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Below is an Interactive Board sampler. A fuller listing is found in the "Stories" menu above.

4/14 Interactive Board: Codependent Partners

3/23 Interactive Board: He's Changing... I'm Not...

3/1 Interactive Board: D/s Lifestyle

1/14 Interactive Board: My Purrrfect Husband

12/12 Interactive Board: What if He Could Have Changed?

10/23 Interactive Board: Quandary Revisited

8/24 Interactive Board: Quandary! What's Going On?

7/20: Dr. Irene on cognitive behavior therapy and mindfulness

6/12 Interactive Board: Unintentional Abuse

11/7 Interactive Board: Is This Abusive?

12/29 Interactive Board: There Goes the Wife...

11/4 Interactive Board: A New Me!

10/8 Interactive Board: Seeming Impossibility

9/8 Interactive Board: My Ex MisTreats Our Son

5/1 Interactive Board: I feel Dead - Towards Him

4/26 Interactive Board: Why is This So Hard?

4/19 Interactive Board: I Lost My Love...

4/7 Interactive Board: Too Guilty!

How Can We Know?

How Can We Know?

by Bob & Dr. Irene

"Man never made any material as resilient as the human 
spirit."  -Bern Williams

September 15, 2000 

A reader sent in some very provocative questions: I'll do my best to provide some rules of thumb.  Dr. Irene

How do we know when it's time to accept or if we should work to change?  

You cannot change something until you accept that it is.  So, if your partner has divorced you against your will, accept it.  Then, apply the Serenity Prayer that AA has made so popular: (Something like) "God, grant me the wisdom to change the things I can, accept the things I can't, and the wisdom to know the difference."

When do we seek professional help and take medications? 

If you are suicidal or homicidal, that's an easy call. You're very sick: get help! But, most people find themselves in grayer areas. A decision regarding professional help is heavily influenced by one's culture, value system and knowledge base. 

Educate Yourself: More and more, depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive symptoms and the like are thought of as biologically based. Depression is not in your head. It is a physical illness! Moreover, these are physical illnesses which can be successfully treated on a biological and cognitive level.

Think about obtaining treatment when your symptoms get in your way or your life feels out of control. For example, when you have difficulty getting to work or keeping up with your days. Has there been a change in your mood/behavior or do people who know you well see a change? 

Consider seeking help if you cry too easily, feel overwhelmed, anxious, need to isolate, or if life feels somehow unbearable. Is your anger getting in your way? Do you have big cravings for food or sex or sleep? Seek treatment if you find the need to self-medicate with alcohol or other substances. 

Still not sure? Consider getting a professional opinion regarding whether or not professional treatment may help you.

When do we accept our feelings as normal, as something that should be endured and felt until we feel like we can't take it anymore - and want to die. Until we don't want to talk to anyone and we cry at any moment?

You do not accept such pain as "normal," especially if the pain lasts more than a couple of weeks. It is not normal! Get help. 

How do we know if we should give up on relationships and accept that because of our personal issues, we are not capable of being involved in a relationship? Because of our anger, our depression, our sadness, control, abandonment issues we just cannot survive in a relationship - and no one else can cope with it. 

Ask yourself how much you want a relationship. If it is important to you, work on the issues that get in your way.

How do we know if we should keep searching for that one in 10 million person that might be understanding, patient, caring,  compassionate and willing to accept us with all our behaviors, knowing that there is something good and worthwhile inside?

Finding a partner is difficult enough. But, if you are looking for the perfectly understanding partner described above, who is able to put their own needs aside to see the good inside you despite the outward behaviors, look inside. You are the only person in the world that can and should provide this level of self-care for yourself. 

No matter how wonderful your partner may be, your partner is human and has needs of their own; it is their job to tend to meeting thir needs as opposed to putting them aside. Even your most giving codependent will not be able to sustain a high level of compassion forever. 

So, accept that you have a set of difficulties which make pairing hard for you. But also know that most of the internal pieces that get in your way - like your anger, sadness, control and abandonment issues - are things you can change with motivation and professional help. 

How can we know? Bob

Visit Bob's sensitive and thoughtful webpages. (broken links removed)