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#24750 - 11/27/02 11:15 AM need advice *trigger?*
zadok1 Offline
Member

Registered: 11/05/02
Posts: 188
Loc: Ohio
An update on my wife and I

Things are improving, not sexually, but emotionally. A few days back, after realizing my part in the wall that is growing between us, I began working very hard on talking and paying attention to her. Affection and intimacy are the foundations for sex, and I know that I must do my part if we are to heal things. I allowed resentment to build in me, and drive a wedge between us. Only days ago, we each clung to our side of the bed, staying as far apart as we could. She would bury her head, and pile up blankets and pillows between us. Naturally I did my part, pretending to be fast asleep when she came to bed. I felt so alone and distant, I believe that I could have walked out on her by then.

I took a step back the other day, and asked myself what was really important in life. Clearly my wife and kids have to rank first, even above my own needs and ambitions. Was I willing to let this resentment and selfishness claim my marriage? No, I don’t think so.

Love, closeness and marriage are something that you must work very hard at. There are no such things as perfect relationships, or perfect people. For my part, my father was very abusive. He would throw these loud fits, yelling and calling me names. I did two things to cope. First I learned to put my thoughts aside, and simply do what he wanted. I let him control me this way until well into my twenties. This is largely where my relationship problems are coming from. My addiction takes a back seat to my lack of assertiveness. I let my strong wife walk all over me, not that she knows she is doing it. How could she? I never tell her what I want or need. Instead I go with the flow, and then allow resentment and anger to build up inside. I hate myself for being weak, and it keeps coming out in unhealthy ways such as addiction and closing myself off from the world.

The second way I dealt with my father was by turning to sex for escape. Yet, sexual addiction is actually a symptom of a larger problem. The root cause of everything is my father’s abuse. Even being molested when I was six isn’t the root of things. I could have dealt with that, it only introduced the vehicle I would use to escape. It wouldn’t have become addiction if I didn’t need a coping mechanism to begin with.

So what do I do? Do I walk around pissed off at my father for the rest of my life? Clearly, as a Christian, feeling ill toward him makes me feel ashamed and sinful. I need to be pissed at him, but can’t because I goes against what I believe is right. It is far easier to be depressed and upset with myself for failing to set things right than to feel what I know I want to.

At some point, I had to rise above the endless circles of pain, anger and distress. I refuse from this point on to wallow there. I will forgive myself, and work very hard on correcting to worst symptom of my abuse, passiveness. Being passive causes me more problems than my addiction ever did. If I were assertive enough to say when my needs weren’t being met, then I wouldn’t suffer for months before working on it.

I want to know, how would you feel if your mate told you that his/her needs weren’t being met? Would it make you mad, and feel like he/she was being selfish? Also, how would you like to hear it? I mean is bluntly saying it best, or is there a caring way you would like such news? I want to strike up a conversation about it, but want to do it in a positive, open way. I don’t want to kill the emerging closeness we have begun, and drive her back away. Yet, I feel that if I cannot become more assertive, I will never be proud of myself, nor get over hating myself.

_________________________
The world is a dangerous place, not because of those that are evil, but because of those who do nothing about them- Albert Einstein

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#24751 - 11/27/02 12:54 PM Re: need advice *trigger?*
New to this Offline
Member

Registered: 09/16/02
Posts: 138
Loc: Mississippi
Have you been reading my diary? Except for an abusive father, this could be my post(maybe not as well written).

My wife is a control freak, so gaining a sense of control is an issue for me. I've not said that any need was not being met, but I do use the phrase "you know what I need?". I was blunt about one thing. It wasn't a pleasant sight & I do not recommend it.

After 10 years of marriage it is not easy to up and change the roles that we have established.

I've taken some pride in knowing that I could force things to be done the way I want them done, but I let her do things her way out of love for her. Her need to control is a big deal. I've learned to balance my needs with her needs.

The real danger is in reaching the point where she says "Ok, you be in charge", that's not sumbission--its a dare. She knows that you have never been in charge and that you can't handle it, and she will get to say "I told you so", and cut off your balls and make 'em into her favorite pair of earings.

Proceed with extreme caution.

Devon

_________________________
"Knowledge itself is power" Francis Bacon

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#24752 - 11/27/02 04:33 PM Re: need advice *trigger?*
Wuamei Offline
Member

Registered: 08/19/02
Posts: 2700
Loc: The left turn I should have ta...
Zadok:

I'm glad to hear things are improving. Build on that momentum. Being assertive is not a bad thing, nor is being honest enuf to say what you need & what you don't need, what hurts you.

My wife is no control freak, but replace father with mother and our stories are quite similar.

Just last night I was feeling depressed, been in kind of a funk lately becuz of the holidays (which I've never liked much) and my fibromyalgia flaring.

Instead of isolating like I usually do, I went to my wife & crying told her I felt we were too distant & wanted to be more intimate in every way. Of course in my case this is just what my wife has been longing to hear, bless her heart. We talked & hugged awhile until our daughter got here--both are gonna be home for Thanksgiving.

I'm sure you'll be able to tell your wife you want to increase the closeness you've been having. If for her that means more control, or if you feel you can't tell her that until you deal with her control issues & your lack of assertiveness, bring it up gently in the context of that's what it'll take to build your intimacy.

If she wants intimacy she'll respond accordingly if not immediately. If she wants control then you can hopefully begin to exercise tough love & say no that's not what intimacy, love & marriage are all about. Let's work together.

Thats just my thots for what they're worth.

I wish you & your wife well. Take care Zakok.

Wuame

_________________________
"I can't stand pain. It hurts me."
--Daffy Duck

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#24753 - 11/29/02 08:24 AM Re: need advice *trigger?*
zadok1 Offline
Member

Registered: 11/05/02
Posts: 188
Loc: Ohio
thank you guys for taking time to reply. i feel that i have made real progress over the past couple of years. there was a time where i couldnt have told her what my needs were. at least i can admit that i need her, and need intimacy, support and validation from her. i can even explain what she can do to help me feel that way.

we all want to think we are NORMAL, and admitting that i needed help and advice was hard. i didnt want to admit that i was sick or weak. then it came to me that needing help was NORMAL. everyone faces trouble in thier life, and abnormal would be someone who had no problems. when i dropped the sex addict and surivor labels, and felt normal in my search for healing and help, i made real strides toward healing.

what continues to surprise me is just how much of my life that abuse has made inroads in. it made me into a liar. it started with small lies to cover my sexual activities, but the more i lied the easier it was. by the time my wife confronted me, i was lying about all sorts of stupid things.

then it closed me off from the world. i lived a dual life, the abused and addicted one that i let no one see, and the one i held out to the world. to let someone inside became impossible, and believe me, learning to share such things with my wife has been hard.

