This week Enrique and Shirley ask questions. Please use their questions and my answers to help you in your relationships and families.
Dear Mary Jo,
I’m a disabled Veteran and I have a minimal form of PTSD. I’m in a relationship with a beautiful woman, but I don’t want her unless I’m gone or someone else shows interest in her. I’m that way with other women also. Is that normal?
Thank you for serving our country. I am glad your PTSD is minimal as that can cause havoc on intimate relationships. I think your problem is centered on commitment issues, and although many people suffer from them, in that way, it’s normal. Yours is extreme, and it sounds as though you are aware it is a big issue.
There are a variety of commitment problems, and the bottom line is that when you are intimately involved with one person, anxiety begins if you feel vulnerable. Relationships that are intense and then cool off or having one night stands is typical of commitment issues. So is dating someone and then not wanting them again until someone else does. It objectifies the other partner as property, and makes anyone involved with you feel led on.
There are a lot of reasons people suffer from commitment issues. It can be from a single trauma, the childhood stress of watching parents fight, or being in a miserable relationship. It can also be from infidelity, abuse, abandonment or having difficulty trusting others. You probably know what it is that led to your anxiety in being vulnerable.
You can fix it, but it won’t happen fast. Here is what I recommend:
- Since you are a veteran there are services for you that can help you regain your trust and ability to commit. Here is one of my favorites, “Make the connection.” http://maketheconnection.net/resources?gclid=COLWoZKS88ACFShp7AodSUkA3w
- Many churches have men’s groups which will help you understand what you’re feeling and offer you community so you won’t feel alone. Depending on what your faith is, this can be extremely helpful. http://www.churchwithoutwalls.org/christian-education1
- Getting independent counseling is extremely helpful because, although the issue may be commitment, there may be issues underneath that need to be dealt with. Past junk makes you stumble in the present if you don’t resolve it.
- The main reason to fix this problem is because you are short-changing yourself and anyone who falls in love with you. Although their beauty may make you feel better about yourself, unless you open up and let them know the real you, and challenge yourself to continually nurture your relationship and commit to it, you will never fully develop a mature intimate relationship. Your commitment problem is stunting your emotional growth.
Dear Mary Jo,
I watch you on Fox 26 and I am a huge fan. My daughter who is 17 years old was dating a boy for the past 8 months. He just told her he wants to “break up” and she is heartbroken. She had her heart set on going to homecoming and is totally distraught. I have no idea how to support her. What is the best thing for me to do?
I have professional and personal information in dealing with this. My daughter went through the same thing. You may want to take a look at my website Vlog as I wrote about this topic? http://tinyurl.com/mjvjyrr
These things can help you help your daughter.
- Begin to journal or write a letter each day to the person you broke up with. Tell them how you are feeling, but don’t send your writings. This helps you get it out of your head and on to paper.
- Begin to exercise. Maybe you can walk or attend a yoga class with your child. Getting out of the house and focusing on something else helps.
- Join a club and learn a new skill. This is a great time for piano lessons, a writing class or learning a foreign language.
- Surround yourself with family and friends. This prevents rebounds.
- Focus attention on yourself. Maybe you gave everything to this other person and you lost yourself in the relationship. Host a PJ party or pizza party with the friends you may have neglected.
- Buy a pet or adopt an animal. Animals have a way of loving you no matter who you are. They have love for you when you cannot even love yourself. Having to take care of a pet is healing. You have a purpose, and you are necessary.
- See a therapist. If your child is seriously depressed or sad for more than two weeks, talking with a therapist will really help.
- Don’t forget your faith. Praying may help you become more comfortable with the quietness, and meditation can help center you.
Shirley, be grateful you raised a daughter who can love another and be vulnerable enough to survive a broken heart. It is an opportunity for you to grow closer to her and for her to be able to trust that you are there for her without judgment.
To all of my followers I have a gentle reminder: there is a saying that God never gives us more than we can handle, so if we have more than we can handle, maybe God didn’t give it to us. Perhaps some of our crisis is self-made. This is something to reflect upon during the week.
Don’t forget, if you have a question for Mary Jo, simply click on the link and ask. http://www.maryjorapini.com/ask-mary-jo/