On today's show, we talk to a mom who wants some tips on how she can support her son, who's a freshman in college and living in a residence hall, we talked to a husband whose wife and him have different sleeping schedules and they want to know how they can unite.
And we talked to a remarkable mom and wife who has a great husband, but he just doesn't take care of himself and she's scared she's going to lose him. Also, we talk about how to take bricks out of your backpack and a special teaching segment. Stay tuned.
Hey, what is up? Good morning. Good afternoon. Good evening. Good night. I don't know where you are and what time it is, but I hope you're doing well. Hope things are going well in your life. Hope people around you are using their head. Hope you're not watching too much news. Because and I know the other things I just said that I hope things are going well, would not be going well. This is a Dr.
John Delonas show. We're so glad you're here. I'm glad you're here. On this show.
We talk to real people about real things going on in their real lives, right? Not the imaginary Internet worlds, not the imaginary news worlds or Netflix worlds, but real things going on real people's lives, mental health challenges, relationship, all of it, whatever is happening. I love talking to folks, walking alongside people. I like figuring it out for myself because I'm a dad. I'm a husband, too. I'm trying to figure out what to do next as well.
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Not quite a geek segment, but we're going to get some emails that are keep coming and coming in. So we're going to dress some of these bigger picture things. But let's first go to Nikki in Salt Lake City, Utah. Nikki, what's going on?
Not much. It's pretty early here. I can't even imagine. You sound like it is four, 30 in the morning and it might be in Salt Lake City almost.
No, just kidding. I'm getting up and getting ready.
Well, thanks for joining us so early on your side of the earth. How's it going?
Good. I am a mom of six. My oldest son is a freshman in college this year. All right. Because of them. Yeah, it's exciting because of some health concerns that he's had and also some dumb decisions that he's made. He's down to his last hundred dollars in the bank. Yeah. And so I know he's going to need help, but I want to know how I can go about helping him in a way that will cause him to be more independent in the future.
Gosh, so this is a big shock to parents everywhere that you're a freshman in college made some potentially dumb decisions.
So you're out on an island there by yourself on this vinicky and I'm sorry.
So joining the ranks of every parent who's ever lived in the history of Earth, your 18 year old did some dumb things. Talk me through that. What are some of the challenges he's experiencing? Well, his senior year of high school was pretty rough. He was he was signed up for five AP classes, had his job after school. He knew that he would have to save up for his living expenses and that we would pay tuition. But then he he started having seizures.
And we we went to a million doctors. They ruled out all of the life threatening, scary things. And they said they were kind of related to stress.
Stress really good. Yeah. And it's it's common in people who have been victims of sexual abuse or for vets to have so much stress that their body reacts that way. Right. A few months later, he was also diagnosed with Type one diabetes. So he he had like the worst senior year ever. And working through the summer was difficult for him. And I think one of the ways he copes is that he plays video games. So, you know, I'll check on his accounts every once in a while and go, oh, my gosh, you've got one hundred and fifty dollars.
Why did you spend more money on video games?
Right. So I don't want to give him a large sum of money because I think he would spend it on video games. And, you know, I have this internal debate like, oh, it's so hard. They're quarantined at college. They're not in classes talking to people. But on the other hand, you know, I don't want them to waste all of his time online gaming. Sure. You know, instead of actually learning something at school.
Yeah. So how are his his grades? He's testing there, they're kind of mediocre, not representative of a guy who was academically successful enough to be in five AP classes just a year ago. Right. Yeah, well, he's he's studying computer science and animation, so art classes and computer science classes, people hyper focused on those, he loves those subjects. And then it's like, oh, I may not test writing, I may not pass history.
So, I mean, I'm OK with him getting CS in the classes that he doesn't want to. And and, you know, when I talked to him, he says, Mom, I can tell I need a better work ethic. I need to do well so I can get into this program that I want to get into.
Does he take advantage of the resources at school, at the university? You mean like the disability resources or even even beyond that, every college on Earth has staff that are will teach you how to to learn new study, study skills, learn new study strategies.
There's a counseling center. There are health clinics. There are yeah, there is disability support resources. There's all sorts of resources. There's a residence hall director who will is this their job is to create community even in this wacky, messy time. And I've been on the phone with a couple of them this past week, even former colleagues that are just calling me to ask me for professional advice. There's so many resources at the college university level. And what I find often is especially unplugged, disconnected freshmen boys.
Right. Freshmen young men will get disconnected if they don't have the tool, the relationship tools. They don't understand how hard relationships can be and that you've got to work at them.
