Relationships Answers

I had an affair, had trauma from my husband because of it and I don’t know how to be, how can I heal

Hi Pickle.  Thanks for your meaningful and heartfelt question.     Healing following any rupture of trust is a difficult task.  It seems that in this situation there are at least two areas of trust to consider, including the trust you have with and for yourself and the trust you have for your husband.  Trauma of any sort can intrinsically change the trust relationship we have in both of these areas.  In the time I have to write to you, I'll explain a little about this relationship, between trust and trauma, and also touch on the topic of healing.   Because you didn't specify in your question what kind of trauma you experienced, I'll try to talk generically about trauma that can be caused by emotional abuse, psychological abuse, sexual violence, and physical abuse.  Trauma can leave us with many lasting effects, including nightmares, flashbacks of the event(s), hypervigilance (being on edge and extremely aware of our surroundings), avoidance of things that remind us of the trauma, feelings of sadness, feelings of numbness or being out of reality, and problems establishing trust.  If you're experiencing any of these symptoms as a result of your trauma, remember that this is a normal reaction.  As the science of psychiatry and psychology progress, we're finding out that trauma can actually change us physiologically. People who respond to trauma in these ways are not crazy and are actually experiencing normal reactions to extremely scary situations.   If you were previously a very trusting and open person, this experience might be particularly stressful.  And because your affair was the triggering event in this reupture of trust, you might be blaming yourself.  You mention experiencing fear and anger as predominant emotions, which makes sense.  Trauma itself is scary, and on top of this you might be experiencing fear that things will never go back to normal, that you'll have another affair, or that you'll never feel comfortable in your relationship again.  You might be fearful that your husband will react in a similar way next time there's an upsetting situation.  And experiencing anger also makes sense in this situation.  You might be angry at yourself for having the affair, and angry at your husband for hurting you.     I think it's wonderful that you're able to identify these emotions, and I think it's a positive indicator of your ability to heal.  And there are different types of healing that need to happen.  You have healing to do as an individual, and perhaps this includes addressing your trauma symptoms and learning to use self-compassion wisely.  It sounds like there's also healing for you and your husband to pursue as a couple.  Perhaps this means learning to communicate in a healthy way, or learning how to support each other.  Either way, pursuing individual therapy or therapy as a couple would probably help you to address these issues and to start the healing journey.  But whether or not you seek therapy, it is possible to heal.     My best wishes.   Gabrielle  
Answered on 10/18/2021

Tell me why the guy chose her over me never said he liked me hurt me bad and now I’m scared

Hello, Thank you for reaching out to Betterhelp. I am so sorry that you are going through this and are going through so much pain. It sounds like he really meant a lot to you, and it is awful when they do not feel the same way. It also sounds like you were not able to fully express how much you cared about him.  So what now? You might expect me to say that there are plenty of fish in the sea, which is true. But we also have to work on your skills as a fisherman. ;) What I would first have you focus on is self-love, self-compassion, and confidence. The truth is you are enough. Always have been. Our mistake is letting other people they have that power over us. They do not. We can either look at as him choosing another person over you OR he made a choice, unfortunate for him, because he missed out on an incredible person, YOU.  Let us get started on self-love. Some of us look at that word and cringe. Like, what does that even mean? It sounds cheesy because others have defined as so. But self-love is important. It means treating ourselves like how we want others to treat us (duh), but you would be surprised at how much we can get used to. But as long as we remember how bright our own lights shine, we won't even focus on the shadows.  Self-love starts with being honest and real with ourselves. It is taking a mirror and looking at the reflection of our soul. We have to understand who we are and things that we can improve.  Physical Changes: A lot of us neglect our physical selves. This can include eating junk food, not drinking enough water, low physical exercise, postponing that haircut, even indulging in a new lipstick. All of these are important because they boost us up. We expect significant others to do nice things for us because we would do the same for them. If this is not true for you,  please continue reading. Let me ask you this, so how can we expect something from others that we are not even doing for ourselves?  Girl, buy yourself flowers and chocolates because YOU CAN. You will get it right every time because YOU KNOW YOU. It hits different, trust. You would be surprised how many of us are not meeting our basic needs. We treat our bodies like crap without a second thought. We passively mistreat ourselves. That is not okay.  We do not prioritize drinking water. That doesn't sound too harmful, right? Well, have you ever seen a plant that has not been watered? They look so sad, they slouch, 0/10 confidence that is for sure! When you drink water, your body will thank you. No one else can do this for you. The exact same thing with eating. Have you ever gone to the movies and ate a whole bucket of popcorn? Have you been able to eat that same bucket of popcorn at any other setting? Why do you think that is? Because we are distracted with the movie. We are not consciously eating. We are somewhere else, in a different galaxy. This can be detrimental because we end up consuming more than we need to. It is like overfilling your gas tank with crappy fuel. How do you expect it to run? Think about long term? We are misinformed to think that we can run like a Prius.  So next time you are consuming a bag of chips, ask yourself, "Why am I eating this? Does it make me happy? Or does it help me escape?". I am not saying eating a bag of chips is bad by any means. I am saying that I want you to be conscious and MINDFUL. Savor it, enjoy it, be intentional.  Now for physical activities. We are accustomed to overworking and sitting our desks for hours on end. Yes, this means you are a hard worker. But your body also needs to move because it is also a hard worker. Our bodies are meant to be used. PLEASE USE IT. Go for a walk, do yoga, stretch, etc. This helps release those feel-good hormones. Who doesn't like to feel a natural high? Emotional Changes: The way we talk to ourselves is indicative of how we let others talk to us. We have that inner voice that can often be an inner critic. Be aware of this. Our inner critic is also developed from people in our lives who have been overly critical, negative, naggy, and all those not-so-fun things. I have had clients identify them as their parents, bullies, siblings, and ex. It is amazing who we let overstay their welcome in our heads.  If this, is you, I want you to close your eyes and imagine that person who is overstaying their welcome in your welcome. Now, you are going to kick them out. Go ahead, open the door, and ask them to leave. Now SHUT THAT DOOR.  Now I want to imagine someone in your life who has inspired you, motivated you, encouraged you. Someone who would come and help you whenever you need it. Do you have that person in mind? Good, now imagine them knocking on your door. Now open the door and let them in.  Remember, you have control over that door. That door represents boundaries. The same door can be used to let someone in and kick someone out. It is powerful. It is your power. See, I told you that you have always been enough.  I am a firm believer in energy. You feel it when you walk into a room, haven't you? You feel it when someone is off, sad, happy, angry all of the above. Every day, you carry energy. It is always your choice on where you will allocate it. Sometimes we waste it on others. You might be commuting to work, and someone cuts you off. You flip them off or you mutter a few words under your breath. That took energy. You can use that same energy and say, "Well that was shitty, but they probably have somewhere to go." Same energy, but you carry it differently.  Your energy can also be used by other people. I am sure you have heard the term "energy vampires" before? We have a lot of those people in our lives. It can be difficult when it is family, friends, co-workers, or even part of your job. What I encourage all of my clients learn are "assertive boundaries".  These are the "I-Statements" that allow you to use your power. You can say, "I appreciate you considering me, but I am going to decline" or "I see that you are upset but I am going to walk away so this does not escalate", or "I would appreciate assistance with this large project."  These "I-Statements" will be applied in your relationships. This is where you express your needs and communicate your emotions.  So this is just a snap shot of what your trusted mental health professional can help you work on. These are the things that will build that strong foundation for future relationships. So I hope that you continue the self-love, self-compassion, and always know that YOU ARE ENOUGH.       
Answered on 10/18/2021

