The kindness of MeFi. May 3, 2007 8:16 PM   Subscribe

Never mind "best of the web," this thread is surely the best of MetaFilter.
posted by nevercalm to MetaFilter-Related at 8:16 PM (105 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

Sometimes I'm reminded what an amazing place this can be. The outpouring of genuine concern and great, spot-on advice is just phenomenal.
posted by nevercalm at 8:17 PM on May 3, 2007


Awesome. You are Good People, MeFi.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:34 PM on May 3, 2007


I find it hard feeling this is the "best of Metafilter" unless I can get some closure on whether the poster follows the advice given.
posted by Jimbob at 8:34 PM on May 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


The saddest part is that I'd bet a hundred bucks that she's not going anywhere, and that he'll either kill her or put her in the hospital. The proportion of people who choose to stay in abusive or dangerous relationships is mind-boggling.

.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:36 PM on May 3, 2007


well , i hope they take the alanon advice, theres so much of an outpouring in there it's actually quite dangerous for the person as they'll feel kind of saintly with all these concerned people chiming in and opt to stay in the relationship and not seek help at all, thus putting themselves in danger (strange dynamic, but true).

I'd like to propose some sort of standard 12 steppy answer for these sort of things and just close these type of threads.
The love and concern is great but with the type of dynamic you have in these relationships/problems it can sometimes be counter productive because this ain't normal people you're talking to.
posted by sgt.serenity at 8:37 PM on May 3, 2007


reading that thread scares the bejeezus out of me. (as somebody mentioned in the green, I hate the thought of posting a dot at some point over this.)

I really, really hope she can heed the advice and take the incredibly difficult steps she needs to take in very short order.

but yes, it certainly is an affirmation of the hive mind (hive heart, too, I s'pose) ain'a?
posted by theoddball at 8:37 PM on May 3, 2007


Is it our heart, or our nosiness, or our love of being right? Probably a mixture of the three.

I hope Anonymous gets some help. Hope s/he follows up, too, so we're not left to wonder...
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:55 PM on May 3, 2007 [2 favorites]


A sad story. And sincere responses. Self-congratulation is a little misplaced.
posted by YamwotIam at 8:58 PM on May 3, 2007 [9 favorites]


I hate the thought of posting a dot at some point over this

Then don't. Ever.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:58 PM on May 3, 2007


Also, and I mean this seriously: in my opinion, that thread is in many ways the worst of Metafilter, or at least of Ask Metafilter, regardless of whether one thinks the answers are 'correct' or not.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:03 PM on May 3, 2007 [4 favorites]


I'd bet a hundred bucks that she's not going anywhere

Me too, which is why I suggested a brief vacation away. You can forget that normal households don't have crazy in them.

That, and in my experience, 75% of what-not set up to help people in abusive situations is fucking useless.

Me: "The police will not... What should I do?"
Domestic Abuse Poobah: "What? But they HAVE TO!"
Me: "Yes, but. They have not and they will not. (Etc)"
DAP: "Oh my god! (etc)"
Me: "Yeah. Any other ideas?"
DAP: "(No.)"
Me: "Uh huh. Thanks, then."
DAP: "Wait. Could I get some information about you? It's for our funding..."

In a lot of cases, it gives jobs to wannabe do-gooders, and that's about it.

I have limited experience with them, but absolutely nothing good to say about that experience. I've also tried to get addicts help, and I don't have anything good to say about that, either.

In both cases, the stuff available was useless for non-morons. "Rehab" I found was -- with the exception of $$,$$$$ vacation rehab -- set up for people who had to be taught to read, taught "basic life skills." For skids. Well-heeled cokeheads need not apply, etc.

I'm a little concerned about the MeFi assumption, not just in that thread, that help is always out there. Sometimes it's not, and, sometimes it is, but it's useless.
posted by kmennie at 9:12 PM on May 3, 2007 [7 favorites]


Could you expand on that, stav? I don't think it's a big deal as others seem to think it is, yet I'm not sure I see why it might be bad.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:13 PM on May 3, 2007


This thread makes me seriously sad. Not best of MeFi, nor best of anything. Sad, sad reminders that my life is awesome, no matter how shitty it may have gotten today, or any day for that matter.

I need a hug, a glass of scotch, and maybe a cry.
posted by plaidrabbit at 9:15 PM on May 3, 2007


kmennie, the impression I walked away with - gleaned from posters in the thread with history in this area - is not to expect any of the expected avenues to yield much fruit.
posted by nevercalm at 9:16 PM on May 3, 2007


I 2nd Ethereal Bligh. I don't really have a strong opinion on this but I'm curious why you would think it's the worst of Mefi stav.
posted by peacay at 9:18 PM on May 3, 2007


Hmm, I wrote too glibly. I do see how it could be bad, but it's bad in a very typical MeFi relationshipfilter way: too much certainty. In this case, I do think certainty is far more warranted than usual with regard to certain things people are saying. But not all. Ynoxas, I believe, predicted that the boyfriend has high chance of being dead within weeks. A high comparative chance, maybe, but I'm not convinced that anyone could even guess what the absolute probability is. There's a number of other, similar, far-too-confident assertions in the thread.

Even so, as I write in my comment in the thread, there's a few things that are pretty incontestable. The boyfriend's addicted to Adderal. He's getting more and more unstable. He's violent. It's very difficult for a partner alone to help a person in this condition and to resolve the situation. The poster may be in some danger. Asserting those things is, of course, stating the obvious. But maybe the poster needs the obvious stated because he/she is in some denial about the situation.

But I would agree that recommendations for specific courses of action should be, at best, general and accompanied with disclaimers. For instance, I do think the poster needs outside help, if for no more than him/herself, but I'm not inclined to suggest any specific agency as the right one to appeal to.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:26 PM on May 3, 2007


I find it so odd/sad/disappointing that some random internets person can say something about me that is inane but I take it to heart and allow it to hurt my feelings -- Then I see a post like this and when I try to put myself in the OP's shoes, I can easily see myself blowing off the advice despite the urgency of the replies.

That post breaks my heart.

*sigh*
posted by spec80 at 9:29 PM on May 3, 2007


I don't see this as self-congratulatory. Being touched by an outpouring of concern is a legitimate human emotion, and worthy of sharing.

