Reaching out

I am a 58-year-old woman, in a very unhappy marriage and want a divorce. How do I go about it? Do I go to court? I am not working and cannot afford a lawyer.

Making a decision to divorce is never easy and always has various layers of complexity to its contributing factors. These may include that the couple feel they have “outgrown” each other, have “fallen out of love” or that the relationship lacks the attraction, enjoyment and pleasure elements which attracted the couple to each other initially.

Unfortunately, you just state that you are in a very unhappy marriage but don’t provide any details so it’s very hard for me to give you specific input.

I would suggest that you approach the family division of Wynberg court where they assign a state lawyer to assist you. This often includes that you receive a few mediation sessions with your husband present and if the court finds that your relationship is irrevocably broken down, a divorce process will be put into action.

Usually, if you do not have money to afford a lawyer, the courts will assist you with a state lawyer, I believe, free of charge.

I would advise you to visit the Wynberg courts and make an appointment with their family office or call them on 021 799 8360.

My 15-year-old daughter has a lump under her right arm which is very painful, and one breast is bigger than the other. I have taken her twice to Groote Schuur Hospital’s Breast Clinic but they said she is too young for a mammogram and ultrasound and said it is normal for one breast to be bigger than the other.

She was taken off pain meds and I was told to give her evening primrose oil.

My concern is that she has developed anxiety attacks because of all of this. She is in a lot of pain especially the lump under her arm. I don’t know how to help her. She makes comments like “I am going to die”. Her marks at school have dropped a lot and she is always sleeping and moody. How do I help her?

I am sorry to hear that your teenage daughter, who is supposed to be enjoying this developmental stage of life including hanging out with her peers, enjoying fashion trends and dating, is instead experiencing so much suffering and pain to the extent that she withdraws from life and fears dying.

I would advise you to seek a second opinion and that evening primrose oil may not be sufficient in treating the problem she has been experiencing, more specifically because it seems as if it is getting worse.

Depending on where you live, why don’t you take her to another institution, such as Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, and explain the urgency of her illness.

You could also try other state hospitals in the Cape area including Karl Bremer Hospital, Victoria Hospital and the like. There are also local community clinics in your area which often have experienced specialists and doctors who can provide her with an assessment and follow-up treatments which may include a mammogram.

The latter I would imagine would be a necessity to ascertain what the root cause of the lump under her arm may be.

In the meantime, allow her to talk about her fears and reassure her of your support and love.

I am worried as my husband says I dream while asleep and then I act out what I dream by gesturing with my hands and kicking my feet. I fell off the bed once and hurt myself as I dreamt someone was chasing me. What do you think the problem can be?

Sometimes I only remember some of the dreams. Your columns help me a lot and I hope you can help me with this or refer me to someone who can help me.

We all dream and can remember them as soon as we wake up and before our minds are drawn into the demands of the day.

Dreams are vital in terms of understanding our inner worlds and according Freudian theory, they are the “highway to the unconscious”.

You can create a dream journal in which you record your dreams as soon as you awake and before doing anything else. These written recordings can be various symbols or images, no matter how strange they may appear, which you remember from the dream and does not have to follow a chronological order or any specific order. Just jot down what you do remember and how you felt during the dream and after awaking from it.

For example, Dream 1: “I am running someone is chasing me I feel afraid I run into a house my grandmother is there and hides me in a cupboard I feel safe on awaking from dream I felt calm, exhausted or anxious”.

However, I would strongly recommend that you work through any emotional issues which may be related to your history and are often expressed through dreams.

There is no specific meaning to any dream content and the meanings are, in fact, mostly individual and specific to the person’s life experiences.

According to Jungian theory, dreams may also speak about archetypes such as the mother archetype, the father archetype, the leader archetype and the child archetype.

Archetypes refer to the collective unconscious, which reflects basic human experiences that transcends individual differences and are intrinsic life experiences which all humans from any cultural group can identify with. These may also appear in our dreams and are viewed as valuable lessons for our individual growth if we take note of what it is trying to teach us through their symbolic presence.

However, and most importantly, if you have had a very difficult history including painful childhood experiences, I would advise that you see a mental health professional in your area to help you to process your past and any related dream content which may surface. Working through these issues can be facilitated through the support of a trained professional in the field of mental health. You can google therapist-directory.co.za or psychotherapy.co.za to find a psychotherapist in your area.

Carin-Lee Masters is a clinical psychologist. While she cannot enter into correspondence with individual readers, she will try to answer as many queries as possible through this column. You can write to her at helpmecarin@inl.co.za Send a WhatsApp message or SMS to 082 264 7774.