i also learned to give in all the time, so that there wouldnt be a confrontation. i learned to push my thoughts and needs aside to avoid fights. i didnt want to give my father a reason to throw and tantrum, so i simply caved in. i tried to do what he wanted, and never allowed myself to feel anything.

i have decided that i am going to be angry with him for a time. i have spent my life feeling the way everyone wanted me to. now i want to feel whatever i feel. i am angry with my father. though i wont deny i had a part in what happened, his abuse was the reason for my sexual addiction, my closed off emotions, and my inability to have a happy life. he brow-beat me into feeling less than human, and drove me to hate my life so bad that i could have ended it.

i feel i am rambling, but thanks again, and God bless.

jeff

_________________________
The world is a dangerous place, not because of those that are evil, but because of those who do nothing about them- Albert Einstein

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#24754 - 11/29/02 09:41 AM Re: need advice *trigger?*
New to this Offline
Member

Registered: 09/16/02
Posts: 138
Loc: Mississippi
Jeff,

You have some really good insight. Recognizing which problems came from the abuse helped me to deal with my own.
I'm amazed at how similar your thoughts are to my own. Your posts have helped me to evaluate my own progress.
Thanks for posting. Keep working on becoming the man you want to be--you'll get there.
Devon

_________________________
"Knowledge itself is power" Francis Bacon

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#24755 - 11/29/02 09:59 AM Re: need advice *trigger?*
guy43 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/17/02
Posts: 450
Loc: Minnesota
Jeff,
Thank you for sharing your update. I was touched by it. I've run smack into my abuse and addiction issues every time I've been in a relationship. Bravo to you for standing up for yourself, with your wife and symbolicly toward your father! I wish you the best with your wife and find new ways to meet each others needs in a loving, tender way.

Quote:
I took a step back the other day, and asked myself what was really important in life. Clearly my wife and kids have to rank first, even above my own needs and ambitions.
Yes, to put your family and perhaps spiritual life as your first priority is the most important thing we as men can do when raising a family.

I believe, but can hardly put into practise yet, that I need to put getting my needs (and wants maybe) first. If I don't, I end up feeling used, that I don't count; it's my way of building resentments and falling back into old dysfunctional coping patterns that lead to my breaking up. If I learn how to nuture myself, only then can I nuture others. Finding the balance between my needs and others... ha, now thats the trick for me.

Quote:
The second way I dealt with my father was by turning to sex for escape. Yet, sexual addiction is actually a symptom of a larger problem. The root cause of everything is my father’s abuse. Even being molested when I was six isn’t the root of things. I could have dealt with that, it only introduced the vehicle I would use to escape. It wouldn’t have become addiction if I didn’t need a coping mechanism to begin with.
This says it all for me, written far more clearly than I could. I can't heal the whole tree (me) if the roots (my deepest issues) are ignored.

From your second post
Quote:
what continues to surprise me is just how much of my life that abuse has made inroads in...

...then it closed me off from the world. i lived a dual life, the abused and addicted one that i let no one see, and the one i held out to the world. to let someone inside became impossible, and believe me, learning to share such things with my wife has been hard.
My journey may be hard, but it's not impossible!!! My dark side strives to destroy me, facing my truths is where I can now really begin my journey toward a life I want to live.

Seeing other men here facing their issues and dark sides helps me see I can do it too.

Go for it Jeff, be angry at your father. Feeling those feelings we've buried for so long is the only way to get past them and heal the old wounds.

Jer


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#24756 - 11/29/02 11:45 AM Re: need advice *trigger?*
arghilles Offline
Member

Registered: 07/26/02
Posts: 45
Loc: Stockholm, Sweden
Hi Jeff!

It just makes me mad when I read " I won't deny I had a part in what happened".
I feel and have been feeling the way you feel now all my life. Being the liar, not asserting my needs, closing up, zooming out, not thinking myself cause all my energy has been directed towards handling my dad's abusiveness.
It takes so much time to learn just to think and be present and not zoom out. I am working on that part now and I realize that we are able to change. I can change and so can you. We need not be victims.
You were NOT part of what happened. You were not there, not present. Not present enough to be able to say anything and being yourself. How could you have been part of it??
HE was in charge and you had no part, did you get to choose your part?, cause you had no will on your own, no matter how you felt then. You were his victim and he manipulated you.

I am sorry, I get carried away. I have also thought that I was there, but I wasn't, not the real me. I had escaped and I still do to this day, but I am fighting my way back to the living.

take care,

Erik

_________________________
Erik

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#24757 - 11/29/02 01:05 PM Re: need advice *trigger?*
zadok1 Offline
Member

Registered: 11/05/02
Posts: 188
Loc: Ohio
by my part, i want to own my place in things. for me, i dont want to simply use more excuses. if i lay the blame totally at my father's feet, that makes him a valid excuse for everything i have done. i am through making excuses. i chose to follow an older boy into the bushes where he molested me. my innner voice was telling me better, and i knew it was wrong, but i went any way. no, i didnt fully understand, but i still played a part in it. same with my father. i chose to use sex to escape him. i was powerless to stop him, but the power of how to deal with it was mine. i made a unhealthy choice. it is fine to say something contributed to what happened along the way, but i have run from my responsibility for far too long. i am ultimately responsible for where my life went. i didnt have to escape into sex. i didnt have to go with that boy. i didnt have to seduce all those women. i didnt have to cheat on my wife. those are all my fault. i promised that i would stop lying to myself, and i am trying to call it the way i see it from now on. i was abused and addicted to sex, but today i am not. i made bad choices, but not today. i own what i did, and it keeps me grounded so i dont do it again. that is just how i cope. it may not work for everyone, but it does for me.

_________________________
The world is a dangerous place, not because of those that are evil, but because of those who do nothing about them- Albert Einstein

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#24758 - 11/29/02 03:20 PM Re: need advice *trigger?*
New to this Offline
Member

Registered: 09/16/02
Posts: 138
Loc: Mississippi
Hey guys,

There are some awesome words and thoughts here. I think we all need to take ownership.
Blaming all of my problems on my abuse has been my mechanism to cope. I've felt my recovery had stalled, and maybe this is why. I've accepted what happened--but blamed my actions on the abuse.
I guess it's time for me to take ownership.

Thanks for sharing.

Devon

_________________________
"Knowledge itself is power" Francis Bacon

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#24759 - 11/29/02 06:49 PM Re: need advice *trigger?*
Wuamei Offline
Member

Registered: 08/19/02
Posts: 2700
Loc: The left turn I should have ta...
What I'm trying to do, and I think succeeding to some degree, is move from using "I was abused" as an excuse, to using "I was abused" as a factual explanation that helps me, and if need be others, to understand what lies behind my acting out, dysfunctional behavior, whatever. Knowing the root helps dig it out & thus kill the evil fruits. At least that's how it seems to be working for me.

