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Feelings are the true F-word.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Lies About A Face

Posted by fxckfeelings on May 4, 2016

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Maybe it’s an extension of normal perfectionism, but obsessing over perceived physical imperfections is an affliction that sometimes happens to very good people. Unfortunately, doctors have neither been able to find the reason behind nor the cure for these obsessive thoughts, but if you’re one of those unfortunate people, you aren’t totally without hope. Though feelings of ugliness are painful and hard to bear, there are ways to remind yourself that they aren’t the truth, and that your future never need be as ugly as the thoughts in your head.

-Dr. Lastname

My concern has to do with feeling ugly. I often feel quite not-OK with how I look, specifically my face, and it causes me unease and unhappiness. I also feel I was very unhealthy and underweight in my late teens (from eating very little and working way too hard at school), and that I could/should look better/like my handsome brother, and often just feel kind of this general malaise and shittiness when it comes to my appearance. I can’t imagine ever even wanting to date somebody given how almost guilty and unhappy my looks make me feel. Every mention of attractiveness and even the sight of a pretty girl quickly triggers a twinge of sadness and a kind of sigh and a drive to ruminate, which I’m finding it hard to deal with now and I’m and worried about coping with it in the future when life gets much harder. Right now I live with my parents and am quite comfortable, but I don’t know how I’m going to function when I’m on my own struggling in the real world. I can’t imagine happily meeting friends for brunch and not getting weighed down by the whole, “I look gross as hell and it’s probably my fault and things might very well suck forever and I might be screwed” train of thought. My goal is to be less affected by my feelings about how I look and have some sense of hope about the future.

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

The Great Aspy

Posted by fxckfeelings on March 1, 2016

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Unlike severe autism, autism spectrum disorder is more a collection of differences than a disease. True, there are disabilities and moments of feeling alienated, but some abilities are enhanced, so it’s less like being broken and more like being Batman. So if you have Asperger traits, don’t make it your goal to be “normal.” Recognizing your weaknesses does not oblige you to eliminate them, but to learn how to use your strengths to manage them and be the person you are (and perhaps save Gotham, if you’re so inclined).

-Dr. Lastname

I’m over 60 and have just discovered/realized I am on the autism spectrum (what they used to call Asperger’s). I’ve spent my life trying to fit in to a neurotypical world. I’m also a little over a year divorced from someone who emotionally abused me for almost 20 years. Between these two things, I’m kind of reinventing myself. I’m already saying f*ck to ‘normal’ (neurotypical) and to society’s dictates for women my age, but that doesn’t mean I’m totally comfortable with what’s happening. My goal is to figure out how f*cked I am, and what can I do about it. 

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Empty Mess: Distant Daughter

Posted by fxckfeelings on September 15, 2015

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Every parent knows that one day their kid will grow up and make a life of their own, but if your child grows up and seems to make a life that excludes you entirely, it can make you feel rejected, insulted, and helpless. No matter how independent your child becomes, however, you never stop being a parent. While that should never stop you from protecting yourself, it also obliges you to spell out a positive direction and push your child forward with whatever limited powers you possess. So don’t let hurt feelings cause you to forget your parenting values or powers; as long as you keep those feelings from controlling your actions, you can do a good job as a parent even if your kid does a bad job appreciating it.

-Dr. Lastname

I’m not sure what my expectations should be regarding my relationship with my twenty-something daughter. Since she left for a college out of state, I feel as though she simply puts up with me, and never seeks out my company or is concerned or curious about my life. She was always respectful to me when she was growing up, but last year she actually rolled her eyes at for the first time ever, in response to something I said. That has been her general response to me since she graduated from college, and it really hurts. I haven’t spoken to her in two months. She recently came to town to attend her grandmother’s (my ex’s mother’s) 85th birthday and never made an effort to see me. I have been living my life and missing her terribly, but I feel that maybe because she’s a perfectionist, and her career is experiencing fits and starts, she doesn’t want me to see her in this mode. My goal is to figure out how to keep from losing both of my kids entirely.

Reacting to your kids as if they’re your friends is dangerous because uncontrollable forces can interfere with friendship without ever changing the fact that you’re their mother. There’s a huge difference between losing touch with someone you used to run with versus someone you used to raise. 

