If your experience of 2020 and early 2021 feels like the above image, you’re not alone! No matter what side of the political fence you’ve embraced it has been a year of loss, constraints, hopelessness, helplessness, hatred, anxieties and extreme division, often among members of the same family, or among friends. Not only have most of us faced differences which have felt toxic and relationship-breaking, but a daily onslaught of information and news about catastrophic events, happening now, or about to unfold. I think there has been a collective experience of trauma in this country, and probably in many places around the world. Covid 19 illnesses and deaths, loss of income, loss of faith in the System, violence, racism, uncertainty.
To that point I’m encouraging everyone to pause and reflect on a few things:
How have you been coping and how well has it served you?
- Over-drinking or drugging?
- Reviewing the horrors frequently with peers who get it?
- Over-eating or over-indulging in comfort foods or sugar?
- Targeting your loved ones with rage-outs?
- Overspending on Amazon?
- Denying anything unusual is happening and proceeding without any cautions or adjustments?
- Over-working and sacrificing sleep / self care rituals?
- Over-thinking and going to catastrophic conclusions?
In my psychotherapy practice I’ve seen how people’s responses to the trauma either exacerbate or alleviate some of the stress, bring people together for support and meaningful action or tear them apart. Depression and anxiety are off the charts now as people struggle with feelings and thoughts that can become runaway trains in response to such triggering events.
So, instead of going through a long list of more functional coping mechanisms I’m encouraging you all to begin by examining the strategies you’re already using and taking an honest look at how well these strategies are serving you. If they calm and energize you, at what cost to yourself or others? If they provide relief, how momentary or enduring is it? Do your coping mechanisms give you any sense of meaning, agency, or connection to others whom you respect and trust? Are you finding any joy amidst all this madness? Are you protecting your mental and physical health, or has that been one price of how you’ve tried to manage?
All meaningful change begins with Contemplation, so give that it’s due. Then, if you decide to seek out different coping tools you’ll be readier to use them intentionally, creatively and effectively.
Although tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, not everyone in a marriage will be celebrating. If you are in a marriage and have experienced infidelity or an affair, then you know how painful a close relationship can become. As the hurt spouse you have been robbed of trust, joy, self trust, your history as you’ve known it, a feeling of specialness, and most importantly, any secure sense of the future you had anticipated. Certainly, the romance and promise of Valentine’s Day has been shattered, at least for now.
If your spouse who has had an affair minimizes the circumstances and your response to it, trust that it is a function of their dread of consequences, / their entitlement, / their refusal to take responsibility for their behavior, and certainly their lack of empathy for the impact on you. Get support from a trusted friend, family member, group, and especially, a therapist. Whatever you do, DON’T buy into your spouse’s denial about the seriousness of the situation. Get help, and honor your experience of grief and betrayal as valid. Know that you or you and your spouse are probably ill equipped to go this alone!
Here are two terrific, must-read books I recommend to anyone who has or is currently going through this ordeal. One provides invaluable insights about the process, including the challenges and mandates for the “hurt spouse” as well as the “affair spouse.” The second book, about forgiveness, provides choices for how to move on, and vital repair tools for individuals and couples:
Don’t miss my next BlogTalk Radio episode tonight about the subject of dealing with life when things fall apart. We’ve all had the experience at times of dealing with crises which create a sense of chaos and uncertainty – maybe the loss of a loved one, or a debilitating health issue, or the loss of a job or business. It always feels horrible and destabilizing, and often creates a story of victimhood or bitterness for us. But the fact is that misery is just another part of life – it inevitably comes with the joy, relief, and triumph that are also part of our story.
Tune into this half hour episode tonight and join the discussion or just listen in, and hear about some attitudes and behavioral tools which may help you to accept some of these hardships as part of being human, and move through these experiences with more wisdom and perspective. Call toll-free 877-497-9046, or if the lines are busy call 760-542-4114. I hope you can join me! If you can’t make the live show, listen to it online at your convenience by going to the web player on my website, www.SusanLager.com or at www.BlogTalkRadio/SusanLager.com
Hate your job? Or does your spouse hate his/her job?
If so, you don’t want to miss this episode featuring guest career expert Andrea St. Jean. We’ll be looking at the impact of job misery on individuals and their partners, and how certain attitudes and actions can make all the difference.
Call toll-free 877-497-9046 to just listen in or to join us live on the air with questions or comments. If you can’t make the live show, go to www.BlogTalkRadio.com/SusanLager to find the recording.
Hope you can join us!
As a couples therapist I routinely talk to my clients about the ambiguous road ahead of them in working on repairing and enriching their relationships. The work is generally fraught with uncertainty and likely setbacks, as is the case with most hard earned changes. This discussion always involves the issue of what each partner needs to “stay in the game,” or what would they minimally require of themselves and each other to maintain hope, energy and good faith in the process.
What each of us needs to “stay in the game” applies to any endeavor which doesn’t produce immediate lovely results. Last week, after three years of often grueling work, I received my official documentation awarding me the trademark for the name “Couplespeak.” I had invented the name for a division of my company which would provide coaching products and services live and online. Getting the trademark with proprietorial rights to the name required me to write books, articles, eBooks, develop workshops, training programs, blogs, videos, a BlogTalk Radio program, and to manage multiple internet platforms.
Mind you, all the while I’ve had a full time private psychotherapy practice, and started with very little interest in the internet and tech devices three years ago. But I loved the name “Couplespeak,” and believed that if I could live long enough I could grow it into something really significant. The whole process required that to finish, I stay in the game, the Couplespeak game. I had to devise ways of making myself accountable, and maintaining my passion for the project. I had to enlist the support of my friends and family. I had to learn when to take breaks and when to force myself back into the effort. Just as anyone requires in any big, meaningful project, I needed to keep up my faith in myself, and my faith in the work itself. And now, just as anyone would, I’ll need to allow this “finish” to become the remarkable start of something else, a new game…..
PS. For copies of my new books about staying sane in the relationship game, go to Amazon: http://amzn.to/12ALenB