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Counseling/Friendship: opening the door~ follow up


Hi Pete, Thank you... please refer to the question below.  By opening the door, I guess what I mean is starting the friendship.  I was taught when one door closes, another opens, and although the relationship obviously is going to be worlds different, I kind of think of becoming friends with Lizette as an open door, since losing my "Surrogate Grandma," which crushed me, as regardless of all of the friends I've had, sometimes I felt like she was my only friend, particularly b/c most of my relatives, at least on my late father's side drive me crazy!!  Since Lizette and I are friends on Facebook, my sadness and vulnerability are not apparent; everybody and their fifth cousin are free to be friends with me there (I don't interact with the better 75%, but I almost never say no).  She does not know that I spend every minute of everyday agonizing over this, so worried about whether or not the friendship will work out.  It doesn't help that I'm single, living with my mother, and have no job.  I just have not attempted to meet anybody as far as romantic relationships go, as my sadness right now is just too much.  By "on the same page," what I mean is that I should feel free to invite Lizette to go to my cousin's restaurant, or to have coffee, and go antiquing, and should not have to feel like I'm imposing.  Since I don't get out enough, it is too easy for me to take things the wrong way.

Hi again. From your info, I suspect your real challenges are to:

1] assess yourself for inherited psychological wounds. and patiently reduce any you find;

2] grieve your losses over time. Psychological wounds will prolong your grief;

3] Find a job and live independently;

4] Risk becoming more social with a range of people, not just Lizette

5] Stop taking responsibility for Lizette's feelings, and assert your friendship needs to her honestly in person [vs. FaceBook]

6] Apply the Serenity Prayer every day:

I hope you'll investigate these ideas and widen your scope from "the Lizette problem."

Respectfully, Pete

If you work patiently at these goals over time [in order], I suspect the quality of your life will rise significantly!

Respectfully, 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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