We all want to wind up as friends with our kids once they’re grown up, if possible, but if that doesn’t seem possible, chastising and nagging them in the manner of a parent isn’t going to help. So rather than dwelling on the normal but negative feelings of hurt and disappointment with kids who don’t try to get along with you, focus on the one thing you always controltrying to offer the best parenting possible.

Life is Unfair.

Good parenting for a dismissive, self-centered daughter includes teaching her that you expect reasonably good behavior if she wants something in return, like periodic efforts to keep in touch. You’re not a Giving Tree; she shouldn’t treat her mother that way, and if she treated her friends that way, her only companion would be a tree stump.

Before anger gets you focused on what she’s doing wrong, ask yourself whether you did a good job—not perfect, but good enough—as a parent. Use the same rating system you would use to judge the parenting ability of a friend or hired nanny, ignoring irrational voices of doubt, second-guessing, and regret. If you fall seriously short, particularly in attending to her needs, prepare to apologize.

At that point, having done what you can to square your own conduct with your ideals, give thought to your daughter’s job description and her major shortcomings.

Without necessarily sharing it with her, write a brief, positive description of the change your daughter should make in order to do her job and keep up her side of the parent-child relationship. Make sure to praise her assets and describe change as an important improvement, not a crime that requires atonement, and don’t make it personal. By articulating your thoughts, even if it’s just for your own eyes, you’ve created a manifesto to guide your attitude.

If your daughter rejects you or wants to punish you, try not to blame or apologize. Let her know you’re proud of your parenting and believe that, if she accepts you and behaves reasonably, you can have a good relationship.

When she does get in touch, don’t talk about sadness or sound like a victim; if you do, you may inadvertently reward their urge to punish you. Instead, convey hope that things will improve and optimism about your future relationship. In the meantime, stay patient, positive, and steadfast, i.e., be a good friend to yourself.

STATEMENT:

“My lack of a decent relationship with my kids makes me feel like I failed as a parent, but I have good reason to believe it has more to do with them than me. I will continue to look for what is good and healthy in them and stand by my belief that, if they’re willing to behave decently, we can develop a positive relationship.”

Fix or Forget It?

Posted by fxckfeelings on September 8, 2015

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Deciding whether to continue a marriage and how you feel about your marriage are two very different things; you may feel miserable in a marriage that has the potential to make you happy in the long run, or you may feel ambivalent enough about your union that you tough it out, even though doing so may be the wrong choice looking forward. Making the decision is hard, but if you can be honest about your priorities, you can make the best choice for you, your marriage, and your future.

-Dr. Lastname

After too many years of passive aggressiveness by both myself and my wife of several years, we finally admitted that we do not love each other anymore. Despite that, she agreed to give it a go again, though she will not attend counseling where she thinks all her mistakes will be highlighted. She wants to begin “dating” each other again. I’m going along with this but will also be seeing a psychologist to sort out the anger I have for the wasted time. The thing is, even with all of this counseling, I don’t see myself falling back in love with her. I think separating and eventually dissolving the marriage would make me much happier; as a healthy man in my 60s, I feel I have a lot of great years left and want to spend them with someone I can really love. My older kids would probably accept the separation, so…f*ck happiness? Yield to the stupor of reality? My goal is to figure out what the f*ck is going on.

Fix it or Forget it, Should I Stay In My Marriage? F*ck Feelings

When we have to make important decisions for ourselves that also affect someone we care about, we tend to make the mistake of allowing them an equal or more important voice in our thought process. It’s a little like the old notion of having a devil and an angel on each shoulder, except in this case, you have the other person voicing their needs on one shoulder and you’re sitting cowering down by the elbow, hoping to eventually get a word in edgewise.

Considering the feelings of someone you’re strongly connected to as if they were your own is a natural habit to get into, but if you want to do the right thing by both of you, it’s a habit that must be broken. It might sound selfish at first, but when you think about it, it’s the smarter approach.

That’s because, if you over-regard someone else’s feelings when making decisions, you may well make the decision they want and then blame them for it. That’s not fair, of course, because it’s your decision to make. It’s not fair to either one of you in the long run.

