13th Step Syndrome

Couple kissing, photo by Margarit RalevIn March 11 2006 I wrote about avoiding the 13th Step which means “screwing someone crazier than you” – a term clarified by Dr. Stephen Jurd (a leading addiction psychiatrist). There have been more comments on this post than any other post I have written. The more recent comment on 12/10/07 by the author of Damn That Ojeda! website is worth mentioning here because of the enthusiasm with which the message is being relayed, and in order to correct the interpretation of my qualifications. The author refers to Coulter, ‘a right winged journalist’, intending to promote her book whilst appearing on a Carlson program which should discourage similar types from being edified because they are described as having…

spewed out such horrendous slanderous nonsense for no other reason than to let them promote more of their hate [which] will be diagnosed by me as having Dr. Affie Adagio Syndrome.

Allow me to explain.

Dr. Adagio herself does not have this condition. She’s a physician consulting chemically addicted clients and helping them go through the 12 steps of recovery. A noble and worthwhile cause indeed.

But in her treatments and counseling, she’s added one more step:

The 13th Step: Don’t Screw Anyone Crazier Than You

This, I would argue, is the problem with Carlson, et al. They allow themselves to electronically bed with Crazy Coulter for no justifiable reason. If she’s such a callous moron with nothing noteworthy to say before she goes on your show, why would you think your own program will be any different?

As the good doctor explains:

“It is not helpful to enter into an intimate relationship with someone who needs our assistance to recover from any illness or needs to improve their skills.”

Affie’s response: The author of Damn That Ojeda! has, indeed, the correct interpretation of the use of the term 13th Step which I also intended for people outside the 12 Step recovery program. This is because I believe it is a symbolic term of that extra step in any program which trains professionals to provide a service to others and therefore be responsible for not abusing the privilege.

One important correction that needs to be highlighted is that I am a qualified Family Therapist/Life Coach specialising in compulsion and recovery (addictions), a Doctor of Philosophy not a Medical Doctor or Physician. My PhD research was in Compulsion and Recovery and as a result I believe in a diversity of approaches – a synthesis or a balanced approach to recovery.

Couple kissing, photo by Margarit Ralev http://ralev.com/

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Planning your relationship

700899_finished_projects_2.jpgMaranda made a comment on my post about a blueprint for relationships – “…Oh, let me tell you – it DOES NOT work!” When you think that making a blueprint for your ideal relationship doesn’t work, then you are doomed to have dysfunctional relationships. Everything in life depends on good planning. So planning your relationship together with your partner is being smart. Marriage counselling agencies have sessions or workshops aimed at enhancing relationships. Marriage celebrants are compelled by the government, to recommend that couples have such an experience before they get married. This is a valuable, practical exercise which can also be modified to use whenever there is a “pinch” in the relationship.

when I worked as a marriage and family therapist
for a well known agency in Sydney I was also trained to
carry out tests to assist couples to prepare for marriage
the tests could be sent off to a computer analysis firm
and once returned to us, the couple and I
processed the results together
often there were areas that the couple had
assumed would not be a problem until
they saw what their answers revealed
so with that information they would
make a basic plan to ensure that the
relationship had a good foundation

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Self love or codependence

My eyes, photo by Lucretious, Thessaloniki, GreeceAn important part of being in recovery from codependence is having a healthy relationship with self. In other words, the choice is self love or codependence. A comment from Maranda on my post about having a relationship with self shows how difficult it is for some to conceptualise this – “Nice theory… How can you start “loving yourself” in real life, I wonder?” Some people can only feel lovable when someone else loves them and then they see themselves through someone else’s eyes. No one can make you feel in a certain way unless you allow yourself to feel that way to begin with. So the ability to feel one way or another comes from within. The same way that you can feel terrible about your self, you can feel confident about yourself and, therefore, feel lovable – that’s self love. To hand over your power about how you feel is codependence or being neurotic.