And then really video games become. They become alcohol, they become they become weed, they become a way to disconnect, they become a way to just numb out. Right. It just makes things I can just kind of tune out. Right. It doesn't come with the same social stigma or the same, you know, legality issues.
But it's the same thing. It's just a numbing out. I'm just I'm stressed completely by myself here, and so I'm unplugging a little bit.
So does he not take advantage of any of those resources at all?
So I do know that they have like free mental health services for kids.
And hey, by the way, you like how we do that. Colleges, they'll charge you a hundred thousand dollars and then they'll be like, but we've got free counseling.
Right? So this is just a call to anyone in America. If you want to send me fifty thousand dollars, I will give you all the free counseling you would like all day long. But yeah. So they've got counseling services, study school services, academic support services. Does he take advantage of that? I encouraged him to get on the list for some mental health counseling. And there's such a long list because of covid, I put him on the wait list and I don't think he's gotten in and it's middle of second semester.
OK, so that's kind of a bust. I have encouraged him to go to the disability office. And I said, you know, if you need more time for homework, they could work something out. But here's the thing.
It doesn't sound like he needs more time for homework. It sounds like he needs some skills. And I'm not going to beat him up because I don't know what his obviously, you said he's been through a lot. Right. But he's got to acknowledge the fact that I need some more skills, not just say it out loud, man. I really have a bad work ethic. And so I'm going to go buy another game because I know I have a deficiency.
And instead of dealing with that deficiency, that challenge, I'm going to numb out. Right. I'm going to check out. So you're saying I need to do these things and then going to get the help you need is important.
So two things you've told me.
One, I would lean heavily on the school, heavily on the school. And I'm telling you that as somebody who over the last 15 years, parents all over the country have leaned heavily on me. I need more counseling resources we need to do. My kid is paying the same as everybody else.
They haven't been able to get to a counselor at my last university that I worked at with Belmont University, their counseling center did some such extraordinary turn of events, such extraordinary shifts and changes in how they provided care for people. It was revolutionary and they begin to deserve a much wider group of students because they had to do things differently and they rose to that challenge. So I tell you as a parent, don't just accept, well, it's been seven months, but they can't get in.
I want you to get on the phone there because you're paying that bill and want your son to get on the phone and say, hey, this isn't good enough that I'm just been on a wait list for this long.
The second thing is, I would not continually fund. I hate to say misbehaviour, I would not continue to fund a continued behavior set, right. So if my son showed me I'm going to go get the help I need, I'm going to go get these additional skills, then I would be more likely to support him. But right now, he is choosing to not do the things that are going to help him be. Well, in light of the challenges he's experiencing, does that make sense?
And and so I know as mom, the hard part is, you know, how hard is his health issues have been? You know, how hard his stress has been. So much that his body said, hey, we're we're we're fritzing out here. Right. The body started shutting down because of the stress. And so as a mom, you want to not feel like you're adding more stress by giving him some boundaries. What I'll tell you is the thing he needs more than anything else is somebody in his corner and somebody who loves him enough to set boundaries and have expectations.
Right. He's not broke and he does have some challenges. He's going to have to learn some new tools for it, but he's not broken. And so I think it's worth noting, letting him know, hey, we love you, we're going to start holding you to a high standard.
You can't buy video games anymore. We're going to cut you off financially. We're just not going to do that.
And, you know, we know we all know locking yourself in your room and just playing video games is not going to help.
You've got to get out and do learn some new skills. If this isn't the season for them to be in college, that's OK. But it's super OK. I one of the challenges, I always worked with students, especially high achieving students, like he sounds like he was is they have a track and if they get off that track, everything in their life spins out. If I don't go to school this semester and the next semester, next semester, it feels like they're going to be twenty one and then they're not going to be able to fill in the blank man.
That semester means nothing in the long term. Nobody knows or cares when you're twenty five. Right. And so it may be if he's not being successful, if he's in five AP classes, he could do somersaults through his freshman and sophomore year of college.
He should be able to make straight A's, maybe a B or two here without trying at all. That tells me if he's getting CS that means he's not trying to work in. That means he's not even opening a book. And some of those other classes, he's not even writing. I mean, he's doing below the bare minimum for somebody who has that sort of intellectual firepower. Right.
When you when you hear. I hear in your voice when you hear me telling you, hey, you're going to have to put the batteries back on a ratchet it back up on him. How does that make you feel? It sounds like you don't like that. That sound of that. I try and analyze every situation. Well, what are the pros of helping what are the cons self-imposed? Like I can I can see the pain. I can see the.
I don't know, like this horrible situation that these college kids were in, you know, the nightmare with three strangers, don't go outside, don't interact with anybody they know social life.
