Punishment Answers

What is the right way to separate from a problematic parent?

Thank you for being brave enough to ask for help, it is not always the easiest thing to do so I commend you for that. Depending on your age and where you are, certain laws may apply when protecting you from an abusive parent. It is never acceptable for any parent to strike their children, under any circumstance. I know that cultural factors apply at times, and that may make the process more difficult.  There’s no denying the toll that an abusive or toxic relationship with your parents can take. When our parents dismiss us or talk down to us, they can implant us with beliefs and behaviors that damage our lives for decades to come. Do your parents physically, mentally, or emotionally abuse and manipulate you? It’s important to acknowledge these damaging ties so you can take action to protect yourself and your future happiness.   Are your parents toxic? Everyone has a different relationship with their parents, and some toxic relationships can look dramatically different from others. At the core, though, the most damaging relationships we share with our parents are the ones in which we feel dismissed, demeaned, manipulated, or terrorized. This can take so many forms across physical, mental, emotional, and even financial planes too.   Do your parents regularly dismiss or deny your feelings and experiences? This may take the form of denying the role they played in specific dramas. Or, it may manifest as parents who don’t take your feelings seriously at all. Either way, their failure to fully acknowledge your experience can make it hard for you to acknowledge your own feelings or experiences in a healthy (and honest) way. Inability to see the real you Have you taken a long time working hard to figure out who you are and what you really want for your life? Figuring out who we are is no small feat, and when we do, we usually want the acknowledgment of our parents. Do your parents fully acknowledge who you are? Or do they struggle to see the real you? Even while they may not abuse you outright, failing to acknowledge who you really are can become damaging in the worst possible way.   Are your parents cruel to you? What about demeaning? Maybe they call you names or run you down whenever you make a mistake. Worse than that, perhaps your life has become a joke to you which they enjoy making fun of. Some parents are cruel. They enjoy seeing their children suffer and they enjoy seeing their children worse off than they are. In these cases, the best thing you can do is walk away and start over again.   Parents can create endless drama in our lives like no one else. Some of them create incredible crises that we have to swoop in and solve (much to our own mental, emotional, and financial distress). Others get involved in our relationships, our careers, and even the basic living decisions we make. They can pick fights and stoke old wounds that make it hard for us to find peace in their presence.   Would you describe your father or mother as emotionally manipulative or abusive? Pulling emotional strings can become extraordinarily toxic. Some parents use both sadness and anger to destabilize you mentally and emotionally. That makes you easier to control and manipulate, which essentially places control squarely in their hands. Emotional manipulation is especially common in families with covert narcissists. Disrupting your relationships Do you have a parent or caretaker who impedes your intimate relationships? Maybe they cause fights with your friends or get in the way of a partner or a spouse. A toxic parent regularly disrupts our other relationships, as it allows them to keep you isolated. This gives them greater control over your thoughts, your decisions, and the ties you have with them. More than that, it can keep you small and unhappy in many ways.   Are your parents abusive to you on any level? This can include mental abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, and even financial abuse. None of that ends with childhood. It simply changes form. A parent who hurt you openly in the past is not likely to be different as an adult. So acknowledge the truth. From there, you can take steps to protect yourself and the happiness that is rightfully yours.   Are your parents toxic or outright abusive? It’s important that you take action to protect yourself and your happiness. Before you can do that, though, you must acknowledge the relationship you have with your parents. Then you have to shift your perspective and your expectations. Set boundaries and find the strength to build a life that’s worthwhile. It comes down to the actions you take and the decisions you make from this moment forward.   1. Be radically honest with yourself   Foremost, you need to be radically honest with yourself. You’re not in a fairy tale anymore. You’re in a battle for your well-being and your happiness. You need to see the relationship with your parents as it is so that you can work with what you have. It’s the only way to safeguard your well-being and move forward in any practical way. This doesn’t mean you’re labeling your parents or cutting them off. You’re simply acknowledging the reality of your life with them and the experiences you have together.   Be radically honest with yourself about who your parents are (and the relationship you share with them). There’s no use wishing they were different or pushing them into boxes they don’t fit in. Your parents are who they are, and you can’t expect them to change or demand it in any way. Look around and acknowledge what’s going on. How are you being affected by their behavior? By their denial, dismissal, and abuse? Has your self-esteem plummeted? Has it changed the way you build relationships, or your ability to build them at all? Acknowledging our parents as they are takes nothing away from the wonderful memories or the good actions. It’s just committing to reality and seeing things as they are. Acknowledging your parents as human, you will be better equipped to change your perspective and tap into serious healing.   