As we go to press, the world is going through massive changes: earthquakes, tsunamis, and now volcanoes. Scientists have observed that every time man has made an evolutionary leap, it has been informed by climate change. If you reframe whatever big transition may be going on in your life to something that is even bigger than you individually, it may help to see that these challenges, these inner earthquakes and lifequakes are all a part of collective change. We are indeed quaking up!
Dear Dr. Toni:
My thirteen-year-old son doesn’t listen to me anymore. Not only will he not listen to requests I make, but he is also not doing well in school. He ranks in the 95th percentile on standardized tests but only cares about being with his peers and hanging out. His father whom I am divorced from undermines my authority with him constantly. What should I do?
Frustrated in Beverly Hills
Your son is at an age when he requires male authority. It is natural for him to rebel against maternal authority because he is looking for independence from his mother. Do some research. Find the Big Brother Organization nearby and other community groups where men volunteer their time. Call the Rotary or Kiwanis Club. They may have resources that can help support a different non-profit group every year.
If you can afford it, pay for a male tutor who can also be a guide. The colleges often have boards that you can post ads on. Lastly, set boundaries so that he knows he cannot disrespect you without consequences. Be consistent. If he disobeys or doesn’t do his homework, then there’s no YouTube or cell phone, for example. Stay connected to him even when he is shutting you out. These are tough years, 13-15, and you cannot do this alone. It really does take a village. Get a support team.
Dear Dr. Toni:
This is embarrassing for me to talk about. I think I am addicted to porn and I am a woman. I don’t know of any women who visit porn sites and spends their evenings watching movies and masturbating. I haven’t been in a relationship for five years. I have a respectable job. No one would know that I have this addiction. I am educated and make great money.
I was watching a program on sex addiction and they said that it is most common in women who were sexually abused as a child. I wasn’t abused but I was raised by my father and he had a lot of women coming in and out of our house when I was growing up. I don’t really see the connection between my watching soft porn films and my childhood. How do I know if it is a problem?
You raise an important question. When does a behavior become an addiction? Is it frequency that determines it? One of the criteria for addiction is that it interferes with your life somehow: job performance, relationships, health, etc. What is more subtle is the type of addiction that allows you to perform in the world and doesn’t interfere with your health so that all that is affected is your personal evolution.
When we retreat from the world of intimate relationships, it prevents us from getting hurt but the long term cost is that we do not grow as much as is possible in partnerships. How did the last relationship end? Witnessing your father bringing women in and out through a revolving door did not model intimacy for you. Sex was seen as something very superficial and non-committal. You don’t mention what happened to your mother but I would submit that you learned a traditional male style of relating to sexuality. Perhaps you are afraid of acting out your father’s behavior. Risking that promiscuity in this day and age could be dangerous. Therefore, this compulsion may be a mask for other feelings that you are avoiding at night such as loneliness. I would recommend that before you sit down to watch a movie or surf the sites, that you take 10 minutes and just sit on your sofa and breathe. Notice what feelings come up. Don’t analyze them. Just witness the feelings and direct your breath into the place in your body where you are experiencing these sensations. Now go back to the first time ever that you felt these feelings and simply breathe into whatever emotions come up with the memory. Now, imagine that you can add someone to the memory this time—a figure that has a goddess-like energy full of light and compassion. Allow her to speak to you. What does she want you to know? If there is no answer, ask her for a symbol that represents her gift to you. Do this exercise every night for seven days and see if anything changes. If not, perhaps seeing a therapist who specializes in addiction or going to a Sex Addicts Anonymous meeting may be supportive. Some people there are dealing more with sexual obsession than acting out. You may need community in your life and/or you may need to be with people who understand your situation. Great healing can come from meeting the feelings underneath this compulsion.
To submit questions for Ask the LifeQuake™ Doctor, contact Dr. Toni Galardi through DrToni@LifeQuake.net (no period after the Dr.) For those seeking phone coaching, Dr. Toni can be reached at 310.712.2600.