And so that's hard for me to say here's here's this really crappy hand and I'm out.
Yeah, well, no it's not. I'm out. In fact, I'm more in, I am more in, but I'm more in tune with these these particular boundaries. Right. Or you're exactly right. Is there any sense in having your kid go live in a 14 by 14 box with three other people?
Hey, were those just call it we're going to do a community college for you.
You can live at the house, at least in our house. You can run around and see other people. They're your brothers and sisters. You can see other people. And then once this thing opens back up, then we'll all roll back into school. But you're right, these kids are in a nightmare right now. It's ridiculous. So what I don't hear me say roll out what I or just let him off the hook. Let him go. I'm saying the opposite.
I want you to get more plugged in with him with boundaries. If he's if he's going to these resources, if he's checking in with the student support services, if he's learning new skills, if he is limiting video game play to 30 minutes a day, and the other ones, he's going to read, do homework, study, reach out and learn some new skills, then that's great. These kids are so bored, so stressed, so unplugged, so disconnected.
I don't blame them for playing video games. What else can they do? They can't go to the gym. They can't go outside and play Frisbee. They can't go play baseball, can no intermingles. They can do nothing. Right. And so I'm I'm I'm I'm I'm asking the whole big question, why are they even in school right now if that's their that's their life? Some schools have figured it out and are doing some pretty remarkable things. Some are not.
But at the end of the day, what you don't want is a home to go to school.
On top of all the stress he had last year, on top of his health issues, an important part of Type one glycaemic response to sleep, going to bed, getting good sleep every single night of the week. I mean, video games in a room doesn't help with that. They stay up all night. Do that. I know that.
And so how can he get plugged back in and take care of himself from the bottom up? And that may be coming home.
That may be you say, and I'm not going to give you any more money to buy any more video games. You can't keep funding, that is what I'm saying.
But it may also mean you're going to have to have a hard conversation.
Tim, I love you. I love you. I love you.
This isn't working because I don't want you to get into you have straight CS, one or two A's and then he feel like he failed. So that's a different kind of stress. On top of stress.
He's already got a partridge in a pear tree right on and on and on.
So these kids are in a hard situation. That doesn't mean that they don't have boundaries. They're in a completely disconnected, lonely.
That doesn't mean they don't have to do the things that keep them. Well, it moms and dads.
That doesn't mean you just keep putting money in the account so they can keep doing things, whether it's video games, whether it's alcohol, what's buying weed, whether it's whatever it is.
They don't just get a free pass because things are hard right now, they need to do other things right, not just keep plugging along, plugging along, plugging along. I love the fact that you love your son.
That makes my heart feel good. And I I've just worked with I can't even tell you how many kids just like him who've got so many struggles out of their senior year. It's a it's a it's a hard thing. But once you recognize it, then you've got to go make other decisions. It's not going to look like you and I when we went to college or freshman year, we got to own that, then move on. So thank you so much.
I want you to have that hard conversation or have him. How about this? Have him call me. I'd love to have him on the show and talk to you with the last year has been Nikkie and love to talk through some strategies for him because I've talked to students like him for for the last 15, 16, 17 years. And then maybe I can give him some tool. Maybe I can say things to him in a way that he can't hear from his mom or from his dad or from his residence hall director.
That's going to help him make some some broader, heavier life decision changes.
So thank you so much for that call, Nikki. Let's go to Kevin in Provo, Utah, right down the street. Kevin, what's going on, man?
Hey, how much are you doing? Good, man. Good, good, good. How's Provo? Oh, it's good. It's good.
Very cool. Well, brother, what's going on?
How can I help you? So my wife and I are having a communication issue and we've been pretty good our conversations in the past, but we're stuck on one. And I think it's a challenge to have a broader conversation about how to hold conversations and stuff. So but the example that we've been dealing with concerning this lately is kind of a nighttime routine. So we're both really, really busy today. I have a I'm a supervisor at work and I got a lot on my plate.
And she's got three little kids. To drive our kids amazing, she's, you know, full time with them and our our lifetime achievement award. She's like, I'm an early bird. I need to get up early. So I would like to get to bed early. But she is a night owl and she craves a lot of. Connection, once you know, all the kids are in bed, I crave that connection to you. I need to we need to connect each other.
And Tony, Tony was there was a hard year for a lot of people, but for us, we were able to connect with each other more. Yeah. And it was always one of the best years of my life, actually, because we finally got on the same page with a lot of things very cool and and so talking at night. And we have some great alone time together. We'll watch a TV show and we'll just, you know, talk and have conversations, put down the distractions.
