Comments: End 24-Yr Marriage?
here is intended for educational purposes only, and must not be considered a
substitute for informed advice from your own health care provider.
Sounds like you know what you should do, you’re just looking for reassurance that what you’re doing is right. Believe me, what you’re doing is right! You have to watch out for the mental/emotional health of your children. You’re the only one who can decide what’s right for them at this point. Especially with a child with learning disabilities. Stability is the most important thing & you don't have that with your husband.
Please get out of this situation as soon as possible, Susan. If you start healing now, you can get back to caring for those wonderful children of yours sooner!
If you'd like to chat...my email is email@example.com.
Susan - The details were different, but I was right where you are in terms of the guilt about my children (child in my case). But he's s-o-o-o much better now, and I am better, enormously better. I didn't think I was depressed either (was really surprised when the diagnosis came back as "major" - normal people don't cry all the time, Susan). My marriage was also long - 20 years. I wrote to Dr. Irene about some of what had happened to me, and she kindly pointed out that if her husband had behaved like that, she'd be showing him the door. Which I did, and which, like you, I then backed away from. But I finally got there. There IS life on the other side. Having 2 married parents is not necessarily the best situation for children unless those people are healthy and kind to one another. It was hard - there was pain. I had to admit "defeat". But in doing so I WAS caring for my child, in the best way possible.
And guess what else happened? I have found a wonderful, non-abusive man who is also a single parent, and I am beginning to learn what a real relationship can be about (and it's pretty darn great and bears little or no resemblance to my "marriage"). When I think about how I'd have locked my son and myself off from this wonderful experience by remaining in hell, I shudder and feel incredibly grateful for my escape.
And one other thing - if you're NOT feeling incredible rage right now, then something is very wrong. This is completely outrageous, and you need to own your feelings about that and let them guide you. Feeling my rage was not fun, and yet at the same time I felt so glad to finally see it, to understand just what had been happening to us. If nothing else, get a separation from him. Get him out of the house. See if he can walk the walk. My guess is not. It may give you the space you need to see what life can be like and to see his behavior for what it really is - very sick.
"Lorraine" Thanks Lorraine
Susan, The fact that your son is much better when husband is gone should be all the information you need to make the right decision. Move in the direction of what is healthy for you. If hubby wants to a a good guy he will when you are doing what is good for you not when you are trying to satisfy him. Sounds wierd but, when the codependent starts looking out for themselves you will get one of three responses 1) he will get better and treat you better, 2) the devil will make himself completely known which will make the decision to leave him all the easier, or 3) He will high tail it out of there so you don't have to do the leaving or agonize over the decision. Either way you will be better off. Keep doing for yourself. The divorce is just the first step.
This is so fantastic to get such a response so fast! This has really been a lifeline for me this week. No time or energy to say much else now, but thanks for your posts! Susan
Ok, Doc and Susan, I almost don't know where to begin! I can relate soooo much to Susan. The loss of feelings, out of touch with intuition, the loss of appropriate anger to inappropriate behavior, the special needs child, the child that idolizes daddy....being a nurse, making more money than him....Not feeling depressed, but not having energy for dealing with all the events of a day...withholding, extreme reactions to minor events....
That's just for starters! Oh Rocky... As the saying goes, "You've come a long way baby!"
I grew up in a chaotic home. I learned to stuff the feelings of fear in dealing with my out of control dad. I became a nurse, I work in critical care...I learned to stuff the feelings of fear in dealing with critical emergencies. I perform exceedingly well (at work) during these times. The stuff at home seemed minor and "normal" compared to the intensity of work. I was blind to how abusive my stbx was.
I have been married for almost 14 years, together for nearly 16. My children are 4 1/2, and 10. They both came from abusive homes into our home, and then, both began to be seriously verbally, emotionally, and even physically abused by my stbx. Like you, I was oh so willing to excuse it all away. He's under a lot of stress, he doesn't like surprises...all the while, I was teaching my children it was ok to be disrespected and criticized for no real reason.
My stbx WAS going to "anger management" counseling. He continued to escalate. My daughter was going to counseling, this counselor felt that my stbx was doing well because he could cry when he felt bad. Ultimately this counselor started taking his side, stopped listening to me, and started expecting my daughter to "understand" daddy's moods. BULLL*****. My daughter had so many of her abusive experiences negated by this counselor. We no longer go to her.
During all of this time, I would get "I'm trying as hard as I can..." "Once all of this stuff with my parents is stable, I'll be better" "I'll go on antidepressants..." Over the course of a year, it only got worse. When I looked at what HE ACTUALLY ACCOMPLISHED...it was only to be more angry, more controlling, and more abusive. Especially to my oldest. He, too would use the "bad dog" tone. He would criticize her INTENTLY for minor things (like missing a small spot when drying a plate).
Even with all of this intensity, I wasn't really considering him abusive. I was sooooooo withdrawn from reality because I was dealing with everything else...the cleaning, cooking, child care, the learning disability and PTSS that my daughter has (a lot of similar behaviors to adhd). AND I was working 3 days a week. AND SO WAS HE!!! But STILL I did it all. No wonder you can't get mad...you're just way too tired!!!!
So, I had my wake up call. Currently, you can find it posted about on the Yak board under a post by Diddysmit "The Dark Side." From that call, I found this board, I connected with how abusive he really was, and I left. It wasn't easy. I kept holding out hope, too. HIS ACTIONS NEVER CHANGED. I wanted to believe he loved us, and really didn't mean to hurt us. Well. He may indeed love, but it's a toxic one, and one I can't live with. Now, here's a lady who is sure of herSelf! Betcha no matter what I say to her, I can't shake her conviction... How'd she get it? Well, let's just say part of it is that her healthy anger drove her to seek out the support and validation she needed...
I wanted my children to grow up with two healthy parents. I agonized for MONTHS over this one. Yep, she had to re-think it over and over and over. Sound familiar? Would it really be better for them if I did leave? You hear so much about the trauma of divorce on children, and how it affects them as adults. I couldn't bear to add this to their already long list of hurts in their lives. Well, guess what? I decided that it was WORSE for them to BE ABUSED, and WAY WORSE for them to watch me be abused as well. IF there was ANY hope for them to have a healthy adulthood, it was going to be up to me. I got ANGRY that my stbx couldn't see what he was doing to them. I got ANGRY that my children were treating me the same way as he was. (Actually he was throwing temper tantrums that MATCHED my 4 year olds'). I was NOT willing to wait for YEARS for him to get better. If he really wanted to for HIMSELF, he would do it anyway. But I FINALLY figured out he was just stringing me along with words, and wasn't going to work on himself for me, OR the kids. He also really had no personal insight into how "gruff" he could be when he was "grumpy".
My daughter goes to public school. I only recently have asked for an IEP, because I can no longer support her enough at home, re-teaching her everything she did in class during the day. Betcha once upon a time, you would have felt too guilty to go here. No more! This is about caring more for the Self and less for other, even if other is your kid!
Susan, I believe that you and your children need your own support groups. :) Call your local dv shelter, and if it's anything like mine, they will have support groups for your children, too. I think you and your children also need counseling. :) I am currently involved with a counselor who is teaching my older daughter anger management skills. She's heading into puberty, and if we don't get a better bond now, I'll never survive her teenagehood. Trust me. You son NEEDS this type of counseling NOW. The older he gets, the harder it will be for him to work through all of HIS abuse issues. Yes, he does have them. :)
I also think you need more help with his schooling. Does he REALLY need to be homeschooled? Could he be supported in public school? He will learn so much from being around other healthy kids. To be home with you and dad all day...man, that must SCARE him to death! No argument from me.
I also have a tutor working with my daughter. It is helping her learn and focus even better, BECAUSE it's not coming from me any more! The power struggles were just getting too much. My daughter, at her young age, is already a chaos junky. She will create it, where none exists. Like *Me*, Trubble
When I left my stbx, I thought that if I left during a rage, he would "get it". He would figure out that his behavior was connected to my leaving. HAH! He still doesn't get it. That was almost a year and a half ago.
I am still making more money than him. He is now asking ME for spousal support (and claiming that it's possible that his depression might impair his ability to work in the future). And, you're not even feeling guilty turning him down, are ya?
Susan, from the MINUTE I left, my life got better. More peaceful. More relaxed. My kids are slowly re-connecting with just being kids. Yes, I have to work more. I am the sole support of my family. I get a little bit of financial support from the county for my kids (they are legally still foster kids), but the rest is up to me. I do have good benefits. My counseling benefits are especially good. I am grateful for my earning ability.
I, too was concerned about the house, the mortgage, the rent, making my kids move...
"We" still own our house, but I am living in it. My mortgage is less than rent would be also. My goal is to sell it, and then, have my own place. I can't afford to buy him out. My house has too many bad memories to feel comfortable even TRYING to stay for too much longer.
Susan, these are really side issues. The REAL issue is YOU are staying in an abusive relationship that is teaching YOUR kids how to abuse you, too. It is teaching your daughter how to grow up and be abused, and your son to grow up to be abusive. He is being SEVERELY affected by the chaos in your home. Not to mention the hostility that's directed at him. If he's anything like my daughter what he REALLY NEEDS is ABSOLUTE PREDICTABILITY. Your husband will NEVER be able to give him that. ONLY YOU CAN.
