On Your Mind: Local wife and mom dealing with verbal abuse

onyourmindThe question below reached us through our “online hotline” button which lets anyone send a question to Lauren Levine, a local counselor — completely anonymous. The email comes in with no email address and no identifying information. We set it up this way so women would feel free to write about anything on their mind.

Question from reader:

My husband of 10 yrs has gotten progressively more and more verbally angry at me. Yesterday he pushed me twice during an argument. I have begged him to talk and get counseling, but he refuses. I am name-called (liar, manipulator, selfish). We have two very young twin toddlers. I am at a complete loss…..He has made me feel guilty and ashamed of my behavior. I am blamed for all arguments. Yesterday he told me that after 10 yrs, he can’t stand me……I’ve reached a new low where I beg forgiveness and beg for him to talk to me. Please help.

Reply from Lauren

I am so sorry you are in this situation. Your husband is being abusive and controlling and potentially dangerous.  I know you know this or you wouldn’t have words can hurtreached out for help.

What jumps out for me in your plea is that he won’t go with you or on his own for help. What I know for certain is that we cannot change other people — even our husbands. But you CAN do the work to help yourself.

I want to encourage you to reach out for counseling to gain some more perspective, gain some strength and support for putting a plan together for yourself.

I’m not sure what your financial/insurance situation is, so I want to offer a range of options. If you have insurance, go to the Psychology Today website and do a search for a therapist and choose one who appeals to you.

If you don’t have insurance, you could consider both Ozark Guidance (479-750-2020) or Dayspring (479-631-9996) since they both offer a sliding fee scale for uninsured and/or underemployed.

Good luck to you and let me know if I can help.

Sincerely,

Lauren

photolaurenCLICK HERE to read more about therapist Lauren Levine. If you’d like to ask Lauren a question about something on your mind, click the butterfly icon below and submit your question. The form is NOT tied to your email address or any other identifying information, therefore your question will be submitted anonymously. You can read the answer to your question by reading the therapist’s response here on nwaMotherlode.com.

Click HERE to read other questions and answers in the On Your Mind category.

on your mindlauren info

On Your Mind: She keeps going back

The question below reached us through our “online hotline” button which lets anyone send a question to Lauren Levine, a local counselor — completely anonymous. The email comes in with no email address and no identifying information. We set it up this way so women would feel free to write about anything on their mind.

Question: How do I convince my daughter not to go back to her abuser for the 5th time? The last time I drove to pick her up and he ended up abusing me in front of her. She saw this and now a couple months later has somehow forgotten how he treated her, and she has an infant daughter to look out for, too.

While I know your question wasn’t asking “why” your daughter would return to her abuser, I think it’s important to have some understanding of this pattern as a way of helping her. It is so difficult for loved ones to try and understand why an abused woman goes back to their abusive relationship.

domestic violenceIn these types of relationships, there is very often a confused sense of loyalty or love or an inappropriate sense of self blame. And of course fear. Fear is the primary reason that people go back to their abusers. While the reasons not to return seem clear to an outsider, it is not as easy to understand for someone like your daughter who is experiencing the effects of “coercive control.

Your question is about how to “convince” your daughter not to return and the sad truth is that you can’t “convince” her. However, you can offer her support in the following ways:

Keep the communication door wide open. Rather then trying to “convince” her of anything,  let her do the talking. She is already fatigued by the “convincing efforts of her spouse. Too much “convincing” will leave her more exhausted and confused and feeling further controlled.

1. Let her know you are always there for her and when she is ready you will help her.

2. Let her know you are afraid for the safety of her and the baby and that you are concerned about what impact this situation will have on a child. (If you believe the baby is at risk of harm or neglect, then it’s important to report this to DHS or police right away.)

3. Let her know that the way he treats her is not her fault nor does she deserve to be treated in this way.

There are some good resources in our community, not only for your daughter but also for you to reach out to for advice. (Northwest Arkansas Women’s Shelter will be able to speak to you about the best approach to supporting your daughter).

My Google search brought up several supportive and educational articles on the subject of how to support a victim of domestic. The following was most helpful: http://www.speakoutloud.net/crazymaking-gaslighting/mothers-concerned-for-daughters-in-abusive-relationships

Thank you for your difficult question. I’m sure many will benefit from you having asked it.

