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September 21, 2015

Dysfunctional Families: Looking Back, Walking On
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 01:00 AM *

I joined the Roman Catholic Church in 1989†. The parish where I was baptized was known at the time for two things: the starkness and modernity of its architecture and the dramatic dysfunction* of its community leadership. It was home to me in many ways, and I am grateful to this day for the gifts I received there. I realize now that I like the clear openness of my current church partly because it reminds me of that first home. But I also was and remain damaged by some of the things that happened there. It’s a place that’s much easier for me to contemplate after moving away, when I no longer have to choose whether or not to go back.

This is familiar‡ territory for many people here.

So a few days ago, I stumbled on a Twitter/Tumblr discussion of a particularly “ugly” chapel. It was the usual easy internet snark, with cutesy nicknames, uncharitable assumptions without evidence, concern trolling and hand-wringing, contempt and judgment. And the picture at the top of the Tumblr post was my baptismal church.

I was irritated. I answered some of the posts, got some apologies, maybe made a few people think a little. But under that simple irritation was a much more complex net of emotions, one I’m still tangled up in.

On the one hand, all of the criticism was superficial stuff: the easy and unkind things that people write when they forget the humanity of the rest of the web. But even that was hard to answer as I remembered the deeper flaws, the ones the critics didn’t know about. It was all too tempting to move from defense to defensiveness, to proclaim or pretend that all had been well in that cool and airy chapel. To tell myself those outsiders hadn’t proven themselves wise or nuanced enough to deal with the whole story. To cover up. To lie.

And in this case, some of those temptations are true. Some of those impulses were right. Outsiders are rarely able to understand the context, the complexity, of dysfunction; casual internet outsiders doubly so. The events I remember are long ago, and the culture and people have changed several times since then. Walking away and staying away was the right decision. I don’t need to try to undo it now.

There are members of our community here who have taken that path, the simple one of cut ties, silence, unanswered calls, unopened letters. And they witness that simple does not mean easy. It’s a hard path, because so few of these situations are free of good things or the hope of good things to come. It takes courage and firmness to stay away, to remain uninvolved.

Meanwhile, there are others who have gone the other way, who have left the Gordian knot uncut and figured out how to drive the cart despite it, who maintain relationships with the family that hurt them. That takes another kind of courage, a different form of firmness.

Today is the 21st of September, Dysfunctional Families Day, the seventh we’ve observed here on Making Light. I admire and honor you, the people in this community, for the work that you have done to help yourselves and each other along your chosen, necessary paths. I value beyond measure the truths that you have told here. And I love you, the way one loves the family one looks upon with an unshadowed heart.

† for reasons that are off-topic here
* NB: everyone involved was an adult. No crimes were committed. This isn’t the dysfunction you’re thinking of.
‡ pun very much intended


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: Looking Back, Walking On:
#1 ::: Rachel ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2015, 02:02 AM:

My mother wants to know why my sister and I don't speak.

My mother was cruel to me, and I was cruel to my sister.

(But I remember laughter and happy conversations that stopped when I walked into the room. Suddenly everyone had something else they needed to do.)

I don't want to have to fix this. (I have reached out to her and she has never reached back. Something else to do. I know when I'm not wanted.) I want to walk away. If I wasn't broke and living on charity, that is.

#2 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2015, 02:12 AM:

Rachel @1:

Witnessing. Economics are real, and distort our relationship choices in real ways. And it's often the people with the fewest options that need to take account of them.

#3 ::: Rachel ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2015, 02:34 AM:

Goodness, is it 2am already? Here I am in the back of beyond, where we haven't quite gotten there yet. The server must be somewhere else. How strange. Hummingbirds outside the window, not once but twice in one day. Along with the owls, a good omen. I heard a whole flock of pigeons take flight right over my head. (this is what I'm doing instead of sleeping, instead of drinking). What does "take account of them" mean? Account of options? Or something else? How long does it take to stop being lonely and start being a loner?

#4 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2015, 02:43 AM:

The servers are on the east coast of the US. Where I am in Europe, it's already morning, and I'm going to be late for work.

Take account of economics, in the sense of paying attention to and being limited by financial constraints.

#5 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2015, 08:29 AM:

Argh. Mozilla just crashed and evaporated my lengthy, carefully edited, discussion of my college and post years.

I'm not going to rewrite most of that, but I'll note two things: The magazines and funding appeals I get from Harvard go straight into the trash -- they did not earn my support in any way whatsoever. And the subtle dysfunctions in the Boston-area Pagan community were a significant part of why, when I left Cambridge (20+ years ago), I dropped most of my other connections with the area.

#6 ::: Another Quiet One ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2015, 09:22 AM:

Mmm. There are deep, deep reasons that church professionals study family systems theory. So much of the way people are with each other - the kind and gentle as well as the cruel and thoughtless - scales through all sizes of groups, from the most intimate to the most public. To my eye it has almost a fractal self-similarity, now that I know what I'm looking for.

And, as a footnote, my family of origin turns out to have been vastly more dysfunctional than I ever realized - I just didn't know that's what dysfunction looks like. Ha.

#7 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2015, 10:11 AM:

Rachel, witnessing.

#8 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2015, 10:46 AM:

I've been undoing an reflex I developed as a child-- the gut level belief than I was emotionally in the wrong if my emotions didn't match those of the people around me.

This belief didn't affect my behavior, especially when I was young-- I shielded and resisted, so I seemed like and was a moderately unconventional person.

But then, I took down/lost some of my shields-- people were more interesting, but I was also more vulnerable to the idea that I was wrong because I wasn't emotionally in sync.

I don't think this was exactly what my mother was trying to inculcate, except that it kind of was. On the one hand, she thought my emotions should match hers, and on the other, in some basic ways, she was afraid of people though she also thought she could be right and they could be wrong.

#9 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2015, 11:24 AM:

#8, Nancy Lebovitz: the gut level belief than I was emotionally in the wrong if my emotions didn't match those of the people around me.

This belief didn't affect my behavior, especially when I was young-- I shielded and resisted, so I seemed like and was a moderately unconventional person.

Yeah I grew up with that belief too. Only it did affect my behaviour, notably in believing the people who told me I was feeling the wrong thing and they were right and I was "just overreacting", ultimately leading to staying in a relationship I didn't enjoy because no he wasn't really being crappy to me, I was "just overreacting" and had to like it.

I did some resisting and some ignoring when I was younger, and from that learned that I was deliberately contrary, doing things opposite or wrong solely to do things different than "the norm" (even when in reality sometimes I didn't know what the norm was and sometimes disliked what the norm was), that I was extremely stubborn (even though I more recently figured out that I actually have a hard time saying no), and that I was weird and nobody would like me because of that. The first two mainly from my parents and the last from, um, everything around me. Ultimately I (mostly) learned to hide my interests and appear as boring and conventional as possible.

Lately I've been trying to figure out what I like and want and feel for myself. Being around other people muddles that.

But being around people who think I'm interesting instead of weird (weird-as-criticism, the way I grew up with; "I'm weird and that's why I'm awesome" was somewhere between a sarcastic joke and the emotional equivalent of "making a virtue of necessity") when I slip and let something past the barrier is something I'm still trying to get my head around. The concept of other people being interested in what I have to say! The concept of people actually *wanting* to spend time with me because I'm interesting and funny! These are strange and new, and also a little bit scary because I feel like I have to keep living up to that. And of course I hide how much it scares me because that isn't a "normal" or "acceptable" emotion, of course I'm fine with it, I'm not overreacting at all why do you ask?

#10 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2015, 11:25 AM:

(Oops, formatting fail that I didn't see in preview. Both of the first two paragraphs should have been in italics because they are quotes.)

#11 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2015, 11:50 AM:

#8 Nancy Lebovitz
I've been undoing an reflex I developed as a child-- the gut level belief than I was emotionally in the wrong if my emotions didn't match those of the people around me.

Oh my, this. If I was upset when she wasn't, why was I making such a big deal out of it? And if it wasn't something she was personally invested in, why should I care/be excited/make her listen to me talking about it? (of course, when she wanted to talk about *her* interests, I was horribly rude not to be fascinated with every word she said...)

Also, if there was any difficulty in communication - any confusion, any misunderstanding, any terms used that the other person didn't already know - it was automatically my fault and a Very Bad Thing. Even/especially when it was because Mom was "listening" by multitasking and hearing approx. every third word I said. [She was an elementary teacher, and when you're surrounded by a crowd of 9 year olds, you have to do this. Survival skill. But NOT appropriate for a one-on-one conversation with an adult.]

Double bad if it was a word she didn't know, 'cause then I was being a "snob."

Awesome Spouse has been working for *years* to convince me that a) communication fails happen, b) they're not automatically the end of the world and c) they don't have to be someone's *fault* who then has to do penance for them.

#12 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2015, 11:52 AM:

I walked away from my family of origin (mostly) as soon as I was able. Would that I had understood that they would follow me (in my mind) unto this day. Had I understood that this would happen back then, I don't know that it would have changed my decision. I hope it would have changed my expectations.

The problem is that one takes a certain shape to survive the dysfunction. It then becomes hard, once one escapes, to avoid recreating the dysfunction so that one's shape fits in the new context.

...for me, at least.

#13 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2015, 12:13 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @8: the gut level belief than I was emotionally in the wrong if my emotions didn't match those of the people around me.

Yup. Installed self-censoring so the victim self-controls, and cedes their personal power to the Authority.

I was probably well into my fifties before I managed to mostly de-install this one.

Chickadee @11: Oh my, this. If I was upset when she wasn't, why was I making such a big deal out of it? And if it wasn't something she was personally invested in, why should I care/be excited/make her listen to me talking about it? (of course, when she wanted to talk about *her* interests, I was horribly rude not to be fascinated with every word she said...)

Me three. Except I learned (the hard way) early on to keep my opinions to myself. My mother was so determined to "bring me up right" (and not even in any moral sense—just "mental 'health'") that if she even suspected an opinion/attitude/reaction that differed from what she thought it should be, she'd go in after it and "fix" it. Fortunately, I eventually sussed out that "fix" meant "get the answer she wanted/expected." So I'd mostly just go limp on her and resolve not to get caught thinking for myself again. With equivocal success.

For too many things, in order to hide them from her, I had to hide them from me. Because if she even suspected a bad/aberrant/"unhealthy" attitude, out came the scalpel and forceps.

Fortunately for me, I also sussed, early on, that for the most part, she was full of $#!†, and/or just plain wrong. So I found I could safely disregard her assertions about how the world/I ought to be. But I still had to navigate the mine-field that was my family dynamic until I finally got out of there.

I didn't really start to get right with myself until I finally started living by myself, without roommates, at age 29.

#14 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2015, 12:15 PM:

It took me quite a while of beating myself up to realize that a lot of what was going on was I'd see someone express a strong emotional opinion and (frequently) feel that I was wrong for not having the same emotion.

I wasn't just beating myself up out of self-hatred-- there's actually a self-protective element in there even if it isn't optimally efficient.

I'd see the opinion, and go into "I'm a piece of shit, I'm no goddamn good, if I were any goddamn good I'd kill myself".... and a big chunk of that is "See what an awful person that person with the strong opinion is. They hate me. They make me feel bad. I'm not giving in to anything they want."

Of course, some people who are expressing strong opinions really do want to override dissenting opinions and emotions. I'm kind of like that myself, and I don't think it's particularly unusual.

#15 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2015, 12:18 PM:

Nancy: "I'm not giving in to anything they want."

Which, of course, is a crucially important capability. Nice to be able to get there without flaying yourself alive, though. :-)

#16 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2015, 01:19 PM:

Rachel, witnessing.

Another Quiet One, #6: That realization happens to a lot of people. It's one of the things these threads are for, to let people see that their experiences may fit into a larger, recognizable pattern.

#17 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2015, 01:30 PM:

Rachel, witnessing. BTDT -- it doesn't really get easier.

Re: The "ugly" church. When I decided I wanted to convert, I went online to find out what parish I was in. Turns out where I am has two parishes, and I could pick which one I wanted to go to -- so I went to each website...

Our Madonna of Modernity* was built sometime during the 1960's and looks like an Art Deco flying saucer. Having met some of the parishioners in my neighborhood, I did not feel comfortable going there.

Our Lady of Lourdes, however looked like a proper church (Romanesque, not Gothic, sigh) and had a Perpetual Adoration chapel. Since Bernadette was the first saint I actually had read about and since I'd wanted to do Adoration since reading the Outlander books, I figured I'd gotten a sign as to which to choose.

I love my parish, and enjoy going to Mass each week -- something my teenaged self would never have believed possible.

*Name changed to protect the architect

#18 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2015, 01:37 PM:

#15 ::: Jacque

I have a good bit of won't power.

****

One of the more general questions is "How do you come to notice what you're doing all the time?" I'm talking about the things which either seem obvious or which go by so fast it takes a lot of calming/focus to notice that they're happening at all.

****

#16 ::: Lee

One of the larger patterns I've wondered about is whether some of my mother's weirdness about people was actually immigrant stuff. Her father and all her grandparents were Jews from Eastern Europe, so issues about fitting in weren't necessarily just about personal or family dysfunction.

#19 ::: Jeanie ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2015, 01:57 PM:

the invisible one:
The concept of other people being interested in what I have to say! The concept of people actually *wanting* to spend time with me because I'm interesting and funny! These are strange and new...

And you continue to take stunning photos.

...and also a little bit scary because I feel like I have to keep living up to that.

No, you don't have to live up to anything. All you have to do is show up and be you; you already know how. This was a major revelation to me.

#20 ::: Jeanie ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2015, 02:05 PM:

Jacque:
...once one escapes, to avoid recreating the dysfunction so that one's shape fits in the new context.

An excellent description of the trap.

#21 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2015, 02:06 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @18: "How do you come to notice what you're doing all the time?"

Heh. Yes, indeed. A couple of hacks: notice what happens right before the thing you're wondering about happens. Also: find a way to slow it down, so you can actually watch it go by. (Shift rep system, frex.)

#22 ::: Michael R. Johnston ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2015, 02:21 PM:

I haven't spoken to my adopted brother or sister in 20 years, since the day we buried our father.

I pretend that I'm okay with this. I know that my adopted grandmother, who is a huge part of their lives, is toxic. I know that they, too, are toxic. But when my daughter was born eight years ago I tried to make peace--and was rebuffed, rudely and without any communication at all.

On the one hand, I'm glad my daughter doesn't have to deal with that toxicity, with the weight of all the awful things that happened in that family beyond the lighter load I carry.

On the other hand, I remember laughter and camaraderie. I remember sheltering the two of them from our mother, and the love I felt for them then. I remember dancing and camping and Disneyland. And I miss them.

I've replaced them with friends who are like brothers and sisters. But I still miss the brother and sister I grew up with.

#23 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2015, 03:12 PM:

#21 ::: Jacque

I think it's also helped to ask myself what I'm doing, without expecting any action based on the answer.

#24 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2015, 04:04 PM:

Michael R. Johnston: Witnessing.

#25 ::: Stefan S ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2015, 04:04 PM:

witnessing, as always. This long conversation is still such a pool of sanity. Almost all the answers seem hard! Very realistic.

Jacque @ 12: The problem is that one takes a certain shape to survive the dysfunction. It then becomes hard, once one escapes, to avoid recreating the dysfunction so that one's shape fits in the new context.

Ah, aptly put. I think this is how some of these old bad patterns follow me, like proteins that I fold myself into.

I came across a poem recently that made me think of these threads: Megan Falley's The First Time I Met His Mother. Especially the line just Uncle Lenny, a joke. In OUR family we can take a joke, she warned.

#26 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2015, 04:30 PM:

Stefan S #25: lyrics for the poem, because the Youtube auto-CC is hopeless.

#27 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2015, 06:03 PM:

This. So many times this.
Lucia Lorenzi "Sometimes the greatest moments of empathy come from realizing that we cannot walk in another's shoes - and dealing with that tension."

Mom's solution was to assume that her experience is universal, and to get offended when you tried to differentiate. So many others do the same thing on a lesser level. But each experience is different - and empathy is still possible.

#28 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2015, 06:24 PM:

Stefan / David: Woof. So much that gets said between the lines.

Just above that piece on David's link, I found this, which also resonates:

My college theater professor once told me
that despite my talent,
I would never play Kate to any man's Petruchio.
We put on shows that involve
flying children
and singing animals
but apparently no one
has enough willing suspension of disbelief
to buy anyone loving a fat girl.

(There's more, but that's the verse that jumped out at me.)

#29 ::: Charlotte ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2015, 08:18 PM:

Hello! my people of the dysfunctional families -- of origin, and sometimes of choice!
I left the One True after my brother's funeral, when I realized the sermon chosen by my mother's priest was outlining the rationale of the abusive and manipulative family system in which I'd been raised. "This is the logic of the abuser," I thought. And then, "oh!". My brother loved me, I loved him, we *were* our family, and while I'm kind of used to this new relationship we have where he is dead, it still breaks my heart.
Five years later I met a good man, and it took him probably three, maybe four years of watching me try to stay in relationship with my also-broken parents before even he agreed, it wasn't there. It was time to stop throwing myself in the dyke.
It was very very hard, but freedom is very very good.

#30 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2015, 11:54 AM:

Just witnessing for everyone.

There are a ton of conversations I'd like to be taking part in on Making Light, but RL is keeping me much too busy right now.

Anyway, just witnessing. I hope these threads are helping everyone.

#31 ::: Not Me ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2015, 12:41 PM:

I'm not writing under my normal nym mostly so that if the person I'm talking about googles, he won't find this rant.

I'm feeling used.

Apologies for the wall-of-text:

I knew a guy, 20 years ago. Nice guy; one of my close circle of friends. Quiet type; loves chess. I'll call him X.

Fifteen years ago X had a psychotic break. I'm talking full-on, diagnosed paranoid schitzophrenia. He showed up at another friend's house screaming how they were demon-worshipers and vampires. Since those people had an infant in the house, they were naturally terrified.

After considerable handwringing (friends have NO standing; even parents have a hard time getting an adult into supervised mental treatment) we finally got X to his parents in Michigan. He's been in Michigan, under treatment so far as we know, for the last 14-1/2 years.

About five months ago, X walked out of his Michigan apartment (the rent of which is paid to the end of the year) with nothing but the clothes on his back, and his wallet. He didn't even take his cell phone. He declares that the apartment was making him sick. He took the train back to the Chicago area, where he proceeded to live on the street for at least two months. Eventually, X walked up to a friend's house (the same friend, as it happens, that he called a demon-worshiper) and rang the bell. The daughter (who was the infant) answered the door; exchanged a few words, called her father. Who immediately said, "sorry, we don't give charity" and shut the door on X. The daughter said, "wait, he said you know him; his name is X." Friend chased after X, apologized, and then contacted all of X's old friends for help. (For obvious reasons, friend didn't want X hanging around.)

My spouse donates time fixing computers at a big shelter in Chicago. We got X into that shelter. We helped him arrange for services. They're trying to find placement in a single-room-occupancy for him. In the meantime, X (who doesn't seem badly impaired to my non-educated eye, although he's been off his meds for six months or more) refuses to learn the transit system, so every time X gets fed up with the shelter (which is at least once a week) my husband has to come into the city, pick him up, and he ends up sleeping in my basement or with friends for a few days until we can talk him into going back into the Chicago (where all the services are.)

We've given him hundreds of dollars in clothes, food, and actual walking-around money. (Thinking about it, probably close to a thousand dollars by now.) This despite the fact he has disability money, which he tells me he's successfully transferred to a guardian that works with the shelter in Chicago.

We let him sleep in our house (which I am *very* uncomfortable with; see previous psychotic break description.) He displays the responsibility of a ten-year-old.

Maybe it's the mental illness. Maybe I'm being unfair. But I've had it up to here with X; I never volunteered to be his parent. And at the same time, I feel guilty, because, well, mental illness.

Am I a horrible person?

#32 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2015, 01:23 PM:

#12, Jacque:

The problem is that one takes a certain shape to survive the dysfunction. It then becomes hard, once one escapes, to avoid recreating the dysfunction so that one's shape fits in the new context.

That sounds familiar. Or sometimes, instead of recreating the dysfunction, finding a similar dysfunction because it fits your current distorted shape. But either way, it doesn't allow you the space to untwist yourself.

#19, Jeanie:

And you continue to take stunning photos.

No, you don't have to live up to anything. All you have to do is show up and be you; you already know how. This was a major revelation to me.

A concept I've been working on lately is that the whole thing about improving, raising the bar, learning and getting better over time is generally a good thing but does not need to apply to every single thing ever. I have been consciously and deliberately telling myself that my daily photos are only a photo of anything interesting each day and I don't have to make them better every time and I don't have to make them objectively professional quality and I don't have to top myself each time I post a photo. In hindsight I think that's one of the reasons I stopped writing a blog I started a few years back, that feeling of needing to make each post better than the last eventually overwhelmed me and the feeling of not being good enough to do that made it hard to continue. Then I found the book "when I say no I feel guilty" and one of the points in it I read yesterday was that we all have the right to say "I don't care" - specifically that I don't need to meet some judgement of progress or improvement, that I am allowed to say to myself this is good enough for what I want to do.

Counterintuitively, being willing to take and post pictures of roadside weeds and rusted abandoned equipment because I deliberately decided that I don't care about meeting the pro-level photography (and fancy equipment) norms of 500px has led to some of the pictures I like the most. Unfortunately the site has now set it up so that photos without categories and metadata still show up in the new photos page and the stats on views and likes are intruding into my silent posting habit. Trying to ignore those. Also, roadside weeds are pretty!

Anyhow, I'm trying to figure out the showing up and being me part. More to the point, the "being me" part. That terror of other people's judgement is hard to shake; in many situations I still shrink my opinions so small even I can't see them and go along with the expectations around me.

I'm trying to find the shape that is me, trying to untwist from the shape I took in prior bad situations.

#33 ::: Jeanie ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2015, 02:46 PM:

Not me:

No, you're not a horrible person. Not remotely.

This is a golden opportunity to demonstrate to your daughter how this guy is far, far past your energy to cope with.

If you're scared, then you'd better believe she is too.

Perhaps you, your husband and your daughter could sit down and talk through this together?

Reassuring her by taking steps to protect your family is another agenda worth running.


#34 ::: Not Me ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2015, 03:07 PM:

Jeanie, sorry if I was unclear; the daughter isn't mine; it's of the friend X first made contact with, after fifteen years. That daughter is eighteen now, and a black belt -- hell, the whole family are black belts -- so if X did turn up there again, she could likely handle any problems.

I have no kids, so at least there's not that issue. But part of it is that, I have no kids. I didn't sign up to have kids. I don't want a "kid", especially one who is roughly my age.

Physically, X is quite tall, but rather frail (living on the street for months will do that), so he's unlikely to be a serious danger to myself or my spouse. Plus, I have a sword and I know how to use it... But that does NOT make me comfortable with X sometimes sleeping on a blow-up mattress in my basement. (I keep the sword next to the bed on those days.)

Hope this clarifies...

#35 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2015, 03:56 PM:

Not Me #34: Not Me: You have offered great charity already, but this person sounds like a bottomless pit -- someone who will absorb anything you give him, without changing. If anything, your help is letting him avoid dealing with the public aid he's already gotten. I'd advise you to talk with his guardian in Chicago, and any other appropriate figures there, and start bringing him back to the shelter ASAP after he shows up at your door.

the invisible one #32: I'm getting some of that with my drawing, which is a problem. (I'm currently partway done with cards for my (twin) nieces, having stalled until the day before we're flying up to Boston for their Bat Mitzvahs. (Also see: family gatherings, stress thereof. At least Mom is being mostly helpful these days....)

#36 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2015, 04:01 PM:

Not Me, #31: No, you're not being a horrible person. You have damn good reason to be uneasy about this situation. You're not X's parent, and you're not a medical professional, and frankly, X is using you.

Here are my own credentials on this topic. A long time ago, I had a good friend, let's call him Y. I met Y when I was in college, and we became very close -- never lovers, but chosen-sibs. I fought my parents for my right to have him as a friend (long story, irrelevant here). We stayed close after I graduated. He was my now-ex's best man at our wedding. I would have trusted him with my life.

Some 10 or 15 years after college, Y was living in a poly household with 3 other friends of mine. They started mentioning that he was having "odd spells" -- periods of a few days when he didn't seem entirely rational. Long story short: those odd spells got more and more frequent, and eventually the person who owned the house kicked him out, and he came to us (my now-ex and me) and asked if he could stay with us for a while, until he could find an apartment and get his life sorted out. He said "a few weeks".

I was a little dubious, but... it was Y. I'd known him for close to 20 years. He'd done me a lot of favors over that period (and I him -- nobody kept score). I said okay. At that point I'd been laid off and was job-hunting; my ex had a job and was gone during the day, so I was the one who saw the most of Y.

He was different. Don't ask me to describe how, but it made the hair stand up on the back of my neck. I found myself being "vewy, vewy qwiet" when we were both in the house. And he was cycling in and out of reality on about a 10-day loop. It got bad enough that at one point I borrowed an abnormal-psych textbook from a friend who was taking med classes, and I was going down the list of symptoms for paranoid schizophrenia going, "Check... check... check...".

The day it all came to a head was when he sat down and told me, very seriously, that the text in my Bible had changed. The text in some of my SF books had changed. He knew why it had changed -- it was because They knew he was going to be reading those books, and so They had substituted new copies with the changed text in them. He was hearing his former GF's voice talking to him from the radio, and that was because of Them too. I never did get a clear idea of who They were supposed to be -- possibly the former boss who had tried to have him killed (he said), possibly not. But most importantly, I wasn't real. Nothing around him was real. He knew it wasn't real, because he had discovered that he no longer needed to eat, or drink, or breathe. I said, "You're breathing -- I can see your chest moving from here." He said, "That's just because I'm talking to you. I'm not breathing."

There was more, but I'll spare you the rest. Suffice it to say that he scared the ever-lovin' shit out of me, and I picked up my purse and RAN out of the house, and didn't come back until my ex got home from work. At which point I said Y needed to find somewhere else to go NOW, because I wasn't going to spend another night with him under my roof. (Or another day alone in the house with him, but I didn't say that.) So he made some phone calls, and packed up his stuff and moved in with his married sister. He was also back to being lucid by then, and tried to tell me that all of that weird-ass shit that had scared me was just a hypothetical conversation, the kind we were all used to having in the SF Club. I was furious -- that felt like a betrayal of everything we'd ever shared.

Less than 2 weeks later, we found out that he'd hijacked a car at knifepoint and gone looking for some guy in the next town that he thought his former GF was dating. (Nobody got hurt.)

Do I feel bad about having kicked Y out? Yes, even after all these years. But not as much as I feel relieved that I did it before he had his own psychotic break. It was obvious that he needed more help than I could provide.

I think you're in a similar situation with X -- he needs more help than you can provide, and he's not going to get better as long as he's got you and your husband on the string. And I think you may also be letting your "supposed to be nice and helpful and stand by your friends" conditioning override the back of your brain telling you that Something Ain't Right Here. That's a good way to end up getting hurt more than financially.

You and your husband need to sit down and have a serious discussion about this. And my recommendation is that you distance yourself from the situation and from X.

#37 ::: Not Me ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2015, 04:06 PM:

Thanks, Lee and David and Jeanie.

That helps. It really truly does.

The Goddamn Tapes are telling me that I'm being an awful person for even thinking of cutting him off. So your collective insight, and espcially, Lee, your personal experience, is a great spine-stiffener.

Thank you. Thank you all.

#38 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2015, 04:08 PM:

Not Me, you are not a terrible person or a terrible friend for seeing a boundary. Even if he had no other resources, you would not be a terrible person. He has other resources and wants to rely on you instead. You don't have to give him what he wants.

#39 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2015, 06:20 PM:

Not Me, Lee: Within not-too-many centuries ago, before medicine started extending its grasp into psychology, people like this were often thought to be possessed -- that a spirit or demon had moved in and was tormenting the person, or had replaced their personality entirely.

There is this much truth to that idea: Someone who's having a psychotic break is in some sense, not the same person who their family, friends, aquaintances knew and may have loved. The same body, sure, and with most of their memories -- but their personality, their character, often their goals -- those have changed. Sometimes they come back temporarily or permanently, but while they're in that "maddened" state, you simply can't trust them or depend on them in the same way that you did to the original person you knew, and you do need to reckon for your own safety.

With modern medicine, we know that sometimes we can get the person back; sometimes wholly, and if not, at least partly -- enough that they can take up the threads of relationship again. But that's not a matter of unconditional support, because their self is broken, and they can't really receive your love in the same way that a sane person can. Indulging their delusions or putting up with their erratic behavior, is not helping them.

They need treatment by professionals, and "doing your best by them" means getting them into the proper treatment, and convincing them to accept it. Sometimes, that needs to be "by fair means or foul", including crossing their wishes and abridging their personal freedom. That can be painful, because it feels like you're forcing your will on them... and you are. But in such cases, that's what you need to do for everyone's welfare, especially theirs. And if you can get them back, they'll usually recognize this, and likely thank you for it.

#40 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2015, 06:34 PM:

And, speaking of psychiatric excursions, I just went to my development's laundry room, and was informed by nearby children that "there's poop in there". And indeed, somebody appears to have shat on the floor, and spread it around to boot. I've called emergency maintenance (the main office being closed), but I suspect this means someone else is having their own crisis with a loved one.... :-(

#41 ::: MJH ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2015, 06:50 PM:

Not Me, David Harmon #39 is right, and also well informed and compassionate. A few years ago my son, at 24, went from being an employed college graduate with lots of friends and a girlfriend to being That Guy in the Street in a matter of months. It *is* like demon possession; the person becomes unrecognizable at times and certainly not better. Families have absolutely no power, at least in California, to compel treatment or anything else when the person is over 18. I'm not even allowed to know his diagnosis. My son was a kind and caring person, but he isn't any more. It seems to be part of mental illness that the person becomes utterly self absorbed, possibly because they are living in their own universe. You can pour energy into it endlessly. Most schizophrenics never become violent (we just hear about those who do in the news), but trust your gut. You've been kind, you've directed him to services. Take care of yourself and set limits.

#42 ::: Jeanie ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2015, 09:25 PM:

Not me at 34:

No, you were clear. I read through several times before posting and still managed to slip in that confabulation.

#43 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2015, 04:17 PM:

MJH @41:

Part of some mental illnesses, maybe, but not all. (Or, at least, mentally ill people can be self-absorbed, but so can "healthy" people.)

I'm putting this here because it is almost certain that there are people reading this thread who have mental illnesses, including depression and PTSD.

#44 ::: MJH ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2015, 05:23 PM:

Vicki, thanks for the correction. You are absolutely right. I spoke too broadly.

#45 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2015, 06:07 PM:

And then there are those who approach dysfunction as A Way of Life. We're dealing with a broad selection of those in our office right now, under circumstances that result in them being a higher percentage of the clientele than usual.

Pop the popcorn and enjoy the show. ::rolls eyes::

#46 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2015, 06:16 PM:

Not Me: I've got a friend who is the legal guardian for disabled adults--that's her profession. She's had several clients who schizophrenic over the years, and it sounds to me that you are talking about one who has learned to manipulate the system. (I'm not saying that he is faking it. He's just figured out how to make the world conform to the way he sees it, to a certain extent.) If you can talk to X's guardian, she or he may be able to help you disengage--because I think you need to do that.

You are not a horrible person. You are in a situation you aren't trained to handle, and I suspect that the best thing you can do (for yourself, your family and friends, and ultimately even for X) is to back away. Now.

#47 ::: Not Me ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2015, 07:05 PM:

Thanks, Mary Francis, and everyone. I really appreciate the support. You guys rock.

And because you guys rock, I've managed to mostly mute the Goddamn Tapes.

Working on setting hard boundaries now.

#48 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2015, 10:10 PM:

@ Not Me

You are definitely not being a bad person, and I say this as someone who recently needed to set some of the same boundaries you're thinking about. (Like you, I'm being a little cagy here.) I agree that you're being used and that your friend has issues that you can't fix, so don't listen to any bad tape!

#49 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2015, 11:52 AM:

I was with the book "when I say no I feel guilty" most of the way (broken record with no need to give a reason is a technique I've heard of before!) although "agreeing with truth" when criticized made me uncomfortable because repeating criticism (true or not) eventually got me believing that crap with Crappy Ex, but the dialogue for negotiating a change to sex life kind of freaked me out. The example was of a man broken-record-ing at his wife about wanting to do something she wasn't comfortable with and not taking no for an answer, and asking for then demolishing her reasons for not wanting to do it.

Which is just argh. Guess what my sex life with Crappy Ex was like?

Why was "because I'm not comfortable with it" not acceptable? Why was it that in other example dialogues such as the person saying no because they weren't comfortable lending out their car supported, but in this case it was not?

That queasy feeling while continuing to read, hoping that at some point the author will point out that this is an example of badness, and not seeing it all the way to the end, followed by the author saying that the wife's giving in was the good result. :(

#50 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2015, 03:06 PM:

the invisible one @49: That's horrifying. To me, the *most* important place for "I'm not comfortable with that" to be accepted at face value would be in intimacy - not the least. Has the author never heard of enthusiastic consent? Is he so steeped in rape culture as to not realizing he's perpetuating it?!?

#51 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2015, 03:56 PM:

#50 ::: Chickadee

When I Say No I Feel Guilty is from 1975-- paperback edition 1985. The past is a different country. No, the author hadn't heard of enthusiastic consent.

#52 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2015, 04:09 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @51: Ah. Technically I'm old enough to have heard of the book, but it wouldn't have been on my mom's approved list by any stretch of the imagination. :P

#53 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2015, 04:32 PM:

Two eras divided by a common language.

#54 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2015, 02:18 AM:

I knew it was an old book going in and was prepared for sexism. One of the "very common" conflicts for married couples was the wife deciding she wanted to get a job instead of being a housewife, for example. I can deal with that, even if I roll my eyes when one of the husband's arguments against his wife getting a job was that he would feel guilty because she was working two jobs (the paid one and the house cleaning one) and he was only working one. Because both of them working one and a half jobs and sharing the housecleaning duties was inconceivable, of course. (At least he acknowledged that taking care of the home was a job! That's more than many do.)

On a slightly less specific level, after being unhappy about the above, I thought a bit more and realized that (at least in my first reading of it) when the assertive person is saying no to something they can broken-record their no and refuse to give a reason no matter what the person they're saying no to asks about why, but when the assertive person is asking for a thing and getting a no, they can broken-record their want and press for reasons as to why they're getting a no in order to dispose of said reasons.

Does somebody here have more experience with assertiveness and know how one reconciles these two lessons? They seem entirely contradictory to me. I'm trying to figure out if I should ditch and unrecommend this book, or if there's more I need to learn about the topic to understand what's going on here.

The concept of not needing to give reasons for your no is something I had learned about already; Captain Awkward is big on that method. I had taken the inverse to be true as well though, that if somebody said no then to not press for reasons because they don't owe me a reason any more than I owe them one.

#55 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2015, 07:54 AM:

It's not just about "assertiveness", it's about privilege, and power, and the claiming of all three.

Who gets to demand reasons, or refuse to give them? Who gets to expect that the reasons they give will be accepted without argument? A while back there was mention of "a woman's prerogative to change her mind" in light of consent issues, that plays in here too. Likewise "crimes" such as vagrancy or "loitering with intent" -- who gets to explain themselves to a cop?

#56 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2015, 04:33 PM:

The book explicitly acknowledges that when there's a big power differential (such as when dealing with the police or when you feel physically threatened) no, you don't do the assertiveness thing that it teaches.

It's about dealing with equals, or those who should be your equals, such as friends and spouses. My question is also about dealing with equals or those who should be equals, not about dealing with police officers.

Yes, privilege is a huge thing and people with less frequently have their right to say no without giving a reason disrespected. I am more than familiar with that. That is not my current question.

#57 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2015, 04:51 PM:

when the assertive person is saying no to something they can broken-record their no and refuse to give a reason no matter what the person they're saying no to asks about why, but when the assertive person is asking for a thing and getting a no, they can broken-record their want and press for reasons as to why they're getting a no in order to dispose of said reasons.

When the assertive person is doing the former thing, they are on their own emotional territory, defending their own boundaries, and this is a useful thing. When they're doing the latter, they're not on their own territory; they're invading the emotional territory of another person. Persistence there is not appropriate. An assertive person who does that is behaving badly, using their assertiveness as a weapon.

The solution, which is hard, is to be assertive back (even temporarily), to tell them that you do not want to discuss or argue about your refusal, because it is yours and you do not want to be persuaded out of it. (Depending on the nature of the assertive person, the word "bullied" may be a useful one to deploy here.)

If a person will not respect a clear request to stop pushing a boundary, they're being a jerk. They're using their assertiveness to do it, but the assertiveness is not to blame. Being a jerk is to blame. If no other solution works, they may simply not be someone you can be in a relationship with. Learn that early and pay attention to it. (I know one person here who sets a small boundary—please don't telephone me; I prefer text messages—to test if new partners/friends are boundary-crossers. Someone who crosses that boundary will likely cross others, later, and may not be suitable for a long-term relationship.)

Unfortunately, I think that assertive people often have gotten away with being jerks more often than non-assertive people, just by overriding and ignoring the corrective feedback that young people get as they figure out whether to control or let loose their inner jerks. But I do not think that every assertive person is a jerk.

I work with a very assertive person, who has all of the innate delicacy and inborn sensitivity of a steamroller with a breeze block on the accelerator pedal. But sometime before I met him, he figured out that he was being a flaming asshole, and decided that he'd be a better person surrounded by people he liked more if he changed his ways. He's become one of my favorite colleagues, because he combines an assertive, blunt demeanor about positive things with a genuine willingness to completely reform his behavior if he's doing things wrong. So it is possible.

#58 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2015, 08:19 PM:

So the second lesson, pushing for reasons, is a bad use of assertiveness? That kind of throws out half the advice in the book.

Trying to get a sense of how much of the advice is useful and how much is harmful. I've seen it recommended often enough (with no warnings about certain sections the way The Gift of Fear comes recommended) that I went looking for it.

#59 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2015, 09:32 PM:

TIO #56: The problematic example you give in #49 is specifically a husband steamrollering his wife, which smells to me of gender privilege -- especially in that time, and from a male author. For the example in #54, you don't specify whether it's the wife who's meant to be standing up to the argument you rolled eyes at. If so, I'd be more willing to forgive the first example as "less awareness of such things in the past".

#60 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2015, 09:48 PM:

#59, David Harmon:

Yes, the example in #49 was very much that, and it disturbed me a lot.

The example I mentioned in #54 was one of the kinds of sexism I expected from the book based on its copyright date. In that example, the wife was the assertive subject and was asserting that she wanted to get a job in the face of her husband's objections.

The two lessons I am trying to reconcile (or figure out if one of them is harmful and should be discarded) is not related to the two examples, but to the two general patterns I described below the example.

#61 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2015, 10:09 PM:

TIO #60: Oh, I see (I think). For that, well Abi's covered the context level perfectly well. For the close focus, I'd just consider "assertiveness" as a social analogue to strength or intelligence -- a power that can be used for good or ill.

I think it also represents an attempt at dominance, but I'm currently foggy with exhaustion and not too sure of that, except that there's clearly some relation between assertiveness and dominance.

#62 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2015, 12:49 AM:

the invisible one @54: Does somebody here have more experience with assertiveness and know how one reconciles these two lessons?

When it comes down to it, Person B's right to want what s/he wants is trumped by Person A's bodily autonomy. Period, end of discussion. (IMnsHO.) Hierarchy of needs, and all that.

How would I handle this conflict, were I Person A? Well, we've run into a variant of this at work. How do we resolve it? "I've answered this question for you three times. If you don't like the answer, I'm sorry, but there's nothing more I can do for you."

Mileage, of course, varies.

#63 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2015, 12:59 AM:

abi @57: When they're doing the latter, they're not on their own territory; they're invading the emotional territory of another person. Persistence there is not appropriate. An assertive person who does that is behaving badly, using their assertiveness as a weapon.

Almost. There's a term that's slipped out of the discussion which I think might be useful here: In my understanding, when one is defending one's own territory, one is being assertive. When one is invading another's territory, one is being aggressive, not merely behaving badly. And, yes, the aggression is a weapon. And not uncommonly an expression of privilege.

#64 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2015, 02:15 AM:

the invisible one, #49: Well, that's a classic example of a visit from the Suck Fairy!

Note that at the time the book was written (thanks, Nancy!) there was no such thing as marital rape, and it was considered a wife's duty to satisfy her husband sexually; this also applied if she said no to something and he went out and had an affair in order to get it, which was then considered the wife's fault. That's the mindset which produces the sort of crap you saw.

and @56, remember also that for many people, the husband/wife relationship is a power-differential one where privilege comes into play, not a relationship of equals. If the book is saying one thing but demonstrating the other, believe the demonstration WRT the author's POV.

#65 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2015, 08:03 AM:

Jacque #63: My problem with that definition is that sometimes the territory is disputed!

Within our own society, Abi speaks of "emotional territory" and "boundaries". But those are often matters of ongoing negotiation. I think there are natural boundaries there, which are "most easily defended", but I still can't be sure that my idea of my boundaries will match up with, say, my mother's idea of my boundaries. Things get even less certain when you go past "existential" boundaries to lines of privilege and authority.

More fundamentally, in our liberal modern (segment of) society, it's a given that each person's body is wholly their own territory. Nor will I argue otherwise... but that axiom wasn't, and still isn't, universally granted. We condemn a social order for its absence (Lee #64), while the other order would condemn us for the absence of an incompatible axiom ("What do you mean a husband doesn't have a right to...".) At some point we come down to saying "this is the law of my tribe/world, and I'll stand and fight for it".

Going back to the topic, assertiveness is one of the ways we fight over all sorts of boundaries, "asserting" our lines even against opposition. And there generally is opposition, because people, like nations, tend to reflexively defend even flimsy claims of territory.

Teaching the public how to be more assertive (as this book did and does) promotes an equalization of "armament" in such struggles. And thus the book's methods can be used to defend a border that the original author might not have recognized. ("Take that, Suck Fairy!" ;-) ) At some point, a later edition of the book might acquire an apologetic footnote....

#66 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2015, 09:43 AM:

Re assertiveness and the "broken record"

It seems to me that the broken record on the "no" side is most useful in defending one's boundaries from someone who has previously indicated that they are boundary-challenged and that if you offer any opening, they will take more than you offer.

To question another's boundaries, or state your wants, ISTM broken record is only useful when you're dealing with a bureaucracy/organization rather than an individual. Because basically the purpose is to make yourself enough of a polite nuisance that they will find a way to respond to you. And really, that's not the way you want your personal relationships to work.

In stating your wants to someone else within a relationship, it seems to me that communication is the key. And therefore continued repetitions of the same thing are not at all useful, unless your purpose is to wear the other person down until they comply with you. Sometimes this is the best approach with young children, but even there it's best used sparingly. If you're talking with a spouse, then before you get more than a few repetitions into the discussion, I think both sides should be exploring the size and shape of the boundary, not in order to break it down, but in order to see whether there is some position that meets the needs of the one without overriding the boundary of the other. Neither "I asked for X and she said no so I'll just keep asking" nor "I asked for X and she said no so I'll never ask for anything remotely like it again even though it's important to me."

Also to be considered: does the person repeatedly stating a want for X really want X, or do they just want their partner to give in?

I think the assumption in the book is that broken-record is appropriate for stating wants when someone is denying you something to which you are fully entitled. (Maybe that's why I jumped to it as applicable to bureaucracies.) But, as others have said, the cultural line on full entitlement in marriage has shifted since the book was written.

#67 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2015, 10:18 AM:

On the repeated-asking thing, I honestly don't know if this is helpful or not, but my husband waged a year-long campaign (many years ago). About once a day, apropos of nothing we'd been talking about, he'd say (or mutter, or whisper, or declaim to the cat) "I wanna boat." Then he would continue with whatever the conversation in progress was actually about, saying nothing more on the matter. He never pressed.

It was a running joke. But also a serious request. And after about a year, I decided that this was important enough to him that despite my reservations, if he could find a boat I thought we could afford, he could have his boat...

(We sailed that boat for ten or fifteen years, until it just became too expensive to keep it in the harbor.)

#68 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2015, 10:20 AM:

OtterB #66: Also to be considered: does the person repeatedly stating a want for X really want X, or do they just want their partner to give in?

I think that's the difference between negotiating goals/needs within a peer relationship, and negotiating dominance/control/authority.

#69 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2015, 12:41 PM:

#61, David Harmon:

The book makes the argument that assertiveness is not about dominance; manipulation (which assertiveness is intended to cut through and counteract) is about (indirect) dominance. The examples may not always support this argument in the way the author seems to think they do, but it seems to be a reasonably valid argument and several other examples did support it.

#62, Jacque: "I've answered this question for you three times. If you don't like the answer, I'm sorry, but there's nothing more I can do for you."

That illustrates something I've been also wondering. The author doesn't really explain how to handle an interaction where both parties are assertively doing a broken record of "this is what I want" and "no", respectively, and how to handle a negotiation (which is where such an interaction should go, as I understand it) where both parties are speaking assertively. The examples are of a person being assertive speaking with a person using anger, fear, withdrawal, or emotional manipulation, instead of assertive statements, whichever side of the discussion the assertive person is on.

#63, Jacque: In my understanding, when one is defending one's own territory, one is being assertive. When one is invading another's territory, one is being aggressive, not merely behaving badly.

That is a very useful distinction. The difference between being assertive and aggressive has always confused me, compounded by the way the same behaviour is deemed one or the other depending on who does it (very gendered, among other axes of privilege).

#64, Lee:

The more I think about it, the more I think that the author did believe a marriage should be a relationship between equals -- but, in a "man with lots of male privilege who supports this relatively recent women's lib thing but doesn't really get it" kind of way. There are definite blind spots but the demonstrations of equality are there, if unevenly so. There are example dialogues supporting a married woman who wants to have a job and her own income, and an unmarried woman choosing whether or not to have sex with a boyfriend without slut-shaming (or prude-shaming) her choice, even if the language around them are rather outdated. It also acknowledges (some) social expectations and how hard it is to go against them.

Alas, you can't grep paper so I can't find it again, but one of the passing comments that stopped me in my tracks was a warning to women about men who talk the talk of equality but also say that the woman in a relationship should be a stay at home mom: that the talk of equality that man offers is just talk with nothing to back it up. And of course the reason it stopped me so hard is because new ex did exactly that, shortly before he dumped me. It was, you see, very important to him that his kids have a stay at home mother. Not a stay at home *parent*, though, which would have allowed a negotiation.

#65, David Harmon: the book's methods can be used to defend a border that the original author might not have recognized

Yes! :)

#66, OtterB: To question another's boundaries, or state your wants, ISTM broken record is only useful when you're dealing with a bureaucracy/organization rather than an individual. Because basically the purpose is to make yourself enough of a polite nuisance that they will find a way to respond to you. And really, that's not the way you want your personal relationships to work.

Oh, yes, that makes sense. The examples of commercial interactions are mostly about persisting in the face of staff trying to make you go away so they don't have to honour refunds and the like. The examples with the assertive person on the company's end involve making sure the customer complaint is appropriately dealt with without the employee getting flustered. (Those are listed in a table of contents; I just re-read one of them and the customer was fairly assertive about what she wanted and the employee was assertive enough to explain when she could be helped and not get flustered himself. So there is *some* two way assertiveness demonstration, although the assertive techniques the customer used aren't pointed out.)

Sometimes [repetition] is the best approach with young children, but even there it's best used sparingly.

That's one of the examples. "You don't have to like it, but you need to do it." I'm not sure, but I think I would have preferred that approach over the one my parents took. At least it acknowledges that the kid might not like something. I got "do you want to do [chore]" and any answer other than yes was a joke because I had to do [chore]. Not liking something was either ignored, dismissed as overreaction, or laughed at. "Rebellious teenager" me was answering "no, but I have to do it anyway because that's not actually a question." Which was also a joke. Hilarious. :p

If you're talking with a spouse, then before you get more than a few repetitions into the discussion, I think both sides should be exploring the size and shape of the boundary, not in order to break it down, but in order to see whether there is some position that meets the needs of the one without overriding the boundary of the other.

Is that the thing called compromise? I've heard of compromise but haven't figured out how to find it. I'd like to learn how. Life with parents was "because I'm the parent, that's why" and "you're so stubborn you never listen"; life with Crappy Ex was "compromise means doing things you don't enjoy" and "you always have to have your own way, can't we do things my way for once?". (Note that the preceding "for once" was, to my memory, most of the time. I know memory is unreliable, but.) I pretty much only know withdrawing and doing my thing my way without telling the other person (which was probably the source of "you're so stubborn" and "always have to have your own way") or folding and doing their thing their way even though I don't want to. I don't like either option.

#67, Cassy B.:

At this point in my life, I would find that approach seriously annoying. At least it was about a thing you could enjoy, even if you had reservations.

At previous points in my life, I might have done anything from telling him to buy it himself with his own money then refusing to use it myself and sulking (because assertiveness, I had none!) to completely folding followed by having "but you enjoyed the last thing you initially objected to, so we should do this totally unrelated thing that you object to now because you are always wrong look at the evidence" used against me. Of course, I was in a relationship with a person who *would* use that against me, so there's that.

#70 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2015, 12:55 PM:

*Kicks the server to shake loose the ISE.*

#71 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2015, 12:56 PM:

Hm, that didn't work. Trying again.

Um, me at #69: "Is that the thing called compromise?" is a serious question, not a sarcastic one. I just realized it could easily be read that way.

I have a vague notion that compromise is a solution that satisfies both parties, or as is often joked about, dissatisfies both parties equally. But the relationships I've had seemed to use a different meaning of the term and I never actually learned how to find a workable compromise, only, as described above, the all or nothing response.

#72 ::: Jeanie ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2015, 01:16 PM:

TIO: I never actually learned how to find a workable compromise, only, as described above, the all or nothing response.

This was what it came down to at the end of my marriage: the fallacy was thinking that we could find a compromise. The situation involved me being willing to change, and him being willing to go along until I found how to change to accommodate him.

I finally had to tell him: "You left it up to me to change my life to be happy. The only way I can see to do that is to leave you. Bye."

He still can't figure out why I couldn't manage to be happy in a way that kept him happy too.

Some things aren't possible. It's a trap to think that if we look carefully enough we can make them so.

#73 ::: hope in disguise ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2015, 01:57 PM:

the invisible one @69: I got "do you want to do [chore]" and any answer other than yes was a joke because I had to do [chore]. Not liking something was either ignored, dismissed as overreaction, or laughed at. "Rebellious teenager" me was answering "no, but I have to do it anyway because that's not actually a question." Which was also a joke. Hilarious. :p

I eventually called my mother out on this. Unfortunately I think it was once I was no longer living in her home and therefore once it was practically irrelevant. But I think that at the point I did, she was able to recognize why I might have objected to her phrasing, which is nice.

"Is that the thing called compromise?"

Yes, I think so. I have also heard of this thing and am not entirely sure how to find it. My current partner, if I want to do a thing that he is not happy about, will sometimes say "do what you want," and as far as I can tell he actually means this. At least, he hasn't yet used any of these things that I then did as the basis for supposedly-justified resentment with a time gap. I continue to be astonished and disbelieving that he actually means this, albeit somewhat concerned that perhaps he is letting me walk all over him (which would be a definite role reversal from prior relationships). But I don't think that's compromise. Nor do I think "when there is a conflict between his standards of cleanliness and mine, I end up conforming to the union of his standards and mine" is compromise. hmm. (I'm not very unhappy about it yet, which means that I should try to address it before I am.)

#74 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2015, 02:21 PM:

David Harmon @65: My problem with that definition is that sometimes the territory is disputed!

Yeah, I was thinking about that overnight. That in rape culture, men's territories include the "right" to women's bodies and attention. So, yeah.

In practical terms, and legal status notwithstanding, I think a good rule of thumb is "your right to swing your fist stops where my nose begins."

me @62: "I've answered this question for you three times. If you don't like the answer, I'm sorry, but there's nothing more I can do for you."

Reading Captain Awkward refreshed my memory; the interpersonal, non-work-related variant of this is: Try 1. "No." Try 2. "No." Change of subject. Try 3. "No." Leave the room. If it goes beyond that, then it's time for "Dude. WTF?"

the invisible one @69: Thinking about it, if both parties are broken-recording, then assertiveness is not in play. Rather, this begins to fall into manipulative territory, I think. I.e., neither party is actually responding to the other; rather they're both just blindly asserting their own position. Not actual communication is happening.

how to handle a negotiation (which is where such an interaction should go, as I understand it) where both parties are speaking assertively.

If both parties are acting in good faith, the next step is unpacking and clarifying the needs/wants that both are trying to achieve. Cf. OtterB @66: See also: Getting to Yes.

And, yes, as David points out above, privilege is very much a factor.

Is that the thing called compromise?

Erm, well. My understanding of "compromise" is that you get some of what you want, and I get some of what I want, at the price of us both losing some of what we each want.

The GTY approach is more about identifying the actual needs being pled, to see if a more satisfactory solution can be found for both. The great example they give: Persons A & B have an orange. They each want it. The off-the-shelf solution is to cut the orange in half. Neither gets a whole orange, but both get half an orange.

But what if A wants zest for their cake recipe and B wants orange juice? Then the optimal split is completely different; A gets the peel, B gets the pulp, and they both get all of what they want.

Another example: optimal housework split can look like "everyone does every chore, sometime." Or it can look like "A does dishes and laundry" all the time and "B does bathrooms and vacuuming" all the time, with a side of "A and B do beds together, because it's easier and actually fun that way." And possibly a slice of "We both find washing windows utterly abhorrent, so we'll grit our teeth and split it down the middle."

Negotiating these splits involves each party being able, or at least being able and willing to figure out what their actual need/preference is, and being willing to say that with words. And, likewise, being able/willing to listen to and accommodate the other's needs/preference.

I once watched a marriage come apart because, basically, both parties were mind-reading (wrongly) the other, and reacting badly to what they read. I didn't have to wisdom to offer back then. Had I to do it over again, I would have knocked their heads together and yelled, "Dudes! Use your words!!" Because as far as I could see from what they were telling me, they were each fighting completely unrelated conflicts.

#75 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2015, 02:44 PM:

The invisible one #69: The book makes the argument that assertiveness is not about dominance; manipulation (which assertiveness is intended to cut through and counteract) is about (indirect) dominance.

I think this starts to lead down to word definitions. It's easy to get mired in arguments about those, but here's my stab at it:

"Dominance" describes a status quo where one side "usually" gets their way. It's famously not limited to human interactions, and may be universal to social animals. It's also very context-dependent. (Territory is one of those contexts, and it's worth noting that among humans, "roles" are territory.) Dominance can be based on a variety of intrinsic, situational, or interpersonal factors. Assertiveness is just one of those factors.

I'd consider "assertiveness" as attempting to get your way at the "conversational" level of negotiation. It's both a talent and a skill -- that is, some people are naturally better at it, but it can also be learned or trained. There are rules that depend on social norms -- in our current context, tactics such as threat, force, or trickery break out of the conversational level, metaphorically overturning the gameboard.

Those social norms mark a line between "discussion" and "fight", but that's not as bright a line as we might like. A dog or cat may well consider a growl or swat respectively as "fair play", and even some humans seem to take a bit of physical intimidation in stride. I think the key there is that it can't be a "trump" move -- so, a brawler type might wave his fist at his buddy in an argument without protest, where if he did that at me, I'd call foul. In the extreme case, we get "war is the continuation of diplomacy by other means".

Compromise: I'd define that as finding a solution which is at least tolerable to both parties -- either or both may not be happy with the result, but they can both live with it. A compromise isn't always completely equitable, but if it's too unbalanced, then it won't actually be tolerable. (Not just humans, but even other animals, react poorly to unfairness.)

I'm not naturally very good at compromise, but I've learned a lot over the years. Besides the autistic-spectrum thing, I was handicapped by a seriously overbearing mother -- I had to learn both how to stand up for myself, and then again how to give way gracefully. (Sometimes I still stumble over the latter.)

#76 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2015, 02:57 PM:

PS: The "Getting to Yes" idea is about doing better than minimum-standard for compromise. Creativity and insight can pay off big that way.

#77 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2015, 05:41 PM:

Here's something I think of as an example of compromise. He wants to go to a movie that is totally Not Your Thing, and you don't feel much like going out at all. You say, "You go on, I'll stay home." He says it's not as much fun without you. The two of you start looking at movie listings, and settle on something that sounds okay to both of you. He doesn't get to see the movie he originally wanted; you don't get to stay home. But also, he gets to see a movie with you (which seems to be the point, for him) and you don't have to watch a movie you know you're not going to enjoy. So both of you give something and get something. That's compromise.

This is not the same thing as give-and-take, which is when sometimes you do what one person wants and sometimes what the other person wants. In a healthy relationship there's some of that as well, but it's not the only way of dealing with conflicts.

BTW, the response to "but the last time you did something I pushed you into, you ended up not hating it, so you should let me push you into this other thing now" is: Past performance is no indicator of future performance. That's a stock-market axiom, but it's also very applicable to other areas!

#78 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2015, 02:01 AM:

Yet another useful reference: the Power and Control Wheel (PDF), from the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence. Good, brief descriptions of both physically and emotionally abusive behaviors.

#79 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2015, 02:58 AM:

Assertiveness: the following is a mix of sets of assertiveness rights, also called simply "basic human rights", from two or three places. I think the ending of "and so do you" is important. Because that, for me, is the difference between assertiveness and aggressiveness. Someone who insists on these rights for themself while denying them to another - such as a partner - is not being assertive, they are being aggressive/dominating.

I have the right to be treated with respect and consideration - and so do you.
I have the right to ask (not demand) that others respond to my needs and wants - and so do you.
I have the right to set my own priorities as to needs - and so do you.
I have the right to refuse a request without feeling guilty or selfish - and so do you.
I have the right to be "human" - to make mistakes/be wrong sometimes - and so do you.
I have the right to have and express directly my own opinions and feelings, including anger - and so do you.
I have the right to express my talents and interests through any ethical channel - and so do you.
I have the right to be treated as a capable adult and not be patronised - and so do you.
I have the right to be independent - and so do you.
I have the right to have other people respect my rights - and so do you.
I have the right to ask others to change behaviour that continues to violate my rights - and so do you.

#80 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2015, 07:48 AM:

dcb #79: I think the ending of "and so do you" is important. Because that, for me, is the difference between assertiveness and aggressiveness.

Hmm. I like that. It could be definitional, subject to the "majesty of the law" test.

#81 ::: a new crop from the pseud farm ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2015, 12:49 PM:

(I am "a new crop from the pseud farm" because I honestly do not remember what name I posted under for any previous DFD. I realise this means previous comments are not connected. That's OK.)

Some people leave and go on. Some people stay and go on. Probably most people have done each of those at different times. I've been thinking a lot about this lately, so this DFD post is uncanny in its appropriateness.

It's hard when one's family was part of the founding of the church. Things get particularly tangled, and the disapproval of a parent can be felt as -- or be presented as -- the disapproval of God.

It's hard to leave some things and not others. It's hard to sort out which is which. It's hard to know what I do want, as distinct from what I'm used to wanting or think I should want or was told that of course I wanted, or any of that.

Recently (i.e. the past couple of years) I've had some contact with my family. Not a lot, but some. Funny how some feels like a lot. Or at least enough for now. Anyhow, it's uncomfortable and tentative a lot of the time but it's important to me right now, and it's what I'm doing. Knowing that I don't have to, though, makes a lot of difference. Knowing that I can (and have!) set and kept boundaries makes all the difference. I'm still cautious when I contact them, and I'm careful about what state I'm in when I do. And that's appropriate.

Sorting out my relationship with God (about which I'm not going to go into detail here; just know that it's a real and important thing for me) has been sometimes terrifying, sometimes hilarious, and full of discovery -- and every bit as hard as dealing with the family stuff. Possibly the intertwinings guaranteed that it would be.

"Walking away and staying away was the right decision." and "It’s a hard path, because so few of these situations are free of good things or the hope of good things to come." are resonating powerfully for me right now, even though the situations I'm thinking most about did not involve staying away totally. But that second sentence is proving particularly useful in putting certain things in perspective and being able to take a deep breath right now, and I'm grateful for it.

The next part of the journey looks like it involves dealing with the medical issues of parents and making decisions about care and housing. I'm scared and full of complicated feelings, and hoo boy are there complicated relationships with other family members who will be involved. We'll see how it goes. Wish me luck?

#82 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2015, 01:13 PM:

a new crop from the pseud farm @81:

That's a tough tangle of issues to grapple with. And you're right to point out that the dichotomy between staying and leaving is an oversimplification.

Witnessing, and listening if you want to talk further on these matters. If it's been a good few threads since you last posted, don't worry about the old identity; we can just go from here.

#83 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2015, 02:12 PM:

a new crop @81, good luck. Sounds like you have a lot to work through, but it also sounds like you've made serious progress on working things through.

#84 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2015, 06:02 PM:

Lee @77

I like this example a lot. I tend to give in when I want to spend time with someone which leads to me slowly drifting away from that person to the point where I rather not see them than tell them that I do not like doing whatever they are proposing. I've got a lot better in not doing this but... it still happens.

#85 ::: a new crop from the pseud farm ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2015, 12:16 AM:

abi @ 82: And you're right to point out that the dichotomy between staying and leaving is an oversimplification.

Oh! That wasn't what I meant at all. I was liking how you framed them both as ways to go on. That was what touched me enough to make me really want to post, actually.

Cassy B. @ 83: Yeah, it's been a long road, but I'm a good piece of distance along it, so that's something.

#86 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2015, 01:41 AM:

a new crop on the pseud farm @85:
I was liking how you framed them both as ways to go on. That was what touched me enough to make me really want to post, actually.

I'm glad it was of use. I've always admired the spectrum of ways people deal with their difficult families here. So much courage, even in the difficult times.

I really am wishing you strength and courage in dealing with this next phase. Having the people who hurt you dependent on you, needing your help now, having to walk the careful path between getting sucked in again and doing too little...yeah, hard ground. Please post more here if the community can help, even just by listening.

If you're willing, if our theologies are compatible enough, I'll pray for you. (And it's OK to say no, or let the topic drop! I don't pray for people without their permission. And even then I pray for strength and courage and joy, not outcomes that would override their own agency.)

#87 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2015, 03:33 AM:

The discussion of assertiveness here prompts me to mention a model of conflict resolution that I was recently introduced to - it's called the TKI, and it basically poses five methods by which people can resolve conflicts. All five have legitimate uses and applications, although the premise is that people often tend to have a preferred mode or modes that may not be effective in all situations. So if you learn about how to engage each mode effectively, you can become better at picking the one that is the best fit for your situation.

Anyway, the 5 modes are Competing (one winner), Collaborating, Compromising, Accommodating, and Avoiding. You can position them on a matrix with the X axis being Cooperativeness, aka how much you value your needs over that of the other party, and Assertiveness, aka how much you are willing to fight for the outcome. The link above has a graphical image, but if you note that High Assertiveness/Low Cooperativeness is the Competing quadrant, and Low Assertiveness/High Cooperativeness is the Accommodating quadrant, you can probably figure out where the others fall. (With the note that Compromise is in the center point of everything).

I think it can be a useful model to at least consciously weigh, in a given situation, how important my needs are and how much I am willing to fight for them, and then pick a useful mode. Sometimes it's easy to fall into familiar patterns that aren't likely to get me where I want to go.

#88 ::: a new crop from the pseud farm ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2015, 10:15 AM:

One of the difficulties in considering how to deal with current family stuff is that I do not drive. My aging parents live six hours away in a rural area. The closest a train gets is an hour away, and the closest a bus goes is a little further than that away. Since I don't drive, getting that far and renting a car does no good. There are no such things as taxis there. (When we practiced driving in high school, we could not practice using stoplights, because back then, the nearest one was thirty-some miles away.)

Another wrinkle: the thought of going there and then being dependent on getting rides from the other nearby family member sends me into cold sweating panic.

I got out for reasons. I had little to no contact with them for a long time for reasons. (My parents' response to my coming out was to offer to pay for electroshock therapy. That's not the only reason I had for getting out, but it's a good sample.) My relationship with the other nearby family member, a sibling, is too complicated to explain; suffice it to say that they're still very connected there and have a very different experience of our parents. The relationship between the two of us is distanced and often painful. The one who left and the one who stayed....

So, yeah. And the one who stayed wants me to come there and gently help lead the parents into some decision-making. Or something. Possibly to enact some family tableau of togetherness wherein I mend my ways and repent for my distance and everybody is happy then and birds sing and the sun shines. I don't even know. Perhaps I am being unfair to the one who stayed.

"Perhaps I am being unfair to" is how most of the worst mental loops start, so I'll stop for now.

Anyone else whose escape artist route involved coming out, I'd especially like encouraging words from. Right now I feel like the Failure Offspring. And that's even before the stuff I'm NOT out to them about. They don't know me, but then, they mock and disdain people like me, even if they don't know it's me they're talking about when they quote their Fox News quotes.

Ugh. Going to go wipe my eyes and do some work.

[abi @ 86: Prayers would be fine. Thank you.]

#89 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2015, 10:58 AM:

a new crop @88: Sympathies and witnessing.

#90 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2015, 11:01 AM:

a new crop @88, witnessing and prayers.

I can see why you don't want to put yourself in that situation without independent transportation.

