The Doc Answers 28

The Doc's Answers 28


Thursday December 09, 2004
02:10 AM

Dr. Irene My boyfriend and I have been together for 10 months. We have had a volatile relationship for more than the majority of the time. Sometimes we have the best time together, and I feel so happy, but when things are bad they are awful. He has called me a dumb bitch on several occasions, has screamed in my face, dragged and thrown me out of his house, grabbed my arm and left a bruise, told me that he feels like slapping me, but that he never would, picks fights with me and blames me for them, and gets mad, and will not call me or answer my call's for a week. Right now we are currently not speaking. I know he is emotionally and verbally abusing me, but that is not my question. I don't know how to get away from him, because I love him, and I keep expecting him to go back to his sweet self...the way he used to be. I know this is foolish, and I feel embarrassed even asking how I should leave. Never the less, how do I get away from him?  Ask yourSelf this question: "Is this the way I want to spend my life?" Is it?

Assuming the two of you stay together, maybe get married, have children... Things don't get better, they get worse. Abuse worsens over time. The good in-between parts get shorter and the bad parts get longer. That's just the way it goes.

Take a piece of paper and draw a line down the center. Title one column "What is." Title the other column "Wishful thinking." Jot down the reality in the "what is" column. Do this during a bad time when your memory is clear. Then fill out what your hopes and dreams are on the other side. Keeping your hopes and dreams from reality is very, very important. Your wishful thinking may allow you to escape the pain, but then you come right back to where you are. What is, is.

Wishful thinking is in my experience the most destructive process a person in an abusive relationship can engage in. Yet, most abused people survive via wishing and hoping that things will be better in the future. They won't. Read through this site and see how many individuals hurt themselves unnecessarily by wishing/ hoping things will change. Learn from them. Otherwise, you'll just be back here some years from now, certainly more scarred than you already are.

By the way, this is not love even though it may feel like love to you. This is the emotional rollercoaster of abuse. Remember, this is your life. You decide what you do and do not do. You pay the consequences, or reap the rewards. If you choose to drive the highway at 175 mph, regardless of much you may love the feeling, you are the one who is endangering your life. Your choice. And, the relationship you are in is a choice.

This is a book you should read immediately: When Hope Can Kill: Reclaiming Your Soul in a Romantic Relationship by Lucy Papillon!

Good luck to you. Dr. Irene

Friday December 17, 2004
02:07 PM

Dear Dr. Irene, I have been married for 6+ yrs, and my H is verbally abusive. When he is the 'nice guy' that I married, I still love him very much, but when the 'bad guy' is here, (a lot recently), he yells loud enough to rattle the windows & name-calls & swears over stupid things like dishes, etc. We have a 1+ yr-old who adores him, and I don't want to separate them but don't want to traumatize her either. I have alienated myself from friends and family. Why? Don't alienate yourself; this is one of the worse things you can do!

He was violent 2 years ago resulting in a broken arm and surgery (mine) Ulp!
, and they were all mad at me for going back to him. You two have a history of violence. That's not goods... At all...

He has been in anger management since, but if he doesn't take his meds or drinks too much, it all comes right back - big-time-verbally. Basically, he's getting over on the program. Not OK.

My self-esteem is GONE, I want my old self back. Yes! I've already raised one child with no father, and I am scared of having to do it again. I don't want to leave my home or take my child from her home. I just work part time and can't support myself. We don't always want to do what we know we must...

You're married to a guy whom you WISH was always loving, or, at least, always benign. Yet you're married to a guy who hurt you physically in the past. Even though he's gotten some treatment, you see many signs that he's drifting back towards abuse /violence. You desperately HOPE that he would stop doing this! Plus you've got a child who loves his daddy, and so you HOPE daddy can be OK so you don't have to break up the family. You WISH he would straighten up so that you won't have to deal with the difficult financial issues you would face if you left.  On top of all that, you can't stand what your life with him is doing to you.

Unfortunately, wishing and hoping are not terribly effective means of ensuring that your husband maintains his cool.

