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Doc@DrIrene.com

Comments for Another Relational Success Story

Comments for Another Relational Success Story!

Material posted here is intended for educational purposes only, and must not be considered a substitute for informed advice from your own health care provider.

Courtesy of Dr. Irene Matiatos  Copyrightę 2000. The material on this website may be distributed freely for non-commercial or educational purposes provided that author credit is given. For commercial distribution, please contact the author at Doc@drirene.com

 

B1: Submit
Date: Friday, May 05, 2000

S1

Maybe its just me but I think you're one of the lucky ones. My take is that it is almost impossible to get an angry person to even acknowledge that they're angry, much less admit that their partner is not to blame for it.

I think you've cleared the biggest hurdle.

good luck!

B1: Submit
Date: Friday, May 05, 2000

S1

Personally, I am very encouraged by what s-girl has done in her relationship. I am married to a very angry, abusive type. He admits that he has an anger problem. He is in therapy and so am I. In addition, we see a counselor together.

As S-girl said, it is a lot of very hard work! My husband is a recovering addict (alcohol, drugs, gambling... the whole gamut!). Having to face his anger and find different ways of dealing with it is so very hard for him. He quite often falls back into old habits. I simply call him on it (which, in the moment, he does not like!).

As his wife and the mother of 5, I have quite often rescued my husband to avoid suffering *his* consequences. It is hard to find a way to let him fail where I am not seriously affected at the same time.

A few short months ago, when I found this site, I became very discouraged. The failure rate for verbal abusers is high. So is the failure rate for those suffering with addictions and I have to live with a double whammy.

I really began to make changes in myself when I was finally able to accept the fact that the marriage may not survive. When we get involved in these relationships, we both put on masks. When we reveal our true selves, will our SO even like the person we really are? The only way to find out is to become that person. In doing so, if the relationship ends, we end up liking the person we see in the mirror and have a good foundation from which to rebuild our lives!

Good Luck S-girl and thanks for the encouragement. I want to make one last point for all those in recovery. I will *not* happen overnight. It took me 2 years to get to this point! But you have to start at sometime and I am a much better person now than I was 2 years ago!! :)

Dianne

B1: Submit
Date: Friday, May 05, 2000

S1

How I wish I could go back in time. Back to the time when I was a little girl (1950-60's) so I could show my mother Dr Irene's site. I know my mother would have used all the suggestions here. She could have saved herself years of grief. With some abusers, change is possible. I'd like to explain why I think so.

My father: youngest child, mother died of TB when he was only four yrs. Cared for by older sisters who had tremendous stress placed on them to manage a household at a young age. He was 18 when his Dad died.

My father had a quick, bad temper. He blamed others and never apologized. He would yell, make mean, sarcastic remarks. Then act like nothing happened. Sometimes I would see my mom's hands shake when he got on her case about something. He was a hard worker, didn't drink, didn't go out. Always reliable. His rages scared me and my younger brother. But, he was also kind-hearted and generous. Every week he handed his paycheck to my mom, who managed the money.

My mom was a quiet easy going person, very kind-hearted. She made excuses for my dad: both his parents died when he was young, he fought in WWII, his whole family had a bad temper, he doesn't mean it. My mom was a small business owner when she met my dad. When they married she moved from the SW to the NE. He supported our family, she managed all the money. She was a good role model in many ways.

But, she put up with too much crap with his rages. She gave up too much to please him. She always seemed to have a low-level depression, and talked a lot about her life before she married. One time she said, "if it weren't for you kids I'd leave."

However, whenever she put her foot down, my father stopped the misbehavior. My dad knew she was independent enough to leave, too. For years he didn't want her to drive; she finally said she was getting her license. When they were in their 50's and we kids were older, she told him she was leaving. She said she was tired of his yelling, that it was disrespectful. Things changed. She made more demands and put her foot down when he displayed the slightest bit of bad behavior. HE CHANGED A LOT! Their retirement years were nice (except for my brother).

If Dr Irene's site existed when I was growing up, my mom would have set boundaries earlier in the marriage. She waited too long, but the important point is that my dad changed when she changed.

Unfortunately, my brother grew up to be an abuser 1,000 times worse than my father. He is addicted to drugs/alc., uses verbal/emotional/physical abuse. He has a paranoid personality disorder. I grew up with some codependent tendencies, but have always felt I could take care of myself. Have also had periods of depression (never suicidal). I did form relationships with men who were emotionally abusive, but was always able to walk away. Like my mom, I sometimes let people push me too far, but I have my limits.