I understand why many of you are skeptical of the poster's ability to get away. It took me way too long to get out of a similar situation. But, this poster is seeking input, so maybe that will help rationality prevail.

But let's think positive. And thank God the poster is at least reaching out in an extremely difficult situation. Really, unless you have been there, it is hard to understand the pressures, conflicts, emotions, and thoughts that cloud your thinking.

Here's hoping it ends as well as it can.
posted by The Deej at 9:37 PM on May 3, 2007


I think that this thread doesn't say much either way about MeFi. It is very easy to tell someone you don't know, even by posting history, what to do to fix their life. That doesn't count as some sort of heroic outpouring of compassion; it's another reminder that people, given an opportunity to give advice, will dispense as much of it as they can.

Threads like the cow history one are far more "best of." If we're judging AskMe on its helpfulness, this thread doesn't deliver--almost all the answers say the exact same thing, something that any human being could identify as being the only solution. The poster emself could do it if e were in eir right mind.

Let's not start sucking each other's dicks quite yet, gentlemen. Advice is cheap, but what's needed here is a practical form of intervention, which none of us is able to provide.
posted by nasreddin at 9:41 PM on May 3, 2007 [6 favorites]


kmennie, the impression I walked away with - gleaned from posters in the thread with history in this area - is not to expect any of the expected avenues to yield much fruit.

On re-reading, yeah, it's not that bad. Some of these anon threads get piles of "Call these magical 1-800-HOPE-ME numbers, and all will be solved," though.

I wish somebody with the knowledge to advise on how to disengage from the financial commitments would show up, though. Walking away from a house -- never mind somebody you care(d) about -- well, couldn't possibly be easy.
posted by kmennie at 9:43 PM on May 3, 2007


kmennie, the impression I walked away with - gleaned from posters in the thread with history in this area - is not to expect any of the expected avenues to yield much fruit.
posted by nevercalm at 9:16 PM on May 3


Which leads me to ask why you singled out this particular AskMe for... whatever. Communities respond to cries for help (e.g., Kaycee Nicole) -- nothing at all extraordinary about that.

NB: I'm not thinking, implying, or stating that our anonymous is a Kaycee-trickster, and I wish him/her well.
posted by vetiver at 9:52 PM on May 3, 2007


I don't see this as self-congratulatory. Being touched by an outpouring of concern is a legitimate human emotion, and worthy of sharing.

Fair enough. But what distinguishes that thread from other AskMeFis is not the outpouring of concern (this is an amazingly helpful bunch of people, all told), but the severity of the problem.

That thread was is sad, not best.

Understand that this is not meant as a snark at all.
posted by YamwotIam at 9:54 PM on May 3, 2007


Could you expand on that, stav?

I've never made a secret of the fact that I think (but in no kind of prescriptive way, of course -- others are welcome and encouraged to think otherwise, and clearly do) that relationship questions on AskMe are a bad thing. I don't think anything good comes of them, honestly, beyond the kind of free-floating good-will jollies that people get in trying to answer them (while as often as not muddying the water with kneejerk pop-psych platitudes).

The outpourings of human concern these kinds of threads engender are indeed heartwarming. But in a transient sugar-rush kind of way.

I believe that nobody can ever see inside someone else's head, and nobody can ever say anything really insightful about other peoples' relationships, although sometimes useful things can be said about relationships in general. I believe this is as true between, say, old friends, as it is in a mostly-anonymous context of near-aquaintances on some website.

I further believe that people who are in the throes of relationship crisis, who are so at sea that they'd throw open their most intimate worries to total strangers, are far more willing to take advice, and far less able to separate the good advice from the bad. But it's up to them, of course.

Even further, I reckon that it's part of the manifestation of what I call (in my own head, at least at the moment) the growing pornography of the self. I wrote about that and a lot of other semi-related piffle a little while back at my own site, for what it's worth.

I haven't thought it all through, entirely, yet.

I am perfectly willing to admit the possibility that some threads that might be tossed in the bucket we've been calling RelationshipFilter might have actually ended in good advice being offered and good advice being taken. Even more often that not, maybe.

But the whole thing just seems a bit sordid to me.

Again, if you disagree, I'm totally OK with that, and I don't propose that anything should change in the way these things are done here.

I take the usual (snarky) advice usually offered in this context, and skip them. Most of the time -- I've offered my opinions on other peoples' pain too, once in a while, I know.

I'm a bit of a doofus that way.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:26 PM on May 3, 2007 [13 favorites]


Let's not start sucking each other's dicks quite yet, gentlemen.

Heh. That's exactly the sentence that went through my mind earlier -- it's one of the many injokes my circle of friends used to use when we got a little too enthusiastically self-mythologizing back in university days, when we were still kids. (I need to Ask Mefi about the source of that one -- as usual, I can't remember where it comes from, and I'm pretty sure it was a quote...)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:30 PM on May 3, 2007


I need to Ask Mefi about the source of that one

Mr. Wolf, in Pulp Fiction.
posted by nasreddin at 10:33 PM on May 3, 2007


Mr. Wolf, in Pulp Fiction.

Hey, thanks! In that case, though, I was totally wrong about using it way back when -- our prime self-mythologizing days were back in the mid-80's, so that's out.

Hmm. Damn this swiss-cheese brain of mine.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:37 PM on May 3, 2007


that thread is in many ways the worst of Metafilter, or at least of Ask Metafilter, regardless of whether one thinks the answers are 'correct' or not.

I think I see what you mean, stav, and not just in the context of all relationship questions. The best answer is almost "Nobody here is qualified to advise you or help you, contact a professional" and close the thread. As it is, with 90% of the hundred-odd responses identical, it's almost got to feel like a pile-on for somebody who's deep into her situation and isn't expecting a lecture.

Frankly, to me, it's almost like a question "Hi, I fell off a cliff, and just like in Beetle Bailey, I'm holding onto a bush. What's the best way to keep this bush healthy?"

Still, I think there's some value in some of the individual stories that people tell. But you're probably right in that the overall end result is that people who post in the thread feel better about themselves, but the OP doesn't actually accept the advice she's not ready for, so it's something of a null op.

