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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: Relationships! Ugh!

 Interactive Board:  Your ALT-Text here Relationships! Trust! Ugh!

A loving person lives in a loving world. A hostile person lives in a hostile world: everyone you meet is your mirror. - Ken Keyes, Jr.

Thursday November 20, 2003

Dear Dr. Irene: Hi it’s Faith again. (The Doc Answers 18) Hi Faith. I want to thank God for leading me to your website and I want to start by thanking you for leading me in the right direction. Thank you!  (And that God for helping me put this site up!) I’ve been to your website for the past 8 months numerous times. I'm glad it's been helpful!

I'm trying to get more information on abusive partners, and am learning so much from the victims who have the courage and strength to tell their stories. They have helped me in more ways than one, so: Thanks. There's nothing like finding that you are not the only one in the world. You had stated that I needed to get my head together, and to find out what is good for me as to what is not good for me.

Getting Therapy, I have tried Therapy with 5 different counselors. I have told them the same story that I told you and none them came up with the conclusion that I have intimacy issues. Different therapists will describe your problem differently depending on their training and your presentation. Doesn't mean a thing. We'll all eventually get to what the issues are. More on that later.

Another thing you mentioned was maybe I had a parental figure that teased me growing up: I love My Mom and Dad very much…. Of course. I do remember my Dad being abusive towards my Mom. He demanded my Mom serve him dinner every night! I remember him putting her down a lot (belittling), and cursed at her a lot. I remember one day we were all eating (My Mom and Dad have 6 kids Which also tells me there wasn't enough time and attention for each and every one of you guys.) and my Mom had said something that was obviously displeasing to my Dad; he threw a glass of soda in her face. Well, that's certainly disrespect. (In dad's defense, how stressed would you feel if you had 6 kids to support?)

I remember all of “us” kids wouldn’t talk to my Dad after that incident. Good for you guys! That also tells me the family pathology wasn't too too awful. If it was, nobody would dare imply dissatisfaction towards Dad. I also, remember my Dad feeling bad for doing that to her. I remember my Mom being a little negative growing up, she would say that I was too skinny(I was very thin), she would also always call me stupid. Ooops! (I got left back in the fourth grade. Still a destructive comment to make to a child.) I brought this up to her one time, and she said that she didn’t mean it. I'm glad you brought it up. What your mom basically told you is that she was stressed out and saying things she didn't really believe (i.e., acting out). I believe your mom was doing the best she could. But it wasn't too good. It's hurtful for a child who is likely to take parental utterances to heart. What that means is that Mom was in over her head, and it's not your fault that she was. It's a kid's job to be a kid. That she thought that I was just as beautiful and smart as her other kids. :) My Mom favored the boys in my family, the boys ruled! Just like Dad ruled. That's the case in many cultures. The girls had to clean do laundry learn how to cook and the boys didn’t have any chores. The message being that males have more entitlements than females. Training the girls to be co-dependent. Do you see that? (And training the boys to be self-indulgent and entitled.)  Growing up my sister and I have always liked the same guys. The guys always ended up liking my sister because they thought that I was too skinny. They would always that I was too skinny to go out with. (Giggle! Though I know what you mean, I'd have loved to have had your "problem!") I remember my brothers and sisters teasing me, saying that I was skin and bones, and that I had a big nose. I got a nose operation, fixed that problem and I’m no longer skin and bones. :)

I was always told how pretty I was, but never accepted the compliment. Sure. Why would you have a good body image if you were told you were so skinny, etc.? (You lucky thing you!) I also remember being molested by one of my brothers. I remember the first incident was when I was 7 years old. The 2nd time was when I was 12 years old. I use to wake up from my sleep and find him standing over my bed. Hmmm. So, why would you trust any guy now? At the time, my sister and I shared a bed. One night, I had not fallen asleep yet, and I felt him touching me! I just started crying, waking my sister up. She asked me what was wrong! I told her and she confronted my brother and said if he ever touched me again, she would kill him. He stopped! Good! The bad part is it taught you to rely on others for protection. My brother and I have talked about what he did. He says that he’s really sorry for doing those terrible things to me. I accept his apology. I don’t hate him for what he did, because I truly believe he is sorry! Good for you. Sexual abuse is never right, but it's a little less wrong when the abuse occurs to a child from another child.  (You can't trust your environment, but at least those you rely on for protection aren't doing it to you. But neither are they protecting you.) Good for you for bringing it up, and good for him for apologizing. Now it's up to you to eventually let all these things go. I searched the website for counselors that deal with intimacy issues, and I came across  Robert Burney, who’s website has something to do with the Inner Child healing – and choosing a therapist or counselor with discernment, and Dr. Irene, he had you as one of his referrals. I feel like God lead me back to you. Yes! I've "known" Robert Burney and his wonderful web site for several years. I love his work and how he helps guides other people's journey by talking about his own journey. Each of us is a fan of the other. Small world, isn't it? I know that I need counseling, but I can’t just go to anyone, do you have any suggestions. For providers? Only in the Rockland County, NY area.

Dear Faith,

You can't just go to "anyone," I agree. You have to find a clinician you feel comfortable with. I don't care that you've been to five or to ten. You are the consumer and you just keep on looking. Time consuming? Yes. Expensive? Well, it's starting over and over, but, it's well worth it. Don't get all bent out of shape that you haven't found the person you want to work with yet.

Ask some friends who are in therapy who they recommend. Therapists are often best found by word of mouth. 20% of the therapists get 80% of the business.

Don't worry if providers don't refer to "intimacy problems." Intimacy problems are not a diagnostic category, and are words associated with providers who follow certain orientations, especially self-help/co-dependency, like Robert Burney. Your issues are pretty common (Yes, common!), so please don't assume the therapist next door can't handle your issue. Any licensed or certified can.

I would be equally comfortable referring to your issues as "low self esteem", lack of "personal power",  mild post traumatic stress disorder,  lack of "assertion skills" and the like. One more big one:

"Trust". You don't trust that a therapist is "the" therapist who is capable of knowing all they need to know to deal with you, and you are terrified that (Oh my Gosh!) - what if they don't! You are looking for a Rock of Gibraltar because you are not your own rock (yet). Why should you trust? You couldn't trust that your mom and dad would protect you and fully nurture you. You couldn't trust your brother. And now there's a history of boyfriends who have demonstrated they are not trustworthy. Rest assured: the tendency to distrust is not unusual in individuals with a history similar to yours.

I'm asking you to understand that your reluctance to trust in the competency of a therapist is part of the problem you are having with men. By (unwittingly) not taking care of yourSelf, you entrust yourself to other (as in codependency). Nobody can take care of you like you can. Nobody! So your job becomes to learn how to do just that. And you can.

When you write in, tell me about what the other therapists have said to you. I'll see if I can explain where I think they're coming from. OK?  Dr. Irene

Anybody else had a real problem beginning therapy? Getting to trust a therapist? Let us know! Please hit "Submit" just once. And wait...  Doc

I just want to read the posts.