July 2013

Inside this Newsletter:

Message from Carolyn:

I’m certainly enjoying being back in Colorado for the summer. The warm days and cool nights, and everything green and lush. I love my house in the mountains outside of Denver and then also having an office one day a week (Wed) in Cherry Creek. Alan is completely retired now and we’re living up here full-time and enjoying these great summer days, while he plays golf and relaxes with me in the backyard while I garden. I’m also still involved in exercise, doing my Zumba & Pachanga dance at Bally’s, and then singing karaoke on Wednesday nights with friends. Also enjoying our little one-year-old grandson David Wayne, who is so cute and getting more of a personality every day. (See picture below with me on his First Birthday.)

What a summer so far – between the fires that were all around us for awhile, and then the constant rain, and the bear I came almost face-to-face with (see actual picture of him below). I think he was a teenage bear whose mother bear brought him to our house last year. He was not afraid – tried to get the koi in the pond, tore the trash apart (while tourists were in our driveway taking pictures), and came around a corner of the house when I came around the other corner. I luckily had an air horn in my pocket (just for that reason) and blew it and he slowly turned around and left.

Our friends Tommy and Marsha visited over the Fourth and she was mourning the death of her dog that had passed the week before. Before I left for work on Wednesday, I heard a noise and a large black lab had just appeared in my house. We called all around and no one was missing a dog. The dog stayed all day entertaining Marsha so much that she was ready to take it home with her. Then, as I arrived home from work, the dog just disappeared, never to be seen again. I told Marsha it was a magical dog just sent here to cheer her up while I was gone.

My constant gardening in May and June has finally paid off. My flowers are at their peak of bloom, including peonies and poppies, with my purple delphiniums just starting. We also have a mama deer with two little fawns (that still have their spots) trying to eat my flowers. No pictures of them yet, but see a picture of my backyard below.

My one-day-a-week office on Wednesdays in Cherry Creek is working out really well. I also do phone appointments on Tuesdays and Thursdays (and of course have phone appointments only when I’m down in Tucson in the winter). Alan and I will be here all summer and I will be in that office until the end of September, and then in October we’ll head back to Tucson.

A friend of mine, Nick Isenberg, who used to work for the Enquirer and has photographed and filmed me several times for several different events and videos recently went blind and taped a video segment titled: “Blind Photographer Shoots Video of 102 Year Old Skier.” The film shows both his struggles personally and professionally with his blindness as well as how fit his 102 year old subject is. He called me because he used some old tape and I am in this video for about 2 seconds. On the same www.youtube.com page is the original video that I was a part of called “Before You Commit – Internet Dating” which talks about what to do and not to do if you date on the internet. See both at http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=Nick+Isenberg.

I’m doing more dating coaching now than in the past, even though I still have my marriage counseling clients and psychotherapy clients. My dating coaching clients range from men and women in their late 20’s to 65-year-olds. Some are trying to figure out how to meet people and learn basic dating skills, while others are trying not to repeat the same patterns in their relationships that they did in the past. (See my article below on “11 First Dating Mistakes.”)

I often write about how everyone needs to confront parental issues to be able to have healthy relationships with a husband or wife. And when those issues are left unresolved, we often chase approval in our personal relationships, as well as at work, etc. But I recently starting thinking about how many celebrities seem to have major issues with their parents and how these issues have probably driven them to chase stardom. (See my article below on “Celebrities with Parental Issues.”)



Celebrities with Parental Issues

Why do we hear about so many stars having serious problems with their parents? A recent Globe article about Angelina Jolie and her dad Jon Voight is titled, “The Knife in Angelina’s Heart.” Angelina stopped talking to her dad years ago because he left her and her mother when Angelina was only two. This article reveals letters from her mom to a friend where she was pouring out her pain caused by Angelina’s dad’s cheating. Reports are that Angelina’s anger came back all over again as she read them. Recently, she has minimally allowed her father back in her life so he can see her children, but it seems that she will never forgive him for what he did to her mother and the family.

Remarkably, Brad Pitt’s first wife, Jennifer Anniston, has had serious parental issues as well, but with her mother. She appears to have an on again, off again relationship with her mother that is more off than it is on. The issues supposedly go all the way back to childhood (as most do). Her mother Nancy, a former model, reportedly criticized Jennifer as she was growing up, making fun of her looks and weight, and the spacing of her eyes. This caused her a lot of insecurity. Jennifer supposedly tried to reconcile with her mom several times, and then her mom broke all the trust by writing a tell-all book “From Mother and Daughter to Friends: A Memoir” in 1999. Reports say they are now talking again since her mom recently had a stroke, but that she is not inviting her mom to her wedding with Justin Theroux.

