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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!

Success Story: C&K

Success Story: C & K

"Give to the world the best you have and the best will come  
back to you."  -Madeline Bridges

September 11, 2000 

Dear Dr. Irene,

I don't have so much a question, as I do a success story. I noticed you had been asking for them, so I thought I'd share the work in process called this marriage. Thank you! Actually, this might be considered two success stories in process, since my parents are still working through their issues, and their story had such a profound impact on the decisions I made in my own marriage... Absolutely...

My husband and I celebrated our 16th anniversary this past summer. Congratulations! The most meaningful, remarkable thing I can see in reaching this milestone was in what we have overcome together. Our healing has involved mental, emotional, and spiritual healing. We continue to work on the physical part; for me, overcoming years of overworking myself and for him, finding a bio-chemical balance to compensate for bi-polar disorder, a pre-disposition to diabetes and hypothyroid.

Our marriage was doomed many times. It was a my, his, and our creation. It always is!

My Stuff:
I grew up in a violent home. On a weekly basis, my mother was physically abused: i.e., pushing, shoving, pinning against a wall, and sometimes worse. Frequently she was verbally abused - very ugly and profane. I never knew when or if this would escalate into violence. I remember many such occasions, so I knew it was ever possible. What a horror show for a kid. You can never just let go and be - a kid... When he wasn't threatening my mother, myself, my brothers or sisters, he abused the animals. Ugh! This occurred with much more regularity - almost nightly. My father also forced my mother into having sex at least once a week, which I couldn't help but hear through the thin bedroom wall separating us. The father of my childhood was a monster. I am so sorry...

When I was 17, he beat her up while I was at a school function. I came home to find her doing the laundry in the dark at 2 a.m., bruised hip to shoulder, etc. The next morning, I have no idea what she said to him, but he was never physically violent toward her again. Probably something on the order of, "If you ever touch me again..." But the verbal abuse continued. And she was a shrew, verbally slicing and dicing him down to nothing.  It went both ways. Yuk...

But things began to change for my father. I don't think it was any single event or thing that occurred, but they have volunteered over two years of their lives in the last ten years serving in different areas of the country for their church: helping dig out flood-damaged houses in the Mississippi river valleys in 1993 and other projects in other places. Excellent! I've watched my dad soften and become respectful and patient with my mother, even while she continues in her shredder behavior toward him. Amazing, no? She's still so angry... He doesn't verbally retaliate - ever to my surprise as my gut instinctively tenses when she does it - that kind of provocation used to create an all-out war in my home. Apparently, your mom took her power, sort of. Sounds like she flipped to the other side, that of enraged victim, taming him but at her own expense... 

I learned the hiding reflexes, never standing up for myself; the fear of sexual intimacy, never speaking my feelings; compulsively cleaning the house during a fight; never setting any boundaries - I mean, what child establishes boundaries for her parents??? Not a kid's job! 


Over the next year our lives and marriage went through "melt down". We had only been married 3 years when I went through the training. Three months after our 4th anniversary - I had stood my ground and said "NO" to sex. Physically it was painful and I went to an OB/GYN who bluntly told me there was nothing wrong with me except my head. Somewhere in that same time line, Kurt crossed a line with me I had vowed I would never tolerate - the one I saw my father cross regularly with my mother before I was 17 years old. We argued one morning about sex, and he slapped me, knocking me backwards. There was no mark, except that my cheekbone and the area around my eye felt like it was going to explode for two weeks. The headache was awful. I shut down emotionally and prepared to leave him. The physical abuse line had been crossed...

Even though his remorse was instant, I couldn't bring myself to even think about him - my feelings were dead. In fact within two weeks, we got stranded up in a mountain wilderness, miles from the nearest dirt road. It was October - temperatures from the teens to low 20's that night, and I wound up in hypothermia. The thing that came to me during the crisis was that I wasn't afraid to die. Kurt panicked. He had once been an EMT and knew the will to live was crucial to survival - and that he had everything to do with my lack of will. Wake up call?

