Monthly Archives: March, 2017

Forget You, I’m Not Broken!

celebrating successIt hurts me in the center of my being
when people insist they are broken.
I get all riled up when the beautiful souls
that you are
glamorize being shattered inside.
I’m actually offended by this ideal
this new meme
it’s a song
a shallow Facebook image
for everyone to ‘like’
or ‘love’
a quote for us to comment on
a poem said with a <sigh>
and maybe even some dramatic
back of the hand to your forehead.

This trivializes what really happens
It steals your energy
it takes your drive
wears you down
and stops you
from overcoming
discarding what was
absolutely done to you.
We should not cherish the damage
done by evil acts.
We should not elevate suffering
done by others to an ideal.

abuse
crime
consent violation
abandonment
neglect
even horror
whatever we want to call these things
is despicable in my view.
I’m not despicable
nor are you
and you and you.

I fight my own fight against suffering
caused by depraved and villainous demons.
I cannot say this strongly enough.
I reject anguish as identity.
I refuse to accept that this is me
No, no, no and NO!
I will not accept that
ugly, malevolent assholes
took a permanent marker
to my essence.

I’m selfish.
I want your refusal too.
I want company on this path
friends on my journey
a powerful demonstration
with signs and banners
that proclaim
Neener, neener, neener”
“You lose”
“I win.”

I say fight
throw this off
don’t cherish the hurt.
It hurts, it truly does
to be sucker punched
in the center of your being.
At first, it feels like a raw sore
in your essence.
Later, a familiar companion
that aches and aches and aches some more.

Refusing to be broken also hurts.
Fighting a fight for your life is difficult.
But living in the wrongness of
what was done to you and me
is harder
hurts worse
and lasts til infinity.
In the end
the work it takes
to shed the damage
hurts less
much less.
That’s a promise.

I’ve thought long and hard
on how to answer the critics
of my take on brokenness
how it offends people who are broken.
Finally, I am shouting
It’s a choice.
Your choice.
Mine is to fight for my right
to live a full and very rich life
no matter what was done to me.

Forget you,
I’m not broken.
It’s a choice.
I choose to be unbroken.
Please join me
in my revolt.

Contact me to reach for your version of wholeness.

Email: agentledrlaura@mail.com

Telephone: (615) 464-3791

©2016 by Laura Coleman, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.

 

Sex Addiction

Benjamin_West_-_The_Cave_of_Despair_-_Google_Art_ProjectPeople who do not approve of sex and free sexual expression often confuse a wide range of sexual pleasures with addiction. This is especially true for behaviors that might be a little exotic.

It is not so. This is not addiction. Instead, sexual addiction is a compulsive behavior that leaves the addict in a state of total degradation and absolutely no satisfaction.

If this group of addictive behaviors did not include despicable behaviors targeting unwilling victims, these afflicted would be sad. I’d feel bad for them. But it does involve harming others.

I, in no way, shape, or form, condone sexual crime. My experience and work have always been with and for the victims of sex crimes. I studied the behaviors of sex addicts to gain information for my clients.

In this article, we will not be discussing sex. We will be discussing addiction. Remember that in the disease model of addiction, first, we have heredity. A sex addict can look at the history of his or her family and see quite a few relatives with one or more addictive diseases.

This leaves the future sex addict with a high vulnerability to any addictive disease. Personal history and unique biology lead the sex addict to experience sex in a manner that is different from most people.

This is very important to grasp. For the potential sex addict, sex acts of varying sorts, initially leave him or her feeling dynamic, powerful, important, free of life’s problems, and infinitely capable. In this addiction, sex and the behaviors around sex function like a drug. This is the allergy to the chemical or chemicals produced by sexual behaviors.

Some people worry that the good feelings they get from sex, intimacy, and touch ARE an addiction. They can be. But they also can be just plain fun. Addiction has more to it than fun and your body’s reactions to sex, affection, and touch.

As with all addictive behaviors and diseases, you have the issue of tolerance. It is here that problems begin and you get into serious trouble, eventually as perpetrators with the legal system.

Tolerance means that acts and behaviors that gave you your original high stop working. You lose those blissful feelings that they achieved in the past. You develop a tolerance to your behavior of choice. It takes more and different to achieve the high you seek.

