Posted by fxckfeelings on January 9, 2018
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If, like our reader from earlier, you have a shady/”complicated” past, it can be easy to imagine all the not-good ways your current, not-shady friends would react. Often, however, those imaged responses are the kinds of things that are far more likely to come from the anxious, critical, demonic recesses of one’s brain than the mouths of others. So, in order to both demonstrate how unlikely these responses are and how easy they are to rebut, here are five horrible, hypothetical reactions to your past and the best (or at least snappiest) ways to respond.
1) “I get it—you’re”
As someone who’s managed to clean her life up, get a real job, and function as well as whoever could be lobbing this insult your way, you should know better than to take this seriously. “If crazy means putting myself through school, saving some money, and establishing myself in a real career, then fine, lock my ass up. But even a crazy person—this one—can understand when someone’s being a judgmental asshole.”
2) “Now I don’t think you can be trusted.”
If someone can talk frankly about stuff in their past that’s hard to admit to or talk about, that’s an indication that they’re more likely to be honest, even under the toughest circumstances. “I got to where I am the hard way and I’ve established a good reputation with my employers and friends. If you can’t see my ownership of my past and what I’ve accomplished in spite of it as reasons to trust me instead of the opposite, then the only untrusted thing here is your judgment.”
3) “From now on I’ll only see you as a whore.”
If you’re talking to someone who throws the word “whore” around, then it’s not worth talking to them for much longer, let alone trying to earn their understanding. “You can’t make me feel ashamed for doing what I had to do, just as you can’t convince me to judge someone by anything but how hard they work, how they keep their promises, and how they deal with adversity. If you can only see me for what I did instead of who I am, then it’s best for both of us if we shouldn’t see more of each other than is absolutely necessary.”
4) “How can I rely on someone so clearly damaged?”
Baggage doesn’t necessarily mean damage, because if you were truly damaged you wouldn’t have found the strength and will to come as far as you have. “Whether you’re talking about a car or a person, you judge damage by how well something functions after it’s been put through the ringer, so by those standards, “damaged” doesn’t apply to me. If your perception of me is too damaged, then that’s on you, not me.”
5) “My opinion of you has irrevocably changed for the worse.”
Anyone who wants to cut you off for having gone through hard times is not someone worth holding on to. “If someone has a negative opinion of me, I always want to know why, because I try to live up to certain standards and criticism may reflect my failure to do so. Then I can assess how their reaction compares to my perception of what happened and apologize if necessary. From what I know of my past and my efforts to overcome it, however, I have nothing to apologize for, so let’s just come to terms with the fact that our opinions of each other have now both irrevocably changed for the worse and wish each other well on our opposing trajectories.”
Posted by fxckfeelings on December 28, 2017
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Finding stability after an especially shaky period is a major and worthwhile achievement, but it may leave you feeling a new kind of uncertainty, stranded between troubled old friends who know you well and well-balanced new friends who would be totally thrown if they learned about your past. Gaining respectability, however, doesn’t require you to hide your past or get approved by other respectable types; instead, decide for yourself whether your efforts have helped you become a decent, independent person. If you respect what you’ve done with your life then you can insist on finding solid friends, whether you have a solid past or not.
Due to a combination of bad luck, poor decisions and generally reckless behavior, I went through a difficult patch in my late teens/early 20s. A brief highlights tour: abortion, severe depression, being broke, sex work, failing out of college…all in all, it was shitty. Ten years later and I’ve gotten a degree, a good therapist, some success in a far-less-shady line of work…I’ve even gotten engaged to a very nurturing and wonderful man. The problem is that these two realities—my past and my present—are so at odds with each other that it’s becoming increasingly hard for me to deal with. For example, having lost a lot of friends during the bad years, I have recently started trying to make new ones with colleagues I really like and would like to be closer to, but having to hide the details of my past/“double life” means they’ll always be at a distance. The same thing applies to my fiancé’s family, since knowing about my past will make them both wary of me and create difficulties for him. Even my long-time friends (who know my history) are reluctant to talk about the topic, and now that I’ve recently started experiencing flashbacks and panic attacks about that time, it does hurt that I can’t seem to confide in them about the practical problems that I am currently facing. I am functioning quite well about 75% of the time, but my moods can be unstable and at the times when I see this situation stretching out of me for the rest of my life I feel, frankly, almost as depressed as I did in the bad old days, despite being happy and extremely grateful about how well things have turned out. My goal is to A, find some way of making peace with my past and B, figure out some way of sharing my experiences with friends in a way that is appropriate but lessens my feelings of loneliness.
