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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!

Heartbroken - Interactive Board

 Interactive Board:  Your ALT-Text here HeartBroken...

November 25, 2004

Hey Doctor, You ARE a blessing! (And, after reading your letter, I think YOU are the blessing!) I always knew that I had more than just depression, but your website helped me nail my problem of codependency. My mom was addicted to prescription drugs and my dad is a binge drinker. Ouchhh! Though things are better now, but they were extremely hard as I had to deal with my parents missing out on much of my accomplishments in life. I was verbally abused by them and the memories are still fresh and painful. I'm sorry...

In high school, I fell madly in love with “M”. He really didn’t have many friends but my friends became his friends, etc… Once he got better looking, lost weight, got a car, he slowly started to ignore me and just treat me like crud. I feel like I am the only person who knows him for him. He puts on such a fake act in front of other people, and can be quite a follower. But I never cared in the days when he was overweight, had acne and wore big, thick glasses.

Eventually we broke up. I was extremely hurt. I feel like I have given so much of myself (though thank god we never had sex Good for you!!!) and got stepped upon. After we graduated, we really didn’t keep in touch, though we had mutual friends. He would sometimes invite me to parties that he had when he came home from school. But other times he would invite everybody but me, and I would hear about them later. In short, I decided to stop trying and to move on. Good thinking, and have I got a book recommendation for you!

Eventually, I started dating “AJ”. When “M” saw us together at a friend's party, I think he freaked. He started telling me how he was sorry for treating me bad and that I will always be in his heart and all that. Words, words, words! No action. Just another carrot on the stick. Of course, things that I wanted to hear, but had given up on. Good! Well of course, this really messed me up not good... but it was my responsibility to say, “You had 2 years to make things right, and now that I have finally moved on, you decided to tell me this! Get lost!” To top things off, he was dating one of my old friends!  Very excellent!  You behaved in a way that can only increase your integrity, despite how you may have felt and though you may still miss him.

But of course, I did not, because I was longing to hear all this. And this cycle went off and on. You were on the right path - doing what was good for you despite how you felt about him. It's hard to do this, so don't worry about not succeeding right off. Just keep walking "the high road" and your unhealthy dependency needs (what makes you codependent) will recede over time. He would say how he wants to be friends and call me, but then would never call. Then he would see me again, and say that he is sorry, and that a lot of who he is today is because of me, and how he cant talk to his Girlfriend like he can to me, etc. You can just imagine the romantic crud he filled me with. Romantic crud. Good use of language! Eventually after much turmoil, I wrote him a letter telling him in short to just leave me alone. You did get better at it!

I haven’t heard/ seen him since then, over a year ago now. I should of known better Dr. Irene. If he cared, he wouldn’t wait until I finally opened my heart up again to another guy to try to mess me up, or slyly hint to me that he and his girl were going to Victoria’s secret (since he lost his virginity to her). Geez, this guy really does work at inciting you! Keeping that carrot on the stick...

I guess my first question is, why did he do this? My educated guess is that he's a very selfish guy. Is he really that sadistic to play on my weak spot like that? I don't know whether or not he's sadistic, but either way, it's safe to say that didn't bother to consider how his words would affect you. He didn't want to really "lose" you. Either he's sadistic or just plain inconsiderate. Either way, that makes him a loser. Was there any truth is what he said? There's no doubt in my mind that he wanted you pining away at him. He did not want to lose you, and didn't care about how you were affected. He's not worth your precious time, young lady!

To go on, me and “AJ” got to a rough spot because of this, but eventually things got wonderful! But when my mother got sick (was put into a mental hospital) I'm so sorry..., things went downhill. He truly was not there for me. He had just started his “party stage” and found that to be more important than seeing me when I was in town and had to stay home because of the situation with my mom. Hmmmmm....  Sounds immature, at best. AJ and I were long distance since I was away at school. By the way, long-distance is easy for relationship-phobic guys, though I don't have enough information to determine if he's more in the immature camp, or the relationship-phobic camp, or the simply not interested enough camp. Whatever his problem is, it's not OK for you.

I felt like his partying was before me. I guess that is when I really would fight with him and call him names and yell.  Of course I recognize this as a codependent trait. Yes. Trying to control him - but your mis-behavior compromises your integrity, nor will you draw him to you. If he's not yours, better to just let him go... I would test him sometimes to see if he would do what I want. Though I feel horrible about that, he also feels horrible about not supporting me in my time of need. Tip: Whenever you have to fight with someone to be there for you, instead try walking away.

The final straw came this past April, when my friend called me. She and AJ hung out a lot. She told me she thought that he liked her and gave me reasons such as, “He wanted to be alone a lot." But he didn’t seem to want to be alone with me! When I asked him about this, "Well," he said, "Let me tell you what she has done!" He went on about how she rubbed against him, walked in the restroom while he was using it, made sexual comments etc.! Ooops!!! Sounds like she's not a very good friend...

The thing is that a lot of my other friends and I believe him because this girl is EXTREMELY sexual. He says, "I never did anything with her." I was like, "Exactly. You didn’t do anything, you never told her to stop or talk to her about her behavior!" He has been trying to get back with me but I feel that as much as I do love AJ, I need time to think things through. Yes. I feel like it might be good for me to date around to see what is out there ( do you agree doc?). Yes! He called me everyday this summer when I was on vacation for 2.5 months after graduating college but I think though that was sweet of him, I also think that might have been a form of control because I did try to tell him that I needed my time. I told him that I am way too dependent on him and need to get on my own. I realized a lot of this when I read Codependent No More. One of my favorite sayings, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." Sounds like he's exceeded the one-mistake limit.