2. Change your perspective on parenting   The main part of healing your adult child-parent relationship involves changing your own perspective. Stop trying to see them as something that they aren’t. And in that same breath, you must also stop expecting them to change or become something that they never were. We don’t all get the parents of our dreams. Just like our partners, we cannot change them, either. Your parents are who they are, and the sooner you accept that the sooner you will be able to move forward realistically.   Change your perspective on parenting. But more than that, change what you expect from your parents in general. Your mother and father are not the Leave It to Beaver fantasy. They will not change at this point and suddenly learn how to give you the love and respect they haven’t handed over in 20–30 years.   Stop expecting them to be something that they aren’t. And understand that no one has perfect parents that can show up for them all the time. We all have moments in which it makes little sense, or we lash out and punish from a sense of fear. Acknowledge the humanity in your parents; the shared imperfections and the ill-fitting beliefs and behaviors. Acknowledge that and you can change the way you see your parents. They were never supposed to be perfect. But you can still create a perfect life for yourself when you make better choices than they did.   3. Vocalize where you’re at   Communication is the backbone of every human relationship. It’s how we anchor ourselves and find common ground. And that includes the relationship we share with our parents. Now that you’re an adult, you need to talk to your parents (in a mature way) about how you’re feeling. Tell them how you’re being affected and the toll their behavior has taken on their life. There’s a careful way in which this must be done, though. And it’s important to also acknowledge when it cannot be done at all (with unwilling participants).   Sit your parents down and vocalize where you’re at. This is not to change their minds or turn the tide of your relationship. That’s never going to happen through forceful change. Instead, use this as an opportunity to say whatever it is you want to say to them. This should be a chance to elevate yourself and speak your truth in the name of closure.   Tell your parents how their toxic behavior has affected you over the years. Don’t hold back and don’t sugarcoat truths that are important for you to speak. Avoid using blaming or accusatory language. Don’t assume you know what they were thinking or where they were coming from. Keep a level head and keep it civil. Once you’ve taken up room to express yourself, give them a chance to reply. But know that it changes nothing. Don’t allow yourself to be taken back in by their charm or toxic wiles. Remember your boundaries and the things that are important to you in life.   4. Set better boundaries for your life   It’s imperative that you set boundaries throughout your life and in your relationships. That includes the relationship you have with your parent or parents. They don’t have a right to disrespect you just because of who they are. They don’t get to control your life or abuse you, because they brought you into the world or cared for you. You need to set boundaries with them, just like anyone else in your life. And allow those boundaries to communicate your expectations regarding your connection with them.   Set better boundaries for yourself with your parents. It doesn’t matter if they brought you into the world, or raised you with all the nice toys and presents. If they’re toxic, they’re toxic. The only way to deal (safely) with a toxic person is by setting limits on the physical, mental, emotional, and financial access they have to you.   Draw a line in the sand with your parents and let them know you will no longer allow that line to be crossed. Behind this line should be all the things you care about. Your boundaries must include your work, your relationships, even your basic interactions with your parents. Boundaries must dictate the time you spend with them, what that time looks like, even what you talk about. If your parent crosses the line, then those boundaries have to be enforced. Usually, this is done effectively by restricting access to you.   5. Prioritize your wellbeing over the drama   At the end of the day, you are responsible for your life, your happiness, and your overall wellbeing. No one will provide that joy and that peace to you. You are the only one who will provide it to yourself. The quality of the relationships around you? Those are your responsibility. If someone is continually hurting you, then it’s up to you to see them out. Some people can’t be in our lives without inflicting pain. If that’s your parents, then you must accept that and do the hard work that needs to be done.   Prioritize your wellbeing above everything else. Your mental and emotional wellness is really the foundation on which you build everything else in your life. If your parents keep you in a total state of confusion, hurt, or upset — then you can never find your feet long enough to build this wellness for yourself.   Have the courage to cut ties if that’s what needs to be done. Some parents are too toxic to hold on to, no matter how much we love them or wish it could be otherwise. They are too hurt, too damaged to offer us anything but their pain. So we are forced with hard decisions. Keep that negativity alive in our lives; suffer in the name of someone else. Or forge our own path. Create chosen families for ourselves who can lift us up and show us a better way to connect. If your parent is abusive or just downright mean, know that there may be only one way to keep your peace and happiness intact moving forward. I hope this was useful, and remember, abuse of any kind is NEVER acceptable, report it to the proper entities and authorities if necessary, and have a great rest of your week.  
(MA, LPC)
Answered on 01/20/2022