These suggestions are to be considered brainstorming in case any of them suggest something that would work for your situation; disregard if helpy. Could you take a friend whose role is confined to driving and is not required to get involved with the rest of the family discussion? (Would somebody like to go take pictures of fall foliage in a rural area or something?) Is there a cousin or a relative on another branch of the family tree who might help this way? (You said you didn't want to be dependent on nearby family members, so that's probably out, but is there someone else who got out and occasionally visits that you could coordinate visits with?) Could you hire the teenage child of a neighbor or an old high school friend to be your driver while you're there?

Best of luck with it.

#91 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2015, 11:24 AM:

a new crop @88:

Seconding OtterB @90 here. If the thought of going there and then being dependent on getting rides from the other nearby family member sends [you] into cold sweating panic, then it's totally a bad idea and you are entitled to refuse to go under those terms. If you need arguments for the weasel brain, note that in a cold-blooded, hard-headed, practical way, you'll be a more effective advocate for whatever your parents need if you're not feeling trapped.

Whether The One Who Stayed wants you to come out there to be the returning prodigal or not, you're telling us (and yourself) that you want to be able to be The One Who Not Only Left But Is Leaving Again Right Now, That's OK, I Can See Myself Out. Trust that.

And if The One Who Stayed needs you, perhaps they can help you find a way that your transport is independent of family control. (Then maybe double-check the arrangements.)

[I'll say a word where words are said.]

#92 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2015, 11:35 AM:

a new crop, #88: In My Extremely Opinionated Opinion, "I don't have transportation" is a perfectly good reason to remain at a safe distance. The operative word there is "safe", as in "better safe than sorry". When you have escaped a trap, it's absolutely normal not to want to walk back into it! I would advise telling your sibling that you'll do what you can from where you are, but you are not available to be physically present. That's not being unfair, it's being realistic.

#93 ::: Bodhisvaha ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2015, 12:49 PM:

a new crop @88: my family transportation issues are less intense, but I get mental hives when asked to be dependent on someone's transportation mercy with no obvious and affordable out. Trust that your internal alarm system is responding to something real, even if it also seems to be freaking out excessively. (Somewhere in the past, there's probably something that looks the same on the surface, but contained hidden badness. At least for me that's true.) Or if it's a certain kind of bad brain-weather day, the alarm system will be freaking out at anything and everything, no matter how normal and harmless, and that's a thing one can learn to recognize.

Electroshock as a response to coming out...I wouldn't want to be literally trapped in the countryside with them either. Even if that was in the dark ages where it could legitimately be loving intentions expressed through outdated and disturbing notions of therapy. And if it was not that far back...they should count themselves lucky that you merely left, and still talk to them.

Are the aging parents plus sibling in good enough shape for them to do a day trip over to a town with a bus or train station? If the point is togetherness or decision-making, that could be a solution.

#94 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2015, 01:14 PM:

a new crop@88: Holding you in the light. I don't have any suggestions that haven't already been said, but I wish you whatever strength, creativity, and inspiration you need.

#95 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2015, 02:00 PM:

a new crop: I'm a non-driver too, but happily I've always been able to live places where not driving is merely a PITA rather than a nightmare. (Likewise most of my family lives in big cities.)

I agree with prior posters that it would be perfectly fair to say "nope, can't do that". One possible option would be if you can get the parents to move to a more urban area. This would obviously be a major upheaval for them, but if your family really wants you to be the one taking care of them, then yeah they'll need to give something up.

#96 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2015, 04:20 PM:

a new crop, here's another thought: It might be worthwhile to ask your sibling exactly what they think you coming out there to talk to your parents will accomplish? And push until you get a solid answer, more than just vague, "well, I think it would do some good" or "it needs to be the whole family". The Voice In The Back Of Your Head is providing all kinds of scarily plausible scenarios, and not without reason! It might be that if you can pin down exactly why your physical presence is considered so essential, it won't be as scary as you fear. Or then again, it might -- but at least then you'll KNOW. Either way, you need more data; don't let yourself be stampeded into doing anything until you get it.

#97 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2015, 06:02 PM:

a new crop: nothing practical to add to what's already been said re. e.g. having a friend-with-car along. but witnessing, and sympathies.

#98 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2015, 01:17 PM:

New Crop, trust the internal alarm -- I'm another who sees lack of transportation as a valid reason for not going. I wouldn't go into that situation without having someone with me, and a friend that drives would work.

Witnessing and praying for you.

#99 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2015, 10:25 PM:

New Crop, don't go. They know you'd be trapped; they want it that way. Don't go. Tell the truth "I'd be trapped." And don't let them persuade you to "discuss" it.

As for me: I read all of these threads, but never say anything. I managed to deal with so much of it years ago (mainly by never going back).

But about ten years ago, my husband and I had terrible, terrible problems. We had been married "under the care of the Meeting" but when we needed that care, it was not there. I stopped attending Meeting, so it would be more pleasant for him, then he stopped, then after years of hard work we found some solutions, and we have never been back.

I still miss it, but I will not be going back. I feel like a Quaker still, but I have no Meeting. Kind of being a runner, but having no legs.

#100 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2015, 10:46 AM:

new crop

Witnessing. Your situation sounds unpleasant. Just to clarify something, when you say "electroshock therapy" do you mean "aversion therapy?" Under the circumstances you describe, that's how I understood it.

Also, I do understand your dislike of being alone with the parents and the rest of the family... if I'm not being hlepy, could all of you meet at a hotel in a larger city?

If you don't mind me asking, how long ago did you leave home?

#101 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2015, 01:18 PM:

new crop: I too, witnessing, and I support what others are said. (My escape didn't involve coming out, but I did end up moving several thousand miles away and across an ocean after college.) If you have no way out of being isolated there, you can't safely go there. I didn't start driving until my late 20s, so I've got a good sense of how much that matters when you're in a remote place.

#102 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2015, 02:35 PM:

And speaking of folks trapped by their family, has anybody heard from "ma larkey"? The last posts I saw from her were pretty worrisome.

#103 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2015, 02:39 PM:

Alex R. -- Electroconvulsive Therapy is still in use...

Just wonderful, pardon me if I don't consider a manually induced seizure a good idea. However, there are only five conditions that it's used to treat, and being homosexual ISN'T one of them.

#104 ::: a new crop from the pseud farm ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2015, 04:15 PM:

Hearing that it's OK to not go into what feels like a trap is

... making it easier to breathe? Yeah. That, just for starters. Thank you, everybody who's spoken.


Alex R. @ 100: Lori Coulson is correct that I meant ECT (electroconvulsive therapy). It was not a rhetorical offer being made, either; they were ready to start making phone calls and scheduling. That was in 1982. I had left home before then. The coming out was on a visit back to tell them I was getting divorced. I figured they'd already be so mad at me that I might as well just make it a twofer. So I came out to them, too, even though that didn't have much of anything to do with the divorce. (I'm bisexual.)

From then on, it was variations on "We love you. Have you changed yet? Are you fixed yet? Are you still going to hell? We're worried about you. Don't you want to spend eternal life with us?"

OK, they didn't say the last sentence out loud. But.

And actually? Kinda not, if that's how they're going to be. (Though I believe that that's not exactly how hearafterness works -- and anyhow, that's a digression, and this is Dysfunctional Families Day, not Dysfunctional Theologies Day.)

They're very sincere, though. Which so doesn't help, when it comes to the awful parts. Add the dysfunctional religious stuff to the major medical neglect and it's quite a potent mixture -- though they did ask forgiveness for the major medical neglect, a few years back. It astonished me. They meant it. And it's one of the reasons I keep up some (admittedly limited) contact at all.

This shit is complicated and hard. I am sure that is not news to anybody. :-7

#105 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2015, 07:38 PM:

a new crop, #104: Well-meaning abuse done "out of love" is the hardest kind to deal with. If someone had done that to you because they hated you, there would be no cognitive dissonance -- you'd just walk away and be done with it. But when they did it because they genuinely loved you and wanted you to be happy -- even though it's no less abusive from that motivation -- it's complicated and hard, as you said.

And because of the religious issues, it also gets into the whole morass of Forgiveness, which was discussed at length in an earlier thread. You might want to go back and re-read that one.

Glad you've decided not to go back into the trap. Still witnessing.

#106 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2015, 11:36 PM:

new crop: I'm sorry, I can't resist:

Would this be an option? Okay, maybe not. :-)

In my case, I walked away cold, with far less provocation. I'm impressed that you're willing to talk to them at all.

#107 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2015, 02:11 AM:

I survived Thanksgiving dinner with my parents. (Canadian) Even enjoyed most of it. :) Of course, Mom pulled a big one right as we were leaving, which resulted in me saying "OK, fine, we're leaving now, goodbye." *sigh* But enjoyed most of it!

Friend's right - people like my mom are on their best behaviour if you don't see them for three months. :/

Next up: Christmas.

#108 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2015, 02:33 PM:

This thought about Managing People Or At Least One's Reaction To Them was sparked by Chickadee:

Repeating experience: I'm delivering compost to our local recycling hub. I roll up to the check-in window, to report what I'm dropping off so the woman on duty there can log it into her system. I open my mouth, and before I can speak, she says, "Plastic bags?" Well, the compostables I'm dropping off are in plastic bags, yes, so her question is not completely nonsensical.

But I find if really irritating:

1) I open my mouth to tell her what I've got, but she interrupts me to guess. And,

2) She guesses wrong. Every. single. time.

3) We go through this every. damn. time.

Now, granted, she sees a lot of people come past that window every day. But I'm pretty distinctive, what with my custom trailer overloaded with my bags and bags of compost and all. The other people who work that window on other days remember me, even when they haven't seen me for months. They even remember that what I typically bring in. And even so, they ask, "So what have you got for us today?"

Having finally noticed how much this lady's behavior annoys me, I finally figured out a way to preserve my own equanimity:

So yesterday I roll up and stop. I wait. She looks out the window at my trailer. "Plastic bags?" she asks, puzzled. I sit there and wait for a second until she finally looks at me and starts listening:

"No. No plastic bags. Compost." It takes her a minute to parse that. Then she finally says, "Oh. Okay, thanks." (Still looking puzzled.)

I roll on, satisfied: 1) I've successfully predicted the coarse of the interaction. 2) I have prevented her from interrupting me and speaking for me.

I'm contemplating saying something to her next time this comes up. But given the track record so far, I have no confidence whatsoever that it would have any effect, or that she would even remember it.

It's interesting: successfully predicting her probelmatic behavior and coming up with a successful work-around is almost as satisfying as having induced her to alter her behavior. At the very least, it puts me in a place to respond choicefully, which all in all is an entirely satisfactory outcome.

#109 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2015, 04:33 PM:

Chickadee, #107: Yay for (almost) stress-free holiday visit! Now you are beginning to see the fruits of your efforts toward changing that relationship.

Jacque, #108: it puts me in a place to respond choicefully, which all in all is an entirely satisfactory outcome

Yes. It gives you more control over the interaction, which makes the whole thing much less frustrating. You didn't feel so much as if she was jerking you around. And you did in fact change the nature of the interaction (albeit only slightly), which is the first step toward getting her to change her behavior.

It occurs to me that she might be one of those people who are face-blind, and so literally doesn't recognize you from one trip to the next. I can't say for sure because I'm not there, but that does present itself as a possibility.

#110 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2015, 05:06 PM:

Lee @109: indeed! Yay! Though I now have a *wicked* sore throat (hopefully will not move down to chest, as such things are wont to do for me). :( I am convinced it is because Mom gave me her germs. She refuses to blow her nose (*snifflesnifflesnifflesniffle*), or cover her mouth for the resulting explosive sneezes, during cooking because then she'd have to go wash her hands. Meaning she was explosively sneezing all over the kitchen. Turning away from me doesn't help *that* much, Mom! It was driving me nuts at the time, especially given how she reacts when *anyone else* does the same thing. :(

Regarding Jacque @108: I know someone who's face-blind. It's a real handicap for her at times! But it doesn't prevent her from recognizing distinctive vehicles...

Anyhow, back to school work/exam prep. Thanks to the recent change in meds, I am no longer fuzzy-headed and dizzy, but still also not anxious and depressed. :) Yay for fine-tuning dosage! :)

#111 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2015, 12:23 PM:

Slightly unpleasant realization yesterday... after the back of my mind was thinking about some of the "funny family stories" my family has, I realize that my mom's sense of humour runs toward the trollish. (Not the current usage of frothing misogynist threats, but the older usage of deliberately saying outrageous things to get a reaction.) Mostly directed at people being annoying with the intent to make them go away.

So, I guess that explains a few things about why I had a hard time figuring out that I actually did have a sense of humour, and learning the difference between actual laughing and appeasement grin + uncomfortable laugh. Those stories are still filed under "funny" in my brain.

In related news I finally managed to suppress the appeasement grin and uncomfortable laugh when my dad made a couple of his crappy jokes while I was there for Thanksgiving, the sort of "jokes" in the racist, ablist, or otherwise othering vein. Not encouraging him is a start.

Then at a friend's place I got a hug on arriving and I'm sure she saw my reaction because she said "I'm a huggy person" and why would you say that to somebody who looked happy about getting a hug? I managed to avoid the hug on leaving by strategic placement of my body in relation to the other people leaving at the same time so she couldn't reach me. I still haven't figured out how to tell people to not do that. My old reaction is to brace and accept it. My new reaction that I'm trying to develop take more time to get out in front because I have to think about it, and nobody gives me enough warning for me to deploy them. I have met exactly three people in my entire life who saw *and respected* my desire to not be hugged or touched, and two of them made a fuss about how they were going to not hug me.

#112 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2015, 01:33 PM:

appeasement grin + uncomfortable laugh

Yes! It can take a while to find one's own compass on these things.

Not encouraging him is a start.

Not encouraging him is an excellent start!

On the topic of avoiding hugs, Captain Awkward has a whole category on the topic.

#113 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2015, 02:17 PM:

Yes, that's about the advice I'm trying to implement. It takes time to get those words and actions retrieved from the "this is the script I want to use" archive and queued up though, and by then the hug has already happened. Maybe I should try to stop bracing myself and accepting, and let the unhappy show even more. More awkward, but less preparation required. (Surprise hugs end with me rigid and looking terrified. This has happened.)

#114 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2015, 03:13 PM:

Well, as the Cap'n points out: you are not the cause of the awkward. You would, at most, be hanging a lampshade on the awkward that is already there.

#115 ::: Bodhisvaha ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2015, 03:33 PM:

invisible one, if body-language examples are helpful, here are two. My crowd has a broad range of hugginess, so we grew cues. One is for the departing person to stand there with arms open saying "anyone want hugs?" and wait to be tackled. Another is for huggers to telegraph by approaching with open arms slowly enough, or with a pause, for potential huggees to counter-signal or make it a light hug as they prefer.

#116 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2015, 03:55 PM:

Jacque: yeah, and as pointed out many times on CA, the person who draws attention to the awkward is often blamed or shamed for it even when it's not their fault. I'm working on being ok with that.

Bodhisvaha: My problem is with the people who don't do those things but just come hug me. I'd have no problem with not moving in for a hug with somebody who offered but didn't encroach, or who offered but backed away when I didn't smile and respond in kind. Those would be ideal. The latter has happened to me exactly twice, and it wasn't at all casual. Instead there was the fuss of "oh you don't want to be hugged! ok I won't hug you! Look I'm not hugging you!" (The third instance I mentioned above of having my "don't touch!" reaction respected was not a hugging situation. That was also the only one that didn't have the fuss around it.)

#117 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2015, 10:21 AM:

a new crop @ 88 and 104

Witnessing.

Another possible solution to your "going home" problem. Do you and The One Who Stayed have call waiting on your phones? If you do, you can create a three-way conference call with your parents. That way you can be in on the decisions without traveling to them. You can use the "I have no way to get there" reality to keep your physical distance while helping the parents make a decision. You won't be trapped. You will be in on the decisions. If the real reason is to trap you... they're S.O.L. You've met their stated expectations of "helping Mom and Dad change their minds."

Call Waiting/Conference calling on land lines: Dial the first number and get the person on the phone. Press the "flash" button once and wait for the dial tone. Dial the second number and get that person on the phone. Press "flash" a second time to link the calls. (My sisters and I use this once a week to keep in touch with each other and our mother. We've have up to eight people daisy-chained together using this method.)

Call Waiting/Conference calling on cell phones differ by carrier and device. That is something you'll have to google.

This next bit is probably very hlepy, but my parents are very devout so I'm familiar with the mind set. If it were me, when it comes to the "We love you (don't you want to spend eternity with us?)" conversation, I would be so very tempted to answer the vocalized "are you fixed yet" bits with "I've tried, and I've prayed for help. God told me 'I made you this way, accept it' so I did." At some point, the devil and/or hell will get dragged out. At that point, asking them "do you really believe that the devil can enter God's church?" might get you some breathing space. Or it just might start a religious debate. Like I said, this bit is probably very hlepy, so feel free to ignore it.

It's just that I get angry when people use religion as an excuse to abuse others.

#118 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2015, 03:23 PM:

the invisible one @116: yeah, and as pointed out many times on CA, the person who draws attention to the awkward is often blamed or shamed for it even when it's not their fault. I'm working on being ok with that.

That's another level of attempted control, so I'm for damn sure not be okay with being blamed or shamed for lampshading an awkward. I will return to sender with a calm look followed by, "I didn't start it." This does require feeling safe and comfortable with the idea that managing their emotions is not my job.

Likewise, people who make a fuss about not hugging you: they've overstepped, you've objected, and now they're dealing with their own anxiety, self-talk, Goddamn Tapes about having overstepped. That's their Stuff, too. Sometimes it helps me to just think at them a benign, motherly, "Yes, dear. I know you're anxious. There, there," to manage the mirror anxiety this provokes in me.

Being okay with and braced for dealing with that, OTOH, is something I actually manage occassionally. This, in turn, requires having my anger on tap, and exercising choice in how, how much, or if I express it. Which, as they say, is a work in progress.

#119 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2015, 11:41 AM:

I think we're saying the same thing. I didn't mean accepting the blame, but accepting (and expecting) that the other person is very likely to react by blaming me and it isn't my fault so I don't have to feel bad about it. So far I haven't managed to predict these predictable responses far enough ahead to brace myself for the expected blaming. The thing last weekend with the hug, I'd met the hugger only a few times and wasn't expecting that she felt like good enough friends to greet with a hug, so I hadn't prepared myself in time to do anything other than fall back on my old "brace and try to hide my discomfort while returning the hug" reaction. But then I also hadn't expected that she felt like good enough friends to invite me to her place for the event in the first place.

Being able to step back and understand that I don't have to manage other people's reactions or hurt feelings (such as if I set a reasonable boundary!) is *hard*. One time with New Ex he did something that required apology, and went straight into self-flagellation. I had a really hard time suppressing the urge to assure him that he wasn't a horrible person. All I wanted was for him to not do the thing again. (Prior to discovering CA, I wouldn't have even thought about not immediately reassuring him.) I mentioned that to him in some form and I can't remember exactly his reaction but as I recall he thought it was weird that I wasn't reassuring him. Or maybe that it was weird that I was having a hard time not reassuring him. That it was weird, at any rate. I don't know that I ever got an actual apology.

#120 ::: a new crop from the pseud farm ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2015, 11:38 PM:

Victoria @ 117:

The Call Waiting idea is a good one, although unfortunately there are tech reasons it won't work for this particular situation. But the suggestion was useful because in thinking about it, I realized things about how pressure is applied in our family and how requirement of physical presence is used for that. (The examples that come to mind are bringing up an imaginary chorus of "And you still have anything to do with these people? Why?" so I deleted them. I'm thinking of keeping the chorus, though.)

The religious stuff got a smile from me, though it's too complicated (and too identifying) to explain exactly why, but thank you for that too.

At this point, the pressure's not on me, and I am glad of that. The external pressure, anyhow. When the internal pressure come up, I tell it that arriving in person to be part of a Hello Parental Units This Is A Surprise Discussion About Handling The Ends Of Your Lives is not likely to end in the Hallmark moment my sibling wants, and that I'm not signing up for it.

Thank you all who are witnessing, spoken or not.

the invisible one @ 116:

Witnessing. And TOTALLY agreeing with this:

Being able to step back and understand that I don't have to manage other people's reactions or hurt feelings (such as if I set a reasonable boundary!) is *hard*.

#121 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2015, 09:05 PM:

a new crop @ 120

You're welcome. I'm glad I could at least give you a smile. Be sure to keep the chorus. I have a couple of related ones that I've actually been known to sing out loud.

#122 ::: Stenopos ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2015, 05:51 PM:

My family has pretty much learned not to touch me (some of them misused that privilege when I was young.) But I had a friend return some years back who I had not seen for about 30 years. I was standing out in front of the building holding my pride and joy, a miniature trebuchet. Friend parks, comes out of the car, identifies me, rushes over and sweeps me up in a big hug before I can protest--and finds they have gotten an armful of trebuchet into the bargain. I don't recall if the lesson was learned for good, since said friend moved to another state...but you should have seen the look on their face that day...
I wish I'd gotten into trebs a couple of decades earlier. A long-lost aunt arrived and slobbered all over me, and I think I wound up saying "Please, I can't swim that good!"
Seriously, I have at times been able to forestall such excesses by taking hold of both the person's hands and saying something friendly, but I'm not always quick enough and I don't think I'm the only one. Learning continues [I hope.]

#123 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2015, 10:11 PM:

Hugging behavior is weird. I think it communicates radically different meanings to different people, even among those who "do" hugs. Since each hugger/huggee may go away thinking and feeling something completely different was expressed, that of course means that much of the time hugs *don't* communicate.

Last year something happened which completely threw me. At a quasi-social event, somebody who had been vastly pissed off and furious at me told me (paraphrasing slightly) "Of course I'm OK with you!" and unexpectedly gave me a big hug. I was taken aback and remained fairly wary, but a month or so later I had decided they might actually have meant it and I finally relaxed a little. It then turned out they were not at *all* OK with me and blew up at me for calling on the phone to pass on some information they had asked me for, which was apparently outrageous behavior on my part.

I can understand lots of reasons - many of them rooted in dysfunctional family origins - that one might want to pretend everything is fine when it actually isn't, especially in front of other people. I would be perfectly fine maintaining a public facade of "things are OK", with an understanding that they actually wanted to have no contact at all with me.

What I wasn't counting on and still don't fully understand is why anybody would voluntarily expand on the official "everything is OK" by volunteering a big hug on top of it, if their real feelings were "This is a creepy horrible person who's out to get me and violate my boundaries." As I'm not going to contact them to ask, all I can guess at this point is that to this person a hug must mean and communicate something very different than it does to me. To them a hug may have felt socially obligatory, and required to make things look right, whereas I took it as spontaneous and heart-felt. (I certainly wouldn't hug anybody I felt deeply suspicious of.)

#124 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2015, 07:30 AM:

Clifton #123: Regarding that last person, you are assuming they actually have a consistent attitude towards you. To me, that person sounds "emotionally unstable and uncontrolled", in a strict literal sense: Their behavior toward you is dominated not by by prior/current events, but by their internal state ("brain weather").

Note that's two layers of problem: A lot of us here (including me) are emotionally unstable, but we've developed (sometimes overdeveloped) our self-control, specifically so as not to inflict our own mood swings on other people.

Regarding hugs: I am happy that back in my ~college years, I learned how to hug people I care about (basically family) but since then I've realized that I really don't like being hugged by people who aren't that close to me. There are a couple of other people who get to hug me anyway because I've seen it's "a thing" for them¹, and some non-ordinary situations where it's "socially mandated", but mostly, non-family get a pre-emptive handshake.

¹ That is, arguing about it with them would be more hurtful than it's worth.

#125 ::: cyllan ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2015, 09:07 AM:

I have extremely mild sensory input issues, and if someone gives me a hug that I don't expect, it can really push me off center for an hour or so. If I'm prepared for it, I can tolerate it in a social setting from someone I don't know, but I don't enjoy it.

Example of Hug Done Correctly:
I have recently returned to work at a place where I was previously employed. They are very happy to have me back, and I have gotten several hugs from coworkers who are glad to see me. In every case, the hug has been done in the following pattern: Handshake is extended and accepted. Noise is made about being glad to see other person. Left arm is extended out from the body in offer of hug, but without any forward motion to make it obligatory. I step forward; other person steps forward to meet me in the middle; there is a brief arms-only hug; we step back. Totally fine and with the option to bail at any point in the process.

I am not comfortable hugging certain members of my extended family, so I don't unless specifically asked. My daughter knows to ask if I want a hug (and usually I do) and understand that when I say "AAAH; GET OFF MOM NOW" that I'm not rejecting her; I just need to not be touched.

All that to say "Hugs are complicated and should be entered into with thought and care." Sadly, some people don't do so, but I don't think the hugee should ever feel bad about not wanting contact.

#126 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2015, 11:34 AM:

One year, I figured out that head-butts were the most appropriate sign of friendly affection and inclusion for a particular group. I learned a great deal about physical affection from my cat.

#127 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2015, 12:02 PM:

There are times I wish people would treat me with as much respect as they treat a cat.

By which I mean, I'd like it if people didn't touch me without permission, and if they did and I enforced my boundaries (with claws! I wish I had claws) the offender gets told "what did you expect?" instead of me getting told "but they were just trying to be friendly!"

#128 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2015, 01:08 PM:

the invisible one: I wish I had claws

Well, you know, it is almost Halloween.

#129 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2015, 01:29 PM:

Hmmm, not sure why I do this, but I have ALWAYS asked if someone wants a hug or back/neck rub and waited for confirmation of same BEFORE laying a finger on them...

I wonder if it comes from having been a very small child and being swooped down upon by various well meaning relatives?

#130 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2015, 02:17 PM:

When I'm not so physically or emotionally overwhelmed that I can't spoof neurotypicality, I'm comfortable with being hugged. Though if I were to choose purely from my own comfort, for what actually makes me feel warm and happy rather than what serves my social needs (gives others the contact they need to feel my affection for them), I'd hug fewer people than I do.

(Relatedly, the Dutch do warm, affectionate handshakes really well.)

But when I reach a certain level of physical or emotional overwhelm, I cannot bear to be touched. The kids find it difficult, sometimes, when I'm upset and their impulse to hug me, but they can't.

#131 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2015, 06:26 PM:

Lori Coulson #129: I wonder if it comes from having been a very small child and being swooped down upon by various well meaning relatives?

... and also applying the Golden Rule to that experience. Not everyone manages that part... :-(

#132 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2015, 12:41 PM:

David -- thank you, you made me smile. I know my habit of going down on one knee to get to eye-level with a child came from that experience, but I'd never really thought about that being a catalyst for other behavior!

#133 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2015, 01:48 PM:

David Harmon @131: ... and also applying the Golden Rule to that experience. Not everyone manages that part... :-( Exactly. There are those who say "X was done to me and I hated it so I won't do that to anyone else" - and often extrapolate from that to other things as well - and those who never make that step, or go for the "I hated it but it made a man of me so I'll do t to those in my power because it's the only way for them to become men" approach (ugh).

#134 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2015, 07:38 PM:

David @131:

Is the Golden Rule "Do unto others as they have done unto me" or ..as you would have them done unto you"? I'm sure both lessons get learned, by different people.

#135 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2015, 04:01 PM:

Buddha Buck #134: It's supposed to be the latter, with various formulations (some predating the New Testament).

"Do as you have been done unto" is the default, also known as ordinary social learning. It's overriding that default which is hard.

#136 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2015, 01:18 PM:

#128, Jacque:

Oh, I will have claws for hallowe'en. My fingernails are already kind of dangerous, and I'll be cutting them to a point for the day of.

Unfortunately having claws doesn't help with people respecting my right to not be touched or disapproving of the person doing the touching. Because I'm not a cat, I'm a woman.

#135, David Harmon:

I guess that makes a third variant, do unto others before they do unto you, ordinary antisocial learning? :p

Or, self defence in some dysfunctional situations.

#137 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2015, 06:23 PM:

Just found a powerful article about suffering, the impulse to find reasons for it, and how that damages the necessary process of grief. It's big on the value of witnessing, or rather, being in the experience with the sufferer (so more intense and personal than witnessing, perhaps).

A good read for me right now, because reasons. Might be useful for others here.

#138 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2015, 09:02 PM:

abi #137: Yeah, things don't necessarily happen for a reason... and when bad shit does have a reason, that reason is often hostile rather than redemptive.

That said... it's possible to do some salvage, by making a pain into a reason to take steps against its cause (far more things have causes than have reasons). The classic example is cancer survivors (or the families of non-survivors) appealing to others to contribute toward research. Mutatis mutandis against other illnesses, such as Pratchett with Alzheimer's.

I remember a video from a guy who'd lost his family to a house fire, caused by batteries shortcircuiting in a drawer... so he did a PSA on how to store your batteries safely. A small thing against his tragedy, but it's something, his own little attack against the dragon Entropy. And I remembered what he said¹, because his pain showed, and gave power to what would otherwise have been some trivial little bit of advice.

¹ Rubber band them together, oriented in the same direction. I will add, put the bundles in separate plastic bags.

#139 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2015, 02:07 AM:

David Harmon @138:

It's possible to do some salvage, and some people find it helpful to do so. But there's a crucial distinction between possible and required.

And more importantly, there's a material difference between the sufferer finding some meaning or use in their suffering and outsiders asserting that there is meaning as a way of not confronting the full experience of grief. It's a control issue, partly: who gets to define the sufferer's experience? (And then we're into the infantilization of people whose experiences are not mainstream.)

People are complex; experiences are complex. Simple rules don't apply, except for the rare occasions where they do. The article gets into it pretty well, making clean distinctions between requiring or expecting people to behave in a particular way and allowing them to do so as part of the spectrum of experience.

#140 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2015, 04:06 AM:

Re. abi @137: A good piece. However, caution about reading the comments.

#141 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2015, 07:23 AM:

Abi #139: And more importantly, there's a material difference ... It's a control issue, partly: who gets to define the sufferer's experience?

Agreed on all counts.

#142 ::: Bodhisvaha ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2015, 11:18 AM:

abi @137: oh...thank you. Signed up to the feed for that one. It is so rare to find anyone who is willing to admit that it just plain hurts, and that hurting doesn't automatically lead to good things.

Why is there pain? We don't know. We probably *can't* know. Maybe pain is just the price that the cosmos pays for being the infinite and infinitely unfolding multiverse instead of something else. Or instead of not being at all. Maybe pain is the price of creation, relying on devastation for raw materials.

And because there is pain, we have to respond to it. We do our damnedest to salvage something from the wreckage. Sometimes we succeed beyond all expectation.

#143 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2015, 11:52 AM:

abi@137: Thank you for that. Pondering...

#144 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2015, 12:54 PM:

Bodhisvaha @142: Why is there pain?

Pain is a signal that something is wrong. Broken, missing, out of balance, out of place, misaligned....

It's a crucially important self-protection mechanism. (Witness the problems when pain is absent, as with diabetic neuropathy, &c.)

Problem is, pain is stupid. If the wrongness is unfixable, pain too often has no off-switch.

#145 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2015, 01:39 PM:

Jacque, #144: I think you're talking about physical pain, while the rest of us are talking about emotional pain. Which is still a natural reaction, but on a somewhat different level.

Personally, I rather like the formulation in Diane Duane's "Doors" books -- that pain and death are the result of the Lone Power having tricked the Maiden into sealing the Universe shut with entropy inside it. So now we're all stuck with it until the whole thing runs down and she can start over.

#146 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2015, 02:11 PM:

Entropy is part of the physics we need to live.

I think Duane retconned her idea of entropy being just plain bad in one of the later books, but I don't remember the details.

#147 ::: Bodhisvaha ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2015, 05:25 PM:

I couldn't figure out the right word to wrap up all the things I wanted to wrap up while leaving out the correct other stuff. Pain, evil, wrongness, decay... Entropy is close but kinda cold, unless you've read something like Diane Duane's Wizards books. (Nancy, I think you're looking for the third or later Wizard books where the annoying little sister is the big hero.) I was groping towards something like maybe you can't have any change at all without there being both good and bad change. Perhaps it would make more sense if I were drunk. Or if everyone else was drunk.

It's back to the salt mines for me. Anyone remember my soap opera with the landlord? Not over yet. The second case went badly because the judge was being a biased idiot; therefore Partner and I requested an appeal. It took 25 pages and a 3x4ft poster to explain the case and how the judge had screwed up. We made a cogent enough argument that they didn't dismiss it out of hand; instead they are going to have a hearing. Which kind of hearing isn't clear: is this the stage for determining that they did in fact screw up? Or is the stage where they do a fresh hearing for the case itself? I need to know, to produce the correct evidence binders...for the third or fourth time...

#148 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2015, 06:31 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz #146, Bodhisvaha #147: Not exactly a retcon, that (rather, a erqrzcgvba) but in any case I'm not sure the Lone Power is merely the existence entropy as we know it -- it's also the idea of standing for destruction and decay rather than against it.

The thing is, in our own world "matter that defends itself against entropic processes" is still a decent definition of "life" as such. That's a pretty fundamental opposition.

#149 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2015, 02:23 AM:

The theodicy of the Young Wizards books and the Doors books are subtly different, but it's been long enough since I read the latter that I can't give you details.

There's a line in the YW books which acknowledges that entropy is necessary for our kind of life and our sense of time. One of the seniors speculates that the Powers were planning some better energy-management scheme, but the Lone Power pre-empted it.

(I fanficced that backstory: _Tropesis_, http://archiveofourown.org/collections/yuletide2012/works/598948)

#150 ::: J ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2015, 02:52 AM:

Dammit, my husband is apparently one of those clueless privileged white guys. As in, he wouldn't be offended if a bunch of nonwhite people dressed up as stereotypical whites for an office party, so Hispanics shouldn't be offended if a bunch of whites dress up in sombreros, mustaches, and headscarves for an office party.

Are there any comedians who have a good routine about this? I think that may be the best way to explain. Print tires and bores him unless it's about a topic he is really into.

He just sat there with a baffled expression repeating, "But...what would offend me?" in the exact same way multiple times, and I'm afraid I snapped at him. I am too tired and too sick to try to explain in the face of him suddenly putting on a teenage duh routine. So a link to a good skit about microaggressions or something like that would be much appreciated.

#151 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2015, 07:21 AM:

J #150: Not a skit, but a comic: Over at GoComics, they recently re-ran¹ the 1985 Doonesbury sequence about Lacey visiting Palm Beach, and her black assistant encountering their laws regarding "domestics". Something along those lines comes to mind, especially Lacey's attempt to discuss matters with the natives.

A separate idea: Has he any more distant ethnic background that could be exploited?


¹ They put up a lot of "classics" for Doonesbury these days -- offhand, I don't know whether it's getting censored way more than he used to be, or if his output has simply become erratic. Given how long Trudeau's been doing the strip, I wouldn't at all blame him for dropping back to "occasional and whenever" scheduling.

#152 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2015, 09:39 AM:

David Harmon@151

I think what he's been doing for a while is having a new Doonesbury on Sunday and "Classic Doonesbury" the rest of the week.

(Before that there was a period where it was entirely "Classic Doonesbury" with no new ones at all.)

For th

#153 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2015, 12:45 PM:

J, #150: Ah, but would he be offended if a bunch of non-whites dressed up as "stereotypical white people" for a party and proceeded to make the kind of outrageously racist statements that Republican politicians have been coming out with? Because that, not just the dressing-up, is the equivalent of what he and his co-workers are doing.

#154 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2015, 01:50 PM:

J @ 150:

The other thing you might try is to say something like "You don't have to understand why they're offended. What you need to know is that, even though you don't get it, that costume would hurt people. Do you want to be the kind of person who hurts his coworkers for a cheap laugh?"

#155 ::: J ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2015, 02:32 AM:

@Vicki: At least he's not the one doing it; it was a news story he read to me because it baffled him.

Anyway, something's bobbed up in my memory recently and persistently enough that I think I need to check it here. PLEASE NOTE that the following DID NOT happen to me. TRIGGER WARNING for rape.

I had a college classmate who was from a small town where the cops were, to put it bluntly, power-mongering pussy-chasing gun-fondling man's men. Her mother was good-looking, single, and celibate: strike one. She herself was good-looking, drove around in awesome old trucks that she restored by herself, yet inexplicably would not fall for the "I pulled you over for speeding in order to ask for a date" routine: strike two. Nobody in the family had any money or political clout: steeeerike three.

So she was asked out by the son of a well-to-do local business owner, things progressed, and they were engaged. He gave her a gorgeous diamond ring. He gave her the title to an awesome sports car. He gave her his solemn assurance that he had no problem with her desire to remain a virgin until marriage. Then, not long before the wedding date, he jimmied her bedroom window, raped her with a knife across her throat, kissed her, and left. This was the night before he was due to leave on a trip. What really stuck in her mind, she told me, was that he was so calm about it. Like, this was just what men did to their brides to be.

They couldn't go to the cops--that would only have made things worse. They couldn't just leave: with what money? They did not have the community support that would have been necessary in order to name and shame the rapist outside legal channels. Saying anything to anybody would have ignited a whole mountain of flaming manure that would have rolled right down on them.

"OK," her mother said, "let's not say a word. Let's just make a point."

So when Mr. Knifey got back to town, he found out that his whatever-she-was-to-him and her mother had stripped her sports car for saleable parts, towed the hulk to a popular lookout, smashed it with hammers, then lit it on fire and rolled it down a cliff. (Technically illegal, hardly ever prosecuted.) All without explaining a thing to the many, many eyewitnesses.

He never went near her again.

Frankly, knowing what I know about that town in those days, I think her mom had the right idea. But this is the part that has been bobbing around in the bafflement zone of my brain recently: I told this story to a licensed psychologist and she said that her behavior was beyond the pale. I think she even used the word monstrous. Not his. Hers.

I guess what my weird burpy memory wants to know is whether there really are shrinks who talk like that. I've had some bad ones, but this one looked right past rape at knifepoint to clutch her pearls at somebody disposing of her own property in the interests of her future safety. Luckily she wasn't my therapist! Have other posters encountered anything like this? Hoping for no.

#156 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2015, 08:52 AM:

J #155: There are certainly some seriously fucked-up shrinks around. As you clearly realize, the one you spoke to is completely off the wall.

An important thing to realize is that in the US, there's not much in the way of meaningful accreditation for psychotherapists. In American usage, someone calling themself a "psychiatrist" must have an MD plus specialty training, but otherwise in many areas, pretty much anyone can call themself a "therapist", "counselor", or even "psychologist", much less "life coach" or suchlike.

"Licensing" and certification is by states, and some or all of the terms above might or might not imply degrees such as a Masters of Social Work, or a Masters or PhD in Psychology, or just a state-sponsored course of training. Similarly, the supervision varies wildly, from Chamber-of-Commerce style rubber stamp outfits, to guilds or professional boards (which can actually review complaints and certifications, and pull licenses for misconduct).

#157 ::: J ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2015, 06:50 PM:

David Harmon no. 156: ...That might explain why this particular psych was teaching a course called Business Communications at a community college. Thanks!

#158 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2015, 01:49 AM:

J @155: Luckily she wasn't my therapist!

Jesus, no shit! If she was, I'd recommend a strong note to the local licensing board. I desperately hope that her clientele has never included victims of any kind of violence. She smells heavily of the "what will the neighbors think" school of values. And so deep into rape culture that consent culture would probably be incomprensible to her.

Have other posters encountered anything like this?

Not in this specific way, no, but scan back through the DFD threads, and you can find all sorts of horror stories. In my personal experience, the most personally disempowering was a counselor who, when I went to her with my struggles with getting through the day and keeping up with my life (basically, time management, and prioritization issues, but I didn't know that at the time), came out of the gate with, "What, you get the same 24 hours a day every body else does."

But, with Sturgeon as my measuring stick, in the immortal words of Han Solo, "I dunno, I can imagine quite a lot." There are reasons why, frex, all Colorado therapists are required to hand out fact sheets stating that (a) it's against the law for therapists to have sex with their clients, (b) that it's never an appropriate form of therapy, and (c) here's the number and address to report to if you have any concerns about your therapist.

So, yeah, I have no trouble imagining someone of this degree of cluelessness. See also: what David said.

I'm curious: what's her age range? Her socio-economic demographic? Where is she from?

J @157: That might explain why this particular psych was teaching a course called Business Communications at a community college.

Thank Ghu for massive favors...!

#159 ::: J ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2015, 01:58 AM:

@Jacque: 50s or very early 60s, looked like a hippie who'd gone back to the business world except that she didn't want to let go of her long straight hair, from someplace on the West Coast with the general beach-view accent. I haven't seen her around recently, so I suspect she has moved away. (Whew!)

#160 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2015, 09:39 AM:

Jacque @158: That fact sheet... oookay. That says SO much.

Regarding therapist regulation where I am (Alberta): AFAIK you have to have a counselling degree here. Not that it always helps... (see my first two therapists!) but at least it's a baseline.

Also, the organization that my first therapist worked for has in the past couple of years come to recognize its institutional dysfunction and work to change it. Relevant to this, they have, in the words of the admin, "recognized what a disastrous joke the counselling program had come to be" and (despite *intense* resistance from the people who think Everything's Just Fine) are working very hard to fix it.

Also, from someone in psych at my local U, the counselling psych degree now has a lot of emphasis on recognizing that someone who's depressed (or suicidal) doesn't necessarily present as a puddle of nonfunctionality on your floor. They might, in fact, appear to have it all together, be properly dressed, and have an excellent "public face" - but have gotten up the courage to expose the hidden face and ask for help. And don't you DARE tell them nothing's wrong go home and quit whining. (my first two therapists, essentially) I think this followed a rash of highly publicized suicides on - three on campus, and several in the Red Deer school system -, where *nobody* had any clue they were depressed - excellent public face - which made even the most clueless realize that depression isn't the stereotype.

#161 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2015, 10:47 AM:

abi, I don't know if I'm being too political or general for this thread.

When I think about that therapist, I think about the middle class (?) training that you don't "take the law into your own hands" by using force, and I wonder whether that's in play. Destroying the sports car is symbolic violence, but it's a very strong symbol.

A discussion of things therapists should learn about the military as a culture, including a mention that therapists are generally opposed to violence and therefore have a hard time connecting with people who are violent as part of their profession.

#162 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2015, 10:47 AM:

Ugh, bad therapists. One reason I know I will struggle with finding a new counsellor (once I can afford to) is my one and only previous counsellor who was wildly unhelpful. I mentioned it before, but among other things, she said that women give sex for love, and men give love for sex, so I should have sex with Crappy Ex to get the love that I wasn't feeling in that long-decayed relationship, in which I was guilted at if I didn't give him sex twice a week already. (I didn't have the words "gender essentialism" at that point, nor did I recognize that as sexism. I did however recognize that it was vastly unfair that I had to give even more in order to maybe get, while Crappy Ex would get in the hope that he would give. And since I've only ever been interested in having sex with a person that I love, half of it felt true enough to me, and since I'd already long internalized the messages later recognized as the false "women who want things instead of giving everything are selfish" and "if something bothers me I'm overreacting" I didn't protest the unfairness of it very hard, if at all.) She also probably spotted the anxiety (but didn't name it to me so I could look up resources) and stopped there and didn't spot that I was upset about actual crap treatment by Crappy Ex and tried to help me not be upset because I was just overreacting. Also in Canada, and she has a Masters and PhD in counselling psychology and is a registered psychologist. At least her website doesn't claim she can treat abuse anymore. I seem to remember that it used to.

In other news, ack I really don't need this right now. A new friend (by new I mean a bit over a year) who asked me out after we first met and who I declined and who was an awesome guy and never mentioned it again and we're now good friends, is now also a person who I am starting to feel attraction for. All my reasons for not getting into a relationship still apply, except one: the initial "somebody is paying attention to me!" reaction has long worn off, thankfully, so I'm pretty sure I actually do like him instead of puppy brain begging for love from anybody who looks its way.

But one of my other reasons for not getting into a relationship is that while I've identified some habits and behaviours I learned while with Crappy Ex as things not to do in a healthy relationship, I don't have anything to replace them with. Without a different behaviour to replace them with, when I'm in a situation I'll have to revert to the old unhealthy behaviour because I literally don't know what else to do there. And a counsellor is probably my best bet for figuring out and building new behaviours to fill those gaps.

*If* I can find a good counsellor, to help me with an area where if I knew what good looked like I probably wouldn't need help with.

#163 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 03:53 AM:

J @159: That's (betraying my own prejudices here) ... kind of mind-boggling....

Chickadee @160: "nothing's wrong go home and quit whining."

It never ceases to astonish me that, say, Captain Awkward who (so far as I know) has no training in the field, and is basically a helper as an avocation, has more of a clue with the idea that the individual is the expert in their own life than many of the "trained" "professionals" in the trade.

WRT the link at Nancy Lebovitz's @161: I've only read the first couple of screenfuls, but: fascinating stuff. And the writer is wonderful.

Where do you find this stuff? You are forever bringing in brilliant little rainbow mice of fascinating insight and dropping them into our bowls. How the hell do you do that?

And on a similar note, J, did I mention how deliciously your little annecdote @155 is written?

the invisible one: I admire your insight and the restraint that moves you to hold off getting involved with Friend until you feel better equipped to.

I'm also impressed that you've identified undesirable dysfunctional default behaviors, and that you want to find/create functional replacements! This, to me, bespeaks a splendid level of wisdom! Go, you!

Meanwhile, while you're looking for a counselor, a suggestion:

I very often find behaviors I want to fix/replace, and I've had a modicum of success, though the process is nearly always slow and innefficient. (Though I suppose "efficiency" is relative, and might sometimes be satisfactorily achieved with, like, "at all." Anyway.)

I have two hacks for that: 1) I ask Making Light: "Who else here struggles with [issue]?" and "Who here can successfully [skill]?" Both forms can provide a lot of data and tricks to try.

The other is to Google the concerns in question. Google has gotten remarkably good at parsing questions like that, and I've come up with information on all sorts of stuff that way. The limiter is the state of the art. With (frex) things like getting to bed on time, there does seem to be "common wisdom," which is what shows up (metaphorically and literally) on the first three pages of results. It can take some digging, as well as rephrasing and refining of one's question, to find insight that isn't "obvious", as far as the zeitgeist is concerned. But, with persistance, it can be done.

So, anway. Maybe something to entertain yourself with while you sift through counselors.

#164 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 03:57 AM:

the invisible one: Also, the root of your Google search phrase is often in the question itself. In your case, if I knew what good looked like becomes, Google: [what does good [topic] look like] or [examples of good [topic]]

#165 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 11:19 AM:

#163, Jacque: It never ceases to astonish me that, say, Captain Awkward who (so far as I know) has no training in the field, and is basically a helper as an avocation, has more of a clue with the idea that the individual is the expert in their own life than many of the "trained" "professionals" in the trade.

Maybe that's exactly why. Those who are trained experts may be more prone to believing they are the experts and those without training are not. And sure, they're the experts in, say, psychology. But they are not the experts in somebody else's life, or what somebody else likes, or what triggers somebody else but helps a different person, or...

I have two hacks for that: 1) I ask Making Light: "Who else here struggles with [issue]?" and "Who here can successfully [skill]?" Both forms can provide a lot of data and tricks to try.

Who else here struggles with neglecting most of what they enjoy in life in order to do what a significant other wants to do, whether or not they're interested in SO's activity or SO even has something they want to do?

I think that's probably the biggest one. My mom joked about me going on a solo trip "to find [my]self" the summer after Crappy Ex dumped me, but she wasn't entirely wrong. I am *still* trying to figure out what I like, what I want, what my personality is, and especially how to hold on to those things when in a relationship. Seems they only start to make an appearance when I'm single for a while.

You know how I call myself invisible? I'm not invisible right now, but I noticed that I vanish when I'm in a relationship. (Interestingly, I noticed that habit long after choosing the name for other not-being-seen reasons.)

#166 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 11:32 AM:

The times when I've done that, it's because, on some level, I feel like the partner won't want to spend time with me if I push for doing stuff I like. Which, while not necessarily is a red flag (after all, interests don't have to align 100%), may certainly be an amber one.

What has been a red flag in me is the inability to say, "Well, you go ahead and do your thing. Let me know when you're done, and we can see if there's something we can do together later." This means that I'm chosing out of fear for losing them, rather than simply a choice between viable options.

#167 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 12:57 PM:

Yup, it's the "red flag in me" version of that. Losing whatever relationship I have, regardless of whether I'm happy in it or not (and at one point with Crappy Ex I was telling myself that I *was* happy, dammit, while crying) has been The Worst Thing In The World.

Whether or not my feeling of a partner not wanting to stay with me was accurate or not when it first comes up with that person is unknown to me. It has happened more than once that the person assured me that they weren't angry or frustrated or annoyed or whatever it was that I saw and feared that they were gearing up to leave me, only for them to reveal later (such as on breaking up) that they had been those things I saw for an unspecified amount of time while still denying it. I don't know if I was jumping at shadows and that annoyed them, and I don't know if I was doing or not doing, or being or not being some thing and that annoyed them, then I saw that and my worry about that annoyed them more.

I know that a couple doesn't have to spend all of their waking hours thinking of each other and doing everything together. I don't know how to believe that and live that and act on that and maintain my own hobbies and activities separate from a relationship while in a relationship. Complicated by being told (mostly by Crappy Ex) that what hobbies I *did* maintain (such as writing and especially NaNoWriMo) meant that I was ignoring him (unspoken: and being selfish, so so selfish) if I happened to be doing that hobby at a time other than when he was playing computer games and ignoring me on his terms.

I don't even really know how to reliably do that with friendships, and have been keeping a lid on my feelings of being rejected just because a friend has done a thing and didn't invite me, because they don't have to invite me to everything to still be a friend and it's not appropriate for me to dump those feelings all over them.

#168 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 01:27 PM:

There's a lot of different stuff going on there that all seems to be stuck together, which, I'm sure, is complicating the management thereof.

  1. Losing a relationship is The Worst Thing EVAR.
  2. Seeing somebody thinking about leaving while they're saying that they're not—and then they turn around and leave. "Do I believe what I see, or what they say?" "Oh, turns out what I saw was the correct thing." Sounds to me, from what you say here, that your Spidey Sense is pretty accurate.
  3. Running my Captain Awkward emulator, I'd go with: the first time you notice it, it's probably real. (Whether they were lying when they say they aren't leaving, or just weren't aware that what they were saying was at odds with what they were feeling is a sub-thing.)

  4. Also sounds like partner being "frustrated or annoyed" with you = leaving you...?
  5. Again, CA: If they are annoyed with you, and why, that's for them to articulate. If you ask, and they deny it, and then later act on that annoyance, that's on them: you gave them then chance to clear the air. They didn't take it—and also didn't have the spine to make a chance on their own initiative. It sounds suspiciously like you expect yourself to be able to read their minds...? (Though expecting them to say what's true about them is not, um, unreasonable.)
  6. Figuring out how to have your own compass (hobbies and interests) while simultaneously being in a relationship.
  7. To be fair: if one is focused on [writing] one kinda is (by definition) ignoring other things, such as a partner. That a partner is not okay with that (or can't figure out how to deal with that) is a separate thing. Especially if said partner then turns around and focuses on [game] (effectively ignoring you) and expects you to be okay with that. Can you say, "double standard"?
  8. Managing feelings of rejection when friends do things without you.

Does that about sum it up?

Tell me: do you have a place in your brain for feeling a feeling without necessarily expressing it? From your last sentence above, it sounds maybe like the way you avoid "dumping" your feeling "all over them" is that you avoid feeling the feeling in the first place...?

#169 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 01:54 PM:

WRT the It happened for a reason discussion, something occurred to me over the weekend.

Religious belief is often a big perpetrator here, but I think, really, the bigger one is our culture's narrative norms. You're reading a novel / watching a movie/TV show, and Our Heroes are in this fix because the author put them there. And they're in this particular fix because the author needs them to solve these particular sets of problems / have this specific personal growth / get past these particular obstacles so that they can, in the end, get to this particular resolution.

I think our fictive norms influence our thinking much more than we realize. Like when things are going along too well, and we find ourselves waiting for the other shoe to drop.

The only time in fiction (other than riding off into the sunset before the final fade) when things go well is when it's a set-up for things to go well and truly pear-shaped.

#170 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 01:59 PM:

Yes, everything is stuck together :(

If I believe them when they say they aren't annoyed then my perceptions are wrong and not to be trusted; if I don't believe them then I am suspicious and why don't I trust them? Yeah, the problem is them not using their words when they are annoyed, but the damage also spreads to me.

3 links back to 1, via the need to do everything together all the time.

6 is definitely a double standard. I know it's a double standard. It's infuriating and unfair and deep down I still feel like I'm selfish for wanting something, and childish for being mad about how unfair it is because life's not fair.

I thought I was only going to ask about #5, but all that other stuff is apparently so intertwined it immediately got dragged in.

About feeling a feeling vs. expressing a feeling... I'm not sure. I can redirect expressing that feeling into my journal, or here. If I can't do either of those and I can't tell the person about it, then... I don't know. I think I try to put it away for later, when I can. So maybe the answer is no, because if I don't either express it or put it away for expressing it later, it swirls around incoherently and doesn't resolve and sometimes gets worse. And sometimes "later" is undefined and hasn't happened yet. Sometimes I don't realize that I'm having a feeling until anywhere from hours to days after the thing happened.

It doesn't help that I've had a very hard time keeping up with my journal on my current work schedule, so figuring out what I'm feeling has kind of stalled for most of the past year.

A while back I described some of the processing I do as pulling containers of toxic waste out of a swamp, untangling them, and exposing the untangled things to sunlight to de-toxify them. A possible analogy is that I don't have space in the swamp to do that without pulling those things all the way out of my head into words (private journal or otherwise) to do the untangling.

Not a pleasant image, but that's how it feels a lot of the time.

#171 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 03:40 PM:

Note to mods: Yes, I'm aware I've been waxing loquatious lately; I've been home alone sick for much of the last week, and am apparently still starving for social cookies. Hopefully the logorrhea will abate soon, as I get restocked....

the invisible one @170: If I believe them when they say they aren't annoyed then my perceptions are wrong and not to be trusted; if I don't believe them then I am suspicious and why don't I trust them?

Well, I think we can dispense with this one pretty quickly: believe your perceptions. ::dusts hands::

Yes, it's not that simple. :-) Nor is it easy.

deep down I still feel like I'm selfish for wanting something

It's a values issue. What would have to change for you to feel that wanting something is just, like, normal and healthy? Even when the person you're with wants something different?

The pulling bins out of the swamp visual is very apt, especially the part about needing extra swap space to get stuff laid out so you can actually get a clear look at it all, and see how the pieces relate to each other. Also, that this requires time is consistent with my experience.

(I'm currently having minor successes with tackling small-chunk Questions, and being able to shut down a Session mid-Question, but I'm a ways from having a useful hack to offer.)

Strangely, though, the thing that really helped me get my needs on tap was sitting and drawing while listening to music I really love. I later realized this this is actually a form of meditation.

Apparently what that does is create enough space that the back-brain can chew through this stuff without interference from the conscious brain and, while doing so, get some of the cables laid so that the processed information is ready and available when the need comes up. And the need triggers access to the information! (Surprised the shit out of me the first time it happened.)

Meditation, more generally, is about practicing noticing what one is experiencing from moment to moment, identifying it, and then letting it go. Also, strengthening one's "muscles" for pulling one's attention back to The Thing. And The Thing can be anything from a phrase, to a sight, to a sensation.

#172 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 05:01 PM:

Oh my. Seconding the rec for the link at Nancy Lebovitz's @161 because, aside from whatever insights lurk therein (and there are many), it's simply a damn fine read.

#173 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 05:31 PM:

the invisible one@162: among other things, she said that women give sex for love, and men give love for sex

I still have a dittoed handout from my high school with several discussion questions on it, one of them being whether the above was true. My bet is there was some pop psych book about that time that was saying such a thing, but I've never run into it. (Huh: just found the saying ascribed to Donald Symons, who according to Wikipedia was one of the founders of evolutionary psychology -- WHY DOES THIS NOT SURPRISE ME?)

#174 ::: J ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 06:35 PM:

I finally figured out what's going on: the simple act of scraping together the little family info I have on hand after the one person who had access to more cut contact is reawakening my Stuff, specifically my Stuff about families and relationships. I'm veering between feeling guilty for being so needy and weird, and feeling angry for the way other people decided how I thought about things.

Example of the first: Everybody else knew from early on that we had an older half-brother, but I only heard about it in my late teens, as part of a suggestion that I stay with his family on the way to my freshman year of college. What?! Another sibling?! Why didn't I ever hear about this?! "Well...um...I guess we thought you wouldn't be interested." Because the child who repeatedly asked about the grandparents she never saw wouldn't be interested. But maybe I was just being too needy and inquisitive.

Example of the second: The time I heard about a massive [my maiden name] family reunion almost a year after it had happened. Because "I wouldn't have gotten much out of it." Well, maybe not, what with having PTSD courtesy of late members of said family, and being all spectrum-y about crowds. But I never even got to make the choice.

Riding the seesaw, riding the seesaw...

#175 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 09:20 PM:

HelenS, #162: As a concept it goes back considerably further than that, because it's really just a fancier expression of my mother's "Why should he buy the cow if he can get the milk for free?" But that doesn't invalidate the idea that there was some very popular parlor-psych book around that period which got the idea into a lot of people's heads in that particular form.

Notice also the transactional nature of the relationship so described. This isn't a marriage (or any of the less-formal relationships which lead up to it), it's institutionalized prostitution.

#176 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 09:21 PM:

Oops! That was supposed to be addressed to HelenS @173. Looks like I got my hands slightly mis-positioned.

#177 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2015, 09:06 AM:

Lee #175: it's institutionalized prostitution.

Sorry, but I beg to differ. Prostitution is very much about exchanging sex for material goods. Trading love for sex may range from non-optimal to dysfunctional, but prostitution it ain't. And the saying does encapsulate a classic tradeoff in relationships, between (stereotypically) gendered differences in value.

The stereotype in question is women valuing caretaking and affection behavior, against men valuing, not just the direct physical pleasure, but not having their sexual desires rejected.

#178 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2015, 12:00 PM:

David H., #177: men valuing, not just the direct physical pleasure, but not having their sexual desires rejected

Unfortunately, that makes it even creepier, because it feeds straight into the concepts of "there is no such thing as marital rape" and "women MUST be sexually available to their husbands at all times, whether they're in the mood or not". And there are still people pushing both of those ideas even now.

[MAJOR TW on that link for rape advocacy! I didn't link to the original source, but the quotes at the link are plenty bad enough.]

#179 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2015, 12:16 PM:

#171, Jacque: Well, I think we can dispense with this one pretty quickly: believe your perceptions.

And own the suspicious. :)

There are other things that make me suspicious in relationships which are very common. Like, say, courting behaviour. Based on past experience: he's just going to ignore me once he's "caught" me, so all this attention and affection and activities and interaction is only temporary. (Oh, and unhelpful counsellor also said something about how men were all about the chase and didn't know what to do once they'd caught a girl. I can't remember what her advice was for me to do about that.)

Of course, suspicion doesn't make for a very good relationship.

It's a values issue. What would have to change for you to feel that wanting something is just, like, normal and healthy? Even when the person you're with wants something different?

At this point, I don't know what still has to change. I expect it's something deep in the unconscious, because I know that everybody gets to have needs and wants, and I know that figuring out how to handle different needs and wants is part of a relationship, and I know that "compromise" doesn't mean putting aside what I want and being told I always have to have it my own way so why can't I do what he wants for once. *Believing* that, as it applies to *me* as well as everybody else, is a different matter.

Swap space, yes. My journal, or here, where I can write this stuff down, that is my swap space. I hope that one day the swamp will be cleared enough that I can deal with my feelings inside my head sometimes, instead of only in writing. At least I have a place to write it down, now. I didn't start keeping a journal until I had lived alone long enough, and had a computer with a password known only to me long enough, to feel safe doing it. (Despite living alone for years, my computer is still password-locked and probably always will be. I don't have my journal located in a hidden directory anymore, however.)

Strangely, though, the thing that really helped me get my needs on tap was sitting and drawing while listening to music I really love. I later realized this this is actually a form of meditation.

Hm. Maybe my colouring book can help with making that sort of space. I do find it calming, but I don't use it regularly or for extended periods of time. My drawing skills are low-ish and require lots of focus and conscious thought, and drawing is not particularly calming right now.

#180 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2015, 01:18 PM:

the invisible one @179: And own the suspicious. :)

Yes! Sorry! I missed a crucial bit, there.

chase and didn't know what to do once they'd caught a girl.

Women as "game" to hunt. ::shudder:: Yeah, that's a suitor I think you can safely toss back into the pond (to mix my metaphors).

Of course, suspicion doesn't make for a very good relationship.

But it does point at the flip side of the coin, which is what you're after: trust.

*Believing* that, as it applies to *me* as well as everybody else, is a different matter.

And, beyond that, taking it for granted. Yeah, I'm pretty much there, but it took a long time to build. Interestingly, these DFD threads (and also reading lots of Captain Awkward) has been hugely instrumental in strengthening those habits for me. So: UR DOIN IT RITE.

Despite living alone for years, my computer is still password-locked and probably always will be.

Well, you know, that is, in general, not a bad habit to cultivate.

Maybe my colouring book can help with making that sort of space.

Ooo! That sounds like just the ticket! My arty brain sez "Mmmmmm, coloring books...!"

#181 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2015, 01:43 PM:

the invisible one @179 Maybe my colouring book can help with making that sort of space.

Seconding this. 10 or 12 years ago now, I declared a "Mom's mental health weekend," left the kids with my husband, and rented a cabin in the woods for 3 or 4 days. I spent the time relearning what it was like to ask "What do I want to do now?" instead of "What's on fire?" There was nothing dysfunctional in the background, but I'd had 8 or 9 years at that point of 2 kids 18 months apart, the younger with special needs, husband traveling for work and then unemployed, a move halfway across the country, a job of my own ... I was pretty sure I was still in there somewhere, but I had entirely lost sight of what that meant or how I might be different from the pre-parenthood me. So every time I was ready to do something different, I asked myself, "What do I want to do now?" And I listened for the very faint whisper of an answer. Take a walk by the river, read a book, take a nap (there's a decadent indulgence), go out to eat, eat something I brought with me. This was not complex, but I was completely in the habit of disregarding what I wanted.

One of the things I took on that trip was a coloring book of geometric patterns and package of lots-of-colors markers. And it was lovely to do something nice and orderly and aesthetically pleasing. I didn't have a meditation practice at that point, but I've developed one since then, and think there are commonalities.

Also, witnessing. You are doing something hard. Don't beat yourself up because you don't find it easy.

#182 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2015, 01:54 PM:

#180, Jacque: Yeah, that's a suitor I think you can safely toss back into the pond (to mix my metaphors).

Problem is when I don't know how to tell chase-courting from affection that will be sustained. He is paying attention to me! He is enthusiastically doing activities with me! then later those activities are too far, and not actually that fun, and not convenient, and leave him alone this video game is important to him. So I am suspicious. I want to trust. I don't know how to tell when which one is the reasonable reaction.

And, beyond that, taking it for granted. Yeah, I'm pretty much there, but it took a long time to build. Interestingly, these DFD threads (and also reading lots of Captain Awkward) has been hugely instrumental in strengthening those habits for me. So: UR DOIN IT RITE.

Here and CA are what taught me the concept that those things are reasonable. I guess I have to practice it often enough to believe that it applies to me. But then that seems kind of circular; acting in ways I don't believe to develop the physical and mental habits that can sustain a belief. Or something? The whole faking confidence until you become confident has taught me that I'm good at faking it. Or maybe it was just an extension of faking not being upset to avoid being criticized for overreacting. Nervous, upset, a lot of the same physical effects.

#181, OtterB:

That cabin in the woods retreat sounds blissful. I both wish I could afford it, and fear what might come up out of the swamp if I don't keep myself busy. It would probably be hard, scary, and (hopefully) (eventually) valuable.

#183 ::: hope in disguise ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2015, 02:23 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @161: Thank you. That puts into words and light a lot of the friction between me and my partner, who is ex-Navy. I sort of want to see if I can take that course (if it does not require proof of doctor-ness to do). I think it could help.

the invisible one @165: I don't exactly lose myself in a relationship, but I tend to err towards adopting some of their interests rather than trying to share my own. I also become much less genderqueer when in a relationship (which have thus far all been with straight men). I used to become much more subsumed than I feel in my current relationship, though. Progress!

the invisible one @182: My current partner was initially very sparing with the affection. This made me insecure as all hell about whether he actually, you know, liked me, like as a person, but now I am reasonably sure that he is affectionate because he likes me, as opposed to because he is trying to get something out of me. (This is a mixed blessing.)

#184 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2015, 02:49 PM:

#183, hope in disguise: whether he actually, you know, liked me, like as a person

I had one guy tell me he couldn't tell whether I was interested in him or not. (This was the first guy I'd actually been attracted to, too! Most recent ex, not Crappy Ex.) He may have found this made him more insecure.

I guess learning to fake not being upset and fake being confident and hide the things I like so I didn't get mocked for them got overgeneralized to not showing much of anything related to an opinion. Including, apparently, the opinion of "I like you and think you're awesome and hot," which was my opinion at the time he told me this.

#185 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2015, 02:54 PM:

OtterB @181: Don't beat yourself up because you don't find it easy.

Much too easy to forget this one!

the invisible one @182: Problem is when I don't know how to tell chase-courting from affection that will be sustained.

Ah, the old, "What will know it when I see it?" problem. I got no help for you there. 'Bout the only thing I have to offer is: good looks is not an indicator. :-\ (This, now that I think about it, would be an excellent CA question.) It's possible this is something one can determine only over time.

maybe it was just an extension of faking not being upset to avoid being criticized for overreacting.

