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Assholes always win.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Many Crappy Returns

Posted by fxckfeelings on June 8, 2015

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We spend endless amounts of time wishing happiness on our friends and pain on our enemies, if only because their respective happiness and misery gives us pleasure, as well; there’s at least one German word and a few nighttime soap operas that sum up the concept well. Trouble is, of course, that happiness is a deceptive drug and punishment has unintended consequences, so our cathartic needs are a poor guide for what we should actually do. Even if you can’t help but cheer on friends and flip off villains, don’t take any real action until you can carefully consider the limits of what you actually control and how you wish things to turn out. Then you’re much more likely to get a glücklich ending.
Dr. Lastname

I’m worried about my sister’s recent engagement because she hasn’t known the guy that long and she’s been very vulnerable since her divorce from her unfaithful ex-husband. On the other hand, she seems so happy after such a long period of misery, and I think that’s all that really counts. The guy is probably fine, but we just don’t know much about him, and things have moved very quickly. I know that if I ask her to slow things down, she’ll tell me how happy she is, implying that I’m trying to rain on her parade. My goal is to help her be happy.

As we’ve said many times, a good marriage should provide many things—a trustworthy partner to share responsibilities with, the ability to use the carpool lane, someone to always take the blame—but immediate happiness is not one of them.

Marriage is a forever commitment, and happiness is a fleeting emotion; marrying someone because they make you happy makes as much sense as getting hungry and investing everything in a restaurant. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Sick Change

Posted by fxckfeelings on April 27, 2015

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Of the many things out there that people can be afraid of—spiders, heights, gays—the one thing that truly scares the shit out of all of us is change. Whether it’s good or bad, change is unfamiliar, and unfamiliar is inherently frightening. Sometimes, particularly when it’s forced on us, we think change will turn out badly and it doesn’t, but when we really don’t want change, we try to prevent it, and that can be at our own peril. Don’t let neediness or fear control your view of the future (or marriage). Whether you’re facing or adapting to change, think through what’s good for you, and you’ll become better at forecasting its impact and taking pride in your brave response.
Dr. Lastname

After hip surgery, I felt like I was in a fog…it wasn’t just the physical adjustment, but there was a freak complication during the procedure, and my brain might have lost oxygen for a bit. I came out of it with no energy, and my memory was shot. The doctor said that was normal, but now it’s a year later and I still don’t have the energy or mental sharpness that I used to depend on. My husband says I’m different but that he likes the new me just as much as the old one, if not more, because he thinks I’m calmer and a better listener. I think he’s just being sweet, so I’m still afraid to spend time with old friends or co-workers so I don’t frighten them and humiliate myself since I just feel slow and stupid. My goal is to get my old self back and stop being a pale imitation of the smart go-getter I used to be.

When you lose something great about yourself, whether it’s the ability to strike out the side in the big leagues or make it as a supermodel or just remember the names of everyone at the party, it’s hard not to dwell on everything you’ve lost and search desperately for a way to get it back.

Unfortunately, change is inevitable with age and it’s always uncomfortable, even when it’s welcomed. You can find the courage to withstand a career-salvaging Tommy John or Tummy Tuck. When the changes are more mental than physical, however, there’s almost nothing you can do, even though you’d give anything to turn back time.

You’re right to try to get back to your old self, at least at first; that’s what rehabilitation is about, for a limited time. Almost always, however, when there’s a permanent component to an injury, your goal needs to shift from total recovery to management of a permanent impairment. That’s when you transition to becoming a sportscaster, a trophy wife, or, in your case, someone slightly different. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Re: Liable Source

Posted by fxckfeelings on October 27, 2014

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Along with avoiding conflict, favoring calm, and having taste that’s too sophisticated to tolerate Michael Bay, human beings are also notoriously bad at correctly placing blame or finding the true source of an issue. We punish ourselves for problems that we have no control over and indict others for creating trouble that it’s our job to prevent. Instead of rushing to judgment, we should ignore our thoughts, dreams, and tempers and consult our values first. Then we can decide whether we’ve really done wrong and need to do better, or whether someone else has erred. Either way, we’ll know where the blame truly lies and be able to buck our nature to calmly find a solution.
-Dr. Lastname