what am I experiencing?

Thank you so much for sharing what you're going through. It sounds very hard, and stiffling. It sounds like the world around you is dictating all your decisions, without enough 'warmth', 'acceptance' and so forth. And it also sounds like those other things, you're getting from your group of friends, which your Aunt isn't letting you get from them.    So it's this vicious cycle, of not getting affection and acceptance, but also not being allowed to get affection and acceptance.    The question seems to be, do you leave school, and find your bliss on your own, or do you suffer at home with 'their' rules. I can't answer that, but it does sound like it's pretty black and white, and that it's ignoring all the potential 'grey' places where you might find balance.    For example, maybe there's a way to negotiate with your aunt a way to stay safe, that she would find acceptable. Only outside, only with masks, only 5 people or below, only 15 minutes or under (more than once a week)...    You also mentioned a man, that isn't interested in you anymore. That might be a red flag, but I don't know either of you well enough to say for sure. But keep your eyes open, you deserve to be with someone who cares about you.    The last thing you mentioned was the religion, that you used to be Catholic. I don't know what you are now, but religion is a very very intimate part of who we are. Are you not catholic now because of your aunt? Because of something else? How were you raised?   I know I asked a lot of questions, and it feels like I didn't give you a way out. The 'way out' really depends on getting to know you, your aunt and your situation better. But I do promise-  no matter what -- there is always a way to express who we are. I know it doesn't feel that way now, but there's always a way create 'wiggle room' in our lives, just enough so that we could thrive.    I hope this helped, but if not, please feel free to reach out to me and I'll do my best to think with you about how to create the wiggle room you need in order to feel content. 
Answered on 01/20/2022

I am looking for a therapist

"I am dealing with stress and anxiety and aggravated and frustrating and depressed," is not a question, but a statement that you are making about the way you are feeling and I want you to know those feelings are real and I would love to help you discover where they originate. I want you to know that these feelings are probably origionating from your statement "I been dealing with my Mommy am she been beating on me and stuff like that." This tells me you are going to continue feeling like this and that your what your mom is doing is not working for you or her. If you are an adult, you are continuing to suffer with the trauma of childhood abuse and if you are still allowing your mom to beat on you that is assault, and no one deserves to be assaulted. I am not sure your age and I do not have the total picture, so I am going to reserve the right to make a clinical decision about you being a victim or suffering with the trauma of being a victim. I will say this, whoever you are you have too much value and worth to continue to remain in this environment, and I would like to help you to get out of this situation. I want you to know there is a way out, let me help you. If you are a child, or teenager, I would like to ask a question of your parent to clarify where these statements are coming from and why they think it is necessary to cause you this hurt. I might need to work with your parent and you, or if your parent lets, we (you and I) can just work together to get you to a better place. If you are a teenager, I would like to say to you that I am on you side, and that I would like to work with you to help you to get the help you need to become the person you want to be. To your parent, I would beg you to let me work with your child, who you have for a very short period of time, to help him or her become the young man or lady you can be proud to call your child. Martin
Answered on 01/20/2022

I often fear that I’ll never make it out of this loop, any suggestions to get me through?

