See Something, Say Something, Do Something

19508353-violencia-en-el-hogar-palabra-nube-concepto-con-los-t-rminos-como-v-ctima-asalto-juez-da-o-social-ed

When I was in a domestic violence situation, there were many opportunities for intervention by acquaintances and strangers who witnessed the abuse. Yet no one wanted to get involved and I did everything I could to keep up appearances.

I was silently screaming for help but was too ashamed to reach out. How I wanted someone to care enough to take the situation out of my hands, to force me to leave. I suppose acquaintances were afraid of my ex because it was obvious that he was vindictive. My family respected my boundaries and honored my choices leaving me to feel love for their lack of interference and resentment for their lack of interference. Domestic violence victims experience many emotions, one being confusion.

I have been publicly humiliated, threatened and emotionally, physically and verbally abused to which there were witnesses – Strangers, acquaintances, family and friends. No one had the courage to stand up for me or even reach out to me. The two times I reached out to acquaintances, they told me that they didn’t want to get involved because they didn’t want to lose his business/friendship. My family respected my choices and boundaries even though they disapproved. I have never been more alone.

The thing is that most victims of domestic violence are like children, they feel helpless and they obviously live in fear. People in general are afraid of losing the victim’s friendship or love by what they consider to be interference. There is also a fear of crossing the victim’s boundaries. To those people I say, “Would you prefer to risk their losing their lives or having a psychotic break or risk their being angry and/or losing their friendship/love?”

I believe that when you love and/or care about someone, you have a responsibility to have the hard conversations. There are times when you have to put another person’s health and well-being before your own feelings and fears. I am not asking that you put your own life at risk but there are things that can be done safely such as:

  • Have a conversation regarding their situation calmly and rationally.
  • Explore options with the victim to staying in the relationship.
  • Offer financial or housing assistance until they can get stabilized.
  • Help the victim make a safety and/or escape plan.
  • Supply them with the number to a Domestic Violence Shelter and/or Hotline
  • Offer the victim transportation to a shelter.
  • Let them know they can reach out to you any time day or night.
  • Encourage them to report the abuse to law enforcement.
  • Call the police.
  • Create a distraction giving the victim a chance to escape.
  • When strangers, make it obvious to the abuser that they have been observed, therefore, can be identified.

Unfortunately, the decision to leave has to be the victim’s. Often there are circumstances which prevent them from leaving such as lack of funds, no place to go, children’s safety etc. When a victim is forced to leave or take action, more times than not they can be easily enticed by the abuser to go back.

Please don’t make excuses to look the other way. If one day your son or daughter became a victim of domestic violence, what would you want someone to do?

Advertisements

Kindness of Strangers

14296015-3d-render-of-a-person-helping-another-man-3d-illustration-of-human-character-people

One night, I found myself abandoned on the service road of a freeway with no gas in my car and a half-full gas can. The gas can nozzle was meant for a lawn mower so I couldn’t get much fuel in the car. My ex-boyfriend/later husband had pushed me out of his car with this gas can and left me to my own devices. I had committed the crime of “forcing” his mother to cross the service road to a McDonald’s rather than leaving her in the car on the service road alone while I went to call him for assistance. This was before cell phones were in every hand and roadside assistance was not a standard insurance perk.

Once I got some gas fumes in my car, I drove it as far as I could before it was dry again. I was able to pull into a Mustang Tractor drive and feeling distraught started walking. By this time, it was close to midnight. I had never risked anything like walking down down a freeway alone at night before because no one I had known would have put me in that situation. I was in too much emotional pain to feel fear and trying to make a decision as to whether to call a friend or family member to pick me up. I decided I was too embarrassed for anyone to know that I would put up with this type of treatment, one of my character flaws. Appearances at all cost.

A mini-van stopped and a man asked if I needed help and I told him about the gas can problem. He asked if he could give me a ride back to my car to see if he could remedy the situation. He saw that I was hesitant so he told me that his wife and mother-in-law were in the vehicle with him and that they had been to a church event that evening. On the drive back to my car, he asked me what I was doing on the freeway with a gas can. It was obvious that he wondered why someone would give me a can of gas and leave me without making sure I got my car running.  I told him that I didn’t want to talk about it and he didn’t push. When we got to my car, he broke a beer bottle he found on the ground and used the neck as a funnel. He then followed me to the gas station to make sure I got there safely.

