Virginia News Crew Gunned Down: Where is Our Empathy?

Virginia News Crew Gunned Down

Those that know me well understand that I am a person of passion and strong conviction. I try to bridle my dogmatic opinions and harness them so as to remain open to truth, the process of learning, and the notion that I am wrong on many occasions.

Feeding my own selfish appetite for progress and education as an activist for the LGBTQ community, I swallowed articles and footage of online debates into the early hours of the morning. Falling asleep with passion in my heart and rage in my body I recounted one-liners from a debate that took place in early July. As an online spectator of the debate, I practiced my responses to the biased hostess of the panel and the two members who profited from her quick ability to shutdown any voice of diversity.

I could see happiness pouring from the body language from the three people on stage who felt as though they were winning- two conservative Christian thinkers and one powerful moderator who was too comfortable belittling good ideas.

Waking up this morning all I could hear was my response to the bigotry and (in my mind) narrow-mindedness that I witnessed in that YouTube video.

And then after seeing three clients I stumbled upon another video, this one more tragic than any I’ve seen: the shooting, during a live televised interview, of a Virginian TV crew.

Why such hate? How is it that we can achieve such dark evil? Sad truth is we all can.

I can blame the moderator for publicly shaming a dear friend. I can blame a theologian doctorate for derogating my fellow activist. I can blame the gun control laws. I can also blame my own self-important need for justice, the very need that had me rehearsing protection and anger all morning long.

Are the emotions that circled in my body really all that differentiated from those that swelled within the gunman?

Trump occupies our news and with him all of our personal opinions. #BlackLivesMatter saturates our walls and streams of posts. Wars and civil unrest befalls numerous countries in Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

But in this context can we really empathize with one another? Do we really watch our own internal behaviors to ensure that we aren’t part of the same hateful machine?

I am quickly tiring from a version of empathy that can only produce a two-second thought of, “Wow, that poor soul.” It leaves me feeling detached and callous.

What would it look like if we took the time to truly understand that pain of those Black lives that matter so much? Are we truly able to imagine what it must feel like to become anxious at the sight of a police officer or what it feels like for a black school-aged boy to walk down the street with the hyperawareness and a body under self-surveillance that has to ensure he keeps his hands in his pockets?

Are we able to understand or at least pretend for a moment that we live in fear of finding food, shelter, and petrol to keep our gaslights ablaze because we are in a civil war over coal?

Can we find the courage to dream about the helplessness of living in prison because it's a crime to be gay in Uganda? Can you feel the gut-wrenching pain that must arise when you find yourself encaged, not because of what you have done with your body, but because you simply love?

Today I will stop rehearsing my script of protection and anger. I will empathize with that passionate debate hostess, because she feels like she is protecting the Christian Church; and what a noble goal. I will try my hardest to understand the lives of my Black neighbors who walk my street in fear. I will find the courage to understand the emotional lives of those around me- feeling their pain and fear within my body from the inside out. Then, and only then, might I have a stronger willingness to walk humbly alongside my fellow man. 

I can sit in my office with a Starbucks and a master’s degree thinking I know it all. I can practice another dialogue of anger and ruin while specifically festering on another person’s opinion and political aim. I can also sit and acknowledge that we are all hurting in some way. 

Can we shift our hurt into camaraderie? Can we see another's pain as signage leading to true empathy that leaves us uncomfortable, confused, yet ready for peace-producing and unifying action? I sure do hope so. We need it more than ever. 

Posted on August 26, 2015 .

Yes. Yes, I will Call You Caitlyn

 " Do we try to change the soul of the person to match the body or do we change the body of the person to match the soul?”

"Do we try to change the soul of the person to match the body or do we change the body of the person to match the soul?”

Call me Caitlyn,” is a very courageous statement to make, and it sounds very purple to me. What I mean is Caitlyn Jenner demonstrates the image of God with tenacity, much like Bonaventure described.

Bonaventure, a 13th century mystic, described our creation with a tambour that feels like the effervescence of a vital harp. Using gorgeous language, Bonaventure claims that the best name for Jesus is “Word.” Jesus, according to Bonaventure, started out as a mental word, or thought, in God’s consciousness (Delio, 2013).

I find this incredibly fascinating— the idea that Jesus and humanity all originated as an initial thought of God’s creativity. We are just like the onset of a precious painting, a mere creative idea that will inevitably become a fixture to adorn the halls of some prestigious museum.

God’s created child stands like a prism, an intermediary, to the created world. God is the bright, pure light shining through his child, Jesus. As the light passes through Jesus, we have a multihued expression of the essence of God, one astonishing rainbow of demonstrations. In other words, Bonaventure would say that creation is one massive display of God’s creativity through Christ (Delio, 2013).  

In this way, I find it impossible to think that God is male in form. Sure, we read God as Father, a label we’ve used with the guise of our current dualistic and binary-induced systems of rhetoric. However entrenched in this myopic impression, I have to believe that if we are all created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), then God must embody both maleness and femaleness. God very well may be genderless. What a beautiful thought.

I simply cannot put a blue hat upon my understanding of God. Here, then, I find it imperative to emphasize the soul beyond the paint of the soul’s housing.

Others, however, find it overly commodious to think in terms of either blue or pink. We want to feel comfortable. We want our intellectual boundaries to extend far outside of our physical and cognitive world so that we have plenty of room in which to stuff our own version of truth.

Basically we want to afford a sense of peace in our self-derived/-defined comfort. Some need God to be blue in order to feel comfortable in their own expressions of gender. Many will prematurely assume that being transgender is choice much like deciding which job to take. 

Examining the transgender disposition cannot be entirely understood with the notion that God mistakenly put a female soul in a male body. From a clinical perspective, the transgender disposition is much MUCH more complex than that. 

So I ask, what if we really live in a world wherein gender is purple, where blue and pink could not nor should not be separated? What if God is better represented as purple more than blue with the potential of creating pink? In this light, I would say that my female counterparts are just as much the essence of God and not merely some offshoot of “his” creative capacity.

Many can easily comprehend God’s purple reality, the very world of diversity in which men are unreservedly emotive and woman are freely assertive; or the paradigm wherein we can respect the essence of one’s soul even because it has developed inside a physical body too dissimilar.

Others, however, will fight against their own God-inspired androgyny. They will try to pull the pink from the blue as though they can separate one frequency of light from another despite its originating prism, Christ.  

Diversity continues to be a struggle for humankind as we’ve seen in the gay wedding that was bombarded and its guest detained. The purple version of love is even attacked in far-off countries like Kyrgyzstan it seems.  

When we are able to embrace the purple hue, the paradigm wherein we have no need for distinct categories to place God’s creative output and no need to limit the expression of God’s creative design of gender, we will be able to fully understand the complexity of God’s essence.

In other words, we cannot love the diversity of another if we cannot first understand how to love the full complexity of our own being.

