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Ask Julie: Lost My Virginity and Now I’m Sleeping Around and Drinking A Lot

Q: I have a question. I’m 21 and I was dating this guy and well, I lost my virginity to him and I loved him. I felt like he used me. I was so hurt when we broke up and I then slept with his best friend and then another guy 6 times.  I drink a lot and I have low self esteem please I need some advice. I’m so lost.

A: It is incredibly painful to feel so deeply for your boyfriend that you would share your heart and your body with him only to have the relationship end. I’m so sorry that your boyfriend didn’t value the gift that you gave him, your first full expression of your sexuality.  While it’s incredibly difficult to feel used, there are many healthier options for dealing with your hurt than by doing things that cause more pain for you and others. Drinking and sexually acting out may temporarily make your feel powerful and numb your emotions but won’t lead to a healthy emotional place and will likely create more pain and hurt.

Please turn toward healthy relationships. Who have you gone to in the past for emotional support? Have you reached out to friends and family during this difficult time? If not, please share your pain with people you trust so you can receive comfort and strength. Also, please consider seeking a therapist to sort through the loss of your relationship, understand the root of your unhealthy behavior, and to develop healthier coping skills. Click here if you need help to find a therapist in your area. You can feel good about yourself again. You can develop healthy love relationships. Remember, you deserve to be with a man who wants to be with you and who cherishes you, body and soul.

Take good care of yourself!

Julie Hanks, LCSW

Ask Julie: How Can I Get My Baby’s Father Back?

Q: My daughter is 3 now. Her father and I have been split up for almost 2 years now. Due to postpartum, hormones, stress, loss of a family member, and cancer health related issues I was having and needed treatment for. My emotions were too much. He had been dating a girl from his work for the amount of time we have been split up. I previously got engaged, and am now 7 months pregnant. This relationship failed. During this time of me not connecting my self and my previous EX fiance being too needy and clingy drowning every ounce of me. Playing games to see “how much I cared.” I couldn’t handle it anymore and shut my wall up. Trying to reason with him if I hadn’t at one time cared I wouldn’t be pregnant or previously engaged. Although that ended I feel relieved and not controlled. And our personalities were too different; I wanted the idea of him trying to fill the hurt.

Although being my daughter is 3 my ex (her father) and I keep in close contact. And being through these last 7 months of pregnancy I realized I missed him. And he’s whom I wanted and WANT to be with. Not someone who looks like him.

These last 7 months also made me realize that the way my ex fiance was treating me was very similar to the way I was treating my daughter’s father. Because I didn’t have the confidence to believe he cared enough to be there through my emotional roller coaster at the time. And now that this has hit me in the face and my life is in a positive place and knowing I was never happier I want him back.

Is there any advice you can give me on approaching my daughter’s father in time, to take the steps to try and make things work?

A: Thanks for writing in. It sounds like the last 3 years have been extremely stressful for you on many levels, some of which you had no control over, and other stresses that you chose. I know your question is regarding getting your ex-boyfriend back, but I hope you’ll consider that there are other things that need to be addressed before you get back into any relationship.

Please get in to a therapist to explore why you are having such difficulty in love relationships. To find a qualified therapist in your area click here. We often replay our childhood issues in adulthood and my guess is that there are some deeper unresolved issues playing out here.  My biggest concern is not how you’re going to get your ex back, but in you developing the stability and strength in yourself that your children will need in order to thrive, whether you’re in a relationship or not.  Rather than focusing on getting your daughter’s father back, I urge you to focus on being a strong person, and a strong mother for your children, and developing the confidence and the skills to maintain a healthy, long-term, committed relationship. Focus on being the kind of person that would attract a healthy and committed man to build a stable life for you and your children.

Please, be cautious about having more children until you have a healthy, long-term, committed, stable relationship. Focus on getting healthy yourself for the children you already have before you focusing on getting your daughter’s father back. Be the kind of woman he would want to be with. Once you’ve worked on yourself please get relationship counseling before you get into any relationship with your ex or anyone else.

Take good care of yourself and your children!