When I got home, I was furious and let my boyfriend know that he had left me in a dangerous situation. He knew he looked like an ass so he comforted me with apologies. The next morning, his mother tried to fan the flames as was usual in order to show me who had the power over him. This got his stepfather involved who made disparaging remarks about my coping skills. Surprisingly, my boyfriend took up for me saying that he had put me in harm’s way so he couldn’t give me a hard time.

I will never forget the kindness of the family who rescued me. This man was reaching out to me having correctly guessed that I was in an abusive situation. At times I wish I had confided in him, his wife and mother-in-law and maybe, just maybe, they would have encouraged me to help myself sooner than I did.

20612432-la-violencia-dom-stica-y-el-abuso-como-un-resumen

Useful Mental Health Lifelines

    Hotline List

    Hotline List

    Resources when and where you need them.

    We’ve Got Friends Who Can Help

    Worried about a friend? Dealing with some issues of your own? There are trained people who can help.

    If you are in immediate danger, please call 911 or your local police station.

    General Crisis Support by Text

    Crisis Text Line: Text SUPPORT to 741-741 (24/7). Our trained counselors can discuss anything that’s on your mind. Free, 24/7, confidential.

    Other Hotlines

    Depression & Suicide
    The Trevor Project Call 866-488-7386 (24/7) Live Chat with the Trevor Project (Fridays 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM EST)

    Dating Abuse & Domestic Violence
    loveisrespect Call 1-866-331-9474 (24/7)
    Chat Online with loveisrespect (7 days/week, 5:00 PM to 3:00 AM EST) or text loveis to 22522

    National Domestic Violence Hotline Call 1-800-799-7233 (24/7) Email the National Domestic Violence Hotline (24/7)
    RAINN: Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network Call 1-800-656-4673 (24/7) Live Chat with RAINN (24/7)

    Child Abuse
    Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline Call 1-800-422-4453 (24/7)
    National Safe Place Text SAFE and your current location to the number 69866 (24/7)

    Runaways, Homeless, and At-Risk Youth
    National Runaway Safeline Call 1-800-786-2929 (24/7) Live Chat 7 days/week, 4:30 to 11:30 PM CST
    Home Free Family reunification program provides free bus tickets to eligible runaway and homeless youth.

    Crisis Text Line (CTL)

    14296015-3d-render-of-a-person-helping-another-man-3d-illustration-of-human-character-people

    If you are interested in doing volunteer work that you can do from home, here is an idea for you:

    While working as a Crisis Telephone Counselor for Crisis Hotline (CHL), we assisted CTL when we could so I am familiar with this organization. Now that I am no longer employed or volunteer with CHL due to having relocated, I have entered the volunteer program at CTL. Though I have been through a version of their training as a continuing education requirement and having been through CHL’s training, I am finding the CTL volunteer training to be very beneficial. This is a rewarding endeavor and for those who like doing things for others anonymously, this is your ticket. All training and working on the texting platform is done from your computer at home. You set your own schedule and the text line is open 24/7 so working it into your personal schedule isn’t difficult.

    If you are nervous about crisis support, let me reassure you that you will be well-trained and their training includes live observations. Also, you will have all the tools you need right in front of you. All texts are monitored by a supervisor who is always available if you get stuck or need assistance. Though it is a mandatory reporting agency for imminent risk of suicide or homicide as well as child abuse, the reporting is actually done by the supervisor, however, these instances do not occur often. The way I look at it is “It’s just a conversation.” There is no script but you will learn active listening and productive conversation.

    Rather than quote all the information regarding CTL, I am posting their FAQ sheet. You can also go to crisistextline.org

    Text START to 741-741

    FAQ

    Jump to

    Texting in
    Data
    Donate
    Financials
    Partnerships
    Tech Issues
    Media
    Volunteers
    Our Approach

    TEXTING IN

    Q: HOW DOES CRISIS TEXT LINE WORK?

    A:

    1. You text 741741 when in crisis. Available 24/7 in the USA.
    2. A live, trained crisis counselor receives the text and responds quickly.
    3. The crisis counselor helps you move from a hot moment to a cool calm to stay safe and healthy using effective active listening and suggested referrals – all through text message using Crisis Text Line’s secure platform.