Some abusers can change, my father did. For some abusers, like my brother, I don't think it will happen. My dad respected boundaries, my brother does not. My brother only notices boundaries if he's afraid of a severe penalty, like jail; but even that will not always stop him. My father's acceptance of boundaries was immediate, and change long lasting. My brother only changes long enough in an attempt to manipulate; he is not sincere. Maybe that's the difference between the abusers who change, and the ones who don't. Sis

 

B1: Submit
Date: Friday, May 05, 2000

S1

Hi everyone! I really do think I'm one of the lucky ones and I hope no one takes my story to mean that I think most abusers can change- I don't think most can. Even my story is far from over. I think I'm lucky that we're both young, and not too set in our ways. It is also much easier to set boundaries when we're not married and not living together - he knows that it will be relatively easy logistically for me to leave if a choose to do so, so I think that's another motivating factor for him. I think it's important to encourage recovering abusers but I'm also wary of giving false hope to women who want their abuser to recover. It's hard and it's rare! I don't even know if we're there yet- there are slipups, sometimes serious ones. Although his behavior during the slipups never come near what he used to do, he is still in what I have coined "the abusive mindset' where he doesn't listen to anything and sees everything that's said as an attack. Right now he's trying to work on recognizing when he's going to that place- sometimes he can catch himself, but sometimes he can't. The biggest hurdle is getting him to admit and take FULL responsibility for his actions- he no longer tries to put any blame on me for things that happened in the past. I think the second sign after that one that an abuser is really recovering is if he walks the walk. It's easy and all abusers talk the talk- as victims we have to stop listening to their words and pay attention to what they do. I'm finding that he will 'change' for about a month or even a few weeks then he'll slip back into old Mr. self-centered, which is the first step back to being abusive. Very frustrating. Good luck to everyone! S(atoko) Girl  Hi Satoko Girl - I changed your name, a routine practice... But, I guess there was no need. Ask your boyfriend to tell us what it's like for him. Many controlling guys would love to get some input... My very best, Dr. Irene

B1: Submit
Date: Monday, May 08, 2000

S1

My husband, a verbal abuser, is in recovery---I believe this cause just last week there was a revelation! He said "I guess I'm going to have to yell at someone or something else, cause you won't let me anymore". :) I have been working over the past year on myself and how not to react to him so that he would relearn how to treat me and others around him. I didn't even know what verbal abuse was at first, and was shocked to find out that I was contributing to the whole thing. I feel for my husband. He doesn't really realize why he verbally abuses or emotionally abuses us (me and my daughters), and now he realizes that if he has been doing this (he still is trying to understand just what "verbal abuse" is) he did not intentionally want to hurt anyone. He is, I believe, quite miserable. He is caught up in his own world, he thinks is reality, but is really only "his" reality---he finds it difficult to take anyone else's opinions, wants, needs etc., into account, cause you see, it is HIS opinions, wants, needs, etc that are on his agenda---its not that he is intentionally hurting others by ignoring other's needs its just that he doesn't know HOW to feel about anyone else but himself. Yes. You are totally on target. How do I get him to understand how important his own soul is in need of rebuilding. That he has lost his "self". How can he get it back? What can I do as a recovering "victim" help this what I would call the "new victim" as a result of the "turning point" (Dr. Irene) when the abused is now aware and is now in control of situations, where only the abuser once headed all realms. 

Once an abuser realizes he is not in total control of everything, how can the former abuser be emotionally supported to help ease the shock of non-control? How can the feelings of non-control be stopped from turning inward to that of despair and more dread? How can a formerly negative abuser, now a non-abuser work their way to a positive way of living? The abused are always more optimistic, I have found, that is why they stay in situations longer that they should, or try to egnosium. How do I as a recovering once abused, now feeling strong enough to assist the "new victim" recovering from being an abuser? This would be the step truly to total recovery for us as a couple and as us as a family---is there any advise for this step? THANK YOU SOOO MUCH FOR THIS BOARD, DR. IRENE---I DON'T KNOW WHAT I WOULD HAVE DONE WITHOUT THIS PLACE OF SPIRITUAL BUILDING, WHERE STRENGTH AND KNOWLEDGE WORK HAND IN HAND---A JOURNEY TO A MORE HEALTHY AND HAPPY LIFE, THANK Y O U ! Mrs. TBT for Mr. TMT Thank you - both. You can continue to hold your ground and work your recovery. You can continue to set limits for him. You can be empathic, as you obviously are, to his plight. You can encourage him to pay attention to his feelings - and do absolutely nothing about them... You can suggest he read some of the spiritual and philosophical books, as well as the anger control books on the bookshelf. But, you can't do it for him...