If you can't get mad for your SELF, get mad for his effect on your poor children. My husband got mad at me when I reached the point of not responding to his emotional pleas. He called me a stone. I thought about it, and after awhile, I considered it a compliment. I modified it, and adopted it as my "name". Rock4mykids. If they are EVER going to have a solid foundation, it is truly up to me. I will be their rock. I will do whatever I have to, to make sure they are safe. And, of course, now, I don't tolerate abuse from him OR them any more.
Susan, you need support. Look for all the avenues you can get it from. The school, family, friends, neighbors. You will probably need to work full time to support your family. So? I can PROMISE you, the peace is worth it. Not for even ONE nanosecond have I regretted that I left. MY ONLY REGRET is that I didn't do it sooner, and that my children suffered more abuse while I waited. On the other hand, if I HAD left sooner, I wouldn't have been able to sustain it. I wouldn't have understood what the issues really were, that yes, he really was abusive, and I wouldn't have had the strength to not buckle when he wanted to try to work things out. I did NOT want to find myself still stuck in 5 more years, 3 more years, or one more year. NO MATTER how long I had been married. I am 43. I am healthy. I have a good job.
I am doing this, Susan. You can too.
Sorry this is so long, but as you can tell, it just really struck a nerve. Thank you Rocky. Very well said. By the way, for new people around here, Rocky is one of the four administrators who moderate and run the two on-site support boards, The CatBox and Trubble's Yak.
Susan- I am going through the same process and I've been married for 29 years. I am heart broken and his abuse involves another woman who he continues to see after many promises to the contrary. It was helpful to read your interactive writing because it gave me some insight as to why I do the things I do - and put up with the things I put up with. I have also had a strong sense of conviction only to have it waver with time. He is very good at keeping me off balance. I have a feeling that once I give it time I'll really be able to see it for what it was - I hope you will too. Good Luck
Well here I am, finally a moment to my self. "Rocky" is right, I am way too tired. Being a nurse, she knows what I am talking about. I am working full time on a cardiac unit, where most of the time I don't get to sit down to eat lunch-just eat a power bar while I keep running. I love what I do, but it is so exhausting! Then kids, running a household, and any time leftover I have to spend fundraising to support my kids school because they receive no tax dollars and it is required that every family be very active in this. I also arrange their field trips and science projects. So there may be something to the thought that I just have no time or energy to be angry. But I am interested in this idea that it would be more appropriate for me to be angry. I do get angry but I have never been able to stay angry. If I could be angry and stay angry now, things would be so much easier. We did go to court on Tues April 16. It was sooo incredibly painful. The judge said he has to move out by May 15. The thing is now he is being sooo kind and so humble and so contrite. Ask yourSelf, "Self, how long will this last? Once things are comfy again..." He has acknowledged and apologized for the first time for the years of abuse. He is cleaning the house and talking to me and listening to me and being supportive and understanding. He says he has found a therapist that he will start with next week. All the things I wanted. Amazing what happens when you take your power... It seems so real. I think it is real- it is just that it takes hitting him over the head with a sledge hammer to get him to wake up. And of course my information tells me that it won't last, as soon as he feels secure again it would be back to the old stuff. So this is what is more painful than anything - if he would just be a jerk now, this would all be much easier. Your hubby's behavior, unfortunately, is typical. But, his behavior must pass the test of time... If he means it, he'll do his work while you move forward. Then you guys can reconsider. Remember Susan, significant change does not occur over night. Good intentions are the mother of false hope. How can I be angry now when he is being so sweet? Use your brain. I do need and want help and support with this. He says he found a a cheap apt close by that he can move to. Every time he talks about taking the sofa sleeper or whatever plan for this moveout, I feel a stab of horrible pain. I want to put my arms around him and tell him to stay. What would you say if I told you he is counting on this response from you? Don't. It is taking every ounce of energy I have not to do this, I have always been so drawn to this man. I want to say, my husband, father of my children, please stay and act like a mature human being. And I was the one who told him he has to leave, who went to a judge to enforce it. How crazy is that? It's very common. Look around the site Susan. I called the women's shelter and they say they have counselors that would be appropriate for my situation, but there is a waiting list, and they said they would call me in 3 weeks. Sliding scale fee, which would make it more affordable. My insurance requires you to go to their list of providers, and it is kind of hard to find out anything about their counselors - so many do not understand the dynamics of verbal abuse, and we have gone to some bad ones. I called a woman that had been rec to me some time ago, and she said she worked with this issue and did cognitive behavioral therapy - but for 110 dollars per 45 mins and also a 3 week waiting list. Can't afford it. So I guess I will wait and see what the shelter offers. I want to acquire these "emotional skills" that Dr. Irene talks about. It was interesting to me that she said that normal people naturally have a "guard up", but that I found this to be work. Because you have dependent tendencies. I sure do, and it sure is not natural! I guess I didn't realize that it was for other people. Look around at some of your friends: how many women do you know who wouldn't stand for the type of stuff your hubby pulls? This sort of sheds a little light on why I have always found it difficult to handle many situations that other people have no trouble with. Darn it all! I really thought I was finished with Melody Beattie and put this codependancy stuff behind me! Well, you have. Next step: The cognitive behavioral stuff operationalizes and how to's the self help stuff. Ha! Dr. Irene, I got the Albert Ellis book. Looks good-plan on reading it some tomorrow as I have a day off! Think more in terms of studying and applying (practicing) the contents of this book over and over and over. You want to over-learn this stuff in many different situations so that it eventually becomes second nature. Want to read the chapter called "feels like love but is it?" and also about changing one's thinking. A friend of mine pointed out that I should make decisions with my head, not my heart. Correct. Novel idea. I really didn't know this. Practice, practice, practice! Being a strong INFP, feeler type, I've been letting my heart rule. Well, now you get to exercise the muscles in the other, neglected part of your personality. When these muscles get stronger, you'll be more well-rounded. Ambidextrous, kind of! I thought love was supposed to conquer all. Well, I guess that depends on whether or not you consider his actions (all of them, the sum total) loving. Guess it is time to be more cerebral. I just wish this pain in my heart would get out of the way - it seems unbearable. That's why I'm hypothesizing depression Susan, and why I suggest you check it out, at least during this tough time. Even if you're just reacting to the situational stress, crying and pain in the heart signal depression. Susan
Susan. It's George Here, from England. I am a guy and I have suffered abuse. The subtle kind and the full on violent kind. I have learned this lesson. The most important person on this planet is me. Not in any selfish way, but because I am no good to anyone if I am not good to myself. That applies to you too! Your guy may need the time away from you also. If you are not there to make excuses for him maybe reality will find him! If it does, you can always get back together later. If not, then you will find yourself again. What ever happens I wish you and your guy every chance in the world to be happy and together in yourselves. Ah, George from Man2Man, no doubt! Man2Man is a wonderful site dedicated to helping abused guys. I've linked to them.
Thanks Susan and Dr. Irene. After reading your story and the posts I could only add, same song, second verse. My marriage ended almost 2 years ago after 31 years of marriage. I could relate to many of the feelings--confusion, exhaustion, attraction, connection, depression, sadness, anger, hope, loneliness, repulsion, guilt and finally a dying spirit. I have described my feelings as being a part of the children's toy--a rubber ball attached to the wooden paddle by an elastic cord. I was the ball. And at times I wanted to be close to that wooden paddle. But just when I did that--physically and/or emotionally--I would be hit by the paddle and thus would end up very far away from the paddle. Yet, the elastic cord did not allow be to actually free myself from the paddle. So for many years I came back to the paddle often feeling all those same feelings in the process--attraction, anger, repulsion, sadness, hope, guilt, etc. But each time, with time, I was once again batted away by the paddle. And each time the emotional pain began again and continued. Finally I was able to free myself from the paddle long enough to begin to figure out what was happening. And then, as I describe it, I took out my scissors and cut the cord. I had never really felt that was an option for me. I was able to stop my own pain. :) And the good new is--THE PAIN DOES END. Someone famous has asked the question, "Why does this happen?" But that same person said the real question we should be asking ourselves is, "How does this happen?" That way WE are the ones with the power to analyze our situation and TAKE action when needed. I grew up with an angry, work-a-holic Dad and a bipolar mother. Emotional landmines were detonated frequently in my childhood. Both of my parents had no fathers in their households as children. One father died in a probable alcoholic related accident. The other left the family for another woman. I was the middle child and the only girl in the family. So I had a head start on the caretaking role in our family. My strengths and interest lay in this area so I became a nurse. I entered my marriage trusting, caring and hoping to create a great family and possible contribute something worthwhile to this world. But after so many years of busyness with work, family and some volunteer activities I found myself just trying to keep myself on balance. For a long time there were those strange feelings that things were not quite right (as Patricia Evans writes of), but I could not really put my finger on it. I knew my husband had a anger problem, was controlling with many areas of our life--children, money, etc., but it took me a very long time to be able to piece it all together. At my request we went to several counselors. He went to 2 anger management specialists that were recommended. We went to separate counseling. I talked with him. I tried to reason with him--giving him examples of his behaviors that caused me & our children so much pain. I begged and cried to him. But none of that really ever helped. The temper tantrums, road rage, name calling, over spending, humiliation, verbal abuse, emotional abuse and psychological abuse just continued. Finally I took the last child at home and moved out. Later he moved out at my asking and we returned to the home. Shortly after that he filed for divorce without every talking with me about divorcing. And a few weeks later I counter filed.