I am confused and embarrassed. I can understand your feelings. But perhaps it's more accurate to say that you are wishing and hoping that things will be OK - and you feel badly about yourself because you are wishing and hoping rather than doing. I don't think you are confused; reality is sometimes very difficult to face.

Wishing you hope, strength, and courage for the New Year,

Dr. Irene

Thursday December 30, 2004
12:19 AM

Dr. Irene I sent you a letter a few weeks ago, asking how to get away from my abusive boyfriend. The verbal abuse has worsened, and now he has become more physically aggressive. More physically aggressive? He has pushed me against a wall, grabbed me by my face, grabbed me by my coat collar, and last night he pulled me so forcefully from his car that I fell on the pavement, leaving bruises on me. Oh boy... After talking tonight for 2 hours on the phone, we ended the relationship. YES! I know I will be happier in the long run, and part of me does feel relieved to be broken up with him. However, I still feel sad, devastated, and alone. Of course you do! I had thought at one point that this was the man I was going to marry. Do you have any suggestions to help me get over this sadness and just move on without all of this pain? Yes! It's the New Year and time for you to turn a new page in your life. Listen to your good sense. You know what you have to do!

Survival Tips:

bulletIt is OK to have sad times. You miss the parts of your relationship that were good. It's OK to grieve. But never, ever forget the bad!
bulletSit down right now and write a comprehensive list of all the times that he intimidated you, abused you verbally, emotionally, or physically. Don't forget the passive aggressive stuff (like helping another woman with her coat at a party, but not helping you; being late; not following through; not answering, so you have to "chase" him for an answer; etc.)
bulletTake the "Badness" list above, extrapolate and project into the future. Make things worse. Much worse. Abuse does get worse, you know. What might your life be like during the bad times down the road? How does he handle marriage and the inevitable disagreements? Your job? Money? Kids? What does a selfish, immature parent look like when in a bad mood? How might he treat your future children? And how would he rationalize his misbehavior to himself? Keep these lists with you and read it them time you feel down.
bulletSeparate how much you miss of what: How much percent do you miss the whole person he is as opposed to how much percent do you miss being in a relationship: having a life together; making future plans; daily chats; evenings & weekends, etc? Do you miss him - or miss being in a relationship?
bullet Are you depressed? You may need treatment!
bulletRemind yourSelf that this too shall pass.
bulletDo not begin dating immediately. Don't escape your pain; use it to grow.
bulletStick to your guns, get your ducks in a row, and know that in 6 months, you'll be glad you did. Keep busy! Use this time for self-improvement. Become more and more of the woman you want to be; become your very best. This is a great time to lose those last few pounds, get in better physical shape, improve your diet, try out new hobbies, join a group, take an evening class.
bulletAnd read up on becoming more of your own person so that you don't simply plop into the lap of the next male animal that is interested. The next guy's got to deserve you! This book will help you claim your personal power by illustrating how women with very high self-esteem behave: Why Men Love Bitches: From Doormat to Dreamgirl-A Woman's Guide to Holding Her Own in a Relationship by Sherry Argov.
bulletRemember: each day you get through, the stronger you become. Go Girl, Go!

Good luck to you, and may God bless you and yours. Dr. Irene

Tuesday January 18, 2005
02:21 PM

I believe my husband is verbally abusive to me and our son. I think he also has potential for physical abuse, but "would never hit a woman" and hasn't yet, although he's come close. I fear for our son when he's old enough to stand up to his father. Fear for both of you. If physical abuse occurs, it usually "comes close" to happening before it actually happens. It may start out as an "accidental" push. I also identify with your codependent definitions, and recognize that I've enabled him to continue this behavior. From what I read, and advice from counselors, I know the healthiest thing for me would be to leave. However, I have one rationalization I can't get past - can you help remove the filter I'm applying to this situation?  I will try.

While I'm on the scene, I can protect my son. So far, I'm able to "manage" the situation when my husband ignites, and control the time my son has alone with his father. I can provide emotional support when he has been worn down. In addition, my husband has no concern for normal safety (puts our toddler in the front seat without a car seat, thinks he should play outdoors for extended periods without checking on him, lets him nap in the car while he runs into work, etc.) If I'm on the scene I can minimize these incidents. If we divorce, emotional abuse is hard to prove, and my husband will likely get shared custody, with three or four evenings a week they're alone. I can't bear exposing our son to danger I could have prevented.