I have done a pretty good job of keeping things together through a very tough few years. I have mostly come to terms with the break up of a long and unhappy marriage and become a stronger person as a result. In my waking life I have learned to choose my thoughts and control my feelings and behavior to good effect. The trouble is my dreams, which are frequent and often disturbing. In dream-life I am still very emotional and out of control and tied to past experiences. I will dream I am dancing with my ex or that we have reconciled happily and wake up feeling sad. Or I dream that my new partner is cheating or being an asshole when he has given me no cause to doubt him. Sometimes I wake up in a state of distress after reliving painful events without the benefit of rational thinking and wish I could sleep without being invaded by the bizarre and the uninvited. Are dreams just random or a result of what lurks in the subconscious mind? My goal is to have faith that I have coped quite well with very difficult circumstances and to understand the message behind my restless nights.

It’s a good thing we can’t be held legally responsible for our thoughts or dreams, or we’d all be in jail, riddled with STDs, or kicked out of school due to failing exams we didn’t know we had or excessive public nudity. If the law can’t punish you for your dreams, there’s no reason to punish yourself.

We also know that depression floods us with irrational, negative thoughts, causing us to blame ourselves for everything that has gone wrong and assume that everything will go wrong in the future. So making a big deal about dreams seems like a sure way to magnify the impact of negative thoughts and self-doubts that we neither deserve nor control. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

An Irrational Crisis

Posted by fxckfeelings on March 3, 2014

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Most crises, be they familial or international, involve so many moving parts and wildcard personalities that any one person’s power to keep the peace is limited. That’s why, no matter what the family crisis, or whether it’s in the development or fall out stage, don’t make yourself too responsible for running clean up and sustaining or restoring family peace. If you do, you’ll probably fail, because assuming too much responsibility will just make you mad and wind up adding to the conflict. So, instead of trying to save the day/family name from your own personal Putin, give thought to what you actually control and, within that limit, do what a good person should do for his/her family. You will seldom help your family as much as you’d wish, but you’ll come away satisfied that you did your part in the rescue effort and can ignore the rest.
Dr. Lastname

I get along OK with my sister, but she’s always been socially retarded with a special ability to always say the wrong thing. She’s been a visiting professor abroad for the last year, but she’s back in this country on a sabbatical, where she’s spent most of her time with a guy down south whom she met online, and I don’t much like. Now she suddenly wants to come up to visit me, but she chose the weekend I was going to hang out with my younger brother, whom I also rarely get to see. Plus, I know my brother had something he wanted to talk over, and I hate the old feeling of having my sister come by when she wants to, leaving me with no choice, though she’s been in the country for a month with some sketchy jerk in Florida. My parents want me to see her because they hate the idea of our family not spending time with one another and they don’t want her feelings to get hurt. My goal is to figure out what to do with her that will satisfy family obligations without ruining my time with my brother, whom I want to see, and he has things to say I want to hear.

You may think your sister is socially retarded, but she has some serious skills if she’s able to create, for you, a good ol’ emotional perfect storm; she’s managed to make you feel angry, guilty for feeling angry, and angry for feeling guilty, all at once. If anything, she’s an anti-social savant.

The path out of the storm, of course, is to think hard about your own standards for deciding what’s right, rather than stewing on how various people are going to feel, including yourself. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Hand-Me-Downer

Posted by fxckfeelings on February 13, 2014

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If you could ask Mary Cheney or A.J. Soprano, they’d tell you that inheritance, be it material or psychological, is always tricky. That’s because it’s easy to hate yourself when you can’t get rid of an inherited personality trait, like constant anger or depression, which makes it hard to ever feel happy or express love and affection. What life teaches you, however, is that many people find ways to take care of one another and contribute to the world, even when they’re not fully functional or in full control of their dark thoughts and sharp tongues. They deserve respect for whatever good they do when their feelings give them no relief or reward, and their genes don’t give them much of a choice.
Dr. Lastname

I grew up in a horrid family. My father worked long hours at a couple of jobs leaving my (very young) mother alone with my brother and me. My mother had no clue about parenting and raising children. My home was a miserable cesspool of put-downs, depression, negativity, and yelling. I get that my mother probably grew up herself with a “Mommy Dearest”/”Carrie” mother, but as we all do, I vowed to myself never to torture my children as my mother had done to me. But guess what, I now find myself yelling and haranguing my daughter (but not my son…hmmm?). I think the yelling and disrespectful attitude toward my daughter has been programmed into my DNA. It is my default reaction when I get angry (or when my daughter does anything–wrong– pretty much). I’ve done the anger management, self-help books, etc. I can’t stop. Please give me some advice on how I can stop the “bad psycho mother” cycle. I already see the signs of damage in my daughter.