    Q: WHO SHOULD TEXT IN?

    A: We exist to help anyone in crisis at any time.

    Q: WHO ANSWERS THE TEXT MESSAGES?

    A: Crisis Text Line crisis counselors are both rigorously trained volunteers and employees of our crisis center partners.

    Q: WHAT CAN I EXPECT WHEN I TEXT IN?

    A: You’ll receive an automated text asking you what your crisis is. Within minutes, a live trained crisis counselor will answer your text. They will help you out of your moment of crisis and work with you to create a plan to continue to feel better.

    Q: IS CRISIS TEXT LINE ACTUALLY ANONYMOUS?

    A: Yes. Crisis counselors only know what texters share with them, and that information stays confidential. We take your anonymity seriously. Check out our terms of service here.

    Q: HOW MUCH DOES CRISIS TEXT LINE COST?

    A: We do not charge texters. If your cell phone plan is with AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, or Verizon, texts to our short code, 741741 are free of charge. If you have a plan with a different carrier, standard text message rates apply.

    Q: WILL CRISIS TEXT LINE SHOW UP ON MY CELL PHONE BILL?

    A: Nothing will appear on your bill if your cell phone plan is with AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, or Verizon. If your plan is with another carrier our short code, 741741 will appear on your billing statement. Read about how this happened here.

    Q: WILL CRISIS TEXT LINE WORK WITH MY PHONE?

    A: Crisis Text Line works on all major US carriers, and most minor regional carriers. However, shortcodes (like 741741) are not allowed on many prepaid plans like T-Mobile’s.

    Q: I HAD A GREAT EXPERIENCE WHEN I TEXTED IN, CAN I TEXT IN AGAIN?

    A: You can text in again, if you are experiencing a crisis. However, you should not feel dependent on us. Crisis Text Line is not a replacement for long-term counseling, in-person therapy, or a friend.

    Q: HOW LONG DO I HAVE TO WAIT TO TEXT WITH A CRISIS COUNSELOR?

    A: Our goal is to respond to every texter in under 5 minutes. During high volume times, such as at night or when people are talking about us on social media, wait times may be longer.

    Q: IS THERE A CHARACTER LIMIT WHEN TEXTING CRISIS TEXT LINE?

    A: Yes, our system is only able to process 140 characters in one message.

    Q: WHY AM I RECEIVING AN ERROR MESSAGE OR NO RESPONSE AT ALL?

    Sadly, there are some carriers who have not adopted the use of shortcodes–and the small percentage of people with these phones, can’t use Crisis Text Line. (We hear that sometimes you get an auto-error response. Sometimes nothing at all. We know this is shitty and we wish those carriers would enable us). If your phone carrier doesn’t enable shortcodes, here is a list of hotlines you can call.

    Q: IS THERE ANY OTHER WAY TO REACH CRISIS TEXT LINE BESIDES TEXT?

    A: Yes, you can reach us through Facebook Messenger. Access to message Crisis Text Line is located through Facebook’s Safety checkpoint. This is accessible by flagging a user’s post.

    Q: IF I REACH OUT VIA FACEBOOK MESSENGER, DOES ANONYMITY APPLY?

    A: Yes. We do not have access to your Facebook profile. The only know information about you that we’ll know is what you share with us.

    Q: IF I REACH OUT VIA FACEBOOK MESSENGER, WHO HAS ACCESS TO THE DATA?

    A: Three parties: you (in your Messenger thread), Crisis Text Line, and Facebook.

    Q: IF I REACH OUT VIA FACEBOOK MESSENGER AND I WANT MY DATA DELETED, WHAT DO I DO?

    A: Message us back with the word ‘LOOFAH’. We’ll scrub your data from our system, and make a request to Facebook to do the same.

    Q: IF I REACH OUT VIA FACEBOOK MESSENGER, WHICH TERMS OF SERVICE APPLY TO ME?

    A: By contacting Crisis Text Line through Facebook Messenger, users agree to Facebook Messenger’s Terms of Service, as well as Crisis Text Line’s Terms of Service.

    Q: WHAT ARE ALL OF THE CRISIS ISSUES YOU TRACK? CAN YOU ADD MORE?

