Archive for June, 2018

Straight Talk About a Serious Health Concern for Fathers

Friday, June 15th, 2018

By Kevin Burke, MSS

Psychologist Michael Addis writes in Atlantic magazine of a life threatening illness for some men.

You are probably thinking… prostate cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes?

All important health care concerns.

But this illness often remains hidden because the symptoms lead men to embrace a shame-based silence about their pain. This silence leaves men isolated and vulnerable.  Some would rather die than reveal their suffering to a family member, colleague or friend.

Dr Addis was working in an inpatient psychiatric unit where he met Patrick. Dr Addis shares that Patrick presented as a handsome, successful looking man with no previous mental health history.

He was surprised to read in his chart that Patrick’s son recently discovered his father sitting on a coach in their family room…with a loaded gun to his head.

Initially the interview skated along on a superficial level revealing little of what led Patrick to such an obvious act of despair.

Dr Addis realized he needed to challenge Patrick: “Can we be straight with each other and cut out the BS?”

Patrick opened up about a series of business failures that led to an increasing disparity between his wealthy lifestyle, and the reality of his financial situation.  Things got so bad that he was unable to pay the mortgage for his large suburban home.

As Patrick’s depression increased, he created an illusion for family and friends that he and his business were just fine – even as his economic and emotional prospects were in free-fall.

Dr Addis reveals:

[Patrick] couldn’t face working, but he also couldn’t face telling people how bad things had gotten. Instead, he got up each morning, dressed as if he was going to work, forced a smile for his family, and either drove around the city or sat at a local coffee shop all day reading the newspaper. Eventually the depression became so overwhelming that he saw no other way out.

Deadly Isolation

Why didn’t he open up about his financial difficulties and depression with friends or family?

Patrick shares:

I should have been able to handle it…I fell apart and turned into a sniveling little boy… ‘Oh Mommy, please help me?’ I couldn’t let people see me like that.

A Newsweek feature on male depression reveals that “men often view asking for help as an admission of weakness – a betrayal of their male identities….”

Men learn from the schoolyard to the boardroom that revealing vulnerability, and an inability to handle emotional or physical pain, is a big mistake that can lead to ridicule and shame.

The idea of the solitary male hero is an entertaining and sometimes inspiring image in an adventure movie.

But the real world can be a mine field as men struggle to negotiate the challenges of modern life. Sometimes, men benefit from sharing their burdens with trusted family and friends.

Others need to reach out to their clergy/minister, a counselor, mentor or support group – safe places where men can share their pain, and find healthy strategies to cope with the challenges they are facing.

Men and Abortion-Emotional Quicksand

Financial crisis and depression are not the only emotional quicksand that can entrap isolated men.

A past abortion can also leave men emotionally reeling – without the support and information needed to negotiate this life-changing experience.

Often the unresolved grief and shame from a past abortion can combine in a toxic synergy with other painful issues; a history of family dysfunction and/or divorce, past abuse or molestation, addictions to drugs, alcohol, sex or pornography.

Over time this accumulated pain can lead to a crisis where men find themselves isolated and overwhelmed.

Given the current abortion statistics, (close to 60 million since 1973), millions of men have participated in the death of their unborn children.  Some are powerless to stop an abortion they do not want.

Jason Baier shares the devastation when he was powerless to prevent his partner’s abortion:

I…would often break down and cry from depression…I was angry all the time…stricken with panic attacks…No one seemed to understand or know how to deal with my loss.

Jason was isolated, in great pain, and unable to find the support he needed. He reached a point of desperation and despair.  He decided to take a bottle of prescribed sleeping pills and “never wake up.”

Fortunately he experienced a moment of spiritual grace that held back his hand, and released a deep seismic explosion of fatherly grief from the loss of his child.  Jason began a process of abortion recovery that brought him to a place of reconciliation and peace.

End the Isolation – Reach out For Help

If you are a father struggling to reconcile this secret area of shame and pain, there are people who understand what you are going through, have been there, and want to help you find reconciliation and peace.

It all starts with that first step; send that email, make the phone call.

It’s not easy…especially for men.

But this act of humility and courage will change your life.

The blessings of that healing experience will benefit not only you, but your loved ones, friends and colleagues.

Resources for Healing:

Enter your zip code and find healing resources near you.

Find a mentor for one-on-one support from a man in your area.

 

 

 

Skating Around the Truth: An Editor at “The Atlantic” Responds to Man’s Letter One Year After An Abortion

Friday, June 8th, 2018

Atlantic Cover

By Kevin Burke, MSS
LORI GOTTLIEB is a contributing editor at The Atlantic and a psychotherapist based in Los Angeles. Readers submit questions to Gottlieb and ask for advice and guidance.