The indescribable peace that I had was indeed a true blessing. I felt that I had more peace than I had ever had in my entire lifetime. A few days before the divorce was final he proposed a reconciliation. But I did not contact him at all. I had finally cut myself free of the paddle and I did not want to consider reconciliation. My kids have been very supportive. One said, "Mom, he never showed you any respect." Another said, "Mom, I moved far away after I finished school. And I told myself, no more years and no more tears about the relationship with my father." And, "Why do you have to live under a sentence? Why do you stay?" The youngest one wrote me a thank you letter for "taking me out of the torture." That teen now sings around the house and is free to be their selves. And my life is ever so good. I have sought help from a codependent counselor and some group counseling with my children. I have been helped greatly by a Domestic Violence counselor who is free through the YWCA in a nearby city. They also have free support groups at the Y. I have gone to AlAnon for almost 2 years and found tremendous help there. No, my X was not an alcoholic and did not physically abuse us. But his characteristics were that of a "dry drunk" and I definitely was a codependent in our relationship. A friend who has come through a similar situation told me about the "no contact" rule. I have tried having no contact or as little as possible with my X and that has worked very well for me. At times over the last 10 years of our marriage I told myself that if I ever got strong enough I would leave and not look back. And it took me about 10 years to get strong enough. I tried to leave twice before and each time discussed my unhappiness and plans with by X. The DV counselor told me the average number of times a woman leaves before leaving for good is 7. We all want it to work so-o-o-o badly. And now, I have happiness in my life. My worries of not being able to care for myself have proved false. I have plenty of friends, plenty of hope, enough money and am learning to put into my life just what I need. Susan, I wish you strength in the days ahead. Our journeys my be varied, but we all deserve to be treated with respect. Peace, Love and Joy to you, Suzanne And Peace, Love and Joy to you too...
One other question: how do we tell the children that he is moving out? Susan You stop covering up for him and give them an age-appropriate version of the truth.
My story comes in two-and-a-half parts. First, the breaking up the family problem: My husband was not abusive, but he was not healthy either. Long story short, he was diagnosed as depressed and with OCD, was supposed to be in therapy and was on various meds. Lost jobs and opportunities. I was home with two young children, scared because I had never really worked after graduate school, trying to help him establish himself in a law practice. He attempted suicide, then began drinking heavily and who knows what else. Stopped therapy because he didn't have time and money was tight. Thought meds would take care of the problem. Money was disappearing, I couldn't pay bills, never knew what was going to happen. My life was a mess because I had no control over him (though I tried) and because I felt so vulnerable (no job, no money of my own, two very young children).
My father was an alcoholic and I had vowed never to raise children in such an atmosphere. But still, I didn't know what to do. For months, I agonized, talked to counselors, the pediatrician, a few very close friends. I decided to get out when bill collectors began calling because he had not paid bills related to his problems, which he had said he would take care of (I wanted some acknowledgment that HE took responsibility for HIS actions.)
I also began to build a network of support among my friends. I have always been a very private person and it was difficult for me to tell people what was happening (the alcoholism in my family of origin was always a big secret). But I knew that I had to get beyond my own fears and my pride for the sake of my children. One of my other promises to myself during my childhood was that I would never allow my children to be isolated within family problems. They needed to know that there were adults they could turn to, who cared about them, and who would not judge them or their family when they needed help.
I remember what my pediatrician, who divorced after 30 years of marriage, told me: "I see many children whose parents are divorced and many children whose parents stay together but don't get along, and I can truly say, the ones who have trouble are the ones whose parents don't get along. It doesn't matter so much whether they are in the same house or not. If the parents hate each other and they fight, the children will have problems. I know it's hard, but try to be kind. And the greatest gift you can give your children is to go in to them and say, 'I know you miss your dad, and that's okay, and if you want to talk about it, I'm here.'"
That conversation helped cement my decision to leave. I began working and saving money. Six months later (a little earlier than I had planned) he was out.
I have never regretted my decision. And the effect on my children was almost immediate. He moved out on Sunday. On Monday, I told the children's teachers, asking them to keep a special eye on the children. Within a couple of weeks, both children's teachers came to me unbidden and said that the children were much more relaxed and, YES, happier, than they had been. I know they miss having their father here and if I could, I would change history so that we could be a happy family. But the truth is, we didn't have a storybook life. Their father is still behaving completely irresponsibly. They don't really know that yet, and I hope that one day they will understand. It is very difficult not to say anything bad about their father, but I keep the pediatrician's admonition to "be kind" in my mind and try to put my children's needs to have good times with both parents above my own frustration at his continued problems.
Second part: After living with this emotionally-disturbed man for 15 years (14 married), I managed to jump into a relationship with an abusive man, which lasted for five years. Stupid, I know -- but I was starved for love and attention, overwhelmed, and thought I'd found my soulmate. Of course, at first, he wasn't so abusive towards me and I ignored or dismissed the signs that he would become so. By the time the relationship became intolerable, I was so emotionally raw that the thought of ending the relationship brought too much pain and fear.
We did break up (as he kept throwing in my face later, I broke up with him; he had not broken up with me and therefore, the relationship wasn't over -- from his perverse perspective). This was before I knew anything about abusive relationships and their cyclical nature.
Well, he almost had a nervous breakdown, was calling me apologizing, began therapy . . . . The last was important to me, because he is Latin American and I thought that for a man from his culture to admit that he had problems with anger and control and to go into therapy meant that he was really serious about working on the relationship. He started to talk to me about what he was learning and how he was trying to change his behavior. I got suckered back in.
The first time I broke up with him, I still had a modicum of self-respect left. By the time we went through round two and I'd wasted another year and a half, I had none. It was only when his behavior became so disturbed that I worried for my children's and my safety that I began to search for help. I finally left, with the help of this site and a few friends that again, I reached out to.
Don't go backwards!!!!
If your husband is going to change, he will change. After he changes, you might be able to have a relationship with him, if you still want to. But real change takes time and effort. It is extremely difficult and painful. (I know; I'm in therapy now to work on my codependencies and other issues.)
In the meantime, you have your own future to think about and the futures of your children.
Don't get sucked back in, as I did and find yourself in a worse place.
The one good thing that I did was not involve my children in this relationship. However, because so much of my emotional and mental energy was taken up by coping with his outbursts, I could never be there for my kids.
The half-story: I have now been completely out of the abusive relationship for several months. My son (now 11) was having a lot of trouble in school. I coped with that on my own (ex-h and bf were no help), arranging for testing, medication, and therapy. (He has sensory integration disorder which manifests itself in ADD, perceptual and coordination difficulties, and nervousness/OCD.) He is now identified as mainstreamed special ed and has an IEP and requires a lot of time on my part.
For the first time in almost 20 years, I am dealing only with MY problems and MY children's -- and the effect on life in general has been astoundingly positive. I have energy again to do even simple things like pay bills on time. When my children talk, I actually have the energy to listen and respond without wishing they would leave me alone. Life is not one crisis after another; it is actually pleasant. The children are doing very very well. In fact, as friends have pointed out to me: THEY ARE VERY HAPPY. Much happier than when the four of us were together as "family" and much happier than when they had a mother who was sad and upset all the time, even though she tried to hide it.
My daughter (8) was just talking tonight about missing her father. I wish I could make the world perfect for her, but I can't. It was the right decision. Now she will grow up knowing that there are times when you must leave, for your own sake and for your children's, and she does not have to sacrifice her life for some imagined life that doesn't exist. She loves her father, but she tells me she wants to grow up to be just like me. Now that's a compliment! And a huge responsibility, too.
Finally, telling your kids: This worked very well for us. I insisted that ex-h find a place to live without involving the children. He did. On the day he was set to move, we sat the kids down and told them that there were times when parents didn't get along and they needed to live apart. Son started crying thinking he was going to have to leave his room, but stopped when he realized that he wasn't moving. Daughter cried and was unhappy. We promised that their lives would change as little as possible, that they would still see their father regularly (they actually see him more than they used to), that they could call him anytime they wanted. Then he took them with a few things to show them the apt. He moved his clothing and personal belongings a couple of weeks later, and I kept the kids away from the house so that they would not have to witness that. This seemed to work pretty well for us. Thank you...
Susan, thank you, although my situation is different the emotional abuse is the same the Jekyl/Hide personality, I have put him out of the house for 2 months and he returned with the condition to get help, go to the Dr., get med etc.. It's been 2 mo. He did go to the Dr. but never went to follow up therapy, he is acting up again, and just about 20 min. ago we had a blow out, I told him I will change the locks and he needs to go. I am glad I came to Dr. Irene's page and came across your story, I feel just like that: guilty and wishing for the family to stay intact, but I just realized (by reading Dr.'s response to you) that I am the one doing must of the changes. I stopped drinking and popping pain killers. Yippeee! I need to join a support group, and will tomorrow go to a co-dependent meeting, I am desperate!!! He is killing me!! He still doing his drug smoking every day!! Spends money on everything he desires etc.. At least I learned to say "no" when he came to ask me to go and buy a new vehicle for him!! ( mine is paid off) Like you I had enough. I just don't know if I can pull it off, but I will try. Please answer and let me know if you or somebody read this I feel so alone!! You're not alone...
