with other parting couples in the same headspace. There was one couple who were having a Great Divorce and making everyone else feel like they were failing Divorce by having (reasonable, expected) conflicts over $Issue. These two unintentionally set an unrealistically high expectation curve, and were only in the group because at the time, some sort of co-parenting classes/therapy were mandatory.

The lead counsellor used unicorn to convey how exceptional that couple were by maintaining their communication and shared trust despite their differences, that they were the best possible outcome, akin to the disclaimers on the then current fad weight loss commercials (I.e. "Results not typical") and while admirable, not great role models when the point of the workshop was to provide separating couples with tools to effectively disagree and negotiate without escalation. Also, how expecting perfection set everyone up for failure, and how having a Horse Divorce (the workshop term for a cool but cordial parting) or a Zebra (a grumpy but effective one) or a Nightmare (self-explanatory) is not failure, but just a different mode of accomplishing a sizable task in a complicated system. (Divorce failure was defined as either staying miserably together and perpetuating the modes that brought them into court in the first place, or perpetuating the failure modes after separation.) (No, this was not the most strained metaphor in that workshop. It was the same timeframe as Mars and Venus, Clarissa Pinkola Estes, William Carlos Williams and Joseph Campbell, during the transition from post-Jungian and the analysis model to the Cognitive Behavioral model, and the workshop champion was trying to market zir book and system...)

However, I in no way stated or implied that a divorce required screaming matches or high emotional conflict. Being one's own advocate, defending one's own rights to an equitable parting and division, and maintaining a reasonable skepticism with regards to a soon to be ex's motivations does not require -- should not need -- anything remotely related to verbal violence. Emotional counter weighting is not the same as emotional abuse. I'm very sorry if that's been your experience.

#140 ::: The_L ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2014, 07:54 AM:

@Chickadee #122: My mother had the same thing about reputation. She only abandons it when it comes up against her deep-held morals. Which means that if it's morally neutral, but could harm your reputation (in her eyes), you'd better not do it or you will be Shamed for Doin It Rong.

@Jacque #129: I know, right? I was trained to think that confusion was for Other People. :(

@Privacy, #138: "Who you're with" doesn't have to be in a romantic/sexul context. It can also mean your closest friends, and a true friend likes you for your heart and mind, NOT for your body so much.

As for the expectation to "just get it right the first time," I am still struggling to overcome that myself. But yes, parents who don't give much in the way of practical support and have high expectations (is it just me, or is this a facet of Military Parent Syndrome as well?) make it hard to remember that you're supposed to make mistakes early on, otherwise you couldn't learn.

@everyone: One of the wonderful things about this thread is how it helps us to see our own progress. Remember, your emotional situation is improving, slowly but surely. Sometimes we have setbacks, but the arc of recovery, though long, bends toward happiness. (With apologies to MLK.)

#141 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2014, 10:33 AM:

CZEdwards, #139: Thank you for the detailed explanation. I hadn't encountered the term at all prior to this, so for me it was resonating with phrases like, "And I'd like a sparkly pink unicorn while I'm at it."

In terms of your descriptions, I would say my divorce was somewhere between Horse and Unicorn. There was some angst, but neither of us wanted to hurt the other one, and (perhaps more importantly) we'd just seen one of our friends go thru the Divorce From Hell and were both determined not to inflict another one of those on our social circle. My mantra during that period was, "You can't keep someone who doesn't want to stay; the best option you have left is to let go gracefully."

The_L, #140: That sounds as if your parents were operating on the Yoda model: "Do, or do not. There is no try." (And yes, I think it's very likely that the military mindset contributes to this.) As a counter to that, I offer an axiom from the engineering world: "If you can't make a mistake, you can't make anything."

#142 ::: Wanting some privacy ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2014, 10:51 AM:

One of the people I know who suffered from mysterious lack of support has a military background.

He was very grateful to a therapist who pointed him at some material (I'll see if I can get the link again) about specific psychological issues that people from military backgrounds have, not to mention that military (probably specific branches of national services) should be counted as a subculture.

#143 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2014, 11:25 AM:

135: Gah!! Aghhgh! (My head just exploded.)

In fact, wrong notes always have a cause. An immediate physical cause. Just before you play a wrong note, your fingers were in a position that made that wrong note inevitable.

You ever have the overwhelming urge to run back in time and try an old experience with a new insight? (Actually, it's an insight I already had in my toolkit, it just never occurred to me to apply it to that context.)

My first encounter with this idea was the NLP spelling strategy. Which, unlike the "rules" my mother and brother tried to impose on me, actually, you know, works.

See also: thisthisthisthisthis!! ::hops up and down::

#144 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2014, 12:58 PM:

the invisible one @137: A commenter on that post offered up this example of Stage 3.

#145 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2014, 02:23 PM:

#144, Jacque:

Polite and direct at the same time :)

#146 ::: Quietly Learning To Be Loud ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2014, 03:39 PM:

Lee @141
an axiom from the engineering world: "If you can't make a mistake, you can't make anything." 

THIS! Oh This! *sound of mind resonating to deep gong*
This so replaces the needlecraft version: "if you don't rip it out at least once, it's not real." That's still useful, but I didn't have an equivalent for non-needlecrafts. Thank you. Per xkcd, I am one of the lucky 10,000 today.

#147 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2014, 05:09 PM:

Re: learning (triggered by Lee @132 re. piano playing). I only realised (or could only articulate) in my 30s that the reason my piano playing never advanced as a small child (given up on by age seven) was that I couldn't read music properly (I played by ear, pattern, and memorisation, until I got lost, then had problems).

People who know how to do something often forget that there is some really basic stuff you need in order to do the more advanced stuff. Experts, teaching their subject, sometimes don't consider that there may be a basic building block missing. This can make things very hard for the student, who doesn't know why they are finding it difficult. And even harder if they are being told they "ought" to be able to do/understand this.

My mother still doesn't believe me when I tell her. "Of course you could read music!" she says...

#148 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2014, 08:39 AM:

dcb @147--Have some anecdata for a comparison point!

When I was taking piano lessons as a child, my teacher also had three siblings as students; the youngest was five, and my teacher took her on when she started playing the material from her older brother's and sister's lessons by ear.

She could play anything she'd heard, at first within certain limits of difficulty, but she had a horrible time learning to read music--and part of it was she didn't feel a strong need to make the effort, because once she'd made it through a piece (however badly), she had no trouble playing it again, and again, and again without difficulty. My teacher said it was, in her experience, very easy to overlook that a student like that who didn't read music, or didn't read it well, was deficient in that area, because the skill with which they played by ear could fool you if you weren't careful to pay attention to their sight-reading.

So it happens, and if the teacher isn't vigilant about checking their students' sight-reading, it can be pretty hard to catch the problem.

#149 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2014, 12:03 PM:

I think I could have very easily ended up as a hear-and-memorize music person if my music teacher hadn't made sure sight reading was an important part of my lessons right from the start.

I can read music pretty well because of that, but I struggle with getting it to sound right until I hear it played properly once, at which point it snaps into focus. Then it's mostly a matter of bringing my fingers' skill up to what my brain knows it should be.

"Hearing it played properly" can be a memory of having heard the song before I ever saw the sheet music; I detected an error in sheet music that way! (It was, however, such a ridiculous error that I don't know how it got through the publishing and editing process without somebody saying "hey wait a minute...")

#150 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2014, 04:04 PM:

@piano: I took piano lessons when I was a kid. I can decypher sheet music; wouldn't go so far as to say I can read it. But I got bored after a year and quit. Wasn't until decades later that I realized that what I wanted to learn was how to play by ear.

#151 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2014, 06:11 PM:

fidelio @148: thank you! SO nice to know I was not the only one. I think it honestly didn't occur to anyone that I wasn't actually reading the music properly ("okay, start at D then up one, down two, up three", rather than "D, E, C, F", as it were). Of course, admitting I couln't read it properly would have let to tut-tutting/scorn and extremely boring practice, so it's no wonder I didn't say anything (assuming I realised that it was holding me back). I do regret not being able to play the piano, just for fun, now.

#152 ::: The_L ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2014, 06:29 PM:

I took piano lessons for 12 years. I miss it. I just haven't practiced in ages, though, so I have to re-learn everything except the sight-reading parts.

#153 ::: hope in disguise ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2014, 08:32 PM:

@me, above: I just had the odd experience of observing my brain moving into (and then out of) a state in which, in the past, I have been entirely overcome with the urge toward physical destruction (of other things)

So as it turns out I hadn't actually moved out of that state, and spent most of the rest of the day feeling like wrecking things. Went to sleep around 6:30, slept six hours. Had a relatively good day but became thoroughly exhausted by evening; cooked dinner somehow. Then a friend messaged me to say that everything felt unbearable and I stayed messaging with her long enough to be pretty sure she was safe to leave alone. So today was a day of mental and emotional exhaustion: I missed my first class, was sort of functional during my second by virtue of raising welts on my skin with my house key, and didn't go to fight practice because I would have wound up bursting into tears of frustration and incompetence halfway into my third bout. fraaaagh.

Gonna go to bed soon and hope things get better tomorrow, but I won't get to see my favorite professor and that's sad, and I have a lot of work to do that I hope can get done in the time between waking up and class. And such and thus and yeah. I don't know what's stressing me so massively, but something clearly is.

#154 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2014, 08:37 PM:

hope in disguise @ 153

Reading; witnessing; another person who uses pain to get through when I'm all out of cope.

#155 ::: Mercury Capsule ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2014, 02:44 PM:

#137 theinvisibleone

Good point on the boundaries of [asking rudely] and [asking politely] and how they can be so status-dependent.

Another sneaky thing about [asking politely] is that its format provides an easy out for persons of higher status to ignore the request if they like, and if called upon it, claim that the person making the request did not state it clearly enough -- and when the person of lower status makes the request more clearly and unmistakably, accuse them of [asking rudely], because the higher-status person has now been forced to acknowledge that a request has been made.

Right now I'm having some problem with a family member who can't seem to understand and accept that no, I'm not absolutely fascinated with something simply because they are, and really don't want to listen to them tell me about it in great length. At first I thought this individual was simply tone deaf, unable to hear the difference between the "that's nice" that shows genuine interest and the "that's nice" that shows polite indifference (I myself have gotten in trouble for not being able to hear the difference between the "well done" that means "keep doing it" and the "well done" that means "that's enough," especially when I want to hear the former). So I tried to make my lack of interest more clear, only to be met with annoyance and outright determination to hold my attention down squirming and kicking until I hear them out.

It's a small thing, in comparison to the sorts of things a lot of people are experiencing, but the continual grit-in-the-gears annoyance of dealing with it, of being unable to close an unwelcome conversation because my conversation closers are ignored, is wearying. There are a lot of times when I'd really like to keep my headspace uncluttered, and am trying to signal that I really don't want to hear about it (whether it's a spoiler for a book I want to read or simply yammer-yammer about some online game I'd be hard-pressed to care less about), but when I try to indicate lack of interest in hearing about it, this person Just Keeps On Talking, until I get to the point of demanding that they shut up, now, and we end up having a big argument about it. Which means that my headspace is now so full of anger and frustration that it's just as bad as having it full of whatever the other person was going on and on about.

Just to make things even more frustrating, several friends kept giving me advice about using conversation closers to end unwelcome discussions. I couldn't get across that this individual ignored all normal social conversational closers, and would determinedly continue an unwelcome discussion until they were ready to be done talking about it. These friends just kept telling me variations on UR DOIN IT RONG, and that if I'd just issue a conversation closer properly, it would work.

I don't know how much of the problem is social cluelessness (literal inability to comprehend that their being interested in something doesn't automatically make me just as fascinated) and how much is a status/entitlement issue. But I do know that it is very frustrating to have to listen to stuff I find boring, and have all my indicators that I'd like the conversation to end ignored.

#156 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2014, 07:08 PM:

Mercury Capsule @155: annoyance and outright determination to hold my attention down squirming and kicking until I hear them out. It's a small thing,

Except, here again, it's about consent. When considered as one end of a spectrum the other end of which is rape, it takes on a different flavor, no?

(I'm beginning to conclude that "consent" is at the core of far more dysfunction than we're generally conscious of, and that more than just male/female relations will be improved by better attention to this issue.)

Just Keeps On Talking, until I get to the point of demanding that they shut up

I've been reading a lot of Captain Awkward lately, and I think she's covered this one. Short version: you are entirely within your rights to say, "STOP. NOW." And if they don't, to get up and walk away. If the miscreant (or any bystanders) get bent out of shape about this response, they are the ones who are being rude.

#157 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2014, 07:56 PM:

Mercury Capsule, #155: My partner will occasionally go on a verbal tear about something that bores me to tears. My drop-dead solution (because it is very blunt and easy to perceive as rude) is to say, "I'm really not interested in a 20-minute lecture about [topic X]*". This may or may not have the effect of sending him into a fit of the sulks, but at least then he isn't talking about it any more.

* The last time this happened, it was something about the history of the Miami public school system. Oy.

#158 ::: LGB ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2014, 08:57 PM:

Today I finally called an attorney to help me with my divorce. I've had his number for 6 weeks, but for whatever reasons I couldn't make myself call. This afternoon a friend (who has been gently-but-increasingly-clearly saying I need expert advice) held my hand via instant messages while I made the call.

I'm embarrassed to have needed so much handholding to make a phone call, but also very grateful that I have friends who will do that kind of thing for me.

I talked to the receptionist and made an appointment for next week, then hung up and immediately burst into tears. (I hate that! I'm not usually a weepy person!) But at least this step is done and the next ones aren't quite as scary.

#159 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2014, 09:56 PM:

#158, LGB: Go you! Another step toward the future you want, right?

It's not just any phone call. Please don't beat yourself up about feeling stress while dealing with a stressful situation.

#160 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2014, 11:10 PM:

LGB: I'm proud of you for calling the lawyer's office, and even more proud of you for having the moxy to call in the cavalry to help do so.

Consider: putting it off, and then bursting into tears when you're done may be a measure of the spoon cost of the task. I.e., high.

#161 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2014, 11:28 PM:

Doing the things that you have to do is always easier in retrospect than at the time. (In case it's unclear, you're still in the midst of it, because the phone call is not the end of things.) I wish you plenty of spoons.

#162 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2014, 12:33 AM:

LGB @158: Go you!!! Incredibly hard thing to do. Also, congrats on figuring out how to get support while doing it!

Today, a random act of kindness just about made me sob in a public washroom.

Someone put sticky notes around the periphery of all the mirrors in the women's washroom at my university. (sticky notes so they'd come off without marking, and not make a mess for the cleaning staff. :)

On these notes were things like: You are worthy of love. Look in the mirror - you are beautiful. Your love is precious.

Not your standard feel-good things. I suspect this person has either suffered through depression or had a friend suffer. Because seriously - you are worthy of love. How many of us struggle with that? Believing it in the core of our beings? That's the one that in particular had me just about break down in front of (potentially my) students in the middle of the day in a public washroom.

it made my day

Thank you anonymous note-poster on Valentine's Day.

Wanted to share with the community, too.

#163 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2014, 01:44 AM:

LGB, #158: Go you! The first step is often the hardest, because after that you've got some forward momentum.

Chicadee, #162: Yes, that was wonderful; thank you for telling us about it.

#164 ::: hope in disguise ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2014, 10:43 AM:

SamChevre @154, thank you

Mercury Capsule @155, excellent name. Also what Jacque said: this sounds like a consent/entitlement issue, and while I don't know that there's a way to deal with it gracefully if they won't let you, well. They are, in fact, the ones at fault, and it sucks when your surroundings don't see that.

LGB @158, go you! The thing was hard, but you did the thing. That's excellent.

Chickadee @162, that is beautiful. Thank you, anonymous note-poster.

#165 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2014, 11:30 AM:

Another small thing learned. Now to learn how to fix it or neutralize it or get around it.

So, when one is regularly mocked for what one likes, it gets hard to admit to liking things. Books, music, TV shows, people, colours, activities, whatever. The more I like something, the harder I find it to share that something. (Share meaning let other people know, not share meaning let other people use my stuff.)

But the thing I learned last night is that this goes beyond letting people know that I like something, and is the reason why I am highly indecisive in some areas. It pretty much amounts to: I am not allowed to prefer something. I get mocked; that's telling me that my preferences are somehow wrong or invalid. So I end up not being able to articulate, even to myself, what I prefer, especially when other people will see the choice I made.

I developed a habit of not really personalizing stuff, for the most part, because of this. I'm slowly trying to work past that habit. In some things, I have managed to convince myself that it's ok; I often wear brightly coloured clothing, for example. I finally managed to put NaNoWriMo stickers on my laptop, for another example. (That one took about 2 years to convince myself it was ok.)

Right now, I'm trying to do what should be not too big of a deal: picking paint colours to repaint my living room and bathroom. (I know that even people who don't have all kinds of baggage around not being allowed to have an opinion find choosing colours the hardest part of repainting.)

I have a couple of colours on my walls already that I'm keeping, and a couple that I'm changing. The ones that I'm keeping are ... intense colours. I love them. Both my parents and Crappy Ex's sister made comments about them back when they were first put up. Not outright open mockery, but *comments*: you know the kind, where if you call them on it you're overreacting, but they're part of a pattern of You're Doin It Rong to varying degrees so they hurt more than if they truly were an isolated incident. And now that I'm repainting other walls, my mom suggested toning down my intense colours that I love, so, continuing with the idea that the things I like are Rong. (Not only am I not going to tone them down, I have my eye on a piece of wall art from that will almost certainly accentuate the brightness of one of them. I plan to buy it as a new-job gift for myself, once I get a new job, with my very first paycheque. I am also not telling my parents about it because there will be *comments*. I know that the first time they visit after I put it up, there will be comments. I'm trying to convince myself that their opinion about how I decorate MY apartment, that I own with MY money, is irrelevant.)

I want colours. I don't want white or off-white walls. This business of not being allowed to have preferences is pushing me toward neutrals - and some of them are nice neutrals which are far from white, and I like some of them, but I'm still finding myself pushed toward neutrals because that's How It's Done. The colours I'm replacing were chosen because the colour wheel, and the colour families, and so on said that they would go with the colours I love, but I'm replacing them because I didn't actually like them.

Picking colours. A small thing in the grand scheme of things, but simultaneously a symptom of a much bigger problem.

I also predict that if I open the subject before I reveal the colours I chose by telling my parents that commenting, even "jokes", about my colour choices are off the table, then I'll be "overreacting", and if I don't tell them and they do make comments, then it'll be another brick added to the weight of baggage I'm already pulling around. (And if I don't tell them and they don't say anything, then I'll tell *myself* I was overreacting.)

So, not asking for help with the colours, but tips on how to deal with not being allowed to like things would be helpful. Right now all I really have is "my house, my colours" or "good thing you don't live here then". Both are rather more confrontational than I'm comfortable with.

#166 ::: Bricklayer ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2014, 11:32 AM:

Not caught up on reading the thread, but I need to vent.

Please, dearest husband, in the last two hours we have before being descended upon by four houseguests and two extra not-sleeping-here guests for the next week, could you:

(a) apply minor effort to the remaining clutter in living spaces and obstructing stuff our guests will need to use, instead of

(b) going in the basement to handle something that's bothered you for a while but that NONE OF OUR GUESTS WILL EVEN SEE during their visit.

Especially since I sent the 6:15-8:30AM time block today cleaning the house from "oh my bob that's really, really messy -- how do I walk without stepping on things?" to "Huh, kinda messy," while simultaneously wrangling the kid, and now I'm too spoon-low to finish it to the level of "Oh, look: a moderately clean house."

(Rot13ed for extremely vehement emotion I need to purge) SHPX LBH IREL ZHPU GBB. My priorities ALSO matter, even if you think the work is work I 'should' have done two weeks ago. Besides, if I'd done it then the kid would just have trashed it three times since and it would have needed to be redone ...

#167 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2014, 11:45 AM:

the invisible one @165: Sympathies, witnessing, still working through similar issues of my own so not much help. One thing that works for me that *may* be helpful: if I'm having difficulty making a choice, sometimes I'll have Spouse pick something - then suddenly I'll feel VERY STRONGLY about one option or the other. But I couldn't find that preference with sonar and a strong magnet before that. Only works, of course, if you have someone you trust enough to ask for that kind of help.

Bricklayer @166: Sympathies and witnessing.

#168 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2014, 11:47 AM:

Addendum (the invisible one @165): My apologies. I just re-read your post - and the part you are asking for help with - my way of dealing with that has simply been to not tell my parents anything any more. Truly not helpful for you. But witnessing, and wishing you all the best with dealing with your parents.

#169 ::: Bricklayer ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2014, 11:49 AM:

And now I'm caught up.:->

#170 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2014, 12:53 PM:

the invisible one #165: My approach would be to start off with something to the effect of "I have chosen these colors, the decision is made." Then, "predict" the comments. That is, you know the comments are coming, and you have already decided that they are not meaningful input, so you're allowed to ignore them, or at least make clear that your relatives do not get to bleach out your environment.

#171 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2014, 02:31 PM:

#167 & 168, Chickadee:

For situations with a limited number of well-defined choices, I sometimes use a coin flip (or a die if appropriate). If I find myself wishing for a particular result while the coin is in the air, then that's the one I choose. If I get a result and instantly feel that it's wrong, then I choose the other one. It's a very useful way to find out if I have strong gut feelings about a choice that my brain hasn't been able to access.

For paint colours... well, "limited number" is not really applicable. (And as you noted, that's not what I was asking for help with, though I appreciate the sentiment.) I've also found that having other people's input into something with so many possibilities and based so much on personal taste leads to them suggesting something that *they* like, which I often don't like but can't articulate because I'm not allowed to like something enough to make a decision on it. That's how I ended up with the current living room wall colour which I'm going to cover up. The colour wheel and theory narrowed it down to that colour family and somebody suggested that colour. I was hesitant (which I guess means gut says "no") but I couldn't articulate an objection and I didn't have a choice of my own made...

And yeah, I can make the decision and paint the walls without telling my parents, but they will show up and see it eventually. And comment on it.

#170, Dave Harmon:

Still working on the "allowed to ignore them" part of that.

So about my mom talking about toning down the intense colours which I'm keeping, I realized while out running today, that it wasn't even so much that she suggested toning them down (which is bad enough) but she had gone straight to suggesting *how* to tone them down without asking if I even *wanted* to tone them down.

My opinion on the subject as the person who lives there and owns the space was apparently not important enough to consult before moving on to discussing implementation.

Maybe I should try the "yellow card/red card" thing and write the responses I expect. And my reply, in every case, could be "Because I like it." (Somehow I can't see myself actually pulling one of those cards out and handing it to them, even if I do write them.)

#172 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2014, 02:37 PM:

#166, Bricklayer: sympathies. Picking up after somebody else who is capable of cleaning it up but is either wilfully or obliviously ignoring their part in it... well, there may be worse things in the world, but that one is infuriating.

#173 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2014, 02:39 PM:

the invisible one @165, you could try responding to "jokes" and sideways comments with something nondefensive on the theme of "Yes, but I like it." Extra points for treating it like a compliment even if you know they didn't mean it that way.

As in: "Isn't that awfully bright?"
"Yes, thanks, I like it a lot."

"People don't use colors like that for their living space!"
"I know it's out of the ordinary. I like it a lot."

"Your guests are going to need sunglasses."
"I think they'll be fine. I like it a lot."


LGB @158, go you!

Bricklayer, sympathies. Hope you enjoy the visitors.

#174 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2014, 02:40 PM:

the invisible one, #165: Under those circumstances, I would be strongly tempted to choose the solution of, "My parents are no longer invited into my home." But this is at least partly because I think your home should be your Safe Space, where you know you don't have to worry about shit like that.

I wouldn't necessarily tell them so, either; I'd just start making arrangements to get together with them in other places -- at their house if that's comfortable, or getting together for dinner or some other activity. If pressed, I'd say, "My house isn't fit for company at the moment." (Because getting *comments* about something that you KNOW is untrue is much less unsettling.) If they went on from there to say, "Oh, that's all right, we're FAMILY," my counter would be, "No, seriously, you do not want to be there right now." (Never mind that what I'm really saying is, "I don't want YOU to be there.")

Or maybe I'd start making things up. "I'm growing marijuana in the basement." "I've moved in this guy I picked up on the street in $DISTANT_CITY." (Preferably one where you've never been.) And more of that nature, in the spirit of the apocryphal letter from a college student. See just how outrageous a lie you can get them to swallow whole, and then laugh at them for being so gullible.

Chickadee, #167: That's a variant on what we call the Binary Decision Device method. Assuming that you're stuck between two options, you assign one to Heads and the other to Tails and flip a coin. It's amazing how clearly your preference will manifest while the coin is in the air! Choices with more than 2 options can be handled by rolling dice, of which ghod knows we have enough around the house even though neither of us is an active gamer. :-) However, it only works when you have first evolved the options to choose from.

#175 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2014, 02:43 PM:

the invisible one, crossed messages.

This doesn't work as well when it's just you, without someone else to share the joke, but you could make a comment bingo card.

#176 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2014, 02:57 PM:

the invisible one @ 165: If you got in an enthusiastic "I just painted the walls and aren't they WONDERFUL? They make me smile every time I look at them!" before they said so much as a single word, would they feel socially required to mute or hide their objections, or would it just make things worse?

#177 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2014, 03:06 PM:

#171 ::: the invisible one she had gone straight to suggesting *how* to tone them down without asking if I even *wanted* to tone them down.

Ouch. My Mom does that too (example from my recent dog saga). Really, she's just being overbearing and oblivious, and you are definitely allowed to say "not your decision, so back off", or something nearly as blunt. Those "comments" amount to them testing your resolve, to see if maybe you'll fold if they keep pushing. I suggest calling them on it: "I've already told you what colors I'm using, and
your preferences are not mine."

Incidentally, that coin flip+response was exactly what I was going to suggest, before I saw your trailing comment and properly retargeted my response. I'm actually about to give a friend of mine a coin-like thing marked "Yes" and "No" -- he's an Aspie, and has a bad case of "whatever you want to do". (Fortunately, I have a somewhat milder case of it, or we'd be playing "You first, Alfonzo" all the time.)

#178 ::: Jeanie ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2014, 03:23 PM:

Witnessing/applauding posts and comments.

I don't have the spoons to edit my responses, so toss in a generous heap of encouragement and carry on with my silent attention.

#179 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2014, 03:25 PM:

#173, OtterB:

Responding as if it were a compliment appeals to me. I picked up a variant of that for personal insults from a martial arts instructor a few years back, where if one of the students (usually a teenage boy) called her awful and mean (usually for doing physical conditioning exercises) she would give them the most brilliant smile and tell them how sweet they were to say it.

If they say something direct, I can use that approach.

#174, Lee:

I am not ready to ban them from my place as yet, though I have been trying to find alternate spaces to meet as much as I can this past year. We live in different cities; if they visit me, they have to stay somewhere.

Also they're generally/overall good and kind people, they just seem to have a blind spot in the area of "invisible one has opinions and preferences which are different from ours". Some things I've done differently than they did they're fine with and even proud of. Some things they don't seem to acknowledge as being real, or if they do, they lump it into a category of things called "invisible one is being contrary just to be contrary".

Also^2 (and here my brain is yelling that I'm being selfish) they are helping me with renovations, of which repainting is a part. They kind of have to be in my place to do the work. (I couldn't afford to do it without their help. I'm currently unemployed; they're both in relevant trades and are doing it for me for free, and getting the materials for me at wholesale/contractor prices, because FAMILY.)

#176, Cally Soukup:

Good suggestion. I'll try to have *at least* one of the walls painted before they get here, preferably more, so I can enthuse about a wall-sized chunk of paint in the lighting environment it will be living in, as opposed to a paint chip. They may still comment or they may not, but I doubt they will escalate.

#177, Dave Harmon:

I remember your dog story, and thought of it when I realized what my mom had done. "My house, my colours" is top of my list of responses if they push about the colours at all.

#180 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2014, 05:23 PM:

invisible one at 165: just a suggestion, ignore if not helpful:

If people make comments along the lines of "too bright" or "you're going to get tired of these very quickly" etc etc, you might nod thoughtfully and say, "You know, I considered that. Think of it as an experiment. If I decide in six months that I don't like these colors, I'll change them!"

If your budget is pared to the bone and you really couldn't afford to repaint in six months even if you wanted to, then of course, this will make no sense, so don't say it. But paint is not all that expensive, so....

My house, my colors is good, too. Say it with a broad smile.

#181 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2014, 06:49 PM:

the invisible one, #179: Yeah, that does make a difference.

Here's a wild-hare idea: do you think they consciously realize how much of what they say is putting down your choices? If not, it might be a useful experiment to run a cheap voice recorder while they're in the house and then play it back for them at a different time. The intro to this would be something like, "When you're at my place, you spend an awful lot of time putting me down. I want you to listen to yourselves before you tell me I'm overreacting again."

I don't know whether or not they would be more capable of recognizing the putdowns when removed from the situation, but there have been cases where getting people to watch a video or listen to a recording have made them aware of behavior patterns they had previously not noticed.

#182 ::: Merricat ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2014, 07:06 PM:

invisible @171:

So about my mom talking about toning down the intense colours which I'm keeping, I realized while out running today, that it wasn't even so much that she suggested toning them down (which is bad enough) but she had gone straight to suggesting *how* to tone them down without asking if I even *wanted* to tone them down.

For this category of comment, I like a confused but earnest expression, and the response "But why on earth would I want to tone them down? They make me so happy!"

A good friend of mine deals with obnoxious comments from parents by just ... not responding. He just looks at them, silently and completely expressionless, until someone changes the subject. Then he starts talking again normally.

#183 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2014, 07:17 PM:

the invisible one @165: one thing that occurs to me, which might or might not help, is that both "my house, my colours" and "good thing you don't live here then" can be delivered with a similar "I'm just joking, why are you so upset?" attitude. In other words, if they're going to be confrontational about their opinions of your tastes, but disguise it as joking, it seems perfectly fair for you to respond in kind. Either phrase, delivered with a smile, seems fine to me.

It might not be comfortable or healthy to stay in that mode indefinitely, but maybe it would be enough resistance to let them know that what they're doing isn't acceptable, without allowing them the "you're overreacting" defense mechanism.

bricklayer @166: having been both the victim and the perpetrator of that sort of thing on different occasions, you have my sympathy.

#184 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2014, 09:23 PM:

Thanks for the suggestions, all. I will try to figure out which ones will work best for me. (I will also try to have them at hand when my parents actually show up. This will be more difficult.)

#180, Lizzy L: Yeah, nobody would believe me about repainting in 6 months. Don't ask me how long the colour I don't like has been on the living room walls, but I can assure you it isn't measured in months. :(

(Yes, that means I have been living with a living room colour I dislike for far too long. Combination of blanking on what colour to change it *to*, and a long-standing lack of understanding that I have agency and I can change things about my space to suit my likes, once I figure out what those are. There are almost no decorations in my place.)

#185 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2014, 02:50 AM:

invisible one @ 165

Do you have friends who will love your bright colors? When we moved into our new house, I marked my territory in a rainbow of shockingly bright colors. I think the muted drabs that everyone's so fond of right now are awful. I most often refer to the resulting effect as "stepping into a box of crayons."

But you know, this house is amazing for my mental health and I want to be here. That's really different from my eggshell-and-yardsale renter's apartments, where I never really made them my own because I was moving frequently and didn't want to lose that many deposits (and my stuff had to be sturdy and moveable).

Honestly? Everyone who has seen our house has said at least one of three things: "Oh my gosh, this house is so YOU," "I love these colors!" and "I really love seeing someone who isn't afraid to make their house a home."

In your shoes, I would bring people home to show off my newly painted space who will appreciate the effort and caring I put into it, and who will enjoy my happiness and the way my home reflects that.

Obviously, I do not believe it is the vivid colors that are the problem in the scenario you describe. :D

#186 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2014, 08:38 AM:

Now caught up on this thread too. Reading, witnessing, and wishing everyone all the best and extra spoons.

#187 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2014, 09:11 AM:

#185, KayTei: I very very rarely host people in my place. Apart from my parents, maybe less than a dozen visitors (and that's including boyfriends) in all the years I've lived here. None of them except Crappy Ex's sister said anything either way about the colours that I can recall, and hers was also critical.

I'm not entirely sure why I don't invite people over.

#188 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2014, 09:32 AM:

invisible one @ 165

Sometimes, confrontation is pretty much the order of things. I think David Harmon described my own stance down a couple posts from yours - I'll readily admit that drawing boundaries on what comments you will or won't accept is harder with parents than it was in this next anecdote, but it pretty much comes down to predicting/extrapolating what comments you might get, and deciding ahead of time what response will leave you feeling safest.

(There's some very good responses in Captain Awkward for unsolicited advice on items for which you've already made up your mind - variants of "saying 'no'", some of which can be quite soft-sell, such as, "Hmmm, I'll think about it," or quite a bit more direct, such as Merricat's "But why...?" up above, or even just "Mom? Really?? You're trying to choose colors in MY home??" The questions the blog spends time on from "adult children" focus a lot on moms and dads who seem to forget that their adult children are adults first and offspring after.)

Anecdote: recently, I decided to play with the color in my hair - it's currently page-boy-ish short, and naturally salt-pepper as I have moved into middle age. I decided that two stripes of color on one side would be just the thing: bright purple next to bright pink.

Apart from some difficulty getting the hair salon to do that (they were worried that I would get it done and then experience buyers' remorse and take it out on them), the reactions have been enormously positive. Even if they hadn't been, I've been incredibly happy with it. (And added a royal blue/turquoise glasses frame, bwa ha ha!!! Er, ahem... sorry.)

But one person, someone recently appeared on the local scene and only half my age, but with an apparent massive need to always Be Right, made note of my new do as he was heading out the door. He stated he liked it, but then added, "You know what would make it even better?"

I waited to see if he would sail right into his "suggestion", and when he didn't, I did my version of lifting one eyebrow, which was all I felt like doing to indicate I would hear what he had to say. "You should have gotten the rest of your hair dyed pitch black. That would have been perfect."

"My dear," I said, mustering my sweetest smile, "that would have entirely destroyed the reason for the stripes in the first place. I'm not pretending my hair is that of a 20 year old; I'm working consciously against type, and confronting people who think wild colors are only for the young."

Since he was on the doorstep, it was easy for him to just say goodbye and leave. He clearly understood that I wasn't there to stroke his ego, even if he remained clueless about how he'd overstepped boundaries of personal taste.

I will admit that interaction was easy, since he's not my husband nor even a good friend, I could pretty much tell him to his face I didn't take his opinion seriously. (And I'm in the happy position of there being very few people in my life who would have the necessary social capital to try and change my attitude, if not my actual opinion about my taste in hair styles.)

I don't know if this helps... perhaps just as a "start slow" data-point?

Crazy(but these things do get better with practice!)Soph

#189 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2014, 10:16 AM:

crazysoph: your hair sounds awesome, and I'm mentally waving pompoms for your response to Impertinent Youth there. (I can't dye my own hair because allergies, but I dream of the day when I shall be able to acquire a collection of manga wigs.)

I'm noticing a common thread in a lot of these encounters that are being described here. They are all variations on the theme of "But I know what you want better than you do!". The moment you put it that way, it's very easy to see how absurd it is. I'm very familiar with this trope, because I got it all the time from my parents as a child; thankfully they have learnt better since then. These days, if they ask me what I want for Christmas or my birthday, I know it's safe to tell them I'd really like Thing That Will Raise Their Eyebrows, and they won't challenge that - they'll just accept that this is what I would really like, even if it seems really weird to them.

There is a scale of motivation for this kind of behaviour ranging from well-meaning cluelessness to outright arrogance. A lot of useful responses to the clueless end of the scale have already been given here, and this is a good thing, since I'm sure it's the more common motivation. However, when it's arrogance, I think it sometimes works better to call them out on it directly. "Hold on a minute. You actually think you know what I want better than I do?" Or the very slightly less confrontational, "Ah. So you think I want to wear X, do you? And what shoes do I want to wear with that?" Because, sometimes, that's the only way to deal with the sort of horrible pseudo-rationalist mentioned in that Captain Awkward post somewhere upthread.

All the best to everyone who is trying to draw and maintain boundaries. It's not always easy, but, as crazysoph points out, it really does get better with practice.

#190 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2014, 10:25 AM:

By which I mean, it sounds like a good, affirming, encouraging idea, but I have no idea how to go about starting to invite people over, or what those people would do once they got to my place. Or, for that matter, how to get myself comfortable with the idea of inviting people into my space.

I hardly ever go to other people's places either, so I don't really have a model for what to do and provide. What models I have seen, on those rare occasions when I'm invited out, are either things I'm not comfortable hosting or depend on something that I don't own.

#191 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2014, 10:47 AM:

the invisible one @ 190: if you want to invite people round, especially if you're not feeling very confident, I heartily recommend what my best friend does. (Usual disclaimer: ignore if hlepy.)

My best friend is considerably more introverted than I am. Let's just say that takes work. Every now and then, however, he throws a party; all or most of the guests are invariably introverts too, and his parties always go well. In fact, I think they're the best parties ever.

There are two things he does which make them work. The first, and most important, is that he's always got a fall-back activity on hand, so that if there is one of those embarrassing long pauses in the conversation, he can instantly suggest we do #Thing so that we're not all sitting around looking at one another. It's normally readthroughs in his case (he has a cupboard full of old Round the Horne and Goon Show scripts, plus a few other odds and ends of that sort), but board games also work really well. Or colouring. Or crafts, if your guests are that way minded. Or there was one particular party at my best friend's place where we all ended up watching a Pingu DVD on random. 'Twas good.

The other thing he does is to have a buffet on hand so that people can just nibble when they want. He tends to push the boat out on this, but that's just him; it needn't be anything complicated, especially for just a few guests. This allows for people who arrive at different times, and takes a lot of the stress out of feeding people, because if you provide a choice from which people can help themselves, everyone can have what they like.

#192 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2014, 11:12 AM:

#191, Mongoose:

Yeah, the sitting around staring at each other thing is not something I want to contemplate. Building the event around an activity is what I liked about the gatherings that I've attended and enjoyed. But as I said, they depend on something I don't own.

It's kind of a chicken-and-egg problem: I could spend a pile of money on stuff that I would only use when inviting guests over, but I hardly ever invite guests over so it's not a good use of my money, then because I don't have those things I don't invite people over.

It's pretty rare that I wish I could invite somebody over anyway. I'm kind of antisocial. (Well, really I'm introverted.) If I want to get in some socializing, I go to some group event that's built around some activity I enjoy, and that's generally enough.

#193 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2014, 11:23 AM:

crazysoph, #188: moms and dads who seem to forget that their adult children are adults first and offspring after

Some of them forget. Some of them honestly believe that parenthood gives them that power over their children, always and forever.

There was a moment of stunning clarity in one of our family-counseling sessions. I no longer recall what the disagreement was about, but it was one of those occasions (there were several) on which the counselor said to my parents something along the lines of, "You may not agree with the decision Lee made here, but she is an adult and you have no right to force her to run her life according to what you want." And my father, after a few minutes of discussion on other things, said, "You know, I have no idea where you came up with this 'no right' nonsense. I'm her FATHER!" It was a real epiphany for me; I'd always sort of sensed that he had delusions of ownership, but this was the first time he'd ever actually come out and said it. And after that, I felt much freer to ignore or dismiss any opinion he expressed about my life.

On the main point of your post, that was an awesome comeback! I just recently decided that when I get old enough that my current dark-red (with a Rogue streak in the front) doesn't work any more, I'm going to cut it short, let it grow out a bit in its natural white, and then lowlight it in a rich gold.

Also, when I bother to use nail polish at all, I generally use a combination of 3 or more harmonizing colors, because I think using polish is turning your nails into accessories. No one insists that all the beads in my necklace have to be the same color; why should all my nails have to be?

#190/191: I have an annual Chocolate Decadence party (of which the 27th edition is coming up soon), part of the rationale for which is that it forces us to get the house in shape for company at least once a year! It works a lot like Mongoose's friend's party; I tell people to bring something either chocolate or fruit, while I supply a variety of salty snacks -- because I found out the first year that if there's nothing but chocolate, people get burned out on it after an hour or two. I also supply soft drinks/tea/water, and those who want booze are advised to bring their own. I have a mix of introvert and extrovert friends, so there aren't usually any awkward pauses, but if there are I can put on the Animusic DVD, and sometimes people bring games like Apples To Apples. I think of it as being sort of like a room party at a con.

#194 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2014, 11:41 AM:

Do you like card games? Back in my youth, Chicago fandom used to gather to play Eucre or penny-ante poker, and all that takes is a couple of decks of cards, and maybe some poker chips.

I used to think that my parents weren't gamers, unlike three of us daughters, and then I remembered that my mother used to host Bridge Club at her house when I was a kid. And the other ladies brought snacks to share. So that sort of thing is Perfectly Respectable, Darn It. (Trust me, my mother was So Respectable that she wouldn't let us daughters learn instruments that you blew into or held between your legs. Really.)

Do you sing or play an instrument? You could invite people over to sing/play.

Do you like board games? I've got some friends who have board game nights about twice a month: nearly everyone who is invited brings a game or two, and we play board games until late into the night. The advantage there is that you don't personally have to own many (or any) games; the disadvantage is you're stuck with the ones people bring even if you don't like any of them.

Do you knit/crochet/quilt/sew? You could invite people over for an evening of handwork.

You may notice a commonality here: in spite of what your parents may have told you, it's no sin to have a potluck style party where people bring their own stuff, and not just foodstuffs, to share. Potluck games, potluck crafts, potluck music: all good, and requiring little of the host beyond a house clean enough for the expected company (which can be "very clean" or "kinda picked up", depending on the company!), enough table-space for table-requiring stuff like games, and enough light for the activity(s) expected.

You, yourself, don't need to "own" much of anything besides the space, maybe a table or two, enough seating, and enough lighting. And if you don't have enough chairs, see if any of your guests can bring card table chairs with them: instant seating.

You don't need to go All Out to prepare party food, either; if you provide a small assortment of soft drinks to drink, and some chips or some such, and suggest that people can bring a snack to share if they like, you'll likely end up with plenty of nibbles.

The hardest part for an introvert (well, besides actually inviting other people into your nice warm cave!) is finding those other people to invite, of course. That part I don't have much advice about, other than the usual of hanging out in places where people who like to do the same things you like to do hang out. Craft stores, for instance, sometimes have crafting parties; game stores (and some libraries, even) have game nights, and so on.

#195 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2014, 12:20 PM:

the invisible one -

Here are some examples of bright walls that make people happy.

#196 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2014, 12:33 PM:

All of these suggestions of how to have people over are kind of overwhelming me right now, especially since I said I didn't really have any kind of desire to have people over. That's one of those How It's Done things that I never really liked much, and occasionally feel guilty for Doin It Rong because I don't invite people over, and that's what All Normal People do, right? :-/

I was initially responding to KayTei's comment about having friends over who would voice approval of the colours, which sounds like it could be a great antidote to my parents disapproval -- if I ever had people over.

I'm afraid my reply to that went into the "I don't know how anyway" a bit too much and that's what everybody is replying to. I wasn't intending to say that the main reason I didn't invite people over was because I didn't know how. It's an additional reason, and I got distracted into talking about that instead.

I really feel bad about being offered advice and only replying "I can't do that because". I'm not deliberately trying to find fault with every piece of advice, or find excuses to not do something. It looks like great advice for somebody who wants to invite friends over but doesn't know how. I'm missing the "wants to" part, so the "how" part is kind of irrelevant to me, and it's no surprise that I don't have it because I never really had a drive to learn.

My own fault I guess, for spending so many words saying I didn't know how anyway. I did not communicate the message I intended.

#197 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2014, 12:52 PM:

I have just found a really helpful link for anyone who's struggling with a mental illness. The article specifically talks about addiction, but has a much wider application.

Posting it here in the hope that some people may find it useful.

#198 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2014, 12:55 PM:

the invisible one @196, what I tell you three times is true: there's nothing wrong with your apartment being a private sanctum. It's YOUR home, and YOUR territory. You are under no obligation to invite anyone in *ever* (except, perhaps, if the landlord sends an exterminator or a plumber <grin>) and *please* don't feel like anyone here is telling you otherwise. Miscommunications happen, and the advise that was hlepy for you might still be useful for someone who DOES wish to invite people but is feeling overwhelmed, so don't feel bad about wasting anyone's time; although it wasn't what YOU needed, if it's useful for a lurker it wasn't wasted verbiage. <smile>

#199 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2014, 01:02 PM:

crazysoph #188: AIUI, among 20-somethings (or so), giving ideas on hair coloring like that is not considered particularly rude, especially to someone who's already "playing with it". On the flip side, it's also not rude to answer such suggestions with "nah, I like this fine" or even "oh, no way!". And you did much better than that, giving an explanation that was not only courteous, but life-educational.

Also, jet-black with streaks of color wouldn't necessarily be trying to hide your age -- it's a fair-'nuff style (kind of Goth-y) regardless of someone's natural color(s). But as you described, you're going for an effect that's more complicated (and more considered) than mere "style".

#200 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2014, 01:09 PM:

Standing offer, sparked by the invisible one's (brave and appropriate) posts but is NOT directed there right now.

I will gladly post photos on my Flickr page. This gives the opportunity for friendly feedback without inviting people physically into your home, or even mentioning that it's your wall.

Also, Photoshopping
Scroll down several rows to see what I did for a knitter who was looking for contrast colors from flecks in her main yarn. Quick/dirty freebies like this replenish my spoons, so this is a selfish offer.

You can reach me via my website by clicking my name. Or un-ROT13 pneby.xvzonyy@rneguyvax.arg

If it's beyond my capabilities at that point I'll (nicely) tell you right out.

#201 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2014, 01:16 PM:

the invisible one, what Cassy B said. Your home is your home, and you get to decide if and when you want to invite others in.

We don't invite people over much any more, through a combination of "clutter taking over" and "tired of trying to figure out what to fix that people will like." When we got to the point that there were people we felt like we hadn't seen in too long, we called them up and said, "hey, let's meet for brunch somewhere."

#202 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2014, 01:17 PM:

the invisible one, #196: Oops, sorry! Also, agreeing with Cassy that there is nothing wrong with that whatsoever. Your home, your priorities. It does put you in the unpleasant position of "the only other people who ever see my home are the ones who criticize it and me," but there are other solutions for that problem.

Dave H., #199: Interestingly, the thing that gave me my idea about white hair with gold lowlights was seeing someone who had jet-black hair with bright red streaks. Go figure.

#203 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2014, 01:29 PM:

#198, Cassy B.: Thanks. I think I needed to hear that.

#200, Carol Kimball: I'm not entirely sure what you're offering other than it involves photos and photoshop.

#204 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2014, 01:58 PM:

Take photos of what you've got. Email to me & I'll post for you. You can link as minimally as "I like this" or more explicitly as "this is my living room". No one has any idea who I'm posting for.

Take photos for "I'd light" (ha, editorial fingers) "...LIKE the wall on the left to be a tomato red" and I'll Photoshop it for you. Then "brighter" or "less orange" or "what if the fireplace wall is deep blue?".

This can remain private playing.

These projects gently spin out over time. Nothing goes public (even unattributed) without permission.

I can offer this because it takes minimal spoons and I don't have the energy to get out much*. I'm fast because I goof around on freebies. Universal woo-woo then has clients cold-call me wanting to pay for related work.

Note: I crop out or blank out stuff in photos of my own space rather than tidy.

* Yes, it would help me.

#205 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2014, 02:12 PM:

the invisible one @165: When we moved into our house, the bathroom had green wall tiles (some sort of blobby, some with palm trees on) and an avocado green bathroom suit. One set of friends, looking round said "of course, you're going to have to get this replaced with a white bathroom suit". My husband and I looked at each other and replied. "Why? We like green." End of conversation.*

So, I agree with others - "Yes, I like these bright colours." "The bright colours I've had previously I've found cheerful, so I decided to add some more." "My house, I get to decide on the colours." "I find the colours energising." Etc. etc.

the invisible one @203: I think Carol Kimball is offering to host pictures showing your bright cheerful walls, on her Flickr, if you want, for us to look at and tell you how bright and cheerful they are, without you needing to have anyone entering your home/sanctum.

* The tiles are not what we would have chosen, pattern wise, but the room is fully tiled. Over old tiles to half-wall height. We are not about to start getting the lot ripped off and re-starting, when we're okay with the colour.

#206 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2014, 02:14 PM:

Invisible One: if you want to get sneaky with your parents, you could figure out when they're going to come over to see the finished house and instruct a color-loving friend to come over about twenty minutes later, enough time that they've seen the house but maybe not so much that they've done more than sniff and prepare. The friend can bring something to set off the colors, perhaps, or just, "I know how excited you are to have the place finished and I wanted to see it-- oh wow, it's amazing! I love this green! I never would have thought to pair it with the orange in the hallway, but it looks amazing from the living room!"

This might help avoid helpy parental advice on mitigating your terrible, terrible choices. I'd volunteer myself, but there are many places in the world that are not Iowa, and I cannot expect you to be in the one that is.

Also, my roommates and I were allowed and encouraged to paint our house. The two rooms we didn't paint are shabby white-beige and ugly. Our living room, which we half-painted with free blue paint, is the only traditionally tasteful room in the house. Apple-green kitchen, squash-orange hallway, two shades of blue and bright pink in one bedroom, bright bright blue in my bedroom, warm glowing plum purple in the third. I don't remember what the basement bathroom looks like, but it's not white, that's for sure. We do not beige here. So you're not alone in loving color.

#207 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2014, 02:20 PM:

#205 ::: dcb

[CK is] offering to host pictures showing your bright cheerful walls, on her Flickr, if you want, for us to look at and tell you how bright and cheerful they are, without you needing to have anyone entering your home/sanctum.

Thank you, yes. I was clarifying the wrong end of the stick.

#208 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2014, 02:44 PM:

#204 & 207, Carol Kimball: Ok, I understand what you mean now. I may take you up on some of it, at some point. Maybe even soon.

#206, Diatryma: O.o

Have you been in my place? Because I have a very bright orange hallway, and that's one of the colours I'm keeping. I also have green.

Looking at the photos of brightly coloured rooms and brightly painted walls on google image search, I have a new hypothesis for colour design: if you go with bold colours you really like, you can't go wrong. Also, different walls in the same room don't have to be the same colour, even beyond the concept of an "accent wall".

Because if I used colour words to describe some of the combos in the photos, they sound terrible according to what little (so very little) colour theory I know. But they work, and they work well. (Even the ones that use colours I don't like.) And I can paint my living room and dining room and kitchen all different colours even though the spaces run into each other!

In addition to brightly coloured paints, I also like natural wood. My cabinet doors are absolutely not getting painted because they're a lovely light alder and I really like them. (Although if I had paintable cabinet doors, I liked the photos that had every door a different colour.)

#209 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2014, 02:45 PM:

the invisible one @165

On possible solution is to have some interior decorating magazines around, with pictures of rooms in bright colors--identical colors, or even similar ones, might be hard to pull off, but if you look around you can turn up some with bright wall colors. Then when someone says "X [totally not critical; can't you take a joke!]" you can say, or I saw something like this in a magazine and loved it, and offer to show them. Whether they look or not, it's a deflection from confrontation.

There might also be something somewhere on the internet--people have sites about interior decoration along with everything else in the world, after all.

#210 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2014, 02:56 PM:

Whatever, whenever, anybody, (almost) anything along these lines. Asking is a little gift even if I can't do it.

When my sister floated deep chocolate and bright red walls in a small (guest!) room, I will bet that my body language was not at all supportive. It was not an attack on me (at least primarily)! What she does with her home is not my business!

To my horror, after she'd done it, I liked it. Natural wood with bright panels is a lovely combination, too.

Oh, if these posts could time-tunnel back!

#211 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2014, 03:40 PM:

invisible one: I love bright colorful walls or bright colorful accents near bright white walls. The trim and interior (and exterior!) doors of my house are bright yellow. The outside of my house is bright white, the windows have bright apricot trim. I do not like pastels.

Just sayin'...

#212 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2014, 04:39 PM:

Sorry, the invisible one, I didn't mean to overwhelm you with suggestions on ways to have people over. It was entirely a reading error on my part that made me think you were looking for suggestions, and I apologize sincerely for being helpy. I should have known better, especially since I'm married to a hermit, myself.

And for what it's worth, the colors as you've described them sound fun!

#213 ::: knitcrazybooknut ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2014, 05:48 PM:

the invisible one, if examples help: My husband and I rarely have anyone over to our house. We had a housewarming in 2010. Since then, perhaps 10 people have visited us.

We live in a manufactured house that was built (and decorated) in the late seventies. Our kitchen has some despicable wallpaper. The time we spend in our den, we mostly spend watching tv. I decided that we would paint the ceiling a deep brick red, and the walls emerald green down to dark blue (not quite navy).

We talked about it, and I used Inara's shuttle as inspiration - dark but glisteny colors. We have windows, so we can lighten up the room easily, and the dark colors are perfect for watching tv and minimizing distractions. Function can speak to choices, as well as personal preferences.

In the end, it's your home. You get to choose. It's your ship! Your world, and you're the one who lives in the world of those colors.

When I am stressed and I can't think of another response that won't involve me melting down or getting visibly angry, I always fall back on asking, "I'm sorry; what did you say?" It gives the original offender a chance to review their statement and perhaps retract or revise it.

I hope this helps.

#214 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2014, 08:08 PM:

the invisible one: just caught up, and I am excited for your future colourful walls! I also enjoy intense colour and I am grinning just thinking about how your colourfully painted walls will give you enjoyment.

#215 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2014, 10:00 PM:

The dreaded Internal Server Error!

