Hey, what's up on today's show, we're going to talk to a mom of a few kids who has a really challenging relationship with her ex-husband and she wants to know what to do next. We're going to talk to a husband whose new wife has a history of drug abuse and she is starting down a road of sneaking prescription medication. And we're also going to talk to a beautiful soul, a wonderful mother whose son, dad and younger brother all passed away a few years ago.
And she wants to know some tools and some tactics on how to properly grieve her son. This is a good one. Stay tuned.
Hey, good folks, what's up? It's Dulaney with the Dr. John Boloney show, a show where we take real calls from real people that I've never met.
And we are connecting for the first time on this show to talk through whatever is going on in their life, whether it's relationship challenges, marriage issues, education questions, parenting challenge, what ever we talk about all things, everything on the show.
And here's the thing. It's not scripted. It's not a pre imagined. It is about your life and here is the most important thing is that folks call me every day, call after call after call, and they feel like they are in this isolated bubble, that these things that they are thinking and experiencing and wondering about and trying to figure out are only happening to them.
And the beauty of this show is that everybody listening. My mom and her 10 friends at the at the home should not in the home. But it sounds cool. They're all they're the only ones listening. And my wife didn't even listen to the show. But those few folks who are listening get to realize we are not alone in this deal. I'm not crazy. I'm not losing my mind. I'm going through something that so many other people are going through.
We're all in this together. And I love doing the show. I learn from this show. I learn from you good folks. And it's just an honor to walk alongside you. So whatever's going on in your life, relational I.Q., parenting, addiction, marriage, somebody cheated on something. Whatever it is, give me a call at one eight four four six nine three thirty to ninety one. That's one eight four four six nine three three two nine one.
Or go to John Deloney dotcom show, fill out the form. It goes to Kelly and her crack squad of people. I don't think she has a squat. I think it's just her. But that sounded way cooler and she she puts the shows together and see if we can get you on the show before we go any further. It's important to note this. You know, we talk about all kinds of things on the show, and occasionally I talk about something.
It drives me crazy. Can we not just admit. The food situation in this country a thousand different ways, the sun is a wreck and we could talk about this for 50 shows in a row. But here's the big one. If I go to one more store, one more aisle in a store, I don't care what store it is, if it's bugged out like Whole Foods or if it's a gas station grocery store and I go in to buy something particularly fruit or vegetable related.
And let's say I'm going to get something with apples in it, and it's called apples something. And then there's a sticker on it and it says, Made with real apples, as though that's a selling feature as they're like, whoa, this apple thing actually has apples in it.
And we all go, oh, I'm going to pay double for it. And the apples were from a real tree. No way. No way. Good folks. When the actual product that's being advertised is then further advertised as actually being in the product as a special feature, we've run aground. We're all psychotic. We're idiots. Right. Let's start demanding more from our food, from our food labels. And we're going to talk about labels for the next five years, because even the labels themselves are shenanigans and tomfoolery.
But listen, made with real whatever is in it, especially if it's in the name, not a selling feature. Fruit juice made with real fruit. No way. Vegetable juice made with real vegetables.
Oh, well, Paul, I called grandma on that one. Good folks. That one's a big one. It's ridiculous. People don't if it's not vegetable juice, you have to call it not vegetable juice or fake bull crap in a jar. That's what you should call it, unless it's actually got the product and it's ridiculous.
OK, so I'm get my blood pressure up. James, we haven't started show yet. I'm telling you, I saw that again on something we bought and it's driving me crazy. All right. Now I'm going to breathe. I'm going to control what I can control, said the pot to the kettle here. That's so that was super lame. We're going to go to Carol in Dallas and start off there. Carol, what's going on? How are you?
Hi, Dr. Delonte. Thank you for taking my call. And thank you for your show. You helped me a great deal recently. You are right.
Thank you for being kind and for say nice things about me that makes my heart feel good. Do you have anything in your pantry or your fridge that as a special label on it that is labeled the food for what's actually in it? Oh, I'm pretty sure that my nine month old says, oh, for sure, for sure, baby food store, OK, good for you. It's mashed sweet potatoes and then there's going to be a sticker on it that says contains real sweet potato.
Oh, yeah. All right. So that's not even why you called me to talk about food. So how in the world can I help you?
OK, my question is always dealing with a very contentious husband. OK, best protect and respect my children who have very different points of view about their dad and minimize the continuing emotional and verbal abuse towards me.
Uh, Grossetête, for you. All right. Give me a little bit of data here.
How many kids, if they have two kids and one of them is going to be 14 on Saturday and she has autism, ADHD and epilepsy. And my second one is going to be 18 in about three weeks. And she struggles with ADHD, depression, anxiety and a dose of stupid.
