I thought the hard part was over...
February 4, 2013 9:39 PM   Subscribe

I left my abusive ex four months ago. So how can I actually move on now that I've moved out?

How long will it take me to feel better? I know there's no easy timetable for this, but my life now seems to be centered around distracting myself from my pain and going to therapy. I've made new friends, I got a pet, I've started a few new enjoyable hobbies, and I'm able to do the bare minimum at work to scrape by without raising eyebrows (anything more than this feels impossible)... but everything just feels hollow.

It's not that I mind being alone (although when I'm by myself I feel worse), it's that I feel lost and rudderless. I don't even miss him, exactly, I don't know what exactly is making me sad: I can't understand it; I've thought a lot about it; and I just... feel empty.

I understand that this is likely just depression talking, but I've felt this way for months now and I don't know how to break the cycle. When am I going to wake up and be happy to greet the day without thinking of him and feeling utterly broken?

It's more difficult because I know he's moved on. He closed the door on me, I think when he realized that he wasn't going to be able to control me anymore. I know that this is for the best: I know it, I believe it, but I just... can't seem to get my emotions to match my logic.

I have a therapist; I go once a week. I'm also a member of a support group for survivors of domestic violence that meets weekly. I have friends I can talk to and have fun with and cry with and laugh with. Things are a lot better without him, objectively speaking. So why do I feel so bad, and when will it go away?

The pain is getting very severe, and I have had persistent negative thoughts all this week. I've called a hotline, I've talked to friends, and I'll talk to my therapist about this the next time I see her, but... why do things feel like they're getting worse the more time passes? When am I going to be OK again? Is there anything I can do to speed up this horrible, painful, sad process?

For background, we were together for nearly three years, and he definitely, unquestionably, abused me verbally, emotionally, and occasionally physically.
posted by sockermom to Human Relations (22 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Hi there,

I'm sorry you are going through this, you are very brave and absolutely did the right thing.

Have you talked about the 5 stages of grief with your therapist, the Elisabeth Kubler Ross version? If not it might be helpful to Wiki it. You are grieving for your loss and it's 100% understandable. It might be helpful to know - it will end!!

I lost my husband to suicide last year and honestly, I draw the same comparisons here. You seem to be doing all the right things so unfortunately you just have to wait it out. It gets better, it really does!

I wonder whether a mild anti-depressant might help? I didn't end up taking any but people mentioned it to me. Could you chat with your therapist or doctor?

How about keeping a diary, or a blog/tumblr, just for yourself? I found that putting my hurt into words helped to free it somewhat.

Also exercise is great, something powerful like punching bags, you must have a lot of anger in there I'm guessing.

Just keep putting one foot in front of the other, have an hour a day that you stop yourself from feeling sad (watch TV, go for a walk, talk on the phone and not about him!) I know it seems as if it will never end, but it will, I promise.
posted by Youremyworld at 10:02 PM on February 4, 2013

Best answer: Hmmm. I think this is what EMDR type therapy is for, to help you move past trauma. I suggest starting immediately, it works quickly and can be very effective.

Also, get yourself a therapeutic massage tomorrow. It's likely you'll feel a great release during the massage and cry like a baby - this is OK! Good massage therapists are used to having clients cry! Really!!

(for me, shiatsu usually does it. but if you like deep tissue massage, or whatever, do that. just do it.)

I've also had good success with yoga. And guided meditations I've downloaded off of iTunes. And walks in nature.

Process group was beneficial, I don't know anything about support groups. I do know there are studies that say recounting traumatic events over and over again anchors them in the brain, because you are re-informing the memory, and reliving the memory can trigger the same stress hormones as the original event.

Which isn't to say that you should stop talking about your ex in therapy or whatever. Heavens, no!

But perhaps you might be more mindful of the way you talk about your ex, the language you choose when describing what happened, etc.. Do you put the narratives in the past tense? Do you use hateful language towards him or yourself? Are you really still angry, or are you nursing a grudge? Are you using language in the present when you describe yourself or current experiences that is negative or demeaning? Or do you try to use positive words and phrases when referring to yourself? This all goes double for what you are thinking about, too! How you spend time in your own head really really matters - be good to yourself, even when you are the only one watching.

Honestly? This sounds like a part of the grieving process, and I predict if you embrace feeling empty, it will pass fairly quickly.

