The Prostitute Within

“Inner prostitute.” Has it ever crossed your mind that such a thing exists inside you?

Understanding first what a “prostitute is, helps. A “prostitute,” in its typical meaning, is one who sells sex and physical body in order to get money or some type of favor. It’s a very first thing most people think when they hear the word “prostitute.” The word “whore” also comes to mind.

Well, forget the sex in the definition. Think internal, non-physical. So, when I mention “inner prostitute,” I therefore mean psychological. Even more so, spiritual. The “inner prostitute” inside each of us to some degree, is metaphorically one that “sells” a part of our selves in order to get something. This type of selling is actually “whoring” one’s integrity and self-respect, pushed by the winds of self-interest, vice or indulgence.

Maria, married to a millionaire businessman, was sure that she’s doing something against her values. Her husband has been used to bringing women in their bedroom whenever he comes home. Despite her protests, she continues to allow him to do so. According to her, she gives her consent and stays in the toxic marriage for financial security rather than courageously face the unknown. Sacrificing her self-respect for comfort, she “sells out” to her husband’s abuse rather than being true to her self.

The “inner prostitute,” as you can see, is primarily attached to issues of survival and security. It thrives on deep fears. Often, those who persistently struggle with their “inner prostitute” experienced extreme physical, psychological, and emotional abuse, deprivation, and battering during childhood or earlier years of development. In order to fill the gaps, a person giving in to his/her “inner prostitute” becomes willing to whore away his/her integrity, self-respect, and values to feel provided for, guarded, and protected.

The result? Psychopathology. Personal and relationship breakdowns. A lack of purpose and happiness. Instability in various areas of life. Identity prostituted to others, which may include things such as time, affection, heart, soul, creativity, friendship, or intellect. Telling untruths or lies to one’s self and others to have power, a sense of “security.”

Indeed, the heart is deceitful above all things. In it dwells the “inner prostitute.” Have you come to know it yourself?

Sex Addiction As An Illness

Sexual addiction is an illness. It’s solitary, dehumanizing, and satisfies only itself. Contrary to love, it’s fleeting. It causes people to abuse their bodies. It distances us from our emotions, destroys good feelings about ourselves. It therefore causes people to be broken and alone.

Dr. Patrick Carnes, sex therapist and author of “Out of the Shadows: Understanding Sexual Addiction,” provides an operational definition of sexual addiction: “a pathological relationship with a mood-altering experience.” Contrary to real love, the sex addict obsesses over and depends on sex for comfort from inner pain. He or she uses it for nurturing, relief from stress etc.

Once, I heard a married man saying that he has sex with multiple women because “God is love.” Indeed, the notion of sexual addiction can be confused like that! It’s also confused with what is positive and legitimately pleasurable in married love enjoyed by the “normal” population. As life unravels, the sex addict despairs, helplessly stucked in the cycle of shame, degradation, and danger. Like a broken car, the sex addict needs a mechanic!

Nowadays, people need education and a clearer perspective about sexual addiction as an illness. Often this is obscured by media and by our reluctance to face sexual issues – personally, professionally, and publicly. The illness is further masked by secrecy and shame that inherently characterizes it.

The world is full of helpless sexual addicts in need of help.

Kindness Heals

I’m reminded of Aldous Huxley, a noted writer-philosopher. He was dying. At his deathbed, he was asked what words and wisdom he would like to tell and leave to the world. He replied, “I wish people would be kinder to each other.”

What does “kindness” mean? Here’s what “kindness” means if we go by the American Heritage Dictionary: “of a friendly nature, generous or hospitable, warmhearted, good, charitable, helpful, showing understanding or sympathy, humane, considerate, tolerant.”

Heeding Huxley’s words, I feel how much it applies to our society in general. Reading recent local news, for example, we can witness a lot of unkindness. Government leaders fuming mad and assassinating each other’s characters in public. They all speak of healing our country. But how does a country heal when leadership is ruled by poisonous emotions, tongue, behavior, and self-perception? Sadly, the practice of kindness in our country, and even in the rest of the world, resembles a drought.

When I think of the numerous men and women who see me in the psychotherapy session, I never fail to see their eyes glistening with held-back or free-flowing tears. In relating their stories, they react with poignant sadness. Often, they remember that kindness was nonexistent in the growing up period of their lives. And goodness! How much they hunger and yearn for their parents to show more kindness to them and each other.

I usually tell them it’s ok not to be ok. To feel sad about the unkindness they’ve experienced in their lives. Even weep for the kindness they did not receive from their parents or others when they were children. But, they need to learn to let go, eventually. They need to learn to grieve completely their unprocessed pains. And then, use their present lives and relationships as a “second chance” to experience the kindness they did not have.

Kindness heals. Choose it for your self and others.

What Happens to Left-Behind Children of OFWs?

“Parenting and providing are two different things,” is one of the remarks I made during my recent television interview last week over at Ikonsulta Mo GMK UNTV. Congressman Erin, the TV program’s senior host, was asking me on the impact on parenting of parents going overseas for work on their left-behind children. To that I painted a not-so-good picture of the psychological and social realities of the OFW phenomenon on the Filipino family.

