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Dr. Don Welch:
Good evening and welcome to MY THERAPIST SEZ. We are so glad that you are here this evening and a wonderful day here in San Diego at Skyline Church. We welcome you to MY THERAPIST SEZ. We’re dealing with an important topic tonight, maintaining sobriety from addiction. It’s a follow-up from our previous presentation that was dealing with addictions and the backbone to it, and understanding what happens and the nuances within the whole issue of addiction. I’m so glad that you are here. In just a moment, we’ll have a word of prayer, and then we will dive right into our topic with Dr. Julie Hayden, who is our presenter. She is not new to us. We want to also welcome those who are live streaming or who will listen to this later at their leisure. We have Dr. Julie Hayden, who again, is no stranger to MY THERAPIST SEZ. She has presented many, many times. This happens to be one of your strong specialties and works daily with people in this area. Really she’s a national known person who resides here in San Diego.
She is actually the CEO of Rhombus University. That’s an online graduate program that’s available to anyone around the world, if I’m not mistaken. You may want to speak with her if you’re interested in anything having to do with psychology. One of the things I’ve appreciated about Dr. Hayden over the years is the fact that she sees psychology through a biblical lens. She actually … I always say this. I know she may smile at my saying this, that she and I had similar degrees. I think her undergrad was biblical literature and so was mine. I tend to look through a biblical lens before I look through a scientific lens. I really appreciate that. You will see that as you listen to her, it flows very easily for her and collaborating both biblical truths with the most current scientific studies and announcements. We’re so glad to have her with us and we’re glad to have you. Let’s have a word of prayer, shall we. Father, we thank you for this beautiful day here in San Diego, the gifts that you’ve given to each and every one of us.
Every one of us perhaps that is in the auditorium this evening, or live streaming or who will be listening to a video later, perhaps has someone in their life if not themselves, someone in their life who is facing some sort of addiction. It could be even a food addiction or sex addiction or a chemical addiction, or it could be even relationship addiction where that overwhelms them. We just pray your blessing upon this time, this evening. We thank you that we’re not doing this alone. We’re with you, and certainly you’ve already reached out to us. We know that when there’s addictions, people tend to isolate. You come to us. That’s what the scriptures tell us very clearly. You’ll never us, never forsake us. You said, “I’m coming to you.” That means relationships are a creation of health in and of itself. We pray your blessing as we learn how to be more connected than disconnected and how we can become more responsive than reactive. That we can become more self-regulatory than really self-medicating. Bless us this evening.
We just give you praise and we honor you with what we’re about to move into into this session. In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen. Once again, welcome to MY THERAPIST SEZ. I do want to welcome Dr. Julie Hayden, who is with us this evening. I would like to welcome you. I’m so glad that you are here. We’re going to learn a lot in the next 20 minutes, and then we will be taking your questions. Feel free to raise your question in the air and we’ll have those come forward by our host and we’ll move forward. Would you join me in welcoming Dr. Julie Hayden?
Dr. Julie Hayden:
Thank you. I am very excited to be here tonight. I love presenting and sharing with all of you and interacting with questions and hopefully having a ripple effect in your families and in your lives. With that, I want to talk about this topic and dive into some golden nuggets hopefully you can take away in maintaining sobriety. Like Dr. Welch had said, there’s a lot of things we can be addicted to, whether it’s addictions to substances and alcohol, as well as behaviors, even sex addiction and even chaos. Those types of addictions that we just feel comfortable in something maybe that’s unhealthy, and yet we keep it going. Once you’re out of that, once you have reached the point where you’re in recovery and you’re doing well, how do you maintain it? I’m excited for this topic because I have not presented. I’ve worked a lot with people in recovery and in treatment for addictions for many years. I definitely had golden nuggets that I am ready to share tonight, but never has somebody had this presentation. I think it’s so valuable.
There’ll be two ways you can use this. One is for yourself if you’re trying to maintain recovery. One will be, if you have loved ones. It’ll be in that side for the families and friends, both ways to recognize and keep somebody in a good place for recovery, as well as those red flags that maybe they’re going down a wrong path. It’ll be a lot of good information you can use. We will go pretty quickly through the content, the information, so we can get right to your questions. That’ll be the fun part of the evening and how it can kind of come alive. I want to look at a verse to start us out. I think this is really important. This is Paul speaking in scripture in Romans 7:19. I share this verse a lot in addictions because there’s a desperation, a frustration sometimes that everyone experiences. This just normalizes it because this is Paul talking.
This is in the New Testament, who wrote most of the New Testament through the Holy Spirit saying, for I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do, this I keep on doing. It’s a good reminder that we can all be right where Paul was, stuck in the flesh, stuck in the sin nature for a time where it conquers him. He has this frustration he expresses of this war within us. I want to start off reminding that we all can be in this spot as we dive into some tools. This is just some patterns that we see in longterm recovery. We’re going to look at each of these. These are the things stand out in some kind of a large, powerful way of those who do well. Now, there was a time I worked in addictions where you’d have one person you hold on to that’s your hope. Now I feel like there’re so many. I do feel like we have tools and resources to people.
Possibly because I’m in a faith based program right now and able to draw them to God, there’s just a lot of hope in addictions that we didn’t always feel previously. These are what stand out as those things in individuals that seem to make it and do well. Not just staying clean and sober, but living a life, a good life. We’re going to take each of you these topics and kind of dive into them closely. Let’s look at accountability. Now this might sound familiar because you’ll see this a lot within kind of AA or 12-Step model, which is very popular, and pretty much any kind of recovery program. But one thing I always do, if somebody is leaving a program and transitioning kind of independent on their own somewhere, I say, “What’s your relapse prevention plan.” Now you don’t need to know all the details of that necessarily, but you have all these steps that you know are really important for you to do well. One of the reasons, is so you follow that plan. The other is, as soon as you deviate from the plan, a big red flag goes up.
If you were telling everybody part of your relapse prevention plan is to go to five meetings in a week and you start off going to five, and then you just have a lot of reasons why you don’t need to go to meetings anymore, that can be a big red flag for yourself and others to say, “What’s going on? Why am I deviating from the plan?” You also could tell your loved ones, “This is what will help me stay clean and sober.” You give them instructions, what they’re allowed to do, how they’re going to remind you. Then if you deviate from that and you say, “Never mind.” We want to change the game plan all of a sudden, a big red flag goes up. Why? What’s going on? It could be a red flag for yourself and your loved ones. A sponsor, in the AA model, this could be very helpful. We’ll talk about the 12 steps. But if it’s AA, somebody that you can call any time, any place, any hours of the evening, and they’ll always be there ready to go.
