Fun-Sized Advice

On fun-sized advice

I’m contemplating practicing Zen Buddhism. As an atheist, I can’t help but wonder if this is problematic.
Stop contemplating practicing and start practicing contemplating. (Also, stop using the word problematic.)

I want to be exclusive. He wants to date me but also date other people. Is there any way to make this work?
Sure, as long as one of you is willing to not get what you want.

I know there is no answer to why we are here. And I’m cool with that. But then when I’m busting my ass at work I often think “why the fuck am I doing this?”
The paycheck, my friend. The paycheck.

Is marriage a patriarchal institution?
It’s the patriarchal institution.

My parents have more or less confirmed that they consider me a disappointment. I’m sad, but I also feel like this is a great opportunity. So, what now?
Fuck ’em. You’re allowed to be disappointed in them too.

Everyone with a “don’t rock the boat” mentality can go fuck themselves.
Okay, but some of us have beverages.

The biggest change I’ve noticed since deciding I wanted to live is that suddenly I’m terrified I’m going to die.
Good. That’s progress.

Oh coke. You’re the only person i can really be honest with. But in the past four years you’ve never answered one of my questions. I guess I know exactly why.
No you don’t. (Thanks for reading.)

How do I heal after being with someone with Borderline Personality Disorder for 8 years?
For starters, quit blaming your emotional condition on someone else’s personality disorder.

Why is it that the only time I feel motivated to change or improve myself is after running into my exes? And why does the feeling never last?
Your self-worth is tied to your romantic relationships, and running into exes is like being slapped in the face with your own inadequacies. The feeling doesn’t last because if you were ever going to have changed, you already would have.

In England (where i’m from) dear can mean expensive. I’ve been reading your title as ‘an expensive chirpse’.
That works too.


76 thoughts on “On fun-sized advice

    • CynicalGrey says:

      Those are going to be some awfully dirty margaritas. Some of us would like our tap water to not be spilled while you’re rocking away.

    • Grace says:

      Dude I’m honestly very confused by Coke’s response. The person said, “Fuck everyone who doesn’t want to disrupt a shitty situation because it’s easier,” and Coke replied, “Well, yeah. Some of us have shit to lose.”
      Which is a valid point! But also… Exactly what the asker said? And it’s phrased as a contradiction. Like, the asker is calling out those people with beverages who are letting shit go on.
      (Of course, I’m probably putting a social justice spin on it. I interpreted the statement as frustration with the status quo, while Coke might be referring to people who want to cause chaos just because!)

      • Snob. says:

        I think she just meant that some of us are making our selves happy in this shitty situation by focusing on something else.

      • Strangely Rational says:

        I think she’s suggesting that sometimes there are good reasons for a particular boat not to be rocked.

  1. Dee says:

    “The feeling doesn’t last because if you were ever going to have changed, you already would have.”

    Is this true? That people can’t change?

    • Daffodil says:

      I wouldn’t make it a blanket statement. Certainly things like depression and anxiety can be treated and brought under control, and that’ll change your life.

    • vlt says:

      Coke wrote a while ago that you shouldn’t strive changing a particular behavior (e.g. stop drinking), but becoming a different person (e.g. becoming a person who doesn’t binge drink), or something along these lines. Can’t find the exact post but you get the idea…

    • The Coquette says:

      Of course people can change. (How did you get “people can’t change” from my original statement?)

    • Tom says:

      If I’m reading it right, the point is that this person won’t be able to change until they stop tying their self worth to romantic relationships.

    • Jenny says:

      No. People change, but the desire to do so comes from with in, not something external like running into an ex.

  2. Lin says:

    “Sure, as long as one of you is willing to not get what you want.”

    How is this question any different from the girl from a while back who wanted to open up her relationship but her boyfriend was unwilling and wanted monogamy? Coke had some very different advice then.

    • Wendy says:

      I think Coke tends to not repeat heself, from what I’ve seen. What has already been said is always there for us to find if we care to look.

      And sometimes simple questions need only simple answers.

    • Strangely Rational says:

      I’d like to answer, but I can’t find the post you’re referring to. How long ago is “a while back”?

      • Lin says:

        One of the questions in this fun-sized advice.

        It’s been discussed to death but I’m very stuck on it because it’s just so incongruous with the rest of Coke’s apparent philosphy on open-relationships. Basically the disagreement comes down to who the onus should be on to end a relationship if things become intolerable, if one partner desires and open relationship and the other doesn’t. I can understand the disagreement, but to me knowingly disrespecting a partner’s limits is detestable.

