Comments for Imbalance of Anger

Comments for Imbalance of Anger

Material posted here is intended for educational purposes only, and must not be considered a substitute for informed advice from your own health care provider.

Courtesy of Dr. Irene Matiatos   Copyrightę 1998-2001. The material on this website may be distributed freely for non-commercial or educational purposes provided that author credit is given. For commercial distribution, please contact the author at


Tuesday, May 08, 2001


I know some of what you are facing. I to had this sort of decision to make last Summer. The GOOD NEWS for me was I did leave, BUT it woke up my partner, and now we are again working on our relationship.

It was a tough decision for me. I had a pictures view in my head of a happy family with a nice little house and a family that worked together. I tried to make it work. In fact most of my friend envied our perfect ideal little family.

How did I crack this fantasy view. Well first I made an action plan of where I would live, how I would provide financially for myself, what access I would allow my partner. I NEVER left anything unplanned.

I kept telling myself if only I could stay things might get better, but after 8 years of telling myself this, nothing had. We did go on holidays and have fun days out. In fact on the outside we looked great.

The point was things weren't great. He never hit me, in fact only those very close to me knew the issues.

THE KEY POINT was I was accepting and excusing him. I would say but I don't want to break up my daughter's home. I had the beautiful house, a good job, we finally got to the material places we wanted to get.

AND that is when it hit me, we still weren't happy. I continued to excuse him. After all I was doing it for my daughter. OR WAS I? WAS I really doing her any favours? SO I want the best for my child, if this is true why am I buying her a legacy that will mean in years to come she'll have to work her recovery like me. HOW SELFISH OF ME!!

I was teaching her that it is okay to excuse poor treatment, since me and you darling don't matter. JUST lets keep daddy happy and everything will be okay. IT doesn't matter that you will learn that it is okay to be mistreated and excuse it. NO MATTER, you will have to work through all this later in your life. DID you deserve this??

A child deserves to be in a healthy environment, any environment won't do. The reams of evidence I saw of children who now had to go through painful recovery all because their mommy didn't have the courage. TO say NO! I am not putting my child through that.

I left and yes it did hurt, me and my daughter, but it showed her daddy and her that being mistreated isn't okay. AND HE WOKE UP!!

And even if he didn't wake up, the tears would mean I didn't put her through years of endless pain and teach her poor lessons.

I would do what Dr Irene said "Tell him you are not going to put up with this." You will not subject your child to such unhealthiness, and then let him choose.

Loretta, sometimes you have to demand what you want, before others will give it. And yes sometimes that means leaving. AND others it is only necessary to be straight and say what you will accept.

Take care, God Bless Theressa

Tuesday, May 08, 2001

Dear Loretta,

Unfortunately I don't have any words of wisdom - just empathy and compassion for your situation.

A week ago I asked my verbally abusive and alcoholic husband for a separation. The next day I found out that he had been unfaithful in the marriage - it opened my eyes up like nothing else to the reality of the marriage and my need to take full responsibility to make healthy choices for me. On Friday, I confronted him. He admitted to a "make out session" with someone on a business trip in 1991. He had a one night stand with a coworker in 1997. And he admitted to becoming emotionally involved with a woman at work - they only made out and he felt her up but told her he loved her in 1999.

What would you do if you were me? Believe his story? It is clear that he can't even admit to himself the extent of his indiscretions or bad behavior.

Should I:

Accept his apology because he doesn't want to break up the family? Accept the fact that in his eyes, he was so unhappy that it was ok to have an affair - and I wasn't there for him, was I? Accept the "I love yous" again? Accept the fact that he says he'll stop drinking and get counseling again? Accept the fact that he still has not acknowledged his verbally abusive behavior to me and the children?

I have very weak boundaries and low personal self esteem. Several times during the last few days, I've actually almost weakened to allow myself to believe his reality as to the above.

Thank god for the love and support of my family, friends and this board.

And I would stay married for what reason... more abuse, alcoholism and adultery?

I read your letter just after the latest round of him telling me that I needed help because I was consumed with anger and twisting the facts!!! This is a man who came home drunk again last night.

My anger at his affairs is appropriate and real. My awareness of my own weak boundaries and low personal self esteem is important to resist believing the lie of the marriage or any more of his lies. He just left a message on the answering machine that he loved me. What I thought I had in my marriage was a myth.

The choice is clear. It is time to get out. And I can spend more time afterwards learning to strengthen my boundaries and learning to love mySelf.

I have 4 children whose perceptions of what has been going on is very clear. Their Dad's behavior is wrong and their Mom needs to leave the marriage.

Love and hugs to you, Loretta. Your husband does not deserve such a good person and you have the responsibility to yourself, just like I do to demand much better.

Take care. Honey

Tuesday, May 08, 2001

Dear Theresa - Thank you for telling me your story. It hit home and has helped immensely. That is us exactly - the perfect little family. We have the beautiful house and the great jobs and everyone thinks we are the ones to envy. We go to school functions. We hug each other a lot. That has made it even harder, I think. We also have a rhythm to our daily lives that make them "comfortable". But as Dr. Irene saw so well, I have this anger that is telling me something rather clearly. I just need to listen. There is no real comfort here. About a year ago I was walking down our driveway. We live in a beautiful, peaceful spot literally at the edge of the wilderness. And I ticked off everything I'd wanted, and then realized, "I have everything I'd ever wanted. So why am I so unhappy?"