B1: Submit
Date: Monday, May 08, 2000

S1

I am new to this site and I am a verbal abuser. I recently discovered this through a book that was used by my wife's counselor. I felt as this man did, like I was looking in the mirror when I read about the different realities a verbal abuser is in. My main question is this: What book is the best one to start with if I'm a verbal abuser and I desperately want to change for my family and me??? First of all, Good For You! My current situation is; My wife and I are barely together, she wants out, but she is a devout Christian and wants to do what is right in God's eyes. I respect her for that and I must be the man she needs me to be. You must also be the man you need to be for yourself... It is very rocky right now but there is definitely hope. We are going to see some friends of ours for counseling tomorrow night. But, I need specific with the verbal abuse. Given my situation in a nutshell, what book is best for me??? Please tell me. My email address is goforittim@aol.com just in case someone needs to tell me directly. Thank you very much and I look forward to seeing your response. P.S. This message may be just going to this letter, I'm not sure how to post it to the main page, if you know that please tell me how. thanks. Tim Tim, there is no universal perfect starter book. If you need to manage rages, start with Ron Potter's Angry All the Time . If you need to get in touch with what is inside, start with Robert Burney's Codependence: Dance of the Wounded Souls. Different strokes for different folks. Good luck! Dr. Irene

B1: Submit
Date: Tuesday, May 09, 2000

S1

This is to the above poster- the recovering abuser- First of all, admitting that you have this problem is a huge step, and amazingly enough, very few abusers can even get to this point. Congratuations! I'd reccomend reading Patricia Evan's second book "Verbal Abusers Speak Out". HOwever, I know that her books make many verbal abusers angry and sometimes cause them to give up on recovery because they don't like they way they're presented. It depends if you think you're able to read about the true effects of abuse without feeling threatened or defensive. Good luck! Love, SatokoGirl

B1: Submit
Date: Tuesday, May 09, 2000

S1

*hugs SatokoGirl*

It is *definitely* easier to set boundaries when you don't live together. My mom moving out probably saved her marriage. They still don't live together, but they do get along so much better now and can actually enjoy each other's company rather than having a constant battleground.

In my case, it's good that both of us can easily be physically separate from each other -- and not just when we're arguing! We're both students, and sometimes the "one less distraction" is a very necessary thing when one or both of us needs to study!

I've noticed that there seems to be sort of a continuum between "good people with bad tempers" who honestly want to get control over them and the hardhearted ones that wouldn't change even if they could because they JUST DON'T CARE. And it's hard to tell crocodile tears from real regret sometimes.

This might belong on the therapy board, but what the heck. One of the hardest things to see anywhere is "well, just don't do XYZ and the problem will be solved." I know, rationally, that losing my temper and raising my voice at those I love, especially when whatever I'm angry about has nothing to do with them, is not a good thing. And I'm better about catching myself, but I've got a ways to go yet.

I don't know if this will work for everyone (it sure as heck didn't on my dad!), but one of the easiest ways to get *me* to stop yelling is to *very quietly and calmly* call attention to what I'm doing. The biggest difference between me before finding this board and me now is that a puzzled look and "You're yelling at me" or "That makes me feel stupid" will stop me cold now. It didn't before. Also, my fiance is more comfortable with trying to "stop" me (and vice-versa) since neither of us wants the screaming matches to continue. I'd like to think this is progress. :)

People involved with "aware controllers" might have luck with that. Hope this helps. :)

-AngryGirl

B1: Submit
Date: Wednesday, May 10, 2000

S1

Hi, it's Dave, Satogogirl's (S-Girl's) boyfriend. Recovery is really a very difficult process, and I have a long way to go. I do slip up sometimes, mainly because I start being inconsiderate of Sarah's feelings and slip back into the childish "me" mindset. It's so difficult to really talk about how to get through and really connect with yourself. Being an abuser, there's like an invisible wall that's around you, that nobody can get through. I'm really sorry for what I did to her. She's been really good to me. I just moved across the country, and I'm having some feelings about that which I have to work though. Even though I'm going to be 28, this is my first time really away from home (I moved out twice before to adjacent towns, but that doesn't count. This is 3000 miles), and I miss my friends. This is normal, of course, but they're new feelings to me, and abusers don't handle new feelings very well. I'm doing the best I can, and I'm trying to enjoy my experience for what it is. I'm learning to talk about my feelings rather than just contain them or suppress them. It's also really, really good to be away from my abusive family. I hope to continue along the path of recovery, because I really don't want to go through life hurting everyone I love.