That's one of the gifts of being 18. So it sounds like as you rattle off those diagnosis, those kids have grown up in a somewhat chaotic, unconnected environment. Is that fair? Yes.
And we were married for 15 years and the marriage was filled with emotion and faithful and occasional physical abuse. Oh, please forgive me, but also my 18 year old received a dose of very bad verbal emotional abuse from him.
And I hate that. And I know you said this. Both girls that rape.
Yes, they're both girls, both girls, OK, so they not only were direct recipients of it, but they lived inside of a like a like a vibrating cage where the challenge is that my 14 year old doesn't receive any of it.
She is the perfect child that could do nothing wrong. And because she has multiple diagnoses, according to her father, she can do no wrong and he doesn't want her to play and he doesn't want anything happening to her whatsoever. And he treats her like a princess.
So, Carol, make no mistake, she's definitely, definitely absorbing this, no question.
Is it a good way? That's exactly right. Yeah. There's no question she's a part of this.
Recently, he and her had a discussion regarding I guess she overheard my husband and I talking about some of the physical abuse or something. And certainly it's not something I talk about to my kids. But and she went to her dad to talk to them or talk to him about why he did it. And he told her that it was all my fault and that I had started it all.
OK. So she be. Of course. Yes. Yeah, she's 14. And here's the thing. A 14 year old that's already wrestling with so many Conexion challenges, trying to put those puzzle pieces together and make sense of the math in her head, because right now she's got a guy that she saw and experienced and felt and absorbed, treat her mom one way for her entire childhood. And she has a guy who also is telling her that he loves her, will do anything, go to the ends of the earth for her.
And while she thinks that feels good, why that makes sense in her head, her brain. This can't put that math together because the math doesn't work. And you are seeing that play out in all kinds of behavior disorders and connection issues and abilities to process and be still and on and on and on and on.
So all of that is there.
What's your what's your your question? How can I help in this situation? Just messy.
So how do I deal with all the craziness that I'm getting from him. So if there's. But with 18 year old as well, I get up to a hundred texts in a row and I'm trying to navigate, you know, I have one child that idolize. Another child that hates dad and would be happy if he never came back again. Sure. And so then they're kind of arguing back and forth with dad, says Dad. And then I'm trying to do the right thing and respect both of them.
And they're both of their opinions. And I feel very caught in the middle and I can't even cut off the craziness that I get from him.
So, yeah, a couple of things here.
Number one, you have a right and a responsibility to both yourself and demonstrating this for your girls, what boundaries look like, what firm, strong boundaries. And so someone is not going to send me a hundred text messages in a row, especially if they are abusive or they are negative or accusing or in any way going to hurt or set my children up for failure.
And so I'm going to have boundaries like, hey, we will communicate on this day between this time, please don't send me one hundred text messages ever again. Like, let me know what you need to let me know and then we're going to move on from there. It's more than one or two text messages and you need to have a phone conversation or send me an email.
But don't do that to my cell phone again. And you have a right and permission to draw those boundaries. And it's going to be healthy for them to see you do that. The same thing is your daughters have this is their dad. And so what's more important than what you're going to say about him is what you're going to model for them. And so if you model for them, as hard as it's going to be.
That they are going to be respectful and not talk negative and and now you're 18 year old, an adult, she's a grown up. So at some point you soon you only need to go out and have that conversation. You're a grown up young woman. You get to make your own decisions and that you're going to support her in the ways that you can, especially if she's making healthy decisions and wise decisions. But your 14 year old's 14 and the last thing you want to do is set yourself up to where you were talking bad about their dad, however hard that may be, unless it gets into their psychological and physical safety at that point, then you don't go to them with those concerns.
You go to the authorities, you go back to your original divorce decree and you work through that system there. But you want to model what respect and dignity looks like even when it's hard. And now you're playing a long game. You're not trying to win the affection of a 14 year old. You're trying to model boundaries, strength, respect, dignity, a powerful, brilliant, strong woman, which is what you are. That's what you're modeling to your 14 year old.
You're not trying to make her like you right now. You're playing a 10 year, five year, 15 year game.
And someday she will go, oh, my mom's incredible. And she put up with this mom.
Why didn't you ever say that? Why didn't you ever. And that's when you can be more demonstrative and open about those those why you did what you did, your 18 year old man. She's an adult. Why won't your 18 year old cut off dad if he's being ugly to her and she does want nothing to do with him? She does to some extent, she blocks him frequently, unfortunately, I then get the text messages from him saying that I'm a horrible mother for a wedding party, that yadda, yadda, yadda.