People can eventually figure out they need to get out of these situations, though, and it might take a while before they figure out that almost the only thing that works is putting many miles between them and the abusive partner. I've just been repairing an apartment where our last tenant's ex-husband wrecked two separate interior doors and the exterior door to boot. The first time she said that he "fell" against the bathroom door; there was a hole through it like the "Here's Johnny!" scene in The Shining. By the time he wrecked the outer door she was willing to admit to it but still protective. She finally figured out that she needed to move to a town 20 miles away, and as far as I know that's working.

There might be women (or male victims) for whom all it takes is one episode, but when she's been putting up with alcoholic rages for four years and considers that "normal" or "controllable" -- hell, maybe she thinks that him going sober for three minutes proves he was trying to get better -- she's probably pretty deep into a mindset. I hope not.

But this is all sort of tangential. Is there a real policy issue here? Are we saying Ask should ban relationship questions, or only the sticky ones? I don't think that's been put on the table. Maybe it should, but I think it's a fundamentally different level of question.
posted by dhartung at 11:14 PM on May 3, 2007


But this is all sort of tangential. Is there a real policy issue here? Are we saying Ask should ban relationship questions, or only the sticky ones?

For what it's worth, I'm not, just on the off-chance that even one of these threads really will have (or has had) a significant positive impact on someone's life.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:17 PM on May 3, 2007


you're probably right in that the overall end result is that people who post in the thread feel better about themselves, but the OP doesn't actually accept the advice she's not ready for

Perhaps, but some people need an objective observer's take on the situation. People in these kinds of destructive relationships get extremely good at rationalizing behavior, to the point where it seems normal. I've known folks who were really incapable of figuring it out until someone sat them down and said "Hey - this is NOT normal".

That kick in the ass can be a catalyst for introspection and change. If MeFi can provide that once in a while, more power to it.
posted by chrisamiller at 11:55 PM on May 3, 2007 [4 favorites]


I just worry. Everything in there is really easy to say, and really hard to do. Recognizing a partner's behavior as crazy, and actually finding a way to even just start letting go, are two totally separate things. And there's no real indication (except the act of posting) that anonymous is on the verge of extricating herself (himself), or that s/he would even consider it.

The one nice thing is that many of us said the same thing but in very different ways. Maybe something will resonate.

Also, I wonder, has anon even gotten to get back on the computer? Maybe we'll hear back after another 30 hours of manic working.
posted by salvia at 12:09 AM on May 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


The fact that the OP asked the questions they asked suggest they're not going to do anything like follow the advice in the thread. We've all either been in relationships or known others in relationships that were clearly terrible for one or both parties, but of course the people in the relationship are rarely interested in listening to our sage advice. This is one of those cases. I hope the person does pause and reflect, but I wouldn't put any money on it.

In some ways, as cruel as it is to say, the least complicated outcome in the long term for the OP would be the death of the partner, soon. What I hope happens is that they tell a level-headed friend or relative what's going on and have said outsider force the issue by removing the OP from the house, and then they can go from there.

Best or worst of Ask? Don't know. The personal anecdotes were fascinating and touching, but I find these sort of questions very frustrating--mainly because the folks posting them are oblivious to the proverbial elephant pissing in their living room.
posted by maxwelton at 12:13 AM on May 4, 2007


If you're married or attached to a partner and have made the whole "death do us part" bit and promised to always stick together.. advice like "RUN NOW" is totally contrary to your mindset.
posted by wackybrit at 12:24 AM on May 4, 2007


There were two threads awhile back -- one was a woman whose boyfriend wasn't working, they were $20,000 in debt, and all he wanted to do was mod out his motorcycle. The other was a woman who was with a man whose ex-wife/girlfriend was pregnant and wouldn't leave him alone. Or they were something along these lines. We were all merrily advising away, when the object of the post shows up -- the boyfriend in the first case, and the pregnant ex (or maybe it was her friend) in the other! Fur flew! It was highly entertaining. MeFiver!

Maybe the nutto husband will appear in that thread and start threatening everybody!

It wasn't too long before Jessamyn came along, declared the other two threads train wrecks, and closed/deleted them. But maybe she is sleeping now. Where you at, crazy violent alderal geek-gone-wild?
posted by Methylviolet at 12:27 AM on May 4, 2007


It's such a paradox. In politics, anonymity is the last defense against tyrrany. In life, or whatever this is, anonymity is our last defense against ourselves.

Maybe we hit a wall, maybe someone's offhand remark makes us look at something differently, but whatever the trigger, we know something isn't right, and we need to be doing somethine else, but we just can't strip ourselves naked to the world just yet.

So we ask a question "for a freind", we write an unsigned note to an advice columnist, we put on that white sheet of anonymity that lets us ask the unaskable, to see what, what, what can I do? How can I fix it?

And yes, most of the time, the answer is that there is nothing else you can do. You'll have to take off that cloak and say to someone in your world (most importantly yourself) that you're not who you've been saying you are, that you can't do what you've been doing, and regardless of the consequences, you have to be different now.

And it's hard on all of us here now, because by definition there is no follow up,and realistically we can't expect it. But we sit here reading, thinking "Man, that could be me". "Man, that WAS me". "Is that me?"

These were the things that burned me out after several years on a suicide prevention line. You cannot for your own safety follow up, give your information, acknowlege that you may have recognized the voice on the other end of the line. And you can't do it because you have to protect them, too. You have to preserve that anonymity, that last defense, so that maybe they, or you, can take off that cloak and be the person you're supposed to be.

So yeah, the very thing that's bumming us out is the thing that makes it great. We don't know, we can't know. And we have to accept that.
posted by lysdexic at 12:36 AM on May 4, 2007 [6 favorites]


Jesus Christ, Methylviolet, is it supposed to be reassuring that, in the midst of all these people seriously concerned about the poster, you are sitting around going 'heehee! abusive messy possibly dangerous relationship! heeheehee!'? Hooray, mefi really does have some true assholes!
posted by jacalata at 12:40 AM on May 4, 2007


The only thing honest to do if you HAVE to respond to posts like this is to say what YOU would do. Not what the poster should do.... becuase you just don't really know all the details. I don't want blood on my hands.

In post like this one, where it's so potentially serious, and not being a trained psychological counseling professional, I simply can not reply in good conscience.

