Archive for ‘Recovery’

July 30, 2017

This week at Chatel…..

by Rod Smith

cropped-e-is-for-enmeshment1Five (very lofty) goals for the week

Teach, facilitate group so students and staff are empowered to find, enjoy, and use their backbones, most creative brains, and voices, each to maximum of his or her current level of helpful, “growthful” discomfort. (Yes, I occasionally make up my own words).

Facilitate each student’s possibility for growth (to get bigger or smaller) into his or her appropriate size (a) as a distinct individual, (b) as a distinct individual in within a variety of contexts (like current or immediate family, family of origin, a class of students, a sub-culture and a broad culture of national heritage), and (c) finally, as a member of the Church, immediate and universal. This means examining contexts, roles, boundaries, skills, talents, gifts, and resources.

https://kona.wordpress.com/2006/04/05/jesus-herds-traingles-and-a-woman/

Teach, model (if it possible) Differentiation of Self by “watching” it in Scripture. We will use three Gospel encounters to illustrate this delicious way of life.

cropped-ladderjpg.jpgGive practical insights into healthy or unhealthy TRIANGLES, GENERATIONAL TRANSMISSION, HERDING, and other usually INVISIBLE pressures that can undermine or sabotage healthy individual, family, and organizational functioning. We will use two, perhaps three, Gospel encounters in order to illustrate.

Give practical tools to minimize individual and group anxiety, to grow and support healthy invisible individual and group loyalties, and to develop the awareness of necessary sifts from REACTIVITY to RESPONSIVENESS, from STEMMING and EMOTING to THINKING, and from AMPLIFYING or IGNORING to EMBRACING and EMPOWERING.

Further reading: Bowen, Murray; Friedman, Edwin; Schnarch, David; Gilbert, Roberta; Satir, Virginia; Framo, James; Minuchen, Salvador

April 9, 2017

The company you keep…..

by Rod Smith
  • Embrace people who believe in you. Seek out the men and women who are in your unofficial support group and spend your effort in their direction. It is necessary and acceptable that you define your boundaries with men and women who pull you down and who try to minimize or ridicule your contribution to your family, your work-place, or your broader community. Be cordial, be kind, to such people but limit the power you give to people who denigrate you.
  • Embrace people who have a vision for their own lives. The more you can rub shoulders with people who are “going places” and are invested in building their futures, the greater the likelihood that you will get caught up in similar healthy habits. Drainers and downers and doubters are easy to spot but often harder to avoid. Disillusioned people love a target and are especially attracted to bringing happy and motivated people into their fold.
  • Invest or reinvest in a cause bigger and more meaningful than simply enhancing your family and yourself. There is so much need and suffering everywhere and you are fully capable of reducing some of both for people in your immediate environment.
February 27, 2017

Spirituality and spiritual abuse…..

by Rod Smith

Ten signs of the presence of spiritual abuse, manipulation, domination, or intimidation.

Spiritual Abuse (always on a continuum) is occurring when a pastor, leader, or even a friend:

  • “Hears” God for you. God apparently “goes through” him/her to speak to you. This requires a sense of superiority – from him or her and is often framed as being “more mature,” and a sense of being “less” from you.
  • Alienates (shuns, ignores) you if you do not adhere to his/her guidance, leadership, or authority. This is usually VERY subtle – so it is easy to deny.
  • Suggests that rejection of his/her “higher understanding” is done so at your spiritual or even physical peril. You will hear things like, “Be careful. You will move yourself from the covering and protection of God if you don’t listen to me.”
  • Rewards your obedience with inclusion, and punishes your questioning or resistance with withdrawal. Compliance gets stroked; resistance gets struck.
  • Demands “cathartic” honesty. Unless you spew out every detail of your life you must be hiding or withholding something and that “something” will, of course, impede your spiritual development.
  • Lavishes you with praise, acceptance, and understanding when you are “good” and “pushes” you away when you are “bad.”
  • Is apparently fixated on the use of titles like reverend, pastor, elder and cannot appear to relax in the company of “ordinary” mortals. The issue is not in the use of legitimate titles (or robes or religious garb) – it is that identity seems impossible without the titles or the trappings.
  • Leaves a trail of cut-off relationships. Usually in the trail are those who refuse to bow, to submit, to stand in awe of, to be thoroughly entranced by, the will of the pastor, the leader or the friend. Always regard with suspicion or caution leaders who are cut off or alienated from members of their family, especially their parents.
  • Lives from a “for me/or against me,” “black/white,” “all/or nothing” platform of “relationships.”
  • Genuinely sees God’s Call so zealously, so fervently that any signs of resistance are seen as the expressions of The Enemy or an enemy – thus, relationships are expedient (disposable) in the light of getting on with God’s work.