#216 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2014, 10:01 PM:

And that didn't shake it loose, so re-posting:

dcb, #205: The house my parents & I moved into in Nashville had some... odd... color choices. An awful lot of it was shades in the olive/avocado range -- including the front bathroom, which was going to be primarily mine; it had olive-green flocked wallpaper of surpassing ugliness. (Who puts flocked wallpaper in a bathroom?) My parents refused to strip and replace it, so instead I demanded bright-orange accessories (drapes, shower curtain) to at least tone it down a little. I lucked out and found a rug that was mostly off-white with a few orange and olive stripes, and that pulled the whole thing together.

I would love to have some bright walls in my current house. The two things holding me back are (1) lack of money/time to redecorate, and (2) the house is dark because of wide overhanging eaves, so I really hesitate to do anything that might reduce the available daylight.

#217 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2014, 10:37 PM:

I am getting less stressed and more excited about picking colours. So, thank you all for that :)

Still haven't picked them, but right now I'm thinking, pick whatever bright happy colours I want and deflect when the parents comment. My house, my colours!

(I may end up wasting a lot of paint if I go with multiple colours though... not so keen on that, but a gallon of paint goes a long way.)

#218 ::: Bodhisvaha ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2014, 10:49 PM:

the invisible one and crazysoph: yay colours! I love colour and it tends to be one of the first things people meeting me in person notice about me. I almost always am wearing at least one colourful colour. Eventually when my hair goes grey or white, I'll be able to dye it gorgeous crazy colours without having to ruin my hair with bleach. I so want to paint our house, but the budget isn't there yet. It's in slightly offensive neutrals from the last tenant, and I want colours!

One office interior that I worked on has lifesaver candy colours. They were so bright and clear that we could only find a few fabric lines that were saturated enough for the upholstered furniture. I await the installation photos, because on one hand I'm excited and on the other I'm scared that it will be too much. I do not like to do all neutrals -- which means that some project I should choose to do all neutrals as a professional challenge. Or possibly all neutrals with wildly colourful art?

#219 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2014, 10:57 PM:

on liking what you like ... my college-age daughter has a knit hat shaped like a moose that she bought when she spent a year in Canada (outline of muzzle and eyes knit into the hat, ears and antlers on top). Recently she went ice diving with her scuba class. She's not the only girl in the class, but she was the only one on this particular dive trip. She showed up at the lake wearing the moose hat, since it was the warmest one she had, and she looked around at the guys and said, "Listen, this is one of my favorite hats, and I don't want to hear any smart remarks." There was a pause, and one guy said, "Nice hat," and nothing more was said.

I'm pretty sure I didn't have that confidence at her age.

#220 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2014, 11:21 PM:

More on liking what you like:

A year or two ago I finally articulated why Kaylee is my favourite character from Firefly.

It's not that "oooooh, she's a girl who is a good mechanic!" (shocking.)

It's not that "oooooh, she's a girl mechanic who also likes pink frilly things!" (because girls who like tech and girls who like pink are mutually exclusive categories.)

It's that she likes what she likes, she makes no bones about it, and she's not ashamed of liking something that other people may mock.

I want to be more like her in that way.

So even though I hate pink frilly things, the episode where she got that enormous pink frilly dress I was cheering for her when she enjoyed it even though the other ladies at the big do were snotting at her because she was so gauche as to buy a pre-made dress instead of having one tailored, and I thought it was awesome that she hung it up where she could see it in her cabin on the ship afterward. (And I wished it had still been there in later episodes, not that the inside of her cabin was shown often. Even though I hate pink frilly things. Because it was *hers* and she loved it.)

#221 ::: Pfusand ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2014, 11:26 PM:

the invisible one @ 217

(I may end up wasting a lot of paint if I go with multiple colours though... not so keen on that, but a gallon of paint goes a long way.)


#222 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2014, 11:52 PM:

#221, Pfusand:

Maybe. I'd have to do some calculating as to how much exactly I need of each colour. My local store sells gallons for twice the price of quarts despite having four times the paint in the jug. (Interestingly, quarts are triple the price of pint testers. So going in either direction, quarts are overpriced.) I also wouldn't want to find out I need slightly *more* than two quart jugs when I'm almost finished... best to get all the paint of one colour mixed at the same time, by the same person, using the same batch of colorant.

#223 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2014, 12:19 AM:

@217 the invisible one

(I may end up wasting a lot of paint if I go with multiple colours though... not so keen on that, but a gallon of paint goes a long way.)

Keep in mind that vibrant colours often need multiple coats, so your gallon may not go as far as it would for light/beigey colours... I think I ended up with four coats of aubergine for my entryway wall in my old apartment.

#224 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2014, 12:48 AM:

#223, Cheryl: Yup, multiple coats are accounted for :) (Or at least, will be once I measure and calculate and decide on a colour to find out how many coats I need. My orange hallway was 3 coats and I think it had a tinted primer as well.)

#225 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2014, 01:19 AM:

Invisible One: nope, haven't been to your house, but I think a nice brightening orange is good for a hallway, particularly a closed one as we have here. More light, more brightness. Our aesthetic principle is 'a box of crayons with the boring crayons taken out'.

In terms of tools, I'd like to recommend Courtney Milan's novels. She writes historical romance and gets it. Some of this is just that I finished her latest today-- I had to stop in the middle because it was too much for me. The books are not always easy to read, but they are brilliant and satisfying, and if you're looking for a fictional model to overcome or navigate dysfunction, I cannot think of a better one. I have wondered if she reads these threads.

#226 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2014, 01:20 AM:

Bodhisvaha, #218: For my kitchen wallpaper in the condo, I wanted something bright and cheery. I was thinking about that one you see sometimes that's like a gingham check in primary colors, but I found a better, more sophisticated version: mostly white, with thin slashes of bright red, yellow, blue, and green suggesting a wide diamond pattern -- as in, the slashes never actually touched at the corners. It was cheerful and elegant at the same time, and I loved it.

the invisible one, #222: So if you need less than a gallon, clearly you should buy multiple pint testers instead of quarts! And an empty can to combine them in -- set the smaller cans upside down on 2 paint stirrers across the opening of the big one to drain for a while after you've poured out what you can.

Unless your walls are oddly shaped, it should be fairly easy to calculate the amount of paint you need for the square footage you're trying to cover. Then it's just a matter of checking the square-feet-per-gallon guide that the store should have posted somewhere. And allowing for multiple coats, which you've already said you have done.

#227 ::: iliad slightly awry ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2014, 06:57 AM:

I find this color discussion heartening, since our bathroom required repainting due to mold. Girl Roommate wanted grey (which I love, but looks awful in the yellow bathroom light), but Boy Roommate and I ended up voting her down for a color we refer to as Effing Teal (though we don't usually, you know, censor the word Effing is standing in for). It's lovely and looks good in yellowish light, which I why I went for Effing Teal over Effing Purple or a cooler Effing Blue. Getting to this point was... fraught, though. Lots of arguing and me being expected to make up for Girl Roommate not being willing to do anything except have opinions that would add considerable cost and effort, plus Boy Roommate is very tied to his identity as an iconoclast that figures things out on his own and did not want to read basic instructions on the paint cans or general tutorials, let alone anything specific. It has been Quite A Weekend thus far, and I am very tired.

the invisible one: I, too, like the "react as though you have been complimented" modality for that kind of situation. It seems to defuse potentially problematic situations better than being blunt, at least for me.

#228 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2014, 08:06 AM:

Lee @216: Sympathies for the flock wallpaper! Mind you, our walls are mostly covered with spiky Artex, which we could do without. But they are white, which is fine by us - what is visible between the pictures and the book cases/book shelves, that is. We haven't bothered to replace the dusky pink carpet in out bedroom (I hate pink) or the dull orange carpet in the guest bedroom, even though we don't like the colours, because they are good solid carpets and we can't bring ourselves to waste them. We have covered part of the bedroom carpet with a small handmade Turkish rug in all-natural undyed colours of wool (cream, several shades of brown, and black).

The walls in my home office are peach - again, I don't like it, but it's going to be a real hassle to paint, due to the quantities of books, journals, files etc. which would need to be moved, so I live with it. One of these days I will just explode, grab some old sheets to throw over the desk, bookcases etc. and start painting, but I haven't got time at the moment - so I've lived with them for nearly 10 years...

#229 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2014, 08:08 AM:

iliad slightly awry @227: sympathies for the fraught situation. Well done for coping with it. Enjoy the colour!

#230 ::: cyllan ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2014, 09:39 AM:

Color! Color on walls is amazing to me. When we bought our new house, I informed my spouse that the 'baby-poo-brown' in the kitchen needed to go ASAP. Everything else I can live with, but my kitchen is now a bright and cheerful blue that makes me happy each time I go into it. I've got some much more vivid and striking paint purchased for the small bathroom, and I'm eyeing the living room thoughtfully.

There, though, I will need to be Less Bold as we often have friends over who need slightly more muted surroundings. So while I would prefer a very vivid turquoise or something, I will go with a more subdued palette as a compromise.

Which is to say that Colors On Walls are very personal choices that no one should feel bad about one way or another. The important thing is that your space makes you comfortable and happy.

#231 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2014, 10:48 AM:

iliad, #227: Water under the bridge now, but for future such situations, would it make more sense to change the color balance of the bathroom light? There are now multiple spectra of compact fluorescent bulbs available; "warm white" which mimics incandescent, "cool white" which mimics fluorescent, and "daylight" which is pretty much what it says on the tin (and what we mostly use). Unless your bathroom fixture takes an unusual shape of bulb, that might be an option.

Boy Roommate is very tied to his identity as an iconoclast that figures things out on his own and did not want to read basic instructions on the paint cans or general tutorials, let alone anything specific

*eyeroll* What IS it about some guys, anyhow? That's just so junior-high.

#232 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2014, 10:54 AM:

Can we talk a little about games? Word games, card games, tabletop games, playground games, all the interpersonal games.

Very short version: I think in order to "have fun" you have to let go, let your guard down. You have to trust that the people around you will take care not to hurt you. I think this is true of learning and "teasing" and a bunch of other stuff as well, but maybe it's easier to see with games, because games are a little more set apart from the rest of life. I am trying to remember what painful experiences I have had with games in my past to make me so wary.

I don't really like games with a zillion rules to learn, and I like games where we make things up together, collaboratively, like "Snake Oil" and "Once Upon A Time".

I get a lot more cautious about trying out a board game with friends at a party than I do about, say, trying a new (vegetarian) food, or participating in a conversation about a topic I don't know anything about, or even trying a new physical game. Maybe that's because it's a lot more acceptable to stop eating a dish or drop out of a conversation or drop out of a physical game than it is to leave a board game midway?

My real question is: what does a healthy game-playing family atmosphere look like? What do you play? How do you decide what to play? How do you deal with players who want to join or leave? How do habitual losers feel? How do you teach children to treat each other kindly in games?

#233 ::: J. ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2014, 11:08 AM:

@S.H. no. 232: Huh. This actually was one of the things my FOO managed to do non-dysfunctionally. Trying to break out the steps here:

1. Person proposes game. Does not express emotional investment in game or in having other people play game. Does not consider refusal to play game a personal attack or if so does not express this. Likewise, people who are asked to play do not consider being asked/not asked some type of personal aspersion or unwarranted demand for spoons, or if so they do not express this.

2. Exact game may be negotiated. Again, no big emotional investment is expressed in what is played/not played or who plays it. Note that schadenfreude and shifting alliances are expected in certain games (Uno, Sorry, Train) and not in others (Life, Yahtzee, Dungeons & Dragons, Pass the Pigs), and type of game selected may be based on stress level of group.

3. Factors such as time available, other obligations, etc., are considered before gameplay starts!

4. Games that require good sportsmanship are played accordingly. Games that don't, aren't. In any case, the point is to meet a predefined challenge, cheer victory, and laugh off failure (or lose spectacularly).

5. No personal attacks allowed, ever.

#234 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2014, 12:37 PM:

#232, Sumana Harihareswara:

I'm immediately on guard if somebody says I must let my guard down in order to have fun.

My experience has been that while there is a correlation, for me, the initial causation goes in the opposite direction: once I start having a bit of fun, my guard can start to come down. After that there's feedback reinforcing it and it goes both ways. How far my guard drops as I have more fun depends a lot on who's there and how they behave in the game.

This is probably either due to, or reinforced by, my experiences where just about every time people tell me I have to let my guard down, "relax", lose my inhibitions, or whatever in order to have fun, they're trying to get me do something I am not comfortable doing.

Mandatory silliness is pretty much an instant wet blanket as far as how I react, doubly so if it's a predetermined type of silliness. (Optional silliness, on the other hand, I can get into.)

I don't have any suggestions for your actual questions, other than being respectful if somebody says they particularly dislike a certain type of game and trying a different category when negotiating which game to play. (For example, I dislike party games that involve performance and mandatory silliness, games where you have to lie to the other players, and games where one of the rules is that newcomers aren't told the rules. I know that lots of people like those types of games. They can enjoy them all they like; I don't want to play them. And having a hard time saying "no" and an even harder time making it stick, I have played those sorts of games multiple times, so I know exactly how much I hate them.)

#235 ::: Mercury Capsule ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2014, 01:14 PM:

#189 Mongoose: There is a scale of motivation for this kind of behaviour ranging from well-meaning cluelessness to outright arrogance.

So true, so true, and not just in this particular situation. A whole range of dysfunctional interactions can be the product of a spectrum of motivations, much like damage to your physical possessions can be born of a range of motivations from willful vandalism through carelessness to clumsiness.

For instance, you have the smug hleppy type who deliberately gives you advice intended to make them feel good and you bad, and you have the clueless person who gives hleppy advice because they literally cannot imagine the necessary resources not being available. The extremes you can usually recognize at once (the smug type tends to self-righteous one-upmanship in other areas of life, and the clueless type to airheaded disconnects in other things), but in between there's a gray area where you're never quite sure, especially if you have reason to think that the person means well but learned some very dysfunctional patterns from someone who did enjoy playing headgames, but due to social ineptitude never realized they were the recipient of headgames).

It's part of my own problem with polite requests not to chit-chat being ignored. I'm never sure whether this person is perfectly aware that I'm setting a boundary politely but choosing to ignore it because they do not regard me as having adequate social status to limit their behavior, or if the fact that I just politely requested they not intrude on my headspace with unwelcome chit-chat is zooming right past them because they literally can't imagine that I wouldn't welcome making small talk right now. And given that I generally make these requests when I want to keep my mind in a particular state, having to get confrontational about it is undesirable because it ends up ruining the very state of mind I'm trying to protect. So I'm left wondering if it's a genuine lack of social eptitude, or a deliberate and willful trespass. And if it is a lack of social eptitude rather than outright contempt for consentuality and my right to set boundaries, I honestly don't know how to be able to clearly communicate that won't zoom right by, but won't make me feel so angry and frustrated that it's just as damaging to my headspace as having it cluttered up by unwelcome chit-chat.

#236 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2014, 01:31 PM:

@S.H no 232: "Snake Oil"? Huh. Another game I have to buy.

I don't have a large family, much less a large family that plays games. But I do have a group of friends I play games with.

In general, I agree with J. @233's points. I'd also add that "modern" "German-style" games are typically easier to work with than "traditional" board games. The newer games tend to be faster, with more player interaction/less waiting time.

A game of Monopoly can take hours (rated at 3 hours by, and have a significant investment ruined by players who wish to drop out early. A game like 7 Wonders, however, is much shorter (30 minutes), and it's easy to quickly finish the game (or otherwise adjust) if a player needs to drop out.

What do we play? We play Dominion, 7 Wonders, Betrayal at the House on the Hill, The Resistance, Settlers of Catan, Guillotine, Fluxx, Carcassonne, Ticket to Ride, Once Upon A Time, Quiddler, Set, Cosmic Encounter... Or at least, we have them all available, and we play what people like that day.

How do we decide what to play? We look at who's there, filter out inappropriate games (Only 4 people? The Resistance is out. 10-year-old in the room? Cards Against Humanity stays in the box), and making suggestions and seeing what gets a bite. Sometimes this means dividing up into multiple groups, sometimes we all play one game.

How do we deal with players who want to join or leave? It depends on the game. Some games, like Apples to Apples and similar, lend themselves to players coming and going at will. Others don't. New players we typically suggest they watch and catch the next game; departing players rarely leave a game early except for unusual, excusable, circumstances. It may cause the rest of us to bag the game and start a new one.

How to deal with habitual losers? Play games where the fun's in the playing, not the winning or losing, and don't keep track of who wins and loses. Play lots of games, so even someone who loses 90% of the time wins occasionally. Switch to games with a higher luck/skill ratio, so the less skilled folks still win occasionally. Switch to cooperative games, so you win/lose as a group, not one wins at the expense of the others.

How to teach children to treat each other kindly in games? By example. Include them in your play (as age-appropriate), and treat each other kindly.

#237 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2014, 02:35 PM:

My local group of friends is mostly people-I-was-introduced-to-through-gaming. This is (ultimately) because gaming events with strangers are way less stressful for me than arbitrary social events with strangers (or even food events, much though I like food). Clear, structured interaction. It generally avoids my worst failure modes.

I suspect a lot of us introverts are familiar with this tool.

I've been here for more than five years, so this group is no longer strangers, but this applies to (say) the pick-up game of Seven Wonders at Boskone yesterday, where I only knew one of the participants.

What's a healthy atmosphere? I guess the key attitude (for me, and I think this is shared among my friends) is "I'll try that game, and I'll probably play terribly because it's new to me." (This is particularly likely to happen with the "Euro/German"-style games, because it can genuinely take several games to learn the game balance!) If there is a steady supply of new games, it really takes the pressure off. Or one can play a familiar game and not expend the effort of learning rules. Or one can wander into the other room and look through the bookshelves.

(Bookshelves in the living room are not merely a nerd identification tool. They are a refuge for anybody who comes to your house but then has a spoon-deficit moment. And anybody who *puts* bookshelves in the living room will, hopefully, grok this.)

#238 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2014, 03:47 PM:

Sumana Harihareswara #232: I was thinking about this the other day, and what I came up with is that there are multiple layers involved -- "meta-levels". And as you move up and down those layers, the idea of "game" as formalized play joins up with other senses of the word -- both the cooperation/conflict sense of games theory (Prisoner's Dilemma), and the "social pastime" sense of Transactional Analysis (Berne). Buddha Buck #236 has already covered much of this territory, but I'll try to lay out a different perspective on the same.

Choosing the game is a social negotiation already -- a proposal can be an attempt to open a cooperative channel (in this case, a social pastime, where people exchange "strokes" for common enjoyment), or a social power play (say, if someone pushes for a game they're likely to win consistently). Then the gameplay itself has the same multi-layered structure: Not only do many games offer choices of cooperation or conflict, but "sportsmanship" is on one level a matter of how to run the social pastime, and on another, a cooperation/conflict tension on the level above the actual game rules. Similarly for "house rules" modifying the game (example: a rescue mechanic for Monopoly). And then there's meta-rules such as "don't freak out (or gang up on) the 10-year-old", or not needing to play out an obvious win. And the choice to continue play or leave the game has a similar pattern. When the meta-games are cooperative, you have a "friendly game", when the meta-games are hostile, play becomes "the continuation of conflict by other means".

I have a local friend who I meet weekly for various activities. We started off mostly hiking, but he walks a lot at his job, so he suggested we find something else. I was disappointed, but I wanted to socialize with him, not treat him as a ride to the hiking trail. So, we went over to miniature golf. He is somewhat better than me at that, but not so much as to win every game, and so we played that for a while. It got a bit boring and the course was not so good (poorly maintained, and lousy drainage), so we went over to pool (that is, 8-ball).

There I'm slightly better than he is, but it's closer than the mini-golf (neither of us is terribly good, but we're both improving over time). And we have a distinctly cooperative attitude over the pool table -- we'll ask "um, was that a foul?" or just say "oops, my foul", and abide by each other's rulings. We say "oh, nice shot", or "ouch" at each other's shots, without gloating or strutting. (And sometimes "oops, I've lined that one up for you.") Also, there's no histronics over a loss -- if one of us sinks the 8-ball early, we just say "OK, your game". (We're also not much for knocking each other's¹ balls out of position, but that's partly a matter of our low skill level.) Sometimes we'll give each other friendly advice, too (this week, my belated advice for him was "if you're going to order a mixed drink, you might not want to chug it at the beginning of the game" ;-) ). Sure, we're both trying to win, but not at the cost of a "real-life" conflict.

¹ Is that properly apostrophized?

#239 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2014, 04:02 PM:

Dave Harmon @238: I would have thought not, but (citing American Heritage Dictionary 2000) says otherwise.

The rule I believed was that possessive pronouns don't get apostrophes, so I was checking to see if "other" in this case was a pronoun. The dictionary says "each other" is a pronoun, and it's possessive form is "each other's".

#240 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2014, 04:05 PM:

Games, ugh. They're a minefield for me, for many reasons (elder brother with no boundary sense who would dragoon me into playing them, messy competitive issues within the family, Aspie issues, Taking Things Too Seriously, being penalized for TTTS making it worse.) I'm always happy to let other people play, but I will almost never participate.

I can sometimes play games where winning and losing is not a factor. Charades where the guesser acts out next, rather than where scores are accumulated. Pandemic, where everyone wins together or everyone loses together. Games with children, rather than with adults.

Sometimes I can't even play those, because the gameplay mechanics trigger the ants-under-my-skin feeling that games bring: the feel of the board, the sound of the dice. Urgh.

Being urged to play things because "it's fun" is a guarantee that I will be off in a corner with a book.

The exception is, ironically, The Resistance, which I enjoy tremendously, am very good at, and don't get triggered by either losing or winning. I get so interested in who's good and who's bad that it's more like reading a mystery novel than it is playing against other people, so it works.

But mostly, games, ugh. At least I've taught the kids that if they're not enjoying them, it's OK to sit them out.

#241 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2014, 05:10 PM:

i mostly enjoy games, but I don't particularly enjoy competition -- and people who get nastily competitive in games make me uncomfortable. There's a real difference, to me, between "Oh, look at this fun thing I can do with the rules!" and "Boy, I'm really going to screw you with the rules this time." The latter led me not to want to continue playing Fluxx with a particular person. Deb Notkin and I tended to care more about the cumulative score in our Scrabble games than who won -- with a game that had a lot of elegant plays much more interesting than one that was just a slugfest. So -- games are an odd thing.

#242 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2014, 05:36 PM:

the invisible one, #234: "The rule is that new players can't be told the rules" always translates to me as "This is bullies' Fizzbin, where the rules are what anyone except me want them to be, and anyone except me can change them arbitrarily at any time." So I'd join you in not wanting to play something like that.

Mercury Capsule, #235: Does the person who won't shut up have any background in sales, especially sales of something dodgy? The reason I ask is that the "training" for that kind of position includes the instruction to ignore conversational closers. The attitude is, "As long as you can keep the mark talking, you haven't lost the sale." And that could easily carry over into personal social interactions.

Buddha Buck, #236: Encore is terrific for accommodating people joining late or leaving early, because it's a team game. All you have to do is try to keep the teams balanced in numbers. We had it in the consuite one year at Musicon, and it went on for hours with people drifting in and out as they chose.

Dave H., #238: Ah, house rules, especially when they're meta-rules. My old gaming group liked Civilization (the original board game, not the computer game or the new board game derived from the computer game). Then someone we knew got back from college, where he had learned to play Civ with an absolutely cutthroat group, while we had evolved a much more laid-back style. In particular, we had an unwritten rule that even though lying about the cards you were offering for trade was allowed, it was Not Done. I don't think we had even fully realized we were playing that way until he wasn't. Which was in no way his fault; I just had to talk to him privately later and explain the unwritten rule, after which he adjusted his style of play.

But the level of anger among the other players during that one game could have gotten very nasty if we hadn't all had more or less the same reaction of "WTF? Oh, right, he doesn't know how we play."

#243 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2014, 07:20 PM:

Oh look, orange walls!

#244 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2014, 07:24 PM:

the invisible one @243: That looks awesome! I love the way the white trim really sets off the orange. :)

#245 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2014, 07:29 PM:

abi @ 240... The Resistance, which I enjoy tremendously

I can easily see Abi as a Resistance lady, beret and all.

#246 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2014, 07:43 PM:

the invisible one #243: Yay! I bet my mom would hate it just as much as yours does, but I like flame colors. However, a meta-warning: the flikr site displays your real name.

#247 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2014, 08:12 PM:

Dave, I posted that graphic for the invisible one.

#248 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2014, 08:45 PM:

Carol, that was kind of you. And the invisible one? Love the orange!

#249 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2014, 08:53 PM:

Games are weird for me, and require lots of spoons and a safe environment; even then, I'm not always in the mood. Part of that is the [Chevre] playing style, which is aggressively competitive[1]; unless I'm with my family, or a group that plays very competitively[2], I'm worried that I'll make people uncomfortable.

My particular horror are the games where people make alliances; I have enough trouble with people as it is.

My taste in game nights? Please have some straightforward competitive games (chess, checkers) and a jigsaw puzzle or something else entirely non-competitive.

1) My father thought board games were a good place to learn to lose gracefully, even if your opponent wasn't gracious. Sitting under a chair while the winner stands on the chair and imitates a rooster will teach self-control, but it doesn't leave "it's OK to lose" a parseable statement.

2) If you usually play poker for money, and are playing Risk, you are a group I'll enjoy.

#250 ::: The_L ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2014, 09:07 PM:

I didn't think I'd like the orange wall, but it looks really nice! :) Add me to the list of people who like the invisible one's taste in paint colors.

#251 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2014, 09:24 PM:

The talk about paint colors has got me thinking about being more adventurous when it's inevitably time to repaint here. I don't have anything against the many nuanced shades of off-white, bit it will be fun to have something more exciting.

#252 ::: Quietly Learning To Be Loud ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2014, 09:48 PM:

Conversation closers
I honestly have no clue how to close a conversation with soneone who won't stop talking. In environments like work or other places with a built-in goto (I have to get back to work, go speak with...), I use that. In social environments where that is lacking, I fall back on my collection of physical ailments and "have to go pee." It's a stopper not a closer, but it gets me away. I then try to find a way to avoid that person when I return from the loo.

Paint color
My walls get painted in boring shades of off-white because of art, bookcases, tchotchkes, and changing my mind often. I bring in color thu area rugs, throws, pillows. My pillows and throws change as the seasons change, the area rugs move as my mood changes. Cuddling under a vivid salmon throw with a deep green pillow during a snowstorm is very warming to body and soul.

Having said that, I do enjoy visiting vivid wall colors in other people's houses.

#253 ::: Quietly Learning To Be Loud ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2014, 09:54 PM:

I just remembered that the reason I developed the ever changing color collection was to be able to put some amount of OMG color in the closet when being visited by the OMG-Too-Much-Color people. I don't need to any more, but the ever changing color thing is both habit and fun.

#254 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2014, 10:38 PM:

243: Orange walls -- gorgeous!!!! Luv.

#255 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2014, 11:04 PM:

My mother would join the matriarchal horde running screaming from the thought of orange walls. the invisible one's example is stunning (in the positive sense).

My apartment walls are mandatory off-white, but mostly what you see are colors.

#256 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2014, 12:32 AM:

Chickadee, Dave Harmon, Cally Soukup, The_L, Lizzy L, Carol Kimball: Thank you so much for your kind words. And especially thanks to Carol for offering to host the photo. I'm glad to hear that yet again, I'm not some uniquely weird specimen :)

Carol: nice rainbow of threads - and a treadle singer! With a functioning and attached belt drive!!!

All this discussion of both colours and being allowed to like what you like, and an earlier discussion of learning that I have agency and I can change my environment to suit myself, has allowed me to give myself permission to go for the bright colours and who cares what my parents say. And that, in turn, has actually taken away the stress of choosing colours! Because I don't have to make them look nice according to any design theory or colour wheel recommendations, nor any other people's opinions. I just have to pick colours that I like and that make me happy.

So, I went back to the paint store on my way home this evening, and picked up a big handful of bright paint chips. I have an idea now for my bathroom walls, and that is the brilliant deep blue of a summer sky in the mountains. (Bathroom is my first priority; I have to be ready to paint Friday because the drywall mud will be done and dry and ready for primer Thursday, and I want to get everything back into them and actually have functioning bathrooms again. It's a little disturbing how easily I've adapted to having toilet and sink at opposite ends of my home. Back to lack of agency and just making do with whatever situation I'm in, I guess; I'm finding it only a minor inconvenience.)

#242, Lee: Bullying. That's ... a very good way to look at that type of gameplay. It's definitely intended to keep the in-group in, and the newbies out, until the newbies have passed some test of learning how to conform and keep other newbies out.

Games where the rules are mutable but openly stated are a different matter entirely. That depends on who's playing. With the right group, I can enjoy stuff like "1000 blank white cards", though with the wrong group, I would very much not enjoy it.

#257 ::: LGB ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2014, 02:01 AM:

I'm very much enjoying the conversation about colors and decorating and being able to like what you like. The invisible one, your orange hallway is beautiful! I've also been exploring how I want my living space to look and feel, and it's wonderful to be able to like what I like without having to justify my opinions to anyone. (My soon-to-be-ex likes black and beige and that's it. Maybe navy blue, if he's feeling adventurous.) Right now my apartment has bright green curtains and my bed has bright blue sheets and I've hung a collage above my desk, made of postcards and drawings and notes people have sent me. It's ALL the colors and it makes me very happy. I'm not allowed to paint the walls here, but I'm still enjoying having more color in my life.

This week is going to be a busy one for me. (Why is it that when you make one big change, you have to make a million more changes all at the same time?!) I have an appointment with an attorney on Wednesday. I'm not exactly sure how that will go or what I need to have prepared. I printed and filled out a divorce petition as well as I could--at least I have the names and dates written down--and I've been preparing a list of assets and liabilities with all the accounts and property and debts that I know about. What should I expect from this initial meeting? I mostly want advice and expertise about what's fair from someone who is uninvolved and on my side.

A friend also introduced me to a CPA to help me sort out my business and money and taxes and things. They've offered me a free meeting and I intend to write back tonight to schedule it. Dealing with money stuff makes me feel a little sick, but I really need to learn and get up to speed as well as I can. I've never had to support myself on my own business before. It's scary! The last time I lived on my own I had a regular job. And it was quite a long time ago. Figuring out all the finances wouldn't be so urgent except that it's almost tax-time and I'm not sure what to do about my 2013 taxes. For example: Do I file separately or jointly? K said he was told it'd be better to file jointly, which makes me wonder...better for whom, exactly?

There are several comments I want to write individual responses to, but I'll have to do that later. In the meantime--thanks for all the kind comments and encouragement.

#258 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2014, 04:12 AM:

the invisible one, #256: Something I'd nearly forgotten. In that long-ago house with all the olive green, my mother chose to paint the hallway leading to the bedrooms bright yellow because it was very dark otherwise. She didn't do it floor-to-ceiling the way you did, but instead had a chair rail installed and painted only the upper part. But still, bright yellow! This was unusual for her, and I will note that she also replaced the olive carpeting and drapes in the living room with shades of gold. Maybe she just liked yellow, although I don't remember there being that much of it in our other houses.

LGB, #257: As I understand it, married-but-filing-separately is in fact the worst option for most people; I would ask the CPA to opine on whether you and K might be exceptions. And since you were still married at the end of 2013, jointly or separately are your only options.

#259 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2014, 04:45 AM:

Both conversation closers and interior decorating colours lead back, in my case, to the Lodger of Doom.

LoD was utterly insensitive to conversation closers, even of the type that signalled that I was about to walk out of the room. I don't know how many times I had to say to him, "Listen. If I say I need to go up and take my inhaler now, that means the conversation has to stop because I am not going to be in the room. It doesn't mean you keep talking regardless." It never seemed to sink in. If it was the sort of conversation closer where I stayed put, I'd end up saying something like, "Look, I've tried to tell you tactfully and it's gone straight over your head, so please would you now shut up! I'm trying to concentrate on X."

LoD also consistently toned down my colour choices when I was redecorating; his standard line was "you have to have neutrals, because you'll never sell your house otherwise". This was also how he persuaded me to put in a shower. I hate showers with a passion, and I had (and still have) a perfectly good bath. But apparently a shower would help me sell the house because "people expect to have one", so I let him install one. It was only after the beastly thing was installed that he informed me that it would have been very selfish of me not to let him put one in, as he "needed" one. Remember, this was the person I'd taken in out of pity because he'd have been on the streets otherwise, and by this point he'd already long overstayed his welcome!

Knowing that he'd talked me into the shower for himself, rather than in order to sell the house as he'd insisted it was, has naturally made me think again about the colour scheme. I had a lovely sunshine yellow ceiling in the bathroom, which of course he painted over. I'm hoping I don't have to stay here long enough to need to redecorate again, but in my next place I am having Colours. With a capital C. And I'd like to thank everyone here for the inspiration.

#260 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2014, 08:01 AM:

A thought floating up from last weekend: Since I found out about being on the spectrum, I've been assuming that was why I had such a marked lack of agency growing up, and even through much of college. But while we were hanging out, my friend happened to note that my Mom was, as he put it, "controlling" (I would say "overbearing", as AFAICT there's little premeditation to it). And he's barely met her, yet that struck him enough to remember it months later.

I'm belatedly starting to suspect that a good deal of my problems with agency came from Mom steamrollering me regularly, and being too impatient to let me decide things for myself.(My stepmother is/was overbearing in a slightly different fashion, but growing up she was only "every other weekend".)

#261 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2014, 09:02 AM:

the invisible one @256--I'm so happy to hear this! I love that shade of blue myself--it's not dark, but it is a supersaturated sort of color. I imagine it would be a great wake-up in the mornings, too!

LGB @257--Filing jointly helps the larger earner take advantage of the lesser (or non-)earner's lower income, as I understand it. It also means that both get the advantage of things like mortgage deductions and other things of that sort, and I believe that here in the US there is, as well, the whole head-of-household deduction thing. Talk it over with the accountant or a trained tax preparer, and decide what is to your advantage. Separated couples are not going to be a new thing for anyone in the tax business with enough experience to be well-qualified.

I strongly suspect no one needs to tell you that what your soon-to-be-ex wants may be more to his advantage than yours, and that getting an opinion from someone who doesn't have a dog in the fight is your wisest choice.

#262 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2014, 10:30 AM:

#257, LGB:

The first meeting with the lawyer will probably be information gathering; they will need to know what your situation and intent are. Having all your financial information with you will be useful.

That obnoxious spreadsheet-and-bill your ex sent you? Bring that too. Giving your lawyer information about what your ex wants will help them figure out how to make sure you aren't being taken advantage of.

(Also, learn from my mistake and don't have an ongoing email conversation with your lawyer. Those get *expensive*. Save up your legal questions for the meetings, and consider what needs to be discussed with a lawyer vs a counsellor.)

Tax laws vary but as has already been pointed out, in many jurisdictions filing jointly allows the higher-income spouse to get a tax break. From the sounds of it, that will definitely benefit your ex, but talk to the accountant about whether it will benefit *you*.

#259, Mongoose:

I was also told I needed neutrals if I ever wanted to sell.

To which my answer is: colour covering primer. When it's time to sell, I'll offer to prime the walls back to white unless the buyer asks me to leave a particular colour untouched. The stuff is designed to cover stains, so it's a very opaque white. (Yeah, either way the new owner will have to repaint, which not everybody will like, but at least they'll be starting from a base they can put any colour on, including off-white if that's what they want.)

#263 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2014, 10:39 AM:

Regarding colours: When my brother in law and his wife were shopping for a house, one of the things that sold them on the place they bought was the paint on the wall opposite the kitchen. Deep red with jagged black accents. We joked it was "Klingon chic." The owners' realtor was sure they'd have to prime over it to sell the place, but if you find the right buyer...

Basically, reiterating the "go with what *you* love" theme. :)

#264 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2014, 10:53 AM:

You know, paint is not dirt cheap, but it's not so horribly expensive that, unless you have plans to sell a house in the next couple of years, the "neutrals paint colors to sell" business really makes a convincing argument, to my ear.

It may well be true that a less-personal, less bold palette will appeal to a wider range of buyers, but unless you're selling right away, or are a chronic house-flipper, why not have something you like in the meantime?

#265 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2014, 11:21 AM:

257 & 261: regarding tax things:

A good CPA/tax preparer/accountant can examine different filing options for you, so that you can see what advantages there would be to filing married filing jointly as opposed to married filing separately. Since tax rates are higher if you filer married filing separately, generally married filing jointly status benefits both parties, but not always. Ask the CPA to explain the tax law to you and show you, perhaps using last year's taxes, how it works. Unless you already have all your 2013 tax documents, I recommend that both of you bring your last year's tax returns to the meeting. It may be helpful.

"Head of household" filing is not available to married people. It is a filing status for people who are unmarried but have a child they care for in their home.

#266 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2014, 12:05 PM:

the invisible one: Another note in favor of the orange, and of colors in general.

I feel like I'm coming into this slightly backward: I grew up with walls with intense colors (definitely no family pressure against it), but somewhere along the way I became extremely tentative when it came to my own walls in my own place. My spouse wound up with the job of walking me away from plain neutral walls to the wide variety of colors and intensities we now have, and which I love.

(I did have a twinge about the "you can always paint over it" comments, though: the previous inhabitants of our place had done their own interesting paint job—not to our taste, but fine—and in one place had, the best I can tell, outlined an area for painting using an actually magic marker. We had no trouble priming over their paint, but that outline was like something out of a horror novel: no matter what primer we put over it, in a day it was visible again. I actually started chiseling at the walls at one point in an effort to excise that line. I still twitch a bit thinking about it.)

#267 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2014, 12:31 PM:

At one time I owned a paint store (Pratt & Lambert brand).

Spot-priming with pigmented white shellac (such as Zinsser) is the answer to Magic Marker and anything else that keeps bleeding through. Every store that sells paint should have it.

Also, if you're going for (or are covering) a deep and/or intense color, you get better pigments and opacifiers with the more expensive brands - there's no "vanity pricing" with paint. I never knew of anyone who needed more than primer + 2 coats.

Take the time to clean the surfaces first, particularly in kitchens or if someone smoked.

#268 ::: Bodhisvaha ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2014, 01:02 PM:

the invisible one and others @colourfulness: I think "I'll prime it when I move" is an excellent solution to the problem. The next people can either then put in exactly what they want, or a deal to paint it a neutral can be struck. (Just don't do pink beige.)

I think that shade of blue will be gorgeous, especially with white trim. It'll look smashing with the orange hallway which is sunny and cheerful! I've done something very close to that colour scheme on our previous bathroom; the white that looked best had a drop of orange in it. (At first I thought of painting it all white. Then I realized that that would make the mismatched floor, vanity, and counter that I could not change stand out, so I picked something dramatic! The blue was a successful distraction.) Two suggestions: buy real kitchen and bath paint (the kind with mildew/mold resistance and more scrubbable), and have a mirror elsewhere more neutral to do/check makeup. I found the intense wall colour was altering the lighting and therefore the colours I saw in the mirror.

Er, if do you end up wanting a professional opinion -- whether for yourself or to have an authority to quote against family -- I can help if desired. I'm an interior designer and I keep getting compliments from the other designers on my colours.

@games: sometimes I get into a doom-and-gloom-bad-loser mode where the perception of losing taps into my Gordian Knot of fear/helplessness/frustration. It happens erratically and I try not to play anything (or with anyone) that produces it frequently, but I often can't tell until midway through a game that it's going to hit me, by which point there is no graceful exit. I finally figured out a couple of its triggers: (1) a situation where I'm working hard, but it feels futile or I feel set up to fail, and (2) situations where I'm playing nice/fair and should be able to succeed that way, but someone backstabs or interferes with me in a way that I would hesitate to return. It's especially bad if they cap it with a "but you're not supposed to mind/be hurt" spiel. Written out like that, it's a lot more obvious why those bother me and how deeply they are wired. This instance may be just a game, but those situations were perhaps half my waking life until approximately age 20. Any one instance wasn't a big deal, but the pattern certainly was, so even the usual calming/soothing things to say are triggers because they have long been used against me too, out of malice and out of kindness and many shades in between.

However, this is a recent enough discovery that I don't know yet how to reliably tell in advance when something is going to slide over from "competitive but fun" into "triggeringly futile or backstabby", especially as it depends on everyone else's behaviour, not just me. So I tend to like co-operative games (but not ones with a traitor), and ones where you build stuff and see how it shakes out. I don't tend to play a lot of cut-throat games, but ones where the only viable strategy is to be cut-throat seem to go better than optionally backstabby ones, because then it's obvious that I ought to give as bad as I get.

Oh, and I've got training that I'm supposed to get it right the first and every time. It's more amenable to reminders that it is just a game, it takes time to learn, and you can't win all the time.

#269 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2014, 04:03 PM:

Re: Taxes -- You CAN file "Head of Household" if you have a parent living with you that you are eligible to claim as a dependent.

#270 ::: charming quark ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2014, 08:35 PM:

the invisible one: I love a good color, and your orange hallway is lovely. It puts me in mind of this one, in decorator Sheila Bridges' own home:

fidelio @ 209: that something somewhere on the internet, that would be Pinterest! (Which is where I have a copy of that image, btw.)

#271 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2014, 10:13 PM:

Jacque, #65

Thank you for the link to Very handy and very thoughtful.

#272 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2014, 11:18 PM:

invisible one:

Just in case it's helpful - When we were picking colors for our house, we bought several sheets of heavy posterboard and a passel of test pints. It let us see what the colors would look like embiggened in the existing house lighting and we could also see how the trims and accent colors played against each other.

It made one tough choice easier to make, and we eliminated another color that worked fine in miniature but was horribly washed out when we got to see it in bold. It was actually great, because we subbed in another blue we were using elsewhere and that was stunning in both contexts, plus cheap because fewer cans.

Then we cut the corners off the samples, wrote the paint name & number on the back, stapled the base color to the accents used and filed them for future reference if we ever have to go back for touch-up paint.

#273 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2014, 11:52 PM:

Second thoughts...

Oh my gosh, that orange is amazing!

I would totally have used it, but my husband was already stressing out over my existing color choices. (I wanted a lot more orange.)

Apparently, he went to his dad and asked what to do, because I wanted to paint colors on all the walls and he'd never lived anywhere where the walls weren't uniformly white. As he reported it, his dad told him to trust me, and if it was a mistake, I would surely find a way to correct it somehow... (Now that it's all pulled together, he's perfectly happy with it and loves showing it off to his friends.)

#274 ::: jonesnori/Lenore Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2014, 12:18 AM:

Taxes again. The rules for head of household status are complex. There is an exception to the usual rule that you must be unmarried to claim it. You may be "considered unmarried" for head of household purposes if you have lived apart from your spouse for the last six months of the year (other than for temporary reasons such as an overseas assignment), and have provided a household for a child, among other things. I don't think the parental dependent option does it for this purpose, but I haven't researched it beyond looking at irs publication 504.

#275 ::: hope in disguise ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2014, 08:00 AM:

Catching up. Enjoying the color and game threads. Bodhisvaha, I think you have wonderfully articulated things that make it hard for me to enjoy games. So thank you for that.

I told Housemate that I'm uncomfortable when he makes sexual remarks and I explained it by "I was traumatized by Horrible Ex and am now twitchy about consent" which I had mentioned before the one time we made out and his response was good-natured in tone but included "I'm sorry you can't take compliments anymore because of that" which uh ok I'm honestly not sure how I should respond to that? IDK.

I'm staying with friends instead of at my co-op—a friend just got back from burying a parent which is a wonderful excuse to say "I am going to go cook and comfort" (I offered and he said yes pls) and my housemates wouldn't question it—and the insistent aching stress of the last week is already subsiding, and the bone-deep fatigue hasn't shown up in the last two days. What this suggests about my living situation for the rest of the semester, I don't want to contemplate. I can't afford to live anywhere else.

#276 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2014, 09:14 AM:

hope in disguise @ 275: sounds as though he needs to learn that unsolicited sexual remarks are not compliments. Which may not be easy for him, because he probably genuinely means them that way. I'm not sure what to suggest other than to ask him how he'd take the same remarks from a gay man who was bigger and/or stronger than he was; but that approach takes a bit of thinking out to ensure that you're not coming over as hostile yourself, just explaining how his "compliments" feel to you. You may or may not be able to do it, depending on how good a listener he is.

Still, you've established a boundary, which I expect you're quite rightly feeling pretty good about. And that's progress!

#277 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2014, 09:46 AM:

I survived lunch with my parents! :P

They insisted on delivering our anniversary gift in person, so we picked the best (non-anniversary) date we could manage and a neutral place to meet (restaurant for lunch, to limit the time together).

I brought a fidget stone in my pocket, and made use of it by the end of lunch. Lots of use of it. But it helped to distract me and keep me from losing it at Mom. Yay!

Good points: Mom asked how our teaching is going, and *gasp* listened to the answers! We were both impressed. :) Overall, it was a good lunch. Overall, the conversation was reasonable to good.

Bad points: Well, one major bad point. Mom started off with her "I know I shouldn't judge but..." and from what I could tell felt very virtuous for acknowledging that a friend's kid with severe FASD was not 100% responsible for her behaviour before going on to holier-than-thou trash her behaviour and lifestyle and... I tried to politely change the topic and finally ended up cutting in when she took a breath with "Spouse really loved *item* you got him for Christmas!" with a big, bright smile. Perfect derail, as it got her in another of her obsessions. :) She kind of blinked, then adjusted to the change in topic and things were fine again after that. *phew* (last time she pulled something like that, I was pissed off for hours after)

Oh, and Mom finally noticed my hair. The inch-wide electric blue streak that I've had since September. *eg* Her first response was "Why did you do that?!?" To her credit, she didn't then go on to tell me how unprofessional it was and how my students wouldn't respect me. She just tried to pretend she'd seen it the whole time while simultaneously acknowledging that this was the first time she'd seen it. (she's always been like that; the difference is that there used to be more than a few seconds between statements)

So, decent lunch conversation, successful derail, and I tweaked Mom's nose with something I'd done in the first place entirely for my own enjoyment. Altogether successful when I put it that way. :)

#278 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2014, 10:15 AM:

the invisible one: what a happymaking colour (in my opinion) and congrats on finishing that wall!

(Nice day over here: a deeply great friend just visited from out of town and we got a lot of deep in-person conversation, my spouse made pumpkin bread this morning from a Trader Joe's mix and it's delightful, and he made me some genmaicha that is cooling to drinkable temp right next to me while smelling wonderful, and I'm going to go co-work with a friend today so I don't get stuck in the at-home rut I too often fall into.)

Thank you for the discussion around games. (I think I am wary of games the same way I am wary of teasing.) Sometimes I try and understand something that used to make me unhappy, and it just makes me feel maudlin and I end up wanting a time machine. I did that a little, thinking about games. But it's also true that my spouse and my friends play games really respectfully, and that I have a say in what proportion of the time we play games together, and if I say I want to play then we only play games I'm interested in playing, and sometimes I go surf the web or work or whatever instead. It's fine now. So I am going to try to think about that, and not the past.

(Also the tea has cooled enough and is great!)

#279 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2014, 10:31 AM:

hope in disguise, #275: I keep coming back to the issue of "overtly sexual comments about a woman you are not involved with are RUDE," and I wonder how it is that nobody seems to have taught him that. A compliment would be something like, "You look nice in that dress," or "I like the way your hair looks today," and even that can edge over into sexual harassment if done too often. Remarks about you having a nice ass? That's on the level of wolf-whistles on the street, and Right Out.

Hmmm. I'm wondering if there's an online etiquette guide which explains this, that you could refer him to? Failing that, have you considered submitting a letter to Captain Awkward and asking for advice? This seems like the sort of thing that would be right up their alley over there.

Chickadee, #277: Go you! Especially with the derailing. I have learned that when my partner gets on a verbal tear about something, I can often distract him by asking a car-related question, even one as simple as "What's that red one over there?"

My father did a lot of that kind of prefacing, but usually in the context of lectures he was planning to deliver to me. Eventually I learned that an effective tactic was to just keep interrupting him with words to the effect of, "Then DON'T SAY IT!" as he tried to get the preface out, until he gave up and went into a sulk. (Sometimes this took 5 or 6 repetitions.) But my father was not nearly the narcissist that your mother is, so I don't know if that trick would work on her.

#280 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2014, 10:43 AM:

Lee @279: She may be a narcissist, but she's also got a thorough sense of the proper drilled in, and that line might be enough to trigger the "properness" response - along with a lot of self-hate (for not being "proper" and "Christian") and anger at me (for triggering the self-hate). Derail is better.

#281 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2014, 11:10 AM:

Carol Kimball@267: Thanks. Another round or two with the paint store might have gotten us to the right answer, but in the end (for this and other reasons) we wound up calling an exorcist in the form of a professional painter who said "no problem" and dealt with it. At that point we'd gotten superstitious enough that we were nervous about asking what he'd had to do.

#282 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2014, 11:36 AM:

Blocking stains with shellac is easy*. The problem is recognizing that continuing to slap paint on doesn't work, and looking for another solution.

Please see the "how do we know what we don't know?" discussions here.

* Very like the piano fingering/bug fix

#283 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2014, 12:42 PM:

The online etiquette guide most likely to help with inappropriate compliments is probably Paging Dr. Nerdlove, but I'm not conversant enough with his "greatest hits" to figure out where, precisely. Alternatively, this Captain Awkward post about inappropriate compliments at work might be useful.

#284 ::: hope in disguise ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2014, 09:39 PM:

Mongoose, Lee, abi, thank you for the advice and pointers. Today's struggle (and the struggle for the last week, really) has been getting through the day without flopping onto the ground and declaring that I have given up. I don't know what's causing it, but I am still dipping in and out of "nothing is okay and I don't know why", for values of "nothing is okay" that do not preclude brief joy at a beloved song, or excited intellectual conversations, or quiet satisfaction at catching my professor producing an unexpected grammatical construction, but do preclude grocery shopping, dish-washing, and most of my school work (except for the class I'm auditing with my professor).

I got some sunlight. I don't know if it helped. I got some hugs. They helped briefly. I spent time with friends. It helped. And all the things mentioned above helped. But I keep returning to a... mire. Continual flashes of the feeling that precedes crying, unaccompanied by tears. Apathy. Exhaustion.

I don't want to go see a professional. I don't. I just don't. I don't know what I do want. "blanket" and "pasta" and "music" and "marx" have all been deemed acceptable but insufficient. I don't know what to do? It will probably be better tomorrow, because it's been cycling, and I can go, like, buy food of a low-spoon tasty nature (since I'm staying with friends, not in my co-op, because co-op was probably source of at least part of the stress that apparently got dumped on my head ALL AT ONCE augh also I went back today to get some things and found that my window was leaking. no thanks).

Don't know what I'm going to say to my professor on Friday when we (hopefully?) meet, other than "evidence suggests that something about my current situation is incredibly stressful and I'm unwilling to drop the class* with you and economically unable to move out of the co-op I'm supposed to be studying under your supervision. wat do"

*the class has been my only reliable source of positive feelings other than a handful of specific people over the last week. If he thinks I would be better off not doing it, he is not in possession of all the facts

#285 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2014, 11:55 PM:

hope in disguise: what you describe sounds remarkably like biochemical depression of one flavor or another. Blanket, pasta, music, Marx, and hugs being acceptable-but-not-sufficient...why yes, I have been there. (Bipolar II, so the depression is the more crippling phase for me.) (Actually I AM there, and have been resisting posting about it, because one of the other things it makes me do is withdraw.)

"I don't want to go see a professional. I don't. I just don't." is a thing that may have some basis in past experience, but is also depression's way of protecting itself, and it's a goddamned stubborn motherfucker that way. Is it useful to know that it doesn't take a psychiatrist to prescribe antidepressants? You might be able to describe the above symptoms to a GP and walk out with a prescription, and for me it's been like having the lights turned back on. (Why haven't I taken my own advice? Right now the stubborn motherfucker is making it very difficult for me to fill out the Affordable Care Act application so I CAN go see someone and get meds again.)

Another thing that strikes me about your description is the exhaustion - you've been living in a chronic state of stress, which is another biological thing. High cortisol levels. Overtaxed adrenal glands. IANAD, ignore-if-hlepy, but I did want to put it out there that your body is involved in your emotional state and may need care and attention of its own.

I'm reading and witnessing and hope things improve and keep improving.

#286 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2014, 09:16 AM:

Dave Harmon @199

Having read you at various points here, I know you mean well, so I'm sorry I need to point out something that felt discordant in your response to me...

AIUI, among 20-somethings (or so), giving ideas on hair coloring like that is not considered particularly rude, especially to someone who's already "playing with it".

My own feeling on having read this was that my own experience of that interaction had been minimized. Apart from appearing to suggest that I have limited experience with that age-group (untrue), I'm also interacting in a non-USA/non-English-speaking country. (Here in Belgium, I've been totally amazed at the general level of natural politeness/reticence, even among with teenagers and young adults, compared even to some places in England.) I've become very used to, and even rely upon, the general background of not mentioning "improvements" unless very specifically invited to do so - hence, my first reaction to Mr "Always-Needs-to-Be-Right" up above.

I thought I had shared enough context to make clear what had happened was outside of acceptable bounds - the sentence "You know what would make it even better?" can pretty much be analyzed as, "I know something that you don't" and "there's room for improvement" - without any acknowledgement that "there's room for improvement" isn't in fact the only correct point of view.

Additionally, in mentioning this conversation had taken place on the doorstep - I've come to understand that some people, who need to score a conversational point while suffering only minimal exposure to a response, like to indulge in "parting shots". I'll probably do a search on the DFD threads later for my own continuing education, seeing how many of our companions here have related stories where the parent/partner/roommate employed this tactic - when the interaction is almost finished and one's guard is down... except I'm getting better at being prepared, with certain individuals, when the time to part is nearing. Alas, Mr. "Always-Needs-to-Be-Right" has shown in the intervening months (the incident took place in June or so) that if he can't "get" me any other way, the exit is going to have to do.