We have great conversations. But then the time keeps by and it gets to be, you know, 11, 11, 30, midnight. And I'm looking at the clock and like, I got to get up early. And I, you know, have suffered a lot of landmines in the past couple weeks where I say, like, well, you know, thanks for talking. I love you. And I, you know, I got to get to bed.
And it just really hurts her feelings because she craves about quantity of time. She wants a lot of time to talk. So anyway, how do you what do you recommend? How do you what advice do you have for couples who just. I crave that connection. That really, really helps me. It's helped a lot over the last year.
But like the physical needs, you've got to go to bed, right?
Exactly. Yeah. So my my house is exactly different. My me and my wife schedules are exactly different.
And I'll tell you how we worked through it first.
Was she my wife needs nine or 10 hours of sleep. And I used to think that was ridiculous and silly and that she was being dramatic. Do I have a different human living in my house when she gets seven hours of sleep versus nine?
It's a different human right and I would get home from work. We had the exact opposite when the kids were in bed. She wanted to crawl into bed and be in bed by eight thirty. There's no reason on earth to be awake after nine thirty.
What in the world is happening after nine thirty?
And on the opposite I was working. I work, have hard conversations with people all day, my head spinning all day. I get home and I just want to veg out. I want to kind of almost take a little rest time between six and eight, six or nine. And then we can get up in like then the rest of the evenings, hours and evening being nine till about midnight.
Right. And so ultimately I had to realize two things.
No. One, nobody in our house is healthy or whole if they're not getting the sleep they need to pass. So that became priority number one. OK, so what that what did that mean? That means I had to adjust me. She also had to could adjust up another thirty minutes. Another hour. OK, so we've settled ish on nine thirty or ten. And what I learned with me is that what I thought was I needed with, was craving with connection time and just hangout time.
I needed to be asleep and I was exhausted. I was chronically exhausted all the time and I moved from one thing to another thing to nothing, trying to just prop myself up to stay awake, stay awake, stay weak. Because then I was like, I finally get this time, man, that ended up being a disaster.
So I've learned over the last five to seven years, man, if I'm up past nine thirty or ten now, I am I hate everything. I hate everything.
Right. I love going to bed now.
And so it took me changing my thoughts.
It took me. How about this. Here's here's a way to practice it. Yeah. When you get home and you help with bedtime, do you help with the bedtime routine. Yeah, I do do a lot.
That's awesome. And so you help with a bedtime routine structure that after bedtime. Structure that time, sometimes it feels like this this amorphous just quote unquote, time together, you sit down in structure, hey, what are you looking for in this time? Right. What do you need from me? And what I finally got to where I just want to talk to another grown up adult human being that I can be open with and vulnerable with. I need physical touch.
I want to just watch a show and laugh. Right.
And so it kept this amorphous time. My wife would ask me, what do you need, man?
And then finally realized, I need to go to bed. I need to go to bed. So structured that time together. Give each other 30 to 60 days. Ask your wife, hey, can we go to bed at ten thirty. Right. We're going to be had the kids.
Oh, by the way, here's a quick question. When your kids go to bed, when they go to sleep.
So we've gotten a lot better before. It was like just whatever. But now we literally start bedtime at seven, try to have in bed by eight and it's that's been so much better. But now we have we literally have so much time after eight that we're just continuously, you know, having conversations. And and one thing I will say, it is, like I said, it's helpful because I, I had a really bad habit. And talking to her and talking things through with her really helped me kick the habit.
And so, like, talking with her really, really has been so helpful and stuff like it's hard for me to imagine, like not having that conversation. But then it always such that late hour. It's like I am exhausted, like to have a normal commute, you know, and I'm like, well, I'm going to fall asleep on the road and just lots of solo. Don't really want to be drinking. Yeah, I don't do that.
So don't, don't apologize for the sleep OK. Yeah. And everyone does that differently. I have to have eight hours of sleep or I'm useless. My wife has to have ten. That means we're going have a gap there.
It just does, it just means we can have a gap or she's got to have nine and I've got to be OK with that.
She's got to be OK with that. We both got to act like adults. And that also means that we've got to have the time that we do have has to be focused. I can't be talking to her and just nodding while I'm scrolling. Right. And if we're going to watch a show, we do. We have show night on Wednesday. That's our that's I shoot my shows on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday generally. And so I'm tired. I'm super tired Wednesday nights.
That's when we all we laugh and we put on a silly show and watch some silly show. Right.
I would recommend putting in so ridiculous like your ten again. I would recommend putting in a bedtime at ten o'clock. The lights go out and I'm going to ask you why that we turn the lights off and that you will stay in bed, that you will turn the lights off to attend, or if you need to read, you know, for another fifteen, twenty minutes, let's do that for thirty days. Can we just commit to that together?