On the upside, there is a house for sale on our street, the first I've seen in our two years here. I can afford it. It could work for us. 

Your post gave me great strength to do what needs to be done. I do not see that my hubby will ever "wake up", because my therapist went through the diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder with me last night, and he met the criteria. There seemed little doubt. That is a terrible thing to face in the person I've made such a bond with, but it also made me "wake up" to the fact that he simply cannot change because he is incapable of seeing how he is. Excellent. That was both the end of hope and the beginning of hope. Rebirth. I could stop hoping that he would change (because at lucid moments he would say he wanted it all to work Actions speak louder than words...), and start having real hope for happiness. That is where I want to go now - toward that real hope for happiness.


Wednesday, May 09, 2001

Loretta, I am in a similar situation now. I have been holding in my anger for so long it has seeped out. My body is paying the price. I have high cholesterol and triglycerides. I am tired and exhausted. Meanwhile my husband walks around in complete denial that he should be accountable for his actions. His response is that he "has a wife problem". I have been paying the price for his irresponsible behaviors for the duration of our marriage. When I announced that I was not playing his games any longer. He filed for divorce to "teach me a lesson". He was also angry with the fact that I decided to tell all my family and friends that he had been abusive. My family and friends were relieved to see me take control of my life and stop being his depository for all his pain. He continues to lie, manipulate, and blame me for all his actions. He is refusing to change. I have been advised that it will take a major loss like divorce to make him see that he has to change because what he is doing is wrong. He does not think he has a problem. My husband begged and pleaded with me that he would change and show me the love I deserved. He used this time to try to twist and turn things around so that he could convince everyone that he was not to blame. That he was justified in his actions. He is only worried about how he looks to everyone else. Not what this is doing to his family and how this makes me feel. His actions lately with his covert/passive aggressive actions are speaking louder than words to me right now. He is not changing he is getting better at it. So, do yourself a favor Loretta. Learn to listen to that anger. Like Dr. Irene says it's your body telling you that something is wrong.

Wednesday, May 09, 2001


I feel saddened when I see women in the same situation that you are in. I have friends who experience emotional and verbal abuse on a daily basis and suffer physical and emotional illnesses. It bothers me that my friends cannot see what their issues really are. They walk around in denial and in a cloud and make excuses for their husbands. They tell me in one breath that their husbands did something awful and in the next breath tell me about their "wonderful" lives. It's not wonderful. It's denial. These women have depression because of their marriages. They have physical illnesses for which they are running to the Dr's every other day. They "protect" their husbands by keeping their secrets. They sacrifice their souls and lose their spirit and sense of self in the process. They spend their lives reacting to their problems rather than living by making conscious choices and living by the thread of who they really are. They are not the mothers they could be as a result because they are not the person they are deep inside. Is it worth to sacrifice yourSelf for some idea of what you think you have... For some idea you think you are giving your children?

My children suffered more in this marriage than out. They still see their father nearly on a daily basis. My husband and I fought nearly daily, the children were not impervious to the abuse. It has a trickle down effect. They saw an angry mother who got angry when her pantyhose ran. They saw a mother too drained of energy to spend any real time with them. I was not in the here and now. I was always in the last fight, always in the last hurt.

My husband is emotionally inaccessible. He always has been. He turned to another woman 5 years ago and made it his quest to find a next one more than once. Mine never admitted it though. He denied it and then when our marriage ended and I finally had the courage to talk about it with him he admitted to it without giving up any details. But for the previous 5 years he made me believe I was crazy to "imagine" it was really happening. This man has no respect for who I am. He does not know who I am. He has never shared anything with me on an intimate level. It's no surprise he "blamed" me for being cold, just as yours is doing with you. These men do not hold themselves accountable, they do not take responsibility for their own actions. They are emotionally messed up and we are their receptacles for their pain. They turn it on us. They are like rebellious teenagers, blame, blame, blame and never take responsibility.

You do whatever it is you need to do. In time either your spirit will be so dead that you finally get yourSelf your own life, the life you deserve or you may turn into the shell that you will become and will be one of those martyred women who stuck it all out for the sake of the kids and the idea of what you think you have. What a lonely way to live.

I could go on about this forever. I know what it's like to be where you are. This man is emotionally dragging your heart around. Not only your heart but your mind. Don't let him blame this on you. My husband did the same thing to me. When I asked him to leave, he kept telling me it was "my" choice. Hah! My choice? He left me no choice, I was dead inside and completely crazy to boot. That's what this man did to me. I "betrayed" him in his mind because I told people of what he did. Made him look like this bad guy... Hah! I betrayed him? Can you believe it? I needed to talk about to know I wasn't crazy. To know I there was still a thread of being that was sane! And I am!

We all need people. We all need support. If he's not there to fill your emotional needs where else are you supposed to go to fill them? You are worth more than that. What are you worth? Why is his worth worth more than yours? Stop sacrificing your worth for this man! You are losing more and more respect from this man by standing by and taking it. In time it will only get worse. The more you give him the more he'll take and the less respect he'll have for you each time you give him your worth and self-respect.

Wednesday, May 09, 2001


The way you will cope is, you will allow your self moments to sit with your feelings, and cry until you can't cry no more. The rest of the time you keep busy, living Loretta's life.