Loretta came home with her small children and
found his clothes gone!
she managed to get the toddlers bathed, fed and to sleep
then she collapsed as the reality hit her
what happened? how come she didn’t know?
how did he expect them to survive without him?
she got through the night without any sleep
then the next day she was in ‘shell shock’
but the next night, too exhausted to stay awake
she drifted off believing that without him she
would be forever alone raising their children
it never occurred to her that she was lovable
at 25 she thought she would live alone forever!
fortunately, she remembered that she is lovable
and when faced with self love or codependence
she chose to focus on the relationship with self
he came back but in time she just sent him away
because she discovered that she deserved better

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Procrastination affects us differently

170958_me_myself_and_i.jpgI have written several posts on procrastination because it is such a traumatic experience and common to many of us. Procrastination affects us differently – some worse than others, as can be seen by Terry’s comment below. Regardless of how immobilised you feel when procrastination takes hold, there are different strategies that you can choose from to assist you. The most effective technique or strategy is that you learn how to relax so as to let go of the fear the task is causing you. Then give yourself permission to wait until you feel ready to begin. Plan a small step to begin your task once you have relaxed – the momentum will overcome your procrastination. You can find what works for you or you can choose to be a victim of procrastination. You may need some professional assistance to overcome the block.

What about when the procrastination paralyses you and when you are unprepared you perform badly and feel awful and embarrassed. Its as if something inside is hoping for failure. Or when you have a deadline for a task and leave it till the last minute and the stress builds up but there is a block to complete the task. Terry

me myself and i, photo by Davide Farabegoli, Milano, Italy, howto relax

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Overcoming fear

570349_the_key_to_success.jpgThe worst part of fear is that we can become immobilised by it. In other words, we become frozen like a ‘stunned mullett’ when we are fearful and not able to make decisions to even save ourselves. There are several steps to take in order to cope with fear so that it does not debilitate us. First we need to breathe evenly in a rounded fashion – this will help us relax; then we need to imagine how it will feel to be a part of the solution and how rewarding that will be; finally we need to take action instead of just sitting and waiting for it to get better. There are probably other steps that may suit you personally, so note them and make sure you can recall them when you are next experiencing fear.

the boss was autocratic and prided himself on
being masculine or “macho” in his approach
his staff had been full of fear and either moved on
or everyone was miserable at work!
eventually they overcame their fear and
spoke to him about how badly they felt
and to their surprise he realised that it was
risky for his business that his staff are unhappy
so he put in a plan to involve them in the decisions
and give them a voice to keep him informed
about his behaviour and how it affected productivity
in time they realised that he was indeed smart to be
willing to change his approach for the sake of his business
and that overcoming their fear and asserting themselves
made a huge difference for their wellbeing

The key to success, photo by Jocilyn Pope, London, United Kingdom, assertiveness

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Setting limits with children

53523_hotel.jpgAn important part of childrearing is setting limits, especially when children are very young. The hard part is making sure that setting limits is done through education – letting the child know why we are saying “no” to something, not just refusing. Another vital part of this education process is that we keep our voices factual rather than critical or shaming, otherwise the lesson is lost and the child just feels oppressed. It is hard for us to remember this when children are young, because usually the pace of living is stressful for everybody and being relaxed and calm seems impossible. Also we are in denial at that time about our behaviour and how uptight we are. Children feel the full brunt of harsh, unexplained limit-setting and it affects their self esteem badly. This can result in serious rebellious behaviour in childhood and all the way through to adult relationships.

at four years of age she is the cutest
and she is very aware of ‘living the good life’
as I babysat my granddaughter in the hotel suite
she declared that she wanted stuff from the mini bar
I had to be very careful how I refused her
tonight we were going to eat
in the restaurant downstairs which
my nine year old grandson had been
given the honour to escort us to
I began with “no, darling”
the disappointment in her eyes showed
that there was anger bubbling deep inside
so I sat down near her and pointed out that
using the mini bar costs too much
her eyes mellowed and this showed that
the information made sense, so she seemed at peace
after the delicious meal downstairs
we enjoyed watching the movie Happy Feet, in the suite

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This too shall pass

566501_world_cup_germany_2006.jpgI’ve written about burnout in the last two posts because it is so prevalent in our day and age. Having experienced it myself, I shared with you about how burnout crept up on me and its consequences to my health. Fortunately, I was able to nip it in the bud, nevertheless it had left me not as strong as I am normally. As a food addict in recovery this causes me to think of rewarding myself with trigger foods to give me the energy. However, I reminded myself of the saying this too shall pass. So, I gave myself permission to do everything at 80% level so as to recuperate and not put myself at risk of burnout again. Admittedly, it takes a while to get back to normal.