One of my students at a local seminary asked one profound question. As he asked it from his evangelically rooted seat, he aimed to make a dashing point: God is concerned with the presentation of our bodies more than the preservation of our souls. Thankfully, his question backfired on him. What he realized is that God is concerned with our entire whole, not just the exhibit we make out of our bodies. He asked the following:

“Do we try to change the soul of the person to match the body or do we change the body of the person to match the soul?”

Inasmuch, “Call me Caitlyn” isn’t a statement of ruin or hopelessness. It is evidence of her embrace of the God within her. Essentially, she has learned the value and beauty of “created in God’s image” and the sweet song it makes when she expresses her body to match her [God given] soul. She has learned to see that God and herself can be one beautiful purple ray of light that finds a perfect spot within the multi-hued array of God as Rainbow.  

Yes. Yes, I will call you Caitlyn. Caitlyn is an inspiration for all to continue discovering their entirety as God’s created purple children.  

 

Delio, I. 2013. Simply Bonaventure: 2nd Edition. Hyde Park, NY: New City Press. 

 


Posted on June 3, 2015 .

#LoveMustWin

 " But if people who judge or appraise the sexual minority as though they are only a list of sexual practices, making out of them a morally deprived person, they fail to recognize that the LGBTQ sexual orientations are primarily about demonstrating  Love , as well."

"But if people who judge or appraise the sexual minority as though they are only a list of sexual practices, making out of them a morally deprived person, they fail to recognize that the LGBTQ sexual orientations are primarily about demonstrating Love, as well."

Many Christians look at a gay or bisexual person and all they see is a confusing specimen who displays his or her moral depravity with behaviors of the body.

Sexual orientation, however, is very different than sexual conduct. Sexual conduct is the physical actions we commit with our bodies.

Sexual orientation is a combination of neurological, physiological, and emotional mechanisms that develops through an involuntary process. No one chooses to whom they will be attracted, and only becomes sexually stimulated by that gender because they promised themselves they would.

Preferences, including sexual ones, develop without our permission.

Sexual orientation is a product of our bodies that points us to love and connectedness, a union that is celebrated with the act of sex. This is true of all sexual orientations not just heterosexuality.

Most of us get stuck here, though. What did God have planned for our sex lives before the fall? We may never know with empirical data that registers p < .05. Many of us, however, believe with the certainty of faith that "God is Love" is always pleased with union between any two people

Because the God of Union is the God called “God is Love,” I will refer to God as Love.

The Trinity shares their essences, Love, flawlessly: three parts living in communion with self-giving and goodness so perfectly that they are one being (Delio, 2001). We, as humans, were created to mimic that type of Love (Balswick, King, and Reimer, 2005).

Sure, we can make sexual orientation all about sexual conduct, especially for the gay or bisexual person. But if people who judge or appraise the sexual minority as though they are only a list of sexual practices, making out of them a morally deprived person, they fail to recognize that the LGBTQ sexual orientations are primarily about demonstrating Love, as well.  

The gay or bisexual’s Love is equally rooted in self-giving and goodness like that of the Trinity. We are all created in the image of Love. Therefore, Love cannot be sinful in one person and righteous in another.

Categorizing the sexual minority as a list of behaviors is an inaccurate view that discredits their Loving essence.

On the day when #LoveMustWin, may we all take one step closer to seeing one another as vessels of Love, not sexual practices. In doing so, we will “…come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” (1 John 4:16)

Nothing can separate us from Love (Romans 8:39); no height, no depth, and especially no sexual orientation. In other words, Love can never be extracted from our essence because it is our essence, no matter who you Love.

We all deserve to celebrate our Loving essence, even in marriage. So on this decisive day, may Love be with the Supreme Court.

(These ideas are written about in Isaac’s book that will be released in early 2016.) 

Posted on April 28, 2015 .

50 Shades of Sex: How The Mind-Body Creates the Orgasm

 " While you engage in sensual play&nbsp;  before  &nbsp;sex, you’ll need the relax phase to&nbsp; calm your body down , so it’s ready for climax.  "

"While you engage in sensual play before sex, you’ll need the relax phase to calm your body down, so it’s ready for climax."

That darn white leather sofa. It holds so many stories. Often times, when people find out what I do for a living, they ask if it’s hard to hear all the tragic stories and people complaining all day long. “Never,” I tell them. Especially when it comes to helping victims of trauma.

Childhood sexual trauma leaves massive questions, feelings of guilt, and entrenched painful scripts throbbing in our core.

Unfortunately, childhood sexual trauma isn’t the only aspect of human life that can distort sex. Anger, criticism, and feeling unsafe can also strip sex of its reparative power.

When I listen to clients talk about sex, how uncomfortable it can be, and how much fun it used to be, I always hear the salient undertone of safety, or lack thereof.

Safety is a massive part of sex. You see, sex involves two parts of your central nervous system that are directly influenced by your perceptions of safety: 1) the parasympathetic and 2) sympathetic branches of the autonomic nervous system. To make it easy, I’ll call the parasympathetic branch the “relaxing phase” and the sympathetic branch the “amp up phase.”

Here's the general path: 

While you engage in sensual play before sex, you’ll need the relax phase to calm your body down, so it’s ready for climax. If the body isn’t able to relax, the amp up phase can’t kick on. And you need the amp up phase to take you uphill where excitement, stimulation, and orgasm live.

In order to let the first mechanism, the relaxation phase, do its job you’ll have to feel safe. If feelings of being unsafe are present, the amp up phase will activate prematurely.

You see, the amp up phase and the infamous fight-flight-or-freeze response are the same thing.  

So if you are feeling unsafe with your partner, either because of the slightest criticism, because of a memory that plagues your life, because your mind can’t shut off, or because you don’t feel emotionally secure with your partner, the wonderful spillover effects of the relaxation phase will never get to be yours.

The fight-flight-or-freeze response (or “amp up phase”) will hijack the moment to protect you- firing your anger center.

And then you will stumble onto familiar ground. You’ll find the sneaky snake of ambivalence sitting in your heart, mind, and body: “I want to enjoy your body and experience pleasure, but I am not safe with you. Stand down solider.”

In the moment when ambivalence flares and your fight-flight-or-freeze center turns on, you’ll: 1) shutdown, confusing your partner into a haze of perceived rejection, or 2) go through with sex, feeling as though your partner is taking advantage of your body.

If your fight-flight-or-freeze mechanism (sympathetic response) turns on, your body will be uninterested or incapable of becoming excited and/or reaching climax.

If you find yourself in this position, aim for safety, not from your partner, but within your partner (a.k.a. emotional intimacy). And don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Protect your heart. Protect your body. Protect your relationship. Be safe

Posted on February 21, 2015 .

I Love You, But I'm Getting the Heck Out: 3 of 5 Types of Ambivalence

  " As a result of your half-fulfilling&nbsp;relational style,&nbsp; ambivalence will have you&nbsp;creating intensity&nbsp;by working more hours, by scanning for a “better” partner, by reaching for another height of satisfaction, or by becoming emotionally dependent on substances ."