So re-edit your description of your problem; you feel you don’t love your wife and have a negative, angry chemistry that doesn’t change, even when you’re not arguing. Given her age and lack of interest in treatment, you can’t expect her to change. You haven’t presented any reason of your own for staying married to her. Instead, you’ve presented her wishes as if they’re as important as your own, even though they’re completely contradictory.

Give more thought to your own reasons for staying together. Review your incomes and retirement opportunities, and consider the possible shared pleasures and interests of spending retirement time together. Ask yourself whether you enjoy your time together with your kids. Do your own arithmetic so you don’t demean your own judgment by substituting hers for yours.

As long as you make your own decision, you won’t be a marriage victim; you’ll either stay because you think you’re better off as partners through the next stage of your lives, or you’ll leave because there are too many advantages to moving on.

No matter what you decide, it should be your choice based more heavily on your priorities, not shoulder commentary, so it’s a choice you can respect.

STATEMENT

“I feel torn by my wife’s desires versus my own, but I can discover my own mind even if I’ve been married forever. I will not disregard my marriage, but I will protect my right to a better life if I determine that this marriage is fundamentally harmful to my well-being.”

5 ways to manage family members who drive you crazy.

Posted by fxckfeelings on August 27, 2015

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Whether you’re an independent adult or stuck living with your family due to age or poor finances, your techniques for avoiding conflict begin with the same premise; you can’t change family and you’ll make things worse if you try. Once you can accept that, you can take these steps to make a bad situation/gene pool more bearable. It’s not an easy process, but if you want to keep your family intact/alive, it’s worth it.

Step 1:  Learn to keep your mouth shut

Remind yourself that further communication and efforts to change your family are not only useless, but harmful. After all, you’ve probably tried many times to argue your point, and all it’s done is create resentment and excuses to slam doors and break plates. Try once more if you’d like, just to drive the message home, but then it’s time to step out of the ring and stay silent.

Step 2:  Don’t be a jerk

You may have reason to feel hurt, wounded, and even abused, but acting like a jerk will undermine your confidence and give your enemies an even more solid opportunity to claim victimhood themselves. So try to act according to your own standards of decency, even if your feelings are screaming for revenge, or at least a loud tantrum or protest. You might share their genes, but you don’t have to share their attitude.

Step 3:  Focus on your own goals

Get busy doing whatever it is that advances your own priorities, like making money, seeing friends, and building your own independence. The more you do, the less opportunity there is for family interactions, and the less important they’ll be when they occur. This is obviously harder if you’re still living at home and your family is on your case, but when they try to accuse you of being distant, self-important, etc., remember Step 1 and don’t take the bait.

Step 4:  Memorize your lines

If you’re challenged by questions or accusations that stir you up, prepare scripts for answering briefly and without anger or defensiveness. For example, if your mother is always on you for being uncaring or your brother constantly makes nasty remarks about your supposed attitude, say some variation of, “I understand you feel worried/angry/devastated/ill-treated and I’ve thought it through carefully, because your opinion is very important to me. I really disagree however, and, without getting into it, think we should just leave that subject alone.” Then the subject is closed.

Step 5:  Set limits and stick to them

The best way to keep visits and phone calls pleasant is by keeping them short; either set an amount of time that you think is long enough to fulfill your obligation but short enough to avoid conflict, or have an excuse lined up to peaceably end a call or visit if things start to take a bad turn. Even if you’re living together, never let yourself be trapped for very long; if all else fails, physical escape is a surefire way to escape an argument, so keep your exit open, whether it’s to the next room, a locked bathroom, or the coffee shop down the street.

Life is Unfair.

Disorder Form, Part 2

Posted by fxckfeelings on August 13, 2015

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Finding equilibrium in your life is hard; as we discussed earlier this week, creating balance in a family of unbalanced people is nearly impossible. In other families, however, you can coach someone into a new, more positive direction. In doing so, you can help them create more security in their own lives, improving their balance and strengthening your bonds instead of risking them.
Dr. Lastname

I worry about my son because he’s had a hard time getting his life started since he graduated from college a few years ago. He’s very bright and was always a hard worker, but, right after he graduated, it took him a long time to get going and find a job, probably due to a combination of depression, anxiety, and no focus. In any case, he’s now working, but he needs a graduate degree if he wants to make a decent salary in his field and have any sort of financial security, and he never gets around to applying or even looking into possible local programs. He’s not touchy about being pushed, but I hate the idea of nagging him. My goal is to get him to see that he needs to do more if he really wants to be independent.