And then those two hours that are just yours are just lasered in on each other, whatever that means, whatever that looks like for y'all, if that's intimate time, if that's just chit chat and time if that is doing budget time together, checking on calendars to those two hours are just rich gold between the two of you. But then it turned the lights are going to go out and letting her know, hey, I'm not in this uncertain look. I've got a lot of things on my plate when you approach it that way.
Her immediate response is, well, I got a lot of crap on my plate to do so don't approach it with. Here's how hard this burden is. Approach it the other way, which is I need this much sleep and I need this much connection time with you. So here's how we can do both of them. Kids are in bed by eight o'clock, then we got two solid hours of just one another. And then at 10:00 I got turn the lights out it just try it.
My guess is you will modulate up half an hour or down half an hour. But if she's anything like me.
I just wanted the night to keep going and keep going and keep going, and dude, now I am not in 30 Nerd Deluxe, I had just never done it before. Right. So practice that time with intentionality. Let her know not how busy you are. Let her know I've got to have this much sleep. I've just got to and I want to be fully present when I'm here. I want to do my best job at work, but I really want to help with the kids.
I really want to love these children, Will. And I really want to love you. Will, as you said, as we've done this year, that's so awesome that twenty twenty has been a good connection here for you. I'm here in that all over the country, couples who just decided to reimagine what their world was going to be like. But hey, for thirty days this is idiot on the radio said, let's try this, try turn the lights off at ten o'clock, let's just try it and don't get out of bed because I used to just jump up.
She turned the lights off at nine thirty ten then I'd go hang out and watch TV till midnight and I just turned into this drippy, exhausted, sloppy mess just and then I'd get up and be late to work.
But just don't do that say for thirty days. Stay in bed until 10:00. Let's try it, let's just try it. You can even hold hands as you'll go to sleep.
Look how romantic that was Friday morning romance here on the John Delaney Show. Let me know how that goes. Call me back in thirty days or have her call me. You'll both call me back. And I want to see how the romance is deepening in Kevin's house because we're all going to bed at the same time. All right.
So I get this email with a lot of regularity. And so I wanted to take a minute to write some notes out on this. Here's an example of here's one from Tracy says, I regularly you regularly tell listeners to put down their cinder blocks that they're carrying around in their backpack. My question on behalf of all listeners, thank you, Tracy, for acting on behalf of everyone is how practically do we do that?
What tips do you have for letting go? I know that my cinder blocks are, but I'm struggling to put them down and not carry them around. As a result, they continue to intrude in my mental health. I'll tell you this, they intrude on more things, your mental health. They intrude on your relationships, intrude on your physical health, intrude on your spiritual. They intrude on everything, your financial health, on everything.
Right. So here's here's a couple of things. Tips I wrote down four or five things here, and you can get out some notes and write these down. The first thing, when you're thinking about putting down your bricks and want to talk about bricks, I'm talking about what are these things that you carry around with you all of the time since you were a kid? Some of them come over time, right? Some of them are recent. Right.
But these bricks are childhood traumas. The stories you're born into. Right. Your family stories. This is just the way we are. Systemic issues, right. Racism, poverty, those kind of stories that you were just born into because of whatever culture you're in, somebody hurt.
You write the voices that you allow in your head or that the way you talk to yourself, these are bricks that we hear on this all day, right? This idea that I cheated once, then I put that in my backpack because I'm a cheater. Right. It becomes my identity. Right.
So the number one thing when you're thinking about how do I walk through life later. Right. How to put these breaks down is decide you don't want to carry them anymore. And that sounds ridiculous. Of course, I don't want to be an abuse victim survivor anymore. Of course, I don't want my parents to have talked about me the way they did when I was a kid. Of course.
Of course. Fill in the blank. But here's the thing. When you carry stuff around for so long, it becomes part of you, right? If you've ever been on a boat all day and you get off the boat in the ground still feels wobbly. That's how it feels. And you put stuff down. Our bodies crave that equilibrium. And in fact, not only our bodies, the people around us, if you see folks who lose a lot of weight, it often really affects their relationships because people in their world are used to helping them out, always listening to them, their self defeatist talk or listen, you know, just that feeling of frustration.
People lose a lot of weight. They start exercising, they start eating right. Their self-confidence rises. Right. They start walking a little bit taller. They start speaking with a little more self-assurance. The people around them want to put that back where it goes, right. You want to put that back where it goes, right.
You see yo yo dieters, you see folks who go in and out of counseling over five, 10, 15, 20 years.