Wuame

_________________________
"I can't stand pain. It hurts me."
--Daffy Duck

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#24760 - 11/30/02 06:07 AM Re: need advice *trigger?*
arghilles Offline
Member

Registered: 07/26/02
Posts: 45
Loc: Stockholm, Sweden
Hi again!

I agree with Wuame. I have been abused over a long period of time, on a daily basis, been owned and it affects me today, but it is no excuse. It is a fact and i am working on finding new paths in my life, cause i won't let it rule me anymore.

I also acted out sexually as a small boy. It instantly followed the actions. I became addicted, i had to take control somehow, control against my father.
I began to transfer the image I had of my father as a tyrant and perp onto other men, all men in the end. I thought that if they hurt me I could handle them, cause I knew what to do with them to please them. Then in my mind I reckoned they would get less fearsome.

Today I rediscover the person beneath the controlsystem.
I am very afraid of men and it is going to take time for me to trust them enough.
Enough so I won't have to handle them.
The person I discover amazes me. He is just like any other guy.
He is very young emotionally and mentally.

I didn't have a choice. What was my choice? As a small child I knew nothing, I was innocent.

As long as I lived at home the abusive situations went on. I grew up believing I was someone who I wasn't meant to be had I been left alone.

Today I have a choice. I can choose to work on my issues and move away from my old system or stay in it.

I was numbed emotionally and mentally. My father did this to me. Fear and repressed anger numbed me. In that state it was not possible to make any sensible decisions.
I think we have to be very gentle on ourselves.

Blame? Do I blame myself.No.
I can blame myself for other things, not taking responsibility enough in my life today at work or with my own closest family ( wife, child) and I have flaws in my personality which have nothing to do with the fact that I was abused.

But all the blame for the abuse and what came out of it is his. I am through with blaming myself for that. I have been feeling dirty and guilty and shameful for so long. I shouldn't have felt that at all.

/ Erik

_________________________
Erik

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#24761 - 11/30/02 02:58 PM Re: need advice *trigger?*
Wuamei Offline
Member

Registered: 08/19/02
Posts: 2700
Loc: The left turn I should have ta...
Damn right brother! You are not your abuse, and you are not your abuser! WTG Erik!

Wuame

_________________________
"I can't stand pain. It hurts me."
--Daffy Duck

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#24762 - 11/30/02 08:07 PM Re: need advice *trigger?*
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
Zadoc

let me quote this back at you
Quote:
I let my strong wife walk all over me, not that she knows she is doing it. How could she? I never tell her what I want or need. Instead I go with the flow, and then allow resentment and anger to build up inside. I hate myself for being weak, and it keeps coming out in unhealthy ways such as addiction and closing myself off from the world.
I thought that way for over 25 years, I disclosed to my wife just before our 25th anniversary - some present eh ?
But, that's exactly what I thought, and Devon describes his wife as a "control freak", now I don't know your wives guys, but the feeling I get is one I remember.

Maybe they aren't the strong, controlling people you imagine ?
And I say this with all respect to you, maybe it's your view of them that makes them seem that way ?
We have severly distorted views due to our backgrounds, our self esteem has been shattered.
Maybe it's us believing we are downtrodden ?

As I have gone through recovery I have begun to see that the woman who has earned twice my salary, had a career, coped with everything thrown at her, run my life for me - she is actually my equal.

I have discovered that although she has changed some during this time, we can talk on the same intellectual level, I can make choices without her disagreing with me. I can now make my own mind up about things.

This didn't happen before, and I thought she was the 'boss' - but she's not, I was just being subservient ecause that's the way my abusers made me.

Just a thought guys.

Lloydy

_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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#24763 - 12/01/02 05:27 AM Re: need advice *trigger?*
arghilles Offline
Member

Registered: 07/26/02
Posts: 45
Loc: Stockholm, Sweden
Lloydy,

I agree with you.
I too have come to believe that my wife deliberately used me for her benefits.
But the clearer I can see things the more it becomes obvious that this is not the case.

However, I don't find it implausible that dominant women, who actually are very insecure themselves and to compensate for this need to demonstrate power in a relationship, could be attracted to subservient men. We cannot rule this out.
That is my opinion.

/Erik

_________________________
Erik

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#24764 - 12/01/02 06:05 AM Re: need advice *trigger?*
Les_Angry Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/06/02
Posts: 195
Lloydy makes an interesting point. My abusers taught me to be subserviant too, and that was where I felt the comfort of a familiar environment.

Before I was married I have had what my therapist calls "emotional affairs" with other women over the years who did not make me feel subserviant. As a matter of fact, it seems that they wanted to be subserviant to me. But somehow I just couldn't take those relationships to the next level. I dont know why, but I would just run away from them with the idea that this way they wouldn't hurt me and although running away hurt, I was in control of how and when it hurt. I figured if they knew me they wouldn't love me any more. That it was only a matter of time. I think I needed them to treat me abusively and then still seem interested in me, but they never did treat me badly, so I never felt confident they liked the real me. I concluded that they never knew me and thats why they never treated me that way and continued to like me.

When my wife treated me with disrespect and seemed to be angry at me all the time, told me all the things that were wrong with me and made me feel like no one in thier right mind would tolerate me, I felt like, yeah thats me, she knows me, thats who I am, now I feel comfortable. But at the same time she stayed with me, so I felt like: she knows me and she stays, and no one else would.

I could never take a risk with the other girls who "didn't know what was wrong with me" because I knew if I did and it didnt work out, I would loose the only normal respectful "relationships" I had ever had. One girl in particular told me that she loved me, and more important than that she made me feel that way every day for 18 months, but I just wasn't willing to risk trading that in for a real relationship. If she ceased to love me than no one would love me. At least this way I knew that somewhere out there someone loved me, even though I might never see her again.

I worked really hard on myself and my career, thinking foolishly that if I ever felt good about myself I would track her down and take that chance. Once I did feel that I was good enough for her I was able to start looking at my life and my past, and thats when I remembered my neighbor filming me and had my breakdown.

Lloydy makes an interesting point. I also often see people who are not controling abusers as being my abusive superiors, and maybe some of our wives fit into that catagory. I dont think this is true of my wife though. She really does walk all over me. Every one of my friends and family has said that to me. They all say "why do you let her treat you that way?", "why do you take that from her?" Only now can I see that that is not what I really deserve.

I'm getting to the point that whe she tries to control me with anger and guilt (which is what all abusers do), I just laugh and tell her her stupid games aren't going to work on me.