I have some real issues around "faking it." I've spent too much of my life developing the capacity to be me that being something else (even if for my own "benefit") feels like a deep betrayal of myself. For me, I guess, valuing my needs is more like a skill I practice: recognize that I've got rights here, too, and bring those to the fore of my mind. "How does that change the decision?" Carnegie Hall, and all that.

#186 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2015, 03:12 PM:

the invisible one @182 fear what might come up out of the swamp if I don't keep myself busy

That's a legitimate concern. I wasn't treading sensitive ground that time, so didn't have a problem, but I have had issues other times with unleashing a boatload of negative emotions. You're wise to be wary, and perhaps to line up support when you get to that point.

You can do some swamp cleanup just getting rid of blown plastic bags and styrofoam cups. Not everything has to be dealing with the barrels of toxic waste to be worth doing.

maybe it was just an extension of faking not being upset to avoid being criticized for overreacting

IMO one signal to consider is whether the faking is making you larger (claiming a larger space for yourself and growing to fill it), smaller (pretending parts of you don't exist), or just hollow (claiming a space that doesn't have much connection to the real you).

#187 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2015, 03:56 PM:

#185, Jacque: Ah, the old, "What will know it when I see it?" problem. I got no help for you there. [...] It's possible this is something one can determine only over time.

I'm kind of doubtful that it's even possible to tell ahead of time, unless one has access to reliable information about the other person's behaviour in past relationships.

Of course my behaviour in past relationships isn't very appealing (to me! or to anybody else I'm sure) and I'm trying to change it.

'Bout the only thing I have to offer is: good looks is not an indicator. :-\

As in, people who are pretty? No, not related to whether or not they will be good in a relationship. But given that I've never even had a celebrity crush, pretty faces aren't really a factor for me.

(This, now that I think about it, would be an excellent CA question.)

Dunno. Questions with specific details that lend themselves to scripts and specific actions that can be taken seems more the style of that site. Also I asked something similar a while back and never got a response.

For me, I guess, valuing my needs is more like a skill I practice: recognize that I've got rights here, too, and bring those to the fore of my mind. "How does that change the decision?" Carnegie Hall, and all that.

I am apparently terrified of being "selfish" because my very first thought was trying to figure out what rights I had the right to insist on and make decisions based on, and worried that I would go "too far" (how far is too far? In whose opinion? I remember your NLP notes and try to apply them!) and claim rights that I may or may not have while ignoring other people's rights which they totally have. Because, of course, a person for whom everything is about them and their rights to the exclusion of everybody else is dyfunctional to abusive, so me claiming some totally reasonable rights is heading right for that. (sigh)

I think I will try explicitly asking myself those questions. What rights does a person in this situation have? What options does that open up? How does having those rights affect my decision? And importantly, reminding myself that somebody who tries to stop me from maintaining my boundaries is not my friend and I have the right to not talk to them anymore. (And that last one *really* stirs up the worry about being the dysfunctional self-absorbed person because apparently I don't really understand the difference between maintaining boundaries and saying "if you don't support everything I do or if you ever disagree with me you're wrong and I won't talk to you ever again lalala not listening". Dammit, I know there's a difference. I just don't know where it is.)

#186, OtterB: IMO one signal to consider is whether the faking is making you larger (claiming a larger space for yourself and growing to fill it), smaller (pretending parts of you don't exist), or just hollow (claiming a space that doesn't have much connection to the real you).

Oh.

I think I have some thinking to do about that. I never thought about it in those terms, and I am having a reaction right now and I need to figure out what it is.

#188 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2015, 04:45 PM:

the invisible one @187: I'm kind of doubtful that it's even possible to tell ahead of time, unless one has access to reliable information about the other person's behaviour in past relationships.

I, strangely, am fully confident that it is possible. I am, however, dubious about whether it will every be possible for me.

It has been my observation that people are downright supernatural in their ability to identify their "type" (down to particular classes of dysfunction), and will do so repeatedly. Their "type" shifts as they themselves change, which changes the dynamic they search for.

By implication, it has to be possible to sort for (frex) "trustyworthy." And, actually, now that I say that, I realize, I already do: the way I'm currently configured, certain classes of "optimal function" actually ping my radar as "uninteresting."

But that's another one of those things that takes time and evolution to get to.

claim rights that I may or may not have while ignoring other people's rights which they totally have.

Some of this can be mitigated by recognizing that other people's rights are actually other people's responsibility to claim. It is also possible to respect other people's rights while simultaneously respecting one's own. Makes it easier, actually, because then it becomes more of a "respect" practice than a "boundary" practice. If that makes any sense.

so me claiming some totally reasonable rights is heading right for that.

Urm. I think it depends a lot on how you go about it.

Dammit, I know there's a difference. I just don't know where it is.

Yeah, there is a difference. Will think upon a good example.

Hm. Try this: as you think about the respective rights, are they (in your mind) coming towards you, are you going towards them, or are you both stationary? Roughly, if the first, they're challenging your rights. Second, you're challenging their rights. Third, you're each working on your own rights.

Anyway, that's what it looks like inside of my brain.

#189 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2015, 07:08 PM:

Lee #178: You've jumped here from trust negotiation first to mercantilism, and from there to use of force. I have to infer that a major piece¹ is missing from your model of negotiation within a relationship.

I am in no way saying that a relationship means² that the woman always "should" be ready for sex. But the gender-role aware symmetry for that is: the man shouldn't always have to be ready to provide "affection" (Unconditional Positive Regard, emotional support, attentive caretaking, etc), any more than the woman should.

However, it is commonplace and socially supported to negotiate increased provision of those respective roles, as part of the natural exchanges within a relationship. Thus any number of articles in the popular press offer tips on increased sexual range for women, while the corresponding articles for men offer remedial lessons on such points as emotional caretaking and support, attentive empathy, and "long-term attention" (e.g. remembering important dates).

BTW, over the next few days I will not always be responding promptly in this and other discussions, as I am taking a trip down to NYC.

¹ That is, a different piece from the ones I'm missing. :-/
² I am using the gender stereotypes here, but this does apply for any gender combination, wherever one partner is more focused on affection, while the other is more focused on sex.

#190 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2015, 08:01 PM:

The articles in the popular press reflect the common heteronormative understanding, which is distressingly similar to that of Donald Symons. My feeling is that if sex or love are transactional at all, it's that people trade sex for sex and love for love, sometimes simultaneously, sometimes not, and I also think that sexual relationships are not completely siloed off from other relationships and do not go by wildly different rules. I think spouses should be hugging their spouses at least in part for the same reasons they hug their friends or family members (indeed, I think spouses *are* generally considered friends and family members, though special cases of both).

#191 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2015, 01:38 AM:

Jacque, #188: the way I'm currently configured, certain classes of "optimal function" actually ping my radar as "uninteresting."

Did you intend to say "sub-optimal" there? Because that's the only way that sentence makes sense to me.

There was definitely a point, way back before I met my now-ex, when I consciously realized that (1) I was consistently being attracted to guys of a particular personality type, and (2) those relationships were consistently breaking up over a couple of specific issues that kept becoming problems. After that, even though I could still feel the pull of that personality type, my actual interest in pursuing relationships with guys who had it virtually disappeared.

David H., #189: Note that in these last few exchanges I haven't been talking about relationships in general, but specifically those which can be described by the model of "women give sex to get love, while men give love to get sex". IME that is absolutely not even close to the way a healthy relationship is structured! Nor is it anything I see among my friends who have happy, stable relationships (not to mention my own). And it is transactional/mercantile, and makes it very difficult to regard your partner as an equal instead of a commodity. My claim is that when you start from that position, it becomes distressingly easy to proceed down several different paths none of which will end well.

Which is not to say that I've never made an error in negotiating something within a relationship! But honestly, I think we're looking at an example of GIGO here -- when you start with something that messed-up, the results aren't likely to be pretty.

#192 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2015, 06:29 AM:

Lee #191: One last comment before signing off to prep for the train: Few relationships will be only that, and a relationship limited to that will not be healthy -- nor will a relationship limited to any other single theme or pattern of interaction!

But like many stereotypes, this one exists for a reason -- it's based on gender differences in both "standard social training", and various factors underlying those gender roles. The brief catchphrase is hardly meant to represent "everything you need to know", but it does still encapsulate a "found thing" in everyday society; a theme within many people's relationships, which is so commonplace that simply denying it altogether is counterproductive rather than liberating.

#193 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2015, 12:11 PM:

#188, Jacque: It has been my observation that people are downright supernatural in their ability to identify their "type" (down to particular classes of dysfunction), and will do so repeatedly.

I would wonder what I was choosing in my past relationships, but for one thing: until about two years ago when I realized what was happening, I literally dated anybody who asked me, unless I was already in a relationship.

Not many people asked.

So... I can't really say I was choosing anything. Except maybe that my obliviousness filtered out all but the guys who preferred the chase? I wasn't "playing" hard to get, it just took actually asking me out to get my attention, I suppose.

Urm. I think it depends a lot on how you go about it.

That would have been an example of a jerkbrain...

Try this: as you think about the respective rights, are they (in your mind) coming towards you, are you going towards them, or are you both stationary?

Unfortunately right now any attempt to stand up and take an amount of space for myself that I wouldn't blink about somebody else taking up registers to me as encroaching on other people's space. I've spent too long shrinking myself in a lot of ways. I have taken up my own space in a couple of other ways and I suspect those are what people see when they think I'm confident and able to stand up and stuff.

#191, Lee: Did you intend to say "sub-optimal" there? Because that's the only way that sentence makes sense to me.

After I read it the way you did, I re-read it to mean that's one way a dysfunction-attracting filter works. Not sure which was intended, but given the discussion it could be either. Or another phrasing for the latter meaning is "nice guys are boring, bad boys are interesting"? Which could lead to a string of high-drama relationships of varying toxicity.

#162, me... I say he never mentioned it again but now I'm wondering if my obliviousness is not seeing something. At group events he ends up migrating toward wherever I am. There have been occasional comments that could be compliments of a sort I wouldn't expect from a friend. Other stuff like that.

But then, I don't really know how to have friends, so I don't really know if he is doing the friends-hoping-for-more thing or if that's how he does friendship. What friends I have had in the past tend to either be situational/group based acquaintances who I don't see outside of the shared activity, or a single person that I glom onto really hard and want to do everything with all the time, and nothing in between. While declining all relationships I am trying to work on my model of friendship because the "everything on one person" model is pretty similar and maybe I can fix that at the friendship level and have it carry over to the romantic level.

#194 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2015, 12:19 PM:

Lee @191: "the way I'm currently configured, certain classes of 'optimal function' actually ping my radar as 'uninteresting.'" Did you intend to say "sub-optimal" there? Because that's the only way that sentence makes sense to me.

No, I meant what I said. For example, a guy who's calm and trustworthy, and pays me good attention: zzzzz.... A guy who's time I have to fight for: ziinnnng!! ::sigh::

even though I could still feel the pull of that personality type, my actual interest in pursuing relationships with guys who had it virtually disappeared.

This is true for me also. With the net result that I've been completely single for...ghods, twenty years now. And we won't even go into the guys who seem to be attracted to me....

#195 ::: Anon Amos ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2015, 02:28 PM:

Okay, it's Evaluation Time herebouts again. Expected are the problematic parts of the self-evaluation, "Goals for the upcoming year." The true answers are variations on "Since the scope of my work is extremely limited, to a field I was bored with decades ago, and I have no latitude for initiative, my real goals have nothing to do with my actual job." I'll come up with some bullshit answer. Probably plagiarize something from a previous year.

No, the chief problem is that boss is supposed to give me a copy of the completed form to sign after boss has filled out their evaluation of me.

Three years running now, this has not happened.

(This leads me to wonder: did the evals ever even get filed with HR? Or are boss's opinions of me so heinous/so glowing that boss doesn't want me to see them, for fear of some [consequence]? Altogether, it feels very strangely passive-aggressive.)

I am very sorely tempted to hold this year's form hostage until boss coughs up.

#196 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2015, 05:36 PM:

Anon Amos (195): That sounds remarkably frustrating. Since the evaluations are supposed to be filed with HR, would it be possible for you to ask HR to show them to you? They can't be secret if you're supposed to sign off them after they are completed.

#197 ::: Anon Amos ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2015, 05:56 PM:

Hah, whew! Finally landed on my desk. Maybe mentally threatening Dire Consequences did the trick! :-)

::rolls eyes::

They can't be secret if you're supposed to sign off them after they are completed.

Is it ironical or just plain weird that I've never been asked to sign the completed forms...?

#198 ::: Anon Amos ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2015, 07:15 PM:

...except that two are duplicates, so I'm still missing the most recent year. ::facepalm::

#199 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2015, 08:20 AM:

Anon amous: and do their contents reveal any motivation for not revealing them? The thing is, AFAIK a company doesn't legally "have" to show an employee their evaluations... But if they don't do so, or don't give the employee at least a basic chance to say "that isn't true", it can open them up to serious liability later.

#200 ::: Anon Amos ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2015, 11:29 AM:

Well, from the two I've seen, boss basically regurgitates what I've put in the self-eval, and changes first person to third.

And, according to staff policy, I'm supposed to be signing these things before they go to HR.

Which is part of what leads me to wonder if HR has even seen any of them.

In the grand scheme, it doesn't really matter, as long as there are no negative reimbursement consequences. It's just...weird.

#201 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2015, 08:55 PM:

Making faces at the Internal Server...

#202 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2015, 12:47 AM:

I just had an unexpected illustration of how the language of aggrieved privilege can crop up in unlikely places.

Context was a FB discussion of the Southern habit of addressing random strangers as "sweetie" or "honey" or other such endearments. I said that I really dislike fake intimacy, and promptly found myself embroiled in an argument that was absolutely squicking me out, and I couldn't figure out why.

Until I did. The other person (white and female AFAICT) was using exactly the kind of language that a smarmy dudebro would use to defend crap like putting his arm around a female co-worker, or a woman at a con who he doesn't know very well. "It's not intended that way" and "but this is just the way we are" and "you should be more tolerant" and and and.

It was one of those "once you see it, you can't un-see it" moments, and I'm putting it here because other people might also run into situations where that kind of argument is being deployed and not understand why it's freaking them out.

#203 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2015, 07:43 AM:

Lee #202: heh. The "honey" stuff bugs me a bit too, but I'll give people more slack for that than for the touchy stuff. And especially when it's someone talking upward the privilege heirarchy, because that's actually an equalizing tactic.

But there are also just usage differences. Moving down to Virginia, It took me a while to stop hearing a casual "thank you so much" as sarcastic overemphasis, because up North it wouldn't be casual -- even "thank you" tends to get abbreviated to "thanks", so "thank you so much" would imply above-and-beyond.

#204 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2015, 07:48 AM:

Anon Amos #200: since my prior attempt was apparently eaten: So, they're not slagging you, but not giving actual feedback, either.

I imagine the forms probably did go to HR, because otherwise why bother rewriting your self-eval?

#205 ::: Anon Amos ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2015, 11:53 PM:

Some consolation: It's not just me boss does this too. At least two coworkers report the same phenomenon.

Which maybe boils it down to bad paperwork housekeeping. Which is consistent with boss's habit of keeping THOUSANDS OF EMAILS in their inbox. And (not surprisingly) missing a lot of incoming emails.

I'm sure boss does something well, being the deputy Honcho, and all. Be damned if I can figure out what it is....</snide>

#206 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2015, 09:00 AM:

I think someone asked whether my link @ 161 in which the military explains its culture was free and available to the public, and the answer is yes-- it's got funding till 2018.

#207 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2015, 09:49 AM:

David Harmon@204

the forms probably did go to HR

Or at least they were intended to go to HR. Not necessarily the same thing.

#208 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2015, 07:53 AM:

http://realsocialskills.org/post/131042408032/detecting-imperius-curses

#209 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2015, 09:10 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz #208: Oh yeah... the scary thing is that people can do this sort of thing without "meaning to"; both my mothers are quite overbearing, and my birth mother in particular has a long-standing habit of steamrollering contradiction in just this way -- interrupting my deliberations, and when I do make a decision, she wants to "keep discussing it" (which she's lately tried to lampshade as a gender difference).

But it is possible to learn to resist this sort of thing. In particular, with my stepmother over the last week's trip, I realized I've gotten a lot better at cutting off her interruptions. (In her case, I think it's more about impatience, she's really not a deliberative person.) I still need to practice this more with Mom....

#210 ::: hope in disguise ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2015, 12:59 PM:

NMancy Lebovitz @206: Is it permitted to take if one is not any kind of health or mental health professional? In theory, I suspect I could put fake information where the registration for the website asks for Org and Dept but that would be lying and lying is bad...

(I sometimes describe my D&D-type alignment as "Lawful Scared": there are Rules, and if you break the Rules, that is Bad, regardless of whether anyone cares or will notice...)

#211 ::: hope in disguise ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2015, 01:01 PM:

me @210: *Nancy... </tyops>

#212 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2015, 01:31 PM:

#210 ::: hope in disguise

I'm not sure. I read a military explanation of military culture a while ago which was simply available. It may have been something else, or they may have changed terms.

You could ask them. VHATRAIN@va.gov
URL:

#213 ::: hope in disguise ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2015, 01:29 PM:

Nancy @212, I emailed them and got back instructions on how to make a VHA TRAIN account. So apparently they don't mind if non-professionals take the free course. Hurrah and thank you :)

*impostrous† feelings quieten*

†What is a good noun form of the adjective for 'like an impostor'? For that matter, what is the adjective? 'Impostrous' seems clearly incorrect but communicates meaning; OTOH it leads smoothly to 'impostrosity', which, while it handily conveys the felt-by-the-self sense that to be an impostor would be monstrous (i.e. Wrong and Bad, see me@210), is quite unwieldy and I do not actually want to encourage those connotations in myself. /me ponders

#214 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2015, 02:02 PM:

"Impostrous" (Characterized by imposture; deceitful) is indeed in one of my dictionaries, with "imposturous" as an alternate spelling. My spell-check, on the other hand, does not recognize either of them.

#215 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2015, 07:43 PM:

For those who, like me, don't usually follow the open threads here, good news! ma larkey is still around, and doing decently. :)

Note to the gnomes (and to ma larkey): if the cross-linking is considered inappropriate, please remove this comment, and apologies.

first note
second note

#216 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2015, 08:36 PM:

And dcb is back up and running again, 5 months after breaking her ankle. So that's two pieces of good news!

#217 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2015, 01:59 PM:

To all here: May your Thanksgiving be as safe and happy as possible.

#218 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2015, 02:00 PM:

Internal Server Error. *grump*

#219 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2015, 05:06 PM:

Some family members have done their ritual, post Paris attacks: "We're so worried about you! Are you safe?!"

My stance has been close to frigid. A laconic "I'm fine, we're all fine."

One of these feelers came with a cute little ribbon bow of "You should stay in touch more!" Well, that broke my patience, and my desire to remain polite. I wrote back, "Well, that depends? What would you like to talk about?" with a series of topics that could be good correspondence material if they could be arsed to think deeply enough to get interesting answers.

No reply, yet. (Of course.) But now, I'm grumpy because I just wish they didn't decide they had to poke for the umpteenth time. It's all just such a farce and they refuse to see their own role in it. I came this -><- close to reminding them that staying in touch is a two-way street. At least I know that *I* am done with carrying water and doing emotional work for this bunch.

At least no trees were killed in this whine of mine. Thanks for the eyes/ears/hearts...

Crazy(but somehow saner when she's not dealing with family, funny that...)Soph

#220 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2015, 05:19 PM:

crazysoph @219: Witnessing. Sympathies.

#221 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2015, 12:37 PM:

Can we please stop gaslighting our kids?

Summary: Children have the right to feel angry, scared, bored, or frustrated. Forcing them to fake being happy under stressful circumstances is a variety of gaslighting -- and it's one which our society pushes heavily, especially around the holiday season. Giving kids permission not to be happy all the time, and tools to help them manage their negative emotions, results in healthier kids who are also (surprise!) happier overall.

I also like that it specifically mentions the "you have to let Uncle Ernie kiss you" issue.

#222 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2015, 09:52 AM:

Lee: I could say (rant?) volumes, but we'll take it as read.

#223 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2015, 02:25 PM:

crazysoph @219: witnessing and sympathies.

Jacque @222: yep, me too. :(

In personal news, I just got into a group therapy thing (a LOT cheaper than one-on-one, and I do well in groups), which will hopefully help me to get to the next step in dealing with the residual toxic waste from the enmeshment (with Mom) and all the toxic tapes that Mom installed.

Right now, I have SO MUCH anger toward her, and I tend to get paralyzed in some activities because I can never be good enough (for her, or her tapes), and I'd love to be DONE with that already. I don't want the anger. I certainly don't want the paralysis.

Wish me luck? It starts in January.

And since last year we FINALLY instituted the alternating Christmas (instead of Christmas Eve with my parents, in town, then *flying* to the in-laws and me missing Christmas dinner from an exhaustion migraine), last year was entirely with the in-laws (had a lovely time :), which makes this year with my parents. *stressstressstress*

#224 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2015, 09:23 AM:

Chickadee, witnessing

#225 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2015, 10:14 AM:

Chickadee, wishing you luck, with the therapy (where it sounds like you know what you want from it and have found a good arrangement), and with coping with the parents.

#226 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2015, 04:30 PM:

I just unfriended someone on Facebook because they no longer post anything except passive-aggressive vaguebooking -- cryptic snide comments with no point of reference and no way to know exactly what it is they're objecting to.

And it occurred to me afterwards that this is actually a very common variety of verbal abuse; the idea is to make the other person (any other person, whether it's your target or not) respond on the basis of what it sounds like you're saying, and then either go the Plausible Deniability route, or do the "if the shoe fits..." thing.

So I think it's worth mentioning here. If you know somebody who pulls that kind of shit, either on social media or in real life, consider getting them out of your life. Your blood pressure will thank you.

#227 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2015, 08:07 AM:

Chickadee: Witnessing. I hope the therapy is useful.

Good luck with dealing with the parents.

#228 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2015, 07:23 PM:

So, I just saw a film called "Ella Enchanted" with friends. (2004 film starring Anne Hathaway, Hugh Dancy & Cary Elwes.) Premise: campy comedy retelling of Cinderella, with the twist that Ella, as an infant, is given the "gift" of obedience by a stupid fairy godmother. That's right; she MUST do ANYTHING that ANYONE tells her to do. Her mother and her mother's best friend are the only ones who know, and they tell Ella not to tell anyone. So she can't. Story jumps to basic Cinderella plot; Dad remarries; nasty stepmother, evil stepsisters...

So, my friends (male and female) are all laughing at the campy humor and the situations Ella finds herself in. And all I can see is Ella has no choices. None. Not until the enchantment is broken at the end of the movie.

"How'd you like it?" asked our host when he took out the DVD. "It was a little... rapey... for my tastes," I replied. "Oh, but it didn't go there!" my friend protested, aghast.

Well, no. She wasn't forced into sex. But only, I think, because it was a kid's movie. (She is required to kiss someone.)

So, am I overreacting?

#229 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2015, 09:09 PM:

Cassy B @228 I haven't seen the movie but I've read the book, which is excellent (I'm told by my daughter that the book was better, but not, I think, different in what's being discussed here.) The book was quite clear that the removal of the ability to say no was NOT a "gift" anyone would want. So, no, I don't think you're overreacting. It's certainly important not to override someone's will about sex, but that doesn't make it okay to override their will about everything else.

#230 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2015, 12:05 AM:

Cassy, #228: I suspect that this is one of those "once you've seen it, you can't un-see it" things, and your friends haven't learned to see it yet. Also, unfortunately, I think your choice of the word "rapey" as a starting point was a tactical error, because that allowed them to respond with, "Oh no, she wasn't raped!" and then dismiss anything else you said.

If it comes up again*, I would suggest starting out by saying that you find the idea of someone having all their choices taken away from them too creepy to be funny. If that gets thru, then you might segue into, "She was forced to kiss someone against her will. If it hadn't been a kiddie movie, what else might she have been forced to do against her will?"

* Which it probably won't; there's a good chance that you've now been tagged as "the weirdo with no sense of humor". This group may quietly stop inviting you to their movie nights -- or instead, do so in terms couched to elicit a refusal, such as, "Well, the last time we invited you, you got all bent out of shape about a silly kids' movie. Are you sure you can handle this one?" **

** I don't think this is necessarily going to be the outcome. But I do think it's a possibility that you need to be aware of.

#231 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2015, 08:41 AM:

This is like my seeing Toy Story as horrifying-- the toys love the children, but the children can never find out.

#232 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2015, 08:53 AM:

rot13 because this could count as spoiling people's fun:

Engngbhvyyr-- jung *jbhyq* jr qb vs jr sbhaq bhg gung engf jrer fncvrag?

Fcl-- gur raq bs gur zbivr jnf gung fur jnf encrq (ab cbffvoyr jnl fur pbafragrq gb frk jvgu uvz) naq vg jnf cynlrq sbe n yvtugjrvtug ynhtu

#233 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2015, 09:00 AM:

Lee, fortunately, these are friends I've had for over twenty years; they may think my reaction to the movie was odd, but if they've been my friends this long they're willing to put up with my peculiarities... <wry grin>

OtterB, yeah, the movie has the two people who know about the "gift" (her mother and her mother's friend the housefairy) react in shock and horror to the idea. Which then is played for laughs for the rest of the movie.

Oddly, NONE of Ella's schoolmates or teachers, including her best friend whom she is forced to repudiate horribly, figure out Ella's curse in sixteen years. While her evil stepsister figures it out in about two days.... Yeah, well, children's movie.

You're right, I shouldn't have used "rapey". It was my visceral reaction, but it was probably too strong for the context.

(Oh, and in the movie, the Prince asks her (he doesn't know that she's under compulsion to obey) to kiss him only AFTER it's been made clear that she probably is interested in him. So they filed off some of the rapey bits even in the kiss. But, honestly, how many infatuated, heterosexual, hormonal teenaged boys, bunked down with Anne Hathaway with no adult supervision, are going to stop with asking for a kiss...? <wry> And since she didn't have free will, even her "willing" kiss (they did this thing with a chime and a body-jerk when she was ordered to do something, and that was omitted for the kiss) seemed creepy to me.

This may not be the right thread to have posted this in -- hating a film isn't a life-problem -- but I really needed a place to vent a little where folks would understand my dismay at a kid's movie... and to validate that I had a genuine reason to find the film creepy and distasteful, despite the laughter of the people who watched it with me. And it does touch on disfunction in relationships.

I appreciate the feedback.

#234 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2015, 11:44 AM:

Cassy, #233: Well, that's good; I'd hate to see you lose friends over this, but that is a fairly common reaction to someone unexpectedly harshing the group squee.

Another possible point of approach is, "Imagine how you would feel if you literally could not say no to any request someone made of you. And this is a character we're supposed to find sympathetic. How is it supposed to be anything but horrifying to watch?" Kids may very well identify with the Ella character, because let's face it, kids are often in the position of not being able to refuse an order from adults. But the reaction of the adults themselves should be more nuanced than that!

I think boosting awareness of how dysfunctionality is portrayed in our society is a perfectly appropriate topic for the community. Remember, we had a whole thread about Tangled a few years back.

#235 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2015, 03:52 PM:

Cassy B. @228: So, am I overreacting?

Nope.

#236 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2015, 04:03 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @232: Having lived with one, I couldn't say they're not.

#237 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2015, 04:09 PM:

Cassy B. @233: This may not be the right thread to have posted this in

For my money, it's the perfect place.

I've been resisting the urge to wax verbose about the skin-crawlingly fascinating study of abuse patterns Jessica Jones is doing. Volumes could be written on the gaslighting alone.

#238 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2015, 02:37 AM:

As a confirmed stick-in-the-mud wet blanket type, I can say that sometimes, much later, people come back to me and say that my objections—which I always raise as my personal opinion and maybe just a quirk or a bad reaction because of my own twitches—have made them think and reconsider.

Friends who don't allow me to have carefully considered opinions, expressed tolerantly and mindfully of variance, aren't really my friends. But that's just me; other people's (perfectly functional! healthy and helpful!) social groups may work differently.

Jacque @237:
Not here. Really not here. I'll start a spoiler thread with trigger warnings all over it.

#239 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Gardener of Threads ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2015, 03:49 AM:

I've created a Jessica Jones spoiler thread.

I've asked people not to cross the streams between this thread and the JJ one. The dividing line, if you seek one, is what happens in the series? (there) versus what happened to me that the series is bringing out? (here).

My dual priorities are to (a) shelter DF from unnecessary triggers, which may restrict posting here; and (b) protect the separation of identities that allows people to comment freely in DF, which may restrict posting in the spoiler thread.

If you're in doubt, ping me at abi at this domain and we'll figure things out backstage.

#240 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2015, 12:40 PM:

I'm starting to wonder just what kind of people I grew up surrounded by.

It took a couple of years of doing NaNoWriMo to be comfortable telling that group that I wrote SF/F, and several more years to be comfortable telling people outside of NaNo the same thing. I kept expecting mockery and disdain.

I tend to restrict expressing my geeking out about a subject unless in a group that is already geeking out about that subject. I keep expecting mockery and disdain.

I tend to restrict showing what I like in general unless in a group that I trust reasonably well. I keep expecting mockery and disdain.

I don't know when I can call somebody a friend. I keep expecting that the only invitations I will get are the ones extended to an entire group that anybody can join and they are not personal at all.

I brace myself when it's time to decline offered alcohol and when they offer alternate alcohol options tell them that no, I don't drink anything with alcohol in it because I find it tastes utterly vile. I keep expecting pressure and shaming, or defensiveness. (I distinctly remember one friend in university setting herself a goal to see me drunk before we graduated. In fact, Crappy Ex was talking once about how maybe I could try shooters because it is possible to swallow them with minimal tasting and get drunk, and maybe then I'd relax...)

I brace myself when I have to tell somebody that no, I don't like loud parties with lots of people, even more so when most of them are drunk. I keep expecting accusations of being no fun at all.

I am reluctant to say anything about racism or sexism, or feminism, or any related subjects, or pointing out that a "joke" wasn't funny because of the bigotry contained within. I keep expecting disparagement and accusations of being uptight and/or not having a sense of humour and/or "Are you calling me a *ist!?" defensiveness.

Then other things, like disparaging comments not directed at me about things other people do... which the speaker doesn't know I do, or agree with, or sympathize with.

But the reason I'm starting to wonder this now is because this new group of friends, who I started meeting almost a year and a half ago, doesn't do those things that I have learned to expect. And it's kind of scaring me. *Can* I relax and reveal things now? *Can* I have opinions of my own? I don't even know if I know how to do that. I don't even know where to put the filter, between the wall of reveal nothing to the people around me, and the extreme openness of here.

#241 ::: Jeanie ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2015, 12:49 PM:

the invisible one:

You're doing it right because your community is shifting to a supportive one. It's a long process; it has to be as reshaping yourself is part of it and that takes time.

Look at your incredible progress in the last year and a half!

#242 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2015, 01:15 PM:

Idumea Arbacoochee: I've created a Jessica Jones spoiler thread.

Thank you! And a very nicely drawn set of distinctions as to what belongs where!

As to JJ trigger warning: "ALL the trigger warnings. Seriously, all of them."

:-)

#243 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2015, 02:36 PM:

Cassy, it occurs to me (because of something I saw in a different context) that what you're seeing in Ella Enchanted is coerced consent. That's what the literal inability to refuse a request IS, and yes, it's squicky as hell.

the invisible one, #240: I think the answer to "what kind of people you grew up surrounded by" is ASSHOLES. And possibly predators as well, given their willingness to override your personal boundaries about things like whether or not to drink booze. It is positively amazing (and a sign of great strength) that you managed to hang onto your inner self in the face of all that crap.

You are now being exposed to what most people expect normally out of social situations. The problem with your former "friends" wasn't you, it was THEM.

#244 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2015, 03:56 PM:

*poke* ISE, what have you done with my post?

#245 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2015, 03:58 PM:

Well, good thing I copied the text. Reposting:

#241, Jeanie: Yes, I am trying to figure out how to friend when around people who aren't regularly telling me I'm DOIN IT RONG. Whatever "it" is. Previous strategies amounted to "don't rock the boat".

#243, Lee: I think the answer to "what kind of people you grew up surrounded by" is ASSHOLES.

And I grew up thinking that was how the world worked, so I didn't know that I could look for something different. (sigh) It's entirely possible there were non-assholes around me, but I didn't interact with them enough to realize that they were substantially different from the people who mocked or shamed me. (And people wonder why some folks get into bad relationship after bad relationship. Maybe they don't even know there are other options?)

Even my family. It's that combination of loving me and supporting my career and hobby choices and telling me I was overreacting when my opinion differed from theirs, especially when I didn't like something. Like the casual racist jokes that get tossed around a lot. I can do my own thing, as long as I don't disagree with their values, or something.

And possibly predators as well, given their willingness to override your personal boundaries about things like whether or not to drink booze.

Willingness to try, anyway. The not drinking alcohol was an easy boundary for me to enforce because it's basically impossible to spike my drink (with alcohol) without me noticing. I can taste ethanol and it tastes awful to me. (Not that they tried that. They used social pressure instead and mostly stopped after a month or two when they realized they weren't getting anywhere.) I still learned to guard whatever drink I had, partly because I didn't want to have to throw out a drink, and partly because I was vaguely aware of other spiking agents and didn't know whether or not I could taste them the way I can taste alcohol. Interestingly, there was no lack of pride in that particular university crowd that people (especially underage people) who got passing-out drunk were given a corner to crash in and were monitored by multiple people to make sure they slept it off safely. Seems they wanted people to get drunk but (most) only wanted that.

Other boundaries, not so much. Of course I had no idea what boundaries were at that point, and when I started university I was so thrilled to have people I could be a geek with that I thought I had found my people and ignored what made me uncomfortable because if they rejected me then who would I have?

It is positively amazing (and a sign of great strength) that you managed to hang onto your inner self in the face of all that crap.

I buried it.

Or more accurately, I only ever let it out when I was alone. The slightest hint of mockery or criticism for a thing I enjoy, and that person never sees or hears of me doing the thing again. Doesn't mean I stop doing the thing, only that I hid it. And of course hiding something is what you do for things you are ashamed of, so I became that much less likely to tell anyone about the thing.

The problem with your former "friends" wasn't you, it was THEM.

And one of the deep-seated lessons I grew up with was that people who blamed others for their problems were wrong and bad and weak and couldn't take Personal Responsibility (tm) for Their Own Problems.

it occurs to me (because of something I saw in a different context) that what you're seeing in Ella Enchanted is coerced consent. That's what the literal inability to refuse a request IS, and yes, it's squicky as hell.

It's also explicitly coerced via a spell, based on what I've seen mentioned here. I wonder how many people will make the connection between that and a "no" not being accepted and a "yes" the only acceptable answer, whether through social pressure or threats. Taking a "no" to mean "ask again later, repeat until getting a yes" is just as coerced, even if it takes longer.

#246 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2015, 05:16 PM:

the invisible one, #245: And people wonder why some folks get into bad relationship after bad relationship. Maybe they don't even know there are other options?

Exactly. How do you know there's anything else out there if all you've ever seen are bad examples? And beyond that, the abuse is a familiar and comfortable environment; you may not like it, but you know how to maneuver in it. Being around people who treat you decently, after years of that, can be downright disorienting by comparison, and this is what's happening to you now. Give it time; you'll adapt.

I can do my own thing, as long as I don't disagree with their values, or something. '

That sounds more like "you can do what you want as long as you never suggest that THEY might be wrong about something". Because THEY are perfect and unquestionable, and if you have a problem with them, it means YOU are the broken one.

I can taste ethanol and it tastes awful to me.

Same here. I generally explain it to other people in my own age group by saying, "Remember when you were a kid and you went to the doctor, and the nurse wiped the glass thermometer off with rubbing alcohol and shoved it in your mouth? Remmber how awful that tasted? That's what anything alcoholic tastes like to me." Doesn't work for people who grew up after they started using the disposable plastic thermometer sheaths, though! And I can taste it in ridiculously low concentrations; more than that, I can smell it in very low concentrations, and that's a warning not even to try tasting it.

And one of the deep-seated lessons I grew up with was that people who blamed others for their problems were wrong and bad and weak and couldn't take Personal Responsibility (tm) for Their Own Problems.

Ah now, this is another aphorism which is valid under normal circumstances but fails miserably under abusive ones. Because most of us have encountered the type of person who genuinely won't take responsibility for their own actions; no matter what happens to them, it's always Someone Else's Fault. They fall from one job to another, one living arrangement to another, one relationship to another, burn out one set of friends after another, it's always one crisis after another after another, and the concept that anything they did (or failed to do) might have had something to do with it is just not on the table at all. That's what the statement above is intended to address.

But for certain types of abuser, this is the ultimate Get Out Of Jail Free card -- and it depends, for much of its effectiveness, on the target not having any sort of reality check available. Because yes, it is indeed possible for "them all to be out of step but Jim" if Jim is being made into the scapegoat.

For a lot of people, college is that reality check; it's where they first meet people who don't treat them like their dysfunctional family does, and they start getting the "Wait, what, that's not right!" response when they tell family-related stories. You appear to have had the spectacular bad luck to fall into a college crowd that replicated some of your family's worst habits. But you're here now, and you are getting reality checks. Hold onto them for all you're worth -- because you're worth more than either your asshole family or your asshole "friends" have ever wanted you to believe.

#247 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2015, 01:32 PM:

#246, Lee:

Being around people who treat you decently, after years of that, can be downright disorienting by comparison

Yeah, disorienting, scary, confusing, freaking me out a little.

I mean, most of my [activity]-friends, the people I see as part of some activity but not outside of that, are probably decent, but I don't get close to them. They're acquaintances who I can have a perfectly pleasant chat with as part of the activity. I don't really know how to reach out to people to do something individual, so if they don't contact me, nothing happens.

if you have a problem with them, it means YOU are the broken one.

Well if I have a problem with something it usually means that I'm "overreacting". I'm trying to work out what I'm allowed to be angry or upset about. (Out of sight of my parents, of course.) Having occasional anxiety freakouts where I really am having over the top reactions doesn't help, so I'm also trying to work out what's anxiety-based and what's reality-based.

this is another aphorism which is valid under normal circumstances but fails miserably under abusive ones

Over the past few years I've come to the conclusion that every behaviour has a healthy and an abusive/unhealthy variant. It makes it really hard for me to read those "inspirational" shares because in so many of them I can so easily see the toxic variant of the behaviour promoted.

For a lot of people, college is that reality check; it's where they first meet people who don't treat them like their dysfunctional family does, and they start getting the "Wait, what, that's not right!" response when they tell family-related stories.

I never really told family-related stories that I recall. Or if I did, they were never of the sort to get that reaction.

the spectacular bad luck to fall into a college crowd that replicated some of your family's worst habits

The sexism, the rude humour and not *quite* overtly malicious pranks, the very *specific* type of allowable feminism (but don't use that word, because those feminists were all crazy): strong support for women working in male-dominated fields, if they were "one of the guys". But yeah, if you weren't part of that drinking, pranking, mocking everybody different culture, you were either ignored or mocked. If you were willing to laugh with them, you were welcomed with open arms. Those Other People is a discussion topic that I'm sadly very familiar with.

I had another thought yesterday at work. While not drinking because I hate the taste alcohol is entirely true, it's also not the whole story. It's just the part of the story I tell people. The other part is that the very thought of some kind of impairment, whether drunk or high from any drug, anything where what boundaries or walls I have managed to set up are weakened, is somewhere between deeply unappealing and terrifying. I've known this for a long time; in high school somebody said that getting drunk to lower your inhibitions was a good thing, and I replied that I liked my inhibitions where they were, TYVM.

With this discussion now, I wonder if the reason for the "terrifying" end of my reaction to the thought of being drunk is because I don't trust the people around me. Oddly enough, it's not a sense of physical danger which is what most people think of when "woman getting drunk" is the topic, but a sense of being at risk if I lose that wall that hides my internal life from the world. As if I would be rejected, mocked, attacked (verbally, whether to my face or via rumours), or ostracized if the people around me knew what I was really like inside instead of the perpetually cheerful, fun, goes along with stuff, inoffensive person I project.

#248 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2015, 02:55 PM:

the invisible one @247: I don't really know how to reach out to people to do something individual, so if they don't contact me, nothing happens.

If this is a skill you wish to acquire, Captain Awkward has some useful scripts.

I'm trying to work out what I'm allowed to be angry or upset about.

I can help with that: you get to be angry or upset about whatever angers or upsets you.

What perhaps is a confounding factor is that knowledge of your anger or upset is best shared on a need-to-know basis, and not everybody needs to know.

(Once you're well free of your parents—not dependent on them for anything—I'd say that they have "need to know," and they do not get veto power. But that's for when you're confident you're safe from them.)

It is useful to be able to choose how you express your anger or upset appropriately for the context. More detail if requested.

More later...work calls.

#249 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2015, 03:20 PM:

I think, for me, that even though I've been angry about the way I was treated in my family for a long time, there's still a piece of my reaction to better treatment which has something to do with not acknowledging just how bad it felt when I was a kid.

#250 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2015, 03:36 PM:

#248, Jacque:

If this is a skill you wish to acquire, Captain Awkward has some useful scripts.

I am familiar with CA's scripts. I read the entire archive and learned a lot. The issue for me seems less what words to use and more the ability to believe that the person I'm reaching out to would be interested in talking to me, personally. Without that, it doesn't matter what words I use because I won't send them.

you get to be angry or upset about whatever angers or upsets you.

One of those things that's easy to say and so very hard to believe. But yeah, it is a lot about who gets to see me angry or upset.

I am safe from my parents; I live in a place a long enough drive from them that it's not really a comfortable day trip there and back, and I've been financially independent for many years in that place I live. Getting close to half my life, now. There's a long list of things I don't tell them, which consists of nearly everything other than "I did Fun Thing this weekend!" ... which is about what my facebook postings consist of as well.

Reading the situation to determine how much information to share is appropriate is something I don't really have much skill with. At the moment I have the "tell nothing" wall, with a break in it for telling everything which is directed here. I know that telling nothing is not the most healthy thing, but telling everything to one person who is not a therapist is too much. I know that how much to share depends entirely on the context so there's no one answer to what my filters should look like. That includes sharing information and expressing anger and upset. Both of which expressions involve lots of tears, which is annoying.

#251 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2015, 04:36 PM:

the invisible one @250: the ability to believe that the person I'm reaching out to would be interested in talking to me, personally.

Ah. Yes, that is a different kettle of fish.

"you get to be angry or upset about whatever angers or upsets you." One of those things that's easy to say and so very hard to believe.

:-)  True dat.

there's no one answer to what my filters should look like.

And developing the flexibility to adjust those filters as appropriate to the moment is a whole skill-set (both in terms of social judgement, as well as the inner self-knowledge and flexibility) in and of itself.

In that context, "tell nothing" is not a bad default. It might not be the healthiest, but revealing too much in the wrong context can be rather counter-healthful, too.  :-\   ;-)

It sounds like, at the very least, you're being well meta-choiceful in how you're thinking about this stuff. "What do I have to work with now?" "How does what I have compare to my desired state?" "Oh yeah, what is my desired state?"

#252 ::: Statistical Outlier ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2015, 07:34 PM:

The Invisible One @ 250

I had a similiar problem, but from a different source: introversion coupled with shyness and fear of social interactions. Which I'm still dealing with close to 30 years after I figured out how to get through that communication wall.

It came down to picking one thing out of the flood of information I had penned up. If I let one, small, not-too-geeky thing out there, and it was received well by one person in a group, I'd tell it to a second person. If that person had a positive reaction, I'd tell a third. (As a side benefit, I quickly find out who all the blabbermouths were.) After the first bit of information went the full round with no negative responses, I'd let out a second fact. Rinse, Lather, Repeat.

Of course, this was only after I'd found out as much about them as I could. That's easy -- just ask them about themselves and do active listening. People will tell you all sorts of things if you appear interested and non-judgmental. Once I had their complete "bio," I'd offer stuff up about me.

I've since learned that my method of coping is used by con men to bilk people out of money and property. So if you need detailed primers, research on how to con people, only with the intent to obtain positive feedback and find friends you can be open with.

It's not a con if you give as much as you take.

Sunday, I got hit with a "wait, you LIKE me and WANT to hang out with me?" moment. I still haven't bought into my own "con" of being a socially ept person others want to be around. Making light is one of the few places I feel safe to post on line. The internet still scares me. I'm there (in virtual space), where you are now (in meat space). For what I want to do with the next phase in my life, social media is a necessity. I have to conquer my fear or give up my dreams.

So. Witnessing.

#253 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2015, 08:01 AM:

outlier:

I think, if you convincingly simulate being a charming person, that's really the same thing as being a charming person.

#254 ::: Statistical Outlier ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2015, 10:07 AM:

albatross @ 253

My gut disagrees with you. My head sees your point and mostly agrees with it. Mostly. There's a non-insignificant portion that doesn't.

My personal history is similiar to the invisible one's, only the worst of it came from my peers at school as a child. I was too weird, too geeky and either didn't want to or was too busy standing my ground to try to fit in to group expectations. Odd man out (and pugnacious with it -- I remember getting bullied and fighting back as early as first grade) described my life until I hit college. My peers pretty much ignored me after the failed bullying. My family loved me, supported me but pretty much shook their head in bewilderment about me.

I've been described by others as being charming and personable. I still don't see it - even after all these years. I still feel like I'm conning people out of their approval. This is because I can turn my charm on and off like a light. Mostly, I keep it on. There are rare occasion when I turn it off in social situations -- me getting back at someone for hurting a friend somewhere/somewhen. But that's small and petty and while it feels good, I know it's morally wrong. (thank you Catholic guilt)

I will accept, even claim, eccentric. "As in Weird. Flaky is bad-weird, eccentric is good-weird." (This was a set of definitions I used for one of my ESL students.) Weird I'm OK with. All of my friends are just as weird and non-mainstream as I am.

#255 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2015, 01:44 PM:

#251, Jacque: It sounds like, at the very least, you're being well meta-choiceful in how you're thinking about this stuff. "What do I have to work with now?" "How does what I have compare to my desired state?" "Oh yeah, what is my desired state?"

Something I seem to have picked up here over the years :)

It's one of those things where I feel more lost and confused now that I know the questions and options exist than I did before. It used to be I was a loner with few to no close friends and I was perfectly satisfied with that situation because I didn't want to be close friends with any of the people I knew. Casual activity-centred "friendships" were enough.

#252, Statistical Outlier: Sunday, I got hit with a "wait, you LIKE me and WANT to hang out with me?" moment.

Yeah, I know that feeling. It has been happening more often lately now that I've found this group of people and several of them seem to actually like me. Finding them started with an invitation just like that. I hadn't got past "person I like chatting with at [activity]" and she goes and invites me to her place for a board games party. (Along with a whole bunch of people I didn't know, which scared me, but I decided to go anyway.)

#253, albatross: I think, if you convincingly simulate being a charming person, that's really the same thing as being a charming person.

I suppose that depends on whether you read "a charming person" as "a person who is (intrinsically) charming" or "a person who has the ability to charm others".

The whole thing with other people's perceptions of you not matching with your own perceptions of yourself... I mean, some of it is conscious; I don't tell people about the bad stuff and they think I'm consistently cheerful and happy and handling everything really well because that's all I let them see, and it's so long ingrained that my default in-person response is cheerful and easygoing. I have to be in a really bad mood or really exhausted for that to show. I had a friend recently comment about my current crappy work situation and how impressed she was at how well I was handling it and staying positive. She doesn't know about the weeks on end when I just can't face the job hunt because I've fallen into the hole of what's the point of applying because I never get a call back anyway, she only sees the occasional "I did Fun Thing this weekend!" facebook post.

But some of it isn't conscious. Some of it, I have no idea where it comes from. Of course the same goes for workplace perceptions. I am confused by the assessments I get from my bosses and coworkers a lot of the time.

#256 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2015, 02:46 PM:

Statistical Outlier @252: For what I want to do with the next phase in my life, social media is a necessity.

Speaking as someone who continues to struggle with figuring out What I Want To Do When I Grow Up, I'd be interested to hear more about this, if you're inclined to share.

albatross @253: I think, if you convincingly simulate being a charming person, that's really the same thing as being a charming person.

Perhaps more usefully for the "fake it 'till you make it crowd": from the outside, simulating being a charming person is functionally indistinguishable from actually being a charming person.

the invisible one @255: But some of it isn't conscious. Some of it, I have no idea where it comes from.

There does seem to a component of disposition that's innate. A friend told me, many years ago when I was only just barely starting to escape my family-of-origin-induced social psychosis*, that I was generally cheerful and optimistic. I kind of boggled, because I sure as hell didn't feel cheerful and optimistic, back in those days.

But as the years have gone by and I've progressively taken title to my life, I have been pleasantly surprised to conclude that he was right. All else being equal, and generally given my druthers, I seem to have concluded that the Universe is a friendly place to live. Which, you know, generally rocks. But it did take me a couple of decades of conscious (and unconscious) work to get here.

* Where psychosis is defined as "not knowing what's real"

#257 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2015, 04:10 PM:

#256, Jacque: There does seem to a component of disposition that's innate.

I could believe that. I mean, my general cheerful and optimistic demeanour isn't completely fabricated, it's just that I edit out everything that isn't that for most public consumption, and there's a that societal training that says I'm female therefore I must be pleasant.

Although that wasn't quite what I was talking about in the bit you quoted. That was about the mismatch between self-perception and how others see you and where that comes from, whether it's deliberate or not. I mean (at work) I've sometimes had compliments where I thought I was struggling and criticism where I thought I was doing well, as well as reviews that matched my own assessment. So confusing.

#258 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2015, 05:15 PM:

the invisible one: I've often thought that it would be handy to somehow have a third-person perspective (fly-on-the-wall-cam, or something), so that one could see what other people are reacting to. :-\

#259 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2015, 06:37 PM:

the invisible one #257: I've sometimes had compliments where I thought I was struggling and criticism where I thought I was doing well, as well as reviews that matched my own assessment.

A complicating factor there is sometimes "feedback" isn't really, but is more about the other person's mood or political angles.

#260 ::: stubborn ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2015, 02:14 PM:

It's summer (here) and close to the holidays, so today I found myself thinking about my family. I have two older sisters, and we all struggle in different ways to overcome the way we were raised. How we were led to think we're useless, stupid, lazy, incompetent, so that we don't deserve anything good. It's a daily struggle to think I matter, my feelings matter, my ideas matter. I had to leave that place in order to have enough headspace to plan for the future (I had suicidal ideation when I was 12. What was the point of living if everything I did was always wrong? If I was so terrible no one would ever like me? Those were my mother's words. Instead of suicide, though, I opted for insubordination. If it was all wrong, that I'd only do what I wanted and the way I wanted. Years later, I understood I was saved by my own stubbornness.).
But I've known for a while that those were lies, things I was told in order to be manageable, a good victim, someone that would accept be yelled at every day of her life. What I didn't know is that the lies went further.

We were brought up with patched hand-me-downs, cheap shoes, using everything to the last drop and eating meat once or twice a week. We studied in a public school, had no toys but for the ones we got from relatives and never heard the words "I love you" from any of them (but that is another meaning for austerity, another kind of poverty).
Until this year, I believe that it was all because we were poor, just the general grind of a family of 5 in a poor country, nothing much to think about. My mother made very little money, despite being a doctor, and my father had to stretch his professor's salary to cover the need of the house.
Only it wasn't like that.

The truth is he has spent his whole life saving money by making us believe we were poor, so we wouldn't ask for things (like, a pair of jeans without holes in it), and he wouldn't have to spend.
My middle sister, which is more prone to visit the parents, was helping him with some computer related issue when she found his diary. So she read it (because she's as sneaky and nosy as I am stubborn) and found all his boasting about his savings and his prostitutes and his drunken parties (have I mentioned he's an alcoholic? Yep, and people always think he's so cool.). And a nice summing up of how much money he "saved" on his 35 years of marriage by pretending not to have that money. He's good with numbers, and they were all there. All the things he could have done, but didn't, like paying for school for us (our school was the kind where you had to keep you belongings with you or be robbed), or paying for my sister's eyesight correction surgery. And do you know what else was in the diary? A complete log of all his parties in his secret apartment, with his secret girlfriends. All the names of his cocaine dealers.
I already though he was toxic, I already though he was an asshole, but now he kinda feels like something out of a bad movie. I used to think the sacrifices he made to raise us were a redeeming quality. But it wasn't him that was being sacrificed, right?
I just needed to talk about this. Sorry it's so long, I did my best to shorten it.

#261 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2015, 02:33 PM:

stubborn @260 Sympathies, and witnessing. Finding that out must be utterly infuriating. I'd say "but at least you know," but I have to wonder if it's actually worse, now you know. <hugs> if welcome.

#262 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2015, 02:36 PM:

stubborn @260:

What an awful way to grow up, even before finding out that it was all a lie. It's impressive that you and your siblings found ways to survive.

Is it possible that understanding his hypocrisy can make it easier for you to discount the judgment and the terrible things you were told as a child?

#263 ::: Statistical Outlier ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2015, 02:47 PM:

Stubborn @ 260

Witnessing.

I don't know what to say other than, "here's a virtual hug if you want one." I don't think anything here is too long to listen to (read). We're here to listen as well as share.

#264 ::: Statistical Outlier ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2015, 03:10 PM:

Jacque @256

It's not that big of a thing, execution-wise. I write (and have published) and want to make my living as an author. The writing is actually the easiest part - it's my anti-depression/anti-anxiety/happy juice. I'm one of those people who can't not write. I'm a story junky. If I'm not consuming, I'm creating.

It's the self-promotion that hard. To be successful and sell books in the current and developing market requires a regular, if not extensive, on-line platform. My natural introversion is manageable. Ditto the shyness. The fear of others and how they can attack/damage/hinder (actively or not) is what I'm currently trying to over come. Plus I'm a female and write under my own easily-recognized-as-female name. I'm too stubborn to use a pen name or my initials. The latter isn't much protection. I've got a fairly recognizable last name and googling myself brings me up on the first page.

#265 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2015, 04:41 PM:

Stubborn, #260: Witnessing. That's horrible.

Can your sister copy, or steal, the diary and turn the information about illegal stuff over to the cops? Because that's what my first impulse would be in that situation.

#266 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2015, 04:51 PM:

Stubborn @260: Wow. Well, as abi points out, at least now you know just how (not) to credit his perspective.

Statistical Outlier: Thank you for the elaboration! I wish you much success; I anticipate the stuff you put into the market will be very interesting!

#267 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2015, 05:57 PM:

stubborn #260: Holy cow, that's nasty turned to downright fucked-up... I'd even say "insane".

In your place, I would be seriously tempted to turn the whole file over to the police, and if neither you nor your sister do so, it's out of pure charity. Is your mother still alive, and if so, where is she in this picture?

#268 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2015, 06:15 PM:

Stubborn, that is *messed up*.

Statistical Outlier, yeah, the social-media aspect of writing is a weird new-feeling thing. I don't have any advice about it-- I often feel like I'm mismanaging my own-- but you're not alone in thinking it's hard.

#269 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2015, 09:35 AM:

Jacque's recent comment helped me underline some things which I need to work on.

I've been having a hard time doing much of anything, and I think the background stuff is a belief that I ought to be able to get everything right the first time without having learned about it. And that since I'm not doing well at life (house is a mess, not making money), this is proof of how hopelessly defective I am.

At this point, I assume some of you are feeling a strong impulse to tell me I'm wrong, I'm actually a worthwhile person, people need to learn, and so on. This may do some good, but I'm more interested in what anyone has to say about getting out of this sort of self-reinforcing self-restriction.

#270 ::: jeanie ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2015, 10:10 AM:

Nancy, can you turn it inside out and make an asset of not getting things done?

The monologue I use:

"I don't feel like doing anything. The place is a mess. I am a worthless person."

"Good for me to recognize where I'm at. I need to do some serious energy recharging. I will take the day off."

"Look at me succeeding in not doing anything!"

(end of day) "I succeeded in sticking to my plan. I rested. I read a little/listened to music/watched a DVD. I inadvertently picked up a few things wandering through, so the place is a little tidier (though it would have been fine if that hadn't happened). Tomorrow I'll see if I need some more down time."

I used to overwhelm myself with everything that needed doing. Switching the focus to the day's progress, however slight, made a huge difference. At least strip the guilt off taking down time.

#271 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2015, 10:11 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz @269:

I'm with you on all of what you say. I'll leave aside the things you don't want me to go into and discuss I'm tackling it myself, but believe me when I say you sound overly harsh on yourself.

One of the things I've been trying to do to address the fear of making mistakes lately is a tiny, nearly negligible change.

I often play a solitaire game on my iPad. It has an undo function, which I used to use to check (for instance) whether putting the 9 of hearts on the dark 10 was better or worse than putting the 9 of diamonds on it. In case my first choice was wrong.

I've made the conscious effort to stop doing that. To say, "I'm going to put this 9 on, and live calmly and confidently with the consequences. If I lose, who's to say I would have won if I'd done it the other way? There's no telling. It doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things anyway."

It's like a drop of water wearing down the wall between me and permission to make mistakes. To be imperfect, one bad call at solitaire at a time.

I don't know if this helps, if it's in the same area in your head that it is for me.

#272 ::: Jeanie ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2015, 11:00 AM:

That's useful, abi; thank you.

#273 ::: Jeanie ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2015, 11:00 AM:

That's useful, abi; thank you.

#274 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2015, 01:07 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz #269: Striking off at an angle: That sort of thing can often represent "brain weather" (mood) rather than an actual "misconception" of worthlessness. While you're thinking about it, try going down the checklist for brain-weather control; food, sleep, environment, other needs, perhaps medication adjustments if that's in play, etc.

#275 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2015, 01:45 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @269

My issues are somewhat different; not so much thinking I have to get everything right the first time, as thinking that I have to have thought everything through before I act. So this may or may not help you. But I value a book I think I recommended here before: Improv Wisdom: Don't Prepare, Just Show Up, by Patricia Ryan Madson. It recommends things like "start anywhere" and "be average" (the point of the latter being that for one thing you put too much pressure on yourself trying to stand out, and for another, the things that seem obvious to you may be your unique view on a situation.)

Another book that was helpful to me is The Practicing Mind, by Thomas Sterner. Using examples like golf and music, he talks about the process of learning something. The insight that sticks with me is that it's difficult to stick with distasteful practice for the sake of an end goal, and easier to learn to see the practice itself as a positive activity.

#276 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2015, 05:49 PM:

OtterB, #275: it's difficult to stick with distasteful practice for the sake of an end goal

Hence the failure of many an exercise program. The key is "find something you like to do, and then do more of it".

#277 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2015, 06:14 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @269: I have that in spades some days, with my GD tapes. (perfectionist mother, would work (unnecessary) 80 hour weeks then deprive herself of sleep for a perfectly clean house)

One thing that helps for me is to acknowledge yes, the house is a mess. Yes, Mom would be having a hairy fit. You know what? It's okay. I *choose* to be okay with not being perfect. And I give myself permission to tackle this one small, manageable task and then not touch/think about/stress about the rest.

It's not a perfect system, by any means, but it's helped me a LOT. Sometimes, deciding it's okay if I (frex) don't do all the dishes then gives me a boost of energy that results in me finishing them - providing I *honestly* am okay with not finishing them. Which I have proved to myself a few times by deliberately leaving some of the PIA items for the next load.

I sympathize particularly because one of Mom's mantras was that you didn't just have to do it (perfectly, the first time) but you also had to do it *cheerfully*. If you didn't want to do it, it meant you were lazy (and therefore worthless and a horrible person)

I hope this helps a bit!

(and regarding the doing things perfectly the first time or you're no good and a failure? I got a friend to teach me how to knit this past January. I gave myself permission to absolutely suck. It took a LOT of effort and a LOT of practice to get any good at it - and it felt SO good in the end to have worked past the tapes and proved them wrong. :)

#278 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2015, 12:58 PM:

Oh ghods. Another wall-o-text....

Nancy Lebovitz @269: getting out of this sort of self-reinforcing self-restriction.

There's two pieces to this: the "has to be perfect the first time," and "not doing well and house is a mess."

The first one is, I suspect, particularly endemic in those of us who grew up in the '60 & '70s, when we generally encountered more pop art than folk art, and therefore only ever saw the finished product—at professional level, and virtually never got to see the process behind producing it. Blessedly, I think this is changing as crafting, Maker culture and fan art become more common. Me, personally, the way I'm currently fighting that tendency is to make an effort to put out some little Thing at least once a week, whether it be a web essay (see aforementioned comment) or using Twitter and Flickr to broadcast the imagery I've been working on. It doesn't have to be great, I keep reminding myself. It just has to be kind of interesting to me. I try to follow a former coworker's dictum: "Anything worth doing is worth doing half-assed." This in response to her own self-reported "overweaning perfectionism."

For the "not doing well" part, I've learned that this is a red flag for my self-care. I've worked out a prioritized list of practices, which I review when I get into that state:

  1. Am I getting enough sleep?
  2. Am I on top of my meds?
  3. Have I eaten?
  4. Have I eaten my daily greens?
  5. Have I had some social contact?
  6. Am I bored to tears with whatever project I'm working on?

(See also David @274.)

If I've let myself get depleted, keeping up with day-to-day maintenance becomes much harder, and I'm much more prone to get depressed and self-critical.

Up until fairly recently, driven in part by the idea that I had to do All The Things before I could take care of myself, I had gotten into the habit of repeatedly running myself into the ground. Like, daily. Not conducive to optimal functioning.

Another huge piece has been finally (somewhat) coming to terms with the fact that there's just too damn much to do. Leaving entirely aside the stuff I want to do. I'm convinced that maintaining a household is at least a two-person job. And this is entirely aside from all that stuff we ought to be doing: Exercise. Meditation. Cooking. Et freakin' cetera. For those of us living alone and too poor to pay for help, this is not great news.

I finally worked out that those glorious weekends when I magically get all my chores done are innevitably preceded by work-weeks during which I take one or more days off to just sleep. And on those weekend days when all I've wanted to do is sleep, I've been much more aggressive about, you know, spending the days sleeping.

I can't say that my house is much cleaner than it was before these insights. But at least I'm getting much less effed-up about it now.

Chickadee @277: Geez. Your mother sounds like a real piece of work. No wonder you struggle with GD tapes.

Yes, Mom would be having a hairy fit. You know what? It's okay.

Barbara Sher gave me something that helps here, too: When you're on your deathbed, what are you going to regret? Having a messy house that weekend? Or missing out on [fun thing.] I'm getting old enough and conscious enough of my screw-ups that I've got a much better grip on what I actually care about dropping the ball on. And I can tell you, it ain't the dishes.

If you didn't want to do it, it meant you were lazy (and therefore worthless and a horrible person)

It took me the longest time to work out that it's not laziness, it's exhaustion, and exhaustion is not a character defect!

#279 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2015, 01:23 PM:

Chickadee @277 Sometimes, deciding it's okay if I (frex) don't do all the dishes then gives me a boost of energy that results in me finishing them - providing I *honestly* am okay with not finishing them. Which I have proved to myself a few times by deliberately leaving some of the PIA items for the next load.

Yes, this. I can sometimes get myself moving for exercise, housecleaning, etc., by telling myself that I only have to do it for 5 minutes and then if I want, I can quit. Often getting over the "getting started" hump is enough and I'm happy to keep going. But when I'm not, I have to let myself stop, because otherwise I won't believe myself next time I try to make a bargain.

Also, Carolyn Hax's column in yesterday's Washington Post had a wonderful line in response to a woman who was having trouble with holiday preparations knowing that relatives would not be satisfied with anything she did. Hax suggested she stop trying to do everything perfectly, and said "Our culture sees quitting as a failure, when in fact it’s an art form — it’s what stands between us and futility, drudgery, recurring arguments and getting arrested for harassment. Please pour yourself something toasty and write your To-Quit List, topped by, “Quit seeing others’ expectations as your responsibility.”"

#280 ::: hope in disguise ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2015, 03:09 PM:

A brief essay on how the author stopped considering their 'laziness' morally relevant.

(Stopping in only briefly because I am going through a cycle of exhaustion -> flurry of activity -> exhaustion, and am currently in a low-energy phase. Still reading and witnessing.)

#281 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2015, 04:09 PM:

There's a drug for that!? Oh, dear....

#282 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2015, 04:46 PM:

Jacque #281: That's the same basic epiphany as Listening to Prozac -- basically, that what we think of as our "nature" can be startlingly, even weirdly, altered by a biochemical intervention.

#283 ::: Variations on a lime ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2015, 05:04 PM:

the invisible one @245, Lee at @246,
the problem wasn't you, it's THEM

Through reading over this conversation, I'm realizing there's a step two I'm going through which is "even if (or when) you can tolerate more of that style of behavior later on, even if other people (appear to) do fine in that type of environment, it's still THEM."

For example, there are people who currently are at the location I got away from. At the same time that I understood that place to be dysfunctional -- "it's THEM" -- part of me was telling myself "if others are there, isn't something (still) wrong with me that I reacted when they didn't? They handle it, why couldn't I? CBT techniques help me now, why didn't I start earlier?" I'd slide, I still slide, into a "it's THEM, but isn't it also me?"

Of course, I have little insight into other people's internal reactions: they may or may not be handling it. But I also have to remind myself that I'm not noticing all the people who aren't there-- people who left, people who chose not to come in, everyone else in the world. I'm not alone in not being at that place, ruminations to the contrary. And I really have to remind myself that other people's skills in handling a dysfunctional anything is a positive for those people, but it doesn't cancel out the dysfunction.

I've got more tools and awareness and it's still them.