So and so again, right there. Right there. You're going to tell him I'm will not hold on. That's when you're going to tell him I will not receive messages from you that are disparaging to me.
We're done with that. OK, ok.
And feel free to hold your boundary. And when he does then just respond back and say I'm blocking you till tomorrow because I've asked you to speak with me, to me with respect. And you're not upholding that. And so we're done talking for the day and then we'll talk the next day. And if it continues, if it escalates, that's when you call your your lawyer back.
But your 18 year old is a grown up. She's an adult. Right. Is she still receiving money from him, like for school or for clothes or phone or anything like that?
She periodically goes to him and asks him for money. But for the most part, what usually happens in that situation is he'll say that he's going to do it and then he'll either send it to her and demand it back for one reason or another. She's disrespected him for Christmas. He was supposed to give her a gift. And he said then that he she had disrespected him. So he was only going to get the one child a gift and not the other.
Wow. OK, so I think this is a wonderful, extraordinary learning opportunity. A moment for a mom who's been through it to sit down with her daughter and talk about. When you accept money, when you accept gifts, when you accept fill in the blank you were, then when you are going to call, then you are opening yourself up to all sorts of other ABCDs.
Right. And I think it's an important thing you can teach her about boundaries, even if you lead with how being vulnerable and letting her know you haven't always been great at setting boundaries. You've had a hard time because you loved this guy. You had two kids together. There was some good stuff. There was some really rough stuff. Life is hard. And you were still learning how to set boundaries and you're going to start practicing this stuff. And if she wants to not be around someone that's going to be manipulative and gaslighting and display these these just heartbreaking behaviors when dads manipulate their kids like that just breaks my heart.
I think. Be open with your adult daughter and let her know every time you call back, every time you block and say, I'm done with this nonsense. But then you call them back in a few weeks and ask for 40 bucks for the cell phone bill, you are just inviting all this thing back over again. And that's when you can teach her about dignity, working her butt off, setting herself up financially to be successful. All those things in a row.
That's when that's when you can really, really begin to make a difference in their life.
But what I'm going to ask you to do is don't, don't, don't, don't take the low road and badmouth that. Don't take unless again, unless it's a safety issue. Don't take the low road, don't badmouth dad, don't run him under the ground to lift yourself up, to try to make your daughters feel better. Your 18 year old, an adult now as young as I know, she probably feels to you and your 14 year old is going to watch everything you do.
So model the high road model, the high road model, the high road, protect those kids. Be honest when you have to be vulnerable and demonstrate boundaries. And now you're talking about systemic change. So these young girls don't end up in hard situations in the future and they learn how to walk on firm footing on a on a firm sidewalk. And then that's legacy change and stuff there. So thank you so much for the call.
Let's go to Jordan in Raleigh, North Carolina. Jordan, what's up?
Hey, what's up, doc? How are you doing? I'm all right, brother. How are we doing?
Doing OK. Hey, I wrote my question down. So if I sound like a robot, it's because I'm reading it.
Hey, I don't write anything down and I sound like a robot. So, dude, it's it's all good. Man, how can I help? Cool. Cool, man. So, hey, I'm married to my wife about a year ago. She is a full time paramedic and is in school. Over the past few months, she's been taking unprescribed Xanax on and off where she didn't exist. The first time I had some I get like crazy anxiety from flying.
So I have taken Xanax three times in my life for the past three flights I've been on. I had a couple in a sock drawer. Basically, that was the first time she took them. And then the times after that, she's been she found a drug dealer and it's been going to him. So which makes it a little bit. What's that? Go ahead, man. I'll get on you later. We'll go ahead and keep it good. You're good.
Yeah, you're get what makes us a little more scary is that she struggled with heroin addiction in the past. So I guess my question is, how do I continue to love and support her at the same time, not start to build up resentment and our boundaries and options?
So the first thing is to stop giving your former heroin addict wife drugs. That's number one. Oh, yeah, yeah, I did I did not give them to her whatsoever. Did you steal them from you?
Yes, she took them from me. She did. They were not given to her. I would never in a million years do that ever. I'm sorry if that's what it sounded like. So did not give them there.
So why did she. How did that conversation go when you found out she had stolen your your prescription medication? So I didn't know because I don't I I pulled them out when I go on flights and I don't fly very often, so I never would have known honestly, I don't plan on going anywhere any time soon. So she told me the very next day she took them. There were there were three in there and she took all three. We woke up the next morning and first thing in the morning she said, hey, there's something I got to tell you.
Your daughters and I took them and I took them on. You know, she apologized. Everything OK? So that was the first to.
