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with Dr. Mark Sehl
Following are some common problems that could lead to persistent difficulties in relationships:
Many people suffer from fears of intimacy. People who suffer from persistent relationship problems are often fearful of intimacy and being vulnerable.
In the past they may have been emotionally deserted,
or may have lost a significant person due to death or abandonment. In relationships they find themselves giving more and receiving less.
Ironically the unconscious goal is to repeat rather than remember the primary source of frustration, hurt and abandonment. It's far better to be rejected again than to trust loving and being loved and then feel like a fool when love isn't returned.
On the other hand, how can a mutual loving relationship be possible if one doesn't risk loving and take the chance on feeling a fool?
Short-term therapy often fails to address long-standing problems with relationships because these problems are embedded
in one's character. Usually the person isn't conscious of the conflict. If there's awareness, it's often experienced only on an intellectual level.
possible to understand conflicts over vulnerability by living out the experience of trust and distrust in the relationship with a therapist. Enough time has to be given to allow for the reasons of distrust to unfold.
The following information came from www.coping.org. Coping.org's website is the compilation of so many useful and wonderful tools, opportunities
and a wealth of information that it would be a shame if you missed out on visiting it. Please join me in thanking them for
allowing non profits to share their work with you!
Fear of Success
What is fear of success?
- Suppressing anxieties of not being good enough,
- Uniting all talents and virtues for a greater good
- Confronting and dismissing existing fears in an appropriate manner.
Recognizing and welcoming the ...
- Chance to triumph over competition without feeling unworthy or undeserving
- Expressing views and opinions without hesitation.
- Setting sights on a goal and achieving it with both sacrifices and rewards.
These make up the
rough climb, the seemingly impossible ...
- Steps that if completed always lead straight to success, rewarding those who persevere.
Fear of success is the:
Fear that you'll accomplish all that you set out to, but that you still won't be happy, content, or satisfied once you reach your goal.
Belief that you're undeserving of all the good things and recognition that come your way as a result of your accomplishments and successes.
Opposite of fear of failure, in that fear of failure is the fear of making mistakes and losing approval. Fear of success is the fear of accomplishment and being recognized and honored.
Lack of belief in your own ability to sustain your progress and the accomplishments you've achieved in your life.
Fear that your accomplishments can self-destruct at anytime.
Belief that no matter how much you're able to achieve or accomplish, it'll never be enough to sustain success.
Belief that there are others out there who are better than you, who'll replace or displace you if you don't maintain
your performance record.
Belief that success is an end in itself; yet that end isn't enough to sustain your interest and/or commitment.
Fear that once you've achieved the goals you've worked diligently for, the motivation to continue will fade.
Fear that you'll find no happiness in your accomplishments; that you'll be perpetually dissatisfied with life.
What are the
negative consequences of the fear of success?
Fear of success can result in:
A lack of effort to achieve goals you've set for yourself in school, on the job, at home, in relationships, or in your personal growth.
Self-destructive behavior: tripping yourself up to make sure you don't sustain a certain level of success or achievement you once had in school, on the job, at home, in relationships, or in your personal growth.
Problems making decisions, being unable to solve problems.
Losing the motivation or the desire to grow, achieve and succeed.
Feeling guilt, confusion and anxiety when you do achieve success. This leads you to falter, waver and eventually lose your momentum.
Sabotaging any gains you made in your personal growth and mental health, because once
you become healthier, a better problem solver and more "together,'' you fear that no one will pay attention to you. You're habituated to receiving help, sympathy and compassionate support.
choosing to do just the opposite of what you need to do to be happy, healthy and successful.
Reinforcing your chronic negativity, chronic pessimism and chronic lack of achievement since you can't, visualize yourself in a contented, successful life.
Denouncing your achievements and accomplishments; seeking ways in which you can denigrate yourself enough to lose what you've gained.
What do those who fear success believe?
I've worked so hard to get this far,
yet I need to keep on working hard; I'm not sure the effort is worth it.
I know people care about me when I'm down and out, but will they like me when I'm on top and successful?
I've never been happy before, so how can I be sure I'll be happy once I achieve my goals?
I'm nothing and I deserve nothing.
How can people like me if I succeed in reaching my goals in life?
I can't sustain the momentum I would
need to achieve my goals.
How can I be sure that my good fortunes
won't go sour and be destroyed?
There are always more demands and more
needs that have to be met in order for me to be successful, no matter what I do it will never be enough.