#284 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2015, 05:07 PM:

David@282: Which in turn reminds me of a radio news story I heard recently about London taxi drivers' training. They spend two years or so learning how to get around all the weird little streets and byways; this is called "the knowledge".

And the news story had an aside that brain scans had been done of people before and after acquiring "the knowledge", and the scans confirmed that it changes your brain. (Dunh-dun-DUN!)

Well, you know, the brain is where we do our thinking and store our memories. In the year 2015, why is it news that if you learn something, or have some memorable experience, this causes detectable changes? Mutter mutter closet dualists mutter.

#285 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2015, 05:12 PM:

Variations on a lime @283, when thinking about job satisfaction (not the same, but parallel in some respects) I think of it as a Venn diagram. You have situations that almost nobody is satisfied with. You have people that almost nothing can satisfy. But mostly you have a midrange where "fit" really matters.

So, the situation may be dysfunctional and push your buttons unbearably. Someone else in the same situation might do okay, because their buttons are located in other places or calibrated to a different sensitivity. But, as you recognize, that doesn't mean the situation is okay and you are flawed. The situation is not okay, and just because someone else can live with its not-okayness doesn't mean you "should" be able to.

#286 ::: blind wisdom ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2015, 05:50 PM:

hope in disguise @280 and Jacque @281

That particular drug really is amazing, mostly for hypersomnia in my case.

I'm still lazy, of course, but I no longer doze off while driving to work or call in sick to work because I can't make myself get out of bed. And it's not that I'm magically fixed and the drug is a placebo, either - on Saturdays when I don't take it, I get up at noon, take a nap at two, get up again at 10pm, go back to sleep at midnight.

It's amazing how much more productive I can be when I don't have a chorus of "....or you could just say fuck it and go back to bed..." on repeat in the background.

#287 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2015, 01:36 PM:

Lydy Nickerson posted something in the Jessica Jones spoiler thread that I thought might have some relevance here. I asked if she'd be willing to port it over here, and she said that she isn't currently participating in the DFD conversation, but she was fine with me copying it over. There are a couple of bits in it that probably count as spoilers for the show, but I don't believe they're major ones.

************************

This will be a little long and discursive. I'm going to start out by saying that I absolutely believe in redemption. I'm a fan of it. I truly believe that even horrible people who have done horrible things can become better people. However, there is a very specific redemption narrative that really chaps my ass. I didn't realize how much I disliked it until I saw the third season of "Slings and Arrows" were they declined to follow the script, and it filled me with an absolutely unholy joy.

I think of it as the story of The Boy With All the Clues. The story arc is about some guy (almost always a guy, in fact) who is in a position of power and behaves badly. Throughout the narrative, he is provided multiple clues that he's being an asshole. Sometimes it's people sorrowfully telling him that he's behaving badly, sometimes it's a reversal of fortune where he has to experience crap, sometimes it's a sudden loss... whatever. Over and over again, the protagonist is given clue after clue after clue. Eventually, he has a sudden after-school-special moment, where he realizes that he's been an asshole, and then there are unicorns farting rainbows and bunny rabbits dancing in green grass, and all is right in the world. Possibly my very least favorite of this genre is "A Christmas Carol," but that's partly because I truly hate Dickens.

One of the really problematic aspects of these narratives is that the victims exist primarily as set pieces and props. Their pain is an object lesson, and their oppression merely a device for helping TBWATC learn better. The final clue is never a truly righteous anger by one of the abused. And, very often, the denouement includes forgiveness from the abused. One of the functions of these narratives is to get people to be patient with their abusers, to defuse their anger and despair by holding out hope that the bastard will learn better. The thing I loved about the ending of "Slings and Arrows" is that TBWATC did exactly what the powerful assholes in my life have always done, which is make a nod toward becoming a better person, but then slip right back to being an asshole the moment it becomes convenient for them.

In "Jessica Jones" there are a series of nods to this narrative. The videos that suggest an abused childhood, some of the ways in which Killgrave acts like he's really trying to change for Jessica, that horrific suggestion that she act as his moral compass and her briefly considering actually taking that devil's bargain. But the show firmly rejects this narrative, and embraces the fact that none of his victims owe him a second chance, and that their rage is utterly reasonable.

I especially appreciated the way the truly horrifying videos of the ten-year-old Killgrave being experimented upon were re-contextualized by the information that child-KIllgrave had a deadly disease and that these were medical procedures attempting to save his life. I don't think that they're evidence of abuse (as someone suggested). I would have to watch the videos again, carefully, but I don't recall anything that strikes me as abusive if seen as a medical procedure.

I used to work in Bone Marrow Transplant, and so I got to see the edges of parents making truly terrifying choices for their very young children. Bone marrow transplants are an extreme procedure, and it's actually very frightening to realize that the person capable of giving informed consent is not the person who will suffer the consequences of the decision. One of my nieces was born with several congenital heart defects. Her first open heart surgery was about fifteen minute after birth. By the time she was five, she'd had three open heart surgeries. On the way to the doctor, she would recognize the exit from the freeway to the hospital, and start screaming. She didn't stop screaming until she was in the car on the way home. My sister was calm and pragmatic about this behavior (bless her). And now, Willow is sixteen, active, healthy, smart, and a lovely lovely girl. Because her parents chose procedures that were extremely painful and utterly terrifying.

And there we have the thing I love most about JJ: consent is hard. Consent is complicated.

************************

(emphases mine)

#288 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2015, 11:37 AM:

Does anybody else run into this? Abuse-by-proxy. Or maybe collateral abuse...I don't know what to call it.

A coworker has been fighting with our regulating agency on a professional development issue for at least a year that I know about, and the latest go-round is that she just received notice: "You have been certified to jump through Hoop X." Problem is, she successfully cleared Hoop X a year ago. From what I overheard, new requirements went in during the last year, and, instead of doing the intelligent thing and grandfathering her in, apparently they reset her status and she is effectively having to start over. Or at least is caught in Hoop Jumping Limbo Hell.

This person is normally almost Spock-like in her composure, but she was in absolute tears on the phone (in an open cube-farm—!), and just stormed off to the restroom, slamming the door behind her.

Meanwhile, I'm sitting here feeling kind of freaked out, with that "hold really still so they don't notice you" reflex running. Nobody's in any danger, but it's been a long time since I've felt that flee-or-freeze reflex I used to get when I'd listen to fights raging up and down the hallway outside my bedroom door in my parents' house.

And I feel volcanically angry on coworker's behalf. From everything she's said, and from what I've overheard, we've got a petty bureaucrat who, Ghu knows why, has decided she has it in for coworker. And/or is one of those people that takes their daily joy from rules-lawyering their clientele into an apoplectic mess.

I'd like to offer my bureaucracy-wrangling superpowers up to help, but I don't see a non-awkard/non-intrusive way to do that, so I'm just going to keep mum for the moment.

Anyway. Nobody's in danger, nothing I can do, but I just needed to blow off some second-hand steam. Thanks for listening.

#289 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2015, 11:46 AM:

"Ya want I should wash his car, boss? Ya want I should take him for a ride??" ::bites tongue:: ::bites tongue::

#290 ::: hope in disguise ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2015, 12:30 PM:

Jacque @288: Augh, that's terrible. I am so sorry for your coworker, and I sympathize greatly with your desire to help. Hearing people being badly treated when you cannot make it stop is never fun :( (also, hiding from the yelling: I know that feel)

one of those people that takes their daily joy from rules-lawyering their clientele into an apoplectic mess
The fact that there are people who do this makes me sad :( in the same way that internet trolls make me sad/angry, and for the same reasons, I suppose.

#291 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2015, 02:06 PM:

Jacque @288:
Meanwhile, I'm sitting here feeling kind of freaked out, with that "hold really still so they don't notice you" reflex running. [...] And I feel volcanically angry on coworker's behalf.

I have nothing useful to offer—no solutions—but it's a long-running observation that the feelings that we feel on behalf of others are often stronger and less quenchable than the ones we feel on our own behalf.

So the strength of your reaction is a natural thing. It doesn't mean you must intervene to solve the problem. What you do depends so much on circumstances, on your relationship with your co-worker, on things no one but you knows.

And yet you are upset and (by the sound of it) triggered. Witnessing, sympathizing, hoping it passes quickly and without lingering aftereffects.

#292 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2015, 02:10 PM:

abi: "Triggering"—!

Yes! Thank you. That's totally what's happening. Thank you. That helps a lot.

"Heeere, hindbrain. Nice hindbrain! Have a kitty picture. Good hindbrain."

#293 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2015, 04:15 PM:

Jacque #288: I'd like to offer my bureaucracy-wrangling superpowers up to help, but I don't see a non-awkard/non-intrusive way to do that, so I'm just going to keep mum for the moment.

This is something where it might be worth being a little awkward, to help someone. You can say something like "You know, with the open cubes, I couldn't help hearing how you were getting a nasty runaround from XYZ..." <pause to let her unload as needed, and/or check if she's shielding> " I'm pretty good at dealing with bureaucrats, maybe I could help you out some?".

#294 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2015, 05:01 PM:

Actually, I did exactly that a little while ago. The look I got assured me that she's not in a receptive mood. But I have now officially Done Everything I Can, so I can in good conscience file it under My Problem, and deal with it accordingly.

#295 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2015, 07:04 PM:

Jacque #294: Actually, I did exactly that a little while ago. ... But I have now officially Done Everything I Can.

Indeed. Possibly she'll come back later asking about it, but otherwise, yup you tried.

#296 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2015, 04:13 PM:

Christmas day off with pay: yay, paid day off, I'm going hiking!

Christmas decorations everywhere: pretty, can mostly enjoy the sparkles and sometimes ignore the religious aspect that comes with some of them.

Christmas music in every public place ever: meh, can mostly ignore it.

Christmas shopping ads: annoying, but I'm used to ignoring ads so I can mostly ignore those too.

Christmas posts wishing everybody a happy holiday: meh, glad they're happy, mostly ignore, reply with something generically cheerful if one is specifically directed at me.

Christmas posts bemoaning the "war on christmas" ~or~ christmas posts going on about how we should celebrate the winter holiday we want to celebrate and not think there's a "war on christmas" while carefully being polite to christianity and on a topic that is absolutely centred around christmas but politely reminding christianity that other traditions exist and have winter celebrations too ~or~ "it's CHRISTmas, not Xmas" ~or~ anything related to that whole mess of christianity thinking it's being attacked because it doesn't have 100% public dominance and has to actually recognize that there are other traditions out there and playing the victim even though it's been the one to forcibly convert people to its traditions: RAGE.

I don't know what's different this year. Maybe it's seeing the aggressor playing the victim combined with all the accumulated stuff I've been learning the past few years about toxic relationships, but I seem to be on a hair trigger this year.

Seriously, christianity: do your own thing and enjoy it however you enjoy it. Just don't pretend that you're not still a dominant force in north american everything.

And most of all: Leave. Me. Alone.

#297 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2015, 05:56 PM:

the invisible one @296: My apologies on behalf of people like my parents. :(

#298 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2015, 08:36 PM:

the invisible one, #296: all the accumulated stuff I've been learning the past few years about toxic relationships

That's key, I think. Because a lot of this is "once you see it, you can't un-see it" stuff, and an awful lot of right-wing politics (and don't think for one minute that the "war on Christmas" crap isn't political at root) is built on toxic-relationship models. In particular, a lot of it is built on the "authoritarian family" model, which has the toxicity baked in from top to bottom.

IME, you never go back to how you were before you started seeing it, but (1) how much it affects you depends a lot on how you are otherwise physically and emotionally, and (2) you do start developing coping tactics and the ability to recognize when you need to deploy them.

Witnessing, and sympathies.

#299 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2015, 10:50 AM:

That space between learning to see something and learning to cope with that something is not a fun space to be in.

I can't say I regret all the things I've learned, but I do wish the coping strategies came along quicker, or better: solutions. But so many people don't or refuse to see the problem (as I didn't until relatively recently!) which makes a solution that much harder. And I keep having to sit on my hands on fb to try to explain stuff to people who come across as simply not knowing because in doing that explanation I would be revealing far more about myself than I'm comfortable with doing on fb where both strangers and my parents can see it linked to my actual name. (I have to admit I'm boggled by how many people post horrible stuff with their name attached. I got to expecting that kind of behaviour on the internet where pseudonyms were used, before fb became a huge thing, but I guess the horrible is not about the anonymity the way everybody said it was.)

Maybe I need to be off fb for a while. Maybe the duration of the holidays. It's my main method of seeing what the people I know are up to but it's also a source of unhappiness sometimes, when I get all that bs thrown into my news feed by people I thought were decent.

#300 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2015, 12:14 PM:

the invisible one: My solution: do my own thing, and share it with those who are likely to find it amusing.

#301 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2015, 02:59 PM:

the invisible one, #299: Not suggestions exactly, but I think there are options on FB that you don't appear to be aware of. If you know about these things, feel free to ignore.

1) You can change the default setting for your FB account to "friends only". That way, only people you have specifically friended can see what you post. Caveats: it will not change the visibility of anything you posted previously, and it won't prevent random people from seeing the comments you post elsewhere (which I suspect is the main issue here).

2) You can change the visibility of a specific post to be something other than your account default. Caveat: be sure you change it back when you post again! FB tends to make your posting selection "sticky", which is not so bad if you're tightening the security for a post, but not good if you're loosening it.

3) You can have posting filters on FB. If you want to post something that will be visible to one group of friends but not a different one (frex, something you want your family but not your co-workers to see), you can create a filter and change the visibility of your post to that filter only. See Point 2 for caveats.

4) If you want to post things which would make you uncomfortable under your own name, you can create a secondary account using a different e-mail address. Just make sure the name looks plausible* and don't attach any pictures to it.

* By plausible, I mostly mean something that looks sufficiently northern-European-descent-privileged. FB's "real names only" policy has a lot of holes in it; I've got Miles Vorkosigan on my friendslist, for ghodsake.

#302 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2015, 03:01 PM:

Internal Server Error *thump*

#303 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2015, 03:46 PM:

I've had the "friends only" filter on for years, which I set in the time between breaking up with and fb blocking Crappy Ex. (Prior to that I'd had it on "friends of friends" but he and I had waaaay too many mutual friends.)

The thing with not explaining because of what it reveals is not on anything I post (I wouldn't post anything like that anyway, my own posts are rare and probably 90%+ hike and event photos) but on replies to things other people post, which may or may not be set to public but either way whose visibility I don't control. I was reminded that my mom sees my comments on other people's public posts when she asked me who [male name] was, probably hoping that I had a boyfriend or something, because I commented on some of his fb posts. (Also, fb should rename "close friends" to "stalker mode" because it shows you everything your "close friend" does that hasn't been set friends only such that you can't see it at all by their friend who isn't connected to you at all, and gives the person being followed no option to hide some activity, only to not post at all or outright block. After that comment from mom I started checking the security settings on my friends' posts before commenting.)

The whole thing with secondary accounts... in order to have anybody to talk to on it, I'd need to add friends, and there would be a certain amount of revealing my identity involved in that. Also, I have enough internet pseudonyms, I don't need to add another one. (Enough for me = 3 pseuds, plus my real name for fb.)

#304 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2015, 05:08 PM:

Jacque @300, I have absolutely no idea what any of that says, but it's lovely.

All: I wish everyone here all the spoons they need to cope with the stress of the holidays. And joy, wherever possible.

#305 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2015, 06:29 PM:

Cassy B.: but it's lovely.

Thank you!

I have absolutely no idea what any of that says

You understood it perfectly! :-)

#306 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2015, 08:38 PM:

Well. That was an interesting experience.

Walking up Willow to Broadway to get from my unfucking gig to my dog-walking gig, and an older lady in a minivan pulls up to ask directions. She wants to go to Davis Square OR Porter Square. And she's got limited English; from the accent, Russian or a related language.

I try to explain that Davis is back-that-way, & give her simple directions. Not so good...she doesn't seem to be retaining them. Says something about nervous, and her husband being drunk, & also that she needs to get gas. I try to tell her that for a gas station, she should go to the traffic light & turn right on Broadway. Still very confused, and hunting through her pocketbook because she thinks she left her money in her other bag.

I say, how about I get in and show you where the gas station is? And if you need a few bucks for gas, I can give you some. Because really, I doubt an old lady is going to kidnap and murder me, and the ride will get me closer to where I'm going, and am I really gonna leave her all run out of gas on a rainy December night? No I am not.

She's still asking about Davis or Porter, and I explain no, gas station first, because I don't want her to run empty. She says she'll put me where I need to go, and I say that's okay, at the gas station I'll be almost there. I tell her I'd guide her back to Davis except I have a dog to walk. She says I look like her granddaughter - I think she said it was because of my Red Sox cap, but I'm not sure. She says she's been married fifty years, five-oh, and she's never seen her husband like that. I'm probably more like her daughter's age, in that case, but I don't say it. She's also driving the almost certainly automatic transmission minivan as if it's a stick. Well, we don't stall, so what's it to me?

She doesn't pull into the first gas station on the right. Which makes me a little nervous. I tell her put on your blinker, go into the Gulf station. I have to repeat that I'll give her five bucks for gas, because she's going on about her other pocketbook and she doesn't know if she has the money, and I swear she would have kept on driving until the car stopped flat. It was chiming the low fuel warning. She thanks me profusely and pulls a large Mass card out of her bag and says Mary's going to take good care of me. I say we can all use a little help sometimes.

So we annoy a lot of traffic getting into the Gulf station, with her going on about how she's nervous, I guess because of the dark and the rain, which I can sympathize with.

I get her sorted out with what side the gas tank is on. I've got an indeterminate number of ones and a ten in my wallet, so I give her the ten. She expresses her gratitude again.

The station is full serve, so there's an attendant. I tell her he'll get her sorted out with directions. Which, I've probably just given him a headache for the night, but odds are he'll manage /something/. I hop out of the car and wish her a good night.

I hope she makes it where she's going. Ten bucks' worth of gas ought to give her some leeway for wrong turns. Maybe the gas station guy will have let her call her sister - that's who she said she was going to, because of the drunk husband. I hope she's ok.

I'm counting it as a pay-it-forward moment, though not quite as effective as I'd have liked it to be.

Anyway, her car didn't run out of gas.

#307 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2015, 08:39 PM:

Whoops. Meant to post in OT. Guess it's vaguely on topic as she was having a dysfunctional family incident?

#308 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2015, 03:22 AM:

May everyone here have a Christmas as safe and non-stressful as possible.

#309 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2015, 04:31 AM:

What Lee said. May you find new light and hope as the year turns: a path forward, a better accommodation, new strength. If you have to go back to the difficult places with the difficult people, may they be tolerable; if you're avoiding them, may you find a good place to be.

Whatever happens, this community is wonderful, and I'm grateful to you all for being here.

#310 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2015, 03:39 PM:

What Cassy B. said @304 and what Lee said @308.

And thank you abi for continuing to curate this community.

#311 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2016, 09:21 AM:

A song came up in my playlist while driving home from a christmas visit with my parents:

It's been a long December
but there's reason to believe
maybe this year will be better than the last

...I sure hope so.

Wishing everybody a new year that's better than the last.

#312 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2016, 08:42 PM:

Hey, all. I'm coming out of lurkerdom to ask for some advice.

In March of 2013, my husband and I invited my sister to move in with us to get back on her feet, because she had lost her job and apartment. She agreed at the time that she would stop smoking (I'm allergic) and help with the housework, and we agreed that we would drive her around and help her get a job. When she got a job several months after moving in, we agreed that she would pay a set percentage (less than half) of the rent, and to compensate for the reduced rent she would take on a larger share of the chores.

We're now at 2016, and she has not quit smoking; in fact, despite the fact that the lease for our house specifies that it's a non-smoking property, she smokes on the front patio and leaves her cigarette butts lying around. She has not, in two and three-quarter years, done even a moderate share of the chores (and certainly not the amount agreed upon); when I try to schedule her to do chores, or remind her to do her share, she responds in one of three ways: "I am/was gonna do it," "I'm not doing it because you've done something to piss me off and I expected you to read my mind to figure it out," or throws a temper tantrum worthy of a toddler. She still expects me to loan her money and ferry her around and do errands for her--and on top of that, she expects me to be *happy* about it. And, oh, there's one other small thing. She smokes pot.

To clarify, I don't have a particular problem with using weed in general; I'm happy to see it being legalized in various U.S. states. But I live in a Southern state where drug use is highly frowned upon, and I don't want to lose my lease or get busted by the cops. Plus, she smokes really cheap weed and it stinks like the death throes of a thousand white-hot skunks, and I don't want the smell around.

I told her when she moved in and first found a dealer that she needed to keep it away from the house. Less than three months later, I found out she was holding on the premises; I told her in no uncertain terms that no drugs on the property meant no drugs on the property, goddamnit. Needless to say, she hasn't stopped, and she outright lies to me when I call her on it (which I have done every time I become aware of it--we found some of her stash today, which means the whole game is about to start up again). I know part of the problem is that I have no functional authority to enforce the house rules; it's either stern words that she feels free to ignore, or kicking her out.

Why haven't I kicked her worthless ass out already, I hear you cry? Because, you see, she has a daughter, who turned 5 last year, and just started kindergarten. And kicking her out would mean kicking my niece, who is a wonderful child, out as well. And I don't want to hurt my niece, or see her suffer needlessly. At the same time, I'm completely fed up with the situation. And husband and I have things we want to accomplish in 2016 that are going to be more difficult if the status remains quo; we don't need the extra work or the extra stress that dealing with her entails.

At this point, I can only see two possibilities that I would be willing to accept: she stays on, but she pays a full half the rent and utilities, and she agrees in writing that if she gets caught with pot again, she has 72 hours to find a new place to live, and I am no longer obligated to give her anything more than basic board. The other possibility is that I tell her that her lease is up in 90 days and there's no negotiation. And in either case, she'll throw a huge screaming fit.

What I need advice on: are either of these a good idea, and if not, can you see a better one? I'll be honest, I'm in complete "bitch eating crackers" mode as far as she's concerned, and I'm afraid I'm too enmeshed in the situation to approach it rationally. And I don't want to hurt my niece because my sister's a lazy junkie parasite. But, you know, I never signed up to be a pseudo-mother to a spoiled wanna-be teen and a five-year-old, either, and my biggest responsibility is to myself and my equally-long-suffering husband.

#313 ::: Nancy Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2016, 10:43 PM:

Jennifer Baughman, I can't offer anything but sympathies, and you have those if you want them.

#314 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2016, 11:42 PM:

If I were in your shoes, I'd choose the 90 day option. That being said, I offer the following for your consideration:

You really want to help the niece? Report Mom to CPS and the police -- and if you're willing, tell CPS that you'll take custody of the child.

I'm sure you realize that you're enabling your sister's activities, but only she can make the choice to change -- which means letting her face the consequences of her actions. If that means she crashes and burns, then you've got to let that happen.

You have my sympathy, and I know what I'm telling you is hard to hear. I had to coach a friend with an alcoholic employee through the steps to take to get him fired, which was difficult because the employee was also her friend.

#315 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 12:49 AM:

Jennifer Baughman: Sympathies, and witnessing.

For what it's worth, I'd go with the 90 day option. There is 0 chance that she will change, so the 72 hour notice will just put you in a difficult place later. Also, I think that you are fully justified (even given the presence of the niece) in taking either option, given that your sister has used up not second or third chances but all of the goodwill and patience of a saint.

Also, I agree with Lori Coulson @314 about reporting to CPS. It'll be hard and messy, but it's the only thing that *might* induce your sister to change.

Many, many sympathies.

#316 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 08:33 AM:

Oh, man, that is a tough and frustrating situation. My first thought was Lori's, which is another tough and potentially frustrating situation but at least means getting her out of your house. I wish you strength.

#317 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 08:46 AM:

Thank you, everyone, for the well-wishes and advice.

Lori, Chickadee, I've investigated calling CPS, but in the state I'm in, as long as the child isn't being actively abused or neglected, the report will go absolutely nowhere--the system is already overwhelmed and underfunded, and the agency is actively cutting back to investigate high-risk cases only. My niece isn't being neglected or abused, so CPS isn't a viable option.

#318 ::: Bodhisvaha ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 11:22 AM:

Jennifer Baughman, my sympathies too. I would not be ready to face this, if it happened to me, because there's *reasons* I'm not having kids, most of which still apply to adopting.

The answer for just the sister is obvious -- 90 days notice. The answer once factoring in the niece? I don't know. If the niece were old enough, I'd say 90 days notice combined with letting the niece know that she can always stay with you when mom has gone off the rails. But for a young kid, that's not good enough -- either your sister would have to go along with it reliably, or you'd have to become the official guardian, I would think.

#319 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 04:55 PM:

Sorry about the CPS situation... Any chance that your sister would willingly make you guardian for your niece?*

(I know, snowball's chance in hell, right?)

Even if CPS will do nothing, you might want to go ahead and report just to get the situation on the record. Oh, and a parent engaging in addictive behavior IS considered abuse in some states: Exposure of Child to Illegal Substances

*That is assuming you'd want to do so, which isn't always a given.

#320 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 05:05 PM:

The situation as regards my niece--we both love her, very much, she's a sweet kid, but we're childless by choice, and just having her around 24/7 does cause us stress. That said, we could handle *that* if it weren't for everything else my sister's doing.

We've told my sister that whatever happens, my niece always has a place with us; however, there's no way she will give up custody of her daughter while she has breath. She's not a perfect parent, but she genuinely loves my niece, and vice versa.

Unfortunately, I think I have to take the viewpoint that my niece *is* ultimately my sister's responsibility, and it's not *my* fault that my sister won't follow the house rules and won't live up to her agreements, and therefore any disruption to my niece's life is entirely on her shoulders. But my sister won't see it that way, naturally, and she *will* try to use my niece against us. Including telling my niece that we don't love her anymore.

#321 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 07:19 PM:

Ok, I think the 90 day is your best bet, and I *do* understand about wanting to be childless. I know I wouldn't be a good parent.

Whatever you decide to do, you have my sympathy and my support.

#322 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 09:20 PM:

Jennifer Baughman: I have no useful advice to give, but wanted to offer sympathy for your tough situation.

#323 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 10:16 PM:

Jennifer, #320: she *will* try to use my niece against us. Including telling my niece that we don't love her anymore.

Now, there I think you have a chance of getting inside the decision curve. If you haven't already been saying things fungible with this, talk to your niece now and make sure she knows that you and your husband love her and always will. That may not provide complete immunization against your sister's lies, but it will help. It's unfortunate that she's just a bit too young to understand some of the nuances of the situation, such as "this was never intended to be a permanent arrangement" and "your mother is endangering herself, you, and us by her drug use", but you go with what you've got.

#324 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2016, 11:20 AM:

Lee: Fortunately, we are well ahead of the curve on that. Sister has tried to pull that game before; she's deliberately misinterpreted "go away" to "leave forever", and her tactic there is to stomp into her room to "throw things into a bag" and tell my niece that "Uncle and Auntie don't want you to live here anymore." At which point, she comes to us crying, and we spend time trying to comfort her and tell her that Mommie's wrong, we love her, and nothing about this is her fault. As best as we can tell, she believes us; it certainly hasn't seemed to dim her love for us.

#325 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2016, 01:55 PM:

Jennifer Baughman: As it happens, I have been through a variant of this game (though not with a kid in the mix).

Were I in your place, (I'm assuming you want her out) here's what I would do (with the details tuned to your preferences):

First, research your locality's rental laws. If you have accepted rent from her, these may come into play. I know that in Boulder, if you've accepted rent, you have to give a minimum of 30 days notice before evicting someone.

Second, tell niece what you're going to do ahead of time. Tell her you love her and she can stay with you as long as she likes. Alert her that Sister may react badly in one of several known ways, or may come up with a new way to react badly.

Third: announce to Sister that as of today, she has 30 days notice. If she gets caught with pot again, she gets 72 hours notice. (Threaten involvement of law enforcement, if necessary.) If she wants to negotiate to stay longer than that (and you're willing to let her), you'll agree to 90 days as long as:

  • she pays half the rent, on time and in full,
  • she consistently does her share of the chores (which you detail in writing),
  • she leaves the premises entirely to smoke, and
  • cleans up after herself including proper disposal of the butts, and
  • pot is not brought onto the premises at all.
  • Breaking any of these rules gets her the 72 hour notice to vacate (modulo rental law details).

Present all of this in writing, make her initial each clause. Remind her, if she gives you any lip, that she's perfectly free to find another place to live.

My prediction, based on my experience, is that she will not agree, but at least the situation then becomes explicit. My instinct is that starting with the 90 days notice supplies enough wiggle room that she'll think she can find a way around you.

What's going to be especially hard about this (whether you go with a 90 day window or a shorter one) is enforcement.

Bring in some Outside Authority. If you have a family counselor you trust, or a large, imposing friend, or an extended family member, ask them to be present for The Talk, tell them ahead of time what you want to have happen, and have them there as Stern Authority. They don't have to do anything except sit there and Be Stern. And also back you up if (when) there's conflict.

If she negotiates and signs on for the 90 day window, staying longer takes another explicit negotiation. Otherwise, it will be assumed that she moves out.

A huge piece is to have it very clear in your mind what you want to have happen, as well as what you're willing to work with.

Good luck, and may the Force be with you.

#326 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2016, 10:48 AM:

Jacque:

Thank you. This is pretty much perfect; Husband and I have been going over the options, and we think this (modified to our specifics) is the best option; it's a nice combination of the carrot and the hammer. You are absolutely right about her finding ways to exploit any little bit of slack she's given; I'm writing up the lease right now, and for every clause I'm having to lay out what is and is not acceptable, and the consequences of breaking them. I'd say it's like dealing with a five-year-old, but the five-year-old in this situation is much easier to deal with. :P

We're very clear on what we want, and what we can live with:

Best option (also, the not-gonna-happen-anytime-soon option): Sister moves out, is fully independent and stable.

We can live with: Sister stays, abides by the new lease, and otherwise stays the hell out of our way. Not ideal, but acceptable; it's easier to live with a five-year-old than a toddler, and this way she keeps a stable home.

We can also live with: Sister moves out in a huff, or does her usual promise/lie and gets busted, and gets kicked out. In this case, we probably will contact CPS and notify them that her drug use has forced her daughter out of a stable home situation, and see where it goes from there. We've agreed that if something did happen to Sister, we would take over guardianship of Niece; no, we don't want to do the parent thing, but for Niece, we will if necessary. We're certainly not letting her go to my parents, and her father isn't on the birth certificate, and has never been in her life.

What we can't live with is the status quo.

#327 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2016, 12:40 PM:

Everyone:

Thank you so much for the outside perspective! It's good to hear that, no, I'm not overreacting, and it really is a problem. I freely admit that I let things slide for too long, but at the time I had limited spoons (recovering from untreated sleep apnea), and chose to spend those spoons on recovering my physical health. The good news is, my health is significantly improved, and still improving; I'm mostly properly medicated, and once we get the situation with Sister straightened out, I have cautious hopes for 2016.

Much of my emotional and mental recovery is due to the insights that you guys have brought to the DFD boards; I haven't been posting actively, but I have been reading, witnessing, and taking ideas away that have allowed me to reframe the way I view and approach situations. Still a work in progress, but there is progress. Thank you all for being here!

#328 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2016, 11:33 PM:

Jennifer Baughman: *snerk* I wonder how my Ex-Roommate From Hell would feel about providing benefits to unknown strangers by way of being a Cautionary Tale. :-)

I freely admit that I let things slide for too long

You know, after I finally pried ERFH loose from my household (a good six months past my target date), I pondered how I felt about the experience. The conclusion I came to was that my main error was in being Too Generous.

You know, as "character failings" go, that's one I can happily live with.

#329 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2016, 12:04 AM:

Oh yeah, and: when you present Sister with [30 days, or whatever you choose] notice, I'm presuming that's the time at which you offer her the 90 days detailed lease option.

When you present her with that lease option, give her a hard deadline for making a decision and signing. If she lets the decision go past that deadline, she has, by definition, given you notice she's moving out on or before day [30]. No take-backs. (Make that explicit, too.)

I could very easily see her dawdling around for 28 days, leaving you with the impression she's moving out, and then on day 29, saying, "Oh yeah, that lease you offered? I accept." (This is essentially what happened to me for five of those six months I refer to above.) This is abuser boundary testing 101; don't give her the opportunity to do that to you.

#330 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2016, 09:21 AM:

Jacque:

I, also, can live with excessive generosity as a character flaw. My biggest problem is that I was trained by an abusive family to be the people-pleaser and caregiver, and I have to constantly make sure that I'm not taking care of everyone else to my own detriment. :P

Oh yeah, and: when you present Sister with [30 days, or whatever you choose] notice, I'm presuming that's the time at which you offer her the 90 days detailed lease option.

We're going to have a little get-together around the kitchen table Monday evening (earliest our best friend could get free for this). She is going to make a decision then and there: either leave that conversation with the written 60-day lease termination notice (which is what my state requires for a verbal month-to-month lease), or the signed and witnessed 90-day lease (which I will explicitly be calling a probationary period). If she leaves the table without either (say, storms off in a temper), I will hand-deliver the lease termination notice to her bedroom and she gets no further chances.

Sister is a boundary-pusher, and a rule-breaker, and proud of it; she's boasted of it to me, more than once, so I'm setting up as many protections against that as I can. I don't intend to let her Vader her way out of the situation--as a matter of fact, there's a specific clause in the lease that says the agreement can't be changed without the signature of all parties involved, including the witness. So no, she does not get to change the deal while I pray she doesn't alter it further. :)

I can't predict which way she'll jump; if it were just her, I know she'd just take the 60 days. I've overheard her talking to our parents about how horrible it is living with us, how she's so unhappy and miserable and we're so mean to her. *insert eyes rolled out of head onto the desk* She may choose the probationary period, for Niece's sake.

#331 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2016, 10:23 AM:

Jennifer Baughman @ 330, you seem to have this as well-planned as possible. Even so, I'm sure Monday will be a difficult day. I wish you luck and lots of spoons.

#332 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2016, 11:59 AM:

Jennifer Baughman @330: there's a specific clause in the lease that says the agreement can't be changed without the signature of all parties involved

Ah! Very good! I missed this point; I took this as implicit, which just shows my vulnerability, as well as my (erroneous) presumption that people will just automatically play by the Social Contract.

I've actually had people (neighbors, in that case) try to verbally weasel around the conditions laid down in a written contract, so good for you for catching that one.

I echo Cassy B.'s good wishes for you. I will be fascinated (o.O) to hear how this shakes out. Wouldn't surprise me in the least if she comes up with a wrinkle none of us have thought of, but I think you're as well-prepared as possible.

#333 ::: Bodhisvaha ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2016, 12:18 PM:

Jennifer Baughman, pre-planning should help a lot. It did for us, anyway. In addition, I suggest you be a broken record made of solid steel: enforce the terms and consequences you set out, and don't give an inch. Keep setting out the "obvious" things in writing where it's provable that she KNEW they were conditions. The document should also cover provision of food and other household supplies, and cooking arrangements. Whatever the arrangement is, make it explicit. I found this out the hard way...twice.

A couple years ago, when Dragon was still living with my partner and I, there were money problems. Dragon thought she had money in the household bank, because she had paid one month in advance. She didn't account for having racked up and refused to pay bills under my name. Prep work and some sneakiness cut my losses by an order of magnitude.

When the Money Talk happened, I pulled out the spreadsheets and explained in detail, showing the figures and the calculations. Dragon wasn't able to effectively dispute the results because of that. Instead she tried being angry that we had "let" her "overspend" and that her "extra" money wasn't available. We were sad at her about how we had ALL overspent, but showed how we had been paying in extra all along, which had cut down the interest charges for her too. Partner and I were immovable on how money would be handled for Dragon's remaining tenancy: food was now completely separate. Rent and utilities would be paid immediately and evenly. Dragon was trying to pretend to be fair and decent, which handicapped her ability to manipulate, since the proof was right there in the spreadsheet that she wasn't trustworthy.

It got worse, though, from Dragon's perspective. We insisted on getting the settlement IN WRITING. Was she EVER steamed. She had already tried to convince us that we should trust her to pay, and that she would never stiff us the way Previous Bad Roommate had done. (Ironically, PBR had been less expensive, AND had not overextended us financially the way Dragon did. PBR merely failed to pay her share of expenses we could cover without her. Then PBR's overall finances imploded when she fled, so she was just financially incompetent, not a con artist or abuser.) Dragon rehashed this as she fought having a written settlement for a good half-hour, maybe more. She pulled out further manipulations. Dragon went on and on about how we were insulting her honour by even suggesting that she wouldn't pay. We hadn't actually *said* that for the whole conversation despite it being right there in the numbers that she had NOT paid. It was Dragon who equated documentation to insult. We just kept insisting that we needed it in writing and signed, and that in her place, not only would we be happy to sign an equivalent document, but that OUR honour would require US to do so, to protect HER. (Mostly true. If a friend loaned me serious money, I'd readily sign an IOU and if not asked, would ask if they wanted one.) Eventually she signed, but only after *many* rounds of posturing and manipulating, where we did not give an inch.

I had actually paid Dragon's bill share with the "extra" money once I finished doing the books, before the talk. I don't think she found out -- that would have caused extra breast-beating, or brow-beating, or both. We soon found that she had been half (or even two-thirds?) of the grocery bill. Dragon HAD to have been counting on us covering her financially, since she barely left the house, and lived on rice and beans for the next 2 months, instead of bacon and steak and frequent restaurant nights as had been her custom.

The second time? Much of our case against the Idiot Evil Landlord hinges on his spy being a roommate not a tenant, and his actions therefore being harassment. This is provable largely because after Dragon, we were paranoid and insisted on making a roommate agreement with the spy. If the local authorities award us anything, it will be because of that. When we take his forgery to the police, it will be even more important.

#334 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2016, 01:36 PM:

Cassy B., Jacque, thank you for the wishes of luck and spoons; they are most gratefully received. If I'm well-prepared, it's in large part thanks to everyone here, and that's a huge burden off my shoulders.

Every time Sister pisses us off, Husband and I remind each other and ourselves that "We have a plan. It's a good plan. We're okay." And it helps.

Bodhisvaha: Thank you! As it so happens, I remembered the problems you had with Dragon, and went back and reviewed some of your posts for inspiration and ideas.

Right now, Sister isn't contributing to the household groceries, but she does buy some food (snacks, some lunches, and breakfasts) for Niece, and we're ok with otherwise feeding them. Cooking is set out in the chore schedule, and is Husband's responsibility. (Sister has unfortunate delusions of being a good cook. She ruined a 20-pound turkey this past Thanksgiving because "she just wanted the stuffing and chicken juices for the gravy.")

I expect she'll be enraged at having to sign something; in this case, however, I have absolutely no compunctions about telling her that, based on her past behavior, we don't trust her. She has spent three years demonstrating that she is untrustworthy.

Also fortunate: she doesn't actually owe us any money that we're willing to make an issue of. Missed rent payments from years past, but there's no point in digging those up, really; she can't/won't pay, and it would just be for the sake of schadenfreude. (Which I am trying to minimize.) This isn't about punishment, however much I really want to punish her for all the misery she's dished out. This is about consequences, not comeuppances; this is about enforcing boundaries and responsibilities. (Whether she sees it that way or not.)

So how is the situation with Idiot Evil Landlord going? Are you at least out of that house?

#335 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2016, 02:52 PM:

Jennifer -- once you have a signed agreement, take it and photocopy it, and POST IT at significant locations in the premises, like the refrigerator door, bathroom door, etc.

That way, if she tries to ambush you on changing something, you'll have the agreement right there to support your claim.

(You'd never guess I've worked for the government, right?)

#336 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2016, 03:20 PM:

Following on Lori: keep the original copy with the original signatures in a secure location, preferably off-site.* Do not let Sister know where this location is. (I, too, work for the government, but this is just basic good data hygiene.)

* If you lived in Colorado, I would suggest actually recording the document with your county clerk and recorder. That way it becomes a matter of public record, and is accessible to anybody who knows your names.

But that might be a little too far into schadenfreude for your taste. :-)

#337 ::: Jeanie ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2016, 05:18 PM:

Jennifer, a couple more suggestions:

1. Start with the 90-day agreement. Say, "we want you to sign this, agreeing that you'll be out in 90 days, which is [point to date], and in the meantime you'll abide by these terms."

(she whines, pleads, cries - let her have her say without responding, and when she refuses to sign it pull out the next)

2. "If you don't sign this, then (produce eviction notice) we hereby give you notice that you must be out in 60 days".

3. Do not say anything more. Do not engage in conversation (or you'll be arguing all night). Let her run down and then repeat ONLY either of the statements. This is going to be hard to do; you and your husband can help each other through this.

Not letting her steer the conversation is an amazing gambit. I'm sorry to say I've had it used on me (though not for some years, yay personal growth), and must report that it works.

"But what about niece?" blah blah blah
"We'd prefer that you sign this agreement that gives you 90 days. If you don't, you have to be out in 60."

When she agrees to the longer one, read through it with her before you all sign and date it.

#338 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2016, 05:25 PM:

This seems intriguingly pertinent. I know that my ERFH managed to repeatedly slide past my resolve without my really being able to pin down what happened.

#339 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2016, 04:29 PM:

Lori and Jacque:

There will be four original signed copies, one for me, one for Husband, one for Sister, and one for our friend who will be the witness. My copy will be stored at work in a locked file cabinet; Husband's copy will be stored at home, since his office is rabidly no-paper; Friend's copy will be stored at his home, and Sister will do what she wants with her copy. I work with data; I believe in redundancy, you betcha.

Something just occurred to me. Sister hates ultimatums; she's told me several times that she won't tolerate them, yadda yadda. And I just realized--of course she hates ultimatums; she can't weasel her way around or out of them. She can't derail, or try to justify her actions, or try to blame others for imagined slights. Her story seems to be "Everyone's out to get her."

The saddest thing about this whole situation is that this is probably the death knell for any sort of positive relationship between us. Or maybe it's been dead for awhile and this is just burying the corpse. It's a weird feeling; mostly, I just regret that I have to go to these lengths. I don't think I really care about her anymore.

#340 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2016, 04:40 PM:

Jennifer Baughman @339:

maybe it's been dead for awhile and this is just burying the corpse

I don't think I really care about her anymore.

The second sentence answers the first. Your narrative is not the biography of a positive relationship; it's the story of a relationship that looks positive as long as no one communicates on any but the most superficial level.

If your sister wants a positive relationship in the future, it sounds to me like a minimal requirement is that you both be entirely financially independent of one another and living in separate households. Once you're not forced into irritating and irritated proximity, maybe you will discover something worthwhile that you have in common and build a new relationship. Or maybe not.

But it's clear that this particular one is dead. Time for the burial. I'm sorry.

#341 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2016, 10:04 PM:

abi: Thank you for the sympathy and clarity. It was never a very good relationship; we had an abusive childhood and she responded by bullying me; I cut off contact for the better part of 15 years. She contacted me when my niece was born; we were cautiously building somewhat of a relationship, but it was all long-distance. Living with her, it’s become clear to me that if she weren’t my sister, she wouldn’t be the kind of person I would have as a friend. I think I’m sad for what never was. I don’t think, even once she’s out on her own, that there’s anything left to salvage.

#342 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2016, 02:19 PM:

Jennifer Baughman @339: Sister hates ultimatums

The irony here is that you are not issuing an ultimatum (though I have no doubt the distinction will be lost on Sister). Ultimatums (the pedant in me keeps wanting to say "ultimata.") come in the form of "Do X or else." Sister would be loathe to admit it, but the "or else" (move out and get her own living arrangements) option has always been there. And all along you've been very generous regarding the "do X." E.g., you've requested certain rules, she's gleefully ignored them.

What you are doing is stating boundaries and conditions. The terms under which she's stayed so far have always been in place; she has simply ignored them. You're done ignoring them, because they materially affect your quality of life.* E.g., the "request" aspect of the above terms is now gone.

What you are doing now is offering her options. They are non-negotiable:

  • Option 1: she moves out now. (This option has always been open to her.)**
  • Option 2: she takes the sixty days notice.***
  • Option 3: she takes the ninety day lease.

She gets to choose which course she will take. But this is not a negotiation, and any conduct on her part that indicates she thinks it is betrays a misunderstanding of the facts. It's your house, full stop. If she give you any lip about what you allowed/tolerated in the past, that was in the past. We're talking about now, and going forward.

(It occurs to me: if you haven't already, you might have Friend read through the discussion on this thread, so he is fully up to speed on your plan/things to watch out for.)

Since it's your house, it's your rules, and always has been. What she's experiencing now is simply the result of her failure to acknowledge that fact and the consequences of her own actions. (I'm sure she would be far less reasonable if the tables were turned and you were breaking the rules of her household, but we don't bring that up. :-\)

she can't weasel her way around or out of them. She can't derail, or try to justify her actions, or try to blame others

For Monday night, probably a good idea up front to clarify that this is not a discussion: this is a meeting where you inform her what her options are. If, in particular, she tries to derail, be monomaniacal about bringing the conversation back on topic. "This is what we've decided. These are your options. Choose one now. Failure to choose invokes Option 2." Repeat as necessary. If she starts to argue, this is where Friend quietly Inflates And Looks Scary, and you do your broken record impression.

* I don't think I really care about her anymore.
Her conduct suggests strongly that she doesn't care about you—and hasn't for some time, except as a resource to be exploited. I think this reaction is completely reasonable and intelligent on your part. This does not, sadly, make it any less regrettable.

** At the start of your conversation, state that, if she storms out in a huff at any point during the discussion, you will interpret this as her giving her notice to vacate immediately (within 72 hours), and no take-backs. (You don't have to say this would be your preferred outcome; you can just let the implication hang in the air.)

*** Actually, this is where things have the possibility of really going sideways: if your state requires sixty-days notice, that means in practial terms that she can continue behaving badly, which means you've got two more months to deal with her nonsense. Might be time to research some operant-conditioning approaches to, ahem, "encourage" her to at least minimally comply with the rules. Ideas that come to mind: deploy a squirt-gun to use on her cigarettes when she lights up on the premises. If she leaves cigarette butts around on your property, collect them and dump them on her pillow. Threaten CPS/law enforcement involvement if you detect marijuana on the premises at any time. And so on. These may be too passive-aggressive for you, but you get the idea.

If you do decide to go this route, warn her (in writing?) ahead of time, so she doesn't get to cry "abuse!" when the consequences happen. Oh, she will, anyway, but you can say "we warned you." And she might take heed and behave, at least somewhat less badly.

Jennifer Baughman @341: I think I’m sad for what never was.

This is a feeling I'm familiar with. It took me a long long time to figure out that my brother had some fantasy of our relationship in his head based on how we played together when I was a baby, but interacting with me as I am now, he just...lost interest. Which is better than what you're dealing with, but it took me a long time to figure this out and quit trying to have an adult relationship with him.

I don’t think, even once she’s out on her own, that there’s anything left to salvage.

It occurs to me that you might (in age appropriate terms) talk about this with your niece, and explicitly let her know (give her some tangible token, like a note, or an inscribed toy, or something) that you are still more than open for a relationship with her, and that you specifically invite her to keep contact with you (though this may be problematic as, of necessity, it will be going through your Sister, at least to some extent). Sister will be at great pains to sell the story, "It was all Jennifer fault!" and cast you in the role of villain. This will give niece concrete evidence to the contrary. She may not be equipped at her age, to take this information in, but it seems the least you can do to give her a wider perspective than Sister's.

#343 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2016, 11:07 PM:

Jennifer: Best of luck and many spoons for tomorrow. I hope it all goes as well as possible.

#344 ::: Bodhisvaha ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2016, 11:19 AM:

Jennifer Baughman @334: Important note that is probably completely different in your jurisdiction: pay attention to the *exemptions* from tenant law. Over here, sharing a kitchen or bathroom with your landlord puts you outside of tenant law, into occupancy, which is fuzzy and mostly lawless. To the point that a landlord can have an occupant suddenly removed by the police for trespassing. If your jurisdiction has similar exemptions, this is a useful Big Stick to have available.

Here I was meaning to write you a real reply about Evil Idiot Landlord, and then I avoided the computer all weekend. The shortest version is that we did move elsewhere, but the authorities are still figuring out what to do, and surely wish we would go away.

#345 ::: Jeanie ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2016, 12:33 PM:

re: me at 337
Instead of:

"we want you to sign this agreeing that you'll be out in 90 days"

...it should have been "we want you to sign this 90-day lease"

That her chances of abiding by it are slight isn't the issue.

#346 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2016, 11:18 PM:

Jacque, #332: Some years back, during a ML conversation about gender privilege, it was noted that for women in particular, it is often assumed that the terms of a signed contract can be altered unilaterally by the other party. I've had someone attempt to do it to me (conchair, abusive hotel manager). I don't doubt that it happens to men sometimes as well, but it's notable where women are involved.

Jennifer, #341: It's okay to let yourself mourn for the relationship you could have had, if your sister had been a better / less damaged person herself. It was also okay to try to rebuild a genuine relationship out of the ashes of when you were both living with your parents; some sibs manage to do that. But, as you have realized, in this case it's not working -- she's re-creating the same old family dynamic all over again -- and the best option for you is to let go and walk away.

#347 ::: Bodhisvaha ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2016, 11:58 PM:

Jennifer Baughman @334, you were asking for an update on the situation with the Evil Idiot Landlord. Here is the long (but definitely not longest) version. I am so sick of the whole mess, but every time someone tells me to just let it go, I can't. Letting go feels like lying down and asking Landlord and Judge B (see below) to walk all over me with stompy boots.

Rewind to summer 2014. The first hearing date, 3 weeks before moving day, was a disaster. We tried mediation instead of having a hearing on the merits. Never do this. The mediator is not trained in tenant law, and justice is not the goal. When we tried to stop mediation, we were told it was too late and browbeaten into making an agreement. Signing that agreement screwed up everything after: a mediated agreement is supposed to settle the WHOLE case, even when it doesn’t address portions of that case. In practice, it seems to be used to resolve future complaints as well, at least of the same type. I won’t ever be trusting a mediation option again.

Landlord immediately failed to do the thing that had a 24h time limit, despite it being an easy thing, and us reminding him early enough to buy materials and do the thing. All documented. We requested the case be re-opened, it was re-opened, but scheduled for just before the moving truck. Could we reschedule? No, then we might be deemed frivolous. We moved out end of July 2014. The new landlords are blessedly sane and legit so far, and we're really glad to be back downtown where we belong.

During the next pair of hearings on whether the agreement had been breached, we had Judge A. Downside: Judge A didn't fully understand what all was going on, and because of time and mediation confidentiality, it couldn’t be explained properly. We did not think to say “but Landlord violated the terms that he had wanted”, which might have been enough violation to change the outcome. Upside: by the end of the first hearing, Judge A did realize it was a nasty mess and that Landlord needed a thorough spanking. Judge A decided that the Yoga Spy Roommate was an occupant, not a tenant--very important legal distinction--and got us a copy of the forged lease. Judge A carefully explained proper procedure for the next time around, and attempted to word his written judgement such that it didn’t screw up our chances.

So this summer, nearly a year later, we finally push ourselves into writing up a new tenant’s rights case for the parts that Judge A said would still be eligible, and the parts he said were a toss-up. It goes to hearing. We had hoped that the judge on duty would have read the 1 page summary--no. Judge B’s scan hit the phrase “mediated agreement”, pigeonholed us as a waste of time, and tried to get rid of us. We chewed up 40 minutes attempting to actually be heard. When it was clear that there was no way in hell he would do so, we apologized for wasting his time, left, and went immediately to ask a tenant advisor was there anything that could be done? Tenant advisor said yes, dug out some magic words, and we started doing our homework.

Here, you get 30 days only to request a review. It took about 20 days for the hearing recordings to show up, and listening to them was traumatic, on top of the deadline stress. The actual review request was 25 pages long, with 1/3 for explaining the previous case and hearings, and 2/3 for explaining what was wrong with Judge B’s hearing. It also included a 3 ft x 4 ft poster showing the timeline of events as a table (11pt body text) with dates, event description and category, case # (if any), which of the 6 categories of offenses it belonged to, the duration of the offense, and outcome/resolution (if any). Finally, an adequate one-page case summary!

Judge B could teach a master class in manipulation through questioning and bad logic. One major tactic was to keep us going around in circles, constantly asking specific questions about the missing bits he refused to let us explain in an orderly fashion. It was so confusing that he screwed up massively, as well. Half-way through the circus, he noticed our blurb saying there was a fake lease. His roaring "WHAT false lease?!?" was very good evidence that he hadn't read the case notes or listened. We then showed him the fake lease, which he did not think we had, since he had not bothered even opening the evidence binder (with table of contents) beside him.

Judge B then *paid attention* for an entire 4.5 minutes, and that's where it got extremely interesting. During that time, despite some of it spent reading the fake lease, and *demonstrably not having a clue what our case EVEN WAS,* he questioned the landlord independently, and proved *all but one* of the major points supporting our case. He probably would have gotten that one, too, except the landlord realized he was in deep trouble, and threw a smoke bomb by breaking confidentiality. Judge B didn't notice the confidentiality breach, was taken in, and went back to his previous pattern of circling and insisting we had no case. At the end, when summing up, he completely ignored the points that *he himself had proven* and said we had no case. It is all on tape.

They were not able to throw out the review request. They certainly wanted to. It was too long. The poster was too weird. But they had to read it, and then someone had enough integrity to pass it to the next stage of triage, and I must have made some sense, because they did schedule a hearing to determine if there was in fact a serious error. That was in early November, and Judge C, the lady hearing it, actually did try to listen. We even got to explain mostly in order (only 1-2 jumpcuts!). I worry that we didn't do a good enough job of explaining what was wrong with Judge B's *actual ruling,* what with explaining all the background for Judge C. Judge C was also good enough to say that the forgery aspect of things should be taken to the police. (First official to say whose problem it is.) Judge C is also the vice-chair, so whatever can be done by that body, she has the authority to do. She warned us this was going to take a while, and we haven't heard back since. I suppose we should politely bug her soon. We also really should make an evidence packet and appointment to talk to the police...

I would certainly like the money that Evil Idiot Landlord cost us, plus some, but mostly I want to be enough of a badass that jerks don't mess with me. I want for Landlord to not only never, EVER, mess with me again, but also to never mess with anyone in that particular way again, because he's too damn traumatized, and preferably in jail. I want the justice system to admit that I was right and they screwed up, even if only in the indirect method of giving me a favourable judgement. I also want Judge B to get the worst performance review in the history of that tribunal, because what he did was cruel and incredibly stupid as well as unjust.

#348 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2016, 10:34 AM:

Bodhisvaha @347: That sounds exhausting. How awful that *you* have to be responsible for proving everything - over and over and over. For myself, I hope that the judge loses his job entirely. If he's so sick of hearing cases that he won't even listen to the facts before making his decision, he has no place on the bench. Sympathies.

#349 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2016, 11:45 AM:

Department of "things you can't do anything about but wish to hell you could"...

Yesterday we stopped for lunch at a Jack-in-the-Box near Baton Rouge, LA. We ordered, I grabbed a table, my partner waited to pick up our food. Another family came in -- young man, wife, 3 daughters all in the 5-to-8 range.

While we were eating, I observed that this guy's idea of "playing" was pretend-violence. He "boxed" with his wife, dragged her into an embrace that she didn't seem to want, and shook her. My partner didn't see any of that because his back was to them, but he said the guy acted and talked like an abusive control freak, including demanding that the children call him "Sir".*

All I could think about was how easily pretend-violence can turn into the real thing. I wanted to tell her, "You deserve better than this -- and so do your daughters." And I couldn't. It's not the kind of situation a complete stranger can get involved with. My heart is still aching. I hope she manages to get loose from this guy before he does permanent damage to her or any of the children.

Just venting, because I had to talk about it somewhere.

* Yes, I know that's a common thing in military culture. I've known quite a few people who said they were taught to call their father "Sir". And guess what? Every one of them also said that if they failed to do so, they would get beaten. At this point, I consider it a Big Red Warning Flag.

#350 ::: Bodhisvaha ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2016, 11:05 AM:

Chickadee, thank you for saying exactly what I had been wishing more people would say. I am also totally up for Judge B losing his job, but he did briefly demonstrate the skills we want him to have. :)

Let's hope the police and other authorities will be helpful during the next stages.

#351 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2016, 11:31 AM:

Jennifer Baughman, how did your meeting with your sister go, if you don't mind my asking? I'm simultaneously concerned and hopeful...

#352 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2016, 12:24 PM:

Apologies for the delay in updating; I needed some time to try to process and settle.

So it didn't go to plan; we didn't even get to the part where we offered a choice, it just went straight to 60-days-and-out. She doubled down on lying about her drug use in the house (though her comment that we couldn't *prove* anything was illuminating), did her level best to derail, redirect, and blame us, and outright admitted that she stopped doing the share of chores she agreed to because she didn't like doing that much work. And also said that she's been going into our bedroom and bathroom and through our medicine drawer. (I am keeping a close eye on my ADD meds now.)

She did manage to manipulate a physical confrontation between her and Husband; she started trying to push the kitchen table into him and force his laptop off; he ended up trying to pull her away from the table. She called the cops on him, but that didn't turn out like she planned it; Husband was the only one with marks on him (where she tried to pound him around the head as he was getting her away from the table), and the cops just took a report and suggested she spend the night elsewhere to let things calm down. (I know she was trying to get him arrested. She's tried to provoke his temper before, and unfortunately, she's very good at it.)

She kept saying "she didn't want (the arguments/confrontations)," but, frankly, I have a hard time believing that, considering her proud declaration that she has sixty days to move out, and she's going to make every one of them miserable for us. What I suspect she actually means is that she didn't want me to cut her off, she didn't want us to call her on the drug use, and she didn't want to lose access to a living situation where she got everything and gave a bare minimum.

Niece knows we love her, we repeated it several times, and she got hugs from both of us at a couple points, despite Sister trying to get her away from us. She was following Sister around while she gathered stuff up; I was stress-crying on the couch. She kept asking me why I was crying, and I just told her it was grownup stuff, that it wasn't anything about her, and that we love her--I said nothing about who, or why, or what; I'm not going to interfere with her relationship with her mother. Despite that, the last thing we heard her say as they were leaving was, "Mommy, why did you make Auntie cry?" She's perceptive, but I can't feel good about it. I hope Sister didn't punish her for saying that.

So Sister has 58 days and counting. And she's already telling people that it's all our fault, we're monsters, horrible, the Worst People ever, she was just getting comfortable, and we're kicking her and her baby out. (I'm sure she was comfortable, considering everything she was getting and how little she was paying for it.) Meanwhile, we are changing passwords to the entertainment services that she was getting free access to and seriously considering telling her she's responsible for her own food at this point. She's paying for the bare minimum, from here on out she will get the bare minimum. Locks and wireless will be changed when she moves out.

She's spent the last two evenings elsewhere, though she texted me asking if she could stay the night last night. I told her she has a right to stay at the house throughout the 60-day period, and that we would not interfere with that. I also told her that I expected her (indeed, all parties) to stay civil to each other, and she texted back 'Agreed'. However, I suspect I will have to impress upon her that calling Husband a 'fscking p*ssy' does not count as civility.

I also expect her to leave a mess behind; fortunately, Husband and I got ourselves a Groupon for Christmas for a professional four-hour house cleaning, which we will use after she's out. I am going to make it clear to her that we are not going to be her storage unit; anything of hers left her after she leaves will be thrown away or donated to Goodwill.

So... yeah. I was actually hoping she'd accept responsibility for once in her life, but nope. I'm sorry for Niece. She deserves better than Sister, and we can't give it to her.

#353 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2016, 12:47 PM:

Jennifer Baughman, <hugs> if welcome.

#354 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2016, 01:34 PM:

Jennifer Baughman: Well, good on you for putting your foot down and protecting your and Husband's well-being. And at least you have a resolution, now. Even the one you wanted (her scheduled to move out), if not the way you wanted.

Sister has, I am confident, enough Enlightened Self Interest to land on her feet(ish), though I'm sure she'll bewail her sad story to anyone who will listen. And Niece sounds (unfortunately) clueful.

outright admitted that she stopped doing the share of chores she agreed to because she didn't like doing that much work.

I wonder if she imagines that not living with you will involve less work. Though I imagine a lot of what she says is the drugs talking. :-(

And also said that she's been going into our bedroom and bathroom and through our medicine drawer. (I am keeping a close eye on my ADD meds now.)

May be more than you want to deal with, but in your place, I'd be strongly tempted to put a key-locking knob on my bedroom, and keep any "attractive" items/substances behind that lock.

she started trying to push the kitchen table into him and force his laptop off

D-8

Um. This is straight-up physical abuse bordering on assault. (Maybe over the border?) In your place I'd be looking at rental law as it applies to physical safety.... O.O

#355 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2016, 01:49 PM:

Jennifer -- JUST to make sure the next 58 days STAY civil, you may want to look into the possibility of filing a restraining order against Sister. That way if she tries to beat up either your husband OR you, she can be hauled off to jail.

She really IS stupid, isn't she? Were I in your shoes, she'd have been sitting behind bars right this moment for assault and battery...

#356 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2016, 02:33 PM:

Jennifer Baughman with the series ending at #352

Whooo boy. You have sympathies from Belgium, in spades.

I hope I can add a little reassurance in the department of what your sister is spreading around as "the reason why things didn't work out," with a bit of a personal tale -

I'm not on speaking terms with my birth family. One of the reasons became clear when, nearly out of the blue, an aunt kited into my (then active) FB mailbox with angry allegations that I had blocked her. Now, she's not got the same computer background that my generation has, so while I knew I hadn't actually "unfriended" her, I also hadn't bothered to make her my BFF, if you know what I mean. But working out exactly what she was talking about wasn't high on my agenda, because that particular period was a set of about four shit sandwiches, one of which included the news (that very day) that Dear Hubby had been "organized" out of his job.

With some fervent pleading from Dear Hubby to not respond in kind, I was supported enough to step away from the computer, and later, reply with a text largely drafted by him, pouring oil on troubled waters.

She was Having None Of It: her subsequent reply said that I was "just like" my mother (with which I am at peace, but she couldn't know that) and revealed some interesting information about how she regarded a living situation she'd apparently shared with my mother - "that hell-hole" was her description.

Now, I'd spend time in the house she referred to; despite my own problems regarding my mother, I couldn't match the reality of the house I'd seen with my aunt's attempt to paint everything to do with her sister as The Worst of This And Next Century. That, along with more of the pattern of "communicating" from said aunt gave me more than enough information to form a belief that, at least in this matter, my mother had not been at fault.

Shorter version: people who know you, will nod sweetly at your sister and dismiss what she's saying. People who don't know you will still have the rest of your sister's behavior from which to calibrate their understanding of the truth.

As for my own situation with aunt: about 6 months later (shortly before I nuked my FB account), I had reason to check my mail again, and wouldn't you know? All those awful messages were nowhere to be found. Replaced with masses of saccharine "I luv you!" things.

What she doesn't seem to realize, is the ease with which things like copy/paste and screenshots still preserve the originals. I didn't even mean to, actually - I'd wanted to have some extra eyes over the original texts (to get advice on my responses), and so the originals are... somewhere else, far from her reach.

Strength to you with your own situation - thank you for the time you're taking to report, and I send lots of good thoughts for when you must process before proceeding.

Crazy(and family is sometimes The. Worst.)Soph

#357 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2016, 03:21 PM:

Jennifer: Witnessing, and sympathies.

#358 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2016, 11:15 AM:

Jennifer: Ouch. And I'm seconding the idea of the keylock on your bedroom; they cost about ten bucks, are pretty easy to install, and I really don't trust your sister not to steal stuff, especially your meds, from the impression I've gotten of her character. Especially when the 60 days is almost up and she realizes you really mean it.
Hugs if welcome.

#359 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2016, 01:49 PM:

I'm not sure if all my reading is helping or hurting me.

"How can you stay you, if you don’t have your core values, the fundamental, absolutely necessary things that help to determine your sense of self and help you feel good and enjoy the good in life? How can you respect yourself if you’re quick to abandon your values to adopt someone else’s?"

I mentioned a while back that I tend to mirror what's around me as part of my invisibility. Whatever the guy I'm dating is interested in, I'll go along with. Whatever the culture of the group I find myself in, I go along with. My opinions, if they differ, stay buried. Utterly terrified of being excluded, even if it's from a group whose values I don't share. (Because my values? What are they?)

There was also other stuff from that site about boundaries, and how not having and enforcing them attracts all the wrong kinds of relationships, and how common it is for women to not really believe they deserve to be treated well and thus don't enforce a boundary around that.

Ok, I get that this is a problem for me. I keep reading about it here there and everywhere, trying to find a path to a solution, but all I find is "this is your problem, you need to fix it". Maybe I've read enough or too much? Maybe I should keep reading until I find something that gives me a hint to how to get out? Maybe I'm just going round and round? Maybe I have already been given the signposts but I don't know how to read them? How do you get from not believing you deserve to be treated well to actually believing that? Actually, really believing it and not just faking it and saying the words that demonstrate to others that you do even while quailing inside in terror that you're going to lose what few friends you have?

Feeling really dumb and useless this week even more than usual, even with the explicit acknowledgement that this is very common.

Also starting to feel like this isn't really DFD-thread stuff because it doesn't seem to be about families and what am I doing asking for relationship advice in a place for family trauma? (If you have to tell yourself it's not that bad, it is. I remember that from many threads ago. But is it?) And oh look, anxiety wants to isolate me again, by telling me this post (and by extension me) doesn't actually belong here. Anxiety wants reassurance, and I also read that anxiety can get addicted to seeking out that reassurance, that it's never enough and there is always more needed.

