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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: Quandry Revisited

 Interactive Board:  Your ALT-Text here Quandary Revisited

October 21, 2006

Dear Doc,

My previous interactive board was called “ Quandary! What’s Going On?” I have stepped back in analysis, with lots of therapy and have a  little bit more clarity now than when I originally wrote you. Great! You did such a great job in helping me understand the last time. I'm glad!

In my past relationship there was a lot of turmoil which I couldn’t understand as we got closer. The woman in my life had these selfish streaks she would never acknowledge and would fly off the handle into crying fits when she didn’t get her own way. I tried to discuss serious relationship issues with her like money, sex and what color we should paint the bedroom. She began to direct our disagreements toward me as the problem, and I began to believe her. The person with the complaint is the one with the problem. When you buy into their problem, you've made it your problem! Her rationalization was because I had never been in a committed relationship before, stupid me, somehow it made sense. Hehe! Amazing how lost we can become sometimes, isn't it? She would do very controlling things like read my email relentlessly because she was convinced I was cheating on her. I was actually very faithful to her and she found nothing.

When she first admitted to me that she was reading my emails, I had locked her out of my computer, and that was met with crying and fits. Eventually I caved again and gave her my password. Ouch!!! Now you know, I hope, that that's soooo unnecessary! Not her business and she's the one that needs to deal with her suspicions instead of try to implement external control over them. I never cheated, but she was starting to drive me away with her severe distrust and control issues. Of course! About 3 months into our relationship, she terminated therapy and her medication (stratera). I found that after a year together she was still looking through my email a few days a week, obviously there was never anything for her to find. I became very disturbed by this behavior. As you should have. The only problem was that you doubted yourself and by giving her too many benefit of the doubts, helped perpetuate it.

I always sympathized with her childhood, she is an only child. Her mother is now on her 5th marriage. Growing up, her father had left not long after her birth. She was able to rekindle that relationship later in life, but I believe the damage had already been done. Eventually he passed away at an early age when she was 18. During her mother’s repeated marriages, she was subjected to being left home alone often. Her step fathers ended up being pretty despicable as well. One left her mother because he was gay, the other was a violent gangster who beat her mom. The remainder I am not so sure of, but I believe were less traumatic. Today she and her mother are very close. What I didn’t understand until now, is how these childhood experiences would impact our chance to develop a healthy relationship. Often, yes. But how do you explain individuals with traumatic childhoods who grow up OK? They do exist... 

Just to compare in contrast, my childhood was fairly stable. My parents stayed together until I was 15, then I went on my teenage rebellion phase. I was heavily exposed to the arts and athletics and my parents were always involved. With success in my career, I made the choice of independence at 19, but have always maintained a healthy relationship with my family. It's all in the past, nevertheless, there was divorce in your family as well. If your family upbringing was so healthy, why did you rebel? Or leave home so young? Could it be that - at least in part - that you see things differently than she does?

There was one major issue that stands out for me that I would like an opinion on. It stems back to what I originally mentioned in my prior message. I had admitted to her I had several unconventional sexual relationships prior to our meeting. When she dug through my email to satisfy her selfish insecurity, she discovered an email exchange about a month before we met. This email never resulted to anything other than cybersex, nothing physical. This was held against me our whole time together. I had always resented her because her discovery of that was just as deceitful as me not disclosing it. I don’t feel I was obligated to tell her that so early, and that is my right. Was this her attempt at gaining more leverage and control in the relationship? Was I so horrible as to leave that piece of information out in the beginning? I don't know anyone who is purrfect. So you had a cybersexual relationship prior to committing to her. So be it. Seems to be it would have been pretty dumb of you to talk about it right off the bat. Or ever, for that matter, unless you had a secret wish to send her running! If the past relationship is not ongoing, and is not lurking in your mind in a destructive way (which would indicate you are not ready for any new relationship), why mention it at all?

What is your analysis on this relationship now? Same as it was before. You were not listening to your internal signals and you let this woman ride you. If this should ever happen again, with someone else, what do you suggest I do differently? (besides the way I ended it) My only suggestion would be to listen to your internal self more closely, and value yourSelf more. Had you done that, you would have put the brakes on her much earlier, and perhaps she would have left, or you would have left her early on.

Now that I have been able to look from a different perspective, and my attempts at trying to make it work, do you still believe this was codependency? All codependency is - essentially - is not valuing yourSelf enough. You put you on the bottom of the list, and other on top, and don't care that it is not reciprocal because you don't want to lose the other person. So you give and give and give, and get angry and resentful. People with codependency traits need to respect themselves, and trust their feelings more than they do. They need to better connect to their internal radar.

I know you've been working on this, but don't expect any instant fixes. It takes time. Just keep at it, one day at a time, one foot in front of the other.  See if you can pinpoint when and where in your relationship you may have given her too much benefit of the doubt. What would you do differently now, other than how you broke up?

Dear Jim,

I'm not sure why you are writing... You want to explain things to me to somehow change my opinion. Why? Are you trying to not blame yourself for those events and outcome? Do you somehow feel guilty or badly that you in some way were to blame? Am I supposed to recognize that you're not "at fault"? (Well, you're not!!!)

All this as opposed to accepting that you are purrfectly imperfect, which is the lot of Human Beings, and that you and your former lady are no exception... That we make lots of mistakes, that hopefully we learn from our past (and sometimes we don't!), and it is purrfectly OK that all of this happens, whether we like it or not - simply because that's how it is... Understanding all this is why I suggested you read the mindfulness stuff.

My reading suggestions haven't changed, but I've changed the order to reflect the emphasis on mindfulness.

This is your book. Study it; live it. It will help you stop judging yourself, being OK with all the "good" and "bad" that you are; it will help you live in the moment, which, if you think about it, is really all any of us have...

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

Please go here to read the posts.

Warmest wishes to you Jim and thank you Readers!

Dr. Irene