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Posted by fxckfeelings on November 30, 2017
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As C.S. Lewis once observed, grief feels a lot like fear—it’s just as unsettling, consuming, and uncontrollable—but it does also cause some fear, namely that the grief will never end. You can’t make it end, of course, no more than you can change the way it hurts or prevent loss from happening in the first place, but you can remember that the loss would not exist without love, and that there is meaning in loving relationships that is never lost, no matter if the person you loved is no longer there. And that meaning can sustain you through hard times, no matter how long they last, no matter how scared you feel.
I lost my beautiful, 23-year-old son this year in a horrific accident. I keep replaying this accident over and over again in my mind. I have two other biological children and a stepchild, but I still feel the loss of this son to an excruciating degree. I am continuing to grieve very heavily to the point that I feel disconnected. My goal is to find a way to ease my horrific grief and emotional pain.
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Posted by fxckfeelings on November 26, 2017
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One of the many ways that grief can prolong its stay in your brain is through flooding your mind with doubts and regrets, thus expanding the potential sources of pain and frustration. Then you’re not just preoccupied with mourning one loss but all the mistakes you made in relation to it, including your inability to quiet the thoughts and just move on. If, like our reader from earlier, you’re in a state of grief that you just can’t escape, here are five common negative thoughts from grief and the ways you can fight them, quiet them, and finally begin to let your mind and your heart move on.
1) “If only I’d [done that one thing that could have saved him]. “
After almost every huge disappointment in our lives, it’s human nature to imagine what could have been done to prevent disaster and spare pain. That’s why TV is filled with all manner of sportscasters, political pundits, and general opinion-havers, paid to fulfill viewers’ basic human need to understand whatever went wrong and figure out who’s to blame. When all else fails, we’ll blame ourselves rather then accept the overwhelming, uncontrollable power that bad luck has over our lives. So don’t be surprised if your thoughts dwell on everything you could have done, but don’t listen to them, either. Remind yourself of everything you did right, knowing that there’s only so much we can do to protect the ones we love, and that no amount of self-torture will change that.
2) “It’s just getting worse when it should be getting better. “
Just as we crave reasonable, logical explanations for something as inexplicable as loss, we want to expect a predictable, healing result from something as undefined and arduous as grief. Lots of people believe that you’ll heal from loss if you’re strong and prepared to face your feelings, but most shrinks see more evidence of that’s being false than true. Grief hits different people in different ways, depending more on the usual way their personalities experience and deal with strong emotions rather than on what or how much they choose to share. Having supportive friends, a therapist, or a support group is helpful, but it’s no guarantee that you’ll feel better any time in the near future. So don’t hold yourself to some imaginary, unfair timetable for recovery, especially when doing so will just make such recovery more difficult. Instead, respect the way you get through your days that are burdened with grief and your ability to keep this uncontrollable pain from derailing your entire life.
3) “I’m in so much pain that it’s hurting everyone around me.”
In some cases, like if grief is making you mean or too reliant on drugs or alcohol, then you may be right, and controlling your behavior and preventing yourself from hurting others is your number one priority. But if it’s just that your grief is making you so sullen, quiet, and/or unlike your usual self that you feel like you’re infecting them with your sadness or driving everyone away, then stop burdening yourself with unnecessary responsibility for their feelings. Their feelings are just as uncontrollable as your own and it’s everyone’s responsibility to protect oneself from other people’s pain. If they can’t stand you when you’re in pain, they’re not true friends. If they’re your kids, bearing a loved one’s pain is something they need to learn how to do. Stay focused on managing your own pain while encouraging others to do what’s necessary for theirs, and don’t worry about bringing them down.
