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Below is an Interactive Board sampler. A fuller listing is found in the "Stories" menu above.

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!

Interactive: What's Going On?

 Interactive Board: Quandary! What's Going On?

August 24, 2006

My ex and I had lasted roughly a year and a half. This was my first serious relationship, and her second one. We met online and within a month of courting we decided to take things seriously. Things were fantastic, and within 3 months together I decided to plan a trip to Italy with her, which I paid for, it was something we both wanted to do together. Nice!!!

6 months into our relationship, I was asked to move into her parents' house by both her and her mother. I respectfully declined twice because I thought that would be uncomfortable, but was eventually convinced that it would benefit our financial situation together. Look what happened here: Your body was talking to you - but you found a good reason not to listen. Kind of like, "Oh, I love these shoes so much! I want them even though they hurt!" Ouch!

The financial situation was the beginning of one of many problems. I made a lot of money and she didn't. Although I didn't mind at first, I spent loads of cash on fancy dinners and weekend getaways together. Hmmm... Isn't that at odds with inconveniencing yourself to move in together to benefit financially?

Part of our arrangement to benefit ourselves financially was for me to be on two of her credit cards, her regular payments would benefit my poor credit score and we could eventually buy a house together. Bad idea. My agreement to this arrangement quickly backfired as she called me crying to tell me her card had been put on hold until I paid $700 to reinstate it. This happened about 3 days after I was added to the card. I felt very trapped and betrayed at first, but her apologies and confrontation made me forget that. Big red flag that should have had me heading for the hills, alas love is blind. Love may be blind, but you're not. Do you see how you actively participated in all this? Put simply, you agreed!

Moving into her parents house went off with a bad start too. I asked to  compromise and spend more time at my apartment before I moved out because I really enjoyed it there, and our privacy. Geez, you really didn't want to leave! That was answered with a crying fit and the statement "there should be no compromise in a relationship". I thought this was an odd perspective. I needed to move my desk into the room; I work on my computer a lot, that's my business, the desk is very important to me. My desk was regular sized, but required to move the bed over 6 inches. Moving the bed was unacceptable to her, I told her she was being selfish, and I got another crying fit and she said I can't move in now, half way through my move. I admitted I was the bad guy. Yes, stupid I know, but now I didn't have my own place to go back to and I was in a compromised position. More accurately put: "I put myself in a compromised position." The point is, once again, you agreed - despite your better judgment.

Early on in our relationship, I had promised that I would start going to the gym. Healthy living was very important to her. Wonderful! Then she should live a very healthy life! My problem is, I didn't realize I hated the gym so much and I worked a lot, so I didn't live up to that side of my bargain. Why did you "have" to adopt healthy living just because it was important to her? Why make such a bargain at all? If you make this kind of bargain, make it only with yourself, not with another person.

Instead I decided to begin playing paintball as my form of exercise. It's a very active sport and kept me in good shape. This was not good enough for her, my weekly time playing paintball was not giving her the attention she needed. When I asked her if playing hockey, would have been different, she responded "hockey would be different, and you love paintball so it doesn't count as exercise". (It sure does "count," and even better, you enjoy it!) Her ex played hockey, that's why I asked. She knew how much I loved to play it and I think that drove her nuts. I thought that response was a little crazy and began to signal me that things were about to turn worse. Her response was not only a little crazy, its also controlling, dictating what forms of exercise you should or should not participate in! The control is the real nutso part.

Your stuff:  Yea, I know, exercise is a good thing and you probably appreciated the push into it, but you're not taking responsibility for yourself. You "agreed" to healthy living because she valued it - which is not a problem - if you agreed to exercise because you wanted to wholeheartedly - as in in it for yourself. But, whatever your stated motivation was, it was clear you ended up not doing it for yourself. Ask yourself how much of your motivation was about improving your health, and how much was about pleasing her, or hoping that pleasing her would give you the motivation you needed to do something for yourself? Wherever you started, your feelings indicate that you feel controlled; that you did not agree to do this for you. So you sold yourself out.

When you sold out, you actively participated in her covert bargain to control you. And you started feeling cornered, coerced and used.

