Saturday, July 4, 2009

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Getting over divorce... does it really take time?

Jan 22, 2009, 2:05 am
In the last 18 months, I seem to have had quite a few male and female clients in my practice who are either going through divorce, or about to go through divorce. Divorce is painful... it involves the tearing apart of two people's lives. It isn't something you "just get over." Divorce takes time to mend your life. The estimate is one year for every two years of relationship. So, for example, if you've been married for 10 years... it will take five years of recovery after divorce before you are ready to attempt another relationship.

For some reason when I recommend to my clients that they take a break from relationship after divorce and take the time to allow their hearts to heal, a lot of my guys have run off and gotten involved immediately, only to come back and tell me that they should have listened. I guess the reality is that you have to love yourself enough to take the time off to explore the realities of "what happened..." If you don't take these steps, you'll repeat the same mistakes in your next relationship. I know, I've had to own my own junk from my 10-year marriage. I've been divorced for eight years now and I am glad that I have waited to get involved again.

There is FREEDOM in waiting. For one thing, your heart will be less tender and more able to fully respond to the woman of your dreams if you take the necessary time to heal. Divorce is like grief... there is no way through, but through. To hurry the process just means delaying the positive outcomes in your life.

So, last night I was thinking. I have to write about this divorce stuff because I run into so many people who just want to ignore the physical realities that are associated with getting over a mental/emotional wound. The physical reality is that you will be more stressed just after divorce, more tender, more reactive, eager to replace the lost person. If a person takes the time to heal, these tendencies are lessened.

In Tennessee, there are divorce care groups you can attend. I don't know about the rest of the country, but these groups do help you work through what may have caused your divorce. Divorce is never one-sided. It always takes two people to go through divorce. Some say, "my wife is the one who cheated..." Well, as therapists, we always encourage the spouse of the one who cheated to take a look at what got inbetween the couple to allow for the intrusion of another. Another person can't get into a marriage if the couple has a tight relationship. Owning our parts in relationships takes courage and emotional honesty. Making life long changes that bring health into any relationship is something that must be accomplished one step at a time.

Once you've processed all of those reasons and come to a place where you can see that person not as your enemy, but as someone with whom you spent a season of your life with, you can begin to move on from the pain of the separation. The stages of death described by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, 1) shock, 2) denial, 3) anger, 4) bargaining, 5) depression, 6) testing, and 7) letting go (acceptance), (Ross, 1969 retrieved January 22, 2009, from http://changingminds­.org/disciplines/cha­nge_management/kuble­r_ross/kubler_ross.h­tm) all apply when going through divorce.

So, if you are going through divorce or just divorced, please take the time to allow yourself to heal. It will be the best investment you've ever made in your life.

Take care and my best to you,

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Developing Trust

Trust is something that is earned. Trust can be broken easily when lies are told, secrets are kept about hurtful occurrences in family relationships, and confidences are betrayed. There are only some instances when a confidence should be broken. Those are the instances when abuse is happening and it needs to be reported to a respected authority. The disclosure of abuse requires action.

Regaining trust is a process that takes days, months and sometimes years. There are some trusts that are never regained. Like the trust that a child once had in a perpetrator. Can perpetrators ever learn to be trustworthy again? The answer is yes, but it is a very difficult process. The statistics show that 85% of child abusers re-offend. It is a nasty cycle that repeats itself generation after generation.

Who can break that cycle? The cycle breaks with you and with me. We are all responsible for being trustworthy individuals for the innocents of this world. We are all called to be a safe harbour for the child who needs to talk about the secrets they are keeping locked inside. If we will take the time to listen, perhaps the pattern of child abuse can be broken permanently. Those who perpetrate most often have been abused themselves as children. Hence, it is tantamount that we, as a society, learn to listen, validate, and stand up to see that those who need help can get the help that they need.

Trust then becomes the Total Reliance Upon Safe Touch. Teach your children that it is ok to talk to you about all of their relationships. Talk to them about what good touch is and what unsafe touch is. Encourage them to refrain from engaging in rough play.

If we all effectively use these practices, we will begin to stem the tide of what is known as child abuse and betrayal of trust.


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Finding Safe Harbour When You've Been Abused

It is difficult to find a safe place when everything inside of you is in chaos. Sometimes, it is difficult to identify where the chaos begins and where it ends. For people who have suffered abuse, the chaos begins when the abuse occurs.

Often adults don't know why they feel chaotic. They don't remember periods of early abuse, or they feel like their worlds are spinning out of control. One way adults use to control remembering periods of abuse is to self-medicate. Self-medication comes in several forms: alcohol, elicit drugs, prescription drugs, food, and sex. Yes, sex is a form of medication when used in excess.

It is better to not self-medicate if possible. If an adult has been abused in childhood, it is better for the adult to seek help in the form of psychotherapy with a professional who has experience in treating trauma. I do not recommend that clergy treat trauma unless they are specifically trained to treat trauma. Trauma has complicated outcomes. Some individuals have undergone personality splitting in traumatic experiences. This is why it is extremely important that an individual seek help from a professional who is trained to treat trauma, specifically an individual who is trained to treat traumatized individuals who also experience dissociative experiences.

