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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!

Pain & Confusion

A Guy's Pain & Confusion...

 December 28, 2000

"Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn't."  - Erica Jong

Dr. Irene,

I recently discovered your website, and I can't thank you and everyone enough who have posted their own stories for all of the wonderfully helpful information.  I would not have visited if I hadn't been dealing with similar events in my life. I'm sorry you found us - under the circumstances...

My own story goes something like this:  I met and fell deeply in love with a married woman last year (I'll call her Lee).  I was going through my own divorce at the time (she worked in the law office that was representing me), and we found that we had much in common in our respective marriages and each finally felt that we had met one another's soul mate.  While I regret the circumstances under which we became a couple ( I NEVER thought I would have gotten involved in an affair....even in my own marriage I NEVER strayed even though I was emotionally very lonely).  This is about what has happened in the past year.

My job forced me to move several hundred miles away from Lee in late 1999.  I thought this was a good thing, for it would allow her to figure out what she wanted to do in her marriage.  So for the last year, we've maintained our relationship via phone and email, and have even had a couple of visits.  They were the most wonderful times of my life...the closeness we felt was incredible and she commented that they were also the best weeks of her life.  For a long time, she stressed that she wanted to be with me, but she needs to be fair to her partner and make sure that she has given her marriage the best shot possible.  The time spent apart has became increasingly difficult for me.  Our communication has suffered with the distance and circumstances...we've had troubles with trust (me of I just one of several flings, etc?), and ultimately our conversations have become more heated as a result...mainly initiated by her anger.

At first, I readily apologized for being so insecure and for broaching that subject repeatedly.  I told her that I knew she loved me, but that it was hard to feel secure in our relationship given the situation.  I had hoped she would understand that, and not blame me for having those feelings.  Well, it got to the point where I was vilified for feeling that way.  And the verbal abuse started then.

I have seen the abusive partner/codependent partner relationship quite clearly between us.  I have tried to do everything to make her happy... I usually try to stay calm during our arguments, but have acted out on several occasions allowing her to point to my behavior and focus on me, instead of her own abusive nature.  Dealing with her is so difficult....she deals in assumptions and bases her anger on false assumptions...she stays angry for long periods of time...and doesn't allow resolution to take place.  Understanding feelings is especially forbidden with her...she says she doesn't want to hear excuses.  I feel like I'm walking on eggshells with her all the time. I miss her so much, and now when I tell her that she doesn't want to hear it.  She says she still loves me, but only when I ask her or volunteer that first.  I feel so much withholding from her at this just makes me want to try harder and harder to reach her.  At this point, she has all the control, and I know my best resort is to stop my own communication with her, to take care of myself and value myself more than what I have.  But I miss the love and closeness we shared so much....I NEVER felt so close to another human being in my life and I'm so afraid to lose that...and also that I won't feel that way again.

I am ready to hear advice that I may not WANT to hear, if you know what I mean.  I, like many others on your website, have hopes that Lee will change her ways...become more compassionate and understanding when conflicts arise....stop bringing up old baggage from previous arguments that undermine resolving a current conflict,  and to stop telling me to f*ck myself whenever she gets really mad.  Her anger is like a freight train...once it gets going it's impossible to stop.  The only way I've found to end our arguments is to apologize profusely and offer myself up as a sacrifice to her...which further undermines my own position and self esteem...and gives any shred of personal power I have left to her.

I want a healthy relationship.  Is there anything I can do to better this situation?  Her marital situation is unchanged...she is still working on that.  I realize that this adds a completely different dynamic to the situation, but the anger/control/abuse issues still very much pertain.  She justifies her destructive anger by saying "If you wouldn't do these things, I wouldn't get angry and I wouldn't say the things I do".  She never apologizes for the things she says...she says the most hurtful things to get me to my knees.  And afterwards she says she's glad that she said them.   There are shreds of truth in these hurtful things...which only confuses me more.  She's attacked me for being divorced, saying "I'm not the one who got divorced over anger are".  Yes, that's true.  I had anger issues in my marriage and I worked VERY hard to understand where my anger was coming from because I was very ashamed for the way I behaved in many instances.  I have NEVER accepted bad behavior from myself, but I readily admit that I was verbally abusive to my first wife.  That is a very hard thing to admit...I feel much pain when I think of what I put her through with that...and this situation has made me realize first hand the kind of pain she lived in on a daily basis.  But at least she was with someone who realized how WRONG their behavior was, apologized, and was taking steps to remedy it.  Lee does none of that.

I hope this letter can help others on the site.  I am looking for help on how to stand up for myself, be strong and move beyond this.  Right now, I feel very weak.  I would do anything for her affection...I'd do anything to hear her say that she loves me...for her to treat me the way she used to.  But it feels like that person is gone....and so is the happy and easygoing person that I was when I was with her.  I am in misery now...please help me!


Gang, any advice for Alan?