Dear Invoked697,   Thank you for your message and for allowing me to understand more about the dynamics of your upbringing and with your family.   Through your words, I understand that in the past (maybe even in present) on one hand you care about others around you and you are constantly giving/helping, on the other hand through this process you might have been compromising or even sacrificing a lot on how you feel in order to keep this relationship going / please others. I can understand how tired you are with this pattern and how you would want things to change so that you can also feel more comfortable in your relationships.   Sometimes perhaps setting a healthy boundary would be helpful in managing your relationship with others in the terms that you feel comfortable so that hopefully your relationships will continue in a way that is mutually comfortable. Otherwise, as your counselor, I would support you to do what is best for yourself, even if that is walking away temporarily. This in itself, is also self-compassion.   In my coaching practice, many of the women and men I work with struggle with one common theme: setting healthy boundaries. I witness this challenge pop up in all relationships, whether it's with a family, business partner, a friend, or in a romantic relationship. We experience this uncomfortable pattern until we heal the root cause of the behavior.   In my experience, the root of all struggles is fear. Relationships become unhealthy when we act from a place of fear, rather than love. More often than not, we aren't even aware of the fears that have been driving our choices, blocking us from doing what's best for ourselves, and damaging our relationships. But learning to set healthy boundaries offers a perfect opportunity to strengthen our capacity to love ourselves and release the ego's fearful perceptions.   When you find yourself having difficulty saying "no" to others, doing things out of feelings of guilt or obligation, attempting to please others even at the expense of what's best for you, or not expressing your thoughts and feelings when someone upsets you, you are putting yourself last and putting others first-which doesn't serve any of the parties involved.   If we say "yes" to others asking of our time and energy and we've not filled ourselves up first, we are giving from a place of lack-which is a fear-based choice that sours the energy in a relationship and doesn't serve either party. It also breeds codependency and prompts us to attract people and situations that drain us because we aren't honoring our own needs and boundaries.   Many times, this way of being can create anger or resentment in the person who is putting her or his own needs behind others. This might manifest as complaining, feeling taken advantage of, or feeling powerless. These feelings are messages to us that we've chosen to perceive ourselves as the victim of a circumstance rather than stepping up and making choices for ourselves based on love.   The truth is, we're never a victim of our circumstances. We can choose how we would like to perceive something in any given situation-we can choose to perceive fear or we can choose love. And when we act from a place of love, rather than a place of fear, we experience a radical shift that transforms our struggles and breaks old patterns that are no longer serving us.   There are three main steps to changing the patterns that keep us in unhealthy relationships: Identifying our fears, choosing to adopt a loving perception of a situation, and taking action from a place of self-love.   Step 1: Identify Your Fears   Awareness is the first step to creating change. The moment we witness our ego's fearful perceptions and the stories it's been telling us, we can begin to shift them.   Common fears that show up in the context of boundaries include fear of not being good enough, fear of rejection, or fear of being alone or abandoned. Many times, we adopt these fears as children (or at other points in our lives), and then drag these past experiences into our present and maybe even project them onto the future. This can result in us feeling like we don't want to upset others or lose their approval or acceptance, and valuing that acceptance over our own needs. Another result of letting these fears run the show is that as a consequence we may have trouble accessing how we want to be feeling and what we want to be doing-which prevents us from standing in our power.   Step 2: Choose Love   After we've created awareness around our fears, it's important to recognize that from a spiritual perspective, the fear isn't "real"-it's something we've learned through social conditioning, and not something we're born with. Instead of believing in these fears, we can choose to put our faith in loving perceptions, release our fearful illusions, and begin to experience beautiful changes in our lives.   This is more than a one-time choice; rather, it's an ongoing, moment-to-moment practice that involves witnessing fearful perceptions as they arise and actively choosing loving perceptions instead. To view the world through a lens of love, I recommend that people begin each day with a powerful intention: "I choose to release my fear and see love instead". Repeat this intention whenever fearful thoughts arise throughout the day.   Step 3: Act   Every time we choose love over fear, we commit an act of self-love. It is only when we are secure in our own worth that we can give and receive from a place of abundance, thereby creating relationships that serve us.   Saying "no" or speaking our truth when someone upsets us might feel scary at first. But as we begin to act in spite of our fears, we come to understand that when we act from a place of love, everyone wins. Contrary to what we may believe, there is never a situation in which what's best for us is not best for all. When we face our fears and express our thoughts and feelings openly to the person who upsets us or pushes our boundaries, internal healing occurs. We learn that it is safe to speak our truth and that those who best serve us will listen with love. Best of all, when we show up for ourselves, we provide an opportunity for those around us to show up as well.   Of course, we cannot control how other people respond to our feelings or choices. How others react is their personal spiritual assignment and how we react is ours. As we release our attachment to others' opinions and practice acceptance around however they choose to respond, we free ourselves from the bondage of fear, knowing that we are self-approved.   When You Need to Walk Away   Sometimes, walking away from a job or relationship that's no longer serving us is the most loving choice we can make. If we choose to leave a person or situation, it's important to trust and know that the universe has our back. The work is to call on our inner guiding system-the loving voice within-and to hear an answer, trust it, and act on it. This internal GPS never leads us astray, no matter how surprising or scary the answer may seem.   Saying "No"-The Takeaway   The most valuable thing that happens when we show up for ourselves with love is that we gain a sense of empowerment and a higher level of self-worth. When we give ourselves the love and acceptance that we desire, we no longer have to look for it outside of ourselves, which gives us the freedom to be who we want to be. This will reflect back to us with beautiful relationships that nourish and support us. As we approach our relationships more consciously and release fearful patterns, we break the cycles of guilt and obligation and begin to create new relationships and experiences that reflect our internal space of self-love.   Please let me know if this is helpful, looking forward to hearing your thoughts. Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 01/20/2022

what can i do to prove my parents that i don't have an eating disorder

Hello, and thank you for your question. This is a difficult situation, where your parents' disbelief in your recovery is going to deprive you of an opportunity to travel. Your parents' reaction indicates a pattern of them thinking that you are the cause of their problems and that you should solve the problems. I don't know your entire history, but this dynamic likely played a part in your use of bulimia as a coping mechanism.  A good first step at this time is to invite your parents to go to a medical appointment with you where you can have a physician evaluate what you ate/what happened, and hopefully support your assertion that you were genuinely sick and vomited because of a physiological issue, and not an emotional or psychological issue. A professional opinion can go a long way to support your cause.  Your parents' blow-up is indicative of some things that have been left unresolved; an underlying pattern for Bulimia. Bulimia is not created in a vacuum. Families tend to have an identified scapegoat in the family that the family members can project their shortcomings and issues onto. This allows family members to live in comfort; not look at themselves and their contribution to whatever problems they are having, and they do not have to work on themselves. It's quite possible that that is what happened in your family. You stated that your father started to accuse you; told you that you are only there to torture them; that you made their life miserable; and he said that he'll never believe you again. It's easier for the parent to convince themselves that the child made the parent's life miserable, rather than for the parent to look at the choices he/she made and take responsibility for his/her life. It's not surprising that the family's punishment is to not let you travel abroad. If you suddenly aren't there to be the scapegoat that absolves them of their responsibilities or distracts them from their issues, they will be forced to look at themselves as the cause of their own problems.  When you received treatment in the past, were there any family sessions? Your family would benefit from family therapy. They need to understand that there is no singular Bulimic family member in the family. The family is Bulimic because each family member contributes to the manifestation of Bulimia in you.   To sum it up, see a physician with the family, and ask the family to enter family therapy with you. I wish you the best.     
(LCSW-C)
Answered on 01/20/2022

How do I begin to recover from codepencency?

