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Dear Christine, Sworn to Secrecy in St. Clair Shores

  • Posted on December 18, 2017 at 7:08 am

Dear Christine,  A gay male friend of mine told me in confidence that he was sexually assaulted by an older gay man who is a fairly well known member of the community. He made me swear never to tell anyone. I know as a woman, that feeling of sweeping it under the rug all too well, however, I’m older and less easily intimidated today. I guess I should keep his promise but what do I say to someone who shares that kind of story with me? And what is my responsibility, if any, do I have to report the abuse? With stories like this hitting the airwaves lately, I just don’t know what to do. Thanks, Sworn to Secrecy in St. Clair Shores Dear Sworn, I have been hearing versions of this question from my clients that past 6 weeks. Our society has ignored victims and survivors of sexual abuse and harassment too long! And not all of the survivors are women, as your gay male friend proves. I believe truth needs to come out, but being a survivor of sexual abuse, myself, I also respect the survivor’s process in coming to grips with the abuse. Telling anyone (you) is…

Dear Christine, Anxious in Ann Arbor

  • Posted on July 30, 2017 at 9:10 am

Dear Christine,
Fear of flying!! So I’m a 47 year old man who travels 2 to 3 times a year for work and once a year for a vacation with my husband. I am terrified every single time. It doesn’t stop Me from going. I have to. Each flight requires two martinis and a .5 Xanax. By the time I get to my destination, I need a nap. I have never found a way to be less anxious about flying and hate doping myself up. Is there help?  Anxious in Ann Arbor

Dear Anxious,
Flying is a pretty noxious experience these days, even without anxiety!  There are several approaches to reducing your anxiety and the need to dope yourself up.

Ten Fear of Flying Facts
1. One person in three has some degree of fear of flying.
2. One person in six is unable to fly due to fear of flying.
3. The average age at which this fear develops is twenty-seven.
4. Anticipatory anxiety before flying is often worse than feelings when flying.
5. For many fearful fliers, the most difficult part of the flight is cruise.
6. Cruise is difficult because of turbulence and feeling up high.
7. The term fear of flying is in common usage due to the title of a novel.
8. Fear of flying may include claustrophobia and fear of in-flight panic.
9. Landing is often a relief because the emotional ordeal is almost over.
10. Whatever fear of flying means to you, SOAR can relieve the problem.
<http://www.fearofflying.com/>
One method is called “exposure” which means being exposed to what you fear in small amounts in a controlled environment, getting past those initial moments and surviving.  Then, moving on to greater amounts of exposure.  There are classes you can take in this, often at airports or with therapists who may even be a pilot as well.  They usually have you go on a plane that isn’t going anywhere, talk about the symptoms you’re feeling and learn methods to manage them.  There are several classes, ending with a graduation flight, to prove to yourself that you can fly!  There are on line video classes (11 DVDs and 2 hours of counseling) as well.  Check out www.fearofflying.comthat features Rapid Relief Complete Relief classes and the SOAR Program which are guaranteed.
If your fears are not that debilitating, you might try some energy psychology.  I teach some of these methods to my clients.  One is Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) https://www.emofree.com/eft-tutorial/tapping-basics/what-is-eft.html created by Gary Craig.  This uses Chinese medicine’s “chi” lines of energy in the body and tapping on various end points or meridians (no needles as in acupuncture) of these lines while thinking about what is upsetting to you.  It sounds contradictory, but focusing on your phobia while tapping reduces the emotion’s intensity.  It’s not a panacea most of the time, but it’s easy to self-administer and I think of it as being like a “volume control” for emotions.
A further energy psychology tip I first learned from Donna Eden, who practices energy medicine.  You will never meet a more loving and happy person than Donna Eden!  http://www.innersource.net/em/  One of her techniques to balance the “chi” and reduce anxiety is as to cross the centerline of the body (ankles, knees, arms, hands) to strengthen the self and decrease negative emotions.  One tip is as follows:
“A simple tip which is great to reduce anxiety is the Over Energy Correction. Cross the left ankle over the right, extend arms with the back of your hands facing each other, bring your right hand over your left, clasp your fingers together, fold arms and hands inward and rest on your chest just under the chin; rest your tongue on the roof of your mouth behind your front teeth and breathe deeply for 1 or 2 minutes. This exercise is very calming for acute anxiety and assists in promoting sleep.”
Many therapists recommend using meditation and using headphones to listen to whatever is calming for you while you fly.  Of course, electronics are turned off for take off and landing, so it’s helpful to practice at home before getting on a plane, so that you can spend 10 or 15 minutes of those critical parts of the flight in peace.  Fear of Flying School offers 21 stress management techniques, all proven by science.  Some are basic:  get enough sleep.  Minimize caffeine, avoid nicotine, don’t overdo alcohol, slow breathing, laugh, avoid unhappy people, do yoga, have sex!, tense and then relax all of your muscles from top to bottom of your whole body.  Develop your positive emotions, give hugs, exercise aerobically (hard to do ON the plane), get a massage, use the EFT technique.  Of course, listen to relaxing music, avoid the news,, and challenge your stress inducing thoughts, as they might not have as much validity as you fear.  Did you know that flying is the very safest mode of transportation?  It’s actually safer than driving to the airport!   http://fearofflyingschool.com/stress-management-techniques
Remember that reducing your overall anxiety, controlling what you have control over, will be a good basis to start with.  Good luck to you.  If trying these techniques on your own aren’t enough, don’t hesitate to take a class at the airport or schedule some therapy with a psychologist.
Christine C Cantrell, PhD
Fully Licensed Psychologist