Making ultimatums and sticking by them is very difficult. We soooooo much want to believe that this guy that we have stuck by for all those years will pull it together and actually do what he promises. We live by a different code, because we live in a different reality. We take care of others, put their needs before ours, and stuff a lot of frustration or anger in the process. Look at what we do as parents. To be able to be patient with our children, we have to learn not to get angry every time they make a mess. On the other hand, we also expect reciprocity from our partners. Give and take. It may not always work out evenly, but over all, every one takes care of each other. Right? That's what we hope for.
But these guys... Correction: not just guys. Many of these people are gals! they don't share our reality. We don't understand theirs', and they don't understand ours! It's more than a Mars vs. Venus thing. Yes. It's a toxic, parasitic relationship. Correct. So, while we are hoping they'll get up on their own feet and start taking care of themselves, they like things that way! And the KNOW that if they push too hard, we WILL follow through...at least for awhile. Yes.
So, they buy themselves time...with promises of change, counseling, quitting drugs or alcohol. They get us to question our own perceptions and feelings, and in the process, buy themselves more time. If the promises are starting to not work, they'll switch tactics. They'll start doing "nice" acts. THIS IS NOT THE SAME AS BEING NICE AND CARING!!! But, boy, they sure hope we'll think so! It's a CON. It's NOT REAL. Sometimes it's a con, sometimes it's not. Your stbx sounds as though he was conning you. The bottom line is that no matter how much - at the moment - these individuals promise to follow through, they simply don't have the emotional and cognitive skills to do so. They can't.
Because we love them, and want to believe that they love us and really wouldn't hurt us on purpose, we are vulnerable to being conned. They do what they KNOW will get us to reconsider. Susan, that's why your h is being so nice now. Do you REALLY want to live holding an ax over his head? Is it in any way possible for him to be responsible and accountable without the ax? If not, then he's in survival mode..."do ANYTHING to keep her from kicking me out!" Doesn't matter if it's a con or not. Bottom line, it's not possible.
These guys don't need to get us to change our minds. They only need to get us to question our own decisions and feelings. Once they get us to that point, they know that as long as we are confused, they win. They get to stay and keep on doing the same old stuff.
This is why your friends are suggesting you make decisions with your head. He pulls at your heart strings, knowing that's your weakness. Remember when you were a kid? Didn't you know which aunt or uncle was likely to buy you that candy or ice cream? And you would bend over BACKWARDS to be good, hoping that they would? When you can detach, and see reality with 20/20 vision, you can see the con. You can see the games and manipulations. As long as you WANT him to be nice, and pray that he WILL be nice, and base all of your decisions on whether is being nice NOW...he will always have a hook into you. You will never be able to stand firm on any ultimatums that you give.
If, on the other hand, you look back over the past 24 years, and evaluate his ACTIONS...what has he ACTUALLY delivered? Has he ever truly changed and gotten better? Has he slowly gotten worse over the years? Have you thought that as he got to know you better he would learn to trust you, only to still not be trusted? What promises has he ACTUALLY KEPT? :)
THAT is the best predictor of the future...if he has a history of actually valuing respectful behavior, then, yes, give him a chance. If, on the other hand, disrespectful behavior is basically how he's ever been for most of the marriage, why on earth should you believe him now?
If your boss at work treated you the way he does, would you stay? If your son's teachers treated him the way your h does, would you complain to the principal, or maybe ask for a new teacher? I don't think you would tolerate this level of disrespect from any one! Yet, you have LIVED with it for 24 years. You deserve better. Your children deserve security and a life free from emotional cruelty (yes, the bad dog tone is cruel to a child). YOU deserve peace, and freedom to be your self.
Start a journal about all of the things your h says or does. Note your feelings in response to those things (good and bad). If you don't notice any feelings, think about what one SHOULD feel. Ask yourself if he adds to your day, or subtracts from it. When I did this, in a two week time I only had one neutral day. Not a single positive day. The rest were all negative. These guys and gals suck our spirits dry. They use all of our energy making us be hyper about what mood they'll be in, or the dance we all go through to keep the kids quiet so he won't get mad. You will be AMAZED at how long your list is for each day. Hopefully, it will increase your awareness at some of the subtle ways he is hurting you without you seeing it now.
Also, make a list of all the good things he's done for you in your marriage. And, of course, the list of hurts. I'll bet the list of hurts is much longer.
This is how you learn to detach your heart from his words. You look at the words and the his history of actions.
I send you inner strength, and 20/20 vision...
Rocky Go Rocky Go! Good advice.
Susan Don't beat yourself up on the fact that you thought you were ready to go ahead with the legal stuff and are now having second thoughts. Due to the pain and hurt that you go through when you are with VA - it is obvious that you will waiver over whether you are doing the right thing or not, because you have been taught to doubt yourself and to feel the guilt. This is really hard and you will only do it when your head has decided to take over from the pain that your heart wants to go away. When people are hurting, it is quite natural to believe anything just to make the pain go away. I also know that depression - even mild depression - makes people think irrationally and much more susceptible to false hope. I have spent the last few weeks going over and over whether my marriage has any chance of being a success, and I have been completely overwhelmed by depression due to one crisis after another all of which are coming at me at a particular stressful time in my academic life - all of which are unconsciously designed to keep me off balance so that I simply cannot get my head around to making that decision.
When I was more rational I knew the answer was to separate because that will be the only way I and my children can gain some peace and freedom to be the people we really are and not the people my husband needs us to be. I have been married twice for a total of 22 years and have 5 children. My eldest acted out against the grief of living in a dysfunctional family and left home at 16, my eldest daughter left last week - although under much better circumstances so that we can continue to have a relationship. I noticed that when things do not go my husband's way - he simply discounts or ignores them until they fall into line or that they run away. I accept that I am not mentally strong enough to make the final break at the moment but I know that I will for two reasons. One for my sanity and health because living like this is not only killing me mentally but is also having serious repercussions on my physical health. Only last Friday the idea of just getting up and walking away on a permanent basis seemed perfectly acceptable except that I could not live the kids to him as more pain will come for them when they are older and try to be who they are and are found wanting. The second reason is for my kids - already I see signs that my youngest daughter who is only 7 is trying to assert herself and is feeling powerless against her father. I guess it was seeing that, that finally made me aware that this isn't just affecting me anymore and has always affected the kids as well.
Needless to say, I totally relate to what you are going through at the moment - be strong and do what you need to do for you - if he is going to change he will do so with or without you - he can only do it for himself and there is nothing you can do one way or the other that will alter that. I do know that he will never change if he doesn't want to - even if that means losing you. That is his choice and at some point he may see that there are consequences to his actions. You are already paying for you choices - question is do you think you deserve better than this - when you know the answer to that question you will know what you want to do. Love and many hugs Thank you.
Dear Susan, It is still embarrassing for me to admit this, but twice I have been conned by my abusive brother. The first time he was in prison, my parents and I were conned by the apologies, good behavior, sweet talk---and then he got out. Some years later, our father died and two months later my brother was in prison again. I didn't contact him for two years, then our mother died. A month before she died, I made a trip to see him. After she died, I made a visit to settle the estate. It was emotional time and I got hooked again. I believe some of it was sincere on his part, but believe me, abusers are always looking for opportunities. I didn't entirely trust him, but I fell into believing most of the con and let him move in with me when he was released from prison. Almost immediately, I realized what a serious mistake I had made. They sound so sincere, so reasonable, so nice, so sensitive, when they need something from you. Please be careful. Sis
Thank you, Thank you all! Thanks for all the wishes for peace and joy and "inner strength and 20/20 vision". I can't tell you how supported I feel to be able to come home after a long day at work and see all of your passionate writing! I must, of course respond to the person who said they felt "so alone"; please know that you are not alone! As you can see by this site, there are so many others in your shoes, working through this. Take heart! We are going to make it! I get a big kick out of your comments around our writing, Dr. Irene, made me laugh today! You really hit the nail on the head! I got a laugh out of "use your brain"-duh! I love it! :) I can't tell you what a lifesaver this has been-really helped me get some clarity when things were getting all murky and confused. I am going to work with "using my brain", keeping my eyes open, and practicing the Albert Ellis stuff. :) Ah, yes... Reason: My adorable kitty, The Pumkin (sorry Trubble) has feelings. He sulked for days when we temporarily brought home two parakeets and left them in another room. For God's sake, this cat is with us 24/7, is constantly fawned over, sleeps with us, etc. You think he'd know enough not to feel threatened... Our unique ability to reason is what separates us from animals... Hopefully I can get in to see a therapist soon and will check out resources for the kids also. The depression thing, I don't know, I really have a lot of joy in life. I know that is kind of hard to tell here, with me whining about my problems, but usually, I'm a happy person. Before I got sober, I used to be depressed-but I didn't think that was an issue anymore-I mean I am grieving my situation right now-but it is natural to grieve the loss of a marriage right? Absolutely! Loss of a life-style, your daily routine, everything! I'll check it out though-with 2 bipolar siblings I certainly have the family history for it, and I have always had depressive tendencies, if I did not take care of myself. Appreciate, so much, everyone sharing their experiences. Also thanks for advice on kids. I really needed this. This has helped me so much-I think I can stay firm, at least for today! I keep on getting shaky and than I come and read your posts and feel stronger again! Thanks! Susan One day at a time...