If you feel stuck or in a crisis, PLEASE call your therapist, a hotline, or head to the nearest ER.

I'm not out to minimize your experience. So if you are feeling particularly out of sorts, run to professional intervention.

Good luck.
posted by jbenben at 10:09 PM on February 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: In a way, I think the time right after you leave someone abusive is harder than actually leaving - it certainly was for me. You've survived something really difficult. Three years of walking on eggshells and living in fear can really mess someone up, and moving back into normal life after that isn't easy at all. That transition into being your own person again is really frightening, and it's not something you hear about often.

I think doing things just for the sake of distraction is fine, as long as you are getting a degree of enjoyment out of them. I'd recommend talk to your therapist about this, and maybe consider a referral to a psychiatrist? You might be able to get a little pharmacological help through this time (I don't know what I would have done without Ativan those first few months.) Also, could you bring this topic up in your DV group? You're not alone in feeling this way, and other survivors will have suggestions for you. Talking about it alone can be so helpful.

I can't tell you for sure when things will change. It's been over a year for me, and I still get weepy sometimes. But I also have entire weeks that go by without the thought of him or of what happened to me. During those first few months, I felt like you described: empty and directionless. I worried that I was never going to be myself again, that maybe I didn't have a real "self" anymore after everything that had happened, after how much of me had been consumed. But it started to come back in little ways: I started really enjoying some of the things I'd been doing just as a distraction. I started actually wanting to go to the trivia tournament or to rehearsal. I can't tell you when I became myself again, when I became OK, but I can promise you that it did happen. It will happen for you, too.

Internet hugs to you. You're going to be OK.
posted by a hat out of hell at 10:11 PM on February 4, 2013 [5 favorites]

Best answer: From your previous questions it sounds like you spent a big portion of your relationship with your ex in denial of how bad things were. That is totally understandable, both because of how he treated you (rejecting your feelings and arguing you out of them) and just as a survival tactic, to get through the day without being totally terrified and overwhelmed.

But now you've left him, and are no longer in the middle of that ongoing crisis, and finally have the space to feel your own feelings. The problem is that you have a lot of unprocessed crappy feelings from your relationship that you never fully experienced at the time, and now that you're safe, they're bubbling up, wanting to be acknowledged.

I think this may just be part of your healing process. Sometimes it helps to just let yourself think, "yeah, something terrible happened to me. It was unfair and cruel, and of course I feel hurt and angry about it." And then once you've acknowledged that, and felt bad for your past self who was done wrong, you can do something nice for yourself - call a friend, play with your pet, whatever. Just keep in mind:

-The sadness isn't because you're doing anything wrong now. It isn't because there's any problem with the new life you're building. It's from the awful stuff you went through, and every day it's getting further behind you (even if it doesn't always feel like it).
-The person to blame for you feeling bad isn't you, it's your ex.
-All the good things in your life now are building up a supply of good feelings that will eventually take the place of these crappy ones. Don't stop doing all the great things you're doing for yourself because you don't feel as happy as you deserve to yet.
posted by unsub at 10:12 PM on February 4, 2013 [13 favorites]

Best answer: Also, please feel free to message me if you'd be more comfortable discussing these things with some lady on the internet who understands. (That goes for any future lurkers reading this question, too.)
posted by a hat out of hell at 10:14 PM on February 4, 2013 [4 favorites]

Best answer: You are doing all the right things. You are handling a difficult situation with what sounds like an amazing amount of strength and personal conviction. I am impressed with you.

For me, it took a good eight or nine months before I felt my brain and my heart somehow... release him. After that, my days took on more color. I am giving you that time frame not to make you feel worse about how long it'll be yet, but just to give you some encouragement that: 1) you are not alone, 2) yes, it hurts for a long time, and 3) yes, it stops.

Sometimes the only way out is through. Be good and kind to yourself until you push out the other side. You will make it.
posted by (F)utility at 10:17 PM on February 4, 2013

Best answer: When I was in a similar situation it took me 1.5 years to feel better. At 4 months I was still crying daily.

The good news: in the future I was able to love exactly no less strongly and no less completely as I did in the past, after enough time had passed. My feelings for the abusive ex dissipated 100%. Not 99.9%. 100%. I loved the next person more than I loved the abusive person without any doubt whatsoever.

