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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!

What About You?

What About You?

Sent: Monday, September 13, 1999  
Subject: E-Mail Advice

Dr. Irene,

I'm not sure why I'm writing or if I even expect anything to come of it. But I will go on anyway.

The overview of the situation:  About six months ago, I became very close friends with a woman who was engaged to an emotionally abusive man.  Their relationship was unsteady.  As our friendship grew (which she hid from him), I revealed that my feelings for her were stronger than just friends.

I helped her to feel a sense of self-worth that she hadn't known for years.  Eventually, she and her fiancée had a major confrontation in which he asked for the ring back.  She and I began dating soon after. I know this was a mistake for her, but I honestly felt that I could help her find something she had been lacking. Her actions are not your concern; or at least they shouldn't be. Was dating her good for you or a mistake for you? This is where you need to go! I even told her that if she wanted to date other people, or take time away from me, I was fine with that. I truly wanted her to be sure before things continued between us. I hope you wanted her to be sure as much for your sake as for hers. Rebound relationships are dangerous. 

Things were fine for six weeks. Then, her ex-fiancée showed up at her door. They started talking and now she is torn.  She feels that she was too hasty; she jumped into changing her life.  She is torn between staying with me or going back to him.  

I'm desperately afraid for her emotional well-being. What about your emotional well-being? What about the very real possibility you face of being hurt by her? Have you considered this at all? This man forced her to dress a certain way; he decided who she could be friends with; he may have even raped her. I'm know she wouldn't see it as rape, but I think it happened.  I don't know what to do. All you can do is take care of YOU. You are clearly not doing that. I've referred her to your site to see if her relationship with him was truly abusive and to see if she is falling into the cycle of abuse, but I don't know if she'll look at it.  I don't know what to do. This is tearing me up. Spend your energy getting torn up about your own dilemma. You have a problem!

I'm sorry, it seems as though I don't really have a true question, but if you have any advice on things I can do to help, please let me know.

Thank you,     -Zac 

Dear Zac,

Well, you got my advice. Help yourself! You are behaving like a classic codependent. All your energy is consumed with her welfare and you are not looking out for your own interests. When an individual behaves this way, they disrespect themselves. 

She may appreciate your good will, but it is unlikely she will fall head over heels for you. How can she respect you - if you do not respect yourself? By giving away the store, she is more inclined to develop mild contempt towards you than she is romantic longing. (Think: why would she consider going back with the selfish creep if he had nothing? One thing he does have - albeit to a fault - is the ability to care for himself. That is a magnetic quality.) 

Where is your integrity? Find it. You have too much good stuff to lose. A caring person with healthy self-respect and self-caring is an unbeatable package. Don't spoil it by not caring enough about you!

Sorry,    -Dr. Irene