So is she now getting these prescribed to her by Dr..
No, no, she said she's finding them, you know, she's calling a drug dealer and meeting with them to to get them.
So I was going I have a a psychiatric I have a part of my will, which is a psychiatric power of attorney, meaning if I ever disassociate and I have to be institutionalized, what do I want them to do to me while I'm there? What do I not want them to do while I'm there?
And the addictive properties of Xanax and other Bonzo's benzodiazepines is so bad.
I have in my psychiatric power of attorney that if I'm institutionalized, they are not allowed to give me that drug.
That's how much I hate that drug.
Yeah, it should never be given as a one off. Right.
As a Tic-Tac, as a as a feel good. Right. Yeah. And so I got a problem with whatever doctor gave them to you that way. Right. And the second is. Yeah. If you've got an active addict in the home having prescription medications is that's not wise. The second the second thing is. She is a paramedic, dude, she other people's lives count on her being fully present and not high. And so this is a marriage issue.
Obviously, one year in. This is an addiction issue. One year in and this is an also a professional ethics issue.
She's going to kill somebody, man. Yeah, I mean, right now, she I do know for a fact she's not taking these on the job. Hey, listen, listen, listen.
I know, but you know too. Right, right. Yeah.
No, I don't want to be in the business of running your wife down, OK? I'm trying to get you to realize how serious this is, OK? Right. And I know, you know, that is serious, but. So at the end of the day, if your wife has a heroin addiction in her past and she is back to, I'm as concerned about the actual narcotic as I am about the behavior and the sneaking the off script, the lying, the then circling back and I'm sorry, what happened again?
And then I'm going to a dealer now. All the while, I'm in a really, really high stress, emotionally high strung job. And by the way, I'm going to go ahead and get a graduate degree to on top of that.
That's why what you call the brother. That is a recipe for a train wreck. Right. Right, right. Yeah.
So when you sit down and have this hard conversation with her, how does it go? What does she say?
Well, we didn't have the hard conversation up until a couple days ago because after this has happened on and off for about three months and in between those three months, it's only happened about where she has come to me to tell him to tell me that she is taking a Xanax. It's only happened just a handful of times. So I do.
I guarantee you, you take that number and double it, right? Yeah, if not, you're right.
But but the way we handle it from there is, you know, first of all, thank you for telling me. You know, I know you're going through a lot. Like what? You know, what's what's kind of leading to this. You know, where you at mentally or emotionally when you take one? And, you know, can we find ways to fill that hole another way? You know, she likes to you know, she likes fitness and she likes to journal and, you know, so just trying to find ways to cope other than, you know, Xanax, because I know her job is ridiculous.
Right. So this last time we we had a fight and it kind of was me getting to a point of like, OK, I've said sorry, I've gotten over it and pressed on. And now in a selfish way, I guess now I want some answers, you know?
Yeah, I think I think that's fair. I think that's super fair.
Yeah. And yeah, the basically the conversation was, you know, let's. Basically, you know, show me what you're doing, tell me what you're doing, you know, to fill to fill this hole that's come up with a I guess it doesn't sound any different than it's always been, but. Right, exactly. And hey, here's what's going on.
You know, and I'm grateful for you. And I know that you are trying to love your wife the best way you know how. OK, so I'm not I'm not drinking the hatred on that one at all. I know you're trying to love her the best you can. What's going to end up happening is that that constricting pressure, those old demons that are being that are coming out that surfaced with whatever trauma led to the heroin addiction. Right. And the things that happened before that.
And I bet you and I could talk for a long time about her her heroin history.
Right. And her pre heroin history. Right. Is that my fear? Am I right on that? Absolutely. OK, so she she comes here. Whatever stressors are going on her life and those demons start calling the tendency that you're going to have is compassion first. Like, right.
Just like, hey, what's going on? How can we help? Hey, there's just some other things we can do. And really quick, you are going to get lumped into the box of stressors. You are going to become part of the problem because you're going to be something that she has to work around because you are holding her accountable. You want to see these behaviors. You want to see these things change the same as the paramedic job, the same as the grad school homework and a partridge in a pear tree.
And pretty soon she's already practicing deceiving you. Right. And pretty soon that's just if it's not already, that's just going to be common. That's just going to be a routine in your home.
And so I don't want to sound any alarms that unnecessarily. But this is this relationship's on real shaky, shaky ground.
And I'm worried about the health and heart of your wife.
OK, she's working with a professional at all with a counselor. How does she how does she kick her heroin habit?