Dear Girllifter,   Thank you for your message and for allowing me to understand more on perhaps how our boundaries have been violated by others, and that we have been not receiving the credits/compliments that we deserved.     I'm glad to hear that you've been practicing self-compassion more and beginning to treat yourself with the kindness, compassion, and respect that you'd give to others.   Setting up good boundaries definitely is a display of self-compassion and self-respect.   Through your words, I understand that in the past (maybe even in present) on one hand you care about others around you and you are constantly giving/helping, on the other hand through this process you might have been compromising or even sacrificing a lot on how you feel in order to keep this relationship going / please others. I can understand how tired you are with this pattern and how you would want things to change so that you can also feel more comfortable in your relationships.   Sometimes perhaps setting a healthy boundary would be helpful in managing your relationship with others in the terms that you feel comfortable so that hopefully your relationships will continue in a way that is mutually comfortable. Otherwise, as your counselor, I would support you to do what is best for yourself, even if that is walking away temporarily. This in itself, is also self-compassion.   In my coaching practice, many of the women and men I work with struggle with one common theme: setting healthy boundaries. I witness this challenge pop up in all relationships, whether it's with a family, business partner, a friend, or in a romantic relationship. We experience this uncomfortable pattern until we heal the root cause of the behavior.   In my experience, the root of all struggle is fear. Relationships become unhealthy when we act from a place of fear, rather than love. More often than not, we aren't even aware of the fears that have been driving our choices, blocking us from doing what's best for ourselves, and damaging our relationships. But learning to set healthy boundaries offers a perfect opportunity to strengthen our capacity to love ourselves and release the ego's fearful perceptions.   When you find yourself having difficulty saying "no" to others, doing things out of feelings of guilt or obligation, attempting to please others even at the expense of what's best for you, or not expressing your thoughts and feelings when someone upsets you, you are putting yourself last and putting others first-which doesn't serve any of the parties involved.   If we say "yes" to others asking of our time and energy and we've not filled ourselves up first, we are giving from a place of lack-which is a fear-based choice that sours the energy in a relationship and doesn't serve either party. It also breeds codependency, and prompts us to attract people and situations that drain us because we aren't honoring our own needs and boundaries.   Many times, this way of being can create anger or resentment in the person who is putting her or his own needs behind others'. This might manifest as complaining, feeling taken advantage of, or feeling powerless. These feelings are messages to us that we've chosen to perceive ourselves as the victim of a circumstance rather than stepping up and making choices for ourselves based on love.   The truth is, we're never a victim of our circumstances. We can choose how we would like to perceive something in any given situation-we can choose to perceive fear or we can choose love. And when we act from a place of love, rather than a place of fear, we experience a radical shift that transforms our struggles and breaks old patterns that are no longer serving us.   There are three main steps to changing the patterns that keep us in unhealthy relationships: Identifying our fears, choosing to adopt a loving perception of a situation, and taking action from a place of self-love.   Step 1: Identify Your Fears   Awareness is the first step to creating change. The moment we witness our ego's fearful perceptions and the stories it's been telling us, we can begin to shift them.   Common fears that show up in the context of boundaries include fear of not being good enough, fear of rejection, or fear of being alone or abandoned. Many times, we adopt these fears as children (or at other points in our lives), and then drag these past experiences into our present and maybe even project them onto the future. This can result in us feeling like we don't want to upset others or lose their approval or acceptance, and valuing that acceptance over our own needs. Another result of letting these fears run the show is that as a consequence we may have trouble accessing how we want to be feeling and what we want to be doing-which prevents us from standing in our power.   Step 2: Choose Love   After we've created awareness around our fears, it's important to recognize that from a spiritual perspective, the fear isn't "real"-it's something we've learned through social conditioning, and not something we're born with. Instead of believing in these fears, we can choose to put our faith in loving perceptions, release our fearful illusions, and begin to experience beautiful changes in our lives.   This is more than a one-time choice; rather, it's an ongoing, moment-to-moment practice that involves witnessing fearful perceptions as they arise and actively choosing loving perceptions instead. To view the world through a lens of love, I recommend that people begin each day with a powerful intention: "I choose to release my fear and see love instead". Repeat this intention whenever fearful thoughts arise throughout the day.   Step 3: Act   Every time we choose love over fear, we commit an act of self-love. It is only when we are secure in our own worth that we can give and receive from a place of abundance, thereby creating relationships that serve us.   Saying "no" or speaking our truth when someone upsets us might feel scary at first. But as we begin to act in spite of our fears, we come to understand that when we act from a place of love, everyone wins. Contrary to what we may believe, there is never a situation in which what's best for us is not best for all. When we face our fears and express our thoughts and feelings openly to the person who upsets us or pushes our boundaries, internal healing occurs. We learn that it is safe to speak our truth and that those who best serve us will listen with love. Best of all, when we show up for ourselves, we provide an opportunity for those around us to show up as well.   Of course, we cannot control how other people respond to our feelings or choices. How others react is their personal spiritual assignment and how we react is ours. As we release our attachment to others' opinions and practice acceptance around however they choose to respond, we free ourselves from the bondage of fear, knowing that we are self-approved.   When You Need to Walk Away   Sometimes, walking away from a job or relationship that's no longer serving us is the most loving choice we can make. If we choose to leave a person or situation, it's important to trust and know that the universe has our back. The work is to call on our inner guiding system-the loving voice within-and to hear an answer, trust it, and act on it. This internal GPS never leads us astray, no matter how surprising or scary the answer may seem.   Saying "No"-The Takeaway   The most valuable thing that happens when we show up for ourselves with love is that we gain a sense of empowerment and a higher level of self-worth. When we give ourselves the love and acceptance that we desire, we no longer have to look for it outside of ourselves, which gives us the freedom to be who we want to be. This will reflect back to us with beautiful relationships that nourish and support us. As we approach our relationships more consciously and release fearful patterns, we break the cycles of guilt and obligation and begin to create new relationships and experiences that reflect our internal space of self-love.   Please let me know if this is helpful, looking forward to hear your thoughts. Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 01/20/2022

