Posted by fxckfeelings on December 9, 2013
If everything that was good for you also felt good for you then kale would be heroin, running would be orgasmic, and one-a-day vitamins would put you into a pleasure coma. Unfortunately, bad things often feel best, which is why heroin is heroin, kale tastes like land seaweed, and passion can be poisonous. That’s why you can love someone who’s just not good for you and hate a job that you do well for good reasons, but before assuming your feelings are telling you the truth, take time to measure a relationship by how well it fulfills your purpose, meets your standards, and satisfies your moral priorities. Then you can do the right thing, even if it feels (or tastes) terrible.
What could have been a perfect relationship slipped very quickly down hill as two insecure people who have both been emotionally abused by our families growing up both went through stressful times suddenly. We couldn’t manage to make it through the bad times due to coping mechanisms we both employed to save ourselves from more pain, having not had long enough to make the relationship secure. Still, I’m really struggling to let him go. I felt this connection that I’ve never felt before and this is the first person I’ve ever missed in my life. I know he needs space to sort himself out but I want him back and I’m not sure whether to cut the cord now even though I really feel like I can’t and it would cause more pain. I don’t know how to let him go, or make the right decision.
The strength of your connection to a lover is great inspiration for a love song—maybe something by Taylor Swift if she ever dates Sean Penn—but a good song won’t tell you whether a relationship is good for you, is likely to last, or what you can or should do if it falters.
The fact that you and your former lover are insecure victims of abusive families may explain why you’re both anxious and vulnerable to doing negative things when you’re scared, but it won’t tell you how much he can control his negative behaviors and/or tolerate yours. For that, you need to review facts, not your emotional family history. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »
Posted by fxckfeelings on December 5, 2013
As we often say, help isn’t just a two-way street, but a full-on intersection; it can be benefit or hindrance, both to the person being assisted and the helper him or herself. Regardless of whether your desire to help is driven by compassion, love, guilt, or fear, pay attention to priorities, consequences, the limits of what’s possible, and your responsibility for meeting your own needs. Then you’ll probably discover that giving right and going slowly is more effective than giving more and risking an accident.
I’ve always been proud of being the backbone of my family, but I’m close to having a total meltdown. It’s not that my husband doesn’t work hard, too, but I’m taking care of our kids, who are especially busy with after-school sports, tutoring, etc., plus my ailing mother, plus my sister who’s mourning the sudden and unexpected loss of her son, and then on top of that, my own work, which is insane this time of year. I told him I just want to quit everything and go live on the beach in a hut. He laughed, but I meant it. I know all of these people need me, but I’m going crazy. Still, I’m ashamed, and my goal is to figure out what to do.
You’re proud of being the backbone of your family, but you’ve got your own skeleton to worry about, and it will collapse if you don’t find the backbone to stand up to the impossible job you’ve given yourself.
It’s simply not possible to personally take on an infinite number of top priority responsibilities, even if they’re all driven by emotional and financial necessity. It makes sense that you think living in a hut is your only/best alternative to weathering a hurricane of responsibilities. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »
Posted by fxckfeelings on December 2, 2013
There are millions of reasons that being an adolescent girl is absolutely the worst—their peers are monsters, their teachers are idiots, their crushes are never as cute as vampires—but all of these issues are made worse by the fact that nobody seems able to help them. After all, when you’re trying to help a young girl deal with hormones and bad habits, not only will a rescue attempt possibly alienate the person you’re trying to help, it may offend the people whose help you need or let them off the hook when you need them to take more responsibility. In any case, assume that, in addition to giving them love and understanding, you must also be prepared to accept limited resource and political realities. Good rescues require good management, especially when you’re helping someone during the worst time in their life.
I’m worried about the kind of attention my granddaughter has been getting lately and how my son and his wife are handling it. She’s a terrific girl who has always done well in school, but she started going through puberty right before junior high. Now she has a gorgeous figure and is quite excited by all the attention she’s getting without quite understanding what it means. I know her parents have explained sex to her, as if there was anything they could tell her she hasn’t seen on TV, but I don’t think she gets what boys expect of her and just seems to like the romance and secret meetings with cool kids who wouldn’t look at her before. When I bring it up with her parents, they tell me they know they can trust her and they don’t believe in infantilizing her and ruining a good relationship. My goal is to help them be more appropriately protective.
