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Feelings are the true F-word.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

He Dread, She Dread

Posted by fxckfeelings on December 22, 2014

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Freaking out is good for your health in the moment if you’re facing a lion, zombie, or Beyonce, but if the moment passes and the freak-out doesn’t, then you’ve got problems. Some people then freak out about freaking out and see nothing but dark clouds sweeping in, while others shut the world out entirely and create a darkness of their own. In either case, if you don’t want fear to run your life, learn to assess your real risks and actual strengths. Then you can face anything from scary thoughts to American royalty without freaking out too much and feeling like your life is over.
Dr. Lastname

Over the last few years, my panic attacks have been getting worse and nothing seems to work. So far, I’ve been able to hold it together and do my job, but I often have to hide in the bathroom for short periods in order to catch my breath and talk myself off the ledge. Valium helps a bit, but I have to be careful not to take it regularly or I’ll get addicted, which I’m very frightened of happening because addiction runs in my family. Other medication hasn’t helped, nor have changes to my diet and exercise routine, so I’m getting scared and desperate. My goal is to find a psychiatrist who can help me before anxiety ruins my life.

When you’re prone to experiencing random episodes of intense, meaningless fear that make your heart race, your throat close up, and your brain tell you the world is ending, it’s hard to be optimistic. They don’t call them panic attacks because they make you freak out about how great your future will be.

On top of that, panic attacks have no cure and, as you get older, anxiety tends to get worse. So, while it’s not surprising if you see the light at the end of the tunnel as either a train, a laser cannon, or the fires of hell itself, you have good reason for hope. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Help Reviews

Posted by fxckfeelings on January 20, 2014

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We often warn readers about the dangers of being too helpful, but for every person who gives without thinking, there are plenty of others who want to help someone they love but are too paralyzed to act. Whether someone you love rejects your help or asks for it, your ability to be helpful doesn’t depend entirely on their motivation or yours, but also on the nature of their problem and what kind of help, if any, is likely to be effective. So don’t make it your business to push or provide help until you know more about their problem. Then you’ll have a better idea of how to focus your efforts and limit your responsibility to providing what will actually work. That way you can find the right balance of helping, which involves doing the most good with the least harm to everyone involved.
Dr. Lastname

My sister got arrested last weekend for dealing drugs, and even though I wasn’t surprised, it brought back all my angry, helpless memories of the many times when we were growing up that she would get into trouble and then get into treatment, tell everybody she was feeling better and going straight, and then fuck up again. This time she’ll probably go away for 10 years and the state will take custody of her kids. My parents are devastated and wonder where they went wrong, and I’m also thinking hard about whether I was a good brother. A few months ago, after she stole from our parents, I told her I’d never trust her again and I wonder whether that caused her to give up hope. I can’t stop thinking about her and I can’t sleep or focus. My goal is to figure out how to get over these feelings so I don’t ruin my life as well.

When people we love do bad things, we usually give them two options: punishment or help, with help sometimes coming in the form of punishment, and vice versa. Even when intentions are good, good is not what necessarily results.

Unfortunately, some lack the ability to respond to either; neither additional help nor punishment will give them the self-control, moral compass, or whatever it takes to stop themselves from doing bad things. What they do deserve, and won’t get, is better genetic luck, and what their families deserve is protection from their bad behavior. 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 »

Battle Mortale

Posted by fxckfeelings on April 1, 2013

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Since we now live in a mostly-online world where everything is a loss/”fail” or victory/”for the win,” it’s normal to regard death as the ultimate fail since we’d give almost anything to prevent it from happening to ourselves and those we love (although if it happens to our worst enemies, it’s a win situation, even if most of us wouldn’t even admit that in Youtube comments). In reality, we disrespect our humanity by considering ourselves defeatable by something we don’t control, and what we do with ourselves and our family and friends when someone is dying or otherwise afflicted is what makes us great/gives us p0wnage of mortality, at least for a little while.
Dr. Lastname

After 15 years of homelessness, prison, jails, rehabs, psych meds, medication management, horrific poly substance abuse, and occasional hopeful stints of sobriety, our son overdosed two months ago. He was 30 years old.

