Saturday, December 29, 2007

Message in the Bottle

Anonymous writes:

"i have a 'friend' who is dating a lovely woman with a severe drinking problem, it recently reached a crisis, and she is trying to stop, without help, without counseling or meetings. She relapses, so now he is on the edge of issuing the ultimatum. Will this have any better chance of working that the begging, pleading, crying? He is a nice guy, I would hate to see him hurt again. "

At this point, whether it "works" or not, he has to decide if he is willing to stay in a relationship with an alcoholic. He really cannot affect what she does. He can only affect what he does.

Walking away is the only sane option, I believe. If she is unwilling to get help, counseling, etc. then I would have to say that she is not fully committed to stopping. It's like when one decides to lose weight but doesn't tell anyone else. It's easier to "cheat" or fall off the wagon when you have not publicly stated that you are dieting or quitting smoking, or drinking in this case.

So your friend has to make the choice for himself, not for her. What is he willing to accept in a relationship?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Sorry for the delay in posting here... for some reason I didn't get the notification about this comment/question!

Here we go:

From "Anonymous":

"Here is my major issue.
Since high school (10 years+ now) I have been secretly in love with my best friend of the opposite sex. Now it hasn't been the darkest secret and perhaps secret is not the way to describe it. However for the past 5 years I have been in a sometimes dysfunctional sometimes wonderful relationship, I believe I am happy, however fear that I am just comfortable.
Now, this guy from high school is still a very good friend and about 2 years ago we had an "incident" no boundaries were crossed however a lot came out into the open. We both admitted we felt the same.
I fear though it is more of infatuation than sparks. I mean he is the "forbidden fruit" right now right?
Am I lying to myself and perhaps denying a good thing due to comfort? Or am I hung up on feelings that I never expressed when the timing may have been just right?
This debate in my head consumes me from time to time. I really need some help on this issue.
Anony for now."

Dear Anony:

Unfortunately, this is one of those situations where you will never know the answer unless you attempt to have a relationship with this person. Very often, the fantasy does not live up to the reality. But of course, being in a current relationship, the stakes are very high for you.

I think you have to examine your current relationship on its own merits, without the "safety net" thoughts about your H.S. honey. Maybe take a break from it for awhile and see how that feels. The key would be NOT to see the H.S. guy during that break, though. Just be by yourself for awhile and make some decisions about your current situation. If you determine that you're better off without your partner, give yourself some alone time before attempting to take up with this new/old person. And when/if you do decide to give it a go, take it very very slowly.

Good luck with whatever you decide!


Saturday, September 15, 2007

Back on the Couch

OK, so I fell into the August shrink-on-vacation thing. Sorry about that.

Hopefully it is not to late to answer "Anonymous'" question below:

I'm anonymous for this post, otherwise I'll get killed. My husband is sick, and he needs to see a doctor, but he has not seen anyone but a dentist, eye doc and dermatologist for over 30 years. He is having problems with balance, and it is so bad that I suspect he has had a small stroke recently, but I can't prove it.

He told me today that if I tell our children about his symptoms, he will leave me. Then he screamed that I was making him worse with my nagging him to go see a doctor.
I don't know what to do. Part of me wants to wash my hands of him - if he can't be bothered to care about himself - why should I worry about him? Another part wants to call the children and tell them, so maybe they can force him to see a doctor or go to the emergency room. One big problem is that he has no medical insurance. The other is that he is a scaredy-cat. His mom was deathly afraid of doctors and she did a good job of transferring that fear to him. What would you do?

Dear Anonymous,

I have a feeling your husband may have already had the stroke. I'm sorry, if that is the case.

If not, look at it this way: if you are ready to leave him over this, what do you have to lose by telling your children? He's threatening to leave you if you do, but you're ready to go if you don't.

Don't go through this by yourself. Tell your kids. Have an "intervention". Get him the help he needs.

Again, I apologize for the delay in answering. Had a lot to deal with in my own life but all is ok.

We have to stop now.

Friday, August 10, 2007

It's August...

... but THMDS is still operational, unlike your basic paid therapist. Yeah, so they have their big degrees and all, but can they really and truly relate to what you're going through?

Remember that we always link back to your blog when you post a question here (unless you prefer to remain anonymous of course), so ask away.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Welcome Surfers!