They’re smart and they know when you’re producing bull for lack of a better word. They can see right through all the crap and call you out on it. You need a person like that in your life. You, as a person coming out of addictions in recovery, have to stay responsible. If you find yourself turning to blame anywhere else, that’s a red flag. If you can keep responsibility for your actions, whatever’s happening in life, whatever you’re doing, you’re in a good, healthy spot to keep that going. Agreements, it just has to do with that. The same thing we talked about. If there’s any agreement made, my cell phone’s free game, go ahead and look at it anytime you want to, and then all of a sudden it changes. “Actually I need my privacy, never look at my phone.” Well, what’s going on? It doesn’t mean there’s anything. It’s enough of a red flag. If changes to the agreements are made, somebody can start questioning what’s going on and you can question yourself why all of a sudden do I need to make changes to my game plan.
That’s accountability. Now, the next one, actually I love, realistic perspective. With this, it’s easy in addictions for people to minimize everything that’s happening. It allows them … They’ll do it to themselves, let alone everybody else around them to have a perspective that they’re not really an addict, they are not really an alcoholic and maybe they’re special. Everybody else can’t handle meth, but they can do it pretty well and function. For some, they can function for a time. That how addiction works for the majority, maybe not everybody, but the majority, is, once you’ve already been there, it’s hard to go back. If you were addicted to alcohol, for example, and it was all consuming, it’d be unlikely you could drink and everything would be fine. But those that come from addictions will be convinced of that until one day they realize the day is never coming. If that’s the case, one thing with a realistic perspective that protects for longterm recovery is, “I can’t drink. I can’t smoke weed.” Whatever the things are, that they understand that that’s not realistic for them.
Avoid risky situations. One commonplace for relapse I’ve seen is, the guys going to the bar after work and they say, “You want to come?” “Oh yeah, sure. It’s fine. I don’t want to be awkward.” Or, “Do you mind if I drink in front of you?” “Oh yeah, sure. That’s fine. I don’t want to be rude.” The various reasons that they put themselves smack in the middle of a risky situation. Longterm recovery, avoid risky situations. Come up with a phrase. Don’t go there. Recognizing what counts. Now, where this comes from is, many, many relapses started with something very little that is not a big deal in and of itself. But if that person was honest, when they come back they say, “I knew right then.” There’s various things that you can get high on if you take enough of. It alters how you feel. Those that come from addictions now, “If I start down that road, if I take this, even though it’s legal, even though it’s over the counter sometimes, for me, I know I already have relapsed. I’m going down the wrong road.”
You recognize what counts. “I can’t use this. I can’t drink this. I can’t do this because for me, it’s like a mini relapse.” Maybe you’re not full blown on your drug of choice, but it’s going down the wrong road. Next, let’s look at humility. If I could pick one way I would tell in a moment if somebody is going to make it or not make it … It’s a sad thing because of [inaudible 00:12:48] obviously, so it’s not to laugh at. It’s just, it’s such a loud pattern that I feel like I could make money if I had to bet. Of course, I don’t and this is something that may not always be the case. But it’s one of the biggest patterns I’ve ever seen. If somebody is coming with humility, they have a good chance of making it. If there’s pride, they probably won’t make it. I would say more chance that if there’s pride, they will not make it. Humility, there still may be struggles, but they have a good chance. That’s just straight across the board. Obviously I think that fits with scripture talking in general about pride and humility.
What this might look like though, is just understanding there’s a chance I could relapse at any moment. Kind of a caution there. A willingness to follow guidance. Sometimes it’s frustrating in treatment models for people to tell you what you can and cannot do. Nobody would want that. But when you’re humble, you say, “Okay, sure, I’ll trust you. I’ll try that. Okay, I’ll do that.” There’s just a willingness different than somebody that maybe is not truly ready for longterm recovery. They can stay clean for a time, but it may not last. Now with this, I can see the opposite is a phrase I’ve heard often, “I got this.” It’s a great phrase I’ve heard many times. It doesn’t mean it’s a guarantee, but if somebody is saying, “No, no, no, I got this.” I already know this is a hard road they’re walking down right now. They’re about ready to learn they don’t have it. They need other resources around them to make this longterm. Admitting mistakes, if somebody can understand that they did do something that jeopardizes their recover, maybe not a relapse, but it was a risky situation and they admit it quickly …
Maybe even they relapsed and they admit it quickly, that is a sign long term there’s hope. They could probably make it. We’ll talk about it at the end, but relapse doesn’t mean the end of the world. Sometimes it’s the greatest way to learn a lesson they can’t any other way. Within couples and families, sometimes relapse does happen. For them to go right to their family and say, “This is what happened. I’m back on track now. This is what I’m doing.” It’s a great thing. Very difficult, and definitely takes humility. People that have relapsed and come back to treatment, they’ve described how humiliating that is to them. I say, “Great, it’s fantastic.” If you’re in a place of humility, it’s just that much more of a chance you’ll do well in the end. Just with humility comes just an openness. An openness, like we said, to do various things that might be helpful for their recovery, but just in who they are, that person in the room, they’re very open.
You can imagine the flip side of that, of prideful, not wanting to hear suggestions from anybody, feeling like they have a good handle on it, those will be your red flags. Humility, keep that in your mind. It’s my number one favorite. Next, let’s look at community. There was a particular MY THERAPIST SEZ we talked about addictions. One thing it said is that the opposite of addiction is not … Well, what was it? It’s not relapse, but connection. The opposite … Whatever it was. The answer in a way to addictions is not sobriety or something like that, it’s connection. Their main point is that addictions isolate. We do this in many ways as a society, but connection heals. If people can stay connected and have a social support around them, they’re going to have a better chance for longterm recovery. Here I put just options. Obviously, church. There’s many churches that have good, strong small groups and various ways to stay connected and have those relationships. There’s also a strong recovery community in San Diego.