They're all better, brighter, smarter and more talented than I am. I really don't deserve to be successful.
It's hard to be at the top!
Everyone is out to shoot down the head
No one really likes a winner.
Everyone goes for the underdog.
I'm happiest when I'm under pressure and challenged.
Hard work, no play and constant effort
make me happy. What would I do if it were different?
I feel so guilty when I realize how much I have been given in my life.
I'm always afraid I'm going to lose it all.
Starting over again gives me meaning
and a sense of mission and purpose.
bored with what I've accomplished. What's left to do?
Everyone has the right to fail in life and I have the right to choose to fail if I want to.
What new behavior patterns can help in overcoming your fear of success?
Learning to reinforce yourself
for the hard work, effort and sacrifices you've made to achieve success
Not giving yourself any excuses for being unsuccessful
Steps to overcoming fear of success
Step 1: You first need to identify the fear of success in your life. To do this, answer questions "1.'' through "10.'' in your journal for each of the following
on the job
in your career
in your emotional life
in your hobbies
in your physical health
in your spiritual life
would success in this area of my life look like?
In what ways do I feel undeserving of success here?
What do I think is lacking to keep me from sustaining success in this area?
Who do I believe is more deserving of the success I have or will achieve here?
In what ways do I think that once I achieve success here that I'll lose focus or direction in other areas of my life?
what ways do I think that I'll be unsatisfied or feel unworthy if I achieve success in this area?
Step 4: After you've identified
your irrational beliefs and replaced them with rational beliefs and self-affirming scripts, identify what new behavior you need to develop in each of the 12 areas.
Answer the following questions in
- How can I improve
the ways in which I reinforce myself?
- How can I make a more honest appraisal of my accomplishments?
- How can I accept myself as being successful?
- How can I eliminate all excuses for being unsuccessful?
- Who needs to have permission to give me honest feedback when they see me self-destructing?
- How can I monitor my level of commitment and motivation to succeed?
- How can I improve the ways I visualize what it will be like
when I achieve my goals?
- How can I improve the ways in which I offer others reinforcement and praise for their individual
success and achievements?
- How can I improve my self-talk to assist me in achieving my goals?
- How can I learn to accept the compliments and recognition of others for my success?
Once you identify the behavior traits you need to develop in your life, make a commitment to accomplish this. If you continue to have a fear of success, however, return to Step 1 and begin again.
The above information came from www.coping.org. Coping.org's website is the compilation of so many useful and wonderful tools, opportunities
and a wealth of information that it would be a shame if you missed out on visiting it. Please join me in thanking them for
allowing non profits to share their work with you!
Dealing with a Fat Day
Don't let your weight determine your mood
"You're going to love these workout pants," said the sales clerk wrapping my purchases. "They have a lot of stretch in them so they're perfect
even when you're having an 'I feel fat' day."
I thanked her and left, pondering her words all the way home.
I knew what she meant by an "I feel fat" day (I bought the pants, didn't I?),
and yet it seemed a really strange concept.
Since when did "fat" morph into an emotion like "happy" or "angry"? What does it mean to "feel fat" and why are some days so given over to that feeling that they're consumed by it?
Like St. Patrick's Day or Independence Day, fat is important enough
to get a day named in its honor - and it doesn't just come once a year. Get a bad shock from the number on the scale?
Can't fit into a favorite pair of pants? How about a snide comment
from a relative or colleague? That's all it takes to turn an ordinary Monday or Tuesday into IFFD (I
Feel Fat Day).
Carrying extra pounds is a necessary but not exclusive
prerequisite to an IFFD. To have an IFFD, one must also carry an element of shame. A good IFFD is not complete without tears, self-loathing and a frantic scramble for concealing clothes. I know plenty of
people (most of them male) who have fat without the shame.
These men and women don't feel they can't leave the
house without their special fat day pants. They don't feel unlovable, undeserving or invisible
to the opposite sex. In fact, many of them are certain that this month's flavor of supermodel would find them irresistible
if only they could wrangle an introduction.
Needless to say, these people don't have IFFDs. They've
got plans to lose the excess weight (sometimes more like a vague intention than a plan, but that's another story), and that's all there is to it.
So how do you keep "fat" from becoming an emotion? Simple semantics. Fat is fat. Don't confuse it with the emotions so often attached to it, and recognize that shame and self-loathing are useless distractions. Neither of them will help you get closer to your goal.
