Dennis and His Secret Gift

Abandonment is a time of trauma. Devastating repetitive losses. Personal disappointments. Upheavals in childhood. Chaos and abuse in family.

For Dennis, his abandonment trauma was an awakening. It helped him a lot to change the direction of his life. He knew he had much work to do. But at last, he knew what was truly important. It took losing his wife to another man and therapy to finally shatter his illusion of permanence and self-sufficiency.

Somewhere in the abyss he was sharing in our sessions, missing his wife, he was able to look up. He felt so astounded at how painful the abandonment and loss was. He realized how alone he was. He was in a critical period during which he must look to his own resources.

But something even deeper happened to Dennis. He discovered the secret gift of his abandonment and loss. It helped him find his way to “old wounds” from traumatic events he may not even remember. Finally, he can address his long unprocessed, unresolved feelings.

Abandonment and trauma may do accomplish more quickly what many psychotherapists strive for in years of therapy — bringing you to the seat of your “unconscious.” To your deepest parts, where lie your permanent recovery and wholeness.

Beyond the support of family, friends, and therapists, you spend most of your waking time with your own self. As your own separate self, you face this challenge alone. First you must be in touch with your secret fears and pains. Listen to what they’re telling you about your emotional needs.

The journey to the core of the self, preparing you for deep-level healing, is the secret gift of abandonment and trauma. It’s a crucial opportunity to shape your life from the inside out.

Receive the gift. You’ll forever be changed by it.

Unbreakable, Permanent Solution

South Africa’s Demi-Leigh Neil-Peters, 2017 Miss Universe, has an incredible testimony after her recent win. She was “hijacked, car-jacked.” Yet she turned her experience into a positive mental health advocacy.

Neil-Peters was quoted by the news:

“Never allow yourself to be a prisoner of fear. Because if you allow yourself to be, you’re going to live your whole life in fear. Go for therapy, it really, really helps. Don’t be too proud … I can walk with you – that makes us unbreakable.”

Fear is a most common disability of those struck with psychopathology. Not normal fear. But fear that is severe. Out of proportion. It’s fear that makes one choose to remain a victim. A person whose fears have become overwhelming gets crippled to move on in life.

I’m reminded of Pablo who struggled with fear and depression a lot. He was bullied a lot in his life by his parents and schoolmates. As a result, he would have panic attacks and gasp for breath. He literally could not breathe and this happened often. Fear was strangling him.

Too often, when we meet a person struggling with unbearable pains of fear, we simply tell them “Get over it!” Or, dismiss the unreality of the source of the person’s fears. In spiritual circles, we may tell him or her, “Have faith.”

However, I’ve observed that none of these work most effectively. None is a solution to the problem of the person regarding fears. The solution to the problem of fear is love. That kind of solution is permanent. Unbreakable.

You can choose to be unbreakable in the face of any fears you experience. You can make it through any rain. And that’s love, super doses of it.

Getting the right kind love is the medicine we all need to overcome all the fears we will face on earth.

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18).

Have you known how to experience perfect love in your life?

Angel’s Poem

I sat with my 14-year-old daughter, Angel, a few days ago when she spoke of a poem she did in school. Her poem’s title lighted my face up — “Happiness and Sadness Are Twins.” Isn’t that title something deep and interesting to ponder on?

It is good that sometimes we experience sadness. Such experience protects us from the illusion that life is all bed of roses. Under trying circumstances, when we feel sad, we are compelled to see reality as it really is rather than sugarcoat it with a pretense of happiness.

I was amazed the first time I heard one of my patients, Nick, referred to himself as a loser. He felt so sad and dejected. But as I questioned him, I realized he had developed this self-opinion from very few isolated failures. He got locked in self pity.

As Nick progressed in his therapy, he became aware how much of the narcotic effect of constant happiness and comfort in him came largely from being “overspoiled” in the family. He was not exposed enough to what life is really like. So even infrequent loss or failure spelled damage to him already.

Happiness and sadness is the stuff of life. They are twins in the sense that they go together in all lives. Glory and pain always come bound together Therefore, to see life as it really is, we will have to resist the notion that we ought always to win. Sadness can be a powerful lesson that there is meaning inspite of loss.

At times, our lives are visited by darkness. Failure. Disappointment. Loss. Breakup. Remember then that all is not sadness. There could be an overwhelming happiness waiting on our patience. All temporary sadness or loss can be sustained with meaning in anticipation of a coming happiness or victory.

I agree with my daughter’s poem. Happiness and sadness are twins!

Is Brain Drug the Cure to Depression?

Depression is a worldwide problem. In the medical field, it’s much easier for doctors (largely controlled by the moneyed pharmaceutical industry!) to write out a drug prescription and talk to a patient in just a few minutes. People want the quick fix of pharmacy.

But are brain drugs really the answer to the growing epidemic of depression?

An editorial that appeared in the medical journal “Biological Psychiatry” says this:

“The overall influence of the (pharmaceutical) industry is to emphasize drug treatment at the expense of other modalities: psychotherapy, social approaches, nutritional, herbal and natural remedies, rehabilitation, general hygienic measures, non-patentable drugs, or other alternative approaches. It focuses attention on disorders that are treatable by drugs, and may promote over diagnosis. It reinforces the practice of dealing with disease by treatment of symptoms, and diverts interest from prevention.”

Brain drug is not an answer to depression. An effective treatment of psychological, emotional, and even spiritual condition should be focused on addressing the cause rather than the symptom. Depression, and even other mental health conditions, can be eliminated safely and effectively without taking drugs, such as Prozac. With Prozac and other brain drugs, the side effects are dangerous and life-threatening.