4) “I can’t stop thinking of all the things we never said, fights we never resolved, things we never did,” etc.
About the worst thing we can imagine in a close relationship is to have death interrupt it before certain issues or disagreements can be resolved; then you’ve not only lost someone, but you’ve lost the chance to make things right. In this situation, regret enters the picture and compounds your grief with guilt. We know, however, that there are usually good reasons for conflicted, intense feelings in close family relationships. We also know that there is often no way to resolve those feelings with words, which is why we show our love by staying connected and letting bad things pass with time, so even if you both ran out of time, there’s no reason to believe the love wasn’t always there. Don’t expect life to have the kind of tidy resolutions that movies and TV shows do; instead of obsessing over loose ends and lost opportunities, remember what held you together, how you survived the bad times and how much better your life was for the love you shared.
5) “There’s no getting over this pain.”
Not only is grief unpredictable, but it may also be eternal; to some degree, the pain of loss, especially the loss of a child, can linger forever. On the other hand, so do your memories of the one you lost, the impact he had on your life, and the love you shared. Just loving someone opens you up to a world of potential pain, but it’s also a brave, admirable act to improve and give meaning to your life and perhaps even make the world a better place. The sadness may never disappear, but neither will the meaning of your relationship or the positive influence it had on you and your world.
Posted by fxckfeelings on October 26, 2017
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Very rational, even tempered guys can be attractive in their own way, particularly after you’ve been put through the ringer by emotional, indecisive man-boys who make impulsive, irrational decisions (like picking fights/cheating or breaking up with you). A rational style, however, does not necessarily guarantee that they’re better at managing their emotions or acting more decently than their less moody brethren. That’s why you need to learn to evaluate a rational guy’s ability to be a good guy before you decide whether he’s truly good for you.
My kid’s dad used to say that he wanted to be Data from Star Trek as a kid because Data didn’t have feelings, so he changed his personality to one that wasn’t “ruled by emotions.” Instead of becoming wise and patient, however, he’s morphed into a complete narcissist. He might not show emotion, but he seems fueled by anger and selfish impulses; he doesn’t get angry, just calmly denies he’s done anything wrong, which is less like Star Trek and more like Gaslight. He’s become a totally unempathetic, perpetual victim. My goal is to figure out if there’s a way to un-Data him or if he’s just beyond hope.
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Posted by fxckfeelings on October 12, 2017
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If you’re dealing with ADHD, as the son of our earlier reader is, sitting down and poring over what having ADHD means and your options for dealing with it—or really, sitting down and poring over anything for more than five minutes—can seem totally daunting if not downright impossible. Here are five steps you can take to figure out how and what to do with an ADHD diagnosis, and while they do include some research and consultation with experts, the main expert they direct you to consult about your symptoms and needs isn’t found through lots of painstaking research, but in the mirror.
1) Assess Whether Your Improved Attention Is Worth It
While there may be a loud chorus of voices—including your parents, teachers, doctors, friends, fellow drivers screaming at you to pay attention before calling you an asshole—telling you that your ability to focus needs work, you need to ignore the urge to do something to shut those voices up and do your own needs assessment instead. Based on your experience so far, ask whether you need to be more focused or attentive in order to survive, i.e., to make a living or accomplish a task that’s important to you. Of course, you should look for ways of learning and making a living that exploit your natural spontaneity and don’t require too much reading or sitting, and certainly not in large doses. In the end, however, if what you want in life requires a kind of attention that doesn’t come naturally to you, prepare to work harder than others to achieve the same results and to draw on motivation that must come from your own sense of priorities, not from the urging of those around you.
