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  • Writer's picturePru

“My ex is dating an ex convict and he moved in with our 4 daughters.”

The man that wrote this letter is concerned about his daughters of varying ages being around the new man with a criminal record (it wasn’t made clear what he served time for). The eldest daughter feels uncomfortable around the new boyfriend. The mother doesn’t appear to be open to the father’s concerns (based on the father’s perspective). The father is considering contacting an attorney. The letter ended with the father stating that he feels depressed. I offered that the depression is the starting place:

  1. Depression is anger turned inward.

  2. Anger breaks down into “I am feeling hurt notice my needs.”

  3. Write down all the hurts and the need for each.

One of the needs can be met by hiring an attorney-someone who can objectively look at the experience and chart the best course. The father said the ex didn’t want any new woman he dated around the girls in the early stage of the breakup. Russ asked me about the hypocrisy regarding the mothers attitude (he can have woman around but she can move a man in). I offered tit-for-tat only reinforces the upset/pain. For example, if the mother said the father was right and she was being hypocritical that admission doesn’t change the current situation. It would be different if the mother were to add “and I’ll have my boyfriend move out.”

Remember, this is hypothetical as it wasn’t part of the letter. But how the father felt was in the letter. The beauty of feelings is they’re always connected to thoughts/beliefs (consciously or unconsciously). When we can identify the feeling we can also receive the message it contains. Saying, I feel good, fine, alright, or bad may work but for me are safe ways to cover a variety of specific feelings-perhaps they provide a safe distance from the pain. It’s my experience that identifying the specific feeling has more power. Get clear-get a list of feelings: annoyed, beleaguered, indifferent, unsettled, bothered, numb, irritated, happy, optimistic, calm, etc.  Give yourself permission to connect to the specific feeling. When you do you may notice that the pain/upset isn’t as bad/strong/frightening as you thought.

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