Let’s face it, it is a whole lot easier to acquire a Problem than it is to get help in eradicating it. In many localities, there are drug dealers at every corner, but to get your loved one to a clinic, takes two buses. Intake coordinators will make him wait in a room with old magazines and ask him a million questions; but bartenders will serve him right away and leave him alone if he doesn’t want to talk. Insurance companies will seek to deny him coverage, but he can play the horses with his credit card. He can get narcotics from every doctor, but it’s tough to find one who prescribe a medication that can assist him in getting off narcotics. There’s even an Act of Congress that limits doctors from prescribing it. Like I said, it’s a lot easier to get a Problem, than it is to get help getting rid of it. However, that’s not the same as saying that help is far away. Continue reading
When a Problem takes over a relationship and hurts people, the people in the relationship disappear and the needs of the Problem consume everything. If you’re the person with the Problem, your job is to recover and get your self back. If you’re the other person, your job is to recognize the problematic portion of the relationship, stay connected with the healthy parts, and get help. Continue reading
There’s no question about it, starving the Problem is a brave thing to do, even if you’re careful to not starve the person. Your partner certainly won’t give you any credit for doing it. He, after all, has already been overcome by the Problem and is thinking like it does. When he’s suicidal, he’s going to say he feels betrayed because you called 911. No Problem likes it when the guys in the white coats come; but, when he’s in his right, true mind, he’s going to be glad that you made that call.
You also should not expect to see any changes right away. Before anything sinks in, you’ll get caught in the snags of an intermittent reinforcement schedule. Continue reading
One Halloween when I was a kid, I came home from trick-or-treating with a plastic pumpkin full of chocolate. My mouth had been watering ever since the second doorbell but my costume prohibited taking an early snack. As soon as I got home, the mask came off and I had my first piece of chocolate. The taste of that chocolate was so exquisite that I can still recall it. If I wasn’t a kid and didn’t know anything about it, I would have said I was having an orgasm over that piece of chocolate. It was so good that I had another and another and another, until, before I knew it, or my parents knew it, the entire pumpkin was gone and I was so sick I barfed all the chocolate right back into the pumpkin where it came from. (Continue reading…)
If you’ve been hurt and the Problem has taken over your relationship, there’s plenty that you can do, other than succumb to the Problem yourself. Just because your boyfriend wants to get stinking drunk every time he goes out, doesn’t mean you have to clean him up when he comes home. If your girlfriend picks fights with everyone, it doesn’t mean you have to make excuses for her. If your husband choses to gamble away his paycheck, it doesn’t mean he has to spend yours, too. Get out a little, be healthy, let your partner clean up his or her own mess. Create a Problem-Free Zone. (Continue reading…)
Chances are, neither you nor your loved one asked for a persistent problem. Illnesses happen beyond anyone’s control. Some diseases are inherited, like Huntington’s; others are transmitted, like Ebola. Mental illness and addiction are thought to involve a multi-factor genesis called the Diathesis-Stress Hypothesis. (Continue reading…)
When a persistent problem like an illness or an addiction comes between a couple, no one wants it. It’s your Problem, one says to the other. No, the other says, you brought it here; the Problem belongs to you. The couple comes to marriage counseling and asks, who owns the Problem?
No one owns the Problem, I say. The Problem owns you. (Continue reading…)