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So Hard To Give Him Space

So Hard To Give Him Space

"Fear is nature's warning signal to get busy." -Henry Link

June 22, 2000

Dr. Irene: I have been married for 12 years and wish to stay married. I struggle with dependency needs towards my husband, who has always been caring toward me. He recently told me that he has only been going through the motions and that my neediness has driven away feelings he has toward me.  He says he loves me and is going through counseling to get in touch with feelings he says he never knew he had, only that he feels empty. He's gotten an internal wake-up call...

My problem is that I know that I need to give him space, but I also have these overwhelming and almost desperate feelings to check daily if he still loves me, to ask for reassurance, to try and see where this will go. I know that I must only work on myself, but the fear and the anxiety takes a daily toll and prevents me from feeling content and at peace with my work and two small children. The work  you have to do is not check on his feelings, not ask for reassurance. Your task is simply to deal with your fear and your anxiety. You have to learn to cope with it; and you can, even if you don't think you can. If you need some help - and it will help - talk to your doctor about antidepressant medication. Just doing "nothing" is exactly what you have to do to work on yourself. The medication will mitigate your depression and anxiety so that you are better able to sit with your feelings.

 How do you give your spouse the room to work through feelings, and yet at the same time meet your own needs, even if they are co-dependent? Given your dependency, I don't think you have the ability to recognize your needs at this time. Tolerating the feelings associated with not checking in for reassurance will help you begin to identify just what your needs are. You will also become more attractive to your husband as you learn to take care of yourself. 

It is the uncertainty of the final results of this that is driving me crazy. First of all, you have no choice. The reality is that your husband needs space for whatever reason. Whatever will happen will happen. Your task is to face that uncertainty and tolerate the uncomfortable feelings. You can do this, even if you need some chemical help. Doing this will be good for you. I read all the time, all the books on codependency and relationships and cognitively get all of it, and it helps for a little while, then the worry and fear, then anger, and upset starts, and I can ruin a nice evening with seeking reassurance, and then being mad if it isn't what I feel I need. Then keep reading. And re-reading. Burney's Codependence: Dance of the Wounded Souls  and his website and Journal are particularly relevant to loss of self. Any help would be so appreciated. You think that your dependency stuff constitutes your "needs." Your dependency needs are your malaise, not your healthy, human "needs." View your drive towards getting reassurance as symptoms of your codependency, your loss of self. Prevent yourself from giving in to your symptoms and tolerate the discomfort - so you can get in touch with who you are - and really meet your needs. Katie.  Good luck to you Katie, Dr. Irene


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