If the phrase "I have a few pounds to lose" had the same emotional
impact of "I have a lot of junk to clear out of my basement," we'd be a whole lot happier and perhaps a whole lot thinner.
Why? Instead of wasting time and psychic energy on IFFDs, we could
use those precious resources for the job at hand. Here's my ultimate plan for coping with an IFFD.
your very next meal a healthy one. By choosing a lightly dressed salad instead of "the usual," you're putting yourself on a new path and abruptly ending
moving. A body in motion is beauty in progress. Even if it's the middle of a workday and there's no chance of getting to the
gym, you can still go up and down the stairs a few times.
something that makes you feel beautiful. Resist the urge to hide yourself with camouflage ‑ that's shame talking - and celebrate your unique look. Whether it's lipstick, a top in a knockout color or a pair of sexy shoes, choose
something that says, "I feel great."
out with positive people. Got a date with a whiner? Cancel it. Today, you need the company of winners, people who feed your energy and inspire the best in you.
- Do something
kind for someone else.
- A lot
of diet experts counsel people to pamper themselves with manicures and other non-food treats. I think pampering is well and good, but it pales in comparison to the power of giving.
someone who's lonely, take a turn at a soup kitchen, or simply pay someone a heartfelt compliment, and you'll see.
have the power to change someone else's life and the power to transform your own. Others appreciate and value you, so perhaps you can appreciate and value yourself.
this one exercise puts an IFFD in perspective. Kindness ultimately begins with loving care for oneself.
So: Do something kind, put your body in motion, make yourself a healthy meal and walk out the door with your head held high. You may not be perfect, but there's nothing sexier and more appealing
than a woman with an orderly basement.
When she's not writing about diet and exercise, Catherine Censor cracks the whip as
a master level personal trainer at the Saw Mill Club of Mt. Kisco, NY. She holds personal training certification from the
National Academy of Sports Medicine and is certified by the American Council on Exercise as a lifestyle and weight management
Emotional Abuse: The Most Common Form of Abuse
by Kali Munro,
M.Ed., Psychotherapist, 2001
Emotional Abuse is the most common form of abuse - and yet least talked about. Part of the reason it is so easy for people to overlook is that so that much of
what is considered normal and acceptable forms of communication is in fact abusive. Many people don't know that they have been - or are being - emotionally abused.
In addition, a
lot of emotional abuse doesn't appear to be severe or dramatic, although its effects can be.
Emotional Abuse is Characterized by a Climate of Abuse
Unlike physical or sexual abuse, where a single incident constitutes abuse, emotional abuse is made up of a series of incidents, or a pattern of behavior that occurs over time. Emotional abuse is more than just verbal insults, the most common definition of emotional abuse. Emotional abuse is a series of repeated incidents - whether intentional or not - that insults, threatens, isolates, degrades, humiliates and/or controls another person.
It may include
a pattern of one or more of the following abuses:
Harassment, physical and sexual abuse and witnessing abuse of others are also forms of emotional abuse.
Emotional Abuse can take place anywhere:
in the workplace
Contrary to popular beliefs that bullies are only found in the school yard, many bullies also exist in the workplace.
Emotional Abuse & Gender
Both women and
men can be emotionally abused and they can be abused by a woman or a man.
It's unclear whether
males or females are more emotionally abusive, however, it seems that girls/women are more likely to use emotional abuse to gain control and power, while boys/men are more likely to use physical intimidation, aggression and violence.
The Effects of
Emotional Abuse is not only under-reported, but it's effects are
minimized. The famous childhood verse, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me" is simply not
true. In fact, many physical and sexual abuse survivors have said that the emotional abuse was often more devastating and had longer-term effects.
Emotional Abuse cuts to the core of a person, attacking their very
being. Emotional abuse, if frequent enough, is usually internalized by the victim and leaves them feeling:
as if they were bad
deserving of punishment
Survivors of emotional abuse often have a hard time understanding why they feel so bad. The abuse may not sound like much and often people around them will minimize the experience, telling them it's not so bad. But a climate
of disregard for a person's feelings, where one is subjected to constant or frequent criticisms, being yelled at, or being
ignored - has a deep and profound effect, attacking the very self-image and confidence of a person.
Identifying Emotional Abuse
How do you recognize emotional abuse? One thing that can help is to step back from your situation and examine the overall climate in your home or your
workplace. Trust your instincts and feelings about people. Sometimes, a person can just look at you and you know that they're looking down
at you. Other times, their words are okay but their tone is mean. Emotional abuse is insidious and can be very subtle, so trust your gut; it's telling you something.
