Enlivening Ourselves

Dear Dr. Norquist:

   My life is emotionally out of control. I jump from intense worry and anxiety, to anger that feels out of control, to feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. I’m hoping you can help me. I am a single mom, still in love with my ex-husband, even though he is remarried.

   I know it isn’t in my best interests, but I have started to see my ex-husband off and on. My life has gone downhill since I started to see him – but I feel so desperately lonely at the thought of being without him again that I can’t seem to end the relationship. Yet – I’m consumed with fears that he will leave me (again), because of my up and down emotions that are so out of control.

   I worry constantly. Sometimes it seems like I’m clinging to him for dear life. I feel life is meaningless without him. I haven’t been able to focus on my kids’ needs enough since their father has come back into my life (6 months now). I know this is wrong, and it makes me feel so guilty. Life feels so scary and out of control right now. I used to feel so close to God. I don’t feel that God is with me anymore. I don’t feel his calming presence and support. Do you think he has abandoned me?

Dr. Norquist responds:

   I do not believe that God has abandoned you. Rather, your pain, fear, and depression are making it difficult for you to experience God’s presence in your life. It’s like there’s a storm all around you, and you cannot see the sun. When the storm clears, you’ll recognize that the sun was always there.

   You have lost perspective on your life, and have become obsessed with one thing only – your fear of being abandoned again by your ex-husband. In your mind, this has become paramount. In a way, this has become your God. Step back and ask yourself, is this really what is most important in life? Is this really where contentment and fulfillment lie? The desperateness of your need makes the relationship untenable. You must find a way of filling this need from within, perhaps through rekindling your sense of connection with God.

    Try to harness your mind. Practice letting go of fear inducing thoughts, and disciplining your mind to focus in a positive direction. This takes patient, consistent effort. We love to lavish in our worries, as if this somehow protects us. The result of our worrying is that we bring ourselves down, and we experience whatever we are worrying about as if it were actually true. It’s like asking for trouble and misery. So, discipline your mind, and life will feel much lighter and easier.

  When life feels this scary, confusing, out-of-control and meaningless, you need to seek professional help. When life is this out of balance, it’s very difficult to find center again without help. I’d suggest that you start by seeking psychotherapy and psychotropic medication to help you to calm the storm surrounding you long enough so that you can see the horizon, and feel the sun’s rays again. You are a strong woman. If you put your heart and mind to it and seek the help you need, you will find your way to better times. Feel free to write again.

(Dr. Sallie Norquist is a licensed psychologist (NJ #2371) in private practice and is director of Chaitanya Counseling Services, a center for upliftment and enlivenment, in Hoboken.) Dr. Norquist and the staff of Chaitanya invite you to write them at Chaitanya Counseling Services, 51 Newark St., Suite 202, Hoboken, NJ 07030 or www.chaitanya.com or by e-mail at drnorquist@chaitanya.com, or by fax at (201) 656-4700. Questions can address various topics, including relationships, life’s stresses, difficulties, mysteries and dilemmas, as well as questions related to managing stress or alternative ways of understanding health-related concerns.Ó 2017 Chaitanya Counseling Services