So you've got to decide, I want to put these bricks down. Right. I was hurt as a kid and I'm going to heal and move on, right? Yes. My mom said stupid things. Yes, there are massive systemic injustices. Yes. Somebody died and they were not supposed to they were supposed to be with me till the end.
Right. Or I've learned addictive behaviors that help protect me from pain or from disconnection or from messed up relationships. But these addictions now have side effects that are causing me new traumas which are causing me to have to withdraw more over and over and over, or I no longer want my identity be from the worst things that ever happened to me. I don't want my identity to be the worst thing I ever did. Right. I stepped out on my husband.
So I'm a cheater forever. Right? I want to put that. Breakdown. How do I heal, move on that. OK, so number two, you got a name and you've got to be specific and honest, right? Often trauma, these things swirl around in this giant soup in our head. Right. And we say things like, I hate myself, I hate church, I hate my family or I hate fill in the blank. These type of blanket statements are a waste of your breath because they're just reductive.
They don't they don't help anything. Right. You have to be specific and be honest. What about your parents or family or old boyfriend or whatever it is? What about it? Do you hate what about them hurt you? Right. Here's church. I hear this. I hate church because of the trauma experience as a kid. Cool. Lots of churches have hurt lots and lots and lots and lots of people.
Right. But if you just walk through life saying, I hate church, then it may cause your alarms to go off when you're around big groups, when you're around communities, when you're around a collective group of people who all have a singular mission to help other people. Right. And those three things aren't necessarily bad. But if you're walking through life like I just hate church, then you're going to start watching. Your alarm systems are going to go off for various things that look like church.
So you've got to pass it out and say it could be I don't hate church. I hated that guy. That hurt me, right, or there are a couple of really outspoken, mean, idiotic families at the church I went to or there was a particular minister, there was not a good human being. Right. What is it, be specific, just because you're here, here's be specific and be honest, right? So here's where the honesty comes in.
Just because your dad yelled at you or your mom told you things that are still lodged in your brain doesn't necessarily mean they were evil. They might have been, but it could have been that they just didn't have the right tools in their toolkit. So part of being honest is being able to slowly unwind that.
I have some bricks in my backpack that are from things kids told me or young people did to me when I was a young person. Right. Old girlfriends, guys I ran around with, guys I lived with. Right. Things they did, things they said that hurt me, that altered the way I live my life or saw myself or still see myself. Right. But here's the thing. They were kids. They were 20, right? I don't hold it against them.
Why would I waste my adult energy hating children? Right. But I do have to process the hurt. I still do have to process the pain. I have to process those voices. Right. So I've got to be honest on both sides of this thing. Right. And some of this some of these bricks will be from adults you trusted and loved.
That should have known better. It's never OK to abuse a kid. It's never OK to abuse a spouse. Some of you, as you're going through the bricks in your backpack, as you're being specific and honest about them, have to look at the person you're with right now and realize this is sick and ill and dangerous.
And I got to get out. Some of you will look at the bricks in your backpack and say, my mom still talks to me that way. And now she's talking to her grandkids, my children that way enough. So going through these things, these bricks in your backpack, being specific and honest is hard to number three. Once you've written them down, you've got to get other people in your life to look at them with you. That's why I'm always telling folks you cannot be a whole person without relationships, period.
So if you've got one or two people that you trust in your life, sitting down with them one day and just saying, hey, I need to go through some of the stuff with you, tell you guys some stuff that happened to me as a kid. Am I crazy? Am I feeling and processing this in a healthy way? And they may say, do this not you may feel that way.
I wouldn't wrap my head as that as trauma or they more than likely look at you and say that's a really big deal and you're minimizing this is a huge thing some of you don't have. Many of us don't have people like that in your life. So you've got to go see a professional. You got to go see a professional to help you look at those bricks.
Sometimes they'll hold them for you and hold them up and let you see them. And then you put them back down. Right. But you got to get with other people. And then here's the magic. You've got to set them down. What does this look like? Looks like you've got to practice controlling your thoughts, those intrusive thoughts that come in. You got to notice how your body feels. Whenever you think of that thing that happens when you're a kid, you start racing.
Do you immediately reach for a cigarette? You immediately reach for a drink. You immediately want to get up, go grab something to eat. You immediately go on and go work out what is the thing. Right. You got to notice how these things feel in your body when old demons come calling. You got old memories. You got to literally say out loud. No, no. Right. So I still have in my head some terrible things I said to people when I was in middle school.
I was a jerk man, and some things I said, yeah, especially in middle school, and for some I didn't recognize this till years ago, until a few years ago. I'm in my 30s and I think I'm still carrying around that. I'm a bad guy. I'm a bad human being. Not that I was an idiot of a 13 year old. I'm a bad human right.
