Sam: Finding New Relationships

After his mother’s death, Sam began spending more time with his peers. When he drank, he could “cut loose” and people thought he was funny; however, he also remembers getting depressed after drinking episodes. He has struggled in his relationships with women. Similar to his mother, his ex-wife, one of eight children, did not get the attention she needed when growing up. He observed, “She was kind of like my mom.” He was married for 20 years and has been divorced for 13 years.

I found that the women I’ve been attracted to are the ones that I realize I want them to take care of me. Some of my biggest relationships have been with women who I think their style is to mother and nurture.

Sam is currently engaged and views this relationship as a good one.

I think while I was dating a lot, I was pretty quick to give up on a relationship. I didn’t want to risk being hurt easily. Because then when I would go all in, and at least for two relationships I was all in, then it wasn’t going to be what they wanted. I remember after one, I had to spend a year concentrating on breathing in and breathing out.

His daughter’s ups and downs have contributed to his stress. She has been in jail, made a suicide attempt, and was hospitalized for chemical dependency and symptoms of mental illness. Sam reflected, “I think I’ve lost some spark. I can still go through every emotion, but I can’t keep doing it the 1001st time. It slowly wears you out. I guess what I’d say is life has worn me out some.”

Although Sam feels comfortable talking with his coworkers who all work in mental health, his communication is more superficial with people he does not know well.

I’m careful. When you’re careful you’re not as vulnerable. When I found out my ex-wife was having an affair, the day I opened up the garage door and found mom, the day I broke down my daughter’s bedroom door and she’s passed out and needed 40 stitches. Those things take a chunk out of you. That started with mom’s mental health dramatics, talking her off the ladder in the garage. Looking at that hole in the cement basin. Hiding the pills. That’s why I lost a lot of my spark for life as a child.

Although he sees himself as being cautious about“going all-in,” Sam has learned he can experience joy in his relationships. He views himself as nurturing and a caretaker. For fun, he gives out May baskets to important people in his life. One of Sam’s coworkers told him, “Sam, you’re such a giver.” He looks for opportunities to be affirming of others. His motto is “take the opportunity to say something or do something right for others.”

He is especially excited about his new grandson, born two weeks after his dad’s funeral. For a short time, his daughter, Tammy, and grandson are living with him. Tammy, who a year ago was in jail, has now stepped up to the responsibility of caring for her son. Sam’s ex-wife is also helping out with the new baby. He commented, “This is the best month she’s [his daughter] ever had.” Tammy will be moving soon to return to her job; Sam and his ex-wife plan to provide financial support for child care if needed.

It’s very refreshing. It used to be for a couple of years, I’d ask her to text me every morning so I could know that she’s not dead. It was like my mother. Now when she’s gone with her mother or visiting friends, I ask her to text a picture of the baby.

Sam will be purchasing a new home in a nearby town with his fiancé. He feels blessed with opportunities. He shares life insights with his son and daughter. He knows himself and has done a lot of thinking about his life experiences. Sam embraces his life’s work as a nurturing, caring, and a kind social worker; has developed healthy personal relationships; and has self-awareness of what level of responsibility makes sense for him.


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