When you do something for yourself and for yourself alone - say, because you decided to exercise (and how nice if she derived pleasure from your achievement), you would not feel coerced or angry at all, nor would you care whether or not she approved of the form of exercise you chose. And you wouldn't pay much mind to her negative reaction had you decided to quit, or to what form of exercise you chose. See, chose to do the exercise for her, not for you. In doing so, you ended participating in creating your own icky feelings of being controlled.

Prior to meeting her, I had a few unconventional sexual experiences. When we met, I told her that these had happened a while ago and I was over it. She admitted to having one too, as long as I was done with it, it was cool with her. I'll get back to why this is important in a moment.

9 months into our relationship, our sex life became non-existent. I asked her "Is it me?". I was told that I was ungrateful selfish and how could I ever ask such a thing. Again I repented. This triggered her to commit the next series of events.

Weeks later we're out drinking wine by the fire and she tells me "you're going to be really mad, but I've been looking through your emails, I thought you might have been cheating on me". I was irate and betrayed and really let her have it this time. What she had found, was that I had cut all communication with any women I had known around the time I met her. But also, she found a sexual email to a male that I had sent a month prior us meeting she found a sexual email to a person related to my unconventional experimentation. The tables were turned on me, we were now "based on a lie" and "I never would have been with you had I known this!". Now I was a liar, and maybe I was, this was something I was ashamed and embarrassed about, but a feeling I was able to repress when we met.  Repression never works. It just makes things worse in the long run. You need to get both clear and OK in your relationship with yourself and with your sexuality first. Otherwise, you will be dishonest with both yourself and other. More on this later.

This came up constantly in arguments. First of all, your relationship proceeded much more quickly than it should. You jumped into intimacy way before the friendship underlying the relationship was ready to handle it. Had you guys slowed down, and became friends first - in all likelihood, you would not have entered into an intimate relationship because you would have discovered that you couldn't trust her - or your ability to be true to yourself with her.

This gave her rationale to police my computer for the remainder of our relationship (about 6 months). "It" didn't give her the right to police your computer - you did! Once again, you acceded to her control stuff. You essentially gave her tacit permission to continue snooping because out of your guilt, your shame, your need to have her, you did not do whatever you had to do to stop the snooping!

We moved out of her parents house into a place we rented.  I thought the new responsibility would better her. At this point I began looking at some questionable porn on the internet to satisfy a curiosity I had. Oh boy... This is strong evidence of a sharp internal split inside yourself. You found a way to shift away from her - in a distorted sense. But you weren't even honest with yourself here!  She found it, and I was confronted with it cold and harshly. Being caught off guard, and ashamed, I instinctively lied and said I had no idea how it had gotten there. She knew that was bullshit; got up and left me. Notice that had you been in touch with yourself internally, and had you not been beholden to your co-dependent needs, you would have left her long ago. Amazing how much we put up with to satisfy these dependency needs! 

I apologized, begged for her back and admitted that the porn was of my doing. Wow! See the loss of self here? Let's just do anything we have to do to get the warm body back. She came back, and we were slightly happy for another month. Then things started going really downhill. Of course. You simply plugged the latest leak in the dam when in fact, the foundation was badly cracked.

Since she was going through my email, I decided one time that I should check out hers. Oh, the webs we weave... I found a statement in there that said she loved her ex more than me. I was hurt, but didn't bring it up. I know I was also being a hypocrite by doing that, but what did I have to lose? Although I thought using it as ammunition would be stooping to her level. Now her ex was the greener grass on the other side... She's as internally confused as you are! Can you see why an outsider would wonder what you're doing with her in the first place?

4th of July weekend came about, we went on a great excursion to the woods and camping. A few weeks before I had flirted with a girl on MySpace, just a few emails back and forth. Notice your response to the crazyness: you're getting back at her passive-aggressively. You've begun to shut her out more and more, and move away from her in your hurt and anger, yet you still stay in the relationship! During the evening, after we became a little tipsy, she said she had found the MySpace email, I admitted that I did that, apologized and things were fine. Things were not fine. I was mad that she was still digging through my email after all this time, so I brought up what I had found searching through her emails, her love for ex boyfriend. I was made into the bad person here again, that what she meant was it was something different and I was making up my hurt to cover my ass. In the grocery store on this trip, she yelled at me for not picking up her case of beer, "What you couldn't grab my beer, but you got yours?!!" My hands were full. I screamed back at her " F YOU". By this point, all the events that had occurred, I was convinced there was no repairing this relationship. But I couldn't break it off myself, I didn't have the courage to face that reality of life without her. Talk about selling yourself out! Like an addict. Like the nicotine addict who rummages through the trash looking for a cigarette butt in the middle of the night. Hey, a dog peed on the butt, but who cares; it's a cigarette butt!