I suspect anybody with that much going on posting that much negative detail about an abusive partner is posting "confirmation bias" in that they ALREADY want to leave and need somebody to tell them HOW to do it.

I worked with enough at-risk women to just never trust how they may implement throw away advice. They need a step by step "how-to" and some real-life support. You can't do any of that remotely.
posted by tkchrist at 12:50 AM on May 4, 2007


Concerned phooey. Voyeurs.
posted by Methylviolet at 1:07 AM on May 4, 2007 [3 favorites]


Anyone who seriously thinks a sordid question and thread about an addicted, abusive boyfriend is the best of AskMe, should really have another (?) look at this. It's the site doing exactly what it ought to, and the result is genuinely beautiful. I felt more "warmth" towards the MeFi community after reading this question than I have reading the thousands of well-meaning responses to all the relationship questions.
posted by bunglin jones at 1:46 AM on May 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


Community self-aggrandizement was far from my mind skimming that thread. Please get professional help. Please don't make serious decisions based on what a bunch of anonymous posters say (even if what they say was helpful, but also painfully obvious). Askme is good for a lot of things. This isn't one of them. (Not that it hurts, either, but the sanctimony here is pretty disgusting IMO.)
posted by bardic at 4:04 AM on May 4, 2007


Life is what happens when you're not reading Metafilter.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:28 AM on May 4, 2007


I kind of agree with stav. I certainly didn't think of that question as best of the web or best of Mefi. From the perspective of the responders (of which I am one) it's a "what's the sum of 2 + 2?" A question so simple in it's clarity that it's not hard to answer correctly. From the perspective of the asker it's much more difficult and complex, and he or she is still likely to come to the wrong conclusion. Many people yelling "4, 4, 4" is unlikely to change that.

I'm not sure what's best about it. And then, no offense, but once we add in a self-congratulatory MeTa thread about the whole thing, it begins to seem more and more sordid. There is human decency expressed in that AskMe, but at what cost, and to whom? Just because it would be the worst of MeFi were people giving the poster a bunch of snarky, uncaring responses doesn't make it the best of MeFi when people display a modicum of humanity.
posted by OmieWise at 4:51 AM on May 4, 2007


If you're married or attached to a partner and have made the whole "death do us part" bit and promised to always stick together.. advice like "RUN NOW" is totally contrary to your mindset.
posted by wackybrit


Very true. It's hard to get past the fact that you have vowed to stay with the person. That was my problem. It took years before I realized that I was the only one in the relationship who was married, and you can't be married alone.

Hopefully, the poster's cry for help means she (he?) is at the point of being able to see the truth of the situation.
posted by The Deej at 5:53 AM on May 4, 2007


I really hope this is a fake. I can't imagine anyone being in this kind of madness.
posted by wheelieman at 6:02 AM on May 4, 2007


Just because it would be the worst of MeFi were people giving the poster a bunch of snarky, uncaring responses doesn't make it the best of MeFi when people display a modicum of humanity.

Well yeah, just gets us to par really.

Observation though: snarky doesn't necessarily mean uncaring. Sometimes people do that as a sort of self-defense mechanism, a way to deal with pain. When something bad happens, some become sad, others angry, and some don't care. Snark can sometimes come from the second group even more strongly than the third.
posted by scheptech at 6:13 AM on May 4, 2007


I posted in the thread on the off chance that the OP needed a reality check to get out of a harmful situation, and on the chance that an AskMe thread (in other words, a relatively objective response to the situation as described) is the kind of reality check s/he needs. I don't think sniffing that 'people in these situations almost never take the advice anyway' is a good reason not to try to help someone who clearly appears to be in need.

Also, let's not deny the OP their agency: no one at MeFi forced the OP to post the question or altered his or her words. It's reasonable to presume that when the OP hit the "submit" button they felt they had written something that reflected the situation accurately and described the relevant details. It's even possible that the OP could guess ahead of time what the response would be, but just needed the confirmation of seeing it on the screen.

I don't think this is the best of AskMe, but I also think the cynicism is unwarranted. Yeah, voyeurism is probably part of the draw, but there are also people who have had to deal with situations like this, either personally or through family or friends, and just want to help because they're terrible circumstances in which to find oneself.

Also, it's hard to imagine, assuming that what the OP posted accurately reflects the situation, how their plight could be worsened by following the advice in the thread, which basically boils down to "get out and get help."
posted by AV at 6:16 AM on May 4, 2007


Denial is a big part of the OP's problem. Remember, she originally planned to phrase her question as "how to help a worrier." So I think there is clear benefit in 70+ identical answers all saying "get out now" if it busts thru that denial. An isolated person in a dangerous situation was able to get a reality check from 70+ mostly sane, mostly concerned individuals. Not the worst of the web.
posted by selfmedicating at 6:24 AM on May 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


What surprised me about this is that Anonymous says that she was going to post the question "How to help a chronic worrier," but thought better of it. That, coupled with the phrase "about to go off the deep end," when this guy is clearly in in the deep end made me think that the OP doesn't have perspective on how bad the situation is. Hopefully everyone's urgent advice will give her an idea.
posted by sneakin at 6:26 AM on May 4, 2007


yale guys used to write to ann landers a lot.
posted by quonsar at 7:04 AM on May 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


I agree with selfmedicating and sneakin. The "about to go off the deep end" phrase was especially worrisome. That, combined with the "how will I know when . .. " nature of the question, really got to me. Anon desperately needed some perspective from people on the outside looking in, and that is what s/he got.

I don't understand all the objection to the "get out now" advice given. It is really easy to say that based on the question asked, the OP isn't going to do anything to get out of the situation, or the advice given wasn't practical, etc. Of course getting out is difficult, and it is probably reasonable to assume that s/he won't get out based on our advice. It would be wonderful if s/he has that much strength and resources, but chances are this will be a process, and that process has to start somewhere.