Warm welcome to the blog surfers of

It's been quiet here at the Shrink's, so hopefully you guys are a dysfunctional bunch with lots of issues that need resolving. ("Why, oh why, do the number of comments on my blog directly correspond to my level of self esteem?").

For those who misread this post, I was referring to the general blogger self-esteem issue, not my personal one! It was a comic reference to a possible psychological problem that might need to be resolved. Don't you hate it when you have to explain a joke?

Monday, July 16, 2007

Anonymous asks:

"My mom and I used to be very close. Let me say, she was a wonderful mom growing up. Now that I'm an adult and married, I almost feel like she's in competition with me. Not like with material things, but if I say something she doesn't agree with, she gives a snotty comment back. Or she'll complain non-stop about my grandma (her mother-in-law) and I'll try to point out things from grandma's point of view (she's dying and all of her friends are dead for example!). This annoys her to no end (I can never disagree with her or give a differing opinion) and she won't speak to me for days. It drives me crazy. It's to the point that I avoid any conversations with her unless I just want to smile and nod and agree with everything she says. I've tried bringing this up to her, but once I do she is immediately on guard and defensive about it. I miss our relationship, but I just feel like it's not worth the frustration and hurt it causes.

I love her to death and appreciate her, but sometimes I just want her to be a mom. (If it helps any, she has never kept friendships with females either. Always kinda made me wonder growing up why not and now I know!)"

Clearly, your mother was comfortable with the adult/child relationship that you once had. But coping with you as her equal is something she doesn't seem to be able to do. Often, when we as adults are around our parents we regress in subtle ways and act like we're children again. You are obviously not doing that, even to the point of trying to get your mother to be more compassionate towards her mother-in-law. Your mother is resentful of the fact that you are, in some ways, more of an adult than she is.

I think you need to sit her down and tell her that you miss the closeness you once had. She needs to see that the potential for an even better connection now that you are grown is there. I'd also lay off the suggestions about your grandmother for now. You're correct in what you're trying to do, but it may require backing off a bit in order to begin to repair the relationship with your mother.

Hopefully your mother is not really conscious of what she's doing. All you can do is point it out to her...the change itself has to come from her.

OK, we have to stop now.

I'm baaaack. Fire away.

Monday, July 9, 2007

The HMDS is going on vacation this week, so please post lots of questions in the comments box and I'll address them all when I return!

Hey, at least it's not for the whole month of August.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

AKA Monty asks:

"I love men, but I've been single for a long time and at this point the thought of letting a man hold my remote control makes me break out in a cold sweat. Why do some women think that every woman needs a man to be complete, and to be happy?
I'm surprised whenever I run into this attitude, especially in this day and age."

I'm with you, AKA. It is surprising to run into that attitude today but it's definitely out there. Sometimes, it comes from women who actually do feel like they need men in their lives, unable to relate to the idea of not needing them.

The operative word here, though, is "need". Interestingly, I know many women who have been divorced or widowed for many years who have chosen to live alone. I don't know quite as many men in the same situation. For some of these men, "need" is what drives them to get into live-in situations quickly. For the women, they've found that the pros of being the mistresses of their own domains outweigh the cons of giving up the remote control.

I'm a firm believer in "never say never" (hell, I once said I'd never get married!), but if someday you choose to live with or marry someone it will be because you choose to, not because you need to. What you've come to realize is that you are fine alone, and that it might not be such a bad idea to have your own home base even if you find yourself in love again.

OK, we have to stop now.

First, I want to say welcome to all of you who are visiting via the fantabulous Michele. I am honored to be the Site of the Day over at her place.

Now, back to our session:

Stephanie asks:

"I have an extremely hard time getting motivated, and to have any sense of self-discipline. It seems like I never get the things done that I want/need to get done (such as cleaning house, doing writing work - my job - , watering plants, cutting the lawn, etc.), and I procrastinate until things become total wrecks. How can I instill more of a sense of self-discipline in myself? I really WANT to be more motivated, and accomplish more, but it seems like even wanting isn't enough :( "

For some people, resolving this issue is a matter of focusing on only one thing rather than thinking about the five million unfinished projects that need attention. It's the old "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time." theory.

However, for others, this problem can be a signpost of a bigger issue: depression or adult ADHD. Having been married to someone with adult ADD (believe me, no "H" was involved) I know what this looks like. In his case, it was accompanied by self-medication (coffee addiction, pot smoking, mandatory beer or wine with dinner) but what he really needed was Ritalin.

