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Angry teen
October 24, 2001
5:16 pm
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wiggly
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I have a very angry teenage son. He expresses this anger by refusing to do anything that's required of him. If anyone has experience with this problem, please reply. Thanks.

October 24, 2001
9:26 pm
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Molly
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Blondie, he needs to talk to some one, and get his anger out, you and I know what he is angry at, but he needs to language it, and get it directed properly. Writing a journal, but I think if there is a possiblity, a counselor would help, but you need to be in the process, to make sure it goes the right way, and not all directed at you.
Wiggly, where is dad, if he isn't around, the boys usually act out when they get to their teens, anger at something they can't define, just like a two year old. don't wait, get some help, get the anger defined, this is all displaced acting out, Catch it, we loose them to fast.

October 25, 2001
11:49 am
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Molly
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Its so important to not loose your sense of humor, good for you.
One of the things we did in our parenting classes, was to provide a complete list of adjectives. Usually men, and I guess boys too, anger is the most immediate emotion that they can relate to. So, ya sorta have to work it backwards. Anger= dissapointment, frustration, pain, fear, rejection, yada yada yada. Most of it is displaced, and not concearning what ever it is that is being attacked in the present. Just some more stuff to ponder.

October 25, 2001
10:13 pm
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help needed
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Hello Angry Teen,
My son also has a problem controlling his anger. The smallest things send him into "orbit". He screams and yells, punches things. I bought him a
punching bag for Christmas last year and it gets a regular work out!! It has come to the point that he realizes that this behavior is not acceptable and asked me lastnight to get him some help. I'm not sure where to go for it though. I made an appointment with our doctor for starters. Maybe this is hormonal in nature, I just don't know.
He blows up anytime I ask him to do anything at all. He also blows up at his girlfriend alot. Everynight on the phone he is screaming at her!! This has been going on for too long now, about a year and half.
What steps have you taken to help your son? Got any ideas?

October 26, 2001
1:01 pm
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Molly
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Helpneeded, is dad in the picture? Did he yell at you like this? Unfortunately we are their mirrors in most cases, I often wonder if they picked up any of my good qualities, but he has learned this some how, and some of it could be displaced rage.
Be very careful to whom you trust with his counseling, be very proactive. Good luck

October 30, 2001
1:13 pm
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wiggly
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We are in family counseling and our therapist has pretty much decided that counseling isn't helping him, although she's given us the names of some male counselors to get a second opinion . I think Molly's comment about boys/men reacting with anger because it is their most accessible and acceptable emotion was very good. I also do think that hormones have a lot to do with this because he is VERY girl crazy. I also think that some of it is being in a hurry to grow up and not have his life controlled by adults. I remember feeling like this as a teen, but NEVER would've acted out like he does. Guess I was sneakier : ) Dad is in the picture, although he works out of town and is gone 3-4 days a week. This could be part of the problem and definitely contributes to my stress as my son behaves himself better when dad's home. My husband loves me to pieces and has only yelled at me once in 17 years of marriage. Boy, was he sorry!

Just in case anyone is wondering... my son may have suffered some kind of abuse in day care. We were taking him to a daycare center when he was a toddler, and when he would see the building in the morning he would start screaming. Needless to say, he was there for a VERY short time. I got him out of there as quick as I could. The day care workers assured me that as soon as I left he was fine, but I didn't care. He'd been at two other centers and never reacted that way. I'll never know for sure what happened there. It may have been only that the number of toddlers in the toddler room was too overwhelming for him, but I didn't want to take that risk.

My son is on Ritalin and Effexor. It was believed that he was depressed because of his "flat affect" (I think it's Ritalin-caused) and because he doesn't want to do anything (laziness?) We go to therapy more sporadically than I would like, mostly because the psychiatrist appointments are too frequent (she doesn't DO THERAPY), so the psychologist doesn't get the time she needs. Our insurance and time we can get off of work only go so far. Our therapist told me that mothers are the lightning rod for the family's emotional life. So, in other words, if you have a bad day, come home and kick mom. Gee, thanks!