Many places, you can find meetings and people of like-minded situations that they’re meeting and connecting and they have that sense of community. Obviously, AA and NA and there’s other various versions of meetings. But that’s a great place to build a community to have that support. Along this very, very similar, but I’m going to go a little further, is relationships. Community is important. A lot of times community has that sense of accountability because those in the recovery community are going to catch when somebody is at risk for relapse better than their family and friends. But relationships in general heal. One thing about relationships I’ve seen, we’ll go to the next slide there too, is that if they don’t have strong relationships, no matter how well they do, it seems like it doesn’t last. Sometimes I’ve had people say something along these lines, “I had a great job. I was successful. I was clean. I was just so well. I woke up one day and thought, what’s the point?” That relationships ground a person in life differently, where it’s all worth it.
If they have a spouse or kids or friends or other people that are important to them, it just makes all the difference for them to have a rewarding, rich, full life, instead of barely making it clean and sober. It just isn’t … Especially if you come from addiction, it’s not enough to last the rest of your life for many. It has to be more. Relationships are really important. Obviously, family number one. Definitely it could be friends that are important to you. It could be a sponsor. A sponsor, again, is that close person you can go to any time, any place. Then possibly hobbies. Hobbies are important for recovery, if nothing else, so you have adrenaline. A lot of times, those with addiction, they need something exciting and sometimes exciting things are dangerous. Finding that balance of healthy and relatively safe activities that are still exciting and can have that passion where they love life. You’ll find sometimes people in recovery might surf or ride motorcycles a little too fast.
Obviously there’s boundaries for safety, but in a general sense, some of these things are very healthy and they produce that adrenaline that just they love. It doesn’t seem to be something that they’re just never going to have any of that, so they have to find healthy ways to do that. But also with hobbies, you’ll have relationships, meet people with similar ideas and desires and have that comradery. Now, if we go to the next slide, make sure I’m on the right track here, purpose and task. I would say this tends to be maybe more for men, but that’s possibly my view in working with a certain population. It could be different. But I’ve heard say, and I love it, for guys they have to have a task and do it. Very simple, but it just is important. They have to see something they’ve got to do. Personally, actually I have that too, but it tends to be very important. Whether it’s a job or I put here even maybe volunteer or in the AA model, you have commitments. If you don’t show up, people know it. Even if it’s making coffee, something important.
Having commitments and having those connections where it’s important, you have to do it, you have responsibility, people feel it when you’re not there, that’s something that can be very important in longterm recovery. Having a sense of purpose to your life, whether it comes from service or your career or your family, something that that person really finds value out of. Now, the next one would be hopefully something the person started already, but it might have to continue. That’s dealing with root issues. We see in a 12-Step model, there’s step four, where you kind of open all your deep, dark secrets to the world. Maybe just to your sponsor, but it’s a hard place. People relapse often in step four. Within this timeframe, you stare at it, even if it’s ugly and dark, and then you make it to the other side. Well, during that time, if you do a good job, you’re very honest and you figure out how to process through that, it can be something that’s very healing.
What we do at Genesis Recovery is, I’ll be doing the therapy side, but I love right when they’re in step four with a sponsor, I’ll say, “Bring some of that into me.” We’ll go deep in healing some of those past hurts. I always tell them the reason this is important is, whatever you skip will come back to haunt you. It does seem to be true. There’s always exceptions, but in most situation, if somebody didn’t want to go somewhere in their past, it tends to be one of the reasons they relapse later. That openness to kind of see past childhood trauma, the difficulties, it’s not always the event, but how they interpreted the event, what they believed about themselves from that event. If they don’t find a way to have a good place in their mind for it, it tends to come back. It could be therapy, it could be a 12-Step model that takes you through that in a very strategic way, and it could be coping skills. That if you have from your past the inability to handle anxiety, how can you get better at managing anxiety so you don’t have to drink?
It could be increasing coping skills as a way to kind of deal with some of the root issues of why you relapse, why you use and drink. That aspect of root issues could be longterm forever and ever until you get to a good, healthy spot on some of those. The role of relapse, the reason why I want to talk to this real quick before we go to questions, is that relapse does happen. It’s extremely common. Some addictions we’re talking about like behavioral, maybe food or sex addictions, how hard is that when you’re going to have to eat? There’s what you have as far as a relapse is a little bit more complicated than if you’re relapsing on a substance, an illegal substance. One thing to realize as family members, especially is that it does happen and it doesn’t have to be the end of the world. It could be absolutely wonderful.
Now, if I’m talking to a person that’s doing well and off they go into longterm recovery out on their own, I say, “Now, relapse does happen, so I want you to be ready if it comes. I don’t want you to go relapse because I told you it’s bound to happen. Because here’s the thing about relapse, you don’t know what you’re going to lose that you can never get back. The consequences can be so severe. You might die. You might lose your family. You might lose your children. Others might die.” The consequences are so severe, it’s not to be taken lightly. But if a person relapses, I want them to get back on track in a day and not say, “Oh, well, I already relapsed. Give me two more years.” I want them to be back on track fast, so I want them to be ready. If you relapse, what are you going to do? I want them to have a game plan, who they’re going to call. I want family members to know what to do if they relapse that they can get back on track fast.
That can protect a lot of the gains they made. They will not lose everything if they can get back on track quickly. Here’s a phrase that I love. It actually comes from Dr. Ray, who I’m married to. This has changed my life. I use it all the time. Sometimes you gain ground, sometimes you hold ground, sometimes you minimize losses. I give this to those in recovery because it gives them a platform for every moment of their day. Are they gaining ground, great. I don’t care if you’re crawling, good job. Are you almost going to relapse and you need to do nothing, you just freeze. You don’t need to make progress. You need to hold on tight and not do something stupid. That’s just hold your ground. Then sometimes you do do stuff that counts. It is a relapse. Even if it’s not something large, you know it matters. Get back on track fast, don’t throw it all out. Then you minimize losses. You can see how can I minimize losses? That’s something that you can take. I think that fits for anything, but definitely important in addictions.
As we close the presentation part, I want to just read a little bit here of kind of my closing thoughts, as well as a verse. Recovery is an active, ongoing process with risk for relapse always present. Especially if you’re looking at heroin or meth or various substances alcohol at any moment of any day, it could come for you. You have to be ready. It gets better, but all of a sudden something could trigger it. You have to be on guard always. There’s no room for lazy or foolish. Here, I just put this because I thought it fit. Satan can come for us for anything, but definitely addictions. Be sober, be vigilant because your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour. We have to be paying attention aware and ready for what might come. Thank you very much.