One thing I've learnt is that I was so lonely because I had NO REAL LIFE. So I started to set some goals and to act. As Dr Irene says if you want a better social life, go out and arrange one.

If you want something in your life act to put it there, even if it will take lots of steps, one step is the start.

It really is okay to cry, to be sad. IT is out of this sadness you will gain hope and start to plan for the future. Having the courage to say NO, this isn't working is success. Failure comes when one stays stuck, since nothing changes.

IT really is as simple as, when you start to respect you, and say NO more, your spouse sits up and so does the rest of the universe. WHICH is why working on the inside, and questioning your values for staying, your beliefs is what you need to do. SINCE these values and beliefs are the energy behind your actions.

IF you think I don't deserve this treatment. This isn't okay. And you start to question is it really good to stay etc. YOU modify your beliefs and values and thus, your actions will change.

When I thought I deserved a clean home. And not just to please and live up to others expectations. I could clean and Say I deserve this.

I won't tell you it is easy. For it isn't, nothing is that is worth having. Success is measured by the effort you have to put in to succeed. THOUGH it is worth it.

I allowed myself to cry. Then I decided what I was going to do to get the life I wanted.

Therapy helps a lot. REMEMBER YOU HAVE NOTHING TO FEEL GUILTY ABOUT since taking care of you and your son is your priority. Your husband is responsible for himself. YOU don't owe anybody anything, they get what they choose in life.

If they choose to mistreat others, then they will lose them. They can also improve and treat you better and then through this choice you may in the future want to work on things.

Loretta this is the beginning of a great adventure. NO need to fear either. You just need to face the fear and it does disappear. HONESTLY. Though at the time you feel frustrated.

You push through your fears and make plans. Then you realise you were just fearing the unknown.

Loretta you deserve a better life, and you are the only one who can make this happen.

GOOD LUCK and Remember to talk to the big guy (God), when you feel low.

Get a journal also to write in how you feel. What you need to do to push your life forward.

AND try visiting the catbox. The book above, Emotional Blackmail: helped me grow to this stage.

Take care Theressa

Wednesday, May 09, 2001

Loretta, You definitely need to stand up for your self. Dr. Irene is so right. You have not committed the wrong here. Your husband has. You will feel so much better when you do. Your husband can't have his cake and eat it too. And you need to let him know that. Good luck Tina

Wednesday, May 09, 2001

TO Loretta: I have been going through a VERY similar situation for several months; when I asked if he would give up the relationship to work on our marriage, the answer was "NO", so I am wondering where to go from here, now. There are no kids involved, but I am in my late fifties, have been divorced before (from an abuser/alcoholic) and even separation is not a pleasant prospect to me. We own business together plus some investments that would be difficult and messy to split up. After I found this website the other day, I have been glued to it, and have found already some peace from just understanding myself as a codependent and as being abused in painful but subtle ways for years. I am a Christian, and am working on finding God's will in this whole thing, as I am sure He is using all this to work in my life for the better. I do know this: no matter what course I decide to take with the marriage, I have been in such a poor state of mind over this that there has been little opportunity for God to use me for any purpose of His. I have decided that working on my own problems as a codependent and "enabler" of bad behavior, plus a close and probably uncomfortable look at myself and my poor opinion of myself will at least make me a more open and useful person. So, I am starting on a journey to establish my self worth and to do positive things using the knowledge that God loves me unconditionally, even if no one else may. I want to like myself instead of feeling like a hopeless, confused, sobbing jellyfish!

Look to God for His answers; He show us everything in His word that we need to know, and will steer us to look at things that will give us wisdom and understanding about ourselves and others!


Saturday, May 12, 2001

Dear Loretta,

I can relate to so much of what you are saying. My h has been emotionally distant for so many years. Never really there, and I never understood why. He would claim to love me, but slowly over the years, the abusive rages would escalate. We became foster parents to 2 beautiful children 3 years ago. Slowly, over time, he began to verbally and emotionally abuse our oldest, and of course, me, more and more often. Last year, I discovered that he was spending time regularly downloading porn from the internet, and cataloging it on his computer. This he would do secretly, while I was at work, and he was watching our children. It turns out, he began his *affair* before they ever came to be with us.

Of course, he pretended he was involved with the children, but he spent more and more time uninvolved with me or the children. He started blaming me for never letting him spend time with them. Last September, he snapped. Began raging all the time. I told him we were afraid of him, and he said "What's in your head is your business. I don't need to know." That's when I discovered Dr. Irene's site.

Since that time, we separated and I filed for divorce. The hardest part about it, is, my youngest (now almost 4) played with him all the time. She misses him a lot. On the other hand, she could be crying because she was afraid, and he could silence her with a glare!

I don't regret for one second my decision. No matter what other issues we could have worked out, my bottom line was no porn. Since he couldn't be honest about it, and I could never really trust him again, that made my decision pretty clear.

Whatever the pain from a divorce, it can't be anywhere near the pain of the children enduring the constant put downs and abuse. My oldest daughter even said, *I have spent my whole life being yelled at! It's NOT fair!* And it's not. No way can I raise my children in an abusive environment. No matter how hard the road, I choose a healthy and healing environment. We all need it.