I think of situations like the OP's are kind of like being lost in a desert. You become so focused on the daily trek to find civilization, and each day the trek is only a bit worse, that you lose the ability to step back and look at the entire journey and say "good lord, I've been lost in this desert for 3 months and while today is only a bit worse than yesterday, yesterday was 5 million times worse than the day I got lost. Things are really, really, really bad. There is no end in sight and another 3 months of the daily little bit worse isn't going to add up to just a bit worse, it will add up to really, fucking horrible." With the ability to see the big picture, we were able to point out that s/he is headed to really, fucking horrible. Hopefully, that helped anon to plan accordingly, even if it takes weeks or months to actually act on those plans. It doesn't take a licensed professional to point out the big picture.
posted by necessitas at 7:31 AM on May 4, 2007 [3 favorites]


This is a very sad situation, and sadder still is the only good outcome for anonymous is to get as far away from his/her boyfriend as possible. I was in a similar situation with my husband (alcoholic) for several years, and I should have gotten out. Eventually he managed to pull himself together, but most do not. I have to echo kmennie's thoughts about rehab and addiction programs -- they generally do not work if you're at all intelligent. They are practically useless.
posted by Koko at 7:32 AM on May 4, 2007


I closed that thread at the OP's request but she asked me to follow up in this thread.

Thank you for your concern, I am fine right now. I went on into my
office,to give everyone some space. I know this will sound crazy, but I feel
as if I need to help him get somewhat right before I leave him. I also need
to save money,
thankfully, here are 3-4 major cities in Georgia that I am allowed to use as
my home base for my job, so I don't have to stay in Atlanta to keep my job.
Last night was a good night, and he is so sweet during these times, its
hard. I have not decided quite what steps I am taking, but rest assured I
will be fine. I am resilliant and fast. :) I
will be ok.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:37 AM on May 4, 2007


Oh, ouch.
posted by OmieWise at 7:50 AM on May 4, 2007


Well then!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:53 AM on May 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


Well, that was sad, frustrating, and predictable.
posted by billysumday at 7:54 AM on May 4, 2007


Good on 'er. I hope she runs far and fast from this guy.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 7:57 AM on May 4, 2007


I have to echo kmennie's thoughts about rehab and addiction programs -- they generally do not work if you're at all intelligent. They are practically useless.
posted by Koko at 10:32 AM on May 4


Untrue in my experience. I know dozens, if not hundreds, of intelligent people who have kicked drugs and alcohol beginning with rehab and addiction programs.
posted by marxchivist at 8:04 AM on May 4, 2007


Whenever I see a RelationshipFilter post in AskMe I always just assume the person has noone else to talk to about the situation, and does not yet have either the means or the fortitude to get counseling.

I agree that almost every RelationshipFilter question could be answered with 1 response: seek a professional counselor. But, not everyone is ready for that. And it would be overkill, or perhaps counter-productive, in some cases. Like this one. The OP does not need to waste time finding a counselor right now. Right now, they need to evacuate the house with the deranged addict. Later, sure, talk to a counselor. Of course.

I think *MOST* of the responses on RelationshipFilter questions, along with the rest of AskMe, are offered out of goodwill and kindness. Context is everything. In a lot of internet forums, the responses would be some variant of "OMG you suck kill yourself" or "I hope he comes home and reads this and beats your bitch ass". So by comparison, MeFi is "best of the web" almost by default.

My advice in the thread was simple, direct. It was also honest, and offered in good faith. It is what I would advise my best friend if they were in a similar situation. It is what I would advise a family member, a colleague, or a total stranger.

Ynoxas, I believe, predicted that the boyfriend has high chance of being dead within weeks. A high comparative chance, maybe, but I'm not convinced that anyone could even guess what the absolute probability is.

I certainly cannot portend the future, but considering the massive doses he is taking, with ever-increasing rage, paranoia, sleep deprivation, and a new-found interest in firearms, yes, I expect him to be dead via overdose or gunshot or police action within weeks, it's true.
posted by Ynoxas at 8:07 AM on May 4, 2007


Yea, I'm still not feeling any better after her response. I'd drink something again, but its before noon and I have a final this afternoon.

God, my life is amazing. Anyone else come away from this thread with a new appreciation for how not shitty their life is?
posted by plaidrabbit at 8:07 AM on May 4, 2007



If you're married or attached to a partner and have made the whole "death do us part" bit and promised to always stick together.. advice like "RUN NOW" is totally contrary to your mindset.


As someone who believes marriage is important, I agree with you, and this particular view is often overlooked in askme. However, the poster specifically said boyfriend and not husband.
posted by drezdn at 8:11 AM on May 4, 2007


On non-preview:

Great. Denial. Wonderful.

I bet he said he was sorry last night. Well, everything's all better isn't it?

Moving on.
posted by Ynoxas at 8:12 AM on May 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


In post like this one, where it's so potentially serious, and not being a trained psychological counseling professional, I simply can not reply in good conscience.

If you saw someone bleeding in the road, would you not stop to help because you're not an EMT?

That said, I'm unbelievably depressed by the OP's follow-up note, which to me says that all of the responses in the thread are for naught and that he/she is returning to a cocoon of co-dependent denial.
posted by mkultra at 8:21 AM on May 4, 2007


thankfully, here are 3-4 major cities in Georgia that I am allowed to use as my home base for my job, so I don't have to stay in Atlanta to keep my job.

That the poster is even thinking about this in such a concrete way (and communicating it to others) is a good sign.

I don't know if staying around longer will look like the right decision for her in retrospect, but I don't begrudge her trying a few things to help first. It's been said before, but AskMe is extremely quick to say "leave" and to say it without qualification. Yeah, I do think that often that's the best advice but I also am a bit uncomfortable with how universal this advice is and how little it takes to elicit it. There's something underneath it, culturally, that seems very egocentric and excessively individualistic in a typical American way. In the real world, people stay in difficult, destructive relationships for a variety of reasons, not all of which are pathological. We applaud people who put themselves into dangerous situations and risk their safety to help strangers, but we're gotten to the point where doing the same in a relationship is automatically pathological. Sure, we are aware of codependency and how many such situations are not actually helpful to anyone involved, and in fact often make it worse. But I've noticed that the same thing can be said for a considerable amount of social altruism with regard to certain altruists. I'm not saying that either cultural view to these two types of situations—one disapproving and one approving—is mostly wrong, but that each view might better temper and inform the other.