And so when those memories pop in my head, sometimes I'll be getting ready for a big talk on stage and that voice will go, Who are you, man?
Remember? And I'll say, Nope, nope, not going to do it. I'm not going to give an audience to that voice, because that's just that's just old John trying to come in and self sabotage. What we're doing here, man, I may need to go for a walk in AA right now to call your sponsor. You need to call your friends, etc. You've got to practice not reacting. Right. And this the last thing you've got to develop a new identity.
Who are you going to be now? Who are you going to be now?
How are you going to navigate the world? Not as a jerk or an idiot or a cheater or an abuse survivor or as someone who did something you cheated on their spouse.
But who are you going to be now? Right.
I think it was Carl Young or Ardler. One of them said, I always thought if I could remove depression and anxiety from my client, they would be well. But they weren't. They were hollow. Because anxiety, depression played a role, I have to give them new skills, I've got to teach them who they're going to be now. So you've got to get with folks in your life, whether it's a counselor, a friends, family, community, it's going to help you develop your new identities moving forward, not after the best.
I mean, not after the worst things that happen to you, the worst things you did. But who am I going to become now?
So those are my five tips on how to eight five tip things. These are the three tips on that. Well, I just did it. There you go. How to put your bricks down. If anyone has any more questions about that, call me with some specific examples of what's going on in your life. We'll get there. Let's go to Rachel in Manchester, New Hampshire. Rachel, what's going on? How can we help?
Hi, thank you so much for taking my call today for sure. Thank you for calling. So what's going on?
Yeah, so my husband and I have been married for three years and we have two little kids and he has some some really bad habits for lack of a better word that he has always had since he was probably a teenager and things like that that weren't weren't really a problem when we were dating, things like that. But now it really starts to affect his health and our family, and it brings a lot of anxiety about what our future is going to look like if they they continue.
So what's going on? What are they? So I guess the main one is he has really severe asthma and he also smokes a lot like a pack a day, kind of sometimes less. But around that and it's actually he's been admitted to the hospital twice in the last year for breathing related issues. Yikes. For like three plus days each time and things like that, it just seems to be getting worse instead of better. Other things related to that, too.
But it just makes me worried, you know, with two little kids, he's only thirty two and I'm twenty five. And I just feel like these are things. You shouldn't be doing this for a long time. Sure. These kinds of health issues.
So if I drill down here, there's something more than smoking. I mean, it's it's all kind of just unhealthy, not taking care of himself really well and healthy eating, unhealthy lots of drinking, not like in a in a dangerous way or anything, but just just a lot of those types of habits.
OK, so when when. This is the powerlessness part of being married to somebody who doesn't take care of their body, right.
You know that you can't make him eat well, you know that you can't make him quit smoking or stop drinking or stop. You know, I don't know what I'm playing video games or TV and whatever.
You can only deal with you. So when you see these behaviors, what is your strategy been over the last year of the last two years? How do you approach him with your concerns?
I've probably tried everything, including the things that don't help at all, like expressing to him how concerned it makes me and how I don't like our our kids learning from those behaviors and watching who do these things. And a lot of probably guilt, which I'm sure is not the right approach. But it's hard.
I mean, I'm not here to I'm not going to beat you up, of course. And that those things are hard. And it's important for him to know how you feel on it when you sit him down and say, hey, listen, I love you. And at this current trajectory, you're not going to be with us very long. And the time you are going to have with us is going to be less than because you don't feel good.
You don't you don't feel healthier whole. And when you don't feel healthier whole, you're short with us. You snap at us, you end up in the hospital, fill in the blank here.
What's his response to you? How does he how does he how does he respond? He always makes me feel really hurt and then nothing changes. He says, I understand, I can see why you feel that way, know kind of all those things, but. But nothing. I know. I know I need to do something different, but OK, it doesn't it doesn't change.
Have you told them that that you're scared? Yes, that you're scared you're going to end up a single mom. Yes. I think he has he has a lot of things from before I knew him like a lot of childhood things that I think he probably doesn't really want to deal with. But I'm sure it's contributed to some of these choices. Of course. Of course.
So here's the part you're going to have to wrestle with. You're probably already there. I'll just ask you, is it gotten to a point where you believe he's choosing? These behaviors that, you know, are going to kill him, that he's choosing this over you and over your kids. I don't know if I want to say that he does it intentionally, not intentionally, but the really good. Yeah, not intentionally, but at the end of the day, there's one road to being with you guys for a long time, and then there's one road to a much shorter, a much shorter, less healthier life.