        But Coke’s advice in this instance was much more muted. It wasn’t “he’s entitled to an open-relationship whether you want one or not.” Why? Because the genders are flipped? Because the relationship is newer? I don’t know, but it’s a huge sticking point with me.

        • Yogi says:

          I read it as, “One of you is not going to get the relationship you want.” Just like the other answer, either one of you agrees to not get what you want (one way or the other) or you are going to end up dissolving the relationship. This is just less in–your-face.

  3. Barefootsie says:

    Eh, I’ve also been around for four years and she hasn’t answered any of my questions, either. At first it bugged me, but then I realized how many thousands of questions she must get and it gave me perspective.

    And also over the years, I’ve found the important part for me was to ask the questions.

    • KG says:

      Thats a fair observation. Often writing the question is therapeutic by itself.

      Also, reading the posts she does respond to after I have written in, tends to give me some sense of perspective about my problems, as the ones she answers usually have more serious shit going down haha

    • Sel says:

      I find this too. I’ve written out many questions to advice bloggers in the past, and just the act of physically organizing my thoughts into a question has always made it clear what the answer should be.

  4. Basil says:

    I’m very curious to understand how the atheist/Zen writer arrived at the conclusion that atheism and Zen might be a “problematic” combination. Mostly because Zen doesn’t require or even recommend belief in a deity of any sort, though some Westerners have added Zen practice to their respective theisms.

    • Quinn says:

      Yeah my immediate thought was “Atheism doesn’t conflict with Buddhism, ya dildo.” OP sounds pretty ignorant. They’re most likely just trying on Buddhism as an identity, the irony of which is lost on them, I’m sure.

        • Quinn says:

          A divine figure is not necessarily a deity. Buddhist philosophy explicitly rejects the idea of a creator deity. Fool.

          • WhoAmI says:

            The buddha himself refers to an existence ruling how the world works (like the Law of Cycles in Madoka) in his writings I believe, or was it his disciples ?
            Obviously there’s no almighty creator of the universe as we are used to it in the Occident, it would be contradictory to the whole cycle of reincarnations thingy.
            On top of that some popular forms of buddhism do revere the buddha and/or other bodhisattva like Guanyin like gods.

            There’s more to atheism than refuting the existence of a creator deity, else Buddhism would be a school of philosophy, not a religion.

          • Quinn says:

            Sure. But there is a clear difference between reverence for certain humans for the way they lived and unquestioning worship of an unearthly ruler. The Buddha himself said that he was not a god, but an enlightened human. A non-sentient fund of creation is not a deity, and the belief in one contradicts the core belief of most theistic religions.

            Obviously atheism is broad in scope, but its most essential conviction is more congruent with Buddhist thought than theistic conviction.

    • Rainbowpony says:

      As an atheist myself, I found that meditation was a helpful practise but that the supernatural elements of buddhism – diety or no – do conflict with atheism. Plus, buddhism, like any religion, inspires all sorts of pseudoscience bullshit, and I didn’t like that.

  5. Becky says:

    I think you’re right that we can’t blame other people being fucked up for us being fucked up, but let’s validate the amount of damage that can be done by a long term relationship with a person who has BPD. If it’s bad, it’s extremely bad. BPD can motivate a LOT of abuse and it isn’t a simple thing to drag yourself back out of the psychological shithole that eight years of extremely close emotional proximity to an abusive person throws you down into. Perhaps a more helpful way to frame it is this: the control they had over you was conditioning, and lasts only as much as the conditioning is maintained. Go to a DBT group. Get a good shrink. Do the work of deprogramming all the fucked up cognitive and behavioral patterns you had to learn to survive with that person. You alone are responsible for fixing you, but there’s help out there.

    • WhoAmI says:

      Emphasis on “can”, you’re making a lot of assumptions based on the only mention of BPD.
      You don’t need to have BPD to be an abusive partner, and every people with BPD aren’t like that, FAR from it really. Seriously, “survive” ? Wow.

      • Becky says:

        Real talk, dude, my abusive mom has HPD, my physically and emotionally abusive ex has BPD, my abusive dad has NPD, and those relationships all fucked me right up. I know people can have any of the axis II disorders and be fairly stable with treatment, but it seems a safe assumption to me that the person who is asking for help on recovering from a relationship with a person who has BPD probably a) wasn’t with a stable person and b) is pretty fucked up in their own right.

        Given the tone of your response to this, I’m assuming you have an axis II disorder, so let me remind you that most things that feel like a personal criticism to you aren’t about you at all.