Thomas Edison once wrote, “The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patient in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease.”

When a Loved One Dies

I once heard the reminiscences of a 70+ year old man who lost his wife to cancer.

He certainly did not take his wife’s disappearance lightly. It hurt him a lot. He loved her so much.

In the number of times we met, he’d always reminisce on his past memories and moments with his wife. It’s as if he was still walking along with her like it was yesterday.

He wanted to move forward through the remaining precious fragment of his life on earth. Yet he remained never without her.

We need both recollection and relinquishment. Hoarding loving memories is no better than shunning them.

When a loved one departs, a need for disengagement is inevitable. Yet such does not have to be without heart.

We may still do the proper leave-taking while not detaching our self off from beautiful sentiments.

As writer Rainer Rilke put it, “We live our lives, for ever taking leave.”

It seems that we thrive with some fuel coming from a flexible relationship with our past.

Sooner, this man shared that he had to relinquish at some level to live a different sort of life after his wife’s death. He chose to have adventures!

He opened an international business with his adult children, put up a new foundation, and went to gym to do boxing (he’s as strong as one in his 40’s!). He joined groups and met regularly with other men for bible studies.

So now, after his loss, every day, he has such a full life that he won’t run out of things to recollect in his memory!

Somehow, as we age, we tend to be more predisposed to do increasing doses of recollecting amidst relinquishing.

Recollecting in our memory seems to seek continuity, no matter how long we live.

As Sharon Kaufman observes, we seek continuity in our recollections “so that a familiar and unified sense of self emerges in old age.”

We all need a theme in our lives, in our recollecting and relinquishing, to account for what is happening to us.

Remembering my Little Angel

“Our lives are a journey. As we move forward, we will not only figuratively experience the geography of life: the exhilaration of high mountains, the tranquility of calm meadows, the isolation of treacherous canyons, but we will also experience the seasons of life: the hope of spring, the abundance of summer, the harvest of autumn, and yes, the darkness and depression of winter.”
–Seth Adam Smith

While dining in a restaurant recently, I noticed a cute, little 5-year-old girl looking at me a few feet away. She was smiling, playing cheerfully with her Dad who was stroking her cheeks and making funny faces. I smiled back at her and waved my hand.

I enjoyed the moment. With wide-eyed wonderment. But also with a soft touch of memory of my youngest daughter, Angel, at that age. And how I wished I could bring back the season that has passed me by!

I think it’s natural to remember sweet times in our lives with longing. Like me thinking of my daughter when she was once a little girl. Yet, as King Solomon said in the book of Ecclesiastes, “There is a time for everything under the heavens.”

A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to uproot. A time for war and a time for peace. A time to work and a time to rest. In all the seasons of our lives, the self is in a journey of development in the limited time and opportunity given to us.

A patient once told me, “Doc, my life is over. I lost my job. I lost my family. I want to die.” He lost energy and purpose for waking up in the mornings any longer. His emotions were
aggressively sabotaging and dictating on his thoughts and body reactions.

Painful though it may be, imagine him without the “gift” of this season of his life? Only when he learns to see that this was just a phase and that life is a continuum will he be able to move beyond his present pain and rebuild to a better life.

Without a season of pain, there would be no healing. Without the sorrow, there would be no joy. That’s exactly where lasting, authentic beauty comes in. It comes in through the fruit of the seasons passing by.

The Epidemic of Infidelity

Nowadays, infidelity or adultery is a destructive “epidemic” in our society. It destroys lives, families, and souls.

Statistically, about 60% of married people will commit adultery at some point in their marriage.

A lot of counselors, friends, priests, and pastors are making a mess of the lives of individuals recovering from infidelity on a “hunch.” Many of them fall into the “cause and effect trap” or other simplistic explanations. This is disastrous when it comes to personal and marital recovery.

These people helpers mean well. But when it comes to woundedness caused by infidelity, there is simply no/little experience or training offered in medical schools, psychology graduate schools, universities, and seminaries.

Among professional therapists and doctors, there is also found little positive help. Based on the personal experience of author/psychologist and infidelity recovery specialist, Peggy Vaughan, she testified that she was unable to find professional help that is considered helpful and effective at a time when she and her husband were healing their marriage from a series of extra-marital affairs.

According to a well known research done by Peggy herself, results showed that only 13% of therapists know how to address infidelity. This was based on a survey of 1,083 people whose spouses had affairs.

Here were more highlights of Peggy’s research:

* On page 32, “Was the counselor helpful?”(861 responses)
57% – No, mostly frustrating
23% – Yes, but not as much as I’d like
20% – Yes, very helpful

* On pg. 33, the question is asked: “Did the counselor focus directly on the issue of affairs?” (725 Responses)
59% – No, mainly focused on general marital problems
28% – yes, but not as strongly or clearly as I’d like
13% – Yes, very directly dealt with this issue.

From this survey, something is wrong when over half of hurt spouses recovering from infidelity say their psychotherapy/counseling is of very little help or lacking in effectiveness.

Now my point is this: as a psychotherapist myself, I want to advance the proper and adequate treatment of infidelity in a holistic way. To that end, if you’re suffering from your spouse’s infidelity and betrayal, I’d like to help you. What I share with you is infidelity treatment that’s not merely based on clinical perspective or theory, but on “experienced reality,” transcendence, and “whole self” therapy.

To begin your affair recovery journey, feel free to call or text me at my 24/7 Hotline +63 9090833374 or email me at psychotherapy@drsubida.com.