Mark Perlmutter is back for the fourth post in his six-part series on law school lessons that are not advisable for a healthy home life. Be sure to read the first, second and third posts if you missed them. Mark is a Texas trial lawyer turned counselor who helps individuals (many of whom are former lawyers) have better relationships. Welcome back, Mark!
In the first three parts of this series, we looked at the results of winning at all costs, squelching feelings, and premature problem-solving. Now, we look at drinking.
Of the lawyer couples I see for whom substance abuse is an issue, the drinking partner is invariably triggered to imbibe in order to anesthetize painful emotions. And there are triggers aplenty—financial pressure to get business; pressure to win; pressure to please our superiors and clients; the frustration of dealing with difficult opponents; fear of screwing up; fear of not being able to cut it; fear of embarrassment; fear of being bested by a particularly difficult opponent; fear of making mistakes or of their being discovered; feeling like a failure at home.
Without alcohol, these feelings can become unbearable to some of us. With alcohol, these and other feelings become altered. So altered that non-using partners often describe their drinking counterparts as “not there.” And, of course, most of us marry precisely because we want our beloveds to be there for us. So, given the choice of:
- Having to bear unbearable emotions without substances, or
- Turning to alcohol or other drugs and losing our spouses, what’s the beleaguered lawyer to do?
The obvious answer is to find ways to ameliorate the emotional pain without mind-altering substances. And this is where therapy comes in. Recent advances in neuroscience demonstrate that “talk therapy” actually “rewires” the brain to create new pathways that can help us cope with difficult emotions. And unlike medication, these positive changes persist even after discontinuation of the intervention.
Thanks, Mark. Really insightful piece!
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A former Texas Trial Lawyer, Mark Perlmutter, MA, JD now helps individuals and couples to have more satisfying business and intimate relationships. He also works with couples and families of people with substance abuse issues, mediates, and is an Adjunct Professor of Law at UC Hastings and the University of Texas School of Law. He can be contacted via email or phone at 415-857-4065.
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And check out the rest of the posts in this series:
- Six Things Learned in Law School That Shouldn’t Be Tried at Home
- Don’t Try This Law School Trick at Home: How to Squelch Emotions
- Six Things We Learned in Law School: How to Solve Problems
- Six Things We Learned in Law School: How (NOT) to Compromise
- Six Thinks We Learned in Law School: How to Give Advice
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