What is Love

The Urban Dictionary describes it as this: “The most spectacular,indescribable, deep euphoric feeling for someone”.  That is a pretty tall order!  I don’t believe there is one definition for love.  I think it means something different to different people. Media portrays love as this burning, passionate desire.  Unfortunately many people believe that if they are not having wild, passionate sex then they must not be in love.  Others believe that if you don’t spend every possible waking minute with the other person then they are not in love.  I think that love is about respect, treating someone in a good way, laughing together, being together yet apart (meaning you have separate activities as well as joint ones), being able to sit in a comfortable silence, honesty, faithfulness, tenderness.

I thought about how people are with their dogs.  If you treat your dog well they will be the most faithful companion.  It is the same for humans.  You have to stroke your partner, walk with them, cuddle them, teach and learn from them, protect them, be their friend, play with them.  If you do those things then it will come back to you the same.

It is okay to have a gentle, kind, slow type of relationship.  The swinging passion is just that; passion!  Eventually the libido slows down, but the tenderness, caring, friendship, and wanting your partner to be happy remains.  That, to me, is the essence of love.

There is a book that I recommend to clients who are trying to find their way back to intimacy, “Sex begins in the kitchen”.  Intimacy leaves when we forget to be tender and attentive to our partner.  Watching the news or TV of any kind while having your meal together is start down the slippery slope to losing intimacy.  Use the time at dinner to talk about your day, your dreams (not the bad things in your relationship), reach across the table and take your partners hand.  Use five (5) touches everyday.  A kiss, a pat, rub on the shoulders, hug, hold hands, etc.

I don’t have the answer to what love is, I understand lust very well.  As stated when lust leaves what is left.  Hopefully the tenderness, care, concern, intimacy, honesty, faithfulness, laughter and sometimes silence.  Robin Williams said, “I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone, it’s not.  The worst thing in life is to end up with  people who make you feel all alone.”

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Women and Abuse

As a therapist I am often asked, why do I choose abusive men?  There a couple of answers to this.  The one answer that I think is missing in rational thinking is that YOU didn’t choose an abusive man; rather he chose you.  The other answer is if you are raised in an abusive environment and have not had outside validation of what is a healthy relationship, you too could end up with someone abusive because it is familiar.

Let’s start with the abuser choosing you.  What is an abuser looking for?  He/she is looking for someone they can control.  You are a nice person, kind, generous, treat people fairly, don’t judge others, when you meet someone respect and trust are a given.  That is exactly the type of person an abuser wants.  He will already have your trust and respect and believes that you will forgive his transgressions because you don’t judge and you are kind.  Does this mean you should change whom you are?  Absolutely not but rather learn to read the warning signs of an abuser.

There is a lot of information you can glean on the interest of an abuser.  I will share my knowledge of one.  The abuse normally starts out slowly and is insidious.  What starts out as compliments can quickly turn to demands.  He/she likes the way you wear your hair down and long (for example).  The next time he sees you, you have your hair pulled back into a hair band.  He reminds you how much he loved it when you wore it down and would you mind doing that as he really loves it and it would make him so happy.  You in your initial state of a relationship happily oblige because it sounds like a simple and reasonable request doesn’t it?  Next they may comment on your style of dressing.  Initially they liked the look of you in your sweater with a couple of buttons undone and your body fitting skirt.  Soon though, they don’t want others to be looking at you so the requests will start again,  maybe you need to do up a button or all the buttons and you look real nice in those boot cut jeans or slacks.  This is control ladies!!!!  You may stand your ground and tell him that you like your look and he will carefully explain to you why he wants to “look out for you” and “look after you”.  How wonderful that his man cares so much about you that you take his request to heart and change your dress style.  The Friends!!!!  In the beginning he joins you with your friends and begins to make subtle comments about them.  Maybe one is too loud and he reminds you that you are who your friends are so maybe you could see less of this friend or not invite her when he is around.  Soon that turns into never seeing her again.  When your friends start to comment on how you are no longer available to them, you stick up for your man and tell them that they are just jealous because you have such a wonderful attentive man in your life.  Now he knows you are hooked.

There will be many more changes that he has you make in your life as he insinuates himself more and more into it.  Soon you find yourself with no other outlet in life but work and him.  Some of his demands may be demeaning, such as “allowing” him to have sex with another or talking you into threesomes.  He “loves you” so much that you do these things for him even though you start to loathe yourself.  When you bring these issues up to him, he either sweet talks you into believing you are wrong, gives you the silent treatment ( and remember you have no friends left) until you give in, or physically harms you and you now feel you don’t have a choice.  You do have a choice!  Call one of those past friends and confide what is happening they will be there for you because they knew all along what was going on and tried to help before.  Call the Crisis support line in your area or call a counsellor, confide in family (who he has also managed to isolate you from), talk to you peers or boss at work.  There are many avenues available to you to help you get out of this unhealthy relationship and build your self back to your authentic self.