When it comes to expressing concern to someone about their child, it’s nearly impossible not to imply that something’s wrong with that someone’s parenting, the child’s behavior, or their relationship. The line between concern and criticism isn’t just razor thin, but the criticism side is filled with angry wolverines, landmines, and open sewers.
Fortunately, your view isn’t blaming, but you’re still in a precarious position addressing your granddaughter’s sexuality and appearance. Frank talks about sex never seem to cover the unique burdens of being beautiful, and an adult trying to impart wisdom to a tween about image and perception is like trying to give your father advice on how to grill meats; you can’t educate someone who’s convinced of their own expertise. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »
Posted by fxckfeelings on November 25, 2013
If you truly want to believe in the old saying, “There’s someone for everyone,” you have to add the caveat, “assuming that many of those people aren’t exactly right for each other.” Some people think they’ve found “the one,” but then can’t see their partner’s faults because of the wishful optimism of love. Others sour on their spouses because of the tired pessimism of long-married irritability So if it comes time to make a tough decision about a marriage, be sure to ask yourself what continuing your partnership is likely to do to your finances, parenting, and security given what’s happened so far and what you now know about the character of your significant other. Once you figure out whether your someone is actually Mr. Wrong or Mrs. Will-Suffice, you’ll have a much better idea of whether you should hire a therapist to help you get along or a lawyer to preserve your assets.
Please Note: There will be no new post on Thursday due to American Thanksgiving. As always, we are grateful for our families and your misery. We’ll be back next week.
I’m living a nightmare and feel totally helpless. I thought my wife had overcome the drug habit she was struggling with before we got married (otherwise I wouldn’t have married her). Normally, she’s the sweetest person in the world. Recently, she went back being the evil witch I remember her being when she was on drugs, blaming me for everything and threatening to take me to court for abusing her. When I asked whether she was on drugs again, she said I was a crazy asshole. Two hours later she said she was sorry, that I was right, but she felt ashamed of using drugs and was taking it out on me. She said treatment just didn’t work for her. My goal is to get her to get help so she goes back to being the amazing woman I love.
There’s a reason that “addict” is a term you live with forever. That’s not to say it has to be a horrible stigma—college graduate and Torontonian also qualify as life-long labels—but no matter how much you wish addiction would be behind you or someone you love for good, it’s always there.
You thought your wife had overcome her drug habit because you loved her sweet, kind side and wanted to think ugly, addict side wasn’t real. She’s not a bad person, but she has a bad side and a bad disease that she doesn’t seem ready or willing to deal with. Even when she’s being kind, her evil side is always going to be there, and she’s doing nothing to stop it. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »
Posted by fxckfeelings on November 21, 2013
When confronted with jerky behavior, your natural instinct is to stop said jerk from causing trouble, but bad behavior is like bad health; you have to figure out the causes behind the problem before you can appropriately react. After all, some people are unpleasant because they can’t help it, while others just enjoy making other people unhappy, so blind attempts at confrontation can either confuse the jerk or encourage their antagonistic behavior. So don’t assume that bullies need to be stopped before first sizing up what makes them bully others and what your resources are. Become a doctor of dickishness, do an assessment, and then you’ll know whether you need to help them change, stop them, or simply head the other way.
My grown-up son often gets into trouble at work because he’s very critical about everything he thinks is wrong. He tells his co-workers when he thinks they aren’t working hard enough and criticizes his boss for making the wrong decisions and just generally creates a bad atmosphere. Then he doesn’t understand why the boss tells him he’s negative and asks him if he’d like to work elsewhere. When he was younger, I took him to a shrink about his anger issues and I’ve tried to figure out what he’s angry about, but it’s done no good. He doesn’t understand why his criticism gets people pissed off, and it just makes him more negative. My goal is to help him understand why he’s angry and stop being so negative.
Maybe your son is just angry and has a bad attitude, but what’s more likely is that he’s irritable and clueless about how his irritability affects people, and criticism just makes him more irritable without helping his cluelessness. He’s not a rebel or an Asshole, just socially retarded and maybe a little Asperger-y.