Thank you, Dr. Julie Hayden. We appreciate that. Let’s start, if we may, with this concept of relapse, and I think one of the more common issues. What a great quote by your husband? That is a wonderful quote. Sometimes you gain ground, sometimes you hold ground and then sometimes you minimize losses. In the midst of that, when someone faces a relapse, which can be one of the more challenging places for a person trying to get back on track as you were saying, what is the mindset? What do you talk to your patients about when they have relapsed? Then there are all sorts of temptations related to that relapsing. What are some things that you help them to begin to think about in themselves, in their relationship with others, how to move forward, how to get back on track, if you will? What do you say to them?
Sure. The first thing I do is get their story of how it all unfolded. I look for opportunities, and they’re always there, to say something like, “Fantastic, that’s amazing. Great job.” First they’re curious why I’m saying this, but I say, “I’m so glad you came back now. That’s pretty fast.” I do have my speech on relapse. Sometimes they do come back a week, maybe two weeks, sometimes a couple months, but bottom line is, it’s not two years. It’s fantastic. I help them recognize the strength they had to get help quickly. One of the main reasons I do that is because shame will impact and give power to addiction more than anything. If they come back broken and allow shame to get a hold, like, “I’m a failure, I’m always going to fail.” Then that can actually make things worse. I unhook that and just say, “Great job. I’m so glad you’re here.” I remind them, not all is lost. You have a lot you keep. What have you kept? What did you not lose? Because you came back quickly.
Then I start looking at what caused the relapse to kind of reverse engineer that, to get them ready and again. We have some discussions about addiction in general that usually always involves relapse. Just normalizing and educating that those who have made it 20 years, which where I’m at now, I’ll have a few examples around, they could talk to, those who have made it 20 years, first relapsed. First had everybody thinking, there’s no way this person is making it and then they did. Reminding them they could be that person too. That yes, they relapsed, but this may be the relapse that gave them that final skill, that final lesson that they now could do it longterm. I kind of educate and use that opportunity and then reverse engineer a different better game plan for how not to relapse in the future.
Thank you. That idea of shame, let’s park there for just a moment. When we talk about shame, it’s kind of this or that. It’s very rigid, isn’t it? The person, it’s not like, “I’ve made a mistake or I really did sin here, or I’m going down a road that is not helpful. I’m relapsing.” If you will. What’s so powerful about this idea of shame? Can you talk to us just briefly about how the Bible speaks to this issue of shame? Because this really is one of the areas that I see both Christian and not, even though a non Christian would necessarily talk about shame the same way perhaps as a Christian, but it’s as if something is wrong with me. How can you help people with that concept from a biblical perspective, as well as a science?
As I talk, there’s a couple aspects of that that I want to address I might forget. So bring back some of the parts that you were looking for. But in general, a lot of times shame is all of who you are. I’ve heard people say this about themselves is, rotten to the core. It doesn’t matter how hard you try or what you do, it’s always going to be the same result because something’s wrong with all of who you are. A lot of times, this comes from childhood seven years old when they had no ability to do anything different. It doesn’t make sense. It’s not true. A lot of times, addictions warn people from having black and white thinking. But sometimes I’ll say, sometimes it is very simple. It’s kind of either truth or a lie. I think the root of shame is a lie and definitely fits with scripture as far as, if you’re a new creation in Christ and He, His blood has covered your sins, you’re are forgiven. Positionally, those sins aren’t there anymore. How God views you is perfect if you die to go to heaven, kind of a concept.
If that’s how God views you and then you’re viewing yourself as this rotten individual that has no hope, there’s truth versus a lie. Sometimes I’ll kind of talk like that and I’ll ask them, “Do you think that’s realistic?” I’ll say it like that especially if they’re not from a faith background. Maybe I’ll say, “What does God say? What does the scripture say?” But sometimes I’ll just say, “Does that seem to make sense?” The shame part, what they’re believing about themselves, if they’re honest, especially because a lot of times it comes from a really early age, I say, “Do you think that’s realistic? You think that kid really was rotten at seven and chose to walk that path?” Then they’ll say, no. They’ll remember their son or their nephew, and they’ll say, “No, that’s not realistic. There’s nothing that kid could have done.” Then that helps free them a little bit to see the truth. The truth is, yeah, they are miserable and have done terrible things, but the core of who they are doesn’t have to stay rotten.
It can be that they’re a new creation in Christ, God already forgave them, they can forgive themselves. Yes, this is going to be a long, hard road, but it is possible. They can yield to the Holy spirit and kind of walk this road. It’s filtering lies from the past with the truth from the scripture that can help with shame. I think there was a question more about the core of what shame does with addictions a little bit too.
I don’t know if I could fully answer why it’s just such an evident pattern that if a person is stuck in having an identity, that there’s something very broken and wrong with them, that that keeps addiction necessary because nobody wants to feel that. It really fuels why I need to drink more, I need to use more because what I’m feeling right now needs to disappear. It also is self-sabotaging. Addictions harm yourself. It harms other people as well, but very much will physically destroy you. It ruins opportunities for the future of your life in so many ways. It’s extremely self-destructive. A lot of times with shame, there’s that sense of, “This is what I deserve. I don’t deserve anything good or anything healthy. So let me continue down my road to destroy everything good in my life.” There’s that sense with shame that they don’t deserve anything else. Those are a couple of thoughts I have on why it’s so powerful, specifically with addictions.
Let’s talk about that for just a moment. We know Paul in the New Testament talked about, I’ve been crucified with Christ and it’s no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in with me. Or present your bodies as a living and Holy sacrifice acceptable to God. Or 1 John, if we move to 1 John, if we confess our sins, He’s faithful and just and will forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. The concepts flowing from really the word of God talk about us being new creatures in Christ. That we are alive in Christ. That we are brand new creatures in Christ. This is such a big issue that I’ve seen in my practice for years, is the person who really is basing it on the shame they feel. Oftentimes, as you’ve said it several times this evening, from early childhood. I think you coined it as a seven year old who didn’t realize that he or she really is a good boy or a girl, and yet he or she is being told they’re not.