It’s painful to grow up with an angry, critical parent, but it’s even worse to grow up with a parent who can’t provide for his/her family or care enough to try. Despite the pressures on your immigrant parents, they were able to survive and provide you with a home. Even if it was horrid, it beat the alternative.

So, even if you see yourself as a bad psycho mother, you’re also a caring, providing mother, and you need to remember that. That’s why you need to respect what you do right before picking at what you do wrong, because if you can’t see the big picture, you can’t get at the big issues with your parenting. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Couple Vision

Posted by fxckfeelings on October 3, 2013

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Whenever the topic of healthy relationships comes up, you’ll inevitably hear about compromise, balance, putting your socks in the hamper and not somewhere on the ground near the hamper, etc. Unfortunately, emphasis is rarely put on the importance of maintaining your own autonomy and remembering not to put your partner’s feelings and judgments ahead of your own. Any strong bond can suck you in—love, sex, and/or fear can do it—and if you’re too far gone, you don’t see your own options, just the way your overly significant other would feel. If you feel trapped then, don’t believe it. You will always find you have more choices than you think if you can create a little breathing room, remember who you are, and think for (and thoughtfully clean up after) yourself.
Dr. Lastname

My friend has been in a potentially harmful relationship for a long time. I won’t go into details, but the people around her and especially herself could get hurt because there is illegality involved. Somehow, my friend is completely oblivious to the dangers and sheer shady and depraved aspects of it. The two met and started a relationship over text, and that’s how they mainly communicate because he lives in another state. They meet every few months and shack up in a hotel for a weekend in secret. I’ve been conflicted between being her friend and trying to protect her. I feel like I can’t protect her, because she’ll do what she wants, but I tell her I worry about her and when I do, I feel like an asshole. She thinks that when I tell her I worry about her, I’m judging her, and when she thinks that, she lies to me. It’s confusing because I don’t know how to be the “everything’s fine, fuck the law” type because I know it’s wrong and not just because it’s against the law. I just don’t know what to think or do or feel about it at all.

Sometimes you can’t help worrying about someone else’s danger, but expressing your worry can often trigger more risk-taking, probably because you’re making someone else responsible for your feelings, just as you’re taking responsibility for theirs. In other words, when you feel worry, she gets it in her head she doesn’t have to.

So accept the fact that you’re worried for good reason, but shut up about it. Instead, express your concern in a way that’s positive, unemotional, and focused on your friend’s self-management. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

The Ties That Grind

Posted by fxckfeelings on September 23, 2013

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Usually, we hear about the kind of Assholes™ that provoke deep fear and hatred, but, for reasons unknown, they often bind others to them with equally intense love. What can free you from this bond(age), over time, is not your ability to get even, get closure, or get your feelings out, but to keep yourself moving towards what you think is right until you finally have a life that is open to good people. As we always say, when there’s an Asshole™ in your life, expect a world of shit—but not one you have to live in forever.
Dr. Lastname

I had been married for almost thirty years and over two years ago divorced my husband. The marriage had been physically and emotionally abusive. I have never been able to talk to my husband about the way I feel because I never knew what reaction I would get. All major decisions were made by him because he knew what was best. Early on in our marriage we bought a house but were evicted because of non-payment of mortgage. I had no idea what was going on but suspected that we were in financial trouble. It seems my husband wanted a particular lifestyle but didn’t have the money to sustain it. I work full-time and I felt I was playing a part in funding said new lifestyle. I watched him isolate me from this aspect of his life. There were many times I came home from work and barely a word was spoken between us. I resented it hugely and still do. We continued plodding along and every day we both grew unhappier. After a while I found out he was seeing another woman– he insisted they were friends, but he had to leave the marital home anyway because we were fighting and he was forced to leave by the police. Since the divorce there has been sporadic contact, more so this past year. On occasion I have gone out for a drink with him, but I cannot understand why I do this. Quite recently we went for a trip together, but when we got back he didn’t contact me for a month. I have a lot of anger and resentment towards him. How do I stop this destructive behavior? I hate to hurt people and I’m always trying to please others before myself. I don’t want to hurt my ex-husband, but I feel I can’t say no to him and I do actually feel sorry for him. I don’t love him because he has been an out and out pig towards me. I feel incredibly hurt by his behavior towards me. I am so confused.