CLICK HERE to read more about therapist Lauren Levine. If you’d like to ask Lauren a question about something on your mind, click the butterfly icon below and submit your question. The form is NOT tied to your email address or any other identifying information, therefore your question will be submitted anonymously. You can read the answer to your question by reading the therapist’s response here on nwaMotherlode.com. Click HERE to read other questions and answers in the On Your Mind category.

on your mindlauren info

On Your Mind: Mom feels overwhelmed and unable to ‘measure up’

measuring stickMamas, we recently received the below question through our “online hotline” button.

It’s a question so many moms can relate to and we appreciate licensed professional counselor and fellow mom, Lauren Levine, for this thoughtful answer:

Q: I’m a mom of two kids under the age of 6 and lately I’m feeling completely overwhelmed. Even though my family is doing fine, I can’t shake this feeling of not being “enough.”

I constantly feel like I’m not measuring up to what I should be – as a mom, a wife, an employee, a daughter, a friend, a church member, etc. No matter how much I get done in a day, it’s never enough and I’m beginning to think it never will be, which just makes me feel depressed, on edge or even angry at myself.

If my husband even vaguely implies that I haven’t done something I should have, I get really upset and dwell on it for days. It keeps me up at night sometimes. He says I need to “lighten up,” but I’m not sure I know how to do that anymore. What can I do to solve this problem?

A: I am so sorry to hear how overwhelmed you are feeling. I’m glad you are reaching out to ask your question.

It sounds like part of you ( maybe even just a small bit) has a sense that this “feeling” might be something you might be able to shake. That’s an encouraging view. When your husband tells you to “lighten up” you say you are not even sure how to “anymore”.  Maybe there was a time that you were able to lighten up a bit more. It’s important to identify if something has perhaps  changed or interfered with your ability to do this.

Us humans tend to look for solutions to coping with overwhelm in two different ways:

laurenThe first way is more external and requires looking at what we can alter in our present situation. For instance, letting go of some responsibilities that might be too much for you to do at the moment.

The second way is to make changes to our internal sense, or our attitude towards a situation. It seems you might benefit from exploring a blend of both.

How do you change outlook? It’s important to look at your reality base or where your scale of “doing enough” is coming from. I have met with with many working moms ( myself included) who seem to have a warped sense of  what is expected of them.

Knowing where these critical voices originate is helpful. Do you have a story in your past of someone telling you that you are not doing a good job? Our culture certainly does a fine mess of enforcing these myths.We don’t necessarily have to subscribe to these stories.

Make sure to talk to other working moms. By doing this you can ‘normalize’ your experience and feel supported in your struggle.

Lastly, make a point of practicing self care which may include seeing a therapist who can help support your process in making these changes.

CLICK HERE to read more about therapist Lauren Levine. If you’d like to ask Lauren a question about something on your mind, click the butterfly icon below and submit your question. The form is NOT tied to your email address or any other identifying information, therefore your question will be submitted anonymously. You can read the answer to your question by reading the therapist’s response here on nwaMotherlode.com.

on your mind

Sponsor spotlight: Therapist Lauren Levine

Happy Friday, mamas! Today we’re turning the sponsor spotlight on the new voice of our “On Your Mind” monthly segment which focuses on answering common mental health questions from local moms. Local psychotherapist Lauren Levine tackled a particularly tough question recently and we were so impressed with how she handled such a sensitive topic with both solid advice and compassion.

Below is a Q&A with Lauren, and her next “On Your Mind” feature will publish later this month.

How did you get interested in becoming a therapist and how long have you been in practice? (Include some info about where you got laurenyour degree, past work experience, etc.)

I have been a therapist since 1995 (ish) and have worked in a variety of  settings including being clinical supervisor at a day treatment program for young adults with developmental delays and psychiatric illness, eating disorders programs, child and family outpatient dept, at Ozark Guidance Center and most recently in my own practice for just over two years where I treat both adults and children.

I am certain that my profession chose me. I don’t remember ever making a decision. It was more like following myself and my interests. I did an undergrad
in theater and described my acting 101 as my “therapy group”. It was at this time I began to wonder about the healing arts and the role of the arts in healing. I did an intensive 3-year training program (ISIS Canada) in Toronto where I’m from and then received an MA in expressive art therapy from Lesley College in Cambridge MA.

You have such a fun, upbeat personality. How do you maintain a positive outlook as you help others deal with serious problems? Is it difficult to “leave work at the office”?

I consider my work an honor. My guiding principal includes remembering that I don’t have the answers to anyone’s problem. It would be arrogant of me to think otherwise. With this awareness I don’t feel burdened by the need to fix or change others. I am there to support and guide those in making their own changes.

light bulbDescribe a moment that made you especially happy to be a therapist.