There is a lot of current research on post-traumatic stress disorder and dissociative disorders. Dr. Bessel van der Kolk has done extensive work with regard to dissociative disorders, as well as Dr. Richard Schwarz and Dr. Colin Ross. There are many others. EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) is an important technique in the healing of trauma. The Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) developed by Gary Craig is another technique that is helpful in the healing of trauma. Both of these techniques are best used by trained clinicians.

If you or someone else you know has experienced trauma and you are looking for answers, please do not hesitate to write and I will try to help you find resources. If you live in the Nashville, Tennessee area, either I or my collegue are available as a treatment resource.

Please take care of yourselves....

(Master of Marriage and Family Therapy)

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Tuesday, June 5, 2007

In A Domestic Violence Situation, Do I Admit I'm Having An Affair?

I've had this question posed to me recently by a couple of people. Obviously, the first question is this... if the revelation of the betrayal causes you to be more at risk of harm, the answer, is no, you don't admit you're having an affair. But, you also, don't stay in the marriage or relationship either when you are at risk of being physically harmed.

The reality is... the affair occurred because your emotional needs were not being met by the abuser. This is NOT an excuse. If the abuser is capable of making changes toward making the relationship a safe relationship, then marriage counseling or relationship counseling is appropriate and the betrayal of the relationship should be conveyed within the confines of the therapeutic milieu.

The bottom line is this... if you are not safe, do not reveal anything that makes you more unsafe. If you have any doubt about your safety, wait until you have help from a professional counselor.

Remember to take care of yourself... remember to stay safe. Remember to make good decisions... remember to anchor yourself in safe harbours!


Saturday, April 7, 2007

Hide in the Shelter of His Wings

There are times when one can feel completely overwhelmed by life's circumstances. Those are the times when you need a safe place to destress and unload all of the garbage that has attached itself to your person. By garbage, I am thinking of the negative emotions of others that can "slime" us; the negative encounters we experience with unhappy people who just cannot be satisfied; the negative fights with out of control people; the things that just happen out of our control like car accidents, extreme weather situations and pregnancy (hahaha! yes, sometimes pregnancy happens even when you try to prevent it!).

But, when you feel overwhelmed and you don't know where to turn, there is a place where you can hide. A place where you can find solace. In Psalm 91, King David writes of the Shelter of Father God's wings... the shelter of His presence. As you read Psalm 91, listen to verbs:

Psalm 91
You who sit down in the High God's presence,
spend the night in Shaddai's shadow,
Say this: "God, you're my refuge.
I trust in you and I'm safe!"
That's right—he rescues you from hidden traps,
shields you from deadly hazards.
His huge outstretched arms protect you—
under them you're perfectly safe;
his arms fend off all harm.
Fear nothing [no thing]—not wild wolves in the night,
not flying arrows in the day,
Not disease that prowls through the darkness,
not disaster that erupts at high noon.
Even though others succumb all around,
drop like flies right and left,
no harm will even graze you.
You'll stand untouched, watch it all from a distance,
watch the wicked turn into corpses.
Yes, because God's your refuge,
the High God your very own home,
Evil can't get close to you,
harm can't get through the door.
He ordered his angels
to guard you wherever you go.
If you stumble, they'll catch you;
their job is to keep you from falling.
You'll walk unharmed among lions and snakes,
and kick young lions and serpents from the path.
"If you'll hold on to me for dear life," says God,
"I'll get you out of any trouble.
I'll give you the best of care
if you'll only get to know and trust me.
Call me and I'll answer, be at your side in bad times;
I'll rescue you, then throw you a party.
I'll give you a long life,
give you a long drink of salvation!"

[The Message Bible, used with permission from;&version=65;]

There is so much in this one Psalm describing the beauty of a relationship with a very loving God. The writer states that God will hold on to you and get you out of any trouble and give you the best of care, IF we will just take the time to get to know God and trust Him. IF we will call on Him, he will answer us and be at our side in bad times. He will rescue us and then "throw us a party." As the writer states in Verse 1, it requires that we "sit down" in the presence of God. That we "spend the night" in the shadow of the Almighty... Shaddai's shadow and proclaim that God is our refuge and that we trust in Him. Then He will rescue us and protect us and fend off every evil. He, HIMSELF will be our very own Home. He then resides in us and we reside in Him. We are then hidden in Him... the very essence of God and He hides Himself in us. We become one with the presence of God if we will take the time to "sit down."

So when overwhelmed... sit down and enter in to the presence of the Almighty God who loves you more than you could ever know. Call on Him and He will answer you. Spend the night in the shadow of the Shaddai. He will fend off all evil and protect you. He will rescue you and then throw you this amazing party. He truly is your safe harbour. He truly is the one who can wash off all of the garbage that has hit you throughout the day. He truly is your answer. Call.... just call... it's up to you! He is waiting... and watching... and looking for you.

With love,

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