    A: See the issues we track at www.crisistrends.org. If you’re a researcher or practitioner with interest in another issue, submit your suggestion in the form at the bottom of www.crisistrends.org.

    Q: WHO CAN APPLY FOR ACCESS TO CRISIS TEXT LINE’S DATA?

    A: Data access is available to approved academic researchers. The application will be available here in late January 2016. Otherwise, please visit www.crisistrends.org to see the latest trends in how texters are experiencing crisis.

    DONATE

    Q: HOW CAN I DONATE TO CRISIS TEXT LINE?

    A: You can donate via Paypal (link here) or by sending a check to:
    Crisis Text Line
    Attn: Finance Dept.
    24 West 25th Street, 6th Fl
    New York, NY 10010

    Q: IS MY DONATION TO CRISIS TEXT LINE TAX DEDUCTIBLE?

    A: Yes! Upon receiving your donation, we’ll send you a thank you letter that clarifies your donation is tax deductible.

    FINANCIALS

    Q: IS CRISIS TEXT LINE REALLY A NOT FOR PROFIT?

    A: Yes, we are! Here are our latest financials as proof.

    Q: HOW IS CRISIS TEXT LINE FUNDED?

    A: We’re privately funded. This means we receive funding from foundations, individuals, and corporations.

    Q: WHERE CAN I FIND CRISIS TEXT LINE’S FORM 990?

    A: 2014 here and 2015 here.

    Q: I SAW YOU RAISED A BUNCH OF MONEY (WOOHOO!) FOR THE ORG. WHERE IS IT ALL GOING?

    A: We are focused on three main initiatives: (1) supporting our Crisis Counselor community with better products and more emotional support, (2) integrating with tech companies to provide support to users inside things like After School, Kik, YouTube, and Facebook Messenger, (3) white labeling our service for other orgs and locations– providing a free text service for the National Eating Disorder Association and cities like Newark and Atlanta.

    PARTNERSHIPS

    Q: WHO CAN PARTNER WITH CRISIS TEXT LINE?

    A: We partner with not-for-profits, colleges and universities, and corporations. Want to partner? Fill out this form!

    TECH ISSUES

    Having technical issues with the site or text line? Check out our Help Center.

    MEDIA

    Q: CAN I GET MARKETING MATERIALS WITH THE CRISIS TEXT LINE SHORT CODE TO SHARE WITH MY COMMUNITY?

    A: Absolutely. Download our Volunteer Flyer or Text Flyer.

    Q: WHOM I CONTACT FOR A PRESS INQUIRY?

    A: Email support@crisistextline.org

    VOLUNTEERS

    Q: HOW CAN I BECOME A VOLUNTEER?

    A: We are always accepting applications! Apply Here.

    Q: WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS FOR BECOMING A VOLUNTEER?

    A: To become a Crisis Counselor, you must:

    1. Pass a background check – that means no felonies and no violent or sex-offense misdemeanors
    2. Have a US Social Security number (in order to complete the background check)
    3. Be at least 18 years old
    4. Have access to a computer with a secure, reliable internet connection
    5. Commit to volunteering 4 hours a week for 1 year

    Q: WHAT’S THE TIME COMMITMENT OF VOLUNTEERS?

    A: We ask our volunteers to commit to volunteering 4 hours a week for 1 year. Volunteers are able to break up their commitment into two 2-hour shifts each week if they would like.

    Q: HOW ARE VOLUNTEERS TRAINED?

    A: After a rigorous application process, our volunteers complete a 34 hour training course over 6 weeks. This includes ongoing simulated conversations and personalized feedback from our experienced trainers as well as 8 hours of on-platform observation. Training content is based on best practices in crisis counseling and Crisis Text Line data.

    Q: WHEN IS YOUR NEXT CRISIS COUNSELOR TRAINING?

    A: We accept applications on a rolling basis. A new training cohort starts every two weeks, so apply whenever you want! We’re excited to meet you!

    Q: WHAT’S IT LIKE BEING A CRISIS COUNSELOR VOLUNTEER?

    A: Check out our blog to read stories from our volunteers.

    Q: ARE VOLUNTEERS SUPERVISED?

    A: Yes. Our experienced supervisors oversee and assist our volunteers, when necessary, while on the platform.

    OUR APPROACH

    Q: IS CRISIS TEXT LINE COUNSELING?