And although Beyonce’s father was her agent until 2011, she recently (on June 30) skipped her dad’s wedding to his new wife. Beyonce’s mother divorced him in 2009 after he fathered a child with another woman and denied it until DNA tests were performed, proving he was the father. Beyonce obviously has some unresolved issues with him.

And singer and judge on the XFactor, Demi Lovato, recently admitted on Good Morning America that she has been estranged from her father (who recently passed away with cancer) since 2007. Her parents split in 1994 and it appears that she tried for years to help him with what she calls “his mental illness and inability to function very well in society,” and finally gave up a few years ago. He had tried to reach out to her in recent years saying, “It’s not like I want anything from her, all I want is her love.”

Obviously since I am not their therapist, I don’t know all of the ins and outs of these family relationships, but I do know that unfinished business with parents can cause a lot of problems in a person’s future relationships, including a huge need for approval and attention. And the resulting need for approval often pushes a person to try harder to become a bigger star – often to their own detriment. Michael Jackson may be the best example of this. (See my article “Michael Jackson’s Childhood Issues Killed Him”.)

Not only do many people with serious unresolved issues with their families end up becoming rich and famous, but they are then less likely to ever resolve these issues. Once they are rich and famous, their friends and family become afraid to confront them, and they are less likely to reach out for therapy or any other kind of help.

When we feel unloved by a parent, whether or not it’s valid and regardless of the reason, it leaves a hole in us emotionally. We then transfer that need to feel loved to others, desperately feeling needy and often obsessive. But actually being loved by others, whether it’s a mate or fans, does not make the hole go away. In fact, the craving to be loved continues and often increases (as we devalue those who do love us). It’s never enough because the issues never get resolved. This need to feel loved (we bring from childhood) is a great motivator to climb the ladder of fame – to try to be loved by more and more people.

Most people, including celebrities end up writing the parent off and/or drowning their pain in drugs and alcohol and other bad behaviors. Instead, communication and confrontation is what is needed to get real resolution.

4 Steps to Healthy CommunicationHow to Resolve Parental Issues

Using my 4 Steps of Healthy Communication, you need to tell your family member how you have felt about your childhood (or a certain situation that you are upset about), then say what you want from that parent. Next, you need to ask, “Will you……? (ask for a commitment to certain behavior changes in the future, also setting boundaries). Then, give an ultimatum such as, “If not, I will (do the following). (See my article on “4 Steps to Healthy Communication.”)

During this process you are able to emotionally (not intellectually) understand that it is not your fault, that you are not in any way unlovable, and that it is the parent who has the problem. This process strengthens your self-esteem and allows you to let go.

Emotional Process vs Blind Forgiveness.

My clients in my Denver counseling and coaching practice ask me how you resolve issues with a parent that won’t cooperate or who denies what they’ve done. And unlike some therapists, I do not push them to just forgive. There is a process that they must go through to get resolution, and it requires clear, direct communication, even if the other person does not participate. {This process is explained in depth in my book Loving Him Without Losing You.} Again my clients say, “But he knows what he did.” But that is often not true. Your father (or mother, or sibling) only sees the situation from their own point of view until you have clearly communicated your feelings to them. Besides, resolution requires you to listen to their point of view as well.

I always blamed my father for my parents’ dysfunctional relationship because my mother whined and told me her side for years. I had expressed my anger to my dad about his bad behavior many times. Then one night years after their divorce, I was sitting alone with my dad in a bar, and he asked me if I’d like to hear his side of the story. I actually said “You have a side?!” He told me things about their marriage that I never knew. And no, it did not excuse his bad behavior with my mom, but it did help me see him as human and not just the ogre my mom had portrayed him to be. And yes, it did help me forgive him and get resolution with our issues. But most importantly, it also helped me get enough resolution to be able to develop a long-term relationship with Alan, my mate of 26 years now. My view of men, my trust level, and my constant need for attention began to change.

