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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!

Sometimes it is Very Good

Sometimes it is Very Good...

Sent: Wednesday, November 17, 1999 10:29 PM
Subject: Your Site

I have been married over 20 years. This is difficult to say, but I think I am abused. Having read ahead, YES. I have been thinking this for a few years.  I believe it has always gone on, but I did not realize how much.  From the outside of our house you would never know that inside is a man who can seemingly care so little about his wife and children.  I try very hard not to do anything that would cause a tantrum or to shield any unpleasantries so as not to cause one. So, Dear Donna, you walk on eggshells...

 My husband can rant and rave about small things for so long. He tells me I am "just" a woman and that I don't know as much as he does about just about anything. Really? What do you think I might say to him if I were in your place? He says I have raised the kids poorly and they are bad.  Everything that is wrong, from a dirty dish to the trash not being taken out is my fault. You bad, bad girl! I spend too much, don't save enough, am reckless with everything.  I am constantly afraid of what to say or do.  I get very depressed at times because I feel so alone. You are alone. You have no partner. If you are depressed, please try some St. John's Wort, SAMe, or see your doctor for a prescription. If we create "runner's high" with exercise, why wouldn't a defeating home life create a chemical depression? So, get a little chemical help to get balanced until you get to a place where you are more OK!

My three oldest daughters live at home and are in college. My youngest is in high school. I have thought for several years of leaving when the youngest goes to college, but sometimes I don't think I will make it. That is your depression. Get some chemical help. After all, we are nothing but a bunch of chemicals! The reality is that you can go now. Right now. Your kids will respect you for your strength whether they approve of your actions or not. Part of me feels like I am a failure because I even think of the D word. Don't make yourself responsible for your husband's inability to be a husband and a partner. I am afraid for myself if I even were to bring it up to him. So don't. Just do what you need to. The kids know how he can be and they don't like it.  

He thinks they are so bad. They will never do well enough to suit him. Well, one skipped two grades and is in her second year of college as an honor student at seventeen.  She was all district in two sports. She has a full scholarship from (big company).  Wow! (And, do you see your healthy anger?) The eldest has struggled with college, but is trying harder. Good!  None are bad kids. They play sports and go out with friends and have never been in any trouble.  The youngest is 14 and does need to clean his room, but he is a good student.  The way he talks to me about them is that they are horrible and bad.  He doesn't like it because their rooms are dirty and messy.  They are teenagers.  Yep. Teenagers. Shut the doors.

About seven years ago I went back to school. !! I got my bachelor's degree and now I am in Law School. !!!!!! It seems hard to believe that a would-be lawyer would be writing to your site. Abuse-victim issues are equal opportunity employers. My problem is I have no one to talk to.  I have few friends. I feel embarrassed/afraid to bring things like this up, plus what does it say about me? It is "normal" for victims to guard the abuse secret. Unhealthy, but par for the course. You over-responsibly feel as though you are doing something you are ashamed of! You are not. Your husband is. He should be ashamed of himself! Don't take responsibility for his misbehavior! You don't have to hide his misbehavior. First of all, his actions are no reflection on you, second, if you hide it, you enable his actions. I don't want people to think badly of us or that we are bad people. It doesn't matter what people think. See how your codependence is showing? Understand that. I have never been hit. That's the biggest problem with emotional and verbal abuse. No scars. No "proof." Once a few years ago, he threw something at me, but that was the only time.  It is the voice.  That demanding, yelling, put down tone. Not OK! I have tried to talk to him and every time the first thing out of his mouth is, "If you want me to do that then you are the problem, you are the one who must... " I have given up trying. Sure. You can't win.  Sometimes it is very good.  Things are going well and you think, OK, this is going to be OK. You wish. Don't confuse your wishes with reality. Abuse is cyclical. There are good times, very good times. It gets worse over time.

He worries so much about money, yet he never seems to have enough of it.  We have quite a lot by just about anyone's standards, but he never wants me to spend any money.  He does not keep me from having money.  In fact, I pay the bills, but I am a nervous wreck all of the time because he wants believes it is his right as a man to control the investments and tell me what we can spend on. Yuk. Not to the exact penny, but it is close at times. He has the right to impose restrictions on himself. You have the right to prevent him from imposing his restrictions upon yourself and your children. You have allowed him to violate your boundaries.

Maybe I am crazy, Crazy as a fox. The craziest thing you do is doubt your very sharp sense of reality. Donna is trying to tell Donna what's up and Donna wants to pretend that it is not so. Donna: it is so. but it seems like I am verbally abused. Yes. YES! I cannot tell you the last time he said a nice word to me or told me he loves me.  We have no friends together.  I have friends, but he will never go out with them for the most part. He withholds, among other things. He knows just about no one here and we have lived her over 10 years.  He only talks on a regular basis to one of his employees.  

He refuses to help with any house work or even carry a basket of clothes up unless I beg. Don't. His reaction, is that the kids should do it!  Perhaps they should do more, but I don't want them to think they have to serve. He wants them to "serve" and to live as hard a life as he lived when he was a child. Two wrongs don't make a right.

Well, I better stop if everyone sent emails like this you would never get anything done. Good thing I get to answer those I choose, huh? You don't have to reply unless you would like to. You bet! I have no answers, just a feeling of being lonely.  Thanks for listening...Donna

Dear, dear Donna,

God bless you. You have so much going for you: smarts, intuition, heart... You have a big heart. A big questioning heart. Even though you have a hard time accepting the reality you see, you do see it. Bless you for your ability to protect your kids from their dad's sadistic standards and for your ability to use the time and resources you have to educate yourself. 

Please do something about your self-esteem. You have no reason not to feel not OK! 

You are about an inch short, no more, of owning your power and your life. Your husband is acting like a big, spoiled brat. He is making everybody miserable because he chooses to be miserable (that's what he learned; all he knows). Yet, he makes little effort to use his free will/freedom of choice/self-control/call-it-what-you-will to change that. So be it. You can't change the way he chooses to live his life.

But, you don't have to accept the rigid, punitive standards he imposes either. The price you pay for lacking the courage to stand true to your inner self, the self that knows exactly what is going on, is depression, despair, and all that other awful stuff. But, you are too smart and too aware to fall for it. You try to stay in denial, but you can't. Good! 

Get yourself into counseling. Now! You don't have to live your life by your husband's difficult standards. Neither do your children, who are healthy enough to not like the situation. Also, join a support group like Codependent Anonymous or a Women's Group or .something! You need to go somewhere you can talk all this...someplace to help you take away your irrational shame.

You are lucky. Unlike too many women in similar circumstances, you have financial resources. You are educated. Your kids are not taken in by his shenanigans. Use the gifts you have been given to your advantage. Take care of yourself and of your children. Your husband may or may not get the message, but he doesn't stand a chance of fixing himself unless you put your foot down.    My very best wishes, -Dr. Irene

Look at a comment a reader sent Donna