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Talk to the Turtle

This is a note about how I make myself available (still here in December 2017) to you by phone.  People usually try chatting with me with a couple of different purposes in mind:

  1. They have a relationship situation going on and would like some help figuring it out.
  2. They are working on bettering their relationship and want pointers about specific skills to apply in a specific situation.

Al chatting on a park lawn in central Idaho.

Well, phone chatting seems to work pretty well.  But I’ve found it best if we set up some agreements clearly, first.

“Counseling???” You probably want to forget about that word – counseling.  There have crept into existence lots of rules, legal ones, about using that word.  So I don’t use it.  I teach, educate, tutor, coach.  By phone we chat.  We share.

I charge my time at $80 per hour.  I don’t pay the phone bill.  You call me.  I can chat with you for increments of a half-hour (30min, 60min, 90min, etc).   I prefer that people pay me via PayPal.  That internet service seems to work very reliably for most people.  I no longer process credit cards, but PayPal does.  

I want your address and phone number in case of scheduling problems, but mostly I want your email address.  I schedule most easily by email.  My address is I live in the Pacific Northwest of the USA and thus I am on Pacific Time.  I’m lazy (old, smart?), so I let you figure out how many hours difference there is between you and me.  I schedule sessions using my time.

I am most easily available from 8am to 11am (PST/PDT) and 2pm to 6pm on weekdays.  Other times and weekends can work. (Of course, I like vacations with Sandra a lot, so I am not always available.)

It’s sometimes useful to share with me a bit about yourself in an email before the first session.  Another nice starting place is always some article that I have written that sparks your thoughts or questions.  I do have my website pretty well memorized.

Organizing Chatting Sessions
I find that most people seem to benefit by coming to a session with a list of topics or questions.  We then can work our way through it.

In life, there are none I’ve found.  I just do my best, the way you do. So, drop me an email ( and let’s set up a visit.


How to Chat with Al — 5 Comments

  1. I've got two thoughts.  

    First, giving her enough space is not a the only issue that I think you need to address.  There are a whole bunch,, the Biological Dream, that eventually have to be addressed.  Lots of learning.  Ensuring that both have enough space is one part of the skill set.  In your situation, getting a communication system going so that you have lots of access to each other's thinking rather than living on in delusion, seems to the next step. To be Safe you must share.  Just dreaming that "all is ok" seems real stupid, and I used to do that.  

    Second thought is about "wasting time." Looking back, my greatest sadness is about the vast amount of potentially happy time, Vintage Love time, that went down the tubes cuz I was so slow to get on with the learning.

    Living together without an ongoing hopeful plan and action toward making things better seems a waste. And I should know, cuz I wasted so much. 

  2. Hi Al,
    One last time, I promise. And it will be much shorter, as well. 
    I was finally able to calm my lizard down after two weeks of pure panic. I was able to talk to her calmly and let her know what I've learned and that I'm working on myself. She went from looking for apartments THAT DAY, to agreeing to stay at the house for two or three months because we agreed that we needed the break.
    My question to you is, how am I supposed to give her space while she's still living at the house? I mean, I want her to live at the house, but I still feel like everything is fine….I guess. We haven't had any issues in over a day now, and I want that to continue as long as possible. I just don't know what the best way of going about it is. We still act like….best friends I guess. We laugh at each other, make jokes and play fight, watch television together….just like before I realized everything was going down the tube. It's almost like a false sense of security.
    Any suggestions?

  3. Hi Al,
    Thanks for your response. I think I may need to talk to you to help get me started/get through all of this.
    Yesterday I had a meltdown. First "real" meltdown so far (2 weeks), but I'm sure there will be more to come. On the way home from work I tried to pump myself up, "Prevalidate. Validate. Show her that you are working on yourself. Understand what she means when she says something. Understand."
    I got home and dinner was on the table. We had a decent discussion about our day. I did give in and tell her that I would like to take her skydiving (something on her bucket-list, yet something I've always said I wouldn't do). I told her that it was something that I realized that I wanted to do now, to have such an extreme adrenaline rush…something that can change a person's view on life. I told her that I was going to do it for myself, but that she could join me if she wanted. Of course she said yes, however it was at that moment that I knew that it would do no more good in our relationship. 
    After dinner we wrestled on the floor with our daughter, laughing and having a good time. I stayed positive throughout the whole thing. It felt good…like it should. Of course I was hoping that she felt the same way, even though I knew she didn't.
    We went to the store later, when she asked if I wanted to talk to my father before our separation became "more public" (changing Facebook status). It was then (again) that I realized how much she want's this situation. This, of course, led to me asking a ton of questions. Why? How? Why didn't you tell me? Of course I was pushing her away again.
    We went home and my best friend and his g/f came over for "game night" at her request. Sitting there and playing games and acting like there was nothing wrong and that nothing had changed… just got to me. I went outside and started throwing things, and stood there for quite a while telling my best friend how all the work that I've put into this relationship was going to be someone else's profit somewhere down the line. How this isn't fair. It wasn't pretty.
    We went to bed, with my head still steaming. She curled up on her side facing away from me. I told her that our daughter deserved for us to give this another chance. I said that it doesn't matter what I do or say, because she's leaving anyway. I told her that she needed to go to counseling so that she could face her childhood, because she'll never have a good relationship if she can't open herself up to anyone. I went too far.
    I know that I should be setting boundaries. I don't know how to start working on myself when she's always there when I get home, and things seem like they should, while in her mind she's thinking of how to get out. I don't know how to be available to her minimally, when she depends on me so much.
    I tried to make this shorter, but I guess that didn't happen. Thank you for your time. I really appreciate it.