I wish you strength and peace of mind as you make your decisions. When you are really clear about your bottom line, the rest is less difficult. The more conflicted you are, the more likely you will attempt to reunite. When you KNOW what is not ok in your relationship, and you KNOW he won't change or fix it, what else is there to do? Stand up, take your children, and provide a safe and healthy home.

Stay clear, and hang in there. Hugs to you and your boys.


Loretta - Where are you? How are you doing?

Thursday, May 17, 2001

I'm here. Thanks for asking. :-) I was just about to post an update and went to look and saw the note.

I have made my initial peace with separation, and I suspect that it will end in divorce. I got the _Emotional Blackmail_ book, and it is an eye-opener in terms of my entire life. The other hasn't come yet.

Amazingly, hubby and I have had a series of open talks since I posted. They have been very very helpful. For the most part, we've been free of blaming and blackmail, and for the first time in many many years, we've just talked. There was something in me that let go and that tried to understand, tried to see what was really happening. And as I approached him without anger, he opened up and told me, finally writing me that he had "fallen in love" and was "wild about her". It was no longer clouded over in ambiguous words and phrases meant to "protect" me, while really just holding me in a place that I should never have been held. ("What is love, anyway? Who's to say what's appropriate? Why does society place such a premium on the nuclear family at the expense of all other arrangements?" - talk about a crock of it!) About the last thing you need is an infatuation addict. 

Today I made the decision to leave him. The talks with him and the book have helped me go beyond blame to realizing what I was trying to do. I figured that since so many people were "on my side", clearly he'd come around. All I needed to do was to show him the error of his ways. Yes... This is a common underlying (irrational) belief... But the reading helped me realize that I'd been clear with him right from the beginning, we'd agreed after the first affair that the next would be the end of marriage, and in fact when I first heard about it he was out of the house within a day. It was when he moved back in and we started counseling that things got messy. I felt like I was moving in a fog, and I couldn't imagine having the emotional strength to leave. I was the blackmailed, and I was the blackmailer.

Some of our discussions over the past week have had me thinking that I could live with this situation, downplaying it, etc. But actually what helped me make my decision was hearing from a friend just how aware everyone else around me has been of their relationship, how it makes others in their workgroup uncomfortable (this is a VERY SMALL TOWN and we all work together in a very small academic community). Last winter a woman who works with me, but had never met hubby, thought they were married from seeing them around together. My FOG kept me blinded from the reality that I actually knew on some level.

The concept of living in a FOG (fear, obligation, GUILT! "Well WHY can't I do this and still have you as a wife? How dare you expect me to love only one person!") hit home so very hard, as that was exactly how I'd felt over these months. Just like I was in fog, and I could not see out of it and I could not escape it.

Yes, they are still saying that this is not an "affair", and she is still saying that she's happily married. Our children are very very close, so I have to have contact with her. I think that her husband, who is also a good friend (we used to do things together as families) doesn't really know what's happening, and that's a shame, but it's not my business. I have decided that they are both in need of some serious reality checks, but that is completely their problem, together or individually. :-)  Yes...

The posts and ideas here have helped me immensely. The "action plan" idea gave me a place to focus. I think hubby may have an overly rosy picture of his life as a single dad, but again, I've given up trying to influence him in any way. My goal is just to give him good information, to be honest about my own feelings and completely responsible for them.

I grew up in an alcoholic family where secrets and shame were a specialty. When I first learned of how widespread the knowledge is of their relationship, gleaned purely from their behavior, I felt humiliated. And then I "checked myself", as you so well advised me, Dr. Irene, and I realized that the humiliation is all theirs. They are the ones who have chosen this path. I've done nothing. Now I need to take care of myself and live the life I deserve. Excellent.

I know I have many highs and some deep lows (we live quite far north and winters are dark - depression is rampant) ahead of me, but this feels clear. For the first time since it started, I feel clear about what I need to do, for the good of me and the children. And if you get depressed, get yourself an antidepressant until you're over this difficult period!

If you'd asked me 2 weeks ago why I felt a failure, I'd have said that I always thought I could do it better than my parents, that I could learn from their mistakes. And I felt that I hadn't learned, that I was right back where they'd been. But I'm not, not at all. I think that if they can see me, they're looking in and cheering me on. :) I haven't let my children down at all. I'm loving them and caring for them in the best possible way.

One last thing, as I read your advice again. The reminder to listen to my body saved me. It was screaming. It is still healing. We have a ways to go. But I no longer feel that I can't breathe. I no longer have headaches from a lack of air. I can breathe, and the oxygen is the most wonderful thing. It's a relief! I'm so happy for you!


Friday, May 18, 2001

Dear Lorretta,

I am so glad we could all help you see clearly through the FOG.

Though I caution you on one thing:

That you cannot control your husband, so if you ask him to help mind the children and he refuses. ACCEPT IT. Don't try to convince him he should etc take part in their lives. LET him make his choice and let it go.

I tried to argue and convince my partner to have our daughter, it actually made things worse.

Also if you have times worked out if he does choose to have the children make sure you stick to them. AS if you don't you are being passive-aggressive and this is an easy trap to fall into when you feel angry.

If you feel you are behaving in any way to pay him back. (this is revenge) it hurts you more.

Better to be straight on what you want to happen. The times of visitation etc What should happen if he can't pick them up etc.

If you are angry about something, check if it is because he isn't doing something you think he should. THIS IS trying to control him, by convincing him etc STOP don't go there!!!