"As a result of your half-fulfilling relational style, ambivalence will have you creating intensity by working more hours, by scanning for a “better” partner, by reaching for another height of satisfaction, or by becoming emotionally dependent on substances."

He cheats and rationalizes, “She don’t have to know.”

Over dinner there’s an attractive someone sitting across the restaurant. She compulsively wants to know him, even though her partner sits right next to her.

She made a minimal commitment: “I’m only in this until…” And until “then” she swallows a lot of compromise. After years of secretly swallowing she becomes bitter.

We talk a lot about “commitment issues,” as though it's the diagnosis of anyone who doesn’t want to make things work. I understand the commitment phobic to be nothing more than those who fear emotional intimacy.

We can have someone so dashingly exquisite asking for our hand and still feel the most intrusive anxiety. Simply put, anxiety is the body’s way of protecting itself- not from commitment- but from emotional intimacy: vulnerability (a.k.a exposure) and belonging (a.k.a. rejection/abandonment).

Without emotional intimacy ambivalence will block the development of your relationships. Ambivalence says, “I really want to be connected to you, but I can’t work myself through my fear, so just put up with getting half of me.”

As a result of your half-fulfilling relational style, ambivalence will have you creating intensity by working more hours, by scanning for a “better” partner, by reaching for another height of satisfaction, or by becoming emotionally dependent on substances.

As a means of counteracting ambivalence, you have to get up and over the fear of vulnerability, the fear of being abandoned, the fear of loosing your identity and dreams, or even the fear that you won’t make a good partner.

In other words, you have to trust emotional intimacy as the catalyst that onsets the production of the very things you want: safety and fulfillment.

Emotional intimacy sounds like this:

I am afraid that you will leave me. I’m not good enough for you.

Talking about emotions scares me; can you help me work on this?

During sex I worry that you don’t like my body, so I try to hide.

Terror sometimes overwhelms me when it feels like you are emotionally 700 feet away.

I miss you. I just have to see you tonight and I’m coming over with a bottle of wine.

What’s the antidote to sustained ambivalence?

Figure out what makes you so afraid. Share this with your partner. If they are trustworthy, mature, and willing to do the work, you’re going to have to take responsibility for your fear.

Again, get up and over your fear and land in the place where you practice trusting safety.  

If your partner isn’t willing to do the work, well then the writing is on the wall. You might want to take this as a sign that your partner can’t offer sustainable emotional safety.

Ambivalence via fear of emotional intimacy can be a life-long agent that keeps you arrested. Either push through your fear or settle for half-fulfilling relationships, resentful partners, and a whole lot of emptiness.

No one has commitment issues, we’re all just afraid of being truly safe.


Posted on February 10, 2015 .

I Hate My Job: 2 of 5 Types of Ambivalence

 "Instead of searching for the bigger and better,&nbsp;you might want to ensure you’re not running to another job that will only poke at the same insecurities or the same deprived areas of self-knowing."

"Instead of searching for the bigger and better, you might want to ensure you’re not running to another job that will only poke at the same insecurities or the same deprived areas of self-knowing."

He was fresh out of his fellowship with a doctorate. He sat on my white leather sofa as he told me of his new dream job. He spent 10 years of graduate training to get this job, but now he hated it. “It just isn’t what I thought it would be,” he would tell me. 

After investigating what this job felt like, it was clear that my client’s dream job provoked his insecurities. All day long he felt like one huge failure.

When coworkers would critique his novice attempts, it felt like he was letting everyone down. When he would return home for solace and respite he was consumed with regret, thinking of situations he could’ve handled better.

My client spent years speculating that this dream job would feel like the pinnacle of satisfaction. And when his job subtly provoked his fear and insecurity instead, he began thinking this just wasn’t the right fit.

He talked about searching for a deeper sense of purpose, as though this job just wasn’t enough. “I need to reach another height,” he would tell me.

When we feel ambivalence about our job we’ll love it and hate it simultaneously. We’ll think there is something better that will make us feel “truly satisfied.”

Instead of searching for the bigger and better, you might want to ensure you’re not running to another job that will only poke at the same insecurities or the same deprived areas of self-knowing.

My first question would be, “What are your triggers?” Are you responding to aspects of your job with hopelessness, feelings of inferiority, worthlessness, or the pangs of regret?

If so, identify what you confront that helps these emotions turn on. Once you know what your experiencing internally that sours your job, you’ll have a lot more information about how to move forward.

For some feeling purposeful might mean tackling your insecurities or feelings of being invisible. For others, a new job might just be the trick.

Don’t settle for a job that makes you feel safe in your reality, but empty in power. If you need to flap your wings and expand your self-concept, don’t let fear keep you “safe.” Respect yourself and trust your power. You can create more safety than any job can ever provide.

After working through my client’s self-doubt and self-deprecating way of relating to himself, he found his passion once again. It was his dream job after all.

We don’t need to keep climbing the latter to actualize our potential- we just need to understand what might get in the way. Insecurity, fear, regret, and hopelessness are good road signs that some shift (either internal or external) needs to happen.

Remember you are not a product to sell; you’re a gift with an offering to leave behind

Posted on February 5, 2015 .

Saying "I do" to Cohabitation But Not a Ring: 1 of 5 Types of Ambivalence

Researchers report that nearly 40% of unmarried couples that live together will end up separating within five years. Is it living together or something a bit subtler that deconstructs the couple?

One of my clients told me she wanted to move in with her boyfriend. She loved the idea of taking the relationship’s stamina for a test drive, but she had no intention to marry her patient man.

She wanted neither to be hurt, nor approach the risk of being fully known. The risk of marriage and emotional vulnerability were too high. The only vow she was willing to make was one of self-protection.

We had to examine her fear-based ambivalence: I love him and I don’t want to leave him, but I can’t fully give myself to him. In this light, they were stuck.

What’s gone wrong?

1.     Her fear-based ambivalence created a palpable sensation of disconnection the boyfriend could feel.

2.     Because they never talked about her fear, he falsely interpreted the disconnection as her rejecting him. He used this speculation to feel inadequate, to self-doubt, and to fear abandonment.

3.     He began to protect himself, leading the girlfriend to create her own fearful speculations and feel as though he was too cold and unsafe.

4.     And back to #1 we go.

They sat in this cycle for years. Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

Like my client, we sometimes rely on a signed lease more than emotional maturity. For couples with ambivalence, living together fabricates a sensation of safety without the mechanisms of authentic belonging fortifying our attachment.

In my opinion, its not the living together that creates a risk. The risk is in the process of hiding your fears, coming up with damaging speculations, and then trying to soothe yourself alone. A couple that does this will eventually wonder if they are getting ready to tie the knot or fray the rope.

The remedy?