The second answer was coming from abusive home.  The familial behaviours have a big impact on the decisions we make in our lives.  If we know put downs, sarcasm, emotional trauma, verbal abuse and mental abuse then that is what we know.  So very often women finds themselves married to the likeness of their father, the abuser in this case.  Too often once you realize what you are in for you find your family is NOT a support zone.  Mom will tell you that that is your lot in life, you chose to love and honor this man and that is your duty no matter what.  Yes, even in today’s society that answer is still passed down from mom to daughter.  You father won’t see anything wrong with it because he acts the same way as your partner.  It is your duty to see to your husbands needs and if you don’t then a little “encouragement” is okay.

The same advice is advisable if you find yourself in this situation, call out for help to anyone you can.  Especially if you already have children.  You do NOT want them to become part of this cycle.

You are still a kind, generous, warm, trusting, respectful woman who did NOT choose to be abused.

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Grief and Loss

When a loss hits a family, people are at a loss as to what to do, what to say, how to help.  If you yourself have suffered a loss what did you most need from others?  Think about how you wanted people to respond and ask yourself if that would fit in the current scenario. If you have not suffered a loss, ask yourself the same question, what would you like from others.

Here is a list of thoughts that might be helpful:

  1. Sometimes less is more.  Don’t fill in the silences with chatter; allow the silence to happen.
  2. Do share touches with those who are grieving.  You can: pat an arm while passing by, give a hug when it appears needed, hold their hand, sit close by, cradle them in your arms, stroke their hair.  Always checking for the appropriateness of gender, age, and time.
  3. Make yourself busy – brew tea and coffee, make sandwiches, bake, tidy the place up (there will always be people dropping by)
  4. Let them know that you are there in their time and space, don’t force yourself on someone
  5. Offer to accompany them to appointments – coroner, funeral parlour, church, florist
  6. Ask if you can see the photo albums
  7. Talk about the person that has passed
  8. Offer to make phone calls
  9. Collect anecdotes
  10. Offer to do the grocery shopping
  11. Offer to prepare everyone’s clothes for the service – wash, iron, fold
  12. Let the grievor’s cry as it is a natural process
  13. Let them be angry as well
  14. Be there in the two weeks after the death when most others have left and gone back to their lives

The most important part is not to stop a person’s process.  Sometimes because we are uncomfortable we feel the need to use humour when someone is crying.  This actually stops their process and they will have to start again, plus they may feel that they cannot be real around you.

Validate their feelings don’t try to talk them out of their feelings.  This is how they are feeling in this given moment and those feelings may change rapidly throughout a day, week, month or year.

Please don’t tell a person that things will get better, or that it is time to move on.  Every person’s journey into grief is unique and personal.

Make sure that you are taking care of you.  It is like a pyramid:  the griever needs support and leans on you, You need support and lean on your family and friends and they do the same on down the line.  We all have our place and role in this process.

Watch for isolation once the busyness of the service is over and people have left.  It is a fine balance between hovering and “giving space”.  If you feel that the griever is slipping into depression, then suggest they see their family physician.

Do call your local hospice and ask for advice on how to handle things.

Above all, Take Care of your self, Be kind to yourself, and Stay Safe!

 

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Burnout/Stress

http://www.advicecounselling.com

It is at this time of year that I find people expressing feelings of depression.  The change in weather, light time, and rush towards Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations may affect how a person feels.

There is a difference between burnout and stress, and between depression and sadness.  For those of you in the business community you may find yourself in a pressure cooker situation.  For some that is trying to stay afloat, it is also to be competitive and because of the time of year.

How is burnout defined? Grassroots Leadership College facilitators say, “Burnout produces a sense of helplessness and hopelessness.”  Burnout is a loss of ideals and hope. Stress is a loss of fuel and energy.”  Depression is a clinical diagnosis over time with a certain set of criteria.  Sadness is usually episodic and can be triggered by external events.

How does one overcome this sense of burnout?

  • Take control of your attitude and behaviours
  • Set clear and realistic boundaries for yourself; learn to say “no”
  • Have realistic goals. Unrealistic goals lead to failure.
  • Express your feelings to your support team; don’t keep them inside
  • Find the passion again
  • Look for humor in the workplace.
  • Do something physical to reduce the effects of stress.
  • Reward yourself after all you are the most important person in your life, pray/meditate, listen to or make music, draw/doodle, read something other than work reports, do puzzles, daydream, think outside your box.
  • Focus on the positive. Change those negative thoughts into positive ones.