    A: No, our specialists do not counsel, but rather practice active listening to help texters move from a hot moment to a cool calm.

    Q: WHAT IS ACTIVE LISTENING?

    A: Active listening is when someone communicates in a way that is empathetic, understanding, and respectful. It includes focus on the texter and thoughtful answers.

    Q: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CRISIS TEXT LINE AND THERAPY?

    A: Crisis Text Line is not a replacement for therapy. Therapy includes a diagnosis made by a doctor, a treatment plan of action, and a patient/therapist relationship. Crisis Text Line helps people in moments of crisis. Our crisis counselors practice active listening to help our texters find calm and create an action plan for themselves to continue to feel better. Crisis Text Line’s crisis counselors are not therapists.

    Q: WHO STARTED CRISIS TEXT LINE?

    A: We were founded by our CEO, Nancy Lublin. After seeing a need for the service we provide, Nancy hired a team to build what is our current platform. The original team included a data scientist and an engineer. Hear our story here.

     

    Didn’t find your answer? Check out our Help Center or email support@crisistextline.org.

    Privacy Policies

    Terms of Service

    Privacy Policy

    Website Privacy Policy

    FAQs

    Check out our FAQs

    Help Make it Happen

    Want to start a crisis text line in your country? international@crisistextline.org

    We’re hiring:
    Apply now

    Press inquiry?

    Email press@crisistextline.org
    If you are in crisis, text START to 741-741.

    Keep me posted

     

     

    Marriage Myths Six

    MYTH: YOU MAY REPEAT YOUR PARENTS’ RELATIONSHIP PROBLEMS.

    How you carry your childhood baggage is more important than the fact that you have any. “Nobody escapes childhood without some crazy buttons and triggers, but it doesn’t mean you can’t have a great relationship,”John Gottman says.

    Tom Bradbury, PhD, a psychologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, coined the phrase enduring vulnerabilities for these historical triggers. Certain words and actions might dig up old feelings and provoke a reaction. Make sure you and your partner understand what sets the other off, and avoid those weaknesses.

    Circumstances from your past could also prompt what psychologists call projective identification- an example is taking something from your childhood and applying it to your partner. If you had a distant cold parent, for instance, you might assume  your partner is being distant and cold too. Instead of blaming your partner’s character, explain how the actions make you feel and what he or she can do to help you feel better.

    I knew a man who was so eat up with his emotional baggage that he ran the gamut from tears to violence. He used braggadocio and alcohol to cover his feelings and built a very high wall believing it would protect him from emotional pain. One never knew what would trigger his anger and/or violence. While I understood how his background played into his emotions and actions, there was nothing I could do to change it. While I was somewhat of a balm for his pain, he often saw me not as myself but as his mother.

    When I met Danny, I was shocked to find that he was very much in touch with his emotions. He would let me know when I hurt his feelings rather than do the “macho” thing of acting like nothing bothered him. I fell so in love with this man! I felt safe with him because I didn’t have to guess about how he was feeling and there was no fear that I would unknowingly touch off a spark that would cause him to physically harm me.

    Eventually, Danny grew tired of all the analyzing we did through counseling and discussions. That was when I began learning to lighten up in the realization that both of our lives had been so full of drama that it was stifling our relationship. We both still have things that can trigger a negative response but the truth is that we cannot judge each other with our individual pasts.

    Enjoy life with your spouse! Don’t judge him/her based on your past, instead see them for the person you know them to be. Look for the good and give him/her a pass when they exhibit human behaviors. No one has a perfect marriage but we can come darn close.

    IMG_1047

    A Woman’s Choice

    You probably think I am writing about abortion but that’s not what is on my mind today or is it?
    I am writing about women choosing a man over their  child. Again, I am not talking about abortion though often it would have been a better choice. I have seen it, read it and heard it over and over again…a child tells their mother that her boyfriend or husband abused or molested them and you would expect her to become protective of her child and take action against the man, wouldn’t you? But what she does all too often is to go into denial or even turn against her child, calling them a liar.

    Why? Because she is desperate to have a man. Why? Because family and society said she had to depend emotionally on a man or because she is as addicted to this guy as if he were a drug. So this child who believed his mother loved him or at least cared what happens to him, is dumped on other family members or into the foster care system. He’s thrown away like yesterday’s garbage.