Create an open dialogue around existing ambivalence as you make major decisions, especially living together.

With a healthy dialogue you may find that they aren’t ready to leave you at the drop of hat or that safety isn’t too far fetched.

Consider question like:

I know you love me, but what makes you fearful to talk about a long-lasting commitment?

What have you lived through, or see in me, that creates a hesitancy to let me in fully?

I can imagine that what you have seen in divorce makes you scared to think we can’t do it. Can we talk about this? I’d like to hear your fears.

A healthy dialogue will expose faulty speculations, will allow both of you the opportunity to repair irrational concerns, and it will lead to a wonderfully exquisite emotional maturity.

Give your loving relationship the honesty it needs. Talk about your ambivalence. If together you can create emotional vulnerability, chances are you can both create a beautiful home.

And if you need help, let us know

Posted on January 23, 2015 .

Feeling the Gay Heart from the Straight World

 " As a straight woman I will never know what it is like to experience the separation from those that are closest to me, the hatred exhibited by those that disagree with my version of love, and the pain and sacrifice that comes with being anything other than heterosexual."

"As a straight woman I will never know what it is like to experience the separation from those that are closest to me, the hatred exhibited by those that disagree with my version of love, and the pain and sacrifice that comes with being anything other than heterosexual."

Stacey Hoksbergen, MA, is a dear friend of mine and a clinician at iAmClinic. Over the years, I have trusted Stacey with my pain, confusion, and self-hatred. She has always been a pillar of God's truth and assurance, especially when I navigated my own coming out. Thanks, Stacey, for teaching me the wonderful sensation of unconditional love. She writes:


"I was asked by a friend the other day whether I would be comfortable spending time with her and her partner or if they would be unwelcome. There is a natural fear in this question: “Will you accept me for who I am?” It was as if something about her and her relationship could keep her from communion with others.

There was sadness that this is the dynamic we create within our communities and our Church walls. We assume this role or position that we are the gatekeepers to heaven and have the power to exile people from relationships. 

Regardless of a theological position on homosexuality, each person of the LGBTQ community is still a part of the Imago Dei and that requires us to love without hindrance or judgment. So often I see churches, family members or friends set up boundaries to keep them at an arms length.

There is this idea that if they are shamed “enough” then they will change. But that is not the Gospel. The Gospel is about compassion and giving life to all. The Gospel is just as much about those that are in the LGBT community as those that are not.

When this conversation becomes more about who is right or wrong, the gay person at the heart of the conversation is lost and separated from the love that was intended for them. Danny Cortez, a prominent pastor recently stated, “The goal of our faith is not marriage equality or religious freedom but to love God with our whole heart and love our neighbor as ourselves.”

Truth is the person of Christ and it cannot be packaged into a sentence or a point of view. The love that Christ extends to us is not demonstrated by a concise theology but by the way we extend love and compassion to others, even among disagreements.

I have sat in the trenches of this conversation with friends and have seen the hurt and pain firsthand. As a straight woman I will never know what it is like to experience the separation from those that are closest to me, the hatred exhibited by those that disagree with my version of love, and the pain and sacrifice that comes with being anything other than heterosexual.

Before you jump to conclusion or take certain positions, I dare you to put a name, face and heart to the homosexuality conversation and then dive into the trenches with those that have walked this road. I can promise you, you won’t come out the same on the other side." 

Posted on January 21, 2015 .

I love you, but this isn't what I wanted: 5 types of Ambivalence

 "  Living in the split of ambivalence will drive you to Resentment Land, will help you fantasize of another life or another partner, and it will help you feel inadequate."

"Living in the split of ambivalence will drive you to Resentment Land, will help you fantasize of another life or another partner, and it will help you feel inadequate."

I love chocolate chip cookies with a voluptuous passion. I know they taste so good, but they also help me pack on unwanted pounds. My desire for cookies is split: I love them and I hate them. Some of us feel the same way about relationships.

As a result, we develop this nice thing called ambivalence.

Ambivalence is the reluctance to be fully known and completely vulnerable: I’m starving for connection, but vulnerability will ultimately hurt me in the end.

Some of the most common areas that operate out of ambivalence are:

1)   Couples who live with one another wondering where they’re going

2)   In our professions when we feel trapped and useless

3)   In the way relationships are maintained (or lack thereof)

4)   In times when sexual intimacy is knocking

5)   In our understanding God.

Ambivalence can be sneaky and subtle. It creates a dance: Samantha takes a step closer while Jennifer ducks in fear and backs up. Feeling rejected and embarrassed Samantha takes a step back while Jennifer feels isolated and disconnected. Jennifer takes her step closer.

And this cycle continues, most times lasting years. We call the “Distancer/Pursuer.”

When people unknowingly describe their ambivalence to me it sounds like criticism of their partner, unequal compromise, continuous and subtle rejection, but mostly it sounds like fear.

Ambivalence makes us feel responsible, as though there is something in our hearts not functioning correctly. I hear, “But he is such a nice guy, why can’t I love him all the way?” or “She is wonderful, but there’s something inside that won’t let me trust her.”  

The mind, heart, and body are all too equipped to deal with pain. If we have in some way been burned, with either tenacity or a slight sting, we will remember. All of us will take action to ensure it never happens again.

In other words, our default setting is to do the Ambivalence Tango: I want the safety of emotional vulnerability, but I also need to stay protected!  

Ambivalence isn’t your fault, but you are the only one who can undo it.  The remedy? Safety, trust and true forgiveness.

Observe your partner.

Watch how he or she operates, what part of their character you can trust, and how they handle disappointment and hurt.

Get to know how safely you can rest in their arms, and then trust this part of their character.

And when you and your partner make a mistake and are sincerely sorry, try forgiving one another: 1) acknowledge the hurt you caused, 2) give a description of how you found yourself in that place, 3) a commitment to never go there again, and 4) saying I’m sorry.

Living in the split of ambivalence will drive you to Resentment Land, will help you fantasize of another life or another partner, and it will help you feel inadequate.

*In the next 5 weeks Isaac will unpack each of the areas mentioned above. He'll will write specifically on how ambivalence might affect these areas of your life. 

Posted on January 13, 2015 .

Finding Peace with Who You Are

When I was little my father would tuck my sister and me into bed with an amazing bedtime story. He told us the tale of a young newspaper salesman who would sing about the Good News.

My father’s voice, as he serenaded us, was so sincere.

I used to think that the Good News was only for those with performance-based approval. And since I was no cookie-cutter boy, I was doomed.

I thought that being a feminine sensitive soul was something wrong. I hated the fact that I played the piano, loved fashion, and definitely distained my own preference to play house over football.

I would meet a stunning wife dressed in white at the end of the isle. I would father biological children, and lead some sort of ministry.

I so desperately wanted to become this beautiful specimen of a man, for surely he would make mom and dad happy. He would be the Good News for which I thought they hoped- salvation’s perfect product.