October 30, 2001
1:51 pm
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Ladeska
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Dad not being there? Is it part of the problem? HUGE, HUGE part of the problem...

How can a son - image who he is if he doesn't have a strong male figure to imprint with? Then he has no identity and a female trying to perform that role - will make him extremely hostile and he will seek to find a girl - to also take the hostility out on her because - that's what's been imprinted in place of the father figure and guess what? The woman can't carry the load and never could. Won't happen. We try hard and do a helluva lot - but we can't do what - a father could for a son or a daughter.

Just like a chick needs to pop out of his eggshell and see another chicken so that he doesn't join up with the ducks in the barnyard and end up quacking and trying to waddle - so it goes with a son who says - where is the grown-up version of me so that I might have my male identify?

That's why we have angry young men, why we have gangs we are father substitutes, that's why we have sons that are angry at their mothers because the mom - is the closest thing to the father and she must have done something to have made him like he is! Scapegoating comes in sooo handy in a situation like this, is just too handy and too convenient, however - rather cowardly.

So, while the son is young - the best thing a mother could do is find - an appropriate father substitute and perferably not one of the guys you are dating if you are single. Bad news. You break up and they leave him. Insult to injury, over and over again. Big time situation for chronic anger... Rejection and abandonment - doesn't feel good here.

It takes time and effort to study - who would be a good influence to a young child and it should be looked at very seriously and much effort made to - cultivate or at least make way for a cultivation of a relationship.

When they get older - I think it might be a good idea for them to read something like this and maybe realize that there were alot of things going on and Mom wasn't always the reason for it all, she had a full plate. And that "now" - all of us who have been wounded by whoever - now we stand here and look at ourselves in the mirror and have the opportunity to say - No More Scapegoating. The ball stops with me, so what are you going to do - Man in the mirror? Rise to the challenge and be a "true hero" in life or fall by the wayside - to become what wasn't there for you? Anger turned into positive energy - makes for big rocket that blasts us up and away out of the vicious cycle of abuse and becoming an abuser.

November 2, 2001
1:04 pm
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wiggly
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Okay, my husband isn't gone that much. From Wednesday at 5 pm to Saturday morning. I don't think he'd appreciate me having a "father substitute" hanging around : )

I've been reading a very good book about emotion coaching. I think I need to help my son realize that it may be frustration or hurt feelings that he's translating into anger. I need to help him learn to say, "Hey, I don't think that's fair." or "What you said hurt my feelings."

I see improvement every year, but he's getting older (13) and I worry about sending him out into the world half-baked. I also realize that this is just a hard age for child and parent.

November 2, 2001
1:18 pm
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Ladeska
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Too funny about the father figure thing, sorry! Guess he wouldn't appreciate that, huh?

Yeah, you know - learning how to verbalize things as a young man - is hard, especially at this age.

So, what you're doing is good, really good. Hormones and everything else get into the mix and make for quite the "stew". (smile) I'd just keep challenging him to trying new approaches with people as to communicating, wording things differently, letting people know - where he is in order that they can have a clue - what's up. They don't get that sometime. We can't read their minds and they shouldn't assume we can or should be doing that.

I just think so much is whirling around in there sometimes that they can't find the words for it...don't know why, and talking or writing is one of the ways to get it out. Otherwise, it really is good to have a guy - father, brother, friend - whatever - that can relate to him - in a way - he gets. He does need that...

