There is nothing quite like the thrill of holding a book I’ve written in my hands for the first time. I experienced that exciting moment in Atlanta in October when I received the preview edition of my latest book at the annual international conference of the Association for Imago Relationship Therapy. As president of that group, I wanted my colleagues to have copies of what I had written before it reached bookstore shelves.
When I returned home from enjoying the Christmas holidays in Connecticut with my older daughter and her family, a box of the final product had arrived. Again I felt the joy of holding the creative baby I had birthed over the past five years of sustained effort. It’s a great feeling – and one I hope to experience more than once again. Still it pales in comparison to the miracle of meeting a new grandbaby for the first time – a doubled blessing I received the day after Thanksgiving when my younger daughter gave birth to twin baby girls. It’s my privilege now to help with their care and nurturing along with that of their big brother who is not yet three years old.
Just as those precious children require lots of loving attention from their parents, grandparents, friends, and other caregivers, newly birthed books demand nurturing too. That job can’t be done by the author alone. It takes help from lots and lots of others. And I’m asking for help from you.
I want you to read what I’ve written. I pray that my words will be useful to you – that you’ll discover new possibilities and become more conscious of simple ways you can enhance your relationships with your mate, your children, your parents, your friends, and your co-workers. For this is a book about how to love others and yourself in ways that honor the connections you share while also respecting the boundaries that define you as unique and distinct beings.
Its title is Loving Your Partner Without Losing Your Self. This book is the culmination of thousands of hours of working with individuals, couples, families, and groups, living my life and growing through my challenges, praying, meditating, journaling, relaxing and playing. When you read it, you’ll find new ways of understanding yourself and those closest to you. You’ll discover Safe Dialogue and how to use it so you can talk with absolutely anyone about absolutely anything – without your conversation escalating into a hurtful conflict.
You’ll also learn about boundaries and how they both protect you from harm and encompass the whole of your personal identity. In the section on boundary violations, you’ll find charts to help you identify boundary violating behaviors. By expanding your awareness of how boundaries are violated, you’ll open new windows of opportunity to treat yourself and others with the loving respect you desire and deserve.
One of the most interesting and exciting sections of the book is about the phenomenon I call Reenactment Trances. It will help you disentangle yourself from repetitive fighting patterns with your mate – those battles you’ve had over and over again without anything changing. These conflicts zap your energy, gradually erode the good will between you, and hurt both of you each time they recur. Learning about how reenactment trances happen, what causes them, and how to wake-up and snap yourselves out of them is information that can transform your intimate relationship.
There is a great section on how to stop boundary violations as well. In it you’ll meet the fearful part that exists within all of us that I call the Internal Saboteur. This Saboteur part of us spoils our fun, undermines our relationships, and sets us up to shoot ourselves in the foot just when we are on the verge of success. When we are blind to the Saboteur, it can control us. When we learn to recognize it and say No to its destructive suggestions, we stop victimizing ourselves and hurting others. You might notice an inner voice speaking to you as you read these words – a voice that tells you that you don’t have a Saboteur and you certainly don’t need to read a book that talks about one. If so, you’ve just encountered the Saboteur in you. It doesn’t want you to wake-up and notice how it affects your life.
Once you learn to identify your Saboteur, you can thank it for sharing its point of view and say No to its cunning suggestions. In my book you’ll find a chapter that includes a list of the clever masks your Saboteur may use to fool you and disguise its presence. There also is a step-by-step process designed to help you stop relationship sabotage.
In Loving Your Partner Without Losing Your Self, there are chapters you can refer to again and again when you and your partner encounter problems that confuse and confound you. I’ve included a Boundary Healing Process to assist you in uncovering and healing old wounds that lie beneath hurtful behaviors that are difficult to stop. The final chapter is about letting go – one of life’s most essential skills and greatest challenges.
Birthing my book into the world beyond my computer is an enormous letting go experience. Once it is in the hands of its publisher, a book takes on a life of its own. Having done my part in creating it, my challenge as its author is to release it to do its work for those who read it. It is in its final form. There are no more opportunities to make changes or tweak it. It is as it is. All I can do now is nurture its bookstore debut by telling potential readers how it can help them.
And so I am telling you! I’m grateful for your reading this column. I hope if what you’ve found in the articles I’ve written for Nursing Times has been useful to you, you’ll want to explore what I’ve created for you in Loving Your Partner Without Losing Your Self. And I trust that if you like the book and it makes sense to you that you will tell others about it too.
Throughout my twenty-seven years in private practice as a therapist, most of my referrals have come from word of mouth recommendations from clients I’ve worked with to their friends and associates. In my experience nothing is more powerful than your word in sharing what is helpful to you with others you know. If Loving Your Partner speaks to you, I hope you’ll speak to friends. You have an enormous network of influence among all the people you know. Your endorsement is a powerful boost – just as important as the generous endorsements the book has received from well-known therapists and teachers.
I thank you in advance for your help! I want to see this book - homegrown in Oklahoma - make its way to best-seller lists throughout the country. Its journey starts here with you. I release it to your wisdom and give thanks that it blesses your life.