Sitting across a table from a dear friend the other night, I remembered that I deserve to celebrate my life, my authenticity, and all the uniqueness I produce. I rediscovered the Good News that I behold. 

Posted on January 5, 2015 .

What Makes You Straight?

 " When you grow up knowing that you are a sexual minority, you become very familiar with the gears that pump your sexual factory."

"When you grow up knowing that you are a sexual minority, you become very familiar with the gears that pump your sexual factory."

When I teach graduate students I always ask them one question: What makes you straight? Most of them look up from their computers with a puzzling look. The room stays devastatingly silent.

When you grow up knowing that you are a sexual minority, you become very familiar with the gears that pump your sexual factory. I find it profound when the heterosexist majority can’t answer such a simple question.

I find it even more appalling that a person who is unaware of their sexuality has the perceived right to call the LGBTQ’s version of sexuality “disordered.”

I am so thankful that Pope Francis has created more room for the LGBTQ person, as the Catholic church has often used this “disorder”ed language.

As a clinician who specializes in Sexuality & Relationships I have spent numerous hours reading through journal articles, reviewing research completed by Christian and non-Christian psychologist, and time understanding the sexual developmental process of my clients.

Men come out after being married to a woman and choose to live their life with another man. And there are men who sleep with men who end up marrying a woman and enjoy their monogamous sex life

One thing that I have come to believe full-heartedly: There is no developmental difference between the straight orientation and those who call themselves LGBTQ.

In opposition to Freud’s theory, plenty of straight people have an overbearing mother and a despondent father.

Before any straight person starts to predetermine that the LGBTQ person has in someway a “disordered” sexuality, they might want to check in with their own story.

Is it fair to say that a straight woman who uses her body to get attention is less disordered than the gay woman who lives out a healthily monogamous sex life with her wife?

There are numerous things wrong with my sexuality and yours, straight, bi, or gay.

We are all human. All of our sexual development was influenced by healthy components and maladaptive experiences.

I get that most take, at face value, the teachings of the Church. But letting an easy “truth” be Truth leaves you claiming a false declaration. These declarations leave a massive space where hurt, judgment, and ignorance can spread its venom.

So if you’re gay, bi, or something in the middle, please know that you are not a mistake. You’re sexuality is not somehow disordered by a developmental process gone wrong.

God is a God of union, not separation. So when love and sex create a beautiful union, whether its between man and woman or woman and woman, it never sounds disordered to me.  

Posted on November 25, 2014 .

Sex Can Cure Loneliness and Anxiety, Right?

  "Someone lays on top of us, covering us with their body and vulnerability . In this moment it is very easy to hand over an important responsibility."

"Someone lays on top of us, covering us with their body and vulnerability. In this moment it is very easy to hand over an important responsibility."

After running out of that house drunk, scared, and feeling horribly disgusted with myself, I realized I left my glasses on the night stand. Walking back into that house was a massive slap in the face of where I had been. Emotionally, I had somehow agreed to give something away: Safety and security.

I grew up with this interpretation, a type of perceived pressure. Thinking that I need to perform to keep another’s attention, helped me stay trapped. I was using sex in two ways:

1.     Using sex to make someone responsible for my sense of safety and security.

Someone lays on top of us, covering us with their body and vulnerability. In this moment it is very easy to hand over an important responsibility. We undergo an emotional transaction that makes our sexual partner responsible for making us feel protected and to produce the longevity we need to feel secure.

After sex, they have no idea what they hold, what kind of pressure their under. We demand of them signs of their continual devotion it our needs.

2.     Using sex as a way to trap myself in the role of Cinderella.

Needing someone to create our security is evidence of an underlying script for self: “I am only worth how people define me.” In this context we put up with sex that feels harmful, uncomfortable, or violates our boundaries.

When sex is used to feel worthwhile we prioritize feeling special more than the pain, shame, and disgust that comes when we’ve used our bodies inappropriately. Holding up a healthy boundary feels like choosing to suffocate.

In both of these situations we have to make sex something fleeting, non-uniting, and something that is used solely for physical pleasure. Otherwise the emotional underpinnings of sex would be too hurtful or too exposing of our internal fabric.

Loneliness, confusion, or resentment are the imminent results when using sex. We either consider why we’re always alone, who we have to become to keep someone around, or we become resentful because our partner isn’t doing their job right…we still feel anxious or lonely.

What do you really want in relationships? Do you want to walk around wondering who will really love you (the way you’ve determined in your head)? Or do you want to take that existential and profound exhale that implicates your ability to rest in the arms of someone safe and committed?

Learning something new about sex and safety is a process of identity formation, a deeper discovery of your inherent makeup.

What would it be like if you didn’t need to have someone? If you could find stability in your own power I am sure you might be able to cherish your partner, instead of need them.

Sex and someone’s enjoyment of your body shouldn’t be a kickstand for your self-confidence. Discover your power and the aspects of your strength that keep you fortified. Life will feel much more liberating. 

Posted on November 18, 2014 .

A Tinder View of Self That’s Not so Tender: A Damaged Self-concept

 " In this posture many of us opt for better makeup, higher heels, bigger muscles, spectacular body pics, a better story to pitch, stunning intelligence, or a bigger cave full of porn or substances.  &nbsp; "

"In this posture many of us opt for better makeup, higher heels, bigger muscles, spectacular body pics, a better story to pitch, stunning intelligence, or a bigger cave full of porn or substances. "

*Unpacking the second way we break our own trust from a Sex, Grinder, and Breaking Your Own Trust

A client once sat in my chair. He was gorgeous, physically and emotionally. He was tall, muscular, had deep soulful eyes, and a smile that could persuade anyone into love. He was deeply sincere, empathetic, and wonderfully attentive. In his inherent role, he was the perfect catch. Unfortunately, he downloaded a false story.

He talked of life with his parents. “I know they loved me, but I always felt like they could instantly switch from love to pure distain. I felt like I their approval was conditional,” he would tell me.

A sliding door love: One minute he belonged, having permissible access to his parents. And when he made a mistake, they would slam the door, isolating him with nothing but his guilt.

With tears pouring down his face and anxiety like a revving motor in his body, this man believed that his entire being was something disposable. He felt like a pretty shell with no offering. He believed that if someone saw “what his parents did” no one would ever want him. He was a sexual addict, sleeping with several people a day.

Protecting himself from another slam of the door, my client used his good looks and sex, as though they were rocks wedged in the door’s tracks. He used a MacGyver trick to stop that door from slamming, finding nothing but temporal approval.  

He wasn't addicted to sex; he was addicted to proving that someone wouldn't slam that door in his face. He was addicted to affirmation.

He thought that if people could see his stunning body he would eventually find someone who wouldn't leave him. 

Like my client, we take another’s immature door slamming (E.g., their jealousy, rage, silent treatments, disapproving facial expressions, cheating, etc.) as a personal statement about our worth.