Christine C. Cantrell, PhD
1026 W. 11 Mile Rd,
Suite C
Royal Oak, MI 48067
248-591-2888

Click here to email Christine.

Dear Christine, Protective in Pontiac

  • Posted on May 22, 2017 at 9:17 am

Dear Christine,
My girlfriend and I met two years ago at a dance. We now live together, we keep separate bank accounts but share the bills. The house is mine but she wants to protect herself in case we ever breakup. She wants me to put it in writing that if we ever do breakup that she will get a portion of the equity.
The way I see it, she was paying rent before she met me and she is paying rent now so I’m not feeling good about giving her ownership in a house that I have lived in for 30 years. In fact, the home was may parents and I bought it from them before they passed. I do love her but I’m having a hard time giving her what she wants and she’s feeling hurt and I’m afraid it might be a deal breaker for her. Am I wrong to want to protect my assets?
Signed Protective in Pontiac
Dear Protective,
Pre-nups are never very romantic, but they have a purpose.  Each person in a relationship, whether married or just living together, has rights and responsibilities as well as assets.  And, just putting something “in writing” is not the best method, as most people’s writing would not pass muster in court, and that’s where it counts.
By all means you should protect your assets!  That’s where lawyers come in, say, Daniel Gwinn at www.gwinntaurianinenlaw.com.  Your girlfriend also wants to protect her investment in your home.  She has been paying you rent and she would be paying rent to live somewhere.  Normally, rent does not turn into an asset, unless you have a special rent-to-own deal.
The two of you are in a committed relationship together, presumably to build a future together.  In that case, protecting each other by legally marrying is the easiest option.  Or, you could sign a Quit Claim Deed with Rights of Survivorship is you want her to be included on the deed, or be able to stay in the house if you were to die.  Of course, even if you marry, you might want to protect assets obtained before the marriage, such as inheritance, a house or other investments.  That is possible, and if there is a chance of a divorce or break up, it will make that go a lot smoother for both of you.  Your girlfriend probably wants to feel equal to you in the relationship.  But the relationship is only 2 years along.  And you aren’t legally committed to each other.  I don’t think she has a right to demand or request half the house as settlement if there’s a split, but perhaps you would want to assure her of a cash payment to help her resettle (first and last months’ rent, maybe?).
My wife and I went through this exact scenario.  When we met, I moved from an apartment into her house that was almost paid off.  I moved in and paid her rent.  We still share bills but have separate accounts.  After a couple of years, she did sign a Quit Claim Deed with Rights of Survivorship so I would be assured a place to live if she died.
Eventually, we bought a new house together in both of our names, and later we legally married.  I am committed to treating her fairly, should we divorce for any reason.  Since she has contributed more than half towards this house,  I would want help in resettling.
We would definitely use a therapist and/or ediator and/or lawyer or two to divide assets fairly, which is not necessarily evenly.  Our marriage protects each of our rights.  My personal commitment is not to mistreat someone I love(d) should that relationship end for whatever reason.
So, I encourage you both to do research.  Talk to a lawyer, talk to friends who have not married by have shared a home that one bought before meeting the other.  Find out what works for both of you.  Keep talking, though, to find out what assumptions, feelings or meanings lie beneath the words each of you use.  Understand how each of you thinks about this relationship and commitment to each other.  Get into couple’s therapy to have someone mediate the conversation and keep the tone friendly.  And good luck.  Sincerely,
Christine Cantrell, PhD Licensed Psychologist

Christine C. Cantrell, PhD
1026 W. 11 Mile Rd,
Suite C
Royal Oak, MI 48067
248-591-2888

Click here to email Christine.