Sadly, according to the laws of emotional gravity, some people with little self-regard are like satellites that can be trapped by a more emotionally massive person. Regardless of how badly or unfairly they’re treated or how angry they feel, they can’t imagine disagreeing confidently or walking away and out of their pull.

Like children with abusive parents (which many of them were), they don’t feel they have the authority or power to judge, declare their independence, or leave. The intense need of a child for a parent keeps them enslaved, angry, and bound. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Couples, Retreat!

Posted by fxckfeelings on September 12, 2013

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When anger is persistent in a relationship, it’s often impossible to clear the air and end hostilities, no matter how strong either party’s diplomatic skills are. Trying to air underlying grievances often makes them worse, so without heavy artillery or the help of the UN, your best bet is either to retreat, or, if you’re entrenched in the region, learn to live with anger while you decide, using your own standards, whether the benefits of a relationship are worth the pain. As long as you behave decently yourself, you have no reason or right to question your own value or waste time wondering what you did wrong. You do have every right, however, to go about your business and not let unfriendly fire lead to another endless war.
Dr. Lastname

My wife and I are in our 50s and have two grown daughters that live with us in the suburbs. She drinks off and on and suffers from all the insidious side effects of alcoholism, as does our family. How can l give my wife the space she wants but “be there” too? She also suffers from PMDD and has been arrested and held for observation for reckless inappropriate behavior. She has caused physical injury to myself and her daughters. I’ve journaled on a calendar for the last two years, just good days or bad and two distinct cycles of behavior have emerged, one on a 28 day cycle that she’s aware of (still an asshole though), and the other on a 200 day cycle that’s horrendous and can last as long as 50 days or so. She doesn’t appear to have even the slightest awareness of how grossly inappropriate her bad temper and consequent actions are. Her need to punish and hurt, me in particular, is just bizarre. She becomes completely inconsiderate, disrespectful, obnoxious, and there is no approaching her during these episodes. I am isolated by the tantrums that occur if I reach out for help or comfort from friends or family. We can’t even speak to one another within our household or she feels ganged up on and, you guessed it, even more enraged. We can’t have people over, we can’t plan any activity or a vacation. She is completely unsympathetic to our agony and when (god forbid) we ask for a little mercy, her favorite response is “I don’t give a fuck!” Please help me.

When people feel torn apart by the nastiness of someone they love, they should always ask themselves whether their goal is to change the person who’s mean to them or change themselves. Since the former is dangerous, painful, and altogether impossible, the choice becomes clear.

Whether her problem is mood swings, alcohol, a bad attitude, or all of above and more, doesn’t matter; you and others have tried hard to change your wife and it’s clearly not going to work. So talking about her problem with anyone else, including me, a friend, or some other shrink, is the wrong thing to do. She says she doesn’t “give a fuck,” and in the meantime, you fruitlessly give all the fucks in the world. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Perspectile Dysfunction

Posted by fxckfeelings on January 21, 2013

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For all the lip service people give to the importance of truth, your average person is willing to work a lot harder to preserve a bullshit notion than admit what’s real, and that’s not just true for college quarterbacks. Depressed people prefer to listen to their rotten emotions telling them a hundred reasons why they’ve failed, no matter how many victories they’ve achieved, and people with bad habits can find a hundred reasons for thinking they had no choice, despite the many avoidable fuck-ups they’ve fucked up. That’s why thinking is better than just believing, so you can follow a simple moral procedure, add up what you’ve actually accomplished given what you do and don’t control, and give yourself good advice, fair judgment, and a break from all the hard work that defending bullshit requires.
Dr. Lastname