2) Take Stock of Tricks To Use As Tools
Don’t let your shame of current classroom performance or intimidation of learning in general prevent you from looking for and studying other ways of absorbing information. Researching such techniques may be daunting, but some teachers are gifted at helping you find your own style and the learning techniques that would be work for you. Neuropsychologists, who measure the methods your brain uses to acquire and process information, can also steer you in the right direction (and are often even partially covered by health insurance).Yes, learning and applying tricks to help you focus will take some effort and push your abilities to focus, but they’ll save you a lot of work and misery in the long run.
3) Consider Meds if You Must
If and only if you can’t find any successful learning tricks, focusing exercises, witchcraft, or any other non-medical methods to help with the kind and amount of learning you’ve decided is necessary, then it’s time to look at the risks of trying stimulant medication like methylphenidate and amphetamines. It turns out that the risk of trying a stimulant is very, very low (although there are a few people who find it enticingly addictive) and, because it can take less than an hour to see results, the entire trial period, like your own attention span, is unusually short. Yes, there may be additional risks if you take the medication regularly for years, but there’s no point in examining those risks until you know what the medication has to offer, and you won’t know unless you take the low-risk chance.
4) Evaluate End
In order to run an effective trial, take a stimulant 30 minutes or so before trying an intellectual task that you believe is necessary but difficult. You may need to repeat the experiment several times to evaluate the effect of three or four different doses or their impact on different kinds of learning, but you’ll know pretty quickly if there’s any potential benefit. You can measure your results, not by whether your test scores and/or the impression you make on teachers improves, but whether you feel a stimulant makes learning substantially easier. Then weigh that benefit against what you know about the trouble of obtaining the medication (e.g., cost, MD visits, the various that come with filling a prescription for a controlled substance) as well as whatever information you can gather about its possible longterm risks. Remember, you’re the ultimate judge of whether the benefits to your ability to learn outweigh the hassle and low risk of addiction, then taking these meds makes sense.
5) Shake the Stigma
Some people—Tom Cruise, for example—may always look down on you for taking ADHD meds, but doing your due diligence comes with the added bonus of not having to give a shit about what anyone else thinks. You’ve done the work, you’ve made smart assessments, and you’re confident that medication gives you an intellectual boost that you really need and can’t get in other ways. You’re the one who bears the burden and risk because you’re committed to learning something difficult. Yes, you’re different and, of course, your difference sometimes gives you advantages, but when it doesn’t, be proud of the way you manage it and confident, no matter what Xenu says, that you’re doing the right thing.
Posted by fxckfeelings on September 28, 2017
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It’s hard to watch your child struggle in school, even when your child is old enough to rent a car and the school work that’s giving him trouble is for his master’s degree. Your parental reflexes tell you that you’re responsible for alleviating his pain and, when you can’t, you still can’t help but feel like a failure. Remember, however, that the pressure shouldn’t be on you to absorb his pain, but on him to absorb your values so he knows how to persevere and do tough things when he decides they’re worthwhile. You can never fix your kid’s problems, but if you teach him how to approach problems with the right ethics and expectations as his guide, he’ll have a set of tools he can use to help himself for a lifetime.
I have a son who has continually struggled in high school and now in college. He is very bright but has difficulty keeping organized and completing his work. The doctor prescribed him medication which he doesn’t like taking because he doesn’t like how it makes him feel, but when he does take it he does do better at getting his work completed. He’s now in his third year of college and is still struggling. He feels that there is a stigma attached to medication… that it’s a drug and he’s cheating by taking something. It also prevents him from getting a good night’s sleep. But he’s otherwise so slow at completing tasks it takes him nearly an hour to eat his dinner when I cook a meal. My goal is to get any suggestions that you might have to make his life easier.
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Posted by fxckfeelings on September 18, 2017
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Android-ish/Aspberger-y people, like the one described recently by a reader, can often be jerks by accident; because reading social cues or facial expressions isn’t in their programming, they can unwittingly do or say things that most humans would recognize or rude or hurtful. That’s why it’s sometimes easy to confuse an android for an Asshole™, which is dangerous for the android (who may unwittingly lose a would-be friends) and for you (who, due to getting entangled with an Asshole™, may lose your mind). So, if you meet a guy and can’t tell if he’s obnoxious or just oblivious, here are five ways to distinguish an android from an Asshole™.