In my office I hear downloaded stories like:

“It was my fault; I couldn’t keep their attention.”

“If they see the real me, I’ll be rejected.”

“I’ll be alone forever.”

“I need someone to take care of me.”

“They don’t like (fill in the blank) about me.”

Our self-concept is full of all the false messages we downloaded. And we think they are true!

Becoming so consumed with how to make someone stay close, we’ll forget to identify what gifts we have to offer, how we feel, what we need, and our sacred purpose. We may also hide from any meaningful version of emotional, physical, or spiritual intimacy.

And this is how we break our own trust: We watch ourselves become some anxious, doubting, someone-will-love-me-if-I… versions of ourselves. All we want is for someone to swipe-right us. 

In this posture many of us opt for better makeup, higher heels, bigger muscles, spectacular body pics, a better story to pitch, stunning intelligence, or a bigger cave full of porn or substances. 

Find healthy people to give you true feedback. More importantly, independently identify what is perfect and everlasting about your self…and then believe it. Trusting yourself means trusting the reality of your worth, not the story you’ve downloaded.

Posted on November 10, 2014 .

A Dirty Desire: 1 of 2 Ways We Break Our Own Trust

 " But in the moments of emotional desperation or starvation, your sexual body will have its own requests and the voice of your emotions will know its own powerful remedy."

"But in the moments of emotional desperation or starvation, your sexual body will have its own requests and the voice of your emotions will know its own powerful remedy."

Follow up to: Sex, Grinder, and Breaking Your Own Trust: 2 Ways it Happens

Our desire is inherently innocent. I believe that full heartedly. My observations as a clinician point me to see all behavior as underscored by a deep beauty. Some call this the Immortal Diamond, the True Self, or the Original Blessing. To make the language workable, I’ll call it our innocent desire.

Our desire is an emotional beckoning calling us to be seen, safe, secure, and soothed. In other words, we all crave one thing: union.  

Unfortunately, we start to use a voice of criticism that negatively appraises our innocent desire.

If we are taught that our desire to be held as men is inappropriate or weak, we’ll hide it. If women feel as though they shouldn’t ask for emotional connection, they’ll grow angry and feel alienated. And if we feel as though we shouldn’t want to be loved by the same gender, we will call our desire sin.

Easily stated, if we call our desire dirty the next step is to suppress it.

Whenever we sit holding our breath for too long, especially when we are withholding from something essential and innocent, we’ll swing from complete denial to over-indulgence. But when we do this, we’ll do it in secret or out of manipulation.

Remember, we will try to get our innocent emotional needs met in a way that protects us from being revealed or protects us from being shamed. The continuous criticizing of your desire has limited your behavior to damaging options.

In the emotional darkness that befalls our innocent desire (a learned seperateness), we scan on Grinder, hope on hookup apps, stare at porn, use a another’s body as the potion of secret satisfaction, or we fester in anger and resentment. And voilà! 

We have compounded the process wherein our desire is labeled dirty. We do so by wrongfully interlacing our shameful behavior with our innocent desire. We think if a shaming behavior can satisfy my desire then my desire must be dirty.  

Stop to contemplate: What part of your desire have you implicitly labeled dirty? Many of you will come up with nothing. Think again. 

Your desire, at its fundamental core, is never dirty. But in the moments of emotional desperation or starvation, your sexual body will have its own requests and the voice of your emotions will know its own powerful remedy.

What if you could identify your beautifully innocent desire from the get-go? What if you understood your emotional craving as the desire for sustainable affirmation, continuous love, or undeniable security (in other words, union)? Would you reach for something different than Grinder or porn? Would you not go about satisfaction in a different way?

In the anxiety and heat of the moment, be paced. Practice trusting yourself by looking into the place that is full of honest innocent need. Reach for love, affirmation, and connectedness that will keep you sustained beyond a fleeting orgasm, praises for your body pic, or affirmation from a person who is neither committed nor mature.

Treat your innocent desire with respect, because underneath it all it will drive you closer to relational maturity

*To read the originating post, click here

Posted on November 5, 2014 .

Gay People: 1 Reason to Love the Sinner

   “'Love the sinner, hate the sin' is a message that preaches judgment instead of unconditional love."

“'Love the sinner, hate the sin' is a message that preaches judgment instead of unconditional love."

On Halloween, I can take my mask off. It gets so hot and sticky underneath those things. After smelling my own breath for a while, coming out from underneath a mask is like instant satisfaction.

When you use the slogan “Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin,” you don’t realize what you're really saying to a sexual minority. I can’t take sexual orientation off like its a mask.

I am afraid Christians think they are saying something compassionate when they love me despite my orientation. It can seem like they are creating a loving place for me while protecting the Christian church from my “behavior.” 

Behavior is what I choose. I can choose to walk to Trader Joe’s on my break. I can choose to play the piano. I can choose to make out with some guy. I get that.

Sexual orientation is something that we do not choose. I did not choose to like men before I saw them erotically. And I certainly did not predetermine to like them, somehow forcing myself to enjoy them, as though I have the will to choose how my eyes and body respond. No straight boy vowed that he would be visually stimulated by breasts, and then when he saw them for the first time [during puberty] liked them only because he told himself to like them. Preferences develop involuntarily. 

I get that most Christians don’t feel comfortable with my orientation and the behaviors I choose (or don't choose) to associate with it. Fair enough.

But when you use the slogan, “Love the sinner, hate the sin” your talking about my entire being, not just my behavior. Using this slogan with a  member of the LGBTQ community is exactly like saying, “Isaac I love you, but I hate that you have hazel eyes and a big smile.”

You cannot love a sexual minority and hate the way they experience excitement. You cannot love a gay person and hate the way they feel connected to the same gender.  You cannot love a bisexual person and hate they way they feel special.

“Love the sinner, hate the sin” is a message that preaches judgment instead of unconditional love. How about we stop hating parts of one another and just love? Isn’t that enough?

“Love the sinner, hate the sin,” taught me to put a mask on: if I show up in my authenticity as a bisexual man I  will be hated. And inevitably I would use the premise on myself- I would learn to hate who I am.

For far too long I lived underneath that mask- hot, sticky, smelling my own shaming breath, and detached from understanding unconditional love…the love that Christ came to teach. 

I wasn’t born straight, but neither were you. There's no hate here. So on this Halloween, don’t mind me if I show up without a mask. 

**This post is a summary of a chapter from Isaac's book. To learn more, subscribe. Excerpts will be available as downloads soon. 

Posted on October 31, 2014 .

Sex, Grinder, and Breaking Your Own Trust: 2 Ways it Happens

  "I had broken my own trust so many times it felt as though I was broken. I thought there was something inherently wrong with me.&nbsp; Later I realize that I wasn’t damaged- I was hurting."

"I had broken my own trust so many times it felt as though I was broken. I thought there was something inherently wrong with me. Later I realize that I wasn’t damaged- I was hurting."

