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Counseling/What feeling is this?


Hello. I have a problem that is killing me. I beleive I have to stop what im doing but I just cant. My heart says yes and my brain and says no. Well im a 21 year old male. You see when I was 12 years old I was a lonely kid. I was happy in my own weird way. Well one of my moms friends had a baby girl. I carried that baby the first day it was born, for some reason, I still remember that day. I carried her and I saw her eyes and I just felt something that I have never felt before. I was really happy inside. Since the little girls mom and dad worked through out the day I was babysitting. For my age I was really mature. I spent so much time with her. Everytime I was with her it just felt right. It was like if she was own daugther. Time passed and it was still the same, I spent time taking care of her. When I used to go to school I remembered that I couldn't wait to see her. I was anxious! Well more time went by and as she was growing older I started to see her less, but I still watched as a part time job. Through out the years she was growing I became more attached to her. I didnt feel lonely and I had someone to talk to. She looked up to me. She turned 6 years and I took her every where. Her mom and Dad where comfortable. She is about to to turn 10 in the next couple of months. I still watch her. Since I go to college her mom pays me to watch her a few hours a weekend. I have been noticing that I cant stop seeing her! I get mad if I dont get to see her a week. Her mom sometimes calls me saying that she is crying for me to see her. My big problem is that a lot of people started to giving me the dirty look, thinking 'what is an old man doing with a little girl' to tell you the truth society now is horrible how they look at things. I get sometimes extremly mad  because my parents say I have to stop seeing her too much. I tried to stop seeing her and I started seeing a big change in me. My parents did too. I was mad and grumpy all the time, I was always sad. I whent from a nice out going guy. To a lonely depress guy. I knew it was killing me not seeing her, but I was thinking to myslef why is this little girl causing me this. I even had the toughts of adopting a baby. To be honest I just like the tought of someone looking up to me. Someone that I feel the need to protect. Someone that Icant talk to. The little girls mom was always texting me how her little girl was devasted that I didnt see her. I always blamed the school. Well I recently found a girlfriend too forget. Well that was no help. For some reason im still mad when I dont see her. Why is that? I just cant stop seeing her! I know she is nit my daughter. Everytime her mom and my mom see each other on the weekends she bring her. We just start talking for hours and hours. And the rest of the week im happy. If I dont see her a weekend I just turned mad. Sometimes I even think why I am mad. And to be honest I dont know why!!! Why is this please help me. 

Hi Josh - Your story suggests that the bond you have with this girl is unusually strong because you weren't getting the attention, companionship, and nurturance you needed [psychologically] from your parents - specially your Mom. You may have inherited some psychological wounds from your parents that are causing your attachment to and inner conflict about this girl:

Your diminishing contact with her is causing some part of you great frustration ["I get mad"] because you're not able to fill key needs for acceptance, companionship, "connection," being needed, and feeling "looked up to" with other people / females / your Mom [?]

It may also be that if you and she are only children, you each have longed for a sibling.

If any wounds you inherited are minimal, college socialization should gradually fill these normal needs and convert your dependence on the girl to normal friendship. If that doesn't happen over time, I suggest your parents invest in family [vs. individual] therapy  for all of you.  

If you have questions on any of these ideas, Josh, please ask! - Pete


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Peter Gerlach, MSW


I can answer questions about mood disorders, depression, suicide, relationships, communication skills, problem solving, clear thinking, bonding disorders, trauma recovery, addiction management, grieving, shame, guilt, fear, reality distortion, and trust disorders; courtship, family functioning, "problem kids," mediation, (re)marriage, divorce, stepfamilies, stepparenting, boundaries, self-neglect, abuse, parental neglect, personality subselves, ("parts work"). I cannot answer legal or medical questions.


I maintained a private therapy practice near Chicago for 27 years, and have worked with over 1,000 men, women, couples, and families on a wide range of personal and family problems. I have been in personal recovery from growing up in an alcoholic family since 1986, and have worked with five therapists to heal my own psychological wounds. I maintained a "warm (phone) line" for callers on the topics above for 20 years, and have taught over 200 seminars and classes in midwestern universities, churches, support groups, and schools since 1981. I have practiced internal-family therapy ("parts work") with trauma-recoverers since 1991.

National Stepfamily Resource Center (NSRC) Experts Council; Compassion and Choices, and Final Exit Network

# Several hundred articles in my non-profit "Break the Cycle!" Web site at These articles are augmented by over 150 educational YouTube videos .

# six books on childhood-trauma recovery, effective communication, and stepfamily courtship, coparenting, and management.

A bachelors degree in mechanical engineering (BSME, 1959) from Stanford University, a Masters degree in clinical Social Work, (MSW, 1981), and over 500 hours of post-grad training in the topics above - including clinical hypnosis, spirituality, codependence, addicrtion-management, and guided imagery. My post-grad traning includes two 9-month internships on doing internal-family therapy at the University of Illinois.

Awards and Honors
Hundreds of grateful emails and comments from students and clients all over the world.

Past/Present Clients
Over 1,000 average Midwestern-US women, men, couples, and families. A physical disability limits me to doing telephone and Skype counseling now.

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