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4/14 Interactive Board: Codependent Partners

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7/20: Dr. Irene on cognitive behavior therapy and mindfulness

6/12 Interactive Board: Unintentional Abuse

11/7 Interactive Board: Is This Abusive?

12/29 Interactive Board: There Goes the Wife...

11/4 Interactive Board: A New Me!

10/8 Interactive Board: Seeming Impossibility

9/8 Interactive Board: My Ex MisTreats Our Son

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4/26 Interactive Board: Why is This So Hard?

4/19 Interactive Board: I Lost My Love...

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Doc@DrIrene.com

Calling All Controllers

Calling All Controllers!

by Dr. Irene

"In order to get something you never had before, you have to
do something you've never done before" -Anonymous

April 26, 2000

The typical scenario: Controlling guy (could be a gal; usually a guy) behaves awfully towards victim gal/guy (usually a gal). Victim takes it and takes it and takes it...until something inside goes "snap" and the broken, angry victim can take no more. Victim leaves. Controller goes nuts and realizes just what he/she lost. Doug's recent email is an example of such.

I've gotten many complaints that the site supports the victim more than it supports the abuser. Evidence: Look at the majority of the letters on this site. They are from (mostly female) victims  looking for validation, information, and support to help them deal with the pain they experience in their relationship. Every now and then, an angry person will write in, but most don't. 

Despite the fact that I've made every effort to invite angry people to participate and get info and get support, the ratio of victims to controllers is overwhelmingly in favor of victims! 

Why? My guess is that controllers, who believe it is their victim's job to provide for their emotional needs and wants, are relatively content as long as they get most of what they want and have someone to dump their frustrations on when they don't. Most controllers I've run across are not "bad" people; some are (but then again, so are some victims). Nevertheless, in the victim-controller relationship, it is the victim who is most unhappy and frightened. The victim is more likely to seek support.

The controller, also an emotionally-starved victim, who has been unwilling to give up any goodies, typically doesn't "get it" until after his or her victim has left. Many of these misguided individuals go their merry way wrecking their havoc elsewhere. But others, much to their surprise, finally begin to realize what they had - and lost - and why. Wake up call!

The victim typically experiences relief. This individual has given and given and given; put the controller's needs ahead of his or her own needs for years. With community sympathy and support, this individual relishes discovering who they are, what things they like, what they want out of life, etc. The victim, who has spent his or her life sacrificing aspects of the self to please the partner, begins to come into their own. Many victims are what I call "relationship ready," that is, ready, willing and able to get involved. Go for it!

But, what about the controller?  This article does not apply to the controller whose denial is so thick, he or she can't see the tip of their nose. I am talking about the controller who woke up!  Where is this person, without their victim, now? 

Victim's Raw Deal. Let's be honest. Victims, in most cases, willingly married their controller. Victims, from the outset, were the sweeter, more loving and giving of the pair; and they loved to give to their partner. The relationship-fearful controller entered into the relationship getting much of what he or she expected. The victim accepted the raw deal from the beginning, while the controller got the long end of the straw.

One of my recovering controllers told me just this morning: "Can you believe this: I really, really thought that once I got married, I was entitled  to unconditional love, understanding, sex, etc., no matter what! It didn't occur to me that I had to do anything or give anything back to keep it." 

The Raw Deal gets Cooked. When the fed-up victim leaves, the controller is often left holding the bag. They watch their former partner blossom. They have a hard time blossoming in kind, try as they might. 

Why? Because angry controllers, for the most part, are ill-equipped to deal with life. They tend to have short fuses, be overly self-involved, have poor insight as to how their actions impact other, and have little understanding of their internal needs and how to meet them. They can't blossom until they get a crash course in anger management, spirituality, and empathy. Some also need to acquire social skills.  This is in stark contrast to the other-orientated victim, who has the relatively simple task of learning that they deserve, that it's OK to feel angry, OK to set limits, and OK to take.

Bad Habits. So, the poor controller (Yes, Poor controller!) has quite a job ahead: Dumping bad thinking and behavioral habits, learning to live and let live, learning that others have exactly the same rights and entitlements as they have, taking responsibility, learning to love and forgive the self, stay out of self-indulgent pity pots, etc., etc. All do-able stuff, by the way - providing there is sufficient motivation. Nevertheless, this is a much, much emotionally harder road to trek than the path facing the recovering victim.

For the Victim. The controller often accepts help out of desperation. The immediate goal is to win their victim back. That's an OK place to start, by the way.

Meanwhile... This space is dedicated to recovering controllers - to talk about anything... Victims may comment, but controllers really need at least one place to call their own, even if they are reluctant to use it.

Can you tell I love working with this group?

I want to read the posts.