In college I drank till blacking out many times per week. Out of sorrow and despair, I promised myself I would never do it again! Then the next morning I would wake up in another random bed.

I had broken my own trust so many times it felt as though I was broken. I thought there was something inherently wrong with me. Later I realize that I wasn’t damaged- I was hurting. And this is how we are setup to break our own trust:

1. A Dirty Desire:

Thinking that there is something wrong with your desire can lead to a devastating relationship between what you want and how you get it. Things will get messy if you believe, “I shouldn’t want that” or “What I desire is dirty.” If we desire to be held, protected, or enjoyed, but are embarrassed or shameful, we’re going to starve.

And when our hunger reaches a painful emptiness, we’ll reach for the closest form of relief.  Usually we lunge for abusive drinking, sex that objectifies, or being cute enough so people stay nearby.

It is almost like the Monster of Dirty Desire sitting inside of us getting paid to mess up or latch on. I know the feeling all too well.

When shame is so loud that you can’t trust the innocence of your desire, you’ll shutdown like a bear in winter! The sad part is that some of us even compartmentalize our desire from ourselves. Feeling blank or numb feels better than constant self-denial or rejection.    

2. Damaged View of Self 

We use our self-concept to determine what is and is not appropriate for who we are. We can believe, “I’m not good enough for that” or “Wanting that means I’m weak.”

And if we believe these messages as true, we will secretly behave in two ways. First, we will manipulate so we can get our needs met in socially acceptable behaviors: coercing our partner into affirming our value, using sex to feel close, or overcompensating so that we feel comfortable in our own skin.  

Secondly, we’ll avoid any situation or person that might ask us to be vulnerable. If we can’t trust our authentic self with those who love us, we’ll block emotional intimacy and use secretive comforts.

Why do you think Grinder, Craigslist, and porn are so prevalent?

I was hurting because I didn’t know the innocence of my desire nor that value of my worth back then. Breaking my own trust by using my body, someone else’s, or substances trapped me in a cycle of shame: shame led to hiding, which led to emotional starvation, which led to acting out, which took me right back to shame.

When anxiety is high, we cling to another because we are “not strong enough” to create our own safety. We can also learn that one-night stands, scanning on hookup apps, and abusing substances are fun.  But when the end result is a fabricated comfort and broken trust, all we create is despair instead of peace, and sorrow instead of truth.

Practice trusting yourself by choosing the healthy and steadfast over and over again. This gets easier when you hold your worth out in front of you, guiding you from one decision to another. 

To read more on A Dirty Desire, click here.

Posted on October 29, 2014 .

Gay, Straight, or Something in the Middle?

  "No matter if one is white or black or somewhere between, male or female or somewhere in between, gay or straight or somewhere in between, what binds us together is our shared journey as existing individuals."

"No matter if one is white or black or somewhere between, male or female or somewhere in between, gay or straight or somewhere in between, what binds us together is our shared journey as existing individuals."

Feeling the support and affirmation as a sexual minority from a straight man is always refreshing. Hearing his words is liberating and neutralizing, specifically in how I feel free to show up just as I am. No judgment. Just hope. As a philosophy rockstar, Michael Stark is that man for me. As author, speaker, philosophy professor and dear friend, he has delectably added his voice to the cause of unconditional love. Here is his affirmation wrapped in peace and equality: 

"When discussion surrounding gender or sexual orientation arises, it is often called an issue. While this terminology may arise out of simple linguistic convenience, it results in a schism that separates individuals and fragments communities. The contemporary issue-language has confused basic concepts in the history of ideas.

            In his famous book I and Thou, Jewish philosopher Marin Buber explains the distinction between subject and object, or to use his terminology “I” and “It.” In I-It discussions the “I” treats individuals other than oneself as defined sets of particular qualities such as gender, race, or perhaps sexual orientation. In other words, there is a separation between the “I” and the other, which is the object or “It.” This view creates separations and objectifications.

            Buber emphasizes that instead of I-It, we ought to instead focus on I-Thou relationships. In I-Thou relationships the “I” does not treat others as object, but as a respected subject. In this view, both individuals engage each other on a deeply personal, living level. In these relationships, objective differences that normally might cause friction or bias are transcended and a beautiful relationship and mutual recognition exists between two people.

            No matter if one is white or black or somewhere between, male or female or somewhere in between, gay or straight or somewhere in between, what binds us together is our shared journey as existing individuals. We are individuals with struggles, individuals with history. We all have beautiful qualities and features that make us who we are as individuals. But at my core, I am a person. I am a person. That feature is shared with every other existing person. That universal feature binds us together.

            If we work together to recognize that universal feature and treat each other as respectable people in lively relationships, will not the talk of “issue” dissipate? Will the objectifying be leveled? When we treat others as “issues” we abstract their personhood from some particular quality or feature they may possess. This abstraction creates tension and is the breeding ground for hate. Let’s rid ourselves of issue-talk. Let’s engage as persons who love despite different beliefs, respect despite distinct values. Because whatever your “I am” is, we share the feature of personhood. Let’s start the conversation there." 

Follow Michael on Twitter

Posted on October 24, 2014 .

Being Bisexual: 1 Reason Why I Stopped Praying to Die

 " When I fell in love with a man for the first time, I prayed that God would kill me in a car accident before I made a mistake that would send me to hell."

"When I fell in love with a man for the first time, I prayed that God would kill me in a car accident before I made a mistake that would send me to hell."

There was a time when I used to pray that God would take away my attractions for men. I believed that if I had these feelings for a man, that I would be doomed to eternity in peril. And trust me, I took this seriously.

When I fell in love with a man for the first time, I prayed that God would kill me in a car accident before I made a mistake that would send me to hell. If I could avoid the life-destroying decision of being attracted to men by dying then I would be saved, or at least I thought.

When I was in graduate school, I realized a different type of love- Love that wasn’t based on my performance.

One afternoon a classmate invited me to go shopping with her, as I had “good fashion.” In fear of being seen as the typical gay man on a seminary campus, I declared “No!” After talking about it with my friends and therapist of the time, I conceded. I would go.

I had a blast. She later wrote me a card: “Isaac, the femininity in you makes me feel more like a woman than any man ever has.”

Later that year I asked men on campus to help me feel like I belonged. And they did. I had more male friends in one semester than in my whole life combined.

After years of praying, starving myself, and shaky my fist at God I was learning something new, about love, God, and myself. Previously I would shout, “You knew who my parents would be, what type of home I would grow up in, what my church would preach, and how sensitive I am. Why did you let me become this guy?”

Slowly I began to believe that He did know these things all along. He gave me those parents on purpose. He knew what type of home environment would shape my heart. He knew what my church would preach and He knew all about my sensitivities. All of that was on purpose. I began to learn that I was being shaped just how he wanted me. My one task was to practice trusting his unconditional love: I love you because you are you.

