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5/1 Interactive Board: I feel Dead - Towards Him

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

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

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Doc@DrIrene.com

Leaving Is No Panacea

Leaving Is No Panacea

March 4, 2000

I was married for six years.  We got married in the Catholic Church.  I knew early in the marriage that there were problems.  I wasn't put on my husband's bank account for the first three years of our marriage.  Even when I was on his account I never wrote a check on the account.  My husband has a lot of money.

I think that our biggest problem was that he habitually disregarded my feeling and needs.  I told him over and over that I was unhappy.  When I went to counseling he gave me a hard time about spending the money.  He wanted to know why I couldn't talk to him instead of a counselor.

When I lived with him I spent a lot of time pacifying him.  He would get mad at me if I closed the car door too hard.  He would remind me about how much money I had spent.  He would tell me everyday that he didn't want anymore children.  He would make important financial decisions without talking with me.  He bought me diamond earrings with interest that came from my son's  trust account.

I didn't realize that he had a problem with anger until I left.  He didn't call me names or yell .  It was a way of looking at me.  It was a tone in his voice that kept me in my place.  He was punitive with me.  He left the house when he was mad. He would walk away from me and not talk to me for hours.  The Christmas before last we got in a fight.  He didn't talk or look at me for hours.  I stayed up and put the kids Christmas presents together by myself while he went to bed.

My life has been worse since I left.  When I first left my family was shocked.  I hadn't told them much about what was going on.   When I did talk with family and friends about what was going on,  I found that I was to blame for our problems. They would say that that is the way marriage and men are.  Even my problems with sex were my fault.  They would say "Don't you love him"?  "If you don't have sex with him, he will find someone else to have sex with." Oh boy...  You can't trade in your family, but maybe you need some new friends...

Quite frankly, when I first left it seemed that my family was on his side.  He had persuaded them that he loved me and that I should go to joint counseling in order to save our marriage.  I didn't see enough change in him to want to go to counseling with him.  Even his efforts to get me to go to counseling seemed a manipulation to me.  He had a priest calling me to tell me that I owed it to my marriage vows to go to joint counseling.

This last week has been one of the worst.  He was making fun of the fact that I said that he harassed me.  It was the worst of all of the conversations that we have ever had.  He made fun of the fact that I went to a shelter when I left.  He has never hit me, thus he has never abused me.

This is a watered down version of my story.  There are so many stories to tell. It has been a nightmare. That has been the biggest disappointment for me.  I thought that I would feel better.  I thought that I would feel liberated.  I thought that I would feel pride that I was able to leave a man that I was afraid of.  Instead I feel guilty.  

I hate the thought that my children will grow up in a broken home. Console yourself with the fact that they will not see their mother abused; they are also less likely to be abused as much themselves! I cannot go back to a man who thinks that I'm not entitled to anything that we accrued during the marriage.  He doesn't even give me credit for being the primary caregiver of our children.  It's so ugly.  I need to get on with life.

Yes. You do need to get on with life. But it sounds like you need a little more help. For starters, drop the guilt. You come from a family that buys into guilt and shame. Both of these are counterproductive and largely useless emotions. You are manipulated by them. Start by evaluating their rational basis as a step in dumping them. 

You also need to learn to assert yourself with more authority to your friends, family - and ex! The only reason you remain in a one-down role is because internally you (are trained to) believe that that's where you belong. You don't.  The guilt helps keep you in this trap.

Take a look at these 2 books:

bulletSuzette Haden Elgin's You Can't Say That To Me!  to help you better recognize and deal with verbal assault.
bulletChoose to be Happy: Your Step-by-Step Guide. A gem by Wayne Froggatt et al. to show you how to effectively deal with guilt, depression, and other awful emotions.

You already did the hard part by believing in yourself enough to leave an untenable marriage. Your next task is less difficult - and very rewarding.

You also need some support. I hope you are in counseling or in some kind of support group. Also, try the site's email support forum, The CatBox.

Good luck and my very best wishes, Dr. Irene

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