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4/14 Interactive Board: Codependent Partners

3/23 Interactive Board: He's Changing... I'm Not...

3/1 Interactive Board: D/s Lifestyle

1/14 Interactive Board: My Purrrfect Husband

12/12 Interactive Board: What if He Could Have Changed?

10/23 Interactive Board: Quandary Revisited

8/24 Interactive Board: Quandary! What's Going On?

7/20: Dr. Irene on cognitive behavior therapy and mindfulness

6/12 Interactive Board: Unintentional Abuse

11/7 Interactive Board: Is This Abusive?

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...

4/7 Interactive Board: Too Guilty!

Do I Have To Become Buddah?

Do I Have To Become Buddha?

by Dr. Irene

August 13, 2000

The following comes from a guy who is sincerely motivated to fix his stuff and win back his estranged wife. 

"My wife and I quasi-formally separated some months ago.  We've had limited contact since then.  My wife has given me numerous opportunities to take the high road since then and I have failed the test every single time.  Somewhere along the way I think Barbara  made the philosophical shift that IF I could treat her like a human being despite my shock and horror at her current lifestyle, we could start our way back to couple-hood again.  She even said so when I asked her about the brief interludes of good behavior that I exhibited.  

But since I am so hurt, confused, angry, stuck in verbally abusive behavior, undeveloped emotionally, a man, etc. etc. I would most of the time lapse into either begging, crying, or verbally abusing her about her boyfriend, mainly.   Even if the encounter started off good, it would degenerate.  So I think she has shifted the paradigm back to the less contact the better, with the real possibility of divorce.  

Ironically, this "end of the road" scenario is probably what I needed to force me into treating her as she deserves to be treated despite the heinous personal situation I find myself in."   David.

"Do I have to become Buddha?" The answer is, essentially, yes, my friend. 

The Obstacles

You are learning to overcome a narcissistic style in dealing with the world. You have lied to yourself and distorted reality to maintain your special-ness - which now you finding existed only on the surface and hid the emptiness inside. 

You are overcoming a distorted sense of entitlement that required a constant replenishment of esteem supplies. You are overcoming having had to be the center of your partner's life. Despite your devaluation of your partner when he or she did not live up to your expectations. When you felt frustrated, too often you withdraw your love - and resorted to rage. You provided very little emotional satisfaction for your partner, yet demanded  perfect responsiveness in return.

You are overcoming emotional immaturity while typically being over-responsible at tasks. (Some of you accomplished little, but dreamed a lot, "knowing" your talent had gone unrecognized.) Numb to your own pain and the pain of others, inner feelings only got in your way - unless you sensed potential injury to your depleted inner self...

Unfortunately, your ego was bigger than your self.  You had difficulty with emotion and intimacy, and had dealt with this by projecting your own inadequacies onto others through rage and demands for perfect performance. You have blamed your partner for problems in a relationship. You feel alone. You are.

All this nearly killed your inner self, whose prime nutrient is personal integrity and self-control.

The High Road Fix

First of all, all of the above is not your fault. It is nobody's fault. Everybody did the best they could. But, through heredity and/or faulty parenting, bingo, you're the one with the problem now

You will never repair all of the problems overnight, even if you think you finally "see the light." These ingrained and habitual patterns take a while to fix. Think of it as having to go through a series of stages - of uncovering subtler and subtler aspects of the same thing.

You never learned to tolerate what is. You have to do that now. But, prone to depression and/or anxiety, etc., get some chemical help first. This will help you deal with the emotional highs and lows to come - and help you not react as much as you go through them.

What you need to practice, practice, practice:


Pay attention inside.


Do nothing - simply tolerate the intolerable feelings. You can do this; you can stand it.


"Doing nothing" includes not beating yourself up, discussed elsewhere on the site. 


Empathize with your difficulties. You are a victim too. You never learned more appropriate skills. But, you are learning them now, as you do these exercises.


Strengthen your impulse control skill "muscles" by walking away, exercising, or otherwise not reacting behaviorally or verbally until you've chilled and had time to think. Is what you want rational? Realistic?

Before you say or do anything, always ask:


If I do or say (whatever), will that raise or diminish my integrity?


If I do or say (whatever), how will (whomever) feel? What will that do to my integrity?


Strive to make your integrity your guide that determines what you will or will not do or say.  

Specifically For David

David has done quite a bit of work in overcoming his deficits. 

"...I have failed the test every single time." You need more practice.

"...IF I could treat her like a human being despite my shock and horror at her current lifestyle, we could start our way back to couple-hood again." Not only are you being asked to tolerate awful stuff, but this is an acid test that ordinarily you would never, ever consider tolerating. I know you are motivated by getting her back, and that is good, but, you are really doing it for your personal development. Tolerate the impossible situation and don't act out. (Just practice in your imagination and at every opportunity you get.) If you notice yourself acting out, abort the reaction immediately.

Help her facilitate her aims, whatever they are, and despite how discrepant they seem to a life together. It's OK to feel sad while you are doing what you are doing. How could you feel otherwise? Be her friend. Nothing else works. Nothing else will restore your integrity. 

Now, get this: once you can accomplish all of the above, knowing how much you can give, you may no longer want her back...  Dr. Irene

Comments for David? Please be kind, especially if you are a victim. Don't forget that David did nothing to you. Learning to let your anger go, while never again permitting abuse is the victim's task. Otherwise, you jeopardize your own integrity!     

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