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Doc@DrIrene.com

Interactive: Too Guilty to Leave

 Interactive Board:  Your ALT-Text here Too Guilty to Leave?

April 07, 2005
 

Hi Doctor Irene. Hi Elizabeth! First of all let me say I think I'm just looking for a little reassurance and, of course, a little advice (okay, maybe a lot of advice).  ;D

I'm a 43 year old mother of a 19 year-old son. I've known for several years that I have been verbally abused since probably before my husband and I married, over 20 years ago. I've been planning on and off, half-heartedly to leave him for years, but the appropriate opportunity has not arisen until just recently.

My son just graduated and is getting a job and moving to Nevada in the middle of April. I am planning on making my move and leaving my husband not too long after that. I am planning to move to New York where I have lots of friends and supportive people (I currently live in Ohio). I have been frantically preparing for this since it was firm that my son was moving.

I know that when I finally tell my husband I'm moving (I'm not telling him where I'm going right away Good! Don't!), I'll have to be gone at a moment's notice, because I really don't trust his reaction. Good thinking! Check out the Safety Plan here. (Not all of it applies to you.) I'll have the few things that I really want to take with me in the car – I won't be taking any furniture or anything of the like with me – just my dog, photos, mementos, clothes, and such. Sounds good to me!

Last night my son sprung on me the news that he has decided that he is too young to move so far away from home and wants to get a job in the area and live at home for a year or two. I felt like the wind had been knocked out of me. I felt angry at him for ruining my plans (that passed quickly -Good; no need.). My mind was still running a mile a minute trying to digest what he had just told me. My son and I had discussed the fact that I was planning on leaving his father before, so I told him that I was planning on moving to NY when he moved to  Nevada. He told me that it was okay with him if I moved (and I'm sure he meant it), but I can't help feeling extremely guilty for leaving my 'baby boy' with this extremely volatile and angry man. Your "baby" is an adult now and is able to take care of himself - and perhaps able to beat hubby into submission! Regardless, "baby" is not a baby!

I know without a doubt that I need to leave him – there have been many incidents that have 'convinced' me of this, but the final straw/nail in the coffin was this past weekend when my VAH was in one of his road rage moods, and I said something to him about his aggressive driving. He turned around and looked at me with a look that terrified me, and said "Do you like it?" OMG! I was scared to death. Even my son said something to me about it to me later.

I am thankful that my son was in the car because, even though my husband has never hit me, he had a look about him that I have never seen before. The other day my VAH called me at work to scream at me because he couldn't find the remote control to the fan. I told him to get up and turn it on manually. When I got home, he had knocked the fan over, broken the side off of it, and was angry until probably noon the next day. Oh, by the way, the remote was on the floor next to his chair (in plain site).

I can't stay in the area I live in because my credit is shot and there's no way I could rent anything right now. I also have a basenji dog that my husband doesn't like and is mean (physically and verbally) to, although he treats his three greyhounds like they were royalty. She has to come with me too.

My husband's in-laws have offered to let me stay with them until I am back on my feet. I couldn't sleep last night; my stomach is in a knot. I'm emotionally drained, exhausted, sometimes frozen so badly that I just go home after work and sit. I HATE my life, I feel guilty as can be. I offered to let my son come with me, but he isn't ready for such a big move away from his home and friends right now and I'm okay with that, but I feel SO guilty now.

Last night I believe I had my first ever panic attack.  My son was getting ready to tell my husband that he had decided not to go to Florida, and all of a sudden my heart started racing and my left arm went numb and tingly followed by my right arm.  I've had anxious feelings before but never anything physical like that. Given the stress you're under, I wouldn't be surprised that you are feeling anxiety/panic. But we never, ever assume a panic attack unless you have been medically checked out. March yourself to the local hospital ER right now and rule out anything physical!

Help!!!   Elizabeth

Dear, Dear Elizabeth, you came here looking for a little reassurance. I am here to give you lots and lots and lots of it: GET OUT! You are terrified of your husband, this long-standing situation is obviously affecting your emotional and perhaps physical health. Get out!

Many women stay in bad relationships until the children are grown. OK. You did it. Now you can go. Co-dependent people, like yourself, who think of others before thinking of themselves, and who are very frightened of change often feel unrealistic guilt at "abandoning" people they love. So, they stay in a painful situation out of guilt and fear and suffer.  OK, your job. Time for you!

Your "baby" is an adult! He can fend for himself! At his age, friends are more important than family, so don't be surprised that he got cold feet, electing to hang around at home for a while longer. He can, of course, always decide to leave again. He can take a job elsewhere; he can spend the night at a friend's; he come to you if he gets to the point where he's had enough too. The bottom line is that he knows his dad, and he's got a life outside of the home.

Look at it this way: if you don't leave because of him, your son is likely to feel guilty that you stayed because of him! Not that this feeling is rational, but Humans operate this way. So, by going, you do him a favor.

Please go to the CatBox Forum, if you haven't already. The CatBoxers are a lively group and will give you all the ongoing support you need! Watch them come here and help!

So, here's what you do:

bulletGet yourself physically cleared or do what you have to do to take care of your physical health. If it's a heart condition, follow the medical plan. If it's panic, don't walk out of the ER and leave it at that. They may or may not advise that you see your medical doctor, but go anyway. There are wonderful medications that will help you during this time of crisis like Zoloft or Celexa, etc.
bulletGet your stuff together and prepare to leave. Pick your day. Cover your bases with your the parts of the safety plan that relate to you.
bulletHave your son stay at a friend's that day, just in case.
bulletJoin the CatBox; post here. (I'll be back a few times over the week to check on you since this is a crisis.)
bulletPick your day, and GO! The sooner the better since staying only prolongs the anxiety and anticipation.

So, post! Good luck to you and may God bless you and yours. Dr. Irene

Dear Readers: What do you think? Any advice for Elizabeth?

You can no longer post. Thank you, Dr. Irene

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