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Doc@DrIrene.com

I Want a Loving Home

 Interactive Board:  Your ALT-Text here I Want a Loving Home

January 15, 2004

Hi Dr. Irene,

I recently found your site and recognize a lot of the stories here as my own. Can we say my name is Hope? You bet! Dear Hope, I like your choice of screen name. I think you chose accurately. There is lots of hope and you can certainly feel much better than you do now. Good for you for recognizing that you don't have to cart this heavy load of baggage everywhere you go!

I'm not even sure what my question is. I guess I just need to know how I can start to change abusive behavior patterns.  Where to start: You already have. You begin with the recognition that these patterns may exist. Your goal is to monitor your thoughts and feelings so you can become mindful about what these patterns look like and how they express themselves - without becoming defensive that you have them, and certainly without beating yourself up for having them! 

Please do not make the mistake of recognizing the patterns and hating yourself for having them! That is repeating the abusive pattern! And I promise you, you will repeat this self-abusive pattern - and it is OK that you're repeating it because repeating it and beating yourself up is all part of learning not to...  So, each time you notice yourself putting yourSelf through the ringer, you need to remind yourSelf that it is OK to feel what you feel.  You have a right to feel what you feel, whether you like it or not. Over and over and over again, allow yourself to feel what you feel, remind yourself that there is no need to beat yourSelf up for feeling what you are feeling. You will repeat these lessons until you've mastered the syllabus and are no longer beating yourSelf up.

Understand that one of these lessons is that you, and all of us - we are human. You are doing the best you can. Your mom did the best she could. So did your dad. Recognition of and acceptance of and empathy for the aspects of self (and other) that you may dislike or even abhor, is a good "where" to start. Easier said than done, but very doable.

A few good books to help you get started along this road are:

bullet The Seat of the Soul  by Gary Zukav.
bullet Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness by Jon Kabat-Zinn.
bullet The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh
bullet Loving What Is: Four questions that can change your life by Byron Katie.

From my earliest memory I can remember my mother being verbally abusive, angry & emotionally abusive.  Moms teach us by "modeling" behavior. Not only were you taught how to behave like mom, you were also taught that you deserve to be treated the way mom treated you...  None of this was either fair or true.

I am the youngest of 4 kids, the first two (my older brother & sister) are from my mom's first marriage...then she remarried and had me & my twin sister.  She favors my sister over me. I wasn't suppose to be born she said and that "I snuck in." So, you're feeling unwanted. :(

She was constantly yelling and angry....and I was suppose to "fix" everything and "do everything" to please her. Ouch! That's a tough, if not impossible role for any human being, let alone a little kid! She was (and still is) very controlling. Everything I did just wasn't good enough. She was never satisfied. She would use anything to keep control, humiliation, embarrassment, yelling, anger, belittling, degradation, intimidation, guilt ,constant negativity. Everything except physical abuse. Have you read this book?:

bullet Emotional Blackmail: When the People in Your Life Use Fear, Obligation and Guilt to Manipulate You   by Dr. Susan Forward and Donna Frazier.

So it's no surprise my Dad left home when I was twelve....leaving me with her. Now I am in my mid thirties.. I have been married for about seven years. I have three kids who are great kids! Excellent! About a year ago my husband left me because we could not have a healthy relationship. I'm sorry. I'm constantly trying to control and turning into my mother! The difference between you and your mom - and it's a big difference - is that you know that. She didn't.

I feel like I can't talk to people without getting angry and feeling very irritated and full of anxiety. I am easily intimidated and I feel like I have to supply everyone's needs and perform in order to be loved. He was only gone for about two weeks, but it was a flashback of my dad leaving home and I went into deep depression this past year. I'm so sorry... You're talking probably Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and definite anxiety and clinical depression.

Until recently I didn't even realize that I was so angry. I'm glad you realize it! You have reason to feel angry! (But that doesn't mean you need to allow your angry feelings to translate into angry behavior.) Until God had to show me, and I realized what I was doing. I need help to change these destructive patterns. I want my house to be a loving home, But where do I start? Let it be said that I'm glad you've allowed God into your life. Let it also be said that having a loving home starts with loving yourSelf, and that's why I suggested you begin to love and to forgive yourSelf in the first paragraphs of my reply.

Next Step: You will need a therapist to guide you, otherwise you're likely to keep banging your head against the same wall more times than you need to. There's a lot to sort through.

Also Next: Please see a psychiatrist or talk to your family doc about screening and treating you for depression and anxiety. Doing this can make your psychological journey a lot quicker and less painful. You've describing an anxiety disorder and a depression, both physical disorders  which often walk hand-in-hand. Depression and anxiety tend to vary in their intensity over time, so don't not seek help if you're not feeling particularly icky this minute. Both disorders can be modified by therapy alone in many cases, but they tend to respond better when medication is combined with psychotherapy. Medication gives you the ability to better work with your therapy.

Chances are mom (and/or dad) had some variant of depression/anxiety and passed it on to you. Even if they didn't, abuse in childhood is enough to create the  chemical pathways leading to depression and anxiety in adulthood. So, please don't interpret what I'm saying to mean you a mental case. Far from it! I'm asking you to recognize that these conditions are physical and have a high treatment success rate.

So, dear Hope, there is lots of hope! Let's get the show on the road lovely lady. Post here about how you are doing, what questions you have, whatever. I'll be by next week to answer your comments. God bless you, Dr. Irene

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