Am I justified in feeling upset or should I be more ok with "having different opinions"

Hi Lili,    Thank you for reaching out to a BetterHelp therapist to question and explore feeling justified in being upset versus accepting having a differing of opinions with your partner.   This is a great question and one that I hope to approach both sides of the coin with you.    First, take ownership of your thoughts, feelings and opinions.  They are yours.  Because you are two different individuals with different thought processes and histories, it is likely that the two of you will not agree on everything, and that is healthy.  Where the problem can arise is how the difference in opinions is handled.    For the sake of avoiding conflict, you should not abandon your own thoughts and values and agree, but that will lead to sacrificing your own independent thoughts and values for the sake of "keeping the peace", and you will ultimately suffer.    Next, understand that having different opinions can be handled positively - if when you disagree.   You share getting very upset "because I have strong feelings."   As  I previously cautioned, you don't want to sacrifice your own thoughts and values to keep the peace, the same is true conversely.  It would not be healthy for your partner to abandon his own thoughts and opinions for fear that you will get upset.  Is there a harm in disagreeing, ie. having a difference of opinion and it not lead to being upset?    One thing may be helpful, and that is addressing the energy surrounding some of the words that are being used.  There are tools that can be used to work on the language and tone with your partner so that it does not come across as judgemental.   When a tone is harsh or the language used can feel attacked, it can shut down all communications which is not the goal either.  It may be worth a separate conversation to calmly address the instances that feel like character attacks.  Keeping an open line of communication with the reminder in mind that your partner is on your team, not against you, can help to keep this line of communication open.    Taking these steps to have open communication, without judgment, and mindfulness of tone can help to nurture your relationship and grow healthy conversations that don't have to end with each person standing their ground in their own corner.      
Answered on 10/18/2021

How much is each therapy session and would these sessions take place virtually?

Hi Shez Thank you for reaching out. Each session typically lasts 45 mins. We meet virtually, video, phone, and or chat sessions these are in real-time. We can also communicate in messages, daily if you would wish. I like to start therapy sessions slow, I like to develop a therapeutic relationship, by getting to know and learning about what you have been through in your own time. That way you can feel that therapy is a safe place for you to talk about those bad experiences that have changed your life. I use the example that therapy is like your car. I am not going to drive this car for you, I am not going to stop, or start for you. What I am going to do is sit in the front seat with you. I am going to hold the road map, which is your goals and the things you want to accomplish, and support you through that. If you go off course, I am going to ask why and do you want to change things and we would adjust as you need to do so. I would want to talk about trust, how you feel trust should work. How trust is bulit for you and what you need in order to feel secure in trusting anyone.  We would talk about building your confidence and what that would look like. Its important to you to feel like you can be comfortable. Is the sensitivity related to everyone or family or? I think we start determining where these feelings have started? Then learn how to stay present in the moment and not be drawn back into the pain you feel on a regular basis. We start with something called  Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, that we work to stop the feelings that beings these unhappy thoughts and then change the action.   The action of turning negative feelings into positive feelings.   Once we can change the negative feelings we can work on increasing that trust and building that confidence you need to feel love, feel happiness and not feel like you have to pretend to be happy when you are not.
(LCMHCS, CCS, MAC, ;, LCAS, CCMC)
Answered on 10/18/2021

How do I deal with sexual guilt?

