Hula Hoop and the Five Guarantees

Posted on January 10, 2013


Hula Hoop and the Five Guarantees, one of the most promising bands of the early 1980’s burgeoning New Wave music scene.  The title cut from the band’s only EP, Your Addiction, with its infectious rhythm and hauntingly honest lyric is considered by many to be one of the most memorable tracks of the era.  Who could ever forget the band’s 1981 Saturday Night Live appearance?  The desperation in Hula Hoop’s vocal on (Everything Seems So) Out of Control made it clear that the angst heard in the recording was more than just an act.  The repeated lyric from the outro, “Didn’t cause it; can’t control it; can’t cure it,” became a catch phrase that remains with us still.  For the band, the year culminated with a snub at the Grammy Awards.  Most critics expected HH & the FG’s to take the awards for best new artist and song of the year.  In both categories the award went instead to Christopher Cross.   By the time of the Grammy Awards show, conflict between lead singer Hula Hoop and guitarist X. Ray Vision had already taken its toll leading to the dissolution of the band.

In a recent interview, Hoop (nee Colleen Deane Pendence) and Vision (nee Richard T. Add) discussed the history of the band and their relationship.

Hoop explained, “Rick and I had been a couple since high school when we had dreamed of putting together the band.  There was so little connection with either of our families that we always felt like all we had was each other.  At the same time even back in those days, our relationship was always volatile.  It felt like there were two sides to Rick.  He could be so sweet and loving, but then he would go on binges of drinking and using drugs and being with other girls.  We would break up for about a day and then he would come back.  Tell me that he would change, and we would be back together.  The success of the band only made the situation worse.”

Vision added, “Ironically, every time I told Co that things would be different, I meant it.  It never seemed to last long.  She would always be asking me where I was and what I was doing.  I would start to feel controlled (I could never stand feeling controlled), and I would be off again.”

Hoop continued, “It got so bad that the band would be out on tour and I would be trying to never let Rick out of my sight.”

Vision: “I had always lived the party lifestyle, but we got to where Co was watching my every move.  That just was not working for me, and I ended up amping up my lifestyle.”

Hoop: “At one point, I told Rick he needed to go to rehab or I was leaving.  He went for 2 weeks, but went right back to his old ways afterwards.  I finally got to the point that I realized I could not control what Rick did.  For my own sanity, I had to leave the band, and Rick’s recovery had to be his own choice.  I started seeing a therapist of my own and she helped me realize that trying to change Rick or control his addiction was just making me crazy.  If I wanted to get healthy myself, I needed to take care of myself.”

Vision: “At first, I thought this is just another fight.  She will take me back in a couple of days and the band would be back together.  When it started dawning on me that Co really wasn’t coming back, at first I got angry and then I got depressed.  I even thought about suicide.  Most of our friends weren’t talking to me.  Without the band, I was broke.  In the 12 step group I later joined, they talked about hitting bottom.  That was the bottom for me, but it was also a turning point in my life.  Up until then I had never seen myself as an addict.  I spent some time as an in-patient and then continued in therapy.  In the course of therapy, I came to realize how unmanageable my life had become.”

Hoop and Vision also discussed how their relationship was eventually restored.

Hoop: “For a while I just quit taking Rick’s calls, and then he stopped calling.  After I hadn’t heard from in months, Rick called and left a message saying he was in recovery and he was serious about it.  I had heard that before, but he sounded so much like the old Rick from when he was clean, that I decided to talk with him.”

Vision: “I didn’t even know if she would talk to me.  I had come to realize how much I had hurt her.  I didn’t know if we would ever be able to get back together, but I wanted to at least make things right between us.”

Hoop: “It wasn’t Rick’s words that led me to the decision to stay in the relationship, it was his actions.  It was going to therapy and group; it was the way he would try to understand when I got angry.  Early in Rick’s recovery, the slightest thing could set me off.  Anything that reminded me of him being with someone else or choosing the drugs over me, would overwhelm me.  On top of the individual therapy, we got couple’s therapy to help us heal our relationship and to learn how to support each other.”

Hoop and Vision not only restored their relationship, but have been married since 1984 and have 3 adult children.

Vision: “Sometimes people would ask why we didn’t just get the band back together.  We loved the music, but it was no longer the lifestyle we wanted.  It wasn’t good for my recovery or our relationship.  There was a history of addiction in both of our families, and we did not want that to be the legacy we passed on to our children.  Recovery is a ruthless commitment to the truth, and we made that commitment.”

Dear Readers: Before you go looking up Hula Hoop and the Five Guarantees on itunes, I need to tell you that I made up all of the above.  The only true fact in the whole thing was that Christopher Cross actually did win the indicated Grammys in 1981.  I made up the names and any resemblance to persons living or dead is unintentional and coincidental.

Hula Hoop is a concept from my colleague, Treina Nash who uses the hula hoop as an illustration to help the partners of addicts understand about loci of control.  Imagine holding a hula hoop over your head.  Picture bringing the hula hoop down over your body and all the way to the ground.  Inside the area created by the hula hoop is everything you control.  It contains you, your work, your leisure and recreation, your finances, your vertical relationship with God, and your social relationships.  These are the things over which you get to have control.  You can make decisions about what you want to do and how you will manage all of those aspects of your life which are within your hula hoop.  Your partner also has a hula hoop of his or her own.  Inside of your partner’s hula hoop are all of those same aspects of your partner’s life.  Your partner controls the things in his or her hula hoop.  Often in addiction, a partner will try to “over function” to compensate for their partner’s under-functioning.  However, you can only control what is in your own hula hoop.  You cannot control what is in your partner’s hula hoop.  You can set your boundaries.  You may decide on what are non-negotiable items to stay in the relationship, but you cannot control your partner.

To help illustrate this point, my colleague, Cory Anderson developed a handout of “The Five Guarantees.”  Here are the Five Guarantees.

  1. I cannot control nor am I responsible for what ____________ THINKS.
  2. I cannot control nor am I responsible for what ____________ FEELS.
  3. I cannot control nor am I responsible for what ____________ DOES and how ____________ chooses to respond to me.
  4. If I try to control or take responsibility for any of the above, I will become frustrated, angry, resentful, discouraged and/or bitter.
  5. What I do have control of and am responsible for is: What I THINK, FEEL, and DO, and how I choose to respond to others.

Though the concept of the hula hoop and the five guarantees is often used with sexual addicts and their partners, it has applicability in many relationships.  It applies to marriages where there is no addiction present.  It applies to relationships of parents with their adult children and adults with their parents.  It applies to bosses, co-workers, and subordinates.  You can only control you.  To restate guarantee #4 in less clinical terms, if you try to control others, you will only make yourself crazy.

If this is resonating for you, let me offer a word of encouragement.  Often these patterns can be firmly entrenched.  Change is difficult, but it is achievable.  A supportive therapeutic relationship can be healing and helpful in changing the ways you respond to the people in your life.