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What if He Could Have Changed? A good read (long, but worth it) - (angel4u)
February 22, 2007
10:23 am
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angel4U
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Hi all! It's been a "long" while since I've been on these boards writing. I check in to read every now & then, but my life has been one "h#11ava" time this last year or so (Mom had cancer and has since passed, Dad's health is deteriorating, family dynamics were/are "very" crazy, to say the least!) ... so my absense has been more about time (or lack thereof) and just a need to step back & read/experience/reflect/act (by taking care of me ... =)

I do still think about this board and the wonderful people that are here often, and see many of you are still here posting (miss ya guys!!) and also see there are many newcomers (I'm sure you know by now that you found a wonderful place with many warm, loving people!)

With that, I wanted to share something I found on another website that hit home for me that I thought you might also find helpful. It's a long read, but I found it well worth it! I tried to add HTML code in where DR. Irene was responding, but not sure if it will work. Her response are between the brackets/words "font color=blue" and "/font".

I have more comin' atcha that I'll send in another thread.

God Bless & Peace to you all!

angel4u

====================
From URL: http://drirene.com/what-if-he-change.htm

NOTE: The follow-up posts mentioned at the end of this can be found by going to the above URL.

Poster's message:

I left 18 months ago after an 18 year marriage. I never had my husband pegged as an abuser, but since reading your site, I realise that the way he treated me was unacceptable. (Just so we're on the same page, there is no diagnosis for "abuser." People can be abusive for many reasons. ) He called me names and disrespected me in front of our son, despite me asking him not to. He threw things at me, and poked and shoved me – so hard that on one occasion, I fell down 2 steps and injured myself. Not OK. He never showed any remorse. Not a good sign. In fact, this is a very, very bad sign. I was often scared of him. Another bad sign. He was constantly criticizing me or complaining about things I had or hadn’t done. Everything from cobwebs in the corners, to using his pens. I felt like my opinions and needs didn’t count. I tried talking to him, writing letters to him and asking him to go to counseling, which he refused. We didn’t have sex for the last 3 years. I didn’t have the strength to leave. I felt like I was out of control of my own life and future. I felt that things would never change, so I accepted my lot in life and got on with it. Sounds like you did everything in your power to get him to hear you... Sounds to me as if you were too patient and understanding!

Two years ago I joined a writing group and became close friends with a member of the group. After a year of initially getting to know each other as friends, we started an affair. He left his partner (13 years together, no kids) within two weeks and I left my husband within 2 months. I am still seeing him. He is a loving, understanding and patient enough for me to get to wherever I need to be in my head through all this.

On the day I left my husband he asked me if we could go to counseling. You gotta love his timing! I was quite surprised as I felt that he didn’t even really like me very much by then, let alone want to stay married to me. He used to tell me he loved me, but towards the end, I never felt that from him. I declined counseling because I was worn out by it all, had given up and had the promise of a happier future ahead of me. Understandable.

For the first 6 months or so, I felt happier than I had felt in a long while. I moved into my own house and started to get my life back. My husband got angrier. He threatened to put my boyfriend in a wheelchair. He pushed him off his cycle from a moving car. This is seriously not OK. He dragged my son off me in the street. No! All these things I made excuses for. “He’s angry”, “he’s hurt”, “he has no self control” “he can’t help it” I now realize that NONE of that stuff is excusable. Correct. Entirely inexcusable. Forgive but never, ever forget.

As financial worries and guilt over my son’s future without his father around full time started to get to me, I become plagued by” what ifs”. What if I had agreed to counseling? What if he could have changed? What if the moon falls down tomorrow?

I only recently told him that I have realised that I was a victim of his verbal and physical abuse. He denies this. He does? No insight at all! I asked him tonight if he thought it would be a good idea for him to attend anger management classes or counseling. He told me that I’m the one who needs help. He's begging you back and he's telling you that you are the one who needs help? (He knows I’ve already had counseling since we split up) He told me I’m not acting as a rational and reasonable person.

But supposing he does admit to it all and does something about his behaviour and succeeds? Suppose the moon really does fall down tomorrow? How would I even know, as we're no longer together? Why would it matter? Have I given up on what might have been a good marriage if he made those changes? A little wishful thinking here, you think? I would feel so incredibly guilty. Why? You gave him a thousand chances... if he made the changes and I'd given up on us and thus denied our son the chance to grow up in what might have been a happy family. Denied your son the opportunity to grow up in an abusive family perhaps?