You raise a great question. What is guilt in your mind? What is your experience of it? Questions to ask...Are my decisions to have sex consistent with my values and life priorities? Is sex a choice or a need? What is the function of sex in your life? When you answer these questions with curiosity, not judgment, you will have a better grasp of the issue as it relates to you. As you process, this question remember you are a woman of value!  What is guilt? Wikipedia says it is feeling responsible or regretful for a perceived offense, real or imaginary. Can be part of the grief reaction. Usually is experienced if your actions are not consistent with your personal values. COMMON CAUSES Guilt can be normal and is only an indicator of underlying disease when feelings become excessive, all-consuming, and interfere with daily living. Otherwise, it is an indicator that something is wrong and needs to be addressed. Once you grasp the meaning of guilt you can answer the other questions and determine is sex as you experience it,  a choice or a need. Let's explore the need as a form of avoidance of other issues or of control. Many men and women who suffer from sexual trauma commit to never being in a situation they they are not in control. Is this you? Does the belief you need to be in control feel true to you?  Is your sexual expression a need? An obsession with sexual thoughts, urges, or behaviors that may cause distress or that negatively affects health, job, or relationships. This is a form of dependence and is a function of something else and a form of bondage.  What is the function of your sexual expression? Adventure....... anxiety reduction........control?  Each of your answers indicates of different course of action. I encourage you to talk to a counselor to address your responses unless the function of your sexal expression is adventure........ then as long as you are taking precautions enjoy and realize you are not doing anything wrong. You can work on changing your beliefs that create the feelinbgs of guilt.  You matter and how you value yourself and the live you live,  is the greatest priority in maximizing your potential.  In each action you take and decision you make, once you make a decision the decision makes you. This is why you have to follow the values you desire to live by. Sex can be an integral part of a meaningful relationship or more for fun or sport. What does it mean to you? What is it's function? Adventure? Avoidance? 
(LISW, LCSW, LICDC)
Answered on 10/18/2021

How can I be a good wife to my husband who struggles with OCD?

Dear Suzanne, I am sorry to hear of your family's struggles. OCD can be a very challenging disorder to navigate without ongoing counseling and medical support. I think there are a lot of ways you can help your husband get help but trying to diffuse his anxiety will only create more codependency in the relationship dynamic. I would suggest working with a couple's therapist and getting your own therapeutic support so you can begin to work on NOT giving him the assurances he is asking for. This creates an unhealthy dynamic in the relationship where you are managing his anxiety for him instead of him taking responsibility for his own healing and rehabilitation process. If your husband is struggling with anger management issues this is also not surprising given that is one way that individuals work through anxiety and depression as this can manifest in their relationships in the form of anger. It is important that you are not a target of his anger and that you do not engage when and if he has explosions. A lot of ways you can help your husband manage his OCD is by not engaging with him in ways in which you are feeling responsibility towards making him feel better. When the pain of change becomes less than the pain of staying the same, we change. It typically has to get worse, before it gets better. I would encourage you to get your own therapeutic support and work specifically on setting healthy boundaries and self-care during this time. However, helping your husband diffuse his anxiety is not your job, to begin with: It is his job and the more you try to help him, the more it can backfire AND the less likely he will be to get outside medical and therapeutic help which is what a person with OCD needs. I realize this might be very difficult to read but reaching out for help is the first step towards living your best life. The best thing you can do for your husband is put your mask on first and get help for yourself. I wish you the very best in working towards these goals! Take good care. 
(MA, LCMFT, #855)
Answered on 10/18/2021

How do I tell my husband what I’ve done and how do I deal with my overwhelming emotions?

Hi!  Thank you for reaching out and giving a detailed account of what's currently going on for you.  It sounds like you have been going through a lot and need an outlet to process all of your complex emotions you're experiencing.   I think the first place to focus on is starting to unpack those emotions you're feeling around shame, guilt, self-loathing, loneliness, anger and emptiness.  And what I mean by that is how can you separate the best you can, the feelings around the loss of friendship from that around navigating your feelings as it pertains to your husband.  A question to ask yourself is - how are you coping with all of this?  Do you find that the ways you cope are more positive or negative?  Your statement around having no clue in how to come to terms with what a horrible person you are is a heavy thing to say.  It appears that your actions are a cumulation of many factors, ultimately leading you in trying to get your needs met.  As much as our brain wants to label our actions as either all good or all bad, there is so much grey area for us to sift through.  I know it's hard to hear right now, but you were not in this alone and by putting all the blame on yourself for causing your friend and her family pain will just continue to eat away at you.  We are all human and we sometimes make ill-advised decisions, but that also doesn't soley define who we are.  That doesn't make us less worthy of feeling loved or getting our needs met.   I do understand that having the conversation with your husband is top of mind and can be very scary since there is no way of knowing how he will react or what the outcome will be, especially since it does sound like your husband has issues with expressing his anger.  In knowing this, one of the things to think about is how you want to deliver your message.  I know it will be one of the most challenging conversations to have, but I also hear how much this is eating at you.  Some things to think about - How can you set the stage for the most optimal response?  Would he be open to couples counseling and having an impartial ear guide the conversation?  In knowing that he sometimes breaks things in anger, maybe also having a safety plan of calling 911 if things get out of hand and you feel in danger.  I know you don't want to think about that, but we want to make sure that you remain safe (while this is the worst case scenario, I do think it's important to discuss).  Ultimately, you are grieving the loss of your friends as well as the potential loss of your marriage and I think the question to keep going back to is this - how can you forgive yourself?  Finding forgiveness within yourself will be the first step in this healing journey for you. 
(LMHC, LPC)
Answered on 10/18/2021