I look at the ex's blog now and don't even have the slightest trace of a feeling left. (It's more than half a decade now, but still.) At 4 months I was hardly able to get through the day. For about a year my relationships felt hollow. By 1.5 years I was done with the grief and my life, little by little, became filled with extraordinary experiences that I never imagined would happen.

An idea: get started on something that will take you about a year, since you probably have that much time. In your shoes I poked around at various hobbies, but the big thing I did was applying to grad schools. I got in and ended up going.
posted by htid at 10:28 PM on February 4, 2013 [11 favorites]

I was going to say the same thing as unsub did — you're finally in a space (mentally, physically, emotionally) where you're safe, and so all the feelings that had to be bottled up, are only now able to come out freely. Taking care of yourself, doing things you enjoy, both are very important; eventually that will grow to where it has become the new normal.

But don't cut short (or feel you need to) the difficult emotions; it's important to care for yourself in that way too. Acknowledge them, acknowledge where they come from — the feelings that aren't attached to the immediate present, very probably are from past experiences. If you dig a bit when they come up, it will likely come, and just making the connection brings relief. For instance, I left my abusive ex 9 years ago; we had been together for 8. One of the many things he did to take revenge on me for leaving him was to give away our cat over Christmas without telling me, when we had agreed I would go to his apartment to take care of it (I was living in a motel and couldn't keep a cat; he was out of town visiting his parents for the holidays so wasn't in danger at his place). Well, a few months later, the recipient of our cat got tired of it, and wanted to give it back... so there I was with our cat. Getting to the point here: for months after getting back our cat, I would break down in tears and feel unable to care for him as he deserved. Finally I realized those were all things my ex had constantly told me when we had been together... It also went along with me feeling incapable of living my own, independent life, something he had also told me I was utterly unable to do (and thus being entirely dependent on him and judged by him was somehow justified, again according to him). As this had also been something my parents had raised me with... well. It was a doozy discovering myself. (Not rediscovering. I was 28 and plain old discovering!) Therapy has been the biggest help with that.

It took the time it took, living my own life, taking care of that cat, and later other cats, slowly being myself, and yes, mourning (good to look into), until it just happened. I don't mean in a flash, but more like a tree growing around a sign that's been nailed onto it. Have you ever seen that? I grew up in the countryside and sometimes people would nail small signs to trees. Eventually, the tree just grows around it, the sign slowly disappears into its bark, and one day you realize, you can't see the sign any more. You remember it being there, but now it's just the tree, healthy, whole, no longer stamped by an external being.
posted by fraula at 12:35 AM on February 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

There's an old medical idea I learned about from a novel called "laudable pus". The idea is that as a bad wound is healing it gets gross and pus-y on top and it looks worse and smells worse and just generally seems to be getting worse, but the pus is actually a sign that, underneath the bad smell and gunk, the wound is starting to heal properly.

I think your bad feelings now might be laudable pus. They're bad, they seem a lot worse than the wound itself, but they are a sign that underneath you are beginning to heal. You're doing the right things to take care of yourself and right now your life seems like it's just distracting yourself from the pain but that's healthy; that pain is the equivalent of the pus showing you that even though right now it seems worse, you're starting to get better underneath all that misery and when the pain and pus clear again, you'll be strong and healthy.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 5:09 AM on February 5, 2013 [6 favorites]

Best answer: I was in your shoes. Leaving was actually the easiest part because the actual abuse was OVER.

What was and continues to remain difficult are all those feelings to process. And my God, there are a lot of feelings to process. There was a lot of self-loathing, a lot of guilt, a lot of self-blame. I really hated myself for a long time.

And like others have said, I struggled in group therapy because sure, it helped me realize that others lived similar nightmares, but I just got deeply mired in everyone's pain and it hurt too much to go, so you may want to think about whether or not group is working for you.

But even years after the relationship is over, I still get the occasional anxious and fearful moment. For example, a few weeks ago my boyfriend and I were at the top of the stairs in the house about to head down and he put his hand on my shoulder. What he didn't know was that a very long time ago, my husband pushed me down a flight of stairs. So in that moment I was able to kind of hold it together but for the next few days, I was incredibly teary, nasty and emotional.

