December 30, 1999
Dear Dr. Irene,
Thank you, thank you, thank you for your site -- it's helped me so much in
the last week and a half, I can't tell you what great support and straight
talk it provides. But then you know that already from all of the
other women who have stumbled upon it and been nurtured by its wisdom.
My story: didn't listen to my gut, got married to a guy who's response
repertoire ranged from anger to criticism no matter what I did, thought
his other good qualities would make this a risk I would eventually be glad
I took in a relationship. Ten years of sick codependence and seven
counselors later, I find out about Patricia Evans' work and like so many of your other
patrons have said, there was my life on the pages. How could I be so
stupid? How could he be so unaware? How can society continue
to condone this behavior and the trails of withered souls winding behind
it by its continued silence?
So I filed for divorce today. I won't let him teach our 20 month old
son that women are second class citizens or that it is appropriate to
respond to life's challenges with anger. What a weight off my
shoulders. But it was quickly replaced by the realization that I
have to listen to his toxic language pollution, because in my state we are
required to endure a six month cooling off period in the marital home.
He won't stop the invective when I ask him to, not even in front of our
son. The accusations, the tweaked version of reality, and character
slamming -- I guess I'm asking for coping skills here for the
duration of the proceedings while I explore the legal alternatives.
Thank you so much! Doreen
Your best option is
to get out of the line of fire. Simply leave, whenever you can. Stay with
friends or family on weekends or whenever you can realistically - and
legally - get away. If he starts up, take a walk; go shopping; go for a
drive. Get out of the line of fire. Do not engage.
That means you must set very firm limits on your time and space: don't
explain anything he doesn't understand, don't defend yourself (what do you
care what he thinks?), don't try to correct his reality (you won't), and
ignore the character slamming. Don't reply to his shouts and certainly don't shout back, etc. Ignore the fact that he
won't let you ignore his antics! Right now, he'll do anything he can for
your attention - including twist reality more and come down harder
than usual. Get a copy of You Can't Say That To Me, and a copy of How To Keep People From Pushing Your Buttons. If you
are feeling stressed out, consider a bottle of St.
John's wort. It's amazing stuff. Finally, consider joining one of the email support groups. They've helped lots of
people. Hang in there...
Good luck to
you, Dr. Irene