Sleeping whole day, no motivation for work

Hi Bash, First off, let me say that I'm sorry for the pain and loss you are going through right now and would highly recommend you consider the book, "The wisdom of a broken heart" by Susan Piver.  It sounds like you are going through probably the hardest part of the breakup and in the midst of intense feelings of grief and loss... also probably the hardest time to see or believe that it will not always feel like this.\, however I would encourage you as you are able , even for a moment to hear that voice in your head that is saying ina caring , soft and gentle manner that you will not always feel like this and that you ar stuck at this moment in time but not broken.  You are also in the words of Grief expert, David Kessler, "in the river of grief"... you asked the question, "how can I build self-discipline again?" One step at a time... one moment at a time...  It would seem to me that right now it might be important to try and focus on self-care and self-kindness. The self-discipline will follow in time. Do not look away from your feelings but rather toward them. We have to feel to heal... the healing from the pain ...is in the pain...  I like this excerpt from Joanne Cacciatore's book, (clips of her writing)  "Grieving is Loving" when she writes a letter to self... " Please remember to have a good cry when you need it, drink plenty of water, connect with caring others, accept and embrace your emotions without changing any of them, even the good ones, find the sun every day, learn to love your solitude, sleep seven hours a night"  I'm also reminded of the quote from The Kotzker Rebbe... "There is no heart more whole then a broken one" ...  Bash... give yourself time to feel... focus as you can on self-care which means attending to your body, your mind, your heart and your spirit... as this happens, your energy will increase in small ways ...slow,y in all these areas... and then you may be in a better place to focus more clearly on moving forward.  Its not about moving on... its about moving forward... finding your way home to your own heart.   There is no heart more whole... than a broken one...  May you have peace, may you have safety, may you have ease during this most stressful time, may you find the strength you need to get through these days.  with loving care and kindness  Warm regards,' Dave
Answered on 10/18/2021

Why is it that all that my boyfriend does is never enough for me to trust him

Hello, First off I am truly sorry that you have experienced trauma such as verbal abuse, and abandonment, and ultimately a divorce. Without treating you, or knowing more about your background, one possibility for your need for constant communication could be seeking validation from your boyfriend which is likely a reflection of the abandonment you experienced. You could also be fearful that he is going to leave. Seeking that validation could be your attempt to protect yourself and ultimately prevent this relationship from failing. I am curious if you have communicated your past trauma and martial history with your current boyfriend and if he is understanding of those events and how they ultimately crossover into your present reality. Your worry about him leaving, is this grounded in reality? Is this a fear or has he actually communicated those words to you? Think about that question, and then answer if it is yes, has he been impatient or annoyed because he's repeated himself, or again because he has actually said those words? If he has actually communicated those words to you, do you really want to continue to remain in a relationship with someone who feels that reassurance and communication is just too much? When we have been wronged over and over in our lives, and by multiple people, it generally takes a considerable length of time to heal, and recover from those maladaptive events. I hope that you are able to receive this response as hopeful, and helpful. You are experiencing some of the long-term effects of the trauma events in your life. You deserve healing, you deserve to feel the ability to trust someone and ultimately you deserve to have someone in your life that will love you without you worrying that they will leave. I hope this response encourages you and motivates you to seek therapy so that you can reclaim your life, and take control of your future. You are resilient, and you are not all of the things that have been done to you but rather that possibility of something greater. Best of luck to you, and I wish you all the best in your path to self healing and transformation. 
(MSW, LCSW)
Answered on 10/18/2021

How do I know I’m not over reacting a situation?

Hello Daph, Firstly, you and your boyfriend were not together when you slept with another person (insert Friends fight between Ross and Rachel, “we were on a break!”).  So, let’s be sure to keep in mind the facts of the situation as we proceed.  In reference to my Friends quote, this is a situation where one person thought one thing and the other person was thinking another and how neither is right nor wrong as they are both entitled to view their relationship how they want, but that doesn’t mean the other has to agree with them.  So here, your boyfriend was thinking, or projecting, that you were going to stay loyal to him, even though you weren’t together.  But what he is really saying in this scenario is “my feelings are hurt” and his way of getting back at you for non-intentionally hurting his feelings is to place guilt and shame on you so that he doesn’t have to feel his own feelings.  For him to go as far as to say that he regrets not have sex with another girl just further indicates this point, not to mention, his maturity level.  You are not responsible for how he feels and reacts but, he is trying to make you feel this way.  Overreaction implies that you are not having an appropriate response to his reaction to you.  It’s ok to feel bad about what he said, but that doesn’t make you a bad person.  It’s kind of garbage for him to make you feel that way and it would be a better situation if he would own his own feelings but, we can’t control what he says or does, we can only control how you react and respond to them.  The better question here, is if you two broke up, and this is how he is going to act getting back together, then why do you think this relationship is worth your time and energy?  Sounds like things between you guys didn’t work the first time and given his reaction to you now, it might be a good thing to ask yourself.  As for your original question, it sounds like the overreaction might be on his behalf and not necessarily yours.  
(MA, LMFT)
Answered on 10/18/2021

How do I handle my partners emotions while taking care of myself?

