Dear Dr. Galardi:
I am a 37-year-old recently divorced woman with two children. I read your column while sitting in my doctor’s office. I have been seeing her for anxiety around a relationship I have been in since my divorce–actually I left my husband for this man. That is not the reason for my writing you.
I am in the real estate business and have been doing it for 10 years. I am getting bored with my job. I like meeting new people and helping people find their first or next home but I think I am meant for bigger things. Lately my bulimia has been re-occurring. I am a normal weight woman but I find myself extremely self-aware of my body. I notice every defect as I am getting older. Do you think there could be a connection between the re-occurrence of bingeing and purging and feeling unengaged with my work? My therapist does not seem to be interested in or equipped to deal with my career confusion. She wants me to stay connected to how I feel when I am in my disorder. I know how I feel. I feel alive. I just don’t know how to feel more alive in the rest of my life.
Can you help?
Rosemary (not my real name)
It sounds to me like your life is in a major transition. First your marriage ended and probably ended with some complications if another man was involved. Now, you are in stage one of a LifeQuake. The model I created called LifeQuake often begins with symptoms of boredom. On the emotional tone scale, boredom is right in the middle. It is considered the transition emotion. If we take positive action through inquiry about our lives, we move up the emotional tone scale. If we do nothing, we begin to move down into symptoms of depression where it becomes more difficult to do anything.
I have often found in my practice over the years that a recurrence of addictive patterns can resurface when the soul begins to wake up and call forth a new level of evolution. This awakening often brings with it a feeling of upheaval, like the ground beneath you is no longer solid. As for your therapist, very few therapists are trained in career counseling or life purpose direction. I never learned it in school. My developing the model I use to work with people by phone was developed through my own experience of career transition several times over.
I urge you to begin paying attention to every subtle experience you have where you notice your energy goes up. In other words, where do you feel more alive than bored? Keep a journal of your observations for three weeks and then begin looking at what is similar about the things or experiences where this occurs. Connect the dots like you did as a child in your coloring book. What picture is emerging? If you are having problems seeing how they connect then ask a friend for help or pay a career coach that can assist you with life-purpose discovery.
I would also urge you to pay attention to what about yourself you enjoy both psychologically and physically. Healing addiction to perfection requires focusing on the perfection of who you are right now.
Dear Dr. Toni:
My son has an OxyContin addiction. He claims he needs it to manage his pain from a back injury but he sometimes comes over to visit me and I can tell he is high. If I threaten to cut him off from financial support, he threatens to kill himself and my ex-husband falls for it so I am undermined. He has been in several rehab programs and none have worked.
Any suggestions as to what to do?
Frustrated in Los Angeles.
The key to healing codependency is letting go of control. You have no control over what your ex chooses to do with your son, you have no control over your son’s using, you have no control over whether he chooses to live or die—but you can choose to not participate in his addiction.
I would cut him off from his allowance until he has been sober for at least 30 days and gone to Narcotics Anonymous meetings every day. The treatment programs may not have worked because he has no desire to quit or no motivation. Give him some. Withdraw as his banker.