The perpetrators of abuse apparently fail to see that reconciliation, and forgiveness, “space,” and room to move, and room to respectfully disagree (boundaries, morality) are all part of the glorious work of the Gospel.

Freedom begins with recognition. Recognition must result in action.

Stand up to those who misuse their positions of leadership. Spiritual abuse serves the welfare or neither the perpetrator nor the victim – quite apart from the disservice it does to the church.

All authentic holiness, spirituality, Godliness, is LOCAL. If it’s not present and respectful in the most immediate one-to-one relationships (spouse, child, secretary, mail-carrier, in the traffic, at the airline check-in, with the dog) it will not be authentic in the one-to-many relationships, no matter how many thousands or tens of thousands make up the many.

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.

May 15, 2011

Therapy (counseling, family therapy, individual therapy) works best when…..

by Rod Smith

Attraction is only enduringly poss

Take UP your life - it is an act of LOVE

1. It is self-initiated and no one is “sending” you to therapy.

2. You are motivated to see change in your life and understand that it could mean an increase in your discomfort and some disruption to your relationships.

3. You are willing to recognize your sacred cows even if you are initially unwilling to lead them to the slaughterhouse.

4. You read widely about ordinary people who have done extraordinary things with their lives.

5. You are willing to see the fruitlessness of blaming others (parents, boss, your ex, the economy, and politicians) for what you are facing.

6. You are willing to shift your focus off the behavior of others and be fully responsible for your own behavior.

7. You are willing to understand that others can only entangle (trap, manipulate, bother) you to the degree you allow.

8. You understand your therapist is a person just like you – but for his or her training. Elevating your therapist will prove to be unhelpful to you and it will obstruct the very process you wish to assist you.

9. You understand that all desired and healthy growth requires some loss, pain, and grief.

10. Your goal is to grow up and to fully live your own life – no matter what your age.

May 1, 2011

Is it okay to hate my mother

by Rod Smith

Is it okay to hate my mother? She is loud, inappropriate, pushy, and demanding. I know I can’t change her but I must be able to change how guilty I feel about not being happy to see her. She barges into our house. She talks crudely to my children. She is mocking of any attempts to talk on any meaningful level. I am a single mother of two teenagers.

Attraction is only enduringly poss

Hate is an emotional toxic spill

As an adult you can do anything you want. You may break the law, set your house on fire, and even abandon your children.

As long as you are able and willing to face the consequences, you can do anything you want.

Of course, not everything you are able to do is helpful, wise, or accompanied by helpful outcomes. This is something we are repeatedly told as children and sometimes fail to learn even as adults.

So – yes, you are free to hate your mother. The consequences of doing so are unlikely to be helpful to you. Hating anyone is usually harmful to the one who does the hating, but hating a parent, is especially personally damaging.

Hating a parent erodes essential, vital, invisible connections that help us all to remain somewhat sane.

Hating anyone allows the hate to do a number on our insides. It distorts our responses, reactions, perceptions, and attitudes to ALL other people, and not only our relationship with the person whom we have chosen to hate.

The hate may be targeted; the results are generic. Hate is an emotional toxic spill. It ruins the host more than the victim.

While your mother’s repertoire is jam packed with unattractive themes, hating her will ultimately destroy you, burn your house down (figuratively, of course) and alienate you from your own adult children.

You will move toward greater, and real love for her if you increase your capacity to be rejected by her and stand up to her and refuse to be her victim. Do not give your mother free passage to pollute your family yet, at the same time, offer her some manner in which to remain connected with you on terms that are acceptable to you.

Yes, hate is an option, but it is not an option that will result in the kind of growth (not all “growth” is helpful) within you that will be helpful.

Walking powerfully toward her (initiating, defining, declaring, welcoming, clarifying) will empower you with ALL other people.

You are no longer a child. Use your adult voice and do not allow her to manipulate, dominate, or intimidate you. Strive for an equal, mutual, respectful relationship with your mother so that she will learn how to behave herself when she is with you and your family.

I know this is a tall order, but the results, of even failed attempts on your terms, will result in the kind of empowering and growth you want, rather than lead you ever deeper into the shame you are already feeling.