Rehab. OK, and then she she did some in a she's done that a couple of times. She's been in rehab a couple of times in the past and she kicked heroin before we met, was sober for a long time, then left the program and just would do a glass of wine every, you know, every other day or something. Maybe it kind of empowered her in a way that she was like, you know, wow, I used to not be able to even finish up like I used to drive.
Right? Yeah, I'm all good now. Yeah. OK, right. And then it's just kind of led to where we are now. So but to answer your question, she does have a therapist. She meets over Zoome OK, maybe once a month.
So here's here's your next move. And and I'm, I'm telling you this, this is what I would do if I was in the same situation with the woman I love, the woman that I really want to be. Well, and I. I see her on a path to destruction. Right.
I would tell her that I and I would do this while I'm holding her hands.
Right. So she feels you I would let her know that you are real. You're terrified. That's the best word I can tell you, that you're terrified. You're scared for her and about her. And she's going try to make you feel better. She's going to go into paramedic mode. She's good at that. That's what she does. She goes into people's hardest moments and brings the the noise level down and helps them there. And then I want you to ask her for permission to join her in her next session, her next counseling session, because you are worried about the Xanax and the sneaky behavior and the hiding behavior.
And here's what you can do in a beautiful, vulnerable way that is also truthful and honoring to her. You can tell her that you are struggling with hearing her, hearing her stories is true that you are having for us. You are having concerns and doubts and fears. So you're not going to call her a liar, but you're going to let her know. I'm starting to struggle with these doubts and I don't want we're a year end. I don't want our relationship to get any more cracks in the foundation that needs to.
I want to join you with your counselor. I want to let your counselor know what's going on. I want to be on the same page together. I'm not helping you by giving you a bunch of new rules and a bunch of new behaviors that you've got to start showing me. I'm not helping, but I don't have the tools to to do this on my own. I want to join you. And that's when you are going to ask if she let you do this, then you're going to talk openly and candidly with the counselor and the counselor is going to give you some very real and direct strategies and tools.
And if the counselor doesn't and says something dumb like, well, what do you think, then I want you to find another counselor or find a marriage counselor on Zoome, and then you both are going to go do that.
You're going to be vulnerable here on two different counts. Number one, you're going to ask her for something. That you need and she might tell, you know, and if she says, you cannot join my counseling session, I refuse, then every alarm bell you have should go off about the status and safety of your relationship.
And the second thing is this man, she's been through the wringer before and she understands the trajectory she's on cognitively. It's just that that spiritual part, that addiction demon man is mean, mean, mean, right and gnarly.
And hopefully your counselor, Yarl's counselor, her counselor, will walk you through a series of really hard boundaries that you're going to hold hard, hard, hard, and is going to give you some tools on how to hold your wife with a lot.
A lot. A lot of grace.
OK. So I don't want to, again, be an alarmist, your situation is real rough right now, brother, and your wife situation is rough and scary and she's headed not in a good direction.
And again, if you're listening this and you're like, dude, she took three Xanax, chill out. She got like ten Xanax from some due to work. What is your problem? When you have a history of addiction. When you are in a helping profession on top of a graduate school, a challenging graduate school program, at that moment, those demons come calling and it starts with one and it starts with two and three. And then it starts with the I'm just going to steal these from my husband and I'll tell him about it later and see how on a test the water there.
Oh, he was kind of cool. He forgave me. Cool. I'm going to have another one. I'm going to tell me about this one, but I'm only going to come out every fifth one.
And now we're setting up new rhythms to our day.
We are lying as a regular part of life and the stress never gets dealt with. The pain never gets dealt with. The connection starts to fracture. And Fisher with the dishonesty and suddenly, man, you are full blown over your head again. The only way through addiction is through connection with other people. And that's what makes addiction so evil, is there's so many barriers to keep you from having to connect and it just loops on itself.
And so, hey, Jordan, I want you to have that hard conversation with her. I want you to ask if you can join her and speak openly with her counselor on her behalf, on your behalf.
And then I want you to call me back and let me know how that goes. And I'm happy to receive a call from her. If she wants to call me, she says I'm full of crap. Give me a shout. Or if she's getting scared, tell her to give me a shout. And if you want to call me back, I'd love to talk to you to thank you for that.
Call is a hard, hard times, man. If you've got somebody in your life that has struggled with addiction in the past, man, be smart and open and intelligent. And those are all three different things. Be smart and intelligent about having prescription medication in the house. Be really wary of Renzo's man. Talk hard with your doctor and your psychiatrist. There was a season where they were just passing those suckers out like Tic Tacs and they've rein them in the last couple of years just because they're so stinking addictive.
But they are. They're just passed out like bubble gum in certain pockets. Still, I stay away from those with every ounce of my being and those are tough, tough, tough.