There’s no one there to stand up for them, so their very concrete thinking rather than abstract as an adult, the person takes it on and they believe that and then it’s in their body. This really is a question about shame. When you talk about that early development and shame, and then the person is trying to move out of a relapse, which has been our focal point here for just a few minutes, what can you tell us about what happens biologically? Where do I store that shame? Even though part of the shame is my core belief about myself, rather than seeing myself through Christ’s atonement and being at one with Christ. Meaning that God looks through Jesus to see us and that he atones for our sins and that we’re cleansed and we’re new creatures. But how do we store that biologically as a little child, and then bring that into addiction? You already talked about the fact that if I’m shamed, I have to somehow cope. That would lead me into all sorts of addictions to cope with my anxiety, because I constantly believe I’m a loser.
Well, that would be horrible, but some people do believe that. Where do we store that? How does that get stored in our bodies? We know it’s in our brain, but what’s the combination of that?
Well, one pattern that I’ve seen …. You’re getting me excited. I have other things I want to go research when we’re done tonight just on where you’re going with a question. But how I’ve seen it demonstrated is, basically depression, anxiety, but physically. I’ll talk about that. I’ll say boredom, but it’s a physical feeling that’s described. Again, one of the benefits that I wanted to bring tonight was kind of years of experience of hearing many different types of stories, and then pulling from the top those themes that are always there. This is definitely a theme of wanting the sense of uncomfortableness to go away, and very much from when you’re a child. It’s, your body remembers. It’s not that every addiction has trauma, but so many do. You can usually pinpoint it, the moment in time where it started, and then you have multiple that might come from that. What happens is, your body feels terrible in that moment. Whether it’s abuse, whether your parents got a divorce and you blamed yourself, whether some event happened that just really impacted how you viewed yourself.
There’s also a lot of feelings that go with it in your body and your body remembers, especially if you can’t make sense of it. If it all makes sense, your brain files that memory very differently and doesn’t keep the emotions attached to it. But if you can’t make sense of the event and it has all those strong emotions, those emotions are tied to that memory. They float around on your right hemisphere waiting to be triggered. In those types of situations, shame can very much be associated with whatever feelings were during childhood and it’s remembered and it comes well. Well, what I’ll see is, the moment a person started drinking or using marijuana, it’s just like, “Oh, it’s amazing. I can …”-
The relief of just-
… “turn this feeling off.” Then, years later through all the patterns of relapse and why do I keep using and various stuff, you can understand your body is ready. If it feels this, usually people describe it as anxiety, uncomfortable in their own skin, their mind going 1000 miles an hour. These types of things, it’s like a desperation to make it go away. Now, what’s funny, is a lot of times, one of my favorite tools will be to have them experiment, sit with it for 30 seconds. Almost every time they come back and they say, “It went away.” What was so desperate for them to make disappear as quickly as they could, that leads them to relapse for years and years and years, often times can go away by sitting with it. Now that’s a simplified version. It’s not as simple as that, but it is powerful how they don’t have to be scared of it and they can overcome it. I would say anxiety and the symptoms we think of, racing heart, tight chest, those types of things tend to come with that uncomfortable feeling.
People will describe sometimes doom or just the sense of depression. So several different ways of expressing what we would look connected physically to shame. Does that help a little bit and give a picture?
I think that helps. That’s why you can have people who cut, cut their skin, cut their arms, and they will use that as a coping mechanism and it can become addictive. Because I had a patient recently who said that, “When I cut, I focus on the pain.” It’s tying right into what I believe you were suggesting. That they focus on the pain. “And it gives me a moment of relief because my brain is not racing then.” There are many different reasons why people cut, but that’s a similar example to that. I mean, we can do that. People that know me know that I like ice cream. For just a moment, that rich ice cream just relieves me of the entire day. I don’t know. My wife, Robin, is so kind to always provide some things in the ice cream. Not that she always goes shopping, but she’s always making sure I get a little bit of ice cream. But we can all do some sort of coping not to relapse.
I think it’s interesting in the Bible, as we talk about this relapse, that Jesus could have said it could have been said in the scriptures many times to pray, Paul actually, pray without ceasing. It’s interesting that we breathe without ceasing, and it’s one of the greatest gifts to actually be present is good, deep breathing. I had a patient just today, I was working EMDR and the person was doing, but had high chest and was not even breathing as we were doing a treatment to relieve anxiety. I had to say, “Let’s breathe a little deep, deeper as you’re focusing on this treatment.” Because in this case I was in this particular person was going back to early childhood. When we started the treatment, we were thinking this particular person was thinking about something. The person was going back to the early childhood and the chest begin to tighten like you said. It was high chest breathing and the body began to tighten. Inviting the person to breathe can be helpful. This idea from the scriptures, to pray without ceasing means that we breathe without ceasing.
Praying without ceasing means that we’re opening up God’s humility, which you talked about earlier. I would love to get back to that, that idea of humility, instead of pride. Humility draws people to us and us to them or we to them in that process. It’s important that we stay present in the midst of that. Shame takes us away from really being present at the moment. Well, thank you, I added a little bit to yours, but wonderful articulations on your part. Let’s go to some of the questions this evening. This first one asked a very basic question, Dr. Hayden, what are the key reasons why some alcoholics can maintain sobriety seemingly with ease and other alcoholic struggle and relapse repeatedly? Let me just read that once again. What are the key reasons why some alcoholics can maintain sobriety seemingly with ease and other alcoholic struggle and relapse repeatedly?
If you would like to even look at a previous session that talks very distinctly about alcohol, you can see the previous session that we have online for you to listen to. But how would you respond to this? You see this all the time, and that’s why you’re the expert here this evening.
I would say, people are very complex, so there’s going to be different patterns. I can talk about the patterns of both. I think the level of addiction is different. For example, though one thing is, there’s a heredity kind of component to alcohol, obviously, but there’s also a lot of environment at play as well. When you look back at people’s history, sometimes you’ll see a pattern in those who really struggle with their history be more extreme. That could be something. Did they work through therapy to heal from past, or did they go through quickly? There’s a way to go through treatment that makes you look amazing and you do everything everybody says but you don’t really actually dive deep. If you’re in the addiction world, you’ll call this programming, and you sound good and, “I’m going to do everything you say. Yes, sir.” You’re not actually working any program. You can do that. You can look good and you could try real hard and on the end stay sober for a certain length of time. Then the healing is not there and at some point you relapse.
