There is no such thing as a healthy obsession...


Her: "What are you feeling Jessica?"

Me (looking out her window, seeing her plant, noticing the heat from the fireplace): "I don't know."


Him: "I told her not to care about me and what I eat."

Her: "She's your wife. She made a vow to care about your health when you married her."


Her: "I still feel like there's another woman involved that you're not telling me about."

Him: "There isn't." Later on that same day...

Him: "I left my stud finder in Milwaukee so I have to drive in there to get it."

Me (thinking we can just go buy a new one, borrow one, or wait): "I'll go with you."

Him: "That's not necessary."

Me: "I don't mind, I'd like to spend time with you." We've agreed to work on our marriage which is why we had gone to counseling together earlier. 

Him: "Well, I told this woman that I would meet her for coffee..." He doesn't drink coffee so I drew my own conclusions. 


Him: "How are you doing today?"

Me: "In thinking mode. How are you?"

Him: "What are you thinking about?"

Me: "Um..."

Him: "Ah..."

Me: "Thanks for understanding."


Last night my friend with the crush told me that she was going to go out into the garage, turn on her car, and kill herself. I didn't know where she lived, I had a decision to make. I tried calling her manager, but she was gone for the day so I left a message on her phone, I called back and asked to speak to the manager on duty. Before talking to him I was on the fence about whether or not to call 911. Intuition told me that my friend was upset and hysterical rather than actually suicidal, but the fact that she had very clearly shared a plan with me sent alarm bells ringing through my head. It was a new side of her that I had never seen before, but suspected existed. She hates herself, this is some of what she told me. She's fat and ugly, no guy is ever going to want to go out with her. She doesn't do anything with her life, she's addicted to sugar, she hates her mom because she's such a bitch, she hates her job, she's tired of pretending to be happy when she's deeply miserable, God wasn't real, the world would be better off without her, there was a clarity and conviction in her words that she normally lacks.

I told her that what she was saying was scaring me. I offered to go get her, I offered to meet her someplace, she agreed to that, I wanted to keep talking, but she told me she had groceries in the car. I told her to just leave them, and not to get into it with her mom when she went back inside. A fight with her mom had apparently been what sent her over the edge yesterday. I was at work when she called me. She was sobbing and telling me about the fight. At first it sounded like a very garden variety power struggle, she lives at home and her mom had moved her elliptical machine. As the conversation escalated my phone cut out. I called my sister and she told me I should go ahead and call 911, and not to worry about her arguments against needing that type of an intervention. I took my sister's advice and now I'm really glad I did. When I got my friend back on the phone she told me that she was out for a drive, and that she had a bunch of strange numbers on her phone. I made the mistake of telling her that I had called work. She told me that we weren't friends anymore, and hung up on me.

Not long after that a police officer called me. I went through what she had said to the best of my ability. I'm the type of person that needs time to sort things out in my head. I couldn't even remember if she had called me or I had called her, but I affirmed that she had been alive and driving as of several minutes ago and unfortunately, I didn't know her license plate number although I was able to give them information about the make and model of her car. I called work back and asked to speak to my manager. I told her what had gone down because I needed some support, and she gave it to me. The other source of comfort was my daughter Jill who was driving at the time. Looking back I should have had her pull over, at the time I was thinking, if we could get to the meeting place ahead of time, I'd have the strategic advantage and be able to gather my thoughts before my friend arrived. I believed her when she said that she would meet me. I didn't want her on the roads in a state of mind like that, but I didn't think home and the garage was the safest place for her to be either.

