This is a special edition of “Brandler Bits”. I was interviewed by the Friends in Recovery Podcast about dealing with fear and anxiety particularly during these difficult times. There are many strategies identified in this interview to help you to feel better.
In this edition of Brandler Bits, we address a very emotional topic, “It’s not fair”.
It is a topic that most people are familiar with. We struggle to understand how bad things can happen to others. We wrestle with our feelings when these things happen. We struggle to understand how to handle our feelings. We wonder how we will get through these situations. Today’s episode addresses all of these issues.
In this episode, we examine the most shameful of all addictions, sexual addiction. We will define addiction, identify how addiction impacts family members, and the addicted person. A case example is presented to highlight these issues
This shows describes the deadliness of fentanyl, a highly potent opioid which is killing off the population of young adults at an alarming rate. With all the information on the “heroin epidemic”, there is little information about this deadly and apparently very available drug.
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?
Me: Ok, (pause, pause, pause,)but really you need to go to detox
L: I know
Me: How about tomorrow
Me: So you’ll call them now so you can get in tomorrow?
Me: So you are going tomorrow?
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
Honesty is such a lonely word
Everyone is so untrue
Honesty is hardly ever heard
And mostly what I need from you
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.
The daughter of the mayor-elect in New York has had alcohol/drug/depression issues and had come forward to help others. Very useful, very powerful, very hopeful message.
ESPN football analyst and former NFL player Robert Smith shares his story on alcoholism.
He is very candid and talks about the need to admit you have a problem and do whatever it takes to get sober.
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