Then, yes, I mean, I think I think he knows I don't know if he really applies it to his life, like, yes, this is going to shorten my life and everything. But I'm sure he's heard that from his doctors and for me and he knows that. And they just don't don't change. And I know I can't change him. I know that's what every good counselor will say.
Can I tell you, Rachel? I know it's heartbreaking for me and I'm sorry. I wish there was a like, oh, you just need to and you can't. At the end of the day, if you've sat down and looked in the eye and said, I'm scared to death, I'll lose you and I'm scared to death that our little our little babies are going to be without you. And I'm asking you on behalf of us and on behalf of yourself, somebody who I love, I want you to love yourself as much as I love you.
And he says, man, I hear you, baby.
And then he goes outside and smokes, goes outside and has a few more drinks I want you to know I get. That's heartbreaking. I hate that for you. I hate that for every spouse, every partner in the country whose husband or wife, girlfriend or boyfriend don't love them as much as they do. Right. They don't love themselves as much as their partner does. I hate that for you.
The best you can do in this situation is No. One, go see somebody yourself on how to process this, because it doesn't get better. It gets harder. OK. There is some hope that he begins to see you taking care of yourself. And it's not an immediate turnaround, but it becomes a long, slow turn right?
You start walking taller, you start doing the things that you can do, which are very limited to take care of you and your and your kids.
The second thing is, is you can make some declarations in your home.
You're not going to be drunk in this house. You're not going to smoke inside this house and subject the kids to this stuff. Right. I'm assuming that he's otherwise a great human being and he's a good dad and a good husband. Is that fair?
Yeah. And he respects any of the boundaries you set up, like I said, and I don't want the kids to see him smoking and he always goes and around the corner and away from them and stuff like that. So he tries to respect those things.
So he's a man. So can I tell you, I've got an especially big heart for folks with big hearts who are trapped. You know what I mean, who are just trapped? I would love for you to tell them to give me a shout. I'd love to talk to him not in a mean our ugly way, but just to say, man, I get it and I know and there's healing.
If you want to make some major changes in your life until then, you're going to have to decide what your breaking point is, what you're if the end point is. And I'll tell you that you know this, but I'll just repeat it. Blaming, criticizing, complaining. Those things never solve connection level issues. And we're in the middle of what I would call that's a fair call. Diseases of despair. Have you heard that term? Yes. Like we're experiencing that at that.
Unfathomable levels, particularly in men who are just. They're calling it longtail suicide, right? They are just intentionally not taking care of themselves over a long period of time, they know what they're doing is slowly, slowly taking them out of the ballgame.
And they're just not making changes because it's hard. It is hard. And I'm asking every guy if that's you listening to this, go get the help and care that you need. I want you to hear Rachel's voice.
I want you to hear a mom who loves her babies. I want you to hear a wife who loves her husband. And the husband is a good guy. He just can't get over this idea that the guy he sees in the mirror is worth. Sleeping all night, it's worth being able to run around and play with his kids without having to bend over and catch his breath is worth being healthy and living a long, long, healthy life.
Rachel, I don't have a magic thing for you. You've got to take care of yourself and you've got to make sure you and your kids are safe. Taking care of yourself might be how do I how long do I keep loving this guy? Because I'm going to get I'm going to get pulled underwater, too. I hope you'll stay connected to him and love him the best. You know how.
And I hope he will and be inspired by you, be inspired by that connection and sometimes somehow, someway come to the realization that he has value. It may be, man, maybe invite him to a couples counseling, maybe a third neutral party will help have him call my show. But this one, this one doesn't always have a happy ending. It just doesn't.
And I hate that for you. Oh, man, sorry about that.
As we wrap up the show, this is a learned Stewart song here in.
It's a song that came out when I was a kid. And I think it meant more about breakup's, but I think it applies here from one of my favorite 80s, 90s hair metal bands and the song's called Heartbreak Station. And the song goes like this, waiting at the station, tears filling up my eyes, sometimes the pain you hide burns like a fire inside and you look out my window. And sometimes it's hard to see that the things you want in life come and go so easily.
She took the last train out of my heart, she took the last train, and now I think I'll make a brand new start. She took the last train out of my heart. And watching the days go by, I think about the plans we made and the days turned into years. It's funny how they fade away. Sometimes I think of those days. Sometimes I just hide away waiting on that nine 20 train, waiting on a memory. She took the last train out of my heart.
Men, if you're listening to this, I know this was about some girl somewhere in some 80s, Lovesong. But guys, don't leave the person you love sitting at a train station watching you go because you didn't take care of yourself, you didn't look in the mirror and think you had value.
You do find somebody start making some changes today. This is the Dr. John Delonas show.