Hi Susan, I am you when I was reading your post. The best advice I got so far, consistently is-Look at their actions, not their words. I am in my second separation now from my husband. He promised me the moon. He is already showing me the red flags. I am going to the counselor today and hope to end this. I say hope to because I want to, but I may have some doubt that creeps upon me and make me say. "Is he going to change this time?" I am praying to god that I maintain the courage.
Ok, Dr. Irene, you are right. My stbx was conning me. Also, you are quite correct, gals con and abuse too. I guess I'm just not always totally "global" in my thinking. Still a lot of anger there, and of course, most of us on this board are women. And, of course you are also quite correct in that some men may indeed be very serious about wanting to change, but don't have the inner skills and strength to persevere. It's very sad. Yes. Still, their weakness is up to them to work on, if they want to. Yes. Since it does take so very long to complete work like that, I don't think it's reasonable to stay in such an intense relationship while they do it. This is a personal decision. It wouldn't have worked for me.
And, most definitely, NOTHING in this world could get me to even CONSIDER changing my mind about my divorce.
It took me a loooooong time to figure everything out. Even when I was less than a month from actually leaving (and I was aggressively working on my leaving plan at that point), people would say he was manipulative, and I would tend to say, "no, not really". I would defend him (denial is so wonderful sometimes, it helps us cope until we are really ready to see reality Yes! ). I then went home, and started watching him. CLOSELY. I watched as he was calm, then, suddenly exploded at the girls. As they went scampering to do his bidding, I saw something I had never seen before...he smiled! They were TERRIFIED of his wrath, and he was smiling!
I GOT IT!!! Ouchhh...
The more I watched for the smirk, the more I saw it. That was the value of journaling. The more I made myself look, the more I saw very subtle things I had never seen before. This intentional yelling was something I had never before realized he did. I had always chalked it up to stress, or tiredness, or whatever.
This more than anything convinced me he did not have any of our best interests at heart. He liked the power rush he got when he barked orders and watched them be obeyed in fear. A counselor called him a bully. That was a light bulb moment. I just had never even seen the intent to control behind any of his actions before. Probably the only sense of power he had. How sad...
Susan, and everyone else who's struggling right now...give your self permission to have days when you aren't as strong. As long as you are working on the journal, and figuring out his history of actions, you will slowly find yourself coming out of denial, and seeing the real him/her.
For many (myself included) there was tremendous grief during this time. More than anything this was not how I wanted my marriage to be...breaking up. More than anything I wanted him to be loving. I had to grieve the death of my dream for a better marriage, and grieve the loss of what I thought I did have. It hurt as much as when I lost my parents. It takes a lot of time to work through this part. I did most of it before I left. I think that leaves you in a stronger position when you can.
It wasn't my fault he was abusive, and I couldn't fix him. He's a grown man, and if he wants a healthy life, he's the one that has to do the work for that. Since it takes years, I realized this was one challenge I just wasn't up for. I was not willing to put my children through any more fearful days with him. And, he was indeed being quite abusive to my oldest. To stay would have been to condone abuse in my daughter's eyes. She quite eloquently summarized the whole thing about a month after we left "I'm 9 years old. Almost my whole life I've been being yelled at. IT'S NOT FAIR!!" And it wasn't. Not fair...
I logged onto this site multiple times a day. Whenever I started feeling anxious, I would come and read all the posts. If there weren't any new ones, I would re-read them again!. Posting on the yak or catbox always brought me tons of support and wise advice. I would have lost my sanity without the people on this board (thank you SOOOOO MUCH Dr. Irene!). Thank you soooooo much my wise board administrator. Pay-back ain't always a b**ch! Giggle!
Give yourself space for your feelings. They will be all mixed up for awhile. If you feel sad, just feel sad. Don't try to distract yourself from your feelings (like by watching a movie, or even with alcohol). Just let yourself feel all that you can. You will be amazed at how much you can reconnect to feelings that you have "lost". Like appropriate anger. Yes.
I'm still reconnecting. I really didn't realize how much of myself had disappeared over the years...little things I gave up, to avoid another rage. Buying fresh flowers (he would never wash the vases, and would rage at me if I didn't wash them right away). I slowly stopped buying flowers. Food I liked, music I enjoyed...he would make critical comments about them (not about me, but still, a part of me would feel "squished" by them). I'm still finding things I forgot I used to like!
This is part of your future. This is what you have to look forward to. But first...you have to be able to see him as he IS...unwilling or unable to do the work he needs to do to take care of himself in a healthy way. Once you can accept this, detachment is so much easier.
It does take lots of practice. I wise lady once said that true detachment is being able to be in the same room and it not have any effect on you at all. Well, I'm not that well along. I still prefer no contact, or, safe contact (like he calls to talk to the girls and I just say "hang on, here they are" and hand them the phone. I am getting stronger, but I am still learning.
Good luck in your adventure! You will see and learn much in the coming months. And on those days when you are stressed beyond belief, and question your sanity or your choices...we will always be here for you!!!
Lots of hugs, and now, sending you a calm spirit and a clear head. Doesn't Rocky send the coolest stuff?
Dear Susan, I've been married for 22 years, and separated for 3 weeks. 2 years ago our marriage suffered a major blow during a crisis where my husband deceived me, lied to me and about me and took from me what I would have gladly given him, if he had asked. That was the first betrayal, but enough to shake the very foundations of my life as I knew it. The worse betrayal was to come though. He refused to take ANY responsibility for what he had done and used a hundred different (what I know now as) tactics to avoid doing so. Denial, minimizing, blaming, guilt laying, withholding of affection and love, insincere apologies followed by broken promises followed by righteous justifications for his actions and a constant stream of subtle passive aggressive acts. All the while claiming he wants our marriage "to just go on". This was the worse betrayal because while the first broke the spirit of our marriage this broke MY spirit. We went to counseling but he was there without being there, and each time the therapist Finally saw the true picture, he was out of there. I tried for 2 years to reason with someone who was not able to reason, because he cannot or will not look any farther than meeting his own needs. Anyway, I am also a nurse, a rescuer, a fixer, conflict avoider, problem solver etc.
It has been very HARD for me to accept what I feel has been the loose/loose situation I've been presented with - either join him in his version of what happened and remain under his tight control (stuff the pain of this incident, figure out what he needs and give it to him so he doesn't have to ask, since he hasn't asked for anything, never expect any acknowledgement or appreciation for it (he might give it if he feels like it - just don't expect it) and most importantly, Never, never notice anything wrong.) Or the other choice - feel the pain of having to responsibility to end things, while he accepts none of it. I know for me my problem was I had give away all my trust in myself. The self doubt, the fear, the confusion kept me trapped these 2 years. I would not let anyone I loved be treated the way I let myself in the hopes that he would "get it".
One therapist asked me why if he won't accept his responsibility for his own actions, do I feel a need to bend down and pick them up and carry them for him? It really was a very good question and at the time I wanted to argue that I wasn't picking them up, he was hanging them on me when I wasn't looking. But now I see that even if I spent all my time insisting he pick up his own "stuff", I cannot make him. I am responsible for not standing close enough to allow him to hang it on me when I am not looking, now that I know his track record. My real reason for writing though is to share with you that in these 3 weeks I have had many emotions, but the one that I am holding to most tightly is a glimmer of self respect for facing the pain. The FEAR of the pain of accepting the end of the relationship, of giving up, of being "the one" to end it was much worse than the actual pain of it all. My husband, I believe, is waiting for me "to come to my senses". He does not understand that I have. Good luck Susan, I wish you strength enough to take the first step to finding the rest of your strength which lies inside. C.A Thank you...
Wish I had more time to write-so many thoughts. I am writing this while my little one is in the bath. Main thought is -Rocky, I wish I had your conviction. Anger would be a good thing for me right now, it is just not there, only this horrible wrenching grief. I hope that it will come. Check that depression and give yourSelf time... Grief is part of the process... I feel like I am just stepping out blindly, against everything my heart is shrieking at me. Impose reason! I am trying not to listen to it. I guess from what you say, the grief is normal. Yes. I wish that I could feel unshakably convinced that what I am doing is right. This conviction often does not occur yet... He went to a new therapist yesterday and asked me to come with him today to this therapist as he had an opening. I did go but said that I was not attempting a reconciliation. My husband said afterwards, well at least we got clear on that. I wish I really was so clear as I sounded. It is so hard not to take it all back. I never was one for pain-god this hurts. Got to go-she is out of the tub-thanks for being there you guys. Susan Susan, let him know you love him, but also let him know you love yourSelf. Tell him how perhaps one day there will be a life together: after he gets himSelf together...