I was able to connect everything but I guess what I'm trying to say is this: you did all the right things. You're a powerful survivor. You got through the worst experience most people have to ever face and you're free. Be kind to yourself and let yourself grieve, let yourself process at a pace that feels safe to you, learn your triggers and how to deal with them.

You are a wonderful warrior who has looked a monster in the face and told it to fuck off. It will just get better. I promise.
posted by kinetic at 5:50 AM on February 5, 2013 [4 favorites]

Best answer: You sound like you are in a lot of pain, and very confused about where to go from here. People who have been through similar abusive relationships are a great resource, so asking us about this is a great step and took some courage, I think.

When one is with an abusive person, one tends to center their life around that person and that person's thoughts and feelings. It makes a lot of sense; if there were a tiger in your house you'd be extremely aware of it and its moods and needs, right? Similar thing with an abusive partner.

When that person is no longer around, that habit of centering around them is lost and it does tend to bring a feeling of emptiness and purposelessness. At that point, you're also still in survival mode in terms of suppressing your feelings in order to get through the day. Again, if you lived with a tiger, you wouldn't really have time to constantly be hurt and upset by the situation--you'd be too busy looking out for the tiger.

When your body and mind finally start to realize on a deep level that the tiger (abusive partner) is gone, a lot of fear, pain, anger, guilt, and other emotions might start to really come to the surface in an intense and scary way. It seems like you're backsliding because you're much more upset than you used to be, but it's really not backsliding.

It's sort of like cutting off blood flow to a limb for a while, like when you sit on your foot. When you get up, you can barely walk because you can't direct your foot and it feels awkward, it's extremely painful. That doesn't mean that restoring blood flow to your foot was a bad idea, just that in the short term, it's painful. Likewise, being out of this relationship is painful and difficult, but it's part of restoring freedom to your heart, mind, and soul.

Good luck. I've been there. You will pull through this, I promise.
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:06 AM on February 5, 2013 [9 favorites]

Two years. That's how long it takes to greive a loss and to finally be in the head space to actually live and breathe again without feeling that pain.

You may also have some sort of PTSD and you might want to explore that with your therapist.

It sounds like you're doing everything right. Just keep on keeping on.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: When you look back on your life, you don't remember how you felt, you remember what you did.

To that end, do marvelous stuff. Since two years are going to pass anyway, perhaps go through an MBA program, or a certification or learn to knit.

Don't worry about your Ex. Try some EFT whenever you feel yourself start to fixate on him, or on situations that get you wound up.

Hang in there, it gets better. 3 years from today, you'll be happy and involved in great things with awesome people and you'll flash on your life today and wonder what in the world you were so worked up about. I promise!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:07 AM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oh, and to be clear, you will sometimes get the numbness back (that is my experience, at least) and then be a little more sad one day, then better the next...it isn't a straight line, but it does lead to a much, much better life and there are a lot of really amazing days ahead of you. Just like everyone you will have sucky days, but man, even just those simple days of being able to do what you want and not have that tiger roaming around are so, so worth it.
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:09 AM on February 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

Nthing the idea that you're processing stuff you bottled during the abuse. Two things to add:

1) You mentioned he has moved on. Consider that this might really be hurting you, not because you miss him, but because it reveals the central lie of his abuse: That he was unhappy because of your behavior. You got blamed, and suffered, and told that it was your fault. But that was BS. Like you said, he lost interest the second he realized he couldn't control you anymore. So maybe you're sad now because you see the truth of the fact that he didn't actually care about you.

2) this is related. Now seeing this relationship for what it really was, you could be angry at yourself for letting him deceive you for so long. Which could be causing you to question your self-worth. I want to emphasize that you have absolutely nothing to blame yourself for. But it's easy to know this rationally and still be mad.

You're doing all the right things and it will absolutely get better. Maybe talk to your therapist about this angle if it rings true for you.

My sincere best wishes.
posted by dry white toast at 6:14 AM on February 5, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: why do things feel like they're getting worse the more time passes?

You spent all that time with him pushing that fear and anger and sadness out of your mind, just to be able to survive. You had to do that, for your own self-defense, while you were with him. But all those emotions didn't go away, they just waited. And now that you're not with him, all that fear and anger and sadness is finally getting a chance to come out.