  4. Hi Al,
    I've been reading your website non-stop for a few days now. I am positive that this site is the only reason I haven't gone completely nuts. On to my story.
    I'm 33, she's 22. We started dating the day that she turned 18. Long-distance relationship (hard enough, right?). For the first 5 months or so, I was telling my best friend that I knew that the relationship wouldn't work, because she was so young….but I couldn't help myself from that Romantic Stage.
    She got pregnant with our daughter about 6 months into our relationship and moved to Missouri (from Florida) with me. We did everything right. My family was right there to help and support both of us (and our daughter, of course) from the very beginning. This is something that she never had growing up. Her family was chaotic: Her mother moved to the opposite side of the country when she was an early teen, leaving her with an abusive alcoholic step-dad. Her younger sister now has 3 children with 3 different men, and is just turning 20. She knows absolutely nothing about her father except for his name.
    I grew up a bit differently. My mother and father were divorced, but I still got to spend time with him and I had the most supportive family behind me at all times. I still do. Sounds like were kind of a good match, right? She was looking for that support, and I was looking for the adventure, as well as a perfect little family.
    Once our daughter was born, she became a stay-at-home mom, and I worked an average of 60-70 hours a week to support our family. We started living together in a pay-by-the-week hotel room, to buying our first house just 2 months ago. All this in 4 years. I knew that she didn't want to always be a stay-at-home mom, and that she wanted to go to school and get a job. I was always afraid that she wouldn't be able to get a job that would cover the costs of daycare, thus defeating the purpose, however I never told her that she couldn't get a job. She did go to community college for a couple semesters, but didn't really do very well and failed most of her classes.
    Last week (the day before she started her new job), I approached her concerning some issues that I wasn't happy with. The house was always a mess, she never went to bed with me, and we never had sex unless she was drunk. She said that she felt like she was living with her best friend, and that she has been unhappy for a while, and that she had made the decision to leave.
    This threw me for a loop, to say the least. I immediately started to cling as tightly as I possibly could, which only pushed her away more. Since reading your site, I have let her know that I'm going to give her as much space as she needed, because I need to make her feel safe again, and that I was going to start working on making myself better so that I could do so. I understand that I have been in more of a Master role…maybe Passive Master…the whole time that we've been together. I made all the money, so it was always my decision as to what we could and couldn't afford. I never said no to something that we could afford. I realize that I was holding her down…not letting her mature like she needed to, and she slowly started to resent me for it.
    At this time, we're still living in the same house, sleeping in the same bed. When we're with our daughter, everything is how it should be. We wrestle and play around and have a good time. Even when we're out shopping or around other people. When our daughter is not around, however, it's a different story. She's not a talker…..she holds everything in. I have tried almost everything to get her to talk with no success…and I honestly don't know if your way is going to work either, but it's the last chance that I have.
    The one thing that I know at this moment is that there are no other men involved, either emotionally or physically. I think that's a plus for me. I would like to be able to get her to talk so that I can prevalidate and validate her, and get her to understand that I want us to be able to work things out. At first, she said that there could be a chance, but not right now. I feel even that slipping away with every day that passes. At this moment, I've been told that there's no chance….that she doesn't want to work on it.
    I know that I want her in my life (vintage love) forever. I believe that she knows that she's unhappy and wants out, but that she doesn't really know exactly why. I get so bent out of shape (fighting my clingy side) when I'm around her that I just look like a depressed fool, which I'm sure isn't helping.
    My biggest fear is that she is so hard-headed that she'll never come back now that she's made her decision, even if she wants to.
    My question to you is, how am I supposed to handle things with her such as money and every day life? Am I supposed to just let her do whatever she wants? I mean, it makes sense, but doesn't that look like I'm only doing it to get her back, like a clinger? I almost always let her do or get whatever she wanted anyway. It's so confusing.
    Thank you so much for your time. I know the email was long.
    Rory Liberty


      Well, ok, it is kinda a long comment, but then people who find my website often have a long story to tell. Most of them seem to be much like me, slow learning, clinging, stubborn, curious a heck. And often they've gone for years and gotten into lots of trouble, before looking for new ideas.  Then they run into my stuff and can learn like crazy.  
      And usually they have been in one or more relationships with partners who are learning at a much different rate – often much much more slowly.   
      What to do?
      The general principle is to really move toward your own integrity, and wriggle your way away from manipulating or tricking.  It's ok for her to think you are being tricky.  She probably will.  But my suggestion is that you become more and more straight.  
      She says, "You're just doing that to get me back!" And you respond, "Well, of course I want you back, but not by trickery.  I want to learn and have a relationship of open honesty with you.  I am working on my side of that.  I will be sad if I can't get there with you.  But, darn it, I will get there with someone."
      Next principle is to calm yourself and do not panic.  You are probably learning all sorts of things which you would now like to apply, but don't currently have the opportunity to try much.  Still you do need practice.  Tis a challenge when your partner has already moved into that grey area of leaving.   So use /archives/1326 and learn from any source.  
      We could talk your way through this, if you want.  
      Please remember that there is a limit to how fast you can learn and also another limit as to how fast she can learn.  Breathe and be patient.