In 2011, I was working two minimum wage jobs seven days a week, trying to cram in a social life while getting over a REALLY bad break up. Eventually, I gave up trying to fix it myself and started going to therapy once a week for 8 months. A year later, I got a better paying job, had free weekends, a new boyfriend, our own flat, an OK social life, BUT I sometimes still feel like it’s 2011 in an emotional sense. I still feel emotionally drained, exhausted, suffer low self-esteem and spend most days trying to not fight with my boyfriend over dishes. I then start feeling bad because I think I am not being grateful for the fact that my life did change for the “better.” I know I suffer from depression– have done since I was about 8 due to having a very abusive father, and long story short, I moved out when I was still in high school (about ten years ago). I thought therapy would help but it seems to have brought other problems to surface. Anyway, my question is, at what point should I stop trying to find happiness and just be happy and what does that even mean? Everyday is very different– one day I feel like buying a one way ticket to anywhere that will have me & leave everyone and everything I have behind, and then the next day I am dancing around the house feeling like I won the lottery. It’s starting to drive my boyfriend crazy but he tries to accept me as I am. So extreme are two days that I am not sure I know how I feel anymore about anything. My goal in 2013 is to stop getting upset/stressing about things that do not help my situation and to learn to relax more and enjoy just being. How do I achieve this seemingly easy task but which to me seems like a very very difficult algebra problem?

While many Christians ask themselves “What Would Jesus Do?,” we often ask our readers to ask themselves “What Would A Friend Say?” While Jesus’s imagined answers are often similar, it’s hard to imagine going out to a bar with Jesus after work and kvetching about your life, so “Friend” seems to work better.

That said, if you told a friend about your struggles—depression, irritability, past-trauma—they would tell you that they’re sorry you’re hurting, but that it’s worth taking time to appreciate all you’ve accomplished, despite what you’ve gone through. Like Jesus, they would not judge. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

The Natural Mystery

Posted by fxckfeelings on November 29, 2012

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Whether traumatic or dynamic, having an early and/or intense sexual experience can make you worry that your ability to have solid adult relationships will be damaged. While sexual trauma can make intimacy scary, and sexual overstimulation can distract you from it, there are ways to move past your past. If you have a clear vision of partnership and the discipline to implement it, sexual feelings need never control your life. You may never stop them from causing pain and distraction, but they can never stop you from finding and being a good partner moving forward.
Dr. Lastname

I recently had a severe panic attack that lead me to believing I was molested as a young child. From what I know, I lost my virginity to a man in his 20s when I was 13 years old, or in 7th grade. After visiting with some old friends, I brought up an event which had happened when we were 13 years old that involved men in their late 20s or older, alcohol, and oral sex. She was horrified I brought it up, but to me, it was something that was part of my life, but after heading home that night, I began to think that maybe it wasn’t so normal for young girls to be having sex and that’s when my panic attack sunk in. For some background, I was “raised” by a 15-year-old mother who I believe loved me, but was at times, emotionally abusive and manipulative, and often times neglectful as she also had three other children after me. My father was also very young and inconsistent, I often went months without hearing from him and longer not seeing him. Anyways, eventually I lost my virginity to a man in his 20s which lead to years of promiscuity with much older men. My brother is now in his 20s and I try to gain perspective by mentally placing him next to what I perceive as a 13-14 year old, but I really can’t process the age difference. I don’t necessarily feel like a victim because I felt like such a willing participant, but lately, I’ve had this deep terrifying feeling that this sexual history goes back much further than I can remember. Although I can’t figure out what happened to me as a child, I do have these “flashbacks” that sometimes make no sense and I can’t seem to place them on a timeline, but my mind will immediately discard them and a sense of panic will set in. My goal is to come to terms with my history so I can start processing and begin to heal.

Being forced by a chance perspective to reexamine your basic assumptions about your childhood—whom you could trust, how safe you really were—can create a domino effect of doubt.

You’re now compelled to call your entire sexual history into question and wonder whether anxiety and flashbacks are side effects of the shock, or legitimate signals of unremembered sexual trauma. Between what you do remember and your lack of parental protection as a child, it could mean that you were sexually abused.

It’s never certain, however, that recalling such an experience in therapy can produce healing, and there’s a danger that delving into childhood trauma may make you feel more helpless and trap you in loops of negative thinking that keep the dominoes of doubt in perpetual free-fall. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

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