November 2, 2001
2:35 pm
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Molly
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I am no doctor here, but have heard when the kids get older, the effect of Ritlan changes? Does he get enough exercise to work off the energy? I also know that our kids know us better than we know our selves, and based on your statements, reminds me of my dog, and kids for that matter. He knows just how far he can push you, and just how far to go with dad, and perhaps the difference in behavior. My dog would never get on the couch with my hubby home, but jumps up there every time I sit down, hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Some people have resented my comparison of animals and children, but my experience says there isn't much difference. They all push until they know where the boundry line is, and teenagers are just like two year olds, as well as midlife adults. Where are the limits, and how far can I go with this? Just like from the crib, to the play pen, to the back yard to the front yard and across the street, they have to earn it, or regress, and its damn hard to be consistant, but that is what we need to be, to get consistant behavior in who we are training. With the chemicals in there, I wonder how much it distorts the equasion.
I am sorry to hear of the day care situation, not unfortunately an uncommon problem, but you appear to have taken as much controll over the situation as possible. The possible abuse could have been in any number of forms, including from a child there. Its hard, but he must know that you love him, and are doing as much as possible, and that is extreamly signifigant. good job Mom.
By the way, what are his friends like, are they angry, talk back, yada yada yada??????????????? they are the most signifigant influence right now.

November 2, 2001
4:39 pm
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Ladeska
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Two other things to mention here, too is that:

No. 1 - when we raise children, pretty much giving them way too much, over stimulating them with things, toys, video games, etc., etc....basically just spoiling the heck out of them, making life rather easy because we think - that's the way we love them....and THEN...

Real life, with real pressures and demands starts hitting them in the face. Guess what? They aren't prepared for it. And they get really, really ANGRY about it and don't even know why they are angry.

No. 2 - when kids grow up being able to negotiate boundaries, either by just bugging you to death until you give in, or if we are just too busy - we finally end up going - yeah, whatever, just get out of my hair...or just tuning out and never really addressing what's up and they know it...causing them - much frustration.

The deal is - children should never be allowed to negotiate boundaries or to overrun them and not suffer consequences - swiftly. Not abusive consequences but firm ones - ones that sting and are really fast.

Otherwise, what you have is a child - who feels the weight on his shoulders for his own boundaries and that's too much for a child. I've seen it over and over again where a 6 yr. old runs the house and is a little tyrant because the boundaries - constantly keep moving and he knows - it's because he moves them. Therefore, he grows up very insecure. It's just too much responsibility for him.

That may not be the case here, but is just something I thought of because I've seen both things happen so much and when I explain this to parents they immediately get huffy with me like - how dare you say such a thing. But, both scenarios creates much anger in a child and they don't have a clue, as the parents don't, what's up or why?

November 5, 2001
2:22 pm
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wiggly
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Molly and Ladeska, how very true. My son is probably at LEAST a little spoiled, being an only child and my having had him at age 33. Long awaited and much loved. My one good point as a mother has been patience. From what I remember learning about Ritalin, as kids get into their teens, they may not need it because hormones help their heads slow down. We've tried two trials without Ritalin within recent years, and the results were awful. My son is actually better behaved for other people and for his father than he is for me. I always said it was because he knew I wouldn't kill him. Although I've told him recently that I can see why tigers eat their young. ; ) I'll take all this into consideration and try to modify my parenting. Thanks.

November 5, 2001
3:32 pm
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Ladeska
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Sometimes, too - sons mimick what the other male role models in their life do. So, if the other males in his life - aren't respectful to you or their wives, sisters, daughters in some ways, even if it's in subtle good ole boy put-downs or whatever - that all transfers over.... They pick that stuff up real quick. Alot of times we don't realize - what we allow in our lives or what goes on until something like this happens.

I've seen this alot - where all of a sudden the mom is shocked because the son gets of age and starts mimicking the males around him. But, she in turn doesn't alway acknowledge that because she's been ignoring this in the others for her whole life. It's just that - it's shocking and hurting for her when it's her baby doing it... she expected more from him....

And the son knows it's not right most of the time, but does it anyway to get male approval. Anger would generate from that - because he'd know - it's not right and he might be angry at you because you don't take up for yourself, as well.

Just something else to consider.

Know that when I say these things, I'm just throwing things out there for consideration, not saying it's true of "your particular" situation at all. Just feel that being a good investigator - means considering as many possibilities as you can.

November 5, 2001
4:05 pm
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Cici
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Oh, my, God.

This is pertinant, unfortunately, to the end of a good friendship with my ex-roommate of 1 week.