I want to talk about wives more. I'm kind of reluctant though because I rarely get any feedback when I post or respond to a post.


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#24765 - 12/01/02 11:18 AM Re: need advice *trigger?*
Wuamei Offline
Member

Registered: 08/19/02
Posts: 2700
Loc: The left turn I should have ta...
Men, I agree that Lloydy has a very good point that gives me alot to think about. My wife is by no means a dominant type, but she does have ways in certain areas that I have come to sometimes see as controlling, especially since my abuse memories came back. Before that I would rarely have thot of her as controlling. Quite the opposite. So in my case Lloydy is right on target.
What I sometimes see as my wife trying to control are really expressions of her fear & insecurity.

Les Angry, evidently yours is one of the cases Erik refers to in which a dominant woman was attracted to a subservient man, and maybe vice versa; for as you said, you've felt this is what you deserve.

I'm glad you don't feel that way anymore, becuz you don't deserve it; nobody does. I hope you'll be able to work things out with your wife to have a mutual healing & healthy relationship based not on giving & receiving abuse, but on mutual love, trust & caring.

Let's keep talking about wives (or SO's), Les. It is a vital topic in some way to most if not all of us. We want to share mutually with our wives, not be doormats; that may have been a survival tool of necessity at one time, but its' sure not what we need now.

Take care

Wuame

_________________________
"I can't stand pain. It hurts me."
--Daffy Duck

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#24766 - 12/01/02 11:33 AM Re: need advice *trigger?*
Wuamei Offline
Member

Registered: 08/19/02
Posts: 2700
Loc: The left turn I should have ta...
Men:

A rather humorous story I picked up on another forum that may apply to what we're talking about here, among other things:

"An old man, a boy and a donkey were going to town. the boy rode on the donkey and the old man walked.

They passed some people who remarked it was a shame the old man was walking and the boy was riding. The man and boy thot maybe the critics were right, so they changed positions.

Later, they passed some more people who remarked, what a shame, he makes that little boy walk. Then they decided they both would walk.

People passing by commented on what a waste this was that they both walked when they had such a fine beast of burden with them. So they both got on the mule.

Soon they passed some more people who shamed them by saying how awful to put such a load on a poor donkey, so they decided to carry the jackass.

As they crossed the bridge, they lost their grip on the ass and he fell into the river.

The moral of the story:

If you try to please everyone,

you might as well kiss your ass goodbye!

Wuame \:D

_________________________
"I can't stand pain. It hurts me."
--Daffy Duck

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#24767 - 12/01/02 03:25 PM Re: need advice *trigger?*
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
Erik is absolutely right to say that some dominant people seek the subservient out and then excercise that dominance. And generally we - the abused - are subservient and make easy targets.

The problems when we start our recovery and regain our self esteem, suddenly we dont appreciate taking crap from others and start to react against it.
Possibly this is what Les is experiencing now, she's the same woman but he's changing ?

Luckily this didn't happen to me, my wife is a very strong person , but not domineering. And before I started recovery I was the origional "whatever" slacker. I didn't know how to voice my opinions, I didn't think anyone wanted to hear them let alone consider them. So I went with the flow.
Now I have my say and what happens between us is a joint affair, we discuss things at last.

She's still a strong woman, but I'm catching up I think.
We change drastically as we heal, we have to, healing is impossible without changeing our self esteem and self concept.

I have a very good handout from my counselling class about this 'self' stuff that I'll try and put here somewhere

Lloydy

_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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#24768 - 12/01/02 03:48 PM Re: need advice *trigger?*
Sleepy Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/08/02
Posts: 288
Loc: Arizona, USA
Lloydy,
I would love to read about that self stuff if you are able to post it.

These domineering people work themselves into every part of our lives. I don't have any experiences with a spouse but the few friends that I did associate myself with were these types. Only now I realize why I hung out with them. One female friend was one such type. We have a lot in common and she was there for me through out my most difficult times. But as I have been going through this emotional growth spurt I find that I can no longer be around her. I use to look to her for answers but now I realize that I have the ability to make decisions. Her presences is an emotional drain on me. I would like to say that we'll remain friends but only time will tell.

As I learn more about co-dependance everything becomes clearer. My emotionally repressed childhood and my sexual abuse made me an easy victom for this condition. It's becoming rewarding as I slowly take my life back and break away from this behavior.
later skaters,
mike

_________________________
"It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end."
--Ursula K. Le Guin

"Mental health is a commitment to reality at all times."
--M. Scott Peck

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#24769 - 12/01/02 08:31 PM Re: need advice *trigger?*
Spider-man Offline
Member

Registered: 04/27/02
Posts: 57
Loc: NY
I don't know if this will help a little Zadok, but I think it is a piece on the way back to recovering and rebuilding a relationship with someone close in your life - like a wife.
The first thing my wife and I did (after fruitlessly batting our heads against emotional walls) was talk about how to talk to each other.
We had keywords that meant certain things in any conversation. The first one I came up with was 'jericho'. As in, the walls of jericho and the sound that brought them down. If I said jericho, we both walk away from the conversation immediately. Like a safe word.
Other keywords and phrases came later, but first we had to figure out how to talk to each other.
If you establish a set of rules to talk by - at least initially, maybe it will help. Talk to her about communication and how you can communicate with each other without triggering landmines. The important thing, I think, is maintaining open, clear and honest communication. The trick is doing it safely. If something is hard for you to talk about or say, say that and offer assurances before you say what you need to.

When I do this, occasionally my foot stays on the floor and out of my mouth.

Spidey


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#24770 - 12/01/02 11:31 PM Re: need advice *trigger?*
Wuamei Offline
Member

Registered: 08/19/02
Posts: 2700
Loc: The left turn I should have ta...
Thanks Spidey, I like that idea of keywords.

Wuame

_________________________
"I can't stand pain. It hurts me."
--Daffy Duck

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#24771 - 12/02/02 10:57 AM Re: need advice *trigger?*
zadok1 Offline
Member

Registered: 11/05/02
Posts: 188
Loc: Ohio
i want to thank everyone. you have given me some things to think over.

basicly, i know what i need to do. i know she loves me, and would want to know if i wasn't happy. when i know it is right, why is it so hard to do? i have never been good at talking about this stuff.

i think the world does men a real disservice. they drill into us to be a man, buck up, endure pain, never cry, never let 'em see you sweat. i was a good cyclist, and used to race semi-pro. i can block out pain and suffering and not even realize i am doing it. this being honest with myself is hard stuff. i dont like feeling and owning my emotions very much.

it is funny. i have found controlling my actions is the easy part. dealing with the underlying emotions is the hard part. i can walk away from porn, having affairs, and trying to meet people, but the needs those things were filling are still there. now i am left for find adventure and satisfaction in a long term relationship. there is the hard part.

thanks again,
jeff

_________________________
The world is a dangerous place, not because of those that are evil, but because of those who do nothing about them- Albert Einstein

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#24772 - 12/02/02 11:37 AM Re: need advice *trigger?*
New to this Offline
Member

Registered: 09/16/02
Posts: 138
Loc: Mississippi
Lloydy,

Your post made me think. My wife is a self confessed “control freak”. She only recently used the term, and I had never realized it. She was abused, far more than I ever was. Her need to control has been her motivation for most of her life. She was totally independent at 18. I’ve never been independent.