Stay safe, be kind to yourself and others.

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ADDICTION

I have worked in addiction now for 15 years.  I am certainly no expert and not a physician so I will explain from my experiences and knowledge garnered from my clients over the years.  This Dis-Ease is insidious!  It eats at your physical body as well as your emotional, mental, spiritual, financial, familial, professional, and personal states.  We know that addiction can be genetic, and that it can start out as social use and progress to dependence.  What drives this? It is driven by fears!

Who is a person if they are not associated with this dis-ease?  What if they don’t like themselves when they are clean and sober?  Taking that personal inventory is the hardest step.  Being brutally honest about oneself and their behaviour is painful.  And pain is one of the reasons that people use/drink/gamble/work/act out sexually in the first place.  It takes great strength and courage to overcome the pain and stick with the process.

Addiction is a ripple effect and it is selfish.  The person who is addicted makes a decision to deal with their “stuff” in unhealthy ways, but the effect of that behaviour snakes through families, friends, employment, recreation, and spiritual worlds.  Others may start to live in fear!  Fear that you may die, that you may leave, that you may destroy their foundation, that you may bankrupt them emotionally, financially, mentally, physically, and spiritually.

The people that are associated with someone who has addictions are not typically your friends.  They are someone you use with, party with, have sex with, gamble with, act out with.  It is a pretty empty contact base someone has when they decide to get clean/sober/balanced because those “friends” will not be there.  You are no longer any use to them so they need to move on to others of like mind.  This leaves you scrambling to try and repair your world; to find balance in it again.

There are many avenues available to support you as you clean up your life.  There are several types of step groups: Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), 16 Steps for women. There are SMART Recovery (non-step based), your spiritual networks, friends, family, professionals who are readily open to assist you on your journey to wellness.

TAKE CARE, STAY SAFE, BE KIND!

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Illnesses

I believe that any illness is manifesting what is happening for you right now at this very moment you are sick.  The best book I have seen on the subject if by Louise L. Hay called “Heal Your Body”.  In it she explains how our mental anguish causes our physical anguish (my interpretation).

I had four different operations to remove cysts from my bladder.  What was that all about?  Looking back at an abusive relationship made me realize that I had held a lot inside and was afraid to “let go”.  I was afraid to get angry so I internalize a lot of it.  I was “pissed” off at myself for not standing up and I was “pissed” off at him for being controlling, abusive, and manipulative.  Of course when I finally left that relationship I never had another bladder operation again.  If only I knew then what I know now!

During that same time period I have cysts and a large tumour removed from my left breast.  So I understand that female breasts are designed to nourish/feed and I believe because it was by my heart that once again, I was undernourished, underfed in self-worth, love, and esteem.  Those symptoms have not reoccurred either since I left that relationship.

How often have you used the phrase, “s/he makes me sick to my stomach”?  I will bet you that you actually feel physically sick to your stomach.  Look at your network of people and find who that person is and then deal with them.

Headaches are usually manifested by not speaking your truth; keeping things inside your head.  Passivity definitely leads to headaches.  Speak your say in a good healthy way and stop the insanity of headaches.  There is so much good information out there on how to effectively communicate.  I have two posted on YOUTUBE at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_DmDsIn7aZI&feature=plcp and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3v1MR6PPvA&feature=plcp

Sore shoulders, neck, back?  What weight are you carrying around that is not yours to keep?  What responsibility have you taken on that is so heavy you physically hurt?  Look at your life and the people in it.  Who isn’t taking responsibility for their life, for their decisions, and for their behaviour?  Why did you decide to step in and be the gate keeper of that person’s choices?  You can’t fix someone else because  you didn’t break them in the first place.

I believe if we look at our symptoms we can do the mental work to rid ourselves of the dis-eases. As Louise L. Hays states, you can have the physical symptoms removed but if you don’t do the mental work those symptoms will just reoccur.

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Seniors are our history

Another seniors program has their funding cut.  This program served seniors who were isolated; it provided them with socializing and an opportunity to connect.  I don’t understand how a government cannot afford the $70,000 to help those who are our history.  This program shutting down after 18 years has pushed me to do my first blog. Other countries don’t treat their elders this way; they live together and help each other as one unit. It amazes me that as a North American society we value sports over our seniors.  Sports players make millions of dollars and we push the biggest wealth we have aside.  The message appears to be that seniors aren’t worth $70,000.  That is so wrong.  I am thankful that my mother, her sister, and their life long friend, each wrote a book about growing up on Annacis Island.  I don’t have the same knowledge of my father’s side of the family and that is a shame.  Our histories are so important in going forward and we lose a little each time we shut a senior out.  I miss my parents every day and am thankful for the stories that I do know and share with my grandkids.

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