Archive for ‘Divorce’

April 24, 2017

My observations of Adult Children of Alcoholics

by Rod Smith
  • They (we) tend to mistrust relationships – from casual to intimate.
  • Relationships are about winning or losing, about using or being used.
  • Mistrust trust – they (we) are suspicious of you if you trust them and suspicious of you if you don’t.
  • They (we) are experts in the “double bind” meaning that no matter which option you choose, it is the “wrong” option.
  • They (we) are constantly on duty and have little or no conception of what it means to let go, to relax, and to live with some abandon.
  • They (we) assume there’s always a hidden agenda.
  • They (we) misread authentic innocence and regard it as a cover designed to pull them in.

To succeed in a casual or intimate relationship with an adult child of an alcoholic persistence and patience are essential. They are likely to test the validity of the relationship time and time again. They are going to put roadblocks in the way and will sabotage any meaningful connection to test if it is real.

In the extreme adult children of alcoholics replicate the chaos of their childhoods in order to replicate the discomfort and the mistrust that was their normal.

Please use this column wisely – it is not intended as a means of judging or hurting anyone.

April 22, 2017

Monday meditation / Nine simple truths

by Rod Smith

Nine simple truths –

May they be your first thoughts every morning and may they infiltrate your every move and every relationship:

I am….

  • To be respected and treasured and able to respect and treasure all other people.
  • Capable of expressing my opinions and will do so with growing and greater confidence.
  • Uniquely gifted and my gifts are useful to my immediate and broader community.
  • As unique as the proverbial snowflake and yet part of the human family, tainted with its vulnerabilities, failures, and frailties.
  • Capable of forgiving the worst of offenses I have endured, and capable of seeking forgiveness for the worst offenses I have committed.
  • Able to encourage the discouraged and offer hope to the hopeless.
  • Unafraid of the talents of others and able and willing to help others find their greatness.
  • Capable of becoming the most generous person I know.
  • My own best friend so that I may be a friend to others.
April 17, 2017

No matter how highly functional or not, here are some family challenges worthy of pursuit:

by Rod Smith

Talk about what you would like to do more as a family and what would we prefer to do less as a family. The list may include monumental challenges that take years to address. The list may include things that can be changed in an instant.

Talk about what you would each like to do more, and less, as individuals in the family. As above, some may be really easy and some may take seemingly forever.

Plan something meaningful and unusual (“off the charts”) that the family agrees to work toward. This may be a trip, a building project, or entering as a family into a race.

Discuss (according to age, ability, and appropriateness) topics that are usually taboo like death, sex, finances, and family secrets. Discuss why they are taboo in the first place. When and why and how did the secret become a secret. Who decides what is and what is not a secret?

Consult a professional who is able to construct a Genogram with your family. Request that it span three generations. This will (potentially) alert family members to troublesome trends and urges that pre-exist within the family system and therefore (potentially) equip members to face them if and when they emerge again. Nothing in families is new!

March 29, 2017

High and low functioning

by Rod Smith
  • Lower functioning people require more and more control.
  • Higher functioning people want greater levels of freedom for all.
  • Lower functioning people place obstacles (hurdles, doubts, misgivings) in the way of those who are higher functioning often without even knowing it.
  • Higher functioning people know that self-definition and acts of strong leadership will face resistance in the form of doubts and misgivings from those who are less inclined to grow.
  • High functioning people want mercy and justice and equity for all even if it means great personal cost.
  • Lower functioning people operate out of a desire for revenge or to “teach them a lesson.”
  • High functioning people do not regard themselves as victims while lower functioning people arrange their lives and often their livelihood around victimhood.
  • The person who wants a relationship the most (any relationship) shifts the balance of power into the hands of he or she who wants it least.
  • Every time a person wants to do something great or adventurous or thrilling someone will try to put a stop to it.
  • Grace and forgiveness and generosity are among the most powerful forces of change in any family or community and the one who embraces them immediately increases his or her level of functioning.
March 4, 2017

Do you love your life?

by Rod Smith

The Mercury / Monday (3-6-2017)

Do you love your life – or at least most of it?

I hope so. It must be terrible to wake up every day having to face a job you resist in order to provide for people who find you difficult and in whom you may find repeated displeasure. I feel ill thinking of it. It gives me a heavy feeling that I would hate to have to haul around all and every day.

Perhaps you have no job and that may be the source of at least some of your displeasure.

Perhaps you have no family or zero support from family you do have.