Julie Hanks, LCSW

Ask Julie: My Best Friend Is Suicidal

Q: My best friend is suicidal and I want to know if there is anything I can do to help her. She has already told her parents but they really aren’t doing anything to stop her. I have told a teacher at our school and the counselor but all they do is recommend seeing a psychiatrist. I am really worried about her she almost always has cuts all over her body arms, legs, and stomach. Her mother has been in and out of prison even before she was born. Her mother is also in right now and has been since she was 7. In the past few years she has had a lot happen, she lost her grandmother on her dad’s side two days before Christmas in 2008. Right after that she moved from a big house to a small one and in the process lost connection with her former best friend. Many of her animals outside died and she sat with one of her cats and had to watch it die after it got attacked by a dog. This past year she had her aunt on her dad’s side die and lost a lot of her friends. She also found out that her mother was diagnosed with bipolar disorder by four different psychiatrists and borderline personality disorder by one or two. We were in seventh grade this year and for most of the second semester she was labeled a whore because of how she dresses and who hangs out with. This past summer is also when the cutting started it started off pretty bad but not frequent. It then went to minor burns and small scratches and then blew up again to bad cuts and they were very frequent. At the current moment she only has scars but is thinking about cutting herself again. I would just like an idea of what I could say to her to get her not to cut anymore. Thank you for taking the time to read this (and respond if you do).

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Ask Julie: Mother-in-law Passed Away and Left Us $50,000 In Debt

Q: To start off I was best friends with my wife’s mother. She took me in and gave me a family. Within the last 2 years both my wife’s mother and grand father passed away. My wife and I lived with them before we got married.

We ended up getting married twice, once in a church and once in my mother in law’s room at the nursing home. She was 46 years old when she died and it happened this past march.

Since then I have found that we have tons of money to pay out in inheritance tax and to her medical bills if we want to keep our house. My wife has stopped doing anything around the house and she won’t go do any of the legal things that need to be done by her.

How can I get her more motivated without hurting her feelings and how can I keep my sanity though out all of this. I don’t really know what to do to get myself motivated to be happier.

A: I am so sorry to hear about your recent family losses and financial difficulties. You’ve both lost two important support people, and while they can’t be replaced, it important for you and your wife to get additional support during this difficult time. While grieving is different for every person, it seems that your wife’s grieving may have turned into depression. Her “lack of motivation” and difficulty functioning may not be something she can control at this point.  Your difficulty being happy is also concerning to me and I recommend that both of you get an assessment for depression by a mental health professional. I also want to encourage you to seek out a grief counselor to help you process your losses, and a grief group so you can talk with other families who are going through similar experiences. To find a therapist and a group in your area click here.

In addition to mental health support, please seek professional advice on your legal and financial matters surrounding your mother-in-law’s passing, if you haven’t already done so. Tax issues and liability for medical bills can be complex and very stressful.

Thank you again for writing.

Take good care of yourself!

Julie Hanks, LCSW

Ask Julie: I’m Angry AND Sad. What’s Wrong With Me?

Q: I’m 15 years old and I have been getting angry for sometime no reason at all and then becoming sad.  I am sad for a long time (10:30a.m.-9:00p.m.).  I don’t know what to do and people ask what’s wrong and i just snap at them and feel even worse and I think I’m losing some of my friends.  I used to be the funny guy but now I’m just the guy that sits in his chair quietly and doesn’t really talk to anyone anymore.  I don’t feel like myself and I’m actually just avoiding people anymore. Please Help, Thank you.

A: How confusing to be having these overwhelming emotions and not know where they came from or why you’re getting upset. I’m so glad you wrote in for help. I’m always relieved when adolescent young men write in for emotional help because so many suffer in silence and don’t know how to reach out for help.

What you’re describing sounds like some kind of depression. You might be surprised to hear that irritability and anger are often signs of depression, especially in adolescents. The changes in your personality and your social behavior also point to depression. Does anyone in your life know how sad you’re feeling? Do you have parents you could talk to or another trusted adult, like a school counselor who could help you find a therapist and set up a medical evaluation?

I urge you to talk to your parents, let them know about your feelings, and ask them to help you find a therapist to meet with. Also, please go to your MD and get a physical to rule out possible medical conditions that might be contributing to your low moods. Click the Find Help at the top of this page to find a therapist in your area who specializes in working with adolescents and depression.

I am so glad that you emailed “Ask the Therapist” to reach out for help and guidance. I am hopeful that it will inspire other young men to pay more attention to their emotions and ask for help when needed.

Take good care of yourself!

