Ask the LifeQuake Doctor – Dec 2018
Dear Dr. Galardi,
I’m a forty-seven-year-old recovering alcoholic. I’ve been in sustained recovery for five years. I go to AA meetings regularly, but lately I’ve been feeling that something’s missing. I know there is such a thing as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), but is that the same thing as a “thought addiction”? I notice that I sometimes have negative thoughts about people when I’m feeling bad about my life or myself, so I’m wondering: Is negative thinking about others is a form of self-medication for feeling bad about myself the way alcohol once was?
Yes, indeed; negative thinking about others is another destructive addiction that covers what you are really feeling toward yourself. The very essence of codependency 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 Codependents Anonymous (CoDA), Al-Anon, and Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACoA). You do not need to have an active alcoholic in your life to attend Al-Anon. Since you are a recovering alcoholic, you do know one!
Through the Twelve Steps, these programs 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, turn your thoughts over to your higher self. Meditation helps to quiet the mind and settle the nervous system so you can actively access serenity at any time. Meditation also changes the patterns in the prefrontal cortex of the brain so you naturally begin to feel more loving toward yourself and others. A more active practice that helps with thought transformation is qigong (chee-gong). Check out YouTube videos on qigong for stress management.
Dear Dr. Toni,
I’m a FTM transgender, sixty-four-year-old, ex-police-officer. I made my transition from a radical feminist lesbian to a 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’ve been living with and then married to a bisexual woman for twenty 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’s because she’s half Japanese or what, but I’m 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’s unhappy.
Should I go to therapy by myself or drag her with me?
– Frustrated Husband
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 than what she wants in a husband.
I would suggest that you begin by going to therapy alone and working 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 everyday life, you might feel more willing to be the police-officer, take-charge-guy and give her what she wants sexually.
If after six months of therapy—I recommend a sex therapist—you are still dissatisfied with your sex life, then you might invite her in for a session and see how that goes.