How do I forgive my parents and stop them from triggering me?

Dear Bec,   Thank you for your message and sharing with me the dynamics between you and your family, and your struggles with forgiveness regarding the pain you've been suffering from.    We do have the right to be angry at how the lack of courage from the ones who have hurt us and have left us feeling unresolved and unfairly treated. It could be true that because of how much shame and guilt the other person is feeling, they might not ever have the courage to come to us, acknowledge what they have done and apologize.   They have hurt us once in the past, yet by allowing this resentment to build, I am afraid that it means we are giving them the license to continue hurting us.   It is unfortunate that this is a situation where it doesn't seem to be fair, the ones who have wounded us continue to live their lives while we are still sitting in the wounds. I can understand how frustrated and angry that feels, I would be feeling the same way given in this situation.   Meanwhile I am also thinking about our future, your future and what is best for your interest. On that note if you would like, I would like to propose forgiveness. Not to agree / accept the person's wrong doing or letting them go from being hold accountable, rather this forgiveness is all about setting ourselves free from continue being hurt / controlled by this person's action / inaction.   As you have been practicing kindness, I am sure you have noticed that we have much control over how we want to feel and we can make choices to promote kindness within ourselves, regardless of how others treat us or what life brings us.   “Forgiveness is the most powerful thing that you can do for your physiology and your spirituality.  Yet, it remains one of the least attractive things to us, largely because our egos rule so unequivocally. To forgive is somehow associated with saying that it is all right, that we accept the evil deed. But this is not forgiveness. Forgiveness means that you fill yourself with love and you radiate that love outward and refuse to hang onto the venom or hatred that was engendered by the behaviors that caused the wounds.” ~ Wayne Dyer   Here are some thoughts that I have when it comes to forgiveness, perhaps some benefits when we practice letting go of resentments and allow forgiveness to bring peace and healing back into our heart:   1. Forgiveness is a gift we give to ourselves   “It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody.” ~ Maya Angelou   Your mind might try to convince you that forgiveness is “letting someone off the hook,” and that you are in fact doing those who mistreated you a favor by forgiving them, but the truth of the matter is that you are doing yourself a favor.   Forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself, to be at peace, to be happy and to be able to sleep at night. You’re not doing this for them, you’re doing it for yourself, to set yourself free from the feelings of hurt, anger and helplessness that kept both of you attached for so long, and to be at peace.   2. Forgiveness is an act of strength   “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute if the strong.” ~ Gandhi    Contrary to what you have been led to believe, forgiveness is an act of strength. You don’t forgive because you are weak, but because you are strong enough to realize that only by letting go of resentments you will be happy and at peace.   3. Forgiveness is a sign of self-love   “We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.    Love yourself enough to let go of all the toxicity from your life and free yourself from all the anger, bitterness and resentments.  If you’re mad, be mad. Don’t hide and suppress your feelings. Let it all out, but once you’re done with being mad, allow forgiveness to enter your heart. Let go and love!    4. When you forgive, you find peace   “If you let go a little you will have a little peace; if you let go a lot you will have a lot of peace; if you let go completely you will have complete peace.” ~ Ajahn Chah   Peace of mind is what you find the moment you let go of any grudges and any resentments you might be holding on to. The moment you say to yourself: “It is time to let go, it is time to forgive”, that will be the moment you will find peace.    5. If you forgive, you will be forgiven   “In this world, you are given as you give. And you are forgiven as you forgive. While you go your way through each lovely day, you create your future as you live.” ~ Peace Pilgrim   In life, we get what we give, and we reap what we sow. And since we’re all humans, and we all make mistakes, the more we forgive others for the past, present and future mistakes, the more others will forgive us when we will make mistakes. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. That also means forgiving ourselves. The more we practice forgiveness, we will find ourselves having more grace and compassion for others, and for ourselves, which would result in peace, comfort and calmness.   I hope this is helpful. Again I want to acknowledge how difficult it is to navigate these waters, especially when some of these pain and acts are ongoing. I just want to acknowledge your courage in seeking to learn about forgiveness.   Please let me know if this is helpful, looking forward to learn your thoughts, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 01/20/2022

