Ask LA Therapists
Your article is great [adults
abused as children], but what do I do as spouse who is
married to someone who has gone through multiple forms of
trauma? We or at least I understand what has happened to my
wife and why she is acting the way she is and there is allot
of information about that on the web and in books, but how
do I stand by my wife in her journey to recover, before it
is too late for our marriage. Can you suggest any good books
or websites to read and to learn from so I don't create more
problems for my wife? It would be great to have more tools
for the spouse's of trauma people.
Thank you for your email. Being in relationship with someone
with a severe abuse history can require a lot of patience.I
say patience because usually the abuse victim has been acting
out for awhile prior to starting their journey of recovery.
The significant other often is hopeful that the help will
come quickly and without further disruption. Recovery from
abuse can take a bit of time and should not be rushed. Hopefully
what you see are markers of change along the road that sustain
your relationship. Since I don't know what you are currently
doing I would recommend you both be in therapy, maybe have
some couples therapy, even though alanon is for friends and
family of alcoholics the principles are the important thing
and the work is about setting boundaries and taking care of
yourself and you can also look into codependency meetings
and there are many books on codependency. Pia Mellody's book
"Facing Codependency" talks a lot about the issues
of abuse, which you might find helpful. You can find the book
listed in my resources.
I have been in therapy for several months and feel that my
therapist is critical of me, often telling me what I should
do. I feel at times like she becomes impatient with me and
wants me to move on and resolve my issue. I feel stuck and
have been feeling stuck in my life in general. I don't know
if I should look for a new therapist or maybe I am not a good
candidate for therapy and should just learn to live with my
I would first go back to your therapist and share with her
all your concerns. I have found a good therapist will be able
to take in your concerns and criticisms and the two of you
can explore your expectations and what the therapist was doing
that you made you feel like you were disappointing them. If
your therapist is not able to talk with you about your concerns
or places the blame on you, then I would consider looking
for a new therapist once you have given this therapist an
opportunity to try and resolve the disconnect you two are
having. Finding a therapist that feels like a good fit often
takes some time and we are not always a good fit for everyone.
Someone may like working with me and we form a good working
relationship and others may not. It doesn't mean there is
anything wrong with either person. There are many articles
written about fit between therapist and client, so what you
are talking about is not new. I don't believe you are a hopeless
case who should resign themselves to a life of disappointments.
Continue your search for a therapist, I myself have had therapists
that were not a good fit and it took me awhile to realize
it and then I asked around and found another. Keep me posted
on how it goes.
I am not sure how to find a psychotherapist. I have been
reading articles and books and have come to the conclusion
that my whole life is dedicated to what others want and/or
need. This doesn't make me happy and yet I continue to do
it. I did this in my last relationship, but in the end nothing
I did - even giving him everything he wanted, worked to keep
the relationship together. I feel so abandoned and alone and
I realize I have been dealing with these issues for all of
my adult life. I always feel alone and that I have to help
everyone around me. I feel unvalued and I feel like I disrespect
myself and allow others to disrespect me. I don't know what
to do to fix myself , I don't know anyone who goes to therapy
so don't know who to ask for help. Are all therapists the
same for dealing with this type of situation?
I need help - Los Angeles
Dear I need help
Writing me was a great place to start. There are different
kinds of therapy and different beliefs about how to help someone.
I would first start with some basics and think of how you
will pay for therapy. Do you have medical insurance? Does
it pay for out-patient mental health? you can call your insurance
company and ask them and if cost is important you can ask
them for referrals in your network. If you want to write me
back and let me know then I can be more specific in offering
you referrals. Call the referrals and see if they will spend
a few minutes talking with you on the phone, tell them about
your situation. After the phone call ask yourself if you felt
you were understood and if they have worked with other people
going through a similar situation. Now that you have a good
background from your reading now is the time to meet with
a therapist and form a working relationship so you can learn
more about your value, understand what frightens you into
taking care of others before yourself. When you work with
a therapist who understands family history and trauma you
will learn about the connections between your current behaviors
and beliefs you were taught in your family.
Good luck and let me know if I can offer you more specific
direction or referrals. Let me know how the search goes.
A good friend of mine keeps getting her heart broken
by the same guy. She tells me that she loves him and goes
back to him. He drinks too much and doesn't’t seem to
consider her feelings. I’d like to help my friend, what
should I do?
Linda- Silver Lake
Your friend is lucky to have you in her life. I am sure
you have told her how important your friendship is and how
it hurts you to watch her be hurt. You could suggest to her
that she see a psychotherapist for some help and insight in
understanding why she loves someone who doesn't’t treat
her with the respect and care that she deserves. You could
also consider going to an Al anon meeting with her: a support
group (12-step meeting) for people involved with alcoholics,
but it is also a terrific support group for those in relationship
with any kind of addict or abusive relationship. Maybe you
could help her with research on alcohol abuse. The sad part
is you can only do so much for your friend and than you have
to figure out how this will fit in your life. Sometimes people
are not ready to make changes and you can’t make them.
Let me know how it goes.
Rob and I have been together for several years, my problem
is that he doesn't’t know how to clean up after himself.
Prior to our living together he had someone else clean up
for him and I am tired of fighting over the same ole thing.
William– Los Angeles
Nothing ruins the romance more than having to become someone’s
nagging mother, neither of you like it. There are two parts
to a marriage or partnership, the romantic side and the business
side. Businesses have regular operations meetings to discuss
problems, set direction and make general assessments of the
mechanics of the company. It may not seem glamorous but relationships
need this same kind of attention. We have all been brainwashed
by movies and television to believe that we all have the same
understanding as to how this side of the relationship works;
the non-sexy maintenance of a partnership.
I would set aside time on a regular basis, (once a week, once every two
weeks for just a couple of hours). In the beginning I would err on the
side of making the meetings more often, especially when there may be more
topics to discuss. This has always been one of the benefits of couples
psychotherapy, that time is always set aside.
Use the fair fighting rules as guidelines for your discussion. Instead
of just calling Rob a slob, you need to tell him how it makes
you feel, i.e. angry, sad, frustrated, ignored, unloved, alone,
etc. in the relationship. It is harder to fight over how you
feel than who did or didn't’t do what. He may also see
that if he does pick up after himself your mood is better
at home and the relationship is less stressful.
Negotiate the outcome. Each of you probably has things he
wants the other to do; now’s the time to see if you
can make a trade. He may never be able to pick up after himself,
but he may be willing to do something else around the house
for you that feels reciprocal. Maybe Rob pays for a house
cleaner to come in.
Think out side of the box. Come up with lots of options,
even the ones that seem ridiculous, it seems if you leave
them all there for a minute it gives the feeling that this
problem is solvable.