    That’s if the mother hasn’t joined in the fun. When she does, the child lives from day to day wishing someone would see him, really see his pain inside and out. If they tell, they will have no one or at least that is what they believe.

    Would it have been better if they had not been born? That is what that child thinks they want…never to have been born.

    DESPERATION (Part Two of Two)

    13778409-graduate-girl-cartoonMy husband and I did not push our daughters toward marriage. We wanted them to have a good education, careers and to travel, not to base their worth on having a man in their lives. For the sake of their privacy, I won’t tell you how that worked out but certainly not according to our plans. As the saying goes, “If you want God to laugh, tell him your plans.

     

    I believe that when you are not “looking” for a man or woman to settle down with, you are more yourself, more relaxed and it is more likely to happen. In that scenario, you meet someone and you are not trying to make something happen so chances are greater that it will work out if it is meant to.

    060710-191.

    The best way to have a long-lasting relationship is to look at it as a friendship and let it develop naturally. Jumping into bed when you first meet someone, while fun and possibly physically satisfying, often remains at that level and that’s great if that is all you are looking for. Whereas, if you get to know each other first and put the emphasis on that and having fun, there is a better chance for a long-term relationship.

    images.duckduckgo.comThink about it this way: You fast track your relationship and have the dream wedding and romantic honeymoon. Yet, when you get into the reality of finances, housekeeping, family gatherings, jobs, likes and dislikes, etc. you start to see that:

     

     

    28878075-couple-sharing-romantic-sunset-dinner-on-the-beach

    • 20638912-young-couple-arguing-in-the-kitchenHe/She seems to hate the mother that you love unconditionally.
    • He/She drinks much more than you were lead to believe.
    • He/She doesn’t actually like to eat in nice restaurants.
    • He/She puts his mother/father before you always.
    • He/She wants to control what programs you watch on television and more.
    • He/She is racist.

    ETC.

    A_Black_and_White_Cartoon_Two_Children_Walking_To_School_Royalty_Free_Clipart_Picture_100713-145833-444053We all know that people are usually on their best behavior when a relationship is new. Often we don’t see the nitty-gritty beneath the persona we are allowed to see in the beginning. However, there are usually signs that we ignore and we ignore negative signs because we want so badly for it to work. We say he/she is so good looking, so wealthy, so much fun and we want a long-term relationship or marriage.

    15817148-heart-and-brain-that-dance-concept-of-physical-wellbeingWhen you see the signs, pay attention, because more than likely it’s not a one-time thing. If he/she gets drunk and insults your friends or family, don’t dismiss it as his/her just being drunk. People don’t do things drunk that they would not think of doing sober, alcohol is just an excuse. Don’t get into the mind-set of believing that he/she dotes on his/her mother or father so it stands to reason that he/she will dote on you because often it is just the opposite, she/he is number one in his/her life and always will be. And if he/she says that they don’t want a steady, serious or long term relationship or never want to marry, LISTEN. Many a man and woman have thought they could change a person’s mind on this subject and found out the hard way that the person meant what they said and the result was a broken heart.

    12819865-two-red-dice-cubes-on-black-background

    I ignored all the signs that were actually fire alarms with my ex-husband. I enjoyedparts of him that were different from men I had been in relationships with. He was intelligent, interesting, could be charming and we had a lot of interests in common. I was in a long-term relationship with him before we married and every symptom of a sick relationship was there and I saw them but I thought I was “different. I basically rolled the dice and lost myself.

    Everything I did not want in a man was right out in the open for all to see and I wouldn’t 5754686-unhappy-couple-breaking-woman-trying-to-hold-back-man-leawing-with-suitcase-and-clothes-in-handquit. Why? I was hooked on having a relationship and too lazy to get out. I used the good days to get through the bad as in “This too shall pass.” I hung on until I couldn’t any longer. I detached from reality to get through the abuse and latched onto the apologies and words of love and empty promises. I was as much at fault as he was because I knew better and the exit door was not locked.

