Archive for ‘Betrayal’

December 6, 2017

The two E-s

by Rod Smith

Enabling is rampant in many families.

It can involve:

  • Covering for someone so outsiders do not notice or find out about his or her undesirable behavior (drinking, gambling, addictive habits).
  • Relaying lies to a workplace – calling in to say he or she is ill when he or she is unable to work because of the addiction.
  • Permitting, turning a blind-eye, cooperating, letting things go unnoticed to keep the peace or because it feel easier.

Enabling behaviors are often subtle way of disguising who it is in a family who is in need of help. The enabler often appears to be the strong or the healthy one. Control is the name of the game – and family life can feel like one.

Empowering is common in healthy families.

It can involve:

  • Getting out of each other’s way so people can learn from errors and get credit for their successes.
  • Allowing natural consequences to follow choices so people can learn just how powerful really are.
  • Trusting and believing in each other even when things do not go to plan or appear to be falling apart.

Empowered people require the company of other empowered people and all require a strong sense of self. Freedom to discover and to learn are the hallmark of the empowered.

November 26, 2017

Picking up pieces

by Rod Smith

The Mercury / Tuesday

I’ve seen women and men painstakingly pick up pieces of their lives after a broken marriage.

This is necessary, natural, and understandable. Deep love, when it ends, at least for one party, is scarily disorientating.

Some never recover. A broken heart can really cause a slow (or a quick) death.

Perhaps you are you tripping over evidence of a terminated relationship. Letters, photographs, or books seem to appear from nowhere and evoke fresh pains or salt for the wounds.

A purge may be necessary, but it’s not for all.

The loot may be all you have. It can become a crucial stepping-stone to greater health. Or it can be a debilitating anchor.

I’ve been confused about why some friendships have ended. I examine memories for clues to what, how, and why things went wrong.

There are times this is unnecessary.

My damaging role is painfully clear.

The pain I caused is deep for others and obvious to me. And, my own and deserved pain is utterly near.

What do we do with our pain – deserved or not?

Options are unlimited once confession occurs.

Confession, of course, does not mean mutual forgiveness is inevitable. It’s not.

Options broaden with confession and commitment to learn from the past.

November 12, 2017

Addiction

by Rod Smith

“My son (17) son is in grade 11 and addicted to marijuana. My husband and I have tried to get him to stop but he seems unable. He has made two or three attempts but these have not worked. He does not achieve well at school and goes out a lot. He insists on driving unlicensed. My husband and I seem unable to control his behavior. We are at our wits end. I feel that I would prefer him moving away and fending for himself once he turns 18. Kindly offer me some guidance.”

It is easy for me to identify with your feelings of helplessness. I have seen this many times and I feel perhaps as helpless as you do with some of the issues and struggles I see my own sons encounter.

There is something to be said for his two or three attempts at finding healing for his addiction. Were these things he tried on his own or did he get professional help? I’d suggest it’s impossible for your son to face these demons on his own.

I applaud and admire your willingness to see him move away when he is 18. Your insistence may well remove the structures than covertly enable his academic irresponsibility and his need for a cure seem less necessary.

November 6, 2017

(Extended) Family leadership

by Rod Smith

Every extended family (usually) has the need for a leader or leaders. He or she may vary as needs and issues change. The role may be offered through covert means – a sort of passive pressure – or readily announced and openly assumed.

That person may be required to:

  • Initiate meetings and facilitate conversations where there has been a falling out.
  • Empower family members to take a hard and loving stand against cruel or harsh treatment at the hands of another member of the family or even someone outside of it.
  • Go first – and be the first person in the family to travel or to go to university or to branch off into an area of interest or study that no one in the family has done before.
  • Go back, and visit childhood places and long-lost relatives and to hear the family stories that may have never be heard.
  • Demonstrate grace, generosity, and forgiveness in a family that may have for many years traded in selfishness, resentment, and judgment.
  • Speak well and kindly of those family members who for whatever reason have been rejected by some members of the same family and be willing to reach out to them in order to draw them back into the fold.

 

If it is you, may you have the courage and the wisdom to exercise your calling.

October 18, 2017

You day will follow your mind…..

by Rod Smith

Your day will run much like your mind runs – positively or negatively

Versions of the following have occurred this week with clients:

Jane unexpectedly sees a friend, Sally, at a distance. Sally appears to ignore Jane. Jane ruminates deeply about this.

  • Jane feels rejected and wonders for hours, or even days, what she did to offend Sally. Jane can’t let it go.
  • Jane assumes Sally simply did not see her, or, if she did, Sally was too busy to talk.

Francis hears about close friends who had lunch together without her.

  • Francis is immediately debilitated. She feels betrayed. Francis knows they were talking about her and she is sure she was the reason they met.
  • Francis tells herself her friends are as free to meet and exclude her, as they are free to meet and to include her.
  • Francis assumes her friends are planning a wonderful surprise party for her.

I’d suggest that hidden within each of us is a healthy self. It’s a self that can be pushed and pulled to run with the negative or to run with what’s healthy and positive. It’s the often-miniscule inner choices that make all the difference to the shape of your day (week, month, and year).

