Dear Dr. Eve,

I am from a very conservative traditional family and part of a large community.  From young, my path was laid out for me: study hard, get a degree, find and stay in a good profession, marry a woman from the same faith and culture, have children, and live happily ever after.  I blindly did all of that.  But when I went overseas to study further, I felt freedom and met another woman.  Now I am conflicted as I want to leave my life and my wife.  I’m very confused and my family is very worried about me. 




Hello Anonymous,

Being strapped into a straitjacket can feel very safe, secure, and comfortable.  And we all long to feel safe and secure. In fact, we adapt all of our behavior every day to experience these feelings.  Think about it: what is your daily routine?  I am sure it is predictably the same.  And you probably didn’t question this until you disrupted it.


Disruption occurs with big events like marriage or a baby or an illness.  It feels so uncomfortable that one’s impulse is to try to restore the previous “straitjacket”… but it’s not possible… I mean, the wife/baby is there, the illness/disability is there, and you simply must adapt to this new disruption.  And so, with time, the mind and body adjust… and life becomes a new “straitjacket”.


The by-product of disruption is that it gets you to stop and reconsider your life.  It gets you to ask difficult questions, questions that you may have avoided.  It allows feelings of discomfort or dis-ease, to emerge, feelings that you have ignored or unconsciously pushed aside when they arose. 

And it sounds as if this where you find yourself.  Perhaps a part of you did question some parts of your safe and secure “straitjacket” but it was too dangerous to allow yourself to feel or express this discomfort.


The way you are experiencing this now can feel traumatic for you: insomnia, anxiety, depression, panic, loss of concentration, over or under eating, taking sexual risks, isolation is some of the symptoms one experiences.  And in this state, you cannot make critical decisions.


I recommend that you begin taking yoga classes and working with a therapist.  Yoga is the most important activity for you now.  It will calm your mind, regulate your emotions, and with time, allow you to think clearly.  In other words, I am recommending that you decide not to make any decisions now and first and foremost practice self-care, self-compassion, and kindness towards yourself in your current suffering.  


Take care

Dr. Eve

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“Dear Dr. Eve” is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice, and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician, mental-health professional, or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical or mental condition. By submitting a letter, you are agreeing to let DR EVE use it—in part or in full—and we may edit it for length and/or clarity.