Julie Hanks, LCSW

Ask Julie: I Think My Girlfriend Is About To Break Up With Me

Q: I think my girlfriend is about to break up with me, because there were these girls she didn’t want me to hang out with but I did, because I was mad at her for cheating on me, which she told me about a long time ago and was open about, so I decided to have secrets of my own, which I know was a horrible idea. Well we had this big fight where she wanted me to tell her everything, and I did for the most part, leaving out one time where I had this party and invited this girl over to my house. She just found out yesterday and is really upset, and I don’t know what to do. For some reason, I’ve lied to her a lot, because I don’t want to get in trouble, and I know that if I’m honest she’ll accept it and everything will be okay, but for some reason I can’t get it through my thick skull. I keep messing up time after time. I don’t want to lose her because she understands me and is the best thing to happen to me. I don’t know what to do, I slept all day today just because I didn’t know what to do. I really don’t want to lose her and I feel so bad for making her feel horrible, and when we were talking and she was crying I really felt bad about it and hated seeing her cry but I still felt sort of detached for some reason. I don’t know why I feel detached sometimes but I would really like to not feel that way. For some reason I think subconsciously I like to feel miserable, because otherwise I don’t know why I do the things I do. Sometimes before I do or say anything I think to myself “this is not a good idea” but then I do it anyway.  I really don’t want to lose her, I’ve been through so much with her, more than anybody. shes my best friend and my confidant and shes always been there for her. I just want to be normal, and not lose the most important person in my life.

A: Thanks for writing in for help with your relationship. Whether or not she breaks up with you, it’s important for you to get to the bottom of you why you continue to do things, like lie and cheat, that you know aren’t a good idea. Frequently, relationship sabotage has roots in past hurts. Is there anything in your relationship or family history that might be emotionally driving your pattern of pushing your girlfriend away? Your emotional detachment to her sadness also suggests that there may be something that is unresolved for you in close relationships.  I suggest that you get a therapist and explore what’s driving this pattern so if your girlfriend stays with you, you can learn how to maintain closeness and if she breaks up with you, you can prevent this pattern in future relationships. Also, consider reading the book “Getting the Love You Want: A Guide For Couples” by Dr. Harville Hendrix to help you start understanding the deeper patterns that may be getting in the way of your love relationship.

Take good care of yourself and your relationships!

Julie Hanks, LCSW

How To Handle Your Child’s First Crush: Studio 5

Adults may think crushes are silly, even superficial. But to a child, a first crush is a big deal. Therapist, Julie Hanks, LCSW  has “do’s” and “don’ts” to help you handle your child’s first crush.

Guste & Robertas II

1) Watch for signs

First crushes generally happen in elementary school between 5-10 years old. Even if your child doesn’t tell you directly that they have a crush, you might see the signs: giggling with friends, being mean to or teasing the child they like, or planning a special gift.

2) Get curious

This is a great opportunity to understand more about your child and to begin help them explore their preferences and values. Ask your child open ended questions like: “Tell me more about Kate…” “How does John feel about you?” or “What is it that makes her special to you?”

3) Never tease

Feelings of affection are the beginnings of attraction that will lead to meaningful relationships in the future. Talk about feelings of infatuation in a positive light, as a wonderful thing. Never tease or make fun of your child’s crush.

4) Set boundaries

Your child’s first crush is a great time to start a dialogue about appropriate physical and emotional boundaries, especially if your child is in older elementary school. Discussions on showing physical affection, spending time together, texting are all important things to start talking about.

5) Soothe hurt feelings

When first crushes are not reciprocated, it can be painful, even for children. This is an opportunity for you to teach your child that they are resilient and can move on after being hurt or disappointed.


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photo credit: Modestas J

Ask Julie: Should I Trust My Flirtatious Boyfriend?

Q: I am a 45 year old divorced mom who is currently in a relationship with a 53 year old man who I do not trust. I have only been cheated on once before, that I’m aware of, so I am usually not a very jealous person. But this man is extremely handsome, charming, and flirtatious. I have caught him in several lies, and find him contacting other women frequently. He is always commented on other women’s looks, or telling them directly they are pretty, or hot. Lately, his tactic to deal with my insecurity is to turn it around – he acts jealous of other men, though none are pursuing me. He gets angry when any male (even my nephew) contacts me on line, or by text. He accuses me of wanting other men. It is absurd, and I’m wondering if this is just another sign he is untrustworthy. He has an excuse or story for every seedy, racy thing I discover about him, and he sticks with his lies to the very end. He swears he adores me and he is not cheating, which I actually believe. There is no evidence to the contrary that he’s actually seeing anyone. My fear is that, given the chance, he will. Do I have good reason for this fear?  Or am I getting paranoid in my old age?

A: You may not realize it, but you already answered your own question. You don’t trust him.  And from what you’ve described, I think you’re right on. If he adores you, why is he making comments about other women’s looks, frequently contacting other women online, lying to you, and becoming extremely jealous and angry? These behaviors are all relationship “red flags.” I suggest you focus less on whether he’s technically cheating or not, and focus more on whether or not you want to continue a relationship with someone who appears to be chronically dishonest, insensitive, jealous, and intensely interested in other women.

Take good care of yourself!

Julie Hanks, LCSW