What should I do if I’m worrying about being trans?

It's hard to go through what you are going through.  I have experience talking with other clients in a similar circumstances, and I am greatly empathizing with your struggles.  Many young people who feel that they cannot identify with their biological gender are at some point presented with a difficult dilemma:  "Should I be who I truly am or should I hide how I feel to please the family?"  The answer is rarely clear right away and many people go back and forth regarding making a decision that they could live with.  It seems like no matter what the decision will be, it will not be a perfect one and you will experience some grief and loss when you choose one way or another. If you choose to follow your feelings, you will most likely be in conflict with your family.  If you choose to be who they want you to be, you will most likely disappoint yourself.  I can help you sort out these feelings.  You are in a difficult place because of your family’s reaction.  I don't know much about your family and I hope you'll tell me more so I can understand better who they are and how they think.  Since you were kicked out before, I am assuming you are back to living with your family, right?  Besides your identity struggle, what are you up to nowadays?  Do you go to school, maybe have a job?  Do you have friends?  Sometimes if you cannot find support and understanding from the family, it really helps finding people outside of your family circle who can help you grow. Giving up is definitely not an option! I am glad you are making steps in reaching out for help. If you feel so frustrated and depressed that life seems unbearable, you need to know that this is an emergency and it has to be addressed in an urgent facility such as an emergency room.  Life presents us with different challenges.  I would like to get to know you better and see what I can do to help and support you.  Wishing you the best.
(LCSW-R)
Answered on 01/20/2022

Parenting a child who won’t quit smoking pot and doesn’t care about house rules.

You haven't mentioned his age.  How I would recommend approaching treatment might differ depending on his age.  Without the age I will answer from a general viewpint.  I am wondering how he is acquiring the pot and how he is paying for it.  These are important control points that may be relevant as if there is a way to interfere with his ability to acquire the substance we can start there.  This should at least be considered as you start to look at options. Ability to acquire the pot is essential to his being able to use it. It sounds as though you are beyond the talking stage of communication and have moved into the stage of setting boundaries which he is not accepting.  I can understand from the point of his use why he is not caring about the limitations or following them.  After all, with a pandemic in place what are your reasonable options?  But, there again, how is he getting the pot during a pandemic?  It takes some work to get someone to deliver the pot to a home from what I recall.  Perhaps that is still a point where there is a way to control his use.  The method of parenting that I generally use is love and logic.  It is a way of putting responsibility on the person and applies from birth through adulthood although the approach adjusts as the child gets older.  IIt is going to be hard to address this issue as you are at an impasse not a talking stage at this time.  It usually starts with a show of empathy or understanding of the situation but not the drug use.  Forinstance, if he is using because of pandemic factors you would empathyze or show understanding of being frustrated or stressed by the pandemic and discuss it a little.  Then, you would move on to engaging him in problem solving about how he can better manage his feelings in the pandemic.  When he states he has no idea of how to manage it other than smoking pot you can point out options to him saying "Smoking pot in the house is not acceptable to your mother and I.  It needs to be something different.  Often parents will use a phrase starting with "some parents" and then state what some other parents have done.  You can try to brainstorm with him asking him from time to time if, given the examples of what some parents have done, he has any other suggestions.  Again, if this fails you would move to talling him what you have decided to do and telling him that he needs to either obey your wishes or come up with one of his own that is acceptable to you as parents.  Remember, you must be willing to follow through with whatever you decide.  You might want to make going to treatment a condition of living in the house also.  With this option you may use a motivational interviewing technique by testing his commitment to what you are discussing.  You can do this via saying that you are willing to allow him to stay if he takes the first virtual counseling appointment with an addiction specialist and limits his use.  You can have him titrate down from his current use by a set amount each week and set an ending date for all use and allow him to titrate down as long as he follows rules concerning going to treatment.   Motivational Interviewing is something that you can look up on line.  It has been used with substance issues and is similar to Stages of Change.  I would love to send you a picture of how that works but either method can be looked up in Amazon.  It would help you.
(Psy.D., LISW-CP/S, CACII)
Answered on 01/20/2022

What do I do if I fix the relationship I have with my family?