1) Apologetic or Apoplectic?
A person’s response to gentle criticism often reveals a lot about his character, but it’s especially telling where androids andAsshole™s are involved. If, for example, you find a neutral way of describing this guy’s rude rough edges and ask him about their possible negative impact on others, his reaction will speak volumes. If he’s confused and even contrite, then he’s an android who’s just had trouble computing. If he’s incensed and then blames you for being too sensitive and stupid to understand him, Asshole™ ahoy.
2) Sample His Anger
Androids don’t tend to hold individual grudges—they can get frustrated when they have to make transitions or changes to a plan, but their anger is usually circumstantial. Assholes™, on the other hand, explode with personal fury and hold ironclad grudges about emotional betrayal. So if he barely reacts to or is merely baffled by a slight but has a strong, angry respond to an illogical criticism, he’s an android. If he responds to any insult by turning into a Hulked-out Alec Baldwin, that’s an Asshole™.
3) See What Giving Him Space Gets You
Withhold your attention for a bit and note how he reacts. If he’s mortally offended by your rudeness, that’s an Asshole™, because an Asshole™’s ego doesn’t just dictate that your every action is directed at him but that he’s deserving of every last ounce of your attention and anything less is an unreasonable insult. If instead he doesn’t notice your absence, or really appreciates the alone time and break from interpersonal demands, then you’re safely in android territory.
4) Evaluate His Interests
Androids tend to enjoy activities that allow them to exercising their private gifts in a solo setting, like manipulating numbers, rebuilding machines, or memorizing obscure baseball stats. Asshole™s, on the other hand, need to socialize, not just to bask in the attention and adoration that is as vital to them as food and water, but to find new relationships to replace the selfish, hurtful, disappointing ones that they’ve lost. So if he prefers less social, more skill-based activities, he’s probably android, whereas a preference for doing anything that could likely foster close, rapid contact and intense communication, he’s more likely an Asshole™.
5) Look For Lingering Relationships
Androids may not have a lot of close, intense friends, but they do frequently have longterm relationships with fellow bots, often with optional face-to-face contact, who share their interests in stuff like games/computers, obscure topics, or specialized tools. Assholes™, on the other hand, have a lot of ex-friends (and shunned family members, and pending lawsuits), so take note if he has a lot of lost friends who have turned into lingering enemies. Unless you can identify Assholes™ (and differentiate them from their more harmless android cousins), you may find yourself on that enemies list next.
Posted by fxckfeelings on August 24, 2017
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If, like our reader from earlier, your best efforts to find someone to be friends with, let alone date, are constantly fruitless, it can be hard to deal with both loneliness and the desperation that comes with it. So, instead of letting loneliness push you to lower your standards and reach out to the wrong people, let yourself embrace being alone a bit more. While you keep searching for connections, here are five ways to like being alone so you can’t be spooked by being lonely in the meantime.
1) Seek Out Activities You Can Enjoy Solo…
Take up hobbies that you can enjoy alone or in groups, like crafting, gardening, or running. If it makes you stronger, wiser, or richer on Etsy, so much the better, but the main goal, after getting used to your new hobby, is to actually like it and look forward to it. What you’re after is not a Fortress of Solitude but a well-stocked zone in your house, well-tilled corner of the back-yard, and well-established running path where you look forward to spending time of your own and/or with some other people who enjoy the same yarn/plants/stride lengths that you do.
2) …While Soaking In Activities You Can Enjoy Solo
As smart as it is to find solo activities that can also be done in groups, it’s also worth pushing yourself to try things alone that you’re used to doing with others; from going to the movies alone to driving cross-country by yourself, take on tasks that you might be wary of doing without a partner in crime. By doing so, you’ll gain a sense of independence that will help you overcome the fear of loneliness and teach you to enjoy your own company. Plus, you will often find that people are more eager to chat with you when you’re by yourself and the best adventures are more likely to happen when you’re not part of a couple or crowd.