I’m reminded of Maria who went to Dubai to work as an office employee. She left behind a 3-year old daughter and a 15-year-old son in the care of her husband. After 10 years as a migrant worker, Maria found herself husband-less with a drug-addicted, delinquent son who dropped out of school and a teenage daughter who became deeply depressed and suicidal that she had to be rushed for psychiatric treatment. Her husband had sexual affairs and impregnated one woman who happened to be a single mother.

Although dubbed as “Bayani” by the government for their remittances boosting the country’s economy, the psychological and social costs of labor migration among Filipinos remain so increasingly  high. Statistics and studies show that the separation of family members from one or both parents working abroad have been linked to problems such as marital breakdowns/infidelity, juvenile delinquency, drug addiction, dropping out of school, teenage pregnancy, early marriage of young children, and parental alienation. Dependency on money received abroad have also been implicated as contributing to families of migrants becoming materialistic, losing desire to work, and suffering mental health or relationship disorders.

Indeed, the economic well being of OFW families cannot be divorced from the conditions of nurturing the mental health of left-behind children. To address the known care deficits that always happened, it’s crucial therefore for OFWs to be able to communicate with their left-behind children in healthy ways while overseas as well as educate themselves on the value and dynamics of true parenting given the sub-ideal family situation they find themselves in. The issue of surrogates or alternative caregivers is a significant area of development to better nourish the mental health and physical care of left-behind children.

Surviving Infidelity

One of my greatest accomplishments in my practice as a psychotherapist is seeing individuals and/or couples survive marital infidelity. Using an insight-oriented approach, I’ve emphasized the importance of the power to choose how to think, feel, and act. I’ve taught concepts and skills in my sessions to help change thoughts that will determine how one reacts emotionally.

To give you a broad stroke of some ideas I bring up during sessions to help individuals heal from marital infidelity, let me share below a number of points, beliefs, and skills about what it takes to be a survivor. What I discover is that men and women who apply these ideas do survive, just as my clients have. Although infidelity can be very traumatic, there are indeed ways and means to transcend the wounding experience and come out strong. Here’s a list of some of these ways and means:

* You believe in your resourcefulness whatever comes your way.
* You believe in Someone greater than your self.
* You develop ability to increase your resilience to withstand painful feelings.
* You formulate a master plan.
* You recognize the power of your thoughts for personal and marital recovery.
* You learn the ability to view events in a time frame.
* You see the complexity of experiences and human beings.
* You choose to let go of anger, bitterness, or resentment.
* You ask for help and support.
* You find meaning and purpose in your pain.

Noted family therapist and author, Virginia Satir, once wrote in her book “PeopleMaking”:

“I know there are aspects about myself that puzzle me, and other aspects I do not know. But as long as I am friendly and loving to myself, I can courageously and hopefully look for solutions to the puzzles and for ways to find out more about me. I own me, and therefore, I can engineer me. I am me and I am ok.”

Listen To Help Heal

No matter who we are, we are all looking for someone to listen. A number of years ago, in a group therapy course in Ateneo, my psychology professor simply sat down and listened to each one of us in the circle. It was new to me. I hated to show my displeasure but I expressed it in her journal homework for us.

But the more I thought about it later — what my psychology professor demonstrated — I realized that she was teaching us something significant. She was right! Listening can heal. Everyone on earth is at least just a little bit lonely. There is no better recovery booster than simply this: listen. I love this lesson my professor taught us. It’s so true.

Is there someone in your life, in your family, in your school, or in your office who needs your support?  Are you willing to make an effort to reach out to them? I hope so. For I have discovered that life is richer, the horizon is brighter, and the road gets shorter when traveled with kind, nurturing, and listening companions. Those who make such an investment find that it pays off all through the years in terms of personal growth and friendships.

Loneliness Can Be Healing

Loneliness is pain. The world is full of people experiencing the pain of loneliness. There are those who retreat to their “caves.” Some pretend to be somebody else. There are some who are busy ones. Others over-depend, clinging as close as possible to whomever they can.
Loneliness is a disease that can grow over time. Untold numbers suffer from this affliction. It’s demanding. It can take everything from you. Including psychological, emotional, and spiritual emptiness. As I see others climbing this “mountain,” I’ve witnessed many just moving around it in circles with varied sorts of addictions or diversions.
So, you may ask,  “How do I heal from this disease of loneliness?” Begin by facing it – not avoid, fear, or run from it. Face the reality of this demon of loneliness and realize it’s a demon! Accept loneliness as part of being human. And then turn to this demon and shout, “Boo, go away!” As you do, this demon starts losing its power and control over you.
Accept also that loneliness and healing can be connected. Loneliness has healing qualities. A period of time alone can provide you with needed personal growth, reflection, and learning. Yes, loneliness is pain. But it’s pain which tells you that you have important things that you need to learn. As you learn from the pain, in time, hollowness and emptiness are replaced by inner healing, fullness, and strength.
It’s a giant step to learn from the pain of loneliness toward independence. When you are comfortable by your self, you no longer feel needy or dependent on the company of others. You find mental health, finding a balance between being with others and being alone.