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4/14 Interactive Board: Codependent Partners

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Abuse? Alcoholism? Mental Illness?

Abuse? Alcoholism? Mental Illness?

From: Elizabeth
Sent: Friday, October 15, 1999 9:43 AM
Subject: Wondering

First Letter: September 1, 1999

Dear Dr. Irene,

I have been looking over your site off and on for the past two months. A very good friend of mine e-mailed it to me.  In your "Signs of Verbal and Emotional Abuse" page, it lists questions to see if you are in an abusive relationship and I was just wondering if I am the abuser.  I do ignore statements that are made (which he says are his feelings).  I think I withhold approval, appreciation or affection.  I do give him the silent treatment.  Maybe what I am about to say next is only to make me feel better about myself.  I can justify my actions.  He makes comments to me that hurt and I react in anger (which I realize is not the way to handle it), then after arguing, I start to ignore what he's saying because he's usually making statements about how I should have handled what he said in the first place.  That he was only trying to get some affection from me.  He tells me that I need to be more sensitive towards his feelings, so when he makes a derogatory comment, or accuses me of something, or makes an insinuating comment, that I am to say something like, "I didn't like what you said.  You must be bothered about something, honey.  What is it?"  I can't understand why he has to put me down and expect me to be sensitive to him.  Why can't he just tell me he feels like he needs some affection?
I already went through this letter. You are clearly not the abuser, even though you behave yukky at times. You are not obligated to mind-read. Your husband should be able to take care of himself by expressing his needs.  My most important comments will be at the end, for reasons which become obvious later.

This has been going on for over two years now.  It started almost instantaneously after we got married.  He wanted to know more about my past relationships.  I think that I was very open and honest about them.  I admitted to him years before we even got serious, that I had done things in my past that I am not proud of and that I regret, and it's too bad that I didn't know then what I know now, and I thought that he had accepted that.  I don't condone what I did.  I think that growing up without a male figure in my home and also a mother who didn't show affection, had a lot to do with the things I did.  I told him that I think that my upbringing had a lot to do with what I did, that I was confused about love and affection, and the fact that I did have a low opinion about myself (I thought I was ugly, no boys interested in me) didn't help.  But they were still my choices and my responsibilities.
We all make mistakes. Good for you for fixing lots of it.

He says that I lied to him about them, that I tried to "sugar coat" my past, that I have a "poor me" attitude about it, that in reality, that I was just out screwing around for fun.  He constantly throws snide remarks at me and then tells me that he said them because I wasn't paying him enough attention, or that I haven't "lusted after" him lately.  He tells me that he must not be good enough for me, that he'd get more attention from me if he were a complete stranger.  It is very difficult to give him attention/affection when he says things like "I bet you did this to all the guys" when I do, and when I don't, he says things like "I bet you did it (gave attention/affection, touched) for all the guys but me".

Your husband is very insecure. He is picking on you. He wants you to fix his insecurity by lusting after him. Of course, that will not fix it. Stop defending yourself. 

We have had a lot of confrontations over the issues of my "past".  He says that he has no problems with it, that I do because I haven't been honest with myself about it.  He has physically beaten me to "get the truth" out of me. 
Stop! Not OK. He says that he did it because he loves me so much and that he was hurting over my lying. Garbage. NO NO NO NO NO!  It has been over a year since he beat me last.  I think it scared him because I think he realized that he could have killed me and I think that his mother seeing the bruises and the pain I was in, also made him realize that if it happened again, that she wouldn't believe "the story" of falling down the stairs again.  This last beating happened only a few weeks after I got out of the mental ward.  You see, I admitted myself because I had thoughts of suicide.  I wanted to kill myself because I couldn't take his accusations any longer. I'm glad you got help. You sound much better now. He was telling me that it was my fault that he was drinking because I wouldn't "take care" of our problems (i.e., my lying, my lack of affection towards him).  This was the period when he used to call me names, very derogatory names.  He doesn't do it now.  I think at this point is when he started being abusive to my children.  He started ordering them around like they were his personal slaves (cracking his toes, massaging/scratching his back, getting him beer, picking up after him, calling them stupid pieces of sh*&...). Not OK. Why do you permit it? He does still call me insensitive, cold and a bitch from time to time.  He tells me that I am not normal because I am not sensitive towards his needs, that any normal woman could see what was really bothering him when he makes statements like he does.