        • WhoAmI says:

          I didn’t take it as a personnal criticism, I know it isn’t because you don’t know me. It did hit home tho, obviously.
          It suprises me less to hear about abusive relationships with someone with HPD or NPD than BPD to be honest (all of which are fairly distinguishable from each other, if every so often comorbid). I know a girl with HPD who still doesn’t get that switching between flirting with and insulting potential boyfriends all the time won’t get her a relationship with anything else than a crippled doormat. Which she finds extremly boring obivously.

          To me it sounds more like OP tried to make the whole thing more dramatic by mentioning BPD, like “I was in an abusive relationship with a CRAZIE can you even imagine what my ableist ass had to go through ???”
          People don’t need to have recognized mental disorders to have issues, to the point that mentionning it in the ask is superfluous.

          • Becky says:

            I think a lot of the time*, people use a dx as a shield to put distance between themselves and the hurt of something. They can use it for themselves to avoid taking responsibility for the repercussions of their behavior, or they can use it for someone else to avoid the cognitive dissonance of admitting this person they care about is also a shitty person. It’s also entirely possible OP used BPD as shorthand because Coke has a pretty extensive psych education. And yes, it’s also possible this person used a dx on someone else to avoid taking responsibility for whatever shitty things they did when they were in that relationship. Whatever the case may be, DBT is a good move for this person going forward.

            *no a lot of the time does not mean all or most of the time

      • Becky says:

        Coming back to this with additional but much more global thoughts: the first step to fixing yourself is owning the fact that YOU are engaging in behaviors that are fundamentally destructive. A diagnosis isn’t an excuse to be a crazy shithead. It’s a “YOU ARE HERE” sticker on the roadmap to being less of a crazy shithead.

        • Zuzu's Petals says:

          Hey Becky, abusers are abusers, regardless of whether or not there’s a collection of acronyms that encapsulates their particular brand of fucked-upness. It sounds like you’ve made it out of a series of abusive relationships, which is awesome. If survivors had a secret internet handshake, I’d be giving it to you right now.

          That said: there are plenty of ways someone can be crazy that don’t make them a shithead. Let’s not demonize mentally ill people, especially those with poorly-understood/negatively stereotyped diagnoses like Axis II personality disorders, by equating those disorders with shittiness. Mentally healthy people don’t have a monopoly on goodness; us crazies don’t have a monopoly on cruelty. For example, your response to Whoami definitely came off a little mean from where I’m sitting, and please refrain from throwing baseless diagnostic shade– I do not have an Axis II disorder and am not personalizing your comments.

          It’s also kind of funny to me that you would demonize those suffering from personality disorders and then recommend Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, which was specifically invented to aid in the treatment of BPD and other personality disorders by a psychologist who had her own experiences with borderline. DBT is amazing and I love it to death. It has helped me to save my own life on more than one occasion. It sounds like it’s also helped you in the past– yay!– so maybe it’s time to stop dumping on the people it was primarily made and used by.

          • Strangely Rational says:

            “Let’s not demonize mentally ill people, especially those with poorly-understood/negatively stereotyped diagnoses like Axis II personality disorders, by equating those disorders with shittiness. Mentally healthy people don’t have a monopoly on goodness; us crazies don’t have a monopoly on cruelty.”

            Thank you so much for saying this!

            My husband has PTSD and BPD, and while there are certainly major challenges and have been some bad episodes, I remind myself that he is inherently a sweet and gentle person. His rages aren’t “him” – yes, I still have to deal with them, but I make a distinction there. He may say some nasty things to me, but I’m aware that he absolutely doesn’t mean it and would never say such things to me in his clear-headed state.

            He’s described what it feels like to be in one of those rages – he genuinely feels like he’s either under attack and/or is in desperate fear of being abandoned. He says it’s frightening.

            BTW, he got this way by being abused himself, which a pretty high percentage of people with BPD have been (I’ve heard estimates as high as 75%). I think that’s something a lot of people don’t realize. If they did, perhaps they might be a wee bit more sympathetic.

            The critical issue with living with someone who has BPD is the person’s ability and willingness to make the choice to work on it. (Note I said “ability” – some people’s conditions are so severe that they’re simply not able to do much about it.)

            My husband is fortunately one of those people who is able to see his condition clearly and committed to working on it. He just started DBT, and I’m feeling pretty positive about it because I’m a few months into DBT myself (I don’t have BPD, it’s for bipolar, ADHD and anxiety). I’ve been in therapy for years, but the DBT has been more effective than all of it, and I’m not even finished yet.