This is C.A., the one in the three week separation. I'm writing this as much for myself as for you. My husband just left. He had come over to fix our sons fish tank (filter had stopped working) We sat on the couch & talked and he was very sweet and before long we were kissing and I could feel my willpower going right down the tubes. You know what? so could he. He said "I guess I should go...that is unless you want to ask me to stay..." I didn't answer but in my heart I was just like you, I wanted him to stay more than anything, and tell him so, and run right up those stairs to the bedroom with him. But I know he is offering me nothing more than what he chooses to offer me and that is why we are separated - My head knows this beyond the shadow of a doubt now. But it's my heart that wants to do the talking. And in the past I let it and I was deeply disappointed each time, and my self worth chipped away more. :( Anyway, after a minute he said "I can stay you know... or do you want me to come back? I can come back. Do you want me to? Or should I just go?" It took ALL my willpower to not answer at all, and then he sighed & said "I guess I'll go then." and I said OK. And he left. I know this is as much my fault as his for sitting on the couch, but I am lonely and I miss him so much. My head knows I've had enough pain and I don't miss that and that's what I'd get, but it's my foolish heart that wants to do the thinking and the talking and the hoping and believing, even in the light of the past. My head heard though that he wants ME to ask HIM to stay while he offers nothing different, and if I don't ask him I end up feeling guilty and responsible. (so easy for me to do too.) Anyway I think I better take a cold shower and go for a walk or scrub a floor or something and tell myself not to sit on the couch with him anymore. I also wanted to tell you some alcoholics anonymous slogans that have kept me focused many times.
1."If you do what you did, you'll get what you got"
2."The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result each time" (I've been insane for 2 years.)
Thanks Dr. Irene for having this board, it has given me so much insight into myself. Susan I wish you strength to do the hard stuff, to allow others to think of you as "the bad guy" if they choose to (just know in YOUR heart, the truth.) C.A. Thanks C.A.
Dear Susan, You are going through the same horrible stuff that I am going through right now. I have 2 kids, one is special needs, and a husband who is emotionally abusive, very manipulative and passive aggressive. Today he went to his first therapy session with a new therapist, and I went in to, and read a letter to him I had
Woops! He walked in to the room and I quick pushed submit. I read the letter that told him that I wanted a legal separation from him. Cried, but I got through it. Then I left him to talk to the therapist. He is home now and out on the deck drinking beer and told me that we will talk tonight, in a threatening tone. His favorite form of abuse is withholding and giving me the silent treatment, so it is new for him to say we will talk. I am in pretty good shape right now, I am out of my denial and understand the wishful thinking that gets me in so much trouble. I have my own therapist that has really helped me to understand that I have the right to be treated with respect. I do not expect good behaviors towards me and will settle for very little. My husband would give me a tiny dose of affection every once in a while and that was enough to keep me hooked in. I love all the response that this section is getting!! Karyn
Boy, C.A., can I ever relate! It is sooo hard to stay off that couch when they are being sweet You are right on with the AA slogans. I have been thinking lately how much of a sense of deja vu I have been having-this is so much like my struggles with addiction and early sobriety. I had such a hard time with denial and it took me so long to let go. I know that if I were to reunite with my husband, it would provide immediate relief from the pain I am feeling right now. During the good times I felt very good and happy. But just like with drugs and alcohol, the relief would be only temporary and than the pain would begin again. So, though I feel that I love him intensely, it looks like this is an addiction also. Exactly. Karyn, I, like you, was willing to settle for any little scrap he gave me-I figured it was better than nothing. The little crumbs he gave me were what kept me hooked, I was so starved, I didn't realize how pathetically small they were, i was just thrilled to get them. Thank God for Dr Irene and this site-I don't think I would have made it this far without this, this has been so supportive, validating, and given me a lot of insight. More than that, it has really been a lifeline. Susan Susan, thank you for the thanks, but, trust me, if this site were not around, you would have found another medium. You were ready, you were looking for support, you would have found it... Glad we were able to be here for you.
Karyn here, We did not talk last night, he got involved in the Star Wars rerun, I guess that was more important that the impending separation. This AM we did have a long talk, he actually sat down through most of it, and made some eye contact with me. He wants us to work on the marriage and wants to make love to me---Oh Joy!! He said that if I do not want to go to therapy with him and work on the marriage, then he has no interest in working on himself, I think that is a bad sign. He said that he is happy with his life as it is, we have a beautiful home and property and he has lots of freedom. Oh yea, he does not want to get a job, because if would be too confining for him. I need help, I feel I should follow through, but then I do not want the pain of tearing up the family and I know it will get ugly. You need help.
Karyn, I think you are right, that is a totally bad sign. Mine has always been willing to go to therapy as long as it was "couples counseling" and he could divert from the real issues. As soon as a therapist gets down to the core problems and he might have to start dealing with himself and his abusiveness and his insecurities, he loses interest real fast. Like Patricia Evans says, as long as we allow the status quo for them, why should they want to change anything? they are actually happy with the way things are, as yours told you. I found this to be a major revelation when I read her book. I had thought that he was as miserable and wanting change as much as I was. I was amazed to find that their goals are actually different than ours. I still find it hard to believe, because I don't understand their goals of power and control, I really don't get it. Okay so here are the thoughts that keep rolling around relentlessly in my head. One is the father thing. I am so hooked by the fact that this man is the father of my children. nothing can replace that. I have valued his fathering of our children so much, I suppose, because i did not have a father involved in my life. He as been an involved father. He spends time with the children, brushes their hair, buys them clothes, shows them affection, takes them places. I value that so much. I love to just watch him with the kids sometimes. No one else will love these children the way we do. The other, sort of sick thing that keeps popping up because I know that friends don't treat each other the way he has treated me), is that he has been my only real friend. The only one that has known me all these last 24 years, knows everything about me. I have had other friends, but not for that length of time and proximity. Of course i haven't had too much energy left for other friendships and the isolating factor was surely going on too. So, i am just sharing my craziness here, so I can get it out, hopefully see it for what it is and keep moving onward. I feel in a very precarious time right now, with him still in the house-the reality of separation, I can't even hardly say divorce, not concrete yet. The women's shelter left a message on my voice mail today re an appt being open. I hope they can guide me through this, I can't do this alone, I realize this now. That is why this site has helped so much. Thanks all. Susan This is a precarious time, very much so. This is a very, very emotionally difficult time...
Hi Susan, I can relate to how hard separating from the father of your children must be, my husband has not been there emotionally for the kids and does not take them many places, but he is a homebody when he is home, and the kids really love him, of course. He is verbally abusive to my daughter and she is aware of that, he is supper nice to my son and lets him get away with pretty much anything. Luckily, he is still a good kid. (My influence, right?) I have only two or three good friends here and several in other states that I do not see often, I am grateful for that, there is something about the isolation that happens in dysfunctional families, I do not understand it really, but I know that with alcoholism there is isolation and the keeping of family secrets. We are pretty isolated, we live out in the country, I love it, but I think that after the separation ( I am trying to think in that direction too), that I would like to move into town, to be closer to more people. My husband is being so nice to me right now, and everything that he does or sees helps me see more clearly how he really is. That is because the new behavior seems so foreign. I am amazed, yesterday he brought me a bowl of popcorn while I was reading, and this morning he told me how smart I was that I had purchased a certain product. It is hard to keep a straight face, but it really hits home as to how little of this I have had in the past 26 years. My daughter is even aware, so far, but he may win her over. My biggest fear is that the kids will hate me for doing this and dividing our family. I have realized there is no perfect time to do this, and that my fears have keep me from stepping out there, it is just something that I have to do, for myself, to save myself.
I looked at a house for sale today and it did have a nice feel to it. It would be so hard for me to leave the beautiful property in the country that we have been living on to move into town, it did have a nice yard and deck where I could sit and work on my recovery. My H and I have been talking about separation and ways to divide everything. He is being very calm and helpful about this, no anger, seems too calm. I talked to the therapist today and we are planning to all go in separately for counseling, me, him and the two kids. She said that this honeymoon period could last about 3-4 months and then i should see some change or know that nothing will change. I have been feeling really yucky and low esteem for the past couple of days, I am not sure why, maybe because he is being nice to me and that is so strange and then I don't know how to respond, also it makes me feel sick when he is nice. Karyn
Karyn, you say you feel sick when he is nice to you. Is that because you are waiting for the other shoe to drop? Or because it makes it harder to set your boundaries? I know that, for me, when my husband was nice to me, I would simply go completely in to denial and forget that he was ever anything but nice. I would get so happy and life would seem so good life really is good without that unrelenting negativity. It would be such a relief when it would let up. Right now, I wish that my husband wasn't being nice because it makes it so much harder to set my boundaries and get the separation that I need. Which, I suppose, is the whole idea. Yes. He is definitely not an idiot. It's up to you not to fall for it. As one poster said above, "Actions speak LOUDER than words." Actions over time. Consistent actions. Remember that. If he would just be more of a jerk now, it would be so much easier. But, like your therapist said, this "honeymoon period" could go on for 3,4 more months. Mine made it for 7 months after i filed for divorce a year and a half ago. May 15 is 2 weeks away and I don't see him moving yet. He is going to drag this out as long as possible. Put it this way, if his actions showed respect, he would move simply because you want it and he cares about you. Try to make me feel guilty because he doesn't have a job yet. YUK! Another yucky action. This is what he's like when he's being "good?" Honestly, this sounds like jerky behavior to me... I am starting to see the lessons i need to learn, but not able to pass them yet.They say the one who causes you the most pain is your best teacher. He has certainly been my best teacher-i just wish the lessons could be easier! I know, Karyn, giving up your home and life is so hard. Sometimes you wonder, why am I doing this? Change is uncomfortable. Susan
Dear Susan, I think that the sick feeling comes from knowing that his "niceness" is not real and I am seeing him as he really is-I am out of my denial right now. I am trying to fake some affection and concern for the relationship back and keep things going smooth until I know what I am going to do and have my plan more in place. I have a good therapist that is helping me, I know that anyone would say that I am insane to even think about staying with this person, but our dreams are hard to give up. I still go back and forth on that. Today I am feeling more confident and am thinking that it would be easier for me to find my own place and move out rather than deal with the manipulations that I read about on this site. That way, the power to move is mine. The attorney said that staying in the existing home is better for the kids, but maybe not. Karyn
Also, I am so glad to know that "we" tend to not be able to feel our anger, I
could not understand why I was not feeling furious!! I would always have a hard
time remembering what it was I was upset about and then I would think that
whatever happened was not worth being upset about---even when he had an affair!!