What you made me think about is whether or not I’m using her controlling nature as an excuse for my own lack of initiative. Rather than me take some initiative, I focus on her controlling nature. This was never an issue before I remembered the abuse and put the pieces together.

I didn’t want to take ownership of this yet.
For an old fart, you’re pretty wise.
Thanks.
Devon

_________________________
"Knowledge itself is power" Francis Bacon

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#24773 - 12/02/02 12:58 PM Re: need advice *trigger?*
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
Jeff
how long have we gone without allowing our emotions to show ? I went nearly 35 years - cold and hard, no emotion showing at all. But I would lie awake and cry like a baby.
I didn't know how to deal with emotions at all, anyway they were for "girls and gays" - no offence to either, but that's the way I was.

Therapy works if we allow ourselves to regain those emotions, when I started I was still resisting and it took a long time before I let a tear run down my cheek in front of my therapist, I was still trying to be the hard man.
But eventually they came, and I cried for my lost youth, my fucked up years, and all the other crap.

And eventually I cried in pleasure, the sheer joy of finding out that I was a normal person and not the pervert I thought I was.
It's so liberating to feel emotion - I'm crying now - who cares ? I dont. Why ? because writing this is reminding me of all those emotions I missed and those I now enjoy.

You're absolutely right Jeff, we are programed to be 'the man' and not break down and be emotional. Pain is easy compared to emotion, absolutely.
And it's bullshit.
Let the emotions have their way, if the memory of what happened makes you angry, then throw something, take a hammer and smash something - find something to take your aggression. Also find something worthless if you do.....
If you feel sad, cry, happy, smile.
It's only stuff we were stopped doing, and stuff we deserve to do again.

Devon, there's a common saying that opposites attract. And if we feel weak and usless - as I did - then a strong person to carry us is not a surpising choice.
Luckily my choice wasn't bossy, but I think that as we recover and find our way again we learn so much that we find new ways of dealing with people, even those we love. We have to - the old ways no longer work.

And as a 'wise' man once said to me "stick with me kid, you'll wear diamonds !" \:D ;\)

I'm going to scan that stuff on self esteem etc right now.

Lloydy

_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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#24774 - 12/02/02 04:18 PM Re: need advice *trigger?*
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
Here's that stuff from my course, it's aimed at very new 1st year counselling students, but when I read it I suddenly started to think "ooohhh this makes sense !"
Have a read and see what you think, I'll be interested to read your views as well.

******************************

Quote:
SELF-CONCEPT

Self-concept may be defined as our perception of personal value, standing and effectiveness in both the immediate and larger environments in which we live. We all have a strong idea of how we fit into our worlds, how other people perceive us, how important or unimportant we are in different areas of our lives, and how acceptable we are to other people at home, socially, and at work. We have fixed notions about what kind of people we are; our strengths and weaknesses, how competent we are, what talents and skills we possess, and what we lack. We also have fixed ideas about how effective we are able to be, how much in control of our situation, and therefore how much we can influence what happens to us, and what happens around us.

The Ideal Self

All of us have taken on board from the earliest age a great deal of information about
a) How we should be if we are to be fully loved and accepted by the people who are most important to us; and
b) What qualities are most admired and approved of in our social circle. Thus we ‘know’ what we should ideally be like. This information comes to us from the many little messages our parents give us, such as “Isn’t little Johnny down the road wonderful he’s so clever and talented, I wish I had a son like that”, or “People don’t like children who brag about themselves”. In many subtle ways we pick up from our parents’ attitude to us, their passing comments, their praise and their complaints, how much they value us and how they would like us to be.

The information also comes to us from a variety of other sources as we are growing up; relatives and friends of the family, teachers and other authority figures, our own friends and peer group, the media (television, magazines, films, newspapers etc.), books we read, the popular culture and so on. When we are grown the messages do not stop; they come from the workplace, aspects of the media become more important, and we may take in messages from partners and their families.

We end up with a very comprehensive picture of how other people think we ought to be, and how we would like to be in order to gain maximum love and acceptance from those around us. In contrast to this, is how we think we really are, how we believe people really view us.

If we are lucky, the messages we have received have been on the whole positive ones, which tell us “You are pretty good the way you are. You don’t have to do or be anything different for us to love and value you”. Then, the gap between who we would like to be and who we think we are is relatively small, and we can be said to have high self-esteem. This means that we have a firm sense that we are acceptable, valuable, lovable people and that we can be effective in our own worlds.

People with high self-esteem (which is not the same thing as arrogance!) have confidence in their ability to deal with all aspects of their lives, and are more likely to be able to judge things realistically. They are also generally able to make and maintain good-quality personal relationships. When unpleasant things happen, they are able to cope with them, and when they suffer failures or other problems they do not automatically blame themselves or feel helpless, they are much more likely to take a positive view and get on with their lives.

If we are less lucky, we learn early on that we are only partially acceptable as we are, and that we do not measure up to the standards that other people have set for us. The gap between who we would like to be and who we think we really are is then much bigger. We can be said to suffer from low self-esteem. This means that we do not think of ourselves as particularly valuable or important, we do not believe we have much to contribute, and we lack faith in our own judgments and opinions, which we often ignore in favour of other people’s. It also means that we are much less likely to believe that we can succeed in life and cope with whatever problems come our way.

Low self-esteem makes people feel that they are able to make very little impact on their world, and that their needs and wishes do not count as much as other people’s. This disempowers them, so that when problems occur they feel unable to cope. As they do not value themselves, they do not expect to be valued or respected by other people, so are more likely to put up with poor-quality relationships, or to fail in relationships altogether. They often spend a lot of time and energy defending themselves from their painful feelings of inadequacy, and view the world negatively rather than realistically.

The Personal World View

Everything we have been taught and everything we have learned through our own experience of life contributes to the way we experience the world, explain our experiences, and respond to the world. Our personalities are made up of a mixture of inborn characteristics and our experiences since birth, and these two elements each affect the other. If we perceive an event in a certain way, we will respond to it accordingly, and that response will create a response in turn from ‘the outside world’.

