HELP. We’re Breaking Up

HELP. I’m Break­ing Up with my Boyfriend

When a pair of love­birds break up, expect pain, blush­ing, and anger. It’s a bust. The deal is bro­ken. Your heart is raw, stabbed with razor thoughts. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAImag­ine you go to a par­ty and you see your Ex- danc­ing with some­one else. That ador­ing look she gives him used to be for you. Don’t spas out. Of course you’re upset when he leaves you. Maybe you can’t go to that school reunion, because you are furi­ous at the guy. Maybe he fathered your child and then for­got to get a job to pay for the child. (The term sperm-donor is said with hiss­ing dis­dain from sin­gle moms who speak in my fam­i­ly coun­sel­ing office.) Con­tin­ue read­ing

Seriously Angry? Think about it.

I am angry every day. It’s tough to admit it — as a coun­selor cognoscente I’m sup­posed to be in charge of emo­tions. How­ev­er, all stu­dents and teach­ers; OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAelders and babies; patients and ther­a­pists alike cope with anger. How?

Damm!”, “Rats!!” “Sh- -!!” and oth­er vicious exple­tives. Stamp­ing your foot. Slap­ping, punch­ing, cut­ting, and men­ac­ing. In coun­sel­ing, we see them all. …Anggerr…Animals growl. Grrrrr. I want food. I want it my way. Fangs flare. Grrg r owl ing (not grow­ing). I want what you have. Ouuwl. Grrrr…Give it over. You are toast. Anger. An Grrrrr. Con­tin­ue read­ing

Is having an Affair, …fair?

Commit­ted cou­ples sail through life’s high seas, some smooth­ly and some rough­ly. Except for a few eccen­tric eddies in the stream, most peo­ple adhere to the moral code of monogamy with their spouse. The creed of most Amer­i­cans is to have one sex­u­al OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERApart­ner at a time. But the fact is, anoth­er sex­u­al part­ner may lurk below deck. More than oth­er mar­tial argu­ments, an affair rocks the boat vio­lent­ly. The mar­riage is strand­ed ashore, ship­wrecked, or goes imme­di­ate­ly into the repair dock. Mar­riage ther­a­pists are the mechan­ics when your rela­tion­ship is strug­gling with mul­ti­ple sex­u­al relationships.

Few fixed sta­tis­tics show how often affairs occur. The nature of affairs pre­vents hon­esty. (What respectable father who talks to his son about the ‘facts of life’ would admit to sleep­ing around?) Is an affair dis­hon­est when nobody knows about it? Social sci­en­tists say gross­ly that about a third of mar­ried men and a fifth of mar­ried women have had an affair, a lover, a para­mour. With­in the US, about 1 in every 2.7 cou­ples is touched by infi­deli­ty. (p. 1 Abrahms Spring, 2012)

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Therapy Marathon Aftershock

As a ther­a­pist I some­times ana­lyze what pos­sessed Djhokhar Tsar­naev, now accused of set­ting off the bomb­ings on April 15. I did meet him a few times when he was 16 at the Cam­bridge high school. He came to the US at the age of 9 from Chech­nya; after a
Boston and gay pride

Boston and gay pride

divorce the moth­er left the Tsar­naev broth­ers to live in Rus­sia. His fate is wrapped up with hun­dreds of injured peo­ple. I can­not excuse what he did.

I work with fam­i­lies who come from war-torn coun­tries. Some in my prac­tice are Lati­nos, some are Ethiopi­ans. I have clients who fled from FARC mil­i­tants and fam­i­lies who have applied for asy­lum in the US. Many refugees are escap­ing hor­rif­ic vio­lence from Haiti and Sal­vador and Sudan. When my curi­ous sons entered high school, I real­ized that our cities can be a war zone for teenagers. Many teens are harassed by gangs after school: they are intim­i­dat­ed and par­a­lyzed. An armed police offi­cer was employed at the high school, where some boys were told to leave the school for car­ry­ing knives.

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My Child Always Complains

Have you ever felt teth­ered with a short Leash to a whin­ing child?

Richard Fos­ter informed despair­ing parents,Cuban sisters

A dear friend of mine, Lymon James is a radio disc jock­ey. On the radio he’s called “Rhymin’ Lymon.” Lymon has a son, Zachary. One after­noon when Zachary was three years old, Lymon decid­ed to take Zach on an out­ing. They went for some walks and vis­it­ed some shops.

But it was one of those days, when noth­ing seems to go right. Zachary was fuss­ing and fum­ing. Lymon tried every­thing. He tried to dis­ci­pline him, and that didn’t work. He tried to bribe him: he gave him can­dy, and that didn’t work. He did some­saults in the park, and that def­i­nite­ly did­n’t work. Lymon was a renowned radio genius, but the 3 year old was win­ning the bat­tle. Lymon felt deflat­ed. The boy wouldn’t be dis­tract­ed and kept whin­ing and snif­fling for no obvi­ous reason.