Some days I hate my brain and all the horrible things it tells me about myself. Maybe all those articles are feeding *that* instead of actually helping, at this point.

#360 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2016, 03:25 PM:

Sorry, kids, this is probably going to be long. Again.

the invisible one: Point the first: deep breaths.

Second point: I, for one, think this is entirely the right thread for your question. Part of what we've talked a lot about here is the flip-side of dysfuncionality, which is learning how to be functional. Which is what you're doing. So you're fine.

Third point: It sounds like you've got a couple of things going on here. Issue A: values....

I don't find the author's assertion that you can't respect yourself if you abandon your values to be a particularly useful one. I think a more useful question is, "What are my values that I am expressing?"

Values (in my observation) are innate: they're like your eye and hair color. They're issued to you at birth. The work of life is clarifying what they are. (Which can be a challenge, as we have so many influences telling us what they think we ought to value.)

Also, values have hierarchies, so if two values are on conflict, you will choose to go with the one you place higher value on.

Probably the best wisdom I've seen on the topic comes from Sidney B. Simon. He has a bunch of books out on the topic, but one punchline I like a lot is: your true values are those that you act on.

Another dimension of values is the needs they support. See: Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

So, in your particular case, based on what you've said here, it looks to me like two of your values are in conflict:

  • Belonging.
  • Your expressing your true self.

When you look at Maslow's hierarchy, you'll notice that it's a pyramid. The needs lower in the pyramid are more basic, and one can't generally effectively address a need unless the needs below it are first met. Note that "Love/belonging" is a more core need than "Esteem". This matches exactly the choices you report making.

WRT boundaries, I prefer to think of these as innate, too. They are related to but not the same as values. The work of relationship is discovering what they are, and chosing how/when/if to communicate/enforce them.

Issue B:

It sounds like, somewhere down the line, you were conditioned to believe that

if
  you express your true
  values/boundaries/priorities
then
  you will automatically be rejected.
  in all cases/circumstances

Does that sound accurate?

One question this prompts is: who taught you this? How did you believing this serve their interests? (It obviously doesn't serve your interests.)

One way to address this might be to consider what selection criteria (values) you're using to choose who to hang out with. And what to do when it turns out that the group/companion's values come into conflict with your own. Right now it sounds like your solution is to bury your values in favor of the value of the other(s).

Do you have the capacity to change who you're hanging out with so they better match your values? (Or is it even deeper than that: if you are around others, you can't get to your values...?)

As to clarifying what your values are, there's a Simon book available online: Values Clarification.

Does any of this help any?

#361 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2016, 05:28 PM:

the invisible one, #359: On the difference between core values and common interests, the concept of "deal-breakers" may be helpful to you.

To illustrate the difference as it applies to me: when I was in college and dating a guy who liked sports, I developed more of an interest in sports, which didn't persist after we broke up. My current partner is very interested in cars, so I now pay much more attention to cars than I used to. I would not expect that interest to persist if I were no longer with this partner. This kind of thing is part of a normal relationship -- if you care about someone, you tend to pay more attention to the things they care about.

I would not even think about dating someone if I knew, for example, that they were against marriage equality -- and if I'd been dating them and found that out, I'd break it off. That's a deal-breaker, because it's one of my core values. I have in fact broken off relationships with acquaintances (people who get to the level of "friends" have already been vetted for stuff like this) because I found out that they believed abortion should be illegal. Again, core value; I am not capable of "agreeing to disagree" about this issue.

Perhaps it would help you to do some thinking about what sorts of things would cause you to write someone off altogether. Those things are likely to be your core values, your deal-breakers. If you can't identify anything which falls into that category, then you have a defined starting point in your personal search: figure out what those things are.

Actually, really believing it and not just faking it and saying the words that demonstrate to others that you do even while quailing inside in terror that you're going to lose what few friends you have?

There's a reason that "fake it until you make it" is an aphorism. It frequently is a self-reinforcing cycle. The odds that standing up for yourself will cause people to dump you are relatively low (and if it does, then you really, genuinely are better off without them because they are not your friends). Far more likely is that they'll say something along the lines of, "Oh, sorry, didn't know that bothered you," and change accordingly. If it's just a difference of opinion, well, friends don't have to agree about whether (say) Movie X is terrific, or whether Cuisine Y is tasty. And the more times this kind of response happens, the weaker the hold that your original fears will have on you, because you'll have direct evidence that they were false. Which in turn makes it easier for you to assert your opinions and boundaries about other things, lather, rinse, repeat.

To a considerable extent, this is about trust issues. What I'm hearing you say here is that you don't really trust any of the people you hang out with, because you think that if you express an opinion different from theirs they'll drop you like a hot rock. Again, this is not how friends behave -- but JerkBrain refuses to accept that.

Anything which is causing you to feel like a less-than-functional person is appropriate for the DFD threads IMO. For one thing, relationships in other parts of your life often have things in common with dysfunctional family issues, cf. roommates from hell or abusive bosses. For another, the kind of issues you're discussing here are frequently the result of long-term damage from a dysfunctional home life. Never forget that JerkBrain is a liar, and will try to keep you from healing yourself.

#362 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2016, 07:48 PM:

#359 ::: the invisible one

I'm going to recommend some cynicism about advice. It's remarkably easy to make forceful statements about how people ought to be, and how they're letting something important down if they don't live up to some standard.

Something that happened to me, and which I suspect is happening to you. is feeling unsure about how to live, and this can leave one very vulnerable to authoritative voices.

I don't know what solutions are-- I'm not sure whether I'm stuck or digging my way out.

If you'll forgive some evaluation, I think your question about whether what you're reading is a good for you is a good sign. You're tracking how you're feeling and at least allowing for the possibility that you can make decisions about what you'll let into your life.

#363 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2016, 10:28 AM:

the invisible one #359:

Adding to the consensus that undoing the damage is relevant on this thread...

I mentioned a while back that I tend to mirror what's around me

I did this when I first went off to college; in my case, it was a way of trying to be accepted, modeling my behavior and expressed personality on the people around me. For awhile, I didn't even realize I was doing it, either; I thought I was just trying to fit in. And for all that effort, it didn't work; the first group of people I became acquainted with had some abusers, and like sharks, they smelled the chum in the water. It was all very ugly and very drama-filled and I don't talk to any of those people anymore, with one exception: Husband. Husband was the one who told me what I was actually doing, and how it was being perceived, and he asked me something no one ever had: "Who are you, and what do you want?"

the invisible one (who is not invisible here), you are ahead of where I was at that point. You asked those questions for yourself! That is a significant accomplishment in and of itself.

It's ok if the answer is "I don't know." If you've lived your life being compressed, it's hard to expand. You've had to deal with a lot of familial disrespect and disregard of your opinions. Suppressing your own wants becomes a habit. (To answer your question "Is it that bad?" Yes, yes it is.)

The good news about that is, habits can be changed; the bad news, of course, is that changing habits is hard, and takes time. Nor does it help that Jerkbrain likes habits, especially ones that enable Jerkbrain to be a jerk.

Those habits don't change overnight, though. It has taken me years to accept that I am allowed to feel what I feel, when I feel it; that I am allowed to have wants and needs and opinions of my own, even if they conflict with someone else's. And the biggest one: that I am allowed to say, "No, today my needs come first." Or even, "Today, my wants come first."

I don't want to discourage you with that, though, because from everything you've posted, you're already taking steps to figure out what you want, and who you are. It doesn't look like it from the inside, but it is progress. (Are you still enjoying taking the daily photographs? Did you get all the colors you wanted in your house? Are these things feeding your soul? If so, that's progress!)

You have understandable trust issues, but you're indicating that those are becoming a problem for you. What would it take for you to trust someone that has indicated they like you? That might be worth thinking about.

#364 ::: Bodhisvaha ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2016, 11:34 AM:

invisible one @359: yep, your question belongs here! Building on what Jacque said in #360, here are some possible chinks in Jerkbrain's armour.

It's not all-or-nothing. You can express some facets with one group and some with another. It's vastly more comfortable, though, if they like most of you, than if they like one bit and consider the rest of you to be all covered in poison spikes.

My experience was that when I found my tribe, it *felt* different, even during the initial nervous phase. Pretty soon I could tell that I fitted better here than anywhere I'd ever been before, and I felt safe and at peace in their company. It was like being a half-dead plant and suddenly there was good soil and water and sun. They aligned with my true self well enough that my true self could come out and take shape. So, keep searching, and remember that when you find your tribe members, it's going to feel *good* to be around them, instead of feeling like work, as socializing with the wrong people tends to. You get much better quality belonging-feelings from groups where you can express your true self.

I understand the trap of being what you're expected to be, because it happens to me too often. One thing I'm trying that's going well is starting fresh and setting the terms. I joined an industry group to network, away from all my current co-workers. I did that on purpose so that I could take the brakes off, and be assertively me with my quirks, in a way that I don't at my current workplace. It turns out the industry group likes eccentric me! This is especially exciting because these folks are not from my usual "greater granola geeks" tribe, but enjoy my geek aspects anyway. The perks of adulthood!

I'm going to try to keep on doing the assertively-me thing in the future with new people, because life is too short to waste on faking for the approval of people I don't even like or respect. If I am flamboyantly me, then the people I won't like anyway are more likely to avoid having relationships with me, and I won't feel pressured to conform to their expectations!

#365 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2016, 12:37 PM:

Bodhisvaha, #364: If I am flamboyantly me, then the people I won't like anyway are more likely to avoid having relationships with me, and I won't feel pressured to conform to their expectations!

This is HUGELY important, and it's an epiphany that different people reach at different times. I got it in college, in the form of, "I'm never going to be able to fit in no matter what I do, so I might as well go ahead and BE weird, and make a selling point out of it!" And shortly thereafter I discovered the local SF club and the SCA, which made that route much easier.

I've also discovered that having one major interest in common with a group may not be enough, if the rest of the group gestalt is something I'm not comfortable with. At one point I was flirting around the edges of the Red Hats culture, and found a group calling itself Red Hat Beaders, and thought that might be a good fit for me. Um, not -- they were all heavy drinkers* and much more politically conservative than I am, and I only went to a couple of meetings because it was obvious that I was not in fact a good fit there.

In effect, what you're talking about here is setting up a filter in real life, such that people who are going to be a good fit with you will be attracted and people who would be a poor fit won't be. And that's something a lot of people do without consciously realizing it.


* As in, 2 giant margaritas (or the equivalent) apiece over dinner, and I was thinking that it was a damn good thing I was driving home in a different direction from any of them!

#366 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2016, 04:13 PM:

Well that turned into quite a wall of text...

#360, Jacque: Values (in my observation) are innate: they're like your eye and hair color. They're issued to you at birth. The work of life is clarifying what they are. (Which can be a challenge, as we have so many influences telling us what they think we ought to value.)

That is plausible enough given my experience of growing up in a family who doesn't share some of my values-as-expressed-by-politics. If it were taught instead of innate, I'd expect I would have shared those values until at least university, when many people start questioning what their parents teach them.

I don't find the author's assertion that you can't respect yourself if you abandon your values to be a particularly useful one.

It may not be true as an absolute "you *can't*", but I found it reflected my experience. I mirror the people around me and am unhappy when that doesn't match what I believe, and don't know how to believe I am allowed to enforce boundaries.

So, in your particular case, based on what you've said here, it looks to me like two of your values are in conflict: Belonging. Your expressing your true self.

I'm not sure if "belonging" is a value or some so-far unattainable wish. Or both.

One question this prompts is: who taught you this? How did you believing this serve their interests? (It obviously doesn't serve your interests.)

I think I have figured out a possible explanation for how I learned this.

So a frequent topic of conversation at family events is "Those People, you know, Those Other People, Aren't They Awful." (Which exact group Those People are varies, but they are always Those Other People.) Often, growing up, my tentative and half-formed opinions were on the "awful" side of those discussions, and Those People who believe Those Things were dismissed or derided or scorned as naive or soft-headed or outright stupid or delusional. You better believe I wasn't going to speak up, because having those words turned on me directly wasn't something I wanted to experience. I had no backing for my argument, because my main exposure to Those Things was a feeling of what was right and wrong, and the overly simplified description of that position sounded kind of reasonable except that it was presented dismissively. I didn't have exposure to the vocabulary or the arguments behind it. And my family scorned other people who believed that way. What few attempts I did make to try to feel out support were met with "no, that's naive, that's not how the world works".

At school I was pretty much cut off from my classmates. Hardly talked to them. I was in the same class from K to 12 with a core of 7-8 people and I couldn't have told you half their names when I was in grade 12.

At university I was less of an alien because I was finally surrounded by people who thought science and science fiction and geekery was fun and awesome instead of "LOL nerd loser", and the girls could talk about something other than beauty stuff and how hot that one young teacher was, and I thought I had finally found my people, but a lot of the other opinions still didn't match. I didn't know the name for an appeasement grin at that point but I smiled and went along with things I wasn't comfortable with, because people who didn't have fun doing those things were scorned and derided.

So it wasn't that I had been rejected by the groups myself, but that the groups rejected some of my opinions before I revealed them, so I didn't. And I don't know at what level having different opinions triggers rejection and derision and when it doesn't. So I got really good at going along with whatever the group did, and several people have commented over the years that I get along with everybody (because I don't argue or even have differing opinions) and I'm always happy (because I don't show anything else) and how Crappy Ex and I suited each other so well.

(Actually, returning to this thought a bit later: in university, I joined the group of "program I was studying", and was promptly rejected by the group of "dorm I lived in". I did exactly one "everybody is invited" event with the dorm group, at which I found this out. Didn't have much of anybody to talk to at that event; the only person who talked to me was not pleasant to me. So I was rejected by a group due to expressing the opinion that I liked a group they didn't like. Maybe not everybody in the group would have explicitly rejected me, but silence = agreement and nobody else talked to me. Fortunately the rejection took the form of mutually ignoring each other instead of harassment.)

How it served their interests? Not sure. Maybe maintaining their belief in their rightness unchallenged, because silence = agreement? I really don't know the answer to this.

One way to address this might be to consider what selection criteria (values) you're using to choose who to hang out with.

Um. I'm not, really? For most of my life the people I would hang out with were not chosen individually by me. Family. People at some hobby activity where I joined the group for the activity and the people were there. The program I did at university.

The concept of having friends separate from some pre-existing activity group is kind of new to me, as is being personally invited to a gathering of friends instead of "everybody is invited!" extended to an entire activity group which I joined.

I actually have a couple of friends now! Who invite me, specifically, to do things with them! And so far I haven't been doing appeasement grins around them but instead have been doing stuff with them that I already knew I enjoyed from doing alone.

(Or is it even deeper than that: if you are around others, you can't get to your values...?)

Maybe. Maybe once I figure out what they are and figure out how to build some boundaries around them, I'll be able to hold on to them when around others who don't share them. I do know that on breaking up with a guy, once the pain is fading, a common factor is a feeling of un-compressing myself as I figure out what I want to do with my time and energy instead of waiting for him to decide what we will do. (I have tried suggesting things to do. After having my suggestions rejected often enough, I stopped suggesting.)

#361, Lee: when I was in college and dating a guy who liked sports, I developed more of an interest in sports, which didn't persist after we broke up

At the expense of the things you were interested in?

Yeah, I understand being a bit interested in something largely because somebody you like is really interested in it. Going hiking with a person who has specialized in something that will be seen on the hike is amazing. Trees, birds, fungus, rocks... doesn't matter what it is, if they know it and love it, I find it's hard to not enjoy their explanations of what we're looking at.

I have heard of deal-breakers. Can't remember if I first heard it here or CA. So far I have identified some deal-breakers that I want to enforce in the future, long after the fact, after I finished processing the end of the relationship. Stuff like, if he does his hobby at the expense of spending time with me. Or if he feels it's acceptable for him to make a decision about my future. Both of those cases, I didn't enforce them at the time, they weren't what caused the breakup, but I identified afterward that they were a source of deep unhappiness and I did not want to accept them again.

The odds that standing up for yourself will cause people to dump you are relatively low (and if it does, then you really, genuinely are better off without them because they are not your friends).

So I've heard. See above about how many friends I ever had. It was (is?) a scarcity mindset, maybe. Hold on to the people who will talk to me, hold on desperately, because nobody else could actually want to be my friend. From that point of view, cutting people off means being completely isolated.

Not true, certainly not healthy, but pretty much describes the terror of rejection by people you don't even like, if they're the only ones you have to hang around with.

#362, Nancy Lebovitz: feeling unsure about how to live, and this can leave one very vulnerable to authoritative voices.

Um, yeah. Some voices which sound authoritative are ones I can identify as toxic and generally ignore, mostly. (Overt victim blaming, and so on.) But some hit that spot between resonating with my experience and is it victim blaming or is it an uncomfortable truth? That site I linked to is one I'm not sure about. There are things about myself I need to work on. I need to figure out how to enforce boundaries, and that site is probably right that not having boundaries attracts abusers. But is it victim blaming mixed among the truths, or am I not wanting to accept which parts I'm responsible for?

#363, Jennifer Baughman: I did this when I first went off to college; in my case, it was a way of trying to be accepted, modeling my behavior and expressed personality on the people around me. For awhile, I didn't even realize I was doing it, either; I thought I was just trying to fit in.

That's it exactly. I thought they were my kind of people.

Unfortunately, in that university group, one of the abusers became boyfriend, then husband, then Crappy Ex. The people who asked those sorts of questions were mocked as being full of fluff and woo, no better than crystal healing and astrology.

(Are you still enjoying taking the daily photographs? Did you get all the colors you wanted in your house? Are these things feeding your soul? If so, that's progress!)

I am doing my daily photos, but I'm starting to find it hard to find new things to photograph. I fall into routines in terms of where I travel very easily, and am trying to find different routes to run on so I have different things to photograph. I still have two more rooms to paint but I have finally chosen colours for them! They are helping me be happy, but my job right now is sucking the life out of me. I know how I'm feeling *with* my photography and my running and my hiking; I don't want to contemplate having this job *without* those things. Most of all I need to get a job in my actual field, which I enjoy immensely, not this temp turned permanent thing doing something that I don't even enjoy with hours I despise.

What would it take for you to trust someone that has indicated they like you?

I have no idea. In terms of romantic "like", my experience has been that somebody who "likes" me and demonstrates it stops doing so once he's "caught" me. I have no way of knowing that he considers "caught" and thus when he can stop performing wanting to be with me, so how do I know he won't stop performing tomorrow, or next month, or next year? How can I know whether it's the truth or a performance? A performance will claim to be the truth.

In terms of friendship "like", well, I'm still trying to learn how to have friends who are not simply a person I can enjoy chatting with at a shared interest. I suspect I want to tell people what's going on with me because I keep surprising myself by letting some detail or another slip, but I'm rarely sure what to make of the responses I get. Even direct sympathy often makes me back up and think "no no I'm not fishing for sympathy! I'm not That Kind Of Person!" (which seriously, how did that attitude even get in my head, ugh. Dismissing people as professional victims is part of the Those Other People conversations.)

#364, Bodhisvaha:

I understand the trap of being what you're expected to be, because it happens to me too often. One thing I'm trying that's going well is starting fresh and setting the terms.

That sounds like an excellent idea. Once I figure out what self I am most comfortable with being and how to maintain the expression of that self around other people.

#367 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2016, 07:45 PM:

First, invisible one, what you're saying is so entirely appropriate for this thread. Thank you for sharing.

Second, Jennifer Baughman, I'm so sorry about your sister's malice. Thoughts, prayers and hugs (if welcome) all with you.

Third, this (plus the therapy group I'm in) has gotten me thinking about stuff. Regarding the mimic-to-fit-in, I was lucky enough to have several friends/acquaintances who called me on it, even though at the time I didn't have a clue what they were talking about. It was a cumulative effect, that combined with a certain donkey-stubborn sense of self, allowed me to develop a sense of self even while still living with my enmeshing mother.

Also, the "Those Other People" conversations - that takes me right back. My extended family (both sides) was SO bad for that. It took me a long time to get rid of (most of?) the unthinking racism/sexism/homophobia/fat-shaming*/etc.etc.etc. that I picked up growing up. Because what you grow up with, right? Interestingly, I think I can see one distinct point along the continuum of rejecting those ideas - one particular Christmas.

Background: My dad's sisters were horrible to my mom. Mom made herself socialize with them because that was the Proper thing to do. So every Christmas, we'd have our family Christmas on Christmas Eve, then pack up and drive to [other city, 3 hours down the highway] for Christmas Day plus a few days. Finally, at some point, Mom had enough of making herself sick for a week before, and declared she was staying home. A few years after, I decided it was crap that Papa left Mom alone on her birthday (Boxing Day) every year, so I started staying home too. (note: my parents married late, and had me later, so my closest first cousin is at least 8 years older than me, and most 12-14 at least - I didn't have anybody my age in [other city]) This may have been after the particularly memorable drive home** but I don't remember.

That rejection of their treatment of Mom was, I think, part of my rejection of a lot of their attitudes. Not that I'd ever agreed with it all, but I'd gone along with it, and found a lot of the awful jokes funny because (bullied loner that I was) I was so happy to be *part of* a group.

I remember feeling really awkward with a lot of my mom's family, primarily because they lived out of easy visiting range (2-5 provinces over) so I only saw them rarely.

Still, the fact of consciously choosing which parent to side with (which sucks mightily for a young adult) started a process of realizing that I could *choose* what to think/believe. I don't remember ditching a lot of the other baggage until university, but as many here have said, that's where you *really* start to get exposed to new ideas.

Huh.

Sorry for the wall o' text...

*Example of two combined: Mom's of Polish extraction, and I inherited the broader Slavic bone structure, so even though I was borderline underweight at the time my face was round-ish. My paternal aunts are all anorexic-skinny and narrow-faced. One of my aunts told me (indirectly, with plausible deniability) that I had a fat face.

**I don't know who was more impaired - me from exhaustion or Papa from alcohol. We'd arranged that I'd drive, so he could spend a last night with his sisters drinking, but he refused to leave at the prearranged time, and brushed me off when I said I was concerned about how tired I was, so we left *hours* later than planned. And I couldn't even switch off with him because he brought beer into the car and kept drinking on the way home. :( He'd never done that before. I was so angry with him.

#368 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2016, 08:09 PM:

the invisible one, #366:
At the expense of the things you were interested in?

No, more along the lines of doing things I wouldn't otherwise have done (go to school games) because he wanted to, and reading Sports Illustrated (which I actually found somewhat interesting in places) because it gave us more things to talk about.

You've reminded me of something else, though. I was already heavily involved with the SCA when he and I started dating, and he never had any interest in that at all. And one day, in a discussion of possible futures, he said, "The day we get engaged is the day you quit the SCA for good."

And while I didn't immediately dump him, that did cause me to decide instantly that this was not a person I was going to think about marrying. He had just told me that (1) something I considered an important part of my life was absolutely unacceptable to him, and (2) that he thought being engaged would confer on him the right to control my hobbies and interests. Given my background of fighting those exact same fights with my parents, there was no way in hell I was going to sign on for that!

We eventually broke up more-or-less amicably, and he never knew that he'd permanently blown his chances with that remark. Hell, that was 40 years ago, and by now if he remembers it at all he may be embarrassed that he was ever That Asshole. But it's important to me that this was where I drew a line in the sand WRT a romantic relationship -- that there were things I was not willing to surrender for one.

It was (is?) a scarcity mindset, maybe. Hold on to the people who will talk to me, hold on desperately, because nobody else could actually want to be my friend.

I do understand this, and I think you're right in labeling it a scarcity mindset. People who have been desperately hungry sometimes become food-hoarders even when food is plentiful.

But consider this also: if you surround yourself with the wrong kind of people, people you can't trust, people you hang onto only because you're terrified of being alone... that can actually drive away other people who you'd rather hang out with, because they see the people around you and don't want to spend time with them!

Also, this is where you look hard at one of the most common pieces of advice for women who continually fall into poor relationships out of desperation: no relationship at all is better than one with the wrong man. As long as you feel that you need other people to make you a complete person, you're going to continue to have this kind of issue. Wanting to have friends is normal and good, but not at the expense of being mistreated or being afraid to trust them.

The people who asked those sorts of questions were mocked as being full of fluff and woo, no better than crystal healing and astrology.

To be sure, there are examples of that (and they tend to go along with stuff like crystals and astrology and Religion-of-the-Month Club!), but it's not a universal. You, unfortunately, didn't have the experience to know that these are also valid professional therapy questions for people who have been severely suppressed for a long time, and you might not have recognized yourself as falling into that category.

I have no way of knowing what he considers "caught" and thus when he can stop performing wanting to be with me, so how do I know he won't stop performing tomorrow, or next month, or next year? How can I know whether it's the truth or a performance? A performance will claim to be the truth.

One good (but not infallible) test is to refuse to do something he wants you to do, especially if your reason for refusing is that it conflicts with something you want to do. If he can't accept "You go do your thing and I'll do my thing and we can have dinner later," that's a strong indication that he's performing.

Beyond that, I don't think many people are capable of putting up that kind of performance, in a real-life situation, for years on end. So the longer it lasts, the more likely it is to be the real thing.

Unfortunately, a lot of the other things I could say here boil down to, "Sometimes you get burned, and you just have to get back up and start over." Which is much easier to say than to do, and easier to do after you've gone around that track a few times and learned that it really isn't the end of the world. So, probably not helpful to someone in your situation. :-(

#369 ::: Bodhisvaha ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2016, 11:07 PM:

Jennifer Baughman @352: Whew! that was rough! At least there is some relief for having a set course? Sister did an excellent job of reminding you why you made this decision in the first place... That's why I'm joining the "buy a lock" camp for the meds and valuables, or simply getting them out of the house for now. On that note...I would be ready to change the main locks promptly once she leaves. Paranoia says Sister just might sneak in and take or break things after moving out.

Lee @365: If only the flamboyant-me filter idea had occurred to me earlier, my twenties might have been different. In my teens I got used to the idea that being weird wasn't a defect, but it just did not occur to me that *flaunting* it pre-emptively could be useful. Best defense is a good offense?

the invisible one @366: that was a powerful lot of you-must-belong-or-else and you-are-wrong vibes being beamed at you in your formative years. I agree that you've got a scarcity mindset about social connections, *because they were really scarce and low-quality*. If you had to rank human connections on a -5 to +5 scale, and most of what's happened to you is actually -1 to -5, with only a few 0s and +1s or +2s for comparison, of course it distorts the results.

The best possible catalyst for change would be some good experiences, preferably some great ones, to raise your standards! :) Historically, you've consistently made the best choices that your experience at that time could guide you to make. No, they weren't all the right ones, but you surely did aim the best you could. The fresh start experiment will give you some good shots at getting better experiences.

Romances do often cool down and transmute as they become lasting relationships, but what you're describing is *not* how it should be. The romantic "like" you have received so far smells bad, possibly like pickup artist. (They publish their techniques -- you can read up and inoculate yourself for the future.) The worst times are one good barometer of relationship quality. How does he hold up when you're sick, depressed, writing a thesis, lost your job, or your cat died? He doesn't have to catch the ball *every* time, but he shouldn't drop it most times either.

#370 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2016, 03:20 PM:

Jennifer Baughman @363:

I mentioned a while back that I tend to mirror what's around me

I think it might be worth pointing out that this is a basic primate characteristic; it's a big part of our being social animals. We all do it to some extent. (It's why, when you meet a coworker outside of work, you see dimensions of them you'd never see in the office.)

It's only problematic when we fall in with groups that have problematic behaviors and attitudes.* But it's a god-send when we find ourselves in healthy company: Hello, DFD threads!

Also, as so many of us here have reported/demonstrated, it is possible to be aware of our behaviors/attitudes, where we got them, and how we want to change them, and then be choiceful how we evolve from there.

It's also (as others here have so wisely pointed out) helpful (glorious!) when we find ourselves in groups that more closely align with who we truly are/want to be.

Shorter me: it's not the mirroring that's the problem. It's what and who we mirror that can be troublesome. Also, it can be helpful to be choiceful about it.

* I'm still working to unlearn the tendency to condesplaining** that I picked up from the first social circle I had as an adult.

** Ahem. Hi there! :o)

the invisible one @:366 "I don't find the author's assertion that you can't respect yourself if you abandon your values to be a particularly useful one." It may not be true as an absolute "you can't"

Note that I didn't say that it's not true; I find it to be not useful. That's because for me, it's much too easy for Jerkbrain to hook onto and use as a club to beat me with: "You didn't cleave to your principles, you twit!! You're bad bad bad and you'll never amount to anything!" I try to avoid giving Jerkbrain excuses to yammer at me. I've gotten better at ignoring it, but it's still soaks up energy better used elsewhere.

Me, personally, I'd rather live in a place where I compare my behavior to my principles, feel regret/frustration that my behavior didn't measure up, and adjust my circumstances/habits/resources to cultivate better behavior in the future. For me, tagging it to my ability to "respect myself" impedes rather than enhances my well-being. But that's me.

OTOH, it sounds like you find it to be useful! In which case, go you! If what I say doesn't work for you, then it's so much static in the ether, and you're totally right to treat it as such!

(Also, if I may, I'd like to point out that your saying It may not be true as an absolute "you *can't*", but I found it reflected my experience. is a splendid example of you defining your experience, and differentiating it from mine. GO YOU!)

I find it's hard to not enjoy their explanations of what we're looking at.

Entirely tangentially, I love people loving things. Unless it's a topic to which I have strong negative conditioning (sports, cars), if somebody waxes on knowledgeably and lovingly on [topic], I love listening to them, almost irrespective of the topic. </geekery>

deal-breakers ... if he does his hobby at the expense of spending time with me.

Calibration question: if it's a case of "we're together, but I'm ignoring you because I'm [doing hobby], don't interrupt me," I'm totally with you there. Question: if it's a case of "Get together at [time]?" "Sorry, I'll be [doing hobby] then. Do you want to get together at [different time] instead?" Would that be acceptible to you?†

Not true, certainly not healthy, but pretty much describes the terror of rejection by people you don't even like, if they're the only ones you have to hang around with.

I've lived there and, yes, it is a scarcity mindset. Not a happy place to be. But completely understandable.

That site I linked to is one I'm not sure about.

Yeah, I concur. I see some valid stuff, but I also see some incompletely-thought-out-stuff that doesn't really match with my experience/understanding. Muddled, like. Your response demonstrates very proper and valid discretion.

If you're interested, here's my (quick, we hope) review: Her starting premise that "core values" are different than "common interests" is a really good one. I think she conflates values and boundaries too much. They are certainly related, but I think they operate on different axes. She's right that values inform everything about your life and what you chose. Where I think she's wrong is in framing values as a variable thing that you develop through life. I think boundaries are variable, and one adjusts them in response to a number of factors. Values is one of the things that boundaries enforce, but by no means the only thing. There's a third axis she doesn't talk about explicitly: beliefs? Beliefs exist about many things; the ones pertinent here are about possiblility and necessity. In your case, one belief around possibility that you grew up with is: "This group is the only one available to me; to lose it is to lose All." Another belief, which others here have expressed is: "There are many groups out there which are available to me. It is possible to find groups that support me, and avoid groups that don't." I think she's also conflating values with preferences. Also, she talks about "primary" and "secondary" values. What she's missing, I think, is that values are hierarchical. Some values are more important to you than others. But their importance changes with circumstance, and in relation to each other. (Yes, it is possible to have a rock/paper/scissors values conflict.) So, shorter me: I think she's onto something, but is missing some important distinctions. I'm curious: what would your review be?

Hm. Lemme try this: boundaries about to what degree you will allow others to define/control your own experience/actions. They can be more or less permeable, depending on company, context, and circumstance. All: Does this definition work?

† I had a friend who, for the most part, was fun and great to be with. But there were times when she wanted to get together at [time], and I'd say (without elaboration) that I wasn't available at [time], could we get together at [an hour later]? She'd get bent out of shape because what I'd be doing at [time] was watching a TV show I wanted to see (this was before VCRs, so if I didn't see it when it was broadcast, I'd miss it completely). She felt she was being "pushed aside for a (mere) TV show." Even though I was doing the Captain Awkward–recommended thing of not saying what I was doing, just that I wasn't available at [time], it wasn't until years later that I had the vocabulary to understand that, while she had every right to feel how she felt, what she was doing by pressuring me to spend time with her in favor of my (to her not important) activity was...kind of boundary-crashy. Which was weird, in retrospect, because she was generally more clueful than that. But this was also decades before there was much explicit discussion of boundaries as such.

Bodhisvaha @369: The worst times are one good barometer of relationship quality. How does he hold up when you're sick, depressed, writing a thesis, lost your job, or your cat died? He doesn't have to catch the ball *every* time, but he shouldn't drop it most times either.

Ooo! I like this! And, looking back, matches my experience/results rather well.

#371 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2016, 12:57 AM:

Just found a link to this song over on Slacktivist. I think it might resonate for a lot of people here.

#372 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2016, 03:36 AM:

#368, Lee: he said, "The day we get engaged is the day you quit the SCA for good."

Direct of him. I got variations on "you're stretching yourself too thin" and other nudges away from doing what I wanted to do by means of helpful and caring comments. Funny how once he was gone I suddenly had all kinds of energy for doing all kinds of things.

if you surround yourself with the wrong kind of people, people you can't trust, people you hang onto only because you're terrified of being alone... that can actually drive away other people who you'd rather hang out with, because they see the people around you and don't want to spend time with them!

I'm starting to learn that those people do actually exist, and they're not just a myth told by imaginary internet people.

One good (but not infallible) test is to refuse to do something he wants you to do

That sounds like one of the tests in the book Jerk Radar. The sort of relationship tests it is quite sensible to do. That was a really good book. I should read it again.

Beyond that, I don't think many people are capable of putting up that kind of performance, in a real-life situation, for years on end.

Maybe not, but if they suck you into believing that's the best you can hope for and you're lucky for it, and that's what love looks like, they don't really have to except in occasional bursts between spending the entire evening ignoring you in favour of video games or youtube videos or TV or...

#369, Bodhisvaha: The romantic "like" you have received so far smells bad, possibly like pickup artist.

I've read a bit about them. The system I was hit by was less overtly confident and more friends then asking out and "nice guys finish last" and helped by how I literally never said no to a guy who asked me for a date or a relationship unless I (or he) was already in one. I have no idea if they realized that was the case; I certainly didn't until just a couple of years ago.

The worst times are one good barometer of relationship quality.

Unless he's all about being the white knight rescuer.

Though even then it'll be on his terms. Some rough times I was criticized or blamed for, some he rushed to my "rescue".

#370, Jacque: Note that I didn't say that it's not true; I find it to be not useful. That's because for me, it's much too easy for Jerkbrain to hook onto and use as a club to beat me with

Hm. Would it be reasonably accurate to say that you read it as a form of instruction? If you do this, you must do that?

I read it as a description of a consequence: if you do this, that will happen. I am realizing that I did this, and yes, that did happen.

(Also, if I may, I'd like to point out that your saying It may not be true as an absolute "you *can't*", but I found it reflected my experience. is a splendid example of you defining your experience, and differentiating it from mine. GO YOU!)

(Note to self, stop backpedalling and trying to shrink my statements to fit the posted opinions of the people here. Yes, I started to do that.)

Calibration question: if it's a case of "we're together, but I'm ignoring you because I'm [doing hobby], don't interrupt me," I'm totally with you there. Question: if it's a case of "Get together at [time]?" "Sorry, I'll be [doing hobby] then. Do you want to get together at [different time] instead?" Would that be acceptible to you?

It was the first. Anything from "don't interrupt me" to "yeah, we're going to [place] at [time]" followed by still playing his computer game half an hour past [time]. Because it wasn't "doing hobby" time, it was what they did when they weren't at work, sleeping, or performing in order to chase a girlfriend. (Or so it looks from my perspective. Not sure if it's accurate or bitter or both.)

I'm curious: what would your review be?

I will have to read it again, and try to have an assessing and judging mindset rather than a believing authoritative voice and self-blame mindset. I'll give that some thought tomorrow.

#373 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2016, 10:55 AM:

Jacque #370: (Yes, it is possible to have a rock/paper/scissors values conflict.)

Yes, possible, but also dangerous! Such a loop isa vulnerability that can be used against you.

I forget who (Hofstader? Peck?) used ice cream cups for an example: If your values are chocolate > strawberry > vanilla > chocolate, someone can say "hey, trade you this strawberry cup for your vanilla, plus 10 cents"... you go "sure", upon which they say "oh, now I've got a chocolate cup"... and next "now I've got a vanilla cup", and then you're $.30 poorer with the same cup you started with.¹

Now, that's being very literal, but the metaphorical expansions are pretty obvious. As far back as ancient Greece, people have realized that it's important to think about your priorities, and maintain them as a well-ordered heirarchy.

¹ Yes, the ice cream will eventually melt; that sort of hazard is probably why we have a natural bias toward immediate benefits over deferred rewards.

#374 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2016, 11:21 AM:

I want to check on something-- I've seen relationships where partner A insists that partner B accompany them to activities that B isn't interested in because they want B's company. I'm not sure whether B gets attention or not, but B never gets to do what they want to do if it takes as much effort as A's preferred activity and A isn't interested in it.

I've expressed horror at it, and I've had people tell me it's normal in relationships. Is it actually normal? Maybe normal on a smaller scale? I'm not sure I explained the whole thing-- that it's one-sided using a partner as a teddy bear rather than an occasional thing.

#375 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2016, 12:30 PM:

Nancy @374: I think this depends on meanings of "normal." It's "normal" in the sense of a thing that happens moderately often (tornadoes and heart attacks are also normal in that sense). That doesn't mean it's normal in the sense of either healthy or inevitable, and it doesn't mean A should settle for it. (Tornadoes may be inevitable, but we have weather forecasts and shelters.)

The slippery thing there is, in some relationships there are more-or-less explicit tradeoffs of "I'll go to the ball game with you, if you'll come to this movie with me," and certain B's can say things like "you should come to the ball game with me, because that's what couples do/if you care about me" and always come up with reasons or excuses why they're not going to go to the movie, and even why there isn't time for A to go to the movie, because they spent all of Saturday at the ball game so they need Sunday for chores or to see family.

My impression is that this (like a lot of similar imbalances in mixed-sex relationships) tends to be gendered, both in the gender of people who ask that of their partners and in whose friends and relatives will tell them things like "you're supposed to care about his interests" if they complain. But that doesn't mean it would suddenly become okay if it's a same-sex relationship, or if a woman was demanding that a male partner spend time on her interests but wouldn't reciprocate.

Do you remember whether the people telling you it's "normal" are in the relationships, either "it's reasonable for me to expect the other person to do this for me" or "that's a price I expect to have to pay," or third parties (call them C) with whom you were discussing this?

#376 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2016, 01:38 PM:

Nancy, #374: As you've described it, a completely one-sided thing, it is definitely NOT either normal or healthy, and A is being a controlling asshole. As a give-and-take of "Okay, I'll do this thing with you and then you do that thing with me," it's much more common and more reasonable.

Of course, the ideal solution would be, "Okay, you go do your thing and then later we'll do something together," but people who are committed to the joined-at-the-hip meme of "but couples are supposed to do EVERYTHING together!" don't understand that.

#377 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2016, 08:33 PM:

Nancy @374: Any of my friends would also be horrified at that imbalance. It's not "normal" in the universal sense, and we'd certainly side-eye the one treating the other as a teddy bear.

#378 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2016, 10:40 PM:

Lee @368: "The day we get engaged is the day you quit the SCA for good."

I'm impressed the result wasn't a mushroom cloud. Yeah, I would probably be at least diplomatic in that case, too. But—sheesh!

the invisible one @372: imaginary internet people

::giggle:: I love this. I want to find an excuse to use it. :-)

Hm. Would it be reasonably accurate to say that you read it as a form of instruction? If you do this, you must do that?

Huh. Yeah, I guess I did. I read it in the imperative voice. For which I have something of a hot-button. :-) (Syntactical note: this is why I tend to use the "one" construction instead of the rhetorical "you." It's too easy (for me, at least) to read the latter in the imperative voice.)

Note to self, stop backpedalling and trying to shrink my statements to fit the posted opinions of the people here.

:-)

David Harmon @373: "rock/paper/scissors values conflict" Yes, possible, but also dangerous!

And also confusing, until one figures out what's going on.

Nancy Lebovitz @374: It's for damn sure not normal in my part of the world. I would regard that as a huge, glowing, red flag, in fact.

#379 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2016, 12:07 PM:

Jacque, #378: Heh. Well, for one thing, remember that this was when I was in college, and still developing my own personality. Secondly, it wasn't an active threat, just a potential one -- and it was enough to make me mentally shift the status of the relationship from "potentially serious" to "okay, he's just Mr. Right Now". There was no reason to make a huge scene right then, because it was just a dark cloud on the horizon; by the time it got close enough to be a problem I'd be long gone.

#380 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2016, 02:48 PM:

Ok, here are some thoughts I had on re-reading the article I linked above, with intent to review.

Pointing out that values and preferences are different things, and that some values are more important than others, is good. I think the author has split it into only three groups (core values, secondary values, preferences) when it's more of a continuum. If a dividing line is needed between dealbreakers and non-dealbreakers in the value set is needed, that works well enough, but it feels incomplete and I didn't see an acknowledgement that it's actually more complicated than three distinct groups.

On values being based on life experience: I would say some yes, some no. As in earlier reply to Jacque, I grew up in a family some of whose values didn't match mine, which points to no. But there are also dealbreakers based on things I've experienced, which may or may not something one could call values but are definitely important. I guess it depends on whether the experience clarified a value that already existed, or not?

Values and boundaries - I think she's wrong here. They're strong when together, but you can have values without boundaries protecting them (and end up unhappy when living contrary to your values) and you can have boundaries around things other than values.

The repetition of dating the same type over and over and expecting something different isn't down to a *lack* of values, I would say. More likely a lack of knowing how to defend those values, and a lack of believing that you're allowed to defend those values. As we've discussed here, people who grow up in dysfunctional families sometimes learn to hide their values as a survival strategy, and unlearning that is hard. The way this whole article is written, it reads to me as if the author, like many people, doesn't know that.

I remembered again yesterday and today that I very rarely show that somebody is making me angry or upset, because that gives the people around me ammo. Including when that means hiding my values. Whether it's evidence that I overreact about things and thus they can dismiss any complaints, or subjects to tease me about, depending on the person, it's information that I'm not comfortable sharing. It's not that far different from having a hard time showing lots of enthusiasm for something I really like - it's material used to tease me with. If I'm in a group that explicitly demonstrates that they really like a thing I can show enthusiasm. I'm *still* reluctant to admit that I write SF unless the people I'm telling have already revealed that they like SF.

Then the thing with beliefs. That confused me. Changing self-esteem changes beliefs changes your values? It may change how energetically you defend or support those values.

So I would say, enough good and useful stuff that I took it in and the stuff that isn't right hit me inside the shields. Some self-help stuff has enough bad advice (often victim blaming, or of the woo-ful "think happy thoughts and all will go well!") that I can stop from taking it in, most of the time.

#381 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2016, 03:41 PM:

Dating the same type over and over can also occur when you don't realize that the problems you keep having are connected with the kind of person you keep dating. That was me in my early 20s -- I was strongly attracted to a particular personality type, and it took 4 or 5 iterations of "I keep having the same fights and the same breakup issues with these guys" before I realized that the fights and breakup issues were intimately connected with some of the personality traits I found attractive.

Once that thought percolated up to the surface, I discovered that even though I still found that personality type attractive, I was much less inclined to get involved with guys who had it -- because I knew how the story was going to end, and I was tired of that.

This wasn't me not defending my values -- I did defend them when push came to shove, because that's what caused the breakups -- but me needing to have enough data points to recognize a recurring pattern.

#382 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2016, 08:58 PM:

the invisible one @380: The repetition of dating the same type over and over and expecting something different isn't down to a *lack* of values, I would say. More likely a lack of knowing how to defend those values, and a lack of believing that you're allowed to defend those values.

Also, being at the stage of not knowing what one's values are. If one is never allowed to make decisions for oneself, or various other violations of agency, it's entirely possible to grow up not knowing what one finds important. (How's that for a pretentious-sounding sentence?)

The other piece of dating the same type over and over, though, I think, goes much deeper even than values. I really like Harville Hendrix's Imago theory. Briefly, as we shape ourselves to our care-givers as we grow up (that old social primate matching thing again), portions of our innateness are supressed. We're attracted to people who rub those suppressions, as a way of getting at them and actualizing those potentials.

When we do it successfully, the "type" we're attracted to (and the attraction is, in my observation, almost at a visceral level—I don't think there are any higher functions at all driving it) shifts over time. When we fail to do it, we've still got that itch, even when we've left the last romantic interest, so we go for the same "type" again. In a lot of ways, it doesn't have anything to do with values at all; it's much more basic than that.

So I would say, enough good and useful stuff that I took it in and the stuff that isn't right hit me inside the shields.

Yeah, that's definitely a skill it took me a while (and on which I'm still working!) to develop: just because something someone (an Authority*) says makes sense, doesn't mean everything they say works. It can be tricky sorting through the discrepencies, but it sounds like you got a solid filter running, even if it's sometimes a little late to the game. :-)

* I'm also a lot pickier about on whom I will bestow the status of Authority. Which continues to get me into no end of trouble with my chain-of-command at work.

#383 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2016, 02:55 PM:

One Week Later...

Everyone: again, thank you for the hugs and sympathies and such; they are much appreciated!

W/R/T locks on the bedroom door--I'd love to, but our bathroom is the only place we can put the litter boxes and cat food/water, so the door has to stay open to accommodate them. We're seriously considering a webcam, since my computer is also in the bedroom. However, the meds in question now live in my purse, and my purse stays within arm's-reach, no matter which room I'm in. And we have lock-changing on the schedule for the day after she moves out.

Sister has been spending a great deal of her time somewhere else; she was home over the weekend, but didn't interact with us at all. Wednesday, I asked her not to move our laundry out of the dryer, but to ask one of us and we'd take care of it. She called me 'petty' for it; the way I see it, I'm reducing the possibility that she's going to make good on her threat to make us miserable. Needless to say, she's not entitled to my trust anymore. (And I will note that I am respecting the same condition regarding her clothes; she left wet clothes in the washer yesterday, and when I saw her at lunch, I politely asked her to move them.)

Most communications at this point, I think, are going to go through email or text. I texted her Friday to tell her that she needed to pay the rent that night, and to my surprise, she did. I think Wednesday was the last time she actually spoke real words to me; yesterday she barely even grunted to acknowledge me.

In the meantime, she's not eating at home, she's spending easily half of her nights somewhere else; I'm okay with this. She's not bothering us on the nights she is home, and it's blissfully quiet the nights she's gone. She has 54 days and counting. Niece, meanwhile, is still trying to spend what time she can with us, still comes over to say 'hi' and give us hugs and kisses and tell us about her day, and in general does not seem to care what her mother says about us.

And I honestly don't care what she says about me; the people who know both of us are fully apprised of the situation, and those who don't aren't in a position to cause me problems.

And catching up...

Bodhisvaha #347: Sweet fancy Moses! I am so sorry you're having to go through that. Judge B needs to be fired; the last time I checked, actually reading and acting on the information one is given is part of the job description.

I hope you get a favorable result soon from Judge C; you guys deserve to have something go right in this process for once!

Lee #349: My father was ex-military, expected us to call him 'Sir', and enforced it with yelling and beatings. So, random data point supporting your thesis.

Nancy #374: Count me in on the expressions of horror. Compromise is generally not defined as "You do everything with me, whether you want to or not, and I'll decide if I want to do something that you want to."

#384 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2016, 03:14 PM:

#381, Lee: I see. So add in a lack of knowing which behaviours are violating which values. Still not about a lack of values.

#382, Jacque: We're attracted to people who rub those suppressions, as a way of getting at them

I don't understand. I read the link as well. I'm not sure I follow the premises that page's explanation is built on, even. Especially the parts about how a relationship is a power struggle. If it's saying "this is how a bad relationship works and this therapy is supposed to help you get away from that" then I'm not seeing it. It seems instead to be saying "this is how relationships work and this therapy is supposed to help you use that to your advantage" well ... screw that, I'd rather stay single for the rest of my life. Seems to me if we date people who match the profile of the people who suppressed parts of us to begin with, it would reinforce the suppression, not release it.

just because something someone (an Authority*) says makes sense, doesn't mean everything they say works

I've noticed I already do the opposite. If somebody says or recommends a thing I know is wrong, I dismiss everything they say. Missed early signs of a health problem in my cat that way... the blood work results that were relevant and important came after a few things (such as "give him some antibiotics just in case, no, I don't know if there's a bacterial infection, oh yes haha *some* people *believe* that's not a good idea...") that made me stop listening to the vet entirely, smile and nod through the rest of what he told me while trying to end the appointment and get to the exit and go looking for a different one.

I think it depends on whether they combine something that registers as right or wrong with the things I'm not sure about. And possibly how much importance I put on the various right or wrong things. Also probably depends on how much I believe my own assessment of how right *my* knowledge is. If it's science based, I can be very confident about what I know and don't know; but if it's an assessment of what my feelings are, or whether something is my problem or my fault or something about myself that I have to work on, I have really low confidence in my own knowledge.

#385 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2016, 06:35 PM:

Jacque #382: We're attracted to people who rub those suppressions, as a way of getting at them

That sounds like "I haz a hammer" theorizing, where the "suppressions" are the hammer.

An alternative explanation (surely one of many): OK, start with "we shape ourselves to our care-givers", which seems obvious. That leaves imprints in our personality, and we're looking for people and relationships that match those imprints -- our personal "missing piece". But as we grow and gain self-awareness, we can change parts of our personality, recognizing and healing some of those collected imprints. And if we do that, the pattern which made those imprints doesn't actually fit us anymore.

#386 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2016, 08:58 PM:

the invisible one, #384: Seems to me if we date people who match the profile of the people who suppressed parts of us to begin with, it would reinforce the suppression, not release it.

That's kind of a "yes and no". The more-common explanation is that you can be drawn to the same kinds of people who messed you up in an attempt to "make it come out right" this time. Unsurprisingly, this trick almost never works, and you end up with what you said instead.

#387 ::: Nancy Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2016, 09:14 PM:

I dated someone similar to my mother (with whom I had a fraught relationship) for a few years. I remember thinking about the ways he was like Mom, and thinking, "And this time, I'm going to win!"

We broke up because the relationship wasn't working - there were a lot of things wrong there. I suppose that I won, by taking care of myself, and leaving a relationship that was not and could not be healthy.

#388 ::: Quietly Learning To Be Loud ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2016, 06:59 PM:

It's been a while since I was here. When I read Making Light, I read all of it. The Sad and Rabid Puppy debacle required more spoons than I had. Now that spoons have increased, and the puppies have been sent elsewhere, I'm back. I just finished reading the last three Dysfunctional Family threads.

First: witnessing. You've survived quite a lot.

Second: Reading three threads in one gulp displayed quite well our support for each other, and how we've grown. Having a safe place to vent, and be supported therein, shows in subtle positive changes in phrasing over time.

Lee #368

"The day we get engaged is the day you quit the SCA for good."

Sometimes the clues are huge.

I dated a guy for a while that seemed to be projecting his ex on to me. One day he said "That's not like you." erm. We'd been dating four weeks at that point. Along with some other clues, I realized we had a communication problem. So I worked to find common communication ground. And found out he honestly expected me to read his mind. "My intent matters." oh. That explained so much (like why he spent to much time after I misunderstood or got upset explaining that uncommunicated intent). B'bye.

I emailed Mr Intent Matters a list of problems, because I wanted to see how he'd take them apart(*), in the format of "I feel A when you do B because C." What I got back kept any back brain "try again" message from ever voicing again.

"If given the opportunity, I will tell you where your feelings are wrong."

Done. I walked away from the best sex ever.
He ranted at me in email for about six months. I read them to check for any indications of stalkerish behavior. Nope. Just whining. I never answered, and he finally ran down.

Sometimes the clues are huge.

(*) I stopped doing this years ago, because most times, the person getting the list takes each one apart, and misses the pattern of behavior the collection outlines.

#389 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2016, 02:50 AM:

Quietly Learning To Be Loud @388: "If given the opportunity, I will tell you where your feelings are wrong." Wow... just, wow!

#390 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2016, 05:36 AM:

dcb@389: In a similar context, the reply I got that made me walk away without a second thought was "It's up to you to prove why I should care."

#391 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2016, 10:48 AM:

Therapy is hard. Very important, very useful, but hard. :(

(thus ends your weekly context-less remark. :P )

#392 ::: hope in disguise ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2016, 02:40 PM:

Some of you may be familiar with the phenomenon whereby a person who appears outwardly to be thoroughly decent will claim that actually they're a horrible human being, cheerfully evil in fact, quite the terrible friend. Some such people, in my experience, do turn out to be nasty, but some keep right on appearing thoroughly decent. It's a bit disquieting and I never know what to do: should I carry on treating my friend as I did before? Should I be on guard and not allow them to get closer? Are they just being insecure and self-sabotaging?

Along those lines, my partner claims to be Chaotic Evil, in the D&D sense. But he appears to be generally polite, good-natured, kind and patient towards those close to him, and so on. He also claims to have no emotions but acts like he likes me an awful lot and isn't sure how to deal with it. It is very possibly anxiety-brain talking but I am not sure how to tell if he's just a highly repressed person with positive emotions leaking out all over, or a terrifyingly good actor and sociopath. :( I'm already unsure enough of my ability to read people accurately, especially when I am potentially blinded by "but I love him!" Not sure what to do.

#393 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2016, 04:51 PM:

Hope in disguise, since you're already experiencing anxiety and awkwardness, I think you have little to lose by sharing it. Perhaps asking bluntly would clarify the situation. "When you say that you are a terrible person who shouldn't be allowed around others, what do you mean exactly? What reaction do you expect from me?" "Do you have evidence that you are chaotic evil?" "When I hear things like that, I end up freaked out and second-guess myself to oblivion. If you don't want me to cut you off forever, could you stop saying so?"

But I have solid relationships and would still be very nervous about doing that. In less solid situations, I expect it would be more stressful. I offer the advice because it might change the situation that is already bad.

#394 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2016, 10:17 PM:

Hope in disguise, I was strongly reminded of this post: http://www.aspiestrategy.com/2014/04/adults-on-spectrum-and-ted-bundy.html

I don't mean to diagnose on the Internet, but I suspect that thought pattern isn't necessarily limited to people on the spectrum anyway, though they might be subject to thinking that way for different reasons than other people.

#395 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2016, 11:52 AM:

<rant>Entirely trivial compared to what most folks are dealing with here, but local sports-ball team has occassioned much local head-splodey hysteria by going to national  national marketing blitz money suck  big-deal sports ball thing. Said hysteria has, of course, taken over the population of my local office. My bitch is that I find this all very irritating and triggery, owing to early, very unpleasant experiences/associations with the whole sports ball obsession of family members and school. ::growl:: </rant>

#396 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2016, 05:17 PM:

*sigh* why do I keep doing this to myself? Every time I read or see something "for women" or "that women like" I am left only with the sense of further evidence that I'm not actually a woman, and yet I keep reading them.

Maybe it's the hope that somebody somewhere will talk about something "for women" that actually appeals to me. Or even talks about something "for women" that doesn't apply to me by saying "some women" or "many women" instead of "women", thus acknowledging that maybe I am a woman who exists, instead of having the implicit "all" -- with the fallback position of "well of course not *all*, I didn't say *all* women" if it's brought to their attention.

(Prompted by a piece about "women's fantasies" which is all about romance novels, and is entirely made up of things I hate about the genre.)

#397 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2016, 06:27 PM:

Jacque, #395: I don't consider that trivial at all. Having worked in an office with a cow-orker who had all of my mother's triggering phrases and mannerisms, I know exactly how much it interferes with your ability to work effectively -- and you can't complain about it because of course it doesn't bother anyone else!

the invisible one, #396: When I see one of those articles, I always mentally insert the word "stereotypical" in front of the word "women". Yes, you're a woman, but you don't fit the popular media stereotype. Neither do I -- but I see that as largely a source of amusement, with occasional frustration when it becomes obvious that the stereotype is based on institutionalized sexism. I suppose it helps that almost none of my female friends fit the stereotype either, so I have no reason to consider myself abnormal; it's the stereotype itself that I consider abnormal, being made up of a constellation of traits that almost no woman displays ALL of.

The over-generalizing use of a broad term in a context where it's easy to point out exceptions is, unfortunately, common to virtually everyone; it's a standard English idiom, and training yourself not to do it takes time and effort, and still sometimes fails. I saw a huge argument about this elseNet a few days ago, where the term involved was "self-published authors".

This is where the usage #notallX proves itself useful for more than just mocking apologists; it can also be deployed as a way to remind people that they're overgeneralizing.

#398 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2016, 06:42 PM:

Perhaps you could reframe it that people who write about 'women' are clearly not experienced enough in the wide variety of people who can be labeled as such, and isn't it helpful of them to so clearly mark their articles as clueless?

It is frustrating, though, to have it constantly reinforced that you are not performing your identity properly in the eyes of the article. In my experience, though, the biggest difference between 'women' and 'men' is that a group of women are much more likely to talk about birth control than a group of men. Everything else, I figure, is group-dependent.

#399 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2016, 07:13 PM:

the invisible one @396: Heh. I think I did conclude, at a very early age, that I'm not "a woman," for just precisely the reasons you cite. (By contrast, I'm not "a man" for the same reasons.)

I'm okay with being "a person," though there are days I have my doubts about that, too.

#400 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2016, 08:33 PM:

I guess it's also building on a lifetime of not fitting in and being told I'm Doin It Rong; kind of hitting me in a sore spot. Nope, you don't belong here either! haha!

I know it's lazy writing. I know overgeneralizing is a common thing.

I know I shouldn't read those things because they don't do anything good for my happiness levels, and neither do they teach me anything new that might make it worth spending time on a not-happy thing.

#401 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2016, 09:02 PM:

the invisible one: Nevertheless, there is a low-grade, background radiation of "you don't fit" and "ur doin it rong" in the popular culture—primarily driven, in my not particularly humble opinion, by the advertizing industry. After all, if you're happy with who you are, what need do you have of their products and services?

My solution to that has always been to cast the side-eye on those who scorn me for not being [what I don't want to be anyway]. But that's much harder if you are struggling to chart your own course. The blare of the neon (if you'll pardon my overworking the metaphor) can make it all the harder to see your own stars.

#402 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2016, 09:34 PM:

Yeah, still struggling with that, hence the hurt, and the earlier discussions about how much of different things I've read should I actually believe, and...

About you being upset about the sports frenzy? Don't let anyone tell you you're overreacting, they don't know the history behind that sore spot they just poked.

#403 ::: J. ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2016, 11:52 PM:

@the invisible one no. 396: It's hen dope. That's an old newspaper term for stuff that (male) content controllers would just throw in there to keep the ladies contented. It was notorious for lack of fact checking and general inanity. Good Housekeeping was explicitly founded to give women something to read that spoke to the interests of the (then) homemaking majority without any hen dope, hence their in-house product testing department and so on.

But hen dope is still with us. It isn't even what keeps ladies contented...it's what advertisers think keeps ladies contented, therefore what they will pay to support.

I suppose one of the back-handed benefits of being constantly bullied at home and at school was that I gave up on ever fitting in and just read what I liked, whether it was girly or not. Most of it wasn't.

#404 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2016, 08:24 AM:

I bought my first smartphone a month ago. I brought my husband along because he's responsible for buying the cell phones for his company, so he knows the ins and outs and traps and tricks. He'd done the research, knew what was available and for how much. Good thing, too.

It was a horrific experience. We'd've walked out if we hadn't been on a tight timeline. The guy lied to us about phone availability ("you can't buy that; you can only rent it." "Then why is there a buy-it-now price on the sheet posted here?"), price ("This one is cheaper." "Then why does the sheet posted right here show that it's $100 more?"), and plans ("This is our cheapest plan...." "The sign behind you shows a plan that costs half as much and does exactly what we want.") When he got the phone out of the safe ("We don't have that model in stock." "Go check.") he came out with one black one and one white one. He started to hand me the white phone, saying "women like the white one."

Now, at that point, if he'd said water was wet I would have demanded a second opinion. I just gave him a level look, and said "No, thank you, I want the black one." I hadn't actually had an opinion until he'd flat-out told me what I thought...

Cassy

#405 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2016, 08:52 AM:

The first car my husband and I bought together, which was probably 35 years ago so one would hope that things have improved in that time, one of the first salesmen we saw discussed things like gas mileage with him and wanted to show me the lighted makeup mirror on the passenger side sunshade. We didn't buy a car from that dealership. But we do still use his phrase "I'm talking about a super deal," with a particular ironic inflection.

#406 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2016, 09:10 AM:

OtterB, I've had that happen, too. My first car, my parents drove me to the dealership (after all, I needed transportation). The dealer gave his pitch to my folks, turned to me, and say, "And what color would you like, dear?"

I walked out. Didn't walk into a Subaru dealership again for thirty years.

To the phone salesman's credit(?), he was equal-opportunity sleezy. He lied to my husband as much as to me.... (Thank ghu my husband actually buys cellphones and cellphone plans as part of his job description.) At the end of this excruciating experience, after we'd pointed out to his face that he was wrong about every single thing he'd told us... he gave us his card and asked us to recommend him to our friends.

(I got a "rate your experience" email from Sprint. I rated it, by God...)

#407 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2016, 09:56 AM:

OtterB @ 405

Heh. The first time I went shopping for a car on my own (well, sans father, I had a female friend with me) the salesman (on the first car) kept pointing out things like electric seats, radio/music options, cruise control, etc. until I popped the hood. He came to a stuttering halt. After I pointed out it was low on radiator fluid, he started in on construction and the like.

My friend had to walk away, so she wouldn't laugh in his face. I didn't buy from that dealer.

#408 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2016, 12:00 PM:

the invisible one @402: About you being upset about the sports frenzy? Don't let anyone tell you you're overreacting, they don't know the history behind that sore spot they just poked.

Thank you for the reassurance. It does help to hear. Fortunately, I largely managed to keep my discomfort to myself, though I confess I've surreptitiously caused memorabilia posted in the break room to "fall down." Blessedly, there's only one person in my orbit who's shown a tendancy to tell me how I "should" feel about things. Also, blessedly, I've mostly managed to keep her at a distance such that I've only had to explicitly tell her to step off once. I've got my clue-by-four handy, though, should I need it.

#409 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2016, 01:10 PM:

Cassy, #404: Did you post a review on Yelp? After an experience like that, I certainly would have -- with the salesman's name included! Filling out Sprint's internal feedback survey attacks the problem from one direction. Posting a public review attacks it from a different one.

#410 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2016, 02:05 PM:

Lee @409, never occurred to me. I'll do that forthwith. Thanks! (I wasn't cheated because I quite literally had a professional phone-buyer with me; I can't assume anyone else will have that advantage.)

#411 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2016, 02:10 PM:

Hit post too soon.

The ludicrous part of the whole thing was all the prices and plans were posted, prominently. He was literally telling us one thing while we were looking at prominently displayed sales brochures that said the opposite in big bold letters. I felt like I was in the middle of a bad comedy sketch or something.

#412 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2016, 02:35 PM:

In the BTDT department -- last time we needed a new refrigerator, Jan and I went to our local appliance store and did our usual 'good cop, bad cop' routine. All we wanted was a fridge/freezer combo, no bells, no whistles...

I finally had to TELL the salesman that we weren't interested in having an ice-maker, water-in-the-door, etc. because they cost an arm and a leg to repair when they break. The guy looked at me like I'd sprouted two heads.

#413 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2016, 02:47 PM:

Cassy, #411: That's definitely something to mention. I would also include the examples you've posted here of what he was lying to you about, literally underneath the sign that said otherwise. And that he tried to tell you what color you wanted. The more specifics your review includes, the more seriously people will take it when they look.

Lori, #412: Furthermore, it's no longer possible to find the wire racks meant to hold 2 ice-cube trays inside the freezer (which are kind of necessary to keep Stuff from piling up on top of them) because everybody is assumed to have the ice dispenser in the door now. Fortunately, my partner has welding equipment and could fix our rack when it broke, because there was not one to be had anywhere in the city.

#414 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2016, 03:19 PM:

Cassy B.: I am, crusty and cynical though I may be, unfortunately vulnerable to that sort of thing. Growing up in an alcoholic household, one has to decide which one will believe? What one sees? Or what one is told? Unfortunately for me, for the sake of survival, I had to go with what I was told. That reflex persists, compounded by a "don't make waves" inhibition. So dealing with that salesman, I might very well have caved....

#415 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2016, 03:21 PM:

Lee, next time you're in the Denver metro area, check McGuckin's.

#416 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2016, 04:14 PM:

me @414: ...or maybe not. Just had a go-round at work where trainer said B when boss (I though) had said A. I voiced a challenge; turns out I was right. Whew!

#417 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2016, 06:29 PM:

Jacque @416, go you!

#418 ::: nCnC ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2016, 01:38 PM:

Well, that didn't work.

Reverting to a pseud here. Staff at my office received a notice from HR reporting that we were being investigated for "unlawful discrimination," and that some or all of the staff will be interviewed to gather information about this. "Timeframe to be determined. Don't discuss this with your coworkers."

That's all the letter said (though with copious wordage).

My reaction to this has been to use this as a chance for self-evaluation: I've reviewed in my mind members of our staff, and made estimates of what kinds of discrimination they could be vulnerable to, and then checked (my perception of) my own behavior against that estimate. Far as I can tell, I can't think of anything I might have done that would prompt this sort of insitutional response. If not, this will be an opportunity to Learn Something New. So I in myself have been approaching this whole thing with an attitude of interest and curiosity.