From there, things plateaued. They didn't get worse. The hitting boundary eventually became a "no physical restraint" when a clergyman intervened and helped me set some boundaries during a separation. Within a couple of years of that boundary being in place, Kurt started 12 step recovery. The inspiration for that was that we read "His Needs, Her Needs" by Willard Harley, and followed that up by reading "Love Busters" by the same author. 

Although I nearly tossed "His Needs, Her Needs" out the car window based on Harley's premise that one of a man's five most basic needs is sex - and I'd had it up to You Know WHERE with the books Kurt brought home trying to fix my sexual aversion giggle! , I'm really glad we read it. His presentation of love busters in that first book led us to read up in more detail in the Love Busters book. An open mind never hurt...

It sunk in to Kurt that the angry outbursts he used to control situations were killing my sexual desire. Actually - this aversion was also kindled by his "selfish demands", "annoying behaviors", "dishonesty" (that I was the cause of all his problems), and "disrespectful judgments" (too many to mention).  No kidding? Trubble: stay put. Thanks for the input on the books. They're on order for review... 

We went through a second mini-melt-down in 1996 - Kurt had gone on the phen/fen diet.  I was cutting the dosages in half, but they still amplified the angry, agitated part of his manic-depression. At a critical point, he put me in a headlock and I left him with a dental tattoo.  Go girl!   Trubble: You're in the cat house. Go cat!  He called the cops, and I got written up on a domestic violence charge, issued a no-contact order for 24 hours. Shades of mom, huh? That's ok - I stayed away for a week. I stayed at his parents' house that first night, and he violated that no-contact order almost immediately.  I hung up on him, telling him that I was under a restriction and that I wasn't willing to break the law. He made more outrageous demands as we met with clergy and therapists to see if reconciliation was possible. At this point, I was firmly standing my ground. Living in a shelter for a month was more favorable than dealing with his abuse. I knew I did not NEED to be married any more. No, you did not need marriage...

He lost his job over the phen/fen influence (angry at work, short with customers and co-workers, not a good situation). Ouchhh! He went back to school. He lived downstairs in the basement while I lived upstairs. Through therapy, and my standing my ground, and him getting off the bad meds, we were able to reconcile. 

I took a sales course that proved as valuable as the training I took in the third year of our marriage. It taught me that "I" am a perfect ten, valuable and separate from my role performance. :) It also taught me that other people's anger is not about me - it's about them. :) :) A lot of the co-dependent and rescuing behaviors that were left over were eliminated through taking this sales course. It didn't hurt that my income doubled either - so it would be very easy for me to walk away without the financial hardships some women face. Yes. Money is power.

 So I got to be married by choice. The thing is, Kurt can't give me self-worth. That is something I either believe I have or I don't have; and I allow others to treat me according to my beliefs. Yes. You married by choice. Self-worth is yours only if you take it. It is up to you how you allow yourself to be treated. Good, empowering stuff.

Things are still rough at times. He is sometimes brusk with our son, but he is listening to me. We have worked out a code-word so that I don't undermine his discipline, but at the same time I can protect our son emotionally and physically. You are working as a team! Despite your personal issues, you two are pulling together! Yippeee! Extra good stuff!

There is still rough ground ahead. But I work on my issues and he works on his. Excellent! His 12 step recovery has included Sexaholics Anonymous, Sexual Compulsives Anonymous, and a few others - but his focusing on the incorrect patterns he learned as a child has helped him deal with the anger the most. You picked a great guy. (And he picked a great gal.) Despite coming from backgrounds where each of you had less than a chance, each of you overcame the odds. Bless you...

He no longer looks for sex to solve his problems. He doesn't try to emotionally manipulate me like he used to - he knows full well I won't take it anymore. :)

There will be more to this recovery story as it evolves. Like I said, a work in process. I don't take any healing for granted that it is permanent. It must be on-going to be preserved. 

Thanks for your website. It has really helped me in this journey. Thanks for your wonderful, encouraging letter. You two should have failed. didn't!

Love, Carol

My very best wishes, Dr. Irene 

and Love and purrs from ME , cuz what duz the doc know anyway. Doncha hate "professionals?" Yuks from the cat house.

You guys got comments for Carol and Kurt? 

I want to read the posts.