Charlie Sheen “One Crazy Chapter”

by Dr. Karen Ruskin on September 16, 2011

This relationship expert is taking a different slant to a common story. The story of a man with 2 sides of self, is not uncommon. The women that fall in love with this type of man have a choice to be with or not to be with this type of man. This decision is not for me to judge, rather simply to open up the dialogue for thought. Family are significantly impacted by the roller coaster ride of such mood extremism. Oh yes, this type of man is so awesome when he is his best version of self: smart, fun, funny, an achiever, interesting, creative, sexy, loving, compassionate, caring, an achiever, powerful, attractive, strong, and more. This same man when at his worst version of self is darker than the darkest of nights. The extremism of it is, well, extreme and often traumatic. This is not just about a woman choosing a man, this happens to men when choosing a female mate as well. This happens in same sex relationships too. During an interview with Matt Lauer on the Today show, Charlie Sheen stated: ” There’s always a chance to fix things, to forgive or to be forgiven…you just gotta be or I have to just be mature enough to know that at the end of the day it’s not just about wanting solution or wanting harmony, it’s about what I can bring to it and how I can lead by example again.” This statement is relevant in the lives of many who are experiencing a conflict ridden marriage, substance/drug abuse, couple relationship issues, parent-child relationship challenges, and more… Let’s dive in further into this statement, and 2 more statements made during Sheen’s interview, and its relevancy to the many.

First, let us consider the forgiveness piece of this. Certainly, those around him may choose to forgive him, there is always a chance to be forgiven, agreed indeed. The question is: do you forgive and choose to be in this type of relationship and stand by this person you care deeply about? Or, do you forgive and decide you do not want to live in turbulence with this person? As far as the piece about fixing things, hmm, what can or cannot be fixed? The answer is different depending on who you ask. If you have emotionally hurt those you love along the way can emotional wounds be fixed? Healed? Can relationships be mended? Can trust be re-instated? What does “fixed” really mean? Does “it” get “fixed” only to be broken again?

Notice the word correction by Sheen: “you gotta be or I just have to be”, this is a reminder of the significance of taking ownership of one’s own thoughts and actions, rather than blaming others or wanting others to make a change. Rather, the importance of one deciding what ‘I’ have to be, it’s an ‘I’ statement not a ‘you’ statement. The statement of “it’s about what I can bring to it” further validates this concept of recognizing it is about what actions “I” can take to be the best me I can be. The words “lead by example” show the person understands the difference between how he was acting (not being a good example) versus who he has been and therefore who he can be. Those who were following Sheen around, panting with joy at his every word and participating in celebrating his non healthy version of self, (remember “winning”) should they feel embarrassed with themselves? Have they learned something about themselves? This same tale in terms of similar theme concepts is what happens with people every day, the non-celebrities. Specifically, they have people in their life when they are at their worst that celebrate and participate in that behavior, while those who love this person are devastated. It is traumatic for those that love the person who is living their darkest version of self. For example, a person who has a drinking problem who has friends that also drink are typically supportive and happy to have their fun drinking buddy back in their life. In the meantime, the family suffers when their father, their spouse, comes home so drunk he urinates on the floor, he is hungover the next day and therefore does not attend the child’s sporting event or dance class. Perhaps he has a gambling addiction or drug addiction and he spends savings that were in the bank account for their children’s college or retirement. The examples are endless.

Sheen further stated during this interview when talking about his behavior that gained such publicity and fan following: “That was just one crazy chapter, one weird phase.” The tricky piece of one’s life puzzle if you are the child of, the spouse of, the lover of, the parent of, a person who suffers from addiction, whatever the form of addiction, it is not uncommon to experience more than one crazy chapter. Often and most typically the roller coaster ride is quite a challenge not just for the user, but for those who love that person and there are many crazy chapters. It is the wonderfully unique percentage that are able to remain sober for their lifetime. The question is: if you were to meet a man, or a woman, fall in love with their healthy self, and during the course of the relationship together experience their not healthy self, do you remain in the relationship and decide to get married and have kids, knowing their darker side will most likely re-emerge? Do you believe that if they work hard enough, want sobriety bad enough, love you enough, that there will not be a roller coaster ride, and that was just one time? If you see their not healthy side more than once, more than twice pre-marriage, do you stay in the relationship because that other side of them, their healthy side is so intoxicating that you feel drawn in? Or rather do you acknowledge your love for this person, and decide that your love for yourself and your someday children’s future is stronger? Specifically, do you decide that to be in a relationship with the unhealthy side of this person will not be acceptable to you? Take your time and seriously think about the person you are choosing for your future. It is your choice. Quite often when I meet with 20 somethings, their parents will express concern about their now adult child’s relationship with someone of this “type”. They want to protect their now adult child and yet they feel lost that they no longer have a say in who their child chooses but they feel they can see the future of what is to come. What should the parents do? Share with their adult child their concerns? Be honest with them? Stand by their adult child’s love for the healthy version of their boyfriend/girlfriend? Say nothing?

When choosing a love partner if you have already been witness to their worst version of self the question to ask yourself is not just simply: a) “are they working hard to be a better person?” or b) “do I love the person they can be?” A very important question also to ask one’s self is: “when their worst version returns, whether it is a week from now, 6 months from now or years from now, can I live with that person however long that identity lasts?” If the answer is yes then you have a keeper. If your answer is no, then what are you doing still in this relationship and why? The 2 sides of self is who you are choosing to be with and marry, not just the healthy side. If you believe that marriage is forever, if you believe in staying with your spouse in sickness and in health, then standing by them through their challenges are of course what you would do. Note: marriage is not the same as dating, the expectations are different for many, as are your needs and responsibilities as a couple team. If you know before you are getting married what your lover’s emotional sickness is, decide before you get married if you are invested in this journey. Do not wait until you are married and have a few kids to decide this is not the life you bargained for. We have many paths we can choose in life, if you are in a life stage right now where you are making a decision about the course of your future, look in your crystal ball, so to speak, as we know more about our future then we think we know if we just take a moment to look and confront.

When Lauer commented on Sheen’s current interview in contrast to the dialogue style and content 6 months ago asserting how different Sheen is now, Sheen stated: “I was this guy before it started and so I can be that guy again afterwards.” The turbulence and trauma for those around the person who loves who that guy was before “it” started is often what keeps them in the relationship hoping that guy will stick around and the other guy will stay far away forever, or at least for a while. The challenge is, in most cases when it comes to such a sharp contrast of displayed behavior as a history of the 2 different versions of self, the darker side more often then not eventually returns.

In my previous blog written 6 months ago when Sheen displayed his emotional melt down on air, I explained that he is being displayed like a monkey in a zoo . This blog was written after I appeared as a guest expert in a debate with Dr. Keith Ablow on FOX News Channel’s The O’Reilly Factor.  Soon following that interview I wrote another blog discussing the fascination with Charlie Sheen  after my interview on CBS Radio Dallas KRLD-AM, where I explained that we all have our best and worst versions of self. You are welcome to check any and all of these items out.

I hope utilizing a portion of a celebrities life that is an actor that so many of us, including myself, view as skilled and well liked, was helpful to use as a method to point out relevant themes that many experience. May this blog be informative and thought provoking.

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