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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!

I Did It!

I Did It!

"I hope that this may be an inspiration to anyone who is afraid to leave because they are afraid to be alone.  The pain of leaving never is as bad as the pain you are feeling."  -Caitlin


Dear Dr. Irene:

I am one of the lucky ones. I got out of a bad situation that surely would have become worse. I made the right decision to leave "the love of my life" and have gone on. This decision, by far, has been the most difficult and heart-wrenching one that I ever had to make, but was well worth it.

This is a classic case of a girl who meets the man of her dreams. What I didn’t know at the time was, happily ever after did not include the "prince".

I met the man of my dreams at my high school reunion. After being a single mom and raising my 4-year-old twin daughters while going to college, he was the sight for sore eyes that I had waited for. He was kind, sincere, loving, thoughtful, great with my kids, and everything I had wished and prayed for. We were engaged after a short period of time and things were wonderful. The trouble began after a bout of depression that I had been going through due to a hormonal imbalance from my oral contraceptives. It was then that, instead of being there for me to lean on, he was there to push me further down. I could not understand what I could have done to make this man who had treated me like a queen to - all of the sudden - treat me with no respect. I though at the time he was having a hard time seeing me not be as strong as I had when we first met. He began to verbally abuse me and make me feel very inferior. He once told me that he couldn’t believe how weak I had become. All of this was making my depression worse. Instead of helping myself feel better, I was trying to convince him that I was ok and we then started counseling. After going a few times as a couple, we started going on our own. In one of my sessions after telling the counselor that he had again called me a "bitch" for something very minute, he (the counselor) stood up and left the room. I was wondering "what in the world?" he came back with some handouts on abuse. He then looked me in the eyes and said that this man was abusing me. I was so shocked. I had not believed it, nor did I want to believe it. We shortly thereafter bought my childhood home from my parents. The abuse got even worse. The day that we were moving his dining set out of his house, he shoved me and then pinned me up against the cabinets with the heavy oak table just because I couldn’t lift it up as high on my end as he did on his. He started breaking things around the house, calling me horrible, filthy names (in front of my children). On one occasion he told my daughters, who at this time had never even known why their biological father wasn’t around, that he did not want them just like their real dad didn’t. The abuse kept on until one night he grabbed the girls by their hair and slammed their heads together (like you see in a wrestling move or on the Three Stooges) hard. They ended up with large "goose-eggs" and cried the rest of the night. He constantly made me feel inferior because he bought the house for me, bought me a $7,000 engagement ring, bought me a brand new mini van. All I wanted was that man I fell in love with to come out from where ever he was hiding and love me again.

One day after months of trying to get him to feel better about himself and come back to earth, I left.

I left my own house (that I had lived in for 30 years) to a man who drove me out. I did not want to leave, but as he also rubbed in my face, I could not afford a house payment that large, raise two girls, and also enjoy a few incidentals such as "eating". I had never felt so much pain in my life, I prayed for strength daily to help me and to help me get my children through this. They were very angry at me for leaving, not understanding what type of man he was, what type of father he would have been, and not understanding what kind of women they would grow up to be and who they would marry.

My wedding was supposed to have been this past weekend. I got through the day much better that I thought I would have. I miss my house terribly, but am planning on moving into my own house soon. My memories of my childhood are in my heart…not in my old house. He has to this day (5 months later) not apologized for anything he has done. I think he doesn’t realize that he is responsible for my leaving. From what I hear, he is on his way in a new relationship. I truly wish him well. I am unable to turn off my feelings of love. I have, in my heart, forgiven him, since he doesn’t even realize he did anything wrong. I am truly a better person for going through all of this. I know that a better plan waits for me out there somewhere and I know that "the third time will be the charm". This by far, has been the most difficult decision I have ever made, but the best one as well. I have cried a lot of tears, but they have also been very healing as well. My friend once told me "No man is ever worth your tears, and if you find one who is, he will never make you cry".

I took my beautiful engagement set and had a necklace made and with the setting, had the girls’ birthstone (sapphire) put in. All of this was a gift to me. Because I am worth it.

I hope that anyone out there who is being abuse will get some help. Because no matter how much it hurts to walk away, the abuse hurts much worse.  -Caitlin


Dear Caitlin,

Thank you for your inspiring story.

The problem with abusive people is that  they don't show you their colors until you're hooked. Your fiancée was obviously one of those guys who needed you to BE THERE. When you went though your own difficulties - a natural part of life - he got MAD! How could you do this to Him? How can He possibly ever trust a woman who is not perfectly ready, willing, and able to care for Him at all times? How dare you get depressed! 
Bravo to you for getting out. This guy has a lot of work to do. Your situation would only have gotten worse and worse over time, as his unresolved needs inevitably led him to raise the stakes higher and higher.
My best regards,
Dr. Irene


----- Original Message -----
From: Caitlin
Sent: Tuesday, August 03, 1999 4:23 PM

Hopefully, my story was helpful to others.  If I can give anybody advice, it is to keep going and pray for strength.  The best decisions that we can make for ourselves are not always the easiest, but if they are the right ones...they certainly will pay off.  I have met a great person, who is first and foremost a great friend.  He is supportive of me, considerate, and most importantly...respects me for "me".  I had dated some other "winners" and could see right through to the signs.  So, if anything positive has come from my abusive relationship it is that I am more aware of these warning signs.  Also, I am better able to decide exactly what I want and need from a relationship.  Not that anything or anybody in life will be perfect (that's what "healthy" compromise is for) but things that are important are truly evident. I am by no means an expert (I am only experienced in my own life) but I feel that the  basis of any healthy relationship is friendship, trust, respect, honesty, and with all of those things the attraction that may be there will be even stronger.  I am so glad that I actually made that step in leaving my abusive partner.  Sure, all of my dreams were lost, but not forever.  I now have new dreams and with my strength, they will be so much better than before....because I know that I can do it!
Best of luck and lots of strength to anyone who is wrestling with making this decision.  True love is based on mutual respect....not based on the "good times"  because in true love, even the bad times are spent together and love grows.
Yea Caitlin! Way to go!  -Dr. Irene
(Ps. Thanks for the update; I will add it to your story)