Wow. There really are so many. I love the moments when I see the “aha” occur, when light bulbs turn on, when people get the connection to something that translates to a change in their behavior.

What’s the most difficult or challenging aspect of what you do?

The potential for burn-out is the biggest challenge. I am the tool of the work I do. If I am not feeling emotionally strong then I cannot provide support and healing. This is hard because honestly who feels emotionally strong every day? It’s a challenge to put myself aside and be present for those in my care. It’s a challenge to make sure my clients’ issues don’t get tangled up in mine. Self-care is critical to be able to do this work and sometimes I forget to make myself a priority. It’s a challenge to keep my vessel full enough to have enough to give to those I treat and those in my life.

We know you love your home country of Canada and go back for visits when you can. How did you and your family end up in Northwest Arkansas? What do you miss (and not miss) about living north of the border?

Yes, I love my home of Toronto. Falling in love with my husband brought me here 14 years ago (loooonng story short). There is nothing I don’t miss about Toronto, and I try to go home at least once a year.

What do you like to do when you’re not at the office? Tell us a little about your family, and what are you looking forward to doing this summer?

I like to socialize! I am an extrovert and enjoy being with others. I enjoy taking stabs at acting on occasion; I love being involved in our small synagogue in Bentonville where we are founding members; I love to ride bikes, and we have no big summer plans as of yet.

What do you wish more women and mothers knew about what therapists offer? Any misconceptions about the industry you wish you could clear up?

While I think the stigma of therapy is decreasing, I  still hear women feeling like they are supposed to be able to do it all while smiling. Sometimes having an oasis to express oneself and not be judged and to “unload” in a private setting can be so helpful in decreasing a sense of overwhelm, anxiety, and depression. 

I wish people would know that deciding to see a therapist is a strength and not an admission of weakness. I wish that people would let go of a medical model of wellness meaning to get rid of or cure aspects of ourselves and understand that true healing comes from acceptance and embracing who we are. This is an awareness I see grow in my clients.

If you’d like to ask Lauren a question about something on your mind, click the butterfly icon below and submit your question. The form is NOT tied to your email address or any other identifying information, therefore your question will be submitted anonymously. You can read the answer to your question by reading the therapist’s response here on nwaMotherlode.com.

On Your Mind: Helping a child help a grieving friend

My daughter, who is in 2nd grade, has a best friend who just lost her dad in a car accident. Obviously, my daughter’s friend is devastated and my daughter is very upset, too, since she has spent time at their house and also knew the dad. I’m trying to help my daughter learn how to be a good friend to someone who is hurting, but it’s hard even for adults to know what to say or do in these situations. How should I advise my child? Any direction you could give would be helpful.

The death of a loved one can be upsetting for all those involved, children and adults alike. Especially with a tragic death, a range of thoughts and feelings may be experienced upon such unexpected and sad news. Talking about these difficult feelings is important for everyone involved.

griefChildren’s thoughts and feelings about a death need to be acknowledged, expressed, and validated. Young children typically follow the lead of a trusted adult in regards to what to do when a death occurs. Children are great observers and imitators and their concrete and literal thinking can be overwhelming and cause fear.

The need for reassurance that they are safe and that their family is safe after a tragic death or any death is important to minimize their fears. It would help to educate your daughter about what happens when someone dies, ask her about her thoughts and feelings about the death, and answer her questions as honestly and simply as you can.

Offer some suggestions on how she can help her friend at this time (ie., share her thoughts and feelings with her friend in words or make her a card, help cook and bring a meal to her family, and offer a play date to her friend). Allow your daughter some choices about what she may like to do to support her friend and then help her do it.

Times of sadness can be a teachable and learning moment for all involved. An adult who can model “the gift of presence” in listening, caring and sharing with others is teaching the value of empathy – one of the most important parts of being a good friend.

methodist family health logoThis “On Your Mind” segment is provided by Methodist Family Health’s Counseling Clinic, 74 W. Sunbridge Dr., in Fayetteville, where the phone is (479) 582-5565. Methodist Family Health is a nonprofit organization that provides behavioral and mental health services to children under 18 and their families all across in Arkansas. The organization has been serving families and youth for more than 114 years, beginning as an orphanage in 1899. Today, Methodist Family Health has all levels of care, ranging from outpatient counseling clinics to residential treatment centers to an inpatient behavioral hospital and an extensive staff of trained therapists and mental health professionals. To find out more about Methodist Family Health, call 501.661.0720 or 501.866.3388 toll free or visit www.methodistfamily.org.

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