Ask the LifeQuake Doctor – Jun 2015
Dear Dr. Toni:
I have been involved with a man for four years whose one daughter has a history of bulimia, his other daughter is twenty pounds overweight, and his brother is a heroin and pot addict on methadone maintenance. However, because he exhibits no obvious addictions and is very wealthy and handsome, he denies having any addictions because he is disciplined about his health habits. What I see is how he rescues so many people in his life. The issue that prompted me to write you is that I spent about five days caring for him after he had outpatient surgery and what I confronted over and over again was this feeling that 50 percent of the time, I wasn’t doing something to his satisfaction.
For example, I saw that it was hard for him to chew the vegetables his cook made for him so I bought him spinach. Instead of thanking me for my consideration when I presented it to him, he commented on how one bag wouldn’t be enough for him to eat, in spite of the fact that he wasn’t eating much. There were a number of incidences like that. He was very grateful to me when I left, but I felt ambivalent. This feeling lurking inside of me was that whatever I do will never be enough. My question to you is why am I still hooked into wanting his approval? Clearly, I will never get it.
Thank you for any professional clarity you can provide.
–Dazed and Confused
What you have entered into is an addictive family system and your boyfriend although not a substance abuser has the process addiction of co-dependency. The shadow side of co-dependency is that although the co-dependent can look healthy and admirable as the fixer, their sense of power is derived from surrounding themselves with people who are weaker than them self who need their help. Co-dependents also are often very critical of loved ones who “are not as together” as they perceive themselves to be.
I would encourage you to do your own “inner excavation” and discover who they are mirroring from your childhood. The hook you speak of is your own addiction. What are you “hooked on”? Is it mommy or daddy’s approval? Who in your family could never be totally accepting of who you are? Who was the perfectionist? The way to unhook from unhealthy people in our lives or unhealthy connections with people in our lives is to begin inner bonding work. Let the little girl in you know that she is loved and approved of for who she is not what she does for others. At the beginning and end of every day, connect with your child self. Ask her what she needs from you and be present and uncritical to her needs. When you find yourself overreaching or over-giving to others, place a hand on your belly and one over your heart and self soothe. Use your hands as conduits to send love into these two places to anchor you back into yourself.
Dear Dr. Toni:
I am twenty-nine years old. I work for a med spa as an administrative assistant and I am addicted to phentermine (diet pills) and wine. I have a very demanding job and it requires a lot of energy output so although the phentermine is no longer working to control my weight, it does give me the buzz I need to work all day. However, I do find myself drinking to excess even after I feel more relaxed. I don’t really feel very comfortable in my body and when I drink, I do feel more comfortable.
However, I think it is no longer manageable as I have blacked out a few times. I have gone to a few AA meetings with a friend who is in recovery, but I feel a little guilty going since I am still drinking. Can you give me any advice as to what to do about this?
–Anxious to Find Answers
I would begin with getting off the phentermine. You mention working in a med spa—are the doctors there holistic or traditional? Did you get the diet pills at work? There are a number of products that both nourish and support your adrenals that you could replace the phentermine with. They are not going to give you the rush you get from diet pills, but it is worth examining how much you are addicted to that “bipolar high” you are getting from the roller coaster ride of uppers and downers. Go to a naturopath, acupuncturist or holistic MD who can slowly get you off the uppers with proper adrenal support.
You might try giving up the wine after you feel yourself leveling off more and then commit to ninety days of sobriety and go to AA meetings every day for that duration. Ask your friend for support and get a sponsor. You are at a great age for beginning your sobriety and getting your health back in order. Spend time learning meditation and breathing deeply into your body and into the places in your body where you feel resistance to loving your body just as it is.
Good luck. I think you are ready for a breakthrough.