That is a lot of emotion, and it's gonna leave you a wreck for a while. But it will pass. I promise you. I promise you as one who has been there. And you are doing exactly the right things to process it.

The only thing I would add to what you're doing - not do differently, but add to it - is to keep a journal. Writing down the chaos that was in my own head was extremely, extremely helpful. Writing it, painting it, doing some kind of expressive thing that is just for you - you need never show this to anyone, not even your therapist, unless you want to - can help a lot. If you're still concerned about people finding it someday, burn everything as soon as you're finished writing it. (That in itself can be really theraputic!)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:40 AM on February 5, 2013 [3 favorites]

The reason you feel sad is because you're grieving. It doesn't matter that it was a bad relationship and you're glad it's over: you're grieving the loss of what might have been and what you wished it would be. It's just going to take time. The best thing is to recognize your feelings for what they are, acknowledge them, and know that it will pass and get much, much better!.
posted by Eicats at 6:43 AM on February 5, 2013

Best answer: I am 5 years out from dumping my abusive ex. Just wanted to add to the pile of: things will get better with time. I promise they do. I think you're doing everything right in terms of tactics to keep yourself sane. Keep doing those things and taking baby steps. Even if you feel like you don't want to, keep putting one foot in front of the other and in a few months the pain will begin to lessen. Sometimes we have to fake it till we make it just to keep ourselves alive and functioning. You had to do it during your relationship in order to not rock the boat and protect yourself from being abused, now you need to go through the motions to bring about the momentus snowball effect of healing and comfort. Just please know there is a light at the end of the tunnel. You are safe, and you alone are in control of your life.

Writing everything down was a huge positive factor in my own healing. Seeing the words on paper made things more real for me. I tried to minimize how bad things were after I ended things, and that only served to prolong the healing process for me. Once I was able to acknowledge the pain and sadness and loss of self that I experienced during three years of abuse, I was able to begin getting myself back.

I know it feels as if you will never be your old self again. In a way, you can't be. This experience has affected you, and it will change the way you operate for the rest of your life. This is not a bad thing. You are now armed with the superpower of knowing how abusers operate. You know how it begins so seemingly benign, you know how they hook you in, you know how they devolve into dysfunction, and you know how they keep you embroiled in their dysfunction. Best of all, you know how to escape. Use your new superpower to never let someone abuse you, ever again. Keep yourself safe.

Commiseration helped me tremendously in my healing. Feel free to memail me if you'd like to talk. I'd love to listen and help.
posted by Gonestarfishing at 7:05 AM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you've been feeling this way for months, I'd encourage you to consider anti-depressants if you're not already on one. I don't know how you feel about them but they can be used just to help you get over the hump with something like this. I wasn't happy about taking them at first but my parents were like, if you had a broken arm, you'd get a cast; if you were diabetic, you'd get insulin; this is not different.

Also, sometimes I try to talk myself through especially strong feelings. It helps occasionally to remind myself that even though I feel very angry/sad/frustrated right now, it's okay to feel that way, it's just a feeling and feelings are temporary.

Hugs and best wishes. If you're going through hell, keep going!
posted by kat518 at 7:05 AM on February 5, 2013

First, if you're feeling distressed it's okay to call your therapist instead of waiting for your scheduled appointment. Please don't wait for your appointment if you're in distress.

I agree with Ruthless Bunny that you should talk to your therapist about PTSD if you aren't already. I also agree that part of the reason you're feeling this so intensely right now is that being out of the abusive environment has given you the space to respond emotionally to what happened - remember that you're talking about three years of suppressing and dissociating from your feelings. I found journaling helpful even if it feels like you're writing the same things over and over. Get some cheap ones from the dollar store or the dollar bins at Target and fill them up; if you get tired of what you're writing, grab a new journal and start fresh (sometimes I put off journaling because I didn't want to get caught up in the emotion of what I'd written previously & using cheapo journals means I don't have to).

I prefer to journal in paper in part because I find the process of writing longhand grounding. It sounds like you're feeling ungrounded - your therapist might be able to work with you on some grounding exercises or you could check out some guided meditation podcasts. Or just try to be aware of your feet touching the ground as you walk or stand in place and think about being connected to the ground, rooted and stable even if you're moving.

I would love to give you a time limit on feeling this way, but I think everyone has to process in their own way and time. It sounds like you're feeling bad about trying to distract yourself but I think conscious denial can be an effective coping strategy to give yourself a break from stress.