B1: Submit
Date: Wednesday, May 10, 2000

S1

Hi, it's Dave, Satogogirl's (S-Girl's) boyfriend. Recovery is really a very difficult process, and I have a long way to go. I do slip up sometimes, mainly because I start being inconsiderate of Sarah's feelings and slip back into the childish "me" mindset. It's so difficult to really talk about how to get through and really connect with yourself. Being an abuser, there's like an invisible wall that's around you, that nobody can get through. I'm really sorry for what I did to her. She's been really good to me. I just moved across the country, and I'm having some feelings about that which I have to work though. Even though I'm going to be 28, this is my first time really away from home (I moved out twice before to adjacent towns, but that doesn't count. This is 3000 miles), and I miss my friends. This is normal, of course, but they're new feelings to me, and abusers don't handle new feelings very well. I'm doing the best I can, and I'm trying to enjoy my experience for what it is. I'm learning to talk about my feelings rather than just contain them or suppress them. It's also really, really good to be away from my abusive family. I hope to continue along the path of recovery, because I really don't want to go through life hurting everyone I love.

B1: Submit
Date: Wednesday, May 10, 2000

S1

Hi, it's Dave, Satogogirl's (S-Girl's) boyfriend. Recovery is really a very difficult process, and I have a long way to go. I do slip up sometimes, mainly because I start being inconsiderate of Sarah's feelings and slip back into the childish "me" mindset. It's so difficult to really talk about how to get through and really connect with yourself. Being an abuser, there's like an invisible wall that's around you, that nobody can get through. I'm really sorry for what I did to her. She's been really good to me. I just moved across the country, and I'm having some feelings about that which I have to work though. Even though I'm going to be 28, this is my first time really away from home (I moved out twice before to adjacent towns, but that doesn't count. This is 3000 miles), and I miss my friends. This is normal, of course, but they're new feelings to me, and abusers don't handle new feelings very well. I'm doing the best I can, and I'm trying to enjoy my experience for what it is. I'm learning to talk about my feelings rather than just contain them or suppress them. It's also really, really good to be away from my abusive family. I hope to continue along the path of recovery, because I really don't want to go through life hurting everyone I love.

B1: Submit
Date: Wednesday, May 10, 2000

S1

Hi Angrygirl! *hugs* Pagans in recovery, unite!

>I don't know if this will work for everyone (it sure as heck >didn't on my dad!), but one of the easiest ways to get *me* >to stop yelling is to *very quietly and calmly* call >attention to what I'm doing. The biggest difference between >me before finding this board and me now is that a puzzled >look and "You're yelling at me" or "That makes me feel >stupid" will stop me cold now. It didn't before I wanted to respond to this- I think you've said that you identify both as a victim and a controller in your relationship, right? Unfortuantely, sometimes it's hard to tell who the controller is, because a victim's angry acting out behavior can closely resemble abusive behavior, except that most people seem to agree that once made aware that the angry acting out behavior is wrong, the victim will work actively to try to change it, usually with sucess. With real abusive behavior, it seems like the abuser/controller has a much harder time being motivated to change his/her behavior, because it in the past has gotten them what they wanted (control). In my case, the calmly telling my boyfriend works SOMETIMES. It's like a jekyll and hyde situation- he can be in a normal reality listening and conversing normally, but something will trigger him to go into what I call the abusive mindset- patrica evans calls this 'reality I'- where everything is percieved as an attack and responded to as such (justifying abuse) and all empathy and listening capeablities switch off almost completely! Very scary and hard to reason with someone in this mindset, even if they're calm. That's also what's tricky- I used to associate my boyfriend being in this mindset with him yelling and being very angry, but I've learned he can be in the same mindset while appearing very calm and collected. Sometimes he can recognize when he's starting to go into this mindset and stop it- other times he claims he wasn't aware he was in the mindset, even though it was obvious to me and I clearly tried to tell him how his actions were making me feel. I think this problem comes from abusers being totally out of touch with their feelings... it seems very often that victims are more tuned into the abuser's feeings (and tiptoeing around them) than the abusers are of their own feelings. The main problem that I'm encountering in recovery is the fact that the victim or codependent is so much more willing to get help and work on recovery than the abuser- to the point where working on recovery can become an obsessive, codependent activity. On the other hand, I mostly see controlling/abusive types only seeking help when threatened with losing their significant others, and then as soon as the codependent victim stops 'nagging' the abuser to get help and starts feeling better with him/her and starts to relax, the abusing-type is no longer motivated to work on his/her recovery and slips back into his/her old patterns. THis isn't done intentionally in many cases- I don't think most abuse is intentional at all! But the controlling-types are just so self-centered that when they don't have a pressing reason to do something (like the wife threatens to move out if the husband doens't get help) they don't do anything. Meanwhile, as a recovering codependent I'm told that trying to 'control' Dave's recovery I'm being even more codependent and I realize that, but reminding, talking, pleading, and nagging seem often like the only ways to get him to make therapy appointments, read books, and yes, read this board and even respond. (I had to remind him to twice.) I realize this is controlling behavior and it certainly takes a lot of the good feelings away when I see him doing something because I nagged him about it 5 times instead of seeing him do it on his own- but I'm just afraid that if I didn't nag it would never get done. I think I know the answer here- I've gotta stop policing his activities, set clear boundaries with him of what he needs to do in his recovery that will show me he's committed to making me feel safe in the relationship (ie going to therapy, joining a mens group, reading a book every few weeks, reading this site) and then not remind him. Then if he doesn't follow through once I stop reminding him, I guess I leave? This seems so harsh but I certainly don't want to be the nag for the rest of my life. I guess what I have basically seen is that most controlling types only get help when it affects them directly (as they see it) and if that behavior doesn't change, what can the victim do? And this is complicated by the fact that he may have ADHD, which would explain some of the forgetfulness and self-centeredness, and maybe cause a new plan of action? I'm not really sure what to do with this at this point- any advice is appricated. -SatokoGirl

