|Dear Dr. Irene,
First let me say, I am relieved I found your website
because I've been feeling miserable and alone for the past 3 weeks, since my engagement
ended. The realizations I've had since then are difficult for me to absorb. I feel sick as
I read about the similarities of the abusers treating their loved ones so poorly - due to
their own fears. I want to run back to him with each sentence I read. I don't know if I
will ever forgive myself for this or get over thinking, "if only I...if only I
didn't....we'd still be together." I keep wishing that he will forgive me if I can
just share this with him, let him read about how we both played a role in this, but I know
he'll gain more strength to run further from me as he reads about his own codependency.
Then once again my selfishness will be angry at him for not responding to the fact that he
is not feeling sorry and loving towards me when he reads that we don't mean it so cruelly.
I still will not let go of me being the one who needs to be tended to.
My Higher Power has been waiting for me to
fully learn this mistake that I constantly make in all my relationships. As harsh as it
feels now and as sorry as I am, I needed this much loss and pain to figure this out for
once and for all. Or at least a real beginning.
Joseph and I became engaged this past
October, we were together 3 years and although things were never smooth sailing between
us, we were definitely madly (no pun intended) in love. I was the one to call off the
engagement, not the first time though. Many times or rather too many times, I literally
threw the ring back at him. He just kept coming back and fighting for me, for us, he was
trying to work things out, be patient, listen to me, help me, he suggested therapy. We
never got past the first 3 sessions to realize that we were in this pattern. In all
fairness to the therapist, she didn't have time to see what was really the underlying
issue. I cleverly disguised it as "his problem" from the beginning, and that I
was the one being taken for granted because he didn't give enough love or attention to me.
I was seriously delusional because this man spent every waking hour giving himself and all
possible effort to me.
You see, my problem with him was based on
the fear of him leaving me and finding someone "better." In a sense, I was so
frightened by this reality in my mind, I set out to test him: I would poke, lash out,
criticize, disregard, challenge everything he did and tried to do to convince me that he
would stop loving me and leave me. Duh! My fear of being left dominated all areas of our
relationship. I was very insecure of him interacting with other women and even
"looking" at them threatened me. I convinced him he was hurting me and being
unfaithful to me every time he looked at a woman - whether she was a stranger, friend,
relative, coworker, celebrity, etc....it was any woman...even a sexy female cartoon! When
he adjusted his normal "male" appreciation for women in front of me, I still was
not satisfied or convinced, so the stakes were "upped" by me even further. I
went on to control his eyes and to try and prevent him from looking at any magazine,
women's catalog, particularly the Victoria's Secret issues, television ads or shows,
movies, and interaction with everyday humans by making him feel guilty every
time he did
such things. Of course I set him up to fail. I could not live up to my standards, so how
could he? Which was my point I guess. To show him and myself that he could not love me
He was not stupid, he just was so caring, so
insecure in his own ways, needing my love, approval and attention that he went to such
extremes to please me and assure me that I was number one, and all that mattered to him.
Well, this was never enough because I can't control the media images of beautiful women,
or who will turn the corner, or who he meets or works with, or even who will be his
waitress when I am not around! Believe me, I am quite embarrassed along with disgusted at
my belief system, but I need to cleanse myself of this horror because I know there are
others out there who will use anything to hurt themselves and others if they believe it
I realize the insanity of my attempts to
control someone's eyes, but that is how my fears and very deeply rooted insecurities
allowed me to convince myself and others that I was rational. I convinced everyone that he
was a horny male philanderer who was driving me crazy, and not being appreciative enough
of me. I was so good at creating this image, I believed it myself. Nothing he could have
done would have satisfied me. If he was blind, I still would have attacked him and doubted
him for having an imagination. It was wrong. I know this, but I could not stop it. No
therapist, no friend, no book, not even his tears and pleading could convince me that what
I was doing was wrong, obsessive, hurtful and unfair. I had to be right. I had to be the
only woman in his eyes.
Truth is, I was the only woman in his
eyes...and heart...that he loved. But just like there are attractive men in the world that
I glance at, there are women too. Nothing he did was out of the ordinary range of male
behavior. It is physically painful to me as I realize my role in the demise of our love.
Your website at first helped to see I am not this evil person in the world who couldn't
love someone and that others have been there and done that out of their own insecurities.
But I do feel shame and regret over being a part of such a group. It makes me feel that I
really lost someone and something special. Whether we were right for each other in the
long run does not matter to me. Right now all I can focus on is the guilt, shame, disgust
with myself, and shock that he is gone. I want to freeze myself with this shock and stay
in bed and sleep this realization away. I am in full realization mode now and I want to
cry, make time go back, replay it in my mind, beg for him to try again and trust me.
I threw him out of my life and that is not
what I actually wanted. All the times he came back and fought for me made me feel loved,
temporarily of course. This time I expected to be fought for again. This time he didn't
come back. He has realized he is a codependent victim who needs to set his own boundaries.
I wish that we were working on this as a couple still, but I know it's impossible at this
I hope others read this and realize what
they are doing to love before it's too late. That the special people that continually give
to you despite what you do to them, will eventually figure out that they are better off
without you. And that love doesn't need to be so painful for either one of you. Please
realize as scary as it is, you need to stop...because nothing is worse than looking back
and wishing you didn't treat someone well, someone who just wanted to share one of the
best gifts of life with you....love.
I wish I had learned this from day 1 with
him, or even the day before the last day with him. Once again I'm thinking, maybe I could
have prevented the outcome and maybe there would have been hope for us, but I know things
happen for a reason. I wouldn't have found this website, or realized how badly I treated
him - out of my own fears of being rejected. There are only so many times you can bite the
hand that feeds you, or in this case, the hand that caresses you.
Please learn now and let yourself give in to
Your letter is so touching...it comes straight
from the heart. I am glad you realize you are not an evil, awful person; that you are
simply a human being who has run far from herself and the issues you need to face. You
are on your way home now, a safe haven that you will never want to give up - once you
I think you are right: what happened had to
happen. It usually takes a crisis for control to shatter. Go inside; spend some time with
you! Accept all the parts of yourself, especially those that you don't like - for they
simply are, whether you like them or not, they are. And give yourself time. And love.
Every time a door closes, another one opens.
Sometimes a new door opens into an old room. Sometimes it opens into a brand new room.
Meet your obligation to yourself and your Maker, and watch the magic that begins...
Thank you for your story.
My warmest wishes,
August 2, 2000
Update: Jeanine: An individual wrote to you and requested I forward his
letter. No longer have your address. I posted his email here.
Hope you see this. Dr. Irene