Tuesday, October 09, 2018

How I Could Have Saved the Chicago Cubs This Season

I'm writing this at the behest of a friend. He honestly thinks that a little marital therapy could have gone a long way to save Addison Russell, the promising Cubs shortstop. Addison helped the Cubs consistently on the way and during that World Series run in 2016. But this year, accused and found guilty of domestic violence/spousal abuse, his performance at bat, and sometimes on the field, greatly disappointed.
Addison Russell and his kids

"I don't know much about the case," I shot back, "but it makes sense. He had a terrible season, probably because he felt indefensible-- not a good feeling for a guy playing defense for a living."

Shortstops tend not to be the greatest performers at bat, but their agility and dexterity in the field are highly valued.  Addison, the bright star in 2016, can hit, too. But this year he slumped and didn't hit very often, slumped the whole season. We didn't even see him play all that much.

Melisa Reidy-Russell left him after he hit her one time too often. She told a reporter the following:

She writes further on that Addison warned her that leaving him would be a big mistake, he had so much to offer (by way of money, lifestyle). How could she leave him? She must losing her mind, he allegedly said, and she would never find anyone who loved her as much as he did.

Ms. Reidy-Russell came out with the stories on Instagram. Apparently she has found someone else who loves her, perhaps more. If you love someone, you don't scare them, hit them. That's not a definition of love.

But that's as much as I, personally, know. And I haven't even really looked at the Instagram account. 

So how could I have saved the Cubs? Frankly, the team never gelled this year. So many players were out with injuries, the manager, Joe Madden constantly juggling the line-up. It was an unusual season and that they did as well as they did surprised and inspired Cub fans. Five games ahead of Milwaukee at Labor Day, only to blow it at the end. But that's baseball.

On the other hand, there is one thing I would have told Addison Russell, had he asked me.
It is that domestic violence is no longer treated as merely anger management: self-relaxation/leave the room/breathe/  behavioral strategies. Therapy is about changing individual belief systems.  It is an individual cognitive therapy that confronts misogyny* and hegemonic masculinity, the belief that as a man, one needs to have the power to decide in a relationship. It is a right is embedded in social institutions and families and it is challenged by feminists.
At this point-- I'm just saying--men and women need to start listening more closely to the feminists.

The case of the Russells makes it abundantly clear that anything-- misogynist thinking is one variable, perhaps the most important variable-- that enters into an equation, a recipe that cooks up violence, destroys relationships (and work performance). The character of the perpetrator, all that enters into becoming who he is, is worth tweaking (changing) and rethinking.

Hold on. We're not supposed to use the word "perpetrator" anymore. The "perpetrator" is someone we want to become a client in therapy. The word  perpetrator is negative, demoralizing, blaming, and  clients emotionally check out when they hear it, already thinking:

She made me do it.

So therapists, stick with non-threatening language, as should everyone else.

In the new Intimate Partner Violence therapy, the Duluth Model, the victim IS a victim, not a catalyst, a person who instigated or deserved to be on the receiving end of violence. The victim has been victimized, pure and simple.

The client, in the Duluth Model, owns the responsibility for the problem.

Among the things the client needs to change is the tendency to emotionally manipulate to  win arguments. This person needs to see that aggression is beyond checking out, 'seeing red" or becoming an animal driven by a primal aggressive need. It has been socialized (taught as masculinity), and it manifests as negligence of care for a partner's health and security.

Other reasons for violent behavior will be unveiled in a good therapy.

The current thinking, no matter, is that the most important intervention is acceptance--admission of a problem, owning it entirely, not blaming anyone else for having triggered an outburst,  eroding that person's sense of worth over time.

Own it, admit, it, get therapy to find out why this is the person you have become.

It is a very rich, fascinating therapy. If it becomes a couple therapy--and couple therapy has to be considered VERY carefully, because it can trigger more violence--the client may find himself on his knees, literally-- as anyone who truly harms anyone else should be.

Addison Russell, the still promising Cubs shortstop will be suspended from MLB play until May, 2019. By that time he may no longer be a Chicago Cub. But I hope he is. I hope he gets the right kind of help and feels the power of self-containment. Breathing can probably help him at bat, too.

But honestly, he wasn't the reason the Cubs didn't make it past the Wildcard this season. The team didn't have it. No matter the reason for that, the text FD sent me the night the Cubs lost to the Rockies lifted my spirits:

And as all good Cub fans say, There's always next year.


Many thanks to Jorge Argueta for teaching me more about Intimate Partner Violence. If you have a problem with it, contact him at AVANCECOUNSELING.COM. He's amazing.

* Misogyny is the hatred of, contempt for, or prejudice against women or girls. Misogyny can be manifested in numerous ways, including social exclusion, sex discrimination, hostility, androcentrism, patriarchy, male privilege, belittling of women, violence against women, and sexual objectification.