Hello, Thank you for taking the time to write all of this. It sounds like you had some very painful and traumatic experiences growing up. I'm not sure if anyone has ever told you this, but what you have described experiencing at the hands of your parents and sibling IS abuse. It sounds like your sibling physically abused, while your parents have emotionally and mentally abused you; and in some form this continues on today from what you are saying. I know that may be difficult to hear, because our parents and family of origin should provide us love, support, and safety. But sometimes this is not the case, and as adults we are left to try and figure out how to live a productive and healthy life despite our childhood and our family. I'm not sure you realize this, but you are a survivor of trauma. By continuing to engage in relationships with your parents and sibling, who by the sound of it have not changed, have not acknowledged any wrongdoing, and who don't seem to have any accountability in this situation, you are going to continue being traumatized. For a relationship to work, both parties have to be willing to make things better, or else it doesn't work. You are trying to mend a relationship that might possibly not be able to be fixed. I would encourage you to take some to reflect on what it is that you are seeking to gain from your parents and/or your sibling. Is it love, acceptance, self worth, acknowledgement of wrongdoing, an apology, kindness, compassion? Really take some time to reflect on this. It's important to understand what you are seeking so that you can better identify what causes you to keep going back to those people who have deeply hurt you and who continue to hurt you. It is quite possible that you are seeking something from your family, that they cannot provide you, and that they will never be able to give you. It's possible they themselves are not equipped to be the kind of parents or brother or sister that you need and want. And unless they also get help, they may never be able to have healthy relationships. But the good news in all of this, is that you can have healthy relationships (maybe not with your family, but certainly with other people in your life) and you can be a healthy adult who lives a happy life. This does not require you to have a relationship with your family, if ultimately it's going to cause you ongoing damage and is at the expense of your own mental health. Forgiveness is not about letting them off the hook for what they did or continue to do, it's about taking the hook out of your own heart. And you can forgive without having to continue on in a unhealthy or abusive relationship, even if it's with your parents. One important thing for you to work on will be the concept of boundaries, starting with your family and then extending to other areas of your life. First by figuring out if you can have a relationship with your family going forward, and if you can, what that relationship will look like in order for you to be able to maintain your own peace, happiness, and sanity. I hope this was helpful. Family relationships are rarely easy and the guilt we feel surrounding those relationships can be a heavy burden to carry. But it sounds like it's time for you to figure out how you can move forward, and get yourself out of this seemingly unhealthy cycle you are in with your family. You do not have to live like this, and you do not have to accept abuse from anyone, including your family. You are worthy of love, acceptance, and support.
(LCSW, MSSW, MBA)
Answered on 01/20/2022

How do I process the anger that my spouse abducted our children on our anniversary?

Hi Lucy, I am glad you are reaching out during this time. I am incredibly sorry to hear the experience you are going through, I am hoping your therapist is a source of support for you. The pain will not disappear, and I know you know that. I am wondering what you are doing for self-care? When I say self-care, how are you taking care of yourself? Are you eating well, are you trying to sleep (I realize this may be difficult at times), are you exercising? Are you able to pamper yourself with something extra? I say this because when they do return, I want you to have the energy to deal with the situation. While a temporary solution, exercising may be helpful in getting some of that extra adrenaline out. I am also wondering about any support groups for people who have had similar situations? Have you done a search for them on line to see what you can find? There is something called the Anger Iceberg and what that says is that our anger is what other people see, however, the anger covers up what I call uncomfortable emotions. It covers up the pain, the betrayal, the hurt, the depression, and so many other emotions. Most people would rather feel the anger instead of those other emotions because the anger gives us an adrenaline rush. Have you thought about writing or journaling what you want to say (but may not because it is inappropriate) and then burning it? Something that will help you get that additional anger and emotion out so you do not hold onto it. Sometimes when we dwell and ruminate on things, we are re-enforcing the anger, making it worse. I hope that makes sense. If you were to draw your anger, what would it look like? I do not know what type of person you are or what you enjoy, I am trying to come up with something out of the ordinary that would help you. There is something called mindfulness, which is being in the moment with all five of your senses, While difficult, I encourage you to try and stay focused in the moment instead of all the "what if" scenarios that may be running through your head. I wish you the best of luck and for a safe return for everyone.
(LISW-CP, LCSW-C, LCSW)
Answered on 01/20/2022