You see, its easy to hear the voices of our stories, the voices that tell us we’re not good enough, our performance isn't clean enough, and that we are certainly not wanted.

But when we begin to trust that we are loved because of who we’ve become do we also realize an euphoric freedom.

If you ever watch “Coming out live” YouTube videos, you’ll here one question about 99% of the time, “Mom and dad, do you still love me?” To think for any moment that you are unlovable because you are attracted to the same sex, is typical. Us LGBTQ are very familiar with the fear that motivates such a question.

But when we live stuck in the false-belief that we are unlovable do we find ourselves disconnected from truth.  Thankfully my parents taught me truth: “Isaac we will love you no matter what.” And more importantly, so did God. It took me time to swallow his proof, but I got there. 

Instead of death, now all I ask for is to see myself the way God sees me- from the inside out. I have a lot to offer. I am beautiful. I am loved...and so are you.

Contact iAmClinic, LLC to get the help you need:

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Posted on October 22, 2014 .

1 Reason to Fall in Love

   
  
 
  
    
  
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    "And in the darkest moments of loosing love there begins to shine a flicker of beauty- a beautiful footprint on our identity."

"And in the darkest moments of loosing love there begins to shine a flicker of beauty- a beautiful footprint on our identity."

I search for it. It searches for me. Its like steam rising in the air: Love. Anyone who knows me, knows that I love Manhattan…New York. Surely I am not referring to Manhattan, Kansas, for crying aloud.

Manhattan has this massive steam system that powers humongous buildings with electricity, heats them, and even cool them in the swelter of summer. Steam is like love: hot, passionate, ever flowing, and yet cozy, refreshing, and sustaining.  

If you google images relating to “Manhattan steam,” you’ll see pictures of chaos or images of day-to-day life where steam is the expected background. And this is what love feels like. Either love feels like a destructive force or it sits peacefully in the backdrop, making its appropriate and appreciated contribution to our image of daily life.

Effervescently, steam is always reaching for the top. Like love, specifically when we fall in love, we experience a deeper safety, yet elation in feelings of corresponding euphoria. The deeper the love, the higher we rise.

Some of you have been burned by the friction of steam and have reasoned away love. The power of hurt and rejection has taught you to be smarter and protective. Proclamation: Love will never hurt me again!

No one likes to fall. Falling is embarrassing, its painful, and it makes us bleed. Steam burns! And yet, someone once told me, “With every death comes a revelation of a deeper beauty.”

Grief and loss is a falling upward process: through the pain, depression, and anger we learn something resilient about who we are. We learn that we are strong, valuable, that we belong, and the stabilizing force of being known. And in the darkest moments of loosing love there begins to shine a flicker of beauty- a beautiful footprint on our identity.

Proclamation: I am my own refuge. Homer returned to his home for the second time and noticed that it was the same place, but it held a very different purpose. Home means something different after loss.   

I dream of being painted by Manhattan’s influence. Great clothes. Cosmopolitan vibes. Cultured tongue. Wonderful food. And in a similar way, many of us dream of being beautifully painted by the influences of love. We all want to be decorated with the joys of love, but we forget about the celebrations that come with it's pains. Again, after every loss there comes a truthfulness that sings its accuracy from within our being.

Unbridled steam is damaging and painful. A harnessed steam is embellishing, softening, wrinkle-freeing, and elegantly forceful. Love can hurt. But when we’re open to letting it sit peacefully in our context, atop our skin (no matter what it may bring), do we welcome a new life that helps us decisively fall, and energetically rise. Much like the infrastructure of Manhattan: to block yourself from steam means choosing darkness.

1 reason to fall in love: falling upward to discover beauty after death. 

Fallin' and you can't get up? Give us a ring: 

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Posted on October 17, 2014 .

4 S’s to Mature Love

   "And when we feel a secure attachment in the realm of behavior we develop a liberating type of emotional intimacy that propels our sex life to new heights and deeper connectedness."

"And when we feel a secure attachment in the realm of behavior we develop a liberating type of emotional intimacy that propels our sex life to new heights and deeper connectedness."

A toddler spends time with his mother. She silently exits, sneaking out of the room and away from the boy at play. If he cries, we have a little bit of a problem. A child who has an insecure attachment to his mother will feel that she may never come back, that she has forgotten or doesn't care about him. In other words, that child can’t trust her. His world is unsafe. When she returns, the toddler will run to his mom in fear. Once she picks him up to say hello, he’ll hit her, as a means to express his sentiments, “How dare you leave me like that. You scared me.” A secure attachment, on the other hand, is when a child knows beyond a shadow of doubt that his mother will return. He trusts that she’ll be back.

As a counselor, I have yet to meet someone with a secure attachment. Most of us will be angry when our loved one strands us in a predicament, hurts us, or leaves us wanting more. Emotionally we’ll strike back like that hurting toddler. Its relieving to know that there's hope. An Earned Secure Attachment means we’ve jumped over all the emotional hurdles and we stand in mature love. We need to do one thing to get that earned secure attachment: attachment repair.  Attachment repair is when we express how we’ve experienced a violation in the relationship (or when we’re responsible for one) and then work as a team to repair the bond. Be safety. Express security. Demonstrate seeing. Practice soothing.

Safety is when we tell our partner, with our behavior, that they are safe in our presence. No one wants to walk on eggshells. Our goal is to create and maintain an emotional environment where our partner knows that our mood won’t swing into scary zone, our physical behavior, like rage, won’t peak, and that we are trustworthy. Don’t use your mouth to create safety. Use your actions.

Security is a statement that allows your partner to rest in the relationship. Feeling secure in a relationship means that you know, through and through, that you are not disposable to your partner- you aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Security means trusting your partner that you matter, even when your ugly laundry is visible.

Seeing is taking the time to communicate with something other than words. So get your actions and show your partner that you see his or her internal world: their concerns, their fears, and their joys. Investing in your partner’s, child’s, or family member’s life is like saying, “Hey, I see you and you matter to me.” Feeling seen is being the celebration. If we feel unimportant, as though we live behind the scenes of our partner’s life, we can feel very inadequate. And that's when resentment becomes the name of the game.  

Soothe your partner. When they come home from a bad day, put down the iPhone or spatula and listen. And when your partner has a concern, don’t listen so that you can gather all the evidence claiming your position as the right one. Listen to their concerns. Put yourself in their shoes and understand how valid their experience might be. Listening, empathizing, and creating a soothing place will take your relationship to a new height.

Earning a secure attachment style means that you and your partner have built a connection wherein both members tolerate space without becoming angry or fearful- even when it feels like the other has snuck out of the room.  And when we feel that earned secure attachment in the realm of behavior, we develop a liberating type of emotional intimacy- and that propels our sex life to new heights and deeper connectedness. Safety, security, seeing, and soothing, the things that make our love stronger.  

Needing help walking through the 4 S's? Give us a call:  

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Posted on October 13, 2014 .