Rock and a Hard Place (Life’s Dilemmas)

Our artist of the month continues to be James Maddock. I want to play “Better On My Own” as a lead in to The Rolling Stones and their “Rock and a Hard Place” 

These two songs have an association. Many in relationships think we are better on our own than having to deal with the struggles in relationships. One young man who comes to my office, a thirty-six year old computer programmer, met a beautiful young woman. They fell in love and moved in with each other. Soon they both learned that life wasn’t as perfect as they had first envisioned it. She was bossy. He was laissez-faire. He wanted his space. She wanted his attention. He came to my office thinking he’d be  better on his own. But making the decision to leave her put him between a rock and a hard place. He wanted his space, but too much scared him. Being alone had it’s promise but how much longer could he go on and not make a life with someone else. He knew he wanted to be close to someone, to love, have sex, build a future and have children. But could he endure his girlfriend’s desire for a close partnership. He and she were between a rock and a hard place. (BTW, when I was looking for a title for the blog this was one of the alternatives. I think Psych ‘n’ Roll Radio is better. Let me know what you think) But relationship isn’t the only dilemma that we face in life. Job choices, where to live, what vulnerabilities we can reveal to friends and family, where to invest our money and with whom often put us between a rock and a hard place.

Share with us your dilemmas. What has been your rock and hard place. If you have a particularly difficult problem with a dilemma ask your question and Dr. Ike will give you the benefit of his psychological knowledge to coach you through the problem. As always send us your music on the topic or on a related one.

We open our first three-song set with James Maddock once more, and his powerful ballad “What Have I Done?” JM is followed by Billy Joel “It’s Still Rock and Roll To Me,” and finally The Clash, “Should I Stay or Should I Go?”


12 thoughts on “Rock and a Hard Place (Life’s Dilemmas)

  1. A bit off the topic… or maybe not. It’s Easter morning, sunny but breezy and cool in the Northeast. I was in my car on the way home from errands when I heard Madeleine Peyroux singing the Warren Zevon song “Desperadoes Under the Eaves”–so struck by its poetry, the images it evoked. See if you can find the tiny reference to Easter, which reminds me to wish everyone a Happy Easter and A Happy Passover. Enjoy Madeleine Peyroux singing “Desperadoes Under the Eaves.”

  2. Dear Dr. Ike: I know this will seem weird, but I welcome the point in a relationship when I feel like I am between a rock and a hard place because it is so untenable that it forces me to either “commit or get of the pot” (my crazy cleaned-up rated “G” version of what I really say.) When I feel the squeeze as the vice tightens around my free spirit, I put on Alice Deejay’s “Better Off Alone” and the driving beat combined with the repetitive question in the lyrics really propels me to make up my mind. Please play it for us. Thanks and Happy Spring to you and our little PNRR community.

  3. Life has been nothing but one fraught dilemma after another for me, and I am exhausted and embittered. There–I admit it! I am dissatisfied with the experience, pure and simple. I could regale you with my tales of woe but suffice it to say that there is wreckage EVERYWHERE I turn and I am having a harder and harder time finding the energy to persevere and finding ways forward or ways out. I feel utterly trapped! Feeling crushed in a hard place by a giant rock right now…When I write about it, when I try to talk about it, when I think about it I feel a cascade of overwhelming negativity, I feel worse than before, and I feel paralyzed and very afraid. I’m having a rough time now and I know some of this is acute and may dull with time but any advice you could offer would help a lot. Thank you!

    1. Spivey, my friend, you are in crisis. When a person is in crisis the way through is to get support from friends, family, and if you can, a therapist. Try to remember how you got through similar hard times in the past, and see if you can find a spiritual center, a place of calm and peace, music, poetry, places of beauty. When I was in crisis as a young man I’d go to Fire island and sit in a chair on the beach. I allowed the sun, air, and water to soothe me. Though my problems had not yet been solved the respite allowed me to get through another day and then another day until finally I was in a better spot. If other members of this community can offer suggestions to Spivey it will be greatly appreciated. Here’s a soothing sound

  4. Doctor, I have to choose between leaving my pension dollars with the company my job initially hooked me up with or moving it to a company of my choosing. I know nothing about the investment world and am afraid if I choose to move it I could lose it and having no savings ,be old and broke. .The flip of that is the same…if I leave it put and it loses money I will also hate myself for not moving it! I never married and have no kids so when either choice fails, I will hate myself for choosing a solitary life.Help please,the anxiety is choking me.Thank you.

    1. Hating yourself is the problem. It makes decided a losing proposition no matter what you do. Get to know that part of yourself better. Learn how to be kind and present with yourself. For all matters give yourself an education before you make a choice. With financial things that is especially true. It takes time but it will pay off. So that while you are sitting between a rock and hard place you are learning and getting ready to make a choice. By the way a solitary life can still be a good life if you love yourself. Here’s “Solitude,” by Edwin McCain and Warren Hayes

  5. Clashing of opposites…it’s the nature of life. I once dumped a boyfriend 16 times. 15 times I went back to him. The way I finally left was to try to really BE there with him (instead of half in and half out). Then one day, like GRACE from Heaven, I had a big realization, turned on a dime and left him without looking back. It wasn’t until I was really trying to be fully Present with him that I understood the meaning of our relationship, and the fact that the purpose, in my mind, was complete.
    Now, many years later, I find myself having difficulty being fully Present with my husband, and then finding fault with “the relationship”. My strategy is to try to be fully Present and honest with him…and to love him. It seems like there is so much CHOICE…no rules…no one (including him) who cares about “doing the right thing”. I sometimes wish for some external structure that I could learn to embrace or rebel against, but it’s simply not there. Lots of freedom that I am learning how to navigate. He has been faithful to me in so many ways, but has also betrayed me in so many ways. I suppose I have done the same to him. Betrayal comes with love, so no blame…just extreme discomfort. The things about him that hurt me so consistently, are also the things I admire. At what point do I get brave enough to choose? Is it even a question of courage…or is it just me figuring out what I want? I want to have fun with him, do things creatively with him, discuss big ideas with him, give and get advice from him, coordinate daily activities with him, enjoy our adult children with him. He seems to want to do all that stuff…just without me. His attitude is that if I don’t like it I should leave. Not exactly romantic or even emotionally intimate, but leaving doesn’t seem to solve much. I am between a rock and a hard spot. My strategy of just “being” with the discomfort, patiently coaxing some wisdom out of the situation, seems to go on and on for decades. help

    1. My son gave me his wisdom. He said when i feel stuck this way the only thing to do in the end is to choose either the rock or the hard place but to choose, hold my nose and dive in. I’ve got a fifty-fifty chance of doing the right thing. Sitting in-between means I do nothing. Here is
      Alanis Morisette on betrayal “You Oughta Know”

  6. I’m in a fix. I’m in love with a woman at work and she wants to leave her husband to be with me. I’m in a moral dilemma. I want her but not at the cost, you know, breaking up a family, the hurt others will suffer. Every time I try to break away I get depressed because I believe she is my soulmate. What should I do?

    1. I believe in many “soul mates”. If it happens once, it can happen again. I think a way that may help you decide is to ask yourself, “What is the Meaning” of this relationship in my life?” Rather than being “in love” with her, also go outside yourself and look at the situation as if you are an outsider, compassionately observing what everyone is learning or becoming as a result of your affair (emotional or otherwise). I would observe any “addiction”, where the feelings she gives you are ecstatically felt as “completing” you. Beware if that is happening, as that kind of completeness is best done between you and YOU. Maybe that helps and I apologize if it is completely off base. Good luck.

    2. Barry. That is always a quandry for sure.I hear an ethical side of you trying to break through. And you are right to be concerned about the woman’s family. This kind of love can be dangerous. Not knowing enough about you, her, and the total situation I can’t direct you in any other way but to tell you that just in what you wrote makes me worried that there is desperation in her life. A relationship based on desperation can never be a good thing. And as Suzanne wrote to you there are other soulmates in one’s life. Here’s Carly Simon “Right Thing To Do,”

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