Helping kids get organized does not require nagging, just administration. Remember, a good boss doesn’t nag, just sets a clear direction for a good reason, assumes that’s what you want to do, and helps you get there. Take that approach as a parent, particularly when, as in your case, your son doesn’t get angry about being advised, encouraged, or incentivized. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Disorder Form, Part 1

Posted by fxckfeelings on August 10, 2015

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Despite all of our attempts to make our lives secure—wearing protective gear, creating a savings account, building a Y2K+X shelter—we’re all subject to nature’s whims. Most of the time, we’re just scrambling to maintain life’s delicate balance between order and chaos. Of course, there are certain, non-weather related natural disasters that can create disorder; namely, those we’re naturally related to. That’s why, in particularly unstable families, any interaction must be planned with a map of the likely fallout and that Y2K+X shelter stocked to the gills. Later this week, we’ll see how shaking things up can sometimes make the family balance stronger.
Dr. Lastname

Even though most of my family are crazy and a pain in the ass to be around, I still love them and have found a way to keep them in my life without letting their bullshit make me miserable. I’m worried though that, if they come to my wedding, then our relationship is going to fall apart. I can’t not invite them, because they know it’s happening and will show up with or without an invitation, but if they do show up, it’s going to be a shitshow. My father is a nice guy but a mean drunk, and there’s no way he’ll be sober. My oldest sister is a compulsive klepto who would probably disappear the wedding gifts, and another sister is well along in following our father’s staggering footsteps (my brother moved far away to get away from them, and I can’t blame him). I’ve told my fiancée I don’t want to spoil the event for her parents, who are very nice, but I’m afraid of what my family will do to create chaos and ruin what we’ve paid for. My goal is to have a wedding that doesn’t blow up on me and hurt innocent bystanders like my wife and her family.

Whatever you decide to do about inviting your family to your wedding, it’s clear that you accept them for who they are, but that acceptance is dependent on certain factors, i.e., where they are, and for how long. When it comes to family, especially awful relatives, better living through boundaries is often the rule.

Even if you’re not interested in punishing, hiding, or changing them, and you can talk about them honestly with your wife-to-be (who is not asking you to disown them), you’re also not interested in inflicting them on the public or your new in-laws. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

The Rational Inquirer

Posted by fxckfeelings on July 23, 2015

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While the whole concept of “shoot first, ask questions later” sounds cool to many of us, it obviously has some detractors (namely, those who were shot before they could have been vindicated through question-asking). In reality, as always, you need to strike a balance, because, while asking questions can sometimes interfere with action, taking action can be a way to avoid asking difficult questions. So, instead of assuming that either is good without the other, learn how to limit your questions to those that are necessary and how to take action, hopefully unarmed, even when you’re not sure how things will turn out.
Dr. Lastname

I’ve been taking a medication for several years that has been very good for my depression, but now I’m having obsessive thoughts and my doctor thinks I should take a larger dose and see if it reduces the OCD. She says there’s always an advantage in taking one medication instead of two, and that a month of taking a larger dose every day will tell me whether this medication can help all my symptoms or whether I need to try something else. It’s hard for me to take the same dose every day, because the medication makes me jumpy, so I always take less when I need sleep and then I take more when I need to be awake. In addition, I read on the internet that larger doses might make me fat, or, in some cases, suicidal, so I have a lot of doubts about this increased dose, and a lot of questions that nobody seems able to answer. My goal is to find somebody who has the answers (you?) and figure out the best way to deal with my obsessive thoughts.

If you’re having obsessive thoughts, and both you and your doctor acknowledge this to be a problem, then maybe you shouldn’t take your endless doubts about medication at face value. You can’t alleviate obsessive thoughts by entertaining them, which is what you’re doing here.