Dear Sam,   Thank you for your message and allowing me to understand the difficulties you and your partner are going through, especially on how they are much controlled by their emotions.   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 10/18/2021

What are the steps to healing ?

Hi Lee. Thank you so much for reaching out to get answers to your questions. I want to make sure that you know and are very aware that as I listen and give you information that this is simply educational and resource-based it is not meant to be therapy or any kind of treatment. It is very important to understand this from a clinical perspective as well as a mental health understanding. Lee, you asked the questions about the steps to heal. I can tell you that as you consider the steps to healing it is good to look into the DABDA method. This method was created by Elizabeth-Kubler-Ross. The steps are called the five stages of grieving. Denial, anger, bargaining. depression and acceptance. These five stages are typical stages when considering any loss. You said that you lost your daughter and that you had to bury her and that is very unfortunate and sad. I am so sorry about your loss. You mentioned that you feel a lot of guilt related to this loss?  You also mentioned anger too. I would ask that you assess the feelings that are associated with guilt and anger as well as the thoughts. I am concerned as you brought up the topic of suicide. There are many crisis lines that can help you through this type of thinking. This is a serious matter and I do not want you to hesitate as you seek out solutions to help you to navigate your feelings and gain understanding and healing. It sounds like counseling is very pertinent to you right now because if you are in despair having a support system and also a good counselor it can be a great path to finding a way to have better mental health. You can survey what systems are available. There are many ways to use therapy. You can use telehealth as an option if you need something convenient. You also said that you have endured abuse and I am sorry that you have been through that. As you seek out healing this is something that you may discover answers to as well. I do wish you the best.   
(LPC, NCC, RYT-200)
Answered on 10/18/2021

How can I over over a state of depression

Hello, Thank you for taking time to ask this question. Break-ups can be devastating because you are not only mourning the loss of the person but also the loss of the future you thought you'd have with them. It's easy to get lost in the "what ifs" and the "should haves" these will hollow you out. Instead, it is essential to look at the situation and learn from it. This can mean both that you pursue personal growth or that you learn how to accept difficult losses. Its important to give yourself time to grieve. You cannot rush through sadness but you can rest in the knowledge that it won't last forever. Sadness, like any emotion, comes from within you. It isn't an external force working against you. As such, it cannot overtake or attack you (even when it feels like it) instead it is there to show you that there is an unmet need. What is it that your sadness is showing you? Do you need to pour more love and support into yourself? Do you need to feel secure and safe in your own company?    Acknowledge the hurt from the loss, let yourself feel what you need to feel, and then when you are ready press into meeting your own needs.   There is enough of you to do this, otherwise you wouldn't have asked for help.    As you engage in the healing process, remember that people do not heal in straight lines. You are not losing progress or falling behind simply because you've experienced a wave of grief. It's okay, you will have moments in the day when the pain hits you hard. These moments don't last forever. You will be able to take a deep steady breath and move into it.    Give yourself permission to be okay. Letting go of the hurt doesn't mean the relationship wasn't important to you or that it's "easy to get over" the person. Of course it isn't but it is necessary to heal.    As you move forward, let others write their own story try not to allow this loss to keep you from being fully in the moment with others (friends family). That doesn't mean it won't get in the way at first. It probably will and that's okay. Just don't get stuck there. Continue to meet the needs your emotions are pointing out.
(MS, LPC, LCDC)
Answered on 10/18/2021

How to forgive someone even though what they did still hurts?