Because it's harder
to name emotional abuse as abuse, it can be harder to heal from as well. The first step is to name your experience as abuse. Trust how you feel. Many people can identify the abuse once they know what to look for because they change from being outgoing, self-confident and care-free to feeling nervous, anxious and fearful in the company of an emotionally abusive person.
Just because you're feeling those feelings doesn't mean that you're being emotionally abused; there could be something else going on. But those feelings combined with abusive behavior is convincing evidence that you are being abused.
to other people how this person behaves. Be honest, and listen to the feedback you receive. If you don't feel good about the feedback, try someone else. Remember that emotional abuse is frequently minimized.
Overcoming the Dynamic
Emotional Abuse sets up a dynamic where the victim comes to believe that they are to blame and that they must work harder to fix the problems (such as improving
the relationship.) This never works because the problem is not the victim; the abusive behavior is the problem. Nothing you do will change that. No matter how nice and accommodating you are, nothing that you do will change an emotionally abusive person's behavior.
In fact, many
people get even more aggressive when you try to make it better, because they sense that you think it's your fault and this confirms their own beliefs!
It can be very
hard to not fall into the role of being "good girl" or "good boy" when someone is emotionally abusing you, but it's important to avoid that.
If You're Presently Being
If you know that
you're currently being emotionally abused, you'll need to find ways to protect yourself emotionally; to reduce or stop contact with the abusive person; to find allies; to talk about what's going on and to look into options to keep yourself from being further abused. This can get complicated, depending on the context, but there are many resources to help you with workplace bullying and abuse in relationships.
If You've Been
Emotionally Abused in the Past
abuse as abuse is an important step in your healing. It means that you recognize that what happened to you was wrong, hurtful and not your fault. Placing responsibility for the abuse on the abuser is key to healing from abuse.
negative messages that you received is also really important. You may need to write down all the insulting things that you learned about yourself and counter each one with the truth. It may feel unnatural or foreign to counter these messages, but it'll help you to feel better in the long-run. Catch yourself
when you find that you're putting yourself down. Take a breath and remind yourself that you don't want to do that anymore,
that you don't deserve to be hurt and that you want to think of yourself differently.
See if you can
come up with something that you like about yourself. If you can't come up with something good, think about how you would like to think about yourself. The idea is to interrupt the flow of insulting thoughts you have and to find ways to replace those thoughts with self-soothing ones.
By finding ways
to be gentle and soothing with yourself, you're directly countering those messages. Being kind to yourself by asking yourself what you need, what you want to do and letting yourself do those things are all ways to create a more positive and loving relationship with yourself.
No matter what
you've been told or how you've been treated, you're worthy of love and respect. The more you know this, the less likely you'll be to accept disrespectful or abusive behavior towards yourself or others. You shouldn't have to take emotional abuse from anyone - no matter what the excuse. You deserve to be treated well.
Kali Munro, © 2001.
If you would like to reprint this article on your website, you may, providing you print it in its
entirety, credit me, and give a link to my site - www.KaliMunro.com - I'd love to know, too!
11 Ways To
Stop Procrastinating and Get Motivated
Do you spend
more time procrastinating than you do accomplishing? The keys to success in overcoming procrastination are to determine the reasons you lack motivation in the first place, to create a plan for success and follow the plan to the letter.
You can follow some practical steps and make permanent changes in your life. Start living up to your true potential by rising to a new level of
motivation, energy and dedication.
There are at least 11 important points to consider...
1. People procrastinate for different reasons ranging from fear of failure (or success) to just plain lazy. By first identifying some
of the reasons you procrastinate, you can develop a plan to end your frustration, finally get motivated and stay motivated.
2. A major component of motivation is self-confidence. Fear of failure, fear of rejection and feeling unworthy or undeserving are common reasons people procrastinate. Taking steps to improve your self-esteem will go a long way in helping you get motivated.
3. Two things in particular motivate human beings: pleasure and pain. Make a list of the pleasure you'll get from accomplishing your goals. Also list the consequences you'll suffer by procrastinating.
4. If you keep
the reward in mind it will be easier to stay focused. Evaluate your life and do some soul searching. Overcoming irrational fears and phobias are critical steps in becoming self-confident and motivated.
5. The act of procrastinating itself causes your self-esteem to suffer. Feelings of guilt, stress and anxiety only lead to unfulfilled goals and dreams. If you dislike yourself because you lack the courage to pursue your dreams, then you set yourself up for failure.
