Posted by Golie Zarabi
I am 29 years old, and just started a new relationship. For the last couple years I dated casually, but really wanted to have a boyfriend again. I was discouraged for years, feeling that no one would love me again. Now that Im in a relationship, I am slowly realizing that Im still not satisfied. My boyfriend is great and very kind to me but Im not as happy as I thought I would be. I really thought that I wanted to be with someone again, and now I feel like I want to be single.
I understand how discouraging it must be to finally get what you believed you wanted and still not be fulfilled. It seems that you had put a lot of weight on being in a relationship and yet you are still not satisfied. Many times we look outside of ourselves for something to save us from our current state. Often we look to these external means to fulfill a void within us, or to distract ourselves from dealing with what may be the real issue at hand. What did you hope to get from the relationship? What matter was it going to alleviate for you? What feelings or thoughts do you have that leave you unsatisfied and discouraged? You say that you were unhappy being single and now you feel the same in a relationship. If you feel that a relationship is supposed to fill an emptiness and it doesn’t, this may be a sign that this emptiness has nothing to do with a relationship at all. Looking within and gaining more self awareness may bring to light factors that have been overlooked and avoided. Until these concerns are brought to the surface and given the right attention you may continue to feel dissatisfied regardless of your relationship status.
6.12.12 at 8:55 pm |
5.17.12 at 10:21 am |
3.24.12 at 10:40 am | Sometimes I smoke too much, and I can be a bit. . .
1.31.12 at 10:55 pm | It is very important to explore the causes of. . .
1.13.12 at 1:37 am |
1.8.12 at 12:12 am |
May 17, 2012 | 10:21 am
Posted by Natalie Landver
For the last few months, I have been extremely anxious about people closest to me dying. I have always been somewhat nervous around this issue, but lately, it has escalated. I always think of the worst scenarios of what can go wrong (Always sudden deaths). The thought of loosing my husband terrifies me, and as much as I try not to think about it, the thoughts are there. I used to feel this way about family members too. Most of the time, I realize that these thoughts are crazy, but I am still having trouble getting them out of my mind on a daily basis. How can I better deal with this problem?
Fear of death and loosing our loved ones is not that uncommon. However, becoming consumed by these thoughts, and feeling constant panic about them can be a problem, and may be tipping over to a form of anxiety disorder. It sounds like what you may be going through is an existential crisis. In simplest terms, an existential crisis is a stage of development through which an individual questions the very foundations of life. Often times, when answers to these questions such as the meaning and purpose of life are no longer providing satisfaction, direction, and peace of mind, a person feels fear. This person also comes to terms with the fact that life is not fully in his or her control.
I wonder if this notion of control has been a reoccurring theme in your life. It is also important to note that you do not mention the fear of your own life, rather, fear of people you seem to feel very attached to. It is important for you to explore the type of relationships you have with these people, what they mean to you, and if your dependency on them has a role in these fears of loss.
The fact that this fear has recently escalated makes me question if anything has happened to magnify this feeling. Do you recently feel more attached to your husband then before? Sometimes increased intimacy and the ability to love someone deeper may trigger the already innate fear of loss. At other times feeling unexpressed anger toward our loved ones may shift into fantasies of loss.
The fact that you imagine these “deaths” as sudden implies a cognitive distortion. This means that our mind convinces us of something that isn’t really true in this moment. These false thoughts usually lead to negative emotions. Cognitive distortions can show themselves in several different ways, but it seems to be manifesting through a term called catastrophizing. This is when people expect disaster to strike no matter what, and they tend to amplify the problem, no matter how big or small. It would be wise for you to talk about these feelings you are experiencing, to better understand them, and to work through them. We all experience unsettling feelings, however, the more you attend to your well being, the better suited you can be when facing these issues.
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March 24, 2012 | 10:40 am
Posted by Natalie Landver
My wife and I have been together for 3 years and we love each other very much. However, she believes that I am addicted to cigarettes. I personally don’t see it like that. I agree that sometimes I smoke too much, and I can be a bit irresponsible at times. But she wants me to cut them out of my life for good. I told her I would not smoke for 2 weeks to prove that I can handle it, but the truth is, I don’t want to stop smoking. I told her I should only stop smoking if I truly want to, not for her, but I also don’t want to lose her, so maybe I should do it for her. I wonder if that is a good reason to quit though, and if I will resent her for that. What do you think?