Even though personality typing can be a flawed and inaccurate system, it helps me. Having this type of information, even if I'm wrong, or not quite right, gives me a framework to use when I negotiate and converse with others. Yesterday my friend and the front end manager were complaining about one of the guys at work. The front end manager made a comment about drugs, this was before I knew who they were talking about so I jumped to the conclusion that they were talking about the person with a known heroin addiction, but to my surprise, they weren't. If you know or suspect that someone has an actual drug problem, joking or commenting about it is unprofessional and unkind, if you know or suspect that they are in fact clean, in some ways that's worse to me as it becomes a character assault. This guy wasn't there to defend himself, for all I know he could be a drug user, I don't think he is, that's not really the point to me. I left the drug comment alone because I didn't want to obscure the issue at hand, I wasn't really sure what the conversation was about, having walked into the middle of it, or rather, she walked into a conversation I had been having with someone else and renewed a previous conversation they had earlier.

When I asked if she had talked to him she said that she hadn't. Then she said that he never works, so she never had a chance to speak to him in person. The phone was sitting right out on the desk where it usually is, I told her she could pick up the phone and leave him a message telling him that she needed to talk to him if he didn't answer. I didn't think she would because she's the scheduled type, she said that he had a review coming up and she would talk to him the next time that he worked. More than what she was saying, her tone told me that he's in danger of losing his job. I have fired quite a few people in my day. When I fire people I tell them it's time to part ways, and I apologize that I did not set them up for success unless I have clear grounds like theft in which case I explain that we can no longer employ someone who is flagrantly disobeying clearly communicated corporate procedures. I fire people as soon as they get to work and I send them home as soon as our conversation ends. I never make it personal even if I didn't care for them as a person or hated working with them. I'm consistently professional and I keep the conversation as short as possible for both our sakes.

Hostile work environment is a phrase that gets tossed around periodically, it can be hard to address, it exists, and I live this life so I'm sensitive to it in a way that others probably aren't. By attacking who this guy is as a person rather than the behaviors that need to be addrsessed, I believe that his direct supervisors and superiors are creating a hostile work environment for him. What I'm not saying is that I believe work should be rainbows, unicorns, and ice cream with candy sprinkles. What I am saying is that people deserve to be well treated, they are entitled to adequate training, deserve timely feedback, and assertive communication. Management is hammering him for problems that others have, but they're allowing others who have the same behaviors (as reported to and understood by me) to go about their day without repercussions, furthermore they're actively discouraging him and speaking to him in a tone that shouldn't be used on others. I will never understand why companies fail to invest in training and improved communication. Much of communication is non-verbal, tone of voice can say more than words. This leads me to my next point. I know you were hoping I could tie more personality analysis into this...

My friend with the crush is an INFP. I was married to an INFP for almost eighteen years so this is a personality type I know well, but not well enough to protect myself from them apparently. I think the front end manager is a fellow INTJ, an INTP guy I work with thinks she's an INFJ, but I disagree and I've explained why previously, but basically, she thinks like I do and has a lot of the same strengths, and weaknesses. I think he's wrong and I'm right, but admit that this is just a guess. Another guess I'm making is that the cashier that people are upset with is an INFJ. I could be wrong about this, he's not the easiest person to read, but ever since I met him he's very strongly reminded me of my youngest daughter, and when I was painting he and my INFJ sister were somehow connected in my head. These types tend to be very beautiful, very reserved, they tend to be dreamy, their reserve can be mistaken for coldness, they have penetrating insights, and they value relationships over people. Their functional stack is Ni Fe Ti Se so they lead with introverted intuition followed by extraverted feeling which means they care about and perceive how others may be feeling and are sensitive to harmony and discord. 

And now a list because this wouldn't be complete without at least one (or I want to use this to illustrate my next point. Isn't it pretty? (That's a joke, I hope you smiled...)

  1. INTJ: Ni Te Fi Se
  2. INFJ: Ni Fe Ti Se
  3. INFP: Fi Ne Si Te

In an attempt to understand why this conflict exists I've done some reading and research. People who lead with Fi know how they feel. When they get labeled as 'feelers' this doesn't necessarily mean that they care about how others are feeling, that's the Fe function. These people know how to take care of themselves and tend to be great at setting boundaries. Fe cares about how others feel and will sacrifice to keep harmony. They may or may not be in touch with how they feel which is a confusing sort of ambivalence I don't fully understand because I don't know how others feel, or how I feel. I think that one of the reasons the front end manager can't stand this guy is because their value systems are different. He cares about how others are feeling and she wants to get things done. It could actually be a great team, this is why I like this guy and tend to partner well with him. I can get things done, he helps me see the value in connecting with other people, and his ability to do that and skillfully navigate conversational depths gives me time and information I don't have access to on my own. I network well, but I tend to see skill sets and knowledge bases, rather than emotions which are scary and unpredictable to me.

Judging types care about the future. Perceiving types are more here and now. Again, both types are needed. We can't sacrifice the here and now for the future, nor can we focus so fully on what is unfolding in front of us that we abandon the future entirely. For a long time I couldn't understand why this guy and my unicorn friend had never gone out, in many ways they seemed like an ideal combination as she's an ENFP (Ne Fi Te Si), as a refresher INFJ is (Ni Fe Ti Se), but they both lead with feminine energy and I wonder if part of it comes down to the Si/Se function, this is just a guess on my part, she once told me that she was in a relationship where she and her boyfriend didn't have sex for months, and I have a hunch that this guy wants dynamic, creative, playful, naughty, adventuresome sex, and he wants a lot of it while that sort of thing really isn't her cup of tea. She wants to be bundled up in soft blankets, held, cuddled, nurtured, and pampered, I'm extrapolating a bit here, I'm not judging either of them, I'm just trying to explain why even though the relationship seems as if it could work on paper, it doesn't in real life, or hasn't up to this point because there are times when I think it has potential.

I think that if my friend with the crush did go out with who she thinks is the man of her dreams, he would have a very disappointing sex life, and so would she. Se craves sensual indulgence and can abuse things like sex, food, and alcohol when they're stressed. This can be a great thing if you are on the same wavelength as another person, and terrible if your lines run parallel to each other instead of crossing or intersecting which is what is needed to get two people out of each other's friend zone, and into the flirting, or fun zone, and by fun I mean the type that two consenting adults can really enjoy. I do not sleep with extroverts or date them although I tend to like them as friends. Intuitive introverts on the other hand hold an immediate fascination for me, I value Ni over Ne (or at least I think that I do) because that inner world makes me believe that someone has fantasies that could become a very nice reality for both parties if they're interested in connecting at that level. I don't need someone to tell me that I am loved, I need them to show me, to touch me, to make me feel it when we're standing across the room from each other when both of us are fully clothed. That's the kind of romance I need in my life.

Someone made the point that this cashier could be an INFP type as well which could explain the conflict as types that are too similar may not get along well, it's hard for me to pinpoint what the differences are exactly, for a long time I thought he was a P type, mostly it comes down to the way he dresses and this is another tough area because I only see these people at work and they may very well dress completely differently outside of it. My sense is that he likes to be comfortable and really doesn't care what he looks like which is kind of a shame because he is so good looking. P types tend to be more flamboyant and expressive in my experience, now that our dress code allows people to wear plaids and stripes I've seen an entirely different side of some people. I don't own anything that is plaid, I have one striped sweater. Part of that is the dress code, another part of me prefers solid blocks of color since I'm short, and things with a lot of patterns are too visually complicated for me. Another mistake I could be making is about the front end manager's personality type, but I covered that earlier. 

What I'm really trying to do is make sense of why I get along with certain people and prefer them over others. If I know that I have a history of getting into abusive and destructive relationships with a certain type, experience tells me to find out what that type is, and try to avoid or minimize contact with them going forward. I believe that I could get along with any type, but if there are certain types I enjoy, that also enjoy me, why not seek these types out and try to find ways to get more of them into my life? Or, if it isn't a type per se, but a function of that type such as Fi, or Ne, perhaps I can develop some conversational strategies or other coping mechanisms for the times when I'm forced to interact with them. Bullying in the workplace can be very subtle, especially if someone is like me and will just put up and shut up with it because I engage in battles when I'm relatively confident I can win, and will avoid engaging if I think I'm likely to lose, or the cost of winning is higher than I'm willing to pay. I believe that this is different from being passive aggressive, although can see overlap there and know that I need to be more assertive.

I've allowed my friend to manipulate and exploit me. I think that the INFP types admire my Te function since they aren't heavy duty thinkers themselves. I can show them things about themselves that they didn't know, they can give me permission to unwind, relax, and on a good day when we are both functional and healthy, the relationship can work and have positive aspects for both parties. One of the things my therapist told me when I got divorced was to go out and reconnect with my girlfriends. I don't have a lot of them and they tend to be more superficial relationships with few exceptions. Normally I love and value her advice, but I think that I took it too far and tried to become something I'm not. I told my friend that I don't really fit into the world of men because many of them are threatened or intimated by me, or they want sex and the ego stroke. I'm generalizing obviously, but this is true to some extent. I can't think like most women so I'm left on the fringe of conversations and my brain is working very hard to try and keep up while we're together. It's exhausting, not fun, and I leave feeling drained rather than recharged.

I'm hard on myself and can see the need to become more assertive, one of the reasons I'm not is because I need time to go back and process things after they're happened. If I'm completely honest with myself I think I had two levels of reasoning for calling 911. On one hand I was legitimately concerned for my friend's emotional health and safety, on the other hand, this is the kind of melodramatic bullshit that absolutely needs to be called out and I'm glad I took action even if I think I knew at a primal level she was in very little danger of going through with anything. The thing is, I couldn't live with myself if I had guessed wrong, intuition is great, but it's not always 100% reliable as a guide. She had the audacity to call me last night and rail on me for embarrassing her by informing management of our conversation and what she had shared with me. Others told me I did the right thing including whoever answered my 911 call. She claims that she called me because she thought she could trust me and I told her that she can, she can trust me to call when someone informs me that they have a plan because I can't in good conscience ignore that.

Last night was very rough. I've been thinking about suicide and writing about it for the past couple of days. I didn't feel in any danger myself so I thought that was strange. It almost felt like it was coming from someplace outside of me, but I dismissed that as silly. Last night connected a lot of dots for me. A former neighbor of ours committed suicide by going into the garage and turning on the car. She was a housewife with no previous attempts although she had always been the type to keep more to herself. Her husband lived to be in his nineties, he was very particular about everything, their home was purchased by a woman who doesn't appreciate any of the things they did or how they lived, and I wish I could share how meticulous and tidy they were. Of all the ways to kill yourself, I have never contemplated sitting in a running vehicle or laying down on the floor next to the exhaust pipe which is what this neighbor lady did. I couldn't imagine waiting like that, I couldn't do it. To hear her verbalize that sent me into a whole new realm of fear since I have an INFP daughter who has harmed herself in other ways.

I've been thinking about my former PT, I saw the tiny painting of our company logo over his head, I saw blood running through veins on a painting, it was the right concept and the wrong person. When I was thinking about the INFJ types I painted a very surreal and whimsical painting. When I thought about my former PT the painting had a black background with a very small logo. Yesterday I saw four horses galloping across the field above my friend's head. That was a very exciting moment for me because I learned something new about the tiny paintings. I can see what people love as well as problems that they have. In her case she loves her horses, but she needs to sell them for financial reasons. Tiny paintings are a gift I didn't appreciate until now. I erased the lines of blood and now I can see playing cards and a martini. So far I can only see paintings for people I know in real life, but I'm going to try and experiment to see if I can go there with some of my online friends as well. 

Even though she put me through quite a bit last night, I'm not really mad at my friend. That's where she's at in life. I have been there, and nobody ever made that call for me and there were plenty of times when it was warranted. I don't think anyone is ever going to get a call like that from me because when I really am at my lowest point, I don't generally reach out or ask for help even when I recognize that I need it. I think that part of my life is in the past. I have scars, but that represents old wounds and healing. What I'm afraid is going to happen is that this woman will have gone through what she did last night, and nothing is really going to change because she's writing this off as a one time event where she lost her shit rather than addressing the larger deeper issues beneath that led her to this point. I went to bed desiring change, but when I look back, I can see that I have changed, grown, and there are still things I can do, but I think I'm a much healthier and stronger person than I may realize on any given day or at any given moment in time.

I write because this helps me process what happened. It lets me explore my inner world, it helps me think, it gives me down time, I find that I'm calmer after I get things out, and there are times when I'll write multiple posts and decide that none of them have conveyed what I want in the way that I wanted it to be conveyed. I actually wrote something else, but, and this, perhaps slightly ironic, I wrote about a character going down a flight of stairs and a woman's body being discovered after her head was beaten in with a baseball bat. Sometimes, I just don't need to go there when I have real life events that are closely tied to 911 calls. I think another gift of mine is valuing the contributions of others who have skill sets I don't. Feelers are not dumb and thinkers are not necessarily smart, it actually has very little to do with raw intelligence, and I'm often annoyed when people can't see that someone else has a power or a strength where they have a weakness. That INTP jackass I work with is like that. He'll pick apart people and expose their weaknesses just for fun and I can't stand that about him. I'd much rather work with someone who is less intellectually capable, but kinder, than someone who is a prick just for the hell of it. 

Another reason I write is to see if I'm brave enough to go there with myself. My friend has no idea that I called her crush and left a message for him at work. I debated about this for a while before I made the call. I called for two reasons. First of all I know that he cares, if I was in his position, I would want this information to think about even if I wasn't actually going to do anything with it or about the situation. Secondly, I thought that he should be aware of what I did because I'm assigning him a role in the events that led to this. I'm not blaming him exactly, or maybe I am and don't want to say the word because I don't think it's very accurate. When I called I didn't use any names. I told his receptionist that I know on a patient level that I didn't want to bother or burden him, I didn't need a call back although I left my number, I said that I thought he may want to know and left it at that. He'll know who I was talking about and this will make him think whether I hear from him or not. I don't expect to hear back from him. I wanted to give him something to think about, and I did.

I want him to get help, I think they both wanted to rescue the other person, and that's no reason to get into a relationship with someone else. I know because I've done this in the past. They can't help themselves, they have opposite strengths and weaknesses, regardless of personality type, relationships can be healthy or dysfunctional regardless of who is in them. Unhealthy people have a hard time sustaining healthy relationships and this has nothing to do with how smart they are. I'm pretty smart and I've had disastrous relationships. I don't care if people are smarter than me, I like it when people show me how the world looks to them and I search for partners who can help me in areas where I need the kind of help that they can provide. There are things I need and want in a relationship, last night I could have really used someone to put their arm around me and just hold me close for a while. Jill made me tea when we were at the chiropractor together, it was one of the sweetest most comforting and loving things she's ever done for me. She supported me in other ways as well, when I was crying she squeezed my hand a bit. Once the crisis had passed, my boss told me some things that made me cry, it's not the trauma, it's the kindess.

What I would like is more ways to get out of my head and to focus less on drama that goes on at work. Considering how few hours I actually work, it takes up a lot of my mental energy, and typically not in a good way. I thought I could rescue my friend, but I didn't see it that way. I thought I was helping her see things about her crush that she couldn't see on her own. I let her become a project instead of living my life and just being in healthy relationships on my own. I'm single, but I don't tout it as the only way to go or anything like that. I would go out with that guy if he asked, but he's set a boundary and I want to respect that. I don't fully trust him, I would like an apology from him, not because I need one, I've forgiven him, but I think it would be good for him. This isn't a huge deal, but it would go a long way toward earning my trust back if that's what he wants, and he may not. I think he needs a cheerleader in his life and I'm happy to be that person because I do believe in him in a way that I think not many others do. I think he's a totally cool person and work will be even more of a drag if he leaves because just having him around makes me feel better about life in general.

I believe that everything happens for a reason. I made the call and I would do it again, with much less hesitation. I am done playing games, and I want an apology from her that I probably won't ever receive since she has no idea what she put me through last night. For her to be angry with me just shows her level of immaturity, she's like a child that never grows up or accepts responsibility for her own actions. She's down on a guy for living at home when she does too, and she's quite a bit older than he is. She's condemning him for running late when she runs late herself and consistently goes over on her breaks which to me is willful and intentional rather than a sign of someone who has poor time management skills. There's a woman in my department who runs late, nobody is bothered by this except for me, yet they're all over him because him being late impacts their jobs and her being late doesn't. This is the kind of thing I dislike, I want more justice and I realize that life is not fair, and never will be, My friend told me I should be a therapist myself, maybe I should be. But last night was stressful, so I don't know...



P.S. I'm completely exhausted from all of this so I could use some encouragement if anyone has any to spare.


My former manager is no longer a manager, having been demoted with extreme prejudice after one of our teammates moved to the Ukraine from Poland and refusing to move back. Our manager had been promising teammate (now ex-teammate: the guy has left the company) that HR and Legal were engaged to help with visa fuckery.

My manager hadn't spoken to either of these departments. Moreover, we don't have a legal presence in the Ukraine. In an ideal world, he would have left the building with his former employee, but unfortunately, I’m still not allowed to deport management to the former Soviet Bloc.

Over December, we interviewed candidates for a replacement. Two, actually. The first flunked out, and the second was a senior program manager with no managerial experience that I’d worked with before. Senior PM was from a business unit on the side of the house my group was founded to interface with. She’s a badass. Faced with the decision of finding a new job or dealing with the uncertain, I infodumped the whole horrible saga of our team, the inept bullying of my manager, the Ukrainian fiasco, and my Californian colleague’s hellish situation. She still threw her hat in.

According to the head of our program management office (who has temporarily been managing our team while I and the Californian hiss at our former manager from as far from him as we can get) the decision re: new manager fell entirely on me and Californian colleague.

We hired her, thank fuck.

Today I sat down with her and provided my full work breakdown, briefed her on my most challenging (and most rewarding) integration program, told her about the oncoming one, and outlined what I’d like to hand off to her.

She nodded, listened, and said “how can I help? I’m doing X, Y, and Z with our interface with the other business unit and our higher management and we’re getting governance mechanisms into place. It sounds like your priorities are basically correct. I see my job as mainly removing obstacles for you and helping you scope your work appropriately.”

“I need visibility on this project, also, I need to hand this off to another team in the program management office, and it’s not well documented because I’ve been overworked.”

“I’ll set up the meeting. How often do you want to meet?”

As needed. Also, can you go talk to Director? She’s effectively been managing me this last year and may be able to give you a better picture of the large, difficult, program and my involvement in it.”

“I will do that. Ad-hoc sounds good. Thanks for making time to meet with me!”

What I want out of a manager is cover fire and liaising so I don’t have to liaise. I can do so, but most often, I want someone to take the organizational politics of my chain of command off my plate so I can go partake of the organizational politics involved in doing interesting and differently political work. The good things about this interaction are:

  • Validation that I’m prioritizing correctly and support on removing the things not pertinent to my current role.
  • Offering to handle and handling these things.
  • Providing political support towards me loading down some other poor schlub with the work I don’t want to do.
  • Asking me what I need and what will make me comfortable in our interactions as an employee and manager.
  • Providing high-level managerial support for the team overall and political support for us having better ways of getting our job done.
  • No goddamn bullying, static, power games, or other weird social shit.
  • She’s excited to make things better, support the team, and do cool things with upper management. This is also a huge thing for her, career-wise, and she seems extremely happy, even knowing she’s inherited what was a merry dumpster bonfire.

I went home today feeling much less stressed than I have in a while.

On finding the courage to end your marriage

And that's it. After twenty years, I've walked out. Into the impossible.

I won't be back. It is quite possible (after all).

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