Crazy(but hoping this was also more interesting than annoying)Soph

#287 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2014, 12:16 PM:

(The piece that got me thinking about games and family. Especially the world-flipping idea, "if a game isn't fun for everyone, you have to play something else." I'm brainwane on Dreamwidth, so you can recognize my comment.)

#288 ::: Merricat ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2014, 05:35 PM:

hope in disguise @284, Rikibeth @285:

I think it's really hard to give useful feedback in the realm of "this is a biochemical thing what needs a pharmaceutical solution" vs "this is a temporary spike in badness that can be handled with environmental and cognitive controls"; people who have benefited strongly from A feel like B is denying their experiences, and vice versa. (Full disclosure, my experience is pretty much 100% the opposite side of Rikibeth's experience, despite having a very similar outward presentation to the stuff she identified with.)

Regardless of which camp you end up falling into, these things are true:
Things do not have to suck this much.
You deserve better.
You will figure it out eventually, and you just need to do what you can in the meantime.

I also don't know what your school's like, but my undergraduate professors were really considerate about things like "the rest of my life is falling apart, I'm gonna be skipping some class/need some extensions" as long as you gave them a heads up. And there is nothing wrong with withdrawing from a couple of classes (assuming you're past your drop deadline) if it will make it easier to do well on the ones that matter.

#289 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2014, 07:56 PM:

crazysoph #286: Those are entirely fair criticisms of my comment, and I'm sorry for being presumptuous and/or tone-deaf (not to mention US-centric).

#290 ::: hope in disguise ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2014, 09:56 PM:

Rikibeth @285, Merricat @288, thank you.

Today was way way better, suggesting that perhaps this is a temporary spike in badness, manageable by things like taking a break from stressful situation, spending time with friends, and being kind to myself. Also antidepressants are scary, in a "putting them in my brain" sort of way rather than a "putting them in anyone's brain" sort of way. So that's a factor.

Rikibeth: your body is involved in your emotional state and may need care and attention of its own.
This sounds like a good plan. I am trying to work out the best way to do it.

Merricat: Unfortunately, of the classes I am taking, 2 are part of the "free tuition" program I'm doing this year, 1 is the very last in my minor, and the other 2 are the only optional ones and also my main source of academic joy. So I really don't want to withdraw from any classes unless I'm flattened for, like, weeks and it's the difference between graduating and not. Hopefully that won't happen!

#291 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2014, 12:06 AM:

hope in disguise: best wishes for it being a temporary, self-resolving spike.

On bodily involvement: your "tasty, low-spoons food" is sensible, as is your effort to be in a place where you can sleep more easily. I don't know how much stock you put in things like reflexology, but a thing I've learned from that is that the "point" for the adrenals is directly under the ball of the foot, and that when you're overstressed and they're overtaxed, you can feel a tender or even a "crunchy" spot right there. Applying deep pressure with the thumbs on that spot is supposed to counteract the badness.

I can't speak to the scientific validity of the system, but I have found the technique empirically helpful. It's possible that this may have more to do with my bone structure than anything else - I have high arches and worked standing jobs for years and shoe-store scanners show that exact spot is where I bring my body's weight to bear, and when I bought a recommended pair of orthotics that put extra support there, it made a huge difference in my well-being - but, in any case, it's easy to apply thumb pressure there, even as self-massage if you don't want a foot rub from another person or don't have a willing one nearby, and is unlikely to do any harm. know, if you're on your feet a lot, and can afford about $50-60, going to The Walking Company or even a drugstore Dr. Scholl's foot-scanner and getting some support inserts for your shoes might do more than you'd expect for general fatigue. $10 gel inserts won't do much, IME; you need the scanner to figure out how you habitually distribute your weight and what shape the inserts need to be for best support. But the right sort of shoe inserts can really change the way your body feels, for the better. And it's a thing a lot of people overlook.

#292 ::: Bricklayer ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2014, 09:43 AM:

Still not king (that is, pregnant). Dealing with months of Schroedinger's Pregnancy as we try to actually end up having a second kid is exhausting. Note: so far as I know the major barriers to our conceiving are stress-related (for removing urge to have sex in the relevant window, and then systemic stress and lack of sleep probably causing my body to have no interest in letting it stick even if it fertilizes).

I track the data on endpoints so I can estimate windows of eligibility, and also so I know when to have pads in the house, but I am failing at detaching that theoretical knowledge from rollercoasters of hope/certainty. I suppose it's partly that the months when it's even numerically plausible are so rare that it's easy to get all wound up about it.

I wish I could stay calm and unjudging, and let it be a happy surprise if/when it works instead of having this horrible DAMMIT DAMMIT DAMMIT when it doesn't.

It doesn't help that, probably, if we haven't caught by the time our existing goes into full-time real school in September, I'll probably have to give up on it entirely, take a job, etc.

It feels like mourning.

(edited repeatedly to take out apology for my feelings, because of all the people whose can't-get-pregnant feels have different causes than ours)

#293 ::: Anon4Now ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2014, 03:21 PM:

Reading and witnessing, all.

Games: I'm so relieved to read others who seem to have similar stress/anxiety reactions to games as I do. That this is a thing that is known and not just something broken about me.

For me it's mostly tied up in fear of failure and humiliation. It's a very similar feeling to the feeling I often get when I'm trying to do strenuous cardio exercise -- panic and humiliation, with my mind shouting at me about how much I suck and how stupid I look, usually driving me near or to tears after a while. (I never put that together before, but it is the same feeling.)

With exercise, I've long thought it had to do with being bullied in gym classes as a kid, and left behind by groups of friends who would run off faster than I was able to follow. I never understood quite where it started, with games.

I'm also friends with a couple of people who have board/card game superpowers. They grok the shape of a new game and the appropriate strategies almost instantly. I'm much slower to learn and need much more trial-and-error. So when I play with these friends, I pretty much spend all my time worrying that every move I make is an incredibly stupid, obvious mistake that I can't see, but they all can. (This does, actually, happen with some regularity. They're always very nice about it, but there is often a moment of them saying "…You don't want to do that" and me having no clue why I shouldn't do what I was about to do.)

Basically, I feel like I'm constantly being judged and found wanting. It makes games stressful, not fun.

This is why I don't even play solo video games. Even playing alone with no one else around, when I fail repeatedly at something, it triggers that panicky, humiliated feeling.

In the past, I've been told I was being a party pooper for not wanting to take part in games. Lately, I've been consciously trying to say yes to games, in an effort to overcome this fear of failure (and to not seem like a party pooper). Sometimes it even works -- when I'm playing with people I really trust, I'm more able to believe that they're not judging me and let the panic pass.

#294 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2014, 03:52 PM:

@mammography: Been trying to talk to my local imaging center about getting some anesthesia for my follow-up mammo. Their suggestion: "Take some ibuprophen before your appointment."


I can't even.

#295 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2014, 06:01 PM:

Jacque @ 294: really, no. After that experience you had, they ought to be offering you anaesthesia before you even ask. *shakes head in sympathy and melancholy astonishment*

#296 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2014, 06:48 PM:

Mongoose #295: Mammographies are still a focus point for medical sexism -- it's perfectly well known that they will hurt, and presumed that the woman ought to put up with the pain, "because you don't want to die of cancer, do you?"

#297 ::: charming quark ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2014, 07:14 PM:

I can't even.

Jacque @ 294: My sympathies. It can sometimes be remarkably difficult to get imaging techs and support staff to see you as anything other than a meaty data input. I could tell some stories! Keep after them to accommodate you. If they say they can't, tell them they need to give you a specific reason why not. Remember, they are there to be of help and service to YOU, not the other way around.

Sorry, I know that's getting heply, but this is something that always gets me all het up.

#298 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2014, 07:55 PM:

Anon4Now at 293:

I have always disliked both games and competition. There are a few games -- mostly having to do with words -- that I have played and enjoyed off and on, but very few. I remember playing Clue and Monopoly as a child, and not hating them, and I remember playing Risk, but not a lot. The only card game I've ever played and enjoyed is Hearts, and that was decades ago.

I don't like putting other people in positions where they lose. I like everyone to win.

#299 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2014, 08:41 PM:

There's a company that is semi-defunct now called Cheapass Games (they're doing print runs via Kickstarter only, though many of their old games area available to print from PDF.) The thing I liked about their gameplay is that they designed games that were quick to learn, easy to play, and for which anyone could come from behind at the last minute and win (as opposed to games such as Monopoly, which are often a multi-hour endgame dealing with the person who got out in front early.) They're also immensely silly, as you could guess from titles such as The Great Brain Robbery (zombies on a train) or Unexploded Cow (mixing victims of mad cow disease and unexploded ordnance from WWI.)

Now, what's interesting is that you could probably class gameplay for various styles of game according to relationships. A lot of traditional American gameplay is basic competition; it's only recently that different designers have started to play with the ideas that slapping a new face on basic game structure doesn't need to be that way. I've seen games where the object is to beat the board, and where cooperation is paramount. I've seen games where silliness is the object, or conversation. And honestly, most of the classics look obnoxious to me now.

#300 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2014, 09:44 PM:

Mongoose, Dave Harmon, charming quark: Thanks for the support. I suspect I'm going to need it. I'll keep after them. To cross threads, one of my mother's superpowers is wrangling bureaucracies. I fully intend to deploy both barrels.

I've put off dealing with this for a couple of weeks; now it seems the relevant supervisor won't be back in the office until next week. But a bit of Googling turns up an interesting item: they provide a local for mammography guided biopsy, so it's not like the tech doesn't exist.

I anticipate I'll get push-back because "that's just for biopsies." Or there will be "insurance" constraints. But they've annoyed me now. ::evil, very humorless grin::

#301 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2014, 10:00 PM:

B. Durbin #299:Hmm. It occurs to me that one of my problems with games is my lack of stamina -- I can't maintain "competitive" attention for all that long, and for many games, a "slip" kills your standing.

#302 ::: Variations on a Lime ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2014, 02:30 AM:

Nodding at every paragraph. The feeling from when I recently tried to join a "won't tell you the rules"* game at a con was fairly identical to gradeschool feelings on everyone else but me knowing the rules**.

Both reminded me of bullying (trying to figure out what the social rules were that would stop the bullying, but that's the point, that they're In and you're Out).

Do any cons have a beginners' room gaming group? Maybe I'd be fine at some games, but I want to learn them in a place - a safe space - where everyone empathizes with the stress.

* can't recall what game, but I started with a small handful of cards and anytime I asked a question I'd get more when everyone else silently handed theirs back/away. After 3 rounds and my face turning red I just left. I don't think I called anyone names on leaving, but right now I wish I did.

** some word game of "It's X but not Y" where all the first words shared some characteristic not found in the second.

#303 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2014, 05:56 AM:

Games: I like Scrabble, am good at it, and play it online a lot. I'm not worried about who wins or loses, just so long as the same person isn't doing one or the other all the time. (I do have some friends who play against me and lose all the time, but they do so because they're trying to improve their game, and inevitably they do after a while. One friend who started off doing that is now beating me about half the time, which is ideal.)

But then, for me at least, much of the fun of Scrabble isn't winning - it's about making Lovely Words. This morning I started a new game with the word THRONG. Now that's a nice word, and it'd still be a nice word even if it hadn't got me 28 points.

#304 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2014, 06:09 AM:

Anon4Now @293:
It's a very similar feeling to the feeling I often get when I'm trying to do strenuous cardio exercise -- panic and humiliation, with my mind shouting at me about how much I suck and how stupid I look, usually driving me near or to tears after a while.

I am much the same about singing in public. Have been for years about solo singing, but it's turned into a problem even in a large congregation.

My solution is lessons. Could you do something similar?

#305 ::: Dysecdesis ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2014, 09:17 AM:

Re: the gaming subthread - has anyone else played Machine of Death? It's cooperative, though it can be team-based, and it's all based on your creativity and sense of humor. The rules are actually fairly simple once you play it through once. Basically you and your teammates come up with ways to assassinate a given character involving a specific mode of death and a certain set of items, but the interpretation of what all those things mean is totally up to your creativity. The game itself was made by the fine folks at Wondermark and as you might guess there are a lot of nerd/webcomics references built in. We just started playing ours but I liked it a lot.

#306 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2014, 09:38 AM:

Variations on a Lime@302

Not sure about about a specific "beginner's room". Some cons (for example, my local con Capclave) have sessions where one of the game room staff will teach the other players a game.

(It isn't a requirement that the other players haven't played the game before, but I think generally most of the other players are novices at the given game.)

As far as games are concerned, I seem to have rather broad tastes. The games I actually bring to a gaming group are mostly fairly straightforward to play and have enough of a luck component (although they're never entirely luck) that someone can win the first time out. Two most frequent right now are "Transamerica" (train game, each round is a race to connect all your cities together) and "Tsuro" (create paths by placing tiles, goal is to stay on the board).

#307 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2014, 11:06 AM:

On board games:

1) I'm increasingly fond of cooperative board games, or a variant where all the players but one team up against someone else playing the "villain" side. While I had fairly healthy dynamics in game-playing growing up (aside from my tendency to cheat when playing against my little sister), co-op games go a long ways towards easing potential friction when dealing with other people who have other play styles than mine. There's still room for problems--players getting overly bossy at others, or frustrated at people who play more casually, and it can still be stressful to lose even against The Board rather than another player--but for people who find competition against other players particularly stressful, they're a godsend. And it's really nice to see more and more games of that sort come out lately.

2) The most famous "don't tell anyone the rules" game, and I think the one Variations on a Lime mentions above, is Mao. The first time I encountered the concept of it, I was outright horrified. It sounding like a hazing process, not a game.

...and I still don't think I'd enjoy playing it. But I've met people--good friends who are not in any way abusive or bullies--who take great delight in the game, and particularly enjoyed the learning experience. It hits a particular type of challenge button for them, and they take to the premise of not being told the rules the way some people take to wilderness exploring. Not knowing is the draw itself.

The game can certainly be played in an abusive manner: making someone play who doesn't want to is a terrible idea. But I don't think the game itself is abusive, any more than a game of poker is, or a vigorous debate between friends. (The last of which is fairly likely to leave me red-faced and in tears, while I have friends who would find that kind of discussion delightful, given a willing partner.) I do think it's a game that, like Diplomacy, has a high enough chance of upsetting players, especially new ones, that people springing it on those who haven't played before should take some more care in making sure it's being aimed at an appropriate audience.

#308 ::: Variations on a Lime ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2014, 01:49 PM:

Fade Manley@307,
That does look like the game.

Thinking more about it, I don't think my problem was in the "making someone play who doesn't want to is a terrible idea" category. I wanted to play. Not knowing that not knowing the rules is part of the game meant that the whole experience was triggery. If even one person has whispered a hint I might have been able to join in rather than leaving before I started crying (which I did, back in the hotel room).

As a comparison, at a party the other week I joined an ongoing poker game - I hadn't played for some time. To help me start, the group did a quick meta-commentary round ("here's what I'm about to put down, and why" and "here's why I'm bluffing.") which felt quite welcoming.

To me, this type of welcome is less related to the type of game -- competitive vs cooperative -- and more about how the stress of being a beginner is acknowledged.

#309 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2014, 02:38 PM:

Sumana @232: We just bought Snake Oil. :) It sounds right up my alley. :) Thanks for the recommendation!

#310 ::: Stephen Sample ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2014, 03:40 PM:

This seems like a good time to put in a plug for the notion of Maximum Fun Quotient as a goal.

I've found it very helpful as a way of thinking about how to choose/approach/modify games, particularly when playing with a group that includes several people who have very different enjoyment metrics.

#311 ::: Laurel ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2014, 08:08 PM:

Ooh, Mongoose, where do you play? I love Scrabble and used to play over at yahoogames all the time, but the users were just too scary. It was only about five percent of the time that my opponent would yell at me or make some kind of sexual remark, but I felt so nervous about it happening again that playing there just wasn't fun any more.

#312 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2014, 08:10 PM:

Variations on a Lime @ 308: Not knowing that not knowing the rules is part of the game meant that the whole experience was triggery.

Oh my goodness. I can totally see how that would make it even worse. The variation I'm familiar starts with the dealer explicitly saying "The only rule I'm allowed to tell you is this one." And it was always introduced beforehand in casual conversation with mention that it was a game all about figuring out the rules. Even knowing about several of the basic rules, and how it's supposed to play, I'm still not sure I'd enjoy playing a game of it.

#313 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2014, 11:09 PM:

Variations on a Lime @302: I recently tried to join a "won't tell you the rules"* game at a con ... can't recall what game, but I started with a small handful of cards and anytime I asked a question I'd get more when everyone else silently handed theirs back/away. After 3 rounds and my face turning red I just left. I don't think I called anyone names on leaving, but right now I wish I did.

::evil grin:: Not quite your situation, but I've run into this game. An otherwise very clueful friend with a passion for games had told me about one like this.* Apparently, one of the rules is, you can't be in the group without playing. This is how I learned this:

I came and sat down next to him while I was waiting for the next panel at a con. He was in a game, dealing cards. I'm sitting there next to him, reading the program book or something. *plop* A card lands in front of me. I continue reading. *plop* Another card lands in front of me. I keep reading. *plop* I don't recall how many cards, but he eventually clued in and gathered them up and continued his game. I continued to sit there companionably until my panel started.

See: if you want me to participate, first you have to tell me what's going on. Then, you have to get my, you know, consent before holding me to the rules.

I find, in my old age, that I'm getting very twitchy about the whole idea of consent.

* And in other conversations, I had pretty firmly established my complete disinterest in games of any kind.

Fade Manley @307: The most famous "don't tell anyone the rules" game, and I think the one Variations on a Lime mentions above, is Mao.

Yes, that was the name my friend above mentioned. As you say, I know people who would be all over this game and find it fascinating and satisfying, and I can kinda sorta see the appeal, in a theoretical kind of way. But, yeah. Seems to me there's that small matter of informed consent.

Variations on a Lime @308: Not knowing that not knowing the rules is part of the game meant that the whole experience was triggery.

I had forewarning and I knew what the deal was, and it still roundly pissed me off. The only thing that saved my friend was that (a) I otherwise have great respect for him and (b) I felt entirely free to decline to submit to the dynamic.

#314 ::: Variations on a Lime ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2014, 12:23 AM:

Fade@312, Jacque@313,
Thanks! This subthread and writing in it has been some combination of triggery and cathartic, in that I'm having a really strong reaction to just summarizing my thoughts.

I've been defining myself as a person who doesn't play games (not since some LARPing a decade ago). At the same time, I had a subscription to Games magazine (monthly puzzles of all sorts), and liked Monopoly and other games with friends and family* back when I was in school. That I cannot see myself starting games now unless in a non-judgmental, "asking (meta)questions is ok" environment? This is interesting.

* dysfunctional, but not in games, which may be helpful as I think about some "was it caused by df or that elementary school bullying?" questions. So, cathartic.

#315 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2014, 12:36 AM:

Argh. Today's Captain Awkward had me crying and feeling like crap when I read it. Usually if that site makes me cry it's more the realization of what was going on, crying from understanding or relief kind of thing, where somebody has put in words something that clarifies a thing that I knew but hadn't figured out how to express.

Today, it felt like they were confirming what Jerkbrain keeps telling me: that I'm the problem in my relationships, especially the most recent one.

I've been quite deliberately distracting myself all evening, which has helped with the not crying bit, but has not helped with either feeling better or getting done that which I intended to get done (namely, preparing to paint my bathroom that happy blue).

#316 ::: Melanie the Tongueless ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2014, 03:19 AM:

(different nym, and a Not Yet Valid email - the gnomes and a I will recognize the IP though)

Normally, I'd have a few things to share on the gaming subthread... but after an incident where I called the LARP referee on some very toxic, agency-destroying bullshit during a one-on-one, and then the rest of the group turned around with every excuse you can see displayed on the Pervocracy's brilliant post "The Missing Stair", well.... I'm just beginning to put my head above the parapet.

Thanks for listening.

#317 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2014, 04:56 AM:

Note to all commenters:

Please agree nym changes with me beforehand.

In this case, it's OK, for Reasons, but I need to know, because there are some contexts where nym changes are not a good idea, or where there may be a better solution to the problem being addressed.


#318 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2014, 05:58 AM:

Laurel @ 311: I play on the Book of Face. There are two versions of Scrabble on there (at least). One is called Scrabble Mattel, and this is the version I play. The other one is just called Scrabble. I tried that for a while because the Mattel version didn't allow me to play with friends in the USA or Canada, but I found it was very buggy, so I gave up on it. (I don't know whether or not they've improved it since.)

The Mattel version is now letting me play with at least one American friend, although for some reason she appears as "Anonymous" during play. Her name appears only at the end of the game. Since you play against friends, you're unlikely to get any unwelcome remarks, and if you do you can unfriend that person if necessary.

#319 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2014, 07:56 AM:

Mongoose: When y'all play, does it allow StFnal references? I wonder what kind of score you'd get with, say, Raxacoricofallapatorius?

#320 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2014, 07:59 AM:

Jacque @ 319: sadly, no, unless they're already words in another context. And I don't think that one would even fit on the board. *grin*

#321 ::: The_L ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2014, 08:18 AM:

@Laurel, 311: I've been playing the mobile version of Scrabble (Words with Friends) and even when you play with random strangers, things tend not to get nasty. Most people won't use the "chat" feature at all. It is Facebook-compatible, though, if you want to bring in Facebook friends.

The really nice things about doing it that way are:
1. You can resign at any time, no questions asked, if you feel uncomfortable.
2. Chat is hidden until you personally open it.
3. If you didn't personally initiate the game request, YOU have to consent to playing with that particular person before the game can start. Good for avoiding games with jerks.
4. If you have to get up from the game, but don't want to end it, you can always come back to it later.

But that's just me; you may have a different view of it. :)

#322 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2014, 09:14 AM:

the invisible one @315: sympathies.

CA said "I’ve been on both sides of this one, so I send all the love and none of the judgment his or your way!" Ignore if hlepy, but have you considered writing her and asking for advice? She is wise, and she's managed to get out of that particular relationship trap herself.

If that doesn't work for you, then simply hearing and witnessing, and wishing you better times ahead.

#323 ::: Bricklayer ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2014, 10:55 AM:

I was amazed when Disney Words of Wonder (a word-finding game I like for its questiness, and for the fact that I only have to do the 'bug your friends to give you gifts to progress' thing about every 20 levels) took 'Sith' as a word. There are a lot of other words it won't take, including several that might be slurs (though it takes other things I'd call slurs).

#324 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2014, 10:57 AM:

Bricklayer @292, sympathies. That's a tough place to be in. Witnessing. (Also, thanks for "Still not king," which has oh so many applications.)

the invisible one @315, sympathies. Warnings against possible helpiness in the following; I was trying to think it through, but the last thing I want is to make you feel worse, so disregard immediately if this pings you the wrong way.

I wondered the same thing Chickadee did, whether you might try writing CA yourself. Because there are mixed messages out there for people who are trying to overcome past dysfunction. There's a message of "be honest, even about the bad stuff about yourself" (I'm not a regular CA reader so don't know if that specific message is part of it; it's part of the message from Carolyn Hax, whose column I like.) There's a message of "don't dump your stuff all over other people," which I think is the part that made you sad because you felt like you'd done that wrong last time and therefore you were a toxic person from whom others should flee. Clearly the right conclusion is NOT NOT NOT "if you have stuff, you don't deserve to be in a relationship." Probably the right conclusion includes counseling for better disarming and management of stuff (I can't remember - are you seeing someone?), but still, that doesn't mean "no relationships until you prove yourself Worthy by getting your stuff under control."

Thinking some more about this, though, and flipping it the other way - CA's advice may be good for someone who's inclined to jump into a relationship with someone with Stuff and try to help / save / fix them for reasons of their own. Because it wouldn't be good for you, the person with Stuff, to be taken on as someone's project, either. Any healthy relationship needs to be mutual - not perfectly symmetrical, but not a relationship where either party believes that all of the competence or agency is on one side.

#325 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2014, 11:28 AM:

Internal server error?

#326 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2014, 11:29 AM:

Well, that didn't shake it loose. Trying again:

#324, OtterB: The particular message in that post at CA that upset me so much was "if they tell you they feel unworthy, RUN", repeated several times in several ways through the reply and discussion.

Jerkbrain consistently tells me that I don't deserve to have a caring relationship, that I'm broken, etc.

I was in a relationship last year. It was wonderful until he dumped me. I broke the "don't dump your stuff all over people" rule, and it was (understandably) more than he could handle. Turns out once the wall started coming down, I didn't have a filter behind it to moderate what was appropriate to tell him. Never needed a filter I guess, with the wall in place. I had thought I was not dumping the toxic waste on him but explaining what I was discovering and what I was struggling with, but I guess I had that figured wrong. Also, anxiety-like behaviours, which I normally managed to keep a lid on (that wall again) that he saw.

#327 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2014, 12:22 PM:

Bricklayer @ 323: that's not surprising. "Sith" is an old word meaning "since" (probably in Shakespeare; certainly in some lute songs I've got which are of about the same period).

the invisible one @ 326: *offers sympathy and Jedi hugs*

#328 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2014, 03:52 PM:

We're in a role-playing group and sometimes (e.g. key people absent, very late arrival due to transport problems) play board or card games instead. First couple of times I found myself very uncomfortable. It was after I won a game of Fluxx that I worked out what the problem was. Experiences in my childhood (with a competitive mother and older brother) had definitely inculcated in me that the winner was great and losers were to be ... looked down on? Sneered at? Not sure exactly. Worst, of course, with a game that take a long time and therefore there's only one winner all evening (Monopoly comes to mind - particularly because I don't think I've ever seen that game played without the person who is getting ahead crowing a lot, like they were amazingly clever, rather than just having had some lucky breaks).

Anyway, having worked it out and got it out into the open, I can now enjoy stuff like Fluxx, but I much prefer cooperative games such as Mice and Mystics, where it's all the players against the game.

#329 ::: eep ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2014, 04:51 PM:

Hope this isn't too late to be chiming in on the original topic; these are a few resources I've found helpful:

Robot Hugs
(My post-Holidays self-care involved reading the entire archives.)

Social skills for autonomous people.

Low-Spoons Food

So far for me, 2014 seems to be the Year of Being Sick. And increasingly sleep-lossy family stuff, but I can't seem to find a way to talk about that without feeling either too exposed or too misleading. Still witnessing as able, and wishing everyone here well.

#330 ::: Melanie the Tongueless ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2014, 04:54 PM:

abi @ 317

I'm terribly sorry - I should of checked with you beforehand. I apologize for having made your job here more difficult (as well as confusion in the minds of any readers).

#331 ::: knitcrazybooknut ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2014, 06:23 PM:

I find that naming things helps me understand them. These comics can be a little depressing (shockingly), but they've helped me know that I'm not alone: Depression Comix

This is an amazing article about gaslighting. Even having lived through it a few times, there were things in here that I hadn't recognized as part of the strategy. Again, not the most uplifting, but really helpful in naming the problem. Gaslighting

There's a moderated forum now for Friends of Captain Awkward, where you have to register, etc., but there are tons of forums for Jedi hugs, asking for advice, general resources, and many other things. Friends of Captain Awkward Forum

I've probably mentioned this one before, but it's something I re-read occasionally to remind myself that not everyone has the same reactions to stimuli, and to reassure myself that yes, I am one of these Highly Sensitive Folks. Highly Sensitive Person

#332 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2014, 12:01 AM:

knitcrazybooknut #331: HSP test, I hit it hard. Gaah, another diagnosis.

#333 ::: Variations on a Lime ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2014, 12:15 AM:

Dave Harmon@332
HSP here, as of a few years ago. I found it to be more of an explanation than a diagnosis, a 'being able to name it (and work with it a while) turns it into a useful trait, maybe eventually even a superpower' situation.

I still have problems with it when the ADD makes me forget about the HSP, and I don't mindfully take in what the HSPness brings me.

#334 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2014, 12:45 AM:

Variations on a Lime #333: Actually, it occurs to me now that I'd been interpreting most of that stuff as filtering failure from being on the autistic spectrum.

#335 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2014, 12:01 PM:

invisible one @326: As always, ignore if hlepy or harmful, but this comment from espritdecorps summarizes what I've been getting out of the Captain Awkward discussion: "you need to love you for a while before you love anyone else."

You are worth loving. You are awesome.

It sounds to me like you need some time to recognize your awesomeness before you think about a serious relationship.

Again, feel free to ignore (and other community members, feel free to correct me if this is not a helpful thing to say here).

#336 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2014, 12:14 PM:

#335, Chickadee:

I was a pretty happy single before starting that last relationship.

I had thought I was doing a good job at being myself.

I don't know how much better I need to be at being myself before I deserve a decent relationship.

Maybe I'll just stay single forever.

#337 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2014, 12:16 PM:

By which I mean I'm pretty good at being single, and being single is a place I know I can be happy, because I've been there before, so maybe I'll stay there.

#338 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2014, 12:27 PM:

invisible one @336: In that case, ouch, hugs, sympathies, and I wish there was something I could say that would help - or a magic wand I could wave to make it better.

Also, you *deserve* a decent relationship. That was never the point. The point was readiness for one. Semantic, but I think important. (also, I have no way of judging readiness. But I am certain that you *deserve* goodness in your life.)

Net, the best I can offer: hearing and witnessing.

#339 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2014, 12:32 PM:

Relating back to the OP: useful for anyone with ADD/ADHD: Delivered from Distraction by Edward M. Hallowell and John J. Ratey.

My husband has adult-diagnosed ADD. Not diagnosed when he was a kid because he wasn't physically hyper - just distractible. The diagnosis changed his life (and mine, frankly - he's a lot easier to live with now! :) but then he had to deal with all the coping mechanisms that allowed him to survive with undiagnosed, untreated ADD but which were actively harmful once it was treated. In other words, this was one of the resources that helped him to thrive.

Putting it out there in case there are others here who could use that. (and the tip: if coffee makes you relaxed and sleepy, that's one of the tells of ADD)

#340 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2014, 01:53 PM:

knitcrazybooknut @ 331: I took the Highly Sensitive Person test too, and ended up ticking nearly all the boxes. No great surprise there. I've always been the sort of person who gets nervous and edgy when someone around me is in a bad mood, even if they are showing no obvious external sign of it.

This was one of the reasons why my last job was so intolerable. My immediate boss, who genuinely meant well, had a musculoskeletal problem which caused her a lot of pain. She was the "stiff upper lip" type, so she rarely told anyone when she was in pain, but it would put her in an awful mood - which, again, she would try to disguise. It never worked around me, because I'd see she was in a bad mood, fly into a panic, and then usually make some mistake due to nerves. She'd then lash out at me.

Eventually I gathered enough evidence to work out that most of the awful moods were pain-related, so I'd sort things out from the root by saying, "K, are you having trouble with your back again today?" She always said yes, and thanked me for commiserating. It never occurred to her to ask me how I knew!

#341 ::: Bricklayer ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2014, 02:31 PM:

I want to sleep. Right now, I want to lie down and loll about and end up in a lovely floating restorative nap.

But in 20min I have to get the kid back from preschool, and then be full-on main parent for the following 5 hours. :-/ She can release the baby gate now, so my previous backup emergency strategy (let her pee first, hand her the tablet, lock her in her room for minimal ability to harm herself or others, take a nap) will no longer work.

I guess I'm just going to zombie-parent all afternoon and evening instead, with the resultant amount of yelling and near-violence that will entail. Not pleased. Don't see an alternative. Oh, and tomorrow and Wednesday are both chock-full of Things That Preclude Me Getting A Nap, too. Joy ...

I'm going to let the dogs back in and see if I can at least get a 15min micro-nap for whatever good I can get from it. Can't be worse than none at all.

#342 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2014, 04:52 PM:

Anon4Now, #293: Maybe it's just me, but I consider accusing someone of "being a party pooper" to be unbelievably rude on the part of the accuser. Hmmm, now that I think about it, that's part of the spectrum of consent issues -- no wonder it feels creepy!

Has anyone else noticed how liberating it is to have a context for identifying something that's bugged you for a long time?

Dave H., #301: Some games just aren't suited for some people. In Nashville I had a bunch of friends who all enjoyed playing the Empire Builder set of games (by Mayfair). Then we went to introduce another friend to it -- and discovered that the ability to maintain even a relatively short-term strategic plan in memory over multiple turns is not universal. In the interest of not having to wait every single turn for our friend to have to re-derive their entire strategy over again from the cards on the table, I took to keeping track of theirs as well as mine and providing reminders as needed. Not our friend's fault at all, but sie was just not suited to playing that type of game.

Mongoose, #303: One of my fondest Scrabble memories is of getting to play CHINTZ, with the Z on a double-letter and the whole thing on a double-word. I've had higher-scoring plays, but CHINTZ!

Variations on a lime, #308: Yes. If part of the game is having to figure out the rules on your own, that should be made explicit. It's the "they won't tell you that they won't tell you the rules" thing that reads to me as bullying.

Jacque, #319: I've always wanted to play Scrabble with a house rule that words from SF universes are legit. This would be much easier now, with the ability to look things up online, than it would have been when I first came up with the idea (back when I saw the word "laran" staring up at me from an otherwise-unusable set of tiles).

the invisible one, #326: Ignore if helpy, but that reads to me like "beginner error" rather than "complete failure". You were doing something you hadn't done before, and you made a mistake in the process. Relationships in general take practice; I've done some cringeworthy things in my time, and learned the hard way that they were mistakes. You won't make that particular mistake again, and it doesn't mean that you personally are a hopeless failure. See again the engineering mantra, "If you can't make a mistake, you can't make anything."

dcb, #328: Crowing/gloating over doing well in a game is (1) unsporting, and (2) understandable in a small child, but something that should be tempered with maturity -- which I suppose is related to (1). I remember having to explain this (gently, and in private) to one of the people in my old board-gaming group, because it was pissing people off. Not that I don't get the impulse to do it myself, when I've pulled off something clever! -- but I've learned to content myself with a smug expression.

knitcrazybooknut, #331: From the gaslighting article: if an abusive person says hurtful things and tries to convince you that you are mentally unstable and starts recommending that you get professional help, you might be in the presence of a gaslighter

This trick can backfire! My partner's daughter got involved with one of these assholes, and when he pressured her into seeing a therapist, the therapist helped her to recognize that the boyfriend was a large part of her problem. :-)

(Of course, that requires a competent therapist who doesn't buy into the sexist bullshit. But those aren't as thin on the ground as they used to be.)

#343 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2014, 05:34 PM:

Bricklayer @341: Oof! I hate being short on sleep. That you can be anything even remotely resembling functional on chronic sleep deprivation.... Well, let's just say that I'd probably be on the floor, sobbing uncontrollably. :-(

#344 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2014, 06:19 PM:

Bricklayer @ 341: Sympathies. Being chronically short on sleep is very wearing. Might be worth seeing ifd you can find a 10-minute relaxation MP3? In my late teens/early 20s I used to be able to do a 10-minute restorative relaxation-to-the-point-of-floating. Lost the ability some time in my 20s. Now, deprived of running-as-stress-relief due to my ankle injury (five months and counting), I'm trying to teach myself to do it again.

Lee @342: A bit of smugness re. a really clever move in a game among peers is one thing. But this would have been my mother and/or my five-years-older brother being smug/gloating because they had won by being better at counting cards or figuring best moves: when I was aged say five to nine years old. Yeah, that really taught me that playing games was fun - not. I don't think it was necessarily very obvious gloating - but I certainly picked up the message that the winner was the big cheese and the loser was nothing enough that I found myself very uncomfortable with the idea of our playing win/lose games in the group, recently (and then had to work out why I was so uncomfortable).

#345 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2014, 06:37 PM:

Re: games. We had an odd little rule in our house when I was a kid.

Winner puts the game away.

I think it actually cut down on the gloating and strutting that is normal for kids, because there was a COST (albeit minor) for winning, not just kudos. I know someone who came from a "loser puts the game away" family (which, I gather, is rather more common). That person still dislikes boardgames to this day. I dunno if it's related or just coincidence, but it makes me wonder.

#346 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2014, 07:21 PM:

#338, Chickadee: where I am right now, I'm not seeing a difference between "don't deserve" and "not ready for". Maybe some day I'll learn what I have to change to get past "not ready for". I'm not entirely sure it's something that I can figure out while I'm single, because I've figured out how to be single. That's a comfortable place. Once I finish getting over this last relationship I'm sure I'll get back there. But that doesn't help any with how I am in a relationship.

#342, Lee: Maybe. Started out with trust issues, started to trust him, found out when he dumped me he'd been hiding how much it bothered him until it was too much and he dumped me. Now I probably have more trust issues, because the next person I might start to feel I can trust, what if they're hiding how much it bothers them too? What if they bail when I start to feel like I can be comfortable? Now that's another piece of my judgement that I don't know if I can trust. I'm sure dealing with somebody who can't quite trust you, not because of anything you did but because of things other people did, has to be wearing. That was another thing he said he couldn't handle anymore.

Not that I knew it was (probably? possibly?) anxiety at that point. If I did, maybe I could have figured out a way to handle it better. If nothing else, let him know that's what was going on.

As to whether I make that mistake again or not, dunno. I asked him several times if he was ok with how much I was telling him. Tried to calibrate. It apparently didn't work.

If I ever meet another person I find attractive (what are the odds of that; I don't go out much) then that's just going to start all over again. And until I do, because I know I can be happy single and I don't need to have a boyfriend to be happy, I don't see how or why to work on how I can be in a relationship when there isn't somebody around that I want a relationship *with*. It's not as if I have a goal to "be in a relationship".

If that makes any sense. I'm not feeling entirely coherent right now. This has gone on longer than I usually get wound up by jerkbrain, so I'm guessing that's not all it is.

#347 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2014, 07:52 PM:

I grew up in a 'quitter puts the game away' family, which gives you more of an idea of what problems we had while playing games.

The invisible one, I think that the difference between 'deserve' and 'is ready for' for a relationship is sort of like the difference between the two for having a house. You deserve your own space where you set your own rules. Everyone deserves that. Not everyone is ready for it, though-- most obviously, my two-year-old tiny friend, but also a pretty good number of otherwise adults. They deserve it, but they need support to get it-- so family and friends give them that support.

'Deserve' carries a lot of moral weight, and I think that's what people are reacting to in this case. It is an absolute, something that can only rarely be changed, and you've used it to castigate yourself.

I hope that when you next seek a romantic relationship, it is not because singledom has become more unhappy than finding a relationship but because the relationship, this particular relationship, is something you want in addition to your existing happiness. I think it makes sense that you're feeling really battered right now. You took a big risk, you did everything right, and because someone else wasn't honest with himself or with you, it went wrong.

To practice romantic relationships and to fine-tune your boundaries and coping strategies, I think that friend relationships work well. It's all relationships, and if you've figured out how to tell when a friend's unable to listen even though they say they are-- well, that's some pretty high-level people-reading right there. What went wrong in your recent romantic relationship could have gone wrong in a nonromantic one, too.

As for coherent, I'm two Sudafeds into today and I am really not at my best.

#348 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2014, 09:29 PM:

the invisible one #346: ... Started out with trust issues, started to trust him, found out when he dumped me he'd been hiding how much it bothered him until it was too much and he dumped me. I asked him several times if he was ok with how much I was telling him. Tried to calibrate. It apparently didn't work.

You know what? At that point, it sounds like you need to leave him the responsibility for his own poor judgement -- and I don't mean in picking you for a partner!

You opened up to him, but he wouldn't, or couldn't, open himself up enough to tell you when he was reaching his own limits. Or perhaps he didn't trust you enough to handle it if he told you... and so he wound up hurting you worse, indeed betraying your trust in him.

#349 ::: hope in disguise ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2014, 10:52 PM:

the invisible one, I am reading and witnessing, and offering internet hugs if you want them

#350 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2014, 11:30 PM:

Diatryma @347: In college the rule we followed in our late-night Uno sessions was "Winner shuffles and deals". It, too, was a slight penalty for winning.

#351 ::: LGB ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2014, 12:42 AM:

Lee, @342 Has anyone else noticed how liberating it is to have a context for identifying something that's bugged you for a long time?

I really really really like this concept. It keeps coming up in my life and that *click* of recognition is so satisfying to me. Every. Time.

#352 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2014, 04:26 AM:

the invisible one, #346: "Deserving" and "being ready for" are almost orthogonal concepts -- they don't really refer to the same thing. In particular, "deserving" is not the same thing as "earning", which I think is what's confusing you here.

Every human being deserves a loving and supportive relationship with their parents; that's just basic. The existence of this community is proof that a lot of us don't get that, even though we deserve it. Similarly, every one of us deserves a supportive and loving relationship with a significant other (if that's what we want) -- whether or not we're ready for it yet is irrelevant.

I am not trying to push you into continuing to search for a relationship if you're happy living on your own. At most, I'm suggesting that you not close your mind and your heart to the possibility of one in the future.

Diatryma said much of this a lot better @347.

#353 ::: Quietly Learning To Be Loud ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2014, 10:14 AM:

Gaslighting! I kept trying to make the word match some action/s. It's not an action. It's a movie title!

Following various links and links-from-links, especially Gaslighting from knitcrazybooknut @331, I've come to realize that one of my dearest friends is gaslighting me. I have an engineer's mindset (build it and see how real-world materials do the job) and he is more of a theoretician (the math says it will work). Whenever my engineering-style comments "challenge" his theoretical-style pronouncements, he "knowledge" shames me. Hah! Now I have label-armor with which to protect myself, and another knowledge-sword to use for defense. And maybe for disarming.

Another Highly Sensitive Person here. Learning that I feel things more intensely has saved me a lot of pain from miscommunication. I stopped trying to explain rainbows to the blind. "Why are you crying?" "I'm overwhelmed by the beauty. It's just something I do." Person may look at me funny, but doesn't ask further. Doesn't poke at it.

Reading. Witnessing.

#354 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2014, 10:16 AM:

#347, Diatryma:

'Deserve' carries a lot of moral weight, and I think that's what people are reacting to in this case. It is an absolute, something that can only rarely be changed, and you've used it to castigate yourself.

Probably. That happens a lot. Jerkbrain sucks, and has big sticks to hit me with. Which stick it is exactly varies. This weekend has been the "you're too broken for a relationship" stick.

Some days I manage to not believe it. Some days I manage to distract myself so I don't think about it. Some days Jerkbrain is quiet. Some days, like Sunday was, are really painful.

I hope that when you next seek a romantic relationship, it is not because singledom has become more unhappy than finding a relationship but because the relationship, this particular relationship, is something you want in addition to your existing happiness.

I don't think I've ever gone looking for a romantic relationship. Until this most recent one, I dated any guy who asked me. This didn't happen often. If I meet somebody I find myself attracted to (now that I know what that actually feels like) then we'll see what happens. I don't intend to date just any guy that asks me anymore though. (Now that I know what being attracted to somebody, instead of just getting attention, feels like.)

I also think the only time I'm unhappy with being single is the time after being dumped, and that isn't about being single, it's about being dumped.

I think it makes sense that you're feeling really battered right now. You took a big risk, you did everything right, and because someone else wasn't honest with himself or with you, it went wrong.

Not convinced I did *everything* right, but also not thinking anymore that I was the only source of doing stuff wrong. I was starting to think I was doing ok until that CA post kicked me down into the hole I'm currently struggling to get out of. That's the first time CA has had that effect on me, and I really hope it doesn't happen again.

To practice romantic relationships and to fine-tune your boundaries and coping strategies, I think that friend relationships work well. It's all relationships, and if you've figured out how to tell when a friend's unable to listen even though they say they are-- well, that's some pretty high-level people-reading right there. What went wrong in your recent romantic relationship could have gone wrong in a nonromantic one, too.

I don't really know how to do friend relationships either. I rarely see my closest friends (all two of them). People I socialize with in the group events I go to rarely make the transition to friends (defined as people I see outside of the group context - no matter how happily I chat with them in the group or how well we get along in the group, as long as interaction is only in the group context they are "group friends", not "friends", to me). Part of this is me not reaching out and trying to arrange to spend time with them. Part of *that* I've commented on last thread and the one before, about not really believing that they would be interested in hearing from me. That and being pretty strongly introverted; a class and a writing group provide all the social life I really need, so I have very little drive to spend one-on-one time with friends.

#348, Dave Harmon & #349, hope in disguise: thanks.

#342, Lee & #351, LGB: Names have power.

Not in the magical, mystical "true names" sense from fantasy novels, but in the real, practical sense of being able to name, research, describe, and understand what you're experiencing -- and to know that you're not the only one. Because what I've found is that if something is an actual thing, with an actual name, that means I'm not uniquely broken and freakish, and I find that often takes some of the pressure and stress off of the experience, whatever it may be.

And yeah, that time when things suddenly click and you can see so much more. That's a pretty intense feeling.

#352, Lee: It's one of those things that I can know intellectually but not feel, right now. As far as a future relationship, I'd say that once I get back to being happy single and stop thinking about this guy most days, then that possibility will open up again.

#355 ::: Quietly Learning To Be Loud ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2014, 11:53 AM:

the invisible one @346, something Dave Harmon @348 said triggered a "thought for understanding". Not for excusing, just understanding. One of my personal spoon-destroying needs is the need to understand. Besides being able to let go of pain caused by confusion (why did you do that), it helps me calibrate the next time I spot it.

Ignore the following if hlepy.

From reading things like Men Are From Mars... and other books, trying to learn why I sometimes feel like I'm talking to people from Arcturus, the thing that popped out in this conversation is that (generalization here) men talk to fix
things while women talk to be validated. Men are also taught by society to be Strong(tm). It is entirely possible the poor sod ran into his societal conditioning, didn't realize it (unfortunately not uncommon), and also didn't recognize he didn't have the spoons to cope with something he couldn't "fix".

Not blame. Not excuse. Understanding. As in, oh...that.
I have an analytical mind, and I like to know why. It helps me when I run into the next creature from Arcturus whose brain operates entirely differently than mine and who uses words differently than I do.
YMMV, as always.

Semi-related. I lost my partner to cancer and now I live by myself. One of the things I'm realizing is that I'm not learning how to be me, I'm getting to practice being me. All the reading, life lessons, professional help, being integrated into habits I want and want to be good at. Even in the midst of the pain of missing him, I realize I have a great gift of time and space to learn. And I am going to be awesome . Even if getting from here to there will be...challenging.

#356 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2014, 12:10 PM:

dcb @344: Might be worth seeing ifd you can find a 10-minute relaxation MP3?

I gather bricklayer's issue is not finding ways to relax, but rather finding the 10 minutes.

#357 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2014, 12:48 PM:

Wow. From the article on narcissists:

"Signs of Gaslighting:"

11.You have the sense that you used to be a very different person – more confident, more fun-loving, more relaxed.

I remember feeling like this, all the time as a kid. Like I had somehow lost skills that I had once possessed.

The one clear narcissistic behavior I remember from my mom: if you had a memory that differed from hers, you were the one that was wrong. Furthermore, your unwillingness to remember it "correctly" indicated you "had problems."

#358 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2014, 01:18 PM:

Jacque @356: I may be wrong, but I think it's both. Thing is, if you can really make use of that 10 minutes to recharge, then it's only 10 minutes that are needed and it can really make a difference. @341, Bricklayer said "I'm going to let the dogs back in and see if I can at least get a 15min micro-nap for whatever good I can get from it. Can't be worse than none at all." I'm suggesting a tool which would, if it worked, make that 15 minutes more effective for re-spooning than a simple micro-nap would be.

I really regret losing that ability to do a proper, 10-minutes relaxation (where I would feel like I was floating) and I am trying to re-develop it.

#359 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2014, 02:37 PM:

Jacque @ 357: Ex-Lodger of Doom was like that. He actually insisted that he had a perfect memory, so if I recalled something differently from him, I was clearly wrong. I assured him that everyone misremembers things sometimes - in fact, there is good scientific evidence for it - and asked him if he thought he was the only person in the world to whom this didn't apply. "Yes," he replied, without hesitation. At this point, I concluded that I was dealing with a nut case and broke off the conversation.

It is worth mentioning that he was very severely gaslighted by his ex-wife - a process from which, ironically, I helped him to recover. She made him severely doubt his own recollections for a long time. But there are several possible responses to the realisation that your memory is a great deal more accurate than your manipulative ex-wife tried to make it, and deciding "therefore it is uniquely perfect" is not a healthy one.

Side note: this was the man who'd put his screwdriver or spanner down somewhere, forget where he'd put it ten seconds later, demand of me where it was (as though it were my job to watch and remember where he put everything), get very cross when I didn't know, and then get even crosser when I replied, "It'll be wherever you just put it." His logic was that if he knew where he put it, he wouldn't be asking me. Mine was that I was hardly likely to have a better idea where he put it than he did. Anyway, that was what his memory was really like.

#360 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2014, 10:37 AM:

This isn't about dysfunctional families, but I think it's about dysfunctional work patterns. Over on one of the MC-related forums I frequent, the person maintaining a major cheat-sheet has been losing her enthusiasm for the project, but was having trouble with actually stopping. After a couple of go-rounds, I think I figured out something important about burnout:

No no, I can get motivated to do it whenever I please, I just don't know to what end anymore. I need to "want" to do this.
Listen to yourself! [...] The thing is, you've spent a lot of time working on these cheat sheets, and you got a lot of rewards out of it. Essentially, you learned "working on the cheat sheet feels good" -- classic conditioning. But suddenly the rewards have stopped coming. Your subconscious doesn't understand the reasons, because it doesn't do reasons. So now you're pawing at the lever, wondering what happened to the endorphin hit it used to give you. It's time for you to sit back and look around, to figure out what feels good to do now.

That last sentence of hers... that was a gut-punch for me, connected somehow to my own burnout. Now the question is, can I use that insight on myself, and how?

#361 ::: canisfelicis ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2014, 11:22 AM:

I need somewhere to mourn. I'm sorry that I don't have the stamina to read and reply to earlier comments at the moment; I'll try to, in a bit.

Last month, my favorite aunt, my mother's identical twin, died very suddenly of a ruptured aorta. She was only 53. A week later, my little sister--27 years old--was diagnosed with a genetic disorder that affects the connective tissues (such as in the tendons, the retinas, the heart). When undiagnosed, it kills you early, and it kills you bad. Diagnosed and managed, people can make it to about 60. My little sister's got to change the entire way she lives her life, or else lose it even earlier.

Turns out, me too.

I'm 31. I'd been talking with my partner about having kids. I'd been thinking about starting to get things set up to go for my Ph.D. I'd made a bet with my best dojo friend that rain or shine, we'll both be Sensei in five years; we've been doing our martial art for seven, so it's not an unreasonable goal.

This thing is autosomally dominant, and women are cautioned to have kids by the time they're thirty at the latest. I'm too old, and if I *did* bear a child, he or she would have a coinflip. And I'm lucky, very lucky, to have not had more serious troubles throughout my life than I have; there are no guarantees that any child wouldn't have a much worse case of this thing.

I can't possibly imagine I'd have a set of Ph.D loans all paid off inside fifteen years, which is the diagnosed-and-managed lower limit of this thing for me. So either no Ph.D, or no marriage.

And because of *how* it kills--the way the heart just comes apart--people who suffer from it are cautioned to do no fast sports, no martial art more strenuous than tai chi, certainly nothing where they get regularly hit in the head; the retinas can just come free inside the eyeball, rendering one permanently blind.

I'm 31, and I'm half done with my life at best. I'm in the best shape of my life and I'm never going to be able to get in better. And the man I'm with is wonderful, wonderful--and by staying with him I'm asking him to put up with knowing that I could just drop dead unexpectedly, horribly, with just time enough that he knows what's going on, and that he can't do anything.

My last few weeks have just been one long howl. Every time I think I have a handle on this it gets away from me again. How dare I think I have the right to be keelhauled--if very lucky (and we don't know how lucky yet, I have a lot of tests to get), then I'll have almost as much time ahead of me as I do behind me. But I've just lost...every goal I had.

And to top it off, Aunt K. was Mom's twin. Mom is a vampire, she's a nightmare, and I haven't seen her in a decade, but if I don't hurry up and make a choice, I might not get another chance, 'cause Mom went all this time undiagnosed too. I don't want to see her. She remains the woman who laughed when I had a miscarriage, and I can't imagine any of this is making her kinder.

My sisters are talking to me again, for the first time in a decade. That's one single good thing happening. But this is a meteor crater in my life, and I'm still toeing around it in the dark and the steam, trying to figure out how big the void is...

#362 ::: Jeanie ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2014, 11:41 AM:

canis felicis:
That's horrendous. I'm sorry. I'm sending you strength.

#363 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2014, 11:56 AM:

canisfelicis #361: Shit, that's nasty. You have my deepest sympathies. My only questions are regarding your Mom: Given your description of her... what are you hoping for from re-engaging her, and is that a realistic hope? Is she -- as she is, not as you wish she were -- someone you actually want in your life?

#364 ::: tamiki ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2014, 11:57 AM:

canisfelicis: Ouch. That sucks, and you're entirely within your rights to feel the meteor crater.

(Ignore if hlepy: Would adopting a kid be a viable option? If nothing else, that takes the genetic roulette out of the equation.)

#365 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2014, 12:15 PM:

canisfelicis @361, Witnessing. Wordless. I'm so very, very sorry.

#366 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2014, 12:26 PM:

canisfelicis: Reading and witnessing.

#367 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2014, 12:32 PM:

Canisfelicis -- hugs if you want them, energy sent your way ditto, and if I have your permission, I'll put you on the prayer list at Adoration tomorrow.

#368 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2014, 12:53 PM:

canisfelicis, I'm so sorry to hear that.

I will hope for new growth for you from the meteor crater eventually, and meanwhile strength to skirt the void without falling in.

#369 ::: protecting others' privacy ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2014, 01:16 PM:

Okay. I'm going to try to write about it. It may take multiple installments.

Some of you know my uncloaked identity. Others may guess. That's fine, as long as my real-world, identifiable, easily-Googled name stays off this.