Dear Feeling Confused,
You seem quite aware of your desire to continue smoking, and per your post, you are resistant to quit unless it is on your own terms. In fact what you are expressing is not too far from the norm. The success in quitting any addictive substance or habit depends so much on the motivation of the individual. In the addiction circle, it is believed that most people become motivated to quit only when they “hit rock bottom.” For some this may come as the simple realization that their health can be compromised, and for others it may come with a higher price like being left by a loved one. Whether or not you are addicted to smoking cigarettes, it is clear that you have not reached a point where you are self-motivated to quit. No one can force upon you to quit smoking, however, the question becomes, are you willing to deal with the consequences associated to continuing to smoke? It seems like you are contemplating that if you do not quit, you may lose your wife. Therefore, it feels to you that you would be quitting for her sake. It would be more useful if you shifted your thinking and looked at the decision to quit not for her sake but for your own sake because not wanting to loose her is about your need and not hers. So you are right, you should not have to quit for her; it should be because you want to. But which desire is stronger? Remaining in a marriage to her, or the desire to smoke?
In the end, however, this is a marriage, and the two of you should be able to have a free and open dialogue about this, as this would set the tone for all your other disagreements.
Finding a win/win situation is always the best outcome.
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January 31, 2012 | 10:55 pm
Posted by Monica Farassat
I have recently been obsessing over my future. I don’t know specifically what I am so worried about but I have been thinking about it a lot. With the new year, I think a lot about where I am going to be by the end of the year. I worry about my career, whether or not I am making the right choices. I worry about finances, and no longer want to get money from my father. I want to be able to control my worries.
If you were in my office, I would ask you several questions: How long have your “obsessions about your future” begun? Did anything happen to trigger these thoughts and concerns? Is this just a current state of affairs for you, or have you always suffered from anxiety?
Your last statement “I want to be able to control my worries” is reflective of how you must be suffering. Anxiety is a very difficult and hard to tolerate state of being. Unfortunately, many people suffer from it. Anxiety can be situational and acute, caused by an uncontrollable event, or it can be chronic, with often a genetic predisposition. This means that we can inherit anxiety, and at times, aside from a learned behavior, there are chemical imbalances in the brain that can contribute to the anxiety.
It is very important to explore the causes of your anxiety. Whatever it is, it is quite necessary to take care of it before it becomes bigger than life. The good news is that this can be treated.
Anxiety often covers unprocessed feelings. In your case the theme seems to be about your fear of helplessness toward an unpredictable world, and your doubts about your ability to take care of yourself. This may have to do with your developmental stage of transitioning into an adult; or it may be based on some outside reality of financial hardship; or yet it could be related to something completely undifferentiated. Sometimes when we do not feel in control of our lives we project that fear onto everything outside of ourselves. Another strong feeling that anxious people experience is the feeling of guilt, which seems reflected in your need not to be dependent on your dad for money.
I highly recommend that you seek help, and find a place where you would be able to unload these thoughts and fears. I have a feeling, all you need is a place where you can explore your options, find your strength, and feel contained. You may just need a push to the right direction.
Ask Your Therapists
January 13, 2012 | 1:37 am
Posted by Golie Zarabi
I am 38 years old, and have been dating my girlfriend for three years now. She has a son from a previous marriage that is 10 years old. For the most part, he and I get a long very well. Sometimes he even calls me ‘dad’. Recently, I feel like his relationship with his mom, my girlfriend, is having an indirect impact on our relationship and its progression. I have alluded to wanting to get married over the last year, and she believes that its too soon for us to get married because it may have an impact on her son. Though I understand her need to protect her son, I also feel like a lot of the things I want to do in my life, and hope to do, will be put on hold because of her son. I wonder if I will always be second best? Or if I will ever be a priority? I don’t want to compete with her child, or be a burden on that relationship, but sometimes I feel like I am getting put on the backburner.