You can visualize tolerance from the following image. Fifty years ago, in one of my college psychology classes, the professor was showing us how rats are trained to press a certain bar to obtain food. The rats learn repeatedly that they will be fed their ration of food by pressing that bar. When the food is withdrawn, the rat doesn’t get it. In this analogy, tolerance is equal to no food for the rat and no high for the addict.

So, the rats press the bar over and over again. Then this poor rat presses the bar faster and faster and faster in a true personification of compulsive behavior.

This is today’s metaphor for the fact of progression. Once any addict reaches the point of tolerance, it takes more and more of his or her drug of choice to reach the same high. More and more compulsive behavior. Like all addicts, sex addicts increase their acts or the riskiness of these acts until you leave the relative safety of legal behavior and their own moral code.

Then you face personal consequences that increase over time. Social, family, relationship, employment, spiritual and legal consequences all increase as their disease progresses.

As with all addiction, sex addiction comes with a built-in defensive system designed to keep you imprisoned in your own destruction. Sex addicts daydream grandiose fantasies of success, baldly deny reality, treat the other people around them very badly, blame others for their behavior, joke about their situation, intellectualize, and rationalize both their behavior and their life situation.

Sex Addicts Anonymous says that a sex addict experiences the following:

  • “Powerlessness over addictive sexual behavior.”
  • “Resulting unmanageability of his/her life.”
  • “Feelings of shame, pain, and self-loathing.”
  • “Failed promises and attempts to stop acting out.”
  • “Preoccupation with sex leading to ritual.”
  • “Progressive worsening of negative consequences”

Once, early in my counseling practice, my local police department invited me to sign a contract to treat child victims of sex crimes in our city. As part of this contract, one specific police officer demanded that I have at least two sessions with a perpetrator of sex crimes. This grandfather, a multigenerational perpetrator, insisted that he was the victim and wished to only talk about his childhood. He was in complete denial of his situation and the impact of his behaviors on his daughter and granddaughter.

Personally, I felt like I was in need of a long shower after that conversation. There was nothing sexy, appealing, desirable, admirable, or compassionate in his behavior.

This was an article discussing sexual addiction. If you are questioning your sexual behaviors, there are several twelve step recovery programs. Sex Addicts Anonymous has a website where you can read more and find out about meetings.

If you have been in a relationship with a sex addict, life coaching can help you change your relationship pattern. That way you can experience love, touch, intimacy, and sex without being harmed.

Like all addictions, life coaching can only help sex addicts AFTER they have ceased sexual acting out and worked a 12-step program. This means that they have a sponsor, are actively involved in meetings, worked steps and live a life incompatible with addiction.

Contact me to change your relationship patterns:

Email: agentledrlaura@mail.com

Telephone: (615) 464-3791

©2017 by Laura Coleman, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.

The 21st Century Cures Act Hurts My Feelings

mary-pickford-1963155_640

The 21st Century Cures Act
hurts my feelings
touted as a good thing
turned into harm for Zebras like me.
I’m a zebra in a world of horses.
Will I tell my story?
Oh, no, what can I say?
I want to.
I don’t want to.
But I will.

Who will listen
anyway?
No one wants to know this.
I think.
It’s boring
doncha know?

Zebras have rare diseases.
Doctors say
If you hear hoof beats
think horses, not zebras.”
Rare diseases say
Think Zebra!
My rare disease
is Common Variable Immunodeficiency
leaving me vulnerable to infections
and sickness.
Subcutaneous Immunoglobulin
is my treatment.

The 21st Century Cures Act
hurts my feelings
touted as a good thing
turned into harm for Zebras like me.
The political system
IS brutal
and not made for
any special snowflake
or small population
like a rare disease.

A rare disease
a small population
has less political capital
less ability to advocate
just less.
Politics trades off
help some by inadvertently
harming others.
Zebras have less power
a smaller population
take the money from us
to benefit someone else
maybe we’ll just go away
or die quietly.

Anger
sarcasm
self pity
blame
blame who?
blame me
blame them
lawyers
politicians
policy people
unseen others
and their ilk.