I was lacking in energy to go to hydrotherapy so
using an NLP (Nurolinguistic Programming) technique
to integrate the different selves
I got in touch with that self in me who
is responsible for this sabotage and found out
that it was a he, and that he wanted more recreation
so I agreed to spend time writing and sketching
which I had not done in at least a year
and was pleased to find as a result
I was eager to go to my next hydrotherapy session

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Do unto others

Shaking hands, photo by Ales Cerin, Ljubljana, Slovenia,  friendly behaviourA very well known biblical saying with lots of meaning is “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. Such a practical life strategy because it gives us a reminder to take 100% responsibility for our actions so that the consequences will be a reward. The only difficulty is that denial is a human shortcoming which fools us into thinking that our behaviour is appropriate when sometimes it is not. Then we are surprised at the reactions we get from people and can feel victimised when that happens because we think we didn’t deserve what was dished out to us.

my adult children are my pride and joy
so at times when their behaviour is
what I consider somewhat dysfunctional
I mention my observations as carefully as possible
as I expect of them in return, should it be necessary
and then I reflect about what I had ever done
which role modelled such behaviour because
it is easy to think I hadn’t
maybe I did and maybe I didn’t
nevertheless as a parent I am reminded of
do unto others as you would
have them do unto you
and the consequences come back to
either bite or reward us

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Love and trust

Holding hands, photo by Herman Hooyschuur, Amsterdam, Netherlands,  loving relationshipThis comment was made by Vickie Turley and it supported my post on ‘Trust is vital’

Without trust we cannot be authentic with one another. And trust is built over time – which is why relationships take time to grow. Too many times we want to rush the relationship but the trust isn’t there yet. We must be patient and let it come.

What Vickie says is believed by many and it works for them.

I believe in another school of thought which is that trust is not earned, it already exists to begin with, just as love does. The ability to trust is abundant and in setting such an expectation the people we love live up to that expectation. However, if we slip and make a mistake then we need to make amends and build that trust up as we would a plant that has been damaged, gently. This notion feels easier to achieve than one that takes time and we need to work hard at to achieve. When the trust is not there in the beginning of a relationship I would ask “what is going on?” – does one or both of the partners have intimacy issues or have experienced damaged trust in the past and are bringing it into the relationship as baggage? In which case they would do well to process that baggage or see a therapist to assist in that process.

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Fear of rejection

Midnight BooWe pretend to be strong and yet fear of rejection can keep us apart. So many people recoil when they face a criticism. This can be because as a child their parents and or teachers impacted on them in a negative way, whether real or perceived the damage was done. As an adult they are left with scars from those experiences which affect their relationships badly. Others behave in the opposite way – they enjoy the challenge when they are rejected and keeping coming back. Both reactions can be perceived as attractive or unattractive depending on how your needs are met. Nevertheless, we can choose to deal with rejection in a way that makes our lives fulfilled or doomed, it’s all a choice.

Alison had been screaming at her daughter Suzie
for at least half an hour and it felt no better
Suzie quietly got up and said to her mother
that as she was middle aged she chose not to
feel this distress anymore, so she was leaving
Alison screamed out “stay and fight you coward”
and Suzie replied “yes I am a coward and am going”
leaving her mother with her own dysfunctional state
which meant that Alison had to take responsibility
for the insane behaviour she had shown because
there was no one there to blame anything on

(So Sorry after 7yrs and although he had been thanked then, I had to remove the great photo now because the owner asked it be removed so my adorable fear ridden 14 yr Bombay cat Midnight is the replacement photo…Affie 25/9/14)

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