Feeling Second Best
Dear Feeling Second Best,
It is quite clear that entering a relationship where kids are involved is no small challenge. It’s understandable that you are frustrated about the slow progression of your relationship, and often feel second best to your girlfriend as compared to her son. However, when you chose to date a woman with a young child you actually signed up for a divided attention from her. It is inevitable that as a responsible mother she would be protective of her son, and would want to make the best choices for him. In fact, this sort of accountability should be considered as a positive quality about this woman, which might have been one of the reasons you were drawn to her. You would know that if the two of you ever have children together she would be a good and responsible mother. All this said, you might also want to consider that her love and affection for her son does not need to compare with her love and affection for you. She treats you like an adult. Her responsibility towards you is of a romantic, and adult nature. You can negotiate the terms of your relationship, and discuss your needs in a mutual and adult level. Her relationship to her son is more of a caretaker nature, and is therefore not mutual. He needs her in a completely different way than you do. Just think about the balancing act your girlfriend must be struggling with between being a competent mother, and an attentive girlfriend.
It seems like you feel Your goal and hope in being with her is incongruent with what she can provide at this time. What you need and want is being affected by her limitations due to being a mother. This is where in an adult relationship you can talk about your needs, and she can also express hers, and you will have to find a way to make both of you happy. Negotiation means creating a win/win solution. But first you have to think about whether or not your love for her can endure her commitment and dedication to her child.
In the end, it is quite important that you can be honest about your rivalry feelings towards her son. Understanding why you feel this way may help reduce some of the tension you experience around this subject. For example, is it possible that some of your own unfulfilled childhood needs (with your own mother) may have been triggered by watching the relationship between your girlfriend and her son? These are just possibilities, worth exploring. The point is that you should pay attention to your feelings, and first explore it from your end, and also try to always find a way to have a dialogue about such important matters with your girlfriend. Often couples caught up in complex dynamics, like yours, benefit from couple’s therapy, where both of you can assert your needs and discuss transitions you may be embarking on in the future while being sensitive to each other’s needs.
Ask Your Therapist Team
January 8, 2012 | 12:12 am
Posted by Natalie Landver
I am a 20 year old female and my parents have been divorced for over 5 years. My mom has been remarried for the past three. I feel close to her husband when I am around him and he has become another father figure in my life. However, when occasion’s and events bring us together and my biological dad is also present, I feel bad giving my step dad any attention or love in front of my dad. Even though he never says anything about my relationship with my stepfather and I don’t think he is angry of the fact that I have a relationship with him I still feel guilty and I am afraid of being disloyal. How can I bring these two worlds together without hurting either them? I care about them both in different ways.
Dear Feeling Guilty,
Your position of feeling responsible to keep everyone comfortable may need a closer evaluation. You seem to be concerned for the emotional well being of your dad, and believe that if you show affection to your step father, your biological father would feel hurt. All this is despite the fact that your father has not mentioned anything to you, and has not expressed any anger to you. It may be worth considering that some of the feelings that you worry about with your dad may stem from your own unfinished or unattended emotions related to your parent’s divorce in general and specifically to his loss, and having to adjust to a new father figure and family dynamic into your life.
Have you stopped to think about the effect of your parent’s divorce, and the adoption of a new father figure at the tender age of 15, and how ultimately it all might have impacted your understanding of family?
My concern is that you may not have had the forum or the opportunity to evaluate your feelings about this. It is wonderful that you like your step-father, but have you ever allowed yourself to feel your own hurt as a result of this divorce? Did you have to pretend that everything was o.k. because you did not want your parents to tolerate further pain, or that you did not want to rock the boat further? Feeling guilty is extremely powerful; sometimes guilt also covers other feelings like disappointment, anger, etc. Think about it, why should you feel guilty for liking your step dad? Where does this feeling guilty stem from? What did YOU do wrong? Your parents should feel relieved that you get along with him. Why is it your responsibility to integrate the two worlds, and to keep everyone safe and pain free? Don’t you trust that your father can actually take care of himself? Do you see him as fragile?
It is not unusual for children, to take on the emotional responsibility of the well being of their parents in the case of divorce, and physical separation from one parent. They are so scared of losing their parents (especially the more absent one), that they take on the task of making them happy. Look at your other relationships. Does the “guilt” come up in other aspects of your life as well? Does “caring” to you means responding out of guilt, or taking on other people’s emotional hurt? Is it possible for you to care about others in different ways?
It may be a great idea to share your feelings with your father. It sounds like he may be approachable. Sometimes what we think in our head, turns out to be much bigger than it is in reality.