For example, I am a small child with no experience of dogs and I see a large, strange dog coming towards me. I am by nature a timid person, more likely to run away from possible danger than to stick around and risk getting hurt. I decide that the dog looks dangerous, and so I run away. The dog sees me running away, and either thinks “Great! a chasing game!” or, possibly, thinks “If it runs it must be prey”. At any rate, it runs after me. It catches me up, knocks me over, and frightens me silly before its owner calls it off. I have now confirmed my original judgement that dogs are dangerous, and from now on I will act on that belief

If, however, I was by nature a bolder, risk-taking person I might hang around to take a look at this fascinating animal. The dog is wagging its tail and does not look ferocious, so I go up to it and touch it. The dog responds by licking my hand, and in no time we are running around playing with each other. My original instinct, to face new experiences head-on, has led to a very different experience of dogs, which will affect how I respond to them in the future.

Of course, if the dog turned out to be vicious after all, the first reaction would have been the sensible one and the second the foolish one. We can only respond according to our natures, and from the results, gradually, we build up a pattern of experiencing, perceiving, responding to, and explaining the outside world. This is our personal world view, and to all intents and purposes our world view is the same thing as our self, or personality. We are our opinions, our attitudes, our beliefs, the way we respond to people and situations. That is how other people experience us and respond to us. If our opinions, attitudes, beliefs and responses were different we would be different people.

CHANGING SELF-CONCEPT AND WORLD VIEW

Carl Rogers (Client-Centred Therapy) believed that the best place to start, when a client comes for help, is with the person’s self-concept. How the client sees himself in relation to his world influences how he acts within it. How he acts within it may be effective, constructive and helpful, or it may, in some or many aspects, be ineffective, negative and self-defeating. Helping people to explore their sense of self, and to update, and test against reality, their beliefs about themselves and their world, may enable them to realise that they have all the resources they need to manage their problem situations adequately. Helping them to change the way they view themselves and the world may be the best way of helping them to deal with the problems they arrived with.

Resisting Change

However, it is not a simple matter to change our self-concept or our world-view. We have a great deal invested in them both. They are the sum of our experiences and they shape our personality, that most precious, personal and irreplaceable aspect of ourselves, the only thing in life we have any sense of certainty about. Take away a man’s personality and what is left? Thus the idea of change is very threatening, because we risk losing our sense of self, our sense of our own identity. If we change any important part of our thinking about ourselves or the world, the knock-on effect is enormous, because we are in effect saying, “I myself and the world, are not as I believed in this particular respect. How much else have I got wrong? Where does that leave me?” It is easier and safer to go on thinking the same things, even if they are painful and unhelpful, than to risk losing our sense of who and what we are.

Therefore, even when a client comes knowing with one part of herself that all is not well, and that something needs to change, another part of her will resist change vigorously.

Pain and Fear in Changes to Self-Esteem

Once our level of self-esteem is established, we guard it carefully. Very small changes in self-esteem can be tolerated, but large ones cannot - and it does not matter whether such changes are positive or negative. If something happens to knock our self-esteem, the painfulness of the experience depends on how bad the knock is. A small knock we can cope with - it may well simply confirm what we have always believed, that we are second-rate, or unlucky, or both. A major blow to our self-esteem leads to that most painful of feelings, shame. We will generally do almost anything to avoid that, and it takes a long time for us to recover from a shaming event when it happens.

You might think that anything which raises our self esteem will be welcome, but that is not necessarily so. Firstly, any change to self - concept is hard to accept and feels threatening. Secondly, if we allow our self - esteem to be raised, we take the risk that we will be knocked back again. That would be much more painful than if our self-esteem had never been raised in the first place. Thus, it is useless to offer big compliments or statements about value to anyone who suffers from low self-esteem. They won’t be accepted. Small compliments may be. For example, telling someone who believes that she is fat and ugly that she is in fact stunningly beautiful (even if it is absolutely true) is no use. Telling her on one occasion that her hair looks nice, commenting on another that the colour she is wearing really suits her, and so on -gradually, through tiny steps, building up for her the idea that someone else rates her as attractive, may enable her to risk the possibility that she is not quite as much of a lost cause as she believed.

Equally, a person who comes for counselling because he is failing to cope with a situation needs to have his confidence in his coping abilities developed gradually, in small steps. It is not enough to state what may be obvious to the counsellor, that he is in fact a perfectly competent human being who has everything he needs to cope adequately with the situation. She will help him more successfully if she provides him with small opportunities for experiencing genuine success for himself For example; he believes he lacks the courage to tackle difficult situations. But look at the courage he has shown by coming for counselling, and talking about things which are very difficult. He believes that he cannot communicate successfully with his wife. But he is communicating successfully with his counsellor. What can he learn from that? Using role-play to work through a scenario he finds moderately difficult may give him confidence to tackle the situation in real life. Then he might graduate successfully onto more difficult scenarios. In this way his view of himself and his personal effectiveness would undergo progressive, manageable degrees of change.



_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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#24775 - 12/04/02 07:32 AM Re: need advice *trigger?*
zadok1 Offline
Member

Registered: 11/05/02
Posts: 188
Loc: Ohio
Lloydy,

i have been running this text through my mind every since i read it. i feel as though i am on the verge of some great revelation, but am not there just yet.

so much has been playing on my mind. before getting help, i was addicted to sex with all the negative esteem issues, but i also thought of my self in possitive ways as well. when i started reviewing my life, i lost myself for a time. i think many of my current struggles are because i am emerging as a new person. your post has given me a lot to consider, and has made me feel a lot more in control, and a lot more powerful.

thank you,
jeff

_________________________
The world is a dangerous place, not because of those that are evil, but because of those who do nothing about them- Albert Einstein

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#24776 - 12/04/02 01:15 PM Re: need advice *trigger?*
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
Jeff
that's the big fright, changing.

We move through recovery and are forced to change drastically, we can't do it any other way.
We learn new things to help us overcome our pasts, and - more importantly - we learn all about ourselves.

And it scares the crap out of us, so we revert to our natural defences against change ( I'll post the handout about that as well ) and resist the changes.

So there's a whole pile of other stuff to deal with, and eventually we do.
Part of the handout describes a 'filter' that lets stuff in and out of our minds, and that filter ahs been set under the influence of the abuse we suffered. Figure out how to make the filter bigger and the crap flows out and the good flows in.

Over the last couple of years I have been told by a few people that I know but don't often see "I don't know what's different about you Dave, but you've changed" thankfully they say for the better as well ! Things aren't perfect, far from it, but I have made the most progress since I stopped resisting change.

