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Doc@DrIrene.com

Interactive: How Can I Be Sure?

 Interactive Board:  Your ALT-Text here How Can I Be Sure?

March 23, 2005

Hi Dr. Irene. I have sent you two letters. Both of them were back in December. I asked you how I could "escape" the verbally abusive relationship, which was beginning to become physical, then I asked you how I could feel better about moving on. Thank you for your responses. These letters are reprinted below:

Thursday December 09, 2004
02:10 AM
Dr. Irene My boyfriend and I have been together for 10 months. We have had a volatile relationship for more than the majority of the time. Sometimes we have the best time together, and I feel so happy, but when things are bad they are awful. He has called me a dumb bitch on several occasions, has screamed in my face, dragged and thrown me out of his house, grabbed my arm and left a bruise, told me that he feels like slapping me, but that he never would, picks fights with me and blames me for them, and gets mad, and will not call me or answer my call's for a week. Right now we are currently not speaking. I know he is emotionally and verbally abusing me, but that is not my question. I don't know how to get away from him, because I love him, and I keep expecting him to go back to his sweet self...the way he used to be. I know this is foolish, and I feel embarrassed even asking how I should leave. Never the less, how do I get away from him? 
Ask yourSelf this question: "Is this the way I want to spend my life?" Is it?

Assuming the two of you stay together, maybe get married, have children... Things don't get better, they get worse. Abuse worsens over time. The good in-between parts get shorter and the bad parts get longer. That's just the way it goes.

Take a piece of paper and draw a line down the center. Title one column "What is." Title the other column "Wishful thinking." Jot down the reality in the "what is" column. Do this during a bad time when your memory is clear. Then fill out what your hopes and dreams are on the other side. Keeping your hopes and dreams from reality is very, very important. Your wishful thinking may allow you to escape the pain, but then you come right back to where you are. What is, is.

Wishful thinking is in my experience the most destructive process a person in an abusive relationship can engage in. Yet, most abused people survive via wishing and hoping that things will be better in the future. They won't. Read through this site and see how many individuals hurt themselves unnecessarily by wishing/ hoping things will change. Learn from them. Otherwise, you'll just be back here some years from now, certainly more scarred than you already are.

By the way, this is not love even though it may feel like love to you. This is the emotional rollercoaster of abuse. Remember, this is your life. You decide what you do and do not do. You pay the consequences, or reap the rewards. If you choose to drive the highway at 175 mph, regardless of much you may love the feeling, you are the one who is endangering your life. Your choice. And, the relationship you are in is a choice.

This is a book you should read immediately: When Hope Can Kill: Reclaiming Your Soul in a Romantic Relationship by Lucy Papillon!

Good luck to you. Dr. Irene

Thursday December 30, 2004
12:19 AM
Dr. Irene I sent you a letter a few weeks ago, asking how to get away from my abusive boyfriend. The verbal abuse has worsened, and now he has become more physically aggressive. More physically aggressive? He has pushed me against a wall, grabbed me by my face, grabbed me by my coat collar, and last night he pulled me so forcefully from his car that I fell on the pavement, leaving bruises on me. Oh boy... After talking tonight for 2 hours on the phone, we ended the relationship. YES! I know I will be happier in the long run, and part of me does feel relieved to be broken up with him. However, I still feel sad, devastated, and alone. Of course you do! I had thought at one point that this was the man I was going to marry. Do you have any suggestions to help me get over this sadness and just move on without all of this pain?
Yes! It's the New Year and time for you to turn a new page in your life. Listen to your good sense. You know what you have to do!

Survival Tips:

bulletIt is OK to have sad times. You miss the parts of your relationship that were good. It's OK to grieve. But never, ever forget the bad!
bulletSit down right now and write a comprehensive list of all the times that he intimidated you, abused you verbally, emotionally, or physically. Don't forget the passive aggressive stuff (like helping another woman with her coat at a party, but not helping you; being late; not following through; not answering, so you have to "chase" him for an answer; etc.)
bulletTake the "Badness" list above, extrapolate and project into the future. Make things worse. Much worse. Abuse does get worse, you know. What might your life be like during the bad times down the road? How does he handle marriage and the inevitable disagreements? Your job? Money? Kids? What does a selfish, immature parent look like when in a bad mood? How might he treat your future children? And how would he rationalize his misbehavior to himself? Keep these lists with you and read it them time you feel down.
bulletSeparate how much you miss of what: How much percent do you miss the whole person he is as opposed to how much percent do you miss being in a relationship: having a life together; making future plans; daily chats; evenings & weekends, etc? Do you miss him - or miss being in a relationship?
bullet Are you depressed? You may need treatment!
bulletRemind yourSelf that this too shall pass.
bulletDo not begin dating immediately. Don't escape your pain; use it to grow.
bulletStick to your guns, get your ducks in a row, and know that in 6 months, you'll be glad you did. Keep busy! Use this time for self-improvement. Become more and more of the woman you want to be; become your very best. This is a great time to lose those last few pounds, get in better physical shape, improve your diet, try out new hobbies, join a group, take an evening class.
bulletAnd read up on becoming more of your own person so that you don't simply plop into the lap of the next male animal that is interested. The next guy's got to deserve you! This book will help you claim your personal power by illustrating how women with very high self-esteem behave: Why Men Love Bitches: From Doormat to Dreamgirl-A Woman's Guide to Holding Her Own in a Relationship by Sherry Argov.
bulletRemember: each day you get through, the stronger you become. Go Girl, Go!

Good luck to you, and may God bless you and yours. Dr. Irene

For the past two months, my ex and I have been seeing each other. I have wanted things to work out, but he didn't think that they could, so last week I told him I was moving on with my life. Since then he has been calling me non stop. I have explained to him that I have moved on, but the more I pull away, the more attracted to me he is. At your suggestion, I have been reading Why Men Love Bitches: From Doormat to Dreamgirl-A Woman's Guide to Holding Her Own in a Relationship by Sherry Argov, which explains his interest.

In any event, I told him we both need time to ourselves to do our own thing and breath. The thing is that I am going back into town in a few days, and we have plans for dinner. The discussion we had today was basically, "let's be cool with one another and see where things go." I feel strong and independent, and I know no matter what happens that I don't want a relationship with anyone right now. I don't believe you. I think you're kidding yourself. If you didn't want a relationship, you would not talk to him, you would not meet him for dinner. However, I do love him, and we used to talk about getting married. And, those conversations seem to swirl around in your head, tantalizing you.

His mother adores me, and we are close friends. I think we could work if he made some major changes. OK, now you're being honest.

The only problem is that my parents despise him, and my friends do not want me with him. Your parents and friends aren't the problem; his poor behavior is the problem. If he treated you well, your parents and friends would want him around you.

My question to you, after all of this rambling...how can I know for sure if he us willing to make major changes, without being blinded by manipulation or game playing? How many times do you have to get burned before you recognize you're hurting? Past history is the best predictor of future behavior, and in his case, the future is bleak.

How can I know for sure if I should get back into this relationship after some time has gone by? Serena You are hanging on to hope. Wishful thinking. You want to believe that he will change/ can change. And you want to believe it very much, against your better judgment. You are allowing your emotional attachment to lead you astray, and you think that there is a chance for you two - which is why you haven't cut him out of your life.

The best book for you to read is what I recommended earlier: When Hope Can Kill: Reclaiming Your Soul in a Romantic Relationship by Lucy Papillon. You are hanging on to every single element that allows you to keep your hope of a life with him alive. Because of the way you think, there is no way you can know if it is OK to go back with him! You are too good at tricking yourSelf!

Let me put the answer to your question another way: You'll know it's OK to get back into a relationship with him - once you can't imagine why you put up with all the junk you put up with, and demand much,  much better for yourself. Consider looking at whether or not he's changed - only when you'd never, ever see yourself in a relationship with somebody who has hurt you, when you are confidant that you can read the abuse signs (and you can't read them now at all!), and when his past treatment of you disgusts you!

My best advice to you is to get away from him. Get on with your life. Distance from the craziness and stop wishing and hoping that gets his act together. You may be saving yourself from a whole lot of future pain. This advice is particularly true in your case because the physical barrier has already been broken. This is significant, because once breached, the experience cannot become undone and has now laid the groundwork for future physical escalation. It's no wonder the people who love you want you to have nothing to do with him!

Get that When Hope Can Kill Book, get counseling, and GET OUT! Now, while you still can. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news Serena, but you need to hear this.  :(

I'll be back next week, so please post your questions.  My warmest wishes to you, Dr. Irene

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