Take care and Enjoy life. Even when times are sad, look around you and see what you actually have. If you have a roof over your head and food in your tummy. YOU HAVE A LOT.

Take care Theressa

Sunday, May 20, 2001

Loretta is back and confused. Ok, whoa, it seemed so clear a few days ago. This weekend I have hit a little, ahm, shall we say a dip in the road. I could use some feedback and help if anyone has any. First rule of thumb: You've been living the FOG routine your whole life. Don't be surprised that you lapse back into old automatic habits. (I have been moving along toward the separation/divorce. I have let him know what has been happening. We have been having all these discussions that I mentioned.

And it soon became very evident that he hadn't really understood that I was serious about splitting up, that we would be 2 households. All sorts of strange things happened. Hehehehe... 

OK, time to go do some reading about narcissism. When I first posted here, after my initial post, my therapist had made the suggestion of narcissistic personality disorder in hubby. And one day it would seem very clear, and then the next I'd be all confused. There was no way this nice person, this charming person playing with his sons, could be a narcissist. Some of the nicest people in the world are narcissists! No, that was impossible. I didn't want to leave a marriage that could be fixed, and one day it would all seem so wonderful. He'd be "changing". And indeed, if I look at his behavior since he started with this latest therapist, it's better. His behavior has improved over the years, but has it improved enough, or is just cosmetic? He no longer rages. He makes more sense - sometimes. But... The next day I don't know which end was up. "No, I didn't say that." "Oh, well, maybe I did, now that I think about it, but what I *thought* you meant was..." Around and around in circles. And if it started to feel dangerous to him, WHAM - he comes in with a side punch and attacks how I was talking ("SEE? There you GO AGAIN using that TONE OF VOICE. Stop ATTACKING ME!"). The irony is incredible, and even when I try to be completely non-defensive and just say, "Sorry, I'll do it differently," it's as if he never heard me. He continues the attack, continues to describe me as the attacker who keeps coming at him. Anything to keep us off the subject, I guess.

Yikes. OK, here's a weird but true confession. I am finding it terribly difficult to face the reality that my sense that my hubby wasn't "quite right" was correct! I mean, I just get so depressed about that. And I should feel relieved, because I’ve sensed it right from the beginning, but I couldn’t let myself face it. Forget about what you think you should feel. Let yourself deal with/ face/ cope/ tolerate how you DO feel. After all, he was/is so handsome and everyone thought he was so charming and so obviously in love with me. I have been on crying jags that don't end trying to cope with this reality. I feel so badly that I need validation, that I need someone to say, "Yes, it's true, it's OK, he really is off and he cannot do anything about it. You can't. You can leave because there is truly NO HOPE that you’ll ever be anything but an object in this relationship. That's up to him. You never were any more." What should be a relief feels like such a terrible blow – that I have not known that this was wrong, that I was not able to really believe my gut that told me that. No, quite the opposite. I played it up big time, making our home a home, doing the things that families do, but it was all a kind of show. It was "trying" to be normal, when I sensed that we were far from it. You were doing everything you could to make your family a family. 

I feel like I'm living inside a fun house as I sort through all this. You know what I mean - the kind where you never know where the floor is going to be, so you can't really figure out how to walk. That's the result of denial. But, not to worry. I see you coming out of it. This back and forth is common. Give yourself permission to go back and forth as you find yourself going back and forth.

I *finally* found one thing that made sense - the description of what it's like to have been dealing with a narcissist ( And for the first time, I felt like maybe I'd grabbed hold of something that wasn't moving, something that described my experience in seeking help. "Narcissists can and do control themselves when someone's good opinion is sought -- in front of a judge, for instance -- and are skilled at presenting a respectable, even admirable, public face; some are actually meek and mild in public. Most of us who've lived with narcissists have had the experience of being disbelieved when we dared to tell what goes on in private; in some ways, we can hardly believe it ourselves. Yes.  Life with a narcissist is like a bad dream that you can't wake up from. As a child, I used to be dazed by my narcissistic parent's public demeanor -- I wanted to take that person home with me or else live our entire family life in the protection of the public eye -- so attractive, modest, and sweet that even I could hardly believe that this same person could be the raging fiend I knew at home and had seriously thought, for a while when I was about ten, might be a werewolf. But truthful reports about narcissists' private behavior are often treated as symptoms of psychological problems in the person telling the tale -- by naming the problem, you become the person with the problem (and, let's face it, it's more gratifying to work on changing someone responsive than it is to tackle a narcissist). And I'm talking about the experience many of us have had with "the helping professions," including doctors, teachers, clergy, counselors, and therapists. This stuff is hard to talk about in the first place because it's weird, shameful, and horrifying, and then insult is added to injury when we're dismissed as overreacting (how many times have we heard "You're just too sensitive"?), deluded or malicious, as inventing stories, exaggerating, imagining things, misinterpreting -- it goes on and on." Trust your body - while the rest of the world catches up...

