Case Studies

SANDY'S STORY

Sandy grew up with her biological father and stepmother. Sandy rarely saw her biological mother who had opted for the "exciting single life" instead. Her father, who had custody of her, remarried her stepmother and had three more children.

Sandy never really felt like she belonged. Her stepmother would blatantly play favoritism with her own biological children. Sandy had memories of food being shared and getting leftovers. Though she wasn't mistreated by her father, she never wanted to cause problems between him and his wife, so she rarely spoke to him about how she felt. For the longest time, she kept the hostile treatment by her stepmother to herself and never discussed it with her father.

By age sixteen, Sandy had become a shy introvert, often intimidating people with her facial expressions to thwart off prospective inquirers. Her hostile demeanor kept people away so she could control who came in and out of her life.

Sandy found love early and grew attached to her high school sweetheart, whom she later married and with whom she had three children.

In her relationships, Sandy was very passive, caring for everyone but herself. Her husband had a thriving social life, and Sandy would feel extremely rejected when he wanted to spend time with his friends and family. Her children took advantage of her, and she would drop everything any time anyone had a need.

By her mid-thirties, Sandy started to experience burnout. It seemed everyone's needs mattered more than hers. She started to resent being taken advantage of by her husband and children and even her colleagues at work.

In a coaching session with Sandy, she uncovered that she had internalized beliefs from her childhood abandonment and abuse that she did not matter, and that her needs were not important. Her struggles in adulthood were the manifestation of this dysfunctional thought process.

When Sandy was able to connect the dots between her thought process and her current behavior, she set out to resolve her issues with her mother, her father, and her stepmother.

MARK'S STORY

Mark grew up in a home filled with abuse. Most of his memories include being hit, yelled at, and told he would amount to nothing by his father. Mark always felt that he could never please his father. Through his adolescence, he would put forth good effort into school and work, but he could never complete anything. Even when he came into an opportunity, it wouldn't be long until something happened to sabotage his efforts. Mark resented how his father treated him. His mother would often stay quiet during his father's ranting, but Mark secretly yearned for her to protect him.

In relationships, Mark would often be attracted to passive women he could control. When they would resist his controlling ways, he would react with anger and abuse them verbally and sometimes physically.

Mark failed to keep a job for any length of time and would depend on his partners for financial support. After two failed long-term relationships, Mark had two children he was unable to support financially. He rarely saw them, and when he did, he would show up empty-handed. Both mothers had a fear of Mark's abusive nature, so they would not say anything to him when he acted in this manner.

Mark would find himself getting into bad business deals where he would always be the one to lose out. He could not understand why everything in his life always seemed to go wrong.

In coaching, Mark realized that the early treatment by his father made him internalize the belief that he was worthless. His relationships in his adult years were a manifestation of this dysfunctional belief system. When Mark was able to explore his deeper emotions of worthlessness and incompetence, he was able to approach his father to initiate a discussion about how he felt growing up.

MARIA'S STORY

Maria grew up in a home with an alcoholic mother. She remembers being left alone as early as five years old. Even though her family did not struggle financially, she always yearned for her mother's attention, which was rarely available. As a teenager, Maria would rebel, often against her mother who was now sober. Maria would call her mother names, and would even attempt to physically hit her. She rebelled, hung out with the wrong crowd, and would continue to have a rocky but dependent relationship with her mother over the years.

Maria ended up having a set of twins with her husband who was a successful businessman. They could want for nothing. They lived in an affluent neighborhood, drove top-of-the-line cars, and could literally afford anything money could buy. Yet, Maria felt empty, and would turn to alcohol to sooth the emptiness. Her full-time nanny would be the one to care for the children the majority of the time. Maria's husband resented Maria's neglect of their children. They had chosen to have the children, and they agreed that she would be a stay-at-home mother. He could not understand why Maria couldn't stay sober.

Corporate parties were especially embarrassing for him. Maria would out-drink everybody in the room, and he would often have to carry her out on his shoulder. Time and time again, he threatened to leave her if she did not change her ways. Maria would hide and sneak around in order to drink.

In counseling sessions with Maria, she spoke sadly of early memories of having to watch her mother pass out on the couch as she rocked herself to sleep. She remembers having to wake up in the morning to get to school and having no one to supervise her. She revealed that she found child- rearing difficult and that the emotional responsibilities of the children were overwhelming. She could not confide in her husband about her fears and insecurities because she feared his judgment. Ultimately, the opportunity to share this pain with him proved fruitful. She was able to see that she had very little familiarity with taking care of people and being taken care of because she had been neglected. Her lack of familiarity with caring for others triggered her fears and anxiety, and she used alcohol to self-medicate. Maria's pursuit of forgiveness toward her mother was a journey she felt she had to undergo in order to tackle her responsibilities as a mother.

TODD'S STORY

Todd and his two sisters grew up with their mother and father. When Todd was younger, he travelled with his mom to Europe for vacations. He recalled seeing his mom being embraced by a man on one occasion and even kissing him on another. His mom would refer to this man as her friend, but Todd was always suspicious. When they got home, his father would often ask him how he enjoyed his trip, and he would not disclose very much information. These questionable occurrences continued to happen until he was fourteen, when he stopped vacationing with his mother. He never spoke to his mother about the events he witnessed.

By his early thirties Todd had built a moving company from scratch. He was very good at managing money. At the height of his success, he met a young lady who worked nights at a restaurant, and he fell madly in love with her. When they first met, she explained that she was only waitressing because she had acquired a lot of debt that she needed to pay off. He was so in love with her that he offered to manage her money and help her out. This arrangement would also give him an opportunity to keep an eye on her.

However, as time persisted, Todd grew more and more suspicious of her behavior and started becoming paranoid every time she failed to account for her whereabouts. Even though she would always provide ample evidence, he would become consumed with jealousy and rage. He had keys to her apartment, but he would be consistently paranoid.

In counseling, he acknowledged great fear in contemplating his mom's potential infidelity. He did not want to see his mother in that light. He knew he would have to partake in a candid heart-to- heart with his mother in order to rid himself of his distrust towards women in general. He had seen this pattern of distrust in all his relationships and started to realize that it may have stemmed from these unresolved fears of his mother's infidelity he had as a child.

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