Brother Jordan, my heart's out for you, man. All right. So I get this question a lot, and this is kind of a quick detour. Left turn and we'll get back to a call. I get this email a lot. This is just an example of one. This email comes from Marcus. He said you recently and I've been talking with AMA article AMA podcast gave you your thoughts on the importance of reading fiction, especially before bed.
Why is that a good idea? All right, so here's the deal with reading fiction. I hear this a lot, a lot, especially in the science community, in the nerd communities.
My buddies who are researchers, they constantly are saying, I don't have time to read fictional time for that. I'm going to read bedtime stories. Dude, you wrote me articles I need to be reading. There's so many great nonfiction books and science books and research things I can be reading. I don't have time to even read all that. Here's the thing.
If you talk to mental health professionals, folks who are not just see it, I just got my degree and just have a warm candle and take some time. If you talk to actual seasoned mental health researchers to a person, if you say, hey, give me 10 books I need to read, a chunk of them are always fiction. Here's why. There's two big, big reasons why.
And then I'll give you my personal reason why I don't read science at bedtime. Important reason no one is there. Some say there's some psychological science, some neurological science about reading fiction and how it helps you get in the heart and head of another person, if you will, of a character of what they're going through, of their body type of their environment, of whatever character arc the author has set them on.
And it teaches you empathy. And you get to practice this empathy and experience this empathy through the eyes of another character.
Your different parts of your brain take on fiction. Then they take on science, literature, nonfiction. So you're actually exercising a different part of you in the lights up in different places.
And so think of reading fiction as a journey and empathy as a character study, as a way to learn about people and as a way just to get absorbed into a story. Right. There's one study at the University of Toronto that also talks about reading fiction increases creativity. You get to think about different options. Maybe those will choose your own adventure books that for those of us who are old, old people that we had when we were kids and you get to think through, I don't like that ending.
I'm going to go to this ending and then go to that ending. You get to start seeing here's the ripple effect. The domino effect of each decision in my life in your brain takes it on. And so it's different than just learning a piece of science, applying science and applying. You get to see the world through somebody's eyes, experience it, experience ramifications of their decisions. And your body in your mind begin to own those things. You get to turn off the analytical side, the quote unquote.
I'm reading this because it sounds like I'm talking out of both sides of my mouth and one, you to practice empathy. But number two, you get to turn off the lie off the I've got to be productive with every second of my time because it's not growing. I'm doing stop, dude. Sometimes your body just needs to go who sometimes you just need to experience being in the eyes and hearts of another character.
It relieves stress. If you haven't just sat and read through the Harry Potter books, if you haven't set and read through the, I don't know, the Hunger Games series, that's not super cheery, but they're excellent, right? If you haven't sat through and just read through good fiction after good fiction, those are both young adult fiction, which I love.
Give yourself permission to give it a shot, give it a shot. And not like Kelly, who just picks up non-fiction about more murders and serial killers and more death and destruction and evil and all that stuff.
Hunger Games is kind of, but it's just awesome.
But find a series, just trust me, practice it and try. And so one other reason, one of the things that I live by is I don't read science at bedtime when I get home from work unless I'm in the middle of working on a book or a talk.
I don't read science books in the evening. I don't read nonfiction. I read fiction, even hard, weird fiction, wacky stuff I love. But I read it because it lets my brain unplug from the day. And so much of us are always craving another podcast, another to listen to this podcast, but are trying to cram another podcast, another book, another book, another science book, another. This is in our bodies and our heads like dude, enough because you've got work on top of that and you got relationships enough.
Give your heart and mind a break.
Start to see the world through somebody else's eyes.
Another culture's eyes, another group's eyes experience the weight of their decisions. What happens, what you would have done differently. Live those things, get lost in a good fiction book, give it a shot. And if it was a waste of your time, then so be it. Kelly will actually buy the book back from you. You can ask direct email her directly and she'll Venmo you the money. She won't do that. But that was just funny to say.
All right, let's take one more call. Let's go to Sandra in Chicago. Sandra, what's up? Hi, Dr. Delonte.
Thanks for taking some time with me today. Hey, thank you for your call. Is it Sandra, Sandra, Sandra, Sandra. Yes, OK, often I miss. All right, so it's so good to talk to you. Is it freezing or regular there in Chicago? It is.
Well, it's a regularly freezing balmy. Twenty three degrees today.
Twenty three. Yeah. Oh, wow. That's incredible. Good for you, Sandra. All right. So what's going on? And how can I help?
I was hoping that you could help me with some grief. Tactics are. Methods, perhaps. So in twenty eighteen, my family had a pretty lousy year starting, this will be bad for me. Hold on one second.