In a recent entry entitled Dear Therapist: I Don’t Know How to Feel About My Girlfriend’s Abortion, a male reader writes to Gottlieb:

“About a year ago, my girlfriend got pregnant and we decided right away that we should get an abortion. I was only 19 and she was 24…”

As is typical after abortion, the romantic relationship was terminated along with the pregnancy.

The young man shares that after the procedure:

“…we were overwhelmed by a sea of emotions that neither one of us could deal with properly, and splitting up was the solution we found…A little more than a year later, we’re still friends and see each other regularly, but this subject never comes up…”

While he assures the therapist that he made the right decision and is relieved, he is still wonders if he should try to speak to his former partner about his feelings – and worries about the future impact of the abortion on their lives

Gottlieb’s response is kind, and in many ways helpful.

However she reveals a common blind spot shared by many medical and mental health professionals when dealing with a client’s past abortion:

– Most are ignorant of the complex, and potentially far reaching impact of being part of abortion decisions and procedures – even when there is relief and no conscious regret associated with the abortion.

– They do not understand the short and long-term benefits of abortion recovery programs for women and men.

Skating Around the Truth
This young man, while confused, understands clearly that abortion is not a simple medical procedure like the extraction of a tooth. His concern about future relationships touches upon the truth that abortion is a life-changing experience.

His letter to Gottlieb reveals that he is ripe for a more comprehensive understanding of the abortion event. While he claims to have no regrets, and consciously this may be true, there is much more going on here.

Anniversary reactions related to the abortion are very common. Many women and men have some confusing and painful abortion related feelings, nightmares, depression and anxiety around the time the child would have been born, or on the anniversary of the procedure.

This letter is written to the Atlantic psychotherapist about one year after the abortion. This is likely part an anniversary reaction.

But here is a key issue in this young man’s story that the therapist missed.

Why is the young man’s abortion related anxiety focused on his partner?

Why does he want to connect with her and talk about the abortion and feelings associated with that experience?

He wants to speak to the one person who will understand what they experienced together and share their feelings and memories about the abortion. He may be concerned for her and want to be reassured she is ok.

But, on a deeper level, he focuses on the relationship and his former lover – because their relationship is the life-line and connection to the child he lost to abortion.

In her response, Gottlieb rightly affirms the young man’s emotional experience and the challenges couple’s face when trying to communicate about this life-changing event.

But the therapist, in her attempt to minimize the abortion, inadvertently touches on the heart of abortion recovery ministry:

“You’ve had an abortion, but you didn’t lose a child you’ve held in your arms…”

More accurately stated…abortion denied this couple the opportunity to hold this child in their arms and share the love of a mother or father with their baby.

Abortion Disrupts an Intimate Relationship
Abortion is often presented as a contentious political and social issue, in the context of reproductive rights, or as a private personal medical decision between a woman and her health care provider.

But abortion can be best understood in the context of relationship.

Thirty years in abortion recovery counseling and ministry have taught us that deep within each woman or man there is a hidden love for the aborted child, and an emotional and spiritual hunger for re-connection with their son or daughter.

Many of the conflicting and painful emotions and self-destructive behaviors that sometimes follow abortion can be understood as calling attention to this loss and a need for reconciliation and recovery.

The heart of abortion ministry is gently guiding mothers and fathers through an abortion recovery process, so they can acknowledge the truth of what has been lost.

When parents go through an abortion recovery program, they are able to safely re-visit their memories and feelings about the abortion event. The special exercises and spiritual support of programs like Rachel’s Vineyard help participants come to understand, and intimately experience, a new reality:

The emotional bond of love between parent and child, often denied for many years, is now resurrected and firmly rooted in their maternal and paternal heart.

The spiritual relationship with their child in this life, and the hope of reunion in eternal life to come with the Lord is a source of great consolation and peace.

This is the peace and resolution that this young man hungers for.

________________

[Keep in mind, some women and men, often many years after the abortion, are surprised by an intense desire to re-connect with the partner of their aborted child – perhaps on Facebook or other social media.
On a deeper level, this is calling attention to the need for  reconciliation of that abortion experience, and the development of a spiritual relationship with their aborted child/children in an abortion recovery program.]

–  Drexel University Professor Arthur Shostak, Ph.D., conducted a survey of 1,000 men who accompanied wives or girlfriends to abortion centers and found the following: One in four men considered abortion to be a participation in the death of their unborn child; Slightly over 80% said they had already started to think about the child that might have been born (29% think of the child “frequently”); Many cried during the interview process.  [Shostak, Arthur. Men and Abortion: Lessons, Losses and Love . Praeger, 1984.]

For more information on how abortion impacts men, resources for recovery and research on men and abortion contact the Men and Abortion Network.