And, as I said, in the real world people don't immediately leave and often never leave at all. MeFi's heavy emphasis on "leave now" as advice in so many relationship questions may be, as someone mentions above, not very helpful at all for this reason. And, as someone also says, it might back them into a corner and make them defensive. When I read these questions and answers, I usually prefer the answers that are more nuanced, that advise the poster to consider leaving but also provide some useful advice to do in the meantime or if they don't leave. Not only may such advice be more immediately useful, it's also perhaps more likely to be advice the poster will listen to, including the "leave" part of it.

On Preview: I don't agree with the others who've commented so far on her email that it's hopeless. Frankly, she's far more cognizant of the badness of the situation and willing to consider her options than most women I've known in these kinds of very, very bad relationships. Yes, there's some denial. And, yes, there's the whole "but he's so nice when he's not crazy" thing. But as I wrote above, that she's even talking about her options for leaving in such a concrete way is a very good sign relative to this more often goes at this stage.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:22 AM on May 4, 2007 [3 favorites]


Dare I say I think we're overthinking this? Someone asked for advice. People who felt moved to give advice, gave advice. Those who gave advice did so earnestly and thoughtfully, based on their own life experiences, knowledge, perspectives, etc. That seems to me the basic premise behind AskMe.
posted by treepour at 8:28 AM on May 4, 2007


Ugh. Depressing is right. That's textbook denial.
posted by selfmedicating at 8:35 AM on May 4, 2007


I believe that nobody can ever see inside someone else's head, and nobody can ever say anything really insightful about other peoples' relationships, although sometimes useful things can be said about relationships in general. I believe this is as true between, say, old friends, as it is in a mostly-anonymous context of near-acquaintances on some website.”—stav

I agree and disagree. I think that people can "see" inside other people's heads, so to speak, and they can say insightful things about other peoples' relationship...within limits.

It's probably just a repeat in other words of what I wrote above, but I think the difference between the good and the bad is the difference between too much certainty, black-and-white analysis, declarations, instruction, and less empathy; and nuance, gentleness, restraint, "midwifing" awareness, a large sense of fallibility, and more empathy.

I feel like I really "get" where your objection is coming from and I feel in my gut that there's truth to it. But at the same time, I also feel in my gut that people are capable of and demonstrate their insight and empathy into other people and other peoples' relationships. I've seen good insight and advice and bad insight and advice, and while it's hard to articulate the difference, I know it exists. I think that bad insight and advice generally comes from people who just don't understand other people's internal lives very well, if at all. They either don't really comprehend an internal life because their not really aware of their own, or they wrongly project onto other people. I think I've written this elsewhere on MeFi, but the real trick and apparent contradiction of effective empathy is using it to understand how people are different than oneself, not just how they are the same. Bad advice is almost always centered exclusively on the adviser and their own experiences.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:42 AM on May 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


Well said EB.
posted by Mister_A at 8:47 AM on May 4, 2007


Ethereal Bligh: MeFi's heavy emphasis on "leave now" as advice in so many relationship questions may be, as someone mentions above, not very helpful at all for this reason.

In the grand scheme of things, I see what you mean. But I think a lot of the "get out, preferably yesterday" is meant to bust through the posters' denial and rose-coloured glasses.

Hopefully you're right about the concrete options thing...

On a somewhat related note, I really wish there would be a follow-up to this RelationshipFilter.
posted by CKmtl at 8:49 AM on May 4, 2007


Interestingly, during a class presentation last night one of my classmates (who works for a domestic violence crisis hotline) said that, in general, the most powerful tool in getting women help is teaching them to recognize the cycle that almost all abusers go through -- rage/violence alternating with sweetness and caring (which she called the "honeymoon phase"). Until women who are being abused see the sweetness as *part* of the abuse, as a manipulation the abuser is using to keep the woman in the abusive situation (because most even remotely intelligent people wouldn't stay if there was nothing but abuse all the time), then they tend to remain stuck.
posted by occhiblu at 8:52 AM on May 4, 2007 [3 favorites]


hope the op is aware of the hazard of just posting her question on a computer shared with a techie who's also a paranoid speed freak. it would be nothing for him to put a keylogger on there and read the answers to her question, perhaps even before she did.
posted by bruce at 8:58 AM on May 4, 2007


In the relationshipFilter pro/con discussion, I just wanted to add that AskMe proved to be very beneficial when I posted an anon question nearly a year ago. There is some good that comes from sounding one's perceptions of a particular reality off a community of completely unattached observers. Not being confident in one's emotions, not having a network of friends, or what-have-you can make one feel really tentative about what is the obvious course of action sometimes. The value of relationshipFilter isn't necessarily in the advice given, but in the confirmation of the perception that things are fucked up&emdash;it's not just you. Whether or not members of this community want AskMe to serve such a function is a valid question, but to flatly state that nothing good comes from relationshipFilter so it should be pruned from AskMe is incorrect.
posted by Fezboy! at 8:59 AM on May 4, 2007 [3 favorites]


...—...
posted by Fezboy! at 9:01 AM on May 4, 2007


it's bad in a very typical MeFi relationshipfilter way: too much certainty.

While I understand your and other objects to certainty in the face of a one-sided and incomplete understanding of the problem, I say that this is one case where additional information is irrelevant. There are many situations in life where more information is worse, not better, and I need nothing more from that posted question than the description of
  • Extreme hostility to disliked diagnosis by a professional
  • Refusal to even listen to suggestion that something is wrong
  • Continued and extreme chemical abuse
  • Expressed paranoia
  • Repeatedly destructive, violent over-reaction to pedestrian adversity
to say with complete certainty that the poster needs to vacate for his/her own safety. Additional information is a distraction and a hinderance.

Which leads to the other point brought up above: I contend that, in fact, telling someone to GET OUT of the home they share with a partner/husband is, in fact, superb advice in a case like this since it is counter-intuitive behavior to those of us who have made a commitment to a person. It is also very possibly the only action that can create change when methods from inside the home for three years have yielded absolutely zero fruit.

I cannot think of a situation that can be more perfectly analogized by a depressurized plane, where you must put the mask on your own face and security your own safety before you can hope to effectively assist someone else. I can only hope that if the poster refuses to retreat to a safe distance that s/he enlists some other people to be present when trying to confront this person who has displayed violent outbursts and paranoia.
posted by phearlez at 9:03 AM on May 4, 2007


If you saw someone bleeding in the road, would you not stop to help because you're not an EMT?