6. Take a good look at your personal issues and make your plan. Give your goals and daily tasks your full attention and strive to complete everything on your list, each and every day.
Procrastination is a habitual behavior. Once you start procrastinating the harder it is to break the habit. It takes time
and dedication to develop new habits. If you understand what causes you to procrastinate, you can take steps to change.
8. Improving your self-esteem and breaking old habits will put you on the path to success. Reward yourself for small accomplishments and keep in mind the end result of reaching your goals.
can be overcome if you make a plan to change and follow it closely. If you fail to complete a given task, then don't take the reward. Realize that there are consequences for every action you
10. There's connection between physical and emotional well being. Taking steps to better your health will help you to stay motivated and stop procrastinating. Exercise, maintain a healthy diet and concentrate on good health habits as
well as good mental and work habits.
If you're feeling bad, whether emotionally or physically, you accomplish less, which makes you feel even worse.
11. Overcoming procrastination is perhaps one of the most important steps you can take to improve your life and become the motivated, successful person you're capable of being.
You have to let go of your old personality and ways of doing things to change, quit procrastinating and get motivated!
Eating disorders include serious and extreme attitudes, behaviors and emotions surrounding weight and eating issues. They have serious emotional and physical consequences. An eating disorder can affect anyone regardless of sex, gender identity, race, class, or sexual orientation.
The most common
element in all eating disorders is low self-esteem. A person doesn't need to have all of the signs or symptoms to have a particular eating disorder and to need help and a person can have a combination of eating disorders at one time. And, it isn't always obvious that someone has an eating disorder.
Disordered eating refers to mild and temporary changes in eating patterns that occur
in relation to a stressful event, an illness, or some other reason. Disordered eating doesn't lead to significant mental,
social, health, school or work problems and rarely causes major medical complications.
eating isn't dealt with it can become more serious, cause many problems and eventually lead to a full eating disorder.
The most common
eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, compulsive overeating, binge eating and compulsive exercising.
can include fear of becoming fat, fear of losing control and feeling undeserving of pleasure in life.
Behavioral signs can include obsessive exercising, calorie or fat counting, starvation, use of pills, laxatives and
diuretics to control weight, hiding and throwing away food and persistent concern for body image.
Physical symptoms of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa can include weight loss, loss of menstruation in women, hair
loss, dizziness, headaches, low blood pressure, often feeling cold, mood swings, loss of sexual desire, depression, fatigue
Emotional signs can include being overwhelmed by emotions, hiding feelings of anger, depression, stress or anxiety and feeling of lacking control over eating behaviors.
Behavioral signs include repeated episodes of bingeing (consuming large quantities of food)
and purging (self-induced vomiting, abuse
of diuretics, laxatives or pills, excessive exercise or fasting). Behaviors can also include frequent dieting and hiding food to eat later.
can include feelings of shame, self-hatred, guilt, hiding from emotions and feeling a "void" inside.
Behavioral signs can include having an "addiction"
to food, uncontrolled or impulsive eating, using food as a coping mechanism, eating until uncomfortably full and having obsessive
cycles of eating.
Physical symptoms of compulsive overeating and binge eating can include:
shortness of breath
high blood pressure
leg and joint pain
loss of sexual desire
are similar to those of compulsive overeating.
Behavioral signs are also similar to those of
compulsive overeating, but occur in binge-episodes, or eating a large amount of food within a certain amount of time. During
the binge episode, food is usually eaten rapidly and episodes generally occur about two days a week or more.
include needing to exercise at any cost, feeling of tremendous guilt when unable to exercise, needing a temporary sense of power or control and trying to relieve feelings of guilt through purging.
Behavioral signs include excessive exercise, missing obligations in order to exercise, feeling no satisfaction from
achievements or victories, always thinking of next physical activity and rarely exercising for fun but rather as a form of
Physical symptoms of compulsive exercising include:
There is no
single cause for eating disorders. Some factors that are considered contributors to eating disorders include low self-esteem, media portrayal of bodies, societal and cultural emphasis on looks, comments on a person's size and weight,
confusion of food with emotions, loss of sense of hunger, as well as physical, sexual or emotional abuse. Not everyone with eating disorder experiences all, or necessarily any, of these causes, but all of these factors have been correlated with
You can help
to raise awareness about eating disorders by portraying characters who:
- Think that they have an eating disorder. The characters could find someone that they feel comfortable with and talk to them about it.