    5b70f2f6b53ba55c8422cdac5a3951f2.thIt was a game of cat and mouse and I told myself that I was the true love of his life, the only woman (other than mommy dearest) that had ever truly had this heart and that I was good for him. I needed so badly to be loved and accepted that I took it where I found it, bad or good. The bottom line is that I didn’t want it to be known that I couldn’t make it work, didn’t want to be a failure and didn’t want anyone to know that someone would want to treat me badly. It was a facade and to this day I still have a need to let it be known that he still calls my mother in an attempt to hook and reel me back even though I have been married for 18 years. I also still need to let it be known that he truly loved me, yada, yada, yada. But who really cares?

    Danny, my husband, and I dated for three years before we married and in that three years, we went through three years of couple and premarital counseling. I’m sure we both thought we knew everything about each other that could possibly matter. We knew a lot but there were things we ignored, things that have become issues to be worked out. Yet, we were in a place where we knew enough about each other that we believed that any obstacles could be worked out. We have worked through a lot in 18 years as all couples do. Though we have struggled at times, I believe that we would not have been able to get to where we are had we not known that the positive attributes made each of us worth hanging on to. These days when there are just the two of us, humor seems to be our best tool to resolving conflicts.

    laugh2

    A good relationship takes time to build and will only work if all the right parts are there.

    counseling-20126462

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    DESPERATION (Part One of Two)

    9610217-young-caucasian-woman-in-a-kitchen-weeps-while-on-the-phoneOne night there was a round of “girl talk” regarding male-female relationships. This conversation took place about 2:00 am after a party and all or most of the participants were pretty well inebriated. I have never forgotten what the hostess of the party shared. She was divorced but she and her ex were still on speaking terms if not “friends”. She said she asked him where she went wrong and he told her “women are so desperate”. He told her that women stop at nothing to get or hold on to a man. Rather than being offended by this statement, I could see the validity of his observation, in fact, I saw it in some men as well.

    I was in my late twenties and had never been married, a condition that was unacceptable to my family. I had been pushed and prodded toward relationships and even marriage with men who were totally wrong and some even unhealthy for me. When I questioned why they were so desperate for me to get married, they told me that they knew I wanted to get married. One family member even told me that my life was “sad” because I was actually enjoying my single life. As difficult as it is to admit, I became desperate to show my family that I could get and keep a man.

    9319250-two-young-business-people-talking-and-discussingAt times, I would attempt to push relationships to be more serious than I even wanted them to be. I knew that while I enjoyed spending time with various men, there wasn’t any one who was a “good fit”. Honestly, deep down I liked not being responsible to any one person for reasons that go deep into my childhood.

    19508353-violencia-en-el-hogar-palabra-nube-concepto-con-los-t-rminos-como-v-ctima-asalto-juez-da-o-social-edI ended up in a 7- year relationship and 3 – year marriage with someone who was very abusive, physically, verbally and emotionally. Even though he was very unlikable, my family, with the exception of my father, seemed happy that I had finally found someone with whom to  settle down. Let me put in a disclaimer here by saying that my family did not know about the physical abuse.

    My point is that I experienced the desperation first hand. Oh how sad, you say, yes it is sad 2heartsbut I was not alone in this push toward marriage. It is something that has been passed down from generation to generation, the pressure to settle down, be a good provider, marry, and to have children. I believe that if some women were not shamed or driven into settling down, they might have made better choices.

    I understand that times have changed and hopefully there is less pressure toward 12418478-coraz-n-roto-con-el-rbol-blanco-y-dos-p-jarosmarriage but I am still seeing the desperation. Women and/or girls are still getting pregnant to force men/boys into relationships and/or marriage though admittedly neither are a requirement to having a child in this day and time (no judgment here). Parents still don’t understand why their sons and/or daughters are not married, why they prefer another woman to a man or man to a woman, why their career is more important than marriage, and/or why their relationships don’t last. I see women pushing relationships that just don’t work as evidenced by the high divorce rate.

    15388037-male-judge-writing-on-paper-in-courtroom

    Continued in Part Two

     

     

     

    So You Think You’ve Escaped Alcoholism

    2592So you think you’ve escaped alcoholism, not a chance. You don’t have to be an alcoholic to be effected by alcoholism.

    Alcoholism affects everyone who comes in contact with an alcoholic. It could be a parent, a sibling, a relative, a boyfriend, a girlfriend, husband, wife, friend, child, or a co-worker. That is why Ala-non, is a support group for families and friends of alcoholics not just families of alcoholics. You may not have the disease but I can say that you have the ism’s  without ever having met you.