All the years of fear, guilt and depravity notwithstanding, his father and I miss him terribly. I won’t go into the efforts (financial, emotional, time) to get/keep him sober that consumed our entire family for the last decade. Lets just say our son’s use of his drug of choice, heroin, has been the 24/7 of our lives. I could write a book about police cars in the driveway, family sessions I’ve sat through with green rehab “counselors” who appeared to be clinging tenuously to not using themselves, and the finer points of being frisked by zealous prison guards.

Some days, like today, all I can remember is what a horrible slog it’s been. Other days I remember my son’s big, kind heart when he was himself, his ability to read a room, and the way he only talked when he had something to say.

I’ve examined our family life over and over, and I had pretty much come to grips with the past, and the present. The future was plainly jails, institutions, or death. I knew all this, and had many sleepless nights to steel myself for the inevitable.

Of course when the inevitable arrives, it is a total sledgehammer to the heart and mind. The worst part is this: his father and I had kicked him out of our home (again) where he was living (again) because he was shooting Xanax. He actually got the Rx for Xanax from the same doctor that prescribed his Suboxone (why heroin addicts should not be prescribed Benzodiazopines is another post). Later that night he died of an overdose from a lethal mix of Xanax and heroin.

So, he is dead, after we pushed him out in an argument. No goodbyes, no “I love you,” just unkind and hurtful words.

In a way I feel this was our son’s final selfish act, leaving me a lifetime of guilt and replaying that night he left over and over in my mind. I feel I’ll go crazy if it doesn’t stop. I don’t want to live this way for the rest of my natural life.

[Please note: We usually edit submissions for length and clarity, but we felt this was so well-written that it should be left almost entirely intact. If the author ever follows through on her threat to write a book, we would read it.]

The usual way we judge ourselves as parents is by the way we help our kids survive and grow, even if we can’t make them happy. That standard is usually fair, unless your child suffers from a disease that nobody and nothing control, from doctors and medication, to the child or the parents who feel responsibility for his/her survival.

The toughest thing in the world then is to judge yourself properly when you still can’t stop your son from dying, unhappily, in the midst of drug abuse and conflict. It’s a mix of every kind of hell, because you feel you’ve failed, that he failed, and that the universe has failed everyone involved.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where nice kids get addicted to horrible drugs, nice parents can’t save them, and part of the illness of addiction is that the kids fuck up again and again, and you can’t keep them at home when they do. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Me Myself and Oy

Posted by fxckfeelings on October 18, 2012

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Assessing one’s self-esteem is like checking for Puxatony Phil’s shadow on Groundhog Day; while we have a long tradition of caring about its status, the results are fairly meaningless. After all, some people with strong characters don’t like themselves because they don’t measure up to high standards, and other people are madder at life’s unfairness than they are at themselves and underperform, not because they don’t like themselves, but because they care more about feeling good than getting strong. And of course, sometimes, it’s just cloudy. In general, it’s better to have a strong character, even if makes you kick yourself, than to see yourself as a deserving, entitled victim in order to break out of the rut of bad decisions and get out of Puxatony once and for all.
Dr. Lastname

My 14-year-old son seems to care about his schoolwork but he’s unusually stubborn (the psychiatrist says he has Asperger’s syndrome) and he never does his schoolwork the way his teachers want him to. When they ask him to show his work in Math, he refuses, but he often gets the answers right anyway, just without any proof. When they ask him to do a draft of an essay, he just won’t do it, but then the final version he writes at the last minute is fairly reasonable. My son always feels guilty and angry, both for not being understood and not being able to do it correctly, and I’m worried that they’re not teaching him right, in a way that caters to his specific needs. My goal is to get them to give him better help.

You’ve been trying for many years to get your son to show his Math work and finish his preliminary drafts on time, and it just doesn’t happen. He’s had many teachers work with him and no one has found the answer. You’ve made an effort, and after showing your work, it’s fair to conclude “the answer” doesn’t exist.

In addition, telling teachers they need to improve is bound to make things worse since they already have the government telling them they’re responsible for their class’ performance, regardless of what those kids and their families are like. Holding them accountable for not getting results—the “show your work” of the teaching world—isn’t quite fair since you know it’s an impossible job.