Instead of wondering what you did wrong to make him so insensitive to other people’s feelings, assume that, like so many people—mostly engineers, scientists, and people who own capes—he was just born that way. Then what he needs is not reprimands, but instruction in the kind of basic etiquette that most people pick up by instinct. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »
Posted by fxckfeelings on November 18, 2013
There are about as many ways to describe “love” as there are ways to order coffee at Starbucks; you can love someone but not be in love with them, care about someone but not love them exactly, love someone but want someone else low-fat, etc. Family relationships are even more complicated, because sometimes a standard, easy parent-child relationship can get spoiled by a critical event that makes it hard for you to accept one another, and sometimes a clash in parent-child personality styles prevents acceptance. In any case, don’t berate yourself for what can’t be helped and don’t expect the relationship will ever be easy. If it’s important to maintain, however, there’s nothing to stop you from avoiding conflict by gritting your teeth, making nice, and keeping your irritation and disappointment to yourself. It may not be pleasant, but when you love someone but hate being around them, it’s the best option on the menu.
I’ve always taken it for granted that I get along fine with my parents because we never had any significant conflicts—they were supportive when I was little, and we always found pleasant things to do together. That’s why it’s really surprising that we’re running into problems now, when I’m in my twenties. What’s happened is that they’ve both suddenly gotten religion and become Evangelicals—maybe because my sister and I left town and their lives felt a little empty—and now, whenever we talk, they make frequent reference to Jesus and have something serious and earnest to say about almost everything. They obviously feel it’s their duty to save me, which makes it very hard to have a pleasant conversation without exercising a lot of polite tact and changing the subject. I find myself getting very irritated and, really, I’m sad that the easy relationship we used to have is gone and I can’t get it back. My goal is to find some way out of this nightmare.
Having a friend get religion is like having them marry someone you don’t like—they’re still the same person, but now hanging out is less fun and more of an exercise in torture.
After all these years, you had a right to think you knew your parents inside and out and that you were lucky enough to have a solid, easy relationship based on love and mutual acceptance. While the love is still there, the ease is no more; fundamentalist religion makes it harder for them to accept you (you’re not saved) and you to accept them (you don’t want to hear about it).
Given the fundamental nature of, well, fundamentalism, and the fact that it seems to leave you fundamentally cold, you now have to negotiate a new relationship that will take a lot more work than the one you had. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »
Posted by fxckfeelings on November 14, 2013
Whenever someone’s bad behavior forces you to set limits, it’s like slapping a hysterical person in the face; you can’t know in advance whether they’ll thank you or hate you forever. In either case, if you do it only when necessary, nicely, and with respect, you’ll know you’ve done a good service, whether it’s appreciated or not. In the short run, you’ve offered them a target for their resentments about the world and it’ll sting them as much as it stings you, but in the long run, you’ve given them a chance to learn and grow.
My eighteen-year-old son is very bright and imaginative and, when he’s sweet, I feel we have a special relationship. Periodically, however, he gets frustrated with things and gets very, very nasty with me. He bullies me into doing things for him and I try to be flexible, but then if I don’t do exactly what he wants he throws a big scene and threatens to break the furniture or crash the car. After the last incident, I threw him out of the house and he went to live with his father for a few days. Now I’ve got him back, but I know it’s going to happen again sooner or later and I don’t know how to explain to him that I can’t give him everything he wants without provoking an irrational freak-out.
When you have a kid who throws dangerous freak-outs, don’t make it your top priority to avoid provoking him; a child’s tantrums are a pain to deal with at any age, but trying to permanently tiptoe around a moody teenager is just as futile and damaging as always coddling a cranky toddler. They keep having tantrums while you get progressively more insane.
Of course, you don’t want to give him a hard time, but the behavior/temper problem is his, not yours, and not only will you drive yourself crazy, you’ll fail to give him the kind of help he needs most, which is a clear set of rules that can help him manage the poorly hinged part of his personality. Tantrums may be eternal, but so are time-outs, even if they take a different form. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »
Posted by fxckfeelings on November 11, 2013
Not being accepted is worse than just a terrible feeling, because it’s about who you are; it’s the reason people do everything from buy new faces to entire self-help libraries, to do whatever they can to become something or someone they don’t have to be ashamed of. Unfortunately, radically changing yourself (without the use of a scalpel, at least) is highly unlikely, so most people save their money and do everything they can to avoid non-acceptance and react negatively when it’s unavoidable. Whether you’re afraid of judgment if your true self is revealed, however, or suffer from it without hope of improvement, don’t let it define you. Build your own standards of behavior and measure your progress by how well you live up to them. Then you can accept the potential pain of non-acceptance as a sad part of life and the cost of being your own person and reject the cost of surgery and The Secret.
I know I drink too much and I’d like to get it under control, but I don’t want anyone to know about my problem. I don’t know what my wife would say, even though she probably already knows something’s wrong with me, but I’m afraid of what she’d think of me if I came to her to talk about it. I can’t imagine going to meetings because I’m afraid of running into someone I know. I really want to cut back, but I can’t face anyone to ask for help.