Hey, you're good. You're good to starting with my sons, my adult sons.
Heroin overdose. Oh, man. I'm sorry. And then then I lost my dad to advanced dementia in May and then my younger brother in December died suddenly. But really, the I struggle the most with my situation with my son.
Tell me about him. Well, he he had a difficult life, so he was a heroin addict. He would often make bad decisions and spent a lot of time in and out of jail.
So so my process, I feel like I've been grieving for or maybe grieving incorrectly for 12, 15 years at least. LGM. You know, things like the. Every holiday. Yeah, even what we had was a lot of questions like, well. He's in jail, so he's not experiencing it, so I just. Surround myself with guilt. Yeah. And you beat yourself up for who he was as a young boy in the situations that happened in his life and then the.
The dinners that turned into the most holidays, it turned into the jail time, which turned into the ultimate price. So first and foremost, I'm heartbroken for you. People aren't supposed to have years like 2018. And I know that's probably insulting to you to hear all the people whining about 20, myself included. Right.
And I know for you you can think you guys want me to tell you about a bad year, right?
That's that's a lot. You lost what I would be willing to wagers the three of most important men in your entire life.
Right. Hmm. What did what did grieving look like with him? What the funeral look like? What are the circumstances surrounding that look like? So probably the start of a bad process, I would say. As you can imagine, I don't go with these things very well, but you're doing great. Oh, thanks. Well, we so we did a private service with just the immediate family. Yeah. And, you know, I don't I didn't want I first of all, I don't know friends.
I mean, I don't know people I didn't know people to come to actors and things like that for him and for us, you know, our outside circle of friends and associates and things I just couldn't do a day of. And. It was hard to you didn't want to answer questions and have to do the reception line and yeah, exactly. So it was just it was just immediate family.
So, Sandra, this is going to be either easier said than done. But you've got to stop judging yourself. You've got to stop being ashamed of the person your son was. Yes, right.
And I know every single mom, the moment they hold that little baby boy they have met. I've listened to my wife. Fast forward, you know, in year one, I hope I like his wife and I'm like, what? Right. And I think we're going to have the wedding.
And you're like, we we are slow the roll. Right.
I know that every mom holds that little baby and just a narrative unfolds. Right. A story unfolds and it is really hard. And every morning you wake up. Here we are, two years, three years later. And that story is not going to happen, right? It's not going to come true. The more you avoid putting a period at the end of that story, the more you continue to carry those bricks of I failed as a mom.
My son was a failure.
That is, long as you hold that shame, that identity as a grieving mom, it's going to beat you up spiritually and psychologically.
Your health is going to suffer from that. And I want you to know you're worth more than that. Oh, thank you. You don't believe that, but I'm telling you, and I want you just to get on YouTube or listen to the podcast over and over and just hit refresh. Refresh on that you are worth.
Grieving this year worth holding your head high and you are worth living the rest of the years that you've got left boldly and unapologetically and with the new spirit of meaning about it.
OK. Thank you. No, you bet, you bet. And do all of us wish we could take things back as from our kids childhood? Yup. All right.
And so those things that may have happened that you think through that pop into your head, here's what I want you to do. I want you to consciously, whether you've got to say out loud and I have to do this to myself sometimes when that thing, that conversation that you had when you were a kid or that thing that happened when he was young and you wish you could have done it differently or your husband said this one thing.
And I want you just to if you have to yell it, but just say stop. That's right, say it out loud. No, because at this point moving forward, I want you to consider those intrusive thoughts, those shameful moments, those well, if you'd only thoughts, I want you to say no. I want you to listen to the I mean, I want you to know those are now decisions from this point forward. And focusing on those won't help your son.
Focusing on those won't help heal your heart. They're just going to keep you chained to the shame and shame to change the past, right?
So you said something earlier that I really want to lean on and I want you to listen to me closely.
OK, OK. There is no such thing as an incorrect way to grieve something other than not grieving at all. And this is three years, two and a half years, you're getting up right, you're about a month and a half away, two months away, you're getting up on the third anniversary and it's going to those little anxiety bells are going to start ringing louder and louder. Remember? Remember, right. And then you're going to interpret what I would probably assume going to be a dark season when your body remembers.
Twenty, eighteen. Right. One loss after another, loss after another loss.
There is not an incorrect way to grieve that other than to shove it down and act like it's not happening. OK, so here's a couple of things that I've walked alongside.
Folks that they found helpful in the past that I found helpful in the past.
Number one, you cannot cannot under any circumstances hinder grief by yourself.