That’s one pattern. That they might have looked motivated, but they were so surface level that all the root stuff was going to come out at some point. There’s also those that just have a stronger addictive tendencies, so they’re going to be addicted to something. I joke with those in this category because they’re one of my favorites to work with. I have tools that are special just for them. They tend to be extremely intelligent and their mind races no matter how healthy they are, 1000 miles an hour, and it’s for great things. Sometimes they can accomplish way more than an average person could ever dream of. You might have people, CEOs of companies and doing amazing things with their kind of makeup and their brain capacity, but it lends itself to addictions because they can’t get a break. They use various substances and they might use several. They use some to come down and some to get up. Within that population, what I’ve noticed is that they have to have activities that are either adrenaline producing or exciting or something.
They can’t just live an average life, or they probably won’t maintain recovery. We come up with different things, but here’s the trick, they have to rotate their interests. It will be their tendency to take something as far as it possibly could go, so they’re the most exercised fit person you’ve ever met. But at some point they’re bored with that. We talk about balance and rotating. Whatever they get into, they’re not allowed to go all the way. They have to go for a while and then pick something else and then go for a while and pick … As they rotate very exciting adrenaline producing activities, they seem to do very well. If that wasn’t the case, they would be one that do well and likely relapse no matter what. No matter how hard they try, they’d be addicted to something you hadn’t even thought of yet over in a corner. They will find fights and they will … It’s just something about that kind of personality type, for lack of a better word, that they will probably really struggle with addictions different than just an average person.
That’s another theme I’ve seen. Otherwise, people are complex. It just is … There was some time we talked about just how you have to individualize treatment because of that complexity. It’s not going to be that everybody looks similar when you’re talking about addictions. The patterns are valuable, they give us information and then there’s lots of people that are complex and do defy any pattern. Those are some of the thoughts I have on that question.
This idea of rotating and you have someone who the brain is perhaps just, it’s moving more quickly with the body and they’re needing to move fast and these are tests that can be taken. Do you walk fast or do you walk slow? Are you methodical or are you quick? These kinds of things, and there’s different learning modalities that we’ll talk about this. But this idea of rotate. What about the person? That they like to accomplish? They’re a CEO. They come in and you realize that you need them to rotate because if they’re going to go on a workout, they’re going to be the most trim, best worked out person you know in that process, but you’re going to hinder them from doing that. Tell us a little bit about that. Why is that?
Well, I do definitely explain why. I talk with them about patterns I’ve seen and not everybody would necessarily listen, but most of them will. I’ll say, “I want to share this because it’s a strong pattern I’ve seen.” A lot of them will trust that. They’ll understand that. When I describe what I think they’re experiencing, and they think like, “How did you know that?” Then they realize I have seen others. That’s the value, is I didn’t think of this. I watched what work with others similar to that. Many in that category would not maintain longterm recovery. When I found some that did, and I saw what they did different, and I gave those tools and then it was increased how many stayed in recovery, I give that to anyone that kind of fits that category. By the time I’m explaining to them, I think they do believe that. They could say, “Okay, I know where she’s coming from.” Then they try it. I think it makes sense most of the time to them when I say it in that way and they get excited, because their worst nightmare is to be bored.
In that category, it’s okay. They’re not going to live a mundane life. We have to adjust for them, give them some good, healthy outlets otherwise.
Okay. Thank you. This next question, thank you so much, asked this, how do you confront or convince … Or converse, excuse me. How do you confront or converse with a friend or a close relative who’s in denial if they show signs? How do you talk with them if they are showing signs of a relapse or even deny the need for help? Again, this is the prideful, if we can use that term. We may want to dive into that versus humility even. But the example the person gives is, alcoholism and the need to drink, or the desire, I guess, to drink three to six beers daily. How do you confront or converse with, I guess it would be to convince that they might need help?
Well there’s a broad pattern that you’re not going to be able to. Taking that off your shoulders, especially if you know they have a relationship with God, that’s fantastic. That can be up to God and his communication with them. Now, there are some strategies. I just want you first to know that it’s too heavy of a weight for person to put on. That’s a long road the person that’s an alcoholic is walking and life always teaches lessons in a powerful way. God bringing those into the life. If they’re truly an alcoholic, in how we see alcohol work in people, they’ll maintain it for a time and eventually it will take back over control and they will lose. The only way they’ll realize they want to stop drinking again, is when they’ve lost enough that they feel it and they don’t want it anymore.
It not going to be you convincing them ahead of time typically. Now there are people that will listen to wise sayings and just follow it. But when you’re dealing with addictions, they’re already a lot of times in the habit of not believing what others are saying about it and having a thought process that they’re different and special and they’ll figure it out. The only way that will change is if they truly know for themselves and are convinced, unfortunately. What you can do though, is bring up what we call incongruencies. That’s a great term therapists use all the time, is, “You say you’re not an alcoholic, but also you say you might lose your children or you might lose your family, or you just have five DUIs.” You can bring in incongruencies in a gentle way. It doesn’t have to be very confrontational. You can be curious, like, “That’s odd. I wasn’t thinking that because I remembered you saying this, but also I’m seeing this, so I don’t know how that works. Can you explain that a little bit better for me so I can understand?”
You come from a curiosity standpoint and yet you’re bringing up incongruencies that’ll be very controversial. Not … I’m thinking of another word. But cognitive dissonance is what I’m thinking of, as far as two opposing thoughts in their brain at one time. You bring those up and their brain will wrestle later. What that’s meant to do is give a little bit of a kind of energy. Hoping that energy goes toward, maybe they start seeing that there really is a problem. Not a guarantee, but at least you’ve got momentum moving where they’re starting to question and wonder. Bringing up anything that seems to point in the direction of alcoholism from a curiosity standpoint, rather than a confrontational standpoint.
It’s that curiosity and perhaps questioning in a way that creates a dissonance?
Can you help me … Could we role-play for just a moment?
Let’s say I’m an alcoholic and I really binge on the weekends, but I’m still drinking during the week also. At this point, let’s suggest that my wife is saying, “I’m really done with this.” I’m not sure she really is done with it, but she’s saying she’s done with it, so I’m beginning to weigh my losses. My children aren’t wanting to spend time with me at all. How would you talk to me if we’re having a conversation and by questioning or your curiosity languaging, if I may use it similarly to what you had suggested, how would you talk with me if I’m setting up that scenario? I’ve been drinking since I was really 14 years of age, so this is really a part of my life. It’s not something I want to give up. I have a lot of benefits from it, but now I’m beginning to see some of my losses. You suggest that, right?
You’re beginning to weigh your losses, so now that changes, perhaps, the way that I view this. How would you talk to me?
I’ll just go for it. Now am I a therapist or am I a friend?