That is such an apt description. So many times, I’ve wanted to hide a video camera so I could show it to someone and ask them, "Does this seem normal to you? Do you see the problem I see here?" In our case, we have been married for so long, and we have put on a good face, and he is quite "successful". We are both extremely well known, with international reputations in our field that are tied together (we worked as a team for many years). But I look at the reality. He has few real friends. He talks about people as if they were objects. That is such a clue. He talks about "loving" me and the children, but that depends upon what day it is. But I have believed in "the family" and in creating a happy family essentially through force of will and years of self-help books, I have believed that so deeply, that I’m really struggling with letting it go. I've done such a good job that many of my friends, other women who juggle the same balls I do, say that I'm talked about as the one who shows that you can do it all, and I "make it look easy." I always laughed at these descriptions, knowing that it wasn't easy for any of us, and suspecting that it was less easy for me than for others, but also suspecting (hoping?) that everyone had their challenges in their marriages. So, you know, losing my great reputation as the one who has it all together is hard to take. Typical ACOA, huh? Get me to a group or something. And this IS after years of groups, groups in which I never told the truth about my marriage.

Hubby was telling me recently about telling his therapist that we were going to break up (but then the next day couldn’t remember we were going to break up...). We had been to this therapist together once, when we were first looking for a marriage counselor. I decided not to go back, and hubby decided to work with him individually. The therapist’s response was supposedly something like this: "Well, that doesn’t surprise me. When you first came in, you seemed very mean toward her, and she seemed really angry. What you had done seemed outside the bounds of respect. But now that I know you, I realize that’s not what you’re like at all." Huh????? It's not what he intends. The monster you see is what seemingly "happens" to him. It is why he doesn't "really mean" the awful things he said... Just what rationalizations were used to come to the conclusion that asking a spouse for the "freedom to love" someone else, and actually thinking they would be HAPPY FOR YOU, is normal and acceptable behavior? I don't hear that the therapist condoned the behavior. I hear that the therapist, knowing your husband, is not surprised that he reacted as he did. He then went on to say that the therapist was now convinced that this love relationship has been "good for him", because it's made him feel "alive". Man oh man oh man. So, again, that’s typical narcissistic stuff, as I understand it – convincing a therapist that you are fine, great even, because you really really really need to hear that, you cannot accept that maybe you have a problem, because it's so big its bottomless. The therapist has to empathize with him to help him. Hubby is no doubt twisting where the therapist is coming from. Finally learning that self-contradiction, often in the same sentence, is a narcissistic trait has helped, at least it’s helped reinforce my coming determination that this really is what’s going on, like it or not. One thing he talks about a lot is a sense of deep unhappiness. And so I talked with him about depression, that maybe he has depression (I’ve often felt that he had it quite seriously and masked it through acting out), and he said, "Oh no, I’m basically pretty happy." (He makes others around him miserable, and then he seems happy.) In other words, the poor guy (I can’t help it – I DO feel empathy for him) has no clue what happy feels like. He never had a chance, coming from the childhood that he did. Maybe that’s where I’m having my troubles. I’ve so wanted him to get better for so long, that I’ve held onto the dream. I’ve thought that through me dropping any neurotic responses I had, I could help him. Hoo boy – have I got work to do or what? You're doing it!

But it’s such an upside down world in our house, that it’s hard for me to hold onto my reality. I really struggle with this. We’ve been "friends" for so long, he and I, and honestly I haven’t made any other really close friends here (we moved recently) who aren’t also his friends. So no one really believes me – they all try to describe this as typical marital strife stuff. Here’s the worst part. The "other woman", the one who I said was happily married. She *is* happily married. They are (well, as far as I can tell... :-) a truly happy family. And she has been contacting me through this whole thing, and none of it makes any sense. It’s just bizarre. She seems to describe it in a very innocent way (well, not really innocent, just that it "should be OK" because it’s not sexual), but then she is secretive about it. She talks like he does, using the same doublespeak ("You just need to trust his love for you." "Who’s to say what’s appropriate? My husband doesn’t mind our relationship."). And so that’s *really* got me flipped out, because before all this, she was a good friend, or so I thought. Now, I cannot figure out whether she’s crazy narcissistic too, or whether he’s just played her for all she’s worth, which is kind of what it seems like. But she’s subtlety or not so subtlety pressured me to stay married to him because our children NEED two parents, and HE LOVES ME SO MUCH. Your leaving hubby would disrupt their relationship; at some level she knows that. The   two of them have been able to continue idealizing each other because they do not have to rely on each other. They are not each other's "home base" so to speak. That made me feel terrible, even when I told her that he’d been abusive. She just couldn’t understand it, and she acted as if I’d never said it, as if I was the one who was making it all up and exaggerating. Because she was "in love" with him, so it couldn’t be true, could it? Betcha she's abusive! The most I ever got out of her was a statement once that he seemed like a "difficult person to build your life around." None of it made any sense, UNTIL I started learning about narcissists, and how incredibly charming they can be. I suspect he is using her as his "narcissistic supply source", as Sam Vankin describes it. The way hubby describes it is that she is a source of "love" for him, that she provides love in his life. "Does she tell you that she loves you?" I ask. "Not in so many words," he replies, "But I can tell. I think I know how to feel and to sense real love." She once said to me, "It’s so funny. He seems to tell me that he loves you, and you that he loves me." As I gasped for breath, all I could think of in reply was, "I find nothing funny about that."