Once you add your own personal “no child left behind” intervention, don’t be surprised if the teachers start to find fault with both you and your son in order to defray blame. Whatever happens next, it won’t involve praise or more positive results for anyone. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Destructive-Compulsive

Posted by fxckfeelings on February 14, 2011

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All kids mess up—they take after parents, after all. Even more than their parents, they’re vulnerable to acting impulsively due to a cranial cocktail of stupidity, hormones and youth. They’re half-baked brains often interfere with any and all important activities, from behaving decently to getting homework done. There’s no good reason to hold them responsible for most of what goes wrong, then, but every reason to hold them and ourselves responsible for trying any reasonable remedial tactic and treatment. You can’t stop the apple from falling where it will, but you may be able to pick it up before the worms get it.
Dr. Lastname

My 15-year-old daughter was stealing, using drugs, and staying out all night until I had her arrested and brought to court in shackles, where the judge put her under the supervision of a probation officer. At that point, which was a week ago, she started to behave herself and act like the nice kid she can sometimes be, until today, when I noticed money missing from my wallet and found a bong in her room. I hate putting her through another “scared straight” court confrontation, but she has choices, and she has to learn that there are consequences. My goal is to make sure she makes the right ones.

I’ve heard that nutty “kids have choice” concept applied to fatties, druggies, and sex perverts, as well as kids. I’ve also seen it proven false. Every time.

Everyone wants choices, but when impulses take over, they can get you to do things before the concept of choice has even entered your head. That’s why, at this point, the choice is yours, not hers; whether or not to slow her down with some tough training.

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Family Frauds

Posted by fxckfeelings on February 4, 2010

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If someone’s related to you, there’s no guarantee they’re going to be honest with you, or even honest about you to anyone else. You can try to get them to own up to their problems with anger, eloquence, and/or the help of the court system, but the smarter choice is to stop pushing them towards the truth and hold onto the facts yourself. As long as you’re calm and factual, people can draw whatever conclusions they want and your relatives can stick to their version, but your part in the family affair is settled.
Dr. Lastname

I’m fine now (I’m 14), but I’m trying to figure out how to deal with a crazy father who physically abused me until a couple of years ago—that’s when my mother finally figured out what was happening and had me come live with her. The trouble is, I guess you could say my father doesn’t see reality the way other people do and he never remembers hitting me. In his mind, when he’d hit me, it was because I was trying to destroy him, so what he tells the judge is that he loves me and that my mother is a raging alcoholic who has brainwashed me to hate him (my mother stopped drinking after the divorce, years ago) and he really believes what he says. My goal is to get him to stay away from me and convince others that his version of reality isn’t real.

Kids aren’t the only ones who have trouble accepting the fact that we often can’t protect ourselves from scary crazy boogeymen, particularly when the craziness isn’t obvious, and the boogeymen are family.

We’ve said it here before: certain crazy people are not obviously crazy and are particularly good at persuading other people to see them as injured victims because they truly, truly believe they are, no matter what really happened. It’s a kind of sickness for which no one has the cure, and nobody feels sicker than the victims in the wake of these sickos, who don’t necessarily feel sick at all.

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

XMAS RSVP

Posted by fxckfeelings on December 21, 2009

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Even if none of us has spent Christmas with our entire families, most of us feel like we should help make it happen and feel terribly guilty if we can’t (I just feel guilty for taking their money, but only a little). We have some illusion that the holidays are the time for our criminal or alcoholic or crazy relatives to put their behavior aside, slap on a Christmas sweater, and join their loved ones around the tree and we feel bad if we can’t make the reunion happen, or even let it happen. But fear not, there’s a way to make excuses tactful and blameless without bringing down everyone’s holiday cheer. Gaw bless us, every drunk and lawless one.
Dr. Lastname

Please note: There will be no new post on Thursday, 12/24, due to the holiday. Please continue to write in, however, because there will be a new post on 12/28. Thanks, and happy holidays!

