Ask the LifeQuake Doctor – Oct 2017
Dear Dr. Toni,
I am a fifty-seven-year-old man who’s been in recovery for five years. I’ve never been married but I’ve had many relationships with women romantically. I’m a very giving person and seem to attract a lot of women who are not sober. I really want to commit 100 percent, but I find that in the end I leave because I know I won’t be supported emotionally. I’ll always be the supporter, not the supportee.
I’ve gone to Al-Anon, and it just doesn’t feel like a fit for me. I go to AA meetings regularly. I see a therapist. In fact, I picked up this magazine in his office. Why I’m reaching out to you is because I wonder if I should do Internet dating. Do you think that if I had a lot of women to choose from, it might in some weird way make me commit to one woman? I know if I ask my shrink that question, he’ll look at me like I’m crazy.
What do you think, Doc?
Overdosing on women is not the answer to your commitment issues, my friend. You have a “story” that you are the giver and are taken advantage of. I would reexamine your resistance to Al-Anon. No question, it is a tougher program to work than AA is; emotional sobriety really has you look at your control issues. What is your pay-off in getting involved with alcoholic women who are not in recovery? Did you play the role of the hero in your family to an alcoholic parent?
You say you are in AA, but have you actually worked the Steps and done a moral inventory with a sponsor? If you have had many relationships and no formal commitment, perhaps the issue is not just codependency. You might check out Sex, Love, and Fantasy Addicts Anonymous as well and get a sponsor.
After sobriety from alcohol is in place for awhile, looking at your deeper issues around intimacy may provide a breakthrough.
Dear Dr. Toni,
I’m currently in the last two weeks of treatment in a residential facility. I prefer to not say which one. As the time for leaving here grows closer, my anxiety about my job is increasing. I talk to my primary therapist about it, but she doesn’t really have any tools for career coaching. I know my job stress is directly related to my former drinking and using. I’ve found the tools of meditation and the groups to be helpful, but I need some real guidance on what to do next. I want to change professions and am terrified I won’t make the kind of money I’ve been making as an accountant.
I read an old issue of Counselor in which you were giving career advice, so I thought I would throw it out there. I’m going to try and get a subscription after I leave treatment here.
I’m afraid I’ll relapse if I don’t change jobs, I just haven’t a clue as to what to do next. Please help!
– A Numbers Guy
Your fears are normal. Residential treatment can be a great start to looking at what traumas drove your drinking from childhood on, no question. However, it is also important to do somatic repatterning (i.e., body-oriented therapy) to explore where the blocks or fears are anchored around change.
A piece I feel is sorely missing from residential treatment is a track devoted to career repurposing. Even a weekly group for clients that explores some tools for finding a passionate purpose can be very healing. I believe that relapse is less likely with some people if they identify when it is time to discover a new professional destiny and not just try to use stress management to stay put.
One of the tools I suggest with my private clients is to make a list of every job you have ever had. Then, list all the responsibilities you had and the environment you worked in, including your boss and coworkers. On a separate piece of paper, brainstorm all the tasks and job responsibilities that you liked to do. Describe the people you liked working with, the character traits of bosses you admired or respected, and the working conditions that best suited you. Then add things on the list you are qualified to do, but have never had the opportunity to do in the workplace. This will begin the process of designing your vocation of passionate purpose.
Once you have written out your ideal career, read it every day. And then, expect a miracle!