September 9, 2017

Counterintuitive “realities”

by Rod Smith

People who are more defined, more separate, and who can live without each other are more likely to stay together in a long-lasting committed relationship than those who are very close and can’t live without each other. Even trees need space. So do people.

When a relationship is faltering people want to analyze it, work on it, talk about it and fix it; when relief and healing my indeed come from benignly ignoring the relationship as each participant commits to working on him or herself. Declaring personal goals and dreams that may have zero to do with the faltering relationship can go a long way toward its healing.

Childhoods are important (of course) and a happy one is what any reasonable parent strives to give a child, but, not every relationship malady or personal failing can be placed at the foot of flawed parenting or childhood trauma.

Understanding and talking about matters is not always helpful and is not always the golden key to possible solutions. Sometimes people have to simply change unhelpful habits, get off the couch and work harder and stop rehashing excuses for their behavior or searching for its source in a troubled childhood.

September 5, 2017

When therapy works, and when it usually doesn’t

by Rod Smith

Therapy works:

  • When clients are highly motivated to grow
  • When clients are willing to take risks and do new things
  • When clients are willing to be vulnerable with the people with whom they share life
  • When clients are willing to face, rather than deny, necessary and inevitable loss
  • When clients establish a realistic view of what therapy can and cannot achieve and have realistic expectations of the therapist and the process.

Therapy will be an exercise in treading water and wasted expense:

  • When clients go through the motions of getting help without wanting either growth or change
  • When clients attempt to outsmart the therapist and therefore treat the process as a game
  • When clients have a distorted view of the power therapist have and an unrealistic view of what the process may deliver
  • When clients withhold pertinent information
  • When the therapist “pushes” or “pulls” clients against their will and in conflict with their abiding loyalties.
July 24, 2017

Respect the blood

by Rod Smith

When relating to a family – be it to one or many members of a family – ignoring or discounting blood-ties or invisible loyalties is done at peril, even if it is at the family’s invitation and if the family is experiencing considerable turmoil.

If a relationship is professional (helper, counselor, coach, teacher, head of school, pastor, or health-care worker), or if it involves befriending or dating a member of a family, blood is and almost always will be thicker that non-blood, and any insertion by an outsider into the family that violates the invisible loyalties (even when invited) will not occur without retaliation.

Ignoring, discounting, or dismissing invisible loyalties is the emotional equivalent of swinging from live power-lines.

While invisible loyalties often defy logic and can be thoroughly irrational, while they can appear to switch without notice and can be denied even while their enforcement may be glaringly obvious to an outsider, messing with blood loyalties will be rewarded in ways the intruder will regret.

The wise “outsider” – a paid professional, an educator, or a person who is invited into the family as an intimate, the wise outsider respects the blood, the pre-existing bonds, even if they appear to be unhelpful or destructive binds.

[This phenomenon is tough to identify but it explains something of how and why some people really never become “part of the family”, why step-parenting is so very difficult for many families, and why family business is so hard to do well.]

July 1, 2017

A few words about attraction

by Rod Smith
  • Attraction is only possible between people who are functioning at the same level or emotional health (or the lack of it). If you think you are way ahead of him in any manner and are helping him along, and yet you are attracted to him, you are in strong denial.
  • Attraction is far more complex than being simply about looks or dress or a pleasant and attractive demeanor. There are multitudes of people who dress well and who are very good-looking and very pleasant whom you will hardly notice. Deep calls to deep, needs call out to needs, and (un)health attracts (un)health.
  • When attraction occurs between highly functional individuals the development of a meaningful relationship may seem to elude them both for a while – simply because healthy people are not driven to find a relationship. People on the other end of the continuum will seem to fall in love in an instant with about anyone who reaches out and the new couple will feel as if they’ve known each other for years even after they have just met.
  • Healthy attractions allow for the new couple to include others; unhealthy attractions lead the new couple into isolation.
June 16, 2017

Gifts we can all offer….

by Rod Smith

The greatest gifts we can offer each other as spouses, intimates, friends, and as colleagues:

  1. The truth as we perceive it: knowing that events, feelings, circumstances, history, and responses to everything are in the heart and the eye of the beholder. Everyone has his or her own set of lenses, lenses colored and distorted by a myriad of variables, immediate and historical, which are shaped by rational and irrational life-experiences. Even though we may not agree on the truth and its precise shape, offering another truth, as he or she knows it, is a gift of love.
  2. The time to be heard: knowing that being heard and understood do not necessarily mean agreement. Hearing, too, is in the heart of the hearer. Everyone’s ears are filtered through a myriad of variables and experiences, some immediate and some ages old, but the gift of love we each can offer is the willingness to put aside differences and listen.
  3. The freedom and space to be distinct: knowing that there exists a strong pull toward sameness in thinking, feeling, and interpreting, and a strong pull toward togetherness. It’s a gift of immense value when we open our hearts to those in our spheres of influence and encourage the love of freedom divinely imparted to every person.