OK, so this is the time, and I know it's super annoying and hard with covid, especially in the city of Chicago, you've got to find somebody, a small group, an individual, a councillor, somebody that you can say out loud, I'm not going to be ashamed of my son anymore. I'm going to choose to remember the great, good stuff about him. He probably had a sweet, sweet soul. I'm going to remember the joy and fun that we had when he was younger.
I'm just not going to focus on the negative stuff because it doesn't do anybody any good. And I want you to experience that vulnerability and that shame letting. You've got to do that with somebody else. OK, that's going to be vulnerable. Moment number one for you, vulnerable.
Moment number two is I want you to write him a letter that tells him about what the crap is going on in twenty, twenty one and that you miss him like crazy.
I want you to write him a second letter. Possibly with this person, right, and I want you maybe you read it to this person, if you're super hardcore and vulnerable and tough, I want you to write him a second letter and tell him that you're heartbroken that he left you. Because it's OK to be angry with him, it's OK to be frustrated with him, it's OK to be really, really pissed off at him.
And then the third letter, I want you to write him and tell him who you're becoming. But I want you to write it as though you want him to know how proud of you he should be because you're going to be the mom who now you're going to go take dance lessons once the lockdown is over and you're going to learn Spanish and you're going to start delivering Meals on Wheels, you are going to start living this shame free, this unfettered life.
That's not going to be a forgetting of him not going to be forgetting your dad and forgetting your brother. But it's going to be in celebration up. It's going to be meaning making love.
And when you get a group and you spend some hard, hard minutes writing these letters to them to to your to your son and then have to be all the same day especially shouldn't be on the same day.
When you do this, what's going to start to happen is you're going to start to smile. You're going to start to heal a little bit. You're going to have good days. You have real bad days. And on the bad days, I want you to go, well, that's my body trying to take care of me again. I want you to smile at those days and then get back on the covers if you need to. And if you got to go to work, you got to get up.
And that's you're going to reach out to your buddies and to your friends because you can't do this alone. And over time, you're going to begin to make meaning here and what making meaning looks like is different for everybody.
It may be you joining a group to go talk to young boys who are getting into drugs. It may be you writing letters to young addicts in jail and letting them know that, hey, their mom loves them and that you will be there when they get out. It may be that you're going to help knit and crush. I don't know. I don't know what you do. You may you may build machine guns there. I don't know what you do, but you're going to be making meaning.
For the rest of your life, sounds like a good idea. But here's the all of this is under one giant shell, which is this. You have to decide I'm not going to wear the identity. I'm not going to consider myself a failed mom. I'm not going to consider myself somebody who's just grieving for the rest of their life. Is the ache of the loss of your son is going to be there denigrated as he was your baby boy?
But that's not going to define you. You're going to have to let that go. And letting that go is going to feel like you're letting him go.
OK, and you are going to have to mom or you have to have a moment where you let him go. And that's when you get to live in those joyful, however few they are, however many they are. That's when you get to live in those joyful, joyful moments. So I wouldn't wish twenty eighteen that you experience on anybody, even people I can't stand being around. That's heavy and hard, heavy and hard. I'm sorry, experience that if you want to be real brave, Sandra.
When you get a chance, when you write one of those letters, I'd love for you to call it in and read it out on the show.
I think that would be healing for millions of people who are experiencing disconnection from their kids, who are heartbroken over, you know, children who've made choices that they don't agree with and are locking them up all the struggles. I think that a beautiful, beautiful moment. That's hard, though.
That's really hard. You don't have to do that.
But it would be a blessing. Whoo!
Thank you so much for that call, Sandra. We love you. And we care about you, too. All right. So we're going to end the show on a totally one hundred eighty degree positive note. I'm going to leave us out here with a smile on her face.
Actually, it's kind of a depressing song, but I mean it in a positive way. OK, so I'm going to take us all back to my childhood. A small little green puppet. And love the pig. The frog was doing everything he could to win this pig's affection, the pig say no pig said no, pig said no, and the frog said it's not easy being green.
And he wrote a little song and it goes like this.
It's not easy being green, having to spend each day the color of the leaves when I think it could be nicer being red or yellow or gold or something much more colorful like that. It's not easy being green. It seems you blend in with so many other ordinary things and people tend to pass you over because you're not standing out like flashy sparkles in the water or stars in the sky. Right.
But green is the color of spring and green can be cool and friendly like and green can be big like the ocean or important like a mountain or tall like a tree.
When green is all there is to be, it could make you wonder why. But why wonder why. Wonder I'm green and it'll do just fine. It's beautiful and I think it's what I want to be and I really want that pig to love me. This has been the Dr. John Doe on show.