You Know You Are Broken Like The Rest Of Us...Right?
Written By: Mark Smith
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One of the most difficult parts of my job is bursting the bubbles of unenlightened souls who find their way to my office with the very mistaken perception that they are emotionally healthy while their spouse is truly and completely screwed up. It feels a little like shooting Bambi at times. It is an immutable law of nature that you are always equally as unhealthy as your spouse. If they are crazy, well, I'm sorry, but that means that you are just as crazy. Scary thought? Everybody you know has some dysfunction. If you examined the family backgrounds of everybody you know you would find addictions, divorce, abuse, secrets, shame, rage, financial problems, broken relationships, early deaths, abandonment, compulsions, control, neglect, enmeshment, triangles and all sorts of other destructive patterns. It is the human condition.
Being dysfunctional is nothing to be shamed of. Our unique dysfunctions make us different and distinctive. They form us into the special and beautiful persons that we are. Our biggest strengths are our biggest weaknesses. Most people are beaten up by life enough by the age of 35 or so that they come into my office with a brokenness and humility that bodes well for their progress in therapy. They have had work issues, marital issues and internal demons that they have struggled with. They know by then that what they are doing isn't working. Any therapist can help such a client a great deal. They are ready to take a long, insightful look into their deepest wounds. These folks are a joy to work with. I tell my clients that I try to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable. I offer a great deal of comforting to these open, motivated and teachable souls.
However, not infrequently I will run into a late 40ish client who doesn't have a clue. Their parents were emotional children buried in addictions. Their siblings are emotional cripples who were so obviously nearly destroyed by the shared damaging childhood experiences. Their work life is filled with scrapes, conflict, divorces, hatred, dysfunction and craziness that is all blamed on the other bad, crazy, evil guys. Their marriage just hasn't blown up...yet. It will. Perhaps the spouses bound together by their yet unnamed dysfunction and glued together by materialism have been too busy being workaholic and being overly focused on producing super children to really examine the great distance in their marriage yet. Besides, perfectly healthy people don't have marital problems. Raising my gun of feedback and confrontation toward these clueless people is certainly not like shooting Bambi. It is like taking down a raging grizzly bear, it is fighting a mad bull or like shooting the air tank in the mouth of Jaws and hoping that you don't miss.
I feel like an enemy to these people but in fact I'm their best friend. I am pointing out that the emperor in fact has no clothes. Denial dies hard at times. I tell people that they can learn the hard way or the harder way. The hard way is having their issues dissected weekly on a bloody therapy couch. The hard way to facing the truth about who they are and where they came from. The harder way is to earn oneself a divorce. And then remarry the same situation all over again and find yourself sitting on a therapist couch again 5 years later. Don't do that. It is okay to be flawed. It is okay to be very flawed. It just isn't okay to never own it. The universe is talking to you. You are broken. You are a good person and you deserve to be loved, but you are broken. Own it. Admit it. Explore it. It is actually very freeing.
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