This all kind of broke wide open a few days ago, when another friend, one who moved here with me and so I have a longer history with, started telling me some things about how others see this. Apparently everyone but me has been aware of the incredible sexual tension between them, that hangs in the air and excludes everyone else in their group. And apparently they were spending time together, about an hour (outdoors in a recreational activity), essentially every day last winter, pretending it was OK with me, telling each other it was OK with me, but then sneaking back in the building one at a time. Sheesh. People who didn’t know who they were assumed they married because they were always together. Just how dumb was I? Where was I? Well, out of town a lot, but not most of the time. And suddenly I was so humiliated, and I was so frustrated for the others and, yes, actually worried about the two of them alienating everyone else in the world and also ruining more lives, and I suppose I was worried in this small town that people would blame me, that I wrote hubby a note telling him what I’d been told, and he forwarded it to her. That was the first time I’d ever seen her get mad about anything, going on and on about how she can’t stop gossips, etc, and she wasn’t his "lover" so there was nothing "going on" and how she couldn’t take it anymore. And that’s when I started to think I was dealing with 2 crazy people. You are. And maybe I am, or maybe she’s just been taken in. Same difference. They sound like two of a kind. I really truly hope it’s the second. I don’t think I can take it knowing that someone I thought was so nice is just as crazy as the person I’ve considered my best friend for so many years, and then wondered why I felt confused and bad so much of the time. Sit with it. In time your vision will become crystal clear. 

But – hubby actually seemed quite concerned about this new development, and sat down and talked with other people about it individually, and apologized to them. He also told me that he wrote "her" a note "ending it", and admitting that there had been sexual tension between them and that for the first time ever he’d realized it affected others. And that doesn't seem even *possible* for a narcissist. Hey, he's a narcissist, not a horrible, awful person! Of course, he completely rationalized the time they'd spent together, despite he and I having agreements against that, by forgetting or changing the interpretation, depending on which sentence it was. Which is EXACTLY like a narcissist. Which is true? Once his denial was broken about other people's reactions, he felt very badly. Other people's reactions are very important to him.

So, today he’s a sane person. And according to the material I read, WATCH OUT when they start acting nice, because the big one is coming. But then, that seems self-defeating. Help!!!!! Listen, there is nothing new here. Stop hanging on to every thread trying to save the marriage. Haven't you had enough? 

Anyway – I guess what I need is some hand-holding and some people cheering me on with the words: GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT while you still have a shade of sanity left. This merry-go-round ride will only get faster. It will. This is only more of same ol' same ol', with you hanging on to every inch of change hoping for recovery. Yes, he probably is getting better, but if he's growing an inch every few weeks or months, consider how long it will take him to get to ... the moon. He's in need of radical change, and this isn't it!

So clearly I’m not there yet in terms of being as detached as I claimed I was in my last post. Patience patience, practice practice. Yes, Theressa hit the nail on the head when she said that I feel angry because I’m trying to control him and he’s not responding - I see the anger in my sarcasm there. :) Yes yes yes. I’m still holding out some hope where there should be none. He keeps this alive by being extremely nice even MORE than half the time. But not all the time. No, definitely not. And yes, I feel angry when he seems not to care that we are splitting up. He talks about it as if he’s talking about the weather. And I should be grateful, but I’m not. I wish I could see some sign of emotion in him about us, even if it was sorrow. If I ask him if he’s feeling sorrow, he says yes. But then when he even thinks about losing his real narcissistic supply source, Her, he actually acts like he feels sorrow (well, depression is more it). So clearly I’m still hoping that he’d have some emotions that would be real, when his behavior is screaming at me that this is impossible.

I’ll say one final thing in this long post that I needed to write. When we first got together, a lot of our discussion was on the meaning and importance of love. I was quite touched by that, and it absolutely drew me in. And that’s why his behavior was so puzzling, why I thought it must be me. I mean, here was a man who was very spiritual, who was very intelligent and intellectual, and who was devoted to having love in his life. I thought he was such a deeply feeling person. But I knew something was wrong, right from the beginning, and he quickly convinced me that something was me. The way no one else was right, the way he pathologized every behavior under the sun, the way he talked about everyone, even his closest "friends", with contempt – these all screamed to me that he had a serious problem. His humor was mostly making fun of others. He belittled me for reading fiction, because it wasn’t "true" (he's mellowed a lot over the years in terms of these petty belittements and now just goes for the BIG ONES). But still, he talked of love. And in the end, he used "love" as the final weapon against me. He played his final trump card – that I must accept and be happy for his relationship with another woman, for who was I to deny him a source of "love"? As my favorite band always sang, "What a long, strange trip it’s been." I’m looking for it to end. And you are a sweetheart who  one day soon, with this behind you, are likely to wish him well - and be very happy he's history.

I started this post wanting to ask, "How do I know? What if he really is changing, and I’m just impatient? Yuk.  Is it right to leave?" Dr. Irene suggested I shouldn’t as long as I’m still asking those questions, but each day I take another step toward the door. I’m not taking any steps to stay right now, and maybe that’s why everything is so calm. I think the answer to my question is, "If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, you don’t need a PhD in ornithology to tell you it’s a duck." Quack. But it’s incredibly confusing when it only does this some of the time. Is there a difference between narcissism and just being out of touch with emotions? Or are they one and the same, with narcissism just being the extreme of this condition that happens to everyone sometimes? The narcissist is out of touch with the Self; this person has no clue the Self is there, finding only emptiness. But, that's what happens when you don't know how to look... 