Your inner critic is probably on overdrive trying to pick up the slack now that you're away from you ex - remember there's no right or wrong way to get through this. You did a very hard and very brave thing in leaving and it will take some time to recover.
posted by camyram at 8:53 AM on February 5, 2013

I wanted to add that the patterns of thinking that you're describing are kind of like bad habits in that once they start, they're hard to stop. I think that's a good way to think about them - it's like biting your fingernails or smoking, quitting is *hard.* So cut yourself some slack but when you realize that you're thinking like that, stop for a moment, just like you would if you were about to bite your fingernails, and remind yourself that you deserve better.

Another way to think about negative self talk (which it sounds like you may be dealing with) is to think, if I heard a friend say this about herself, what would I tell my friend? I say horrible things to myself but then I think, if I heard my friend say that she's a fat slob who should disappear, I would probably shake her to pieces. You have to be your advocate and your friend sometimes. Like you said, you already did the hard part. This will get easier but you have to work on it.
posted by kat518 at 9:11 AM on February 5, 2013

Best answer: I got out of an abusive relationship ten years ago. Around that time I read something that really resonated with me and it helped me out over the LONG period of time it took to start feeling better. It continues to help me today. What it boiled down to was this, "The only way to stop suffering is to have someone do you a kindness. The only way to forget your suffering is to do kindness for others." I hope that does not sound simplistic or in anyway trivialize what you are going through. I'm no expert on the subject, but that simple idea did help me quite a bit. You are brave and good and you are doing the right things. Good luck to you.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 1:16 PM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'm glad you're in therapy. I think there's a lot of discourse about how people should leave abusive relationships and situations, but not much about how it feels after you leave.

Part of the reason for this is that many people just don't leave. You've accomplished something that a lot of people just don't.

And then people who do leave, find themselves feeling the way you do, and they weren't expecting it. You were supposed to feel relief, empowerment, and rejoicing at having dodged a bullet! yay! [I've seen people who were in abusive marriages for 23 years finally leave and be told they dodged a bullet. Really? Going through only 23 years of suffering is dodging an even worse outcome? Are they saying she should be rejoicing that he didn't kill her? Seems to set the 'joy' bar kinda low, doesn't it?] Under this kind of pressure, it's not surprising that sometimes people go back. Thank God you won't. It might not feel good to have this power, but you have the power and you have exercised it.

Trouble is, every minute you're not rejoicing, it must mean something's wrong with you, eh? The source of your pain is gone, and yet you keep beating yourself up. The problem must be you and your attitude, huh, your wallowing in bitterness, your hanging onto grudges, your low self-esteem, your unwillingness to just forgive[=unilaterally stop feeling bad]... Where's that positive attitude you're legally required to have? Why can't you muster it?

Our society is really terrible at acknowledging bad feelings and bad experiences that do lasting damage. I think that all the propaganda that bad feelings can be just wished away is probably making you feel worse right now. You will feel better in time, that's for sure.

The thing to remember, in addition to what everyone else has said, is that you have been hurt. If he had run over you with a truck, and you were still in pain from your injuries months or even years later, you'd still feel bad but you'd know what caused it and that at least it was to be expected in your situation. I think that you have been through an experience so emotionally injurious that it is not far different from being run over by a truck, and I mean that in the literal sense. Your feelings can literally get injured. They really can.

You won't always feel this way. The pain will wear off. You are going to have to give it at least a couple of years. That sucks - now, but in a couple of years you'll feel much better. In three years you'll feel better still.

I can tell you something else too - when you become very discerning about who you associate with, you will find that you have a *lot* more opportunities in life. This is a real thing. Bad company corrupts. Until you shun bad company, it's hard to understand that it really *is* possible to have almost nothing but respectful interactions with nearly everybody in your life.

To keep your mind clean about what kinds of interactions are acceptable, I recommend my usual favourite, "Miss Manners' Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behaviour", plus everything by Patricia Evans, plus a steady diet of Human Relations questions here whenever you feel low. Of course nothing on the green is perfect, but just keep eating Human Relations questions for breakfast, dinner and tea, and your expectations will change for the better.
posted by tel3path at 4:12 PM on February 6, 2013 [4 favorites]

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