Sent: Tuesday, October 12, 1999
Subject: Driving Me Nuts!
Dear Dr. Irene,
I have been in an on and off relationship for the past four years.
I met a man who is basically everything I wanted except I find myself
getting very frustrated and angry by what he does. That's
a big "except!" I have taken him to Christmas parties,
events, etc. He first says that he wants to go and then when he does he
changes his tune and is extremely miserable. He sulks in the
corner and doesn't make any effort to meet my friends or new people.
I got to the point where I would tell him to go home by himself. I
finally stopped taking him altogether. Good. But,
is this what you want? He said that he doesn't know why he
has to put on a happy face if he isn't enjoying himself. (He
thinks its best to be honest and tell the truth about how he is feeling
at a party). I told him to just not go then in the first place.
He always insists on going and then he does it to me again. You let him. I told him that he should have more
respect for me and either say no in the beginning and stay home or go
and put some effort into enjoying himself. But
he doesn't. He doesn't think it's disrespectful at all. And obviously doesn't care about how you feel.
Dr. Irene, I'm at my wits end! It's okay when he's on his turf,
but when it's my turf, forget it. He acts like a two-year-old. If you put your foot down,
you would not be writing this letter.
I am definitely not a victim and never will be. Don't
count on it. Believe me, I don't put up with his behavior which
gets me into constant arguments with him.
Is there any hope or will I have
to put up with this behavior for the rest of my life if I stay with him?
I don't have a
crystal ball, or enough information. There is a good chance that he is
an angry guy, and if he is, he will get worse over time without
treatment. He may even get worse with treatment.
There is a
possibility that he is abusing alcohol, though 2-3 drinks is almost OK,
if he keeps it there and if it is not part of a pattern. However, given
the rest of the stuff you are talking about, you may have an angry,
budding alcoholic on your hands. (Some mild alcoholics, whatever that
is, can handle "controlled drinking," and keep it at a limit
of 2 drinks per day.) Most cannot and require total abstinence.
Alcoholism is a
progressing disease... If he comes from an alcoholic family, his odds
shoot up. If the alcoholism is the primary problem, his depression
may lift after a period of sobriety (give him a year for his body to
On the other hand,
he could also be behaving like a grouch because he has a primary
depression. Depressed people drink to blot out pain. Unfortunately, this
is a vicious cycle since alcohol increases depression. Drinking to
mitigate depression may in time lead to alcoholism. In this case,
treating the depression may clear up a lot of stuff.
alcoholism, and anger coexist. It is a toss up to determine which is
"primary" without a good clinical history and watching his
response to treatment. He probably needs treatment in all 3 areas.
Treatment, in my opinion, must start with abstinence.
lady, if you find yourself staying with this man, you need help.
You most certainly are codependent - you are try to fix him -
whether you stand up for yourself or not! Go back to CODA, or try
a few ALANON meetings. Focus on yourself, not him. You've got nothing to
lose but your frustration.
My very best wishes,
and good luck, Dr. Irene