My ex-wife was always a wild outlaw in high school, (I got the kids), she’d show up from time to time, but rarely when she said she would, and you never knew when she’d be high, so the court imposed supervised visitation. I want my kids to have a mom though, but when she no-shows, the kids are crushed. Of course, the kids want to see her, particularly for Christmas, but what they don’t know is that she and her current boyfriend were caught on video robbing a liquor store, so if she’s going anywhere, it’s probably straight to jail. . My goal is to figure out a way to break this to my kids so that they don’t hate their mother (even though I sort of think they should).

You can’t protect your kids from the hurt of loving an outlaw mother, any more than you could protect yourself for falling for her years ago. Telling your kids that she’s a bad person inflicts a worse kind of hurt, because it devalues the love you and the kids have given her (which, as you know, you can’t get back).

Even if you can’t protect them from hurt, you still can and should protect the value of their love for her and whatever is meaningful about hers for them.

To begin with, don’t buy the idea that outlaws are regular people who make bad choices. That’s one of those stupid, false-hope ideas that assumes that everyone has the choice to be good or bad and can redeem themselves by making better choices. It’s sort of a hybrid of Milton’s “Paradise Lost” and Santa’s “Naughty/Nice” list…and it’s bullshit.

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

You’ll Be Sorry

Posted by fxckfeelings on December 10, 2009

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Most of us make a big deal out of apologies, but the sad truth is that “sorry” doesn’t serve as a guarantee of lessons learned or absolution, just a band-aid on our hurt feelings until one party messes up again. For all our emphasis on forgiveness, it’s hardly a virtue, Christian or otherwise, if it requires you to assume that people have more choices than they really do.
Dr. Lastname

My daughter is turning into a petty criminal. She’s getting kicked out of school again, she won’t stop messing around with drinking and drugs, she has unprotected sex, and her boyfriend is probably the guy who broke into our house and stole our TV, though she refuses to believe it. My husband and I have tried so many times to get her to see what she’s doing wrong and steer her in a better direction—we’re our own private “scared straight” program at this point—but every time we confront her about where she’s headed, she says she feels terrible, that she’s sorry, that she never wants it to happen again…and then she gets wasted and everything repeats itself. If only we could get her to understand the harm she’s doing, maybe we could get through to her and turn her around. Meanwhile, it’s killing us. We try to forgive her, but it’s hard. My goal is to forgive her and get her to see what she’s doing to herself and everyone who loves her.

There’s no point in getting your daughter to see what she’s doing wrong if she can’t really stop herself from doing it, and she really, really can’t. You can’t scare straightness into a boomerang.

Regret and remorse will make her feel bad, and you might think that will stop her from fucking up next time. Well, au contraire, my dear unHarvard-educated sap. It’s not fair, but that’s the way it works. You should know that since you’re the one missing a TV.

According to Christmas movies and sentimental parts of the Bible, repentance leads to redemption, but I say, goddammit, that’s just wishful bullshit.

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Live And/Or Let Die

Posted by fxckfeelings on October 29, 2009

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When people feel most powerless, they instinctively attempt to exert as much control as they can; even—especially—when they have less control than ever. In those situations, they go to the one thing over which they feel they’ll always have control, which is their own life, or the lives of those closest to them, but the more they discuss whether or not to continue life, the more they make that life difficult. Ultimately, it’s best not to ask “should I live,” but to admit—you guessed it—”I am fucked.”
Dr. Lastname

I can’t seem to make a decision about the life/death issue. I want to want to live, or have the balls to call it quits. Shit or get off the pot. It takes too much damn energy vacillating.

“To be or not to be”—that’s still the question, right? Well, it’s also a question I never like to answer or hear.

Shakespeare or no, it’s a bad question to ask, because most people who ask it don’t really want an answer; they want an antidote to their hurt or someone to blame for not providing it.

It’s similar to the way Boston taxi drivers ask the passenger whether to take the Pike or Storrow to Logan airport — to have someone else to blame when, either way, they inevitably run into heavy traffic.

I know, the question expresses your deepest feelings. It also wears out friends, drives them away/proves that no one can help, and confirms your right to be very, very unhappy. The whole cycle sucks and it’s unhealthy. Keep asking it, and somebody will go ahead and hurt you more.

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

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