If you saw someone with a bomb strapped to their chest, would not clip some wires because you're not a demolitions expert?
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:09 AM on May 4, 2007


If you saw someone bleeding in the road, would you not stop to help because you're not an EMT?

If you saw someone with a bomb strapped to their chest, would not clip some wires because you're not a demolitions expert?


Jesus, that's a stupid analogy. This person asked for help. Some people went through similar experiences. Those people gave the poster relevant advice.
posted by billysumday at 9:17 AM on May 4, 2007


It's a stupid analogy in turn; mkultra's original, quoted, was a rebuke of another's posters statement that they didn't feel qualified to give a good answer considering the seriousness of the situation.

If we can insist by analogy that it's cowardice to not stop the bleeding for lack of formal traning, we can just as well insist that it's idiocy to ignore one's better judgement and just start clipping wires. The whole point of the analogy is how stupid it is as an attack on someone for expressing some restraint.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:23 AM on May 4, 2007


Can I make an analogy that expresses how your analogy failed to render into sharp focus your displeasure at another's analogy? Something like, If you saw someone with no hands flying a plane, would you ask if there were any trained pilots onboard, or would you attempt to fly the plane yourself; conversely, if you were a pilot with no hands, would you attempt to steer using your feet or would you politely ask a stewardess for assistance?
posted by billysumday at 9:30 AM on May 4, 2007


Analogy circle jerk!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:33 AM on May 4, 2007


Only if I can make a rebutting analogy involving a moose, a snake eating its own tail, and gift cards.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:34 AM on May 4, 2007


Dammit, Blatcher.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:35 AM on May 4, 2007


If we can insist by analogy that it's cowardice to not stop the bleeding for lack of formal traning, we can just as well insist that it's idiocy to ignore one's better judgement and just start clipping wires. The whole point of the analogy is how stupid it is as an attack on someone for expressing some restraint.

What? No. There's a huge difference- my analogy paints a situation where your action is very likely to help, while your inaction will almost surely allow further harm. In your analogy, either action or inaction can cause harm.

The post in question is much more like the former than the latter. If there were a flood of responses attempting to teach her how to "fix" him, I'd agree, but that's not the case here.
posted by mkultra at 9:37 AM on May 4, 2007


Great comment, occiblu. I hope s/he learns about that (the cycle of violence stuff). Also nodding along to EB.

I think the "OMG get out" responses to the OP's question were possibly helpful in confronting denial. I also have a sense that some responders (re this post a bit, and on AskMe generally) are not aware of the process part of leaving a relationship like this. Most people don't leave the first time they think about it -- it's still important that they think about leaving and how to leave. Here s/he is thinking about it.

From what I understand, safely leaving a volatile situation requires some serious safety planning that can take time -- stashing away money, speaking with trusted friends, figuring out a place to stay, figuring out if one needs time off from work and getting that set up, etc. Also, the person him or herself knows the situation better than anyone, so they may know what will and will not escalate the situation dangerously, so they need to take that into account. (For example, sometimes a person does not get a restraining order for a good reason -- in their situation it will increase the danger to them or disrupt their exit planning.)

I think there are some topics on AskMe that tend to have these black-and-white responses (person in volatile relationship, and person with family member with mental health crisis, come to mind). Despite saying that here, I appreciated the responses to this OP's post, and thought they were lovely and thoughtful.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 9:39 AM on May 4, 2007


Yeah, but for your analogy to make sense it has to assume that (a) no one else is around and obviously willing and capable of helping, and that (b) no plausible action could do any harm.

Which doesn't make a hell of a lot of sense regarding (a) a thread where there were tons of answers and (b) a non-respondent who expressed concern that he might not have anything helpful to provide.

Unless you believe that literally any thing that that one user in question could have said would have been the turning point that made that otherwise useless thread suddenly useful, it's a bizarre rebuke.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:42 AM on May 4, 2007


"If you saw someone bleeding in the road, would you not stop to help because you're not an EMT?"

Off topic, but there are many health care types (doctors, nurses, etc) that wouldn't stop because as soon as it's discovered that they're a doctor/etc, people start seeing dollar signs if any tiny little thing goes wrong. Despite the Good Sam laws, health care professionals can and do get sued for helping people outside of their hospital environment.

Blame the lawyers.

"safely leaving a volatile situation requires some serious safety planning that can take time"

It takes only as long as looking up "shelter" in the phone book. There are plenty of resources for abused women out there, so that's not really an excuse. The OP is in denial.
posted by drstein at 9:58 AM on May 4, 2007


I'd like to respectfully disagree with Mr Wolf and stav on this one. There are so many positive reinforcements in the world for NOT helping people; I think a bit of mutual fellatio is in order for the outpouring of sympathy and good advice in the thread.
posted by By The Grace of God at 10:04 AM on May 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


There are plenty of resources for abused women out there, so that's not really an excuse.

No, there really aren't. There are overcrowded shelters that fill up first thing in the morning for that night; there are underfunded hotlines; there are many poorly trained police officers tending toward the "Bitch is crazy" school of thought. If one is a man experiencing domestic violence, there's almost no resources at all.

There are, of course, also extremely dedicated people who spend a great deal of time and energy trying to help, but to claim that there are "plenty of resources" is a ludicrous dismissal of the very real obstacles that abused women -- many of them who must leave without any financial resource -- face.
posted by occhiblu at 10:14 AM on May 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


Tweakers never prosper. What's the reason?
For if they prosper, none dare call it "tweak," son.
posted by ikkyu2 at 10:15 AM on May 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


Does anybody remember a thread like "my boyfriend and I bought a house together and now I'm the only wage earner -- how do I budget?" posted by an anonymous poster, oh, I would've said a year or so ago? Something about it reminds me of this one. It was anonymous, too, but I'd like to reread that thread for some reason.
posted by salvia at 10:20 AM on May 4, 2007


It takes only as long as looking up "shelter" in the phone book. There are plenty of resources for abused women out there, so that's not really an excuse. The OP is in denial.