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Therapy Soothes and Challenges

I love my work, and I know this work delves deep into who I am. When I first start­ed to do coun­sel­ing with cou­ples, I stud­ied com­pli­cat­ed tech­niques like Mil­ton Ericson’s hyp­no­sis, and Vir­ginia Satir’s work on anx­i­ety that bur­rows inside your body. I watched in amaze­ment 15 years ago as trau­ma was elim­i­nat­ed with EMDR (Eye Move­ment Repro­cess­ing by Shapiro). I then stud­ied with Judith Her­man who wrote “the Book” onSueSerena heal­ing after acute trau­ma. One nev­er gets bored with the study of fam­i­ly ther­a­py. Con­sid­er these requests by parents:
  • Can you cure chil­dren suf­fer­ing from enuresis?”
  • What hap­pens when my part­ner uses spy­ware on my computer?”
  • When I sus­pect Janelle’s using drugs and she denies it, should I surep­tious­ly read her journal?”

It is my plea­sure to help fam­i­lies, but I don’t take cred­it for cur­ing the prob­lem. Ther­a­py can help make crush­ing sched­ules more bear­able; realign the merid­i­ans of pow­er among par­ents and chil­dren; get par­ents pad­dling in synch instead of row­ing against each oth­er. The stress lev­el and com­pli­cat­ed after school activ­i­ties packs in too many expec­ta­tions. Headaches and stom­achaches can give cues as to whether stress is high. In ther­a­py I deal with the irri­tat­ing peb­ble in the shoe, and the chaos of flash­backs. Plus I now know how much the work is help­ing myself. The old adage says, “You teach the sub­ject that you most need to learn.”

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A Sad, Dark Knight

Jessi­ca, John, Gor­don, Alex, Rebec­ca, Matt, Jon, Veron­i­ca, AJ, Micay­la, Jesse fell to vio­lent killing in Auro­ra CO.This is a sto­ry of sor­row. These peo­ple have left us. Farewell, adieu, to God. It is a time to cra­dle our love and wish them safe jour­neys to the next world. We are griev­ing and we don’t want this type of gun­ning down to hap­pen again.

With your close ones, share your feel­ings and reac­tions to the Auro­ra killings. Chil­dren 8 and over have heard about it, and par­ents will want to ini­ti­ate a con­ver­sa­tion to assure chil­dren they are safe. We need to admit what hap­pened (no need to empha­size gory details). All fam­i­ly sys­tems need a pro­tec­tor, because kids know they are vul­ner­a­ble. Your role, along with fam­i­ly coun­sel­ing, is to keep them safe. Be con­fi­dent in this.

I’m sor­ry per­son­al guns are used this cen­tu­ry more against humans than for hunt­ing. I grew up on a farm, and guns were for deer and geese, nev­er to be used in self-defense. Killing was linked to the food you eat, not to get revenge or attention.

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I can’t visit my child.”

Oné of the worst imag­in­able things is to be sep­a­rat­ed from those you love. Some par­ents are in prison, oth­ers lose their right to see their chil­dren for years. They were not grant­ed vis­i­ta­tion rights by a judge. In abuse cas­es, one par­ent may ask that the abuser refrain indef­i­nite­ly from see­ing their child.

Clients enter fam­i­ly coun­sel­ing, mourn­ing this con­tact. Of course they miss see­ing their chil­dren grow up. Still they can main­tain and grow in their iden­ti­ty as a moth­er or father. A wise friend of mine, mis­car­ried a child and nev­er was able to have anoth­er child. But in those months of car­ry­ing a child, she became a moth­er. Her ten­der­ness and her out­look towards oth­ers changed for­ev­er, even though she nev­er had phys­i­cal con­tact (well, con­tact out­side) with her child. Still, she iden­ti­fies as a mother.

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It takes courage to go to ther­a­py. Who adores wrestling with prob­lems? But ther­a­py could be a crit­i­cal turn­ing point for you. In Span­ish (I speak Span­ish), there’s an expres­sion, vale la pena. It means the pain is worth it.

I enjoy chal­lenges. I’m good at work­ing with those who are anx­ious or depressed or who have fam­i­ly prob­lems. Some of us are in deep grief, or have unre­solved pain from the past. I enjoy putting puz­zles togeth­er; some cou­ples feel that their spouse is too con­trol­ling. Some want to change old pat­terns of yelling or speak­ing. Some want help as they adjust to get­ting old­er or change in medication.

As an inde­pen­dent fam­i­ly coun­selor I work well with angry kids and frus­trat­ed par­ents. I have often worked with abu­sive chil­dren, those who self-abuse and those who’ve bul­lied. Fam­i­lies grow, no mat­ter how bleak the present dilem­ma. My mod­el includes cre­ativ­i­ty and com­pas­sion. I include music and art in my practice.