It’s valuable, of course, to make careful decisions about medication, and your questions would be useful if your medication were really designed to work quickly and help you stay awake. Instead, it’s designed to help you stop obsessing about factors like these, and to do so at its own pace. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Monster Barrage

Posted by fxckfeelings on July 16, 2015

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Deciding whether or not to accept the challenge to fight an Asshole™ shouldn’t be difficult—whether you’re facing an Asshole™ or an actual asshole, every instinct should tell you to get the hell out of there. Of course, sometimes the Asshole™ seems like the only thing standing between you and justice, so before you go “mano a anus,” consider the validity of your anger, the likelihood of ancillary damage and cost, and the value of whatever it is you hope to win. Then, whether you’re the one who must do the fighting or just counseling someone else, you’ll come up with a strategy for either fighting or fleeing that will have the least-shitty results.
Dr. Lastname

My father died recently and my unmarried younger sister still lives in the family house with our elderly mother who is now struggling with memory loss. Over the years we have been a dysfunctional family with a lot of sibling rivalry, and my brother and I find our sister argumentative and difficult. Being around her for any length of time involves walking on eggshells and she and our mother have a turbulent relationship although she is her favorite child. My parents’ will states we will all benefit equally upon our mother’s death but now our sister is trying to emotionally blackmail us into pledging the house to her. She feels that she deserves it as she is the main caregiver. However, she has been supported by her for years and has always been hesitant to find work. We find it distasteful to be arguing about money with our mother still living and our father deceased just weeks ago. My brother and I are both happy to inherit our fair share when the time comes but worry that our sister will syphon off the funds my mother has and expect to keep the house as well. We feel like vultures in wait and do not wish for bitterness or conflict but our sister is often unreasonable and bombastic and we have problems of our own. My goal is to find a way to withstand manipulation and protect our interests without causing our mother’s remaining time to be made unhappy and stressful.

The feeling of unfairness is like the emotional salt in the psychic wound left by loss. After all, it never feels fair when you lose someone you love, but having that pain exacerbated by an Asshole™ sibling adds extra sting to the agony.

It’s hard to avoid becoming paralyzed by that pain, as well as guilt over the anguish you could cause your mother by arguing with your sister. Before you go to war with your sister, however, give thought to whether winning a victory would be meaningful, or even possible, given her Asshole™ tendencies.

Your sister is being totally unfair and unreasonable, but as with mortality itself, there’s a point when you have to lay down arms and give in to the inevitable. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Wrong Guard

Posted by fxckfeelings on July 13, 2015

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Protectiveness isn’t just a noble family virtue, but a likely evolution-driven behavior, instilled in us to insure the survival of the family genome (or at least another generation of helicopter Neanderthals). Unfortunately, the urge to protect is also usually emotion-driven, thus making it liable to backfire. It’s not unusual then, especially when it comes to your fellow genome holders, for you to have to protect yourself from someone’s misguided protectiveness, protect someone you care about from their own protection-driven behaviors, or both. So use careful reasoning to determine when protection is possible, when it’s not, and when it’s likely to do more harm than good. You’ll actually become a good protector if you react less to feelings and more to what’s truly best for your family’s future.
Dr. Lastname

My father is well-meaning but a little loopy, especially now that he’s older, and somehow he got it into his head that my wife is cheating on me with a handsome, younger co-worker. In reality, my wife and I are very happy, and we like and occasionally socialize with this co-worker and his husband, but clearly, it ends there. Still, every time dad visits he gives my wife dirty looks and tries to take me aside to tell me I can’t trust her. She and I used to laugh about it, but now that my dad’s been harping on this bullshit for over a year, it’s starting to get on our nerves and our kids, while young, are starting to suspect that grandpa’s upset about something and want to know what it is. I’ve tried to reassure my father that it’s just in his imagination and to keep it there, but he can’t stop. My goal is to figure out a way my father can spend time with my family without causing my wife pain and upsetting the kids.

Keeping the peace within a family isn’t always easy; it’s hard under your own roof, but even harder when you’re running interference between the family you’ve created and the family that created you. Sometimes, however, the efforts required to keep everyone happy aren’t just doomed to failure, but to make you (and others) miserable.

Your natural instinct is to work harder and try to meet everyone’s needs—your wife and kids, your job, your misguided old man—but there are times when the demands become impossible, and instead of dedicating boundless energy towards making things work, you have to create boundaries and instruct others to work around them. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

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