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4/14 Interactive Board: Codependent Partners

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Abusive Guy Wants Help

Abusive Guy Wants Help

June 7, 2000

Dr. Irene,

I honestly did not realize that I had been verbally abusing my wife for almost 14 years. I believe you. One day during an argument she suddenly said, "Do you realize this is verbal abuse?"  It was at that moment that I stopped dead in thoughts, expressions, anger...everything.  Something hit me inside so hard that I stood motionless for a few moments.  

It is because of my senseless actions and words that I have lost someone so perfect, probably forever.  She truly is someone that I should have loved, cherished and honored.  But stupid me just took her love for granted.  Oh how wrong that was.  I will never find someone like her again.  I feel so depressed and alone. This is the time to find yourself. Finding and loving yourself will let you love and cherish another...  But I know that the way I feel during this short time is nothing compared to how much I have been hurting her, killing her spirit and destroying her self-esteem.  I get what I deserve.  The feeling is so terrible.  I can't believe how much I have hurt her and yet she still talks to me and says she doesn't hate me.  How fantastic she is. She knows how to love other people; she is just learning to love herself.

Since that time I have tried to read everything I can on verbal abuse and your web site trying to find out how to make myself better.  That was back in January when I started reading your comments and other people's comments who also didn't deserve to be abused.  NO ONE HAS THE RIGHT TO EVER ABUSE ANOTHER PERSON!  Correct. But, you did not wake up each morning and say, "Self, how am I going to torment the wife today?" You are as much a victim of your own knee jerk reactions as your wife was.

Ms. Evans, yourself and other noted professionals all say that abusers can't change.  May I ask why? Huh? Have you really read this site? I work with many abusers. The motivated ones, who would rather jump off a roof than stay the way they are - change. 

I immediately stopped the name calling, the body language the controlling behavior, which she has acknowledged, since that there has been a change in me.  HOWEVER she says that right now she no longer has any feelings for me. She's very angry. Let her be. She says that anything that was there (feelings for me) is gone. Yes.  She is totally empty. Yes. She says that she has no desire to touch me, hug me, or have any kind of intimate contact with me. Of course. She says that she is not mad at me and will never hate me. Trust me: at some level, she is angry, and she should be. 

I asked her if she wanted me to leave and she unselfishly replied, "Why should you leave?  It's your house too."  Do you see how wonderful she is?  Why didn't I?  She still cares about me after all I have done to her (never any physical abuse).  She still finds herself asking me if she can go here or do this with her sister because she was so used to doing it.  I say to her that she doesn't have to do that (ask me) and she knows that but I have damaged her self-image so much that she knows no other way. Well, you may have the rare opportunity of being in a position to build her up!  By the way, how often do you tell her how wonderful she is?  She has both books by Ms. Evans (The Verbally Abusive Relationship; Survivors of Verbal Abuse Speak Out) and I have told her about your site, but she has never really liked computers.

We have three beautiful children whom we both love very much.  I REALLY want to change and have been making progress, but I keep going to her asking her to give me answers to questions she doesn't know how to answer.  I know this is wrong. Then stop doing it. Write your questions down. Come back hours, days, or months later. See if you have the answers. 

I read several letters from your readers that say to just leave her alone for however long it takes. Yes. Because of my own hurt I can't seem to even give her that.  I am still being selfish and putting my needs before hers.  I believe that I am doing this because of my own self-guilt, jealousy, insecurity, and my own hurt.  Yes. I now realize just how much I have hurt her and I want to try and let her know this in some way.  I want her to get better.  OK, so STOP putting your needs before hers. And don't even tell her how hard you are working doing it! Just do it. In time, she will notice. Also, when in doubt, do nothing. That means, zip the mouth shut and think about it after you've chilled. And selfishly, I'd like to start over with her.  One with equality and caring.  One with no verbal abuse, but one with understanding.  Is that something wrong for me to want?  Absolutely not! 

One day I think that it would be better if I just leave so that I can sincerely give her space, but I feel that if I do that I'll lose her forever.  See how selfish I am?  If I do lose her forever it'd probably the best thing that I could do for her so that she can get a new start on life, away from the years of verbal abuse.  The best thing you can do for your wife and the children you both have is to become her partner. Become as kind and thoughtful as she is. If you really, really want this lady back - no guarantees - you will do this. Doing this is a win-win anyway, because you are really doing this for yourself. You feel better about you. Others feel better about you. You can be a partner; you can have a relationship. Do not let your fear get in your way...

Dr. Irene.  I know that you receive hundreds of emails from people like myself, but if you could respond to my letter, I'd be very thankful.  I'd like to know what can do to help her. Help yourself. Not control her by telling her, but what can I do for her through myself, words and actions.  Be kind and selfless. Put  your own ego aside (that is all your insecurity, jealousy, resentment, unfairness, etc., etc.) and act towards her as she has acted towards you. In other words, you need to connect with what is inside and to grow up emotionally. You may want to check out these books: Grow Up!: How Taking Responsibility Can Make You A Happy Adult and Codependence: Dance of the Wounded Souls.

If leaving her is the best thing for her, then I just need to accept that fact.  She is the most important person in the world to me.  I am going to an anger therapist and a hypnotherapist to try and help me.  I just Love her so much and I know that just telling her that now will mean nothing to her. Correct. Actions speak louder than words.  Please help me or give me suggestions on how I can put her first and rid myself of my own selflessness by wanting my own pain to go away. Don't act out on your pain. Separate your ego from your higher self. Feel your pain, hear it's message and accept it. Then let it go and get on with life's next demand. You have no time to dwell in guilt, anger, self-pity, etc. Pull yourself out of those places as soon as you hear what the message is.

Thanks for all your help and guidance.  Whatever happens to me, I hope that my wife is able to recover and go on to live the rest of her life happy and without any more abuse. David,  Whatever happens to your wife, I hope that you are able to recover and go on to live the rest of your life happy and without any more abuse of yourself or others.  Dr. Irene

Gang, Any comments for David? Please press "Submit" just once.

Later the same day this was posted, another email from David:

Dr. Irene,

Words alone cannot express how much I appreciate you answering and posting my
letter.  Just to let you know, since I wrote that letter, I have taken on a whole new perspective.  I no longer wallow in self-pity or poor me.  Good! I have overcome that.  Now I am focusing on the pain she is feeling and doing all I can to give her the space she needs and at the same time be there for her if she wants me to.  Wonderful start! You asked how often I tell her I think that she is wonderful.  I tell her every day.  But now she feels that it was just a routine that over the years I just automatically say.  Not true, but that's how she feels, so I respect her for her feelings.  I really feel better since I wrote you that letter. :) I know that there are no promises or guarantees, but that's okay now.  The three things I am focusing on are getting myself better and understanding how and why I ever did  what I did, supporting my wife in any way that I can, and supporting my children since they are going through this too.  The good thing is my wife and I are talking to the children together and that seems to help them cope a lot better.

Thanks again  Dr. Irene.  And thanks for posting my letter.  I hope that someone else out there can gain some insight and help them. David

I'm very happy to hear all this good stuff... But, please, David, this page is primarily for you . Learn to accept what is offered. That is part of your recovery!

You're doing a lot right kiddo. Feel free to keep us posted. My very best, Dr. Irene

I want to read the posts.