3) Volunteer Your Time
You may think that being alone is pathetic, but there’s nothing less pathetic than contributing your otherwise solo time to a good cause, like teaching or caring for others. Even if you don’t meet like-minded people, you’ll feel useful, not just social, and build meaningful relationships with those you help. If they happen to be people in your community, you can stay in touch over many years, but if they’re not you can learn about other cultures and widen your view of the world. In any case, you’ll start to see your non-working, not-friend-filled time as a gift, not a burden.
4) Get A Damn Dog
Cats may be fine pets (for some people, who aren’t the authors), but they tend to encourage anti-social, house-bound behavior; even if you force your cat to go out for walks, most people are keen to avoid someone with a pissed off cat on a leash. Dogs, on the other hand, aren’t just loyal in-house companions; walking them forces you to be active and, if you live near a dog park, even social, although they also allow you to talk to yourself in public without seeming crazy. Most importantly, they oblige you to think about the needs of others (particularly when it comes to their need to eat, poop, not eat something that will make them sick and poop way too much, etc.), which is really what having a family, or any loving relationship, is all about.
5) Never Stop Looking For A Better Match
Just because you’ve learned to love your own company doesn’t mean you should then give up on finding someone who appreciates it as much as you do. For many people, finding worthwhile friends doesn’t result from trying to be more friendly or sociable; in most cases, there was nothing wrong with their social approach in the first place, but, for lots of reasons beyond their control, there was something wrong with the ability of their personality to mesh well with the people who happened to be around them. If you can pursue your own path until you finally meet a person or group that is a good match for you, and then enjoy, then you won’t need to fear loneliness while finding your own kind of fulfillment.
Posted by fxckfeelings on August 10, 2017
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When you’ve searched high and low for companionship with no results, it’s easy to conclude that, as you’re the only constant factor in your search, you must be the problem/cause of your own loneliness and misery. And of course, trying harder, especially when you aren’t actually doing anything wrong, will only wind up making you feel more unlikeable and hate yourself more. In reality, of course, much of friendship depends on factors you don’t control, like chemistry, the kind of personality you got at birth, and the way you mesh with your local pool of friend candidates. So if love and friendship don’t come easily to you, despite good strong efforts, never assume you’ve failed. You may have found something in life that won’t come easily, but a weakness in relationships need never stop you from finding ways to leading a full and independent life until you discover the right person or people or share it with.
I’m a (maybe over-)educated female in my late 30s who just broke up with what seemed like an emotional/verbal abuser after a very rocky three year relationship. My major issue is that the past many years (20 in total with bursts of good-ish relationships) I’ve been very lonely, mostly because I move around a lot for work and making friends is very hard in new cities. I keep bumping into deadbeats and weirdos, and at my age, most people (especially good people) are too busy with their lives to be looking for friends. So I’m busting my ass to be social, going on hikes with lots of depressing divorcees, to eco-festivals, to any group activities I’m interested in…progress is very slow and shaky. And I’m making a go at dating again (yet once again in my life), this time with more courage than my previous/difficult breakup with the same guy. I quit therapy because it was too expensive and slow, and besides, what I’ve been sorely lacking these past years are FRIENDS. Instead, despite all my efforts, I’m dealing with empty weekends, sending messages (text, FB, etc.) to people who said let’s have a coffee and never respond. I am getting a few replies but with people busy things often get cancelled, especially by the most interesting folks, and I wind up hanging out with the outsiders and deadbeats I should probably avoid. It’s hard, but I’m trying to hang in there and keep pushing. And BOY do I drop everything if I get a chance to see people that I consider worthwhile. My goal is to figure out if there’s something, *anything* I can do—from trying a new way to expand my search to moving to a whole new country—to find the kind of relationships that will make my life feel whole.
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