Tuesday, May 22, 2001

Dear Loretta, hi my name is Jane. I posted here not too long ago. I just read your post and responses from people. I can relate it is wonderful to know there are other people out there who really do care about you and want the very best for you even though we don't really "know" you. You are obviously highly intelligent, and the emotions you experience probably frustrate you because you ARE so intelligent and yet in an emotional sense sometimes (i.e; not knowing what to do) can be baffling and make you feel like: am I just stupid? or what? I can assure you that you are really doing everything in your power to look out after your wonderful children. But , if you leave your marriage-which is YOUR decision alone! try not to feel it will wreck your children's' lives or make them feel like down the road you disappointed them somehow. I feel the very best thing you can do , Loretta is take care of your emotional well - being. This site is VERY helpful, I cannot tell you how much support and truth I learned and felt from this site and from Dr. Irene. All the people who posted to me were nothing short of a blessing. I will not preach to you because I have no right. I know just from what you've written that you possess personal inner strength. Loretta, YOU WILL do the right thing. Trust yourself. If you have dreams at night; I suggest you keep a pad and pencil on your nightstand and as soon as you wake up write down every detail you can remember from your dreams , even if it's 3:00 am. sometimes your true intentions, and your true feelings will just be revealed to you in dreams; because in this venue ...your subconscious mind is not struggling , it is simply telling you the truth! I truly wish you well, and I will hope that you post whatever you want to whenever you want. All of us are here for you. I know you will have the strength , (like I did) to do what is right for myself and all the people around me and in my life. You take care Loretta, you can e-mail me if you'd like anytime. Jane.


Friday, May 25, 2001


So much of what you write I TOTALLY identify with. The crazy counselor statements, the wish for a better life, the proof that it IS possible because he can be nice and charming and caring SOMETIMES. It's crazymaking stuff. Very confusing to sort out.

Right now, I am dealing with a counselor who is actually my daughter's counselor, and I have to meet with her monthly. The horrible part is, she LIKES my stbx, and it has caused her to lose her objectivity. As a result, anytime my daughter talks about how afraid he would make her, this counselor justifies it by how hard he's working on stuff. It TOTALLY invalidates both her and my experiences with stbx. It is like abuse by proxy. He is still getting at us. No. Your stbx is a horrible devil to you because you let him devalue you. Nobody is all bad. Your daughter needs to learn to negotiate daddy, not flee from him in fear. If she does the latter, she's likely to marry daddy down the road, follow in his footsteps, or be otherwise vulnerable to such individuals.

I don't know if you keep a journal, but if not, it's a good idea. By keeping track of what he's doing and how you are feeling, it can help you sort this stuff out. Especially what you're feelings really are.

You want him to feel pain that you wan to separate, because you would know that you've been important to him all these years. To think otherwise, it's excruciatingly painful to think of all of those years in the marriage, that you've worked so hard to keep together, and to end like this. My question is this? Where's YOUR anger? This of all things would be worth a rage or two over. It's so easy to just keep explaining, and coping, and trying to help them feel better, that we stuff our feelings. We keep waiting.....and waiting.... and waiting. So what we feel is tired, worn out, sad, depressed. We can't quite get in touch with that sense of we've been WRONGED. Get in touch with how you've let yourself be wronged, but take responsibility for not recognizing it or knowing how to get out of it.

If indeed your h is a narcissist, he will have to come to terms with it himself. You are right. It is soooo big, and soooo bottomless. They are convinced, so they can be so sincere, and not have a CLUE how out of touch with reality that they are. So of course, a therapist will see them as being honest, and open.

Eventually, you will reach a point where you stand up and say ENOUGH! I am DONE making excuses for him. I am DONE waiting. IF he's going to get healthy, he'll have to do it on HIS OWN, because I am NOT up to this challenge anymore. Until then, keep reading and posting here, and keep a journal about how you are feeling.

Lots of hugs,



Friday, June 01, 2001

Run, run, run, as fast as you can, and NEVER NEVER NEVER look back!

Friday, June 01, 2001

I'm trying to divorce an abusive narcissistic evil man right now...and I could have written all your words. You need strength and perserverence - don't let him wear you down. Everytime I want to give up because its just too hard, I think of my I want THEM to grow up to be like HIM? Maternal instincts are stronger than survival instincts. I wouldn't stand up for myself, but I will protect my babies no matter what it takes. Stay strong, listen to whoever your support group is - they aren't as screwed up by him as you are. Learn as much as you can about the psychology of it, then enter every conversation with your intellectual brain not your emotional heart. Narcissists have a 0-5% recovery rate...HE WILL NEVER CHANGE. And they get worse with age. GET OUT of this relationship!

Friday, June 01, 2001

I'm trying to divorce an abusive narcissistic evil man right now...and I could have written all your words. You need strength and perserverence - don't let him wear you down. Everytime I want to give up because its just too hard, I think of my I want THEM to grow up to be like HIM? Maternal instincts are stronger than survival instincts. I wouldn't stand up for myself, but I will protect my babies no matter what it takes. Stay strong, listen to whoever your support group is - they aren't as screwed up by him as you are. Learn as much as you can about the psychology of it, then enter every conversation with your intellectual brain not your emotional heart. Narcissists have a 0-5% recovery rate...HE WILL NEVER CHANGE. And they get worse with age. GET OUT of this relationship!