It’s normal to feel ashamed of a drinking problem, and the shame, along with dishonesty and secrecy, is one of the main ingredients of alcoholism. Just add the booze itself, shake or stir, and serve in a salt-rimmed class.
That’s why waiting until the shame disappears before facing your wife and talking about your problem is a bad plan. The more shame you feel, the less help you get, the more you do to be ashamed of, and the less likely the conversation is going happen in your lifetime. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »
Posted by fxckfeelings on November 7, 2013
War can teach us many lessons, and if we’ve learned anything from the major wars of our day—namely, the “Storage Wars”—it’s that there’s a time to be pushy and a time to hold back. That’s why, when you feel a strong need to influence others, be it to get them off your back or improve their own behavior, being overly aggressive is just as bad as pussyfooting around. Before you bid or bite your tongue, size up the consequences before you open your mouth, and then go forward only after you’ve done your homework and have good reason—not wishful thinking, a hunch, or a grudge—for believing that doing something pushy will do some good/lead to treasure.
I wish my husband didn’t try to make everyone in my family get along. My parents are divorced, and neither one of them is a terrific grandparent with our kids—they weren’t terrific parents with me and my sister, so I’m not surprised—and my husband makes a big Problem out of it, which we’re supposed to correct. He drops hints to my parents about how, when they come over, they should play with the kids more, stay longer, and pay more attention to what they say. The result is that my parents drop by less often and get even less connected to our kids, and I get an earful from my husband about what’s wrong with my parents and what can we (he means I) say to them that will make them behave better. My question is, what can I say to my husband to get him to stop.
Sadly, the Miss Piggy approach to relationships—trying to bully someone into the kind of respect and affection you think “moi” deserves—is rarely successful, even for mademoiselle Pig herself.
If your husband were more realistic about the kind of grand-parenting he can expect from his parents, he would, as you suggest, probably leave them alone. Instead, he’s letting his efforts and expectations run hog-wild. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »
Posted by fxckfeelings on November 4, 2013
Family isn’t just the gift that keeps giving, but the constant presence that keeps taking, which is why saying “no” and setting boundaries on what they expect you to do is often hard. Sometimes, even when you believe strongly in your need and right to refuse them, guilt makes you agonize and get defensive. Other times, guilt is so strong that you’re sure you’d be wrong to say “no” and can’t even consider the consequences of what will happen if you don’t. In any case, when it comes to saying “no,” don’t wait until you’re angry, stop feeling guilty, or otherwise feel the urge. Instead, look at what happens when you don’t say it and how it affects your major obligations. Then, if you decide it’s necessary, learn how to do it short and sweet, without offering defense or explanation, and give yourself some boundaries, the best gift of them all.
My unhappy marriage of more than 20 years is soon to end in a divorce driven by me after a long and painful separation. When my husband left I was devastated as I felt abandoned and unable to cope on my own. This resulted in me allowing my husband to set the terms, come and go as he pleased, lie and mess around with my emotions. After two years of this he decided to stay with his girlfriend and asked for a divorce. I agreed but he took no real action. After a lot of therapy and much heartache I have rebuilt my life, found work I like, learned how to cope and have just taken an exciting holiday with my new partner while remaining on amicable terms with my ex. I live in what was the family home with one of my two adult sons and my daughter and her baby are about to move in. I have asked my ex to inform me if he wants to come round but he continues to make arrangements with our adult children at short notice or no notice at all. His girlfriend has taken a job which involves being away for the working week, which frees him up to hang around here when he wishes to spend family time. After years of turmoil I do not want to risk my hard earned independence and growing emotional detachment by getting sucked in once again. I also resent the way he expects to be welcome here when it suits and be unavailable when his demanding girlfriend is around. My goal is to set healthy boundaries for going forward. I wish to protect myself from further chaos without dividing loyalties or giving him underdog status in the eyes of our children.
If you ever thought that your flexibility about your ex-husband’s comings and goings would make him interested in returning to your marriage or, later on, negotiating a marital settlement, you now know better. All it makes it easier for him to do is raid your fridge and unsettle your mind.
He’s continued to do what he’s felt like doing, and you’ve learned how to take care of yourself and go on with your life, which you’ve done very well. Now it’s time to tell him that your life can no longer allow him unlimited access. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »