Sent: Thursday, March 18, 1999
Subject: e-mail advice
I found your website today, and I am glad that I
did. My husband is a recovering alcoholic who has almost 3 years of sobriety. He goes to
AA meetings regularly. I have looked so many websites and read books on addiction,
co-dependency and adult children matter. Yet this was the first time that I found
something on "verbal abuse". I am having problems in my marriage (over one year
but had lived together over 2 years).
Verbal abuse is exactly the problem that I have in
this marriage. There is no doubt that my husband is verbally abusive when he cannot
control his anger (which doesn't take that much). He threatens with leaving, calls me in
names (psychopath, nuts, sick, in worst case bitch or c..t). He is very confrontational
person in general and he swares a lot. I am not the only person he gets in problem with.
Our landlord, neighbor, his ex, (he has a daughter from previous relationship), etc. I
have been going to counseling since the end of January, and my counselor now suggesting me
to separate from him at least for a while. It seems that more I try to not get involved
with him (which is what my counselor suggested) harder he tries to provoke it and because
of it, it has been escalating.
Sometimes he apologize for what he did, but apology
doesn't do anything expect buying time till he does it again. He was brought up in a
family of alcoholics and his parents fighting all the time (they are together even today
and doing the same thing). Sometimes he implies that he needs to get help with his anger
management, but so far he hadn't act on it.
When I ask him if he is truly willing to get a help,
he says that he is going to AA meetings and he has not time to do anything extra right
now. So it seems to me that he does not realize he is "verbally abusive". He is
extremely controlling person and he tries to control me (and others). I have never seen
this much anger. It seems like when he blows up, at some point, it doesn't matter what the
reason is, but all his built up anger surfaces. My co-worker who knows addiction problems
very well pointed out that he sounds like a "dried alcoholic". I am from Japan
and my family is nothing close to his. At this point, I am extremely hurt and I have a
huge resentment towards him. I feel like a dead person and often it's affecting my work
performance. Part of me agrees that yes, I should move out for my own sanity. I wanted to
ask your opinion about my situation.
Thank you very much for reading my email... and have
a nice day.
I think your counselor is
acting on your behalf when suggesting that you leave your husband. Ask yourself, "Is
my husband behaving like a husband?" Your situation sounds intolerable! Why put up
with insanity? Have you considered attending ALANON meetings for some additional support?
Ask yourself if you deserve
the treatment you are given. Would you treat somebody the way you are being treated?
Perhaps you need to take your "resentments" more seriously. There is a reason
you are feeling them! Do you want to continue to feel like a "dead person", as
you put it? In part, if you move out, you are saying "No" to the insanity. If
you leave, and if he loves you, you claim your power. If he wants you back, he will have
to work harder than he is working now to win you. He will only work as hard as he is
required, and right now, you are not demanding that he take his issues more seriously. Not
only will you need to demand that he treat you respectfully, but you will need to continue
to demand same each time he slips. The bad news is that you cannot change how he behaves;
only he can do that. The good news is that you have full control over your own behavior.
Your cultural background
works both with and against you. The Japanese culture values peace and works hard to avoid
conflict. This is good because you can tolerate much, and your husband needs a tolerant
woman. This is also bad because your husband has taken advantage and has used your
tolerance as permission to escalate his abusive behavior.
What surprises me most in
my work with alcoholism and drug addiction, is that there is no recognition of the verbal
abuse literature! At least in my experience. This is despite the fact that it is generally
acknowledged that "rage" (and "shame") is central to addiction. I find
a very high proportion of verbally abusive individuals (both male and female) among the
recovering addicts I treat. As such, verbal abuse and the concomitant control issues
become a focal point in late recovery treatment.
Remember, you are in charge
of yourself. It is your life. You ultimately make the decisions you make and are
responsible for them. Sit with yourself for a while and ask yourself what you want. All
the answers are inside you.
My prayers and very best
wishes are with you.