But I don't want to sit around waiting for that to happen. I want to get on with my life, and be able to commit to my new relationship. How do I do that when I'm haunted by "what ifs"? Rachel

You start by recognizing that the "what ifs" are part of an anxiety disorder. You start by recognizing - and accepting - that we do the best we can. That there is no such thing as certainty, that you will make the best choices for your and your son at any given time. You recognize that in retrospect, many of us would choose to do some things differently. For example, knowing what you know now, would you have married your husband?

I hope when you make whatever choice you make, you make it fully. Whether you stay or move on, please walk into your future unencumbered. Know that nobody can predict the future, including you. Know that our choices are educated guesses. Know that you alone are responsible for your life., and please know that all of this is OK... It is even OK if you feel some guilt. It is not OK to wallow in it.

Back to business: You have absolutely no evidence to believe that your husband will all of the sudden wake up and smell the coffee. None. Historically he has waited until the very last minute to give you an inch, like agree to go to counseling on the very day you leave. More recently, he tells you you are the one with the problem. Well, you know what? I agree with him! The problem is that you would even consider staying with a man who has pushed you around and who has attempted physical harm!!! Who then tells you that you are the one with the problem! What are you thinking?

Let's say he did finally admitted it all. So what? He would have to work very, very hard to modify a personality style that is centered in self-gratification. The leap you implicitly make from "But supposing he does admit to it all and does something about his behaviour" to "and succeeds?" is HUGE. Think along the lines of crossing the Atlantic Ocean in a rowboat. It would take time, luck, and mammoth effort. Even among those who are highly motivated, too often the challenge outweighs the motivation over time.

Guilt and anxiety (your "what iffing" is anxiety) are not unusual. You are emotionally worked up because you are making life changes. You want to make sure you do right by your child. But, please, never, ever stay with someone because of their potential! (Potential, which, in your husband's case, is not remotely apparent.)

Seems to me you've fallen prey to your wishful thinking. Hoping against hope that somehow he will "get it." That you can somehow go on and have a normal family life. And with absolutely no evidence to support your concerns! If anything, the "evidence" you've presented is not in his favor.

So, what are you doing?

My question to you is, guilt and anxiety aside, what do you want to do? Deep inside your heart, what do YOU want? You know, you do have a right to pursue happiness.

Oh, and please read this book:

When Hope Can Kill: Reclaiming Your Soul in a Romantic Relationship by Lucy Papillon

Please think about all this and post away. I will be back in about a week to reply.

Readers, what do you think? Any suggestions or insights for Rachel?

No more posting, but if you just want to read the posts, please click here.

Very warmly yours, Dr. Irene, 12/12/06

February 22, 2007
10:27 am
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angel4U
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yeah, the formatting worked!

btw - I loved Dr. Irene's humor in this response ... What if the moon falls down tomorrow?

February 22, 2007
10:42 am
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Sakura_07
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that was good. I like how she responded.

February 22, 2007
10:52 am
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angel4U
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Hi Sakura, I like her responses too. Kind of makes you feel like "it's ok/makes sense to feel the way you feel" about all the nonsense.

Some other responses Dr. Irene made to the follow-up posts that I also thought were good are listed below ...

I wonder if he resented you for not taking care of him...LIKE IT'S REALLY "OUR" JOB TO TAKE CARE OF A GROWN HUMAN BEING ... WHILE FORGETTING OUR OWN NEEDS IN THE PROCESS! THAT'S PURE SELFISHNESS AT IT'S FINEST! BLAHH! EVEN THE BEST OF HEALTH CARETAKERS ARE TOLD TO SET LIMITS TO MAKE SURE THEY TAKE CARE OF THEMSELVES.

He needed to do most of the changing. He was creating the resentment, not you.

It's about power and control.

You just want that pretend person to come back - the one that attracted you in the first place! The truth is the pretend person always comes and goes, but as time goes on the real one is the one you see more and more of. Look at it this way...he is an anger addict. Abuse addiction. However you wish to label it! "Selfish" and "narcissistic" might work too.

Once they admit the issue, and THEY (not you) take steps to change that - you will see if they are serious! Too often they start to change and then find "good" reasons to stop.

