It’s Not About the Nail

A client recently suggested I might like this video and I was very grateful once I saw this. This is a terrific example of couples in communication with each other. The guy wants to fix things (in real life it is not this obvious). And the woman just wants him to listen to her, to be empathic, to “not side with the enemy,” (to quote Dr. John Gottman’s work). She is getting more and more frustrated in the video and he is continuing to try and point out the obvious – just fix it.

What I also found very interesting is that in real life, the example of real pain (with women it is usually emotional not physical) is often seen with men who do not want to go to the doctors. I could see this example much easier in reverse with a man who refuses to go to the doctor yet is in a lot of pain. A woman would go to the doctor because she would want to please her partner. A man wants to fix things but only if they are someone else’s problem, as it is too difficult for them to go into therapy and talk about their innermost feelings or go to the doctor and get a shot or (maybe) learn that they are going to die or learn that they will be weakened in some way so that they are unable to be the man they want to be for their partner, family, self.

A great video because it opens discussion and creates dialogue between couples.


Absent Hearts, Missing Pieces

This is the title of a memoir I published in 2003 but it is now out of print. I thought of the title again today when I was thinking of the holidays and all the sadness I continue to have of missing people in my life. Memories that won’t be made because of family members who have died or grandchildren who I am not allowed to see. I thought about being a single parent and all the women in my ancestry who were single parents, who began this trend long ago. I think about women today who glamorize this topic, the media who puts an entertaining spin on it, the women who argue with women who don’t want to have children, the 50% rate of unplanned pregnancies in America and the 40-50% divorce rate. I wonder about all the children who I have worked with over the years, who had no fathers because they weren’t allowed to see them. Mothers who were mad at the man they slept with because he didn’t give them the fantasy they craved. Fathers who are absent from children’s lives because they were players, addicts, pissed at the mother, never had a father themselves and didn’t know how to be one, the list goes on. These parents, who were quick to have sex but refused to take responsibility for the future by using birth control. I have been the kid, the granddaughter, and a single parent myself.

Imagine what it is like to be a child and your father is no longer around, as mine was at the age of four. By nine, my stepfather adopted me, because my father signed off on the papers so he would not have to pay child support. It sounds like a quick fix but I did not want this. I loved both my father and my stepfather. Imagine what it is like to suddenly be told that I could not see my two half-sisters, my grandparents, my stepmother, my aunts and uncles. As a young adult, it would be my maternal grandmother who put me in touch with my father and I began to become re-acquainted with my paternal family once more. She did not believe it was right what my family did. Re-connecting is not very easy when you have lost over a decade of growing with the people you once loved. It is not easy for them either. One of my half-sisters died before I could ever see her again. My memory of her is when she was about seven or eight years old.

Coming from such a tragic childhood, I fell into the trap of searching for someone to feel an emotional void. A guy I met in high school, who came from a father who was not there and who was at one time a batterer to his mother and an addict. I never knew addiction growing up; this was one issue I was lucky to not have to face as a child. Once I did face this and domestic violence from my husband, I got out quickly but not before having a child of my own.

I never re-married but I did continue to follow a path of looking to fill an emotional void. The difference though between myself and many other woman today, I took responsibility by making sure I did not bring another child into the world, just because I was looking for love in all the wrong places. One child raised by a single parent was enough for me. I learned my lesson there and I learned my lesson as a child. Life wasn’t easy for me, for my child and I wouldn’t do that to another until I figured life out and was more secure financially and emotionally.

My son grew up, eventually we found his dad and later, my son became a father as well. Unfortunately, he also took the path of an addict and brought three children into the world with three different women. He has since become a recovering addict, his father died unwilling to ever take responsibility for his health, his child or get off of the drugs. As a result of being an addict for so many years, these mothers of my son’s children were unable to admit to their own failures in the choices they made with men. The fact that neither they nor my son used birth control but yet it is “all” my son’s fault and they are angry with him. As a result of this, two of my grandchildren are not allowed to be visited by my son. He is able to keep in touch with the eldest who is 15 and old enough for Facebook but lives in a tiny town far away. This child wants to visit his dad but is forced to do what his mother requests. My son pays child support, gives him gifts for birthday and Christmas, talks to him almost daily but never gets to see him. In Ohio, it is not what is in the best interests of the child but what the mother wants. Men have no rights here to their children. Grandparents have no rights to their grandchildren.