The ending was pretty nuts. I screwed up royally but it brought the ending I couldn't face. Yep. Now you're being honest with yourself. I was at a point where I was prepared to cheat on her. She was still checking my emails daily. I had an account which I didn't think she knew about, but I knew she had the password to. I sent some emails to some women on the internet looking to hook up. Your nicotine is relationships. Love relationships. Love addiction. She found them not long after I sent them, which meant she was looking at this account all the time, it was one I rarely used, and only once for this purpose. There was a big blow out on the phone. I lied to her and told her it was to get her attention and I knew she was looking, all crap just to keep her from leaving. I was so massively confused on what I wanted. I really wanted her back now that she was leaving. Right. You weren't ready for her to leave yet because you needed a budding relationship in the works to feel OK.

Now don't get me wrong; there is a lot of complaining in here. There were far more in between times where things were fantastic and we had a great time together. But I am confused as to the source of my dishonesty. I have been a truthful person my whole life until this whole relationship broke me down. Maybe this relationship will open your eyes, because you haven't been entirely truthful with yourself. And if you're not true to self, you can't be honest with anybody.

Now I question my own integrity. Excellent! More specifically, please question your relationship with yourself, and what parts of you you "can't stand" so you shove them aside.

What was going on here? Your dependency needs led you to hang onto a woman who at some level you understood early on was not good for you. Was this an abusive relationship? Kind of, but not really. While she was controlling (which is certainly about abuse), and you bought into it (also about abuse), the balance of power was fairly even. In truly abusive relationships, the balance of power is shifted heavily in one partner's corner, and the other is too intimidated to do much about it. You two were abusive to each other, so it was a "fair fight." This dishonesty would have been totally out of my character before she and I met. I think she may have been looking for an out all along. You were both looking for an out, but each of you had strong dependency needs which each of you let over-ride your ability to be true to self. My guess is that you behaved in ways that were out of character for you because no other relationship hit your deep, internal buttons the way this one did. And it hit your buttons square on the head!

Dear Jim,

In this relationship, you reacted to life with only a dim awareness of all that you are, and what is right or wrong for you internally. Internally, you knew, early on, that moving in with her was not what you wanted, yet you did it anyway. This relationship highlighted internal issues you have not yet dealt with. It brought out that you lack in self-acceptance, and that you are full of judgment - negative judgment - about aspects of self. You are not clear, other than at a superficial level, on your sexuality. You used denial extensively as a coping mechanism. You literally closed your eyes to your internal sensor because you did not want to deal with what it was trying to tell you. Operating out of dim awareness, you were unable to take full responsibility for yourself and your actions. You allowed yourself to go along with her demands out of your dependency needs, so of course you embarked on the wrong road! None of this is "bad" and no parts of you are "bad" or shameful. They just are, but you don't quite realize this yet.

The source of your dishonesty lies here: Your denial of your internal stuff - especially the strength of your dependency needs and how you allow them to over-ride your better judgment. When you don't see yourself for all you are, confusion results. Even though you truly are whole (I promise, you are!), you don't appreciate your wholeness, and effectively you don't operate as a whole.

You lost your Self. Think codependency. Think love addiction.

You need to center, become more familiar with and accepting of all that you are. You need to deal with the dependency issues - or they will deal with you!

I hope this makes sense to you. Some recommended reading, these on love addiction:

Facing Love Addiction : Giving Yourself the Power to Change the Way You Love --The Love Connection to Codependence by Pia Mellody, et al.

Susan Peabody's Addiction to Love : Overcoming Obsession and Dependency in Relationships.

And these on getting to know and accept yourself internally:

Wherever You Go, There You Are : Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life by Jon Kabat-Zinn.  

The Seat of the Soul  by Gary Zukav.

So, take some time and think about all I said. I will be back in about a week to look at your posts and answer your questions. If you need more time to process the information, just drop me an email and I will wait before I reply to you.

You can't post questions anymore, but please click here to read the posts.

With warmest regards, Dr. Irene