I have been so validated by Dr. Irene and now know that I am not the crazy one.
I am wondering if my relationship with him would be different/better if I had started out setting good boundaries and not always putting his needs and wants first for 26 years. Did I cause us to have the abusive relationship that we now have? Karyn Absolutely not!!! Don't even think such silly stuff! You give; he takes. You would give to whomever you married; he would take. You weren't lucky enough to end up with another giver.
I have no comments but my heart goes out to this story so much like mine, hard to figure out what to do and what is best I am not qualified to make comments because my life is such a mess and I am such a mess, but I can learn from others and what they are going thru, my healing hasn't even begun because I am still in denial I have a long long way to go, I am just getting started. If you were in SUCH denial, you wouldn't know you were in denial...
Hi Susan and doc,
I have just finished reading Susan's part and it just amazes me how I come across this page and my situation is so very similar to Susan.
I have been with my husband 7 years. He is verbally, emotionally, mentally, and physically abusive. It even seems hard to believe myself as I type it but I face it now - he is/has been all. It always seemed to me that it was so much easier to see another person's situation than it was my own, I guess maybe that is how it is with everyone.
My husband was big charmer when I met me - so sweet and you know still to this day he can be so sweet - when he's going through his good 'spell' is what I have chosen to call it. After a very bad period, and he becomes so sweet, caring, loving and it makes me 'also' start to forget - well not forget, it's like I can put it behind me and make myself think that it will not happen again, or at least not as bad. But oh yeah, it always comes back.
You see, when this very 'good spell' occurs, I start to think that 'MAYBE' it is me and I also become 'GUILTY' of any thoughts I have of breaking up my family. NO! After all, if he can be so sweet like this at times, you know, 'MAYBE' it really is me. I will never know to this day what it is that keeps myself, Susan, and many others out there So Stuck on the 'Maybe's and the Guilt'.
As it is with Susan, my daughter adores her father. Oh, don't get me wrong, she has seen and heard things that she never should have. But regardless, she loves her father and I know in her heart that she wants the name calling and all else she has seen to stop and her family stay together. She is six. Breaking up her family is what is and has been breaking my heart like no one 'except for Susan' would believe. It breaks my heart that things have to go so far and families break up because issues just don't want to be dealt with in the correct way.
It is really a sad world out there when you think at many times, someone's heart is breaking because they have no other choice but to break up their family, when the other one just doesn't get it and maybe never will... To me, that is so so sad, because that is how it is with me at the time. And it's been a long thought out process, believe me, not just some overnight thing. I know to leave my husband is what I have to do. My heart is breaking because of my Daughter. She will be coming from a broken home. Her family broken up. With my husbands erratic behviour, I don't know where he would end up or if/when she would see him again, he also could go far away to work, I don't know.
when I met my husband, I was so in love and naive, that it totally devastated me when the abuse started. I cried and cried like a little child. It kept on and on, and I have left him for 2 - 4 nights many times over 8 years, but guilt resumes me... guilt, guilt, guilt. I feel guilty about what happens to him where does he go regardless of how bad he has treated me in the past. I have a very soft heart. For a Looong time, every time the 'good phase' was over and the 'bad one' started it would devastate me each time, like I would be so hurt all over thinking how could he say such mean things, hurts me. He hasn't physically abused my on a regular bases, but he does, just not monthly - maybe over all every 6 months, and yes, I know that Definitely doesn't make it anymore OK.
I hope and pray that when I leave him next time, I don't go back, or wait until he leaves the premises. I always get this very strong feeling that maybe this maybe that , or guilt, guilt, guilt, and I go back, but the bad phases will always come back.
To protect myself, a while ago, I shut out, and started putting in my head that I was not staying with him all my life anyway, so don't mind or believe what is said and done in the bad phases, and I just made myself stop believing all the sweet and nice loving things during the good phases. I stopped getting my hopes up that maybe he realizes and this time, the bad phase will stay away. That never happened, so that was the protective devise I chose and am still using. When he now tells me how much he loves me and in my heart I still believe that he does love me very much, call me naive if you want. It is just that the 'Bad Spells' really hurt and I don't think I can just put up with them all of my life for the sake of my little girl losing her family, when what she is seeing at times is not really in a sense a family value that I want HER to have when she marries.
Well, I am very glad that I came across Susan's letter, it also helped me some. I see that I am not the only one with this STRONG SENSE OF GUILT about breaking up my family.
My H just got home bky Becky, that strong sense of guilt, unfortunately is verrry common for the victim in an abusive situation...
I am reading a book, "Too Good To Leave; Too Bad To Stay", and it is really well written. In each chapter I see myself and think that I need to get out of this relationship, it seems so clear when I am reading. Then I think of a life by myself and it scares me too much, right now, I am not quite ready, but I am working on getting closer. My daughter too, adores her dad, although he is usually really quick tempered with her, and humiliates her and will never say that he is sorry, he can be real sweet and funny too, when he wants to. It seems that the worse he is, the more she tries to please. His abuse with me is mostly really subtle, small putdowns disguised as "humor" and always this underlying anger and treating me like I am the enemy. No interest in my activities, I have stopped telling him about myself a long time ago. I see him now as he really is, and every nice thing he tries to do now is further evidence of how little I have settled for in the 26 years we have been together. It is comical to see him trying to be nice or thoughtful, and I know it takes a lot of effort on his part. He told me, "You know, I really do love you", and I said , "You must have love confused with hurt." No comment back on his part. Karyn Boy did you hit the nail on the head...
Karyn asked if she caused the abusive relationship by her codependent behaviors. I do not believe that it is anything we do that causes the abuse. That comes from them, nor us. In my case, I believe that if I had had any boundaries at all I would have recognized very early on, if not immediately, that this was not someone to have an intimate relationship with. So I believe that was my part in it. Exactly. A healthy person would have had nothing to do with this. But I was clueless and stayed that way for a long time, despite my best efforts. I do not blame myself for the abuse or the breakup of our marriage and family. Good! I feel absolutely no guilt for this, because I know that I gave absolutely every ounce of energy I had to try to make our marriage, our family, and myself, functional and happy. The outcome, however, has not been what I wanted, and for that I feel enormous grief. It is so hard to let go of what I want-which is an intact and loving, safe marriage and family for myself and my children. I realize that a lot of my difficulty giving up my attachment to this is because I did not have this as a child and I "must" have this for my children. And for myself. The whole Daddy thing that I missed. Got to go-feed kids etc. I still haven't been able to set up any counseling for myself. Got a call from the shelter with some counseling dates open, but I was , of course, working and had to work on my schedule and get back to her. Now, I have called and left messages every day for the last couple weeks and have not heard back from them. They don't have anything in the evenings and I don't have the kind of job that you can just leave and come back to. So scheduling is really difficult. If I went to the lady that charges $130.00 per 50 minutes , I could probably afford to go to her maybe twice, don't know if that would be worth it. So. it is not that I don't want support, as Dr. Irene suggested, it is just terribly hard to get it, given the exhausting logistics of my life right now. Yes, it is hard. Which is another thing that makes it really hard to choose single parenthood-it is so exhausting, sometimes it is easy to think that something is better than nothing. But of course, I have to remember that I was exhausted before and did not get support for my needs. it is good to hear that some people are relating and thus getting some benefit out of these writings. It would be good to turn this to some positive end-perhaps someday through my experiences I will be able to offer something to help another in this type of situation. I know that I have received so much strength, hope, and support from those of you that have written here. Susan
Reading back over what I just wrote, it sounds like I said that Dr. Irene said that I did not want support. That is not what I meant. Dr. Irene suggested support, I think it is a good idea, just finding it logistically difficult. Susan
It is so true what Susan last wrote about, I know that I have tried everything that I could think of to save this relationship. For the past four years, I have let him do anything he wants, never asking anything of him, no household projects, not even changing the oil in my van. I expected nothing, and nothing changed, he would be gone for long periods, months at a time, so I do know how exhausting single parenting is. To everyone else he is charming, like he was to me at first. I don't think I could have known in the beginning, even a healthy person would have been sucked in, but they would probably have soon realized what a self centered person he is, and have high tailed it out of there. Not me, I keep banging my head against the wall, asking for more abuse, thinking that I somehow deserve it. That's how codependent people often think... He says he wants to "work" on this, but I see no remorse on his part and no acknowledgement of the pain he has caused; he is completely self absorbed. I know that I have to give up my dream of this wonderful family to finally find peace; it is a huge disappointment to me, but I do have a choice, I can remain in a marriage where I feel invisible and used, or I can make create a new life for myself and find new resources and people who actually care about me. I know that there are a lot of wonderful people in this world, why should I stay with someone who makes me feel sick inside? Karyn You shouldn't. But first you have to get emotionally ready to go, as you are doing.