He does not work.  This again is my fault because I am not being supportive of him. 
That I am not encouraging him to go and work.  He's supposed to be self employed.

He hasn't worked on any repairs around the house, because I am not being supportive of him and am not encouraging him to do so. 

He hasn't worked on the repairs on the cars (8 of them, 4 which he's suppose to sell).  For the same reasons as above.  It goes on and on and on.

I've walked out (running away is what he calls it) when I can't take it anymore. 
I think leaving such a difficult, demanding person is sane. Why did you come back?

I left (to my sister's) for 10 days.  He said that he realizes that he's done some wrong and he actually started to do things, at least work wise.  I know that I've done wrong too.  I think that my wrong has been not communicating and not being assertive.  Your wrong has been putting up with is ridiculous demands. He is asking you to do or take responsibility for things that are his responsibility to do! Your biggest wrong is not seeking safety...but now I'm at the second letter... 

He says that he realizes that he hasn't been communicating his needs appropriately.  But he continues to do it the same way.  At least he doesn't get as mad as he used to.  So what? Doesn't mean he won't in the future. Past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. He has said, several times, that he's had enough abuse, and that he needs to move on and find someone who truly appreciates him. But he doesn't leave.  Why should he?  He has no bills to pay.  He moved into my house, which he constantly reminds me is my debt, but almost in the same breath he will make statements like "my driveway, my yard, my fence, etc."  When I bring up finances to him, he tells me that it's my fault that I got into debt.  He doesn't seem to want to recognize that he helped me get there.  Earlier I said that he started to "work" while I was away.  Well it's slowed down to about nothing again.  He blames this of course on me.  Because I am not taking care of our problems.

There is so much more to say but I think I've said enough, at least for today.  I'm sure that whatever I've written here today probably doesn't make much sense anyway.
On the contrary, you are making perfect sense.

I really appreciate this site.  I'm glad I was directed to it, even though he is using some of the information against me (he found a print out in my book bag and took it).  Thanks for having this site available for us all to learn more about ourselves.

Let's be real clear about one thing: You are not the abuser. He is. Even though you behave very badly at times, you do not provoke and you do not try to control him by insisting it is his job to make you feel better, etc.

 Second Letter: October 14, 1999

Dear Dr. Irene,

I would like to continue or add to my story.  My husband thinks that there are gang members trying to poison him.  Not to kill him mind you but to see what kind of damage it may do to him.  He's been thinking like this for almost a year now.  He thinks that they've poisoned our food in our home and poisoned the vehicles with some kind of powdery substance.  This is why he thinks he's not physically capable of working and the cause of him physically abusing me. 

He thinks that the poison they are using is the by-products of the making of the drug "crank".  He says that this drug causes people to behave aggressively, thus the abuse; have physical pain or damage the body, thus not being able to work.  If this is happening, then why aren't we (my children and I) being affected in the same way?
He says that we are being affected because of my emotional behavior lately, blowing up or crying.  He says that this physical pain and the mental pain (that I've caused) is the reasons why he drinks. 
He drinks everyday.  The minimum amount is three beers a night.  He sometimes starts drinking in the early afternoon.  When I left to go to my sister's, he told me that he had quit drinking.  When I got back, he was still drinking but "only beer" as he states it.  Drinking is drinking in my opinion.  And the last month, it has gotten back to the hard liquor. At one point in time, he was up to a half a liter of gin everyday.  

I left again on September 29.  I told him that I just couldn't take the stress of thinking that someone is "out to get" us and that he is doing nothing about it.  He supposedly has proof but won't take it to the proper authorities.  I told him that I'd think about coming back after he had seen someone about his mental instabilities.  He told me a week later that he had gotten a clean bill of health from a medical doctor and the therapist told him that what he was experiencing was "burn out" and that he was in a "survival mode". 

My guess is that he was not entirely forthcoming with the doctor. He probably did not talk about the alcohol or the paranoia.  Meaning that he was lashing out, like a cornered animal, trying to survive his anxieties/stresses.  But when asked who he went to see, he changes the subject or says that it's not important, or asks if I doubt him, which I know I should say yes. Yes. Say "yes." But then I think to myself, if I tell him that I don't trust him that he'll throw the fact that I've talked to people about our problems in my face and that why should he in turn trust me. Because your problems are not normal problems. You need to face that and to recognize that you have to do something.

