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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!

My Story: Praying for a Miracle

 My Story:  Your ALT-Text here Praying For a Miracle

My Story For individuals not seeking any advice and who want to share their story with others, please submit to My Story.  Maybe Doc will print it for free  - with or without an interactive board.  But remember, no feedback from Doc!
February 8, 2005

Dear Doc,

The last three and one-half years I have walked through valleys and dark places that I never thought possible. My first bout of severe depression began and certain weaknesses in my husband became intensified under the stress.

My husband and I are quite similar in our weaknesses. We both struggle with a strong desire to protect ourselves from being taken advantage of, and with self-righteousness when being wronged. We both idolize intelligence and competence. We both love to impress and hate to be thought of poorly.

But there is one huge difference between us. It took me so long to see it, to believe it, yet now it is so clear: John s commitment to self-preservation and self-promotion over his commitment to love his wife and deal with reality. I realized that in the 15 years that I have known him, I have never seen him contrite over something he has done wrong. He can say that he is sorry, that something he did was wrong, as long as it carries little weight or consequence. But in the significant situations and crises of life, John will hide behind a lie or an excuse and will not admit wrong. I do not know whether he is able.

I have come to the point where living with John has become emotionally and mentally destructive. I believe that how he treats me has become abusive. He judges me and plays god in my life. He places himself above me and condemns me. He creates the standard by which I should live. If I do not, I receive his critical and controlling efforts. He tells me that I am difficult, that no one else could put up with [me], that anyone else would have divorced [me] by now. He does not tell me what things lead him to such conclusions, he just condemns me as unworthy.

I have spent too many years trying to convince John that I am OK. I thought that I could change his mind about me without going all the way and becoming exactly the person he wanted me to be (thankfully, I have too wild of a spirit for that). I wanted his acceptance and it felt like a need.

I remember the day that I let it go. I let him go. I took my needs to God and asked Him to protect me, to accept me, and to see me as beautiful. I saw that Christ can meet my deepest needs and that I need nothing from anyone else, including my husband. I desire John s love, greatly. But now he is free to give it if he chooses. I can thrive without his approval. I had placed way too much expectation on John. I had given way too much power to him to control me, to determine my emotional health.

I believe that John s underlying anger toward the disappointing things in life and toward me is escalating to rage. He has told me that he hates me, spoken vile language to me, and openly disrespected and shamed me, and does not believe that he has done anything wrong. He does not feel responsible for his wrong choices; he sees the wrong in his actions as being a result of what he was driven to by the wrong in others (usually me).

John can re-write history in such a way that I feel I am going mad. He calmly and sweetly recounts an episode that reflects none of his wrong-doing and exaggerates mine profoundly. I do not believe he is lying. I believe he is somehow unable to see his wrong-doing and his mind compensates by quickly constructing a reality that supports his beliefs. Over the past several years I have seen this grow into monstrous proportion. He has no idea what I am talking about when I plead with him to tell the truth. He looks on me with disdain and has no compassion in his heart whatsoever when he is in this mode of self-preservation.

After reflecting on many episodes in which I felt the terror of reality confusion and wondered what could possibly be happening, I am finally convinced that John has a serious problem. I have endured so much of this that I feel emotionally battered and confused. Regardless, I feel that God has kept my sanity and emotional health intact.

When things are going well, John functions wonderfully. He treats me lovingly. When I fail or am unable to function well as a mother/wife, John is not accepting, disgusted, demanding, and can be cruel. He sees difficulties inasmuch as they affect him; from the first day of my sickness, any time my depression has gotten bad, John has bemoaned his own suffering due to mine. He is furious that this must disrupt our lives and inconvenience him (put him in the role of helper to me). He despises neediness. He compares me to other (healthy) mothers, pointing out how much they can handle. He speaks of certain mothers these days being lazy and spoiled compared to his mother and her time.

When John has hurt me, and I confront him, he is full of fury. He will excuse ANY behavior and end up attacking me. He is desperate to make me agree with him that he has done nothing wrong. One of the last situations (in January 2005) that brought me to the point of seeing the extremity of this situation had to do with a woman becoming attracted to John. I had become concerned about his actions and attitude before she told him she was attracted to him, and I believe that some of John's freedoms with women put him at risk to encounter such a thing.

I listened to his story and offered understanding support. I swallowed the humiliation I felt due to several people knowing about this before me, because I knew he would be feeling raw and defensive. But then he
began to defend himself before no one but himself, saying that he had handled the whole thing perfectly. That he had done nothing wrong. That she must be unstable or troubled. Finally, lying in bed at night, I told him that I felt some of his freedoms put him at risk (as I have told him in the past), and that perhaps she had misunderstood his kindness and attention. He became so irate with me, so hateful. He used terrible language, said terrible things to me, and this became a situation in which he demanded that I apologize for not trusting him. He also demanded that I admit that he had done nothing wrong. This was a poignant moment for me to see how unwilling he was to look at his own behavior. And I saw how he came after me with such hatefulness for telling him my concern in a loving way. I saw him as on the edge, as desperate. I told him that I felt he did nothing wrong intentionally and that he handled the situation perfectly after he discovered her attraction to him; this in no way diffused his need to pursue me in anger for more agreement with him. I felt afraid of his desperation and the anger that was directed at me.

I recall so many moments in the blackness of my depression where I felt like I was hanging, gripping the edge of a pit over hell, and John walked up to me. I thought he was going to offer me a hand at last; but instead, he stepped on my fingers and looked at me with a strange smirk on his face as I spiraled down. I would feel such a numb terror that I was living with an enemy, someone who enjoyed hurting me, seeing me fall. I could not process this emotionally or intellectually with the John I knew him to be, so I withdrew in confusion and pain. I have cried out to many people, but the situation is so confusing, so incomprehensible, that even I didn't t have any idea what could be going on.

The state of my heart changed from fear and confusion to compassion and love as the possibility of John actually being broken (spiritually or mentally) took hold and grew. After years of my own confrontation of the wrongness in how he treats me, and years of confronting him before various counselors and a couple of friends, I have only seen him respond with anger, resistance, and counter-attack. So, in my effort to obey the instruction of God, I plan to bring this matter before my church in the hope that John will submit to their rule and seek the healing his heart needs.

I love John and I desire for him to be healed. I want to see his fear cast out. He seems to be in bondage to the fear of exposure, of being wrong, of failing, living so tightly and defensively that he seems to have no ability to admit wrong.

I am only beginning this journey and I know the road ahead will be disappointing, difficult, wretched, and lonely. I know that I may lose my marriage. But at last I have a plan and I am moving forward in strength. I am no longer sitting in confusion and despair. The truth has set me free and I desperately pray that it will free John as well. It will take a miracle. But, miracles happen!

Good luck to you! We're praying for your miracle to happen! Dr. Irene