123) Dr. Phil

“Dad, who do you think you are, Dr. Phil?” Stevie once said to me.

Okay, I just realized my son was under the impression I was practicing on him. Practicing some sort of therapy where he was my patient and I was presuming to know all the answers to his present circumstances.

I had no formal training in psychology and frankly didn’t know if we could help Stevie. I just knew that I had to try.

At the age of 23, Stevie had been chronically ill and addicted to pain medication for most of his life.

From time to time, just as any concerned father would do, I tried to encourage him by reminding him that as long as he was alive, there was a chance he could someday resume a normal life.

Yeah, there was always a chance.

HOW things might change for Stevie was the difficult part.

So far, cognitive therapy, acupuncture, nerve blocks and massive doses of dilaudid, demerol and oxycodone hadn’t worked.

Stevie’s pain persisted and he stubbornly clung to a very pessimistic, gloomy outlook on life.

All of my training around human potential – and indeed I had seen this in my own life – like  Napoleon Hill, said that “What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve“.

And this was the message I was trying desperately to communicate to Stevie.

It just wasn’t working.

I  guess I knew that children often reject the values and paradigms of their parents.

But in my desperation to help Stevie I held on to the selfish idea that if Stevie could see what I had done with my own life, it would be impossible for him NOT to reach the conclusion that his life could also change.

There were multiple flaws in this reasoning.

  • Stevie was too self-absorbed to notice anyone else could serve as an example,
  • as his relatively healthy father, I hadn’t walked in his shoes; but far more importantly
  • Stevie had lost all hope.

Here is the critical mistake I was making with Stevie:

I was working at very superficial level of support and “coaching” with Stevie.

What Stevie needed was HOPE.

I remained confident that Nadine and I, with the help of his medical and behavioral teams from Poudre Valley Hospital and Mountain Crest Behavioral Health Care Center could supply the hope that was missing from Stevie’s life.

What we didn’t know was that, as a father who loved his son,  this was yet another example of me continuing to “wander in the dark”.

I had been well-intentioned but superficial and very misguided.

Stevie would have to find hope for himself.  No one had the power to give it to him.

Next – Baby Steps

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