I'm afraid I AM one of the Housemates from Hell.

Over the summer, I had what seemed like a really clever idea: one of my friends, mobility-impaired and on disability (although also working as a freelance editor) owned (through inheritance) a house with three empty bedrooms, and the property tax split three ways would be significantly cheaper than the rent my housemate and I were paying on our place, so why shouldn't we move in with her?

I put a lot of effort into clearing out the accumulated junk of 40+ years from the place, repainting, performing and arranging repairs, and generally making the move possible.

BFF Housemate and I moved in in October.

It's been a steadily increasing nightmare since, because it turns out that living with Homeowner is, in many respects, like living with a five-year-old, even though she's over 50.

I used to think of Homeowner as one of my best friends. I used to enjoy helping her out on things like giving her rides for errands, or sorting out her taxes, and I used to have some respect for her ability as an editor.

But it's been impossible to maintain that in the face of discovering that she didn't know basic things like "mayonnaise only needs to be refrigerated after it's opened," or that, because "my parents were really racist," she had never in her life eaten a burrito. Or had gone five years without a functioning hot water heater because she didn't understand that you should be able to get hot water without having to crank the furnace in the summer.

I could go on.

It's gotten to the point where I can't manage to be in the same room with her any more.

I need to get out of here.

I'm unemployed. I have an escape hatch in another state - a relative - but that means leaving BFF Housemate behind, who has a job here. And who I owe about $3K from financial difficulties several years in the past.

I was supposed to be studying for certification in medical billing and coding. I haven't picked up a textbook in six months, and I might have to buy all new ones and start over to be able to take the exams - which would be more money I don't have.

I cannot figure out what I would do for a job either here or if I moved.

I don't have a bachelor's degree.

I feel like I'm at the end of my rope.

I'm not being very coherent. I may need to give more details.

What I *want* is this: A job in Other State, and enough financial cushion to support a place where BFF Housemate and I could live together while BFF Housemate looks for a job in Other State. She does not love her job here - actually, she hates it and would like to leave - but she has one, and that's not small in this economy.

I've also been off my meds since, well, roughly since I moved. This doesn't help either. I'm bipolar II and the depression is freaking debilitating.

I'm trying to summon the energy to print out the Obamacare forms so I can GET BACK ON THEM.

I've been too drained to keep up with social media. I considered writing about this on the "mental health" filter of my DW/LJ, but I'd have to go edit the filter to make sure Homeowner wasn't on it, and just the idea of logging in is overwhelming.

These threads are the safest place I know on the net, so I'm writing here.


#370 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2014, 01:49 PM:

canisfelicis, #361: OMG, that sucks rocks. I have nothing concrete to say, but I offer my deepest sympathies.

protecting others' privacy, #361: Witnessing.

#371 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2014, 01:50 PM:

Oops, that second one should have been @369. My brain is full of fuzz today.

#372 ::: canisfelicis ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2014, 02:49 PM:

Dave, @363: It wouldn't be for her company, that's for sure--but most of my sibs still love her terribly. Selfishly, I worry that if something happens and I haven't gone some way toward mending the un-mendable, I'll lose my brothers and sisters again. I don't I'm going to react, if she were to die without my having spoken to her or seen her. But I don't want her in my veins again. Complicated.

Tamiki, @364: It's something I certainly have to think on, now. Would it be a cruelty to adopt a child when I know I'm probably going to die before I'd have grandkids? Is it better to give that kid ten years or fifteen or twenty than nothing, when pretty much any kid in the system has suffered some trauma, and the loss of a parent is pretty major? There are so many facets to this beast.

(Add to this the fact that my partner is Taiwanese-American, carrying some Parental Expectations on his shoulders [though his elder brother has already had a child, which eases those somewhat].)

Lori, @367: Yes please.

Everybody--thank you.

@369: If you ask, will BFF Housemate help you with the forms? Getting back on the meds might give you breathing room and mental space to start tackling the rest of it.
Is there a coffee house or library or quiet space you can go for an hour or two a day, to have distance from the poisoned house and relax?

#373 ::: LGB ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2014, 02:54 PM:

canisfelicis, that sounds devastating. I'm so sorry you have to deal with it.

protecting others' privacy, reading and witnessing.

I'm sending you both very good thoughts.

#374 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2014, 03:46 PM:

canisfelicis #372: Do you think you can shore up your defenses (perhaps with partner's help) well enough for a contact, enough to say "you gave her a fair shot?"

#375 ::: protecting others' privacy ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2014, 04:29 PM:

canisfelicis, I don't feel comfortable asking BFF Housemate to help me with the forms, as there's too much financial information involved, and until I can pay back what I owe her - which I've been doing, my debt to her was a good bit higher when it started, I've been knocking it down each year with tax refunds - anyway, no on asking her to help me, but library? Yes. I have in fact been thinking about spending time each day at the library, just to get away from the sound of Homeowner's footsteps, which feel like a thing I have to hide from.

Witnessing for you. That's unimaginably rough.

#376 ::: tamiki ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2014, 06:46 PM:

protecting others' privacy: You have my sympathies, and I hope you can find a good way forward for everyone involved.

For what it's worth, I don't think you're the Housemate from Hell here. My fiancee lived with a very similar person for a while, and it frustrated her to no end.

#377 ::: protecting others' privacy ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2014, 07:59 PM:

I worry about being the Housemate from Hell because I've done some of the things others have mentioned from their former hellbeasts. For instance, rather like Ex-Lodger, during the moving process, I browbeat Homeowner into a number of repairs and things, and I did use the "recoup when you sell" argument.

Because originally the plan was that Homeowner would sell this house and all three of us would move to Other State together, with the proceeds from this house as capital for getting a place in Other State.

That, I need hardly say, is NOT the plan any more.

Some of the things were cosmetic and not especially necessary unless Homeowner does sell - wallpaper stripping and repainting, mostly. Some were necessary for mine and BFF's comfort, and superfluous to Homeowner's needs: the upstairs tub & shower leaked, but Homeowner doesn't use the upstairs of this house at all (again, mobility issues). Although that fix was two tubes of caulk, not a vast investment.

The most expensive fixes were ones Homeowner ought to have done for herself ages ago, dammit, and the browbeating on my part came in two forms: 1) "this is not an optional feature of living in a house," and "you actually DO have the money for this." Those fixes included repairing the kitchen sink faucet so that you could wash dishes in the kitchen, instead of using the bathroom sink, and getting the aforementioned hot water heater fixed, so that there would be hot water for bathing and cleaning.

Combine that with "I was much nicer to Homeowner before I moved in, and now I am not nice," and it makes me feel like Moonlit Night's hellbeast, too. Though I am trying not to be actively mean, and just avoiding contact instead.

My dislike for Homeowner has gone into full-on Bitch Eating Crackers mode, to use a Captain Awkward phrase. It drives me batty that she chooses to eat my lasagna with a spoon. I fail to understand how anyone can eat half a stick of butter in a single day, even if I have made homemade bread. She melted the bottom of my thermal carafe because she could not tell the difference between the metal sides and the plastic bottom. She immediately gave me the money to replace it, but how do you not notice the difference? I mean, I wasn't even really angry about it - I've left plastic things too close to stove burners, too - but she said she thought it was metal. This is what I mean when I say it's like living with a five-year-old.

BFF says that living with Homeowner has made her appreciate me more. Which is nice, but now I feel guilty for getting her into this (and yes, Homeowner does drive BFF crazy too, perhaps more so).

Anyway. This is me reaching out and having a place to vent about it. With luck I'll get the strength to reach back out to my friends circle on DW/LJ - I have been isolating myself, which is the depression doing its number, and it isn't good for me. But I haven't exactly felt worthy of friendship and social contact, either.

#378 ::: Bayone ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2014, 09:34 PM:

Need to vent. Spouse suffers from what we generally have to describe as mixed-state bipolar -- he looks lethargic while his thoughts are racing away. Plus a ton of physical ailments. I know that none of it is his fault but it's hard to live with -- I feel like I do all the work while he does all the complaining. If I get upset about it, he curls up and cries about what a bad person he is and then I feel like the world's worst nag.

We've been struggling with credit card debt of late -- and he has a tendency to go on internet shopping binges that he doesn't usually even remember afterwards. I thought we'd managed to change all the passwords to Paypal, Amazon, etc, but this evening I was looking at my credit card statement online and discovered that even though I thought I'd changed the iTunes password to one only I would know, he'd gone and spent $100+ on downloads two nights ago. We got into an argument while trying to contact iTunes support (we need to be *absolutely sure* (for OCD levels of absolutely sure) that he can be logged out of iTunes and still have access to the downloads already on the iPad before he's willing to have me change the password. The argument was because the online support system wouldn't let me make an appointment for tonight and he insisted I must be doing something wrong because in the past they've got back to him much faster. Anyway he finally agreed to make an appointment for tomorrow, I've agreed to try and trust him not to go on iTunes during the night while I sleep or tomorrow while I'm at work; but dammit I wish I could be married to someone with some kind of minimal levels of competence and responsibility; and yet I know these are symptoms, not his fault; and I'm also pretty sure he'll die by either suicide or self-neglect if I ever stray from looking after him. I know I should be looking for some kind of support program but there aren't many people he trusts other than me; and it wouldn't be fair to ask friends to take him for a few hours (plus that would involve getting him out of the house which is difficult, all the more so at this time of year.)

#379 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2014, 11:54 PM:

Mongoose # 359:

Ah, so XLoD is an (extremely) unreliable narrator...

#380 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2014, 03:11 AM:

canisfelicis@361: Sincere sympathies. That's a horrible lot to contend with, including the loss of your intended life goals. Zen {{{{hugs}}}}.

protecting others' privacy @369: Witnessing. Sympathies. Finding out that sharing a house/apartment with someone doesn't work, even when you've previously been friends, is not uncommon. Good luck for navigating out of your present situation. Can you do the printing out etc. at the library? Is there any local organisation which would help you with the forms? Might the library know about such?

#381 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2014, 07:45 AM:

Bayone @378, that has to be a very tough situation. Listening, witnessing.

Question: Your "View All By" connects to posts with a different nym on the regular threads. Did you want to anonymize this more? If so, abi can do a nym rescue for you.

#382 ::: tamiki ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2014, 12:22 PM:

protecting others' privacy: On the repairs, I think you're okay. Eventually Homeowner may need or want to sell the house, even if your original plan isn't going to work, and then a lot of work she can't do/get to in order to do herself will already be done. As for the water heater, that's a simple 'quality of life' equation - no doubt her quality of life is better with hot water than without. (Why would you let yourself go without hot water for years???????)

I'd also say your variety of 'now I am not nice' is not on the same order as Moonlit Night's hellbeast. Having realised the situation isn't what you thought it would be, you're limiting interaction as much as possible, and it sounds like you're at least keeping the times you do interact civil, rather than berating her for every little thing. And if she's as oblivious as it sounds, she may not even realise you're avoiding her now.

Here's hoping you can reclaim the spoons to reach out to your LJ/DW network! (Perhaps, once you have the energy, a 'mental health minus Homeowner' filter is in order, or just a 'minus Homeowner' filter. Ignore if hlepy, naturally.)

#383 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2014, 01:23 PM:

canisfelicis #372: Oh, wow, you really have been hit by a meteor. Gentle hugs, and witnessing, and I am thinking good thoughts for you.

protecting others' privacy #369: You're not the HMFM, trust me. It sounds to me like you're doing the best you can for all involved, even if it doesn't feel like it.

I don't have a lot of spoons these days, because life, but I'll probably try to write an update at some point this weekend. I have been witnessing, and reading, and taking things one day at a time, and I wish everyone peace.

#384 ::: Bodhisvaha ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2014, 01:41 PM:

Many hugs to everyone who needs them, especially canisfelicis ("hit by a meteor" sounds about right...), protecting others' privacy, LGB, and Bayone. Witnessing.

Protecting others' privacy, it sounds to me like you are a roommate who has figured out that you aren't compatible with Homeowner, and is trying pretty hard to behave civilly until you can leave, which is hard when you don't know when or how that can be. That's much better than the hellbeasts. Also, I would agree with you that a working kitchen sink and hot water are basic quality of life things to fix when they break. If an elderly/disabled relative is having similar home maintenance trouble, isn't it the usual thing for someone to step in and do something about it on their behalf?

#385 ::: bayone ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2014, 04:11 PM:

#381 ::: OtterB :
Question: Your "View All By" connects to posts with a different nym on the regular threads. Did you want to anonymize this more? If so, abi can do a nym rescue for you.

Yes please.

#386 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2014, 04:20 PM:

Okay, I've talked to the supervisor for the imaging department about my mammography experience last fall, and she is of the opinion that it was an issue of technique. So she's personally going to do my mammo when I go in this next time, betting that her 30 years of experience will be equal to challenge. I'm packing drugs, just in case.

She also expressed appreciation at my reaching out proactively ahead of time (and I am so, so glad I approached this with my "reasonable" face on).

So: we'll see. I plan to be very firm: if it hurts too much, I'm going to put a stop to it. With any luck this will not be necessary.

#387 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2014, 04:36 PM:

canisfelicis: Haven't responded to your post because, frankly, it freaked me out a little. I mean, what the hell does one say, right?

My hope is that, as you move through this experience, information and resources will come to you that will help you cope. Having your life plan snatched away: I can't imagine anything worse. I hope you find your way through surviving and find ways to thrive.

protecting others' privacy: It doesn't sound to me like you're being any form of evil. In fact, I think you maybe have considerable margin available in how assertive you can be, and still fall into "reasonable" territory.

Bayone: Sympathies for your frustrations. I'm assuming you and Partner have explored what treatment and management options are available for his condition(s)?

#388 ::: OtterB calls for nym rescue ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2014, 04:41 PM:

abi, see #385 re bayone's nym

(bayone, it helps abi spot the need if you flag it - or you can email her)

#389 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2014, 04:53 PM:

Bayone, please post a comment using the email address you want to use to tie all your DF comments together. (It doesn't have to work; many people use mails). I'll then synchronize the DF comments with that address.

OtterB, thank you.

#390 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2014, 07:07 PM:

Canisfelicis, I have put you in our petitions book, and you are and will be in my prayers.

Wishing you strength, and whatever may be needed to help you deal with this.

#391 ::: hope in disguise ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2014, 10:09 PM:

canisfelicis, protecting others' privacy, bayone: reading, witnessing. sending strength and energy if you want it

#392 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2014, 10:47 PM:

canisfelicis: listening, sending good wishes, praying for you, your partner, and your family.

#393 ::: LGB ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2014, 11:08 PM:

This is a sit on the floor and cry kind of night. My cat is confused. Poor Kitty.

I've been trying to figure out lawyer things for a week or two. Who do I hire? What can I afford (ha ha ha, nothing)? Ok, where can I get money to afford someone?

There's a series of emails with my STBX about closing a credit card account, and it freaks me out every time I see his name in my inbox. Insta-stress.

Work is...fine, but I have scheduling issues and I think I need to be in two places at once next week. That's better than the three places at once I had scheduled earlier, but I don't know how to fix it yet.

This morning I went to see an accountant about accountant-y things. I've been very worried about it for a week or so, and I did my best to have info and questions prepared for the meeting. Unfortunately, I felt as though I didn't have the right questions for the conversation we were actually having and I didn't even know enough about business organization and management and marketing and taxes to know which questions to ask. It was a little like that dream where you've studied for the wrong test.

(The accountant was very nice and seemed very knowledgeable, and he gave me lots of ideas and plans and goals and things. I was still stressed and overwhelmed. And I HATE marketing myself.)

The accountant was in another town, so I went there last night and stayed the night with some friends. It was wonderful to have company and spend time together in person. But when I'm stressed out I go non-verbal, and I was very frustrated with myself for being such lousy company. I wanted to hang out with them and do fun things and relax a bit, but I couldn't actually, you know, converse after my meeting this morning. They bought me lunch and coffee to celebrate my having survived the meeting (yep, they know me and my phobia of (doing badly at) money management, all right) and when they asked how it went, I couldn't answer because I hadn't processed the info into words yet.

Friend and I were going to travel back together, but it turned out that friendSpouse drove us to our respective destinations instead. It was kind and saved me a little time, so I feel like I can't complain, but I had been really looking forward to having some time when Friend and I could talk, just the two of us.

I got home and checked the mail and the checks I've been waiting for haven't arrived. I know they're coming...sometime...but rent is due very soon! I need money to pay it!

So I came upstairs and sat down and cried on my cat for a while. As I write this out, it seems like none of this stuff is un-deal-withable, but the little things keep adding up and I'm all out of cope right now.

I think I have leftovers in the fridge. I'm going to see if food helps.

#394 ::: Bayone ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2014, 11:44 PM:

Idumea --

My anchoring comment. Work your magic as you will.

#395 ::: Quietly Learning To Be Loud ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2014, 11:46 PM:

canisfelicis, protecting others' privacy, bayone, LGB

Hugs if appropriate and wanted.

abi, have you noticed the recent theme of "I have nowhere else I can say this"? You have done a very good thing with these threads. Thank you.

#396 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Speaker to Tall People ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2014, 02:25 AM:


Not quite. The comment you've posted there uses your usual email address. I need you to choose a new email address to use when posting in the DF threads.

This is because the view all by functionality is indexed by email address. So all comments with a given email address will appear when you click (view all by) next to any one of those comments.

At the moment, all of your comments under both names use the same email address, and show up when I click (view all by) next to either name. So what needs to happen is:

1. You choose a new email address to use for indexing your DF comments. It doesn't have to work for this to happen. Many people choose something like [their DF ID]
2. You post a comment here with the "Address, comma, email, comma, yours" box filled in with the new email address.
3. I work magic behind the scenes to change the email address on your previous comments here.

Bingo! Two separate histories! Just remember to change email addresses when you change names.


#397 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2014, 02:30 AM:

Quietly Learning to be Loud @395:
abi, have you noticed the recent theme of "I have nowhere else I can say this"?

I have noticed this. But all I did was build a house. This place exists because of the people who walked in and made it their home.

I am reading and witnessing. I haven't much of use to say just at the moment, but I do care, enormously much, about all of the problems and the people here who are facing them.

#398 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2014, 05:09 AM:

LGB, witnessing. You are doing a hard thing - actually, several hard things at once - and it takes lots of cope.

Possible minor suggestion. Does your email permit you to set up a rule to automatically route mail from STBX to a separate in-box? Since you're still dealing with financial things like joint credit cards, you do need to read them, but this would let you brace yourself before you open that box, instead of getting random insta-stress when he appears in your regular inbox.

#399 ::: Quietly Learning To Be Loud ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2014, 11:46 AM:

abi @397
But all I did was build a house.

You saw the need, you built the house, and most importantly, you maintain the house in such a way that people feel safe here. There are damned few places on the internet or IRL where I feel this safe. From the comments here, it seems there are others. It is one of those gifts of self that one does not realize how much it impacts others until those others say thank you,
or "I have nowhere else I can say this".

Thank you.

#400 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2014, 11:51 AM:

re: Quietly Learning To Be Loud @399: Hear hear!

#401 ::: Jeanie ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2014, 11:59 AM:

I've been in a lot of beautifully designed houses that looked invitingly friendly, but were cold once in (with boogeypersons jumping out of closets, too).

The past couple mornings, the sun has been up about the time I was. I thought of you, Abi, with joy upon its return.

For you southern hemisphereians, stay warm and dry and it'll cycle back for you, too.

#402 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2014, 12:02 PM:

LGB, regarding affording a lawyer:

Call your local Bar Association, and ask for the contact info for lawyers who do work pro bono. They do understand that not everyone has money. There may also be a Legal Aid Society in your area who can help you.

#403 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2014, 12:37 PM:

canisfelis @361:

That is a very heavy load to carry. Add me to the folks like Lizzy L who are praying for you and sending good thoughts.

I don't post in the DFD threads these days because Reasons, but I had to make an exception when I read this:

"I'm 31, and I'm half done with my life at best. I'm in the best shape of my life and I'm never going to be able to get in better. And the man I'm with is wonderful, wonderful--and by staying with him I'm asking him to put up with knowing that I could just drop dead unexpectedly, horribly, with just time enough that he knows what's going on, and that he can't do anything."

A few people here know my history, but there's no reason you should, so if other folks will pardon a super-quick summing-up: John M. Ford was my partner and beloved. He had a lot of health issues. He died suddenly.

One thing many people don't know is that he tried to talk me out of being in love with him, on the grounds that he was likely to die on me. He didn't succeed. And although he did in fact go suddenly and although I miss him every day, I am inestimably glad he did not succeed in talking me out of staying with him.

Your beloved might know what they want to do, is what I'm saying, and with all gentleness and compassion I want to tell you that you don't get to make that decision for them. Well, you could, but that's a whole different and much bleaker road of sorrow, in my reasonably experienced opinion. Sometimes ya gotta not protect somebody from something you are afraid of for them, because they really do get to choose their own risks, including the risks of deep grief.

I'll put a cork in it now, but more (and stronger) words on the subject are in a post containing Mike's excellent vows for our Declaration of Unity and a poem I wrote him years before that, not long after he tried to talk me out of being in love with him. (Note that this post should have a warning label for "there may be tears" because it's from the day he died -- but my own tears included many tears of gladness for having had him at all, and as long as we did.) Declaration of Unity, and "Response to an Unwritten Poem of Yours Called 'Sorrow for Breathing'"

I wish you so many good things, and good people to be around you, and so much love, whatever the number of your days turns out to be.

#404 ::: jonesnori/Lenore Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2014, 02:40 PM:

On a similar front to Elise's post, today is the fourth anniversary of my husband John's death. He died at age 51 of cancer. I knew that I'd probably outlive him, but I wasn't expecting him to go so young. Nevertheless, I feel incredibly lucky, and am so grateful to have loved him and had his love.

My love for you, if acceptable.

#405 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2014, 03:32 PM:

Have been reading and witnessing for a while now, thought I would just post that. Much sympathy for those undergoing trying times right now - keep up the good fight.

#406 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2014, 04:06 PM:

abi, #397: I concur with others that you have done considerably more than just building the house. You also maintain it, which is an ongoing task; even though others may assist, yours is the final word, and that's a lot of responsibility.

#407 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2014, 07:28 PM:

canisfelicis: Witnessing. And I second what elise said above, because she said it much better than I could.

#408 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2014, 10:30 PM:

Elise, thank you so much for sharing that with us.

#409 ::: protecting others' privacy ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2014, 09:44 PM:

My thanks to abi as well for the building and maintaining of this space.

Bodhisvaha, the trouble with Homeowner and maintenance is that she's basically devoid of relatives. She moved into this house when she was six, and inherited it a bit over ten years ago from the last surviving co-resident, an aunt. She's estranged from any other surviving local relatives because they tried to make a grab for the property.

That plus the mobility impairment means she's got no local support network, except me. There was another person, but she moved to Florida. If I move away, *possibly* my ex will make himself available for occasional things, *if* Homeowner thinks to call him.

On the upside, if I move out, there will at least be habitable upstairs bedrooms available if Homeowner seeks out other housemates (which, for her own safety, I think she ought to - just having a random college student on the premises would be good for her in case of emergency). Before, well, I wouldn't *quite* say it was a hoarder situation, but it was definitely a *packrat* situation and she didn't have the ability to clear out the cruft.

On the hot water issue, here is how Homeowner came to live without a functioning hot water tank for five years:

Once upon a time, before Homeowner's aunt died, there was a working hot water tank, and enough money for heating oil year-round.

Five years ago, which was after Aunt's death, Homeowner spent some time in a rehab hospital. While she was there, her basement flooded. This fried the electronic controller on the hot water tank. Because of this, water would only get hot when the furnace was actively heating the house.

Homeowner, living alone, relied on heating assistance for fuel oil. As the assistance program was seasonal, Homeowner would let the tank go dry in the summer, and thus expected no hot water in the summer.

Homeowner did NOTICE the "no hot water unless the furnace is running" problem. However, she was apparently unable to describe the problem to repairpeople with sufficient clarity to get them to figure out what the issue was. She then assumed that it was a normal thing for the hot water not to work independently of the radiators, and resigned herself to cold showers and washing dishes in cold water from April through October.

I was the one to say "no, really, houses are not DESIGNED like that," haul out the manual for the furnace system and say "no, really, this diagram shows two zones, the hot water tank should heat water even when the furnace is not sending heat to the radiators," and furthermore go down to the basement (stairs too steep for Homeowner) and say "you know, there is an LED readout panel on the hot water tank that isn't reading out anything at all, something's probably broken." BFF was the one to say "look, I am not willing to crank the heat past eighty in order to get some hot water for my shower until November, dammit."

It was only after the repairperson diagnosed the broken electronic controller that I was able to put two and two together about the basement flood and the hot water malfunction. Homeowner had never quite worked it out, I guess because it had broken in her absence.

The repair was expensive - but on the order of one full tank of heating oil, which is probably evened out by the fact that BFF and I very firmly insisted that the house thermostat be set at 62 for the winter, and NOT 80. We put shrink wrap on the windows, and I took Homeowner out to get some fleece sweatsuits and thermal shirts, and I let Homeowner use my space heater by her computer desk, but it took a great deal of doing to get it through Homeowner's head that there were more cost-effective ways to stay comfortable in the winter than cranking the thermostat on a single-zone three-bedroom house with aging insulation.

This is yet another example of "it's like living with a five-year-old," because it's five-year-olds who get the constant indoctrination of "if you're cold, PUT ON ANOTHER SWEATER," and by the time they're teenagers, you expect them to KNOW that. :(

#410 ::: tamiki ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2014, 11:22 PM:

protecting others' privacy: This is... officially ringing a lot of bells regarding my fiancee's previous living situation, but I think that's a conversation best not carried out here. Would you be okay with abi facilitating an email address exchange?

#411 ::: protecting others' privacy ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2014, 11:33 PM:

tamiki: Absolutely.

#412 ::: protecting others' privacy needs a nym rescue ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2014, 11:39 PM:

tamiki, if you see the above post before abi performs a nym rescue, my email is my unobscured nym at gmail. If you identify yourself in the message body, it's cool.

#413 ::: tamiki ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2014, 11:48 PM:

protecting others' privacy: In before nym rescue, and got it.

#414 ::: Bodhisvaha ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2014, 12:45 AM:

protecting other's privacy @409: *boggle*

I am sorry to hear that Homeowner doesn't have any relatives to help. I was trying to reassure you that your insisting on repairs was a *good* thing, a thing that people who care about her would do, and you've just backed up that assessment. I am not qualified to judge, but I have a bad feeling about this.

I'm bewildered at Homeowner just accepting the situation. Isn't "able to produce hot running water all year round" basic functionality for homes where you are? Probably has been for enough decades that she should have grown up knowing that the equipment did that? Or has she been living somewhere/somewhen with much worse housing?

Another weirdness is the HVAC repairpeople. I haven't had to get any repairs done, but I would have assumed that normal procedure for the HVAC company would be to send out someone to look at the unit, diagnose the problem, and give an estimate for the work. I also assume that they'd do this for free/cheap to bring in business. So it seems strange that nobody understood enough to at least come to look at it, until you insisted.

Third, the relative costs of repair versus making do probably shouldn't be a difficult call to make. Our gas bill is approximately $70/mo in the summer including the $25 water tank rental and all the random fees and taxes. So the gas for hot water alone is roughly $30 in summer, maybe up to $50 in winter. But in winter, the gas bill is about $200/mo, so 1/2 to 3/4 of that is the cost of heating the house. This place has ok insulation, and the thermostat is programmed for 70 F during our waking at-home hours and drops by 5-10 F when we expect to be out and asleep.[*] I do not want to think about how much it would cost to heat this pile to 80F. It would only take one such gas bill for me to conclude that we couldn't afford to NOT fix the hot water tank!

I have to agree with you that it would be good for Homeowner to have someone trustworthy in the house or nearby. If she finds a companion that clicks with her, it would be a good idea for her to offer them discounted rent as an honorarium for their contribution.

[*] 70 F is too cold, dammit. Not by that much, but I miss being deliciously toasty, the way we were in the old apartment. The hot water radiators there were at landlord expense, and they were good for my dry skin and my asthma.

#415 ::: protecting others' privacy ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2014, 01:17 AM:

Bodhisvaha: *boggle* just about covers it. "Has hot water all year round" is absolutely normal functionality in this area. It was in fact normal functionality for THIS PARTICULAR HOUSE from Homeowner's arrival, age six, in 1968, until the breaking of the hot water tank. Homeowner, AFAICT, ascribed the problem entirely to the non-affording of oil in the summer months and a semi-martyred "I guess hot water isn't for poor people." When I was attempting to diagnose, I out-and-out asked her "When you were a kid, did you have hot water in the summer without having to crank the heat?" She said yes, but she wasn't able to make the logical connection that there should be a Fixable Something in the basement to reproduce that, assuming there was oil in the tank.

I'm as baffled as you are about the repairpeople prior to my call. I have to assume that she was unable to explain the problem coherently enough for them to actually look at the TANK. The company I called took about ten minutes to hear my explanation, look at the tank, and accurately diagnose the issue.

She was keeping the ambient temp at 80F in the winter because she liked it that way - she says the rehab hospital was even warmer. However, this also had her dealing with several instances per winter of running out of oil. While I can understand that her health issues may make it somewhat more difficult for her to regulate her body temperature, SWEATERS ARE STILL A THING, DAMMIT. Home heating oil is viciously expensive - the tankful we bought prior to assistance season was $750 - and she was running out of her assistance allowance before the winter was half over, in prior years.

The space heater isn't exactly cheap, either, but it's not as costly for her to heat the area around her desk with it as it is to try to make a leaky house tropically warm in a New England winter.

#416 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2014, 02:30 AM:

protecting others' privacy, did I correctly fix the nym problem?

#417 ::: protecting others' privacy ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2014, 02:33 AM:

Avram: Yes, thank you! Much appreciated.

#418 ::: Bodhisvaha ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2014, 03:14 AM:

protecting others' privacy: oiyoiyoi. (spelling? I never needed to spell that before.) Those are not small goofs; no wonder she is driving you spare! Her track record on the entire topic of the heat gives me no confidence in her ability to assess, plan, and decide well. Surely something is wrong, and Homeowner needs some help.

A person would have to be pretty darn confused and vague when calling the HVAC company to *not* convey "no hot water/broken water heater". Unless perhaps she shot herself in the foot on *all* attempts by talking about how it doesn't work *and* there is no oil left? That might prompt the HVAC company to suggest buying oil and not ask any more diagnostic questions. But even so, she could have then said that it doesn't work even when there IS oil, and that should have accomplished something. See previous paragraph again.

I sympathise with Homeowner about the temperature. I was quite happy with the way the apartment tended to be about 75 F or so left to itself in the winter. At 70 F I *have* to wear a sweater almost all the time to be not-cold. Then when I finally get into a hot bath or bed, I realize that I was deluding myself and I have been just a little cold all damn day. However, I'm suffering thoughtfully: it's to lower the heating bills while we are short an income. Once we have the income back I will want to discover how affordable it would be to be properly warm next winter. There must be some workable compromise between my comfort and the gas bill.

Maybe Homeowner should move somewhere warmer, whether that's another climate or a better insulated home?

#419 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2014, 03:20 AM:

protecting others' privacy, #415: Internet diagnosis is always risky, but this really is starting to sound as though something is broken in Homeowner's head. Has she had any physical injuries which could be having unexpected repercussions? Is there a possibility of fibro or CFS, both of which can leave the sufferer with "head full of fuzz" a lot of the time? What about early-onset Alzheimer's, or some other variety of dementia?

What I'm wondering is whether she was just never taught all this stuff to begin with (unlikely, I would think) or whether something has caused her to regress to what you perceive as 5-year-old level. Has she had a really comprehensive medical workup in the last few years?

#420 ::: protecting others' privacy ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2014, 05:04 AM:

Lee: Homeowner has a couple of chronic medical conditions, one of which causes the mobility problem, and another which might lead to some cognitive impairment. Homeowner is on disability and Medicare and receives regular medical care, including from a neurologist.

She's intelligent enough to have earned a college degree, attended law school (didn't finish, due to one of the medical conditions), and get steady work as a freelance fiction editor. However, I am forced to conclude that she Really Was That Sheltered. Aside from her brief stint at law school, she never lived without an adult of an older generation present until her aunt died...when Homeowner was about forty. To give you an idea of the lacunae in her independence: she was never taught how to light a match. It also seems like nobody ever pushed her table manners past a small child's; while she is perfectly capable of using a knife and fork and will do so on meat, she's content to eat rice, vegetables, etc. with a spoon, which my mother wouldn't permit once I was out of kindergarten.

It's possible that her mental acuity has deteriorated from whatever its high point was. But at this point a lot of it seems to be Very Sheltered, Didn't Have To Be The Adult, and Doesn't Get Out Much (she is no longer able to drive, and the local transit system leaves a lot to be desired - it's not uncommon for the bus drivers to miss pickup times by enough to screw up medical appointments, or to strand her entirely) heterodyning into Severe Cluelessness.

I swear, before I moved in, I *thought* she was able to look after herself, only sometimes needing help from a more-mobile or car-enabled friend, and with the sorts of pressures caused by limited income.

Now I'm starting to wonder.

#421 ::: canisfelicis ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2014, 01:39 PM:

Elise @404:

I read your reply shortly after you posted it, and then had to walk away for a bit because I wasn't sure how to answer it correctly.

I keep deleting things, and writing, and deleting again. There are a lot of phrases, but all of them aren't right. So I guess I should just say thank you, very much; it helps to have information from someone on the other side of the equation.

I loathe being burdensome. I'm uncomfortable with unequal partnership, and I just don't know how I could ever balance this. It's about trying to work toward a minimum of grief, right? I'm not sure which way to go. But hearing what you have to say helps.

As for not knowing your story...I've actually been lurking here since my very early twenties, at least, generally very, very quietly. I think you should know that "Against Entropy" helped save my life once, when I was in a much-less-safe place than I am now.

#422 ::: canisfelecis ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2014, 01:40 PM:

Er, that should have been #403.

But jonesnori/Lenore Jones @404--thank you, too.

#423 ::: tamiki ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2014, 02:58 PM:

Bodhisvaha and Lee: Without getting into too much identifying information, it turns out I've met Homeowner as well. I can second the fact that not much makes sense in Homeowner Land. (I was witness to when the matches thing came up, via the internets. Good reasons not to use your fireplace: the chimney's in disrepair, you have no wood, it'd suck all the heat out of the rest of the house. Bad reasons: "I can't light a match.")

As for her moving to a warmer clime, she's expressed the wish several times, but I think the fact that she owns her house outright and that social services would be more than somewhat lacking in most other places - they're not perfect in New England, but a lot of the places she's shown interest in are in conservative hands, which currently means 'no social services for you' - are helping keep her where she is. I'm not if getting a place with better insulation/re-insulating her current house is a thing that's even occurred to her. (I'm willing to lay odds that once protecting others' privacy and BFF move out, she'll go right back to keeping the house at 80.)

She said something, after Sandy, about wanting to move to the Midwest, of all places. At that point I wasn't sure I could say anything to her in politeness, but I was thinking that if she wants to get away from storms that come with little warning, the Midwest ain't the place to go. There's this little thing called tornadoes where you're lucky to get a day's warning that the storm's conditions are right (and then you have to get to shelter, usually in a basement); at least with hurricanes you have a week or so to brace yourself.

protecting others' privacy: The bowl/spoon thing could very well be a parental difference between you and her. At the very least, it doesn't sound as strange to me as some of the rest of it.

#424 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2014, 02:59 PM:

canisfelis @421: While trying to avoid unnecessary heartache is often worth the exercise of at least considering (and yes, I did palm a card there with "unnecessary"), I've found that for me, trying to work toward a minimum of grief puts me in a mindset that also steers me away from and not toward connection. Minimum of grief beacons are in the main shipping channels of avoidance of love, at least in my ocean. Your ocean may vary, as they say, and I don't know what the view from your decks is like.

I'm not saying one should go push a shopping cart down the grief aisle in hopes that the more grief, the more love, as if there were a two-fer special that had the two packaged together in the same wrapping. I mean, sometimes it is packaged together in particular instances, but it's perfectly possibly to have the grief without the love. Some days I think there's grief either way, and if that's so, then I'll take mine in the package that has the love too.

I do know that wanting to protect someone you love, even from grief, springs from love. I do get how the urge works. I have it myself, when I've been in a really hard place and have told Juan that his life would be so much better without me. (Juan misses Mike a lot too, but is glad that we had him. They were friends to each other, of the sort where each took me aside to suggest holiday and birthday presents of techie gear that the other one might not have seen yet.) And figuring out how stuff balances is something I've given up on, myself, because it becomes clear to me over and over that I don't even see a bunch of the stuff that my beloveds are glad of, in being with me, so I'm not competent to judge the balance thing. Even if love were about bargains. Which I'm not sure it is.

Tempted to start quoting Jane Hirshfield here, so I will again wish you all sorts of goodness, and unexpected joys, and I will go to the workbench and make some art. Speaking of which, thank you very much for telling me about the life-saving uses of "Against Entropy." Mike would get all self-deprecating if he heard that, but hey, pieces of art that can be used to help one that way are important and laudable things, and I'm glad that poem was such for you, and so would he be.

#425 ::: Emma in Sydney ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2014, 04:23 PM:

canisfelis @421: and elise @ 424: Just wanted to second Elise that balance and bargains maybe don't apply when love and grief are concerned. I'm watching my mother grieve her husband of 53 years, my beloved dad, and while it is meant to be a comfort that we had him with us and loved him for so long, somehow it isn't. The grief is too big to fit into the space available, just the same as it would have been had he died young. The hole he lieaves is just as large. Even if you could promise to live to 90, which none of us can, the people who love you still grieve you. That's unavoidable. Love each oher while you can.

#426 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2014, 10:09 PM:

protecting others' privacy, #421: Datapointing here -- while I myself eat things like rice and mixed veggies with a fork, I wouldn't view using a spoon as either weird or "something only children do". Indeed, if you're concerned about not wasting food, it's more efficient because you don't end up with those last dozen bits on the plate that the fork just won't get.

Not knowing how to use a match is in an entirely different category IMO. From the rest of your description, perhaps the largest problem is a severe case of learned helplessness. Have you tried teaching her some of these things that she doesn't know, and if so, how did she respond? There does often come a point beyond which the ability to adapt to changing circumstances seems to diminish, and this could have happened to her earlier because of the medical issues.

#427 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2014, 12:01 AM:

Canisfelecis, you've been in my thoughts since I first heard of your genetic news. I'm sorry it changes so many things about the life you thought you were getting.

On the housemate: it sounds like it may help to reframe 'roommate' to 'staff'. Probably not for the current set, but as a warning to others in the future. I know I resent chores less when they're officially my job than when someone else should be taking care of them.

#428 ::: iliad slightly awry ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2014, 02:41 AM:

canisfelicis, there aren't words. I'm so, so sorry.

elisem, thank you for sharing that.

All: reading. Witnessing. I think of this community often, even when I'm not speaking.

#429 ::: The_L ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2014, 07:21 AM:

@protecting others' privacy: Seconding Lee. Learned helplessness does sound like it's probably an issue here. A year ago, when I was having problems with a shower in my then-home, the only response I could think of was "call %Landlord and have him fix it." Calling a plumber and getting the damn thing re-wired myself (I had plenty of savings, and could show %Landlord the bill and ask him to pay, if not all of it, then at least a fair share, back) honestly did not occur to me as being a viable option until after I moved out.

I did not learn how to iron clothes until my senior year in high school (%Fiance, frustratingly enough, never learned to iron at all and is 9 years older than me). I did not bother to try to actually learn recipes until age 19, when my dorm had a kitchen.

My mother says that I didn't bother learning to dress myself until after a routine checkup at age 2, when a doctor asked how many articles of clothing I could put on, and she told him that I'd honestly never tried. "She just stands there like a doll and lets you dress her."

I got so used to other people doing things for me that the idea of doing any of them myself never entered my mind. And Homeowner was treated that way until age 40. No wonder she has trouble "doing" for herself!

#430 ::: eep ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2014, 10:00 AM:

Lee@419: What I'm wondering is whether she was just never taught all this stuff to begin with (unlikely, I would think)
Are you saying that most people ARE taught all this stuff? I always perceived my lack of Life Skills (to the extent that I even could perceive, around the Dunning-Krueger Effect) as some sort of birth defect. I've started to question it, a little, in the past couple years, but I still honestly have no idea where reality lies.

Matches: I can use one, awkwardly, if I have to, and might even manage to not burn myself, and I always have to go through a few before I get it right. There is a lot of anxiety to get past, and I will avoid it if at all possible.

I've been on the receiving end of a lot of OMG, how can she not just ADULT? judgement (hint: I'm trying!), and been treated like a five year old when I've failed to catch up with the program quickly enough. I am completely sympathetic to protecting others' privacy's need to get away (I would get away from myself if I could!), and I don't think there's anything wrong with needing to secure your own oxygen mask. But I have a lot of sympathy for roommate, too, and seeing her life being dissected here is hitting some pretty deep bruises.

The_L @429: And Homeowner was treated that way until age 40. No wonder she has trouble "doing" for herself!
Yes, this. And to me, at least, it seems like the difficulty level goes up the later you have to learn it, like learning a second language. I was actually allowed (albeit with some glaring omissions) Kitchen Skills, and Food is one of the only Life 101-type things that comes anything like naturally now. Low spoons? My later-learned skills are first out the window.

#431 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2014, 10:09 AM:

Finding it hard to respond to all the things I want to respond to, but witnessing.

protecting others' privacy: in addition to what everyone else has said on the housing and Homeowner front, on the depression: It sounds like you know what you want to do about it, so I'm wishing you strength for whatever the next step is.

#432 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2014, 10:10 AM:

@protecting others privacy (and the general discussion): If it is indeed learned helplessness, then it's damned hard to break.

First off, though, I completely sympathize with your need to get out of there. I would have made a terrible roommate, and even though I was a good way toward breaking the bad habits when I met Spouse, I was still very grateful for his patience with me. And this was after I'd recognized the problem and spent several years working to break the learned helplessness habits.

Part of the problem of learned helplessness is an unconscious conviction that you're not capable of doing it - otherwise why would other people always insist on doing it for you? Compounded in my case by Mom's attitude of "UR DOIN IT RONG let me take it out of your hands and do it properly" but even hlepiness can severely aggravate this. When Mom wasn't telling me the proper way to do it, she was trying to be Helpful!

So I'm wondering if the aunt was treating her like a "cripple" and insisting on doing everything like she would for a five year old. That sort of treatment would (and did) drive me nuts, but it has its attractions, deep down - as my psychiatrist told me, there has to be something really attractive about it, or I wouldn't be holding on to it so hard - so given that she hasn't recognized that it's a problem by age 40, she's probably not going to.

TL;DR: IF she recognizes there's a problem and IF she tries to change, it will take years and tons of effort on her part. And she'll be *really* hard on her roommates until then (i.e. @427 Diatryma's idea of thinking of oneself as staff is probably a good idea for survival...)

#433 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2014, 10:12 AM:

@eep #430: My apologies if I hit any of your bruises there. I read the idea that she might have learned helplessness, and it hit a number of my recognition buttons.

So, if I hurt you, I'm sorry. And good wishes, and a whole drawer full of spoons.

#434 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2014, 10:20 AM:

eep #430: Yes, people are taught that stuff. Maybe not formally, but nobody is born knowing how to use a match, or how a water heater works, or how to iron clothes, etc. Some learn it young, by parents who insist on their kids doing chores; some learn it by finding out that "there's a right way, a wrong way, and the Army way", and they are expected to do it the Army way; some decide they are going to go through a 500 match box until they get it right (or burn up 10 shirts, etc). And some never learn, as it isn't important to them (cooking a steak isn't important to me, a life-long vegetarian; would I succeed if I tried, probably not). Some persist at being bad at a skill despite all instruction until something else is done (my grandmother could not get my mother to properly sweep the floor until my mother finally got glasses and could actually see the dirt, for instance).

But everyone was a beginner at all these life skills at some point.

#435 ::: eep ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2014, 11:16 AM:

Chickadee: No, I appreciate your perspective. Your previous posts on learned helplessness are part of what's helped me start questioning this stuff. I was mostly asking people to remember that life has a lot of different difficulty settings, which your post is addressing also. Thank you for the spoonwishes! :)

To Lee, because I know I am pretty tone deaf: I hope I didn't come across as angry at you, either, in quoting you. That was me boggling at the barely-glimpsed elephant in my living room.

Buddha Buck: It makes sense that everyone has to start somewhere, but it's still hard to get my head around. I have to constantly ask myself, "Do you really think this is a skill that people are born with?" And sometimes I'm still not sure.

I was sent to school without even having been taught how to use the restroom for myself. The first time I needed to go was so traumatic, that after that, I just held it. As you may imagine, this doesn't end well.

#436 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2014, 11:52 AM:

As a point of reference on the things "everyone" is supposed to know: in my family, many of them were certainly taught. My parents had a whole progression chart of when kids were expected to be able to do different chores, and part of going through that chart was teaching them explicitly. Here's how to iron clothes, we'll have you start by practicing on napkins. Here's how to wipe down the table properly after dinner. Here's how to water plants, light the pilot light on the gas stove, sort laundry, fold a fitted sheet, cut up raw chicken, measure baking powder, make your own cat food...

In my senior year of high school, for complicated reasons, I ended up in a dorm quite distant from my parents. All of the kids in the dorms had chores. At one point I had to dry and put away dishes, and commented angrily on how the people who'd washed the dishes had set them out on the drying racks pointed up, so there was a pool of water at the bottom of each one. How could they be so inconsiderate?

And a dorm parent took me aside and said, you know, some people were never taught this. Don't be angry at them for not knowing something they were never told.

I can't say I took the instruction graciously at the time. I was a very angry teenager for having to be in that living situation at all. But it was a useful reminder that my experience wasn't universal. My high school had a semester-long mandatory class for seniors on how to live as an independent adult. Paying the phone bill, avoiding credit card debt, doing job interviews, navigating social situations when isolated from your family and previous community. Most people...don't get that. Not explicitly.

Anyway. I have tried to keep it in mind since. Especially when running up against things that it seems everyone else knows, and I don't. (Changing a tire. Coordinating an outfit more complicated than jeans and t-shirts. Tending a basic garden outside.) But it helps to know that these things are taught, one way or another. And I try to ask people for help--though I feel very silly doing it on some things--because I know I am not good at the trial-and-error learning approach.

#437 ::: tamiki ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2014, 11:53 AM:

eep: My apologies.

I think one of the things that boggles protecting others' privacy and I about Homeowner particularly, having seen her in action in person, is that even when people try to teach her these things she's missed out on, it doesn't even begin to stick. This is not the first time 'lower the thermostat and put on a sweater/blanket' has been offered as a solution to her running out of oil, and I really do think she's only doing it because other people are monitoring the thermostat. Even after pizzas had been ordered for delivery to her house, multiple times, she was surprised at the idea a pizza place would deliver there.

Learned helplessness could very well be a part of what's going on here, and I know those habits are hard to break. But I think it's the fact that she can be taught how to do something several times and still be wondering how it works that gives me the feeling Something Is Wrong, whether beside or on top of that.

(As for the matches: I think why that one in particular boggled me is enough three-year-olds figure out matches to be told they're not toys, and they're hardly the only way to get a fire going. The_L does raise a good point in that the other means might not have occurred to her.)

#438 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2014, 12:37 PM:

tamiki @437: I think the part about three-year olds lighting matches might be part of why some people don't learn. My wife had a combination of extreme nervousness about matches and a conviction that she couldn't light them (safely) which fed back on each other. I think one of the sources was her parents' emphasis that children shouldn't play with matches when she was young. It wasn't until she was working in a lab in her late twenties, needing to light several bunsen burners every morning, that she finally overcame her fears and forced herself to learn how to reliably light a match.

#439 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2014, 01:04 PM:

Re matches, I think that Jeremy Leader @438 has the right of it. When there's no household need for using matches, kids never have any reason to outgrow the preschooler prohibition on them. When I was a Girl Scout leader 10 years ago, we were teaching the girls firebuilding and many of them (ages 9-11) had never struck a match. One of the most popular things we did on an overnight trip was set up a fire circle and supervise match practice. Before we got to the point of controlled lighting of tinder, most of them went through at least a dozen matches each, striking them on the side of the box, squeaking when they caught fire (the girls squeaked; the matches caught fire), and dropping the burning match into the fire pit. After that, they became willing to hold onto a burning match and attempt to use it.

Of course the problems of the Housemate that prompted this discussion go beyond this one specific.

You have reminded me that I need to consider the things I still do for my daughter with special needs and what I should try harder to get her to do for herself. I think I'm patient with the learning curve, but refusal to try drives me nuts so I often just skip that battle, and I shouldn't.

#440 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2014, 01:22 PM:

The_L, #429: I could iron something if I had to, but frankly I've never seen the point of putting out that much effort, and so have addressed the issue by making my wardrobe no-ironing-needed (lots of knits, permanent press, other non-wrinkling fabrics). If I were in a job where I had to wear clothing that needed to be ironed, I'd also be making enough money to take them to the cleaners.

eep, #430: Are you saying that most people ARE taught all this stuff?

Yes, directly or indirectly. I remember my mother showing me things like how to iron, how to make a bed, and yes, how to light a match. She never taught me much about cooking, but I did get a little of that via a Girl Scout badge. Laundry was mostly by inference from watching her (and listening to her bitch when my father tried to "help" and got it wrong). Sewing I still can't do except for the basics like fixing a loose button or a split seam, and sewing machines terrify me.

In all honesty, she didn't do that great a job; I remember a friend telling me, when I was in my 20s, that my parents had apparently intended for me to remain dependent on them all my life and had done a poor job of teaching me what I needed to know. Most of my friends got far more instruction. Looking back, I think that some of this was because of her control issues; it was easier for her to do everything herself than to watch me doing it "wrong" while I was in the learning cycle.

it seems like the difficulty level goes up the later you have to learn it, like learning a second language

Yes, this too. Learning anything is easier when you're younger. At this point I can pretty well fake being a functional adult, but a lot of it is work-arounds for the things I wasn't taught or don't want to bother with.

And no, you didn't come across as angry -- more surprised and confused, which is a normal way to feel when something shakes up one of your unconscious assumptions.

Fade, #436: Don't be angry at them for not knowing something they were never told.

This is an important insight, and I think it feeds back into what a number of us have had to deal with. That whole "if you can't do it exactly right the first time, you're a FAILURE" thing is definitely connected to it. When your parents won't allow you a learning curve, how the hell are you supposed to learn?

But by the same token, there is an expected level of adult competence that most people will have achieved by the time they're out of their 20s, and not having it is the source of a lot of the "Why can't you just ADULT?" that eep has experienced. When most of the people you know can do X, it's very easy to generalize that knowing how to do X should be a universal.

tamiki, #437: Figuring out other ways to do things is partly a function of observation. Someone who is internally-focused enough may just not think about alternatives because they've never noticed that there are any. In the current example, if you can't use a match, why not a cigarette lighter or a firestarter? Well... cigarette lighters aren't nearly as common as they used to be, and if you've never seen an ad for a firestarter (or someone else using one) you may not know that such a thing exists!

#441 ::: Bodhisvaha ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2014, 01:27 PM:

Chores/doing for yourself/learned helplessness:

eep, I'm sorry if I hit a sore spot, and I should clarify something. Part of the job for elders is teaching youngsters a decent selection of life skills, but especially the attitudes: skills are learned, improve with practice, and you can turn your hand usefully to anything when you want or need to enough. (Also, all made things are made, so with proper tools, materials, and skills, you can make them.) So when elders don't do that, they fail their charge, badly. The good thing is that this failure can be fixed, by noticing the gaps and learning stuff to fill them.

For life skills, childhood is like an apprenticeship, rather than school. You learn more by osmosis and opportunity, not a curriculum. You watch the experienced master, maybe help out, and later the master says "here do ______" while supervising. Later the master can say "here do ______" and go do something else. The _____ should become more challenging over time. Both the watching and the doing are important: frequently it's not clear why they do things a specific way until you try doing it other ways. If the masters never trust the apprentices with responsible duties and actual projects, but only assign them to fetch and carry, then the apprentices don't make good journeymen, and may never be masters themselves.

My parents believed in doing things for yourself, and had a pretty wide range of making/building capabilities in-house, such as an amateur woodworking shop. Sometimes they were willing to teach, but more often my mother had a tendency to assume children were psychic and to get angry with us for doing it wrong or slowly. I did get the foundational assumptions that you *can* and often should learn, build, and make, and a fair number of specific skills, and have gotten a lot out of that. I would have done even better had they been better teachers.

One of the new skills I am having to learn, these days, is when it's best to spend money instead of time, by buying something I could learn to make, or paying an expert for a service. I don't want to lose the hang of learning and doing for myself, but sometimes it's smarter to earn money with my own best skills and superpowers, and trade that money in for someone else doing what they do best. While I can learn to do practically anything, I do not have endless time and materials to practice, so I should do for myself where it's most practical, easy, or offers long-term enjoyment and rewards, and enlist others for the rest.

#442 ::: Jeanie ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2014, 01:53 PM:

There's another behavior pattern that often goes along with Learned Helplessness but can stand alone. These folks don't pick battles, they mulishly insist on winning them all. They can be foolish, they can be wrong, but their personal worth is tied up and they will fight to the death because Reasons.

My MIL took great joy in cleverly manipulating people, bragged about it. "I was nasty to them and they had to take it". She was anything but helpless until her last years.

Those who consider themselves powerless in other situations will find this an obvious coping mechanism.

You will never, ever win with them unless you can devote years to building their sense of power and self-worth. Even then, when they deteriorate (who isn't angry at this?) they'll slam right back into it.

Sympathy, witnessing, hugs out there for any who'd like to grab them.