    It is said that alcoholism is a family disease and I believe it with all my heart. I grew up in an alcoholic home. Why do I call it an alcoholic home? Does that mean that all my family members were alcoholics? No, our home revolved around my alcoholic mother because her actions or in-actions affected every one of us. Our emotional make-up developed around coping with her drinking and the effect it had on us. I like to see my mother as having alcoholism rather than as an alcoholic but it is my habit to use the term alcoholic which is unfortunately a label. She grew up in an alcoholic home just like I did.  I have the utmost love and strive to understand because but for the grace of God, go I. As alcoholism is said to be genetic, I could have followed in her footsteps. I am lucky, I don’t like the taste of alcohol and yet I am unlucky in that I don’t like not having control. Why is that unlucky? Because I have to fight the tendency to control everything around me to ensure that it doesn’t give me that feeling of not having control over my life and to avoid the helpless feelings I had growing up. I also believe it is a learned behavior, we do what we know and alcoholism is what we know.

    That is why even though you think you have escaped the parent or ex, you are wrong. You were affected and I can prove it.

    Do you have problems with authority figures?e75f70e61261afa370d84fcbf1da6be7

    Do you have problems getting along with others?

    Do you have control issues?

    Is your relationship picker broken?

    Are you hyper-vigilant?

    Do you fight depression?

    Do you lack confidence?

    Are you an under or over achiever?

    Are you a people-pleaser?

    Are you a care taker?

    Are you a fixer?

    There are many other symptoms but I’m sure you get it and you know which one of these have developed in you.

    In my work as a Crisis Call Counselor, I could pretty much bet that regardless of the crisis, the conversation would eventually reveal that the caller had been affected by alcoholism, either theirs or someone in their past or present life. I consider alcoholism an “emotional” disease because it can bring about anger, sadness, depression, resentment, etc. in the alcoholic or those affected by a person’s drinking. The reason persons affected by another person’s drinking are considered to be co-dependent is that while the alcoholic is addicted to alcohol, the affected person is addicted to the alcoholic. I have had so many friends, boyfriends and a husband who were addicted to alcohol and in the beginning of the relationship, I didn’t know there was a problem. It’s like a magnet! I have friends in Ala-non who say it is because alcoholics are charismatic and exciting. Perhaps we see something in their personalities that we wish we had.

    I can’t tell you how many times I have heard, “I’m not with him/her any more, so I don’t need Ala-non.” I have thought that myself but I always end up going back because my ism’s become overwhelming. This post is not meant to advertise or push Ala-non or Adult Children of Alcoholics, yet it is what I know so I do highly recommend them. Just like the person with alcoholism, only you can decide that you need help and what support is best for you. I have been told, “When it hurts bad enough, you will get help.”

    “Co-dependent No More” by Melody Beattie is a really good book for understanding the effects of alcoholism. I read this book like a person dying of thirst drinks water. It told me that I was not crazy and there was hope.

    People addicted to alcohol and/or drugs will to try to convince others that it is your fault, don’t take it on. Think 3 C’s – You didn’t cause it, you can’t control it and you can’t cure it. Seeking help is nothing to be ashamed of, alcoholism in you or someone else is not your fault but it is your responsibility. If you are afraid of the alcoholic becoming angry because you are seeking help, 12 step support groups are anonymous as is therapy. If you go to a meeting or see a therapist and you are not comfortable with the environment or personalities, try another meeting or therapist. There are many meetings and therapists available. If you are in a remote area, I understand that there are meetings online. Just do an Internet search of Ala-non or Adult Children of Alcoholics. There are two daily readers, One Day at a Time in Ala-non and Courage to Change that are utilized by Ala-Non. I find ODAT (nickname) useful when you are in a relationship with an alcoholic and Courage to Change is a good all-around book. I mostly use Courage to Change and it seems to be a favorite among recovering Ala-Non’s. Before using these books, it would be helpful to do some research on alcoholism. People active in Ala-Non attend open AA meetings to learn what the person with alcoholism experiences.

    I have tortured my mother all my life by trying to get answers or justifications.

    Whatever you decide to do, know that you are not alone. Everything you have experienced, someone else has experienced. It helps to talk with other people who are experiencing the same thing or who have been there and survived.

    There is always hope.