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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!

Courage to Leave

The Courage to Leave

Sent: Wednesday, November 24, 1999 1:50 PM
Subject: verbal abuse

Dr. Irene, 

I've been married for 10 years and took several of those ten to finally get the courage to leave/divorce my husband.  I was looking over the list of signs of verbal abuse and nearly 90% was "yes". 

When someone verbally and emotionally abuses you, you begin to believe negatively.  Your self-esteem begins to go down.  For the longest time, I felt "Who would ever want me?".  We tried to work things out time after time.  I told him several times things had to change. He would change for a few months, but later he would go back to the verbal abuse.  I was often criticized, humiliated in front of others, treated with no respect, no attention.  He was unfaithful, but yet denied it.  

I continued to believe things would get better.  It seemed in time they did, or maybe I just wanted to see it that way. We had our second child in 1997.  During my pregnancy, he wanted nothing to do with our child. He said harsh things that I could never forget.  I kept living a lie, thinking I really loved him.  I did love him, but after time instead of bridges being built, walls were built - and I developed resentment.  

My decision came one day about a month ago. We were about to have sex and he treated me with no respect, telling me to get my f****** clothes off.  That was the straw that broke the camel's back.  At that point, I knew I was much more worthy than that!  

I had been working at a great workplace where moral was high, the people were great and treated me with respect.  It took approximately three years to build my self-esteem and feel like I was someone special - and not just a door mat.  

I just wanted to let others know out there that no one deserves to be treated like this.  I really believe in order to love and respect someone, you have to love and respect yourself first.  I should have done this years ago, but it was too hard.  So for those that are saying it's too hard to leave...I know.  It took me  years to find the courage and strength.  But it's a mountain I have to climb, I'm nearly at the top. I know once I get to the top, things will be more clear and beautiful. 

Signed, Coming Back.

Dear Coming Back,

Thank you for sharing your experience. Thank you for letting readers know how a healing environment, where you were treated with the respect you intrinsically deserve, helped you to recognize your inherent self-worth. You know you're on the right path when, despite the fear you must face and overcome, it feels good inside!

My very best wishes,  -Dr. Irene