#443 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2014, 03:46 PM:

There' salsify the point that life skills are deeply context- and culture- dependent. This is related to the business of so-called intelligence tests: Early in their development, much was made of the fact that blacks and other disadvantaged groups scored much lower on them than European and American whites, while Non-Westerners scored in the 'retarded' range, wholesale. Guess who was designing the tests? Eventually the actual scientists clued into the point that the tests were checking for recognition of US cartoon characters, the mathematical techniques taught in upper-class schools, and so on. If native Aboriginals had been writing those tests, those white psychologists and teachers wouldn't have done too well on, say, the part about finding water in the bush.... Nowadays, they try to limit those dependencies, but it turns out to be impossible to completely eliminate them, precisely because natural abilities get shaped and channeled by the expectations and needs of the environment and culture.

That' s why so many older folks (such as my boss at the bookstore) are so deeply confounded by computers and the Internet -- unlike their kids and grand kids, they did not get the opportunity, much less need, to navigate computer menus, keyword-scan help files, or even locate the active areas on a computer display. It's also why, unlike my Mom, I'd be remarkably clumsy at, say, ironing a shirt -- by the time I was growing up, that was an increasingly optional skill for men of my social class, and given the other demands on my attention, it fell by the wayside. (See also my earlier mystification when my friend had trouble with mouselook/keymove in a computer game.)

And of course, if the primary skills a kid needs to survive are those of dependency -- stroking and noting the moods of their caretaker, and so on-- why then, those are the skills they develop, at the expense of others. More so if attempting any independent activities is actively punished!

#444 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2014, 04:02 PM:

My friend Mel introduced me to the phrase legitimate peripheral participation - if you're interested in learning more about learning and the topics Bodhisvaha and others have been discussing, that phrase and "cognitive apprenticeship" are useful ones to look up.

(I think my mother has now made her peace with the fact that I never quite picked up how to eat rice-related meals with my hand, find it too messy, and prefer a spoon.)

canisfelicis, my thoughts are with you.

#445 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2014, 04:03 PM:

David Harmon #443 I wonder if those issues concerning culture-dependent IQ scores were brought up in the recent court cases trying to invalidate Florida's hard-line IQ test for the mental retardation exemption from the death penalty.

Possibly not, since the results of that cultural bias would yield more false positives for mental retardation among blacks and immigrants.

#446 ::: Buddha Buck did not think before hitting post ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2014, 04:25 PM:

I'd like to retract the last sentence of my previous post. I decided against posting a second sentence for fear it would say the wrong thing, and only now realized that the first sentence isn't much better.

What I meant to imply is that, given the historical and documented bias towards the execution of minority defendants, the State would be unlikely to consider the fact that their reliance on hard-line IQ testing would, because if it's historical and documented bias, allow more minority defendants to "escape" the death penalty.

#447 ::: The_L ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2014, 04:54 PM:

@Lee, re: ironing: %Fiance wears button-up shirts on special occasions, so about 2-3 times per year. He doesn't want to spend money on dry cleaners, but never learned how to iron.

#448 ::: Merricat ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2014, 05:23 PM:

eep @430: The house I grew up in had no blinds and no curtains (in the middle of the woods, so no privacy concerns, and my parents really liked natural light) ... which meant that I got to age 19, and in college, and I had to ask my boyfriend how to lower the blinds because I simply didn't know how they worked.

#449 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2014, 05:40 PM:

eep @435: I have to constantly ask myself, "Do you really think this is a skill that people are born with?" And sometimes I'm still not sure.

To the best of my understanding, the only skills people are born with are peeing, pooping, sleeping, and sucking. And there are circumstances under which sucking has to be taught.

#450 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2014, 05:46 PM:

tamiki @437: Even after pizzas had been ordered for delivery to her house, multiple times, she was surprised at the idea a pizza place would deliver there.

That certainly sounds like damage to memory function on an organic level.

#451 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2014, 05:51 PM:

Buddha Buck #445: dunno about those, but the IQ tests were certainly used to support prior abuses such as forced sterilization.

#452 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2014, 05:55 PM:

H'mm. Life skills. Yes.

It is, thankfully, increasingly difficult to associate the uptight and sometimes extremely inconsistent mother from my childhood with the open-minded and laid-back mother I have these days. We've both grown a lot. But I look back and sometimes wonder how the precise heck I ever managed to learn any life skills at all. Take, for instance, the following:

Cooking. You'd think this would have been an easy one, since Mum was and still is a good cook. Sadly, she was also a perfectionist. That comment (which I now can't find, probably because I am tired) about not being able to learn if you're not allowed to have a learning curve... that resonated. I was rarely allowed to cook at home, and when I tried, I had to get everything right first time. Needless to say, I didn't learn anything of any use. I ended up teaching myself, very fast, once I reached university; thankfully I got good quickly. I'd obviously picked up more than I thought from watching.

Money: Apparently children don't learn about money if they are allowed to have any significant amount of it. Or if they are allowed any control over how they spend it. Or if they are ever told anything about household finances, because that is one of the things you Don't Tell Children. It took me longer to learn how to deal with money, and, since I was always the one who had by far the least pocket money in the class, I'm still dealing with the attitude that Nice Things Are For Other People. It's getting better, slowly.

General household tasks: ask if I can help. Be told I can't because I'm clumsy. Rinse and repeat a few times. Eventually give up. Suddenly get asked out of the blue why I am not doing whatever-it-was spontaneously. Explain that I repeatedly asked to be allowed to do it in the past and was told no. Get told off, and informed that I ought to know I should be doing it because I'm older now. Wander off to bedroom wondering how to be psychic. Still absolutely detest housework and do as little of it as I can reasonably get away with.

And, despite all that, by some miracle I am at least a reasonably functional adult, and my mother is now the sort of person I can tell I'm going to a workshop on Gender and Disability and trust to explain that to my father without his brain going "ping!" any more than necessary. (Dear old Dad. Adorable, but also 85 and set in his ways. Not the sort of person to whom you can easily explain anything outside his immediate experience, bright though he is.) It's just that... I've still got a few surrounding issues left, y'know?

Also, last but by no means least, still reading and witnessing, even if I've been rather silent in this thread of late. Special thanks to elise for sharing so beautifully at 403. I had a lump in my throat reading that.

#453 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2014, 05:58 PM:

In terms of learning life skills, you can get a lot of them now online. I didn't know how to iron or make a bed until quite recently; there are articles about both, some of them with demonstration videos. (I think abi has commented on this in the past: there are websites that were paying people for articles on "how-to-do-this" -- they started out on technical subjects, but once the technical subjects were covered, some of the people doing them moved on to "basic life skills" stuff.)

#454 ::: knitcrazybooknut ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2014, 07:37 PM:

I've been trying to wait until I'm less angry, but I think that will take some time. My counselor reminded me recently that dealing with a narcissistic parent is much like going through the five stages of loss: Denial and bargaining were the first chunk of my life, because those were the only coping mechanisms I had. Then you have anger and depression and sadness. Last year I was really angry and then depressed, and this year I'm mourning the parents and family that I never had. Family commercials where people are happy and treat each other well are commented on in disbelief, and I am pleased as punch to watch my friends parent so amazingly well. [Short version is I cut contact with my mom and eventually all family members starting over a year ago. My family is still pissed off, but I am free of them.]

I am still angry and furious and livid that I walked out at seventeen with so few adult skills under my belt. I was crazy smart with no emotional support and no financial sense, and my parents kept telling me (with behaviors, not words) that going out into the world with my abilities in view was death, that achieving was stupid and that the East Coast was a place where people didn't value good things (for their version of "good").

I finally asked myself the question, and it took me a few months to find the answer. Why would my parents want me to keep my light under a bushel? Why would they hamstring me so that I would not achieve amazing things? (I had mad SAT scores lo these 25 years ago, and offers from many prestigious places.) The answer: Because if I achieved things, why would I ever come back to them?

I was never helped with my homework. I didn't know how to study until I got to college, and even then, I didn't know how to ask for help when I needed it. I didn't think it was okay to need help. My parents controlled my finances and decided whether or not I had a car until I was at least 28 years old. I never challenged them or I would get criticized. Hell, I barely opened my mouth because otherwise I would get criticized.

I am mourning and raging at the same time. I knew how to do a few things, but it took years, and help from other people, and a lot of cognitive dissonance to recognize that it's okay to ask for help. That learning doesn't just happen automatically and as someone brilliant said, if you don't make mistakes, you don't make anything.

Right now my husband and I are in dire financial straits. Some of it is our own mistakes made, and some of it is just tough times. I am finding it so exhausting to keep asking for help. But I learned something really important. When I first posted to my friends on book of face about looking for knitting gigs (etc.), I posted and then ran away from the computer. I stopped, thought about my reaction (like I'd lit a match to something!) and asked myself why. Why was I flinching away from whatever responses my friends might have?

I thought about it, and realized that any time I asked my parents for help, any time at all, whether I was broke or hurt or sick or fired, their first response was always, you did something wrong. Here is a list of ALL the things you've EVER done wrong, and these things in particular probably caused this. Basically, I deserved what I got, and they would deign to bail me out, AGAIN, because I was always needing to be bailed out, and that was all my fault too for being me.

I went back to my request for help, and four of my friends had posted encouraging comments, some of them hiring me for various stuff. Some of them had even praised me for asking for help. I was floored. And immensely pleased to have chosen such amazing friends. At this point I have three knitting gigs and an organizing project solidified, with possibly more in the planning stages. We're still working on February's mortgage payment, but we're closer than before, and asking for help has been a positive move in all the right ways.

I'm still mourning the family I didn't actually have. But it looks like I've replaced it with one that knows me better, and knows how to help instead of hurt.

This is one of those times when I thought I was writing about one thing, and I was, but I was writing about something else that was important, too. I'm very sad and happy and angry these days, but I still have husband and house and five kitties and food. I'm looking forward to being employed again someday, and I know that I have more life skills than I did 25 years ago. I'm mostly just sad and angry for Past Me, who did not know what the hell she was doing, and didn't know that other people could help.

#455 ::: protecting others' privacy ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2014, 10:03 PM:

Learned helplessness certainly sounds like it fits, and eep's response nails why I've been feeling like a terrible person over this: I could recognize that Homeowner had never been taught things, and felt like if I were a Good Friend and a Good Person, I'd be patient with her and willing to teach her.

Sometimes I can. The no-matches thing (which I came up against years before I moved in, when I was trying to help her with storm prep) I solved by introducing her to the butane-fueled clicky grill lighters. I taught her that it wasn't necessary to simmer eggs on medium for thirty minutes to get them hard-cooked: start in cold water, bring to boil, cover, turn off heat, let sit ten minutes. When I noticed that she was drying mere handfuls of clothes for a full hour on the high-heat cycle, I explained the Auto Dry setting.

But it's frustrating. I'm not patient with it - my first reaction, which I try to suppress, is WHY THE HELL HAVE THESE EGGS BEEN GOING FOR HALF AN HOUR or WHY ARE YOU WASTING ENERGY DRYING THE CLOTHES LIKE THAT?

I have a kid, who's eighteen. I've been through the five-year-old stage once. And it was kind of frustrating then, too - I had to make a concerted effort to be patient in the kitchen and take time to show how things worked instead of just going "get out of here, you're in my way." I made the effort because my kid was a kid, and needed to learn. And sometimes I got the hell out and let Dad be the one to teach, because he could approach it as a Fun Project and not "dinner needs to get MADE."

Homeowner is not five, she's over fifty. And she's not my kid. And I haven't got the patience to teach her life skills as if she were five. I mean... I was rinsing out a jar for recycling (another thing that Homeowner can't seem to get the knack of, despite having the town handout of acceptable and unacceptable items tacked to her bulletin board) and I filled it partway, put the lid on, and shook it to dislodge some stuck-on bits, and she reacted with wonderment at my cleverness. She said she had never seen anyone do that, nor had it ever occurred to her to do that.

If I were a nice person this wouldn't make me angry with her. But I'm not nice.

Oh, as for "housemate" vs. "staff" - I don't actually mind DOING the chores. I get more annoyed at discovering that she's done something intending to help and screwed it up so I have to do it over again than I am by just doing the things in the first place.

And she wants (wanted?) to be helpful. But I don't find it helpful to have her take 45 minutes to do dishes that I could knock out in 15, and I had to tell her "unless my laundry is in your way, please don't shift it for me," and oh god the number of times she's written something on the shopping list when there's an unopened replacement RIGHT THERE...

I didn't sign up for having a five-year-old again, and I'm not nice or patient enough to be Teaching Mom.

#456 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2014, 10:26 PM:

I learned to strike matches rather late in life, and part of the challenge is that you have to be somewhat fast and forceful. If you're slow and cautious, it won't light.


Unrelated-- I gave up on my parents emotionally earlier than I can remember, or maybe some important emotional connection never developed or got broken. (This is the first it's occurred to me that it may not have been a conscious decision on my part.)

In any case, this is something that's painful to think about.

I've literally never heard of anyone else (in person or in books) with this sort of disconnect, and I think there's some sort of background problem for me. Any thoughts or resources?

This isn't a practical problem for me in the sense of figuring out current relationships-- my parents are dead. I grieved, but I didn't regret not having talked with them for years before they died.

#457 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2014, 10:30 PM:

@455 protecting others' privacy: For the record, I don't think it's that you're not a nice person, I think it's that you're not superhuman with epic skill levels in patience, tolerance for ridiculous situations, and shit-compensation that I don't think any human should be expected to have.

#458 ::: protecting others' privacy ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2014, 10:39 PM:

Chickadee, thank you. That was something I needed to hear.

#459 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2014, 10:42 PM:

knitcrazybooknut @454: hearing and witnessing

Nancy Lebovitz @456: What you're describing is ringing bells for me in terms of stuff I've read, but I'm not sure what resources I could point you at. Ignore if hlepy, but consider looking up stuff regarding mother/child bonding; if you didn't get that bond early (for whatever reason), it has profound effects on brain development. Attachment is another term.

Most of what's out there focusses on the mother/infant stage, but they do at least mention that the effects are lifelong.

I have a close friend who's finishing a degree in psychology (older than me - not a twenty year old undergrad!) who has helped me a lot with my reverse problem. Would you mind/like if I ask her (in general terms - no names) if she knows anything?

#460 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2014, 11:09 PM:

Protecting others' privacy, what you describe is my job... which means it is a job. I get paid for that sort of thing. You don't. There is no shame in not wanting to do someone else's job unpaid.

#461 ::: tamiki ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2014, 11:14 PM:

protecting others' privacy: I think Chickadee has it right. It's not that you're not nice, it's that you're not one of nature's teachers, and Homeowner is pushing those limits in ways you're not prepared to handle. From the sound of it, you weren't really prepared to teach when you knew you had to, so why would you be prepared to teach someone much closer to your age bracket?

Not to mention you're wading through a depression fog of your own. Given my own experiences with Homeowner, I can't see that making your life any easier; she can be hard enough to follow with a clear mind, never mind when your brain's working against you.

#462 ::: Wanting some privacy ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2014, 11:52 PM:

Chickadee, thanks for offering, and I'd like you to ask.

#463 ::: Bodhisvaha ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2014, 12:02 AM:

protecting others' privacy @455: there you go, that's it in a nutshell: this is not what you signed up for. Tell me if I've got this right: you thought you were moving in with a 50something single adult who occasionally needed some help, but seemed to be functional enough. You did not expect to move in with someone who effectively needs a part-time housekeeper/mother figure for daily living. You are not a bad person, or even an impatient person, for being unhappy about having this land in your lap with no easy way out. Of course you want out. Why wouldn't you? Why *shouldn't* you?

When Partner and I moved in with the Dragon, we signed on to share a house with a new friend who, at the time, had reliably been kind, polite, considerate, generous, fun, and solvent. For a short while that continued to be true. Some months later, what we had on our hands was someone who was rude, manipulative, lazy, and financially irresponsible. She pretty much expected us to be her servants and to help finance the lifestyle to which she wished to be accustomed, on our credit rating. This was not what we had signed on for, though it may have been what Dragon signed on for. We were not sure what to do next, but luckily for us, she fell in love and moved out (hurried a bit by us cutting off the free money...), and is it SO MUCH BETTER now that she has gone away.

Homeowner is not malicious the way Dragon was, but both situations entailed extra obligations that you and I didn't sign up for, and that's enough to cause trouble.

#464 ::: eep ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2014, 12:47 AM:

canisfelicis, Witnessing and deepest sympathy.

Fade Manley @436: I really wish my high school had done something like that.

Jeremy Leader @438/OtterB @439: Thank you, this helps put it in perspective.

Lee @440: Figuring out other ways to do things is partly a function of observation.
Another piece of the puzzle clicks into place. I was (still am) pretty isolated. I didn't have an honest-to-goodness friend until college. I wasn't allowed to have friends over (and was an outcast anyway--see: sent to school without any clues about basic skills). Wasn't allowed to watch TV, even (not that TV is a shining beacon of learning, but still). Once you get past a certain point, it's self-perpetuating, because you're so ashamed for anyone to know how backward you are.

David Harmon @443: More so if attempting any independent activities is actively punished!
Hmm, yes, or strongly discouraged. There are a lot of things that I can remember being eager to try/do for myself when I was little that I am (or at least was at some point subsequently), extremely anxious about, or terrified of. My mother's idea of teaching was to explain, repeatedly, and in great detail, worst-case scenarios for failure. Such as, I was terrified of escalators and had to be carried up them until some time after I was in grade school, because I was convinced that the slightest misstep would result in having to have my foot amputated.

Bodhisvaha @441, Sumana Harihareswara @444: I like the apprenticeship concept.

Jacque @449: The idea of a baby coming already equipped with a hammer and home repair skills is pretty funny. I guess my thinking has been more like, does the knowledge somehow naturally "grow in", like hair? Still pretty funny, I guess.

protecting others' privacy @455: I don't think you're a bad person for needing to get out.

Nancy Lebovitz @456: I'm not really emotionally attached to my parents, although I've gone through life trying to fake a basic level of dutiful daughter (not going so well). They never treated me as an autonomous person. I was an extension of them, or a pet or something. They were never people I felt comfortable talking to, about anything (still don't). No basis for a relationship, really.

Not a resource, per se, but this was helpful to me to see someone write about not loving their mother, even if the circumstances differed from mine.

#465 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2014, 12:52 AM:

Wanting some privacy @462: do you also want a 'nym fix, so the earlier comment reflects this username?

#466 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2014, 01:42 AM:

protecting others' privacy: I agree with Chickadee and everyone else. Furthermore (reading back upthread), if my asking whether you had tried teaching her any of this stuff came across as criticism, I apologize. It was intended as pure information-gathering; the clearer mental picture I have of the situation, the more likely it is that I can come up with ideas that are potentially helpful rather than helpy.

knitcrazybooknut, #454: Because if I achieved things, why would I ever come back to them?

That's the key to a lot of emotionally-abusive relationships, I think. It's also one of the unspoken (and possibly unadmitted) reasons that so many people in Inherited Obligation family structures are dead-set against any kind of public assistance. Because if their trapped children can see any way out, any way to escape the net of family expectations, they might TAKE IT. And then who would take care of them when they're old? The idea of having children who would do that because they want to, because the relationship is rewarding to them (rather than because they have no other choice) is not even on the table.

#467 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2014, 05:33 AM:

#464 ::: eep

Thanks for the link.

I'm thinking about the amount of shaming I got at home for not caring enough, and how I'm doing it to myself now, and not just about my mother. *

It seems like there's a huge amount of cultural pressure to Care More! If You Were Normal, You Wouldn't Be Like Yourself! Take More Risks! Suffer For Other People's Projects! If You Were Really Cool You'd Be Running Marathons Across the Sahara! and meanwhile, it took me a surprising amount of effort to mail a check.

When I lay it out that way, it begins to look like a bunch of noise.

*I commented at the link, and framed it as my having moderately emotionally abusive parents. Really, they weren't as bad as many, and I assume it was some combination of basic decency and lack of energy.

However, what's striking to me about phrasing it that way is that yes, there were two of them, and my father was kind of snarky and very bad at connecting, which is not the kind of person I needed when my mother was very bad news. His motto was "Don't upset your mother".

When I was a kid, I thought of him as another of her victims. This is not entirely false, but he did have some responsibilities as an adult.

Would anyone who's in the "I knew my parents loved me" camp care to explain what's going on with that?

#468 ::: iliad slightly awry ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2014, 05:33 AM:

protecting others' privacy: I likewise don't think you're a bad person at all for not having the patience to teach someone life skills on that level, particularly if you didn't sign up to do it. Expectations play a hugely important role in how well we do what we must and how happy we are doing it; if you didn't sign up to parent someone, then of course it's too much to ask, because that's a ridiculously huge job even if you do want it.

#469 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2014, 07:44 AM:

Nancy #467: Maybe that "care more" is a negotiated-obligation version of potentially abusive constraint? "The ties that bind", and all that... Also, your father sounds like what Scott Peck (People Of The Lie) would call a "thrall" -- the subordinate partner in an abusive pair. A thrall may not visibly join in the abuse, but will always back up the dominant partner.

#470 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2014, 07:57 AM:

protecting others' privacy, another agreement that you are not a bad person for wanting out. Any one problem could probably be dealt with, but you have a whole constellation of them, and it's not what you thought you were getting into.

knitcrazybooknut @454, this is just to say that you deserved the loving, helpful family you wanted and didn't get. I'm glad you're getting beyond it, but it's true that it wasn't fair. Also, in addition to "why should she come back," another reason to avoid supporting your growth might be fear that you would outshine them.

Nancy Lebovitz @467. I think it's true in general that the world is a better place when people are more caring, and when they are doing interesting things. But I think your point about Suffer for Other People's Projects! hits the nail on the head. The cultural message should not be (though I agree it often is) Care about the things I tell you to care about! Suffer for my goals! Do cool things to entertain me and demonstrate your right to take up oxygen! IMO I think the correct message is that deep inside, if you are willing to listen to yourself, if the desire and ability to listen to yourself haven't been squashed too flat by personal history or LifeStuff, there are things you care about and cool things you want to do, and those are the things you should be doing. A history of "how dare you have an opinion" and "you want stupid things" can make it extraordinarily difficult to find that part of yourself, but I think it's always there. (If this comes out sounding like U R Doin It Rong, I apologize. Not my intention at all.)

#471 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2014, 12:09 PM:

#470 ::: OtterB

It's quite plausible that there will be things I can pursue with enthusiasm when there's less noise in my consciousness. There might even be something shaping up-- I started the MIT intro course on Python/programming in general. Either it's too hard for me and I need to try another course, or I haven't figured out how to use it effectively, but it seems like a solvable problem.

There's a background piece which is playing into the "everyone is telling me what a piece of shit I am" problem. One is an irrational belief that I should be able to win all the prizes fairly easily, including the prizes for everyone liking me and the prizes for showing enough of the right kind of courage to be impressive. And the prize for being tall and thin and looking like I'm half my age.

I found that out after contemplating Hypebole and a Half. Brosh was describing how angry she gets when the universe doesn't match her exact expectations, and I thought, "I'm not crazy that way, but there might be something else comparable".... and that's when I found the thing about winning all the prizes. (There's also her website, but the book is about half new material.

Interview with Brosh, by Terry Gross, who tends to probe psychological issues anyway.

She says (either in the book or the interview) that all this introspection hasn't helped her, and I suspect it's because she doesn't seem to have a background in exploring how what she's thinking and feeling affects her physically.

Anyway, the "supposed to win all the prizes" thing hasn't been in play for a good bit of my life (or at least I had it shielded off), but once it became active, there was a lot of fear (everyone will despise me for not meeting every random standard) and fury (goddamn everything to hell because I'm considered to be not good enough), and I suspect the thing behind that was an underlying premise that it's extremely dangerous to feel good.

A favor: When I'm laying it out like this, I can see quite a few mistakes in that point of view. It gets on my nerves when I've done a lot of work to figure out that some mental habit is wrong, and then people just tell me "that's wrong". I know it's mistaken! Anything along the lines of "that's really difficult to live with", or "here are some details you might not have noticed", or "that relates to a problem I've got", or "here's a resource", or something else which adds information are all welcome. I'm not proposing this as a general rule since I don't know whether it's an issue for other people.

Let it be said that I've been feeling pretty good this morning.

#472 ::: Jeanie ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2014, 12:50 PM:

Nancy, I'm delighted to hear that you're feeling good.

Yeah, the hardest for me is being stuck in a loop, knowing it's not going well by feedback - even the body language - of others or my own demon, and feeling powerless to change it.

The last thing needed is someone pointing it out as "Rong". Marginal pass for "I'm having trouble with your behavior, I'm going to go out for a bit." If they can limit themselves to the latter sentence and imply that they know I'm having a tough time and are minimizing static/distraction, then I will love them forever.

#473 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2014, 12:57 PM:

knitcrazybooknut @454: If they're pissed at you leaving them behind, it just shows how right you are in being shut of them, and it serves them right. (And, I mean, pissed? Really? Do they presume that you owe them something?)

Meanwhile, on the knitting gigs, would you please contact me at the address at the bottom of my page linked above? I've been needing a contract knitter. I have a (very) small item I need made, and I don't have the patience to learn to knit myself to do it. (I also have this nagging sense that there were other things I'd get made, if I had someone to hire.)

Also: couple of thoughts: post an ad to Craigslist? (Usual caveats apply.) And you might find it worthwhile to keep an eye on these folks. They may come up with something that will intersect with your skill set.

Also: you said at the top of your comment that this was the short version. We're here to listen if you ever feel a need to share the long version.

protecting others' privacy @455: The situation you've found yourself in basically amounts to uncompensated in-home full-time carer. I wouldn't sign up for that if I was paid. Having it handed to me upon moving in to what I thought was a shared living situation would leave me, um, rather upset.

From the sound of things, I don't think it was deliberate or malicious, but what you got hit with was basically a bait-and-switch. Props to you for not wanting to abandon her to the mercy of fate. Rather than not being a "nice person," I think you've probably got some saint cred coming.

From your syntax, it sounds like you're in the UK, so pardon me if this is a laughable suggestion (given the present political climate), but are there some local social services that specialize in teaching special needs folks basic life management skills? Might it be worthwhile to reach out to them?

@matches: I've been successfully lighting fires and suchlike since I was a wee thing and rate myself as Fully Competent on the subject, and I still struggle a bit with the damn things.

Nancy Lebovitz @456: What can you share of your very earliest history? I mean, what were the circumstances around your first year of life? Here's why I ask: My mother was in the hospital for two weeks after I was born with post-partum depression, and apparently I cried myself hoarse for the first week. Then my mom called home to check in, heard an odd noise in the background while talking to my dad. When asked, he said, "Oh, that's Jacque." Apparently I was babbling happily away. They told this story with some pride, but my sense is that I finally came to myself after realizing that all those big people could be relied on for nothing more than food and shelter.

When the final breach came when I was eight, I already had a strong, long-standing sense of my mother's untrustworthiness.

eep @464: The idea of a baby coming already equipped with a hammer and home repair skills is pretty funny.

Not to mention, painful. Can you imagine the delivery? Ow! :-)

Nancy Lebovitz @471: it's extremely dangerous to feel good.

A lot of people (including myself) have expressed this feeling. I think I know where at least some of this comes from: it's built into our narrative structure.

You'll notice, on TV, the only time we see things noodling along happily for the characters (unless it's the "They lived happily ever after" tag in the last three minutes) is when things are About To Go Horribly Wrong. It's at least as deeply baked in as clowns as a signal for something Dark and Sinister.

#474 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2014, 01:01 PM:

eep @464: The class wasn't without its problems. (One class session was spent carefully explaining why sex outside of marriage would ruin your life; another was on how homosexuality was wrong, and the sorts of arguments people would use to trick you into thinking otherwise. Sigh.) But the concept, and several points of it, were amazingly useful. In that community, 98% of high school seniors would graduate and then go to college on a different continent than where their family was; it was accepted that everyone of that age was going to separate from their families pretty much permanently, as independent adults, and the community was very interested in making sure those 18-year-olds didn't immediately crash and burn. Even if their idea of "crash" wasn't always the best.

I feel like this is the sort of thing that should be provided on a community level, because even well-intentioned parents aren't always going to have the time, energy, and and skills to teach skills for how to live as an independent(ish) adult. But I'm not sure how that could be implemented, especially given how much Home Ec style classes, where this stuff would fit in, are still gendered.

#475 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2014, 01:37 PM:

Fade Manley @474, the other advantage to doing this on a community level is that learning it from adults-not-parents may be less contentious. There can be difficult dynamics at that age in the most functional of families, and it's often easier for an outsider to get the teens' attention and cooperation.

#476 ::: The_L ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2014, 03:36 PM:

@Fade Manley: Home Ec classes still exist? When I was growing up in the 90's, I only ever heard of them on TV.

#477 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2014, 03:38 PM:

Jacque, #473: In the interests of clarity, saying that something was a bait-and-switch is the exact opposite of saying that it was "not deliberate or malicious". The essence of the bait-and-switch is that it IS deliberate; that's why it's considered a form of fraud. I agree with you that it's likely that Homeowner didn't do this on purpose, but wasn't clear in her own head about what she was asking for.

Fade, #474: So you don't call it Home Ec, you call it Life Skills and promote it as "what you will need to know when you move out of your parents' house".

#478 ::: iliad slightly awry ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2014, 04:01 PM:

I need advice and resources please!

Girl Roommate is going through a difficult time. We had an argument a few nights ago about a pan she left on the stove (she regularly abandons dishes around the kitchen, and I have no way of knowing whether they're clean or dirty). By "argument" I mean I asked what was up with the pan that had been on the stove for several days and she blew up at me with yelling and slamming things around and etc. While I handled myself well, she only got angrier. She came up to apologize after Boy Roommate got it through her head that she was being a complete asshat and decided that to fix the problem, we should be friends. I'm not willing to sign up for a friendship that's going to leave me curled in a panic-attack ball in the closet regularly. I want to do what I can to make things civil, but friendship is not something I can do while still protecting my own well-being.

To add to this, her regular friend group is exploding and someone is trying to take all her friends away (or so I gather from the theatrical crying and screaming and suicide threats coming from her bedroom). While I doubt the veracity of this, I don't doubt that she feels it quite deeply. I don't want to make things worse for her -- she has a lot of problems that seem similar to Homeowner's, and Boy Roommate and their mutual therapist keep drilling into my head that I have to give her leeway on lack of life skills and inability to actually empathize with me because she grew up in a bad home -- but I cannot be her friend, as mentioned above, and I am unwilling to teach her life skills for many many reasons including "she's a terrible student" and "I did not sign up for this shit" and "she does not accept financial responsibility when she breaks things." (She wants me to teach her to drive my manual-transmission car. VERY NO. I had to replace the transmission once due to bad manufacturing and just... no. Her version of being responsible if she destroyed my transmission was "I'll drive you around when I'm not at work or doing stuff.")

So what do I do? Move to Tibet and become a hermit? How do I communicate that I'm very sorry for her loss but she needs to stay the hell away from me?

#479 ::: somewhere_else ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2014, 04:25 PM:

@ iliad slightly awry:
That really is a difficult situation to deal with. No matter how understandable the pain of your roommate might be, it doesn't give her a free pass to take it out on unsuspecting bystanders.
This situation reminds me a bit of this letter to Captain Awkward here, where the Captain firmly takes concerns about the coworkers well-being and their problematic behaviour apart, since these are two different issues. I wish you good luck in taking care of yourself, you deserve to feel safe in your home and set whatever boundaries help achieve you to do that.

Let's see if this posts with the link.

#480 ::: protecting others' privacy ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2014, 05:19 PM:

Jacque, addressing the silliest bit first: no, I'm in the northeast US, not the UK. It would seem that writing in the voices of British Age of Sail characters has entirely overtaken my writing!

On the bait-and-switch thing: to be clear, I was the one who proposed moving in here. I saw the unused bedrooms, was aware of the finances, and misjudged Homeowner's level of competency.

See, the thing is, left to herself, Homeowner CAN feed herself, and wash her clothes, and will clean her dishes in accordance with her own methods. It's just that, to my perception, she's Doin It Rong, in ways that I find both money-wasting and irritating, and Homeowner is willing to put up with a much higher level of "missing stair" in the household infrastructure.

Another example of her tolerance for "missing stairs": some months before I moved in, when I was taking her to Staples for office supplies, I fussed at her until she bought a proper office chair for her computer desk. Until then, she'd been using a broken-down overstuffed armchair that was the wrong height and incapable of providing back support, not to mention difficult for her to get up OUT of. She'd been using the armchair for a couple of years, at least. Within a day of using the new chair, her baseline pain level had dropped and her mobility had begun to improve.

She grew up with financial difficulties as a constant. She certainly seems to have absorbed "nice things are for other people."

But it drives me batty to see her doing things Rong, and living with it as a constant has sapped my desire to show her how to do things right.

#481 ::: Merricat ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2014, 05:22 PM:

iliad @ 478:

Indulging in a bit of Internet diagnosis, the way you describe Girl Roommate reminds me a lot of borderline personality disorder / emotional intensity disorder, so there may be helpful resources if you google one of those.

My general understanding is that consistent behavior and reasonable boundaries are a LOT more useful for everyone involved than agreeing to things that actually make you miserable and trying to hide it.

#482 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2014, 05:33 PM:

The_L @476: I don't know if Home Ec classes exist now. When I was in that particular school in the mid-90s, it existed as a mandatory semester-long class for junior high students. I was very proud of myself for having managed the timing, with some home-schooling, such that I never had to take that class. After all, Home Ec classes were for girls who wanted to be mothers and nothing else, and I wanted to have a career that paid me money and didn't require that I move wherever God happened to call my husband.

Conversely, I quite enjoyed an elective class called Cooking in high school.

Which perhaps goes to support Lee's suggestion that the Home Ec type of class could use is a name change, along with including that kind of budgeting stuff that's so useful to newly independent young adults. I got much more out of the one class session discussing credit card debt than I did out of two weeks of hauling around a small watermelon being forced to pretend it was an infant.

#483 ::: Bodhisvaha ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2014, 05:46 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @456: "I gave up on my parents emotionally earlier than I can remember, or maybe some important emotional connection never developed or got broken. (This is the first it's occurred to me that it may not have been a conscious decision on my part.)" -- I'm not sure whether to offer sympathy or congratulate you. You're hanging out here, so maybe the latter? I kind of wish this had happened to me. I have been doing some major digging lately in this area, and I'm not *sure* that it would have been better to have not attached, but there's a decent chance it might have been.

I'm relatively disconnected from my dad. I attribute this to the way that he tended to fade into the background and enable my mother. He loves me but back in the day, he wanted the problems to go away and seemed to think I was the one at fault for them. I feel sorry for him as the only target my mother has left to control, but I can't fix it short of kidnapping him, which would be a bad idea on many counts. That disconnection is a relief compared to the emotional rollercoaster I get from my mother, and to some extent my aunt in her role as a similar-but-different window of insight into my mother. With them I seem to go back and forth between too connected and unconnected. Because I cannot fix things, one of my major emotional goals is to detach from them, so that they cannot do me further harm even when I do spend time with them.

#484 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2014, 06:01 PM:

Interesting subthread about Home Ec. In the early 1980s, in my junior high, we had Cooking, Sewing, Technical Drawing, Wood Shop, and Metal Shop, and all of them were requirements for boys and girls alike. Cooking was very popular because we mostly baked sweet things, though there may have been a budgeting/grocery shopping lesson in there somewhere. Sewing, the main issue was that the boys were inclined to floor the pedals on the sewing machines as if they were racing cars. In Wood Shop we all made the same corner bracket shelf, and in Metal Shop I made a very serviceable file-card box which was essentially sheet-metal origami held together with pop-rivets, and a less-than-stellar desk penholder -- I drilled the holes to put the pen sockets in the metal bar thingy just fine, but I didn't have sufficient strength to whack the letter dies hard enough with the hammer to get my dad's name to show up clearly.

We didn't have to do the flour-sack baby in the cooking or sewing classes, and it didn't show up in our Health curriculum either.

#485 ::: iliad slightly awry ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2014, 06:20 PM:

somewhere_else @479: Thank you for the letter. I reread it and read all the comments and there are definitely helpful strategies there! I'm just worried because for various reasons I can't get information on my health benefits (or make much sense of their website) so therapy is not necessarily an option and I don't have anywhere to go to decompress, since this is "home." That makes dealing more difficult, since I can't just go home and not take her calls.

Merricat @481: That does actually make a lot of sense. My only experience with BPD has been a lot more violent (a sig other's ex-wife threatened to kill me and actually tried to kill herself because these things would totally fix their relationship) and I didn't recognize it in a more dilute form. I will look up strategies for dealing with that.

And get a bar to drop across the inside of the closet door. I suspect I'm going to need to be in there a lot for a while.

#486 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2014, 06:23 PM:

Rikibeth @484, see, I would have liked that. In my time, which was the late 60s, girls took home ec with sewing and cooking and boys took shop or technical drawing. There was one girl in my class who wanted to be an engineer and insisted, successfully, on taking technical drawing, so the times they were a-changin' at that point. I didn't follow her lead. But the opportunity to do both would have been perfect.

In the here-and-now, I see that both my daughters' high schools (one Catholic, one public) offer a one-semester personal finance course that covers budgeting, credit card debt, mortgages, and investment basics. The one who went to Catholic school also had an assignment as part of one semester of religion to balance a budget - she had to pick a job and a city and do research on what she could expect to make, what living expenses would be, etc. This is a good thing, but the hands-on stuff would be a good thing too.

Around here the high schools tend to high-achieving and I suspect a course in practical skills would be looked down on. (My daughter in special ed takes a course called "life skills" which in her case includes functional reading and math - read a map, read a bus timetable, read the instructions on garment care labels or over-the-counter medicine, etc.) Maybe a class for the regular-ed kids could become an accepted thing to take in spring of your senior year, when the college applications are in and senioritis is a problem anyway.

#487 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2014, 06:24 PM:

Data point on Home Ec: last year in Iowa City, both high schools had elective Foods and Fabrics classes at various levels. There were also life-skills classes, about a level below those and designed for more of a special-ed audience, but not entirely made of them (I may not be able to identify gen-ed students any more, so who knows). My impression was that lower-class/non-college-bound students took Foods and Fabrics as electives while upper-class/college-bound students took Glass or Ceramics. I didn't see the industrial tech classes much, but they existed. I assume nothing has changed in the year I haven't been subbing in those high schools.

#488 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2014, 06:27 PM:

illiad slightly awry @485, I've forgotten, do you have an exit strategy? Because being unable to relax in your own home must grow to be incredibly wearing, and doesn't seem like it can work for the long term.

#489 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2014, 07:08 PM:

Thank you all for the discussion about learned helplessness. It is helping me to better understand someone I know.

#490 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2014, 07:16 PM:

Fade, #482: This is making me think about the possibility of having a Life Skills class as part of the core curriculum, making it mandatory, but with the ability to test out of it (so that students to do get taught these things at home don't end up spinning their wheels). Things I think should be covered in it:

- Budgeting and basic financial skills (including how to balance a checkbook)
- Grocery shopping and basic cookery (how to tell good from bad in meat and produce, how to cook a simple tasty meal, maybe how to bake a cake)
- Laundry and clothing care (reading care tags, stain removal, basic repair sewing, etc.)
- Basic household maintenance (aka what you can fix yourself vs. when to call a professional, and including how to deal with a plumbing emergency)
- How to write a resume
- Interview etiquette
- Credit card pitfalls (maybe this goes under basic financial skills?)

Anything else?

With that list, I think it would have to be a full-year course to be effective.

#491 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2014, 07:53 PM:

Regarding the Home Ec subthread, in the early '90s when I was in junior high (grades 7-9 in Alberta), there were separate Home Ec and Shop classes. Boys were encouraged to take Home Ec, and there were definitely girls in Shop, but they were still separate courses. I took Home Ec (Mom said "they don't teach you anything useful in Shop" so I didn't take it, despite wanting to*) and we had half a semester of cooking (really basic stuff, I was bored to tears) and sewing (where I gained a basic competence in a skill Mom thought was essential and was happy to have someone else teach me).

My husband (same age) in a city in British Columbia took the combined Shop/Home Ec course that everyone had to take, where they learned cooking, sewing, and various shop-type skills. I think full year?

In high school (grades 10-12), there used to be a required Grade 11 course called CALM (career and life management) which was moderately useful - lots of financial planning stuff, which I remember being useful, and interpersonal skills stuff, which I remember being very sarcastic with.

Don't know what's currently offered, though.

*Mom based this on the specific items they made in shop. To pick an example from Rikibeth, she would have asked why I needed a penholder (never mind the skills I would have learned while making one). This is, of course, the woman who didn't really know how to pump her own gas until full service stations became few and far between. Who was horrified when I got a job at a grocery store because it was "beneath me." And who is *now* deciding that home renovation skills are entirely feminine and definitely something that I should know, but who also is of the mindset that if you choose to learn a skill, you should be instantly perfect in it without reading the manual... No, it's not going well for her (though she was gushingly flattering of my paint job in the bathroom - after I read up on how to use a roller and watched a Home Depot video) (because her first attempt to paint anything was disastrous, because she refused to ask for help first). And I'm happy to be out of it.

#492 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2014, 07:59 PM:

Lee @490: I really like your list. In part because it would expose a lot of kids to the idea that there are different ways to do laundry (the ones whose moms were the One True Way sort, anyhow) and in part because it looks like a really useful set of life skills. :) Especially because I never got any help with interview skills until I got to university and had access to the career center which offered resume/CV review, interview skills workshops and training, and an extensive job registry.

You'd think credit card skills would go under basic financial skills, but you'd be amazed at the otherwise financially literate people who fall into them!

And basic household maintenance! Yes please!!! (see also my point above about my mom and non-feminine tasks)

I wonder if a basic review of living-in-small-spaces would be good, for kids going into dorm or an apartment building for the first time... They really don't have a concept of what sort of noise carries through walls, or what "quiet" means (as in "quiet dorm floor").

#493 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2014, 08:26 PM:

I thought of one more thing: Basic Auto Care. Which doesn't mean mechanic skills or how to fix things, but stuff like "you need to have the oil changed every 3,000 miles" and "what it means when you hear a grinding noise when you hit the brakes" and "don't let your tires get low". Things you'd think anyone in this car-drenched society would know, but I still managed to forget all about changing (or checking!) the oil in my first car and ran it into throwing a rod.

In my school system, Home Ec was mandatory for girls and Shop for boys in junior high (this was in the late 60s). I know Shop was still available as an elective in high school; I don't remember if Home Ec was or not, though I would think it must have been. I do remember, in 8th grade, requesting Art or Music as my elective* and being given Home Ec instead, and being very pissed thereby.

* This was when they decided that all non-academic courses would be lumped together as "electives" and the students given a choice of which one they wanted. Apparently it was only a choice if you wanted the thing they thought you should want.

#494 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2014, 09:46 PM:

I also got the combined cooking/sewing/woodshop/metalshop full year course in junior high, as Chickadee mentions. In metal shop one of the things we made was a little gardening shovel. Last time I looked, mom still had it with her gardening stuff. I can't remember what else we made.

The version of CALM I took was called CAPP (Career and Personal Planning). It was a mixed bag. I seem to recall a bit of household budgeting stuff, a bit of resume advice, a myers-briggs personality test (leading the teacher to introduce me to a guy in the class with "you have absolutely nothing in common!" - I am INTJ, he was ESFP, and we may have been the only ones of our respective types in the class).

My parents were generally pretty good about teaching skills, though mom *still* takes stuff away from me to do it herself sometimes. And she acknowledges that it's frustrating because she hates it when people do it to her, but does it anyway.

I spent today recovering from the weekend. My parents were here for the renos. Mom called my lovely blue walls "smurf blue". (sigh.) When I mentioned to her that I didn't appreciate her earlier suggestions for toning down my hallway without even asking me if I wanted to do so she replied with "chill". (double sigh. Yup, still "overreacting".) But, tons of work got done, my bathroom looks amazing, and is functional but not quite finished. (Trim to come.)

#495 ::: claustrophile ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2014, 09:46 PM:

@all: Lurking and witnessing

@ life skills subthread: I worry that I recently had an experience where I took the position of Homeowner. I have noticed multiple times (as have friends of mine) that in many things, I start well below basic competency but then improve faster than most people would expect. I suspect there's a learned helplessness/anxiety about trying new things going on that stops me from transferring known skills across to new tasks. But regardless, I am all too aware of the number of things that I don't know how to do and am afraid to try due to aforementioned initial incompetency. I recently ended up staying with friends for several months, and I suspect a large part of the reason that we were considerably less friendly when we parted was the number of times I broke things/made dumb mistakes/had to be told or shown how to do basic tasks. So there's some painful resonance there that I've been chewing over for the last few days. On the one hand, it's illuminating to see why relations might have deteriorated from their point of view. On the other.. I am a person who Does Things Rong, and there is no way for me to correct that without spending time doing All The Things Rong so that I can get the experience to work out how to do them better.

On another topic entirely: I have recently noticed that a lot of my recent stress is coming from being around other people who are audibly stressed. Leaving the room/putting on earphones/other avoidance strategies are only of limited use for various reasons. Anyone have any good advice for how to stop being infected by other peoples' negative emotions?

#496 ::: hope in disguise ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2014, 10:32 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @467: I know that until he started going to Al-Anon, my dad occasionally expressed incoherent frustration with my mother (by e.g. shouting and pounding on the table) but I think never communicated clearly about it to us or, that I can remember, protected us at all. Because he didn't have the tools to do so, because see above about people not being born with skills I suspect. Actually I don't think he was able to behave in a very helpful-to-me way until a good 8-10 years after she first went into an inpatient program and he started Al-Anon. By which point I was in college and far away most of the time anyway. I guess it then comes down to "because they don't know how to deal with it either" being a possible explanation. Which doesn't make it okay but might make it make more sense.

iliad slightly awry @478: I have no idea. But reading and witnessing :( *sends hugs and strength if wanted*

claustrophile @495: I wish I had advice for that. It would be useful in my own life. :/

#497 ::: Thyralya ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2014, 11:14 PM:

claustrophile @495: I have exactly that response to audible stress/negative emotions. I've found a few ways to cope; some of these involve some of the things you've said are limited use for you, so I mention them here in case there are some ideas you may find useful.

In my situation, the most common cause is while at home and my wife gets angry or frustrated with something she's working on in the same room. We have an apartment with basically one main room, so there isn't really a place to escape to. I've tried leaving the room for the bedroom, but it really doesn't work for me - I get the same emotional feedback, but also angry that I just avoided it rather than was able to be around it, which really doesn't help me as I feel anxious and angry at myself. I have noticed that being in a different room works for me, but only if I was planning on being there. For example, if I know she is going to be working on a particularly hard problem set (grad school), I can plan to just read a book in the bedroom when I get home from work, and if she gets angry at her problem set I don't notice. I have yet to figure out how to plan this anywhere close to perfectly, though.

Listening to music or using headphones really doesn't help me when at home; I find that I pick up the emotions anyways probably due to being able to see her / still hear her somewhat.

I've talked with my therapist a bit about this issue; we haven't come up with any great solutions, but it has helped me understand my reaction better. In my case, the anxiety/stress from other's emotions are very much related to my childhood, where I grew up with an alcoholic parent. The other parent was always accommodating them, and expressions of strong emotion were a warning sign and trigger for me that something was about to go horribly wrong. Unlike my wife's anger (think "I stubbed my toe! Argh!" sort of flash anger), the anger in my childhood was like the tip of the iceberg with a very real danger lurking below it that I tried very hard to ignore or avoid.

I've talked about this issue (among others) with my wife, and found that there's a few things that do help me in the specific situation where she's angry. One is to ask her about the target of the anger; this doesn't always work (especially right when she gets angry), but frequently does. If I say "Can I help?", and she says no, that somehow allows my mind to put it away and not stress about it. Sometimes I still am anxious because I think the anger's directed at me and just being expressed passively, and in those cases it helps me to ask "Are you angry at me?", and the answer lets me sort out my anxiety easier. If I know she isn't angry at me, my anxiety lets go long enough for her to no longer be angry. If she is angry with me, I have something I can actually work with, rather than be anxious about.

That said, I have no idea how to deal with this same problem in other situations. It's happened a few times at work where my manager has been upset at something and it puts me on edge even when I know it's nothing I have done. Sometimes I can focus on my work and get through it, sometimes I have to leave (and am grateful that it's an option with my work), and sometimes I am miserable/agitated/stressed myself.

I'd love to hear what others have to say as well. I've read DFD threads for a long long time, and am really grateful that this place exists.

#498 ::: knitcrazybooknut ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2014, 12:32 AM:

claustrophile, you asked for suggestions. What you're describing is something that I've struggled with my entire life. I grew up with an alcoholic father like Thyralya, and my bonus parent was a narcissistic mom who always made everything my fault. Great combo! (Yes, humor is an important coping mechanism for me.)

I have done many of the same things Thyralya mentions: checking in with the angry party to verify root cause, being in another part of the house, etc. I was reading a great blog post about trigger warnings today, and they mentioned something that rang true to the heart of me. They said that sometimes knowing you can leave will allow you to stay, even when you're having a difficult emotional response. To that end, I would suggest these possibilities:

Know an escape route. Have something set up in your mind so that you know you can get out of the room/house/neighborhood any time you need to.

Do you ever use books or music to escape? Have your favorites on hand. This goes for chocolate or $favorite dessert as well.

Use a mantra. "I am safe. No one here will hurt me. I can leave any time I want."

#499 ::: knitcrazybooknut ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2014, 12:34 AM:

Sorry, I managed to hit post and simultaneously delete half of my answer. Here's the rest:

Something I have been working on occasionally is shielding myself from those emotions. I haven't necessarily mastered this one. But visualizing a bubble of personal space around you, or around your heart, or wherever your center lives, can be an effective tool. You can push that bubble out and strengthen it gradually, allowing your own calm energy to pad the space between you and the person being angry. I think everybody has a different vision of this, but mine is always those weird clear plastic tubes like on science fiction movies, kinda like drive through bank teller tubes, and kinda like Spinal Tap stage props. What I like about the tubes is that I can picture my feet digging through the floor into the center of the earth, and remember the importance of my spirit and the relative unimportance of this moment in the here and now. This is just a moment in time. It will pass. I will still be here.

I hope this helps. I'm still working on this myself, and I think it'll just be something that I always need to practice. But there are so many other ways in which my empathetic abilities are a gift. It's worth it to me.

#500 ::: iliad slightly awry ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2014, 01:54 AM:

OtterB @488: I'm off like a shot as soon as I have the money to move. Beau waiting in another state.

hope in disguise @496: Accepted and much appreciated.

I have not yet fled for Tibet, and I am reading and witnessing.

#501 ::: somewhere_else ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2014, 08:00 AM:

iliad slightly awry @485: That is completely understandable. I meant in no way to imply that this would be a solution for your situation, I mainly focused on the 'empathy with person vs. self-care' aspect. As you described in your answer and in #500 it seems much more helpful to escape in the longterm. Living in a place that doesn't completely stress me out all the time is still a rather new experience for myself and I have a gut-wrenching horror of being (again) in a living situation with unlikable and/or toxic and abusive people that I cannot escape.
My sympathies! This stuff is hard. Are there other places you can escape to, even if only for a bit? Not that this is something you should have to do and I know how unsatisfactory this might feel (I spent quite some time in libraries in my youth), because your home should be the place you can rest.

Subthread skills and how they are acquired: In my childhood I had the same experience several other posters desribed already 'get it right on the first try or else' with no help in sight. I still get stressed out when I have to do something new, even if I know all the steps and/or can extrapolate what those steps should look like. What if I get something wrong? It's good to know that a lot of other people deal with this way into their adulthood.

#502 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2014, 08:53 AM:

Lee @ 490

I like the list. I second a "vehicle basics" section.

The major thing I'd add is basic first aid/nursing/self-care/"do I need to go to the ER?". Basically, a combination of the Red Cross "First Aid Basics" with a comparable level of instruction on illness. (If you have a fever, stay home and stay hydrated; if you've had a fever for x amount of time, go to a doctor; and so forth.)

#503 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2014, 09:51 AM:

Claustrophile, Thyrala: reading your comments made me think of the "grounding and centering" and "shielding" exercises I learned way back in Wicca (and which I really should get back in practice with). This is basically the same thing that knitcrazybooknut is discussing in #499, and yes, pretty much every meditative practice has a version of these ideas, as do other spiritual practices and martial arts.

#504 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2014, 11:52 AM:

(I'm mostly writing this to vent, because I need a place to do that; here, I can maybe get some perspective as well.)

Today is a beat-myself-up and stress out about it day. It's Ash Wednesday, and part of the service is "Remember you baptism", and every ... time I'm thrown for a complete loop yet again. And having just changed jobs and towns has my stress level fairly high for a baseline.

The problem is that I really believe that breaking promises--particularly big, public promises--is wrong; it breaks the foundations that make society possible. And being convinced that I did what I had to doesn't make it any less the fact that I broke my promises and harmed a lot of people who neither did me nor wished me ill.

And please--if you respond, trying to justify what I did is going to push my buttons really badly.

#505 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2014, 12:17 PM:

SamChevre, I'll pray for you at the Ash Wednesday service I'm going to in about an hour.

#506 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2014, 01:30 PM:

SamChevre: I have no idea what the incident you're talking about was... What I do know is that sometimes, there's really no way to avoid hurting people, no way to do right by everyone. At that point, you just need to do what you actually can do, and live with that. And what you "can" do depends on your own limits and needs, as much as on external constraints.

#507 ::: protecting others' privacy ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2014, 01:57 PM:

Just an update: typing this from the library, where I paid off my overdue fines (less than I'd expected) and printed out assorted health care and tax forms that I needed and had been balking at because a) my printer's low on ink and b) it's in the living room, where Homeowner spends essentially all her waking hours. This is progress.