Try the one-small-step-for-Stephanie approach. If that really doesn't work, consider seeing someone who can determine whether you can be helped by medication.

OK, we have to stop now.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Forbidden Planet

Technodoll asks:

If a man loves you, truly and honestly, why would he still feel the need to lie and hide things from you, little stupid things... As if having a secret life is a necessity to his survival? Does it have anything to do with them being from Mars?...

PS: is this related to men being incapable of changing the toilet paper roll?

Dear Technodoll,

I am so not into that Mars/Venus thing. Sometimes I think women are from Earth and men are from Uranus, but sometimes it's the other way around.

The key to your question, though, is the word "lie". If you had just asked why he might hide things from you, or not tell you everything, I'd say that some people just maintain control over their lives by not sharing all the details...even of insignificant things...with anyone.

This can be really frustrating for those of us who are open books. But it's just a matter of accepting that you're not in a relationship with YOU.

However...lying is never ok. Oh, of course someone might "lie" and say that you look absolutely radiant after 36 hours of labor, but that's not what we're talking about here. Trust is such a critical element of a healthy relationship that without it, what's left? You constantly trying to guess whether he's telling you the truth or not? That takes the control issue (see above) to a whole 'nother level. And moves your relationship firmly into the unhealthy zone.

It's time for you to move out of victim mode ("Why oh why does he do this?") into a place where you can sit him down and tell him that he's got to trust you enough to be honest with you, and you have to be able to believe what he says when he tells you something. And critical omissions are lying as well. ("Oh, did I forget to mention that I made out with my ex-girlfriend last night? Oops!")

But it's also important to let him know that he can have his privacy when it comes to things that you really don't need to know (the precise route he took driving home from work, unless it involved stopping off at the ex-girlfriend's place).

Maybe it's just me... but honesty is one of those non-negotiables. Ask yourself why you've been willing to accept less.

OK, we have to stop now.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Mother Power

Jill asks:

I grew up with a Mother who constantly belittled me and my ideas. She never believed in me. She didn't support me. Now as an adult I find that I don't follow through with anything and I get very upset with my husband if he doesn't praise me for every harebrained idea that pops into my head. How do I begin to believe in myself and get the confidence to act on my plans?

Dear Jill,

One of the most valuable things I learned in therapy was that the Tom Wolfe quote, "Living Well is the Best Revenge" can work well when dealing with our crappy childhoods.

I found that as an adult I was still giving my parents too much power by allowing them to continue to control my behavior. As rebellious as I was as a teenager, here I an adult...saying and doing things as a result of how they treated me as a kid. I finally started to realize that the very best "revenge" would be to take control of my life and my relationships and TRY not to let those deep seeded insecurities ruin my adult life. They'd already screwed up the first 17 years of my life... I wasn't going to give them the rest.

As I told a friend once: "The bad news is that you had a shitty childhood. The good news is that it's over."

A Customer!

Rosemary asks:

"I have a question: If I married my second husband twice making him my third husband as well, does that mean I was married four times or can I just meld the 2nd and 3rd mistakes into one? Saying I have been married 4 times is a bit Elizabeth Taylorish."

Dear Rosemary,

First, I want to thank you for being such a brave pioneer and volunteering to be my first victim, er, "patient".

As far as your problem goes: Embrace your inner La Liz! In fact, I would recommend simply referring to yourself as having been married four times, and leave out the part about the "do-over". You could have a lot of fun making up the details about husband #2. "After six months of marriage, I came home to find him and his things gone. He left me a note, saying he was sorry for letting me think he was the manager of the local Jiffy Lube when in fact he was a CIA operative and his cover had been blown. He begged me not to try and find him. God, I miss his dip stick."


OK, we have to stop now.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

And Worth Every Penny!

Why spend your time, energy and hard-earned sheckles on a high-priced psychiatrist, psychologist or worse yet, "MSW", when I've already done it?

Pose your question in the comments box. Anonymous questions will be accepted, after moderation. There are few issues that I haven't posed to a professional at some point in my life, so hitch your dysfunctional wagon to my heavily medicated star! I'll share what I know, or I'll make something up. Best of all, you won't be building me a house in the Hamptons. And I don't take the month of August off.

OK, we have to stop now.