<oh, sigh>
<oh, my>

The 21st Century Cures Act
hurts my feelings
touted as a good thing
turned into harm for Zebras like me.
Cuts the pay for my treatment
below the cost of the treatment
forcing pharmacies
into crisis
requiring big decisions:
hurt their bottom line
or refuse our medicines.

Having rare diseases
hurts my spirit.
It doesn’t feel special
or unique.
I’m a special snowflake
and I need proper care.
I’m a zebra in a world
of horses.

The 21st Century Cures Act
hurts my feelings
touted as a good thing
turned into harm for Zebras like me.
I don’t want to
ask for more
and different.
I don’t want to
say, “you just don’t understand.”
Hot burning shame
hiding my face
in embarrassment
telling people
I need this
Please help.

Being a special snowflake
is not my decision
not my want
not my desire
it just is.
Illness isn’t me
It is not who I am
except
illness defines my life
no matter what I do.

I lose myself
in the structure of days
spent taking care of this body
Eating on time
bathing on time
doing this rinse
and that rinse
doing this treatment
that treatment
figure out a schedule
that lets me go out of the house
and let me live a little
bit more richly today.

I’m a free spirit
trapped in routine
discipline
order
and self-care
all demanding
I be someone I’m not.

I want to tell my story
but I don’t want you to see my pain.
I want to tell my story
but I don’t want you to feel my sorrow.
I want to tell my story
but I don’t want you to know my anger.

Most of all I don’t want me to know.
Let me pretend
avoid
deny
and live in rainbows
unicorns
glitter
clouds
flowers
balloons
and
laughter.

I want to tell my story.
I know things
analyze and hypothesize
I have something to share.
I’ve been at this a long time
I have something to say
There is insight to provide
Insight that grew out
of years of suffering.

The 21st Century Cures Act
hurts my feelings
touted as a good thing
turned into harm for Zebras like me.
Will anyone listen?
Will anyone listen
in Washington?
Does anyone
really care?

Trauma in the Countryside

Trigger Warnings: Symptoms of PTSD Described
256px-Johann_Heinrich_Füssli_008

A silence loudly awakened me.
The electricity went out.
The fan went off.
The clock went dark.
The air conditioning joined them.
Nightlights turned themselves off.

Country living at it’s best.
Almost asleep and every sound
in the house loudly clicked off.
The electricity went off again.
And my feelings joined it.

The electricity went off
and I became electric.
The fan stopped turning
and my mind began to spin.
The clock went dark
and my mind sent up flares.
The air conditioning joined them
and my mind created holes
big enough for air to condition.
Nightlights turned off
and I began to smother.

Left over from abuse
PTSD in fine form
fears
terrors
anxiety
shivering
shaking
overwhelming feelings.

We planned for this.
Planned and prepared
to take care of me
knowing how I am
about the dark, dark, dark.

Flashlights near every chair, check.
Battery operated candles, yep.
Flashlight on the iPhone, present.
Reading material in sync on all devices, done.
Small power source charged up.
Generator purchased and available.
Practical coping strategized to infinity.
Plans galore to care for my inner bruised child.

We forgot about my body.
The physical symptoms of PTSD
an exaggerated startle response
existing on alert
and scanning for danger.
Almost asleep and the
electricity went out.
My body became electrified
jumping at every thought
reacting to every sound
not conducive to sleep.

Self-soothing. That’s it.
That’s what I’ll do.
Breathe deeply all the way down
into my churning abdomen.
Talk to my inner child.
I’m safe. You are safe.
See the white light surrounding you.
Visualize the light.
Lots of healing, safe, protecting light.
Finally, I calmed my body down
slowly drifting into sleep.
Drifting, floating, relaxing, finding peace
and a sense of safety.

B O O M

The electricity loudly turned itself back on.
I jumped when the fan came on.
I startled as the lights on the clock came back.
I was alarmed when the air conditioning came on.
And reacted as the nightlights turned on.
Country living at it’s best.
Almost asleep and every sound
in the house loudly clicked ON.

Contact me to discuss practical coping strategies:

Email: agentledrlaura@mail.com

Telephone: (615) 464-3791

©2017 by Laura Coleman, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.

Painting, The Silence, by Henry Fuseli [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

It’s Not Fair!