And yes, these issues will bite you in the butt again, unless your partner is as caretaking and dependent as you. Which is not such a bad thing. 🙂 LOL! Keep going and know that acceptance of whom is he - that is your best chance for the future.

That's the biggest problem with emotional abuse. The broken psyche is not obvious. Your story is one of abuse: control and power. Don't fool yourself. And if you are still lapsing into those spaces, get yourself a therapist now. You are too used to being treated poorly to recognize it.

I'm glad you left it, because it will come back to haunt you. And each time it does, you have to remember that this is just one of your guilty wishful thinking tapes talking. And you have to thank your mind for the sillyness it brings up, since that's what your mind knows what to do, and then choose not to buy into it. Think of quitting sugar for your help. Your mind will crave sugar. If you buy into the craving, you will create suffering for yourself and probably eventually cave in. If you just ignore your mind because you know you have to quit sugar, you will be able to quit sugar and regain your health. ... I LOVED THIS!!!

"I think it would be helpful to the "victims" that are going through this transition and "walking wounded" to know if the abuser ever feels any pain for what they have done? OR are they more angry that the victim ended the relationship? THOUGHTS? Depends on the abuser." Some will feel remorse but don't know how to handle the feelings. Others truly don't; they are pained by the fact that they were caught! THIS HAS BEEN MY EXPERIENCE WITH MOST ABUSIVE PEOPLE! THAT"S WHAT LEAVES YOU WITH THE FEELING THAT "THEY JUST DON'T CARE ABOUT YOU"!!! HURTS - BUT REALITY IS REALITY. THE SOONER YOU SEE IT, THE BETTER!

Not putting up with it (abuse) from day one helps, but so much of what happens depends on the people involved. Sometimes the abuse just takes longer to develop. Some abusive types respect strong limits. But the partner has to be OK with that type of relationship. Sometimes two abusive types get together and eventually kill each other - or stay together because each has something the other partner wants, so it kind of works. Etc. Etc.

abuse is often introduced very, very slowly, and the partner, who would never stand for *whatever* two years ago, now does...

February 22, 2007
11:46 am
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mj
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Welcome back Angel4u,

I am sorry to hear about your Mom's passing. Glad you are back!

Were having a book study again on Libs side on Codependent no more. Please join us if you are interested.

Take Care!

February 22, 2007
12:08 pm
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angel4U
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Hi mj!

Thanks for your thoughts about my mom. It has been a very difficult time (as grieving can be), but I am doing pretty good working through the emotions.

I have seen the bookclub on Libs and may try to join you all when I can. I also caught that the leader is our one & only mamacinnamon (does not surprise me!) ... she's doing a great job!

I have something I need to turn in for work, so have to sign off for now. Take care, mj, and stay strong & positive! (I'm really loving my new found learning of "HTML" code ... =)

February 22, 2007
12:50 pm
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armyleo
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Ah that's is where I have/am wishful thinking...

February 24, 2007
4:05 pm
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gofigure
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This was great!

Thank you

February 24, 2007
4:14 pm
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Rasputin
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Welcome back Sweet Angel4u. Sorry for the death of your mom.

Surprisingly enough, I was thinking about you...yesterday wondering why you left! Is this telepathy or what???

Welcome back hon. Your contribution on this site is very appreciated (((Angel4U))))!

February 24, 2007
5:17 pm
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A slow learner
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This woman just wrote my story, except for the small child involved and the new relationship. I, too, am living the same life. I need to leave him and move on with my life, but I am plagued with the "what ifs". Yea, I know, what if the moon falls down tomorrow? The likely hood of him getting his [email protected]#t together is as likely as the moon falling down.
This is my 3rd marriage, and I feel like such a failure, even tho I tell myself I'm not a failure. He is responsible for his choices, not me.
I have the financial means to support myself and I'm not concerned about being alone. I'm already alone. We live like roommates, not married people. I want a husband, not a roommate. I want to be happy again.
I have trouble letting go and that is what I am working on now. No longer praying that he will finally see the light and go to counseling with me. I have an appointment with a counselor next week and will begin my journey of letting go and moving on. Wish me luck. I will make the move back to my previous home when I start to feel more positive about this step. Maybe that is backwards. Maybe I won't start feeling more positive about my life until I move back home! I don't have the answers, but I'm willing to explore.
Thanks for listening.

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