Happy New Year

Look at the futur 1, Martin BOULANGER, Lyon, FranceI wish you all a Happy New Year with happiness and love in your lives.? The festivities found me recuperating from a shoulder injury, as you know,? but now I am feeling more agile. My mind has turned to new year resolutions that we often make, some do-able and some unrealistic. Far better to set realistic goals so as to have a better chance of achieving them and less chance of failure with the outcome of guilt.

I am fascinated at the passion with which
we make new year resolutions
as though with the new year comes
a magic drive to achieve the unachievable
of the past year!
then after a few days we find ourselves
slipping back to old unacceptable behaviours
bummer! we blame the gods
better to not become intoxicated by the
passion of the promise of the new year
and rationally make a plan to get things done
things which we believe are best for us
and are more likely to succeed with

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Adult children

silhouetted friends 1, photo by aernst, PA, United States,Parents have the responsibility to provide a safe and nurturing environment for their children. Being a role model for a loving relationship is both satisfying for the parents and rewarding for the children because it helps them all live a functional, healthy lifestyle. When children become adults it is important that parents learn how to let go and let their adult children get on with their lives. Parents can trust that their childrearing practices were beneficial and that their adult children will make the appropriate choices in life. Sometimes this parenting stage can be the most difficult part of all, because we need to observe and not interfere or make comments no matter how useful we think they may be. At such times our contributions can be perceived as criticisms or disapproval. What makes it difficult is that we need to then change the parenting role from one that’s based on responsibility and guidance to one based on validation and support.

Simone was concerned about her son who
was out of work and his marriage was suffering
she could not help herself and at the first opportunity
lost her cool and criticised Joseph in an attempt to
snap him out of his lethargy, or so she thought!
but her daughter-in-law, Sue, defended him
and what was intended to be a rescue mission
by a caring mother, then turned out to be a disaster
Joseph felt incompetent,
Sue became protective of her husband and
Simone was demoralised
it would have been more useful if Simone
kept her supportive parent role until
Joseph found himself again with the
support of his wife

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Teaching respect

Family Concept 2, photo by Lynne Lancaster, UKChildren can get bored easily unless there are games to occupy them or they have the full attention of those they are with. However, it is important that they learn how to participate politely so that they get the attention of everyone instead of monopolising the attention of one person, usually a parent. In this way teaching respect helps them to learn how to entertain themselves. It’s a socialisation skill they need to learn as early as possible.

usually when her mother becomes involved
in a conversation with a friend? then
6 year old Angela would whisper in her ear
it was her first attempt at holding her mother’s attention
but Julie knew the dance well and she would
look at Angela in her eyes and remind her
that if she had something important to say she
would need to say excuse me and wait
otherwise she could do something else until
her mother was free to talk to her
I could see that Julie’s parenting skills
were teaching respect and in the long run
would help Angela develop good life strategies
instead of demanding that others make her happy

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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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sex with no shame

834694_feet_in_the_sand.jpgAny sexual activity that does not hurt another person and takes place between consenting adults is sex with no shame. This does not mean something that involves rape or violation of a person’s rights including children. If you are not sure check it out with someone you respect who is knowledgeable about legal and moral issues.

They spoke to me about their sex that
keeps them close and happy
it was unusual in many ways
compared to most sexual acts which
are supported by our society
she felt worried that it was shameful
I asked who was it hurting and
they responded no one but that
their parents would be disgusted
if they knew but then they realised that
this is their private life and no one has
the right to know or judge
instead they need to enjoy the
happiness they share
and have sex with no shame

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Sulking is such a waste

677811_beyond_the_sea.jpgMany people resort to sulking when they are not pleased with someone’s behaviour. It is aimed at getting attention in the hope that the other person asks “what’s up” and then the sulker says “nothing”. The dance goes on until finally the sulker is convinced to share their hurt. Surely it is far healthier to learn how to be up front and honest about how you feel than doing this attention dance which can be such a waste and it causes resentments in relationships. We need to teach our children too how to communicate their needs openly to spare them resorting to sulking to get their way which in the end costs them.

the little girl was 8 and her mother had deserted them
so the father compensated by taking his daughter
to the movies 3 times a week for a while
it was an escape and took his mind off the pain
then he decided to stop overdosing on movies
but his daughter had her heart set on going that night
so she stood at the window looking out and sulking
after about one hour he asked her what was the matter?
in a good sulking pose she said “nothing”
so he went about cooking for the next day
another hour passed and she got tired of the act
and jumped at the opportunity to stop sulking when
he told her it was late and to get ready for bed!
it was a lesson not easily forgotten because
it served her no purpose

Beyond the sea, photo by Tolga KOSTAK, Izmir, Turkey, http://www.sxc.hu/photo/677811

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How to attract a functional relationship

726974_in_love.jpgTo attract a functional relationship we need to know how to avoid attracting dysfunctional ones. I agree with the school of thought that we attract dysfunctional relationships because we unconsciously want a partner who will do a particular relationship dance with us. Why we choose such a dysfunctional dance has possibly three reasons:

(1) because this dysfunctional relationship dance is familiar and we know how to handle it;
(2) because it resembles a dysfunctional relationship we have experienced before (perhaps parents’ relationship) and we want to end it the way it should have been ended before;
(3) because it resembles a dysfunctional relationship we have experienced before and we want to make it functional – through therapy or other means.

In order to attract a functional relationship we need to be clear about what we are looking for, and why? In other words expose any hidden agendas. We need to be clear that the aim of being in a relationship is to have companionship and intimacy based on harmonious negotiations. This means the ability to resolve conflict productively and sometimes it may mean respectfully agreeing to disagree. Any fool can be abusive but it takes a smart person to be sensitive about a sticky situation. Then the outcome can satisfy both parties.

In Love, photo by Meliha Gojak, Sarajevo, Bosnia Herzegovina

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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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Madness of addiction

Almost mad ii, photo by Lucretious, Thessaloniki, Greece, insanity Addiction plays tricks with the mind, a form of insanity. People who are in denial about their addiction resent the notion that they are suffering the insanity that goes with the condition. How else can you describe the madness of addiction other than insanity, when you make yourself promises you don’t keep, when you find yourself lying, when your life becomes unmanageable and still you do the same? Is that not a form of insanity? Those of us who make it to the serenity of recovery, reach a stage when we are not ashamed of admitting that to be addicted,and remain that way, is insanity.

as I enjoy my serenity from
nicotine and food addiction
I value my freedom from being
compelled and yet not having enough
which is what the insanity of addiction
meant for me – not enough and yet
not being able to stop
so I attended 12 Step meetings
spoke about my innermost feelings
especially the ones I buried deep because
I didn’t like them for being unaccceptable
had regular visits with my therapist
and explored the madness of addiction
I remembered from the 12 Step program that
I am not responsible for my addiction but
I am responsible for my recovery
so today I carry that message as part of
my personal and professional life

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