He was an angry teen. He broke another boy's leg in a fist fight when he was 15. His parents dealt with it by putting him on Ritalin, later Aderall, and sending him to boarding school. He's seen psychiatrists since he was 12, his mother and aunt are both counselors who work with children with ADHD.

Well, whatever they did didn't work. He's still violent, still acts out, he had a temper tantrum so severe that I was forced to ask him to move out of my home. We do have a punching bag in the garage, but it didn't seem to help. He's reactive, angry, depressed, irritable, getting no treatments, and none of the treatments before worked (obviously, he's 23 now and still has the same problems).

He had both parents. Well-off, active in the church. They are SUPER nice people, I've met them before and my husband has known this guy for over 5 years. He graduated high school top of his class. Now he's an unemployed college drop out who currently has no residence of his own.

I wonder why they are like that. I've searched and searched and simply can't find an answer.

November 5, 2001
4:31 pm
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Ladeska
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....I know, Cici...I've seen it, too. But, one thing does come to mind when I read your last paragraph...many things, but one is - the chapter in People of the Lie by Scott Peck called - Bobby's Parents. Not to say "it's always the parent's fault..blah, blah, blah." Not at all, but just in considering things - reading what you said about them being well-off, active in church, super nice people....ah yes... The best narcissists on earth, who are extremely lethal human beings are all of the above and much, much more.

They have to be that way in order to provide a decent cover for - who they really are - behind the scenes.. It is not always easy to detect, in fact, quite the contrary.

When I was growing up, for example, my father was the nicest man you'd ever want to meet. Everyone was very, very charmed by him. He was quite the genius, mentally and talked a great deal about God and moral issues, would do anything for someone in need, etc., etc. And yet, he was one of the most twisted, cruel and manipulative people on the planet. But, I was the only one who saw, besides my step-mother.... Did that make me angry? Very, very angry. And I can't imagine what a male child might go through. Being a female was bad enough, but if a guy was up against this growing up - I'd think the rage might even be more intense. We women - were taught early on that - women just take this kind of treatment and smile anyways.

So, just something to think about... Just because someone is successful, has a big house, nice car, belongs to all the right organizations in town, goes through all the right motions - doesn't mean - they are decent human beings. It could mean and does mean - MUCH of the time - that the criminals who never get caught - are out living lives like this and ripping their children apart and everyone else they come into contact with, but how dare you accuse them!!! They'll slap a lawsuit on you or laugh at you because afterall - they are the pillar of the community... Ridlyn doesn't do much - to address this.....this is true.

November 7, 2001
2:31 pm
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Cici
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Too true. Personally, I have no real clue about what they were behind the scenes. I have to remind myself to let him focus on his own warped and mutated process. Or lack thereof.

It pisses me off (har har, how appropoe) that we carry all this rage with us. Letting go seems like an overwhelming task.

November 7, 2001
2:51 pm
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Ladeska
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I think we have to "name it" before we can - let it go....so what's the name of yours?

November 7, 2001
3:15 pm
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Cici
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Frank. He thinks he's so hot up there.

Right after I was raped I wrote a lot of poetry. In the 7 years between the 2 rapes I must've written 100s of poems. Then, after the second rape, no more. I couldn't squeeze any out of me even if you ran me through a pasta machine.

Frank is always quiet when I am alone. He only pops up whenever I open myself up to a man. He swoops down from the attic and slithers down my spinal cord and his dark, shadow-hands wrap around my throat and his fingers splay out so that he can stick his head into my brain and darken my vision. He likes to chew on my amygdala, so all my emotional memories can fully saturate my brain.

Whenever any incidental thing happens in my life that is tough, he always speaks (with his mouth full of my brain), "See? I told you this would happen. Can't you see how you deserve this?"

Then, it's ok to be dishonest. It's ok to hurt other people. To scream and break things and punch them in the face and gut and knee them in the groin, because all those hurts have saturated my brain and I don't think anymore. I just react. I want to hurt - to make someone else feel like I feel.

Frank is intolerance. Rage. Selfish hurt. Selfishness. He is the conjoined twin to my dark sister. Maybe he is her and she is him and they have mulitple personality disorder.