We've been to counseling, and everything that's wrong is "my responsibility"- my husband accepts no personal responsibility. I'm too uptight, in his perspective, and if I comment, he overreacts in the opposite direction just to spite me. Survival so far has been to avoid confrontation, and not allow dangerous situations to develop. How do you overcome this concern in advising someone in my situation? Please don't just say that the facts I've stated will prevent him from custody - he is well loved in the community and would put on a good show in court. Thank you.

Those facts must be documented, documented, documented. Keep a diary with dates and times. Follow them if you must: if you find your young son alone or unbuckled in the car while under his father's care, flag down a policeman. Get statements from individuals who have witnessed some of his careless behavior. Call some of the counselors you worked with; see if any will back up your claims.

Of course, this is no guarantee that you will establish a supervised visitation schedule with child visits, but it can't hurt. Sometimes it takes a long time to build a case and convince a judge. But, you have nothing to lose if you do this either.

I'm not trying to minimize your concerns, but ask yourself how much of your husband's behavior is intended at "getting to you." It may be that if you ignore his "mistakes," (i.e., he realizes he can no longer push your buttons) he will take better care of your child. It's in his interest to do so.  

Couple who fight are very polarized. Keep in mind that while the stuff you listed above is not OK, nor is it life-threatening. One parent tends to be more protective than the other in many marriages, and these differences just become even bigger during bad times. So, if your child's safety is the only reason keeping you in your marriage, weigh what I've said and balance it against the cons your child is likely to encounter if raised in a home where there is lots of parental strife. Ouchhh!

God bless you and yours, and good luck. Dr. Irene 

Tuesday February 15, 2005
10:22 AM

I was approached 2 and a half years ago by a very attractive female 34 years my junior. Lucky you! She asked to move in with me two years ago. I refused her offer. Saw her regularly and she denied having made the 'approach'. Who cares who made "the approach." It takes two to Tango. We fell out and she moved in with a guy who had 'chased' her for three years. Then, after three months with him she started texting me again. This culminated, at Xmas, with her telling me she 'loved me to bits'. I asked to meet her but she ignored my request of a meeting. Did you catch her on a "bad" day (meaning her feelings aren't all that constant across time - NOT a good thing), or she was just keeping you around as security, or something along those lines?

Now, since then, she has 'dangled' me, by blowing 'hot and cold' for two months until last week I told her to cease texting me. Good for you! I have heard nothing further from her. Lucky you!!!

Have I sickened her off or do you think she is planning her next strategy? Why do you care? Yes, I know, she's young, very attractive, interesting, etc., etc., but so what? It doesn't appear as though, for whatever reason, she's really into you. Don't you deserve better than that?

Nevertheless,  it sounds as though you do care.  So, let's give her the benefit of the doubt. Once.

Have you asked her what's going on? Ask why she appeared so interested around Christmas, yet refused to see you.

It's impossible for anybody other than her to know why she's doing what she's doing, but she is doing what she's doing. Certainly, for now at least, she's taken your cue and backed off.

Is she planning her next strategy? Again, only she would know that, and she may not know she knows. Most people don't consciously "plan" their next strategy. Often those who blow hot and cold are are run by their less-than-conscious moods. Moods, unlike values, change like the wind for some. If she's running her life according to her moods, you don't want to be around. Examples: Is there an interesting guy around? Yes? Well, there's no need to look your way now. Is she scared that a current love may be too dangerous? Where are you - she needs some security, a back-up!

On the other hand, maybe she has a legitimate reason for being cautious with approaching her. Ask.

So, if you haven't already asked her what's going on, ask now. Be clear and be straight yourself. See what she says. She may be straight with you, or not. Evaluate what she says in the context of what you know about her given your past relationship. Certainly you'll get a better idea than you have now regarding where she's coming from.

Good luck to you! Dr. Irene