New love, new hope and a room filled with intimacy, connection and smiles makes me happy. I get excited when an engaged couple comes in to see me. The energy feels good! Relationships are curiously beautiful and wildly rewarding. They are filled with the highest of highs, especially at the beginning, and yep, they also come with some difficulties and practicalities of life, but these challenges are manageable and they can lead us to growth and depth of character that includes compassion and love that are hard to describe. Being proactive in planning a future and having conversations about vital aspects of a marriage is wonderful and wise and will help us to wind our way through.
“To be fully seen by somebody, then, and be loved anyhow – this is a human offering that can border on miraculous.” (Elizabeth Gilbert)
Marriage is miraculous. Bringing two unique lives together and creating one big, beautiful new life is not only difficult, but constant work and attention and demands more than love alone. Marriage requires humility, devotion, sacrifice, commitment, and grit. The rewards are as numerous as the stars, I believe, and has felt to me like throwing up a handful of glitter that catches the sun and seems to endlessly sparkle. Marriage is brilliant and beautiful and has the power to create more and more beauty as each day passes.
Intimacy – the sharing of souls, is beautiful, mystifying, warm, energizing and bonding. The lack of intimacy in our relationships can be frustrating, scary, unnerving, confusing, and even humiliating. Intimacy is the necessary nourishment in relationships – the rich soil, sparkling water, and the brilliant sunlight that creates beauty and life.
As a Marriage and Family Therapist, I help individuals and couples to understand healthy intimacy. There’s a myriad of reasons why people struggle in this area. Trauma, addictions, belittling sexual experiences, a lack of appropriate early sex education, differing values and/or morals in the couple system, physical or mental health issues, life circumstances and even medication can all affect a couple’s ability to navigate their intimate life.
Parenting is incredible – incredibly magical, beautiful, joyful, exhausting, confusing, expensive and incredibly permanent. Becoming a parent is absolutely permanent. Sure, circumstances may change, but the fact that you are the parent to that child never changes. I find it remarkable that it is such a vital role, yet there’s no way to practice true parenting. We can watch babies play and we can learn to change diapers, we can study child development and learn baby sign language. We can observe teaching methods and parenting styles, but there is assuredly no possible way to understand the parenting bond until we become parents. Love, loyalty, devotion, connection, dependency, fear, blood – all are intricacies of the parenting bond. When our families have more than one child, it quickly becomes apparent that the manual created by trial and error with the first child is not at all applicable to the second child, nor the third, because each child is an entirely different spirit with an entirely different set of rules! How is it that the most natural human experience we encounter comes with so many unknowns and an abundance of twists and turns and such depths of literally every human emotion? This is parenting.
This area of life has its controversial elements for sure, but for me and my work my path is clear. As I’ve said many a time, I am a lover of people – all people. When a person (or system) comes to me for help – I help. I am instantly invested in the pain, the need, the desire for understanding, and fulfillment and growth that is being sought. It doesn’t matter to me where one lies on the spectrum of sexuality, what preferences are present or how one chooses to love, UNLESS, it matters to the individual, and more pointedly, on what level it matters. If this is you, please know, I meet you exactly where you are.
Anxiety disorders are a group of mental illnesses that cause people to feel excessively frightened, distressed, or uneasy during situations in which most people would not experience these same feelings. Most of us know someone who struggles with anxiety. Severe anxiety is hard to navigate and many people that have anxiety disorders feel trapped in a life of fear, with constant feelings of impending doom. It can be overwhelming for all involved. Take anxiety disorders seriously! When they are not treated, anxiety disorders can be severely impairing and can negatively affect a person’s personal relationships or ability to work or study and can make regular, daily activities such as shopping, cooking, or going outside incredibly difficult.
Depression is a serious emotional, biological disease that affects one’s thoughts, feelings, behaviors, mood and physical health. Depression is more than just feeling sad or going through a rough patch. It’s a serious mental health condition that requires understanding, treatment and a good recovery plan. It takes a lot of work and willingness to seriously push harder than oftentimes feels possible, but with the knowledge that this push will lead to vitality and joy it becomes a goal that is worth the work. With early detection, diagnosis and a treatment plan consisting of medication (if needed,) therapy and lifestyle choices, many people get better and live meaningful lives filled with love and laughter.
“Divorce shreds the muscles of our hearts so that they will hardly beat without a struggle.” (E. Lockhart)
This quote touches on the very essence of the pain involved in divorce – a broken and defeated heart. Divorce can be extremely excruciating and leave one feeling as if without a miracle or divine intervention, life will soon end. There are no words for the intensity of the pain when being left. It’s been called the ultimate and deepest betrayal. For many, divorce is the way out of a long and difficult relationship and can feel like a fresh start, a rebirth, a beginning of hope. Either way, I have seen more often than not, no matter what the reason, divorce is difficult and painful.
Healthy and Effective Co-parenting and Re-unification
“Children ought not be victims of the choices adults make for them,” said Wade Horn (U.S. Assistant Secretary for Children and Families under President George W. Bush.)
This statement is true and also undeniably sad, because regardless of how “good” we attempt to be during a divorce to each other, or regardless of all the reasons why we divorce, our children still fall victim to the large and abrupt changes that occur when parents become divided. This is bad enough, but worse, is that oftentimes parents end up in a brutal, long-lasting, very expensive, custody battle with their children being thrown in the middle of the ring. While this is almost never a goal, it is far too often a result. When parents do not educate themselves and/or do not concern themselves with what is best for the children in terms of co-parenting; misunderstandings, hurt feelings, power differentials, fears, sometimes pride and egos, can all get in the way of developing a new, healthy family structure that includes open and shared communication and parenting between mother and father. This is incredibly painful and difficult for all involved, and can absolutely be avoided. There is an overwhelming weight of scientific research that clearly demonstrates that children do better with two parents involved in their lives. While divorce may be the best solution for you as a couple, healthy co-parenting must accompany this choice to put your children in the best possible position to build trust and resiliency in their lives, despite the challenge of having divorced parents.
Loss and Grief
“You gave me a forever within the numbered days…” (John Green, The Fault in Our Stars.) This quote struck me so sharply and intensely that I cried the minute I read it. It’s so TRUE. Time has a way of shaking us to the core when we lose a part of us that we thought we would have much longer, if not forever.
I have experienced very deep grief and loss. The kind that is unimaginable and what I call unbearable, yet it is as real as the chair I sit in. Surprisingly it has been bearable, but only because of my God, my faith, grit, and the unyielding and fierce love of people around me.
Its important to have a good fit with your therapist. Contact me today to schedule your intial consultation. I look forward to hearing from you!
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3325 University Avenue, Suite 375,
Provo UT, 84604
16500 San Pedro Avenue, Suite 301,
San Antonio, TX 78232
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