This one, it might be better a friend, not a therapist. Excuse me. Yeah, because I think these questions might be more of a family or a friend. I’m generally speaking for the audience. It’d be a friend that maybe you’ve known me my whole life or something and I went ahead and drank and you didn’t. You didn’t really go down that road at all and decided differently and yet we’ve been friends for life.
Okay. Don, I mean, I’ve known you a long time and you’ve always really taken care of your family, you’ve done a great job, your work loves you. You’re doing amazing there. I know you’ve drank the whole time and I know Sally has been upset the whole time, but it seems like she’s serious. Do you think she’d actually do something [crosstalk 00:54:47]-
No, she’s kind of said this before. I mean, I don’t think it really affects my life. I drink a little more on the weekends and sometimes I’m not really coherent. Not most of the weekend, but part of the weekend.
Well, what did she say?
Well, she actually said, “I’m done if you have any more beer in the kitchen.”
Okay. She’s said …
Or in my [crosstalk 00:55:11]-
She said she’s done, but I don’t know that I really believe her. I don’t know that I believe that she’s done because I think she really loves me. You’ve known Sally your whole life too and you know how she really loves me, and I know that.
What about your kids? What do they think? Do they think she’s serious?
Well, our two kids, I don’t know … We haven’t done a lot of stuff recently. They’re kind of going their … They’re in their mid teens and they’re kind of doing their own thing and we just don’t really see them much. I don’t really see them much. I guess, because-
You used to-
… do quite a bit. What changed?
Well, I don’t know. My wife, Sally, she says that by the time it’s about 4:30 PM I’m getting sloshed, and I’m really there. I know I’m there. I don’t fall down or I’m not drunk but she says that, and I don’t know, maybe my kids, maybe they see that. I don’t know.
Well, what do you think it would mean if Sally is telling the truth this time, or if your kids really are frustrated that you drink and they’re basically kind of separating themselves from you? What if you’re wrong and what you’re hearing from them is real and true? What would that mean to you? Would that be okay? Are you comfortable with that or would it be a big deal?
Well, I know I can’t give up my alcohol. Maybe I just need to back it up a little bit. Instead of a six pack maybe I’ll just have one or two beers. Although Sally says it’s hard for me, once I get started, I can’t quite stop.
Yeah. Well, I’m trying to remember. I don’t remember any time you’ve had less than a few a day.
Yeah, that’s been my habit. She knew that going into the relationship because it’s-
You know what, let’s just … What about this week? Just drink one a day or two. [inaudible 00:57:07] crazy.
Okay. Well, I can-
I don’t know. What’s the worst that could happen. I mean, just cut back to two and then maybe she’ll be happy.
I’ve never been able to just drink two. I don’t think that’s going to work.
Well, Don, I’m afraid you might lose your whole family and you still will be drinking. I know you don’t think that’s going to happen but-
I don’t think so.
… the kids are older I think there’s less reason for Sally to stick around if I’m honest. I know you have been one of the best dads and husbands I’ve ever seen and I’d hate for this whole family to be affected. I don’t think you needed to just stop drinking, I’m just wondering if it’s possible to drink two a day for a week just to see what you’re capable of so we know what leverage you have with Sally. But maybe it’s not possible.
How do you do that? How do you cut back from six a day to-
Well, I’ve actually heard it’s dangerous, so I don’t know if you want to check with somebody. Would you be open to that? Check with somebody that maybe is good at stuff like this?
You really think it’s that serious? She wouldn’t leave me. I can’t see her doing that.
I don’t know. I don’t know about Sally, but honestly it’s the kids I worry about because I think now is the time they need you the most, this age. I don’t know if it’s your drinking why they’re gone or just because they’re teens. It’s at least worth looking at asking them, seeing what they think.
Okay. One of the things … If I can break that, thank you so much. Dr. Hayden is so good at this. Almost every time she’s on the platform, I’ll do some sort of dialogue with this because I can’t really ruffle her by my reactions to her because I’m always in that part of the dialogue. But one of the things, let’s look at this, one of the things I sensed from you is you’re not judging me first of all, but you were trying to help me. You were trying to use leverage. You use that term before, before we did this role-play. You’re trying to leverage the important piece in my life. Obviously the way I was saying it, my kids, I actually turned towards you if the audience was watching, I turned towards you when you talked about my kids. It seems like my kids were more important than even my wife, Sally. We’re role-playing of course here. But you were trying to help to see what’s important and then go with that. Is that correct?
What are some of the things that you noticed you doing? Of course I was giving you fits here on this side of the role-play, but what were you [crosstalk 00:59:42]-
I was trying to get him to buy in to anything. Wherever he went is a little bit of progress. Because I already know too, if he was able, whether he said it or not, if you ventured out to decrease his alcohol use, he probably would have a very hard time. Now that may not do anything, but it may at least wake him up to say, “I can’t. I didn’t realize how bad this was.” Because he’s been convincing himself for so long he could stop if he wanted to he just doesn’t want to. At least have that awareness that he couldn’t stop if he was losing his whole life, something’s wrong. That’s the thing. There are people that cold turkey, Christ, whatever the reason, they don’t do treatment per se and they stop. It is possible. I always say, God could do whatever he wants. But a lot of times, especially alcohol and I can’t help but warn because there is actually danger to coming off alcohol fast, so there’s danger to quit cold turkey when it comes to alcohol. Not too much on other stuff. Some of them though, there is.
If you’re at a place where they’re watching you, they’re helping you in a safe way, it’s a little bit better. But also I joke about Genesis because they trap you in the middle of nowhere, but there’s some benefit to that. Of where you go away and you don’t have access. That’s not life. You’re going to have to figure out how to come back into life, but for a time for your body to adjust what it’s like without the substance. If he’s trying to do it on his own and can’t enough, maybe he’d be open to go somewhere to get away, to have a good solid foundation before it comes back into all of the pressures of life and what that’s going to be like without alcohol.
How did you … Thank you. That’s very helpful. The audience, I’m assuming you all know that the reason it can be very dangerous for someone to stop cold turkey, just stop alcohol is that because the chemicals that have entered the person’s system, they do not have the natural and normal opiates to lower anxiety and it can be such a trauma to the … You can talk more eloquently than I’m able.