What Celebrities Need to Do

Angelina needs to do this with her father. She needs to realize that it takes two to destroy a marriage. And I know she sees her mother as the only victim, as I did with my mom, but the victim plays a part too or the controlling person would have no one to control. She needs to talk with him, get her feelings out, hear his point of view, ask for a real apology, get it resolved, then forgive him and let go so that she can emotionally move forward in her life.

Beyonce needs to do the same thing. Instead of avoiding her father, she needs to confront him. And maybe she has. And maybe, without knowing it, she followed my “4 Steps of Healthy Communication.” If she communicated how she felt, what she wanted, asked him for a promise (commitment) that he wouldn’t give her, and then issued the ultimatum “If not, I won’t come to your wedding,” then she did the healthy thing. Most people instead would just punish him by not going to the wedding, then avoid him and write him off instead of saying all that is on their mind. First of all it is not fair to the other person, and secondly, if you do avoid dealing with the situation, you will never get resolution.

Though Jennifer Anniston has supposedly tried many times to work things through with her mother, I wonder if she has communicated clearly and set definite boundaries (with consequences) with her not only about talking to the media, but about criticism. With boundaries about what is and isn’t okay in this situation, she might even be able to invite her mother to the wedding.

And even though Demi Lovato’s dad has passed, she can still follow the process, writing out her feelings and what she wanted from him, so she can get closure.

Obviously there are worse things -- that chasing love and approval can cause -- than trying to become a celebrity. The low self-esteem it causes can make us chase bad men (or women), stay stuck in jobs we hate, and not move past who we were as children to become who we want to be in our adult lives.

Celebrities may have a greater incidence of low self-esteem caused by having unresolved issues with their parents, but it is also an issue for most of us. Is need for love and approval driving your life?

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Reader Feedback

Re: Your article “Why Ladies Love Outlaws

Thanks for this article, Carolyn. I'm writing a novel and was looking for the rationale behind my protagonist's obsession with one man. I wish I had found your work 20 years ago, especially, your book Loving Him without Losing You. It took me till I was 55 to do that.

~ J.G., 6/21/13

Thank you so much for your March newsletter on Self-esteem, Bullies, and Exes. This is really helpful to my current situation.

~ S.D. 3/30/13

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11 First Date Mistakes

  1. Talking About Yourself too much
    (appear self-centered)

  2. Talking About Your Ex
    (shows you're still hung up on him or her) Note: Never let a 1st date know how badly your ex treated you as it indirectly tells them they can do the same.

  3. Talking about your problems
    (invites the other person to rescue your or feel sorry for you or control you)

  4. Seeming overly interested
    (you just look needy because you don't even know this person)

  5. Making yourself sound "better" than you are/BRAGGING
    (You'll have to keep up the act)

  6. Talking about other people you're dating
    (it will scare them away)

  7. Taking your date to a place they may not like - or that will give the wrong impression
    (wrong concert, strip club, party at druggie friends' house)

  8. Drinking too much
    (more than 3 drinks and you'll appear to have a drinking problem)

  9. Wearing something weird or bizarre, or dressing too casually
    (might make you look like a loser)

  10. Talking about negative things
    (like, "I hate my job, my sister has cancer, doesn't the economy suck!" or gossiping)

  11. Having Sex
    (even oral)

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Working with Nouveaudating.com

I have been working with www.nouveaudating.com, a dating site with tons of information and videos about dating. They have posted several videos on www.youtube.com where they interviewed me regarding information on dating. Below are the links for several of the topics:

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About Carolyn

Carolyn Bushong, L.P.C, is an expert on relationships and a licensed therapist. She is known for being one of the top relationship therapists in the country and the author of 3 relationship books. She has appeared on Oprah, the View, and many other TV shows, and she has been giving relationship advice on Denver radio for more than15 years. She has been helping people like you improve your life and relationships for more than 30 years. Cosmo, US Weekly and other magazines quote her expert relationship advice, and McCall’s named her one of the “Top 6 Passion Doctors” in the country. Carolyn Bushong always has fresh, up-to-date, hot information on topics that will inspire you and change your life and improve your relationships. She has clients all over the country, some who come into her office and others who receive Carolyn's expert advice through phone counseling. Carolyn Bushong is an excellent psychotherapist, but she also lives what she teaches, as she is in a happy, healthy relationship with Alan, her mate of 26 years.

You can find articles by Carolyn on her website and Examiner.com.

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