November 7, 2001
4:23 pm
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Ladeska
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Sounds to me like you are now exercising your right to "feel" and you haven't really realized fully....how much you had pent up in there. Isn't something to punish yourself for Cici.

It's also indicative of a child....and the emotional age - that child was when something must have occurred. Never asked you before but the first rape that you remember happened at what age? I think I remember you being older, not a child, but was just wondering now that we're talking about this.

Sometimes the person that's trapped in there with all the emotion they weren't allowed to have for whatever reason - is beating against the prison doors trying to get out and sometimes that emotional age - isn't your chronological age - thus the narcissism that accompanies - young children.

They don't understand, what happened is to large for them but they must act a certain way anyways, on with the show, blah, blah, blah. And if one has kept that locked for X amount of years - guess what? It won't be pretty when it all comes tumbling out and it will be very, very jumbled to such an intelligent mind as your own... You'd be extremely frustrated with it - as you are now. Trying to make it jive and fit the template of how your brain can function now which is on a high order when you're not being emotional.

If you don't mind me asking....who were these people that raped you...as far as being friends or were they family members or a stranger or a date?

November 7, 2001
9:25 pm
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I am a teenager, I know that it sounds weird that I am writing to you wiggley, but I think I understand why he is doing the things he is. I feel in my own life, that my mother is trying to get me to be the person she wants me to be, regardless of what I want. Perhaps you need to ask him what it is in his life, that he feels is important to him. Tell him that you understand, because obviously everyone is trying to help him understand himself, but I'm sure what they are telling him, isnt' what he wants to hear...I"m sure that if you just be quite for a bit, he will talk to you or at least he will show you in his actions what is going on. Don't push too hard, cause you will usually end up pushing them too far away. It wasn't until my mother just started accepting me and showing me she cared, did I really know that she loved me, then I talk to her...it felt great, cause it wasn't for her, but for me. I hope this helped.

November 9, 2001
12:00 pm
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Molly
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I just love it when the teens get in their and give us the picture of life from their angle.
ugh pardon my butting in, but isn't son, acting out his male role model in life? Acorn from the tree sort of thing? I know it hurts, and good that you have set the boundry line, my girls saw me be a door mat for a while, thought they could clean their feet on me for a while, and put a stop to it. I still get meloncholy for the little angels that I raised, and they are little angels, good girls, they just give their mom a hard time when they get the chance to stick her, so I try hard to not give them the opportunity either. Why do I keep hearing my mom say, you just wait till your a mom, then you'll understand.

November 9, 2001
2:09 pm
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Ladeska
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Blondie....okay, I'm butting in...looking at your question...isn't an easy one. But, the thing is - he's been molded by what he went through. Doesn't have the tools to work any of it out and it's not cool for a drop dead gorgeous male to do that anyways... He learned alot with his dad as a role model, picked up the lying as a way to "deal", gain some power and control and he's adapted the thing of scapegoating from dear old dad, too. I don't know the whole scene here....but, some of this has to be true.

He can't just "hop to". It's just not that easy. Hell, I work with women who are in their 30's trying to go back and change patterns in like situations growing up and it's almost impossible by the time they are that old. They have to really want it...and usually have to see a role model in front of them that says - you can, someone that's a woman, too, that they admire.

Same with him. He has to find a male that he can admire and respect, look up to - who's had similar problems and has faced them. But, all in all - he has have the innate motivation to want to do something different with his ways, his attitude. And what he has going on with you - probably won't do it. He's more than likely got that one labelled - guilt trip and won't go there, will only fight you. We're too close in to them and we know each other - too well.

He's got a will here and he's making choices. He got some things modeled to him and he's got some heavy hurts locked up in there, too, with alot of anger he probably has no outlet for. But, part of his towards you - would be - no matter how unfair - is why didn't you stop Dad from doing what he did, Mom? They think we are superhuman, when in all reality - we're usually trying to keep from going under ourselves.