My granddaughter lives near my son and goes to the same school as her half-brother and step-brother. Her name is not on the roster and my son believes she has been adopted by someone that her mother began a relationship with after him. My local grandson knows who she is though as he did meet with her a few times before her mother decided no one could be involved with her child. Her mother was in a relationship with my son, while he was in a relationship with my grandson’s mother. They were together in the same house he shared with my grandson’s mother even. Both of them were using drugs and partying “like there was no tomorrow,” but my son is the one who is in the wrong and my granddaughter is being punished, as is my son and I, because of this.

Being a single parent is no joy ride and it is difficult for the children to bear. I do not believe any parent should stay married for the sake of the children because this is not the answer. I do believe that we need to take more responsibility with our sex lives and the partners we choose. Having sex is fun, raising children is a lifetime and it costs money. It is easy to blame another but both parents have to take responsibility when a child is brought into this world. It is never ONE person’s fault. It is certainly not the fault of the children that the father did not give YOU, the mother, what you wanted.

My father was a player and hurt my mom’s feelings. This was wrong of him. I understand her animosity toward him because of this. I understand she needed the money from him as my stepfather was paying the way. However, it was not my fault that he was a player or that he wasn’t paying child support. He never harmed me and my parents were not desperate for money. After I was adopted, they made the same amount of money as beforehand. Meanwhile, I was emotionally wounded at the loss of my paternal family.

My son IS a recovering addict and has taken steps to clean up his life, get in touch with these women and reach out to be an involved parent. It is not my grandchildren’s fault that they want him to choose them now that he is clean. It is not my grandchildren’s fault that their mothers are jealous of his new life. These children will never have the benefit of their father and his family being in their life. They are being punished for their mother’s mistakes which they refuse to acknowledge and take responsibility for. My son was wrong for what he did and their mothers are wrong for their part too.

Many children will grow up in households, never knowing their fathers and in some cases their mothers. They will be turned against their fathers and in some cases will be told lies about who he was. From being a psychotherapist and having worked in social services, I see family patterns repeating themselves for many generations. I see girls being sexually molested by stepfathers, mom’s boyfriends, uncles, grandfathers. Often their mothers were too in childhood. I see boys who have spent time behind bars. Often their fathers were too.  I see adults coming in to tell me their anger toward the father who was never there. Telling me about fathers they didn’t know they had because they assumed the guy who raised them was the dad. I hear stories about mothers who never recovered from the man who jilted them and so the children aren’t really sure what to believe. Sometimes adults hold out hope that he might have been a good guy but more often than not, they take their mothers or grandmothers side of the story. Sometimes there is a huge blank from the families, because this is never discussed. The adult kids of missing parents don’t know what to believe.

Children have a right to know their families, both paternal and maternal. They have a right to figure out for themselves what this guy was like on their own as both my son and I did. If they then choose not to have a relationship with this person, it is on them. Closed adoptions are inappropriate and unfair to the child and to the family involved. If a mother has been raped by a man or if the man is a dangerous person to be around, this is one thing. The child should still be told. Many circumstances, neither of these situations are the case. In almost all circumstances, the grandparents are not to blame, nor the aunts/uncles, cousins, etc… The half-siblings of these children are certainly not to blame. Why do we continue to create this vicious cycle over and over again? Why do men and women continue to have unprotected sex? Why do women continue to lie to their children because they are upset with the father? It won’t end as long as we continue to ignore this topic because we don’t want to shame the single parent. Or because we aren’t being politically correct for some reason.

The holidays are meant to be spent with family. This is a time to create memories. It is a time to learn the stories of your ancestors. It is a time to find out who is who and make your own interpretations of what you see for yourself. Don’t kid yourself into believing that your lies will somehow help the child to have a better life. It never does.

Why you Attract Narcissists

I thought this was a pretty clever video about attracting narcissists. So I am attaching it here for educational purposes. It would also be the same for attracting a batterer and this might be the same person in that emotional, physical, financial or sexual abuse could occur with a Narcissist.

Remember, Domestic Violence is one OR two or ALL, it does not have to be JUST physical or physical AND one of the others.

For Men Who’s Partner has been Abused

Home life can be difficult when you can’t be with the one you love. The way you won’t to love them. I can’t seem to find anything written about this topic and it comes up quite a bit with couples and sometimes with my male clients in individual. It is difficult for the guy who’s partner has been sexually abused or even physically abused. Issues of Trust, Sex and Boundaries are often misinterpreted. Guys take it personally because they are assuming it is about them. It causes a lot of hurt and frustration with the partner that they love. Many times the guy will say to me “Why doesn’t she trust me?” or “Why won’t she have sex with me? I didn’t abuse her?” It is really difficult for both the survivor and the partner of the survivor. So how do you cope?