            So I’m hoping it will make a big difference for him. It’s already made it easier for me to communicate more effectively with him, and that’s prevented a lot of problems already. Another big thing for him has been getting his anxiety under control with meds; that makes it so much less likely for something to trigger an episode.

          • Becky says:

            I’m glad your husband is working on his disorders and he is very lucky to have someone like you supporting him. But I would also really strongly caution you against dichotomizing his behavior when he loses control and his behavior when he doesn’t lose control. Those are all him. He is a whole person and that totality includes lashing out violently when he loses his temper. He needs to own that, if he doesn’t. He needs to understand that he alone is responsible for doing the work to create scaffolding around his triggers. It’s entirely possible that he already does these things and I’m reading way too much into an offhand comment, but I worry when people say things like “it isn’t really him,” because the abusive things he does when he loses his shit will hurt exactly the same amount regardless of his intentions, and that sort of thinking can lead to people staying in really toxic situations.

          • Becky says:

            Wow, y’all, I think you vastly misread my tone here. I myself am a whacky crazypants and recovering shithead. If you think I got out of all that without a legion of fleas, I admire your optimism. No, I didn’t come out of all of that okay. I came out of it attempting suicide. So yeah, given I haven’t tried to off myself lately, I know inside and also outside what the psychiatric process is about. If you are addressing your dx(es) adequately, you will be less of a crazy shithead. I’m not saying everyone with a psychiatric illness or disorder is a shithead, but if you are and you have a dx, it isn’t a free pass to be awful to people. I know this because I used to be that guy, and I’ve known a huge number of people who still are that guy.

            Also to that one person who said disorders aren’t necessarily destructive: no, no. You are flat out wrong about that. The clinical definition of a disorder includes that it is destructive. Otherwise, you aren’t disordered, you’re just quirky or persnickity or mercurial or a general purpose asshole or whatever other non diagnostic term might describe behavior that fails to exceed the normal curve.

            I’m genuinely sorry that my post came across as ableist. I know how awful it feels to have my disorders dismissed like they aren’t real or valid and I don’t want to make anyone else feel that way. But I’m sticking by my guns on this one: if you have a diagnosis and are also a shithead, the diagnosis isn’t an excuse to keep being a shithead. It’s insight into how and why you’re a shithead and provides useful tools to being less of a shithead. If you have a diagnosis and aren’t a shithead, this doesn’t apply to you.

          • WhoAmI says:

            “Also to that one person who said disorders aren’t necessarily destructive: no, no. You are flat out wrong about that. The clinical definition of a disorder includes that it is destructive”
            Yeah, that it is destructive (makes you or the people around you suffer) and/or that it makes you really bad at functioning in normal life. I mean, you could count that as destructive too but that’s really reaching.

          • Becky says:

            At this point it’s a semantic disagreement of what “destructive” connotes. Shrug.

        • WhoAmI says:

          First of all you can’t fix a mental disorder, you learn how to assess it and how to be functional with it at best.
          Second of all of course an explication isn’t an excuse, just as much as an explication isn’t a sentence to being a jerkass.
          Third of all I’m gonna state the obvious but every mental illness isn’t about destructive behaviors ?? And every destructive behavior isn’t outwardly so, or directly hurting the partner in the relationship.
          I get it, BPD can imply spontaneous bouts of breaking everything in the room, or making people hate you because you think they should, but hey guess what ? Violence is just one criterium on 9 or so, so there are more people with BPD who don’t do that than the opposite ! Cheers.
          Also if you could calm down on the insults it would be nice and make you look like less of a crazy shithead. Just sayin

          • Becky says:

            So let’s clarify a few things here. There are disabilities, chronic illnesses, and personality disorders, and a whole slew of other behavioral disorders and nuanced types of psychological fuckery that can impact a person’s functionality. If you have a disability like ADHD or dysgraphia or ASD, there are things you can do to minimize the negative effects of that disability, but nothing you can do to address the underlying cause of it. If you have a chronic illness like bipolar disorder or major depressive disorder or generalized anxiety, you can take meds that will help some of the time and try to live a healthy lifestyle and minimize the number of flare ups of those illnesses, but you can’t cure them. If you have a personality disorder, though, you can fix your behavior. Period. You will always have certain triggers, you will always reach for certain maladaptive coping strategies when your healthy strategies fail, and you will always carry that brokenness with you, but you can absolutely fix being a shithead. No, not everyone with a PD is a shithead, but yes everyone with a PD who is a shithead has the potential to change.

