Spring Forward or Fall Behind

by Mark Sichel, LCSW

The changing of the clocks is our ongoing reminder of the two choices we can make in life. We can either:
Sometimes, to spring forward, we need to say goodbye to people, places, or situations. Saying goodbye can be particularly difficult for recovering addicts, as well as the offspring of any dysfunctional family. Some examples that we've witnessed that typify problems saying goodbye:

  • The couple who don't want to say goodbye to their romantic weekend away and get into a huge fight on the way home to another week of work and children.

  • The mother-of-the-bride who picks fights with her daughter and future son-in-law prior to their wedding, because it's so hard to say goodbye to her baby.

  • The angry teenager who's fighting hard to say goodbye to childhood.

  • The recovering alcoholic who isolates himself and refuses to go to meetings because they hate saying goodbye to their comfortable drunken selves.

  • The therapy patient who flees treatment because it's too painful to say goodbye to the therapist.

  • The employee who wants to move on, but can't bring himself to say goodbye to his job and so gets himself fired.

    The topic of saying goodbye brings to mind the lyrics of the popular song by the Jackson Five, "I Never Can Say Goodbye, No No No!"
    Every time I think I've had enough and start heading for the door
    There's a very strange vibration piercing me right to the core
    It says turn around you fool, you know you love her more and more

    Tell me why is it so, don't wanna let you go. I never can say goodbye girl.

    I keep thinking that our problems soon are all gonna work out
    But there's that same unhappy feeling, there's that anguish, there's that doubt
    It's that same old dizzy hangup, can't do with you or without

    Tell me why is it so, don't wanna let you go. I never can say goodbye, girl
    We all have to contend with varieties of anxiety, but one that we ALL experience is separation anxiety. All of early infancy is about separation anxiety. Each time we say goodbye to a person, place or situation, our separation anxiety kicks in.

    Alcoholics and other addicts often grew up with mixed messages about separation, dependence and independence. Every recovering addict has their own story regarding convoluted and confusing rules about separation and independence in their family of origin. Every person in recovery also has learned a repertoire of dysfunctional and self-defeating tools for contending with separation anxiety. We can all think of many instances where it's painful to say goodbye, and when we are caught in the dilemma from the Jackson 5 song: can't do with you or without. The problem is that if we get caught up returning to or thinking about the people, places and things in our pasts, we cannot grow. We cannot spring forward.

    Read on to learn how to effectively say goodbye to the person or thing that you believe is holding you back from achieving your full potential.


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