They could also talk to a counselor or a doctor and seek help. Also, try incorporate the fact that the longer they wait, the
harder it will be.
Think that someone they know has an eating disorder.
The characters should help their friends/family
members find professional assistance if they're willing. They should be supportive and validate their feelings. They should
NOT reinforce their poor image of themselves by saying negative things about their looks or their behavior. The characters
should also let their the people with the eating disorder know that they care about them and that they believe that they deserve help in dealing with this disorder.
Some story lines may
portray how another "fact" of knowing someone with an eating disorders. Even if the characters try hard to help someone they cares about, if the other person is not ready or doesn't
want to seek treatment, there may be very little they can do for him/her.
Adolescent Substance Abuse and Use
for children to love their parents. It's also natural for children to be deeply hurt by either one of their parent's behaviors, especially if the parent continually fails to properly love his or her child.
As I've said,
during a vital time of Mears' life I failed to provide her with the assuredness that can only come from a loving, responsible parent. Mears remembers that she "hadn't wanted to see or talk to my Dad in like 5 years and uh, he was
the only person that I wanted to see or talk to for the first night" at KHK.
of alcohol and drugs allowed Mears to feel the pain and anger that she didn't want to experience. Children don't want to feel the pain that springs from the absence of a
parent. Some people live their entire lives trying to avoid this pain.
hated me, she had realized only during the year before KHK that she could rely on me. KHK requires that Second Phase
Kids write letters to their parents. In her letter to me dated May 1st 1999, Mears wrote that she didn't understand how or why you continued to show me the care and support you did despite the way I was treating you and everyone else.
Oftentimes I feel undeserving
of that love. Its hard for me to believe that I acted the way I did and you were still there for me, though I obviously didn't want you there.
It's now clear
to me that you saved my life by putting me in here and I'm forever grateful for that. I know that I would have never been able to say these things to you had you not cared enough to get me help.
Let me make
it clear, I did nothing more than a loving parent should do. At the time, my actions only appeared to mean so much to Mears because she has known me as
an person. Her feeling "undeserving" of love stemmed from my inability to provide love and security. I needed help in becoming the father that Mears deserves.
that she needed help too. She needed help sorting out her life. She needed help from someone who really understood. She needed help from someone who had been where she recently came from. She needed help from someone who had escaped the hell that she had been living in. She needed help from someone in rehab. According to Mears, without a doubt, the most beneficial help for her came from
other kids. The other kids encouraged and helped her to live in reality.
at KHK for 18 days, Mears earned talk-time with Cere and me after Open Meeting. She and her peer counselor, or old-comer,
Bethany, peeked around
the corner at Cere and me. Mears looked like the child that I remember from years past - excited, bright-eyed and with a huge smile. Mears and Cere hugged. Then Mears and I hugged each other for the first
time in 5 years. Bethany kept a loving hand on Mears while we hugged. We all cried. We sat in a tight circle and Mears made amends to Cere and me for
the wrongs that she had committed before treatment. She cried "those big hiccup cries when you can't really breathe."
Bethany kept notes as Mears poured herself out. Mears told me that her
pride had blocked her love for me and that she had made a decision to hate me 4 years ago. The 15 minutes passed like a second. We hugged and cried more. Bethany held Mears' belt-loop as they left the room.
Mears completed her amends to Cere and me the next Friday night. Bethany
never left Mears' side.
The next time
the 4 of us sat down, Mears explained that for the last two weeks she had been making amends, but now she would tell us what
her resentments towards us are, beginning with, "I'm mad and really hurt." She looked directly into my eyes, never missing a beat and described my previous behavior and actions. With
tears moving down her cheeks, she explained that I had left her and she didn't know what to do.
I agreed with every word she spoke. I told Mears
that I made a choice in early sobriety, a terrible mistake and that I had wronged her. We held each other and cried. Bethany lovingly kept her hand on Mears. Mears continued this healing process with Cere. Although, these visits were only
15 minutes in length, Mears' desire and ability to honestly express her thoughts and feelings began to heal her past, changing her life and ours.
extremely hard to prepare for these visits. She wrote moral inventories (MIs) every day during treatment. While a first-phase
newcomer, Mears shared her daily MIs every night with an old-comer. This process resulted in at least two general benefits.
First, Mears and the old-comer related to each other establishing a bond of trust and second, Mears began to look directly at some realities in her life. Mears recalls that there were some Moral Inventories
where I did really get a lot out of what I wrote about because I had to look at what I did.