Rejecting her will diminish you. It will rob you of your voice. It will enlarge her power to dominate and control you.

If you hate your mother she won’t have to barge into your house to upset you, she’ll be living in your head, even if you never see her or have nothing to do with her.

April 23, 2011

I was unfaithful and now he wants out

by Rod Smith

“I have been an unfaithful wife and my husband is tired of it. He has given me a fresh start on three or four occasions but this time he refuses. He says his trust well is empty and that he has to move on with his life. How do I convince him that one more chance is all I need? Please help.”

Attraction is only enduringly poss

Take responsibility for your actions

Your husband appears to be taking an option necessary for his well being. I’d suggest you move full force into recovery from serial infidelity.

Unfaithfulness can hardly leave you with good feelings about yourself and I’d suggest you get professional help to delve into its origins in your life.

While his actions are painful for you, I’d suggest he has not had a painless journey.

If your husband were consulting me I’d attempt to solicit from him the level of his desire to remain married. Given any suggestion that he’d prefer to stay married, I’d encourage him to embark on an extended separation to allow you to get your troubled house in order.

Unfaithfulness is an individual pursuit. There’s nothing anyone can do to make you unfaithful. It’s not your spouse or any of your multiple cohorts. It is you who needs the help – get it. Allow him, in the mean time, to do whatever it is he needs to do.

March 29, 2011

How do you explain suicide to a child?

by Rod Smith

“I struggle with what I told the little one’s in my family of the death of their young and vibrant ‘Aunt L.’ She had been really sick and took her own life in the end. I just could not tell these little one’s that she committed suicide – how would they understand, ranging in age from 9 to 2 years old. I just told them she got sick and she died – her body and her spirit were tired. I am so afraid of them finding out the truth one day. We all have continued to grieve our loss. All of the children attended the funeral and memorial services and we all take an active role in remembering her life. But how do you explain suicide of a very close loved one to a child?”

Attraction is only enduringly poss

Your chidren will understand

Relax. You have done well. Of course what you faced was difficult and, once the children are old enough to know the truth, I believe they will understand the reasons you have said what you have said. Suicide is perhaps the strongest and most powerful form of prayer I have ever encountered – giving ultimate relief in dying, what seemed impossible while living. “Aunt L”, I believe, has found in death what she could not find in life.

January 17, 2011

The most viewed column: When your husband says he doesn’t love you anymore…..

by Rod Smith

Attraction is only enduringly poss

80,000 online views

Of course you are going to fall apart, and mourn the loss of the future you thought you’d have.

You will feel like death itself and even welcome your own.

Then, when your mind somewhat clears, you’ll wonder what really occurred. You will question what you might have done to cause the marriage breakdown and wonder what you might have done to save it.

Then you will bargain with God, your husband, even your children, or with anyone who will listen as you urgently try to get things back to normal, and get yourself back into his heart, head, and bed.

And, when things somewhat settle, and you’ve gotten some rest, and you emerge from the initial impact of what has occurred, you will see that this is not about you, or what you did or did not do. You will see there that there is no real power in bargaining with him, or real value in your becoming whatever you think he’d prefer you to be.

You will see that, quite apart from whatever he decides to do, there is great power and value in picking up your life, one emotion at a time, and doing what is best for yourself and your children.

(November 2006)

Tell me your story. I am listening:






December 13, 2010

You did not mention Al-Anon…..

by Rod Smith

“In an article you wrote regarding a wife supporting her husband’s therapy with an addiction specialist for his (the husband’s) sporadic but serious bouts with alcohol, I was concerned that you didn’t mention Al-Anon to the wife. Wherever this person is living, there is an Al-Anon group.

“The Al-Anon Family Groups are a fellowship of relatives and friends of alcohlics who share their experience, strength and hope in order to solve their common problems. We believe alcoholism is a family illness and that changed attitudes can aid recovery.

“Al-Anon is not allied with any sect, denomination, political entity, organisation, or institution; does not engage in any controversy, neither endorses nor opposes any cause. There are no dues for membership. Al-Anon is self-supporting through its own voluntary contributions.

“Al-Anon has but one purpose: to help families of alcoholics. We do this by practicing the Twelve Steps, by welcoming and giving comfort to families of alcoholics, and by giving understanding and encouragement to the alcoholic.”

Thanks for this reminder. I trust the woman who wrote the initial letter will see your wise suggestion.