Also progress: Homeowner called a repair person ON HER OWN, WITHOUT PROMPTING today. There's a loose screw or something jammed in the dryer's lint trap and you can't pull the screen out. I am somewhat cheered by this.

Now I'm going to sign off the library computer and sit and read for a while. But I made it here.

#508 ::: protecting others' privacy ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2014, 01:58 PM:

Just an update: typing this from the library, where I paid off my overdue fines (less than I'd expected) and printed out assorted health care and tax forms that I needed and had been balking at because a) my printer's low on ink and b) it's in the living room, where Homeowner spends essentially all her waking hours. This is progress.

Also progress: Homeowner called a repair person ON HER OWN, WITHOUT PROMPTING today. There's a loose screw or something jammed in the dryer's lint trap and you can't pull the screen out. I am somewhat cheered by this.

Now I'm going to sign off the library computer and sit and read for a while. But I made it here.

#509 ::: Jeanie ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2014, 02:00 PM:

#508 ::: protecting others' privacy

I'm so glad to hear this!

#510 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2014, 02:36 PM:

protecting others' privacy @508: nice to hear that.

Feeling very low and stressed at the moment. I am being made redundant, because the organisation I work for has decided it no longer wants to continue developing the information resource which I have been working on for the past 17 years - basically my whole working life. The organisation is presently being cagey about whether it will allow me to take this resource with me - even though they don't want it. Wish me luck?

#511 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2014, 02:45 PM:

Lee @490: One of the things I spent a lot of time studying up on was basic physical self care:

- Nutrition basics (with a special section on the perils of reducing diets)
- Exercise basics
- Personal hygiene (with a section on choosing personal care products and caveats about filtering through advertising bullsh*t)
- Healthy sleep practices

#512 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2014, 02:52 PM:

Oh yeah, and the most fundamental of all: learning how to learn.

SamChevre @504: Are there things you can do by way of atonement and/or recompense? That's generally my go-to when I've f*ed up. Also, I work on thinking about ways to avoid similar breaches in the future.

dcb: Luck! Wishing this to be a launch to a new, much more fun and lucrative gig for you.

#513 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2014, 03:03 PM:

Thank you abi.

I had no intention to be cryptic-enough to know where I'm coming from is here.

dcb--I'm sorry. If you want to send me a who I am/what I do (name at google's mail), I'll see if I have any relevant contacts.

#514 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2014, 03:21 PM:

SamChevre, #502: I like that addition to the list. So, we're up to:

- Budgeting and basic financial info
- Grocery shopping and basic cooking
- Laundry and clothing care (incl. basic repairs)
- Resume writing
- Interview skills
- Vehicle basics
- Medical/first aid basics
- Oh, and I just thought of another one -- how to study effectively

I wonder if having a unit on "how to recognize a toxic person or relationship" would be feasible, or if it would be shot down because too many of the students would recognize their own families? But it's certainly a life skill.

and @504... I have no idea what specific incident you're talking about, but what you said reminds me of what I consider one of the Pieces of Great Wisdom in the Vorkosigan books: the trouble with vows of the "death before dishonor" variety is that, given time and the exigencies of life, you're eventually left with two classes of people -- the dishonored and the dead. And Miles' advice for dealing with that? You just go on. You can't go back and fix it, so the only thing to do is keep going forward.

dcb, #510: That sucks. I do have one very cynical suggestion: if there's any way to do so, grab a copy of that resource now, before they say anything definite one way or the other, and without letting them know you've done so. Better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it, says I. And best of luck going forward.

Jacque, #511: I think that might be able to be tucked in with the first aid and medical basics; call the overall unit Self Care, maybe.

#515 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2014, 03:57 PM:

dcb: wishing you luck.

#516 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2014, 03:59 PM:

SamChevre #513: Ahh, I see. I'm startled to realize that you're actually younger than me... For some reason I'd thought your were a solid generation older. But then, the subtleties that made me think so are likely connected to your history....

But anyway, I can't answer that better than the root post of the thread you posted it on. Walking away from your roots, your family and faith... Yes, that hurts. It's an injury, a tearing-apart, even if it was a necessary one. And you have my sympathies.

#517 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2014, 03:59 PM:

SamChevre at 504: my sympathies. I wish you peace.

#518 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2014, 03:59 PM:

SamChevre #513: Ahh, I see. I'm startled to realize that you're actually younger than me... For some reason I'd thought your were a solid generation older. But then, the subtleties that made me think so are likely connected to your history....

But anyway, I can't answer that better than the root post of the thread you posted it on. Walking away from your roots, your family and faith... Yes, that hurts. It's an injury, a tearing-apart, even if it was a necessary one. And you have my sympathies.

#519 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2014, 04:05 PM:

Sorry for the double post. Can't wait for the new computer to get here, iPad autocowrecktion sucks horse pimples, too.

#520 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2014, 04:11 PM:

I just went back and read "The Astrologer and the Psychologist", from SamChevre's link @1. And the thing that jumped out at me was this:

"In small towns, as in tribes, your history is a story that is told about you. You don’t control it."

I think he's onto something major there, but he doesn't take it far enough. The same thing happens in families, and is a major cause of familial dysfunction. It ties in with the concept of Assigned Roles. If your Assigned Role in the family is to be "the disagreeable one", nobody will notice that you're not actually being disagreeable.* If your Assigned Role is to be "the stupid one", nobody will notice that you've done something smart, or if they do it will be pooh-poohed as "dumb luck".** Not all families do this toxic level of Assigned Roles, but most of them do a version of it. We've talked about Assigned Roles and how nasty they can be before; I suggest that thinking about what your Assigned Role in your family might be is a powerful tool for figuring out what you need to do.

* We've seen an example of this -- someone (I don't offhand recall who) whose Assigned Role was to be "the one who monopolizes the conversation". When sie decided to spend an entire evening not saying a single word, sie was still castigated the next morning for monopolizing the conversation. When informed that sie hadn't said a word all evening, the family's unified response was to say sie was lying. They were all certain that sie had monopolized the conversation; they absolutely remembered hir talking on and on, even though none of them could actually remember a single utterance.

** Someone I know is dealing with this. Her Assigned Role is to be broke, fat, in poor health, and miserable so that the rest of the family can feel superior. She has taken title to her own life -- dug out from under a shitload of debt, bought a house, identified some food sensitivities that were causing both a lot of her health problems and the weight gain and gotten that under control, and is now living the kind of life that should make any parent happy. Except not. Every time she goes to a family gathering, they spend huge amounts of time running her down -- it's the primary topic of conversation, "how many nasty things can we say about X?" She's about ready to just stop going to family events altogether.

#521 ::: eep ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2014, 04:13 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @467: His motto was "Don't upset your mother."
Arg, yes. In my case there three; my grandmother lived with us, and was her own whole can of worms, and they each enabled/reacted off of the other's issues like some weird Rock, Paper, Scissors.

I always get a backlash in my head when I try to give voice to any criticism of them, because I did "know" they loved me, I just didn't feel it? This will sound like a really petty example, but it's utterly typical and one that can be described in (I hope, y'never know, with me) less than 1000 words...

I have to have an argument every year when my birthday rolls around, because my mother is determined to celebrate it how she thinks I should rather than how I actually want to. My father understands me on this topic, but generally enables her (and she will nag him senseless until he gives in on something). So, I can firmly request, multiple times, could we please do something on the weekend, explain that I need to be to work early in the morning and am under a lot of stress. Birthday night, I am in PJs happily relaxing and the doorbell rings. She thought they would just "drop by..." Now an outside observer will go "Oh, how sweet," and "what an ungrateful daughter," but this is not an isolated episode.

Sometimes it's as though her need to perform her preferred vision of "loving family" trumps my own needs so hard it feels like spite.

Reading and witnessing. There is so much I would like to comment on in the Home Ec./Life Skills subthread. I lost a day+ to migraine and am now well behind again. Foot, one step, rinse, repeat.

#522 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2014, 04:19 PM:

Lee @ 514

I might switch "study" for "learn"--study to me tends to imply academic knowledge, and I think part of what would be desirable is a "how do I learn to _ / about _ ." In other words, part of that module is "how to find reliable information on the internet."

#523 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2014, 07:24 PM:

eep: "Consent? No, dear, I don't think I've heard of that."

I am reminded of a job I held briefly (thank Ghu). One of the coworkers was the Designated Arranger of Birthdays. Eventually she got around to asking me what my birthday was. I declined to tell her. Oh, my, did I get a black look.

#524 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2014, 07:41 PM:

I know someone whose assigned role in his family was to be the Troubled Teen. You probably won't be surprised to hear that he's the sanest of the bunch.

#525 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2014, 07:48 PM:

eep, #521: Parents are not exempt from the courtesy rule of "call before dropping by, especially after the dinner hour", so that's Rudeness #1 right there. Dropping in, without calling, after you have been specifically requested not to make plans for that evening? That's beyond rude. At this point I'd be sorely tempted not to answer the doorbell.

SamChevre, #522: True, but I was thinking specifically of the context of a Life Skills course in high school, when there's a strong expectation that many of the students will go on to college or at least a community college. And even top-level students may not have an actual grasp of how to study, because if it's been easy for them so far, they may never have had to. I've heard a number of very intelligent people say that they were totally unprepared for the kind of studying they had to do in college, because they'd never had to do it before.

Jacque, #523: Oh, I was in an office with one of those too. Worse yet, eventually she decided that being the only one buying the cake and ice cream was "unfair" and demanded that everyone else pick a month for which they'd be responsible. I told her in no uncertain terms that this was her baby, nobody else cared, and I was absolutely not going to be blackmailed into doing it. She got all up in high dudgeon and told me that in that case, I'd better not be wanting to eat any of it. I told her that was fine by me. As far as I was concerned, this was a no-lose situation. Wotta maroon.

#526 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2014, 08:54 PM:

Lee @ 525

I apologize; I did not intend to put (unintended) words in your mouth.

I would suggest a "how to learn" segment; how to find reliable information on the internet, how to find out how to do something you haven't done before (change a light switch, sew on a button), "giving yourself permission to need practice", etc.

I would also suggest a "safety" segment, with basic situational awareness, some information on not putting yourself at risk foolishly (don't get drunk somewhere you don't want to stay unless you have a plan to get home that can be safely managed drunk - the number of my friends who've been robbed while walking alone and drunk is too high), and some information on interacting as safely as possible with the police.

#527 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2014, 09:01 PM:

In "safety", I'm thinking of material like Jim Macdonald's Flat Joint and The Short Con as a key part.

#528 ::: eep ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2014, 08:06 AM:

the invisible one @494: Congratulations on the bathroom progress, and yay for lovely blue walls!

claustrophile @495: Sympathy, from a person who Does Things Rong, and also seems to soak up any excess emotion in the room like a sponge.

dcb @510: Good luck. That is a truly disheartening thing to be facing.

Lee/Sam Chevre: I really like the list. Being able to get a handle on this stuff before the stakes are too high would make such a difference.

A big part of my problem with the learned helplessness/lack of Life Skills is that in my entire adult life, I've been operating in a pretty narrow margin for error. I have made a lot of mistakes. A significant number of them have been devastating. This creates a feedback loop on multiple levels. I have a greater fear of the next #$%-up, because I am still paying for the last one. I do recognize that confirmation bias probably plays some part, having had it drilled in by my parents that the world is a scary, scary place. But, I have also damaged my resilience and options in very concrete ways that mean that the next "rough landing" will be even harder to walk away from. I have learned things, but it always feels like too little, too late.

There is a reason why video games are my self-medication of choice: a contained, finite world in which I can learn the rules and make sense of them one step at a time, and if (when) I paint myself into a corner, I can try again, knowing what I know now? I cannot properly articulate what a relief it is to live in a world like that, even just for an hour.

#529 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2014, 02:58 PM:

dcb @ 510: I am so sorry the Powers-that-be are so unaware of the resource you developed. Just the other day I actually ended up on it, and got some very valuable information. I meant to tell you about it, and thank you again for all the work you've been doing. I wish you the best of luck, and hope that you can take your Opus Magnum with you.

Everyone else: reading, listening, witnessing.

#530 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2014, 03:04 PM:

Jacque, Sam Chevre, Rikibeth, Lee, eep: Thank you all for your good wishes.

Lee: it's not access that's the problem (I have the most up to date version on my laptop - I'm still writing it) it's the legal right to continue developing it, under its present name and URL, that's in question.

Ginger: really glad you've found it useful - I'm sure you can see why I don't want to see it just abandoned to go out of date and then be lost entirely.

#531 ::: hope in disguise ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2014, 10:21 PM:

For class I am reading Dorothy Canfield's novel The Home-Maker. In the first four or five chapters I have recognized a painful number of dysfunctions - most of which I have not experienced myself, fortunately, but the book really ought to come with a warning label. :( It may get better as the book goes on, but I am sure there are those who read it to whom the opening is exactly like a punch to the gut, or the head, or the heart.

#532 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2014, 03:58 PM:

Bigger on the inside by Amanda Palmer, with lyrics.

#533 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2014, 03:50 AM:

Illiad slightly awry @ 478

You need to make the decisions you're comfortable with, of course. But I just want to note that in a somewhat similar situation, we were happy to put up a friend-with-crazy-roommate while she got things sorted. Are there people in your life who could help you get out? You shouldn't have to live anywhere you feel unsafe and there is no context in which spending time in the closet managing anxiety attacks is an acceptable roommate compromise.

#534 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2014, 03:54 AM:

On the question of learned helplessness, disability can also contribute significantly. I never learned from my mom how to be on time (we were late to everything for my entire childhood), then until about five years ago I was dealing with a wide range of health issues that made my mornings feel totally unmanageable (everything from untreated sleep apnea resulting in chronic exhaustion to waking up in excruciating pain every morning and spending up to half an hour trying to psyche myself out of bed).

Unfortunately, even now that my life is much simpler (and far more normally pain-free), I still don't have good tools for timeliness (where would I have learned them?) and at some point during the hell-years, I just gave up on it - I decided it was something I'm just hopelessly bad at, like other people are bad at sports or whatever. I kept trying to power through, but that wasn't working, especially with the various health complications I was dealing with. I was getting in my own way too - I'd start to feel like I was running late and I'd take "short-cuts" that backfired and made me really late. And I also felt kind of like it was a moral failing on my part, and that made me self-conscious about it and avoidant about addressing it. And because it felt like a moral failing/ability gap, I just never got to the point where I was thinking about it as something that could be approached more analytically - if I couldn't make it happen by trying harder and resolving to do better, then it must be something about me that made it impossible.

It also means that I hear things like "uses a spoon for rice" and wonder if she has problems with her hands that limit her ability to use a fork effectively. I went through a whole long period of modifying and cutting back on activities - even now that I'm in a much better place, I don't always remember that a certain way of doing things is an accommodation (and when I do remember, I can't always bring myself to risk pain by testing to see if it's still necessary). (I'm also pretty sympathetic to not wanting to order in - I hate calling out for services and I make my husband do it as much as possible.)

Unrelated to the above, I remember my mom telling me once that she was surprised when one of our family members told her she needed to teach me how to do things like cleaning house before expecting me to do them perfectly. Before that, she would assign chores then inspect my results and be upset when I didn't do what she expected (like not cleaning under things), even though I had no idea what she wanted me to do. ("Clean the kitchen" involves such a potentially broad range of activities...)

#535 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2014, 04:03 AM:

Ack. Re: my 533...

I don't mean you shouldn't hide out in the closet if you need or want to. I just mean, it isn't the kind of thing anyone else has a right to impose on you! YOU are the one who gets to decide that it's okay to be in that position, not anyone else!

#536 ::: LGB ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2014, 04:42 AM:

Oh, help. I nearly closed this tab because I didn't want to whine at you all, which I think is probably a good indication that I should write you. I think.

Tomorrow I have to meet K to do our taxes and I DON'T WANNA. I mean, if there's one thing more fun than filing taxes, it's filing taxes jointly with the guy you're divorcing (who still DOESN'T SEEM TO REALIZE THERE'S ANYTHING WRONG). He offered me a ride to our tax preparer's office and I said no thanks. This may be a silly thing, but I don't want to be trapped making conversation in the car with him, nor do I want to give him control over when I come and go. I'll take the bus instead, TYVM.

So I have a folder full of tax documents, but I'm worried I'll arrive without some crucial thing. I don't want to give K any reason to look at me as though I'm incompetent to manage my life responsibly. (No, the world won't end. But it's still important to me to prove (to whom?) that that image of me isn't actual-me.)

I'm also worried about what I'll have to pay. I made rent again last month (woohoo!) with $17 left over. I have a bit of savings that I can use in an emergency, but dipping into it makes me feel very much less secure, so it's for dire emergencies only. The CPA I saw last week for business help estimated that I'd owe very little tax if any, and I hope he's right. (He also confirmed that filing jointly was probably my best option. I was glad to hear it from someone other than K.)

On top of all that, my cat isn't feeling well and she's overdue for a checkup and shots and I haven't found her a new vet since I moved downtown, and I feel like I'm doing a bad job taking care of her. I think these are problems I can solve, but it's adding to the general stress levels.

I'm trying to plan some selfcare for the rest of tomorrow afternoon and evening. A visit to a yarn store might be part of that plan. I already have a nice fluffy book laid out for bus reading. And I need to buy kittyfood at some point, speaking of being a bad human--we're out.

I feel a bit better after writing this all down. I think I can probably go to sleep now. If anyone has any good thoughts to send my way tomorrow afternoon, I'd sure appreciate it.

#537 ::: eep ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2014, 05:59 AM:

KayTei @534: This resonates so very much. I'm glad things have improved.

LGB @536: Witnessing, and hoping for the best for you. It's not even a little bit silly to prefer taking the bus.

#538 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2014, 08:16 AM:

LGB @536, taking the bus seems perfectly reasonable to me, and I think you are wise to plan ahead for self-care. Hope all goes as smoothly as possible.

#539 ::: hope in disguise ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2014, 10:01 AM:

LGB @536, witnessing and sending good thoughts

#540 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2014, 11:21 AM:

Something that's very much a work in progress, but I find that I need to give myself permission to do things that make my life better, instead of assuming that I should just GET THINGS RIGHT by magic.

It was a revelation that I could have a procedure for leaving the copiers at Staples, rather than expecting myself to remember to take my debit card and my masters.

Giving myself permission to do things doesn't magically give me the knowledge needed to do them, but it helps.

I have trouble getting out of the house in a timely manner myself, but allowing for time to pull things together, and storing them in known places does help.

#541 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2014, 11:36 AM:

Nancy @ 540

Oh, yes. "I deserve nice things" has been extended to also cover intangibles such as "whatever I need to not stress out over X."

My major revelation regarding time has been that I actually am very bad at estimating how long things take in real life (versus how long I think they ought to take). I keep budgeting unrealistically short prep times, even when I think I'm giving myself plenty of time. I've started tracking realtime electronically, so I can figure out where I'm going wrong...

#542 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2014, 01:00 PM:

#536, LGB:

My first question (and I don't know the tax procedures in your jurisdiction, only mine) is: do you absolutely need to be in the same room as K to get your taxes filed jointly? The reason I ask is because in my jurisdiction, "filing jointly" doesn't mean the forms come to the tax office in the same envelope or even that they have to be prepared by the same person, it means that each person's form has the other party's identifier and income on it in the "spouse" section, a checkmark saying the people identified are filing jointly, and matching numbers on tax credits transferred to and from one to the other if that's happening. They're usually prepared at the same time because it's easier, but they don't have to be. (You probably don't want to give him any tax credits, if that comes up. Keep them for yourself, and ask the tax preparer, after they've seen your numbers, whether you should file jointly or separately. They can run both scenarios and tell you which would be better for you as an individual. This question would be better asked without K present so he can't start telling you you're selfish for trying to keep your own tax credits, and bullying you into giving them away. They're *yours*. You don't have to give them away.) The only communication I had with Crappy Ex for the last tax return I did with his name on it was to exchange income numbers, via email.

Would it be possible for you to get an appointment with your tax preparer at a different time than the one that's set up with K?

Can you get a list of what you need to bring from your tax preparer? Some of them may have such a list on their website.

Also, I don't think preferring to take the bus is at all silly. I think it's very smart.

Wishing you a calming and restorative time at the yarn store or whatever other self care you choose, and hope your kitty starts feeling better soon. No advice for picking a vet, unfortunately; I've "fired" several vets since I moved to my current city and still haven't found one I'm happy with. So many of them try to upsell you on "just in case" tests and treatments, and their very expensive prescription food. Pick one and see what they do during the checkup, and don't let them bully you into agreeing to something expensive, I guess; try another vet next time if they do. One visit doesn't mean you have to stay with them.

#541, KayTei:

You're not figuring out where you're going wrong, you're calibrating your time estimates :)

I started doing that at work even though detailed task tracking wasn't required, and it made the estimates I gave my boss a *lot* more accurate. I also started breaking stuff down and estimating the smaller chunks before adding them up, which helped for bigger projects.

#543 ::: knitcrazybooknut ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2014, 02:42 PM:

LGB, will you let me send you some yarn? Because I have been where you are, and I would love to do something nice for you. It's a way for me to pay it forward for all the people who did nice things for me when I was living in a very small room hoping that my ex would not slash my tires or worse.

Right now my lesson is all about letting people help me, and it would really be soothing for me to feel like I'm balancing the scales, even a little! So you'd be doing me a favor, really. My email address is my username plus gmail.

KayTei @ 541 - My husband has the same problem with time estimating, and he loses time like he's going through a time warp. It was immensely frustrating for me until I learned the key: When he gives me an estimate of how long something will take, I double it and add ten.

It has proven *remarkably* accurate.

I had a hard time when I was in my first "real" job straight out of college, because I would estimate exactly how long something would take me to complete in an empty room with no one interrupting me and everything going perfectly. I eventually figured out that if I doubled my estimate, that would account for most of the interruptions and mishaps that would happen along the way.

And I completely agree with the invisible one: You're calibrating! It takes practice and adjustments. I still remember something my driver's ed teacher said to the class: Driving is just a series of small adjustments.

#544 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2014, 04:37 PM:

There's a reason the best budgeting advice begins with writing down what you are actually doing with money. I expect it's the same with time. Gathering data is very, very seldom useless in the long run.

#545 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2014, 06:04 PM:

It is possible to learn how to be on time for things: I've done it for myself. When I was a teenager through young adult I was almost always late for things, and I've gotten much better.

Please ignore if hlepy, but this is what I do, and it works for me: I work out when I want to be somewhere; I make my most realistic estimate of how long it'll take to get there; I add in 10-15 minutes to cover unforeseen circumstances; then subtract that, and that tells me when I should leave. Then (and this may be the tricky bit) I actually leave at that time. (If there's stuff that needs to happen for that, such as packing something in my backpack and making sure I have my keys, I try to make sure I've already done it, well in advance.)

#546 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2014, 06:26 PM:

knitcrazybooknut @543: Re. time estimates for work "in an empty room with no one interrupting me and everything going perfectly." Oh yes. One of the problems I've had over the past while has been being told to give time estimates for work completion, then blamed for going over the estimate due to circumstances beyond my control (e.g. being asked to help with other people's projects, called to meetings with six hours travel time, other people not providing me with the information I needed to get on with my job, computer dying and not being fixed/replaced - stuff like that). I've spend too long having the responsibility to get the work done but no real say in things like prioritisation, and I'm no longer prepared to make it work by adding 2-3 hours to my work day for weeks on end for zero thanks of recompense.

#547 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2014, 07:16 PM:

People who gain sustenance from keeping records of small victories, or who wish to practice recognizing our own achievements, might like to participate in the Monday pride threads over at synecdochic's blog:

... Could be anything -- something you made, something you did, something you got through. Just take a minute and celebrate yourself. Either here, or in your journal, but somewhere.

(And if you feel uncomfortable doing this in public, I've set this entry to screen any anonymous comments, so if you want privacy, comment anonymously and I won't unscreen it. Also: yes, by all means, cheer each other on when you see something you want to give props to!)

She posts it anew each Monday.

#548 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2014, 07:27 PM:

dcb: That's called "having responsibility without authority" (aka "getting the blame without having the power to fix the problems.") It's not uncommon in the teaching world, either.

#549 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2014, 12:13 AM:

Many thanks for the support. I'm still not entirely sure it's as achievable as everyone keeps telling me, but I've heard it from enough people I respect that I'm willing to give it an intelligent try.

#550 ::: LGB ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2014, 12:18 AM:

Checking back in to say I survived doing taxes today and thanks for the encouragement, eep, OtterB, and hope in disguise.

On the way there, I was too distracted to read, so I used the time to schedule a vet appointment for Kitty. That’s one more thing accomplished.

the invisible one, you’re right, I probably could have scheduled a separate appointment to calculate my portion of our taxes. (And I should probably look at the way I habitually accept the way K frames things. It would be useful to notice some of the built-in assumptions, in real time.) It seemed easier and faster to just get it over with, though, so I decided to keep the appointment he made and make the best of it.

It wasn't so bad. I’m going to owe the government about a month’s rent (ouch) but I can figure that out. K kept going off on long semi-serious rants about the evils of the capitalist system and the inequality of wealth distribution and the need for election finance reform (please don’t ask about the $3 contribution to the election fund please don’t ask about the $3 contribution to the election fund please don’t ask about the--crap, too late) which is a Thing He Does. If you’re ever extreeeeeeemely bored, come on over and I’ll give you a dramatic rendition of his Top 75 Lectures. I was polite and waited for him to take a breath before redirecting back to whatever the actual tax question was, because I just wanted to finish and get out of there.

Which turned into another Thing, because he wanted one of us to pay the preparer and said we'd settle up later between the two of us and started planning who and how and: NOPE. I asked if they could split the bill between two credit cards, like a restaurant bill, and it turns out they could. 50-50, settled, done.

That’s not the case with the actual tax bill, unfortunately. He thinks it would be more efficient to add the tax bill to all the other money things we have to negotiate about. I disagree, because why add complications? But he wanted to have a conversation RIGHT THEN about all our joint assets and liabilities and I wasn't prepared. I said that, actually: “I’d rather talk about this some other time.” “But whyyyyyyyyyyy and what are you thinking and did you have any questions about the info I sent you and what are the things you disagree with etc. etc. etc.” “Because I’d rather talk about it SOME OTHER TIME.” Ugh. He wouldn't drop it. “Are you worried about these checks, or that account? Because I don’t know what you’re concerned about and it’s stressing me out and I really don’t want you to cast me as the enemy here, because I don’t think of you that way and if you’d just telllllll me what you’re thiiiiiiiinking we could work things out in a friendly way that’s fair to us both and etc. etc. etc.” No! What part of “NOT NOW” was unclear? I don’t want to talk about numbers until I have a very clear idea of a) what they are, b) what I want, and c) where I’m willing to negotiate. I still have homework to do on that topic. I didn't have my notes with me anyway. And I SAID NO.

So we didn't figure out who’s sending the IRS the actual check, but the paperwork’s all ready to go.

I left the conversation as I often do, wondering if I really am the horrible mean unreasonable one. Here he was, ready to be the Reasonable Guy, talking about how he was willing to bend over backwards to make sure things were fair... I mean, sure, the numbers he previously sent me were incorrect (and not in my favor), and he didn’t exactly write a check for his half of the taxes, and he wouldn't listen when I said I didn't want to talk about it... But look how generous he’s willing to be with hypothetical future money! Plus, he said, he’s sad and he misses me and he doesn't like to see me not smiling at him. (ARGH RAEG my face is MINE to arrange as I please!) It makes me feel like a jerk that all I wanted to do was flee. Like, please can this be over, how soon can I leave and catch a bus to the safety and quiet of my own apartment? But he was being Nice, so I must be the mean one for not wanting to hang out and talk? It’s very weird. I felt like crying for reasons I haven't untangled yet.

Now I've made tea and eaten some ice cream and picked up kittyfood and bought myself two colors of cheap sparkly nail polish, so things are definitely improving.

knitcrazybooknut, wow, thank you, that’s very generous of you. I’ll send you an email.

#551 ::: jonesnori/Lenore Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2014, 12:47 AM:

LGB, it sounds like you were really strong and on message today. Kudos!

#552 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2014, 02:36 AM:

LGB, #550: Too late for this session, but that sort of "why don't you want to talk about this NOW?" thing is likely to come up again, and it would have been entirely reasonable for you to have said, "Because that's not what we're here to discuss, and let's not waste the tax preparer's time on side issues." Or the more broadly-useful "because I don't have my documentation with me, and I'm not going to try to get into a discussion without it." If he objects to either of those, then suddenly HE looks like the unreasonable one; in fact, with the second one you can bring it right out in the open if he pushes the issue -- "Is there some reason you want to get me into discussion on this topic when I don't have my records available?"

#553 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2014, 04:12 AM:

LGB @550: Well done you!

I like Lee's suggestion @552 - really absolutely makes you into the reasonable one (I particularly liked the last bit, I have to say).

B. Durbin @548: Yes. It's no fun at all.

#554 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2014, 08:45 AM:

Wow, LGB, it looks like you're seeing through a lot of nonsense right now. Go you!

#555 ::: Bodhisvaha ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2014, 08:49 AM:

LGB @550: Congratulations!

Cataclysms arise and the natural order has been disrupted: the weekend furniture acquisitions should mean that my household *has enough shelves*, yet there is empty wall space. We may be able to demote some older/uglier shelves to the basement to make that less of a distressing mess pile.

I also seem to be making progress on figuring out which head of my personal hydra is the immortal one, and which the distractions.

#556 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2014, 11:34 AM:

knitcrazybooknut: Crap. I meant to send you specs this weekend. It was right there, on the top of my "to do" pile...and the weekend got away from me. Again. Will do that as soon as I can.

#557 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2014, 11:36 AM:

knitcrazybooknut: I just realized I didn't get specs to you this weekend. Argh. Speaking of time getting away from one....

#558 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2014, 11:39 AM:

#550, LGB:

Yay you survived! And you got some of the good things done you wanted, too.

As already pointed out, you successfully kept the conversation on topic, and that's great. Don't think the tax preparer didn't notice -- and probably appreciated you doing it, especially if they charge by the appointment instead of by the hour.

(And I should probably look at the way I habitually accept the way K frames things. It would be useful to notice some of the built-in assumptions, in real time.)

While you're learning to do it in real time, you can run it by us here either afterwards or during a delay in response if you can get one, to help calibrate. One of my general life rules is that if somebody is pushing me to make a decision right away, especially a particular decision, there's probably something more to it that I should consider, and the decision they're pushing may be in their interest instead of mine. That's my cue to put my efforts into stalling until I can get away and think, instead of putting my efforts into disagreeing. Somebody that pushy will usually have an answer to every objection I can come up with. Besides, I might agree with that decision once I've had a chance to think about it. (Salespeople who try the hard sell on me, for example, tend to see my back very quickly. They're actually the easiest for me to deal with because simply walking away is an option, and if I do want to buy the thing, I can usually get it somewhere else.)

I left the conversation as I often do, wondering if I really am the horrible mean unreasonable one.

Nope, you're not being at all unreasonable to say you didn't want to talk about complicated, detailed stuff when you didn't have your notes. You're being very sensible.

Nope, you're not being at all unreasonable to not want to hang around and talk with somebody who makes you feel bad about yourself. You're taking care of yourself.

No matter what else he said, he *didn't respect your no*. THAT is the mean and unreasonable action in this conversation. As Lee pointed out, this pattern is very likely to come up again, so expecting it and preparing some scripts will probably be useful. Based on what you've said in the past, he has a long habit of not accepting that you have your own opinions, or that they're valid. If he can get you back into his narrative, he can get you back under his thumb -- and part of his narrative is that you're unreasonable.

For the tax cheque, can you each write a cheque for your share and send it to the tax preparer to put them in the same envelope and forward on to the government? That way you don't have to write cheques to each other.

(I'm also wondering, since you said the paperwork is ready to go, if it's actually been filed yet. Ignore if you don't have the spoons for it, or if it has been filed, but I can't help but think that you didn't have a chance to find out, with your actual numbers and from your actual tax preparer, whether you personally would owe the government less by filing separately. Sorry if I'm coming across as pushy about this, but it sounds to me as if you haven't been allowed a chance to compare the options and that sort of thing makes me want to push back.)

#559 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2014, 11:52 AM:

LGB: wrt Lee's "Because that's not what we're here to discuss, and let's not waste the tax preparer's time on side issues."

You can believe the tax preparer was singing silent hosannas unto the heavens every time you dragged K back onto the topic at hand.

#560 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2014, 11:54 AM:

me @556-7: Oh, for the love of Pete! I thought sure I'd cancelled out of that first one....

#561 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2014, 12:23 PM:

A general point about dealing with the difficult ex-- it seems to me that I've got a background assumption that if I don't get what I want pretty smoothly, I must have done something wrong.

This is one of those bad background assumptions.

#562 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2014, 03:30 PM:

I just wanted to chime in on the general "pushy ex" behavior (and add my congratulations to LGB @550): my ex wanted to push me into selling my house, because that was the quick and easy way for her to get money. I delayed using every tactic I could think of, down to the passive-aggressive "forgot to" do something, and in the end we did achieve a reasonable settlement -- she got money, I got her off the mortgage, and I kept my house. I didn't fight with her, and disengaged rapidly when she got angry (I'd even walk away from her, which also made her mad, but she learned quickly not to pick fights with me). It took more than two years for us to settle, but some of that was the distraction of our son's health.

I agree with the invisible one: pushy people often want things to go their way, and resisting the push -- which is a battle -- can be more rewarding than not. I have found patience as a strategy to be effective in more than one situation, and it's often overlooked in negotiations.

#563 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2014, 04:00 PM:

the invisible one, #558: It is highly unlikely that LGB would have gotten a better deal by filing separately. As a general rule, "married filing separately" is the worst option tax-wise, and to be an exception to this requires very special and uncommon circumstances. I am comfortable thinking that this was not an attempt to cheat LGB out of monies that were rightfully hers.

You are, however, dead right about "not respecting NO" being the unreasonable behavior here -- and that might be another angle to play up in future encounters. "I already told you why. Are you five?"

#564 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2014, 04:05 PM:

LGB, I'm so impressed at how well you handled that situation!

#565 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2014, 05:07 PM:

#563, Lee: Thanks for the note. Oh tax laws... I was not aware of the messed-up system the US uses for taxing married people. Just looked it up on wikipedia. O.o

In my jurisdiction, being married on your tax return gives you the right to transfer tax credits to the person who can make the best use of them, it doesn't change the actual tax rates or brackets.

And this is why you shouldn't take tax advice from the internet. :)

#566 ::: iliad slightly awry ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2014, 04:01 AM:

KayTei @533/535: No offense taken. I will probably always need a hiding place from time to time, and closets are nice because they're full of soft things that smell familiar (and often like someone I care for). Plus the cats aren't usually allowed in and get all pleased when I let them come in with me, so, win for everyone! That said, I agree, and I talked with Boy Roommate some about not wanting to be friends with Girl Roommate, and he seems to understand -- actually, seeing her bite my head off like that for a question seems to have helped his understanding.

LGB @several: You are a badass and you handled that remarkably well.

#567 ::: Quietly Learning To Be Loud ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2014, 09:27 AM:

LGB, way to go! You stayed on topic and didn't allow 'thread drift'.

I left the conversation as I often do, wondering if I really am the horrible mean unreasonable one.

A reasonable tone does not a reasonable conversation make. His definition of unreasonable seems to be "anybody who doesn't agree with me immediately". Sounds like the reasoning of a small child.

Another useful tool is to ask "are we done with current subject, because I still have questions about..." and then ask a question. Most people feel compelled to answer a question, so give him one to answer. A book that drove that point home to me is called something like "questions to ask when you don't know what to say". I don't remember any of the questions, just the incredible power that asking one has as a way to direct conversation.

#568 ::: Quietly Learning To Be Loud ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2014, 09:39 AM:

iliad slightly awry, I've done time in my closet to escape from people. I used to be able to hide so well that someone looking in my closet couldn't find me. Well, unless they started moving things around, which never happened. I haven't had need to in a long time, but the skill set is such that I immediately recognize places to hide "in plain sight", if they exist, any time I walk in to a new room.

#569 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2014, 11:52 AM:

LGB: yeah! Go you!

Also, sparkly things are wonderful. We all need MOAR sparkly things (that are not fires or things blowing up) in our lives.

#570 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2014, 09:38 PM:

A couple of achievements here: I bought three pounds of different sorts of fish. I cooked all of them before they went bad.

Sometimes when I see a link marked with "this is really offensive", I don't click on it.

#571 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2014, 12:20 AM:

Nancy, #570: Sometimes when I see a link marked with "this is really offensive", I don't click on it.

That's good self-care. Sometimes I have the spoons to follow links like that, and sometimes I just don't. And if I don't, there is absolutely nothing wrong with not clicking.

There can be a terrible fascination in watching a train-wreck, in person or in the media or online. But sometimes it's just better not to bother.

#572 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2014, 02:06 AM:

#571 ::: Lee

For me, it's not so much the risk of emotional overload at awful things, it's that I'm just tired. There's so much bad stuff, I don't have much reaction to most of "someone said something awful". There's no point in reading that sort of thing if all I end up doing is skimming it.

And while I'm at it, I've had more than enough of clickbait headlines-- don't tell me something is the most amazing or that I'd never believe it. Tell me something about what it's about.

#573 ::: knitcrazybooknut ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2014, 02:14 AM:

Jacque @ 556 (and 557, which made me smile) - seriously no worries. The good news is that I have five knitting projects ordered by friends right now, with a few more figuring out specifics. And I've already made one of my friends a luscious pair of long fingerless gloves from merino and cashmere yarn. Swoon! So there is no urgency to your getting back to me.

Good news: I had an interview this morning for a job, which went well enough that they invited me back for a Working Interview (which I had never experienced before). I was walked through a typical three hours at the job, which was really great, and paid for my time, which was also great. I'm hoping I made a good enough impression. We will see, fairly soon.

Bad News, or at least Illuminating News: This job is something I can do standing on my head. It's nothing I can't handle. The most important part of the job is staying calm and focused and centered and projecting that for the customers. I can do that.

But here's where the dysfunction rears its ugly head. I became increasingly uncomfortable as I sat there absorbing the ease with which I could complete my tasks, at a fairly competitive wage. It's a part time job, three days a week, and I could definitely pay the mortgage just working those three days a week. The job would not tax me, and the atmosphere is very relaxing and egalitarian. This sounds like a dream, right? But my stomach started hurting. I became increasingly distressed, and I could not figure out why this job was making me so uncomfortable. I kept thinking, is that it? That's all? The person I'd be working for threw no red flags for me, and in seven years of interviewing folks, I've seen red flags! I've even learned to identify the ones I grew up with and almost married. Nothing! But I was so uncomfortable.

I had to do a lot of unpacking with my best friend as a sounding board. Being raised by a narcissistic mother meant for me that I was never good enough. If I got straight As, then fine, that was acceptable. If I got a B, I was a horrible ungrateful daughter.

When I joined the working world, I think my mind decided that salary and difficulty of the work that I did would warrant gold stars and replace grades in the judgement scale in my brain. My mother did a great job reinforcing that, even from afar.

So just interviewing for a job that was well paid, well appreciated, and not difficult made me uncomfortable to the point where I almost walked in and just pre-emptively said it wasn't going to work out. I think the subject line of my email to my friend was something like "Why am I so effing broken?" I'm broken in these ways because of my programming. If I can beat my programming, I win this life. I am working on it.

#574 ::: iliad slightly awry ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2014, 05:47 AM:

LGB, I also cope via nail polish, and if you want seriously blinding sparkle I have some recommendations. You can email me by removing the slightly, smooshing my name together and addressing it to Google's popular mail service. Or I am available for open thread, if enough of us want to talk sparkles.

#575 ::: Quietly Learning To Be Loud ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2014, 11:42 AM:

Nail polish silliness
I was given several bottles of old nail polish which had separated. I came home from school to find my two year old sister had found them. She was carrying one around, shaking it to hear the beads rattle. I was freaking out over potential broken bottle until my mother said my sister didn't bang it, just shook it. Then I realized the polish was completely mixed again. I swapped the mixed polish for one still needing help, until my sister had mixed tham all for me. I let her keep one that I didn't like and kept her happy.

Which triggered, gently, the memory that my mother didn't think boundary violations of children was that big a deal. *sigh*

#576 ::: Bodhisvaha ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2014, 12:06 PM:

knitcrazybooknut @573: it hasn't happened to me quite like that, but that'd spin my head pretty badly too. Whaddya bet that your "too good to be true" alarm bell is going off in the back of your head? You're seeing way too little thorn for this much rose, based on your previous experience, and your defenses are sensibly asking, "is this a set-up?" Because in the past, it probably would have been, right?

Here's an optimistic-but-possible prediction for you: they offer, you take the job, you blow their minds by going above and beyond expectations, and they blow yours by lavishing you with praise and happiness for what to you are small, easy things. It will freak you right out. But if you can stay steady through the freak-out, you'll start moving heaven and earth to make good stuff happen for them, and they'll respond well to that; rinse and repeat.

For me, two categories of small easy things that nobody expects are competent writing, and IT expertise. I hand out 60-second solutions to little day-to-day IT problems as if they were penny candy, because to me they are that trivial. Less technical people react as if I were handing out French truffles, because to them, I am. I'm working on grokking that everyone else is good at something that I find difficult, and so I shouldn't undervalue what I can do because I find it easy. Their thing usually feels easy to them, after all. This idea makes sense but still feels weird.

#577 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2014, 12:54 PM:

knitcrazybooknut @573: seriously no worries.

Whew! Thank you. I have a good means of transferring reminders from home to work, but not the other way around, so stuff I have to remember to do at home often falls off the brain. Tiresome.

Meanwhile, sounds like the Universe is inviting you to experience what Functional feels like?

Bodhisvaha @576: You're seeing way too little thorn for this much rose

I like this metaphor. Very elegant. And, knitcrazybooknut, if it reassures you any (O.o), consider: my current job is just what it said on the tin, doing work I could pretty much do in my sleep, on my (mostly) preferred schedule, for even enough money. What I didn't count on was that it had several new thorns to offer up. ::sigh::

WRT penny candy morphing into French truffles: I've become our department's first-order tech support, largely on the strength of this technique.

#578 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2014, 12:56 PM:

Internal Server Error: *smack*

#579 ::: hope in disguise ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2014, 01:48 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @570, good for you! :)

knitcrazybooknut @573, I wish you the best of luck with job and feelings about job. And winning life!

Bodhisava @576: I'm working on grokking that everyone else is good at something that I find difficult, and so I shouldn't undervalue what I can do because I find it easy. Their thing usually feels easy to them, after all. This idea makes sense but still feels weird.

*sits thing down, looks at thing, turns it over and all around, looks at thing some more* You know, there is something to that. Maybe if I get it into my brain, I'll be able to take compliments properly. *ponders thing for a while*

A book that I'm reading has an interesting perspective on thanking people. An attempt at summarizing it both coherently and briefly: to ask someone for a favor is to put yourself in their debt; to thank someone is to acknowledge the debt. When you say "you're welcome" it indicates you aren't actually inscribing a debit. And so on. "this sort of thing is often viewed not as the quintessence of morality, but as the quintessence of middle-class morality" but "there are still those who find the practice odd" including "those who grew up in ... anyplace where there is still an assumption that people who are not enemies will, ordinarily, take care of one another," who "will often find it insulting to be constantly told, in effect, that there is some chance they might not do their job as a waiter or taxi driver correctly, or provide house guests with tea."

Earlier he talks about "baseline communism" which is, pretty much, the assumption that we ordinarily take care of each other if and as we can. It feels like at some point I started being baffled as to why anyone would think I wouldn't do the sorts of things I get thanked for - which tend to fall under this "baseline communism," strengthened according to my bond with the particular person (and mostly are related to emotional care or similar). Hrm. Bears thinking about. /tangent tangent tangent

#580 ::: Bodhisvaha ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2014, 03:53 PM:

Jacque @577: why thank you. :) And yes, that XKCD strip covers the majority of the 60-second support. If I wasn't sure the option was available, it might take 2-3 minutes. I'm the kind of person who, when learning a new program, will compulsively scan the UI and options to get a feel for what is possible. (I may not actually learn how to use feature X but knowing if it is there or not is usually half the battle.)

#581 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2014, 06:05 PM:

Heh. I have gone from being tech support to priest, who knew very well that he knew nothing about computers, to being tech support to nun, who thinks she knows a little. They're both lovely people, but the priest was so much easier!

(To give you an idea of the level of tech support Sister R needs, today she asked me how to get a photo from her e-mail onto her Facebook page.)

#582 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2014, 06:31 PM:

hope in disguise #579: The thing is, "please", "thank you" and "you're welcome" do serve more purposes than "social accounting". They are also protocol elements, used for such things as accepting a request, or marking the end of a task (ranging up to "you can go away now"). And each is also a Transactional Analysis "stroke", which can be further laden with various implications, pecking-order signals, or other commentary.

#583 ::: hope in disguise ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2014, 07:12 PM:

Dave Harmon @582: This is true! One of the things I like about this author is the fact that he approaches everything from a set of biases very different from standard, but this can also be a flaw; pointing out others' blind spots may not make you better at seeing your own, different ones.

For most of my life I have had too much social anxiety/uncertainty to be capable of producing the correct bits of protocol in the moment. This probably biases my feelings about them somewhat. I think perhaps there is a useful (for me) distinction to detect between things I would feel hurt if I wasn't thanked for, and things I am confused when I am thanked for (note that the Venn diagram does have a center, because dysfunction).

Transactional Analysis "stroke"
Unpack this please?

#584 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2014, 07:31 PM:

knitcrazybooknut, #573: Kudos to you for figuring out (1) that your freakout was caused by something bogus and (2) what that something was, and for not letting it sabotage your shot at a good job! You're right about beating your programming being a win at Life.

Tangentially, you knit on commission? I've been kind of interested in getting an infundibulum, but I don't knit. Ping me at fgneqernzre@zvaqfcevat.pbz and we can discuss price and scheduling -- there's no hurry about this, so if you have other jobs you need to finish first, that's fine.

hope in disguise, #579: Two thoughts...
1) That whole "anything I can do is easy and therefore doesn't count, anything I can't do means I'm dumb" issue is one that afflicts a lot of people to one degree or another. I have one friend who's been wrestling with it for decades. If you've ever been taught that your role is to put yourself down, or that acknowledging things you do well is "bragging", that's going to exacerbate it.

2) Taking compliments gracefully is a skill in and of itself, and requires practice. Rehearse to yourself saying things like, "thank you, I'm glad I could help" (about services) or "thank you, I'm very fond of it" (about clothing/possessions) or "thank you, I'm glad you like it" (about food) until you can get them out without locking up. The first few times you say them will probably still feel very odd, but that diminishes with practice. This is actually something I still have to think about too; the conditioned impulse to downplay one's own skills, taste, etc. is very strong.

There's a semi-inversion of it too, which is to talk about how cheaply you acquired Item X that someone else has admired. Back-brain thinks of this as a version of "I didn't spend much money on this, so it's no big deal," but it can sometimes come across to the other person as bragging about your bargain-hunting skills or your good fortune. This is the one that's likeliest to trip me up.

#585 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2014, 10:16 PM:

hope in disguise #583 Transactional Analysis "stroke" : Unpack this please?

While I don't have the formal definition handy, AIUI a stroke is the fundamental unit of social interaction. Now that I think of it, strokes were actually invented by Rogerian psychology (the "bag of teddy bears" story), but IIRC they got adopted by TA, which can actually build stuff out of them.¹ In TA, it's basically a message unit ranging from an "I see you" glance on up to verbal stuff. In TA, they form into social routines ("games", "pastimes"), and have other structural features: besides carrying baggage, they can be sourced from or directed to various parts of your/their psyche, basically "Child/Adult/Parent". Mismatches are generally bad for social relations....

¹ ETA: and now I'm starting to wonder if I've conflated the Rogerian stroke with a different term in TA.

#586 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2014, 10:56 AM:

Wanting some privacy @462:

Sorry for the delayed reply! It's that time of year in academia, and I'm swamped - and the person I asked is a student, and likewise swamped. But better late than never, I hope!

For background, I asked a wise, mature friend who's gone back to school and is now in her senior year of a psychology degree for advice/help about not feeling any emotional attachment to one's parents from a very young age, in response to Nancy Lebovitz' post at 456, and Wanting some privacy's response at 462. I identified the person I was asking for as WSP.

My friend says:

Although I cannot give advice in this particular situation, I can share that this is not uncommon.

There is a line of developmental psychology that deals with Attachment Theory and looks at the parent-child dyad (and its effects in adulthood). John Bowlby was an early pioneer in attachment and Mary Ainsworth expanded on it later.

If you Google Attachment Theory, there is a pretty decent Wikipedia layman's summary of it. There are also a ton of papers on the different dyadic paradigms.

One BIG disclaimer: while theory is all well and good as a guide or signpost, it is advisable that WSP consider getting some help working through the complexities of his/her own experiences. This is because each person's situation is unique and will not fit neatly into any one theory. Seeking assistance from someone who works in attachment and/or family systems counseling would perhaps be most useful.

#587 ::: knitcrazybooknut ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2014, 12:28 PM:

Yesterday morning I woke up with the world spinning rapidly. This has happened once before, in 2009. Labyrinthitis basically causes your body to feel like it's spinning a zillion miles an hour, and like most carnival rides, your body reacts violently and messily. After a couple of hours, I ended up in the Emergency Room on various iv fluids that made me less nauseous and dizzy (feeling parenthetically grateful for a piece of legislation that has given us insurance coverage for the first time since my husband was laid off. SO grateful).

In my childhood (just to make this at least *slightly* DF related), whenever I was sick, I was always told, "Go take a shower and see how you feel afterwards." I was not believed unless there was blood or fainting, and even then, I was usually belittled. So, after being ill about six times at home, and then while lying on a hospital bed with a tube in my arm feeding me fluids, I continue to debate whether I should be there. Maybe I'm really okay and just wanting attention. Maybe I don't deserve to be here.

Turning my head to the right and feeling the world spin violently again usually dispels that notion. But still. It remains.

After a few hours, I'm able to lift my head and walk a short distance without spinning. My (superlatives here) husband drives me home and dopes me up further. I pick up my phone and get a voicemail from the place I interviewed with, saying that they have decided to pick somebody else for the job. Then our washing machine breaks down.

I am blessed in a lot of ways. Husband person can probably fix the washer. But man. If there's a spiritual/emotional/psychological body/mind shift coming in the wind, I better brace myself. Hard. Or else go limp and let it roll over me like a truck!

Bodhisvaha @ 576, your metaphor is beautiful. Too little thorn on this much rose. That is apt and amazing.

Jacque @ 577 - what functional feels like describes that feeling well. Because that feeling is completely unfamiliar to me. That xkcd cartoon totally describes my methods. And to me that is the most obvious thing. Of course this is what you do, right?

Lee - I will ping you soon. I have not made one of those before, but it looks pretty awesome.

If others have experiences of labyrinthitis that they want to share, I'm open to that information. (If you'd prefer to email me, it's username at the gmail.) I've had occasional, brief dizzy spells since that first occurrence, but nothing as dramatic and violent as yesterday's. I'm still a little groggy, so forgive rambly parts.

#588 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2014, 01:05 PM:

knitcrazybooknut, #587: Yikes! I've never had labyrinthitis, but I do appear to have a low-grade version of BPPV, which can produce similar symptoms. The first time it hit me was no fun at all; since then either it's gotten milder or I've gotten more used to it and/or developed better coping mechanisms. These days it's mostly a "oops, let's not hold my head at that angle" sort of thing.

Sympathies on the job rejection -- that sucks, especially when it seemed like it would be such a good fit.

#589 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2014, 03:04 PM:

Dave Harmon @585: now I'm starting to wonder if I've conflated the Rogerian stroke with a different term in TA.

Nope: A quick Google produces TA theory of strokes (PDF).

knitcrazybooknut @587: I pick up my phone and get a voicemail from the place I interviewed with, saying that they have decided to pick somebody else for the job.

From the Department of Superfluous and Gratuitous Weasel Help (and also because it's not entirely inappropriate), take a moment when you've re-collected your spoons to call them back, thank them for the chance to interview, ask if they had any specific points that set the other candidate ahead of you, and ask if they are aware of any other openings of that or a similar nature for which you might be a good fit. Then check back with them briefly in a month or so. Extra points if you run across an article or reference that provides information that seems relevant to that position, department, or hiring supervisor; forward that to them, with a line saying, "Thought you might find this useful/interesting. — Regards, knitcrazybooknut"

This is Professional Job Search Networking 101. Well, okay, maybe 201. I actually got a good job this way, back in the late '80s, when the guy they picked jumped ship after a month to move with his wife to Seattle.

#590 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2014, 04:08 PM:

knitcrazybooknut, sorry the universe has decided to dump multiple things on your head at once. Job hunting, in particular, sucks in the best of circumstances. Hope something else comes through for you soon.

#591 ::: Bodhisvaha ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2014, 05:10 PM:

Jacque @589: *blink* *bonk* It's never occurred to me in a situation like that to try calling up later and seeing if they changed their mind or something. I must have a basic conviction that rejection is final in every case, at least when it's me being rejected.

Other possible reasons it never occurred to me: I'm well inculcated with "don't bother people", and this falls under that heading. Plus, I usually get the jobs I get interviewed for; I just have a ridiculously hard time getting to that stage. (I knew someone with the opposite problem: could scare up endless interviews; had terrible trouble getting hired.) I have gotten many career counsellors' compliments on my resume, so I must be doing something else wrong, but it's not clear what.

#592 ::: Bodhisvaha ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2014, 05:32 PM:

Eek, forgot.

knitcrazybooknut @587: in your place, I would be devastated and whining. I am not good at gratitude! I offer my commiseration, hugs, and impressed-ness.