You have to
put 'em through the steps. Like you look at your defects and you look at who you hurt and you look at how you felt when all this happened. It puts you back in time.
the skill of introspection by continually working KHK's adaptation for kids of the 12 steps. Mears realizes that her sober
perspective of past events provides a different view.
On her 52nd day of treatment Mears went home. I was allowed to go home on the weekends. I was supposed to build a relationship
with my parents. At this point the people, the counselors and the staff at KHK thought that I was ready to go home. They thought that I had worked on my drug problems enough at that point and they were ready to send me home so I could start working on other things. Looking back
I don't know if I was ready.
At the time,
to me, she seemed ready. Mears makes this statement in hindsight. She continues to evaluate her past. Her introspection continues
to bear fruit. Mears explains that at the time she didn't feel afraid of anything, "I was just happy to be home." She now realizes that as she progressed through the phases the more she feared that she would be set back to first phase. She never got set back, because she did everything, for the most
part, required of her. Mears reflects that,
A lot of the things I did were out of fear. I was afraid that I was going to get in trouble and not be able to talk to my parents. So, I was afraid that I was going to get into trouble and my parents were going to be disappointed in me . . . I thought that I was getting sober and working the program because I wanted to. Part of that was true, but part of it,
I was working it for my parents because I didn't want to disappoint them because I'd been disappointing them, I thought, I'd been disappointing them my whole life.
Some of Mears'
anxieties were byproducts of a need to please Cere and me. These anxieties didn't begin after Mears started KHK. These anxieties had burdened Mears for some time. Our individual expectations, or our combined expectations of Mears added unnecessary stresses to Mears which, in turn, manifested themselves in Mears as anxieties. Mears may well have used alcohol and drugs in an effort to tune out these persistent menaces.
during treatment, Mears realized that her part of these anxieties belongs to her and that Cere's part belongs to Cere and that my part belongs to me. I say miraculously; however, these changes occur frequently when, for whatever reasons, individuals give themselves to the KHK program model as Mears did.
Ideally, individuals realize, as Mears did, that, in order for
treatment to really work, they must want to recover for themselves, not for their boyfriend or girlfriend, not for their parents.
that, It didn't start to be about me until I was almost graduated. I remember a couple of times talking in group when I realized
that I just can't go back to the way I used to be. I remember one time, just as I was getting ready to graduate, it might
be the week that I graduated and I was up in group and I started crying about how I didn't want to go back to the way that
I was. And I couldn't go back to the way that I was. I was afraid that I was going to die. I'll never forget that.
past fortunately helped to produce the willingness to work the KHK program model. Mears looked at her part in desiring to live a new sober life for herself. I wanted to be something different. I wanted to be something better. I
wanted to be proud of myself. I wanted my parents to be proud of me. I wanted to have friends. I didn't want to feel miserable all the time.
for the first time, you know, since I was like 5 to be happy. And I thought that the only way I could do that was if I did this program. And so, I did it as best as I could. That's a blessing
of tremendous proportion. Until Mears worked the Kids Helping Kids program model, she had been without the desire for happiness since she was 5 years old.
Mears recognizes the completion of her 6-month aftercare program as a tremendous accomplishment. During her follow-up, she told me that "This is the most important part of my rehab." She realized that, while she participated in the KHK model as an in-treatment client, her
choices were limited.
a strong and possibly false dichotomy: you either do the program, or you don't get out. Mears discerned that the aftercare
program allowed for more freedom with her personal choices. There were still requirements during follow-up and Mears could choose not to
abide by them and consequently be penalized, but the impetus became what she wanted to do - not what she needed to do.
Mears' inspirational aftercare performance found its beginnings in her desire to abide by the conditions of the detailed contract that she, her Mom and I drafted during her Fifth Phase.
If Mears violated any contract conditions during her aftercare, the violations were benign. Her inspiration derived more from
pursuing the contract's positive aspects, not from avoiding the contract's negative consequences.
For example, back then, if given the chance, Mears could sleep quite late in the mornings, but she sacrificed that
option so that she could be at KHK aftercare on time every Saturday. She went to a Twelve Step meeting every day for 6 months
and she worked closely with a sponsor.