A coworker has expressed a huge amount of "annoyance" (fear, based on nonverbals) about this at our staff meeting. This person is someone I generally have a pretty good relationship with. This person's anxiety has also provoked anxiety in me. So I made an attempt to share with them some of my thinking about how to mitigate the anxiety this situation has caused.

Nope, nuh-uh, not having any of it. "I want facts. Do you have facts?" (Fist slamming into palm implied.)

It took me a couple of rounds to figure out that there was no chance of my getting through with anything that would be of any use to anybody. (Coworker is clearly in fight-or-flight mode, with all capacity focused on the anxiety-causing stimulus, with no attention free for anything else.) So I finally stepped off, "Sorry to have bothered you."

And went back to my desk feeling much worse than when I'd gone in.

Reasonably speaking, I don't think I did anything wrong, but this is clearly one of those situations where more listening should have preceded speaking, and the speaking perhaps best left out altogether. Note to self....

#419 ::: J ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2016, 07:49 PM:

@nCnC: Witnessing. And don't forget that we can't always figure out how other people will react before they do.

Speaking of reactions, I'm second-guessing myself here. A member of my parish--I'll call him Joel--has a mental illness that requires medication and also tends to make him think that he doesn't need it or it's really part of a big conspiracy against him. When he's on his meds, he walks and walks. When he's off his meds, he walks and walks and also says passive-aggressive nasty things to the air when passing people, yells bad words at somebody he's arguing with in his head, and looks mad. We just leave him alone when he's like that because he won't actually attack anybody and trying to engage with him just gets him madder. If he is actually scaring people, the police, who know him, will roll up and let him know that he needs to pick a sidewalk with no people on it.

Well, the other day he looked sad and scared and seemed compelled to keep his arms moving at shoulder level or higher, and he was walking around like that in the cold rain. So I called the police for a welfare check.

And now I'm wondering whether I should have just left it alone. He gets so upset when people notice his abnormal behavior; it feeds into his paranoia and I also think that on some level he's embarrassed. But he looked so sad.

#420 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2016, 08:53 PM:

J, I think you did the right thing. Sometimes I make decisions based on what the worst consequence could be of each choice. Worst consequence of you calling for a welfare check: Joel is more paranoid about people seeing him and is upset that someone noticed his behavior. Worst consequence of you ignoring the situation: Joel genuinely needs help and doesn't get it, possibly is harmed by his behavior. I'd much prefer to be wrong in the first way than in the second.

#421 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2016, 03:23 AM:

J @419:

I agree with Diatryma, particularly since the police know him, and he knows them.

Hopefully either after the initial embarrassment has faded (if he's actually OK) or after his medications are back in balance (if he's not), he'll see the call as what it was: an expression of concern.

I was in a parish with someone in much the same circumstances. It's hard, and even knowing that it's usually even harder on them doesn't make it easier. Thank you for caring, though.

#422 ::: nCnC ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2016, 06:12 PM:

J: we can't always figure out how other people will react before they do.

I point I often forget; thank you for pointing that out.

#423 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2016, 06:13 PM:

J @420: WRT the wellfare check call, I agree with Diatryma and abi. And, further, it's great that there's the "wellfare check" frame to put it into.

#424 ::: J ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2016, 12:22 AM:

Saw my call on the police report in the paper; he's OK. Or he was then.

#425 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2016, 10:29 PM:

Group therapy, for me, is kind of like massage therapy. It hurts at the time (though you don't notice because you're talking with the therapist ;) but it does amazing amounts of good.

I feel like one of my legendary knots has been worked out. I don't need to be angry any more. The anger has served its (very important, even critical) purpose - but I don't *need* it any more. I've set the boundaries, and learned to enforce them. I've individuated to the point where I'm not fragile any more. I don't need the anger any more.

Also, there is no blame. I no longer blame Mom for the mess she made, but neither do I accept the lessons she taught me, or the blame for learning them.

I'm torn between laughter and tears. But I feel so light...

#426 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2016, 11:28 PM:

Chickadee, #425: Go you! Yay for progress!

#427 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2016, 01:17 PM:

Chickadee (425): Wonderful! So good to hear.

#428 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2016, 08:04 PM:

Well. I've heard mentioned a few times around here that Miles and Ekaterin were an example of a good relationship in fiction. Been reading through the Vorkosigan books.

Just met Ekaterin. Ouch. So many points of recognition. But I know it gets better for her because you all said it did. So I am wondering how, now, and reading on. (And, hoping it doesn't get better because she's rescued by Miles. I hope she rescues herself, dammit.)

#429 ::: Statistical Outlier ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2016, 10:26 AM:

One of my families of choice, and it's a large one, is very dysfunctional. They've codified, enforced and reinforced an abusive to outsiders culture. It's not really racism or sexism or any other -ism, except by accident. The really tricky part of it is they advertise themselves as being open and friendly and inclusive. It's really the ultimate bait and switch.

Being part of the group was like being in an abusive marriage. There were some verbal attacks, but most of it was gaslighting. Some of it was deliberate. Some of it accidental -- as in "that's not MY experience" and the automatic assumption that a different experience is somehow either wrong or a lie.

I just found out someone else who has experienced similar abuse is now publicly shaming the group in social media. This is mostly because the individual is going back to the group.

Me, I used to live in Omelas. I emigrated there thinking it was a place I could live in, love and be loved. I've been walking away for some time now. Grief is a very long road to travel. Especially when you get missives from home.

#430 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2016, 02:42 PM:

the invisible one @428: I hope she rescues herself, dammit.

*snerk* ::secretive grin::

(Ah, to be reading those for the first time.... ::sigh::)

#431 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2016, 03:39 PM:

#430, Jacque: Well that sounds promising :)

#432 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2016, 03:50 PM:

Statistical Outlier @429, witnessing. It sounds like you're grieving for what you had, and also for what you thought you had but realized wasn't real. Both are painful.

#433 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2016, 07:00 PM:

Please hold my partner and his family in your thoughts, and in your prayers if that is something you do. We are all going to be acting out August: Osage County except it is the Abigail Breslin character who died. But all the characters and the dysfunctional family issues will be there. The funeral is Friday morning and I am not expecting everyone to be on their best behavior.

By the way, "Abigail" (our niece) saw the movie and agreed that it was like her family.

#434 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2016, 07:38 PM:

Allan Beatty, <hugs> if welcome.

#435 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2016, 08:00 PM:

Allan, #433: Wishing that you all get thru the funeral with as little stress and drama as possible.

#436 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2016, 09:49 PM:

Alan Beatty @433, prayers aimed in the direction of your partner and family.

#437 ::: Statistical Outlier ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2016, 09:29 AM:

Allan @ 433

My sympathies and prayers. Never saw the movie, but my imagination can come up with plenty on it's own.

#438 ::: Statistical Outlier ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2016, 09:58 AM:

Otter B @432

What's really painful is that some of them are as advertised. Some of them aren't. It wasn't all abuse all the time. That only started when I began to say "that's wrong. Stop doing that. Do this, or this other thing instead." However nobody with a lifetime investment in Omelas wants to rock the boat -- or have the boat rocked on them. What's causing me the most pain is the person going back. They have hope that what they're doing will change things - hopefully for the positive. Been there, done that, got some of the T-shirts plus a couple of nice parting gifts, too.

Now I feel obligated to get back in the fight. My sense of self-preservation tells me to keep walking. My sense of right and wrong tells me I need to provide backup. I know for a fact there are some people in Omelas who want to free that child and take their chances with fate.

I'm tired.

I just got my emotional feet back under me. I've got some of my mental stamina back. Not all, but some. I don't want to fight, but I can't see any other choice. I know what my blood family will say. Ditto for my closest friends. They will want me to keep walking. They were the ones who asked me to leave Omelas in the first place, but supported my need to finish what I'd started.

#439 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2016, 03:44 PM:

(Not directed at anyone/anything particular)

I ran across something a couple weeks ago that was both obvious and helpful, so I thought I'd share it in hopes others would find it so also.

"What, other than being agreed with, would convince you that you've been heard."

(Yes, some people in my life don't distinguish "getting what I want" and "being listened to and loved" at all well.)

#440 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2016, 08:23 PM:

SamChevre@439:
That is very much like one of the points which made me finally realize I genuinely could not work things out and had to break up with my ex-, even though she's not a bad person and even though we had many similar interests and values.

When we were in marriage counseling with a good counselor, we had a kind of refereed discussion about some area of disagreement between us - I no longer recall the specific topic - and I kept hearing from her "You're being abusive to me!" for expressing my disagreement, any disagreement, with her viewpoint, however nicely I tried to express it. Finally with the counselor coaching both of us, it got down to my asking, "OK, suppose I genuinely disagree about this on a fundamental level - how can I express that disagreement with you in a way that you wouldn't consider abusive?" She thought for a while and said, "Well, you could tell me 'You're basically completely right, and I only disagree about a little detail.'" I boggled, and the counselor visibly boggled, and there was really no place to take it from there. (Once it had finally been laid out that clearly, that seemed to explain so much about so many of our past conflicts...)

#441 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2016, 12:02 PM:

Wow. Somebody who basically regards all disagreement to be "abusive" is going to have a tough row to hoe in this world....

This prompts the question: did she have this attitude toward you, only? Or did she expect the whole world to agree with her?

#442 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2016, 08:54 PM:

She did have (has) a tough row to hoe, in that respect and also in many others....

To answer your question I am certainly not the only person she had a lot of problems with, or who had problems with her, particularly in the working world. I'm not going to say much more about that here because I don't want to get into picking on her. I've been in a much happier and healthier relationship for a long time now, it's lasting really well, and she is where she is.

#443 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2016, 12:24 PM:

Ack, Miles, no.

M: "I want this woman!" E: "Nope, not marrying again ever." M: "I will earn her friendship and respect and then she will fall in love with me!"

No, Miles, just no. *shudder*. Not a particularly good start to that book.

It astounds me sometimes that there are people who haven't figured out that one of the really big obstacles to a woman and a man being friends, it's this. When the man is acting like a friend to the woman because he's trying to have a girlfriend instead of a friend. Why do people do this? It's a really crap thing to do.

#444 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2016, 01:17 PM:

Yeah, the only way he could have rescued that debacle was, "If in a year or three or ten you feel somewhat interested in possibly forming a closer connection, you'll already be familiar with my family, who can be a little, um, intense. And if not, hey, you'll have an excellent business network. Because I purely hate seeing amazing talent go to waste."

Mark might have been able to pull that off on a good day. Miles...nope.

#445 ::: Jeanie ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2016, 01:29 PM:

the invisible one:
Ack, Miles, no.

Knowing Bujold's history, Miles' being off-center on this is almost certainly meant to be noticed, and not necessarily favorably.

#446 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2016, 02:14 PM:

With all the recommendations I've seen for the series, I'm really hoping this is deliberate and he'll learn better. But at the point in the story I'm at now and knowing that they do end up in a relationship, I'm a bit leery.

I also found the younger Miles stories kind of off-putting -- fun adventures, but he lied WAY too easily for me to trust him as a person or a character. He does seem to be growing up, though.

#447 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2016, 02:31 PM:

the invisible one, #443: I concur with Jeanie; that part of the story is intended as a cautionary tale to that sort of man, and is repeatedly lampshaded as such. Have you gotten to the part where Aral and Cordelia explain to him (using the Socratic method so that he reaches the conclusion on his own account) exactly how badly he screwed up?

Also, you are really, really going to hate reading the dinner party scene. I skip that part when I'm re-reading the book. Just as a warning.

Why do guys do that? I think in part it's because that's one of the standard tropes of movie and TV fiction, and even of some SF stories. They internalize the idea that just because they're Nice Guys(tm), they're entitled to have the pretty girl fall in love with them, and if she doesn't, the fault is with her, not with them. There's an entire huge online conversation about this topic; try Googling for the phrase "phony nice guy".

#448 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2016, 02:57 PM:

the invisible one @ 443, 446:
If you've read the earlier books, remember right at the beginning of Memory, when Miles is reasoning to himself that it would be a great idea to just lie about having seizures, and to try to cover up the fact that he maimed and nearly killed the subject of a rescue mission?

It's like that. It's a whole lot like that, and it works out about as well as that did.

#449 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2016, 03:47 PM:

You are being very reassuring! No, I have not reached the explanation part; Aral and Cordelia are still off planet and Miles has only just come up with this scheme. I should have known that as soon as Cordelia found out about it she would have something pointed to say about it. Now I know this is deliberate and I can read it as commentary or satire, instead of straight, which will make it a lot less icky.

And yeah, I'm familiar with the Nice Guy (TM) thing. Why do people do this? is more expressing frustration than anything. That and other toxic relationship standard "romantic" tropes are a big reason why I generally despise the romance genre. I enjoyed most of the Courtney Milan books I read so far though. Except for the Midwinter one, that one was ick ick ick nope. I thought long and hard about picking up the one after it, which was fortunately not icky and I enjoyed.

Alas, Memory is one of the books I don't have access to right now. I'm working my way through the CD that came with Cryoburn (and which has survived the public library system! so far, at least) and that one isn't included. That does explain why there was so much that seemed to have happened "off stage" between "Mirror Dance" and "Komarr".

#450 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2016, 05:05 PM:

Re. the dinner party scene. Lee, it's good to know I'm not the only one. I skipped that I think the second to about sixth or seventh times I read the book.
the invisible one: Miles is set to learn some lessons the hard way. (And I'm tempted to say more but I won't, 'cos spoilers).

#451 ::: cyllan ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2016, 06:52 PM:

I skip the dinner scene regularly as well, and Civil Campaign is one of my most re-read books.

#452 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2016, 07:07 PM:

We got back from the funeral (re my comment at #433). The deceased's ex-husband was sober. Nobody hit me up for a share of the funeral expenses. (I'll offer discreetly next month.) Bad behavior was limited to the families quietly gossiping amongst themselves about each other, including a lot of hillbilly-shaming. (I learned that term here at Making Light, and having the label helps me recognize the pattern. So thank you all for the insights you've shared here over the years, especially in the dysfunctional family threads.)

#453 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2016, 08:08 PM:

the invisible one @446: With all the recommendations I've seen for the series, I'm really hoping this is deliberate and he'll learn better.

Heh. The phrase "The Mallet of Loving Kindness" comes to mind. Be warned that you may have some difficulty with A Civil Campaign (specifically, the dinner party scene.) If it helps any, Miles is ultimately, um, "well educated" by the end.

Lee @447: Why do guys do that?

Having observed this dynamic IRL, I think it's also a symptom of massive anxiety and insecurity on the guys' part. It's a byproduct of the whole Heroism narrative, I think. Deep down, they can't believe that just being themselves is "good enough." They feel they have to somehow "compensate" for their innate inadequacy. (Which is a symptom both of poor self-esteem, and of putting women up on a pedestal* that they feel they can never reach up to by their own merits.)

It's baked in to our cultural narrative. What's really appalling is that (in the wake of the latest round of feminism**) things are generally really much better than they used to be....

* Which in its own right is a sign of othering and objectifying women.
** Dating from, say the late '60s.

the invisible one @449: I have not reached the explanation part

I think that explanation comes after the dinner party scene, both of which are, I believe, in A Civil Campaign.

I actually enjoyed the dinner party scene, but mostly because Bujold has Miles being sooo Miles that it's clear she's giving him a "teachable moment." And also because of the pure craft involved in the writing of it. (I heard her comment that during its writing, she had her kitchen basically wall-papered in postit notes, trying to get all the pieces into the right order.) Also, that's not a squick I'm particularly vulnerable to, thank Ghu (so YMMV).

(I've had guys run variants of that dynamic on me, and I mostly react with a mild side-eye, and moving on with my life.)

Allan Beatty: Condolences, and congratulations(?) on the muted dysfunction during the services. Yeah, it's amazing, isn't it? The tools these threads have made available. Has made my life at work generally much easier to manage, too.

#454 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2016, 08:35 PM:

...Oh yes, and let's not forget Ekaterin's own method of offering Miles the clue-by-four.

#455 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2016, 05:07 PM:

I would say my reaction to Miles' plan is partly "oh no not this trope again", and partly that in all the previous books, Miles got more or less what he wanted (subject to the dramatic tension of "will this setback wreck everything?" and "not everybody survives every battle" of course) with his personality and improvisation driving things to that success.

So I was looking at it from there: Miles plans to do a thing, there are setbacks, Miles succeeds.

Then Miles goes and chooses about the most toxic of the socially acceptable ways to try and get a girlfriend, and I know it will succeed in the end because I know they end up in a relationship at some point, therefore, argh. Glad to hear it's not his original approach that succeeds.

(I am not at all averse to spoilers, especially when they tell me things like, no, this thing that looks bad actually isn't, it's safe to keep reading even though there will be utterly cringe-worthy sections.)

#456 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2016, 07:11 PM:

You really need to acquire (from the library, perhaps?) Memory and read it. That's the book in which Miles is forced to accept that this thing he desperately wants he cannot have, there is nothing he can do to change that, and that it was his own fault because of his prior actions. After that, while there are still occasional backslips, you start to see a much more mature Miles overall. It's a major turning point.

#457 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2016, 08:06 PM:

Yes, I suspected as much. My library doesn't have it, but inter-library loan does. I will get it soonish, then continue reading A Civil Campaign once I finish that. I did notice that Miles seemed a lot more grown-up in Komarr compared to the earlier books.

#458 ::: Melanie the Tongueless ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2016, 12:04 PM:

So.

I've been sitting with a particular trauma, for just over 3 years now. "Walking on" hasn't been working out for me; this is going to be a messy attempt at dislodging the emotion jam.

The incident involved some gaming "buddies", some of whom performed after-the-fact as hellaciously energetic "stormtroopers" protecting the one I call "Original Perpetrator". I've mentioned in previous comments how I had the satisfaction of watching one of the "stormtroopers" blanche badly when I pointed out that she could talk all she wanted about her buyer's remorse with regard to Original Perp, but when they were dealing with the original crisis, he had allies - herself included.

But, this remains a trauma frozen in amber for me; despite my best efforts to "move on". I've taken the time to reread my first attempts at sharing here, and I'm shocked at how little the landscape seems to have changed.

I suppose I shouldn't be too shocked, though - while I have been living (oh yes! throwing myself into activities, projects, achievements, friends, you name it!) this remains like an undigested lump in my gut. Mostly because the rest of the Gamer Gang has... well, never owned up to their own actions in the conflict. I've never had the satisfaction of seeing them pay for their collective and individual actions (or non-actions); certainly they never lost as much as I did, even before I had to walk away at least to the extent that I have.

However, they have been occasionally attempting contact, either after a chance encounter on the street (it's not a large town, here) or, occasionally at the same martial arts dojo.

(I could insert a bit about one of those achievements being gaining the same rank as the longest-studying of the Gamer Gang; something he possibly remains unaware of as he's been absent, by his account due to a shoulder injury. As it is, I've felt absolutely no desire to formally call his attention to this milestone for me.)

The last thing I want to do is to be in a room with a group of them, pretending social niceties. It's only tempting if I believe that it's a way to gain necessary closure, but... no. The state "closure" includes a number of conditions that I believe are simply impossible, given what I've seen demonstrated again and again by the Gamer Gang. They are deeply mired in the Geek Social Fallacies, with a very large side helping of Missing Stair. The only way I would interact voluntarily with any of them would be one at a time, with my own witness present at the conversation, in a public place. (Unless they want to pay for my lawyer, and meet in his/her office....)

One of the painful aspects is that the incident involved my relationship to creative activities like role-playing and story-telling. It's frelling poisoned the well, is what it's done. Every time I get close to something of my previous activity, with the themes, characters, what have you... the scab rips off and sometimes takes with it something that might have healed a bit before that. I can't even mourn it yet, because there was still so much to tell, and surely there must be some way to "use" that, filing off serial numbers, etc. Except, like a muscle that's been damaged by being pulled too much, I get too close and, *ping*!

Meh. I keep trying to find a resting place, a conclusion, and end up telling myself maybe I don't know what I want. Except, I do know what I want, I just also know that a lot of it is just not going to happen.

I had a kick-ass faux apology, written in the fiery heat of when the Gamer Gang were all insisting that I was the one who had to apologize for bad behavior; it was based on Sheridan's apology in B5, you know the one he never actually got to deliver. (Heh, that tracks, if I think about it...) But, I might want to share that somewhere a little less publicly searchable, like my G+ account.

Hmmm, that's a thought.

*Sigh* I don't know. Sure, I'll go share that "apology" over on G+, but as for the rest? For getting the log-jam to clear? *shakes head* I just don't know. I'm just so tired of continually batting away the flashbacks like some kind of persistent fly, and feeling like a failure because I'm not "over it" yet, and then getting furious because, *censored* it's unreasonable to expect me to be "over" anything because there was never a proper and just reckoning of what those *censored* put me through.

I want to thank abi for her positive encouragement to me to at least try this on a DFD thread. I don't know if I'm ready to do a complete blow-by-blow account, although at some point, I probably want to again, if only to give myself a better understanding of the timeline of the saga. Right now, I'm not even sure I know what I'm asking for - or, it might be, like other things mentioned above, I really do know but have - for whatever reason - concluded that they are beyond current possibilities.

#459 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2016, 02:10 PM:

Melanie, whatever you have to do, do -- should you choose to dump the whole incident, blow by blow here, we will witness, and those who have had similar incidents will possibly have something helpful to say.

I have some things in my past that I know I will never receive an apology from the other party over said incidents, and I've done things I regret that I'll never get to apologize to those people because they're dead. I've learned to live with it, but the longing is still there.

#460 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2016, 04:09 PM:

Venting warning - I'm writing to calm myself down before writing a followup e-mail.

This spring is the first time (since my first semester teaching, several years ago, for that first semester only) that I'll have any form of formal contract. The current system involves a non-binding letter of intent, plus a printout of an internal HR webform to tell us what the pay will be. This is the official system at my institution for hiring contract workers. (!!!)

The new Dean has recognized this is all kinds of bad, so is pushing to get us actual contracts. I won't repeat the details of the first draft contract, but suffice it to say it has enough butt covering to be a diaper.

When I expressed some concern about the contract - like the lack of dates of employment, rate of pay, or details of work expectations - I was told " Ol chggvat fhpu qrgnvyf va gur pbagenpg gurer vf n fyvtug evfx gung qngrf naq bgure qrgnvyf pbhyq or genafpevorq vapbeerpgyl, naq ntnva guvf jbhyq yrnq gb pbashfvba. Ol fvzcyl ersreevat lbh gb CrbcyrFbsg, jr rafher gung gurer vf bayl bar haqvfchgrq fbhepr bs gehgu. " Also, the definition of some (obscure) terminology in the contract is contained in the Collective Agreement (which I'm not sure first-time employees have access to...) so we're expected to do all our own research to find out what we're signing.

So in other words, my only source for any of pay, dates, and job duties is on webservers controlled by my employer, and explicitly not in the contract.

Also, they cannot guarantee the accuracy of their legally binding documents.

WTF, people! (well meaning people, but in a bureaucracy gone wild)

#461 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2016, 04:10 PM:

To clarify - the person I'm corresponding regarding the contract is in the Dean's office, but is not the Dean. She's been a member of the bureaucracy for long enough for the way things are to seem normal.

#462 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2016, 05:29 PM:

Chickadee, #460: I say to you, SCREENSHOTS. Store as files on your own computer, so they'll be date- and time-stamped. That way if things do mysteriously change, you have proof that they were in fact changed and have not been that way all along.

#463 ::: Bodhisvaha ::: (view all by) ::: February 29, 2016, 11:21 AM:

invisible one @455: It will come right in time. Miles succeeds *despite* this approach, not *because* of it. The whole thing is so very Miles -- he quickly sees that knocking on the front door is not going to work, figures out a different approach, and charges madly ahead with it. At some point he gets his nose rubbed how plan B has made an even worse mess of things than plan A would have. He then has to pull things out of the soup...which I recall involves making some very embarrassing apologies?

Also, I think you'll enjoy the scene with Kou, Drou, and the sofa.

Chickadee @460: they think people are going to *sign* that? Screenshots of the HR system (as mentioned by Lee) are a tolerable solution for everyone's concerns, and could be covered in the contract by phrasing such as "pay/dates/duties as shown in Appendix A". How about printing the screenshots with a date/time stamp and getting them signed or initialed by the hiring manager?

#464 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: February 29, 2016, 11:56 AM:

Lee and Bodhisvaha: it's at least still at the trial stage (just using the current form for the spring/summer term courses, before rolling it out to the whole faculty for fall/winter) so there's time to get them to change it.

I've written back (CC'ing the Dean himself) explaining the major problems with their "contract." We'll see how it goes...

Also, it occurred to me yesterday that I'm using my privilege. I'm in a position where we'd be in a tough financial situation should this go south (which I *don't* anticipate) but I'm not *depending* on this income. I have the privilege of being able to walk away if I need to. Most sessionals don't have that. (kids, mortgage, etc) Just like my husband is using his privilege as a well-respected *white male* to address a situation of injustice toward sessionals at his institution. (again, completely unintended, but again, it takes someone bringing it forward) Thinking of it that way helped me to get over the (severe) depression/anxiety attack brought on by the GD tapes of "OMG! Questioning authority! You'll lose your job!!!"

#465 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: February 29, 2016, 11:58 AM:

Also: re: Bodhisvaha @463: Ah, the sofa! That scene was a thing of beauty!!!

#466 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: February 29, 2016, 12:42 PM:

Ooookaaay. So apparently our much-heralded contracts aren't really contracts, and as such aren't legally binding. WTF, people? We're still operating without contracts?!?

#467 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 29, 2016, 01:23 PM:

Lee @462 wrt Chickadee @460: ...though from what Chickadee says, there are no details to change. But* your instinct is right: document, document, document.

Chickadee: My response in that case is to (a) confirm whether or not you can have access to the relevant website and (b) if not, request that they forward to you copies of the relevant information from the website. If they give you any lip about "transcription error"**,*** just calmly, iteratively, and implacably request copies of the relevant pages from the website.

(If you're up to the challenge, it might be worth looking through the school's HR manual, and relevant state employment law, just so you know what info you should have access to.)

Yes, the whole business does seem gratuitously obstructionist. The solution is to gently-but-firmly insist on documentation.

* In the opinion of this Bureaucracy-Whisperer's daughter

** What, are they RNA molecules, now?

*** Nu, they have never heard of copy-and-paste...?

#468 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 29, 2016, 01:24 PM:

Bodhisvaha @463: which I recall involves making some very embarrassing apologies?

"Abject," is the approach Aral suggests.

#469 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 29, 2016, 01:55 PM:

Re Miles and ACC

Ilona Andrews has an amusing post here about the "alphahole" trope in romantic fiction (at least, it's amusing if you like romance fiction. If not, skip it.) Miles doesn't exactly fit the pattern she describes, because he's not obnoxious to the heroine at the beginning of the story, but I call your attention to her description of the part of the story arc called The Grovel, which comes after the hero's behavior reaches its worst moment in The Incident.

"To truly win the heroine’s forgiveness, the alphahole must not only grovel, he* must demonstrate his willingness to act like a human being – to be able to participate in the relationship as an equal and active partner. He must make a statement, not only in words but through his behavior and actions, indicating that he has met his match, in both senses of that word."

Thinking about this not just in terms of Miles, but in more general terms about forgiveness (which I know is a touchy subject in these DFD threads), I think the key is that a true Grovel is not just words, but actions indicating that he understands enough about where he went wrong to avoid falling back into the same behavior.

* Andrews points out within the essay that women are also capable of alphahole behavior, but that in the vast majority of romance stories that use the trope, it is a man.

#470 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: February 29, 2016, 02:03 PM:

Jacque @467: "What, are they RNA molecules, now?" *snerk*
Copy and paste? What's that? (Manuela Processo is in charge. *g*)

Last note on the matter (as I don't want to derail): this is apparently an ongoing battle that has been in process for at least 15 years. The documents are all available, and I have easy access to them, but they have this incredible resistance to any legally binding commitment (i.e. a real contract) that has been to this point insurmountable. Wish me luck! (new Dean, new attitude toward sessionals that's new since the founding of the institution, maybe change?)

#471 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 29, 2016, 02:31 PM:

Chickadee, I don't see this as derailing. You're addressing a disfunctional element in your employment. I believe that falls squarely in the remit of this thread...

#472 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 29, 2016, 04:19 PM:

Melanie @ 458: What you wrote is very resonant for me, and I will witness whatever you chose to share. I have been in similar situation(s), and for me, my patience was rewarded. I hope that you will be able to achieve a similar satisfaction.

#473 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2016, 12:13 AM:

So at this point the whole works has been kicked up the line and I'm no longer involved. I'm frustrated; I thought it was being fixed *last* time it was kicked up the line, and this New and Improved!TM letter of intent was the result. :( But at least the FA (faculty association) is now even *aware* of it, and they *really* want us to have *actual contracts* so maybe it'll help?

*sigh*

#474 ::: Bodhisvaha ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2016, 10:10 AM:

Chickadee @473: hopefully they already did this, but has even one of the higher-ups tried asking themselves, "if I were a sessional lecturer and my home and kids depended on this job being what I was promised verbally, would I think this document guaranteed those promises in writing?" If they would sign, why? If the answer is any variation of "a long-standing relationship with the university or its staff," then they have just stated that this "contract" is inadequate.

#475 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2016, 12:53 PM:

Bodhisvaha: The really bizarre thing is that the people who are resisting it think we have a contract, in the Collective Agreement. And I had an e-mail argument with one of them where I said "If I haven't signed a legally binding document then I don't have a contract" and she said "the CA is your contract" and it just went nowhere.

They have their ideas, and nothing - not even what you suggest - can get them to think of things from a different perspective. I've tried a variation on that, and ... just no. Cannot get them to even honestly think in that direction.

The worst part for me in the moment is how sick I am. Mom (child of the '50s) drilled into me "Don't rock the boat, don't be aggressive, don't question authority, always be nice and sweet and accommodating" and I'm not exactly doing any of those. And fighting myself at the same time as the bureaucracy. And physically ill as a result. And from what I can tell, nothing is going to change.

#476 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2016, 01:54 PM:

Chickadee, sympathies on the physical reactions to Not Being Properly Submissive.

Reiterating what you said @464, it is probably easier to fight the Tapes with "But I'm helping others!" than with the (equally true) "I deserve to be treated better than this!"

I read a piece on Mark Guzdial's CS Education blog recently that compared the relationship between tenured faculty and non-tenure-track lecturers in CS departments to the landed gentry and tenant farmers. Oof.

#477 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2016, 02:24 PM:

Chickadee: Does the school in question have a law school with, like, law professors, who could maybe explain the concept of "contract" to them in simple words...? Or maybe if there's a local legal-aid program...?

(The hazard, there, is if the law school has bought into the same kind of shenanegans wrt contract employees.)

The other hack, here, is to ask your correspondent to quote to you, specifically, which portions of the CA constitute the "contract" as it applies specifically to you. (It sounds suspiciously like your school's administration is using the CA as a shortcut to replace Actually Paying Attention and Being Responsive. Automated negotiation, as it were.)

Thinking back on my time at the local academic research institution, they may also be using "contract" as synonymous with "temporary," wherein there's no actual piece of paper that gets signed; it's just understood that they're taking you on for [span of time], and at the end of that time, they have to rehire you for you to continue working there. Which sucks, but at least beats stalling your landlord while you scramble to come up with the rent.

#478 ::: Bodhisvaha ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2016, 04:53 PM:

Chickadee, that sucks. It sounds like the people you were talking to have a quite different idea of what an employment contract is than we do here. I'm not sure what can be done aside from someone repeatedly explaining the concept in small, simple, different words than have been tried before.

I understand the getting sick part. Many of my Goddamned Tapes are similar to yours. Days where I spend a lot of time fighting the Tapes, or having other heavy emotions, often generate migraines or fatigue. I haven't been saying much lately because work is quietly, drearily, septic. I feel depressed and mired in a mix of helplessness and denial. The only thing I can think of to do is to get out, but I feel half-dead from listless boredom and shapeless fears. This is not conducive to jobhunting, which is The Scariest Thing in the World.

I've been dithering about it for ages, with my gut saying leaving was the right option, and everything else disputing, doubting, analyzing. Recently I got an important bit of evidence on the side of "this job cannot be rescued, short of a miracle." Respected senior co-worker got a great job offer elsewhere. Our manager counter-offered a big raise in rank and pay. But now that Coworker has turned down that other job, Manager's promises went poof. I got the impression (direct from Coworker, while we were alone) that the raise was a firm promise. It also didn't sound as though Manager had grovelled when it went poof. What freaks me out most about this is the tone. Manager just burned Coworker's trust to the ground when he had other options -- even if he never meant to carry through his promises. The plausibly deniable way to get away with this would have been for Manager to make the raise contingent on upper management approval, and then apologize effusively when they didn't approve it. So why do it the way he did?

Manager has been letting me rot for 2-3 years out of the 5 I have been here, because his preferred use for me is as an overpaid secretary. I neither know how nor want to ass-kiss my way into doing my actual job duties again. Manager's stunt above is merely the worst I know of, out of many instances where he flip-flops or breaks his word. If he will do that to a staffer he needs and (I thought) respects, then I have zero expectation that he will treat *me* decently for any incentive I can control, when my entire history here says I'm a push-over. His pet junior staffers will never work with me more than they have to, and one of them drives me batty. I sometimes wonder what I did to deserve this, but I just realized that he may never even have changed his behaviour. Manager was on leave of absence for most of years 1-3. This may not be a punishment. I'm not sure what it would be instead...

At least I have been making a little progress: my bribe to myself to work on my resume/portfolio is that I can mainline whatever frivolous TV I want on a second screen. Being distracted but working on career stuff accomplishes much more than avoiding it entirely...

#479 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2016, 05:29 PM:

Bodhisvaha @478: The only thing I can think of to do is to get out, but I feel half-dead from listless boredom and shapeless fears. This is not conducive to jobhunting, which is The Scariest Thing in the World.

My, that state sounds...familiar....

#480 ::: Bodhisvaha ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2016, 01:30 PM:

Jacque,

A huge amount of energy has been tied up in analysis paralysis over "is is bad enough to move on?" and "could this be salvaged by talking to management?" I would *really* like some more voices analyzing Coworker's predicament, because my gut reaction to the news wasn't "they would never!" but instead "they did, but were *that* stupid about how?". If we were in a movie, that would be our opening sequence that drives Coworker to follow her dream and build her own company or backpack across Asia. So I'm pushing myself to take it as a Sign From The Universe.

All the hard-but-fun graphic design work means I can use multiple channels -- highly visual work combined with mostly audio distraction -- which was already a solid productivity trick for me. Maybe it is that I am (probably) somewhat ADD, but working through a distraction like TV or music seems to be screening the fear. It's still lurking, but it's enough dimmer and more distant that I'm getting engaged in the work, rather than diving for excuses to stop. I'm sure it will get worse when I get to the scariest stages -- the ones where you dance with rejection. For the first time I have something resembling a network. So maybe it will be easier emotionally if the hunt is very different from the past, like asking contacts for leads or to pass the word. Here's hoping.

This work environment hits many related buttons in my brain that say I am small and helpless, so freeze until the predator leaves. Don't take risks, don't stick your neck out, don't rock the boat, don't ask for things...just wait and hope something changes or that someone rescues me, without my ever moving a muscle. But from how I am somewhere that's actually safe, I don't think I was meant to be a mouse. I am something else that has always been squashed into a confining mouse-shaped skin. I don't know exactly what that something else is, but I do know that mouse behaviour is not going to solve this problem.

#481 ::: Neon Fox ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2016, 03:37 PM:

Maybe this isn't dysfunctional? But I just told my quote broker unquote to buy stocks, for the first time ever in my life, and I'm petrified.

This is some hardcore adulting, yo.

Who the hell let ME be a grownup?

#482 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2016, 03:58 PM:

"There are no grownups. It's just us." Lois McMaster Bujold.

Which is kinda terrifying, when one things about "world leaders."

#483 ::: Statistical Outlier ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2016, 10:11 AM:

Melanie the Tongueless @ 458

I read and witness.

During my years within the abusive group I ran with, I got in their (groups and individuals alike) faces about the abuse I suffered. Some changed--a little. Some backed off, but didn't change. Some doubled down in an effort to get me to "go along to get along." Some did none of the above--except to offer me sympathy in the form of "Yeah, I went through that, too," and wrote it off as the price of being in fandom.

I say go ahead a publish/send your apology. Or, just write up a "This is why I refuse to return to the group. Please leave me alone" letter.

What I went through, and it sounds like you're going through the same thing, is grief. Whether it's "divorce-grief" or "death-in-the-family-grief," it's still grief. Once I processed my experience like having a loved one die of something like cancer or some long, painful, wasting, terminal illness, it got easier. Which means the "Please Leave Me Alone" letter is more like a "Your Dead to Me, Here's Why" farewell.

black humor alert: A squirt bottle of holy water for chance encounters optional -- as in "Begone unclean spirit!" My friends and I joke about carrying shovels and tarps/blankets in our trunks in case of "emergencies". All joking aside, the verbal equivalent of that is to treat them like intrusive, pushy strangers every time you meet them. (physical withdrawal, "I'm sorry, Can't talk/I have more important stuff to get to/etc." language.)

#484 ::: Bodhisvaha ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2016, 10:46 AM:

Melanie the Tongueless @ 458: Tim Lawrence writes about grief in a way that might be helpful. It's raw, and really gets to me.

#485 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2016, 04:31 PM:

A Rant:

I don't object to SIL having delusions of perfection. I do object to her screwing up other people's lives because of said delusion.

And I particularly resent that my husband is expected to play peacemaker and family counselor. (He was the Good Kid, you see.)

And me, I've been cleaning. I expect one or more houseguests, but heaven help me if I have any idea who it will end up being.

#486 ::: Bodhisvaha ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2016, 05:46 PM:

OtterB @469: such character arcs are real. Turns out that I know someone who committed an Incident. He made an Idiotically Noble Sacrifice in a temper. And that made him so miserable that he compounded the original Incident: he went on a bender so thorough that the next memory was several weeks later and many hundreds of miles in the wrong direction. By that time, she had broken contact. Instead of returning -- or being caught, or forcibly returned -- to perform the Grovel, he disappeared from the heroine's life. He just assumed that everything was over.

That is all a few years ago. I had figured out something was very wrong, but had not expected this. This is not a guy I would have expected to be living a romance novel, but fellow readers recognize this plot.

I think he needs to untangle his emotions, go to her, and grovel. I make no bets on whether she will take him back, but you know how after the fight, there is the discussion, when you're both exhausted and talk and listen instead of scream? The part where stuff actually gets sorted out? They never got there, because he never came back and she never came after him. And how can one possibly heal from a breakup that never quite finished breaking?

#487 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2016, 04:45 PM:

Bodhisvaha@486: And how can one possibly heal from a breakup that never quite finished breaking?

I think I've heard about way too many cases where the ex-partner looking for closure ended up essentially stalking their former partner. That was definitely way LESS conducive to healing than a clean break. Maybe your friend is doing the right thing by staying away.

#488 ::: Bodhisvaha ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2016, 12:17 AM:

HelenS @487: no interest in creating a stalker out of our foolish protagonist, but time alone is not healing the wound. I think his emotions are stuck mid-fight -- he thinks being completely emotionally numb would be an improvement. I told him to go to a counsellor, because he's really hurting. The lady's side of the story is unknowable.

Assuming that the hero's report is correct, what makes sense to me is to finish the fight and therefore the stress response cycle, by him apologizing for being a complete *@^#$, and letting her respond. She might appreciate hearing him grovel.

I never dated the protagonist above, but I did once have a boyfriend who dumped me out of good intentions then avoided me. I told him to meet up with me or else, and educated him in communication protocol. He didn't enjoy that, but he agreed he deserved the lesson, and that I deserved his apology. Afterwards, I felt a hell of a lot better about the breakup, and the lesson did him good in his next relationship.

#489 ::: Bodhisvaha ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2016, 12:28 AM:

Since 3:12pm, you can picture my brain as Beaker from Muppet Labs, running around in circles, emitting helpless shrieks of alarm. "EEE! eeeeee! EEEEEE!!"

Early last week, I called back a temp agency about a contract they were shopping around. As far as can be predicted, it will be a big net positive. So I sent in my application Friday morning. This afternoon (Tuesday), I get a question on industry specifics, and I reply. At 3:12pm, I get an email saying "When can you start?"

I call back to say I am taking the job, but have to talk to my manager tomorrow to sort out dates. I suggest 2 weeks notice rounded up to "right after Easter weekend". (I tell the agency yes almost immediately so that Jerkbrain has less chance to sabotage me.)

Mind imitates Beaker running in circles from an irate Dr. Honeydew (=current boss). Possibly on fire. Cannot concentrate on anything more than 30 seconds, including creating a status report for what work to prioritize, what to hand off, to discuss while giving notice tomorrow.

I figured out one thing, despite Beaker-mind. I am this freaked out because on top of whatever else, this is the *first time ever* that *I* am breaking up with a job, instead of *it* breaking up with me. Tomorrow I tell the primary source of food, shelter, authority, and approval "you don't deserve me so I'm replacing you -- goodbye." (In business-speak, of course.) I'm just as shook up as if I had turned off gravity or reversed the sun in its path.

Beaker-mind did some calming yoga at class tonight, which helped a bit, although writing this undid some of that good. However, Beaker-mind has switched to shrieking while chasing Dr. Honeydew around in circles, throwing TPS reports around like confetti. That's an improvement, don't you think?

#490 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2016, 07:59 AM:

Bodisvaha @489, congrats! And I am both sympathetic to and deeply amused by the Beaker images. (I love Beaker.)

#491 ::: Statistical Outlier ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2016, 09:09 AM:

Bodhisvaha @ 489

That is wonderful news! Just think, you can now add the idea of Beaker blowing up Professor Honeydew. Congratulations!

#492 ::: cyllan ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2016, 10:51 AM:

That is excellent news, Bodhisvaha! Congratulations.

Reading back comments, be prepared for Boss to try and offer you a promotion and a raise to stay as Boss did to Coworker. I recommend laughing in his face, but that's not super-diplomatic of me. Yay!

#493 ::: Bodhisvaha ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2016, 02:04 PM:

Ugh, we're not quite there yet. They're balking about making the actual written offer *before* I give notice. Pushing for an earlier start date, but so hard that it's starting to smell. I will give them a better date, but only as much better as I can actually do, which may not suit them.

I can tell you I'd try a different agency next time, that's for sure. These folks treat you like a cog. Businesslike, no personal touch. But we're already past the exclusive-presentation clause for this opening, so...

#494 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2016, 04:56 PM:

Bodhisvaha @493: They're balking about making the actual written offer *before* I give notice.

Um, why? I agree, that starts to smell....

#495 ::: cyllan ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2016, 05:50 PM:

Nope! Offer first, then resign. Good luck; I hope this isn't as fishy as it seems.

#496 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2016, 07:18 PM:

Bodhisvhaha, #493: Heh. I'd play one against the other here -- tell them that your boss will almost certainly make a counteroffer, and you need theirs confirmed first.

#497 ::: Bodhisvaha ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2016, 08:50 PM:

Jacque, since I have the proposal ID number, I think I'm going to quietly ask Good Agency if they can tell me whether this nonsense is coming from the client or elsewhere. The smelly stuff is all from after the permission to present, which had an exclusivity clause. Bad Agency doesn't seem too concerned with whether *I* get this contract...which suggests they have a second or third rank candidate that is available immediately. It will also be a good chance to ask if Good Agency has anything available that I would want to know about. Maybe there is more than one proposal going.

I do think the client must be wanting to have their cake and eat it too, but either I'm neck-and-neck with someone else offering a similar start date, or the client is dithering about waiting an entire 5 business days to have a better quality employee. Perhaps this is a stupid client. If they keep on like this, it is a sign.

Lee, I think I will save that maneuver for Resignation Studies 201. I'm having trouble pulling off the basics right now. :( I nearly gave notice without the next offer in my hot little hands.

As for actual counter-offers, they cannot be believed from Manager, so I'm not going to solicit any. A clean break with honesty will have the least for him to get suspicious about.

#498 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2016, 12:24 PM:

Bodhisvaha @497: A clean break with honesty will have the least for him to get suspicious about.

And also has the virtue of allowing you to be more focused on your own objectives.

#499 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2016, 12:50 PM:

Bodhisvaha, when you do give notice, be emotionally prepared to be handed a box and escorted from the building. Not all places work this way, but a lot of them do; you give notice and you're OUT. It's good to be prepared for this, just in case your workplace is one of the ones that does this.

So if you have keepsakes at your desk or whatever, you might want to discretely start removing them before you spring the news....

Good luck getting the offer firmed up!

#500 ::: Bodhisvaha ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2016, 02:06 PM:

Thank goodness I wrote down the proposal numbers as they flitted by. Good Agency got the same proposal, and sent me a copy to look at. By Good Agency's report, the competition closed *before I had even called Bad Agency,* and was paid substantially less than my current rate. And to ice the cake, Bad Agency pressured me to walk out without 2 weeks notice, for a mirage. I believe the correct adjective is "appalling."

Cassy, you have a good point. Luckily I'm in an industry with work complex enough that retirees start their handovers months ahead. Management would wreck its results and reputation by just cutting staff off. Staff would wreck theirs if they tried to sabotage things on the way out. Reputation is a big deal in this field, because huge amounts of money and time depend on us being dependable.

#501 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2016, 03:07 PM:

Bodhisvaha: Do agencies in your area work on the same, peddling humans-instead-of-used-cars model that they do in the US? Here, essentially, (temp) agents area of expertise is in sales, rather than HR.

#502 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2016, 04:47 PM:

Bodisvaha, well, phooey on Bad Agency. Good for you for exercising due diligence - and yeah, anyone who objects that you won't give notice until you have the new offer in writing is not someone you want to deal with.

#503 ::: Bodhisvaha ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2016, 05:57 PM:

Jacque, my town is an outlier. It's a government town, but thanks to cutbacks and freezes, government has avoided hiring directly for a decade. Work still needs to get done despite upper management, so the lower levels hire the people they need for the duration they can talk upper management into this cycle, even though knowledge workers aren't interchangeable or fungible in a project that's already underway. For business to run as usual, the managers need to retain as many of these contract knowledge workers as they can, while at least pretending to obey the rules. Imagine the unwritten system-in-the-system required to pull this off.

The nation finally voted out the Enemy of the Public Service, so government HR may get less screwed up. Even so, agencies will still be one of government's primary sources for finding/trying out new staff at every level.

#504 ::: Bodhisvaha ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2016, 03:19 AM:

I have had a vile epiphany hurling down on me for six hours now, like a rain of bricks. I was whining about work to a friend, and panned and zoomed on the big picture just right to finally see something huge and horrible.

My manager at work has just the right hacks to exploit my security flaws. He manipulates people with the same roster of strategies as my abusive mother used, and for the similar goal of controlling them for his own convenience (and possibly enjoyment). But his presentation is sufficiently different from my mother's that the conscious brain never registered the pattern match.

Whether he knows it or not, my manager is exploiting and feeding the web of horrible insidious lies -- both the ones that are the core of my trauma, and the defensive periphery built up around it to keep me an easy victim. Manager wants and reinforces the false self created by the abuse, and he doesn't see or doesn't care for the real self suffocating inside it.

This explains perfectly why the office, and especially him, makes my alarm systems go off so badly. Why I haven't been able to spot the cause. Why it has gotten slowly steadily worse regardless of what direction other factors are going. Why I am paralyzed with indecision, and in denial about how wretched I am there.

Manager is poison for me, full stop. If there was a compromise or redemption coming, it would have happened by now. I needed to know this, but I'm sick to my stomach with shock. It is going to be so hard not to beat myself up for taking so long to see this.

#505 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2016, 08:17 AM:

Bodhisvaha @504:

This comment right here is why I don't limit the community conversation to just what happens inside a dysfunctional family. Because we don't leave our upbringings behind when we move out of the family home.

It is going to be so hard not to beat myself up for taking so long to see this.

Yo Bodhisvaha's brain weasels: go away and take your Tapes with you!

Seriously — rather than beating yourself up for not seeing a pattern earlier, you deserve to be proud of seeing it now. That kind of reflection and discernment is a hard skill to acquire, and a particularly hard one to practice when you're in the middle of the kind of stresses that you've been describing over the past few days. Of course the dysfunctional situation is causing you to question and devalue yourself; that's why it's dysfunctional and not awesome.

I don't have any good solutions, but I'm witnessing.

#506 ::: Bodhisvaha ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2016, 08:46 AM:

Abi, thank you. I am trying to keep myself going *around* the rabbit holes this opened up, instead of down them. Exactly why he does it is not important. Whether it is conscious or subconscious is not important. Whether it is personal is not important. It's not even likely to be personal. It can be as simple as me moving or bending in a very pleasing way when he rearranges the toy soldiers of his corporate command.

It could be a very detached, very corporate motive. And that would make sense, and help it pass under my radar, because *that* one thing would be the opposite of my mother. My mother's need to abuse me was very, very personal, and it was a compulsion from her own inner demons.

And the answer is to get out on the next available ticket that doesn't shred my professional reputation. It's not practical to police this problem away, even if the organization wanted to bother.

#507 ::: Jeanie ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2016, 09:21 AM:

Bodhisvaha re: taking so long to see the problem

Agreeing with abi: you're amazing.

Editing tapes is a long road.
Editing tapes is a hard road.
You're on a good one.

#508 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2016, 11:22 AM:

Bodhisvaha: witnessing. Good for you for figuring it out.

#509 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2016, 01:16 PM:

Bodhisvaha, congratulations! for seeing to the core of a clearly untenable situation. You have named the problem, identified the solution, and you are following through. Can't do better than that. Epiphanies take their own sweet time... As others have said, dealing with the tapes is very hard. Sending support.

#510 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2016, 01:30 PM:

Bodhisvaha: Seconding what abi said. It's hard to spot a pattern that's obscured under a lot of other stuff, and you should be pleased that you have enough discernment to have figured it out, even though it took a while.

And yeah -- now that you've figured it out, nothing matters but getting yourself out of there as soon as you can without making matters worse. You've got a solid goal with no second-guessing involved now.

#511 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2016, 05:15 PM:

Bodhisvaha: What others have said.

Additionally, there might be one, teeny tiny little silver lining to this: now that you've spotted this similarity, it might just give you enough additional leverage to begin thwarting it.

When you hear those tapes start up, if you can bring conscious attention to, "Wait, what just happened to set that feeling/tape off?" you might be able to start spotting the dynamic in realtime. This, then, potentially brings you the option of reacting more choicefully. And that, by itself, may change the dynamic (as well as maybe making the situation less uncomfortable for you).

If toxic manager sees you start to respond with "Hm..." instead of "Eek!" then you become a less entertaining cat-toy, and he might become less prone to targeting you with those strategies.

Might not happen, too, but it potentially gives you more wiggle room until you can find an exit, which I can't help but think might be a good thing.

#512 ::: Bodhisvaha ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2016, 06:01 PM:

Thank you everyone. Hearing good things really matters.

Jacque, oh yes, there a silver lining. I can start playing by the *actual* rules of the game, and apply whatever I've learned about Not Caring when dealing with people who refuse to play fair. Which is what you said, only in different words.

Detach, detach, detach. Aim for a passing grade, and put as much energy as possible elsewhere. Manager doesn't want my best anyway. He emits untrustworthy data, so do not depend on him more than required. And remember that Manager only provides intermittent reinforcement, of the Skinner-box variety. What he says or does is as likely to be to get a hit of control, instead of anything real.

Being politely, efficiently invisible is the correct path. I have watched and experienced enough to see that it is dangerous to show too much independence. Draw his attention the wrong way and you've bought yourself a squelching. They can be anything from petty tyranny to public humiliation.

#513 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2016, 06:30 PM:

One could be tempted (if one could manage it without disarranging one's Cloak of Invisibility) to take the odd opportunity to hack his techniques around to mess with his head.

But, yeah, probably best not to.

("But it would be so much FUN!" "Shush, you.")

#514 ::: Bodhisvaha ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2016, 08:03 PM:

My nefarious plot to win sympathy fast enough to hold off the brain weasels is working, I tell you, WORKING! Mwhahahahahaaaa!

Jacque, I see the appeal of trying to mess with him, but I'll be satisfied with safety and escape. ;)

Bad Agency still has not provided a solid yes or no despite a polite letter to the effect of "you people are dithering long enough to lose that early start date." Someone, somewhere in the chain is having real trouble making a decision. Any decision.

#515 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2016, 08:58 PM:

Bodhisvaha @514:

I wonder if giving a start date as "X days from offer letter" instead of "X days from now" is a common and/or acceptable way to do it?

Hopefully, having identified the type of dysfunction you are inhabiting will increase your resistance to its damage. And hopefully Bad Agency either shapes up or unambiguously falls through, so you don't end up in a frying pan / fire situation.

#516 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2016, 01:06 AM:

In any event, both with Coworker getting hir rug yanked out from under hir, and Bad Agency failing to present the offer in written form in a timely manner, just serve to emphasize:

"GET IT IN WRITING."

And if you can't—well, that's information, too.

#517 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2016, 10:26 PM:

shadowsong @ 515:

I see no reason it shouldn't be acceptable. I've been asked about start dates as early as first interviews, and always answer "Two weeks notice after I receive the official offer."

Both the notice period and waiting for the official offer are common enough in my area that no one reasonable sees anything wrong with this answer.

And if they aren't reasonable, well, I'd rather know that before I accept a job than find out after.

#518 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2016, 06:59 PM:

From the "how to be functional" playbook, a nice little checklist:

17 Verbal Habits of Highly Likable People

#519 ::: Melanie the Tongueless ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2016, 06:46 AM:

I've had a think on the responses I've gotten so far; thank you everyone for your willingness to listen and your compassion - certainly in the midst of several other life-crises.

Still struggling with the notion of my best path forward. Even though I myself had suggested it, something in me rebels at the thought of a blow-by-blow recount of the timeline: I may have to accept that as a limit. That's not as bad as that might sound: a work-around could be quite productive in its own right.

Minor tangental aside on work-arounds: the original Gamer Gang Saga had followed me, due to meshing social/activity circles, to places beyond the original context of a gaming group. When I struggled then to explain why I was suddenly not enjoying the contacts I had so visibly enjoyed before, I found a rather elegant condensation of the whole affair: that someone had appropriated my creative work, and the others stood by and let it happen, ignoring my own agency and rights of creation. That way, I didn't have to get a non-gamer up to speed with the whole character/story-line/unethical play.

I was a bit too brief, despite my previous wall o' text (#458), regarding apologies. The one I let guide my desires in this instance ends with, "And I'm sorry I waited as long as I did before I blew them all straight to Hell!... As with everything else, it's the thought that counts." Thinking a little bit more about apologies: the Gamer Gang had demanded an apology for what had essentially been me protecting my boundaries, as it became ever more clear that the Original Perp was trying to demolish them. Being as steeped as they are in the Geek Social Fallacies, to their way of thinking, there was a conflict, so an apology would "make it all better" and things would go on as they had done.

Specific feedback - to #459, from Lori Coulson: ah yes, the longing... funnily enough, I read a recent post at Captain Awkward, that gave me an insight on longing: "Exercise, regular massages, excellent showers and baths, snuggling with a pet – What are pleasurable ways to inhabit your body that aren’t about [your ex]" Substitute "creative and imagination-exercising" as the place I'm inhabiting, and zing! Still working on the details, but it was a good nugget to have stumbled across for persistent longing.

#472, from Ginger - heh, I'd love to hear how your patience was rewarded. Via gmail, perhaps?

#483, from Statistical Outlier - Grief - yes, this exactly - and it's damned difficult to grieve when the environment's narrative is rewritten so that even your reason for grieving is erased. But not the damage; (wonky computer tech metaphor written by non-techie alert!) it's like a bad sector, it sits there while the CPU never makes a call to it again.

However, I am so on board with the holy-water-filled squirt bottle. An appropriately decorated bottle, and the threat alone should be enough. (Grinning evilly here: never piss off crafty people. I could write an entire post re crafts and the Gamer Gang Saga.)

#484, from Bodhisvaha, you've been very kind, because your own situation looks pretty dire and yet you've passed along that link. I read one article so far, on the issues of navigating one's life post-resignation from career. Would there be some specific articles you'd found particularly helpful? (Or one's that ring a bell for the situation I've tried to describe?)

Thanks again, everyone - for patience as well as everything else.

#520 ::: Statistical Outlier ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2016, 12:55 PM:

Melanie the Tongueless @ 519

So they were gas-lighting you in addition to everything else? I have words for this, but won't post them here. Most of them are foul and not for use in safe spaces. Let's just say, there are special hells and leave it at that.

And in other news... I got another "post card" from my toxic group. Something that I predicted eight to ten years ago is coming to pass. At the time, everyone was worried about the group's party funds (they were operating in the red). I said we'd run out of volunteers before we ran out of money. No one believed me. Now, the bank account is well into the black (yay for budgets), the old clique is back in power and the new volunteers/members are leaving in a small flood. The denouement came a lot quicker than I expected from an unexpected, but not unanticipated, quadrant. These are the early days, though. They might pull it out of the fire.

However, I am by no means ready to dance on the graves of the fallen. Unlike my pen pal.

#521 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2016, 02:27 PM:

Internal Server Error. *swat*

#522 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2016, 02:30 PM:

And that didn't fix it, so re-posting.

On one of the contradance groups I follow on Facebook, someone has just posted a link to a poll regarding inappropriate behavior on the dance floor, which basically means inappropriate touch and/or sexualizing. Reading the comment thread has been very interesting, because it's exactly like the early rounds of comments on things like the Readercon and SFWA sexual-harassment issues. There are a bunch of guys saying, "I don't do things like that!"; one group of women saying, "Nothing like that has ever happened to ME!" and another group talking about things that have happened to them and to people they know; people conflating the kind of accidental brushing-against that happens in a dance where folks are moving fast with the kind of deliberate creepy behavior the poll is trying to address; people offering advice which is excellent when both parties are acting in good faith but fails utterly when dealing with a serial abuser; and of course one Old White Guy pontificating about how he tells "his ladies" to just haul off and slap the offender right out there on the floor, and by golly HIS group doesn't have any problems!

I'm not trying to make a specific point here, I just found it interesting how many of the arguments I recognized from having seen them in the context of sexual harassment in fandom. And how much better I was able to address some of them because of my experiences here and elsewhere.

#523 ::: Bodhisvaha ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2016, 02:37 PM:

I'm not taking that contract with Bad Agency -- I don't think the benefits are likely to be worth the aggravation. What little I've been able to find out about the work is not encouraging, and the recruitment process has been worse.

Melanie the Tongueless @ 519: I don't have any specific recommendations right now -- I only found that blog recently. I have "Stop Daydreaming Yourself Into Oblivion" sitting in a browser tab to guilt-trip me, though. ;) As for your situation, now that you've gone up a layer or two of abstraction, you have more sources. I have a feeling that you may find something suitable over at Get Bullish (http://www.getbullish.com/), especially from their Best Of, or Difficult Situations tags. I think I've seen her cover something like '(male) coworker/boss "borrowed" my idea and took credit.' That writer is a smart, tough cookie.

#524 ::: Bodhisvaha ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2016, 05:03 PM:

That was surreal. Bad Agent insisted on more info about being rejected, and there was no indication in her voice that she saw the lack of written offer as a reason to back out. She was calm and professional. Possibly too calm. I looked her up on LinkedIn, which says she's been with Bad Agency for 25 years. It makes me think I was played. Convincing me to cancel might give them a graceful out if there was no commission left in the deal, or if there was a less desirable but cheaper/faster candidate.

#525 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2016, 01:10 PM:

Some really creepy and abusive "advice" for parents.

Summary: The first step to family happiness is forbidding your children to be in their bedroom for anything but sleeping, and requiring them to stay in the same room with the parents. The second step is to ban TV, video games, laptops/tablets/phones, and earbuds when the family is together. And never let your child bring a friend along on a family trip! Can you say "controlling helicopter parent"? I knew you could...

#526 ::: hope in disguise ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2016, 02:42 PM:

Lee @525, so... if the kids are never in the house alone, they never get to engage in the same socialization activities as all their peers. That seems totally reasonable. /s And everyone knows that kids who are forbidden to have unquestioned privacy in their homes never spend significant amounts of time outside the house and then flat-out lie to their parents about where they've been. What happens when those kids have significant others? Forcing them to carry on relationships in secret is a good way to have no way of knowing that your kid is in a troubling situation (although observing relationship progress within the family home is also not a foolproof way to spot nascent abuse, goodness knows).

And this is just in healthy families, which of course you know. I would have positively flipped out on my mom if I'd been denied even the questionable solitude/solace of staring into a computer screen that she couldn't see from her own computer screen a few feet away. And there would have been at minimum 10x more shouting matches if my twin hadn't been permitted to spend all their time in their room on their own computer, away from my mom. And I was pretty lucky as childhood messed-up-ed-ness goes, imo...

#527 ::: hope in disguise ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2016, 02:44 PM:

Me @526... Or I'd have spent all day every day all the time forever with my nose in a book, which I assume this author considers wholesome enough to be permitted, but which allowed me to avoid socializing just as surely as being online did.

#528 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2016, 03:04 PM:

hope in disguise, #527: Being buried in a book is actually less social than a lot of time spent online. Why do you think they call it "SOCIAL media", after all? :-)

Books and TV I consider roughly equivalent. Games, it depends a lot on the specific game. Solitaire is like a book; MMORPGs are more like social media.

I do mostly support the idea of a family dinner hour for which distractions aren't allowed, but even then I'd make an exception for a family full of introverts. What do you want to bet that, in addition to being a control-freak and a helicopter parent, that guy is a raging extrovert?

#529 ::: hope in disguise ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2016, 03:28 PM:

Lee @528, yes, point taken :) I did mostly mean "avoid socializing with my family."

#530 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2016, 03:32 PM:

I actually wonder what the author's default family looks like when he thinks about other people. He seems to be assuming that everyone's kids have single bedrooms with TVs, computers, game systems, et cetera, and that everyone then wonders why their kids are spending time in what amounts to their own apartments rather than in someone else's. I am old enough to think of TVs and computers as things that go in the public spaces-- of course the Nintendo's in the living room, it belongs to all three kids. And of course the kids don't go in the fancy living room, there's nothing to do there. Half of what he says seems completely obvious to me, and half toxicity based on what he thinks poor idiotic parents are doing.

I think it comes down to what someone else here said about whose house it is.

#531 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2016, 04:00 PM:

My first thought on reading that advice link was to think of those parents who only look up from their smartphones to complain that their kids spend way too much time using their phones/tablets/computers.

It's like... there's a seed of good advice in there — human interaction is good! having actual conversations with your family is good! (assuming non-abusive dynamics, that is) — and it's buried under a load of isolating and overbearing yuck. Kids choose to spend time with their friends? This is a shock? They *should* spend time with their friends, and also time with their family, and also time doing their own thing alone.

(Of course, I spent a substantial chunk of my childhood in a book.)

#532 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2016, 04:17 AM:

Over in the Come Work For Me thread, I am reminded of the puzzling fact that, after being nasty to someone, the abuser is then puzzled as to why that someone would then be unwilling to intereact more with them. Beyond illogical, it seems to defy even principles of basic conditioning....

#533 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2016, 07:35 AM:

Jacque @532:

That one's not an abuser. He's just the messenger-boy (and I think I know for whom). Someone stuffed him full of talking points and sent him over on a mission to post them. It was nothing to do with actual interaction.

Let us leave the topic behind altogether.

#534 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2016, 02:58 PM:

Melanie @ 519: Rot-13-ed my gmail address, with dot for the punctuation: tvatre qbg gnafrl ng tznvy qbg pbz -- I don't know if the resonance works in both directions, but I'm willing to share if it could help.

#535 ::: Melanie the Tongueless ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2016, 07:28 AM:

Ginger @ 534 - thank you for your info, I've sent an email to confirm the contact.

Should we ask the thread gardener to disappear these two comments? Mostly worried for your sake, having contact info even if it is rot-13'ed.

#536 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2016, 03:54 PM:

Leaving aside the parts about living in a space opera universe, being a member of the aristocracy, having a child, and having multiple guys chasing her at the same time ... it's getting a little bit terrifying how many points of similarity there are between me and Ekaterin.

Like, holy crap author, have you been spying on the inside of my head levels of terrifying. Or, have you experienced exactly the same thing as I did, yourself?

(I have finished Memory and resumed A Civil Campaign.)

(I am also eyeing a book titled "loving him without losing you" and wondering if it would help both me and Ekaterin.)

#537 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2016, 05:38 PM:

the invisible one @536: Apparently a very large number of people have assumed that LMB must have lived it to write it so well; she's said no, she was writing from research, not experience. Damn good research, and I'm SO glad she's written the hard stuff too.

#538 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2016, 05:41 PM:

Something I've found in my teaching prep, that I think the members of this thread would appreciate: "Should you edit your children’s genes?
In the fierce debate about CRISPR gene editing, it’s time to give patients a voice."

It's so easy to talk about people, without ever considering asking the people who are involved. This piece really emphasizes the importance of talking *to* people affected with the various conditions in question (and thinking of them as *people* - not patients, not study subjects, not objects of fixing). (I really wanted to write "fixery" instead of fixing. :P)

#539 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2016, 10:32 PM:

Chickadee #538: Speaking as someone whose family could illustrate half of a genetics textbook: I don't think the real world is providing easy answers on this one.