Dear Christine, Wreck in Warren

  • Posted on January 23, 2017 at 10:25 am

Dear Christine, came out late, bad 5 yr relationship and now in a very good one. Prob is she is still very connected with her ex. They text/talk every day, a lot. The ex will come and spend a weekend. She is very needy and always has drama in her life. She is not out to friends/family or coworkers. I am not handling this very well. My new lady is a rescuer. She likes being needed. I do not need rescuing or saving. I feel like I am being displaced by her. hate this. A wreck in Warren Dear Wreck, At first glance I thought I read that you are in a bad relationship, but I see the “bad one” was 5 years prior to the good one you are in now. I guess I wonder how good this current relationship is. How did you end up with a partner who is needy and loves to rescue and save others? What brings you together? What keeps you together? First of all, you can’t change someone else’s nature, priorities or personality. The most prominent thing you have revealed about your current partner is that she is “needy and always has drama…

Dear Christine, Desperate in Detroit

  • Posted on December 25, 2016 at 4:36 pm

Dear Christine,

I am a gay man in a relationship with another man for the past 6 months. He is the love of my life and I know I want to be with him forever. Until a month ago, we agreed to having a monogamous relationship, at my insistence. I just don’t like the idea of having more than one man in my life, or him having more than me in his life. Well, he’s been pushing for us to open the relationship ever since we met, as he really likes hooking up with other hot guys. He’s pushed so hard for this that last month, I agreed, and gave in. I figured that it wouldn’t last, and he’d see sooner or later that I’m the best deal around! I thought he’d get tired of shallow, just for sex hookups, with no emotional commitment. I was wrong. Oh, how I was wrong. Now I really regret having agreed to open the relationship. I made a big mistake. What do I do? I want to go back to a monogamous relationship, and he wants multiple lovers, even though he tells me that he loves me first and most. Desperate in Detroit

Dear Desperate,

Oh, dear. What a mess you’ve gotten into. One of the things I always encourage people to do before they get into a relationship is figure out what they need, and then state those needs as “non–negotiables” to whomever they want to date or be serious about, so that person knows what you are able to live with and what you cannot tolerate. It sounds like your true non–negotiable is monogamy, and that is not true for your partner. Now, if he accepted your need for monogamy, he would have not pushed to open the relationship, but respected your need. However, he seems to have a competing need: to have many sexual partners. And the two of you now have conflicting needs. He was hurt the first 5 months before you caved in to his pressure and agreed to open the relationship, and you now have been hurt the last month that his appetite for change and multiple partners has not faded. It’s got to be a double whammy that you interpret that as somehow you aren’t “the best deal around” for him to return to monogamy. Rejection on top of everything else. I’d encourage you to really search your own soul for what you need and what you don’t need, on the level of oxygen, water and food. We all can live varying amounts of time without those three items, but the length of time without those essentials varies. You can live minutes without oxygen, days without water, and maybe a month without food. How urgent a need is this monogamy for you? If it is like oxygen or water, then you are wasting away. I’d encourage you to talk to your partner honestly and openly about your needs and your limits. I would hope he would listen with an open mind and a loving heart. But then he needs to weigh your needs against his own. There’s no right and wrong about this. If he agrees to a monogamous relationship, I hope it is because he truly can do that, and that a few months or years down the road, he doesn’t become resentful or blame you for not keeping him satisfied. If that’s the case, then he’s not willingly letting go of the multiple lovers and it will come back to bite both of you. If he needs all these other outlets, then you get two choices: Accept him the way he is, and take appropriate precautions sexually and emotionally, or leave. If he can’t accept your absolute limits that you delineate clearly, then he’s probably not the right partner for you right now, and vice versa.

 

All of this is very painful, but all is “paying tuition” in the school of hard knocks, in which you are learning valuable lessons about who you are and what you need. We all go through this process. The trick is, to learn as much as you can about yourself from these experiences, so you don’t have to repeat the lesson. I just threw out all my journals from my teens –thirties, as rereading them brought back too much pain of all those kinds of lessons I went through as well. I much prefer my life and my relationship with my wife Susan, than all those yukky and hurtful and contorted relationships I settled for before I really knew who I was and what I need and want. Believe in yourself, and insist on getting your own needs met. If your partner is not willing or able, then it’s a sign that it’s time to move on.

Christine C. Cantrell, PhD
1026 W. 11 Mile Rd,
Suite C
Royal Oak, MI 48067
248-591-2888

Click here to email Christine.