How “Self-help” Landed Me in Rehab

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By Jami Keller

My issues while I was in my twenties were glaring, and I knew that I was in dire need of some kind of help.  I was still hurting from the pain in my life that I had buried. The professionals that I contacted were not very hopeful, and I could not find a way to be understood. 

Enter Self-Help. Beginning with a good base in the daily discipline of prayer was extremely helpful. I even thought that my issues were “healed,” and the problems seemed to go away (for a while).  

What was really happening was that I was changing the symptoms. I was an adrenalin addict. If I could participate in chaos, mine or others, the pain numbed. So my risks got bigger and bigger, and when riding my bike off an 80-foot cliff was not enough, I went looking for more.

As the years progressed, I continued to seek something that would put me on a path that I wanted instead of the chaos that occasionally would choke out the goals of strength and integrity that I desired so much. Marla (my beautiful wife) and I partnered with a couple of Clinical Psychologists and led seminars reaching for healing. People were helped. But my lack of honesty kept Marla’s intuition stifled. 

The only people I told the whole truth to were those that would not hold me accountable, and looking back I realize I was a bad influence on them. Misery loves company, and literally fights to spread itself. Going half way on honesty led to lying to myself. Eventually I realized that having no boundaries on my behavior was killing me. 

The books we read along the way did eventually give me the strength to add the one last element that I desperately needed—ACCOUNTABILITY!  Sharing with wife what my addictions and addictive behavior was, was the best and hardest thing I ever have done.

The fact is, if you want healing you cannot do it on your own. We call it “Bootstrapping” or pulling yourself up by your own boot straps. For me, this meant not being accountable and hoping that my self-defeating behaviors would go away by wishing them away. 

Some of my excuses were based in reality. Traditional help was lacking. Even our Clinical Psychologist mentors agreed that traditional counseling didn’t work (which, by the way, is a false notion) and was validating my secrets until they began to destroy me. I put my family at risk with my infidelity, and nearly lost everything. 

Thankfully watching my life fall apart allowed me to see the cause and effect vividly in front of me: losing my family, my position in community, and any hope for living a life that I really wanted. I woke me up. Seeing the reality allowed me to ask for help, landing me in rehab where I learned about being accountable and that denial took many forms. 

Marla was amazing and vital. She joined me in the work of repairing all that I destroyed. We built a new trust. Currently, we have work with more than a thousand couples, leading people to find a new path to intimacy with healthy boundaries.            

Time-travel has yet to be a helpful tool, but looking back I believe that if we would have had the tools we give people now so much pain could have been avoided. We teach people how to choose honesty and connectivity, moving from the North side of our Feeling Wheel to the South side so that when pain is experienced it is like a flair warning us that an issue needs attention, instead of remaining a mystery that spins us out of control.

If I could talk to my 23-year-old self, I would tell that cocky young man to get honest and do the real work. Any 12-step program can be helpful (with a sponsor who has some years of healthy sobriety). Marla and I hold a 13-year chip in Recovering Couples Anonymous

Getting honest about what was going on with me helped me decide that the stress in my life did not need to be covered with the adrenalin that just reinforced shame. Instead, I needed to feel it and let it be true. Forgiving myself and sharing with those that are safe has allowed me to grow in my safe boundaries and has transformed my mind, my heart, and my life. 

The reason we choose a coaching model is because we learned getting the love you really desire can happen in a matter of weeks, and takes simple adherence to some very basic daily disciplines. Coaching is directive, so we do not need all the details to get to the core issues. And the fixes are all within the grasp of those willing to be honest and connected. 

My journey has given me a personal power that is difficult to describe. Peace in adversity and power from humility. Crazy love beyond measure has led me to overcoming emotional, spiritual and sexual barriers in our relationship and has given validation to Marla’s beauty and intuition. 

Life can be so beautiful, and while there is breath there is hope. If there is anything in your life that is keeping you from complete honesty find help, get accountable and learn to ask for what you need in a loving way. There is more love to be had, and we need you with us, fighting for freedom. It is not too late, as a matter of fact now is the best time to start!

What’s keeping you from embarking on this journey, if you aren’t already on it with us?