Welcome to the debut of a new column for Psych Central called All About Relationships. The title originates from a weekly Blog talk radio show that I host with a similar name. Since humans are social beings, relationships are pivotal in order to both survive and thrive. Our initial interactions are with family of origin. Some are healthy and vitalizing; others sadly lacking in essential nutrients. They can shape our world view, but need not determine the ultimate course of our lives. Throughout a lifetime, they carry with them joys and sorrows, love and loss.
This bi-weekly blog will speak about the various sorts of relationships that include those with family, friends, partners, co-workers, ourselves, nature, animals, substances, behaviors and perhaps the most challenging for many of us, what in 12 step parlance is referred to as “The God of our understanding.”
The words and ideas I offer here will create a relationship between us as well, so I would like to introduce myself to you.
What will help shape this column is my role as a career therapist/licensed social worker with three decades of professional experience working with individuals, couples, families and groups in both inpatient and outpatient programs. I have served those who have received treatment in mental health and addiction recovery settings. By way of full disclosure, I would like you to know that I am also in recovery from workaholism and co-dependence and experienced services for both, as well as attending 12 step meetings for many years. Although I no longer go to the rooms for support, I work my program daily. I take inventory of my emotions and actions. I ask for the guidance of a Higher Power, even if I am not totally certain what that means since it morphs daily in my mind. I make amends if I have harmed anyone. I surrender when needed. I take responsibility for my actions and feelings.
My personal roles include mother, sister, aunt, friend and co-worker. I was widowed at age 40 and raised my now 28 year old son as a single parent. I am also what I refer to as an ‘adult orphan’ since both of my parents died over the last seven years. The people in my life are my treasures.
On June 12, 2014, my life shifted dramatically when I experienced a heart attack at age 55 while on my way home from the gym. That caused a complete reassessment of my priorities and what I refer to as a ‘whole life makeover’. No longer was self care a luxury, but rather, a life sustaining necessity. I decided that I wasn’t going to let the event go to waste. I go to the gym, eat more consciously and nap when needed, rather than working outrageous hours and getting a mere 5-6 hours sleep a night. I ask for support, which is quite the challenge for a co-dependent caregiver accustomed to practicing ‘savior behavior’. I am learning to say no to the voice which clamors that I be super human. Sometimes it is deafening and I need to stand my ground and face it. I am peeling off the layers to reveal the real and live as an authentically integrated human being and not a ‘human doing’ who expects to be all things to all people in order to refrain from letting anyone down.
As we take this relationship journey together, I invite you to see at as a ‘real-ationship’ experience, since when we bring all of who we are to the table, each of our relationships flourish.
Couple laughing photo available from Shutterstock