You noticing any patterns?

AJ wasn’t a pure jerk like M was, but I feel like I did not get so many things that I do deserve. I have been going to church more often, praying more, and really talking to God. Excellent! Though I never been a big drinker, I have quit drinking and I am trying to channel my pain through exercise. Excellent!! I found out last night that M is going to propose to his girl in a couple of days, and I am heart-broken. I think you should thank her for getting him out of your life! It bothers me that IT bothers me. Yeah... but, good for you for being so honest with yourSelf. And for accepting what is, whether you like it or not. I wish I could just hear news like that and TRULY think, "Okay, I have my life to live and there is somebody special for me out there," but I cant.  Give yourSelf time. You do have your life to live, and there is someone special for you out there!

I think I care so much because I gave so much of myself to him and he is giving that love to somebody else. I mean I am confused since he did mention he really couldn’t have an “intelligent conversation” with her, but I guess maybe the last year out of their 3 year relationship he all the sudden could. Why are you assuming what he told you is The Truth? A guy like him, who puts his own needs first - and his integrity and your welfare last - will say whatever he has to say, that moment, to keep you in the emotional space he wants you to be in (i.e., lusting after him)! Consider yourSelf a LUCKY young woman: you aren't getting stuck with this (Booby) prize! 

Dr. Irene, I am so heart-broken and I don’t know how to heal my heart. I have tried so hard to be strong, to believe in myself and in God but it still hurts. Maybe I put all my trust and love into him in our relationship in the beginning since I felt like I didn’t get it from my parents, and maybe I feel like I have been let down like a parent by him. I don’t know. Yes, it hurts. Once you've made that emotional investment, grieving the loss hurts. Try to keep in mind that you deserve better. Your objective is to pick a more deserving man the next time you are ready to involve your heart. If he's too distant, not interested enough, dangles you or plays head games, walk! Remember: the more you demand from life, the more you will get.

You grew up in an emotionally abusive/ neglectful home with parents who weren't there. They inadvertently taught you that loving is about longing for. Growing up in a home like that almost gives you antennae seeking men who can't be there or are not ready to be a partner. That's what I meant when I asked you if you noticed a pattern some paragraphs above.

I am only 22 and this heart-broken. I try to believe in God that my time will come, but I feel so hurt that I will never be able to love like that again. You will be able to, and more. Sounds ridiculous when I feel like that over a guy that treated me like that. Yes it does! Ridiculousness often results when we allow our emotions to dictate our choices. You need to sharpen your warning system to weed out the rotten apples before you become so involved. You need to let your values govern your choices. I just think it was sadistic of him to play on my feelings for him because I guess he loved the fact that I used to be sooooooo in love with him, and I guess he was scared that I didn’t love him anymore and wanted to make sure by saying those things. Right! But it was very codependent to allow him too. Yes, and good for you for taking responsibility for yourSelf!

I used to be such a happy, optimistic strong person. And you will be again! Now I feel like sometimes I struggle to make it through the day. You may be clinically depressed. You mention knowing you've had depression, but you don't say whether you've had any treatment. If this feeling persists more than a few more weeks, please check with your family doc. Consider psychotherapy (especially any form of behavior therapy) and a brief course of antidepressant medication to help get you out of the hole. If you are anti-medication, consider a reliable brand of St. John's Wort (like Sol Ray), just get your doctor's OK. I want to FEEL life like I used to. Yeah! I have been through so much in my life that I feel like it finally wore me down, all those years of being strong finally caught up with me, and I wish I could just have somebody hold me and let me cry, but I know in this world it is only up to me. Yes. You with a little help from your friends, real and virtual!

How can I get over this pain with M? Sometimes I feel like the reason I am still so attached is because I put all my love in him (since my parents were not very emotionally there) and when the relationship failed I felt like I had nobody. I want to get on with my life and not care about his, and not always feel like “why?"

I loved him so much, why doesn’t he see it, why does he play with me, did he mean anything he said? Etc…Why? Because he cares only about feeding his own emotional needs and nothing else. Did he mean anything he said? At the moment... Keep in mind that actions speak louder than words. And, about the last thing you need is your life is a man who lacks integrity1 Thank you Dr. Irene, May God Bless. Cathy.

Dear Cathy,

You're hurting because you know how to love. Withdrawing your emotional attachment is painful. You never really mourned M because you got involved so quickly with AJ. You never gave yourSelf a good amount of time to feel strong within your Self. If you are having difficulty getting through the day, take one of the online depression quizzes. One I particularly like is here: Depending on your score, consider treatment.

Your objectives are to: get past this difficult time and to learn more about how you end up with guys who can't give what you give. Once you recover, hopefully you will spend some time without any guys, while you learn to be OK with yourSelf; form your own social network, develop hobbies, get into your work, turn to God, etc. When you do start dating again, you will need to remember to use your intellect and your values to help you rule out the guys who aren't worth your while - despite how smitten you may feel.

Here's two books I hope you'll read. Think of them as "re-training" for the Codependent.

bullet He's Just Not That Into You: The No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo. 
bullet Why Men Love Bitches: From Doormat to Dreamgirl-A Woman's Guide to Holding Her Own in a Relationship by Sherry Argov. 

Please think about all this stuff Cathy. Post any comments or questions you may have. I'll be by in about a week to answer your questions. You are young, very intelligent, insightful, and have a good head on your shoulders. Temper the "dependency dragon" inside of you, and you will have a wonderful life! Happy ThanksGiving, and may God bless you! Dr. Irene

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