Dear Dr. Galardi:
I am a 47 – year – old recovering alcoholic. I have been in sustained recovery for five years. I go to AA meetings regularly but lately I have been feeling something is missing in my recovery. Is it possible to have a thought addiction? I know there is such a thing as OCD. Is that the same thing as a thought addiction? I notice that I sometimes have negative thoughts about people when I am feeling bad about my life or myself. So, is negative thinking about others also a form of self medication for feeling bad about myself the way alcohol once was?
Curious to get your take on this.
Yes, indeed. Negative thinking about others is another destructive addiction that covers what you are really feeling toward yourself. The very essence of co-dependency is about focusing your judgments toward others to avoid dealing with feelings of powerlessness, fear of the unknown, and loneliness for example.
The twelve step programs that deal most pointedly with this are as follows : Co-Dependency Anonymous, Alanon, and Adult Children of Alcoholics. You don’t need to have an active alcoholic in your life to attend Alanon. Since you are a recovering alcoholic, you do know one!
These programs through the twelve steps address more deeply those emotions that would have us try to control others or simply have compulsive judgments toward them. The solution to this is to no longer use your analytical mind as your higher power. Step by step, turning your thoughts over to your Higher Self. Meditation helps to quiet the mind and settle the nervous system down so that you can actively access serenity at any time. Meditation changes the pattern in the pre-frontal cortex of the brain and you naturally begin to feel more loving toward yourself and others. Another more active practice that helps with thought transformation is Qi Gong. Check out you tube videos on Qi Gong for stress management. It requires standing but your arms guide your chi force (life force) throughout the body to de-stress your nervous system.
Dear Dr. Toni:
I am a FTM transgender 64 year old ex – police officer. I made my transition from being a radical feminist lesbian to transgender man while still on the police force. I actually paved the way for more transgender cops to be hired. Needless to say, it was quite a journey! I have been living with and then married to a bi-sexual woman for 20 years.
The issue we deal with is that she doesn’t have the same need for intimacy that I do. I don’t know if it is because she is half Japanese or what but I am definitely the girl in the bedroom and she wants me to be a very traditional heterosexual man there. She was attracted to my empathic abilities with others and sensitivity to her needs as well as looking butch when we met but it doesn’t translate to the bedroom. She has no complaints. She likes our life together and doesn’t feel any need to change anything. I’m the only one who is unhappy.
Should I go to therapy by myself or drag her with me?
Well, let me first acknowledge your bravery! Transitioning while being a cop is huge. As for your relationship with your wife, you are facing what many straight couples face. A woman marries a highly sensitive man because she is attracted to his feminine traits but her sexual style is differently wired you might say than what she wants in a husband.
I would suggest that you begin by going into therapy alone and work on yourself. What is it that you truly want from what you call intimacy in the bedroom? You might begin outside the bedroom and ask to explore communication with greater vulnerability when each of you goes through something challenging during the day. If she is able to drop into her feelings at those moments, acknowledge her for that and let yourself feel the closeness with her. Perhaps if you can receive intimacy in every day life, you might feel more willing to get into your “police officer take charge guy” and give her what she wants sexually.
If after six months of therapy (I would recommend choosing a trained sex therapist), you are still dissatisfied with your sex life, then you might invite her in for a session and see how that goes.