256px-rippl_sorrowI was going to write a poem today.
A sulking feeling sorry for myself poem.
Tell the world how justified
I am to feel this way.
Yes, I was.

I think life should be all
rainbows, unicorns and don’t forget the glitter.
Good people should categorically, decisively
always win out in the end.

Bad people should fall down,
get zits on the end of their noses
have ugly hair
fail utterly
suffer the slings and arrows
of their own making.

But I’m not a poet, really I’m not.
And, no matter how childishly young I feel inside
I have grown into my 71 years of age
carving wisdom out of the fiber of my being
with hard-won personal growth.
Sanity says I’m going to laugh at myself soon.
Prudence advises me I need to feel these feelings.

There is still a little child inside me.
A child who worked so very hard
to grow up and be okay.
She’s a good girl.
A diligent one doing all her tasks
almost to perfection.
Faces adversity and smacks it in the face.
Using tribulation as motivation.
Sticks her tongue out at wrongness
using the sum of it all to help others.

That girl, that little girl
wanted above all else
to feel safe in the world.
Not just safe from bad people
but safe from bad luck
so-called acts of God
earthquakes, financial reverses
and don’t forget
safe from bugs.

Sneaky little girl she is,
she thought she’d figure it all out
somehow control life itself.
There must be a mystery somewhere.
A rule book that teaches you how to
win the game of life.

There really are those rule books.
Popular psychology books in libraries
counselors offices
bookstores
now available on the Internet!
She read them all,
devoured them even.
Learned each new skill and
used them diligently.
Yes, she did.
She’s wise beyond her years
and knows how to do this
as well as that life thing.
Conquering everything
she never learned at home.

It’s absolutely positively
not fair that life itself
is not controllable
and bad things happen
to good people
and to people
who’ve had too many bad things
in their lives already.

I was going to write a poem about all
the bad things that happened to me
until I saw a middle aged man
walking across a parking lot.
Head bowed
shoulders slouched down
steps slowed
defeat rolling over him.
Crushed by life he seemed.
So very sad.

The grown up woman knew.
The inner child knew.
The idealist knew.
Even the girl holding fairy dust knew.
Life might have been fair to me
after all.

That man held my truth in his posture.
That defeated man illustrated my life lesson.
All that fight I put into life held me in good stead.
All that gargantuan knowledge carved from life
makes a difference.
All that grit, spirit still present
means something important
about me
to me.

My head is high.
My shoulders still intact.
My walk, even with my cane, is strong.
I’m still in this game of life
living my life to the fullest.
Maybe not everything I want,
but I’m alive and strong inside.
I have not been defeated.
I haven’t lost out.
It means that for right now
This day, I’m a winner.
Yes, yes. I am.

Contact me:

Email: agentledrlaura@mail.com

Telephone: (615) 464-3791

©2017 by Laura Coleman, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.

 

Relationship Addiction/Codependency

dreaming_13687618944Originally, the concept of relationship addiction or codependency developed with the growth of Alcoholics Anonymous. The wives of the men trying to sober up formed a separate organization they called Alanon. From the very beginning, there was a conflict of ideas and needs. One group gives you suggestions regarding how you can help your impaired relative. The other focus is how you can help yourself.

There is a third issue with relationship addiction. I wrote about that here: Is It Love or Is It Addiction?

The people who write about co-alcoholism from the ‘help your relative’ point of view will talk about enabling or rescuing. Enabling is something you do that might help you feel better but also helps your impaired relative continue in destructive behavior. The advice you will be given will help you stop doing whatever you are doing that might support another person’s problems rather than their solutions. There is no guarantee that your changes will actually help that person stop their addictive behavior. It might, but then it also might not have any impact at all.

There is no guarantee that your changes will actually help that person stop their addictive behavior. It might, but then it also might not have any impact at all.

I favor the ‘help yourself‘ point of view. Relationship addictions involve giving parts of yourself away that you cannot afford to lose. If this allows another person to behave destructively, then you are in fact enabling them.

However, sometimes you are giving parts of yourself to others that do nothing for the other person. Here you are only hurting yourself. In other circumstances, a person might be giving to others and not harming themselves. Outsiders might suggest that you are enabling, but you are not behaving from an addictive place.