Lloydy

_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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#24777 - 12/04/02 07:17 PM Re: need advice *trigger?*
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
Here's the second handout about resistance to change.
Please remember these have been written for first year trainee counsellors, so the perspective is from the 'other' chair.
But I found them extremely interesting and relevent, I hope they give you something to think about.
Lloydy

Quote:

DEFENCES AGAINST CHANGE

All human beings develop ways of protecting themselves from pain, fear, shame and grief. When someone is confronted by the need to explore or face up to painful feelings, memories and situations, habitual defences come into play. This tendency is made stronger when the person is threatened with changes to self-concept and world - view.
The familiar, however unpleasant and uncomfortable, is safer than the risky unknown. It must be remembered that defences have, or had, survival value, and as such have positive characteristics as well as negative ones. If a person’s defences are battered down before he is ready and able to deal with whatever is being defended, enormous damage can be done. Thus it is vital that people are given the time and space to tackle their problems at their own pace. Then, even if the defences do not fall of their own accord, recognising and acknowledging them with the counsellor’s help and support becomes a positive move towards growth and health. Otherwise, whatever defences are made useless by the counsellor, will be replaced by other, more desperate defences - or the client will simply stop coming for counselling.

Everyone has their own way of defending themselves, but there are some common forms of defence and resistance to change.

1) Denial

Sometimes the only way to deal with something is to deny that it exists. If certain aspects of life are associated with overwhelming pain, the mind has a way of closing off that area, allowing the person to behave as if it did not exist or had never happened. This is a largely unconscious process.
A form of denial can be used more consciously by people who have to live with the unthinkable - for example, the progressive illness and certain death of a loved one. Such people may deliberately set that knowledge aside in order to get on with their lives. This is a helpful mechanism, as long as the reality can be acknowledged and accepted at least from time to time.
True denial, the refusal to accept the reality of a situation or feeling, is fine as a temporary measure (it is a common short-term reaction to sudden death, for instance) but has harmful consequences as a long-term strategy.
Unresolved issues, which have been banished from consciousness, inevitably turn up in some disguised form, such as psychosomatic symptoms, phobias, neurosis, or simply high levels of stress. It takes energy to keep the unacceptable at bay, energy, which could be used more constructively to live a fuller and more effective life.
The counsellor builds up a picture of what is being denied from hints and clues dropped by the client during counselling. Only when a client feels sufficiently secure in the relationship, and has maybe worked through other, related issues, may the mind release its grip on the banned material and allow him to tackle it. The counsellor can help by creating a safe place for this to happen, and by offering the client opportunities for getting closer and closer to the crucial issues.

2) Withdrawal

Some people react to stress or pain by withdrawing into themselves, and cutting themselves off emotionally (and sometimes physically) from those close to them. It is the equivalent of pulling up the drawbridge and dropping the portcullis.
This may have been an effective defence in an environment where positive support was hard to find, but it prevents the person from asking for, or being able to accept, help in the present. Generally, people who come for counselling have already made a move outward, but withdrawal may be used frequently during the counselling process when the person is confronting difficult issues. It is both a warning to the counsellor to back off, and evidence of the importance of that particular issue.

3) Displacement activities

Displacement activities are patterns of behaviour which people show when they feel threatened or uncomfortable. They are recognisable because they always happen at certain kinds of moment, and they have the effect of distracting attention from the issue at hand. Smoking can be a displacement activity as well as a way of calming nerves; the actions of handling a cigarette packet or filling a pipe, finding a match or lighter, lighting up etc. give the person a breathing space and allow him to shift the spotlight away from the dangerous area.
At the right time, the client’s attention can be drawn to the displacement activity, and he can be asked to ‘sit with’ what is happening inside him at that point. In future sessions, the appearance of the activity then becomes a signal to the client as well as the counsellor that something important is happening inside the client.

4) Talking as a Defence

A common defence in articulate people is talking at a great rate and with few pauses. Talking is a specific form of displacement activity. It allows the person to avoid feeling the feelings associated with what he is talking about.
When such people are made to stop, and experience the feelings which go along with the subject matter, the effect can be dramatic.
The feelings are happening underneath the talk, but the person is successfully masking them from consciousness by concentrating on ‘head stuff’.
The counsellor needs at some point to stem the flow and persuade the client to risk
‘staying with the feelings’ in order to gain insight into what those feelings really are. Then the feelings can be explored and dealt with.
Talkers are notoriously difficult to counsel as they are usually experts in the avoidance of painful feelings and slide back up into their heads at the first opportunity. Just keeping track of what they are saying taxes the counsellor’s concentration. Firmness and confidence on the part of the counsellor are needed in order to work effectively with this defence.

5) Anger

Anger is used as a defence in many different ways. Anger is a powerful and active emotion, unlike grief, and fear, and shame, which disempower people. Anger is therefore frequently used as a mask for other, more painful or less acceptable feelings. Counsellors need to learn to distinguish between genuine anger, which is an appropriate reaction to a particular situation, and false anger, which is being used defensively. Anger can also be used as a defence against depression. Some habitually angry people are in fact suffering from ‘masked depression’. In other words, their chronic anger enables them to keep active in the face of the disempowering force of their depression. Once the source of the depression is understood and dealt with, the anger is no longer needed to keep them going.

6) Blaming

One way in which a person can deflect bad feelings about himself is to blame others, or Fate, for his troubles. Such a person may talk of being unlucky, of receiving unfair treatment from other people, of being picked on and discriminated against, of not having had a chance.
Much of what he says may have its roots in fact, but until he is able to accept responsibility for himself in the here-and-now, and look at the ways in which he himself may be contributing to the situation through his negative self-concept and / or distorted world view, he is not likely to make any progress. Before people can make positive improvements to their lives, they need to take full responsibility for themselves in the present.
Exploring and understanding how past experiences have shaped their lives then becomes a positive move towards psychological health, rather than a justification and an excuse for continuing to feel helpless and inadequate.

7) Lying

People do not always tell the truth to their counsellors. Clients who lie are indulging in severely self-defeating behaviour, but lying is, after all, one of the most obvious and successful defences against punishment.
A client who lies believes that the truth will alienate the counsellor, or that the counsellor will be disapproving and judgemental if they learn the truth.
The only way to disarm a liar is to make it clear to him that the truth will not have the negative effect he fears; to make him feel sufficiently valued and respected to risk telling the truth.
He may test the counsellor’s non-judgementalism by trying out a little bit of the truth. If the counsellor passes the test, more of the truth may emerge bit by bit.
Some people have become habitual liars and find it very difficult to break the habit, even when they know that it is neither necessary nor useful.
Into this category come people who have developed the habit of fantasising about themselves, spinning stories about their background, their exploits and their experiences. Extracting the facts from the fiction is a time-consuming process and not always a successful one. However, even the fiction has its uses in that it offers evidence of the person’s needs and fears.
Habitual liars and fantasisers are likely (though there are other, less sympathetic reasons for people to become so) to have such low self-esteem that they do not believe their true selves to be in any way acceptable. They may also have been reared in an environment so hostile to their personal development that lying became a necessary tool for survival.
Counselling of people in this state is usually a long-term process. Counsellors need to be very alert to inconsistencies in what the client says and to the client’s body-language. It is also important to be able to challenge the client firmly but acceptingly.