Oh, if only it were that black and white. If the decision to leave a long-term relationship is tough, it is probably nothing compared to the decision to go to a women's shelter. It is so easy to toss out that suggestion, but I'd be willing to bet that it would be excruciating to have to make that decision.

On top of that, she feels obligated the need to help him sort himself out before she leaves him. We can spout all kinds of advice about his help needs to come from within, but the her need to help him and the (possible) guilt feelings she might be suffering at the thought of leaving (translated to her as abandoning) him are very real to her. Will she actually stay till he is a-ok? Probably not. But sorting through those feelings are part of her process.

Sure, denial, her safety, blah, blah, blah. People aren't robots.
posted by necessitas at 10:23 AM on May 4, 2007


salvia: it wasn't the fr0zen/xteraco thread, was it?
posted by russilwvong at 11:05 AM on May 4, 2007


I know this will sound crazy, but I feel as if I need to help him get somewhat right before I leave him. I also need to save money, thankfully, here are 3-4 major cities in Georgia that I am allowed to use as my home base for my job, so I don't have to stay in Atlanta to keep my job. Last night was a good night, and he is so sweet during these times, its hard. I have not decided quite what steps I am taking, but rest assured I will be fine.

I don't think s/he's going anywhere soon.
posted by jokeefe at 11:45 AM on May 4, 2007


What a heart breaking thread.
posted by LarryC at 12:23 PM on May 4, 2007


russilwvong: No, it was earlier than that. It was pretty straightforward: "now that I'm the only wage earner in our household, how do I make sure we keep the house by budgeting better? (Btw the guy is an alcoholic)." Or maybe he was a recovering alcoholic. It didn't set off that many warning bells at the time, just this slight undertone that made me curious, but there's some detail that rings a bell here, maybe.....
posted by salvia at 12:50 PM on May 4, 2007


What thread was it the pregnant chick showed up in? I've already read the one about xteraco and his honda.
posted by pieoverdone at 1:05 PM on May 4, 2007


salvia - is this the thread?
posted by pieoverdone at 1:14 PM on May 4, 2007


Relationship filter is never about picking out the one rational response that opens your eyes into what you need to see. It's asking many people to answer all at once, and seeing if an answer emerges from a single voice.

When you're blinded your love for someone else, its hard to get that perspective. You know that other point of view is there, but you can't tell which argument is real and which is your own rationalization.
posted by cotterpin at 1:15 PM on May 4, 2007


Update: Xteraco is apparently launching a music career.

the internets make me a bad person
posted by decathecting at 1:30 PM on May 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yeah, that's it. I guess besides the addication there aren't that many only overlapping facts -- only that the couples own a house and cars together, are unmarried, eat, and have jobs. Though the timeline would be about right, too (almost a year ago, and he had to be in rehab for six months).
posted by salvia at 4:01 PM on May 4, 2007


P.S. Thanks for finding it, pieoverdone.
posted by salvia at 4:02 PM on May 4, 2007


If you saw someone with a bomb strapped to their chest, would not clip some wires because you're not a demolitions expert?

If you can see the wires to the blasting cap(s), it might be a good idea. Bombs that individually test the resistance of the blasting caps with a microprocessor (and set off the remainder when one is found missing) are usually only seen in the movies. In that case, you're screwed. Also, look out for dummy caps and secondary ignition sources.

IANEOD
posted by IronLizard at 4:10 PM on May 4, 2007


If the original poster should email me I have some things to share with her. (And no, not preachy stuff-you guys know I'd do that just fine in public.)
posted by konolia at 5:59 PM on May 4, 2007


Must be your recipe for apple pie, then. I was that close to hacking your computer, but then your cable modem changed IPs and I lost ya in the intertubes. Curses!

Your recipe will not remain a secret, konolia! I swear on the life of my mother, whose dreams of country fair fame were crushed by your deviousness, to obtain the secret of your apple pie!
posted by five fresh fish at 7:03 PM on May 4, 2007


this is a scam, this is a scam, this is a scam.
posted by sgt.serenity at 8:57 PM on May 4, 2007


I know this will sound crazy, but I feel
as if I need to help him get somewhat right before I leave him.


Noooo, nothing crazy about that. Unusual, too, don't hear that one too often from women in fucked up codependent relationships with catastrophic drug addicts, no sir.
posted by nanojath at 10:48 PM on May 4, 2007


There are plenty of resources for abused women out there, so that's not really an excuse. The OP is in denial.

The OP isn't the only one if you really believe that "plenty of resources" bit. What, did you see a PSA for these "resources" on the side of a bus once, and decide to believe everything it was selling?

Try this number, "for info and a referral," and, unless there've been dramatic changes, there isn't any info, and, as for a referral? You'd better live in a major urban area. (It is not enough, too, to say "I live near (big city)," since it's done by zip code. What I suppose I mean is that you need to live in the same zip code as whatever it is they occasionally manage to refer people to. Yes, it really was that pathetic.)

Even if you can find something, I don't know that it's desirable.

If Mr Kmennie turns into a tweaker somehow, I don't think I'm going to be too happy about losing the tens of thousands I've sunk in to the house we just bought together so I can go share a "15-bed residence" with women who are "disadvantaged economically or are new Canadians who often lack access to the support of extended family and friends." I also doubt help with "nutrition and meal planning, shopping for groceries, teaching crafts" would really be what I needed to get my life back together.

Take a look. Which see my carp about rehab; it's not for the well-educated.

You can flog that crap at the OP all you like when these places want to offer private apartments with 24-7 access to lawyers, rather than dormitories with 24-7 access to do-gooders "teaching crafts."

Note, too, stuff like "women who leave their batterers are at a 75 percent greater risk of being killed by their batterer than those who stay."* My leaving an appalling relationship was for years almost harder than staying would've been. Restraining orders = scrap paper. The process is not just 1-800-NEW-LIFE.
posted by kmennie at 11:11 PM on May 4, 2007 [2 favorites]


kmennie
OK, you have told us what you don't agree with. And you point out, accurately, that leaving a bad relationship can be financially costly. (I know this too well!) And you say you got out of a bad relationship with great difficulty.

But... what are you for? Instead of just carping on the advice of others (maybe with good reason, even) use your experience to give some advice of your own. What do you think anonymous should do?
posted by The Deej at 11:30 AM on May 5, 2007


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