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By September 18, 2009 121 Comments Read More →

Dealing with the root cause of the problem

By Ox Drover

One of the first things I learned in nursing school was to correctly diagnose the problem before trying to fix it. I wish I had applied this lesson to my own personal life as well as I applied it to my professional life.

We were taught that when there was a perceived need, for example, when the patient was feeling short of breath, to assess why the patient might be feeling short of breath. Was the airway obstructed? If the airway was clear, then what was another likely cause of the problem? Sometimes a patient who is very anxious will feel very short of breath when they are actually getting plenty of oxygen, (as measured by a “pulse ox”—a little gismo that you clip on the patient’s finger and it tells you how much oxygen is in the patient’s blood). Or they will say “I can’t breathe!” when they really mean, “My nose is stopped up.” (If they are talking, they are breathing!)

So I was trained to look at and evaluate the situation, and only then to start to evaluate a plan. Once I had a plan, I was trained to carry that plan out, and to reassess if the plan was helping or not. Just good common sense.

Sometimes victims feel a perceived need; they feel that something is wrong with them. They are “hurting” and unhappy, but they aren’t sure what the problem is, or what is causing the pain and unhappiness. I have been in that same situation; I was hurting from my relationship with the disordered personalities around me. I had a need for love, I had a need for caring from those whom I cared about, but my need was not being met, therefore I felt “short of breath” but didn’t know what was causing my feeling of “suffocating.”

In my pain, in my lack of “oxygen,” I tried everything I could think of, almost at random, and nothing seemed to make me feel any better. I kept suffocating and like a person drowning, I flailed my arms at anything that floated by that might give me support.

I begged my abusers to help me, told them how I was suffering and suffocating, but though they told me they loved me, and I wanted to believe they loved me, their attempts to explain my pain as my own fault didn’t help me. I tried the things they suggested, but nothing worked. No matter how I tried to please them, I always failed.

The punishments they inflicted on me for my failures didn’t make me feel any better either, and I continued to spiral downward until I was critically ill. Still they didn’t seem to perceive how I suffered, or lend me any support.

One day, when I was critically ill, totally beaten down, with barely an emotional “pulse” and in more pain than I had ever imagined was possible, I realized I had not been using “common sense” to stop my downward spiral. I realized the only way I could stop the pain, stop the progression of my life’s downward spiral, was to use the good sense to diagnose the real problem before I started to fix it.

If a patient had come to me and said, “My foot hurts,” I would have looked at the foot and if I saw a thorn, I would not have said “well, let’s give you a pain killer to help your pain.” I would have removed the thorn, the obvious cause of the problem, before doing anything else. If the problem had not been so obvious, if perhaps the foot was tender, red and swollen, I might have taken a blood test to see if there was an infection. I would have asked if the patient had a thorn in there a few days ago, or if they had fallen, or dropped something on it. I would have worked my way down a list of questions that would have helped me get to the real cause of the problem. I would not have just thrown medication at them without knowing what the real problem was.

Why did I try to fix my own pain without finding out what the root cause was? How did I think the “shot gun” approach of just “shooting off in some direction” was going to help me to feel better, to get my life back on track?

Once I backed off and looked at specifics, looked at what the pain was, and what was causing the pain, and realized that as long as I did not take care of the root cause, did not remove the “thorn” from my foot, all the antibiotics in the world would not cure the problem, all the pain killers in the world would not stop the pain. The problem would continue to get worse if I did not take care of the cause of the problem and remove from my life the things (and people) who were inflicting the pain upon me, the infection that was killing me by inches.

Sometimes, the “cure” for our pain involves very extensive “surgery” to remove toxic and malignant “tumors” from ourselves, it might even involve “amputating” someone who is so dear to us we can’t imagine going through life without that person. I had to “amputate” my psychopathic son, and my enabling mother, both of which were traumatic operations for me, and for a while made me feel as if I had no legs, and couldn’t walk ever again. I have found though, like the Bible says, “If thy hand offend then, cut it off” is pretty radical but good advice, and sometimes cutting off a member of our emotional “bodies” is the only way to survive.

Surgery and medical treatment is sometimes painful, and we may want to delay “treatment” because of that potential pain, but I am here to “testify” that life without the malignant people is much, much better!



121 Comments on "Dealing with the root cause of the problem"

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  1. Matt says:

    Ms Erin:

    Loved the story. What I love most about it is how the g-grandmother gave the S a lovely parting gift of “fuck you.” How beautifully she executed it. What’s S gonna do? Go yell at her gravestone?

    Been absolutely crazed as I get ready for my move and new job. Painted my place top to bottom in one week. I finally reazlized I was so crazed that I may hold off listing it for a bit, just until I’m sure I’m on steady ground in my new locale. What is it they say the biggest stressors in life are? Job change? Moving? All I know is I”m going through all of them at once.

    My friends have been wonderful. Everybody has been taking me out for drinks, lunch and dinner. I am having a hard time with the concept of moving from my home of 24 years – NYC. But, it is a great job. Anyhow, back to filling out the 10 thousand forms my new employer wants me to fill out before Monday.



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  2. one_step_at_a_time says:

    Matt – all best wishes!!!



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  3. silvermoon says:

    I like to think of him as a Dark Angel.
    The results will ultimately be very good for me even if achieving them came under a less thatn pretty stimulus.

    He did grant me the favor of it at the expense of my fantasy.

    We didn’t get to the part where he was being mean and I didn’t know about all the snealy crap or discover the lies until after he was taken.

    All in all I am lucky and I can find some gratefulness for what will come of it for me.

    I hope that it buys him some grace somewhere down the line because I can’t fix things for him and I can’t go back.

    I can let go with love and let go so that I can go on.
    He came into my life for a reason. And his work is done now.

    Its time for me to let go.

    I’ve been through stuff in the last two years that should have killed me stress wise.

    But you know what they say: He who is born to hang will never drown.

    Good to be in the pond with all of you!



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  4. OxDrover says:

    Dear Silvermoon,

    I loved your post, and I am glad that you can see the UP side of this dark cloud!

    If you have been under a great deal of stress, which takes its toll on our bodies and our minds, the best thing I think we can do is to keep the STRESS IN OUR LIVES DOWN to the lowest level possible for a year or two.

    The hormones released by high stress do a number on our thinking, our ability to heal (our immune systems) and lots of parts of our bodies. Taking time to keep changes to a minimum is the best thing, I think, for ourselves. Avoid anything that will upset us, and that includes ALL people who do not give us peace and love,

    Like Matt, going through the stress of leaving his long time home (BIG STRESS) and changing jobs (ANOTHER BIG STRESS) he is looking at the BIG picture about “maybe this job won’t work out and I might need to come back to my home) so he is place ready to sell, but hanging on to it for a little while longer. He’s taking time to spend time with his good friends as well even though he is busy getting ready for the new job and the move.

    He is already in a good solid relationship, but if he were not,, NOW would NOT be a good time to start one because new relationships are always stressful even if it is “good stress”–

    It takes TIME with low stress to over come times of high stress, so we say here BE GOOD TO YOURSELF! Problem is, many of us have never done that, or don’t know how, so it is a learning process too!



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