8) Shock Tactics

The client who sets out to shock the counsellor is most probably trying to defend the indefensible. It is an aggressive defence in that the person seeks to establish or maintain a dominant position by throwing the counsellor off-balance. There are many reasons for someone to use shock tactics. One is that he may be saying, in effect, “I know how bad I am, you don’t have to tell me”. He is assuming that the counsellor will pass negative judgement on him. Another is that he is desperately trying to justify actions which are important to him whilst defending himself against his own secret knowledge that what he is doing is wrong. Substance abusers or sex offenders may use this type of defence for example.
A third is that he is only able to maintain a bearable level of self-esteem by pretending to be ‘hard’, and the ‘evidence’ for his hardness is his ability to say and do things which other people would not dare to do.

If the counsellor falls into the trap of being shocked, or expressing a negative judgement, they may as well end the counselling then and there.
However, such tactics can make counsellors feel very uncomfortable, especially if they are women counselling men who use sexual shock tactics. Support from a colleague or supervisor may help the counsellor to deal with personal feelings.
Clients who use shock tactics need to learn, firstly that they are not going to work, and secondly that they are not necessary. It may take a great deal of perseverance, and consistent accepting behaviour, on the part of the counsellor before such a client feels able to risk showing bits of his true self.

9) Humour

People sometimes hide their hurt and their low self-esteem behind a mask of humour. This includes the jokers’, who have so often been laughed at that they now deliberately set out to make people laugh (“I’ll do it before you can do it to me”); the people who are always putting themselves down, but in a funny way to hide how much it hurts (they are also testing all the time the truth of what they are saying, so every time you laugh, you are confirming their poor view of themselves); people who make light of the impact on them of serious problems or events, because they cannot allow others to see how devastated they really are; and people who, in the counselling room, turn away any comment from the counsellor which gets a bit close to the mark, with a flip comment or a joke. The counsellor needs to challenge the joker client, to point out lack of congruence, both between what is being talked about and how it is being talked about, and between the humorous language and the not-at-all humorous body-language.
Humour is often a very courageous defence, indicating someone who has managed to find a way of protecting himself or herself without cutting off from other people or being aggressive towards them. It is usually very moving for a counsellor to deal with someone whose apparently upbeat and perky attitude hides a great deal of pain or grief.

SERIOUS AND POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS
DEFENCES

For some people, their lives have contained so much that is bad and harmful that they have had to adopt the most extreme defences just to keep living. These range from partial or mild to bordering on, or even becoming, psychiatric conditions. The four main types are:­

a) Depressive

Such people ‘retreat’ into depression. It is an extreme form of withdrawal, a closing-down of the personality. It is a passive defence, and more women than men use it.

It is extremely difficult to counsel someone effectively while she is in this state. It is quite common for anti-depressants to be used to ‘lift’ the person sufficiently to make more normal mental functioning possible.
However, with a great deal of time and patience, it is possible to encourage a depressive client to take very small, gradual steps towards re-assessing her negative self-concept and world view.

b) Schizoid

This has nothing to do with schizophrenia. It means that someone has completely shut off his feelings and, in effect, lost the ability to feel and to name those feelings accurately. Some schizoid people learn to mimic ‘acceptable’ feeling reactions to people and events in order to pass muster socially, but these are not genuine, and are not good enough to sustain in-depth personal relationships. Schizoid people are therefore almost invariably isolated people who are often experienced as cold and distant by others. The extreme schizoid personality is the psychopath. Men use this type of defence more often than women.

By the nature of the defence, the schizoid person defeats the counsellor’s attempts at building rapport and developing empathy, and can therefore be extremely frustrating and unrewarding to work with.
Bearing in mind that this is an extreme defence, it follows that whatever has caused the person to cut off so completely from his emotional side must have been very traumatic indeed. In extreme cases, a judgement has to be made as to whether this is ‘merely’ a defence, or whether it is a more pathological condition. Also, some people are born lacking in emotional responsiveness. However, setting aside these instances, if with perseverance, and consistent respect and acceptance, the counsellor is able to made a break-through, the rewards are immense. It is often emotionally sensitive and vulnerable people who have been driven to this extreme, and it can be like witnessing a statue coming to life.

c) Paranoid

This is an attitude of permanent suspiciousness and cynicism about the intentions of other people. Paranoid people have had such uniformly negative experiences of other people that they cannot afford to expect or hope for anything good from personal or social relationships. This needs to be distinguished from psychiatric paranoia, which may have a physical basis rather than being based on negative experiences. Paranoid people always interpret other people’s words and actions in the worst possible light.

Challenging these perceptions, helping the client to re-assess their negative expectations of others, and enabling them to experience a positive, caring and helpful relationship, will give them the opportunity to experiment with a different way of interacting with the world.
As with all extreme forms of defensiveness, this is a time-consuming business needing much patience and consistency from the counsellor.

d) Obsessive

Some people deal with high levels of stress and anxiety by developing repetitive patterns of behaviour and an obsession with certain aspects of their lives.
This can vary from mild, occasional behaviours to obsessive- compulsive disorders, where the repetitive behaviour comes to dominate the life of the person and, often, the lives of those close to him.
These obsessive behaviours are a way of controlling aspects of the environment, and thus of damping down unbearable anxiety.

The obsessive type of personality is shown in the kind of person who pays minute attention to detail, and is very fussy about how things are done, an over-conscientious person who takes responsibilities too seriously, a ‘perfectionist’ to the point of irritating and boring all those around him. More serious examples include people who check over and over that certain things have been done, like switching off electrical appliances, locking doors etc.; who have fixations about germs and cleanliness, and cannot tolerate the slightest bit of dirt or disorder in their houses; who feel an overwhelming need to perform certain ritual actions at certain times or in certain situations, such as never leaving the house without touching all the ornaments in the living room, or counting to one hundred every time a cat crosses their path.

Counselling people with high levels of anxiety, and obsessive defences against it, usually takes the form of a mixture of cognitive and behavioural counselling. The cognitive part involves helping them to understand how they contribute to their anxiety by the way they think. Helping them to make changes to their self-concept and world view are important. The behavioural aspect involves gradually weaning them off the obsessive behaviour patterns and helping them to develop better anxiety management strategies.
Medication is often genuinely helpful in these cases, and such clients should be encouraged to visit their doctors



_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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