Call your insurance company and they will most likely give you a list of names. You can call each one, and ask about their experiences. If you don't find one on the list to your liking, you can call the insurance company back and ask for more names. This is what my insurance company has done for me. I ultimately was able to find a counselor quite experienced in abuse, the child protective system, and most of what I need in a counselor.
As far as people feeling guilty for breaking up their families, I want to say that is a trap a lot of us get stuck in. Which is better? For the child to witness and possibly experience abuse, or grow up in a single parent household with one really caring parent?
We aren't the ones doing the harm in the relationship, our partners are. Our children witness this abuse, and learn how to be when they grow up. Our daughters learn to take abuse, and our sons grow up to be abusers. How would we feel if we stay, and our future daughter in law called us because our son left her with a black eye? Absolutely horrible. The only way to give our children a chance at a healthy adulthood is to raise them in a healthy environment. That just isn't possible as long as we stay with our abusers.
In the meantime, if leaving isn't something that you can do at this time, be very clear with your children each time their dad is abusive in any way, that this type of behavior isn't ok. Not to you, and not to them. They need this guidance.
I felt horrible when I had left, and my daughter told me she thought I was on dad's side because I never said anything against what he was doing! All this time she thought I was abusive too!!!!
Single parenthood IS exhausting. However, I believe it is less exhausting than doing the dance with the kids trying to avoid the abuser and his power rages! It's easier to do regular life things when the only life things involve you and the kids. No more emotional stress and avoidance behavior. Just life. REAL life. Soccer games, birthday parties, and hugs. Leaving the dishes for awhile because you're tired, and IT IS OK to go take a nap. THAT is the joy of single parenthood...You have the space and ability to take care of yourself, WITHOUT fear of reprisal! Yes, you juggle more. Yes, perhaps you are more tired. But you are also MORE AT PEACE.
Leaving is a big choice. It is not to be taken lightly. If there are kids and childcare to be arranged, it takes some time to work out all of the logistics of life with one adult driver and one income.
I have been single parenting for a year and a half. It most definitely has been a challenge. With children having a rageaholic as a role model for dealing with anger, we are all in family counseling. The counselor is especially working with my oldest on anger management. We have tutor appointments and daddy visits to work around. Life is extremely busy. But no matter how busy life is, or intense my children's temper tantrums are, I would NEVER consider going back. There is just no comparison between our lives then and now. The peace is worth it. The only bad mood I really have to worry about is mine.
Please think about your children carefully as you make your decisions. They are suffering more than you know. It's one thing to break up a happy home. Quite another to show your children the life that they deserve.
Hugs to all who are struggling with this.
I send clarity of mind and a strong spirit.
[rock]Rocky Thank you Rocky.
The next day, right after I whined about not being able to set up counseling, I got a call from the shelter and now have an appt for next week. Yippeee! He has been looking for jobs and it seems the most likely prospect is in a city 3 hours drive away. He has not got the job yet and obviously is not going to be out by the 15th, but he seems to be working on it. I asked how he was going to see the kids, being that far away and he said maybe I could meet him halfway, driving. There is just no way I could do that- it would be on my weekend to work and than to get off and drive 3hrs round trip on Friday and again on Sunday. I simply do not have enough time and energy for that. I guess he will have to figure it out. Right. You don't have to tell him that just now. Meanwhile, he is mowing the lawn and keeping the yard and flowers all nice-makes me wonder what he is thinking. Giggle! Probably about himself... Susan
How do you get rid of a narcissist boyfriend without inciting his rage?
if u find u cant stick with it, then divorce the guy. But dont leave the poor fella cold on the streets u know, he's gonna lose home, kids, and as a whole, his support to life if u throw him out. At least try to find someone who can find some use for the guy ( he's got post grad, so that's not too difficult) just to relieve urself of any guilty feelings u might have later on. Still, i would feel sorry if the guy got kicked out.
just another sympathetic feller
Is it possible to disengage when your heart and your head are not congruent?Dr.irene, you said that you help the abused client to become angry instead of depressed.how is this accomplished?i am trying to stay with "using my brain"- but still get stuck wondering if it will realy be better for the kids to have a split family and if he can be this nice now it is hard to give up idea that he could learn to stay this way more.I am so exhausted.He has not left yet.i have done nothing .Said he coud wait until he got a job, which he says is imminent.went to therapist at shelter, but couldn't get another appt for a month.perhaps i should go to some of their groups if I can get the time and energy.I did not feel depressed a couple months ago but i do now-feel like i am losing ground, yet struggling so hard not to. Must go to work-did not think this would still be up on the site-as it has been a month now. Susan
Hello, I had trouble finding this page again and I hope it stays on the site because it is very good support! I am really, really, depressed, not eating right, getting lots of migraine headaches and using too much of my pain medication. I am worried that I am becoming addicted to it. I am looking for a house in town to move into, my husband knows and does not ask any questions, but is acting very sad about it. He is still acting nice to me but does not talk much or share information. He is controling his anger, but every once in a while he will have a slip and it flares up, but then he quickly stuffs it. I feel so much guilt at the thought of me leaving and of course I want the kids to go with me, but they are 12 and 15 and I feel that my son would want to stay with him, my husband is not abusive towards my son. I am sure that my daughter would go with me, but I see my son staying with him and learning to be more abusive and disrespectful. I don't think I am ready emotionally to leave yet, but how do you know when you are ready, I do not want to wait too long and then have even less self-esteem. My husband is always trying to kiss and hug me and give me backrubs, but I know that he only wants me to go back to the passive person that I was and I will never do that. I feel that we could go for a long time just ignoring each other and not dealing with anything, and nothing would be improving or changing. I do not feel any love for him right now----just anger that I cannot express. Karyn
My husband came up to me and looked me straight in the eyes, his eyes are such a beautiful blue, I realized that I he had not looked directly at me like that for years. He said,very sincerely, and with a soft smile, "What are you going to do with me?" His face was calm and open and I was aware of how chaming he is capable of being. It was a very wierd feeling. Karyn
Hi Susan, Much of what you are torn about is what I am going through too. I have been married to my VA husband for 21.9 years. We have 3 beautiful children, 21,16, and 12, who have told me "PLEASE DON'T DIVORCE DAD! DON'T TEAR OUR FAMILY APART!" My eldest gets sick everytime she drives up the driveway to visit from college. (I get sick every day I drive up the driveway, never knowing what to expect -Jekyll or Hyde??) My 16 year old son is developing the habit of "Mom, don't say anything to dad that might upset him.. Sound really happy... Dad really isn't sick, he is getting better." My youngest says, "Dad, quit talking to mom that way. You are such a jerk. If I wasn't 12 years old I'd say a lot more things to you." Yet, they want us all to be together in this entirely dysfunctional home. Last week, I told my husband he needed to be hospitalized, as he has depression, and I definitely suspect he is bipolar. (He also took some cherished religious figures and pictures and my rosary beads from Murano Italy that I was saving for my youngest child's confirmation,and smashed them to pieces in front of my children, along with smashing a number of other items-into tiny tiny bits, over and over and over) He has been on meds for some time, and now has a new cocktail, that seem to improve his behaviour for a day or two, but then he begins to withold and not speak to me, says rotten things, and calls them jokes, the entire list applies. He has fantasies that I am having an affair with a male co-worker, and that this male co-worker is conspiring against him. He left a series of the most horrible things I have ever heard in voice messages to this man he and I both work with, and is/was this man's friend) Since his 2 day hospitalization, he has lined up an anger management group to attend, a new psychiatrist, and a psychologist. He is very charming to the outside world, and generally fools his psych docs or therapists that he is just fine. It hasn't mattered what I have faxed to them about his behaviour. I plan to find a VA support group somewhere, but I just can't see spending my life (what's left of it) with this man. I do have intact self esteem, I detest his behaviour towards me and do not tolerate it, I detest that he does this in front of our children, yet they seem so desperate to have us all together, and continue to live in this crazy homelife. I don't know what impact new meds or therapy will have on him. On the bipolar board I visit, that is no treat either. It is a lifetime of ups and downs. My feeling is that I will give it a couple of months, and see if there is change. I just can't believe that it is healthier for our children to live in this situation. When I did toss him out and insist he go to a psych ward, the kids thought I was being mean. I knew it wasn't mean, it was my last attempt at any kind of wellness here. Even if it comes about, I cannot find it in myself to love this man. I have nothing but contempt and also pity for him now. I pretend to love him and am kind to him, as he is so dependent and needy, but I would prefer that he get whatever he can get out of this treatment, and if I had my way, I would be out of there in a heartbeat, with my kids. Whatever you do Susan, good luck. It certainly isn't easy when children are involved. As I probably already said, I am definitely going to find a qualified VA person to talk to, and get some sound advice, or support or whatever. Life is to short to spend it in Hell. Bone-Tired
wow please email me i need to talk to you im just left a 2yr relatioship like this and i know its hardand im weak or at last thought i was( becuse i was told i was) but im so much stronger today than yesterday and it gets better please email me Realtywoma@aol.com
The man is always the bad person of the couple according to women. They don't admit to their contribution.