A sponsor is an individual who, like an old-comer or peer counselor
at KHK, helps other people with working the steps of recovery. Mears remembers that during her follow-up she realized that
she "wanted to work at KHK, to be a counselor at KHK."
with KHK graduates and their families, in Ohio and Northern Kentucky, the summer of 2000, before her senior year in high school,
so that she could work at KHK as a junior staff counselor. KHK graduates may continue escalating through certain conditions
and become junior or senior paraprofessionals, or accredited employees.
the conditions as a KHK junior staff counselor that summer. Her rewards were great. She became cognizant of her love to help
other kids. That fall she moved back home to Lexington to
begin her senior year at the same high school she attended before going to KHK.
remember, but she thinks that at about the start of that school year things started to get a little shaky. My boyfriend and I were having
problems. Dad and I started having problems. We couldn't, we weren't talking to each other, or I wasn't talking to him. My
Mom was having some problems. She wasn't talking to me. I was starting not to go to school.
Understandably, not unlike many people, including myself, the condition of the relationships with significant others is of
vital importance to Mears. However, in recovery, Mears' tendency has changed.
I'm not in bad relationships anymore. I don't
wait around for some guy. Um, I don't … I get lonely, but it's not the same kind of lonely. It's not the do all end all, I'm going to die, kind of lonely.
relationships are unavoidable, but she no longer allows problems in relationships the power to dictate her entire life.
same period, Mears began having doubts as to whether or not she had alcoholism. She recalls that she would go to meetings and say
I don't know if I'm an alcoholic. I don't know if what I was doing was just normal. And people told me that I needed to go out and try some controlled drinking and that really pissed me off … So I quit going to meetings. I quit listening to them.
It is common
for people in recovery to question their condition. Some people may opt for drinking or using drugs in an effort to answer their question. Mears came frightfully close to drinking; but through an effort to help another fellow sufferer she realized that she didn't need to drink or want to drink. She realized that many consequences would accompany the drink and one of them would
be "not being able to come up and work at KHK and that's what I really wanted to do." And that's what Mears did.
Two days after
graduating from high school (no small
feat by the way), Mears and her excitable puppy moved into an apartment, by themselves, in Cincinnati,
Ohio. The following Tuesday, she started working at KHK.
It was good to be working with people and helping
people and doing what I loved to do and doing it for the place that saved my life. 'Cause Kids Helping Kids saved my life. If I hadn't gone
through that program, I don't know where I would be right now. I don't know if I'd be dead yet. But, uh, at the rate I was
going, it wasn't far off.
a senior paraprofessional at KHK in the summer of 2001. As a peer counselor to kids whose lives have been devastated by alcohol and drugs, Mears reaped a bitter yet abundantly sweet harvest. Mears gave her heart back to the process that both saved and changed her life.
Mears faced difficult challenges and remained sober and clean. She realized that working full-time at KHK didn't allow her sufficient time to
care for her puppy. Sadly, she made the tough decision to give her puppy to someone else who had enough time to care for him.
before she had experienced the loss of pets and puppies, but never as a result of her choosing. In addition, Mears noticed
that she began losing what eventually amounted to almost 20% of her body weight.
Fear accompanied Mears during the diagnostic period but it
didn't cripple her. After extensive tests, over a 6-week period, doctors diagnosed Mears with Graves Disease, her second rare,
chronic and treatable disease.
to understand, "Why Me?" In the meantime, she continued to perform her work responsibilities and to take care of herself properly. Eventually, Mears realized that, in all likelihood, had she not been sober she might have learned about
her Graves Disease only after it had caused irreparable damage. She matched calamity by soberly struggling with reality and
she now accepts the hand dealt to her.
In December 2001,
I approached Mears with a request that she consider telling the story of what her life was like, what happened and what her
life is like now. After deliberating for several weeks, she agreed. On February 12th 2002 Mears celebrated her 3rd year of
sobriety. On March 27th, after our final interview for this effort, as I left her apartment, she asked,
"Daddy, how high did you use to push me in the swing?"
the last time I pushed Mears in the swing. That happened in the fall of 1988, during her 5th year, right before her Mom and
I separated. After reflecting, I said, "Probably 10 maybe 12 feet, Honey."
With a wonderfully
bright countenance, she said, "I thought I could touch the sky."
Then we hugged
and kissed each other, both saying, "I love you."
Mears has taken
full advantage of her opportunity, her chance for a new life. On March 29th 2002, she worked her last day as a senior paraprofessional
peer counselor at Kids Helping Kids. Within weeks, she independently secured a job as a bank teller. Mears soberly walks through her life, once again reaching for the sky, but we
both know that sobriety is an every-day battle that can be lost in an instant.
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