#593 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2014, 08:12 PM:

Bodhisvaha: Me too. I'm pretty sure that there is something very impersonal in my resumes and cover letters that is scaring off potential interviews, because on those rare occasions when I do get interviewed, I'm usually hired. And the one time I got downsized and received resume "help" from a professional organization, it was virtually useless. ("You need to rephrase everything to active voice. Use these words." Um... could you actually send over a new FORMAT, since I'm still using something from the 90s? No? Oh, you want feedback on your "help"? Oy...)

#594 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2014, 09:25 PM:

Bodhisvaha @591: *blink* *bonk* It's never occurred to me in a situation like that to try calling up later and seeing if they changed their mind or something.

Back in the very earliest days of my working life, I was positively paralyzed in my interactions with computers. Then, about five years in, I was introduced by an acquaintance to the idea of RTFM (Read The, Um, Manual). About four years after that, I encountered spoon-feeding style manuals (in the form of the old Inside Word monthly newsletter—a glorious gold mine of odd tips and tricks).

RTFM turns out to be one of those gloriously generalizable superpowers, especially here in The Future, what with der Tübz, and all. It applies to job hunting, as well, although there's a certain amount of Old School Received Wisdom* that has to be filtered out. And it's a marvelous way to overcome a lot of those foggy, indistinct Goddamn Tapes that we get imposed on us with concrete, down to Earth specifics.

Some excellent sources in my library: Work with Passion, Liz Ryan,** Job Hunting for Dummies, and so on. See also, Monster, &c. Also, look around in your local polity; many have taxpayer-supported "free" work search assistance. For example, Boulder County's Workforce program provides job search classes such as resume writing, networking, interviewing, and so on, as well as classes and tutorials for various office software, and computers that are free to the public to use for job searching.

Hearing somebody who's actually getting paid good money to do so (and has no vested interest in your purchasing anything from them) say things like: it's not only allowed to follow up on a job interview with an inquiry call, but actually recommended, can go a long way towards short-circuiting that early conditioning that the power-hoarders in our early lives installed.

B. Durbin: I direct your attention in particular to Ryan's discussion of resumes. She has a rather different approach that makes a lot of sense to me.

* Sadly, for my money, the old standby What Color Is Your Parachute falls into this category.

** The first link points to some of her oldest blogs, since those start out at the simpler end of the job-hunt process, such as composing a resume that stands out from the pack—but in a good way. I'd recommend reading them oldest-to-newest, since she kind of builds up her theory from very basic beginnings.

#595 ::: Finny ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2014, 09:49 PM:

Question for anyone who might have some ideas:

I have gotten the credit card folks to agree to a settlement of $1240 Canadian, rather than the $2000 or more. Problem is, I still need to come up with the money. I have a family heirloom ring I can sell to get the money (it was just appraised at $2,200 Canadian last week). I just don't have any idea of how to go about doing so, and I can't think of any other way to get the money. Help? I am failing at ideas for getting the ring sold.

#596 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2014, 11:12 PM:

I'll also add the Ask A Manager site to the list of job search resources, for both resume/cover letter advice and general workplace situation advice.

#597 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2014, 01:16 AM:

Finny @595: I would ask whoever appraised the ring if they could refer you to a couple places that might be interested in buying it. You don't want just a single place, because that opens up the possibility that they low-balled the estimate in the hopes of referring you to someone who'll give them a kickback (though I wouldn't mention that to them!). They have an incentive to see that you get something approaching the estimated amount (though if you're in a hurry, you might have to accept somewhat less), as otherwise it makes their assessment look inaccurate.

#598 ::: iliad slightly awry ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2014, 03:53 AM:

knitcrazybooknut @587: I've had vertigo/dizziness problems since I was tiny -- my doctor used to speculate that was why I walked late as a baby. My panic response kicks in when I'm going down stairs or stepping off curbs. Mine isn't usually as acute as yours (though I have my days) and I've learned to lie down when it happens so I'm less likely to get ill, but early recognition is a product of years of coping with the problem.

#599 ::: Anonymously ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2014, 05:18 AM:

Dear friends,
I'm in over my head with a family mental health emergency, and don't know if I have the strength to get through it; I certainly don't have the skills.

It's kind of frustrating to have found this community, where religious faith is tolerated and supported, about the same time I was losing my own, but I'd really appreciate prayers from those of you who do pray.


#600 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2014, 05:22 AM:

Anonymously: Prayers sent up. Be well, and I hope you have plenty of cope.

#601 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2014, 05:46 AM:

Anonymously @599:

I'll pray for you. As you can see from the history of this community, advice and support is on offer in whatever detail you want to call on it.

And we support you, if you want, wherever your journey around faith takes you (including out). People go where they go. They become what they become.

#602 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2014, 07:20 AM:

Anonymously @599, adding to the prayers

#603 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2014, 08:07 AM:

Anonymously @ 599: more prayers from over here.

#604 ::: knitcrazybooknut ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2014, 12:40 PM:

iliad slightly awry @598 - Wow, I just had that moment of OMG me too! Stairs and curbs give me that instant panic of I'm going to fall, etc. Most of the diagnoses for the whole labyrinthitis/vertigo issues set involve "Did you have any head traumas as a child that went untreated?" I'd been bucked off horses and fallen down stairs so many times by the time I was 13 that I just laugh when I hear that question. It was also pointed out to me by my eye doctor that my pupils are huge, and that's why I'm so sensitive to light. Which he says is unrelated to the vertigo part of my body. I say it's related because it's all my body. Who knows. You mentioned that you lie down when it happens - for me, it always happens when I am already lying down. I can usually find one position that stops the spinning, but any movement from that position causes the spin again.

I am feeling better and returning to normalcy. I dug up my physical therapist handouts and did the exercises yesterday, with plans for more today. Thanks to OtterB, Bodhisvaha, Jacque & Lee and everybody for your good thoughts.

Jacque @ 589 and 594 - Thank you. Those are great pieces of advice. It's a two-person clinic, but I guess it can't hurt to leave a good impression.

My frustration right now is that I really thought that jobs and careers would be like school, a meritocracy where if you could get things done and be nice to people, you would get what you deserved. (Yes, please, laugh all you like. It is hilarious, now.) Having left the last job I was hired for after two days as a bad fit, I am now struggling and applying for almost anything I can actually do. I'm not a receptionist, but I am at the point where I will be applying to wash dishes just to bring in some funds. I have held some decently salaried jobs with mid-level status, and I don't know what bothers me more - that I didn't make the most of my networking opportunities at the time, or that I'm being forced to re-evaluate how judgmental I am about the relative value of any job compared to another. (Yes, my Mother indoctrinated me thoroughly. Boy am I trying to fight it.)

In better news, today is the one year anniversary since Husband and I officially changed our names in court with documents and everything. We may have hosed our lives up thoroughly since then, but only *we* can lay claim to our failures or successes. That's something we're both happy about, and proud to claim for our own selves.

Anonymously @ 599 - I am thinking good thoughts for you.

#605 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2014, 03:54 PM:

599: prayers from over here as well.

#606 ::: Merricat ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2014, 06:33 PM:

Jacque @ #594, Bodhisvaha @591:

This is such an amazingly well-timed discussion, seeing as yesterday I just sent my first-ever "thank you for interviewing me, I'm sorry to hear that you went with someone else, do you have any feedback as to what I can do better next time?" note.

For anyone considering this, but feeling nervous: I got a really wonderful, kind response, and it was totally worth doing.

#607 ::: hope in disguise ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2014, 10:36 PM:

Two weeks ago I had a bunch of "informational interviews" and I knew I ought to send thank-you emails but I still haven't, partly because I Don't Have an Anxiety Problem No-sir-ee and I feel bad because it's keeping me from sending the thank-you emails but I really really really ought to...


To make it worse, two of the people work for my dad's company (one of the first widely-accessible academic journal databases online I believe) and I *want* to work for them and the guy I interviewed said I was going to automatically go on the shortlist for interviews if he had a position opening up this summer. And. I'm afraid that my anxiety-based lack of responding to *his* follow-up email is bad (and also underneath that this reveals a fundamental inadequacy of me as a person???). augh :(

#608 ::: Little John ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2014, 12:02 AM:

I've also been doing a lot of job applications of late, and this is a discussion I can really use right now. Like Merricat @ 606, I recently sent my first e-mails following up on a "no" response. Actually, I was turned down by three different employers and sent them all "what could I have done differently?" e-mails. Answer came there none. I have been worrying that I was being inappropriate or boundary-breaking by asking these questions.

I just realized that I haven't checked in for ages. I'm doing OK. I've been depressed enough that it's been hard to write about anything, let alone myself, that's all.

Let's see, what's new? I paid my rent ahead of time for March, making myself feel somewhat better about being late for February. I switched car insurers because the old company were raging incompetents. Working for Domineering Friend has been going surprisingly OK, and I just got a new job. It's seasonal, so still not something I can make a career out of, but it will last me from March to November and give me enough time and income to sort my life out further.

After having to walk out on them at Christmas, and nearly three months with no contact to speak of, I visited my parents for the day yesterday. It was something of a wrenching experience. I am still pretty freaking mad at both of them, and my dad in particular kept up his charade that nothing had ever been wrong or bad and he'd never done anything amiss. I almost didn't go. But on the other hand, it was my mother's seventieth birthday, and they had both been making friendly overtures to me and telling me they missed me. Before I made the trip, I made them both promise not to criticize the way I lived these days.

I'm glad I did it. I had a good time--it's astonishing how nice they are when they want to be. I kept looking at them and being amazed that they were the same people who scolded me like a witless child at Christmas.

To be honest, I'm a little worried that you folks will judge me for going back to visit them, as if I was caving in to their pressure. I struggled with myself a lot this week, trying to see whether I was going because I really wanted to go or because I was automatically following old patterns where we fight, time passes, and then I have to snap back to normal and pretend nothing is wrong. I don't think I am some sort of automaton, but I have to keep checking myself. I want the whole episode to have meant something, to be a milestone in my growth as a person where I can look back and say, "Yes, and after that I never held still and bore their scolding again." Or, "After that, I became enough of a grown-up to never depend on them again for anything."

Oh hey! I finally made an appointment to see a therapist! I'm almost as excited as I am worried. The appointment is this coming Wednesday.

#609 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2014, 12:13 AM:

Little John, anyone who judges you is missing the point. There is no one true way to have parents, to be an adult, to maintain boundaries, to form a stable relationship. We aren't on the ground; you are. You have so much more information than we do. We are, I hope, here to support and strengthen you so you can take whatever steps you feel are necessary.

I'm glad you enjoyed yourself. You deserve it.

#610 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2014, 12:16 AM:

Little John, #608: Before I made the trip, I made them both promise not to criticize the way I lived these days.

That right there is proof that you're not "caving to their pressure". You had something they wanted, and you used that to negotiate for something you wanted in return. That's not caving, it's establishing and holding to a boundary. Go you!

#611 ::: protecting others' privacy ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2014, 12:33 AM:

Still having trouble getting as much forward momentum as I need, but it's improving.

My stupid lingering cold is lifting. Having enough oxygen makes a difference. It kept me from socializing last weekend, which I regret, but I didn't have the stamina to drive there.

My kid is home on spring break. Kid is immersed in building a cosplay outfit - Hans from Frozen. Kid is a first-year theater major who went in thinking "performance track" and is now thinking "costume design". It's amazing to see Kid take fire, and I'm a very proud mom, and that's lifting my energy level some, too.

Today, BFF noticed that the heating oil tank monitor was reading just shy of empty. Homeowner hadn't noticed, I guess, though the monitor is in the living room, which only she uses. I was the one who mentioned it to Homeowner, and we got the oil delivered before the tank could run dry, so crisis averted, but BFF said privately to me "If I hadn't spotted it, I bet she would have let the tank run dry. She really needs to be in assisted living."

Well. Light bulb. I did a little research today, and actually "assisted living" is a higher level of care than Homeowner needs right now, but hoo boy, "independent living" would fit. Especially the communities that provide local transportation service. I'm not going to bring it up with Homeowner yet, but I'm going to poke around a little more, and see if there are any local communities that accept disabled non-seniors, and whether Homeowner's house could finance the move. Because seriously, Homeowner doesn't need a two-story, three-bedroom house on a double corner lot. A one-bedroom apartment with no yard to maintain would work a lot better for her. And, given my experience, and BFF's, and tamiki's fiancee's experience...Homeowner is not easy to live with. The idea of finding her another housemate through Craigslist or something is daunting. And I would feel much less awful getting out of here if I thought Homeowner had backup. And didn't have house maintenance chores to worry about. Just for example - I mentioned that we shrink-wrapped the windows with insulating film this winter, right? That was me & BFF. Homeowner can't do that. I'm not 100% sure that Homeowner could even shift all the triple-track windows from storm to screen and back. If we bail, she'll either have to hire it done (which she won't) or deal with the heating costs (which, again, means she'll let the oil tank run dry). If I knew she were somewhere properly insulated, with up-to-date windows, and heat part of the package? I'd feel a lot less like I was abandoning her.

I'm not going to bring it up to her yet. Not until I find out a lot more. Especially not until I have a better grasp of the financial picture. Finances freak her out, understandably.

But this might be the way out of the trap.

#612 ::: tamiki ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2014, 02:18 AM:

protecting others' privacy: My fiancee's had much the same thought. She'd probably be happy to help pull strings for you on organising that, now that she's in a position where she can, if state services would prove useful.

I'll try to revisit our emails tomorrow, if brain allows, but I think I'm starting to get slammed with allergies. Hopefully it'll clear up sooner than later. Meanwhile, Kid's cosplay sounds awesome, as does finding a new interest in costume design!

Little John: Hey, if visiting your parents works for you, it works for you. We're not going to judge you, nor accuse you of caving. It sounds like in the end you wanted to go and didn't just feel obligated to. That's the important thing.

Anonymously: Sending good thoughts your way.

#613 ::: knitcrazybooknut ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2014, 04:05 AM:

Little John, I know I've talked a lot about not being able to have contact with my parents. (And probably in an extremely adamant tone.) I guess I feel the same way about that as I do about having kids. I love it when people who want kids have them. But I know that it won't work for me. If you or anyone else is able to have a relationship with your parents that works for you, I love that. I am really glad that they made an effort and that you had a good time.

We all take two steps forward, one step back, and make mistakes in our relationships. There's nothing wrong with telling the truth about that, and nothing wrong with letting past mistakes go. Great job enforcing your boundaries, and giving them a chance to rise to your expectations.

#614 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2014, 06:58 AM:

Little John @608, sorry to hear about the depression, but rent paid on time, and seasonal job giving you time and income to figure other things out, and therapist appointment, and boundary-respecting visit with your parents all sound awesome.

Re respecting you: I think this community as a whole tends to come down strongly on the side of "it's okay to break off contact" as a counterweight to the prevailing societal message of "but family!" Sometimes that may come across as sounding lie we always thing that's what people should do.

protecting Others privacy, how attached is homeowner to the house and/or to the stuff in it? Some kind of independent living community may well still be appropriate, but it will affect how hard it may be to convince her that downsizing is a better option.

#615 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2014, 11:08 AM:

#607, hope in disguise: Can you identify what in particular about writing the notes is kicking up your anxiety? Sometimes it's possible to reframe the question and sneak around the anxiety-monster, if you know where it's lurking.

#608, Little John: I have been worrying that I was being inappropriate or boundary-breaking by asking these questions.

Definitely not inappropriate. Sometimes you won't get a reply. Some people or companies simply don't give that sort of feedback, ever. (Ask A Manager on asking for feedback.)

#616 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2014, 02:44 PM:

protecting others privacy @611:

There are facilities that have multi-level care possibilities and can move Homeowner to the appropriate level as conditions warrant. If you're in the USA, your state's Agency on Aging might be worth checking into.

Just recently I saw an article in our local paper that there is a group forming in our area to help seniors stay in their homes/apartments by doing the tasks they can no longer manage. There were some fees involved, but on a sliding scale to help those with limited income. (I'm going to be looking into this, because I've found there are tasks that are becoming difficult for me to do.)

#617 ::: protecting others' privacy ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2014, 03:14 PM:

OtterB: surprisingly, Homeowner isn't deeply attached to most of the physical objects in this house, as I discovered when I was decluttering it so BFF and I could move in. It looked like the early stages of a hoarding situation, but the underlying cause was limited ability to physically clear things away and limited fucks given as long as there were still places to pile books. Project Empty The China Cupboard And Make It A Bookcase was handled with glee, not clinging. Many, many things have gone to Goodwill already. As for the house, I think it's more mixed; I know she loathes its many inconveniences and maintenance challenges, but she has lived in it (and nowhere else) since 1968, and the security of a fully-owned place with only one small home equity loan against it is something she doesn't take lightly. I feel confident that she'd enjoy a smaller, more accessible, lower-maintenance place to live, but she'd have to feel confident that the money wouldn't run out and leave her stranded.

Lori Coulson: I know about the multi-level care places - I worked in the kitchen of one for a while. If Homeowner's finances would stretch that far, it would really be ideal for her. My impression was that they cost the earth.

The other snag is that Homeowner, while on full disability, is not technically a senior, and I don't know how many places would be open to her under those circumstances. Hence more research is needed.

But yeah. Somewhere that, for right now, would give her a low-maintenance independent apartment where maybe a cleaning person came in once a week, and had a facility-sponsored shuttle bus to shopping (that wouldn't strand her the way that the state-run service did JUST TODAY), and later might provide more services? That'd be just the thing.

#618 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2014, 05:00 PM:

me @614, caffeine apparently hadn't kicked in this morning. "sounding lie we always thing" = "sounding like we always think"


#619 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2014, 08:47 PM:

protecting others' privacy, #617: That house sounds as though it might be worth a bundle -- and if Homeowner sells to move into some sort of residential situation, she can take her once-in-a-lifetime exemption on capital gains tax and keep the whole amount, and invest it to provide income for a long time. I know that's what my parents did when they moved into senior housing.

#620 ::: hope in disguise ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2014, 09:58 PM:

the invisible one @615, it seems at this point to come down to "I should have done the thing and I didn't do the thing, so the longer I wait the worse they will think of me" which of course suggests that doing it *now* would be better than doing it even later or never, but that doesn't really help

#621 ::: protecting others' privacy ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2014, 10:28 PM:

Lee: The house's location is worth a bundle. The house itself is, at best, a fixer-upper, and before the housing bubble burst it would likely have been a teardown. Pre-Romex wiring, some upgraded to breakers but some still operating on fuses; 75-year-old brass plumbing; remaining areas of water damage from before the roof was repaired; kitchen workable by my standards but would probably need to be gutted to suit the tastes of the folks who'd buy in this neighborhood (there isn't even a dishwasher); basement has a significant mold problem, dating from the flood when Homeowner was in rehab. Nobody even cleared out the soaked and moldering board games from the cabinets until I came in.

But even with those issues, I guess the care facilities are used to running those numbers. It's unclear how Homeowner's health conditions affect her life expectancy; they could potentially be looking at several decades.

#622 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2014, 11:23 PM:

My parents-in-law recently moved to just such a multi-level care facility and they do indeed cost the earth. (Said p-i-l are fortunate enough to have a government pension, and to have owned a house on land in an extremely desirable location -- they explicitly did not sell the house, they sold the land and the right to tear it down and build a McMansion.)

#623 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2014, 11:18 AM:

So, I've been rewatching Dharma & Greg, and I just saw the episode where Greg's wild child cousin comes to visit. The elder Montgomerys aren't coping well, so Dharma offers to take her for the week.

First night out, of course, she bolts. When she finally turns up again, Greg says they should ground her. "That's a great idea!" Dharma says, "How do we do that?"

They come back in from their hallway confab, and Greg is all Stern Father: "Young lady, no TV, no telephone, and no shopping!" Dharma is puzzled: "How's that going to make her more grounded?"

Can you imagine? Parents who's first reflex when their kid acts out is to help them get grounded?

#624 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2014, 12:41 PM:

Jacque 623: It's obvious to me, they should put an anti-ESD bracelet on her with the wire connected to an unpainted cold water pipe.

#625 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2014, 01:58 PM:

Buddha Buck: I look at you over my glasses:


(I'm embarrased to say how long it took me to get that.)

#626 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2014, 02:20 PM:

Just got pointed to this: Complex PTSD. Seems relevant to some stories, here.

#627 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2014, 04:25 PM:

Really interesting article, Jacque @626. I've passed it on to some therapists of my acquaintance -- useful stuff there!

#628 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2014, 05:46 PM:

protecting others' privacy @ 617

In a similar situation, I have had friends who worked as live-in or drop-in aides. If your housemate has health insurance or long-term-care insurance, they may be able to get some of that kind of support paid for.

I strongly second the recommendation to go through the Agencies on Aging. They're awesome, they do this all the time, and they're tapped into local community resources.

#629 ::: protecting others' privacy ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2014, 10:51 PM:

More progress: today I filled out my federal tax form (couldn't e-file for free, too complicated for the free versions) and filed one of the two state forms I needed to do, and completed most of the health insurance application. I also dealt with my car excise tax. I just got done rewarding myself with a multiply-scented bath.

Mind you, I've had the bath goodies sitting around for months. This is the first time in a long time that I've felt deserving of taking a nice bath. I'd even been using plain soap in the shower instead of my gorgeous limited-edition shower gel. (LUSH Rose Jam.) It's hard to practice good self-care when I feel like I've slacked so hard on my obligations that I don't deserve to eat or breathe, let alone treat myself.

I have not revealed to you the full extent of my slacking these past six months. I'm ashamed of it. I'm hoping that I can build on the Filled Out Forms accomplishment to tackle some of the other neglected things. Getting health insurance and renewed access to my brain meds will help, I know. The damned thing is that I had to wait until my brain chemistry improved somewhat on its own before I could even reach out for it.

I suspect that one of the best things I've been doing for myself lately is breakfast, and what I'm having for breakfast: egg-and-cheese sandwiches (because my brain needs fats, especially omega-3s), coffee (caffeine for the ADHD), and V-8 juice (vitamins). It's a huge relief to be able to eat that; for pretty much all of December and January, my stomach was being evil, and most foods made it hurt viciously, but letting it be empty didn't help much either. I was living on rice porridge for a while. I lost a hell of a lot of weight; I went from size six Old Navy jeans to their boys' size 16. I can't recommend it. I hope it never comes back, but when I have a doctor again I plan on mentioning it just in case they have ideas about what caused it and how NOT to have it return.

I hope this upswing in my mood doesn't mean I'm headed for the other extreme. Or at least that I'll get insurance coverage and meds before it goes out of control the way it did in 2010, when I first got diagnosed. Or at least that I can get shit DONE before I crash again. I'm minded of a (possibly apocryphal) Texas bumper sticker: "Oh, Lord, give us one more oil boom; I promise I won't piss this one away."

I'm easing back into my social media. I may be able to contemplate posting journal entries again soon.

Meanwhile, I continue to be grateful for the space here.

#630 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2014, 06:01 AM:

protecting others' privacy #629: The damned thing is that I had to wait until my brain chemistry improved somewhat on its own before I could even reach out for it.

Yeah, I'd been putting things off all winter, and then as the days got longer, suddenly I've been able to do stuff I couldn't before. Still missed this month's geek-club meeting though, what with several stressors coming together last week. :-(

#631 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2014, 10:32 AM:

Protecting Others' Privacy, I have recently been enjoying Habit, which is a way to log tasks and reward yourself in the guise of a roleplaying game. It's working for me to get things done, and I think it might work for you to reward yourself. You can make a list of to-dos with honest evaluations that they're really, really hard and preload a list of custom rewards, like, "lavender bath bomb, 10g," or, "bubble bath with a book, 3g." You don't have to justify these things to the world, of course; you don't have to earn the right to self-care. But if you're already working from that premise, it might help to commit to a list so you can't move your own goalposts.

Your housemate may have a case manager to help with disability payments. In Iowa City, that's a huge help-- we make sure our students all have case managers to recruit other members of their team. The case manager helps evaluate the client's needs and get other services like supported community living, which can take the form of weekly staff visits to help with tasks.

Again, it's the case manager's job to do this. That means that if you're not the case manager, it's not yours. It is worthy and valuable, it's a huge help to the homeowner, and it is above and beyond your job.

#632 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2014, 10:54 AM:

protecting others' privacy @629: Progress is progress, even if it's not as much as you'd like.

If your housemate is receiving SSA-DIB benefits, they may by now be eligible for Medicare. This might include (or help them qualify for) home assistance of some sort. Also, depending on where you are living, there may be supported housing for adults with disabilities who are mostly independent in their daily functioning (for broad values of "independent"). So the sort of tiered-care housing many well-off retirees go for might not be the only option.

#633 ::: Variations on a Lime ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2014, 03:33 AM:

Little John @608,
Go you for giving yourself time to experiment (with how you interact with your parents). I have the parenthesis because it's the act of experimenting that's key. Like any experiment you didn't know what the results would be, but you (of the past) trusted yourself (of now) to take the data and work with it. At the beginning you don't know how it'll turn out, and that non-predictability is stressful, but you went ahead.

I'd recently been reading my history in these threads, and in doing so discovered some meta-progress. Last year I couldn't read my own words without a sinking feeling, now I'm more (not completely, but more) able to read and remember as an observer. I can empathize with myself of the past without being myself of the past. I'm also feeling proud of me of then, because the tiny steps I took were acts of faith in me-of-now.

#634 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2014, 11:09 AM:

I had to stop reading Jacque's link part way through so that I would be capable of going to writing group Monday evening. It kept almost closing my throat, which was a problem because I was trying to eat dinner. Funny thing was, one of the people at writing group commented that same evening on how I was always so optimistic. Heh. That's what I let people see.

Finished reading it Tuesday evening. While the article is exclusively focussed on flashbacks to childhood emotions, what I was reacting to was feeling like flashing back to the time with Crappy Ex. He ignored, disdained, criticized in the guise of "constructive", demonstrated that he thought I was not worthy of his attention (except when he wanted sex), flinched when I sang, and (tried to) make me feel guilty for being better at something than he was (which sometimes succeeded and sometimes didn't). (Stuff like being able to handle cling wrap. Seriously. He criticized me for being *able* to handle saran wrap.)

So. I think maybe this ties in to some of the stuff I've been processing about anxiety for the last while. DF thread is probably the only place I feel like I can say how I got into this, but I was reading the Boggle archives all the way through and while the descriptions of suicidal depression are sad, the descriptions of anxiety started to kick me in the recognition part of my brain, trying to get my attention I guess, and I went to look for more resources. After reading a bunch of stuff, the "generalized anxiety" description pings enough points of recognition, and I've even been using one or two of the coping strategies they suggest already, that I think I might be dealing with a bit of that. One of the ones that surprised me the most was that it was described as often starting around age 11-12, and Mom told me that "something changed" when I was in grade 3: I became less social, I stopped bringing my assignments home from school, stuff like that. (I don't remember my attitude changing. I also got glasses that year. No idea if that's related.)

I also recognized some of the vocabulary in the description of anxiety -- specifically, from things the unhelpful couples counsellor would say to me. I think she recognized the anxiety, but stopped there and didn't realize that Crappy Ex was actually being crappy to me. Anxiety may have blown the feelings sky high and promoted catastrophic thinking and scenario building, but the feelings didn't come from nowhere.

Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you, as the joke goes. Just because you have anxiety doesn't mean somebody isn't being horrible to you.

I've been doing a lot of thinking about overreacting and anxiety. Because on the one hand, anxiety displays as a massive overreaction. On the other hand, I would be accused of overreacting when I was unhappy about something that the accuser didn't think I should be unhappy about. Sorting out what was boundary-stomping and what was anxiety is going to be a project.

So then circling back to the emotional flashbacks mentioned in the link Jacque posted. There was a lot of overlap with what I had read about anxiety -- specifically, the parts of generalized anxiety that resonated with me. I don't remember exactly what caused the various anxiety attacks (or emotional flashbacks. Or both, I don't know) but they were all centred around New Interest, and all related to how I was a failure at relationships and how I was awful and he'd leave.

When I read the link, I not only recognized the feelings, I also thought WTF CRAPPY EX GET OUT OF MY HEAD. Even though the entire article was about childhood trauma or neglect, where it resonated with me was in that crappy relationship.

So, if I'm putting puzzle pieces together correctly, and they seem to fit so far: I was getting more flashbacks or anxiety attacks (whichever they were) the more I fell in love, and didn't know what they were or how to handle them. I tried to describe and explain them instead of taking them out on him because I knew that he was not being awful to me, but he got too much of it anyway. Maybe parts I couldn't see well enough to capture and describe, maybe parts I thought I had caught managed to escape. Not knowing what to do about it, what either of us could do about it, was overwhelming. It may or may not have been overwhelming had this been a known thing last year. With the relationship over, I haven't really had any. Seems like they're highly localized to this part of my life.

And 4 months after he left, I want to explain this to New Interest and there's part of me that hopes for reconciliation, and part of me that wants to hurt him. As long as those parts are there, I guess I'm not over it. Part of me wants to reply to his last email, where he said he had been holding on in the hope that it would get better, to tell him he dodged a bullet because anxiety doesn't get better, it just gets managed better. But I shouldn't do that, and I've managed to not do that, even though I keep thinking about it, and composing emails and letters and conversations in my head.

That does mean that if I ever find somebody to fall in love with this will probably happen all over again. Only now I have a name for it, so that's an improvement I guess?

#635 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2014, 12:44 PM:

the invisible one @634--anxiety is just going to feed itself, like the work Ouroboros, eating its own tail, unless it's managed, and a big part of managing that is acknowledging it as an issue.

It's like your relationship with the dirty dishes and the laundry and the household trash. They will be with you, in some form, as long as you are living indepedently, and you'll need a strategy for dealing with these things. You can try and minimize what's there by various methods, but there will still be dirty dishes, laundry, and trash. Pretending they aren't a part of your life (which is what the people telling you you overreact, are too sensitive, make too much of a fuss, and so on want you to do) means you end up without any clean dishes, and a sink too full to let you wash them conveniently, nothing clean to wear, and more trash than will fit in the bin outside.

Some people use more things when they cook, or like to eat their cake on a clean plate instead of the one the lasagna was on (and we can imagine the other examples). Some people are more easily made anxious, or are anxious about a great range of things.

I won't tell you how to handle the mental housekeeping, because I don't know which strategies will work well for you. But I will tell you that you have the right to decide how often you want to take that mental trash out, and if you prefer to sort for recycling or not, or to decide if you need to double-bag something. You can decide if you want to eat on paper plates or use the good china or the old Fiestaware. You can change your housekeeping strategies if you need to.

Also, we are all a work in progress. You make the progress you can when and as you are able. Now that you are thinking and working through what's gone on in your past, your are more likely to move on past it. You may well have been unable to work on some of these things before now, and you may not have needed to, because there were others things that mattered even more.

#636 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2014, 01:49 PM:

the invisible one @634: Seriously. He criticized me for being *able* to handle saran wrap.

O.o WTF? Okay, I have to know (if it's not too triggery): what was his criticism? This is just...wha–?

Even though the entire article was about childhood trauma or neglect

I think that's splendidly clueful on your part. The aspect of Complex PTSD that was perhaps insufficiently emphasized is that it can result from any prolonged emotional abuse. Childhood is probably the most common/obvious example, but as many folks here will attest, this can come up later in life, too. And a skilled abuser can take even a self-sufficient, grown-up adult and break down their barriers, given time and opportunity.

fidelio @635: It's like your relationship with the dirty dishes and the laundry and the household trash. They will be with you

I love this metaphor. It's perfect! And provides an incredibly sane way to look at anxiety. Thank you.

#637 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2014, 02:22 PM:

Jacque @636--It works for a lot of things. You can choose how to handle them, in whatever method and manner you like. There is not a single right way to do laundry, wash dishes, organize a closet or whatever. There will be ways you'll find work better for you than others. There'll be ways you prefer to others. Ignoring the existence of the dirty dishes and the laundry* for very long** tends to make your life more unpleasant than you'll like.

*See the sock-classification, kitchen-utensil classification, and tool-drawer discussions on the new Open Thread 195. They all work for someone.

**There have been a couple of very fraught periods where I went out and bought new underwear because it was easier than doing laundry; I could hit a store on my (very late) way home from work faster than I could do a load at the laundromat. In terms of household finance it's not a good long-term plan, but if it will get you a week into the future, to a point where doing laundry is a possibility, then it is a viable strategy in the short term.

#638 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2014, 02:27 PM:

#636, Jacque:

O.o WTF? Okay, I have to know (if it's not too triggery): what was his criticism? This is just...wha–?

It's been many years so I don't remember the exact words, but it had something to do with "not everybody can do that" (or maybe nobody (else) can do that?) combined with negative comments on how I was so exact in wrapping specific items so that they were properly sealed (maybe some comment about being obsessive?) and probably had a heaping dose of envy because every time he picked up a sheet of saran wrap it crumpled into a useless mess.

(This was one of the ones that I recognized as a WTF at the time, and I thought it was strange that he would criticize that.)

The next boyfriend commented on how my food-wrapping skills were magical, because I could wrap a block of cheese, go on a 3-week trip, and it would still be good when I got back, while if he wrapped it, it was starting to go green about 4 days later. He at least didn't try to make me feel bad about it, but I'm guessing that I have above-average saran wrap handling skills. I must have learned it when I was little.

a skilled abuser can take even a self-sufficient, grown-up adult and break down their barriers, given time and opportunity

I still have a really hard time seeing Crappy Ex as a skilled, deliberate abuser. Maybe there are still some fish hooks in there, in the "I'm doing this because I loooooove you!" section. Intentional or not, at least I've managed to accept that the end result was abusive, and I can work from there. There's also not a whole lot of point to figuring out if it was deliberate or not, since I haven't seen him in years and have no interest in talking to him to find out, and most importantly, it doesn't matter to how I'm treating myself now and in the future. It happened. I'm (working on) cleaning it up.

#635, fidelio: Intellectually, I can recognize that as a useful metaphor. Emotionally, I have enough shame about having a messy place that I don't think I should use that metaphor myself. (Note: Even though my parents seem to hold the opinion that I'm a slob, my place is not objectively all that dirty. The shame is almost certainly misplaced, but still exists.)

#639 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2014, 02:52 PM:

the invisible one @638 I still have a really hard time seeing Crappy Ex as a skilled, deliberate abuser.

"Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice"

The incompetence, in this case, being Crappy Ex's apparent inability to realize that the world did not revolve around him, nor were you responsible for making the world look like he wanted it to work.

#640 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2014, 02:57 PM:

the invisible one @638. I'm sorry to have (however inadvertently) pulled a chain. How about: There is no one right color to paint your bathroom, there are only the colors that you would like to choose from?

I was talking with a co-worker about her husband's ability to go on at great length about an entirely tangential issue when he doesn't want to talk about something, and especially doesn't want to deal with questions about the topic. (Backstory: He was recently discharged from the hospital for a problem exacerbated by his consumption habits. He spent the entire time it took his daughter to drive him back to Kentucky complaining about the way the hospital prepared the green beans he'd had for dinner one night. No effort to change the subject, let alone get information about his course of treatment could get him off the damn beans for more than a minute or two.) It needn't be a consciously-designed strategy, whether it's a matter of deflecting an unwelcome topic of discussion, putting someone down so they'll stay down, or charming the socks off people. I think that for some people, there's a part of their brains operating outside their conscious control that leads them to the behaviors needed to accomplish that goal. Maybe Crappy Ex's goal was making sure that you felt worse about yourself than he did about himself, and wouldn't get bold enough to make an escape, so he'd have you around to put down whenever he needed the boost. The skill with which these techniques are applied is almost uncanny sometimes, and the people who do them are often not all that good at planning and managing their lives otherwise. It's as if there's a manipulation center at work doing what needs to be done without much intentional planning by the manipulator.

#641 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2014, 03:47 PM:

the invisible one @638: I still have a really hard time seeing Crappy Ex as a skilled, deliberate abuser.

Maybe he was just a natural talent. :-\

See also: what fidelio said.

#642 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2014, 03:54 PM:

Well, I'm home "sick" today because I got to bed late, and was so stressed out about that that I got no sleep. And I will have to make the time up on Friday, instead of being able to be just Off (because of previous days off this month because spoons, or lack thereof), so my weekend will be short.

GAH. It's like there's this eternal wrinkle in my rug that I'm perpetually pushing around but can never get smoothed out.

One good thing: after having sat down to take a break after giving JJ his morning dose, I was too lazy to get up to do anything else, so for the last three hours I finally cleaned up a bunch of old files that had been piled in a virtual heap on my computer hard drive. So that's something.

You know that break abi mentioned? May I have one now, please? ::sigh::

#643 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2014, 04:16 PM:

me @638, and replies: when I said I had a hard time seeing Crappy Ex as a skilled, deliberate abuser, I meant that somehow, though I can't imagine why, I am still trying to see the best of him: that he meant well but screwed up. I am not going to speculate on why he did what he did. That he did it is enough.

#644 ::: charming.quark ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2014, 05:32 PM:

the invisible one @634

In my book, recognizing and naming it is significant progress.

If it's not too many spoons, pointers towards the coping strategies you've found useful so far would be much appreciated.

#645 ::: Bodhisvaha ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2014, 10:42 PM:

I had found the complex PTSD link and sent it to Jacque while looking up something. It probably explains rather a lot about my job-hunting demons. I should really write the guy a letter asking for if there's any special modes of attack for my particular case.

To give the summary of the executive summary, recent events have shaken loose many things, one of which was my denial about how bad the climate at work has gotten. So now I am going "oh #@!^$* I really do have to find a new job before this one drives me crazy because I have already put this off too long." Stupid managers.

I do not have the spoons to handle "face your biggest demons" right now, but apparently I'd better find them or else. Work is starting to give me anxiety/panic attacks bad enough that if they keep coming at this rate, sooner or later someone will notice a performance problem. As a temp agency contractor, I probably don't have any advocate or ombudsman to ask for help rachetting the stressors back to tolerable levels, either. And that too would be a symptom of the problem.

#646 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2014, 11:02 PM:

Bodhisvaha #645: Actually, your temp agency may well have your back -- it can't be good for business to let the clients casually "use up" your people. Check if there's a route to complain about working conditions.

#647 ::: J. ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2014, 12:43 AM:

I've been feeling lyke crappe (same old, dug up again by some trigger or other). Anybody else been in heavy weather and felt like snapping with teeth at people who wanted to fix it all with some facile words? Anybody else think that that Irish blessing that starts "May the road rise to meet you" is so facile that it's close to glurge? Try this version, which kicks it in the ass:

I immediately felt better when it rotated through my Youtube mix. I hope it helps someone else.

Note: I'm Christian, but I think that songs can be spells. When I was in the depths I used to sing myself through it, describing in song what I wanted to happen. I think I'll learn this one for the next really bad time.

#648 ::: LGB ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2014, 04:15 AM:

the invisible one @634 I’m so glad you posted this! I read Jacque’s link the same way you did and it’s very validating to hear you say so.

I read the article and felt the same way you describe: it didn’t describe my experience or reactions about my family of origin, but I recognized many patterns having to do with my soon-to-be-ex-husband. I then proceeded to tell myself I was being ridiculous and reading too much into things and clearly the article wasn’t about that and not everything’s about me, jeez, self, get a grip. So it’s very heartening to hear you had a similar take on it because that means, hey, that might be a valid way for me to read it after all.

The concept of emotional flashbacks and triggers seems to be a useful way to conceptualize some of the things I keep feeling. For example, whenever I try to sort out our finances (which were always 100% K’s territory), I start feeling panicky and confused almost immediately. It’s frustrating, because it’s just adding and subtracting, right? K’s not even there to pull the ground out from under me! What’s there to worry about? Something, obviously, because I haven’t been able to open the files and figure them out for weeks.

I want to read the link again and talk more about this, because it really resonated with me. I’m falling asleep at my computer right now, though, so it’ll have to be later. I just wanted to tell you I appreciate your having articulated what I was thinking.

#649 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2014, 05:01 AM:

J @647:

I always remember that "May the road rise to meet you..." is a traveler's blessing. So I have been known to use it as a very polite way to suggest that someone should be, well, traveling. Away from me. Right about now.

It's been of use more than once when I've banned people from websites.

#650 ::: Variations on a lime ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2014, 06:18 AM:

Bodhisvaha @645,
Tea and sympathy from a fellow traveler on the temp/consultant road, a bumpy 2 lane road separate from the smooth highway on the other side because of these concrete blockheads.

Today I must be my own advocate, because my manager's colleague accidentally let me know my major project is canceled or offline. Bad news I can handle, badly delivered news="we're not giving you a chance to ask questions and propose alternatives" is thoughtless.

Oh, C thought M had already let me know, so my reaction seemed so calm until I heard-heard the word. Awkward, and M should hav told me before, privately. Done badly: costs me more time,I lose a payment.

I know to tell Manager "hey not cool" will get him snarly. Therefore I spent the last 3 hours not eating the marshmallow of my email program. I almost wrote/sent 4 versions showing project reviews, showing that a process didn't get done, a decision came from a biased person. I'm sure they'd love analytical emails telling them they are wrong.

I ought not & can't send any of the emails at the moment -moved to an offline document. I'm hoping to come back here in 8 and 16 hours to say I still haven't sent them.

Growing up, if the dysparent was in a bad mood, the sooner they went over the top the sooner the mood went away. My desire to make something happen now, even if it's going to make positive resolutions less likely, is related.
Anyone else here would rather know certain bad news now than wait 2 days for possibly better news? Even if asking now could push news negative?
This seems completely like a marshmallow test: Wish me luck in not sending the email.

#651 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2014, 09:05 AM:

Variations on a Lime @650, luck and willpower (or is it won't-power?)!

(Also, I love your nym; I keep making up meanings for it in my head....)

#652 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2014, 11:18 AM:

#648, LGB: I've found that if one gets to the point of saying something like "geez, self, get a grip", that's a sign that there's something there that needs to be dealt with -- and it's not that one is irrational, but that something is causing an irrational response.

I think it's probably similar to what Jacque said a few threads back, about how crying is a signpost, indicating that there's something about the subject at hand that needs to be dealt with.

So yeah, on the one hand, "it's just addition and subtraction". On the other hand, and more relevant, your reaction sounds like it's not actually about the math.

#653 ::: Jeanie ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2014, 12:55 PM:

Re: Geez, self, get a grip

No one feels like tinkering with their life when they're warm/fed/comfy.

It helps me to hammer the "Geez..." feeling with, "Hey, I'm off-balance - this is a good time to change direction slightly" (and points for noticing).

#654 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2014, 03:02 PM:

I have pointed someone in the direction of these threads. I don't know whether she will come here or not, but if she does, she is a teenager who basically needs adults who listen to her and have her back. I'll leave the immediate specific problems for her to tell if she shows up.

#655 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2014, 03:08 PM:

She is welcome.

#656 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2014, 03:25 PM:

#644, charming.quark: coping strategies.

First, some of the stuff described by GAD, such as going out and trying a new thing, does not cause me anxiety (anymore). There are a lot of people who seem to think I'm fearless, and in many contexts that's probably a fair assessment. I definitely had a near-paralyzing fear of raising my hand or speaking in class, which was listed as one of the things to watch for on the kids & teens page. I'm ok at speaking in meetings now, and if I'm asked a technical question about my area of expertise I have no problem answering it. Ask me to introduce myself, however, and I freeze, even though I am supposedly an expert on myself -- so some of it is still there. (And, uh, toastmasters "assignment 1" is to talk a bit about yourself on the theory that it's a subject you know well so it "should" be easy, according to the info pack they give out to interested people.) Other things I spotted in the GAD description that fit me are: hating uncertainty, for me in the form of guessing games -- the teaching method that has people guess an answer with no information before telling the correct answer really stresses me out, and gratuitous mysteries annoy me; distraction -- I have a long history of "must keep busy to avoid falling into a depressed state" and even figuring that out as a coping strategy was an important step for me; and having others make decisions for me -- I'm getting better about this in some areas, but I still bribe a friend to take me clothes shopping and tell me what to try on. My recent foray into picking a paint colour that I like and never mind what colour theory says it goes well with is pretty new for me.

In the context of my anxiety attacks, which are mainly about how somebody I care about will inevitably decide I'm horrible and worthless and pathetic, one strategy I worked out on my own is similar to the parent/child dialogue shown on the realistic thinking for teens resource page (the dialogue in step 3). Only, I took both halves of the conversation, and if somebody outside my head took the "parent" side of that conversation with me I'd probably find it pretty patronizing. With me doing both sides of that dialogue inside my head, it helped.

However, that only helped once I had enough experience with the person to have evidence available to hit back at Jerkbrain and say no, he's never said or done anything like that before, why would he suddenly start now? I had nothing to fight back with for the first couple of months of the relationship with New Interest.

Another thing was writing out what was bothering me. I had to be careful with this; I found out from experience that unfiltered freewriting made things worse. I hear that some people find it useful to write out the horrible vileness that Jerkbrain throws at them and upon seeing it written down they can see how wrong it is. That has the opposite effect on me; writing it down makes it more real. What I do write out is filtered, so I can see what my worries are and what examples back up or refute them, and I can assess them from there. An advantage to this is that I can type or write when I'm upset so I can keep going even when I'm crying and my throat has closed up and I can no longer talk.

One of the things I have very recently added to my anti-Jerkbrain defence system is to tell myself that if somebody dumps me (as a friend or as a partner) because I told them that something they did bothered me, then that was a good thing and I'm better off without them. It will need a lot of practice and repetition to get me believing it enough for it to be effective, but I think it is necessary for me. New Interest leaving me was quite literally my biggest fear and it drove a lot of the anxiety attacks. But after he did leave, I realized (again, sigh) that I have a habit of suppressing my own opinions, my own self, and most definitely being uncomfortable with expressing what I'm uncomfortable with, to try to avoid the "worst possible" end result of being dumped. A lot less so with New Interest than with previous relationships, but it was still there. Maybe out of long habit. I have an extremely hard time saying "no, I don't like this". Part of that, I don't know how much, is due to consistently being told I'm overreacting, or looking for reasons to get offended, or whatever, when I did speak up. Part of it is that I usually can only put words to the discomfort after the situation is over, and I don't know of a good way to bring something like that up after the fact. I don't know if there *is* a good way, other than changing the subject and saying hey, I want to talk about that thing from the other day.

Going back to before I figured those things out, telling myself that I was overreacting didn't help. Nor did telling myself I was wrong, hormonal, or any number of other ways of dismissing the feelings. I think doing a martial art and gaining physical confidence did help. In grade 8 a local martial arts dojo did a 3-week self-defense course in gym class, and it was great. Afterwards, I went to their normal evening class and ... what I'm guessing now is anxiety stopped me from seeking out the instructor and asking about joining the class. I went home in tears, without joining or participating or even talking to anybody. A year later, they were back in my school for the same 3-week self-defense course, and I tried again. Maybe on the second try, one of the instructors saw me and invited me in, because that time I managed to join. Even though my anxieties weren't about physical dangers, learning to physically defend myself seems to have calmed some of them down. (This from somebody who still hates team sports with a passion. Martial arts and running are my sports. I was the one nobody wanted on their team, as a kid, so for the longest time I hated all sports.)

#657 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2014, 03:36 PM:

Bodhisvaha @645: I had found the complex PTSD link and sent it to Jacque while looking up something.

Apologies for posting unattributed; I wanted to get your clearance before naming you as the finder, but of course I only managed to get that email off this morning. :-\

#658 ::: Variations on a Lime ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2014, 04:04 PM:

Cassie B @651,
Nine hours later: while I've overthought it for a good 4 hours, and had a crying-case of imposter syndrome [project cancelled tends to imply not good enough, doesn't it], and discussed it far too long with partner [and how they put up with me feeling like an 'imposter partner' because I couldn't stop crying, even though they are busy and I ought to let them work, is its own thread].

No sent emails, not even "written but not sent" drafts! And I'm re-reading the helpful "Women who think too much: how to break free of overthinking" book I got recently - great advice for anyone.

#659 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2014, 04:23 PM:

Variations on a Lime @658:

Well done not sending the emails! And going out of their sight and processing the emotions (including the crying) is such a wise strategy.

By the ay, I'm always awed by people who have the nous to do the temp/consultant thing. Alongside your (quite understandable) personal reactions, I hear the language of the solid, experienced professional. I hope you give yourself credit for that.

#660 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2014, 04:23 PM:

Anyone who criticizes me for the way I handle saran wrap (I'm clumsy with it, always have been) is apt to find a length of it wrapped around his or her head.

Like, WTF. It's saran wrap, not the Kohinoor diamond.

#661 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2014, 05:54 PM:

Variations on a Lime @658, oh, WELL done! (Or, well NOT done, as it were.)

#662 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2014, 10:22 PM:

Agreed with abi, going out of sight to process the emotions is a useful step. I find it's a lot easier to process what I'm feeling if I don't also have to perform an emotion for another person.

#663 ::: Quietly Learning To Be Loud ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2014, 11:41 PM:

the invisible one @662

it's a lot easier to process what I'm feeling if I don't also have to perform an emotion for another person.

I like that. Thank you.

#664 ::: Bodhisvaha ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2014, 12:06 AM:

Jacque @567: I'm not upset; don't worry. I would have gotten around to posting it myself had the sky not decided to crash down on me.

#665 ::: Bodhisvaha ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2014, 07:44 AM:

Dave Harmon @646: actually, I'll be talking to the temp agency this morning. I'm going to take the tack of "here's the situation; I can't work for this person/place under *all* these stressful conditions; yet I see little chance that any of them will improve. Will you help me solve this gracefully by finding me a new contract before [employer] gets around to renewing me?" I'm going to use that approach because the more I hear from another person he's targeting (one with permanent, union staff status and much more seniority), and how little the union is willing to do to help her, the more I think that slipping out of the power struggle is the best option. He's being extremely controlling about her hours and comings and goings. The organization is split between 2 buildings driving distance apart. The boss has gotten so rigid that he'd rather that at quitting time she get up and walk away from a project meeting with people from across town than that she finish it and vary her hours from his prescription. It is an idiotic directive.

Since the boss' little pronouncement about my hours, I've come in early at least 3 days, 10 min late one day, on time the rest, and accidentally stayed 2 hours extra between the 2 very early days. I have also come in the past 2 days despite having caught some random yucky thing from all this morning-ing plus the stress he's imposed. The boss came down hard and fast in writing on the 10min late, and hasn't even acknowledged let alone praised any of the rest. This suggests to me that if I did successfully contest his chosen power struggle symbol, that he'd pick some new apparently-minor thing to fixate on, and probably fixate worse for being thwarted before. It seems wiser to just get out from under him. I'm never going to be able to do great work for him now that I know how punitive he will be over pointless trivia and small errors. Better to accept a stepping-stone job elsewhere and buy some time to find something I really like.

#666 ::: Bodhisvaha ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2014, 08:01 AM:

Variations on a lime @650: *hugs* if you want them. I would be awfully upset in that situation and congratulations on not sending the unwise email.

I prefer an equivalent permanent full-time job to contracts if one would show up, because I'm terrible at sales and job-hunting, which is a huge part of work for consultants and entrepreneurs. At this point, I haven't got what it takes to acquire enough clients to actually have self-employed freedom. Instead I'd have self-employed insecurity. Trading off some potential income and a little freedom for someone else to drum up the work is not necessarily a bad deal, for someone like me.

#667 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2014, 07:36 PM:

Bodhisvaha #665: I hope the chat with the agency went well!

#668 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2014, 09:11 PM:

Bodhisvaha: Your approach to the agency seems sound. I hope it went well.

#669 ::: Bodhisvaha ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2014, 06:26 PM:

So, conversation with the agency seems to have gone well. There were a few gentle attempts to find out if it was possible to salvage the current situation, but ended up agreeing with me that leaving was a better approach. (The better I leave, the more likely I can return if conditions improve.) Apparently the stuff I want out of a workplace is pretty reasonable. Not necessarily easy to find, but reasonable. There was a lot of emphasis from the agency on my doing excellent work and that it's the boss who's suddenly unhappy with the half-hour arrival time window that I've offered and stuck to since day one three years ago when the same guy hired me. We agreed that this is probably just because he's overstressed...and that given the current administration, he'll probably stay that way.

I hope the agency is right that it is new-contractor shopping season and that we'll be able to find me something else in good time.

The last bus to work is infrequent and unreliable, and I am SO not a morning person, thus my existing schedule was a carefully thought-out and tested compromise between my biology and reasonable working hours. (Some other people in the office keep similar hours, but they are not under him, so I might not be permitted to draw a parallel.) I had set my start time at T, then aimed for T-30. On a stellar day I'd get T-45, normally T-30 or T-15, a bad day T. On a really bad day, I'd still only slip to T+15. It is, I will admit, really unpredictable when *exactly* before T I will show up, but unless I'm missing a meeting or deadline, and still do my eight hours a day, why does it matter? From the start I've been forthright about the options, which factors are outside my control, and to compensate pretty well for them. I'm flexible enough to make special arrangements, like an early day or overtime, for good reasons, and when I screw up something under my control, I take steps to keep it from happening again. But experience shows, a wake-up time much earlier than I'm currently using does not last, and often backfires. I don't think it does anyone any good for me to promise to a routine that I can't maintain and that makes me miserable and ineffective, when a small amount of patience will reap much better results.

I just twigged to part of why I have dissenting brain-voices on the topic. In my industry, competition deadlines are taken very seriously; 1 minute late and you're out of the competition. You take extreme measures to hand in the right thing on time, like printing and sending 2 copies with 2 different employees in 2 cabs by 2 different routes. Deadlines are always serious, but most of the time, there is room for coping with accident and circumstance, and a smart person includes some slack, or makes it clear from the start that "this is a rush and I mean it". The boss has not only moved the start time goalposts for no reason; he is also trying to turn showing up from a routine operation into a deadly serious competition deadline, which logically implies that something big is riding on the outcome. The only logical something big is having a job at all. No wonder I feel so threatened and angry: he's yanking on several of my biggest chains.