Hello Lex,  I am sorry that you are experiencing such hurt. It seems that what your boyfriend said to you when he was drunk really upset you. I realize that what he said to you made you feel insecure and lingers in your mind. What is even more upsetting is that he does not remember however you do.  Why is it so hard to forgive? Forgiveness is a subtle notion: it is sometimes confused with other notions, but different in their effects. To apologize, pardon, forget or deny that an unfortunate event has happened do not define forgiveness. Each of these steps can prevent forgiveness or lead to mock forgiveness. Forgiveness, in this case, would be the act of overcoming resentment towards your boyfriend, not by denying your right to that resentment, but by striving to view him with kindness, compassion, and even love, knowing that through his attitude, he waived his right to such behavior. There are several important points to forgiveness which defines it. You have been hurt deeply, hence your resentment; you have a moral right to your resentment. When will you forgive? Forgiveness will happen when a sufficient bond of empathy has been restored between him and you. If your boyfriend is able to explain his side, apologize, or simply ask for forgiveness from you, it will restore the balance in your relationship.   You did not mention if you are religious. Many people forgive because they were raised to do so in their faith. They think that it is good to forgive, and that is why they forgive. Some people forgive due to their pragmatism. They forgive in certain cases to appease or fix a troubled intimate relationship, to keep the loved one: in this case, forgiveness is constrained; a variant of this forgiveness is that which one reluctantly grants to someone in order to be able to continue a relationship. There are times when other people forgive so that they can hold it against the offender. “You have hurt me in the past and I have forgiven you but I expect you to behave this way from now on.” It is a way for the person offended to regain control over the dynamic in the relationship. This type of forgiveness does not really offer either party a way to heal nor does it allow to have closure. At this point, let’s talk about the benefits of forgiving for you. Will you be able to forgive your boyfriend even though he does not remember what he said while he was under the influence of alcohol? Also, does he even take responsibility over what he said when he doesn’t even remember saying it? Does it make a difference to you that he does not remember what he said or are hurt just the same? Can you forgive him when he is expressing no remorse or desire to be forgiven? There has been many studies that demonstrate the benefits of forgiving because they allow the person who was offended to put their mind at ease. Another great consequence of forgiving is a noted improvement in physical well-being. You will probably find it easier to forgive and move past this situation if your boyfriend was to own what he said and present you with an apology. It might be hard for you to accept the apology if you don’t find that he is being sincere. What makes your situation complicated is that he has no recollection of saying that his ex is his soulmate.  He might be telling you the truth about not remembering saying it. It might have been his subconscious talking and he does not even realize that. The real question is that what he said is fueling your insecurities and making you feel uncertain that he cares about you. Your other choice is not to forgive which will lead you to feel resentful. It will strain your relationship with your boyfriend and cause you to feel an emotional distance. I am sure that you don’t want that to happen so not forgiving is not a viable option.  The final option which is one that you probably don’t want either is to break up. It is sometimes easier to walk away than stay in a situation that causes one pain. I tend to think that it is the least therapeutic way of dealing with a situation such as yours because whether you are with him or not, the impact of the situation will still be present. Also, it will delay your ability to process your feelings. One of the reasons to cut ties with someone is to restore your self-esteem. What your boyfriend said while he was drunk impacted you. You have been spending time going over what he said and trying to fully comprehend it.  Chances are that your boyfriend was just rambling while in a drunken stupor. People say all kinds of things when they are under the influence and not all of it is true. There is a notion in our society that alcohol is a truth serum but it isn’t. Alcohol is a great inhibitor and a depressant. People often say and do things while under the influence that they would never in a million years do while sober. It does not mean that they are truly being themselves but rather than with the absence of self-control, they act wildly and foolishly. I truly believe that you ought to forgive your boyfriend because he didn’t know what he was saying. You should be vulnerable with him and tell him how it made you feel. You could ask him to reassure you. I also want to point out that you are his current partner and not his ex. His ex is just that, an ex! Be resentful is only going to harm you, your relationship and your boyfriend. You have more to gain from sincerely forgiving than being upset. It will allow you to take the charge out of this negative experience and empower you to grow closer and stronger in your relationship.  
Answered on 10/18/2021

How to forget your parents if they mentally and physically abused you?

I am so sorry that you have had to experience such emotional and physical abuse from your parents. When abuse comes from your parents, someone who most cultures dictate should always love and care for you, it can be quite devastating. Your feeling is valid, and no one can tell you how you should feel regarding the things you have experienced. Please know that there is no excuse for abuse. Although you can't change your parents, their thoughts, their views, or magically change the way you feel about them, you can begin to break this cycle of dysfunction. The first thing you should do is to forgive your parents. Forgiveness is an act of kindness for yourself. It isn't a magic pill that will fix everything, but it is a starting point. It is about giving yourself permission to let go of the load you have been carrying since you were a child. It takes a lot of strength to forgive anyone, but especially a parent, who has abused you. An act of sincere forgiveness is one of the most powerful tools of self-healing. It can give you a sense of peace and calm. Do it so that you can reclaim your life and let go of any anger you have been holding on to. How can you forgive? You can write a letter to your parents to let them know how they made you feel and how deeply they have scarred you. Write out every detail that you can remember. It will be painful, but after the pain, you will experience the peace. At the end of your letter, write these words: "I forgive you." These are very powerful words and this is a choice that you are making for yourself, you inner peace, and your future. It can be very hard to forget about your parents. You have been living yo ur life with these emotional scars. It will definitely take time to heal, but you may never actually forget. Like any traumatic experience, abuse doesn't just go away. After some time, you will be able to heal, leave the past behind, and start to move forward.  
Answered on 10/18/2021

How do I get past an old relationship and focus more on self love?