That said, I would like to stomp hard on a few of the ideas floated in that article:

1) "Disability breeds determination/creativity/compassion". That's selection bias talking. The disabled folks who get gosh-wow articles written about them are the ones who had the internal and external resources to succeed despite their disabilities. You hear about the handicapped or disabled folks whose temperament and family support kept them going in spite of obstacles, and who had access to the necessary resources to survive. You don't hear about the ones whose parents stuck them in a basement apartment, or shuffled them off to foster care, or worse. Nor about the ones who couldn't afford or otherwise (schools, charity, etc.) get hold of prosthetics or necessary treatment and accommodations. Much less the ones who committed suicide or simply withdrew into despair/drugs/etc.

2) Along similar lines: Yes, there's going to be a wealth differential for who gets their genes edited, but there's already one for who gets resources allocated towards their disability -- and the gene editing will be cheaper.

3) "Having disabled people around inspires compassion/forces accommodations": Except when it doesn't, see above. And it's one thing to say that "God sends these things to test/teach/inspire us¹", it's quite another for us humans to purposely leave fellow humans disabled, in pain, or dying early "as an example to others". (See also: The vicious denial of treatment behind the supposed compassion of Mother Teresa.)

However, there are some worthwhile points to be made:

4) We don't always know what we're throwing away. Besides the example of sickle-cell/thalassemia carriers having malaria resistance, I'll offer an example from my own family: Red-green color blindness offers increased sensitivity to detail and shading, in direct proportion to the degree of color-blindness.

5) The Law of Unintended Consequences applies in spades.

6) Both of the above will be much worse when editing genes relating to intelligence, temperament, or other results of brain development.

...6a) My extended family ranges from "bright and creative" up to genius-level intelligence. We also run to mood disorders -- depression on Dad's side, anxiety on Mom's. I got smacked with both, along with the autistic spectrum... and genius IQ. Good luck teasing out the genetic and developmental factors there, especially since the autistic spectrum ranges down to "subclinical" (no handicap, so no diagnosis).

...6b) Sooner or later, somebody's going to try to define the "wrong" temperament or character as an illness: Say, "excessive aggression" -- and what gets swept up with that? Let alone if someone claims to identify a genetic correlate to "inappropriate resistance to authority".

¹ If you believe in that sort of God. I don't, many others do, but this ain't that argument.

#540 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2016, 11:30 PM:

David Harmon, your 6b has already happened.

I think a lot of the discussion parallels a Dys Day theme: "Don't you want to be fixed?" when you don't see anything broken about yourself.

Also, I really wish I could assign my therapist reading. I would love for her to read every one of these threads for vocabulary alone.

#541 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2016, 11:44 PM:

Diatryma: I really wish I could assign my therapist reading.

You are the best judge of your situation, so discount the following if it doesn't apply, but it seems to me that the willingness to follow up on relevant information would be a necessary criterion in a competent therapist.

#542 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2016, 11:49 PM:

David Harmon @539: I'm having my class(es - two sections) do a short reflection on the news article as their last mini-assignment. I've already specified that I won't mark them on their opinions, but rather on their logic and how well they support whatever argument they choose to make, but may I use some of your points (paraphrased and anonymized, to keep it from leading back here) as a sample starting point for arguing against the points in the article?

I think I've built enough trust in the groups that they'll be honest, whether they think I agree with them or not, but it's useful to have a couple of differing opinions as a starting point for even thinking about these things.

#543 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2016, 12:09 AM:

David H., #539: Your #1 x 1,000. I have a similar rant about "adopted children reunited with their REAL families" articles. The only ones you hear about are the ones that came out happily. There's a reason I've never gone hunting for my bio-family; I'm too worried that I'd have no more in common with them than I did with my parents.

#544 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2016, 07:04 AM:

Chickadee #542: may I use some of your points [...] as a sample starting point for arguing against the points in the article?

Yes, I'm happy to give permission for that. Thanks for fostering discussion on these matters!

#545 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2016, 07:31 AM:

Chickadee #542, addendum: I just signed up for an account at Nature.com, I'm going to post v2 of those comments there (with tweaked emphasis for different reader expectations).

#546 ::: Bodhisvaha ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2016, 11:14 AM:

Chickadee and David Harmon: hard questions indeed. That kind of a bargain is all about the trade-offs and long-term effects...and we don't know what they are. If it were possible to wish away specific traits without side effects, I'd probably do it -- I imagine not having asthma/allergies/skin problems, or being taller, and having entire worlds of pleasant activities and high shelves open up. But gene-editing wouldn't be wishing -- it would be a bargain with Chance, and Chance has the advantage over us. Still, we have to count on the fact that if people can do it, some of them will. So that moratorium the article talked about, the one that forbids altering future generations, while allowing alteration of this one, that might be the best path forward. Rather than throwing away parts of the genome without really knowing what they do, we'd put them on the shelf while we tried to figure out the connections. Some connections may be design compromises (cannot get A without B), but some of it could be that X times out of Y the chemical reaction goes like so. Or both at once. Maybe forming A just carries a high chance of also forming B.

Something I saw in that article was the human tendency to make the best of the hand you're dealt. Those parts about how no, they wouldn't want editing, or would they still be themselves if they had. People who've already paid saying it was worth it. If we were in the future interviewing genetically altered kids, they could say almost the same things, but from the other side. Because they'll already *be* that altered self, and they'll have paid its costs. They too will need to believe in the bargain that's already struck.

#547 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2016, 11:20 AM:

#537, Chickadee:

Well then. Yes, damn good research. She's found and written things that I didn't even know were actual problems instead of "just me being broken". I suppose it can be easier to research abusive relationship dynamics when you're not trapped in them unable to see that they are abusive, and instead told repeatedly that no, you're just broken. (If you're not the sort to deny that emotional abuse is abuse, that is.) Being able to write those things such that people directly familiar with them can recognize it... wow.

And there are a few more things that seeing them described from the outside I see was a problem, which I hadn't seen before. Like Ekaterin's former sex life. I was having trouble reconciling all the crap that Crappy Ex pulled, and the "good" sex... and then I recognized *that*, too, at the beginning of Komarr.

So yesterday I read the dinner party scene. I'm not one for humiliation humour but if it had gone according to Miles' plan I would probably have been way more disturbed, and I was quite glad that his plan went catastrophically wrong. (Although very sad for Kareen, she didn't deserve to have a bunch of catastrophically wrong dumped on her too.) I was extremely not impressed with his apology letter, too. He doesn't deserve Ekaterin. I'm rather annoyed with him right now.

A few hours later, I had another realization. (Because delayed reactions, which I've mentioned before. At least this one happened on the same day; I think the processing time might be getting shorter.) When Ekaterin leaves, she asks Miles a question where both "yes" and "no" are the wrong answer, and she was entirely right to do so. Now I wonder, all the times when Crappy Ex told me I was trying to trap him into being wrong because no matter what he answered he'd be in trouble... how many of those times were because he'd been a shit and there legitimately was no good answer? How many of those times were NOT because I was being a horrible woman trying to set him up to be wrong and get in trouble, arbitrarily or because (insert some woman-bashing thing here, like hormone mood swings or the like)?

Argh. Important stuff to know and process, but argh. When will I get it all out? Will I ever?

#548 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2016, 11:35 AM:

Bodhisvaha #546: Interesting you mention allergies as one of the prosepects -- because that's very much an internal tradeoff -- even without the LoIC, the immune system involves "policy choices" between the hazards of excessive response, versus not responding enough when it counts. Good point about sunk-cost discounting, too.

The thing about bans and moratoriums is, nobody has worldwide control. So the result of forbidding something outright, is simply that the "outlaws" (those not covered by the ban, or with enough resources to evade it) do it first, receiving both the hazards and the benefits. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as they'll both advance the state of the art, and provide a few slutary warnings....

#549 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2016, 11:36 AM:

ohnosecond: "slutary"-->"salutary". Oy.

#550 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2016, 12:01 PM:

David Harmon @548: Like Jackson's Whole. :/

the invisible one @547: Yeah... sometimes I have to remember she's also a romance novel writer. And there are certain things hardwired in. Frex, I wouldn't recommend her short story "Winterfair Gifts" unless you're reading for completion. And I really bounced off The Sharing Knife (her romance series) HARD. Don't remember what, just a reaction of "What? That trope? NO!"

At least Miles does (with a fair amount of implied work on Ekaterin's part) develop into a considerate husband. He's always respected her; he learns how to not make himself the center of that respect.

#551 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2016, 12:03 PM:

the invisible one @547: Argh. Important stuff to know and process, but argh. When will I get it all out? Will I ever?

You know, ten years ago, I would say that this process never ends. But now...? Come to think, it's been a while since I've struggled with those kinds of issues.

It's probably not a bad thing to assume it never ends; that way you're not surprised when The Next Round hits.

But if my experience is any guide, one does (eventually) apparently reach a sort of equilibrium.

Now, if I was in an active romantic relationship, my answer might be entirely different. I'm solo, these days, and have largely come to an accomodation with that.

But by and large, I seem to have worked much of my own values and boundaries, and when I get rubbed against, I am in a place where I can (usually) calmly evaluate whether or not (or how much) to give.

But this has been a pretty recent development, like I say, in probably the last five-ten years.

(Ghods, when I think back to how broken and miserable I was when I was first out on my own—! It's hard to even remember.)

#552 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2016, 12:53 PM:

#550, Chickadee:

Hm, the warning is noted. Winterfair Gifts is next up in the edition I'm reading. I hereby give myself advance permission to nope out of that one if I find it becoming too unpleasant.

For the Sharing Knife, while there were definitely some eyeroll moments for me, I didn't bounce off it hard, and overall enjoyed it. Everybody has different things they find repellent vs. skim right over without noticing, I guess. I read it as a mostly-adventure with a stronger than usual obligatory romance subplot, I think.

Miles does (with a fair amount of implied work on Ekaterin's part) develop

(grump)

#551, Jacque: It's probably not a bad thing to assume it never ends; that way you're not surprised when The Next Round hits. But if my experience is any guide, one does (eventually) apparently reach a sort of equilibrium.

Simultaneously reassuring and depressing. It's not a bottomless pit of surprise badness, it's just really damn deep.

Solo for now, and the foreseeable future. One some level I think it would be nice if I were capable of considering a relationship at some unspecified point in the future, but I have a large, intimidating, and not very well defined set of things I need to sort out before I can even think of doing so... starting with stuff like boundaries, and having and enforcing them. Including stuff like figuring out how do I even tell if I'm attracted to someone.

#553 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2016, 02:22 PM:

Melanie @535: It's not a huge concern for me, but I'm ok with vacuuming up those posts if it bothers you.

#554 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2016, 06:22 PM:

invisible one @552: I think it was the "sex as redemption" trope I bounced off in Winterfair Gifts. Or "sex as reassurance that you're worth something." If that one doesn't bug you, read away - the rest of the plot was cool.

David Harmon: Your HTML editing shows up as bare tags in the comment. :( But I will be pointing my students to the comment. :) (and summarizing for the inevitable ones who won't want to follow the link!)

#555 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2016, 07:52 PM:

Chickadee #554: Your HTML editing shows up as bare tags in the comment.

Hmm? Not for me it doesn't -- indeed, I was rather pleased to find I could use <em>. Do you have similar problems with other Disqus sites? If you're using NoScript, perhaps tweak the settings, or otherwise what browser are you using?

#556 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2016, 02:06 PM:

David Harmon @555: Safari and Firefox - same problems in both. I'll check at school, on the work computer, which I won't have changed any settings on.

#557 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2016, 02:54 PM:

#554, Chickadee:

I suspect that will be eyeroll level for me.

Thinking back a bit, I would say the common thread in the various things that disturbed me the most were all centred around consent and boundaries. So, Miles niceguying in a plot to secretly make Ekaterin fall in love with him, the doctor in Courtney Milan's midwinter story ruleslawyering "don't ever talk to me again" to mean he can still write her notes saying how much he looooooves her, stuff like that. Another one I recently noped out of by the second chapter basically went: scene, "look at me I am alpha male hear me roar"; scene, "oh my what an amazingly hot alpha male, I am so inexplicably attracted to this stranger"; scene, "I want that woman, she must be mine, I will court her but I must not scare her away with my alpha male manliness" then invaded her personal space and touched her in ways specifically described in the text as being culturally intimate and not done unless in a relationship. Which they were not at that point.

What I wouldn't give for a "romance subplot" where the male and female leads *don't* end up in a relationship with each other.

#558 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2016, 03:22 PM:

David Harmon @555: same deal with Explorer on the work PC. :(

#559 ::: Statistical Outlier ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2016, 04:37 PM:

Chickadee @ 554
I took that story/ending as "sex is his reward for evolving out of being an ass" but then I have misandronist tendencies.

the invisible one @ #557
For your '"romance subplot" where the male and female leads *don't* end up in a relationship with each other' to happen would require at least one of the side-kicks to drive the sub-plot. Other options include: one of the main characters to not be interested in a happily ever after with anyone; a main character being romantically interested in someone else's side-kick and so on.

A recent read of mine that might meet your criteria is "The Seer" by Sonia Orin Lyris. How the relationship does evolve could be triggery, though. I found the ending both hopeful and squicky at the same time for different, but similiar reasons.

The Lt. Leary series by David Drake also meets your criteria. "With the Lightnings" is the first book in the series. One main character is hyper-sexual while the other is asexual. Over the run of the series, they become good friends (a form of love), but never romantically involved.

#560 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2016, 05:46 PM:

Chickadee #558: I just tried loading the site on my iPad, and that does show the tags.

#561 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2016, 06:51 PM:

the invisible one @552: Simultaneously reassuring and depressing. It's not a bottomless pit of surprise badness, it's just really damn deep.

It belatedly occurs to me to point out that the vast majority of my progress on this front has taken place since these DFD threads started. (Hi, abi! Have you been thanked recently? Thank you!)

This, and the amount of work you're clearly doing on this, leads me to suspect that you're probably closer to finding the bottom than you think, and that your timeline may very well be rather more abreviated than mine was.

#562 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2016, 07:17 PM:

#561, Jacque:

Funny, basically all of my progress has been since I ran across the DFD community. Helped by CA and places linked from both here and there, but yeah. This place.

I have a feeling that some things will only come up with a professional, once I can afford one and assuming I can find one who is skilled and who I can trust, but so much has been dragged out into the light already, thanks to everybody here.

#563 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2016, 08:37 PM:

561, 562 (Jacque, invisible one): I actually couldn't read the first several DFD threads as they came out. Too traumatizing. The way I was taught to empathize was to basically take the problems on myself. (Mom does this, 'fixes' the problems, and gets mad if you don't take her solution - or else gets mad at you for telling her a problem she doesn't want to hear about because she can't immediately think of how to fix.) Anyhow, as we all well know the problems aired on this thread are not ones with easy fixes.

Once I moved out/married/started therapy, on the other hand - wow. This community has been instrumental the whole way in helping me to figure out what "normal" might look like. One of a few places (I'm very lucky - Spouse, good friends, and a series of therapists) but a very major help indeed.

invisible one: I hope you can find a good professional quickly once you start looking. They can make a world of difference. Especially *in combination with* these threads.

So, I'm with Jacque in wanting to say THANK YOU to abi for the amazing space she has given us.

#564 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2016, 03:08 AM:

How I handled an incident of sexual harassment at a con.

Not sure I want to put this in the Open Thread, but I do want a link in a place more "public" than my personal blog. This will do.

#565 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2016, 10:27 AM:

Lee @564: (paraphrase) "Do you have an owner?" Ewwww!!! Yeah, not remotely appropriate. Hopefully there will be real consequences for dude, if (as is likely) he's doing that to multiple women. :(

#566 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2016, 12:43 PM:

Lee @564: Yeah, the whole denial-of-agency thing.... ::steam::

One of the particular insights I've garnered from these discussions is the concept of agency. Looking back, I find it interesting that it actually took me a couple of years to finally wrap my head around the idea, in no small part because of abi's emphasis on it. I know she's not the only one to bring it up, but somehow, her specific discussion of it is what has served to pry open a space in my mind for the concept.

#567 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2016, 03:22 PM:

221: Lee

Inside Out is about the effects of fairly subtle gaslighting.

#568 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2016, 12:05 PM:

Nancy: ??? Please expand...?

Meanwhile, in non-dysfunctional news, a coworker of mine was expressing displeasure with me this morning because, uncharacteristically, I was not able to hop when she said frog (for various reasons) twice in quick succession.

It was so nice to be able to fall back on the Captain Awkward scripts: "My reasons for not being available to help in those moments were reasonable and legitimate. If she's unhappy with me, it's her job to express that unhappiness and ask for changes. It's not my job to manage how she feels about me, or my behavior."

#569 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2016, 01:33 PM:

Lee #564: That is up there in the seriously annoying category. What an idiot.

#570 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2016, 02:06 PM:

The reason the girl couldn't stand to be with her family was they'd defined her as happy to such an extreme extent that they couldn't accept her being sad.

#571 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2016, 03:10 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz, I only saw the film once, and that was when it first came out, but if memory serves (which it may not), that dynamic didn't strike me as gaslighting, per se. I saw it as parents knowing their daughter was unhappy (and not being particularly happy themselves, especially the mom), and desperately trying to put the best face possible on a situation that they couldn't fix, in hopes that their daughter would adjust to the move soon.

Is that gaslighting? Or is it muddling through the best you can with the tools you have? I honestly don't know. I guess you can make a case for it being gaslighting, but gaslighting seems to me to imply a more... I don't know exactly how to put this... deliberately manipulative motivation. As opposed to "la-la-la-la-I'm-gonna-pretend-it's-all-right-because-I-can't-fix-it". If you see what I mean.

I could easily be wrong. And I welcome a more detail explanation of your point, which I may well have missed entirely.

#572 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2016, 03:56 PM:

I only saw the movie once and it's been a bit, but my impression was both that the parents were frantic themselves and that they had a history of seeing their daughter as their happy girl, and the latter made it easier for them to not see what was going on.

"Gaslighting" at least has a connotation of deliberate action, and I certainly don't think the parents were doing it on purpose.

#573 ::: Bodhisvaha ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2016, 04:10 PM:

Re: Inside Out -- I think Nancy is talking about there being a bit of gaslighting in the daughter Riley's internal dialog between her basic emotions -- Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust, and Fear. I can agree with Nancy's call, so long as I also point out that the primary motive of Joy's manipulation isn't cruelty, but a lack of understanding the role and value of Sadness. I could say more but it would be full of spoilers!

#574 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2016, 05:07 PM:

No, I definitely meant that her parents were part of the problem, though not intentionally or maliciously so.

I believe that malice is real, but getting things wrong by mistake is much more common.

#575 ::: Statistical Outlier ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2016, 10:30 AM:

Nancy @ #567, #570, #572, @ #574

I haven't seen the movie yet, but I wanted to clarify something. How do you define gaslighting? Because I've always considered it to be an act of malicious intent. As in "I'm going to make you doubt everything you know so I can do ______ to you (or around you) without resistance or interference from you."

The "I'm clueless and/or unobservant about the real you because I can't be bothered to look beyond my own needs," is more like narcissism. The "I can't cope with you and your changes so I'm going to ignore what I don't want to deal with," always struck me as denial or abandonment and not active harm.

I guess with me gaslighting is all about intent. What, exactly, is gaslighting to you?

#576 ::: Bodhisvaha ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2016, 10:42 AM:

Nancy, like Statistical Outlier, I hesitate to use "gaslighting" unless there's a toxic motivation behind the actions. That's what gives the word so much impact. Maybe there needs to be another term for situations that use the same roster of techniques, but are lesser -- different motivation, smaller scale -- you get the idea.

English is full of complementary terms with such fine distinctions, so why not another one? :)

#577 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2016, 01:53 PM:

It looks like I was mistaken in describing the parents in "Inside Out" as gaslighting, though weirdly, I think of narcissistic as a nastier insult.

In any case, when I thought about the movie, it seemed clear to me that the parents laid the groundwork for the problem while entirely meaning well and then getting overloaded. Does this seem like a fair reading?

#575 ::: Statistical Outlier

I think I was looking at the effects of having one's experience comprehensively denied, rather than the intent of the people doing the denying.

#578 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2016, 02:28 PM:

I think whether the denial-of-reality is driven by malice, wilful ignorance, or cluelessness, the effect on the victim is the same. (And the malicious and wilfully ignorant will both claim cluelessness if asked, most likely.)

Despite the origin being deliberate malicious behaviour (in the movie) I've seen it used often enough for situations of wilful ignorance as well. Less so for truly clueless behaviour. As an example, articles about how our entire society is set up in such a way that women are systematically subjected to gaslighting through people not wanting to see patterns of harassment, or not wanting to acknowledge that upsetting thing is upsetting, because then they might have to change a belief or behaviour. Or the "stop gaslighting our kids" article linked above, because the kids are having inconvenient feelings. I'm sure the parents being addressed aren't actively malicious, cackling as they consider the next step in messing with their kid's ability to manage their own emotions.

Wilful ignorance, whether not being able to look beyond themselves or not being able to handle the subject and thus denying that it exists, is toxic in its own right.

And even for the plausibly clueless people out there - just because you haven't seen it yourself, if your reaction is "you must have been imagining things" because you can't imagine that actually happening, you're still denying somebody's reality, and that's still harmful. Even if we don't want to call it gaslighting.

#579 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2016, 11:54 PM:

This article seems relevant to both the conversation about the definition of gaslighting and the one about trying to break away from an emotionally abusive group.

#580 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2016, 11:54 PM:

Internal Server Error.

#581 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2016, 04:31 AM:

This is just to say

I have been reading
The thread
Including
The gratitude.

Which is lovely
But remember
That I just
provide the room.

Thank you
For what goes on in here
I've learned a lot
too.

#582 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2016, 10:08 AM:

Ada Hoffman retweeted this, and I thought it would be useful for this thread: boundaries vs. tone policing (and why it's totally okay to set boundaries, even though you might be accused of tone policing).
http://the-orbit.net/brutereason/2016/03/24/boundary-setting-vs-tone-policing/

#583 ::: Dunstan ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2016, 10:05 AM:

So yesterday was apparently "Siblings Day" on at least one prominent social media site. For some of us, siblings may be a pillar of support in an otherwise toxic environment, but sometimes siblings are part of the problem. They certainly were for me.

I tried to think of my "chosen family," of which I have a small but amazing and cherished circle. (One of whom is actually hosting us in her home following our just-completed cross-country move — I call her "my ex-brother's ex-wife" to people who know the back-story.)

But still, it was hard to see all those heart-encrusted shout-outs to wonderful brothers & sisters who are "best friends" etc: too many reminders of what I don't have and of how much worse some of my family-related problems have been thanks to the destruction wrought by siblings.

Lurking, but witnessing — and with many thanks to abi for "providing the room."

#584 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2016, 02:05 PM:

Attempting a critical reading of a new thing. The book "Loving Him Without Losing You", which came highly recommended. Wish me luck...

It's kind of hard to convince myself to be critical of the assertions in the book, because it's not some random internet writer, the author is a psychoanalyst who specializes in women's issues. But.

I'm still in the first part, and the first chapter included gems such as: referring to "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus" in passing but positively; using the term "politically (in)correct" non-ironically (copyright date 2000, had that term been poisoned yet?); a strong "lean in" style in that women must make all the changes to fix the system that pushes them toward disappearing; an apparent attitude running through the text that I can only describe as "but we already did feminism, why is this still a problem? Did all these women miss the memo?"; and referring to many tendencies that trend masculine and feminine as "hardwired" and biologically determined. Several times already, and I'm less than 50 pages in, I've seen quite a few of those supposedly hardwired things that match my experience, and just as many that are exactly opposite for me—and have in fact been used against me as evidence that I'm doing womanhood wrong.

She does also describe the way in which our society teaches girls and boys from a very young age a lot of the differences that are considered inherent. So not completely on the side of hardwired behaviour, but I don't agree with where she draws the line.

I really hope the actual advice for the things an individual can do, on the scale of her own personal life and within the context of the systemic sexism we all live in, are better than her assessment of the causes of the whole mess.

But you know, she's a psychoanalyst. I'm just somebody struggling to figure out how to maintain my self and my boundaries when there are other people around.

#585 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2016, 02:48 PM:

Dunstan @583: Welcome!! And, yes, problematic "heart-encrusted shout-outs" :-\

It took me a looooong time to finally work out that my older brother was not an innocent bystander in the family dynamic I grew up in. In fact, since it finally became clear that "functionality" was not in the cards wrt our dynamic, I've been looking back and seeing a lot of ways in which he contributed to my brokenness.

the invisible one: Sounds to me like you are doing an excellent job of reading that book critically. In fact, the only issue I see is a reflexive respect for the professional title.

You know the definition of "expert," right? (This joke works better verbally than in writing.)

A spurt is a drip of water under pressure.
"Ex" refers to "away from"
So an "expert" is a drip under pressure, far away from home.

See also: Sturgeon's Law ("90% of everything is crap.").

But you know, she's a psychoanalyst.

The only thing a title like "psychoanalyst" guarantees is that someone jumped through the particular hoops required to earn that particular title. It says nothing about their individual insight, perceptiveness, intelligence, perspicacity, ethics, values, or even expertise.

Also, "psychoanalysis" is traditionally explicitly Freudian, which is a model that is problematic in its own ways.

I'm just somebody struggling to figure out how to maintain my self and my boundaries when there are other people around.

Newsflash: so is she, although I'm sure she'd like you to believe otherwise. (Why do you think she chose that particular profession?) Several of the points you make about the text suggest to me that she's more interested in asserting her credentials than actually, you know, cultivating a clue.

Shorter me: if you have doubts, you have reason to doubt. You can have confidence in that.

#586 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2016, 02:53 PM:

Dunstan @583, I saw a lot of "Siblings Day" posts too. I don't have a negative history and relationship with my sibling, but we're not close either. That was depressing enough - your situation would be harder. Witnessing.

the invisible one @584, go you with the critical reading. Being a psychoanalyst who specializes in women's issues doesn't make the author infallible. As a parent of a special needs kid, the most helpful professionals I interacted with had the attitude that they knew the medical / social / educational whatever, but I was the expert in my kid. Similarly, this author may (or may not) know a lot about these issues, but you are the expert on your experience. "This may be true of many people, but it does not apply to me" is a valid conclusion.

#587 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2016, 03:59 PM:

#585, Jacque: In fact, the only issue I see is a reflexive respect for the professional title.

Well, the book was recommended as a particularly good one. And being an expert in my own work field, it is so incredibly frustrating when people who haven't spent the time building experience and background knowledge go and tell me I'm wrong when decades of science shows that I'm right. See also: anti-vax people who insist that their personal experience is more right than decades of not having constant epidemics of vaccine-preventable disease.

(Now psychological science is a lot harder to nail down than chemistry is, because there are so many interfering factors. The solubilities or reaction rates of a given set of compounds is highly repeatable, given the same starting conditions.)

Several of the points you make about the text suggest to me that she's more interested in asserting her credentials than actually, you know, cultivating a clue.

I'm curious which points you see that in? There was a couple of paragraphs of "about me" in the introduction, and talking about case studies some of them are indicated as her clients. I read that as establishing that she's not some rando spouting uninformed drivel the way most of the internet is (and no small number of self-help books, too).

so is she, although I'm sure she'd like you to believe otherwise

Heh actually she acknowledged that this affected her too.

#586, OtterB: Being a psychoanalyst who specializes in women's issues doesn't make the author infallible.

Not looking for infallible, just looking for decent advice. :)

Although that prompted the thought that: this is a self-help book. By unfortunate necessity, qualifiers such as "this is common but not universal" are left out because they turn off people who don't have the science literacy to know that probabilities and trends and "under specific conditions" are as certain as science gets—and would triple the length of the book. This is also a non-interactive medium! The author cannot adjust what she is saying based on the reader's own experience. Both of which massively increase the amount of critical thought that need to be used while reading books like this.

Which I am practicing. While also hoping that once the book gets into the actionable advice section, it improves.

#588 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2016, 04:17 PM:

the invisible one @587: I'm curious which points you see that in?

Chiefly this one: "but we already did feminism, why is this still a problem? Did all these women miss the memo?"

Although, with a pub date of 2000, it occurs to me that I'm making the classic error of looking at a 2K attitude from a 2016 perspective, after GamerGate et al making it so painfully obvious that Feminism isn't "done" yet.

Also, I guess, I'm maybe applying more of my own prejudice than may be entirely warranted; in particular, I take psychoanalysis with a large block of salt.

So maybe I should rescind my "so is she, although I'm sure she'd like you to believe otherwise" as unwarranted snark. :-\

#589 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2016, 04:20 PM:

Invisible One, I am reminded of the practice of giving two baby books at a baby shower, giving as close to completely opposite advice as possible, as a way of demonstrating that you can ignore the books when you have to.

#590 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2016, 05:14 PM:

I'll tentatively recommend For Your Own Good by Alice Miller. It's about foul stuff-- a claim that very bad child-rearing advice a generation earlier set Germans up for Nazism.

It gave me enough examples for me to realize that a great deal of self-help advice is actually just stuff people are making up.

#591 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2016, 06:37 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz #590: ... a great deal of self-help advice is actually just stuff people are making up.

And the worst of the lot is "this is what worked for me" -- that is, selection bias with a sample size of, the author. And maybe whoever they're still friends with by the time they wrote the book.

#592 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2016, 07:06 PM:

"This worked for me" at least has a sample size of one-- it's better than the outright bullshit and frauds.

#593 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2016, 08:05 PM:

the invisible one: I have no idea what your religious preference is, if any, but if Christian then I recommend Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. It's FULL of Bible references, so I wouldn't recommend it broadly (enough quotations that I'm skimming a lot), but there's some excellent material in it.

I particularly appreciated, given that they're coming at it from a US Evangelical perspective, that their response to a couple having "submission problems" is to correctly identify that the husband is being a bully and trampling all over his wife's legitimate boundaries, and that they recognize that setting boundaries in an intimate relationship requires a support network for you, and that the relationship may still fail - and it's not your fault.

I've been reading it in small doses, since a lot of it is really triggery for me (having been brought up to be boundaryless against Mom's narcissism and enmeshment) (and reading the book now sometimes makes me rage against what she did to me) but I've been consistently impressed. Not saying every word is gospel - YMMV, and I don't agree with everything they say - but overall it's been good-to-excellent.

Also, congrats on reading critically. It's hard, when you've been trained to pedestal-ize authority! (verbing nouns is english language tradition, dontcha know :P ) And it sounds like there are some really frustrating parts of that book. So go you!

For the record, Men are from Mars... actually helped my parents' marriage a lot, because it gave Mom a reframing of my introvert father's need to escape from her as "going to his man cave" instead of "sulking" - so if you're of a particular background, I can see it being favourably reviewed. Just that *you* know better, and (yay!) can read your book with awareness that the author is working from her own life and limitations - and is sometimes very wrong.

Sorry for the essay - takeaway is yay for critical reading! and I also hope that some part of the practical advice is useful for you.

#594 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2016, 11:21 PM:

Quick plug for Seanan McGuire's "Every Heart a Doorway". It'd be [2016] [Novella] over on the "I See You Like Science Fiction" thread – but there's a lot of stuff in it that is apropos here, too.

#595 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2016, 12:35 PM:

#588, Jacque: Yeah, the publication date does affect a lot of assumptions. One reason I check it when I start running into wrong assumptions—it may have been the prevailing belief at the time which has since been demonstrated as incorrect. Also why I asked if "politically correct" had been poisoned as a phrase at that point yet. I know it didn't start out as a reliable warning marker for "here be bigotry!" but it certainly is that now. (I do this date checking with fiction, too. I find that sexism in fiction is somewhat more tolerable in a novel that's a century old than in a modern one. It still sucks and I have a limited tolerance for it, but I do consider the source. How tolerable I find it depends a lot on whether it's ambient or directed though.)

#592, Nancy Lebovitz: "This worked for me" at least has a sample size of one-- it's better than the outright bullshit and frauds.

So many advice books, even beyond self-help. Writing advice books: this is how to write! No, this is how the author of the book writes. There are other ways.

#593, Chickadee:

My religious preference is "leave me alone". (It is literally a topic that I only think about when somebody else brings it up.)

From your description, I think I saw reviews of that book that were similar to yours before, and decided that was one not worth pursuing for myself. I may have read the review and thought, I want a book that's like that, but without the religious starting point and background assumptions.

I mentioned it earlier when I first read it, but the book "Jerk Radar" had a good solid list of boundaries that are totally reasonable to have, as part of its jerk tests. Which are the kind of relationship tests that are good to do, because all of them are of the form "will this person trample or respect my stated boundaries? If trample, they are a jerk, avoid; if respect, they are a reasonable person" and don't require any mind reading.

For the record, Men are from Mars... actually helped my parents' marriage a lot, because it gave Mom a reframing of my introvert father's need to escape from her as "going to his man cave" instead of "sulking" - so if you're of a particular background, I can see it being favourably reviewed. Just that *you* know better, and (yay!) can read your book with awareness that the author is working from her own life and limitations - and is sometimes very wrong.

I can see how "man cave" is a better framing than "sulking". I've never liked the "man cave" thing because it is so loaded down with a mix of "get out of the wife's hair while she's doing the housework" (which is how it was described in Pratchett's The Shepherd's Crown! grr) and "can only have fun when the no-fun wife isn't watching."

#596 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2016, 08:41 PM:

My recollection is that "politically correct" got taken up as a rallying phrase when George H. W. Bush talked about it, so early '90s – by 2000 it was thoroughly spoiled for anything other than a marker of who not to take seriously.

#597 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2016, 02:17 PM:

As I recall, in the mid-eighties "politically correct" was a joke among liberals. For instance, it was a custom at one of the college houses friends of mine lived at to take the ribbons one had worn at graduation (representing various causes -- the two I recall were divesting from South Africa and need-blind admissions, but there were a number of others) and tie them to a particular chair, which became known as "the politically correct chair."

#598 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2016, 04:01 PM:

On to chapter 4, about why are you a disappearing woman? I see a selection bias, big time: the author extrapolates to "all women" (explicit "all" there too, not implicit!) based on the women she saw in her clinic and the women she interviewed for this book. Which is a sample set selected for having relationship problems and seeking help for them. I'm not sure which of those is the bigger bias though; lots of people with relationship problems don't seek help, and I have no way of knowing how many people actually have no relationship problem of this type vs. denying or not being able to identify a problem.

I am also seeing the Freud influence Jacque mentioned, in that nearly everything beyond the baseline that "all women" have to some degree is tied back to parental care. (Which is a thing, but probably not the only thing.) (I'm also a bit hazy on Freudian theory, beyond the joke that Freud had issues with his mother.) Is it a Freudian thing to say stuff like "you probably had these experiences as a child, if you find yourself in this situation now" instead of asking if you had those experiences? Because the author did that several times.

Based on the description (especially the "chameleon" in every sort of relationship, romantic, platonic, or situational, though I used the term "mirror" and was never accused of that by others, it's a thing I figured out on my own after spending a bunch of time on my own) I'm on the extreme end of the author's disappearing woman spectrum, right down to blocking off possible romantic relationships entirely. (For the foreseeable future.) Which she attributes to severe neglect or abuse in childhood. Which, well. Denying that my opinions could have any validity at all if they differ from my parents' could be called abuse, but in every other aspect that I can think of, including encouraging independence and pursuing my own path (as long as my values match theirs) they did ok. But she also in the previous chapter was describing borderline personality disorder in a way that doesn't at all match the uses I've seen here and CA and other places I trust. So I think there's a vocabulary usage difference that I'm going to have to watch out for, especially since the author basically says that BPD and thin boundaries are linked and the most vanishing of the vanishing women probably have BPD. Uh... O.o

"Women tend to suffer from personality disorders far more than males, who suffer from conduct and thought disorders"

I can't help but wonder how much of that is because our society encourages men to act and express, while pushing women to internalize and appear pleasant no matter what they feel.

So I've reached the end of part 1. I'm rather skeptical about the author's assessment of *why* these things happen. She claims she has successfully treated patients, so hopefully part 2, which starts the actual strategies for making changes, will be better.

Is it ok if I keep posting about this book here? I think this is good practice for me in having and expressing an opinion, and also I appreciate the feedback about whether what I'm saying makes sense.

#599 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Gardener of Threads ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2016, 04:45 PM:

the invisible one @598:

Yes it is, but please mention the name of the book in each post in case new people see it and don't know to scroll up.

#600 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2016, 12:57 AM:

re: my book rec @593: The last chapter just ruined the whole book for me. :( There's lots of awesome stuff in there, and some very wise sections, but... his "success stories." They're way too perfect; despite his claims that life with mature boundaries wasn't always perfect, the situations he presents are so idyllic I could gag. And even though he uses examples in the book of women who are shamed for not having perfect bodies, his example of a woman "getting in shape" only involves her dress size shrinking, not any indication of actual health.

I was ready to throw the book out the window. What stopped me (mainly) was that it's a borrowed book, and I want to return it in good condition.

As someone who's struggled with an eating disorder, the LAST thing you should be saying to women who've been shamed for their bodies is that success = losing weight!!! Getting in shape could mean needing a *larger* dress size (see me, with cycling) or getting heavier (muscle is denser than fat). Losing weight is not the be-all and end-all of beauty!!! /rant

@invisible one: your posts actually helped me here - reminding me that no author/authority is infallible, even if they have good things to say, and that *I am allowed/worthy/smart enough/good enough to say they're wrong.*

Now to calm down so I can get to bed on time. :(

#601 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2016, 10:35 AM:

The invisible one #598: Women tend to suffer from personality disorders far more than males, who suffer from conduct and thought disorders

<cynicism> This can also be phrased as "when a man acts badly, that's something they do, or a mistaken idea they've got. When a woman acts badly, that's what they are, an intrinsic part of their personality."

#602 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2016, 11:48 AM:

#599, Idumea Arbacoochee: will do.

#600, Chickadee: his example of a woman "getting in shape" only involves her dress size shrinking, not any indication of actual health.

Ew. I suppose to some, "in shape" for a woman doesn't mean fitness, it means figure. Terrible thing to promote.

reminding me that no author/authority is infallible, even if they have good things to say, and that *I am allowed/worthy/smart enough/good enough to say they're wrong.*

This is also what I am learning by doing this!

#601, David Harmon: This can also be phrased as "when a man acts badly, that's something they do, or a mistaken idea they've got. When a woman acts badly, that's what they are, an intrinsic part of their personality."

Oh right, that. Yeah, that would be part of it too.

So I looked around the internet for a timeline of the usage of "politically correct" and, wow. It's been kind of a toxic phrase from the early days. Looks like 80s liberals in universities tried to reclaim it for a while, so using it non-ironically in 2000 now seems a couple of decades out of date. I wonder if the author was in university in the 80s and didn't notice the usage changing after that.

#603 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2016, 03:00 PM:

Chickadee, #582: I want to note that I disagree with this statement from the article:
Tone policers often also add a patronizing little bit about how "if you'd said it differently I would've listened to you," proving that they are, in fact, perfectly capable of listening, they're just choosing not to in this moment.

I'm not so charitable. To me, that kind of statement translates as, "I don't want to acknowledge what you said, so I will look for any possible excuse not to do so." And, as with the blaming of rape victims, they will always be able to find such an excuse. If it wasn't the tone argument, it would have been something else. The person trying to make a point or set a boundary will never be able to find an acceptable approach, because "acceptable" is a moving target.

Dunstan, #583: That's hard. My sympathies.

the invisible one, #584: Yeah, that sounds dodgy to me too. Remember that a lot of progress has been made just in the last decade or so in the area of understanding gender relationships; it's not at all unreasonable to observe that some of what she's saying is seriously outdated.

Also, beware of falling into the "argument from authority" trap (which is actually one variety of logical fallacy). An unsupported assertion is an unsupported assertion, no matter what kind of title the person making it has. Where's her data? (And remember that "anecdote" is not the singular of "data".)

Chickadee, #593: As an introvert myself, I have to flinch at the notion that our need for private time has to be "reframed" in terms of fallacious (and offensive!) gender stereotyping in order to be acceptable. OTOH, it's also true that doing the right thing for the wrong reasons is better than doing the wrong thing.

#604 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2016, 04:27 PM:

Lee @603: I'm with you, but the article writer was apparently being charitable...

also, regarding the MafMWafV comment, Mom once said (to my *highly* introverted then-fiance) "I used to be an introvert. I got over it." Dismissively. So many levels of wrong... Basically, that doing the right thing for the wrong reasons was reducing the dysfunction in their marriage, rather than helping her to grow in understanding. *shrug* I'm out of there now. (thank God!!!)

#605 ::: ungrateful ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2016, 02:52 PM:

I guess this qualifies as dysfunction, and moreover there's no where else I feel ok about venting: after a year and a half of near-constant confusion and memory loss, my spouse is doing much better.

The trouble is, first of all, that I don't entirely trust the improvement: he says it's because he's started using meditation to block the racing thoughts, but the fact he's suddenly able to do this makes me think his condition is cyclical and this is just a temporary remission, though hopefully one that will last months or years.

The other issue is that because he's keeping on top of his problems by meditation and philosophy, he *never stops talking* about it.

I should be happy he's back, and instead I frequently find myself wishing he'd shut up for a bit and stop being so pretentious (also, sometimes I feel as though his statements on the topic, while not actually victim-blaming, are on a train of logic that will lead there eventually).

I've mentioned some of these concerns to him, and he'd already indicated that he knows he's talking non-stop, but he's still working on controlling it, but meanwhile I'm both annoyed and mad at myself for feeling annoyed.

#606 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2016, 10:33 PM:

ungrateful@605: My sympathies -- that sounds difficult all the way around. Is it possible that the excessive talking is also related to neurological problems?

#607 ::: Ungrateful ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2016, 05:32 PM:

Quite probably. We saw doctors today (including, fortunately, one of the ones who'd seen him last fall and could appreciate the difference) and they sent him to the lab for blood tests, I think to check antibodies. So maybe it's an autoimmune thing affecting brain function? Which would explain why his physical health and his mood seem to be closely tied together as well.

#608 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2016, 03:59 PM:

On to part 2 of "Loving Him Without Losing You" by Beverly Engel and my attempt at a critical read. Part 2 is where the advice starts, and it is set up with one piece of advice per chapter.

Continuing the themes of part 1, there's a strong flavour of gender essentialism which frankly is starting to get on my nerves.

"One of the most important things you can do to ensure that you will not lose yourself in a relationship, as well as not scare off men [...]"

(sigh)

The core advice of chapter 5 (don't rush in) seems sound, and echoes one of the pieces of advice in "Jerk Radar". Don't rush, take the time to get to know the other person. It has the very good point that people with hazy or weak (or nonexistant) boundaries have low resistance to being rushed and this is one of the characteristics of disappearing women.

"[Disappearing women] tend to present an idealized image of themselves to a man, appearing far more understanding, hip, flexible, or whatever, than they really are"

Well, if you're starting from the assumption that "ideal woman" is the chill girl who has no needs, takes up no space, and goes along with whatever the guy wants, then that would be an idealized image. But having spent enough time here and at CA, I have learned that making yourself smaller is not making yourself better. I think that's not so much presenting an idealized image as demonstrating that you think your self and your boundaries don't matter ... something the Jerks (from Jerk Radar) look for.

It also splits the language describing a typical interaction between the charismatic charmer man who knows what women want who is disappointed that a disappearing woman tricked him by not being able to stay ideal, and the disappearing woman who puts a man on a pedestal, presents what she thinks he wants, and resents him for falling off the pedestal as all humans must. And yes, those are many of the exact words used in the text, not words I chose for effect; I just compressed it down from a couple of paragraphs each. What follows are my words which are chosen for effect: even though both parties are described as putting forward a persona that is not their real self but is what they think the other person wants to see, men are disappointed by a woman's lies, while women are disappointed because they expected too much. I think that's not a great message. (I am also a bit anxious posting this sentence because it's the sort of thing that would have got reactions ranging from how I'm looking for something to be offended by, to deliberately using loaded words to make somebody look bad. But dammit, that's my opinion of that page of the book.)

I'm not entirely sure what to make of the "what is behind love at first sight" part of this chapter. Some of them make sense (if I change "at first sight" to "when a guy expresses interest in me in a way that I notice", because that's been my experience of instant overwhelming feelings) although the reasoning behind them seems a little off. Some of them make me wonder how much is freudian bias, such as all the comments about seeking parental replacement. The "repeating a pattern" item goes to being attracted to an abuser, and I am reminded of an earlier discussion here about how when you have to change the shape of your self to cope with a bad situation, once you're out of that situation the shape persists—and it's not that you're attracted to abusers, but it's that maybe you don't know there's another shape you can be, or another way a relationship can be. Also my recent realization that non-asshole people exist out where I can meet them in person, and all my defenses against jerks being jerks might not be needed against them. All those defenses that I thought were just this is how life is, this is what I have to do to have any kind of social interaction.

The "how to" strategies seem reasonable. The first one made me shake my head though. How to slow down, strategy 1: go slowly. Um, not helpful? The extended description for this one is half decent and half cringeworthy though. Give yourself time after a date to process it, don't call him the very next day. Space is good, the author just missed the part where doing something for yourself in that space you're making is preferable to taking that time and spending it all thinking about him and how you can't contact him because that would be going too fast. And the book "The Rules" is referenced, which I haven't read but from everything I've heard is all about women playing coy and forcing men to chase them to prove their love. Yuck.

The comment on timelines for intimacy should have been left out of the "go slowly" section entirely. It's presented as totally reasonable to have a kiss on date 1, holding hands and some touching on date 2, fondling on date 3, and sex on date 4. Or at the very least, it should have been presented as prerequisites met, not number of dates. Some of the later items talk about prerequisites for having sex, including making it a conscious decision that this is a thing you want to do with this person.

The section on questions you should ask yourself seems to be fairly solid, though it does repeat the "ideal self" we show people we're interested in, which in the context of a disappearing woman is usually a "no needs self" so is hardly ideal. I really don't like that link, and the author has repeated it a few times now.

The section "A Healthy Progression" seems to be the best of the chapter. The sequence of escalating intimacy is one that doesn't work for everyone (I remember reading about a relationship escalator? We have done this, so the next step is to do that) but as a structure for somebody who vanishes as soon as somebody asks her out it's probably not a bad place to start—not because of the physical progression, but because it puts personality and compatibility exploration front and centre. Learning about each others' opinions at the stage of holding hands and kissing! That presupposes that the other party is listening to your opinions, and implies that you don't go farther with the relationship unless they do! It would be nice if this was explicitly set out, but it's not, only implied. On the next page it asks questions around (but not explicitly) whether or not he listens to your opinions and engages with them as opinions instead of the noise made by some naive pet to be dismissed, placated, and ignored.

So overall the first piece of advice seems solid, and increases my hopes that the advice part of this book, even if not the reason why this happens part, will be useful.

#609 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2016, 07:04 PM:

the invisible one, #608: [E]ven though both parties are described as putting forward a persona that is not their real self but is what they think the other person wants to see, men are disappointed by a woman's lies, while women are disappointed because they expected too much.

I think that's a very accurate description -- and, although you didn't mention this, what jumps out at me about it is that from either side, the woman is assigned all the blame. Either she put on a fake persona and is therefore at fault for having lied, or she fell for a man's lies when she should have known better and is therefore at fault for being stupid. The man? He gets a free pass, either way. What you're seeing here is the effect of institutionalized sexism -- the kind that people don't even notice because it seems "normal" to them.

FWIW, I don't believe in "love at first sight" at all. Instant attraction, instant infatuation, instant crush, instant lust, certainly -- but love takes longer, because it requires you to know something about the other person. This may be just a difference in how I define the word "love", but I'd need a lot of convincing that the word is applicable to any just-met situation.

"The Rules" is indeed horrible -- it's basically an instruction manual for wannabe gold-diggers who are looking for rich assholes. If the book you're reading considers it anything but a bad example, that's a Big Red Warning Flag.

Any "timeline" which presents itself as a hard-and-fast rule -- especially if it doesn't make allowances for going less fast -- is also automatically suspect. Physical intimacy is something you do when YOU are comfortable with the idea, not after a certain number of dates! People aren't paint-by-numbers boards.

I think I'm more dubious about this book than you are. It will be interesting to see what the rest of the advice sounds like.

#610 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2016, 07:17 PM:

So, a coworker in the next cube is protesting about being late for an appointment, while iteratively one-more-thing-ing the consultant s/he's working with. I'm sitting here, repeating to myself: "Not my circus, not my monkeys. I don't need to fret on her behalf." ::sigh::

the invisible one @608: I have learned that making yourself smaller is not making yourself better.

The art of being yourself | Caroline McHugh echoes you very specifically.

#611 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2016, 12:36 PM:

#609, Lee: what jumps out at me about it is that from either side, the woman is assigned all the blame

Yes, that is why I chose the words I did.

The reference to "The Rules" is ... not negative. I think that the advice given in that particular point is decent, but for the wrong reasons.

It's in the section that says to give yourself and the new interest some time to process, to not talk to the new interest every single day because that doesn't give you a chance to really think about whether you want to continue or not. I think this is decent advice, although if the disappearing woman being addressed is anything like me, it takes a lot more than a couple of days to get a bit of distance and perspective. Yes absolutely, take some time to think about things! It can take me days, sometimes weeks, to figure out what my reaction to something is.

The reason the book gave for spacing out contact, in addition to time for processing, was not "[sending] the message that your life is so empty that a date with him is a very big deal" while the reason paraphrased from "The Rules" is to not appear "too easy or too desperate". Which I read as the exact same reason in different words. Neither of them say that in those gaps in contact you should do your own fun thing, but instead that you should create those gaps to manage the interest's perception of you, and that's such a wrong reason.

Any "timeline" which presents itself as a hard-and-fast rule -- especially if it doesn't make allowances for going less fast -- is also automatically suspect.

It does later link physical intimacy with emotional intimacy, which I mentioned. The 4-date sequence came after a thing about how "recent studies say" most couples (selection bias of americans who would answer a survey about sex) have sex about on the 4th date; the sequence may have been the author suggesting a sequence that would lead to that. But also said that it seemed appropriate because you need "at least this much time". So very small acknowledgement that it might take longer. No comment that the "most couples" studied may have been rushing in.

I think I'm more dubious about this book than you are.

At the point I am in this book, I wouldn't recommend it. It seems to have some decent advice buried in the icky reasons, but I'm far more likely to recommend Jerk Radar. (Which I wonder if I should try to do a critical reading of that too. I do want to reread it, because I found it very illuminating the first time through.) I'm going to keep at it though, if for no other reason than practice at evaluating and dissecting advice, and having and expressing opinions.

#612 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2016, 01:44 PM:

the invisible one: I've been enjoying your analysis of the book. :) I seem to be reading a lot of those lately - like Samantha Field's series on various fundie Christian relationship books. (much ick. much throwing of the book against the wall) Thank goodness I never read any of them when I was vulnerable to such teachings, but I remember one girl in undergrad reorganizing her life around the teachings of I Kissed Dating Goodbye. (link to Samatha Field's introduction to her review)

I enjoy it because it tells me what mainstream culture is telling people, and also because it's really interesting seeing what people whose opinions I trust (and yes, that includes you!) have to say about these things. So thank you for posting your serial review, and I'm glad you're finding it a useful exercise. :)

#613 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Gardener of Threads ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2016, 02:14 PM:

Note: I just released ungrateful @607 from moderation and renumbered up-references in the subsequent comments.

#614 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2016, 05:10 PM:

the invisible one #611: not "[sending] the message that your life is so empty that a date with him is a very big deal"

And, of course, the easiest way to do that is not to have an empty life -- which also, unsurprisingly, makes you a more interesting person (because you have interests) and therefore a more desirable partner. That the book fails to acknowledge this even in passing rings a very sour note, because even in the 1980s I remember a lot of "advice for lonely women" which emphasized finding interests for yourself that didn't depend on having a partner in order to make yourself more interesting to potential partners, and you say this book is more recent than that.

#615 ::: Bodhisvaha ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2016, 11:19 AM:

the invisible one @ 611:

I'm not impressed with this book so far, although it seems like the author is trying. But things have been changing rapidly, and certain kinds of awareness do hit tipping points. I've been watching too much TV/movies -- 1950s classics, 1980s, and 2000s/2010s -- and the stop-motion look at culture is instructive. The casual interactions they portray are getting more functional. Long way to go, but we're getting somewhere.

The reason the book gave for spacing out contact, in addition to time for processing, was not "[sending] the message that your life is so empty that a date with him is a very big deal" while the reason paraphrased from "The Rules" is to not appear "too easy or too desperate". Which I read as the exact same reason in different words. Neither of them say that in those gaps in contact you should do your own fun thing, but instead that you should create those gaps to manage the interest's perception of you, and that's such a wrong reason.

I wonder if this advice keeps turning up because of *all* the beneficial effects, and various people rationalize it through the effect that feels the most important to their conscious brain. Another effect of spacing out dates would be to send "I'm not an easy victim" signals. Historically, maybe women haven't consciously thought about it in terms of processing time, self-care/independence, or demonstrating that they have a support network, but it's still going to carry out those functions even if the reason you cite to yourself is to make yourself scarcer therefore more desirable.

It also helps to remember that a lot of dating advice previously served as advice for a first-time job-hunter to land the best possible lifetime job, on her first try with no second chances, and against vicious competition. The Marilyn Monroe movies I've been watching (set in the 1950s) are upfront about the importance, and the business acumen, of marrying for money. Dating and marriage being primarily about human relationships is very young as cultural ideas go.

#616 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2016, 01:21 PM:

#612, Chickadee: Thanks! Knowing that what I'm posting is useful to others as well as to myself does help keep me going. If it were only useful to me, I'd feel like I should keep it in my journal instead, and I really appreciate the discussion around the topic. It's reassuring to me to get some engagement with my opinion instead of having it dismissed with "you're just looking for something to be offended by" or its generic variant "you're overreacting".

#614, Lee: And, of course, the easiest way to do that is not to have an empty life -- which also, unsurprisingly, makes you a more interesting person (because you have interests) and therefore a more desirable partner.

Given that "Loving Him Without Losing You" is aimed squarely at women who have interests and outside connections which they promptly abandon on starting a relationship, the lack of a reminder to keep those interests going as part of spacing out contact is particularly galling.

Although having interests in order to become desirable to another person is another case of the right advice for the wrong reason...

#615, Bodhisvaha: I wonder if this advice keeps turning up because of *all* the beneficial effects, and various people rationalize it through the effect that feels the most important to their conscious brain. Another effect of spacing out dates would be to send "I'm not an easy victim" signals. Historically, maybe women haven't consciously thought about it in terms of processing time, self-care/independence, or demonstrating that they have a support network, but it's still going to carry out those functions even if the reason you cite to yourself is to make yourself scarcer therefore more desirable.

That's a good point. I have heard several times before that most of the study of people and society is heavily filtered through our assumptions. (Viking grave with weapons = man's grave... oh wait, actually looking at the bones instead of assuming shows that some of those warriors were actually women! Cue the shock and surprise! ...and massive overblowing of the results by the media, and subsequent backlash and denial, of course.) So some end result that is overall good or overall bad is explained in the context of our assumptions because it's not easy to get hard data about the reasons behind behaviour.

It also helps to remember that a lot of dating advice previously served as advice for a first-time job-hunter to land the best possible lifetime job, on her first try with no second chances, and against vicious competition.

That's a good point. I found the phrases "playing the field" and "going steady", mystifying for most of my life, as well as worrying about which person to date on a given Friday. Dating more than one person at a time was baffling to me. (Completely aside from not having enough people asking me to even need to make that decision.) This book actually mentioned it in passing in a way that clarified the concept, and it ties in to what you just said here. They went to events in their community (not "alone with each other" dates) with a bunch of different people as their partner at different times, as a way of evaluating which one they wanted to choose for their one chance.

#617 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2016, 03:25 PM:

Bodhisvaha 615/the invisible one @616: *lightbulb* on reading this

That's a good point. I found the phrases "playing the field" and "going steady", mystifying for most of my life, as well as worrying about which person to date on a given Friday. Dating more than one person at a time was baffling to me. (Completely aside from not having enough people asking me to even need to make that decision.) This book actually mentioned it in passing in a way that clarified the concept, and it ties in to what you just said here. They went to events in their community (not "alone with each other" dates) with a bunch of different people as their partner at different times, as a way of evaluating which one they wanted to choose for their one chance.

As far as I was concerned, there was this mysterious and absolute set of rules (that Mom made it clear that she knew, but couldn't/wouldn't explain) that regulated dating, but none of it ever made any sense to me. This explains a great deal. :)

#618 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2016, 05:08 PM:

the invisible one @616: Knowing that what I'm posting is useful to others as well as to myself does help keep me going.

In addition to being most interesting (see also me chiming in: Yes! Please continue! And, yes, I'd be interest in seeing a critical reading of Jerk Radar.), it occurs to me that your comments here also potentially serve as a handy outline for your eventual book on the topic. =:o)

Hey! Why not? You don't have those particular Credentials™ after your name, but personal experience, a critical mind, and good questions, you have in abundance!

#619 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2016, 10:15 AM:

#618, Jacque: Ha, that's a rather bigger project than I really want to sign up for. Even the thought of collecting it all on a separate blog is daunting - not least because I wouldn't have this amazing community to interact with, which helps clarify some of the things I post about, but also because I don't want to have to deal with moderating comments. I've seen what gets posted elseweb, and I'm extremely grateful for the careful moderation here.

And if I turn it into a book, my real name would have to be attached to it in some way, even if that's just in the publisher's bookkeeping system.

#620 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2016, 11:33 AM:

This was an interesting article on how teachers can interact positively with oppositional students. As I read through it, I thought I might want to try some of the strategies with myself, especially about dealing with work avoidance. Since I know that's a topic that comes up here regularly, I thought I'd pass it on in case anyone else finds it useful. Basically, when you're having a hard time with anxiety, etc., learn from how understanding and clued-in teachers would manage it, not how the authors of your Tapes managed it.

#621 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2016, 05:05 AM:

Speaking of work-avoidance :-), I thought I'd post a follow-up on my various struggles with Getting Stuff Done.

I've been seeing some success with a hybrid of Naomi Parkhurst's homing trick1, Elliott Mason's drop-box, Bodhisvaha's Chore-O-Vision, and Bricklayer's Rehoming Oscars and Terrys. If I was going to give this trick a label, I'd call it On-The-Way-To. (Or maybe By-the-Way Surfing.)

I've noticed that I can ride the momentum that gets me out of bed during the weekend, and this gets me past many of the speed bumps and spoon shortages that generally get in the way of my getting chores done.

When I get up, the first thing I see2 as I'm getting dressed is my laundry hamper. After I get dressed, I bundle that up, deploy empty laundry bags, and port the laundry into the hall which my bedroom shares with my bathroom. Morning ablutions are followed by deployment of laundry soap and quarters in their carryall, plus adding bathroom linens to the laundry bag.

With me assembled, the next stop is the laundry room downstairs to start the laundry. Kitchen is next: pig breakfast, vitamin packing for the week, and dishes. By now, laundry's done washing. Trash and recycling go out to the dumpsters, which is a spur off the laundry rail. Dryer started, it's back inside for kitchen cleaning, then my breakfast. And so on. Along the way, I notice Oscars that need rehoming, and those just ride along to where they go.

I don't know that it's necessarily any faster than any other trick I've tried, but it gets stuff done. Not least because it accesses energy that's not available if I set out to "do chores" in isolation. It also focuses the Chore-O-Vision which, without constraint, will just overwhelm me and reduce me to a cowering puddle in the face of All The Things!!!eleventy!!

I've actually managed to get my chores done on Fridays (I have three-day weekends.), which is a really weird sensation3. I've gone through a few weeks, in the past few months, with everything4 reasonably clean, tidy, and caught up. Which feels very weird, I have to say. Makes me almost feel like a (say it softly) grown-up.

Not 100% reliable, yet. For some reason, I require an open schedule for this trick to work at all. If I've got something scheduled for later in the day, like a date with a friend, or an appointment, I fixate on that, and it's everything I can do to get up on time to get to that thing on time. Getting anything done beforehand seems to be (for now) out of the question. There's some kind of weird anxiety that having that pin in my calendar invokes that I don't yet understand.

1. [I]f I'm in the living room and have an errand in the bedroom, I'll try to look around and see if there's something in the living room that belongs in the bedroom.

2. I noticed some years ago that I get an impulsive kick from seeing a task that needs doing—under some circumstances, it becomes a compulsion. (Which is a real hazard when it comes to artwork; really easy for that to push everything else out of the way, including sleep. Which can be...a problem.)

3. First time it happened, I went through all of Saturday thinking it was Sunday. Very disorienting. (In a good way!)

4. Well, the stuff I'm allowing into my umvelt at the moment, anyway. I've got a huge list of stuff that doesn't get done, but for sanity's sake, I've filed those under Projects rather than Chores, for the time being.

#622 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2016, 09:43 AM:

#620 ::: OtterB

That's better than the way things are usually done, but I'm not seeing anything in the system for finding out whether what the teacher is trying to get the student to do is actually a bad idea.

#623 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2016, 12:44 AM:

the invisible one, #616: Although having interests in order to become desirable to another person is another case of the right advice for the wrong reason...

Yes, but also it's a case of Activity A will result in Effect B whether you intend it so or not. Of course your primary reason for having interests is (or should be) to have an interesting life -- but a person with an interesting life is also a more interesting potential partner to the sort of person who's healthy to live with.

Some guys really do want a woman who will subsume everything about herself into her relationship with him. They are not IMO desirable partners for a woman, and indications that this may be the case should be treated as a Giant Flashing Warning Sign.

They went to events in their community (not "alone with each other" dates) with a bunch of different people as their partner at different times, as a way of evaluating which one they wanted to choose for their one chance.

That sounds like a much older paradigm than the one current in the 1970s and 1980s when I was actively dating. "Playing the field" at that time did mean having more than one man with whom you went on one-and-one dates, and "going steady" was when you narrowed it down to one and started behaving monogamously. The key element, as it was emphasized in dating advice of the time, was to be up-front about it -- to make sure that each guy you were seeing knew that he wasn't the only one in your life. Going steady, at that time, was the first step in a progression intended to lead to engagement and then marriage.

#624 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2016, 01:53 AM:

Eep, I'm going to have to get through this book a lot faster than I have been ... it's due back at the library on the 30th.

Ok, continuing my critical reading of "Loving Him Without Losing You" by Beverly Engel. Started upthread far enough for scrolling to become annoying so I link :)

We shall take it as read that there's a boatload of gender essentialist stuff, so heteronormative that I don't recall a mention of same sex relationships at all, out of date gender relations stuff in general because the book is 16 years old now, and what appears to my understanding to be freudian stuff where nearly everything is blamed on abusive or neglectful parents and the (grown) child is trying to recreate the situation because ... I don't understand why.

So in part 2 there are seven "commitments" one makes to help prevent disappearing into a relationship. The second one is "be yourself and tell the truth about yourself".

This chapter seems fairly solid. Begin as you mean to go on. If you pretend to be someone else, you may lose track of who you are. If you pretend some annoying behaviour is acceptable, that annoying behaviour WILL continue. This applies to public behaviour, private behaviour, and sex.

It also criticizes "The Rules" which encourages women to pretend to be something they're not, so at least this book isn't a slavish Rules follower. The previous mention where Engel agreed with "The Rules" may have been a case of even a stopped clock being right sometimes. Given what I know about memory though, a first mention of a thing being positive is likely to associate that thing as a positive thing, even if later it's contradicted. This should have been the first mention of "The Rules", I think, if it had to be mentioned at all.

The author addresses our oh-so-lovely childhood socialization about acceptable behaviour, and how that affects our expression of self as adults. There is rather more focus than there should be on abusive families of origin; it doesn't take abuse to internalize that women need to be pleasant and compliant at all times. In fact it's hard to avoid.

Most of the examples given here are of a woman who pretends to be totally ok with her new guy then eventually is unable to maintain that and becomes needy, jealous, and demanding. And of course, as before, the man feels angry about being tricked by a dishonest woman, because it's the woman's fault. Obviously.

The most difficult but important part of this chapter to actually implement is to accept something I learned a while ago from CA: if somebody only likes you if you shrink yourself to fit the box they want you to fit in, that person is not your friend and you're better off without them. Believing that there are people out there who won't reject you because you don't fit into a particular box, that's *hard*. And the difficulty of that isn't acknowledged. "All you have to do is... do this thing that your life has taught you will cause you to be rejected by everybody, forever!"

It also advises to know and state your preferences, likes and dislikes—and acknowledges that a lot of women (especially disappearing women) are so used to disappearing that they don't actually know what their preferences *are*. Apparently figuring that out if you don't know is the subject of a chapter in part 3. That will hopefully be useful.

The third commitment is "maintain a separate life". Aha, this was the part I noticed was lacking in the first commitment, where it said to not call the guy every single day but space out the contacts.

This chapter opens by acknowledging that it was pretty recent that women were expected to drop whatever life they had and become a housewife upon marriage. Unfortunately then all the examples of women dropping whatever life they had are presented as the women making bad choices, with no further mention of hey, that's what mom did, that's the template for what a relationship looks like. (But we already did the feminism thing, they must have not got the memo.) Good advice, not great explanations for it.

The sections that focus on maintaining other friend relationships, instead of maintaining hobbies and interests... the situations they describe look to me like emotional abuse, gaslighting, deliberate isolation. They are not about a woman who is dropping their thing to moon around waiting for their new love, but a woman who is being told by the man, directly and indirectly, to not spend time with their friends. Whether it's the guy who is so hurt that she could possibly want to spend a day with a long-time friend instead of him and makes her so stressed that she stops asking (!) if she can spend the day with her friend, or the guy who tells her she's too friendly to strangers and should stop talking to her coworkers outside of the office and shouldn't need anybody else (WTF THIS IS ABUSE AUTHOR THIS IS NOT A DISAPPEARING WOMAN THERE'S A DIFFERENCE).

