The Soul of Adulthood

This is a key psychological truth: struggle is good.

When you don’t have to struggle, you don’t heal and grow up. It’s the “soul” of maturity and adulthood.

Many times in therapy, individuals demand quick fixes amid the high drama of their lives. They avoid the pain of struggle. Those who become successful in this only prolongs their misery.

Rowena is spoiled, smothered, and coddled as a child. Her Mom does every basic chore for her, removing all comfort roadblocks from her path.

Now at 30, Rowena refuses to leave home. Her Mom likes doing things for her. Since home is an only place where she “runs the show,” she failed to learn the value of struggle.

Rowena is unable to leave home. She wants to continue studying in a university and receive allowances from Mom. She doesn’t want a job. She can’t.

In my own sessions with Rowena, she said that life feels cruel and depressing to her. She felt trapped in a fantasy world and emotional prison she could not understand.

Joining Rowena in therapy is her Mom. Over time, she realized the part she played, allowing Rowena to bargain, manipulate her, and pretty much run the show.

Mom just kept playing the game of “no struggle” for her child all these years. But now, she’s healing her self. She begins to address her own childhood shortage rather than continue projecting it to Rowena.

I’m reminded of one psychologist who said, “Struggle is easier when you’re not unconsciously controlled by the ghosts of your own past.”

Struggle is good. Without optimal doses of it, there is no growth and life. No reason to exist. No sense of accomplishment.

Welcome struggle!

Instead of running away from it, you embrace it. Through struggle, you grow up to be healthy and balanced.

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?

Healthy Response To Abuse

You may ask, “How can I be responsible when I’m the one abused, hurt, or ‘sinned against’?”

One of my former patients, Eddie, was an abandoned and abused child. In his childhood years, he remembers constantly being beaten up by his father and verbally abused by his mother. When he reached high school, his parents separated and left him to the care of neighbors, totally unsupported.

In response, Eddie grew up feeling so angry, bitter, and resentful towards his parents. Sooner, he found himself in the company of criminal gangs. He became addicted to shabu and smoking and got drunk almost each day to numb the pain he’s experiencing. One day, in a police buy-bust drug operation, he was arrested and put to jail.

If you’ve been abused, hurt, or criminally victimized by someone at any stage in your life, you have no responsibility for the event itself. It’s outside your control. The issue is not about what has happened to you. However, you are personally responsible and accountable about how you choose to respond from there on. Someone overpowered and wounded you by subjecting you to abuse, whether physically, psychologically, emotionally, or financially. You regain power through your response.

In the aftermath of trauma or destructive events in your life, avoid confusing “blame” with “personal responsibility.” You are personally responsible and accountable for the following:

* what you choose to believe or decide about your self after the experience

* how the experience influences your relationships and your life today

* what attitudes and impressions you develop about other people

* how frequent that experience from the past gets replayed in your brain, distorts your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors

Your choice. Listen to your self conversation. Take opportunity to see how you choose to respond to your life experiences. Remember, a key is to do so without blame of self and others.

La Petite Niort

In my practice, I always sense that concerns about intimacy and connection can masquerade in sexual garb. Infidelity. Sexual addiction. Pornography. Homosexuality, lesbianism. Something about sex makes one feel some type of connection, an anti-thesis to the wounding, lack, or loss of vital relationship.

While speaking to Noel, he shared how compulsively he’d go into sex with multiple women and even men in times of internal distress. He said he feels so dirty whenever he does so yet he finds himself out of control doing what he doesn’t want to do. It’s been his “fix” since youth when his father and mother separated and abandoned him.

It’s not uncommon to those who have suffered psychological, emotional, or even physical abandonment or abuse to find sources of relief. Many individuals, deprived of proper amounts of intimacy or connection to “significant others” find themselves pervasively occupied with sexual thoughts. A study of men and women wounded by the trauma of abandonment documents increased sexual content in their thoughts and behaviors.

The French term for “orgasm” is “la petite niort.” It means “little death.” It signifies an orgasmic loss of self, which eliminates the pain of separateness. The high seems to be on the feeling or experience of the lonely “I” vanishing into the merged “we” of the sexual act.

Perhaps this explains a root of this type of psychological disorder.