|February 15, 2000
Dear Dr. Irene,
I have waited to tell my story and I am so glad that I have because I have
learned so much here.
Firstly, Codependency is a serious problem. Yes. It is not just some light definition of a
victim. Quite the contrary. The abuser is codependent too. Both partners are disconnected from
the self; don't hear the self; don't respect the "directives" of
I had the romantic courtship of a life time with my wonderful and handsome
second husband and then we merged two families, five kids after one year. Wow! This was where my codependency frenzy began.
My husband became my identity. Ooops!
Therefore, I set to changing him into the image I wanted of myself. Double ooops! Better manners, comb you hair
differently, wear blue instead of black, organic coffee, lose weight,
parent more effectively, etc., etc.
J tried so hard to please me - yet there was always more that I wanted,
believe me! Although, I have to say that he had some pretty serious
withholding issues: no joint checking accounting (wouldn't do it), credit
card for the Mrs. (no way), plans on the weekend with kids (almost never),
vacation (forget it), a hobby (avoidance) leading all the way to full
blown scary humiliating verbal abuse. Triple ooops!
I ask you doctor, which came first, the pain in the neck codependent or
the pain in the neck abuser? How come the codependent is a "pain in the neck"
and the abuser is not? Well, I just made you guys even. Were you being a
bit codependently over-responsible? I'll tell you they were
happening simultaneously. We were, what we were, when we found each
other! Yes! Each of you stepped all over the other's
boundaries and allowed your partner to trample
over your own boundaries.
My depression and J's verbal abuse escalated to a restraining order and my
moving out 2 weeks before Christmas. My spirit had been completely
broken down. The last thing I ever wanted to do was leave him. Yes. I just couldn't stand his seething hate and
anger at me anymore. Good! I was afraid for
my life. I thought that either he would kill me or I might wither
and die on my own. No more ooops. This is a definite
After I left and started educating myself about verbal abuse, I tried to
talk to J about it. I was not being heard. He felt very angry and
defensive. Very common... Then, when
some more time went by and I could talk to him about my codependency then
- and only then - did I get his attention. I did not minimize the
hurt and fear that I experienced from his verbal abuse. I just came
clean with my very big share in the mess. Codependency, also known
as mother control (ugh!). Yes. Codependent victims
are far from innocent. That's a big part of what this site is about. Note:
Lack of innocence is not to be confused with blame! Assigning blame
or guilt is nonproductive. Assigning responsibility for behavior
Now J and I are talking about how fearful we were. Good!
Intimacy is about trusting each other with these vulnerable feelings - and
never, ever using them against the other. How when we were
together, we loved each other so much, we were always afraid the bottom
was going to drop out. We went to one therapist who told us our
marriage needed God in it and that because we went to a J.P. (to marry) it
shows we need more devotion (yikes!). Well, devotion
never hurt, but you'd probably be in the same fix no matter who married
you. I am a devout Christian. We need some serious
intervention and are still seeking it. Good.
We have a date to read this site together, order some books, and see my therapist - whom we both like
- together. We have come clean with each other, both of us, it was
the only way. Yes.
I think that more men would see the light if more women would take their
share of the responsibility. Abusive relationships are not a one man
or woman show. Correct. The sad part is that
victims, and who can blame them, too often get bent out of shape when
asked to take responsibility for themselves. They are correct in saying
that they are not responsible for the abuse - no matter what! - but, they are
responsible for doing what they have to do to get out of the line of fire
when they are being abused.
Finally, leaving J was just the beginning of my getting help with my
codependency. Exactly. The benefits of leaving:
time abuse has escalated, both partners are too angry to work on
themselves, and they are often stuck in an awful no-win, blame pattern
they can't break out of. |
victim has had enough and decides to leave, they give themselves the
time and space to center, take responsibility, and work on recognizing
and no longer accepting abuse. |
other hand, the abuser usually needs to be left to "hear"
that their partner really, really means it! It's not trivial,
its not "All in your head." Once left, the abuser has
the time and space to begin taking responsibility for his or her
often serves as a wake-up call to both partners in more or less
"normal" cases. |
either party is too pathological, or the victim is too angry, or the
abuser is too abusive or too antisocial,
or even if there is too much water under the bridge, the couple cannot
not create this healthier space - where each can fix themselves. |
|The trick is
for each individual to hold onto the "fix myself and only
myself" frame of mind.|
With or without J, it is the
beginning of a journey for me. I hope that we heal and end up
together. So do I. But I know, that no
matter what, I am healing every day and will end up with myself! Yes, you lucky person, you! Gee whiz I'll have to
work on my own manners! Gee whiz! Lori
Good luck. You guys
are on the right track. Your immediate job is not to allow abuse; his is
to control his behavior no matter how "motherly" you are
behaving. (He can tell you that you are being momish. Tell you respectfully.)
Each will need to focus on where you individually mess up. In the long run
each person's respective job is to become your best self, a person you
know, love, and fully respect. (The opposite of codependent stuff.)
Everything else flows from here. Each of you will have set backs. I
promise. That's OK. Just pick up, learn from your mistakes and keep on
My very best
wishes to you and yours, Dr. Irene
Ps: Keep us
I would like to read others' postings.