I came home with the kids recently.  I must admit that he has a more positive outlook on things, but I question his sincerity. 
It's not a matter of sincerity. It is a matter of addiction at best, possibly combined with serious mental illness. As I am writing this, he is painting a home to earn some money.  I guess that is promising, isn't it?  Not promising enough. He's been acting a bit too "sweet" at times, and he stresses to all of us to keep the kitchen clean.  He's constantly "cloroxing" the counters and he was cleaning up the kids' messes and doing their dishes until just a day ago until I told him that we could just load up the dishwasher and turn it on after it was full.  He is still drinking.  He was pushing the issues of his feelings again but  when I kept "blowing up" and telling him that he was making me responsible for everything again, he kind of has backed off of at least that subject.  He hasn't come right out and said that we're still being poisoned.  But he told me that he prayed about what was happening to him and got an answer that he was right.  Does this mean if he prays that he should kill me and/or the kids that he is right? Yes. That's the problem.  

He will actually leave the house unattended for awhile now (of course with cameras rolling).  He used to make someone stay home even with security cameras on.  Or make someone go with him whenever he went to the store so that the car wouldn't be left unattended.  He goes alone now.

He used to make one of the kids go with him whenever he did do any work on his home. He says that they owe it to him.
No. This is child abuse.   

He says that this last time I left him was the best thing that's happened to him.  He now realizes how wrong he was to make other people responsible for things that he should be doing for himself.  I still have my doubts and a lot of resentment.  I keep thinking that I should just call it quits because I can't handle the stress of wondering what's going to happen next.  Will we regress or progress? 

The therapists I've talked to have told me that he is a very delusional man and needs to be treated. 
YES! I've been told that the drinking may have caused his behavior or that he's a "crack" user which I doubt because he can't afford it.  Crack is cheap and he may be dealing. Crack addicts usually use alcohol to break the crash from the crack high. I've also been told that maybe he was given methamphetamine unknowingly and this could be a side effect of it. Unlikely. He's been delusional too long. Nevertheless, he needs treatment. His condition is serious and is possibly dangerous to you and your kids. The only way to know if the delusional thinking is drug or alcohol-related is for him to get sober. He needs alcohol rehabilitation at the very least and probably needs detoxification as well. He also needs to see a psychiatrist, preferably one experienced in dual diagnoses.

I know I'm wandering all over the place.  I just want to have a normal life for me and my kids.  Not having dinner at midnight, not staying up until 2:00 a.m. because we are being talked to, not having to worry if the house will be foreclosed, not worrying if he is in a bad mood, to not feel guilty for going to friends or family's homes, to not have to walk into the house and see his "stuff" scattered all over the house while he throws our things away, or saying just the wrong thing.

I hope that I haven't made this too mis-understandable.  I'm just lost. Not sure what to do. Again.  Thanks for having this web site to turn to.

Dear Elizabeth,

Your husband is an alcoholic. He may be a crack addict. He is abusive. He may be suffering from one of the paranoid disorders.  You may be in danger. With a history of having been beaten, delusional paranoia and drinking, your husband has the potential to hurt you and your children. You need to protect yourselves. Helping him, if he'll have it, is secondary. He is likely to resist help, though he went in the right direction when you put your foot down.

Who are these therapists you have consulted with? Go back. Can they help your family? Have you told them the whole story? 

I think you need to enlist all the support you can: friends, family, the police. See if your community makes a crisis team available. Perhaps Child Protective can assist you or point you in the right direction. Your husband needs to be taken to a hospital emergency room or an alcohol detoxification center for evaluation. You cannot trust him to go by himself. He will tell them very little. I promise. At the very least, he needs treatment for alcohol dependence.

You need to tell staff about the extent and duration of his drinking, the paranoia, the past violence. Talk about having been beaten, and how badly. Talk about any current safety concerns you may have.  In fact, print out this letter and give it to them. 

Your husband is a sick man. You probably won't know how sick until he has been sober for a while. You seem to hang onto small improvements he may make. Don't. All diseases I can think of wax and wane. Don't assume he is better because he can leave the house alone. His symptoms are serious. He has been this way for a year. This is not likely to get better any time soon. You are your family may be in danger. Get help.

May God help you and your family.

My very best wishes,  Dr. Irene