O.o

Ooookay.

Next tip in this chapter is to maintain financial independence. There's a nod to women's salaries being less than men's, and earlier there was a mention of women's jobs being seen as "less important" than men's, such that if the man gets a job or transfer in a different city, the woman is expected to quit her job and follow. Eyeroll at men pay for dinner out, women cook him dinner or prepare a picnic. Financial independence is an important thing to do, I agree, and staying in a relationship because you can't afford to leave is a real thing. There's also pressure (not acknowledged by the book) of varying degrees applied to NOT maintain your own finances, which also makes it harder to follow this advice. I know my mom was quite mystified that I didn't get rid of my personal account and put all my money in joint finances with Crappy Ex when we married.

Then there's the very last bit of this chapter, wherein men need more space than women, and to accommodate that, women should talk less so as not to overwhelm him, should not start with the emotional closeness as soon as they see him (ok I can see giving a partner a bit of space to let go of a work day, which is something women need too, but "as soon as you see him" at the start of a date? Start your date later then, so the switching from work to date can take place outside of date time. Grr.) and give him space when he starts sending out messages that he needs more space (oh, but women have to ask for more space in words) because once he's had enough space, he'll come back. (Unless he doesn't, deciding instead that a cook and bedmate who doesn't ask for any of that intimacy nonsense and leaves him to play his computer games in peace is a great situation.)

Sigh. This book is really hit and miss. Decent advice at the core, but so many wrong reasons.

#625 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2016, 02:06 AM:

#623, Lee: Yes, but also it's a case of Activity A will result in Effect B whether you intend it so or not.

No argument there. It's that the book was at that point presenting Effect B as the reason to do Activity A that I took issue with.

That sounds like a much older paradigm than the one current in the 1970s and 1980s when I was actively dating.

That is entirely possible. My grasp of dating practices is marginal at best even for stuff that was done while I was of an age to be learning about it. In that case I still really don't understand dating multiple people at once.

The whole thing about dating for a while then discussing when a couple wants to be exclusive, is just, what. I don't understand. If I am dating somebody, I am dating only them until that relationship ends, however long that might be (including only one date).

Not that I have a lot of experience with being asked out by more than one person in a given timeframe, but that's what I've noticed about how my brain works. Dating a second person is just not even a possibility for me, and if a guy I was dating was also seeing other women, nope nope nope. (I hope that would include a "bye", but that was never put to the test.)

#626 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2016, 05:02 AM:

the invisible one, #624: freudian stuff where nearly everything is blamed on abusive or neglectful parents and the (grown) child is trying to recreate the situation because ... I don't understand why

IME, there are two fairly common reasons for this pattern to occur:

1) The abused child seeks out or is drawn to partners who are similar to their abuser as an unconscious attempt to "make it come out right this time". I've seen this happen. Needless to say, it almost never works.

2) The abused child seeks out or is drawn to partners who are similar to their abuser because it's a familiar pattern and one that they know how to navigate. Healthy relationships don't feel the same, and that can be scary.

Related to the latter: the tendency (which we've seen play out here a few times) for someone who's used to not being taken seriously when they talk about an abusive situation to suddenly switch to defending the abuser when people do take them seriously! It's as though they're so used to playing out a well-worn script that when the current audience doesn't give the accustomed responses, they start doing it instead.

However, Freudian psychology is no more one-size-fits-all than anything else, and those patterns certainly don't apply to everyone.

WTF THIS IS ABUSE AUTHOR THIS IS NOT A DISAPPEARING WOMAN THERE'S A DIFFERENCE

Got that in one. Which tells you, again, how recent the paradigm shift has been, that this kind of behavior by a man was not called out as abusive. The recognition of emotional abuse as opposed to physical abuse is historically very new, and there's still a lot of pushback against it even now.

Dating a second person is just not even a possibility for me, and if a guy I was dating was also seeing other women, nope nope nope. (I hope that would include a "bye", but that was never put to the test.

Good, so you recognize that you're not wired for the ability to play the field. It's certainly not a requirement!

Now in my case, it was very much the other way; I had some nasty breakups with guys who wanted the whole enchilada right away, and it was a long time before I could trust someone enough to even consider an exclusive relationship.

There's a really good line in the For Better or For Worse comic about this difference. One teenage boy says to his friend, "What you think of as 'being tied down' I think of as 'security'." Which sums it up quite well, I think.

#627 ::: Neon Fox ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2016, 09:41 AM:

We are not friends.

We are not friends.

I will talk to you on the phone and have lunch with you, but we are not friends.

You don't love anything I love. You think everything I care about is stupid, childish, or both. You spent the entirety of my teens making sure that we were not friends.

Don't fucking call me and tell me how much you miss me. We are not friends.

#628 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2016, 10:47 AM:

#626, Lee: IME, there are two fairly common reasons for this pattern to occur:

Yeah, the first is the explanation most used in the book. It sounds weird to me but if you've seen it happen then it could be more than some hypothetical construct.

The second one, we've discussed here more than a few times, and I mentioned it as a thing the author missed completely. Especially the part where you don't know that different relationship types are even possible, so you keep getting into the ones you're familiar with.

The recognition of emotional abuse as opposed to physical abuse is historically very new

Like post-2000 new? Ok, could be that it was simply not a thing the author or anybody else even knew about. I know I first encountered the concept in the late 2000s. I would hope somebody working in the field knew about it earlier than I did, but early 2000s would still be after this book was published. Unhelpful Counsellor, who I was seeing at the time of that relationship breakdown, either didn't know about emotional abuse, or knew in theory but didn't know how to recognize it, and that was mid/late 2000s.

"What you think of as 'being tied down' I think of as 'security'." Which sums it up quite well, I think.

Definitely different mindsets. Though I don't know if I'd consider it "security" so much. It's one of those things that I've come to realize on an intellectual level is a thing that happens, that works for some people, and that I just completely do not understand on any other level. See, going on lots of dates as recommended for online dating, I understand, because it's a case of first date: more or no? If more, go again, if no, go on to the next person. I'm sure some people also do the "more" with more than one person at a time, at which point I get lost.

I mean, I'm trying to build up the ability to do one-on-one friend things with more than one friend at a time. In the past, I've had one friend (if any) that I do stuff with, and various group activities where I'm not friends (just friendly) with the other participants in the group.

#627, Neon Fox:

Ugh, that sounds annoying. Maybe they miss being able to mock you. Oh woe.

#629 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2016, 10:48 AM:

Neon Fox. Witnessing. And <hugs>, if welcome.

#630 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2016, 01:18 PM:

Neon Fox: "Say, 'Friend,' you know that movie of me you've got going in your head? And thing you do? Where you use me as a movie screen to project it onto? Yeah, so not down with that."

BTDT. A few times. Let me know if you want to borrow my nerf bat. :-)

#631 ::: Neon Fox ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2016, 01:38 PM:

She's pretty impervious to the Nerf bat, alas. But the offer is appreciated (also the offer of hugs).

I mean, this is the woman who once told me that we couldn't be friends because she was the parent and I was the child. Like, in so many words. And now she wonders why I don't want to hang out.

#632 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2016, 04:52 PM:

Neon Fox @ 631

Ah. I'm familiar with this kind of person. My suspicion is that they're either 1) fresh out of targets and enough time has passed for them to rewrite history in their head or 2) they haven't forgotten anything and want to revisit "the good ole days" for personal reasons. Or I could just be paranoid and hostile on your behalf. I've had people run me down for their own mental validation in the past and for much the same reasons--less so now. It sucks every single time.

Personally, I've done both the duck/dodge/too-busy-until-they-give-up-and-go-away thing as well as the brutally direct, "we're not friends, beat it" option. Neither one was pleasant because even with the blunt "no" they still kept coming back - or reminding me they exist in my universe through a third (or fourth) party. There's a line in Lois McMaster Bujold's book "Memory" that goes "You have no mass and can not move me" that Miles uses. It rang a lot of bells for me. That and "The opposite of love is not hate. The opposite of love is indifference." Which comes from "Komarr" as I recall. (I'll stop babbling at you now.)

Virtual hugs and Mental Fortitude for you. Witnessing.

#633 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2016, 06:08 PM:

Neon Fox, #627: And she thinks you're still the same person you were as a teenager (remembering earlier conversations). Fuck that noise.

You have the right to set limits on what you're willing to do with your mother. You have the right to make your own decisions about who is or is not your friend.

the invisible one, #628: I'm trying to build up the ability to do one-on-one friend things with more than one friend at a time.

Oh, I remember that one. Up thru my freshman year of high school, although I had more than one friend, I never did stuff except with one of them at a time (aside from a couple of birthday parties). In my sophomore year, I actually had two friends where the three of us all did things together. I remember at the time thinking that this was the first time I'd had a real friends group of any sort. And then, of course, my parents decided to move 3 states away -- but the fact that it had happened once made it easier for it to happen again.

#634 ::: Neon Fox ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2016, 06:25 PM:

Sadly, it's tough to do a slow fade from your mother. :P

She's not trying to run me down; she just doesn't understand that I'm not the same person as she is.

Just, you know, we're not friends.

#635 ::: Nancy Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2016, 11:17 PM:

I once snapped at mine that we were not friends, that she was my mother, it's a different relationship, just like Dad is my dad, and not my friend either. (There's some family-specific dynamics involved in including Da in that statement.)

I got her to understand that no one else could be my mother, and that is special and unique, and valuable in and of itself.

#636 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2016, 12:38 PM:

#633, Lee: although I had more than one friend, I never did stuff except with one of them at a time (aside from a couple of birthday parties). In my sophomore year, I actually had two friends where the three of us all did things together.

I think we may be talking about different things. My past patterns:

I have some groups that I do stuff with, where the group is one that anybody can join; I am friendly and have good conversation with the people there but never talk to them outside of that context. (I do not call these people friends. Maybe [group]-friends.) This includes stuff like my local NaNoWriMo writing group, or my martial arts classes.

I may have one friend who I do various things with outside of a group activity context. All of this is on one person (kind of a lot to ask of somebody, to be a person's only friend) until we drift apart or whatever happens that we don't do one-on-one things together. Then I have only the groups for a while.

More recently, it's the above, plus:

I have a person or two who specifically invites me to invitation only group things. These I will call friends, because the invitation is specific to me and not a general "anybody can come!" They're still group events though, sometimes with people I don't know but the person who invited me does; sometimes they're people I know and have done similar things with before. Sometimes only 3 or 4 people, too. This includes stuff like my hiking group, or board game days.

What I'm working on:

Having more than one person to do non-group things, as with my "one friend" above but more than one of them. So this weekend I might do something with only Alice, and next weekend with only Bob, then later another thing with Alice, then Christy, then Bob. Each of those things is one-on-one, but my entire social life is not all on one person.

This is the "more than one" that I don't know yet how to handle.

#637 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2016, 02:14 PM:

I've actually discovered fairly recently that I have issues around hanging out with "more than one" friend. If it's one or two people I'm okay. If it's more than that, I need to know (like) them pretty well and feel like I "belong." Hanging out with more than two people I don't know well is generally quite painful. (Only one of the many reasons why I hate work meetings.)

#638 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2016, 02:57 PM:

Yeah, just hanging out is not so great for me either. Pretty much all the group things I do are built around some activity, so doing [activity] is the core, and socializing with the people also doing the activity fits around it. And the activity is a thing that is intended to fill up the entire group time; it's just humans, being generally social animals, tend to include socializing in whatever they do.

I have accepted invitations to a few parties (of the food and talk variety, not of the loud music and dancing variety) and in the space of one evening I'll go back and forth between a great conversation with somebody, silent and awkward while people socialize around me, halp I'm overwhelmed by too many conversations coming in my ears at the same time, what am I doing here hide out in the kitchen where the food is, and jealous of the host's cat because cats are allowed to hide under the bed when there's too much going on.

#639 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2016, 03:41 PM:

the invisible one, #636: You're right, we were talking about slightly different things. My "before" is the "after" you're trying to reach. I don't have much advice to offer about that, because when I was in the "only do things with one friend at a time" stage was a long time ago.

There's at least one person who I think comes to our Chocolate Decadence party precisely because she knows that if she gets overwhelmed and goes off to read in the living room for a while (the party tends to focus in the den and kitchen), nobody will pester her. Since most of my social circle is made up of "gregarious introverts", we all understand the need to back off.

#640 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2016, 04:15 PM:

More commentary and critical thinking about "Loving Him Without Losing You" by Beverly Engel.

So commitment 4 is "stay in the present and in reality". As before and everywhere in this book, the reasoning behind it all is out of date and sexist.

I read this chapter through and the overall thing I noticed is that the fantasies the author discourages in favour of being in reality are both extremely disconnected from reality and often quite wilfully so. The most extreme example is the person who would be upset by something her guy consistently didn't do in reality and deliberately go home and fantasize about him doing the thing. Others are about filling in the blanks with flights of fancy, then being disappointed at the reality.

Well yeah, that's not a great thing to do. It certainly doesn't lead to getting to know the actual person. But I'm struggling to see how this is specific to disappearing women, apart from when it turns into making your entire life about the fantasy. But I think that's a special case of making your entire life about the guy.

I also doubt very much that chasing a fantasy partner is something only women do, disappearing or not.

The author uses "romantic love" to describe being in love with a fantasy, and also how our media and entertainment show that as actual love. Especially the rescuing part, either the woman waiting to be rescued from loneliness by her prince, or the woman trying to "rescue" a man from himself and turn him into a prince. Both of which are reasons why I despise most fictional romance.

This whole chapter is one I'm struggling with. I don't know how to evaluate how common this level of fantasizing is, I'm doubtful about the author's reasons why it happens based on the earlier parts of the book, and I don't know whether the interviewee's reasons (if any are offered) are self-aware analysis or rationalization. I might have to come back to this chapter and think about it some more to do a proper job of it, because while I have recognized that I do some fantasizing it doesn't seem to match the stuff in the book. (Mine, I have tentatively identified as anxiety spirals. It's kind of a toss-up whether it will go to idealist fantasy where everything is perfect forever, or horrible catastrophe where he hates me and I'm alone forever. Either way, it involves uncontrollable leaping ahead in visualizing future interactions, with no nuance, lots of repetition and circling back to ideas, and really intense emotions.)

#641 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2016, 12:29 PM:

Continuing my last post: The author also puts the opposites attract concept in with fantasy romance, and something to avoid. The main example is spontaneity vs. planning, and if you're too different from your partner in this respect you'll both be frustrated and unhappy—and the skill you are lacking is one you should develop in yourself, instead of looking for an outside person to supply it. (Or impose it. Depends how it plays out.) That seems somewhat reasonable, but difficult, depending on what trait it is you're seeking.

There's also the bit that echoes something Unhelpful Counsellor said, namely, that men (who are rational and unemotional, of course) fall in love with women who have all the emotions. I, of course, was having all the emotions. Even though before I met Crappy Ex I was sometimes called "Spock".

I'm going to move on from this chapter, and think about it some more, later. Later chapters and/or discussions here may clarify some of the formless thoughts I have about it.

#642 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2016, 01:05 PM:

The author also puts the opposites attract concept in with fantasy romance, and something to avoid. The main example is spontaneity vs. planning, and if you're too different from your partner in this respect you'll both be frustrated and unhappy—and the skill you are lacking is one you should develop in yourself, instead of looking for an outside person to supply it.

With the first part of this, I heartily agree. Spontaneity vs. planning is on one of the MBTI axes, and while it's possible for a person to adjust where they fall on that axis*, there are limits to what's practically achievable. This is exactly what makes sitcoms like "Dharma and Greg" completely unbelievable -- that much difference in two people's approach to life generally makes for a completely unworkable relationship which will blow up messily as soon as the NRE phase starts to wear off. It's also the problem with the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope.

The second part is trickier. While it's true that developing your own abilities is preferable to relying on a partner to supply your lacks, sometimes there really is a reason for a "division of labor" in one area or another. If you're depending on your partner to hold up the emotional/social/family part of your relationship because "I'm a guy, and guys just can't do that," it's bullshit; it's a learned skill and you most certainly CAN learn to do that. However, if you're letting your partner handle those things because you're high-functioning autistic and they aren't, that's a reasonable solution to something that's otherwise going to be an ongoing issue.


* Personal example: after 10+ years of being able to make plans months in advance with my now-ex and have them run smoothly as planned, I had to do some serious adjusting when I moved in with my current partner. He's a Strangeness Attractor; we can make all the plans we want, but Weird Shit will always turn up to interfere with them, requiring on-the-fly adaptation. It used to throw me for a loop, but I've learned to take it in stride.

#643 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2016, 01:25 PM:

It's not quite the same as spontaneity vs. planning in a personal relationship, but similar differences occur in work relationships too. In SF, I remember one in (I think) one of Doc Smith's Lensman books. There were a pair of engineers, both genius-types, who were working together to solve an emergency problem. And one of them kept throwing out wild-ass creative ideas, and the other one kept poking holes in the ideas, until they worked their way to a solution.

My husband and I have come to an understanding that my strength is planning and his is execution. Left to myself, I tend to fall prey to the carefully structured and outlined plan that just needs a little more tweaking to be awesome. His default mode is "Ready, Fire, Aim." In most situations, the right approach is somewhere between the two.

In our case, as in the Doc Smith example, the key to it working is a genuine respect for the other person and for the strengths of their approach.

The classic Disappearing Woman, of course, is not in a relationship of mutual respect.

#644 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2016, 02:54 PM:

The whole "opposites attract" thing is generally misunderstood, and the usual phrasing encourages that. Yeah, people can be drawn to folks who seem to have what the first person is "missing"... but for that, what you're really looking for isn't an opposite, but a complement.

For a properly complementary relationship to work, the pair do need to have some things in common -- at least basic ground-rules and moral standards. And the differences have to be things where they can either accept or negotiate the gap.

#645 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2016, 03:59 PM:

More critical reading of the book "Loving Him Without Losing You" by Beverly Engel.

The fifth commitment to stop yourself from being a disappearing woman is to not change to please a man. Seems reasonable; that ties back to being honest about who you really are and is basically the same advice to not lie about who you are, except that it seems more directly tied to what the man asks for instead of what you think the man wants.

Apparently, women are masters of the art of compromise (which in my experience has usually meant doing what the man wants, while he complains about never getting his way, but I'm sure that's how he would have described it too) while men "intuitively know that they are defending their identity". It couldn't possibly be that men ignore women's requests for them to change something because who needs to listen to women, they always complain about nothing, while women should listen to men (except when they shouldn't) and if they don't they're rigid or not interested in self-improvement, but if they do they have no personality of their own and are totally dependent on a man for their identity, just look at how she's changing things to please him.

Or maybe I'm just bitter.

And then I laugh because the book references the song with the line "don't go changing to try to please me", which popped into my head as soon as I read the title of the chapter (substitute "him" for "me" and they're identical). And then a little farther down in the song lyrics (because my internal music library filing system is indexed by lyric and tune, not by title and artist, and the rest of the song started to play in my head) the singer says he doesn't want "clever conversation; I never want to work that hard" but wants somebody he can talk to ... and the balance of the lyrics is telling a woman that she shouldn't change or improve herself *at all* but should remain frozen in time and never challenge him, and the singer passionately loves her that way *even if he doesn't act that way*.

So chalk up another "love" song that doesn't say what people think it says.

Apart from the usual sexism throughout the whole book, this chapter has a core of decent advice. Change in ways you want to change for yourself; do not change in ways a partner says they want you to change; do not ask a partner to change but accept that this is how they are, not how they could be. I add in from CA: and decide if you want to be with them or not based on who they are now, not who they could be if they made these changes.

The sixth commitment is to make sure you're in an equal relationship.

This sounds like an obvious thing, but the description is all about how women choose to be in relationships with men who have more power or status or money or some combination of those. The book describes reaching a point of being able to feel more equal, and being able to hold their own, and contrasts that with the women who don't "mature" in this way. Because what, women who haven't gone against everything our society teaches aren't mature?

And ... what about the social pressure on a man to not be the one in a relationship with less power or status or money? Why is it that an acceptable relationship involves a man who is equal to or slightly more powerful than a woman (and even being truly equal is unusual and gets comments) but not a woman having more status or money or power than a man? (That's described as "the easy way out" for a woman trying to be in a relationship where she's not dominated.) I mean, not that men or women should go looking for a vastly unequal relationship regardless of who has more status, but nobody blinks if a man with high status job is in a relationship with a woman with a low-status job, but oh the snark if the situation is reversed. I mean, all the jokes going around in the US where HC is a candidate, about what to call the husband of a female president! He can't be the First Lady! It must be so humiliating to be with a woman with more power!

So it sounds obvious but the implementation seems difficult.

Then it makes the point that equality doesn't mean perfect parity in all respects, which is true, but the example made me cringe. He has the job, money, and life experience; she has the friends and social calendar. How very typical; the woman is in charge of managing the man's social life while he controls the money. But, you know, he doesn't have the social skills! and values her managing his social life for him! Very equal, yes. (This should not have even been considered "equal" in 2000. Maybe 1950, when that was part of the wife's job, only now she *also* has to have a paying job, and women are assumed to be good at and enjoy doing the social secretary thing and it's not actually valued when it's assumed.)

And oh look, there's a section on emotional abuse. So the author knows about it, but still didn't recognize it in the examples in commitment 3 where the woman was being systematically isolated. But then, all the examples of types of emotional abuse given are quite overt and involve insults and threats.

And in the end, the author says that disappearing women become emotionally abusive when they try to set boundaries. I mean, "in their attempts to maintain their sense of self." Because women who are already being blamed by their man for being unreasonable really need to be told that their anger (or their boundary setting? oh no, really it's just lashing out) should be directed toward their parents (oh hi again Freud) or channeled in more constructive ways.

And the seventh and last commitment is to speak your mind.

The opening to this chapter describes pretty well why I chose the pseud "the invisible one" here. I pretty chronically felt unseen, unheard; when I spoke I felt ignored, dismissed; my complaints were never real issues and my joys were irrelevant and ignorable—when they weren't mockable.

So the solution to that would have been to speak up more, into a dismissive space? You know, I just realized I've seen a lot of advice for how a woman can change herself to improve a relationship in which she's disappeared, and advice on what to look for and what to do if seeking a new relationship, but I don't think I've seen DTMFA. Even without the embedded swear words. There's also a spot where the author says that disappearing women don't disagree with their man because they don't want to "risk a man's anger, or worse yet, risk losing him". Without any quotation marks to indicate it's not the author's advice, nor commentary indicating that thinking of losing a man as being the worst thing in the world is probably not a healthy position and maybe this relationship should end.

Oh look, and more gender essentialism and sexism: men need women to teach them about equality, compromise, and cooperation, because those are not at all natural to men but totally natural to women. And it's women's responsibility to teach men who reject them as teachers and say they're just complainers, but they have to do it carefully and with softening and reassuring statements because men's psyche is very delicate. Oh and don't worry about men who make speaking while female an awful experience, they secretly respect you, but they'll never admit to it, they'll just keep being jerks.

So the advice so far is to state your needs (in a situation in which that will be read as yet another complaint), call out a man's bad behaviour (in a situation in which that will be read as yet another complaint) one example of which is speaking up to a man who minimizes or trivializes what you have to say. Including that thing you just said about how he does that. Also speak up right away, repeatedly, instead of letting things build up, even though it's tiresome nagging, don't expect him to apologize when he's wrong because he's a man and has pride, but don't apologize when you're not wrong because if you do you invite abuse. But don't let him abuse you! Get angry, but don't yell!

(sigh)

And state your grievances. Yes, very important. Only, the author says that women complain about the same issues over and over but their man ignores them and says they're a nag, so they try to find a different way to phrase the complaint so that he'll listen. And the solution to that is to complain again, but using *this* way of phrasing it.

Oof. Well, that's the end of the 7 commitments, the next bit of the book is on how to work on the self to become a stronger person. I hope there is some useful advice to extract there.

I am starting to feel like what I'm doing is "easy internet snark", to steal a phrase from the top post, partly because my comments have been getting more and more sarcastic as I go. But at the same time, I feel like they are valid criticisms of the book.

#646 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2016, 04:17 PM:

ISE? *poke*

Also I see comments written while I was composing this wall o text, but I have to go to work now and I will read & reply when I am next on line.

#647 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2016, 12:20 PM:

#643, OtterB: the key to [opposites] working is a genuine respect for the other person and for the strengths of their approach. The classic Disappearing Woman, of course, is not in a relationship of mutual respect.

Yes. Very much so.

#642, Lee: However, if you're letting your partner handle those things because you're high-functioning autistic and they aren't, that's a reasonable solution to something that's otherwise going to be an ongoing issue.

I'm not on the spectrum, but I can barely manage my own social life outside of settling into a couple of groups who meet regularly to do a thing. No way am I going to try to handle somebody else's, even if they have verified and diagnosed reasons for not being good at it themselves and I am somehow better at it than they are, and anybody expecting me to is going to be very disappointed.

In that suggestion, if two people on the spectrum are in a relationship with each other, who manages their social life? If one is single, who manages their social life? Yes, I get that it's harder. But a reasonable division of labour also includes who is good at and wants to do the thing (and not in that sexist "women are inherently good at and enjoy managing social lives" way).

#644, David Harmon: For a properly complementary relationship to work, the pair do need to have some things in common -- at least basic ground-rules and moral standards. And the differences have to be things where they can either accept or negotiate the gap.

Yes. Having some different interests, no problem, people in a relationship should spend time on their own thing as well as together. Having compatible values and morals and so on, those are key.

#648 ::: The_L ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2016, 12:38 PM:

Back, after ages. *waves* Love, Joy, Feminism absorbed me into its commentariat, and I'd been so active there that a lot of my other online haunts have been more-or-less abandoned. :/

It seems that I have brought the dysfunction full-circle and am now in a dysfunctional marriage, and it feels like all my fault.

Part of the problem is I have the Unholy Trinity of ADHD, clinical depression, and general anxiety disorder. This makes it really hard for me to get things done. Which in turn makes me a very difficult person to live with, especially on days when I just Want To Cat.

But another huge chunk of the problem is that due to my lifelong struggle against being stereotypically "girly," I am now horrible at emotional labor. Which means Hubby ends up having to pick up the slack for that AND executive functioning.

I feel horrible, lazy, broken, and just plain Not A Good Wife. Every time I get something housework-related done, it's days before I manage to do it again (even when it's a daily thing like wiping down the kitchen counters). And when Hubby's used to doing it a different way, he complains about the way I'm doing it. ("Don't use a cloth to clean off the counters! Use a sponge!" "Sponges have deeper pockets for bacteria to multiply in. Cloths are also easier to wash and sanitize." "My mother's a nurse, and she always used a sponge!" "I'm not your mother. I'm allowed to do some things the way I'm used to!")

My past has also made it so that I feel guilty any time I spend money, so if I buy things for myself that aren't necessary, I tend to try to hide it. (I know how terrible an idea this is.) Then when there are things I need, like new work clothes, I feel like I shouldn't put that financial burden on us, even though Hubby has no problem replacing worn-out clothes when he needs to.

Communication is also very hard. When you're used to being watched all the time, you learn to hide, not to share. His family's always been very open about their feelings, to the point that they yell at each other when my in-laws' visits start to get a little too long. So he shares easily, whereas I feel like I shouldn't burden him with my problems. (That's right: my twisted emotional upbringing has taught me that not communicating is a thoughtful way to behave toward people you love. So hard to break these mental chains!)

So it feels like our marriage is basically him constantly prodding me to do the usual Adult Things and to communicate, and me grudgingly accepting and occasionally doing something nice for him spontaneously. So that I feel like even more of a burden, and yet also, paradoxically, like a slave (even though I'm doing LESS housework than I was before I moved in with him).

Help!

#649 ::: Bodhisvaha ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2016, 02:32 PM:

invisible one @ 645: "He can't be the First Lady!" -- wouldn't that make him First Gentleman?

#650 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2016, 03:00 PM:

Bodhisvaha, #649: Yes. "First Gentleman" has been AFAIK the generally-accepted term for the spouse of the hypothetical first female President as far back as I can remember that hypothetical being discussed. (Note that it would apply equally well to the same-sex spouse of a gay male President.) Anyone who's still fussing about it at this late date is not doing so in good faith.

#651 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2016, 03:10 PM:

This leaves us with the unlovely acronym FGOTUS, but it's not like POTUS and FLOTUS are much better, even if slightly more pronounceable. Maybe the Secret Service will just go with GOTUS.

#652 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2016, 04:00 PM:

The Secret Service will probably refer to him by his code-name, and duck the issue entirely.

#653 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2016, 04:49 PM:

The_L @648. Witnessing. Are you seeing a therapist? Because it sounds like managing the impact of your ADHD/ depression/ anxiety on your daily life and your relationship is a challenge. Perhaps a neutral party could help identify what it's reasonable to expect from yourself, and suggest strategies so your husband can help in ways that are less likely to trigger a downward spiral.

#654 ::: The_L ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2016, 09:46 PM:

@OtterB: Haven't been in a couple years, since the end of that last rough patch. Thinking of going with Hubby, just so the therapist can talk to him directly and it won't sound like me making excuses.

#655 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2016, 02:10 PM:

The_L @648/653: Seconding OtterB @653. A therapist at this point would be worth their weight in gold, providing you can get a good one. I see your point with having hubby along, but I do think (from a good friend's experience) that having your own individual sessions/therapist can be invaluable in giving you tools to handle the crap from your toxic upbringing. (her growing up wasn't nearly as bad as what you've told us of yours, but seeing a therapist saved her marriage)

#656 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2016, 02:48 PM:

#654, The_L:

There's a certain amount of projecting from my own experience with a therapist here, I'm sure, but it may be better for you to go to a therapist alone, without partner, and have the focus on "how do I cope given this situation and my constraints, and what is my best path forward" instead of "I am so broken I can't adult and I'm letting partner down, and how do I fix myself".

(Or if you do a couples therapy thing, do that in addition to, not instead of, individual therapy. With a different therapist.)

#657 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2016, 07:29 PM:

Weighing in on the therapy issue, also from personal experience. Even if you're going to do individual therapy, it may be useful to have your husband come to one or two of the early sessions; this allows the therapist to see the dynamics between the two of you in action. When I needed some help in the aftermath of my mother's death, I went back to the person we'd done family therapy with some years earlier, because that meant that I didn't have to explain all the weird shit that went on in my family (and possibly not be believed) -- she'd already seen it.

#658 ::: J ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2016, 08:42 PM:

...looks like some of the comments on this thread have vanished? Or is my PC doing a weird thing?

#659 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2016, 08:58 PM:

J, several comments were posted on an older DFD families.

#660 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2016, 08:58 PM:

J @658

There seem to be two active dysfunctional families threads at the moment.

(Returns to lurking.)

#662 ::: The_L ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2016, 11:11 AM:

@Lee, 657:

I'd probably go back to my last therapist, since she was really helpful (plus it would save me the trouble of having to hunt down ANOTHER therapist). So there'd be a bit less background for her to learn on my end.

#663 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2016, 10:44 PM:

Well, having somebody decide they don't want to be my friend anymore is still The Worst Thing In The World to anxiety brain.

Right up until I remembered that friend had told me he was going to an event and that's certainly why he wasn't replying to text messages.

It wasn't at all because I (hesitantly) set a boundary. Even though I keep telling myself that I'm allowed to set boundaries and people who push back on them are jerks and I don't need them in my life.

This stuff takes so much practice. (sigh)

#664 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2016, 01:30 AM:

the invisible one: I seem to be going through a period where NOBODY ANSWERS MY EMAILS, even my rock-steady friends. I've given up trying to talk myself down. I'm just sitting over here in a corner, pouting. Foo.

(Did you ever notice that "Nobody loves me, everybody hates me" almost scans to "Hello! Ma Baby"?)

#665 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2016, 04:26 AM:

How sure are you that your correspondents are getting your emails? I found out in December that gmail is suddenly not delivering my mail to most (but not all) gmail addresses.

#666 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2016, 10:09 AM:

#664, Jacque: That's frustrating :(

I'm not familiar with "Hello! Ma baby" but far, far too familiar with "nobody likes me, everybody hates me, I'm going to the garden to eat worms". Parents would sing it at me when I was a kid. The association it has in my head now is that I have no right to complain about people excluding me from things because it's just me whining about nothing serious. :p

#667 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2016, 11:27 AM:

the invisible one @663,666 and Jacque @664: My association with Hello ma baby is something like this picture - and a friend singing the song to be silly. :) Look it up on YouTube (Looney Tunes?) if you want a chuckle.

Sadly, my association with the worms song is a lot like the invisible one's. :(

#668 ::: The_L ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2016, 12:19 PM:

Here's some food for thought: https://bookofjubilation.wordpress.com/2014/06/11/kids-these-days-get-too-much-praise-praise-validation-and-encouragement/

This jibes pretty well with my own internal monologue. People around me heard I was accelerated, saw that I was getting a lot of A's, and praised me a lot. Especially Other People's Parents, or my parents' friends, who saw me now and then but not on a daily basis.

Meanwhile, Dad was cutting me down, a lot. Mom would tell me how I wasn't living up to my potential, trying to encourage me to do better, to work harder. But the main message I got was, "I'm lazy. I'm broken. Everyone cares about the superficial facts of my situation, but not about my emotions. Clearly my emotions and mental state are broken and Wrong."

To this day, I am still genuinely surprised when one of my students says, "You're a good teacher, Mrs. L," or the dean praises my ability to reach students on their level. I say thank you, I try to tell myself that "yes, this is true, not empty flattery," but Jerkbrain just doesn't want to believe it.

And I know it's because a 95 wasn't good enough. Changing the math tests so I'd actually be challenged in class (yes, I did this ALL THE TIME as a kid) was Bad and led to me spending most of the year in detention. The things I read and played with were Immature. The foods I liked (I was a picky eater) were mostly Junk Food.

There was just such a huge disconnect between the praise I got (which was almost always from people outside the household) and the criticism (which was almost always from parents and teachers). When that happens, you don't feel validated at all.

#669 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2016, 12:59 PM:

the invisible one, #666: Your PARENTS sang it at you? That's horrible! That's an elementary-school bully song, which is intended to produce exactly the effect it had on you. That your parents would employ such tactics is... I don't have words fit for polite company.

#670 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2016, 02:19 PM:

Bruce H. @665: How sure are you that your correspondents are getting your emails?

Pretty sure. Long track record, no history of getting dumped in with the spam. One friend just keeps getting eaten by his job.

the invisible one @666 (ha!): it's just me whining about nothing serious.

So, in other words, your parents were being assholes. Got it. :-\

Chickadee 667: Looney Tunes?

Merrie Melodies, :-) I'd just dropped that one into the open thread, which is probably why the association was ripe for the making.

The_L @668: When that happens, you don't feel validated at all.

I didn't have it quite that bad, but once I Got Out, it did take considerable work to reclaim my confidence in my own taste and judgement. Turns out I'm a really stubborn cuss, though, so my mom's efforts to undermine my self-regard were somewhat limited in their effectiveness. Thank Ghu.

Coincidentally, Chuck Jones (director of many of the best Warner Bros cartoons, including "One Froggy Evening") commented on the (particularly inspired, IMO) way his mother responded to the kids' artwork. When she was shown a new drawing by one of her kids, she didn't react to the drawing so much as to how the kid was reacting to the drawing. Thus, reinforcing the the kid's assessment of the work. Mind blowing.

#671 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2016, 04:10 PM:

#667, Chickadee: Oh, *that* song! I know it from Spaceballs. "Check please!" My mental music library seems to have indexed it under "ragtime gal" + visual of top hat.

#669, Lee: Um, oh. Well, it's very effective. Oddly (?) I don't recall hearing it at school when I was little.

#668, The_L: Wow. That article gave me a whole bunch of new thoughts that I have to think about. But: praise without validation? Oh yeah. I know that one. Especially mind-bending when combined with parents who say nothing about my appearance that isn't an, ahem, "suggestion for improvement" (did you brush your hair? a half hour or less after I did, was one I mentioned a while back), but if *I* say something vaguely critical or non-positive about my appearance, even if not intended as self-flagellation, I'm immediately contradicted. (The most memorable one was when it was an aunt who contradicted me—by telling me, when I made a "huh, I didn't know I had x" comment, to not "correct" x with plastic surgery, when I have never in my life talked about or even thought about plastic surgery of any kind, and in fact don't even wear makeup, which she had to know. Either that or she thought I was so good at makeup that I can make it look like I'm not wearing any.)

#670, Jacque: So, in other words, your parents were being assholes. Got it. :-\

That keeps coming up. It's hard to reconcile with "I love my baby girl and will do anything to help her out, including expensive renovations and gifts". But not, apparently, validation or emotional support. Unless what is bothering me is acceptable to them, like, say, having just been dumped.

Turns out I'm a really stubborn cuss, though

I was told while growing up that I was really stubborn. Lost track of that at some point, and trying to find it again.

#672 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2016, 04:26 PM:

Re praise vs. validation: Carolyn Hax had a letter over the weekend about parents who had flipped from constant criticism when the writer was younger to nonstop superlative praise now that she's in her late twenties. Carolyn doesn't use the word "validation" but she's talking about the same thing when she says that both the criticism and the praise are all about the parents' need to have the best-ever offspring, not about the offspring's need to be themselves.

#673 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2016, 11:38 PM:

OtterB @672: I *love* the way she ended it: "I’m sorry. Resignation is never a welcome suggestion. It does seem to fit, though: To deal with parents who deny who you are, you accept them for who they are. Perhaps there’s some comforting symmetry there."

Yes. This. My mom will never see me for who I am - and she feels she must take credit/blame for everything just like the letter writer's parents. But the comforting symmetry of accepting her for who she is. I like that.

#674 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2016, 09:34 PM:

OtterB, Chickadee #672-673: yeah, that's where I am with Mom.

Unrelated link from Boingboing: When Gmail adds your harasser to your speed-dial. Dammit, you think they'd have learned something about this from their prior disasters in the same vein. But then, AIUI the customers former inventory affected by those disasters not only abandoned Google, but now spit when their name is mentioned. (Remember, if the service is free, you're not the customer -- you're the product.)

#675 ::: J Homes sees broken link ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2016, 12:59 AM:

David Harmon @ 674 your link points back to this thread.

#676 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2016, 01:11 AM:

Corrected link.

What simply becroggles me is why Google would offer a feature like "speed dial" that was not under the user's control in the first place. That's just plain stupid.

#677 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2016, 07:20 AM:

Thanks, J Homes, Lee.

Lee: The thing is, their business is wrapping up the user in a nice comfortable environment (so they never have to leave), and they depend heavly on their automatic data collection. That makes it really easy for them to fall into "we already know what people want, we don't need to actually go out and ask them".¹ Apple and Microsoft have both had their own UI/privacy fubars over the years, but Apple's better at recovery, while Microsoft has been a "known asshole" for decades. And Google tries hard to "be your everything", which just makes it worse when they screw up. Of course, there's Facebook -- but then, I don't use FB exactly because AIUI this sort of insensitive crap seems to be their entire business model.

¹ I hate to say it, but I suspect the problem is aggravated by having autistic-spectrum types running the show. Especially given how any sufficiently Big Boss naturally tends to get wrapped in their own corporate bubble.

#678 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2016, 10:23 AM:

David Harmon @677:

I'm not sure I'd blame the spectrum. I know plenty of straight cis white male techies who aren't on the spectrum at all, but simply have never figured out that the world looks different to people who are not them, who do not live their lives.

Privilege, in other words. As appeared in my Twitter stream the other day: privilege is the human version of "works on my machine".

#679 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2016, 11:24 AM:

David H., #677: What abi said. Also, my first response to reading the article was, "That sounds like something Apple would do." You want to give me a "speed dial" on my e-mail, fine -- but you let ME decide who's on it, the same way I do on my phone. Because some of the people I want on that list may be people who I do not in fact communicate with all that often. This "we know exactly how people will want to do things, always and forever, and no changes will be allowed" bullshit is Apple through and through.

#680 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2016, 12:59 PM:

#678 ::: abi

I'm convinced that the test for finding out that someone understands the existence of other minds-- I forget the name, but it's the minimal thing that most people can manage by the time they're four of realizing that just because they see something doesn't mean everyone else can see it-- is just the beginner level.

Having a gut level understanding that other people have different experiences of the world and emotional reactions is more advanced, and a lot of people never get that far.

#681 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2016, 01:21 AM:

Oh man, I just found the perfect description of many dysfunctional relationships over on Slacktivist:

"I love the person you'd be if you did everything that I told you to."

#682 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2016, 08:30 AM:

Abi #678: privilege is the human version of "works on my machine"

I like that. I'm not "sure" about blaming the spectrum either, but I think it's at least homologous with our difficulties in "reading" other people's reactions.

Lee #679: Yes, Apple would do it, but I think they'd at least recognize the cluebat when it came. And about the case at hand, the way to correctly auto-populate a speed-dial list would be to pick the contacts the user sends to most often, not the ones who send to them!

The webcomic Octopus Pie has a few recent strips that might appeal here, as an entitled asshole shows his true colors¹... Back-story: Protagonist Eve got a call from old boyfriend Park, "I'm in town [NYC-->Portland] wanna get together tonight?" She did, but the last few strips have been tapping warning bells. At the bottom of this strip, the bell starts ringing, and in the next couple of strips... things get spectacular.

¹ Seriously, watch the colors, they're significant.

#683 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2016, 09:36 AM:

David: I backed up a few pages, to the conversation through the bathroom door, so I could get a greater sense of the dynaminc. (Also: comic!) Interestingly, what I immediately react to is this exchange:

It's okay to live with those questions. You don't need to scratch them like some unbearable itch.

To which I mentally respond, "Well, maybe you don't need to."

#684 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2016, 09:45 AM:

Jacque #683: One of the many things I lurv about Octopus Pie is that it's got different characters, with different attitudes toward life. Even the twits are fleshed out, and Meredith "shows her work" on relationship issues.

#685 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2016, 02:01 PM:

Jacque, #683: Your mother was... atypical.

#686 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2016, 03:45 PM:

Lee: Well, yes, but, qua...?

#687 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2016, 09:35 PM:

Well, you keep talking about how if she thought you were hiding something from her she would dig for it with all claws out. I thought that was what you meant.

On a completely different topic -- Seanan McGuire's new novella Every Heart A Doorway is magnificent and heartbreaking and (with appropriate caveats) a must-read for anyone in a dysfunctional-family situation. Sample quote: "It was a kind of love that insisted on trying to fix her, while refusing to realize that she wasn't broken."

#688 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2016, 11:04 PM:

Lee: Ah. While what you say is true, no, that wasn't what I was referring to. I was commenting on Friend A dictating what Friend B needed or didn't need.

#689 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2016, 11:21 PM:

Huh. Not how I read it at all. To me, that sounded like Friend A telling Friend B that it's not a requirement, that it's acceptable to leave questions unanswered. We're probably hearing it in different tones of voice.

#690 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2016, 07:18 AM:

Jacque #688: I was commenting on Friend A dictating what Friend B needed or didn't need.

That's Eve's long-term roommate, not just a friend but a close friend. It's well within their relationship, also Park is part of their "Doonesbury circle".

#691 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2016, 10:36 AM:

David: I so deduced from their conversation through the bathroom door. Clearly allowed in within the bounds of their negotiated relationship. This is not to say that those negotiated boundaries are necessarily healthy. Or not. In any event, it set my hackles up.

Meanwhile, I've been amusing myself by imagining my mother's reaction to Lee's @685. I can't predict exactly how the mental short circuits would manifest. Just that it would be...impressive. (Yes, I'm a mean bad evil person. Why do you ask? }:-> )

#692 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2016, 07:33 PM:

I grew up with cats. I have a lot of cat-like habits - as my husband pointed out, I look around a corner first in a very catlike way before walking around that corner (in the house). I love cats. I've been without cats since I moved out of my parents' house/made my escape.

We're getting a cat!!! I'm so excited!!!

Yesterday I went to the Humane Society pet supply shop (all proceeds to them instead of a commercial business) to buy a litter box and a couple of other things. While I was there, stopped by the adoptable kitties area.

It was so hard not to start visibly crying when I was standing there, scritching a purring cat. All the crap I've stuffed down started floating up as I relaxed, and memories of 10+ years ago living with my parents... Must have stood there a good 10 minutes, just scritching the cat behind her ears, and feeling her purr. Cat therapy, I has it. My own cat - soon!!!

#693 ::: Nancy Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2016, 09:44 PM:

Chickadee, Yay! Wishing you many years of cat-joy!

#694 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2016, 06:28 AM:

Chickadee: Catgratulations!

#695 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2016, 03:59 PM:

Chickadee: May you find a lovely cat and enjoy many years of his/her company and purrs.

#696 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2016, 04:01 PM:

Chickadee: May you find a lovely cat and enjoy many years of his/her company and purrs.

#697 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2016, 12:56 AM:

Nancy Mittens, David Harmon and dcb: Thank you!!! I'm SOOO excited. :) Also, love "cat-joy." So appropriate. :)

#698 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2016, 01:33 PM:

Yay for cats! So glad you are getting a cat friend, Chickadee.

So I have maybe an odd question. I don't actually know how odd or normal this is. I also don't know whether or not this is DF related because I haven't got a clue where I learned this.

I keep hearing about exploring a city as a nice thing to do. I am baffled by this. On the one hand, I kind of understand that it's a way to learn what is available and what is where, which can be useful information for future needs. (This useful outcome comes to mind because when I see "exploring a city" it's usually in the context of exploring the *shops* in a city.) I do know that sometimes it happens that I need something but I haven't the first clue where I would get that thing.

On the other hand, after thinking about things for a while, I realized that I basically don't go anywhere unless I have a destination in mind. While the destination can be arbitrary and the reason for it "because it's there" (such as hiking with friends, and picking a mountain to climb with them) I still seem to need a destination.

I have an intense dislike for commercial districts. I find a high concentration of stores and people stressful, even if it's a pretty plaza type place with interesting little local stores, instead of a mall filled with franchises. Wandering residential streets doesn't seem particularly interesting, although they're a more pleasant route to get to a destination than a commercial street would be. Exploring parks is something I like doing, but usually that is preceded by locating parks on google maps, locating the park entrances on google maps, then going straight to that park because the park is the destination. This applies whether I'm at home or on vacation in an unfamiliar city.

Unfortunately this extends to me not leaving the house unless I have a reason or a plan, and ending up spending the entire day (or portion of the day that I'm not working) indoors at home even if it's gorgeous out.

So I think my question is, can this mindset be adjusted to have going out without a plan and destination become a thing, and if so, do any of you have any ideas as to how I might go about making that change? I'm trying to go out more often by making plans with people, which is its own challenge but seems to be going fairly well so far. But I can't do that every day, because other people have their own things too.

(Hm, a memory just came to my attention. I remember when I was younger reading Piers Anthony's Xanth series, and at one point a centaur character, who were all very intellectual and logical which was something I aspired to, said that they needed three reasons to do anything or go anywhere, and I remember thinking that was a very sensible thing. Not sure if that's where the idea came from or if I already had it and these "logical" magical creatures reinforced it. In more recent years I have been saying, loudly and frequently, that "because I want to" is all the reason needed to go do a fun thing, and I'm pretty sure the person I'm most trying to convince of that is myself.)

#699 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2016, 01:47 PM:

The invisible one, is it you or someone else who does the photography missions? I'm much the same way about going places-- I really do like to have an excuse to walk downtown because I like walking and am destination-driven. Maybe a mission to find (and photograph?) a certain number of things would work.

#700 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2016, 02:26 PM:

Yes, I've been doing the photo a day thing. 2 years now! I tend to carry my camera with me when out for other reasons, however, instead of making trips specifically for photos.

Worth considering. Coming up with ideas for things to search out is also hard work, but interesting work.

#701 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2016, 03:08 PM:

My email is my username at gmail, and you are welcome to contact me (so is anyone else, if you like). I like coming up with scavenger hunts.

#702 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2016, 03:20 PM:

the invisible one: here in the UK, I'd suggest looking up buildings of architectural interest and going out to find them, maybe with a guidebook about such places. Then progressing to deciding to walk/cycle in a given direction and see how many buildings of interest you could find. But then there are always old churches and other buildings in any town or city in the UK!

Another way might be to set yourself to walk/cycle a certain distance but to see what you notice along the way, as an extension of your photography stuff?

(And an aside: as a runner, one thing I've noticed while working up to running longer distances is how my perception of "far" and "not far" has changed: to me, less than 18-20 miles no longer counts as a long run, now, so something say four or five miles away is "not far", for travel on foot.

#703 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2016, 04:56 PM:

Well I do take my camera with me when I'm running - both of my weekday road runs and my weekend trail run. Those are usually good for photos.

I've signed up a few times for an online photo scavenger hunt thing, but the way those are set up hits me right in that weird spot where I'm expected to post it to the group, so I'm not taking it just for myself, but I don't get feedback—which if I were taking it just for myself I wouldn't need, but at some point the expectation of posting to the group sets up the expectation of feedback - and plenty of other people in the group do get feedback and I don't know why some do and some don't.

This is one reason I chose to not tag and categorize my photos on 500px where my photo a day is hosted. Only now, tagged or not, they go into the new photos section and collect likes & stuff and it bugs me because I'm trying to do this for myself but seeing the numbers makes me try to analyze why some photos are more popular while others are less so, and I just don't get it. I don't see the pattern. My favourites get ignored while some that I consider just meh get all kinds of likes. I'd rather they didn't go into the new photos page at all, honestly, they way they used to not, and all the photos I posted consistently got no likes and I could ignore that stat entirely because I'm not posting photos for the likes or the exposure or any of that.

But that's a digression. Right now I'm trying to figure out if changing a mindset of only doing a thing with a goal and a reason to do it is possible, so I can learn to enjoy a wander.

#704 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2016, 01:36 AM:

the invisible one: One thing I do when I have nothing better to do in a crowded place is to watch the people. I mostly do this in airports or transit terminals while waiting, I also sometimes do it in stores or on sidewalks, while I'm also doing something else (e.g. shopping or walking) that doesn't take all my attention. I'll watch to see what sort of interesting things people are wearing, or whether they're doing anything unusual. I've also heard of people who'll make up narratives in their heads, or shared with companions, about the people they see. It's sort of treating the people as part of the attraction of wherever you are, instead of just obstacles to be gotten past. When I used to work downtown, I'd sometimes take aimless walks on my lunch hour, mostly for exercise, but also to see what sort of architecture, businesses, and people I would find in different neighborhoods. I'd pick a direction, and walk for 15-30 minutes and then turn around, or come back on a parallel street. As a result, I got to see various wholesale districts (flowers, clothing, toys, jewelry), art gallery window exhibits, the interesting outfits worn by some of the students going to or from the fashion design college, and the only remaining oil drilling site in downtown Los Angeles.

#705 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2016, 12:56 PM:

Jeremy Leader: I have heard of those activities. At this point, I find crowded locations too stressful to want to even try them, the majority of the time. I don't like people-watching. Or people-listening. I greatly appreciate it when people are having a conversation in a language I don't understand because then I don't have to listen to them. I like talking with my friends and I expect that other people don't like listening to us talk either. (Also, I saw a fb share-image that actually is fairly on point for my attitude toward other people a not insignificant amount of the time. It was something along the lines of "Misanthropic humanism: everybody else on the road can go die but they all deserve access to good health care and the right to use whatever bathroom fits their gender identity".) Sometimes I'm totally happy to talk to strangers, but that hasn't been the case for quite a while. Possibly due to having a job where I have muttered under my breath "I hate you all, you all suck" almost daily. (I try very hard to not let anybody else at work see or hear that attitude.)

I see you mention that you take aimless walks though. I'm trying to figure out how to get to the point where I can do those. I'm not sure how recommending people-watching helps with that? Unless with it you were offering an alternate goal/destination?

Maybe for now I will stick with having a park as a destination, and just plain work on getting out more often.

#706 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2016, 01:32 PM:

Chickadee: Yay, new kitteh! Do you know if you'll be looking for a kitten, or adult cat? Or are you just going to go with whoever claims you?

the invisible one: I, too, am of the "need three reasons" school. (I'll settle for two, if they're good enough.) Though I'll waive that if it's something I like for its own sake.

The times I've moved to a new city, I've had a practice of wandering around exploring. (My method: pick a direction and go. Then find my way back. Maps are allowed, but I credit extra points for not using one. Then I look at a map later, and figure out where I've been. This sets the new knowledge more firmly.)

Exercise has generally been my primary excuse, but it also allows me to feel more "at home," and therefore less unlikely :-) to simply hide under my rock all day. But questing for its own sake is a thing, too. Having already gained familiarity with my surroundings also reduces the stress and load for actual errands.

Lawrence Block, in his columns for Writer's Digest, talked about picking some random project to work on while he was travelling. This gave him a reason to go searching for supplies/info/tools, which in turn caused him to explore parts of the locale that he wouldn't otherwise have encountered.

As to people watching, a friend reports spinning "stories" in his mind, in response to the behaviors/interactions he witnesses in the observed humans. This is handy if you have any writerly inclinations. Free Plot Devices!

Meanwhile: If I may say, I adulted the shit out of last week:

  • Work punctuality at new, earlier schedule: check.
  • Finished up new crown on broken tooth: check.
  • Money transfered to pay (another) HOA special assessment: check.
  • Acquisition of tools and materials for raccoon eviction: check
  • Raccoons evicted: check1
  • Chimney sweep scheduled: check
  • Ongoing veterinary care and follow-up for Bobby: check

In other news, I was down to two elderly male guinea pigs. After much back-and-forth, I've finally decided to re-up.2

Starting a new generation is a challenge. Bobby is not a candidate, due to life-long health issues. Donkey, on the other hand, is still going strong (if more slowly) at 7+ years old. Newly acquired baby-girl-pig3 Marten4 is very bent out of shape: a friend's lady-pig is currently having a sleep-over with Donkey, in the hopes of add'l progeny. After bullying both Donkey and visitor (each of whom are at least twice her size), Marten's been banished to the guest room. "Woe! I haz a lonely! Woe!"

  1. Turns out they don't like sports talk radio any more than I do. Or mothballs.
  2. Thinking about quitting guinea pigs left me feeling deeply depressed. The boost in my morale after bringing Marten home leads me to conclude it was the right decision, despite associated work-load.
  3. Which turned out to be an effing Project. Female guinea pigs young enough to breed are hard to come by, and the ones that are available tend to be down in effing Denver.
  4. Because her coloring is suggestive of a summer-coated ermine, or a least weasel, but neither of those works for me as a name.
#707 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2016, 01:43 PM:

the invisible one #703: seeing the numbers makes me try to analyze why some photos are more popular while others are less so, and I just don't get it. I don't see the pattern. My favourites get ignored while some that I consider just meh get all kinds of likes.

The problem is, you're looking for a pattern -- as if the public evaluations represented some standard that you could conform to, or not. But society isn't actually a group mind, at least not that way. Those "likes" are accretions -- as your photo encounters viewers, some of those will have their individual reason for liking it, and up goes the counter. Yes, you could try to figure out "what gets the most likes", but pushing that too far risks Goodhart's Law: Having focused on some popular trait or theme, you'd get more likes alright, but not necessarily from the people who originally liked your work!

#708 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2016, 02:03 PM:

The invisible one, hm. I'm so used to problem-solving for problems that solve, resultswise, that I skipped straight past your actual question of internal motive and to the fake-it-til-you-make-it results. Hm. And I wonder if the people you perceive as being explorers for the sake of exploring have the same internal motive you're looking for, or if they're less aware of their own thoughts, or just not as good at conveying them.

#709 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2016, 02:11 PM:

the invisible one #703: When I show art at conventions, the stuff that sells tends to be the, to me, least interesting. ::shrug::

The accomodation I've come to is: I'm happy that people find any of my stuff interesting.

#710 ::: Axel ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2016, 03:33 PM:

the invisible one:

On exploring the city while still needing a destination:

1) Explore a street. Pick a street and see how much if you can drive and how much it changes from neighbor hood to neighbor hood. Get out and take pictures every time there is a significant change in architecture or zonig.

2) Go to somewhere you would usually go, but on the opposite side of town. If you usually go to the Target, dry cleaners, grocery store, movie theater, etc. 10 minutes from you, instead go to one that is in an area of the city you have never been in or are not that familiar with.

3) When using google maps, deviate from the route. If google maps says make a right on the next block, make a right on the block after the next. Or don't make it all and let google re-route you.

On getting out of the house with no planned destination:

The only reason you need to get out of the house is to get out of the house. Occasionally, my mother would kick us out of the house and tell us that we needed to be gone between noon and 5 or something similar. So we would have to come up with something to do. Or she would just be like I need to get out today and come up with a plan of what to do. Forbidding yourself from being in the house will force you to come up with a destination to go to.

Or call a friend and ask them if you can tag along with them on whatever they are doing, even if it's just groceries, because you need to get out of the house.

#711 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2016, 05:12 PM:

the invisible one @698 onward: There have been some good suggestions here, if any of them work for you. My own (which probably won't work for you, but may work for others?) is having the purpose of the walk be to talk with someone. I find that the fact of walking helps to make the inevitable silences/breaks in conversation comfortable instead of awkward. It can be catching up with an old friend, visiting with someone I regularly see - basically, it's a forum for conversation.

I also (and this may be more useful for you) use the act of walking to process through stuff (walking by myself, in this case). While I'm walking, I'm not distracting myself (anaesthetizing?) with video games/awesome fiction/food/etc. And the rhythm of walking helps to keep the thoughts rolling. Along the way, I'll see birds, flowers, other cool stuff that helps to redirect when the thoughts start to spiral. Could this be enough of a reason to get out? To consciously choose to process through something that's annoying you? (and be open to other stuff bubbling up - another benefit)

the invisible one @703/Jacque @709: This is reminding me a great deal of one of the plotlines in Steven Brust's The Sun, The Moon and The Stars - the plotline with a bunch of artists.

Jacque @706: Hurray, and congratulations!!! Also, love the name (Marten). :)

Definitely an adult cat - it's Spouse's first cat, and we're in a smallish apartment (2 bedroom, but cozy), so we don't want to deal with Kitten! Energy! We've looked at the local fostering shelters ('cause you get a much better idea of the cat's personality that way) and have applied to adopt Sedona. They're a volunteer-run organization, so they say not to expect to hear back right away, but I'm hoping we hear back soon because WANT KITTEH!!!

The unfortunate part is they don't contact you if you're not approved, so I'm also afraid of being left hanging... :(

In the mean time, I comfort myself with Hourly Kitten on Twitter. *g*

#712 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2016, 10:43 PM:

What a charming tuxedo cat she is! Best of luck with the adoption.

#713 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2016, 12:49 AM:

Axel: Welcome! Has anyone asked you yet if you write poetry?

Chickadee: [walking as] a forum for conversation and I also ... use the act of walking to process through stuff (walking by myself, in this case).

Back when my baseline level of stress was much(!) higher, I used to talk to myself while walking. Like, out loud. (Much less conspicuous nowadays, what with cell phone mikes on the ear-bud cords.) Didn't realize how stress-related that was until I spontaneously stopped, once I began to take title to my life.

love the name (Marten).

I'm finding myself inclined to spell it in the Dutch fashion: Maarten. :-) The weird thing, though, is that in the last day or so, every time I think about her or talk to her, the name that comes out is Jolsen, who is a pig that passed away nine years ago! (What, did she reincarnate? If so, I'm not sure whether to be flattered or worried.) As you can see, (Maarten 1, 2; Jolsen) there's no physical resemblance. Completely different personalities, too. (Photographing Maarten is not unlike trying to take a picture of a moving housefly. Speaking of Kitten! Energy!)

WANT KITTEH!!!

I'm particularly tickled by the little comet-strike over her right eye.

The wait is agonizing, isn't it? (This is what consumed all my spare attention over the last few month or so. Thank Ghu we've finally got that part settled.) Seems kinda low, not to contact you. :-P Did they at least give you a timeframe to check back?

#714 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2016, 02:30 PM:

the invisible one, #698: For me, an important part of "exploring a city" is restaurants. I have a couple of friends who have done restaurant-y list things -- once a week or so, they try a new place, the selection made either by using letters of the alphabet (pick one starting with A this week, B next week, etc.) or by type of cuisine (this week Chinese, next week French, etc.). It has to be a place where you've never been before. Would something like that work for you?

#715 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2016, 06:58 PM:

Jacque @713: Back when my baseline level of stress was much(!) higher, I used to talk to myself while walking. Like, out loud...Didn't realize how stress-related that was until I spontaneously stopped, once I began to take title to my life.
*blinks*
Y'know, I talk to myself a LOT less now. Used to get weird looks on the street/bus all the time. And same remedy - taking title to my own life. Huh. Thanks for mentioning that! :)

re: Sedona's marking: The Zoe's person I talked to at the Cat Expo said when Sedona first came in, she thought it was dirt and tried to scrub it off. :P Realizing it's permanent, she loves it. :)

The time frame is ~7 days. No idea if that's 7 business days, or just a week, but at least it is something. :/

#716 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2016, 08:42 PM:

Well, I'll keep fingers crossed for you! :-)

#717 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2016, 01:55 PM:

#706, Jacque: building a mental map sounds useful. I've lived in my current city for long enough that other than the more faraway residential streets I'm fine with navigating locally. (Also, current city is very small, in a very large metro area. I have walked or run through the neighbouring city all the way to the near side of the next one over before. It's about 5km each way. A nice running route for most of that distance, too. By contrast, it takes me 1h15m to get to work, on the far side of a different adjacent city, with most of the distance covered on fast light rail transit.)

Random project - ha, that's another thing I have trouble with. I completely blank on building a thing just to tinker with it, or even just to build skills in a certain area. But if I have a useful thing in mind, I can and will build it. But getting over that "why am I building this?" barrier is a thing, and it's just as much of a barrier as "why am I going out?". Need a reason.

#708, Diatryma: And I wonder if the people you perceive as being explorers for the sake of exploring have the same internal motive you're looking for, or if they're less aware of their own thoughts, or just not as good at conveying them.

That's an interesting question. I've noticed that most of the suggestions so far have been in the form of offering more and different reasons to go somewhere. Now I'm wondering if the mindset I was asking about is even a thing. It might be, it might not.

#710, Axel: Your suggestions are interesting as alternate reasons or destinations, but presuppose the routine use of a car for errands (and willingness/ability to pay for the extra fuel to drive the extra distance) as well as the presence of mobile data and/or route-aware GPS. (There are three grocery stores within a 15 minute walk of my house, and I rarely use my car for in-town trips because transit and bike and walking covers the vast majority of them. I don't have mobile data either.)

I have been trying to convince myself that getting out of the house just because I want to is sufficient reason. It only sometimes works. Going with friends, I mentioned is already a project in itself and already in progress. I seem to be doing something with friends nearly every weekend now, which is pretty amazing, especially since we're talking about a grand total of 3 other people here. I keep wondering when they're going to get sick of me, but I guess they must actually like me if they're willing to spend at least part of most weekends with me. (And before anybody suggests weekdays, because of current work schedules that is physically impossible. Please don't suggest that I meet friends after work.)

#711, Chickadee: Yes, I like walking and talking with friends. Variations on that describe most of my activities with friends that I've been having on many of my weekends lately. But as I said, I can't ask them to do stuff every single (weekend) day.

Walking as processing time, maybe. I know in general I have a tendency to go around in circles until I write things out, but I could try carrying a paper journal with me and walk/think and write and walk/think some more. Because of work schedule my journalling has fallen out of habit; I used to do it as an end of day reflection, but I don't have that time available anymore. Writing journal in the morning has been difficult for many reasons, including the looming awareness of the deadline of getting to work on time (which can't be flexed by 15-30 minutes the way the deadline of getting to bed on time can) and knowing that sometimes I end up feeling pretty raw afterward—and going to work in that condition is not a great idea, but not going to work isn't an option.

#714, Lee: Probably not something for me. I'm not a huge fan of restaurants even when I can afford to eat in one more than once a year. And there's something in US/Canada restaurant supply that doesn't agree with my digestive system.

~~

#707, David Harmon: Hm. Well, I do look for patterns in things, and outside of the realm of personal likes and dislikes it serves me well. But what you just described might be why most advertising (which has a big serving of "what will get the most attention and response from people") is something I find repellent and makes me wonder just who is their target audience because it sure isn't me.

#709, Jacque: Good to know.

I wish I knew how to turn off the reporting of likes and such. It is not great for me.

Chickadee & Jacque: what cute critters! I miss having cats so much. One day I will be able to afford to get some again. One day. (Fingers crossed.)

#718 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2016, 02:11 PM:

the invisible one Are there any local guides to things that are of even mild interest to you? There's something satisfying about deciding, I'm going to visit all the Xs in the area (antique stores, outdoor sculpture, ice cream shops, historical markers, parks with fountains, etc.) and then doing so. It's perfectly arbitrary, but still feels to me like a reason to go somewhere.

#719 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2016, 02:36 PM:

#718, OtterB: Well, I own a book of local walks and another book of local hikes, and both have been useful so far. I tried looking at the pamphlets in the tourist info centre but for obvious reasons they're all for things that have fees attached, which means they aren't options for me at the moment.

#720 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2016, 03:01 PM:

Hm, I wonder if there is a list of all the public sculptures in the area. I've seen some while on my way to somewhere else. That sort of thing can be distinctive enough that I am reluctant to include it in my daily interesting photo, though. Not that somebody couldn't already figure out what city I live in, probably.

#721 ::: Jeanie ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2016, 04:18 PM:

the invisible one:
Hm, I wonder if there is a list of all the public sculptures in the area.

Ther