            I’m not much for free will as such, and not everyone has access to the insight, knowledge, or resources they need to change, but when we conceive of these things it’s necessary to keep sight of the fact that personality disorders have remarkably effective treatments which can go a long way towards correcting the underlying learning which motivates the problem behaviors that typify them. Having B/H/N/C/OCPD, etc., is exactly zero percent of an excuse to throw up your hands and say, “well, I can’t fix this, so I guess everyone else needs to just accommodate me.”

            Similarly, even with people who have a chronic mental illness and do need some accommodations when it flares up: if you know you have bipolar disorder but you use psychoactive drugs recreationally all the time, don’t take mood stabilizers regularly, and aren’t working with a psychiatrist, then I have literally no sympathy for you when you have a manic episode and ruin your life. If you know you have diabetes, but you never take insulin or check your blood sugar and you eat high sugar foods and never exercise, I have zero sympathy for you when your feet rot off your body and you go blind. It’s the same general concept here. You have to own who you are and do the work to be better. Every single person has room to be better. If your particular set of fucked up traits has a name, that doesn’t give you an excuse to stop working to be better.

          • WhoAmI says:

            “You will always have certain triggers, you will always reach for certain maladaptive coping strategies when your healthy strategies fail, and you will always carry that brokenness with you”
            Yeah, hence the “you can’t fix it”.

            “You have to own who you are and do the work to be better.” ……………No. You litterally don’t. I mean, if you want to come at me and complain about it then yes you have to be working on it or you can just get out of my face. But people don’t HAVE TO work on “getting better”. Because first of all there’s no getting better, again.
            “personality disorders have remarkably effective treatments” a personality isn’t something you can cure, girl. You can get your behavior checked all the damn time sure, it’s called being highly functional. Not cured.
            ” Having B/H/N/C/OCPD, etc., is exactly zero percent of an excuse to throw up your hands and say, “well, I can’t fix this, so I guess everyone else needs to just accommodate me.” => “of course an explication isn’t an excuse”
            See ? Shorter.

            About your last paragraph, we get it ; you’re a perspectiveless asshole. Thanks for passing by.

          • Becky says:

            Dear God, your reading comprehension is as failing and inadequate as your equanimity. Okay, one more time, slowly and with simple words: getting better doesn’t equal being cured. No, you don’t have to get better, but if you want to get better you have to do the work. You can’t fix a broken brain, but you can shore up broken behavior patterns by learning new ones.

            Also, real talk, maybe you THINK you aren’t disordered, but your behavior says a lot to the contrary.

  6. Brooke says:

    “For starters, quit blaming your emotional condition on someone else’s personality disorder.”

    Does this mean you should be blaming the person rather than the person’s condition? Or does this mean that placing blame isn’t going to help you in any way since you alone are responsible for your emotional condition?

    • Becky says:

      What she means is you alone are responsible for removing yourself from relationships that are toxic and doing the work to heal after being in one. We all have to take personal responsibility for maintaining and defending our own emotional well-being. So, yes, this person was in a toxic relationship. They are not anymore. Step one is to accept that they’re responsible for fixing whatever was fucked up about them before/during that relationship.

  7. Existential Anxiety says:

    “The biggest change I’ve noticed since deciding I wanted to live is that suddenly I’m terrified I’m going to die.”


    • VeryOff says:

      I vacillate pretty wildly;
      and often land on “want to die right now but live forever.”

      Is it time to kill the ego again? I thought I did that already.

      • Bunny says:

        Literally, thanks for the tip. However, I reckon CQ’s gone through some personal transformations recently and I’m interested in hearing her *current* attitudes to marriage and whether they’ve transformed too. Bye Felica!

  8. Soooooooooooo says:

    I really don’t think I understand the drink statement. I assumed I got it, then I read the comments, and no, I don’t got it lol.

    I think being atheist shouldn’t stop you from trying any religion or philosophy. If you don’t like it, stop. If you like it, keep going. Labeling yourself as an atheist shouldn’t be so important.

    • Strangely Rational says:

      Atheism is not a label. It is merely a lack of belief in a deity. A religion is a label; atheism is the absence of one.

      To an atheist, there isn’t much point in “trying” a religion when you don’t believe in their god. Simply participating in the religion’s cultural practices is not the same thing (although many people obviously think that’s good enough to earn the aforementioned label).

  9. Soooooooooooo says:

    One of cokes favorite Ted talks discuss atheists participation in religious institutions. It’s interesting, you should check it out.

  10. Anna M says:

    Two very accessible books that I found when beginning a Zen and meditation practice are “Everyday Zen: Love & Work” by Charlotte Joko Beck and “The Places that Scare You” by Pema Chodron. Or really anything by Pema Chodron, but that’s the first one I stumbled upon.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *