No Detours

Dedicated to LC who didn’t live very long but inspired many

Many years ago Linda was a client that I was working with. She was a very complicated young woman. She had chemical addictions, eating disorders and an assortment of other significant issues. Her chemical addictions were getting out of hand and she needed to go to detox. Linda agreed and assured me that she would go on Monday. On Monday, after she didn’t arrive at the detox, I called her and the conversation went something like this:

Me: What happened?
L :  You know
Me: You took a detour?
L:   Yes
Me: Ok, (pause, pause, pause,)but really you need to go to detox
L:   I know
Me: How about tomorrow
L:   Ok
Me: So you’ll call them now so you can get in tomorrow?
L:   Yes
Me: So you are going tomorrow?
L:   Yes
Me No detours?
L:  No detours

Linda did arrive at detox the next day, she looked like, someone who was on the highway to hell. She completed detox, but soon her multiple issues and continued detours led her to her final highway. She died way too young, unable to deal with many issues that she could not even speak about.

Linda’s detours sadly led to her undoing in a permanent way, but many people that I see don’t listen to their internal gps settings. They appear to be on the verge of getting better only to get off of “Healthy Road” and make several turns on to “Self-Defeating Avenue” or “Self-Destructive Boulevard”. These detours tend to last way longer than necessary and ultimately lead to lots of guilt, shame, remorse, and self-loathing. When people drive back and find “Healthy Road” they generally have to clean up the messes they made from their detour. As people start to clean up those messes they begin to ask themselves the following questions:

• Why did I do that?
• What’s wrong with me?
• Why can’t I succeed?
• Am I doomed to always do this?
• Can I be healthier?

When people bring these questions to my office, we need to do some probing for the answers. We need to look at how their detouring behavior is “wired”— that is what causes this behavior? Is it something from their past? Is it a long standing issue with their self –esteem? Is it from some traumatic event that has occurred? There may be hundreds of hypotheses about the reasons this behavior exists and the mechanisms that keep this behavior going. Once we have an idea about why a person may detour, then we need to identify how to change this. This can be a very painful process because some the issues have never been addressed. It takes great courage, patience, and trust to work through the pain.

Linda never got the opportunity to do this. Her detours to hell, ultimately led to her demise. Her fear and shame led her to take her secrets with her to her death.

As we head for the New Year, we can work to stay on “Healthy Road” with frequent turns towards “Self-Improvement Street” and “Feeling Better About Myself Avenue”. Whatever the issues are, they can be identified, and healed. No one needs to keep detouring from the right path.

Change is possible

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The truth shall set you free

Honesty is such a lonely word
Everyone is so untrue
Honesty is hardly ever heard
And mostly what I need from you

Billy Joel

Honesty. A vital construct that improves the quality of people’s lives. Seemingly it should be easy for people to acknowledge their wrongdoings and say ” I messed up” However this seems to be harder than I think since famous people (Brian Williams, Lance Armstrong, #13) have the hardest time doing so. (This lying issue has been covered in an earlier blog–go to lies lies and more lies to read more)

Honesty in interpersonal relationships is critical to intimacy, growth and change. It seems to me that many people tell half-truths, white lies, and justify their dishonest behavior. As you would expect, the lies grow, the relationship gets further apart, until the big BOOM occurs. The truth that sets you free causes a boat load of pain to the other person.

Take infidelity. I have never worked with a person who wanted to be unfaithful to their partner. Distance and misery breeds close connections with another. Lack of communication and dishonesty breeds incentive to cheat. At the end, you have an unfaithful partner leading a double life of lies and deceit and an unknowing partner whose life will change dramatically when this affair is discovered. A simple remedy is in order– telling the truth. Saying “I messed up” or those seven difficult letters “I’m sorry” is far simpler than delivering a trauma laden truth bomb destined to crush everyone within a family!

Why don’t we do this? Why is it so hard to say “I messed up” or I’m sorry”. Are our self-centered ego’s so out of whack that we cannot deliver honest bad news and “feel bad” moments? Are we really protecting a softer fragile ego which would make us look bad? Are we so afraid of the shame and guilt that will occur?

Addicted people are aware that in order to have a meaningful recovery, people have to make amends. They have to say “I’m sorry”. They have to say “I messed up” They have to make the relationship better. They need to work on forgiveness.

Forgiveness is one of those words that we all think we know about, but we really don’t. In the most recent tragedy in Charleston, Arthur Hurd, the husband of his murdered wife said to the murderer, Dylann Roof ”I forgive you” . He added “I would love to hate you but hate’s not in me. If I hate you I’m no better than you.” In this moment. Mr. Hurd freed himself. Forgiveness is the elixir to pain. It does set you free.

In order to forgive, we have to be ready to do so. We have to be able to let go of bitterness and pain and hurt. It doesn’t excuse the injury; it makes us better because we’ve freed up the resentment and pain. In relationships this works best as a dual process. The offending spouse apologizes, the hurt spouse forgives. They then work on healing together. Forgiveness is very powerful. I can heal my hurts without another. I have to make the decision to forgive. Once I make the decision, I get my power back. I am no longer the victim; I am the victor. Forgiveness is the truth that sets ME free!

Change is possible.

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Boundaries

Having boundaries is a significant sign of  having a good healthy self.  If I feel good about myself, then I want to associate with people who keep that good feeling going.  However, if I don’t feel good about myself, I may allow people to treat me badly, and as a result feel bad.

Here is a list of behaviors that demonstrate unhealthy boundaries.  Identify which one(s) you do, and identify:

1) the origin of the behavior

2) how the behavior has effected you

3)what you can do the change you behavior

feel free to comment on  this list

 

 

 

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The Fight

Let’s go to ringside to our announcer for this world title fight.

“This fight is between Mary and the Disease.  Now Disease is a heavy favorite to win this fight based upon its long history of defeating opponents.  Mary is a game challenger with  lots of desire to win this fight and claim the title.

Round 1:  Disease starts off slow examining Mary’s weaknesses.  Throws a short punch.  Mary winces in pain.  Disease throws another punch producing more pain.  Disease is smiling.  Mary attempts to return the punch.  Disease laughs and smiles and says “is that all you got”?  Mary is demoralized and feels bad.  Disease goes for the knockout.  Mary is rocked.  The bell rings ending round one. Family and friends watching the fight at ringside are shocked and upset.

Round 2:  Mary starts off strong.  Throws a few punches to gain an advantage over Disease.  Disease continues to smile and mock Mary.  Disease throws punch after punch after punch.  Mary has no response.   In fact, she has no defense for the Disease. She is getting weaker, more defeated looking,  and on the verge of going down.  Disease throws a solid right-left combination. Mary goes down!  She barely  gets up as beats the bell sounds ending round 2.”

       In the corner after round 2, the ringside doctor comes and looks at Mary.  The doctor says to Mary “ you need treatment”.  Mary argues at first, and reluctantly agrees.

Round 3 “ Mary starts slowly.  She is still sluggish after the last round.  She doesn’t know if the treatment will help.  Disease jabs, and continues to jab.  Mary ducks one jab, and fires back.  The crowd roars. Disease again jabs continues to score with more jabs.   Mary weaves past the jab and fires back a left-right combination, follows back with a jab of her own.  Disease, for the first time in this fight, takes a step back.  The round ends.  All family and friends give Mary a standing ovation for her fight.

Round 4 Mary, with renewed confidence and strength, starts the round off strongly firing a series of jabs and straight right hands to Disease.  Disease flinches a little, and fires back a solid one-two punch.  Mary takes the punch rolls to the left and counters the one-two with a ferocious uppercut.  Disease is wobbly. Mary fires a 3 punch combination.  Disease is wobbly again.  Another 3 punch combination and Disease goes down!!!! ….. Disease get up.  The round ends.  Mary is winning the fight!!!  The crowd is electric with chants of Mary, Mary, Mary!!!”

       Between rounds Mary is excited by her progress, she sees that she is beating the       Disease.  Her   confidence is growing.  She knows that she’s going to be ok.

Round 5 “ Disease slowly walks to the ring and throws out a lazy jab.  Mary counters with a strong left.  Mary  throws a good 2 punch combination.  Mary looks strong.  Disease fakes a right, throws a left.  The punch seems to stagger Mary.  Mary comes forward throws a beautiful hook that hits Disease.  Disease nods in acknowledgment.  Disease comes back fakes a right again, and throws a viscous left hook, followed by a right uppercut.  Mary is wobbly.  An overhand right by Disease ends round 5.  Mary looks shaken.

Round 6  Disease comes out strong and confident.  Mary  is still wobbly after the last round.  Disease goes out to end this fight. Throws a  4 punch combination and then throws another 3 punch combination.  Mary has no defense for these punches.  Mary tries to counter.  Her punches have no snap to them.  Disease fires an uppercut straight up the middle.  Mary goes down!!!!  Her family and friends yell ‘get up’.  Mary gets up barely beating the count.”

In Mary’s corner, Mary says ”I want to keep fighting this fight I can win” .The corner people aren’t  sure if they should  let Mary go out for another round.  The doctor examines Mary and  says either start treatment again or this fight is over.  Mary says Ok to treatment.

Round 7  “Disease is very confident.  Starts strong.  Throws 3 jabs.  Mary takes all 3 without responding.  Mary throws a  weak looking hook.  Family and friends at ringside look worried.  Disease smiles and throws a solid one-two.   Disease misses an uppercut that would have ended the fight.  Mary finds her footing.  Throws 3 solid punches.  Disease fires back with 3 more jabs.  Mary throws a right hook followed by a jab.  Mary looks exhausted.  The bell sounds ending round 7.

Round 8 “This is the final round of the fight.  Mary is tired.  Disease looks strong.  Mary starts off first and throws a powerful jab.  She follows with a left hook that seems to hurt Disease.  Disease throws a counter right hand that hurts Mary.  Both fighters are weary after this grueling fight.  Mary has a determined look in her eye.  She’s aware that on the scorecards, she may be losing this fight.  She gamely throws punches, one, two, three punch combination, that rocks Disease.  Another solid jab that pushes Disease back.  Disease comes back with with a brutal left hook that rocks Mary.  Mary is wincing from that shot.  Her legs are wobbly, her brain is fuzzy.  She wants to win the fight, but her body is fighting her.  Family and friends at ringside are cheering loudly.  The bell sounds ending the fight”

Mary was a game competitor in this fight.  It may be her last one.  We don’t know how much damage all those punches took out of her.  Disease took some punishment but we know that Disease will always be back for another fight.  The decision is in the hands of the judges.

Dedicated to a special person fighting perhaps her last fight

 

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Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert a long time movie reviewer with Chicago Sun-Times died yesterday after a long battle with cancer.

Roger was also a recovering alcoholic who in August 2009 told his story about his recovery.  His blog should be titled “AA 101” because he tells about  how AA  works from his own perspective.  There are AA program related materials as well as you tube videos that accurately describe alcoholism and recovery in movies.

Read the blog here

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