Thank you so much for taking the time to ask this question. I believe this is something that we can all walk through when a relationship ends so know that you are not alone in this experience which can provide some comfort. There tends to be a grieving period that comes along with a relationship ending. You will need to do the work around the relationship ending and how that has changed your life. I recommend individual therapy to process how the relationship and its end has impacted your life across all of the different domains.    Some strong resources I recommend for self-love and self-compassion are: -https://self-compassion.org/ which is based on work by Dr. Kristin Neff. This website has so many resources that you are sure to find something that will be infinitely beneficial.  -I recommend taking the Self-Compassion Scale Short Form at https://self-compassion.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/SCS-SF-information.pdf which can inform you on the next steps of how to be more compassionate with yourself. -I also love this TEDTalk which gives practical suggestions on how these things can be implemented: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MEyJ_H1U5SQ -Self-affirmations which can be found on YouTube or you can write your own affirmations. They may be something like "I can do hard things when I put my mind to it" or something even more specific such as "This relationship has been difficult to untangle myself from but I am working towards taking care of myself." -Any book that is written by Brene Brown who does work around vulnerability. What can be more vulnerable than having a relationship end? Here is her site with all of her books: https://brenebrown.com/books-audio/ she also has a podcast called Unlocking Us which is a beautiful tribute to being our best selves despite our very complex traumas.    Ultimately your priority list needs to be reorganized where you are at the very top. Any and all things involving yourself are the things that take precedence. Simple self-care items such as making sure to eat on time, take medication, and staying connected with friends are highly recommended.   Remember, you are worth every bit of effort that you are going to put in. This life is a development process that never ends and you are a work of art.   Be well,   Britney
(MSW, LCSW)
Answered on 10/18/2021

How do I know if I genuinely miss him, or I just miss someone?

Thank you for your question. Thinking about reconciling with an ex is an incredibly common experience- sometimes it even leads to a more fulfilling relationship with a person with whom you've had differences in the past. It sounds like you have a strong feeling that trying again with this person would lead to a different outcome this time. You specify that the relationship was never physically or mentally harmful- which is an incredibly important factor when you're thinking about going down this path. However, you also mention that none of your friends are supportive of this move, and that can also be important information to consider. Your community has presumably seen you in relationship with this person and since the relationship has ended- and they may be seeing something that you're not. So what do you do? The big question that hangs over any reconciliation is "why didn't it work the first time?" If you want to avoid the problems that led to the dissolution in the first place, you and your ex need to have an honest and transparent conversation about what went wrong and how you've each grown in ways that will address those issues in the present. Communication is key to any healthy relationship and mismatches in communication are a common reason that couples find themselves ending things. Before you can really move forward into a new relationship, you have to be able to tackle the difficult conversations in a healthy way. This being the first of many difficult conversations you will inevitably have. Each of you needs to take accountability for your part of what happened the first time around.  If you believe, or have had honest discussions and know that you can navigate this reconciliation using healthy communication strategies- then you need to think about your personal motivations for wanting to pursue this. There are times when we want to get back together with an ex because it's comfortable, because we miss having someone in that role- though not necessarily that particular person. What is special about this person that is missing from your life now? If you have trouble answering that question- that might be part of your answer. This might be a good time to enlist outside input- whether from your existing support network or a mental health professional. Perspective is crucial.  If you decide to try again- take things slowly. Don't try to pick up where you left off- this is a new relationship and needs to be treated as such. Give yourselves time to get into a new routine- check in with each other about how the changes you've agreed to implement are going. Don't jump into major commitments right away- get to know each other again. You have reasons to believe that things will work out differently this time, but you need to make sure you're right about them. You want to make sure that relationship 2.0 will survive the honeymoon period and withstand any future tests. Agree to a check-in point where you can openly discuss your experiences thus far and give each other real permission to engage in radical honesty.  If you've realized that you're missing having someone rather than missing THIS someone then spend some time investing in yourself. It's okay to want a partner. It's also okay to enjoy being single. There is no "right" way to be in the world. Regardless of your relationship status make sure that the life you build for yourself is one that you are proud of inviting someone else into. And if you decide to give this relationship another go- don't neglect the things that have given you joy as a whole, independent person. Relationships flourish when you each have your own lives and you work together to align them in a healthy way.  Good luck!
Answered on 10/18/2021

how do i stop being so jealous?

Thank you so much for sharing what you are going through with jealousy. I did receive your question and would love to touch base with you about it. I am definitely able to work with you on this issue and I'm happy you reached out.    A little about myself. My name is Jennifer Forbes and I’m a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Illinois. You can take a look at my profile to learn a little bit more about background. Online counseling is fairly new, so please feel free to ask any questions that you may have. My counseling style is pretty laid back. I have been described as a good listener, supportive, collaborative and a problem solver.  I like to understand what is not working and how you got here. The better we are able to identify the obstacles, the more targeted we can be with strategies to overcome it.   I am here to help you sort through the things that are difficult right now and offer you a safe place to be open and honest without fear of judgment. You have taken the first and most important step by reaching out for help and I am really glad that you did. I’d like to help you work on the struggles you are facing and offer a safe place for you to explore your thoughts and feelings.   I wanted to take a moment to let you know a bit about my general availability and frequency of responding. I encourage you to write as often and as much as you like – this room is open 24 hours a day, seven days per week. I typically respond to all messages within 24 hours. The only exception is the weekend, when I am usually off. If there is a message that you would like to respond to sooner, please mark as urgent and I will get back to you as soon as I can.    For one on one sessions, you can schedule the following sessions: live video, phone and/or chat sessions – if you click on the schedule tab on the left-hand side of the page, you can see what time I have available. These sessions will last between 30 -45 minutes. You can book as often as you think you will need throughout the week as well as whatever form of communication you feel works best for you. I carry a small caseload, so I can be more focused and more available to you.   During our work together, if you feel that you or someone you know is in immediate danger of harming themselves or someone else, please call 911. Should you feel in need of urgent help or that you are in crisis at any time during our work together, please call 1-800-273-TALK for 24 hour crisis support. This platform does not provide any type of emergency services, so I want to be sure you know who to contact if you are in a crisis of that nature.   Please know that you are not alone. There is Hope! Things can and will get better. I am really looking forward to working with you and I will be looking out for your booked session.    Sincerely Grateful, JForbes  
Answered on 10/18/2021

Do I keep honesty in my marriage or keep a secret for my teenager to keep her trust?