B1: Submit
Date: Friday, May 12, 2000

S1

S-Girl, It sounds to me like you know what you need to do. Have confidence in your own wisdom. Sounds like there are many setbacks along the (never ending) raod to recovery. I don't know what "ADHD" is so no comment on that.

B1: Submit
Date: Friday, May 12, 2000

S1

congradulations

B1: Submit
Date: Friday, May 26, 2000

S1

good for you. my bf is the axact same way. he always finds reasons to yell at me. he is very jeoleos and controlling. i am only 15 plz help.skruffyluv@yahoo.com

B1: Submit
Date: Thursday, June 01, 2000

S1

Dear Dr. Irene, Like S-Girl, my eyes have been opened by your website. What a gift - THANKS! Here's a question: in practically all of the letters from co-dependents in relationships with controlling people, all the co-dependents state that they love their controlling mates. I never see any letters from people who no longer love their mates - why? You see, that's me - I'm married with young kids, and I no longer feel love/emotion/passion for my husband.

For myself, I am lucky that my husband appears to want me to set limits for him and his arrogant behavior; he in fact suggested it! And I am going to start doing this NOW. (Funny, a letter on your site spoke of a woman who did not set limits because she did not want to appear to be "bitchy" - WOW, she could have been writing about me!) I figure that with my new-found skills we will either be constantly fighting, or we will perhaps find an open and level way to communicate honestly with each other. (He may or may not like the "new me.") But my question to you is: will this make me love him again? I do not feel it now, nor have I for months on end (emotionally, sexually, etc.) I am willing to give it a shot for the sake of our kids, but fear that I have a defeatest attitude simply because I cannot see ever feeling love or passion for him again. HELP!

B1: Submit
Date: Monday, June 12, 2000

S1

This letter really touchs me because I identify with a lot of the changes. I still want to say watch out that you don't get too comfortable and miss the subtle abuse. Keep re reading Patricia Evans book in verbal abuse and when you see sarcasm, and teasing, and covert behavior you don't miss it. This is what happpened to me after therapy and thinking we had come such a long way and then I realized I quit re reading my books and had fallen into a relaxed mode and realized it was happening to me and I was ignoring it AGAIN! It just was not as blaring but that is what made it so awful. It was like boiling to death on a low simmer. Plus, he was taking his abusive behavior out on employees and the children when I wasn't around. He is very intelligent and willing to work at it and knows when he is doing wrong. My point is you may not have a clear picture of what the cost really is in time and effort.

B1: Submit
Date: Tuesday, June 13, 2000

S1

It might be a honeymoon phase right now, so be careful and watch his behaviour should you move in together, he can easily return to his old stuff once he thinks he's got you. watch what he does not what he says............steph