In the end, it’s a great opportunity for you to reflect upon your tendency to carry on the load of your parent’s well being, and to feel their pain for them. It is very important to spend the time to really think about and understand where your feelings of guilt come from. Finding ways to gain insight into your feelings, and behavior, might release some of the intensity of this guilt.
Ask your therapists team
January 5, 2012 | 9:47 pm
Posted by Natalie Landver
I am 29 years old and my boyfriend and I broke up 3 months ago. I was ready to get married, and he was more focused on his career. He is in law school and still has a long road ahead of him before he is established financially. Often he calls me to tell me that he misses me, however, he still says he is not ready for the responsibilities. I want to start the next chapter of my life. I feel like I should let go and move on, however, the possibility of the future leaves me hopeful and keeps me from moving on.
Dear Feeling Lost,
It may appear that your ex boyfriend is the one that’s confused, however, you might want to take a look at what is pulling you and keeping you in a situation that is ambivalent.
We suspect that there may be a part of you that prefers this pull and push. That’s the dynamic that you need to take a look at and explore further. As confused as you are saying you are, you actually seem to know the truth about the circumstances of this relationship, which is no commitment yet. What stops you from confronting that? i.e. demanding commitment, setting boundaries, or letting go. It seems to us that it can be easy for you to hide behind his ambivalence than admitting your own. Sometimes our ambivalence is indication of some form of fear, and not taking accountability for our decisions. In other words it’s like a smoke screen and it protects you from knowing the truth. In that case why would you not want to see the truth? The truth here is in front of you. His pattern has not changed, neither has his excuse. A lot of times, reflecting and exploring your own set of values and dynamics in a safe environment through therapy or other means can clear your vision.
Ask Your Therapists Team
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January 4, 2012 | 10:16 am
Posted by Monica Farassat
I have an issue with overeating. I live with my parents and they buy a lot of junk food. When I see food, I feel a compulsion to eat, and I do. I feel disgusted with myself. I want to change. I realize, though, that part of the reason I want to change is to look good on dates to gain acceptance from other people. The idea that I must change for others to accept me makes me feel pressured. What is the correct mentality to have to help a person accept themselves while still being motivated to change? Also, since our success is partially dependent on others accepting us, how can we deal when we have faults that others cannot accept?
Can’t control myself
Dear Can’t Control Myself,
You seem to be quite reflective, and raise such heartfelt questions. To begin with, your over eating may be your way of coping with some deep emotional pain. Over eating as a coping mechanism is not that much different than using drugs to escape painful feelings. They both often serve a similar purpose, that of numbing, forgetting, and avoiding the painful realities. The difference between compulsive drug use, and compulsive eating is that food is necessary for survival, which makes the recovery from over eating a bit more complicated. Yet there are thousands upon thousands of people who have been able to overcome over eating.
If I were to use a metaphor, I suspect that your desire for food is not due to physical hunger, but rather due to emotional hunger.
You might want to start by asking yourself what feelings am I numbing by eating compulsively? What is food replacing for me? When did I begin using food as a way of avoiding my feelings, or as a way of soothing myself? What am I trying to sooth?
It seems like some of the answers may be related to the rest of your post regarding feelings of acceptance. Acceptance is an interesting concept. What does it mean to you to be accepted? Are you really asking if people like you, and want to be with you despite your appearance? What is it that you think needs to be changed before you feel accepted by others?
You have not mentioned in your post whether or not you are overweight. I suspect, that is what you are referring to regarding motivation to change.
Sometimes the extra weight people put on unconsciously serves as a shield to keep others away from getting too close. It is not unusual to have ambivalent feelings about intimacy and closeness. So while you may desire to date, and be liked by others, you may also unconsciously be scared, and keep them away by your shield.
Feeling accepted should first come intrinsically. No matter how accepted you may be from the outside, you will not feel it unless you can accept yourself. In order to accept yourself, you might need to face your fears your pain, and all the emotions that you have managed to suppress by eating. You need to learn to be kind to yourself despite your limitations. We all have them. When you start this journey towards self-acceptance, you may appeal to your parents to support you by keeping a healthier nutritional household. But it has to start with you.
There are so many avenues for help. There is a self-help group called “OA” or Over Eaters’ Anonymous. The link is http://www.oa.org/. If, however, you prefer individual work, therapy with the right therapist would also be very valuable.
With Deep Regards,
Ask Your Therapists Team