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4/14 Interactive Board: Codependent Partners

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12/29 Interactive Board: There Goes the Wife...

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

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

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Doc@DrIrene.com

Realizations

My Story: A Woman's Realization: I Abused The Man I Love

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 enough.

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 enough.

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 point.

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 love.

Sincerely,
Jeanine

Dear Jeanine,

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 get there.

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, Dr. Irene

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