I am very aware of how much family and friends form the scaffolding of my life, making so much difference to me when things are tough.

No matter what your circumstance – and I declare this as loudly and forcefully to myself as I do to you: you are what you’ve got. You are your most powerful asset, and, you’d better make the most of it.

Someone wiser than I – and I’d give full credit if I knew the source – said, “we see the world, not as it is, but as we are.”

I’d suggest we also love others, not as they are, but as we are.

Peace. Have a fabulous, loving, and aware week.

March 2, 2017

My heart goes out to the….

by Rod Smith
  • My heart goes out to children who live in unsettled houses. Houses where the abuse of alcohol or drugs dominates everything. Houses where rage rips people apart.
  • My heart goes out to children whose parents were once together and now are apart. Although the child may have received loving messages about how they are loved despite what mother and father do it still makes no sense to the child.
  • My heart goes out to children who are fighting a deadly disease and to the siblings who are fighting it with them. The necessary lack of certainty bolstered with statements of faith, all within the same adult sentence, can be confusing. It’s at least as confusing for the child as it is for the adult trying to comfort them.
  • My heart goes out to children whose boundaries are ignored and violated and whose voices are ignored or silenced. Such children might as well be invisible to those commissioned to love and protect them.
  • My heart goes out to the child who must assume a defensive stance because of race, gender, or language.
  • My heart goes out to children who are hungry in a nation of plenty, those born outside the dominant culture, those whose troubles are the fruit of a troubled nation.
September 16, 2012

Why do men do this?

by Rod Smith

“I am recently divorced and had a relationship with an athlete for 4 months. He was very keen in the beginning. I had to put on the brakes as I don’t rush into matters. He was just three weeks out of a relationship himself and I could not understand why he was in such a hurry! He lives about 45 minutes away but would never visit me. I had to go to his place. Then he mistreated me, and said I had a bad attitude and was far too sensitive! Before this he called less frequently and the invitations were less frequent. I discovered he was seeing someone else. Why do men do this? I really feel used and abused!”

Four things:

  1. Not all men do this. While you are willing to spend another minute with one who has already mistreated you, you will keep meeting such men.
  2. The first red flags waved when he expected you to do all the driving. If it is not mutual, respectful, and equal it is not worth having.
  3. Forget trying to understand him. It is no longer your business. Try to understand healthy men – study strength, not pathology.
  4. Forgive yourself. You blew it. Learn and move on.
July 12, 2012

Draw the line…..

by Rod Smith

There is no good reason ever why any person ought tolerate poor treatment from another.

You teach people how to treat you.

I know you may feel trapped and without an escape route or a friend in the world, but you must get help if this post is reaching deeply into you.

July 1, 2012

Is it ok to lie about divorce?

by Rod Smith

“I entered a relationship with a divorced woman with three children. I discovered early on that she had lied about her marital status. She was in fact separated, not divorced. I ended the relationship as she had lied to me about her marital status and felt that she had ‘unfinished business’ with her husband. I felt that I ran the risk of her going back to her husband. I have never dated a woman who is separated. Is it ever appropriate to enter into a relationship with a woman who is separated?”

 

  1. I cannot condone a blatant lie but some truth is harder to tell. I’d be inclined to give a woman a break. I have met brutally honest women who can barely utter the “D” word.
  2. Of course the woman is going to have “unfinished business.” She has three children and a history and a future with him, separated or divorced. Loving her will mean embracing it ALL. There is no clean slate.
  3. You felt you “ran the risk of her going back to her husband” suggests you are self-protecting without considering what might be best for the woman and her children.
  4. I’d suggest it is unwise to knowingly enter a relationship with a married person.
June 6, 2012

My husband left me for my best friend

by Rod Smith

“My husband left me for my best friend. This not only devastated me but caused my children (and her husband and children) a lot of confusion. I don’t want things back how they were but I do want some peace of mind. Her husband has gone off the rails with anger and I have bordered on depression. How am I supposed to forgive two people who have been so close to me and who have done this bitter thing to people, including children, whom they profess to love?”

My response will focus on you and the double blow you have received.

You have lost two best friends and you have lost them to each other. They have together all of what you once enjoyed and you have none of it.

I do not write this to rub salt into the wound or to tell you what you do not already know – I write it so you may see that your loss is real and at least partially understood.

Your anger and depression is justified. Grieve, wail. Express it in any helpful way over the coming years.

At the same time (in sane, healthy moments) begin to rebuild your life.

It is possible to do both: grieve, build, grieve, and build – just not at the same moments.