Well, you basically can have a heart attack. You just want to be careful because alcohol has done something to the body in such a way that if it was gone, yeah, your body wouldn’t know what to do. It can be very dangerous. I always put that risk out there just in case somebody is real excited and adventurous, tonight there’s safe ways to manage if you’re going off.
Just a couple of the things you did, you were asking questions like, “Have you considered? What do you think about this? Do you think you might want to?” Ask like a professional. You were using invitational language that increases conversation rather than concrete or statements coming at me. We’re assuming we were friends for a long time and you could talk this way. You kept inviting consideration to think about something. This is oftentimes what Jesus did in the New Testament. If you notice, He really would ask very metaquestioning. In other words, can you think about your thinking? Can you think about your actions? What do you really need? It’s inviting the other person to be a full person. This next question … We’re winding down here. We have just about 10 minutes left. How do you address the response from an individual who is resisting recovery programs? They may be saying, “Isn’t Jesus enough?” Now, if I could add to this question …
I’ll read the question again then I’d like to add a little part that you’ve already talked about, but I would like to expand on it if we may, for those who are present here or listening by live streaming or later by video. How do you address the response from an individual who is resisting recovery programs saying, “Isn’t Jesus enough?” If you notice my languaging, Sally, my wife … That’s not my role wife, Sally, but we were role-playing here. If you noticed my pridefulness in that instead of humility, which it’s very difficult to deal with someone who’s prideful, because you already said it, they already know they can manage. “I can manage it. I can do this.” Like I was saying, “I’m not inebriated.” I didn’t use that term, but my wife Sally says, “I’m sloshed.” Or … I’m really not. I’m there and I know I can do this. I remember I used to show this video clip at the university for years, and it was done at several universities. They had placebo alcohol drinks, and then they had real alcohol drinks and then they mixed them.
The college students would all begin to drink and there’s video taken place. You’ve seen these. It’s quite interesting how they almost all become somewhat inebriated, even the placebo. There’s a lot of reasons for that and you get into social psychology and all of that. But the fact that is when I would get done with that, I would say, “How do you know when the alcohol is beginning to control you?” We stop and think, and then we’d have a discussion about that. It’s very prideful to say that I can manage it. “Sally saying this, but I can manage it.” My question is, in the midst of this, you’re trying to address the response from an individual who is resistering … Resisting, excuse me. Recovery programs saying, “Isn’t Jesus enough?” This is a question from the audience. How can you integrate the idea of pridefulness or humility?
Very good. I do like the concept from that perspective of just reminding them that it may be … Christ is obviously going to be an important role in their life for recovery and for them to do anything. That’s going to be the job of the Holy Spirit to work in them. The byproduct of walking with God will be a lot of good natural fruits of the Holy Spirit. But that just to understand from that perspective, it’s hard because my brain went one way, but I might tie it in full circle. Of just understanding that positionally we’re perfect, but also we’re miserable. When you look at New Testament and Paul, we have this process of sanctification where our job is to be conformed to the image of Christ and we do a terrible job at it. We have sin nature, bent on evil, our flesh and the Holy spirit, perfectly capable of conquering any sin. They’re both inside us in a war every day. We’re either walking in the spirit or in the flesh every day. Every decision we make, every thought, everything, we are either yielded to the Holy spirit or walking in our flesh.
In that way, yes, it’s the Holy spirit, but we are still in this battle. In that regard, we have growing old and wrinkles along with diseases and addictions, that’s biological and chemical. We have a brain that’s a supercomputer and we have research and science. I don’t think it goes against God and God’s word to study people and understand things and come with tools. Like we would go to a heart doctor for a heart transplant to see how does the body work with addictions and what are tools to help, that, that doesn’t go against God. God created us in a way we are amazing. Our brain capacity is amazing to find ways for health in all kinds of our fallen worlds difficulties. In that way, I see it very prideful to say, “I have a magic wand.” Now Christ can, God could heal somebody from addiction in a moment at any time He wants to. But you’ll notice how God works with us, He lets us walk this walk, a long, hard road. He could do it, but sometimes He doesn’t.
He has us walk with Him to whether it’s recovery or if we have to go through the process of other things like diabetes and cancer and the difficulties that come to us in this world as a byproduct of a whole world cursed. Not our personal sin necessarily, but the byproduct of the whole world being cursed, we are dealing with these things. So to walk with others, to build a team around us, to get wise counsel, to have help, those all match what the scripture tells us to do as believers, that fit that model. That’s why I usually say, “Yep, Christ can heal you at any moment.” But we still have our human bodies today on this earth and broadly people don’t tend to do well if they’re on their own in recovery. If they can build a team around them, they have a better chance. I think that fits what the scripture says.
Really humility is inviting people into your life?
A humble marriage would be being transparent before your mate. In Christ means that Christ was already transparent with us. Yet, while we were yet sinners, he died for us. The great kenosis passage he’s talking about that he didn’t consider himself equal with God, Jesus, but made himself less and made himself transparent. Which meant that he’s including us rather than excluding us. Well I want to thank you, Dr. Julie Hayden for being with us this evening. Would you join me in thanking our expression or thanking Dr. Julie Hayden for being our presenter this evening. Thank you so very much. We would like to close the evening in a word of prayer. We invited Christ and the Lord into this session. We know He’s present. He wants health for each and every one of us, He wants us to be able to self-regulate, to have lifelong sobriety, to self-regulate rather than to self-medicate. We thank you again for attending. Let’s pray together.
Heavenly Father, thank you so much for your presence. What a privilege it is to be able to collaborate biblical truths, we start with biblical truths, and then to include scientific truths that if it’s true, it comes from your heart. For all truth arises from you, your heart. You said, Jesus, I’m the way, the truth and the life. That truth, right in the middle is the meat of the sandwich. We look for truth and truth sets us free. We thank you for this collaborative ability for biblical truths to be enhanced in the sense of bringing new and different kinds of light into it through others in the science world that we can work hand in hand. We know that your truth was full and yet somehow we can through science even illuminate that truth to be even more useful. Thank you for that. Bless these good people who are here this evening, those listening by live stream, and those who will listen to this videotape and the days to come or years to come.
We’re grateful for your presence in our life. That makes all the difference and we find great peace in your presence that also relieves anxiety. Perhaps the opposite of anxiety is peace, the absence of anxiety is peace, and we thank you for that. We give you praise this evening. Thank you so much, Father. In Jesus name I pray. Amen. Well thank you for attending MY THERAPIST SEZ. Please have a good evening.
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