#670 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2014, 09:07 PM:

Bodhisvaha @669: You've just described very clearly and succinctly my relationship with T, and the associated failure modes. Which is something I've struggled with since I left school in 1977.

#671 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2014, 11:08 PM:

Bodhisvaha #669: Yay! Good luck sorting things out quickly!

#672 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2014, 01:15 AM:

Bodhisvaha: Oh yeah, and: seven times Yay You for climbing over a veritable Rocky Flats of triggers to work with your temp agency to solve the situation in a proactive and self-caring way.

#673 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2014, 04:01 PM:

So... after an absence of more than a year, the Ex-Lodger of Doom contacted me this weekend.

Being married to a saint has apparently changed him beyond recognition. When he was here, he was utterly uncaring towards anyone he didn't know personally, and, as I've said here before, not so great with those he did. He even used to go round saying the government ought to cut as much as possible, and it didn't matter who it hurt, because economics, yadda yadda.

But now? Awesome Wife got him into her church, and into her ministry helping homeless people. (They are in Florida. Florida is absolutely awash with homeless people, especially military veterans.) And now he's furious about the effects that thoughtless government policies on both sides of the Atlantic are having on ordinary people.

Let's hear it for Awesome Wife, everyone. Also, this is good timing; with the help of these threads, I've processed the hurt and healed to the extent where I can manage to deal with him again without wanting to climb the walls afterwards. I am cautiously hopeful that the original friendship is now reparable.

It took long enough, to be sure. But sometimes these things do.

#674 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2014, 06:14 PM:

Mongoose @673, Hurray for Awesome Wife! And hurray for you, for reminding us that people can and do change; sometimes even for the better.

#675 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2014, 10:42 AM:

Mongoose: Wow. That is excellent news, on several fronts.

To continue the theme, I just pulled a coworker aside to thank her for her comments, expressing admiration and appreciation for the work of another coworker, who tends to feel very isolated and criticized.

#676 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2014, 11:45 AM:

#620, hope in disguise: I know that feeling. It's why I can't maintain a master to-do list for my home. (Why haven't I done that already? cue self-abuse.)

The only thing that's worked for me is to tackle the home maintenance stuff in small chunks, and not plan too far ahead. (Tomorrow, I will clean off this coffee table, which will take about an hour, then stop.) But, those don't involve another person.

All I can offer you is that my past experience has shown that usually, most people are happy to hear from me, even if it's been a while and even if I don't think they will, and a belated thank you is better than none at all. If there are multiple notes, you don't have to do all of them at once; one a day (or one a week, or whatever your spoon supply allows) is fine. I don't know if it'll help you, but that's all I have on this topic.

#678 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2014, 06:33 PM:

Two interesting things I've discovered recently.

The first thing is a realization about one of the (many) reasons I hate most comedy. There's a heavily-used trope in a lot of comedy shows and sketches that it's just fucking hilarious to have a woman who is trying to say NO about something be ignored, overruled, and/or generally pushed into it anyhow. I'm sure I've seen this before, but over the weekend something actually made me notice it consciously. This trope is Older Than Dirt, since it goes back at least as far as Shakespeare (The Taming of the Shrew, among others). Can we say Rape Culture Comedy? Yes, we can!

The second, much more pleasant thing is this webcomic. (Link goes to the first strip.) I'm not all that far along in it yet, but even so, about every third one seems to be something that really resonates. It's all about relationships, and growing and changing, and the general process of trying to make a happy life for yourself even when you don't feel like a functional adult, or when you wonder if you deserve it. I'm going to be spending significant time getting caught up to the present on this, and then I'll be looking for an RSS feed that I can add in LJ or DW.

#679 ::: LGB ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2014, 03:06 AM:

Can I get some high-fives or hugs or something? I have Accomplished Things and, like, Taken Steps and stuff.

Last week I wrote a work-friend to ask him for divorce attorney recommendations. (I spoke to one lawyer previously, but he didn’t seem like the right fit for me.) He works in the prosecutor’s office and knows approximately *everybody* in the legal community around here. And he’s always been trustworthy and very kind in the time I’ve worked with him. And he had offered, when I mentioned to him that I was in the process of getting divorced. So: one point to me for writing to ask for his help.

My friend sent me a name (phone number, address, email, fax number and state bar association number—he’s thorough) the next day. I called the guy a few days later. One point for calling, and one point for only sitting on his info for 2 days before picking up the phone.

I’m pretty sure I sounded like an idiot on the phone. I had a script all planned (and actually written down), but the receptionist went off-script and asked if I wanted to speak to the lawyer when I called. “Wait, um, what? I guess, uh, yeah, sure...” And then I had to improvise, which I was NOT ready for, but I made an appointment to meet him. Half a point for accomplishing the goal of the call. No points for style, I’m afraid.

I went and met him this morning (one point for showing up) and I really like this guy. His very sweet, well-behaved, curly-haired doggy attended our meeting as well, which may have helped. (And he asked if I was ok with dogs, which also made a good impression.) He seemed to listen very carefully to what I said and I liked the way he thought about things and explained his thinking. He said I did a good job on the homework I brought in (I’m That Person who goes into appointments with an outline, a question list, a notebook, several pens, clean copies of documents, background notes about the documents in case of questions...and an electronic copy of everything on a thumb drive, just in case that’s more convenient) and I was pleased that he saw my style as useful thoroughness. As opposed to, say, a ridiculous obsession with detail (avec eye-rolling), to pick a different reaction I’ve often seen, not at random.

I told him (a short version of) why I left K and why I needed a divorce and I saw him write, “(DV?)” which made me feel very strange and uncomfortable. He asked about physical violence in the relationship and I told him no, but that left because I didn’t feel safe there (which is the truth). I noticed he didn’t erase the note, though.

Anyway, he gave me lots of info and seemed very clear and kept using very encouraging words like “streamlined” and “simple.” (“Sure, it’s always simple when it’s not your situation!” And he smiled and agreed.) He gave me a little bit of homework, researching a couple of things that weren’t in my summary, and told me to call him if I wanted him to start working on it. I left with a very good feeling about the lawyer and the meeting and (weirdly enough) the whole stupid icky divorce process. (As you can see, some of the good feeling has worn off again.)

My parents recently offered to loan/give me some money if I needed it. I’ve been trying hard not to need it, but I called Mom today to ask about using the money to retain this guy to represent me. One point for asking for help and an extra point because it was about money.

Oh yeah, then I went to work for the rest of the day. And I remembered to eat some food, too.

All in all, I think it was a pretty successful day for me. I’m totally, completely exhausted now and I have a whoooooole lotta feels about today, but I wanted to share before I crash for the night. I’d love some encouragement, if you have some.

PS Still reading, witnessing, and wishing everyone well.

#680 ::: Emma in Sydney ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2014, 03:35 AM:

LGB, that's fantastic! You just stepped onto the yellow brick road to the rest of your life, and I'm sure you'll look back on this very day as a massive step forward into the future. Congratulations and long may it continue.

#681 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2014, 05:24 AM:

LGB @679: Wow! That's a tremendous amount of work you managed to accomplish in very little time. Congratulations and high fives aplenty.

#682 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2014, 06:55 AM:

LGB @679:

Adulting like a boss. That's a fantastic sequence of events.

#683 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2014, 07:09 AM:

LGB #679: Yay for you, you're cooking with gas!

#684 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2014, 07:29 AM:

LGB @679, high fives and more high fives. You dinged yourself a half point for style when the receptionist went off-script and you got flustered - I hereby award you back that half point plus a bonus for keeping going anyway and still accomplishing everything you intended to. Go, you!

#685 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2014, 08:41 AM:

LGB @679, as a secretary/receptionist for <mumble> years, I can't count the number of people who get flustered when they reach a Real Person (they expect an automated system or voicemail or something like that). Don't worry about it; he or she wasn't bothered a bit, because I'm sure s/he is used to it too. Trust me, it's a whole lot more pleasant to hear "Oh! Um... hi. I guess I want..." than it is to hear "Give me Chuck," expressed as a curt order.

Go, you!

#686 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2014, 08:47 AM:

Holy cats, LGB, not only did you move forward, you moved forward in a way that makes you feel good about it. You prepared thoroughly, anticipating potential questions and problems and having everything on hand to answer and solve them. You asked your friend, who is similarly thorough, and followed up within a completely reasonable time. You followed up on your parents' offer with a specific purpose for their money, which is not quite as good as presenting them with a grant application with itemized budget, but they probably want this to be informal, so consider it a grant application anyway. Every step of this looks, to me, like you bringing the documents and paperwork in two forms: you are looking ahead to see what you might need and making sure you're prepared. And you met a new dog.

#687 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2014, 09:04 AM:

LGB: Go you!!!! You did awesome!!! Also, I agree with OtterB about giving you the extra half point back for keeping going. Impressive!

Ignore if hlepy, but when he asked about physical violence, did you mention him throwing the cat against the wall? IIRC, that was the last straw for you - the proximate cause for you leaving, as it were. And it is an indicator of potential violence against you.

Again, go you! I'm so impressed!!! (also, I wish I had that power of organization. :)

#688 ::: hope in disguise ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2014, 09:38 AM:

LGB, that's fantastic! :)

#689 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2014, 10:34 AM:

LGB: fantastic! That's a lot of important stuff done in one day; no wonder you're tired.

Also, I agree with OtterB. You may have taken away points for style, but you get bonus points for continuing through the fluster. That's way harder than reciting a script.

I told him (a short version of) why I left K and why I needed a divorce and I saw him write, “(DV?)” which made me feel very strange and uncomfortable. He asked about physical violence in the relationship and I told him no, but that left because I didn’t feel safe there (which is the truth). I noticed he didn’t erase the note, though.

One of the things I've noticed repeatedly, here and at Captain Awkward, (and I'm guessing the lawyer has seen way more than I have) is that people in abusive situations have had the abuse normalized in their head. Oh, that's not abuse, that's just ...

K hurt your cat, and intimidated you. If you hadn't left, there's a good chance he would have escalated eventually. I'm not at all surprised that the lawyer noted it. With a question mark; he isn't drawing a conclusion yet but is going to consider abuse potentially part of the situation, and that's a good thing. Even if it hadn't reached physical violence toward you when you left, you've described several ways in which K was abusive.

Divorce is icky. I'm glad you found a lawyer who makes you feel good about getting through the ick and into your own awesome life afterward.

#690 ::: Bodhisvaha ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2014, 10:53 AM:

LGB: Wow! I wish I were taking charge so well as you are right now. I am *so* behind in my own life, because of a succession of crises that mean I have way too many balls to juggle. Half of them are on the floor while I flail away desperately at the rest.

Your points rewards are reminding me of the Printable CEO -- it's been renamed, and is found at . The short version is that a freelancer wanted the benefits of a CEO, so he wrote one up for himself. He has an entire series of productivity dohickeys for those inclined to them.

#691 ::: tamiki ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2014, 11:08 AM:

LGB: Well done! And in a case like this, I'd say your habit of showing up perhaps over-prepared can only serve you well. A divorce is no doubt going to have a lot of messy details, and the more you have spelled out at the beginning, the smoother it's likely to go.

Life update: So in early February my fiancee and I got in the car all set to go to church... and it failed to start. Wouldn't even turn over. So I cleaned it out and dithered for a while (hey, this thing's been in my life since I was 12) and finally looked up donation information. We don't have the money to do everything to it that it needs, so now it's going into a Make-A-Wish charity auction.

Yesterday I finally filled out the form. Today the towing company had an opening, so it's gone. I'm just glad we live somewhere with a decent bus line (and that it didn't die on the street; street parking alternates which side you can park on every few days, so it'd have been towed by the city by now).

Consoling myself with the thought of Top Gear happening to plan for a New England road trip next week and one of the boys ending up with my car.

#692 ::: Bodhisvaha ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2014, 11:51 AM:

LGB: Wow! I wish I were taking charge so well as you are right now. I am *so* behind in my own life, because of a succession of crises that mean I have way too many balls in the air. Half of them are on the floor while I flail away at the rest.

Your points rewards are reminding me of the Printable CEO -- it's been renamed, and is found at . The short version is that a freelancer wanted the benefits of a CEO, so he wrote one up for himself.

#693 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2014, 01:05 PM:


That's a helluvan accomplishment list. I think you deserve a day-long soak in a hot bath, chocolate, champaigne, or whatever your decadent self-babying treat of choice might be.

#694 ::: Neutrino ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2014, 01:46 PM:

I've started reading this thread again after some time just got to be too overwhelming. Not going to try to catch up on everything, but reading and witnessing for now.

LGB 679: High fives! I count five and a half points, and note you didn't give even yourself any points for all the pre-organizing you did, or for dealing with the DV question even though it freaked you out. It's your scoring system, but I agree with OtterB on the Not Giving Up When Flustered. Also with Bodhisvaha that I wish I were dealing as well as you are with very challenging issues.

#695 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2014, 02:15 PM:

Huh. I now have a name for this thing that keeps me from doing stuff that would make my life easier in the longer term, but isn't what I want to be doing right now: demand resistance.

#696 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2014, 02:34 PM:

LGB, #679: Your lawyer's instincts are good. Did you tell him the thing that really pushed you into leaving -- that he hurt your cat? If not, you need to do so, because that's important information.

Divorce is never fun, but it doesn't have to be a hell-pit. Some of this, of course, will depend on K; if he still thinks he has a chance of dragging you back into the marriage right now, he may suddenly change course when contacted by a lawyer. I'm not saying this will happen, but you should be prepared for the possibility that once he realizes you DO really mean to go thru with this, he'll start fighting.

And yes, that was a terrific job of getting things done.

#697 ::: Jeanie ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2014, 02:57 PM:

LGB - I am vastly impressed.

Please remember what an incredible amount of energy you pulled out to make this happen. You're likely to feel exhausted, tearful, and generally fragile for a while.

Give yourself treats as much as you can bear (assuming you've got the "pampering self is Rong, be strong and shoulder through" script), and serenely coast for a while.

There's plenty of stuff to wade through still ahead, but it's never again going to be as hard as this was. Honest.


List, generally - reading and witnessing, validating others' comments.

#698 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2014, 05:51 PM:

LGB@679: Well done you! That's a whole load of not-easy stuff you got done.

#699 ::: LGB ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2014, 02:20 AM:

Oh, wow, thanks for all the support! I really appreciate it and I may print and frame all the nice things you all said about me.

I did tell the lawyer about K hurting the cat, and I told him that’s when and why I left. That’s when he made the DV note and asked about physical violence and/or threats. I didn’t go into detail but I said that I didn’t feel safe in the relationship. (It wasn’t the actual fact of K injuring Kitty that scared me. What made me decide I had to FORREALS LEAVE was the way he got angry at me for being upset, at Kitty for waking him up, at me some more for not training or managing Kitty better to prevent her from waking him, and was perfectly certain of his total rightness. Not only was it not bad to throw her; it was the reasonable, necessary, and obviously correct thing to do, as any rational person would understand. She had to learn, you see. I thought that if he could rationalize that with absolutely no concern for her safety and well-being, who knows what else he might decide was necessary? All for my own good, you understand. He didn’t hit or make overt threats, so the scariness is hard to describe and quantify. He is taller than I am and about twice my mass, though. I became more and more aware of that fact...but again, without specific reasons I could point to.)

My feeling freaked out about the lawyer’s DV note was mostly cognitive dissonance. I mean, I’m supposed to be smart and strong and capable and I work in a ton of DV cases, for Heaven’s sake, I’m supposed to know these things! How did I end up in this category?? That’s the upsetting part. Why did I fall for it? How did I get here?

I spent today dithering. All day long. Do I retain this lawyer or not? How do I decide? What’s the best way forward? I went for a walk to clear my head (didn’t work very well) and enumerated pro and con lists to the cat (out loud, yes) and tried to sort my thoughts into some kind of comprehensible shape. I’ve felt miserable all day, but! I finally wrote him an email telling him I’d like him to represent me, and I hope it was a good decision. It feels like it will be So Much Easier if I can delegate the legal details and the negotiations with K to an expert. An expert who isn’t afraid of him and doesn’t have a tendency to be taken in by his gaslighting. The arguments against hiring the lawyer boiled down to: money; new things are scary; and what will K think?! I still feel very anxious about them, but I decided they weren’t good arguments.

Anyway, that’s where I am today. Exhausted, yes. Tearful, dammit, yes. Fragile, also yes. I’m going to go make some hot chocolate and see if I can sit and breathe for a while.

#700 ::: Bodhisvaha ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2014, 08:35 AM:

LGB: whew! I have no experience with lawyers, but a lawyer sounds necessary, and this one sounds like he will be a kind and reassuring one. So if he's been recommended as competent, then you have *all* the important parts, right?

You run your own business, yes? Have a new framing of the money side of this: by hiring a trustworthy expert to handle this complicated and stressful project, you will have the spoons to get better and make money. If the guy is good at his job, you might relax enough to make *more* money than you spend on him, for a net profit.

Why yes, I'm trying to teach myself the same concept. Along with it comes the idea that yes, really, I legitimately have marketable skills and talents. Both ends feel very strange.

#701 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2014, 08:40 AM:

Lee #678: Thanks for that comics link -- Lucy Knisley's work is amazing!

LGB #699: So in short, the lawyer agrees with your basic evaluation of the situation... it's just that the situation is freaky. But yeah, it's one thing to be outside a situation as a "helper", it's quite another to be inside it.

#702 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2014, 08:43 AM:

LGB @699--Congratulations on not talking yourself out of this. Because with rare exceptions, letting the lawyer do it is much better. They're paid to not miss dealines, mislay paperwork, be intimidated, overlook important details.

Also, here are about five dozen virtual roses for not letting K decide for you what you were going to do. Every time you go against that, you're loosening one of the knots he's used to tie you up.

#703 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2014, 10:46 AM:

LGB, #699: You ended up in that situation via the lobster-in-the-pot method. If K had acted that way early on in the relationship, you'd have seen it for what it was and gotten out. But instead, he turned the (metaphorical) heat up slowly, so that there was never anything out-of-band enough to give you a clear warning signal until he hurt the cat and made it clear that he considered this to be (1) YOUR fault and (2) a perfectly reasonable thing to do. That's sociopath territory, and he didn't have you quite as well-conditioned as he thought he did. Your reaction of "what ELSE will he consider it perfectly reasonable to do to her, or to me?" was dead on target. You may think the scariness is hard to describe, but believe me, the description you just gave is enough to raise the hair on the back of anyone's neck who's ever been around an abuser.

At one point, many years ago, I had a friend ask to move in with me for a while because his GF had thrown him out and he didn't have anywhere else to go. This was someone I'd known since I was in college, and who was as close to me as a brother, so I said okay. What I didn't realize was that he was having severe mental issues, which I caught the brunt of because this was while I was out of work, so I was home most of the day while my now-ex was working.

At first I couldn't quantify what was creeping me out either. The thing that tipped the balance for me was the day he told me, in complete serious earnest, that (1) the text of my Bible had changed; (2) the text of some of my classic SF books had changed; (3) he knew why this had happened -- it was because THEY knew he was going to be reading those books, so THEY had substituted the ones with the changed text; (4) he was hearing his GF's voice over the radio; and (5) this all had something to do with the enemy who had captured his soul, because (6) his life for the past 4 years had been entirely an illusion, and it was still really only 1992.

Now, a minor digression. At a couple of points in years previous, this guy had indicated some sexual interest in me. It wasn't reciprocated, and he took that with good grace. But I added together "he thinks everything that's happening to him is a dream" and "he's been sexually interested in me" and got a potential answer that scared the crap out of me, and I got up, grabbed my purse, and RAN out the door. I didn't go back until my now-ex was home from work, and we confronted him and said he had to find somewhere else to be, because I wasn't going to spend another night under the same roof with him.

All of which is to say, you obviously did the same kind of extrapolation and didn't like your answers any better than I liked mine. And no normal person is going to agree with him that throwing the cat against the wall was in any way, shape, or form a reasonable or right thing to have done.

If you're worried about being able to describe what happened in a way that other people will understand, I suggest some variation on, "He threw my cat into the wall for waking him up, and then blamed me for not having trained her better, and didn't think he'd done anything wrong. And I thought, if he'll do that to the cat, what will he think it's okay to do to ME if I do something he doesn't like?"

#704 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2014, 11:41 AM:

My feeling freaked out about the lawyer’s DV note was mostly cognitive dissonance. I mean, I’m supposed to be smart and strong and capable and I work in a ton of DV cases, for Heaven’s sake, I’m supposed to know these things! How did I end up in this category?? That’s the upsetting part. Why did I fall for it? How did I get here?

My understanding is that's common, and is one of the things that keeps smart women in abusive relationships. We're too smart to fall for an abuser, right? We know what the warning signs are, right? This list was an eye-opener when I first read it. #12 is the most specific to the "I know better, this can't be happening to me" situation.

The first time I realized just how bad Crappy Ex was, was when a friend repeated back a few of the things I'd said over the course of a conversation, put them all together, and asked me what I'd say to a friend in that situation. It was pretty shocking, and made me feel all strange and uncomfortable, to realize that my advice to a friend in that situation would immediately be "get out, that's abusive" when at the time I didn't consider my own relationship to have been abusive.

It's hard to see a pattern, even a familiar pattern, when you're in the middle of it. Everything looks different from the outside.

Here's another thing for you: you don't need specific reasons to be legitimately afraid of somebody. You don't need them any more than you need specific reasons to not date somebody, or to like a friend, or to have a favourite food. Those things aren't logical conclusions; if they have any relationship to logic it's as axioms. They just are, and conclusions follow from them instead of the other way around.

K made you feel fearful. Therefore, quite logically, you are taking steps to get yourself safe.

I'm glad you decided to work with this lawyer. He sounds like he knows what he's doing.

#705 ::: knitcrazybooknut ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2014, 11:43 AM:

LGB @699, I'm not sure if you were asking for comparison stories, but I will say that I was in an abusive relationship while I was in my last year of a women's studies major, my best friend was volunteering at a domestic violence hotline, I was hosting a women's tea circle every week, and I was reading book after book about women surviving abusive relationships. (I'm pretty sure I was "rehearsing", but still. Lots of exposure.)

I had the same cognitive dissonance strike me, many times. My friends even put a voice to it, but did believe me, and in some cases pointed things out I hadn't noticed. Lee is right with her frog analogy. And I'll also point out that in my case, my particular abuser had years of practice in seeming absolutely logical and rational at all times. I was the emotional one who needed to be calmed down and de-hystericalized. (I know that's not a word.) From my perspective now, 15 years or more later, he also had a huge head start and excellent selection skills ---- I was raised by a narcissistic mother who trained me to think of someone else before I thought of myself. It was only natural for him to slide right into that role.

That last is nothing you need to deal with now. I just wanted to say, yes. This is a thing that happens. Smart, strong, independent women also get caught in this same trap. It happens. And it's still not your fault.

You're doing it. You've gotten out and you are getting separated from him. The lawyer - oh that was amazing work!! You listened to all of the voices in your head and you made a smart choice that will help you in the long run. I'm very impressed and very happy for you. Keep going. You can do it.

#706 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2014, 03:09 PM:

Support to those who need it, especially to those who don't have the spoons to comment right now.

#707 ::: Rosa Hughes ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2014, 03:09 PM:

I'm all out of spoons right now, and have found a huge amount of support in these threads even though I rarely contribute to them. Thanks, all. It makes a difference.

#708 ::: Bodhisvaha ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2014, 07:56 PM:

In a recent post by Seth Godin ( he says, "It's not really useful to require yourself to be successful before you're able to become confident."

It's a good point to remember, although for most of us around here, choosing to be confident is a very tall order.

#709 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2014, 09:00 PM:

Rosa Hughes @707, wishing you more spoons, soon.

#710 ::: hope in disguise ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2014, 12:27 PM:

From Jacque's link @695: I think the logic goes something like this: “If I do not do what YOU want, then I exist.”
As they say on the tumblrs, yes. this. *ponders*

#711 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2014, 01:00 PM:

Jacque #695: Um, yeah. And I'm only recently realizing how overbearing Mom has been, for all she's not the classic "controller" sort.

#712 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2014, 04:34 PM:

One thing I've noticed at my end is that when an issue becomes a power struggle, it's very hard to think about real world consequences.

#713 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2014, 05:53 PM:

Jacque @ 695

Yeah, that was stellar. I've been realizing for a while that negative motivation is losing it's effectiveness, but for the life of me, I couldn't figure out a way around it because my brain was trying to explain to me that "responsibility means doing things you don't want to do." Which is fine, but not when it takes over your life!

In other news, we need to reinstall our dramastat at the new house, so I can adjust the setting back to something reasonable. Argh! (If there is anything that will put my hackles up instantly, it is being told that I need to back down from exercising agency and autonomous decision-making over my own life and/or my daughter's*. Also, I am expected to apologize for this and keep my mouth shut henceforth. Oh, hail no.)

*Appropriate negotiations with my husband excepted, as that's a contract I walked into willingly and with my eyes open.

#714 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2014, 06:48 PM:

"If there is anything that will put my hackles up instantly, it is being told that I need to back down from exercising agency and autonomous decision-making over my own life and/or my daughter's."

Well, yes. I can't imagine any other sane response. Dialing it back a bit, sure, if you feel your reaction is too strong, but that's the sort of thing that should get anyone's hackles up.

#715 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2014, 07:09 PM:

B. @ 714

Yeah. Thing is, it's one of those tangled emotional situations, where my asserting my opinions about how I want my daughter to be treated is being interpreted as saying the other person is a bad person/parent - not what I think, but I haven't been given any chance to say that and wouldn't be believed based on what I'm seeing from them. I also have some suspicion that my request punched her right in the insecurities and so we were going to have this fight the first time I asked them to change how they interact with my daughter, regardless of actual point of disagreement. So now everyone is defensive, retrenched and feeling singularly justified...

I'm letting the rest of the family handle it for a while, until it's safer for me to re-engage, but the whole situation is really ugly. I haven't interacted with her for the last week while other people worked on it (capably; I trust them and I was in a bit of a temper myself for a few days), and she keeps trying to escalate and having to be talked down on some of the more extreme demands. So, it's a concern.

#716 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2014, 07:42 PM:

Bodhisvaha, #708: True, it's hard to tell oneself to be confident. OTOH, we've all watched confident people and we know how they act -- and if you can fake that, other people will respond to you as if you are actually confident. This becomes a self-reinforcing cycle, because the more people behave as if you're confident, the more confident you become internally. Think of it as being like jump-starting a car; it needs that external push to start up the sequence, but then it keeps going on its own.

hope in disguise et al on the topic of power struggles: A potentially-useful reframing is to approach it as, "If I don't do what you want just because you want me to, you're still controlling me just as much as if I did it."

The goal here is to separate "what the other person wants me to do" from "what I think is the best or right thing to do" and act accordingly. Sometimes this has the unavoidable side effect of letting the other person think they've won, but that's not my problem, it's theirs.

KayTei, #715: You have every right to set standards for how other people in your family treat your daughter -- more so if those standards fall into the area of "with more respect". (Which I don't know, but seems like a plausible guess.) Best of luck for a non-incendiary outcome.

#717 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2014, 09:21 PM:

Lee @ 716

Yeah, I lean in the direction of less strictness, particularly with a two year old who cannot defend or explain her actions (not yet having achieved that level of sophistication) and who also shouldn't be expected to act older than her developmental age. I don't think there's abuse going on in the other family, but they have a very different way of engaging their kids (who are also older) and it doesn't work for our family.

It's helpful to hear that I'm not crazy for being unhappy with the situation though. I understand where the person is coming from, but when my reaction is so unambiguous that she is badly out of line, I start to question my own objectivity.

#718 ::: hope in disguise ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2014, 12:02 AM:

Lee @716, my brain in all its child-of-an-alcoholic warped-priorities has also decided that reframing, while eminently sensible, is *also* to be rebelled against. xD At least insofar as it applies to any and all 12-step programs. But it could be a place to start to try to stop being allergic to the very thought of a potentially-useful thing.

My house is full of people from the fraternity-like organization three of the members are alums of. They're throwing a party. Theoretically I consent to this but it's deeply, deeply strange, especially because I am also in a fraternity-like organization but its culture is very different.

Also I am given a chance to reaffirm my distance from "mainstream" culture I guess [for my age cohort]. Overheard: "I don't care what you want, order food, you sack of shit!" and I'm like 80-90% sure, based on other observations of like people, that the insult is 95% affectionately meant. I don't understand these people and I don't really want to understand them. But I have this nagging feeling that I ought to try, especially if I want to be an anthropologist.

#719 ::: Bodhisvaha ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2014, 11:36 AM:

Looked at the demand resistance link -- it sounds familiar except I sort of know it's happening and end up in the "it's good for you and you know it, so do it" stage almost immediately in many cases.

A related idea is value conflicts -- Jacque has talked about this before, where independence was a value for the dysparent (excellent word!), and one of Jacque's, which produced much confusion and resistance until the overlap was detected. I have found something akin. I have a situation where my intentional, rational assessment says "do X". I also have dysfunctional training saying "do X". This is making it harder and worse-feeling to do X even though X is the best available option by my best rational lights. My guess is that some internal warning system is going off: "why are you doing X? That boils down to believing/obeying dysparent on Issue, and you were going to stop doing that! Are you sure you really should do X?"

At work, the boss has more and more of his deadline ticky-boxes ticked, so he's less twitchy. I talked to him about vacation and contracts, and he seems to be taking it for granted that they're keeping me and that he could get next contract lined up with no gap. So maybe in his world no comment means that everything is good. Imminent deadlines have also forced him to reveal his goals/methodology for the death-march project, which would have gone much better/easier/faster if he had done so at the start. We're pricing items we regularly buy, to have budget estimates/limits, which means we should price out our high-end configuration from our expensive suppliers. Boss should have said, but didn't, at the start "I want to afford companies X Y Z with premium options/materials A B C." Some points he kept flip-flopping between 2-3 sensible but mutually exclusive options. Now I'm slotting in my favourites of such sets and leaving it up to him to object. As the person posting the final version, I'm also doing the last check for problems. I expected to find some in someone else's work, and did. She was overburdened and handed in shoddy work rather than tell the boss he was being unrealistic. Now I'm fixing them by executive suggestion: I select or rapidly recreate the most useful number, and run it past the boss. Turns out if his favourite company X costs $Y and it's double what it used to be, the new budget is $Y. I've been scared of this project for months because of these twin specters -- what if the others did bad work? what if prices have really gone up that high? Well, now I have needed to say this section here, the items are not comparable, we have to redo it later, and he agrees and accepts my interim suggestions. Some of the errors the other girls let through were really damn stupid (like tables with 2 tops, and desks missing a leg!), so I have been fixing anything easy, and on the complex ones, fixing the estimates for the boss' baseline choice company, giving me one solid figure of three per item to peg our final number on. I made no attacks, just calm notes and best-possible quick fixes. I hope that later he is going to give the mistake-makers some chewing out.

I must remember: it's so much easier to do decision-making work when you're permitted to/feel trusted to make decisions!

#720 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2014, 03:40 PM:

Bodhisvaha @708: "It's not really useful to require yourself to be successful before you're able to become confident."

I would endorse this assertion. The diad that does bear some caution, though is confidence/competence. It's possible to be competent without being confident, and that's a drag. But you really want to watch out for those folks who are confident without being competent. Bad news.

I've found this to be a useful flag: if I'm feeling insecure, in what do I need to gain competency in order to feel confident in this situation? This has proven to be reasonably reliable strategy.

@demand resistance: I've been Googling around and reading everything I can find about this, but the one thing that (seems to have) made a difference is this video.

Short version: Children are typically treated as slaves, and react as slaves typically do, by passive-aggressive resistance of various sorts. It becomes so streamlined that unconsciously we bring this reaction pattern into adulthood with us.

Cure: recognize that everything one does is a choice. (Historically, one chose to do what one did to avoid the negative consequences imposed by one's slaveholders parents. Everything except, maybe, gravity. So recognizing this, one focuses on what one wants. (Invoke the Shadow operator!)

I'd heard this previously in terms of "relanguaging" one's decisisons: banish "have to" and "should" from one's vocabulary. And for some reason, I just parsed that as being of a piece with "affirmations", which are all about trying to make oneself think in a particular way. Which (for me) never works. In fact, it's a really good way to invoke demand resistance.

But for whatever reason, watching this video shifted my perspective. When I find myself rebelling, I take a step back and think, "Okay, what do I want here, and what results to I want?"

As a consequence, I'm becoming more aware that those conflicts I've been struggling with are conflicting wants: "I'm having fun doing artwork, and want to keep going" versus "I want to get enough sleep so I have energy and am alert tomorrow. That means I want to get to bed by 10." Choosing between two (or more) outcomes, both of which I desire, becomes a differnt calculation altogether.

So far (two days now), it's been working. I've been getting the stuff done I need to (pigs cleaned and a shower yesterday, and I got to bed on time, yay!) with none of the internal wrangles that have been (pretty much continually) burning me up for the last, um, forever.

Early days, yet, but it feels fundamentally different.

KayTei @713: "responsibility means doing things you don't want to do." Which is fine, but not when it takes over your life!

And for me, "responsibility" is kind of a cuckoo's egg, anyway, because (for me) it tends to be about how other people see me. In Molyneux's framework, going to bed "on time" isn't about being "responsible," it's about getting something I want, such as being conscious and functional the next day. I clean the pigs because I want them to be comfortable and healthy. And so on. "Stuff I don't want to do" becomes much easier to deal with if I focus on the comfort or benefit I will receive from doing that.

being told that I need to back down from exercising agency and autonomous decision-making over my own life and/or my daughter's*

<voice="peter lorre">You want I should wash his car, boss? You want I should take him for a ride?</v> >:-)

So: this person is treating your daughter badly and being required to Knock It the Fuck Off? And objecting to this requirement?

Well, good on you for letting others intercede where useful. But most emphatically good on you for standing up for your daughter. (I mind a conversation wherein a friend of my mothers' kept calling me "you little shit,"* and my mother didn't object because we were "both right." Yeah, but I wasn't being openly verbally abusive.)

* Which I parsed, with considerable confidence, as rather not affectionately meant.

Bodhisvaha @719: Are you sure you really should do X?"

Per the above, the way out of that logjam is the question, "Do what will doing X will get me?"

#721 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2014, 04:05 PM:

Gah. I edited that last line four times and still messed it up. Should read: "What will doing X get me?"

#722 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2014, 04:07 AM:

Re. Confidence/competence. This is... a problem. I'm competent, in a lot of areas. But (a) my confidence tends to lag behind my competence; (b) the fact I'm competent and highly skilled doesn't help me to be confident/assertive in the face of people who are being confident/aggressive and either talking right over me or putting me down. And I've been having it hammered home to me recently that society values confidence WAY above competence.

As an example: a friend was talking about hiring people and interviewing and said that they thought it was fun, if someone was waiting to be interviewed to throw them a question such as "what's the capital of Estonia?" If the person floundered, got flustered, rather than coming back with either the answer or "I don't know but I would look it up - that's what the web is for" - then, well that person was obviously useless and you wouldn't want to hire them, would you? Now, it so happens that I DO know the capital of Estonia and, in a non-pressured situation, would otherwise (if I didn't know it) say - "I'd look it up". In an interview situation, or when nervous because waiting for an interview, I might very well flounder. Does that affect my competence or ability to do my job? No. But it may hugely affect whether I'll GET that job.

Similarly, society appears to value being cynical/not caring above being (positively) passionate/caring. Many people make the value judgement that if you get visibly upset/frustrated and your eyes leak because you're not being listened to and your eyes leaking is your physiological response to stress, that is, in itself, proof that your ideas/contribution/arguments are valueless or at least should be valued less than the arguments of the cynical person who has just aggressively pushed all your buttons and is now sitting there smirking.


#723 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2014, 08:36 AM:

That Estonia thing... wow. I mean really. What did they plan to do if a very qualified applicant stood up and walked out? Or if someone confidently gave the wrong answer? Or if someone fired off a similar question during the interview? I knew the answer back in sixth grade, (wait, she says, googling: I don't remember this coming up before. I must have learned it, but there's no recognition), but I have a different skill set now.

I have no advice on assertive/aggressive dynamics; I have built myself a circle where the latter sticks out and eventually cools down somewhat.

#724 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2014, 12:56 PM:

dcb @722: the cynical person who has just aggressively pushed all your buttons and is now sitting there smirking. ... Suggestions?

To quote the Doctor: "Run!"

To quote Liz Ryan: "They'll never treat you better than when they think they might want to hire you." If this is how you're treated during "courtship," how will they treat you after the "marriage?"

But that doesn't address the "crying when angry" problem. (Kicking the offending party in the nuts probably isn't really an option. Right?)

#725 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2014, 01:50 PM:

That Estonia question strikes me as one of the more annoying instances of "I want to hire people exactly like me".

Decades ago, a friend of mine pulled a disc gun out of his suit-jacket pocket, shouted "Die, Earth scum!", fired it at the interviewer who'd asked a similar question, and ran out of the room. It was clearly an exercise of privilege (he was a very successful student at one of the top technical schools in the country, so he didn't feel that he should have to put up with crap like that), but the image still makes me smile.

Also, to expand on Jacque's Liz Ryan quote, I find it helps to keep in mind that an interview goes both ways; you're deciding whether you can stand to work for them, as much as they're deciding whether to make you an offer. Of course, that's not as easy to remember when you're desperate to get a job.

#726 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2014, 02:03 PM:

The only reason something like the Estonia question (or, more broadly, something intended to put the interviewee off balance) would be appropriate would be if the job involved lots of quick-response, unexpected demands. Otherwise - just, no.

#727 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2014, 04:51 PM:

And if you're not desperate, the capital of Estonia is obviously Plonk. Response accompanied by rising motions and the getting-together of encumbrances.

#728 ::: Bricklayer ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2014, 05:47 PM:

Still behind on reading the thread (but trying to, at least).

Kidlet still isn't sleeping through the night ... except that she HAS, these last two. Unsettling. But I'm starting to notice a pattern in my varyingly-sleep-deprived condition.

For several weeks I'll barrel through (with one or two interruptions each night, and some nights not being able to make myself be sleepy until 3AM or so) and be somewhat functional and alert during the days (although prone to Angry Parenting and no-brain forgetfulness). Then it'll get bad enough that I'll Take Steps -- I'll admit I can't handle it anymore and tell Daddy to take her through the whole bedtime routine (I usually do the first half) while I do some self-care, take a hot bath, drink a moderate amount of alcohol, or take a sleep-aid pill, and do my damnedest to get ASLEEP early enough that when she wakes up at midnight I'm slightly rested already. After a couple of nights of this, I'll get one good solid night that looks numerically ample -- and I'll wake up A ZOMBIE, almost unable to function, falling asleep all day. Then another decent night's sleep and some sign in the morning that I got real rest (having dreams I remember in the morning, for example), but feel even worse and less awake.

If I manage to get three or four of the 'good' nights in a row my daytime functionality rockets up. Unfortunately, that's happened about once in the past YEAR. Usually it just goes back to swiss-cheese nights when I can't force myself to do self-care and then I go back to able-to-fake-functional while actually exhausted ...

It's amusing my meta-analysis geek self, though, even as the rest of me is dragging around zombified. :->

#729 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2014, 09:22 PM:

Pretty sure the capital of Estonia is "You are planning to pay me enough to put up with this kind of bullshit, aren't you?" while gazing blandly at the person next to Provocateur.

#730 ::: Type A Toad ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2014, 01:11 AM:

I've been self exiled from the internet for the last few months, and then so deep into a depression that I couldn't stand to talk to other people.

Today I got the letter in the mail that I've been working on / waiting for for almost three years now: I passed the Canadian national certification exam for my profession. I thought I would be happier, but mostly I'm just relieved and exhausted. I can quit my toxic retail job (and by toxic I mean that the owner hit a customer this evening). Oh thank goodness I can quit that job. I had a gigantic chocolate-peanut-butter-salted-caramel milkshake at dinner in celebration. I'm having the leftovers with breakfast tomorrow. Because I can.

My parents have gone on a cruise and are out of cell phone contact. I have a not insignificant amount of secret glee that they'll be the last ones to know.

I haven't really been reading, but now I have some time and energy (not fueled by gigantic milkshake) I will be catching up and hopefully able to participate more.

#731 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2014, 01:23 AM:

Type A Toad #730: Congratulations! And my... the owner hit a customer? I have a feeling that when you do leave, the business will collapse behind you.

#732 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2014, 03:36 AM:

Diatryma, Jacque, Jeremy Leader, OtterB, joann, KayTei: Thank you. It's really good to know I'm not the only that was not happy with this. To make it clear: this wasn't actually being asked by the interviewer - this person just thought it was fun to ask that sort of thing to people waiting to be interviewed - and he was definitely of the opinion that anyone who could be flustered by something like that obviously wasn't a good job candidate - because clearly if you're not laid back and able to project confidence in all circumstances, you're not worth employing. Being in the middle of being made redundant right now (yes, still; this has been dragging on for six weeks and my stress levels are through the roof), I really didn't need to hear that.

Jacque: unfortunately, neither "Run!" nor physical violence is an option, no. I've been working on the "crying when angry/frustrated" problem and making some progress, but have problems coping with someone who first tells me (in my annual appraisal) how difficult it is for my colleagues when I cry, and that it makes them feel they have to give in to me, and then a few minutes later says that "the last thing you need is assertiveness training - you're aggressive enough already!"

Bricklayer @728: Not surprising that getting partly caught up on sleep affects you like that - I get the same thing. Well done at least working out what the pattern is. Wish I could give you a "quick fix".

Type A Toad @730: sympathies for the depression, but Congratulations! for the certification. Also, well done you for treating yourself as a celebration of that, and extra congrats that you can quit your toxic job. As for "I thought I would be happier, but mostly I'm just relieved and exhausted." really that's not surprising when you've been under a lot of strain for a long time.

#733 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2014, 04:16 AM:

@728 Bricklayer

Do you have any idea what's waking the kidlet up? I'm not sure how old zie is, but I get the impression that the 2 o'clock feeding is not the issue...

Apologies if hlepy, and probably this has been brought up before, only I was thinking that if you can resolve the issue on that end, improvement on your sleeping will follow.

#734 ::: Quietly Learning To Be Loud ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2014, 10:33 AM:

Type A Toad
You are happier. relieved and exhausted is what happier feels like after being under that much stress for so long. BTDT

And Yay! Congrats on certificate and impending escape.

On assertiveness training: it can teach you when and how to be assertive, thus lessening the frustration. Evem with that, there were times when frustration levels were so high with one boss, tears were unfortunately too common. Boss and I had a serious communication mismatch. Boss thought my humorous (and thus memorable) memos were rudely flippant. The style Boss thought minimally acceptable were the sorts of things I wrote just before having my second call on the other person's second. Trying to write in second person hostile* without becoming hostile was well nigh to impossible.

*Using "one shall" instead of "you can", or any use of the word "one" instead of "you", is a variant I use when annoyed, from mildly (it's not about you) to severely (it's not... about

#735 ::: Quietly Learning To Be Loud ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2014, 10:37 AM:

*grrrrr* typo: eveN with that....

#736 ::: Bricklayer ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2014, 10:47 AM:

Cheryl @733: She has almost zero ability to fall asleep (or BACK asleep) without a friendly grownup in the room. Getting the dogs to sleep with her doesn't appear to help, though I was hoping it would.

She's 5. And on bad nights, every time her sleep cycle shallows (about every 2.25hrs), she wakes up and yells for company ... and if no company is forthcoming, continues shrieking in lonely terror, and eventually comes and shrieks in our bedroom at our bedside.

So I get up at Shriek 1 and go sit with her until she's asleep again. On the good bad nights, she goes right back down in a minute or two and the big trick for me is not getting SO awake from all this that I can't fall asleep again quickly. Sometimes she wants cuddles, so I get in the bed with her, and THEN the challenge is managing not to fall asleep in HER bed (which is less comfortable, and involves being kicked in the kidneys or face repeatedly through the night even if she doesn't wake up. At least I got a big enough comforter for in there that if I DO sleep with her I can have enough blanket). Plus not waking up so far that "now I'm awake".

This not-sleeping-through-night thing started at a point when from her other behavior it was fairly clear that she was growing emotional circuitry of some kind. I think she started having vivid, emotion-laden dreams and couldn't handle it ... and still isn't handling it.

I've found three things I can do at about her bedtime (8ish PM) that aid my ability to have good sleep regardless of HER sleep's crappiness:

* Take a hot bath, really hot: so hot that the initial ease-in verges on uncomfortable. Not only does this loosen muscular tension in helpful ways (and get rid of 'slept with the kid last night' twinges), it is relaxing and promotes sleepiness. If the bath is too cool, then I can start nodding off in it; if it's very very hot than not only is it yummily warming, but if I slip down in it from zzzzzzing mildly, the sudden WHOA-HOT on the skin that was previously above water wakes me up enough to tell me to go to bed, without waking me UP. Also I can watch TV in the bath on my tablet.

* Having a drink of alcohol, usually in my case a double-shot of Triple Sec with a whole can of fizzy citrus soda, in a tumbler with ice, sipped rather than belted. Combining this with the bath heterodynes the relaxant and sleep-aid effects of both: the bath vasodilates me so the alcohol hits me harder. The soda helps ward off morning hangovers, combined with trying to actually drink enough fluid BEFORE bathtime.

* Benadryl (which is also, of course, Nytol in the same doses but different packaging). I used to not be able to take Benadryl even in scant doses close to bedtime because it kept me from waking up well in the morning, but apparently my body doesn't do that anymore, so yay! Not to be combined with alcohol, of course. Especially recommended if I've been having snots.

I need to remember to do one of these things almost every night this week, because we are at the part of the recovery cycle where I'm actually MAKING GAINS, HALLELUJAH, and this is about where my helpful sleep-cycle tries to golden-retriever me by deciding that if I'm going to be up three times between 9 and midnight, there's no point in getting sleepy at all before 3AM. Which there totally is. So GET SLEEPY DAMMIT.

#737 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2014, 11:42 AM:

Bricklayer @736--I can speak for the efficacy (and not over-scentedness) of Dr. Teal's Bath Salts; the magnesium in the Epsom salts in helpful, and the chamomile and lavender varieties are particularly relaxing.

I got nothing else to offer except good wishes, and hopes that she ages out of this.

#738 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2014, 12:31 PM:

Type A Toad @730, congratulations, and good luck in finding a good job in your newly-licensed field. Hope getting out of toxic work environment will help lift the depression.

Bricklayer, my younger daughter had similar sleep issues. My ability to continue to function was greatly enhanced by having a recliner in her room. If needed, I would go sit there. By preference, she'd be back in her bed, though she could sit in my lap if she wanted. I had a comforter handy to throw over myself if it was chilly and would usually go back to sleep in the recliner. If I woke later and she was asleep, I'd go back to bed.

Your daughter is also getting to the age where you can reason with her. If she can tell you what's scary when she wakes in the night, then you might be able to find a not-you solution. Or, would a chart with stickers for nights she doesn't wake you, leading to some desired reward help? Apologies if you've tried all this already.

I found it really hard to identify the boundary between "this is what my kid needs for now, and therefore I'm going to give it to her" and "she's a little too comfortable with this and has no reason to want to change it."

#739 ::: Neutrino ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2014, 12:48 PM:

Congratulations, Type A Toad! Sounds like your escape is underway.

#740 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2014, 01:30 PM:


My sympathies. With my second son, I started sleeping with a hand over my crotch after a few well-placed kicks when I pulled him into our bed to settle him down in the middle of the night.

#741 ::: silence ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2014, 08:15 PM:

Congratulations, Type A Toad!
Bricklayer, would a white noise machine help your daughter?

#742 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2014, 09:15 AM:

I had a dream last night that included my mom wanting to inspect my spouse's mop, and him not wanting to let her. Weird.

#743 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2014, 10:14 PM:

Sumana: weird indeed. Though I've had some doozies of weird dreams lately, and they tend to express stresses I'm trying not to think about... Is there friction between your (controlling?) mom and you or your spouse? Just a thought.

For my current situation, I need additional data.

My parents and I have often given each other rides to early morning trip things - they'll drive us to the airport on Christmas morning (which will be stopping soon - long story there, summary we're not going to split Christmas between both parents every. single. year. any more) and I'll drive them to their casino bus.*

Because all of these were early morning things, I or we'd just stay at their place overnight for convenience. Mom also presented this as the normal and obvious way to do things.

The next casino bus tour leaves the Sunday after Easter.

Easter Sunday, we're going over there for supper. (there are a number of family friends/relatives so there's a buffer of people) That Wednesday, we're taking my dad out for supper as a thank you for doing our taxes (he was an accountant at one point in his career). That Saturday, I'm supposed to stay overnight with my parents to take them to the 8 am bus.

The question after all this is, would it be normal/socially acceptable for me to just tell them I'll pick them up in the morning instead of staying overnight? Because I'm really, really stressed about spending that much concentrated time with my parents, two occasions of which Mom will be stressed and flapping (company for Easter, then packing). I won't get much sleep, and I'll be low on spoons.

There are a lot of things that Mom's presented as logical and obvious which I've later found out are strictly her ideas, or which are not nearly as universal as she tried to present. (an example, which I never believed but which was nevertheless an effective club, was that girls who are still in school don't move out until they get married. There was always plausible deniability about her not letting me move out, but oh the emotional manipulation there...)

This time, Spouse assures me that the normal way of things is for people *not* to stay overnight, but I need some external assurance before I tell them.

*For those of you unfamiliar with casino busses, they're trips sponsored by various casinos in other cities, and provided by commercial bus tour companies, where you get five nights' stay in hotels plus travel plus various coupons for ballpark $300/person in exchange for a promise to spend a certain amount of time in each casino. Each city the bus stops in has a participating casino. My parents treat them as a cheap way to travel to other cities, as there's some free time built in, and besides her sisters are now as addicted to casinos as she is. (ironically, they used to condemn her morally for it. As they do.)

Thank you, as always.

#744 ::: iliad slightly awry ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2014, 11:26 PM:

Chickadee @743: It is perfectly normal not to stay over before taking them to an 8AM bus. Hell, I wouldn't stay over before taking them to an 8AM plane for which they had to be at the airport by 6. If you're already giving up sleep and time, you're fine to make yourself as comfortable as possible in the meanwhile. I'm not sure that will help them feel comfortable with the idea (or, indeed, that anything would), but yes, that's a perfectly reasonable desire and I wouldn't dream of staying over at someone's house just because I was giving them a ride the next day.

#745 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2014, 11:29 PM:

Chickadee 743:

If I understand the situation right, you live relatively close to your parents, so that visiting them is not normally an overnight thing? Driving to their place to pick them up in the morning to take them to the Casino Bus is not a long drive? I assume that since you feel that dealing with your mother for the overnight stay is a bigger spoon-sink than sleeping at home and going early in the morning that this is the case.

Under those circumstances, staying overnight seems unusual, and would not be consider the normal way of things. I would agree with your spouse.

#746 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2014, 12:15 AM:

Addendum: We live about a 15 minute drive away from their house.

And thank you iliad and Buddha Buck. That does help.

#747 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2014, 07:20 AM:

Chickadee @743: That close (15 mins)? DEFINITELY no reason to stay over with them, seriously. I speak as one whose in-laws are a similar time/distance away and my mother-in-law would not dream of staying at our house when she's agreed to get us to the airport for e.g. 5.30 am, never mind 8 am. Nor have we stayed there on the (less common) occasions when we have been picking THEM up early.

#748 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2014, 07:28 AM:

Chickadee @743

I might consider staying overnight in such a case if it were more than an hour's drive between houses. Maybe.

However, I don't sleep as well if I'm not in my own bed (many people don't), and I would probably prefer the better quality of sleep even with the extra drive.

Fifteen minutes? I don't know anyone who would consider that a reason to stay overnight for ride purposes.

#749 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2014, 07:42 AM:

Chickadee @743, I agree with the others so far. It would be fine to stay over if you wanted but it's definitely not unusual not to. I have two pieces of advice. First, plan how to present it to her. It's a reasonable thing to do, but it is a change from your established family standard, and therefore probably wants some kind of explanation, even if it's only "I sleep better in my own bed, so let's try it this way." But be ready for pushback.

Second piece of advice, plan a little extra time on the morning of. Maybe that you show up early enough to have a cup of coffee before leaving, if this is something you/she might normally do?. If your mother is prone to anxiety, which it sounds like she is, she will be certain you're going to be late and she'll miss the bus and awful-awful-awful. And if you're 2 minutes late getting there, she'll have been worrying for 15 minutes and will tell that story at family get-togethers for the rest of time, and use that as an argument to do things her way the next time.

Heh. I think I'm projecting my MIL (who was actually quite functional, but fluttery) onto your mother. So YMMV.

I also think it's easier to make the case for doing it your way when you are giving them a ride, and harder to argue it when she is the one giving you a ride.

#750 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2014, 10:01 AM:

Chickadee: I agree with all of the above about the staying overnight issue. My sister has stayed with me overnight a couple of times before we both head out to a convention earlyish the next morning (in my car), but it takes her at least an hour and a half to get to my place. Only 15 minutes away? Definitely sleep at your own home. But do plan to get to your parents' house comfortably in advance of their scheduled time to leave for the bus, to reduce everyone's stress.

#751 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2014, 10:04 AM:

No, I don't think it's at all unreasonable or strange to drive there the next morning, especially since it's only a fifteen minute drive. If it was an hour or more, then it begins (only begins, mind you) to be iffier. If she really needs a reason, the perfectly true answer that you'll sleep better in your own bed should suffice. Not that it necessarily WILL, but it SHOULD. If it doesn't, then you're not being the unreasonable one, she is.

#752 :::