As a mom of 4 girls ages 11-24 and a therapist who works with middle and high school students, I feel there is no perfect answer. From a therapist's perspective I always want to engage students and build relationships so that they have at least one trusted adult in their circle. As a parent you have to sometimes play both sides of being a trusted individual to your spouse and your child, but ultimately I do feel that this is your child's story and they should be in charge of telling in to whom they want, when they want. I do find it unfortunate that her siblings "outed" her to you without allowing her the opportunity to find her voice and come to you on her own.  I believe that a person's story is theirs to tell, no matter the age. Now if there were safety concerns around that situation, then that would be a different story and for sure the control of when they tell should be taken away, but I am not hearing that. This also sounds like an opportunity for growth in the relationship that you have with your child. I also do think that it is always best to have both parents on board, as long as its safe to do so, but that may be that the information is given to both parents at different times. I would work hard with my child to explore the reasons why she doesn't want her father to know and then to try to encourage her that honesty with both of you is the best policy. There may be many reasons that she is not ready to tell him, and that is okay. The support that she gets from you, may be just what she needs to help make the decision to tell him.  In the bigger picture, it is best that she has at least one parent that is aware and that she knows that she can trust you with her most important information. I think that if she knows she can trust you with this, that it will help her to come to you with other concerns, questions or conflicts that may come in the future. And also if she can see that you are understanding and supportive, it may lead her to believe the same in him. I would also add that as a female talking to you father about any sexuality or things related to gender can be difficult, so patience and respect is an asset. 
Answered on 10/18/2021

How do I implement constructive conflict resolution in my marriage?

I love your question, and your openness in asking this question!  You showed humility and vulnerability in being able to ask this and to share your feedback from your wife about her feeling of the intensity and that she is made to feel small.  I sense that you don't want to make her feel intimidated or less than, and hence you are looking for answers to make this better. I would like to help you to find this answer within yourself, because I truly believe that it is there within you.  You wrote about how your wife feels.  Are you curious about what that feeling is like for her?  I think that maybe you are, and that is the key.  Of course if there is a conflict, there are two sides to it.  Both of you want to be heard, and both of you want your own needs to be met.  What would happen if you put your curiosity about what your partner needs first?  Seek to understand before seeking to be understood.  We can't hear each other when we are busy trying to make them hear us.   Part of that curiosity is setting aside your reactions to your partner's needs or wants and validating her emotions.  She feels what she feels, and there is a reason for that.  It is not a judgement on you or on her.  Emotions just are.  You each choose what you do or say, but you feel what you feel.  Is it possible that the conflict in question might not even be as important in the grand scheme of things as creating the safety of being able to feel and share those emotions and connect with each other in the safe space of your relationship? Your question is about how to implement constructive problem solving.  The words that you say will follow from your attitude of curiosity without judgement.   If there is already hurt and conflict between you, there may be some steps that need to be taken before you have this safe space where emotions can be shared.  Maybe you need to take a time out and use the time to regulate your own emotions before coming back to re-engage in the conversation.   Is it possible that any of the "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" are at work?  Curiosity is an effective antidote for the four horsemen too.  For more on this, I will refer you to the Gottman Institute: https://www.gottman.com/blog/the-four-horsemen-recognizing-criticism-contempt-defensiveness-and-stonewalling/ The four horsemen are criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling.  These guys can wreck a relationship if they are not put in check.  The article that I linked to above discusses them and the specific antidote to each of them. Once you have created a safe atmosphere where both of you can express your needs and emotions, you can proceed with addressing the conflict.  Remember that you can always go back to listening with curiosity, taking a time out if you need to, and recognizing those horsemen if they show up.  When it is your turn to discuss your concern with your partner, there are also steps that can be helpful. A great model for that is the DEAR MAN acronym from DBT therapy.  You can find a lot more about that if you do a search.  I will explain it briefly here. D - Describe the situation, briefly, sticking to the facts. E - Express your emotions, using "I" statements.  ("I feel ___."  The blank is an emotion, not a place to interpret or give opinions). A - Assert or ask for what you need. R - Reinforce (which could also be reward or reciprocate).  This is the part where you think about what your partner needs and how you can work together to find a solution that works for both of you. M - Mindful of your objective.  What is the most important thing to you? A - Appear confident N - Negotiate.  Remember that there are at least two sides to it! Here is an example with further explanation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EC-M59r-0jg It takes time and practice.  You can do this!  Also, it is okay to ask for more help and support.  Changing a long-term pattern in your life doesn't happen overnight.
(MS, CMHC)
Answered on 10/18/2021