You can be in addicted relationship to your husband, wife, mother, father, sister, brother, son, daughter or any person in your life including your boss or employees.  What happens is that you begin giving to the other person usually because they really need your help in some way for some issue or problem they have.

But problems develop which now cause you anxiety in relation to them and their issues or behaviors. So you start giving to them or taking care of them to relieve your own anxiety. And before you know it you are addicted to giving to and taking care of another person. Loving then becomes codependency.

People sometimes ask me: But what about my religion and charity? Isn’t it the right thing to do to give to and help others? Before you know it, they assert, all good things will be classified as a disease!

There is a vast difference between healthy charity or charitable behavior and relationship addiction. Remember with addiction we have the following characteristics: The disease model, heredity, allergy, abnormal reactions, tolerance, progression, consequences, and denial. You can read about that here: Addiction and the Disease Model.

In the disease model, you have addictive behaviors in your relatives going back throughout your family tree. In relationship addiction, you almost always have grown up in what is known as a dysfunctional family with chemical dependency, family violence and/or personal experiences with being abused as a child. This leads to a life filled with unpredictability and personal feelings of anxiousness.

Somewhere along the line, you learn that if you take care of the people involved in these dysfunctional behaviors, you can feel and sometimes be safer. But, like all addictive behaviors, your caretaking does something more for you than it does for others. It gets you high. That is the allergy.

Like all addictions, you develop tolerance. You need to do more and more for other people to achieve the same feelings of peace and calm. The consequences you experience for your behavior progress along with your tolerance. In relationship addiction, you begin with exhaustion and loneliness and progress all the way to a form of emotional and often financial bankruptcy as you give more than you have inside you to others in an ever increasing fashion.

Finally, you lie to yourself about your behavior as well as the consequences of your relationships. Like all addicts, you avoid personal awareness of what is happening to you.

If you are concerned about your relationship with someone who drinks, you can contact Alanon Family Groups.

If you are concerned about your caretaking behavior, you can contact Codependents Anonymous.

If you are concerned that you are addicted to relationships and love, you can contact Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous.

It has been my experience that people who actively work a 12-step program change their lives. When I worked in my private practice as a therapist, I watched people participate in therapy AND go home to work on their issues using their program tools and steps. They grew and solved their problems at a massively different rate than people who just came for therapy or didn’t need a 12-step program.

The same is true for life coaching. People reach their goals and dreams by working on them. People in 12-step programs have more tools to use to work toward their goals and dreams. 12-step Recovery Wellness is life coaching for people who want to use all the resources possible to reach for the stars.

Contact me to begin your own journey toward living your dreams.

email: agentledrlaura@mail.com

Telephone: (615) 464-3791

©2017 by Laura Coleman, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.

Shame: Banish An Unwanted Guest

joy-1350035_1280A burning feeling
grabs hold of us
sits inside our inner most being
weighs us down
attacks our thoughts
steals our energy
savages our hope
tells us awful ideas
reminds us of our mistakes
every single mistake
we have ever made
in all their fullness
every shameful circumstance
feelings and gory detail
included.

An unwanted guest
old, smelly, unwashed and dirty
false teeth sticking out in jest
farting without thought
boogers unnoticed hanging out of his nose
wrinkled odorous clothes
embarrassing us by her existence
humiliation been around
mortification seen this
loss of face done that
self-disgust strangling us with the tee-shirt.

It’s a shame
our minds tell us
hateful self-talk
thinking ourselves sad
creating our own tragedy
living in unnecessary mental misery
remembering every awkward moment
ruminating over every failure
re-experiencing every bully
wallowing in every helpless moment.

Banish that unwanted guest
uninvite him or her and them
It IS more difficult to describe success
a newborn in all her glory
young, sweet, and clean
hope surrounding her.
Mistakes become normal
errors are joyful for the trying
skills developing
newness of life
fresh energy
hope of great things to come.

It’s better to brag
than to shame
esteem and success
a cheering band
a bouquet of balloons
and flowers
celebrate
each attempt
each try
for something better
honor myself
take pride in my efforts
praise what I’m doing
look carefully for the tracks
of all that work
it is enough.

Contact me to banish your unwanted shame.

email: agentledrlaura@mail.com

Telephone: (615) 464-3791

©2017 by Laura Coleman, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.