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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!

Update to Married To a Sociopath: I'm Working On Me!

Update to Married To A Sociopath: I'm Working On Me!

March 4, 2000

Dearest Dr. Irene, 

What a gift your site has been for me!!! When I first wrote you (about 3 months ago) you printed my letter as Am I Married To A Sociopath?  It made my experience all the more real to see it on your site! I have continued in my recovery since writing you. I see a WONDERFUL counselor through my local shelter, as well as having begun work with a Dr. who specializes in childhood trauma and development issues! I joined a couple of your support lists and find it so helpful in keeping me focused on my recovery. I have a lot of work to do, but I'm on my way!      :)

When I last wrote you, I had just come to grips with the abuse in my marriage. I came from an abusive family (dad committed suicide, alcoholic/addicted mother abused me and my sister verbally, physically and by neglect so that we were preyed upon by pedophile types) and now that I look back, it seems obvious that I would end up in a marriage that hurt me and didn't meet my needs! You bet! 

Upon finding your wonderful site and beginning counseling at the shelter, I asked my husband to leave. It took a solid week of being clear that I wanted him out, but he went. I felt so proud!!! I knew I had done the right thing for myself and my children. My husband begged me to give him the chance to go to therapy and get better. I told him he didn't need to maintain a relationship with me to get the help he needed! He started therapy and pleaded with me to give our family another chance.

I wish I'd bided my time now, but I let him come home. Our little "honeymoon" phase didn't even last a day! No sooner was he back then I discovered he was deceiving me. He'd scheduled himself to have this expensive, new eye laser surgery during our brief separation (not the actions of a grieving heartsick man) and withheld this information until the night before the surgery was to take place. He had just returned home to repair our marriage and he asked if I'd pick him up after his surgery. I had no idea what he was talking about! 

He'd mentioned being interested in this new procedure about a month before but never said another word about actually having it done. He has used money to control and punish me in the past, has a history of lying to me and making unilateral decisions. So, I was angry. I was even angrier when I found out he'd lied to me about the cost. 

So, there I was thinking our marriage was on the road to recovery and he was actually going about business as usual! I wanted him to leave. This was just more of the same, old stuff for me and I really had had enough! But I let him minimize the whole situation and I agreed to give him more time. I felt so angry with myself!!! All the strength I'd felt when I kicked him out evaporated it seemed. 

I felt trapped and scared. I went to my counselor after several more upsets of this sort and sobbed. I wanted so much to stop living this way. I'd even seen the light at the end of the tunnel. What was wrong with me!!??!! How could I continue to put up with his lies, manipulations and blaming? Why did I feel paralyzed and unable to leave? I was in agony and feared my counselor would tell me what I dreaded: that I'm weak, cowardly and pathetic. She didn't!  :)  :)  :)

Instead she told me that because of the horrible stuff in my childhood, I was unable to move forward without feeling I would die. The relief I felt at hearing that I was okay and could work on the trauma that was keeping me in hell was unimaginable!!!! I began working with my new Dr. and began understanding my own feelings. The pain and fear from all those years ago had motivated me to stay in relationships that hurt me, just as my parents hurt me! I intellectually understood this before, but now I began to FEEL the truth of it!!!! WOW!!!!  WOW!!!

Now I stand on the edge of being able to make choices that are good for me. I'm getting stronger and realizing that though my husband continues in therapy, I am not able to wait for him to get better. It costs me too much and that's okay!!! I need to be there for myself and listen to myself!!!! I no longer feel that I'm working towards a healthy marriage. My husband won't join me in that plan in a way I feel good about - but I can work for myself towards a healthy life for me!!!! 

Thank you, Dr. Irene for being a powerful source of strength, support and information for me. I know the generations of abuse in my family can stop with ME!!!!!                        
                            Love,   Christina

Dear Christina,
Wow! WOW!!! WOW!!!! Thank you for writing. Thank you for letting us know about life on the Other Side of Abuse. Thank you for letting us know that you ARE DOING IT!    :)    :)    :)    :)

My very best to you and yours - especially to your poor self-defeating husband - who needs good wishes the most, Dr. Irene

Thank you, Dr. Irene! I am sitting here feeling like the other shoe is about to drop!!! My husband's been going to therapy and his men's group - but is sooo angry and passive aggressive with me! Same thing. Call it when you see it and tell him to knock it off. 

It's like the internal process that led to him abusing me is still in place and now he knows he can't vent in a blatant way or I'm outta here!!! So, it builds and I feel it like electricity in the air. I have worked so hard to stop taking responsibility for his behavior and have succeeded in becoming a healthier, self-actualizing person! Tell him passive rage is as awful as his other stuff - and if he doesn't clean up his act, you're outta here!!! If he starts asking questions, etc., don't get into it. He should know or find out at his groups.

I no longer let him "engage" me in the abuse game of push-pull abandonment/rescue. I don't answer his baiting in a way he can use to further his abusive agenda and I don't look to him for what I need emotionally. I've changed my expectations and my behavior! The drag is that I'm still married
to a man who finds a way to keep abusing!!!! Yes. Typical.

At first I was flooded with hope when his counseling began and my greatest wish was that we could give ourselves and our kids the gift of healing parents growing together. Not perfect, but pretty wonderful!!!! This hope crashed with the first blow out to come after therapy. But I held on thinking "It's so early in the process, give him time". You don't have to live with it while you're giving him time.

I am at wit's end with this man covertly and passive aggressively abusing me!!!!! Confront it. Or, write him a letter to take to his doc. The abuse is so insidious and pervasive, I'm truly thinking he may not be capable of any genuine recovery. What do you think? I think time will tell. Do your job and refuse to put up with it in any form. The rest will be up to him. 

I find that being with a husband this limited and counter productive is holding me back and bringing me pain where there would be none otherwise!!!! I'm so stressed from my interactions with him that I have physical symptoms like anxiety, pain in the neck and shoulders, nightmares, etc. Uggghhhh. Ugh is right! Ouch!  Maybe I'm looking for the Doc's permission to abandon ship. But, this is YOUR life... He's been seething with rage all afternoon and evening and I can feel an abusive episode coming tonight! And this is a "recovering" abuser!!!!! Help!!!! Thank you for everything!!!!  Christina

Christina, He's not going to get better overnight. It takes time. But why are you protecting him by trying to ignore his passive rage? Call him on it! Tell him its a No Go. While he'll probably be mad at you, he needs to hear this.

Just as its "Two steps forward, one step back" for you, it is the same way for him.

I am worried about your symptoms. Not OK. I think you need to think about how you can reduce your stress. For starters, I'm glad you found a good shrink. Also, talk to your family doc.

Keep us posted!   Dr. Irene