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4/14 Interactive Board: Codependent Partners

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

11/4 Interactive Board: A New Me!

10/8 Interactive Board: Seeming Impossibility

9/8 Interactive Board: My Ex MisTreats Our Son

5/1 Interactive Board: I feel Dead - Towards Him

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

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

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Doc@DrIrene.com

Wanda: We're Trying...

We're Trying...

February 14, 2000
Dear Dr. Irene (and readers),

 

Thank you so much for sharing so many encouraging and empowering stories and ideas.  I am a codependent who left my abuser a few years ago and THOUGHT just doing that would make ME "all better".  Good start though!

I met a man who was (on the surface) so different from my abusive ex-husband.  I was sure life would be perfect and I would be happy at last.  Those of you who have been there can imagine what comes next. Little by little, my "perfect" relationship with this "perfect" man began to unravel.  I found myself constantly critical of him for no apparent reason. I complained about the way he ate, the way he talked. If I could have thought of a way, I would have complained about the way he breathed!  We began having terrible fights. He would bellow at me, and I would alternate between screaming back and crumpling to the floor and crying uncontrollably.    

"What is wrong with me?  Why am I driving this "perfect" man away?"  I would whine to myself, sure I was to blame for everything and heading into a deeper and deeper depression.  Then it happened.  My mother called to talk to my son on his birthday.  My younger son had been whining because he wanted a snack he had refused earlier and I told him "no," because it was time to to bed. Note, these are my children from my previous marriage.  

My "perfect" man suddenly began to berate me in a very loud voice for not punishing my child more severely - I had simply and firmly said "no" and that it was time for bed - while my mother was on the phone hearing every word.  I was not sure what to think. His reaction was so sudden and so uncalled for.  I could not come up with any "excuse" for him. This time I was not being critical, causing him to blow up. Nor could I pretend it hadn't happened. There was a witness!  

It was then and ONLY then that I realized: there never had been an excuse1  I realized my constant criticism about little unimportant things was my anger over his yelling and cursing at me all the time - something I was too afraid to confront him with.  I was afraid that he might not be willing to change and I might have to leave (again), something I do not want to do.  I have searched my heart and I do love this man!  As I sat wondering whether I should start packing my bags, my heart filled with so much sadness, uncertainty and anger, I began to browse the net, hoping to find some ray of hope.  I found this site. 

As I read, I cried, but the more I read, the more I felt, "Here is help". I read about acting out and how I needed to take responsibility for myself. I took a deep breath, and I went to this man - this imperfect man I love - and looked at him. I realized I needed to let him know that this one particular thing - I just could not live with.  I started by telling him I knew that I had been very critical of him for a very long time and that must have hurt him immensely.  I asked him to forgive me.  Then, I did the hard part: I told him the truth.  I told him I loved him and I wanted us to grow together and have a happy, healthy relationship.  I told him that for ME that meant that I had to take care of myself.  I told him that his bellowing  and cursing me was hurting me, and that I could not accept that kind of behaviour for myself or for my children.  I told him I believed he was capable of changing this behaviour, but I was not sure if he wanted to.  Then I shut up and listened, something I had not been doing much of.

 

He talked about his hurt and frustration.  He talked about being sad because he knew he was hurting me.  He talked about not knowing how to stop because he had always yelled when he was mad.  He talked about feeling himself push me away and not wanting to.  He talked about being afraid of being hurt.  I listened.  I didn't judge.  I didn't criticize.  It felt good.  It felt like ME being ME for the first time in a long time.  We reached an agreement:  He will do his best to stop yelling.  I will do my best to stop criticizing.  We agreed on a "stop" phrase for both behaviors, and committed ourselves to STOPPING when we say it to each other - no matter how we feel.  We committed ourselves to go to counseling, both together and separately.  

I don't know if we both will do these things we have promised consistently, but, I know we CAN.  If either one of us does not, then we both need to move on.  And that would hurt, but I will be okay.  I will be checking into this site often, to remind myself: I am NOT a "victim" and no one can make me one without my permission!  I am responsible for what kind of behaviour I will tolerate for myself and my children.  I am strong and I am capable of making good decisions and taking care of myself and my boys!  Thanks for reminding me, and giving me the courage to take control of my life again!

Sincerely, Wanda

Dear Wanda,

Wow! This is good stuff! I am so psyched that you put the site material to such good and proper use! 

Amazing things happen when you center and take your power. I am attaching a message board for others to respond to your inspiring story - and for you (or yours) to keep us posted, if you wish. 

May God bless you and yours. My very best wishes, Dr. Irene

No comments, but I would like to read the posts.