Have some grace for yourself here....we all go through alot of crap in life, but we've got choices, too. At some point, he's responsible here.

November 9, 2001
2:28 pm
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Cici
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Well, I was molested by my swimming teacher when I was 5. I didn't tell my mother and she just pulled me out of the class anyway. I was raped the first time when I was 12. The second was when I was 19. Weird. 7 years between each incident! Huh. I hope I'm not due for another sexual trauma when I'm 26.

I totally agree with Ladeska on how difficult it is to change such ingrained behavior patterns. It's things you don't notice, but when you've been traumatized you can sometimes end up a lame horse - always favoring whatever limb (emotions) that were injured.

That's why I started yoga. I always hunched my shoulders forward protectively, I always have. I sometimes notice it because it gives me chronic neck problems and jaw problems and migranes. You can't make yourself sit up straight after a while, though, you have to work those muscles and build them up because they've atrophied. People don't realize how often the way they hold themselves can project how they feel about themselves. That girl next to the wall with her shoulders hunched, and her hair in her face? She's not necessarily just shy.

November 9, 2001
5:28 pm
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Ladeska
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Blondie.....at this point, as hard as this may swallow....it's - not - your - responsibility. It's his.

He's got just as much knowledge as you probably do, at least, he has what he needs to get going in the right direction. He has to engage with it.

Sweetheart....you can't mess with "his path". It's his and his journey and how he does things - is important for - him to do, regardless of how it may look to you. What you need to project towards him - is your faith in him and not this anxiety of "when will you get it and let me off the hook and just get better and be what you should be, etc."

He needs to see "calm faith" in you - that no matter what - you will see - his best. He needs to see you stop striving. Even if you say nothing - he will pick up the vibes. And he will fight against you even harder. Let go of yesterday, Blondie. It's gone.... Neither of you live there anymore. It's a new day, you are different people, both of you. What you can hold onto is - your faith in his strong points and know that - the strength you have - he has also, with or without you.. He needs to see that "reflection of him" in your eyes - at all times when he looks at you. Yes, he will spin and it will give him his due rewards, but such is life and you cannot interfere with it or he will have to keep repeating it.

Pain isn't always bad....and sometimes enough narcissism makes us quite sick of ourselves. Lessen up on being his savior and allow the right to reach for whatever - on his own, in his own good timing. Before or beyond that point - could be disasterous. Timing....is everything. Let him walk his path...it is necessary.

November 9, 2001
5:36 pm
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Ladeska
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Cici....and so...do you swim now? Funny, a few minutes ago...in my minds eye while I was writing to you - I saw you in a pool. I don't always do this sort of thing, but I thought to myself - well, since that came to my mind - maybe water therapy would be good for her in some way. Now I understand that little vision....

And if you don't swim now - maybe you should....

You know yoga is great, but I'd suggest something a bit more "flowing". You need more movement, graceful movement like Kung Fu. Tai Chi. I'm sure you are very, very locked up in your body and fight with rigidity quite a bit. I understand, so do I. I'm quite the muscle bound one. Always have been. Hyper-vigilant, hyper-alert, ready for battle, even if it's 2 am in the morning and I'm in the middle of a deep sleep. I come to attention like a green beret in battle. Wide awake and ready for action. When I don't work out for a year or two - people alway think I work out all the time and I don't. I have just always tensed my muscles and eaten alot of protein.

I tend to bring the shoulders forward as well, but alot of that is doing desk work. My daughter says when I'm out and about, especially when she was young - that at times I walked around like a wrestler. But, I had to - I was her only parent and alot of guys look at me and think I'm nothing but fluff. Not so. A very nasty mother bear when cornered. So, I had to assume the position of direct eye contact, head up, shoulders back and nothing cutsie in my walk. I may have nice legs but they will take you out, too, and I do know how.

Can we let go and relax? In certain safe zones - yes? Can flow be accomplished? Yes, but it's damned hard. That's why encourage young women to start early learning how to unlock their body and their muscles early. When we do corresponding physical things to emotional exercises of the same - they work together....hand in hand.

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