1. Patience – If your partner is in therapy, they are spending time working on themselves and trying to get through this trauma from childhood (or even as an adult) and, if your partner is in therapy, it would be good for the two of you to do couples work as well.

2. Confidence – If your partner has confided in you that they have been abused, know that however they are behaving around you in the bedroom or in other situations has to do with the pain they have experienced. It isn’t always because of a situation between the two of you. It also isn’t always because of the abuse. Ask questions.

3. Research – While there aren’t books written to help men cope, there are plenty of online articles and books available to survivors of abuse. One of the top books is called “The Courage To Heal.” I understand there is a chapter in there specifically for the partners but the whole book is talking about how to cope with this trauma.

4. Practice Conscious Sex – Sex with your partner is going to have limitations when your partner is an abuse survivor. Some women forego certain acts of sex. This is because it is too difficult – the memories. Talk with your partner about sex, with the understanding that this talk is not going to lead to sex. Talk to them about safe touch (what feels comfortable for them). Work together on how sex can be fun for both of you.

5. Touch her emotionally and you will have touched her physically – Women regard emotions much higher than touch. Hearing how she is valued, loved and respected will get you much further in the bedroom than just touching her because you want to. This has to be authentic and really mean something coming from you. There are way too many men out there (and you know who I mean) who are players and can say a lot of crap to get a woman in bed. This isn’t about being a player. This is about being a man, building a connection with the one you love.

Once you have done these things with your partner, you will find that over time, trust will begin to re-build for her and she will begin to feel safer and safer.


Note: Also take a look at some of the resources on my Couples page.

If He/She is Not Right, Keep Walking and Don’t Give Up

We know what we don’t want, yet we keep attracting it into our lives. When we get it, we desperately cling to it and then try to change it. This isn’t the answer but because we are so impatient to find the right one, we figure we might as well fix what we have. This only causes us to be stuck in a rut, with whom we don’t want, because we are afraid to keep trying.

No one is going to change “for us.” Would you change because someone asked you to? Especially when the underlying message is “I can only love you, if you change for me. Then we will be perfect!” Don’t answer this with a yes too quickly. Most likely people have been asking you to change for years.

Your boss wants you to change, your teacher thinks you could do better, your parents say you aren’t striving hard enough and then your relationship says “I just can’t be happy with you unless…”

So, here you are in a situation that isn’t going to change. Walk away. You made a mistake, he/she isn’t the one. The longer you’ve been with them the harder it is, yes, I am aware of this. However, the longer you continue, the worse it will get. I am not talking about a relationship that has communication issues. These can be dealt with – but if they can’t be – let them go. Don’t beat a dead horse, expecting them to get up.

Don’t be afraid of change though. Don’t let change be the reason you stay stuck with what you have.

Lets say you have really worked hard to change yourself. You have brought your self-awareness to a level that has made you feel proud of whom you have become. Then a guy/gal walks into your life and immediately you realize you have attracted the past all over again. That is okay, you realized this right away. The plus here is that you didn’t stay several years with him and then wake up one day to see the big picture. You saw it now. So be proud of yourself and keep walking forward.

Self-awareness doesn’t reward you with a gift certificate to the “Perfect Guy (Gal),” store. You don’t walk out of your door and suddenly there he/she is walking down the street. You have to prove yourself a few times, it is your muscle being tested and flexed to make sure it REALLY works. You may think you have self-awareness but until it is actually put into place, it isn’t anything but your ego telling you, you have done a great job.

That smarts, doesn’t it? All this time, you thought you had really become enlightened and were a guru in the making. Then reality smacks you really hard when the person you think is your destiny, because you were super ready for this, turns out to be just the same old narcissistic prick you’ve seen before, only this time he/she played his/her cards differently, so you thought he/she was special. The universe is like that. Though it is really us floating on that flying carpet we created in our minds and we woke up when we saw the ground was right under our butts.

Its okay though.  Don’t give up on working on yourself or continuing to go toward that goal of being a really great person. One day you won’t need to say “I have self-awareness now.” Your heart will be open and inside you will feel deserving and without saying it, it will just happen, you will attract Mr./Mrs. Right and you will just keep walking down that path together. Before you know it, you will look back and realize there weren’t any red flags to focus on and suddenly you will at some point even see what was different about you this time then all those other times before.