The Controlling Wife


So many times we hear about sociopathic men controlling women. Typically, it is females who become trapped in emotionally abusive relationships and cannot leave due to financial circumstances. However, there are also many men trapped in similar situations. I know that the term ‘controlling woman’ is a stereotype and yet I recently experienced a situation which made me think about it in-depth.

A dear friend of thirty years recently tried to end his relationships with  a sociopathic family member. I had been friends with this man, whom I’ll call Tom, for thirty years. I knew about Tom’s situation with his family member for several years. Several months ago, he came to me because he had decided to cut off ties with this individual, who happened to be his wife.

My friend grew up in a home with a very controlling mother and without knowing it he signed up for the same treatment in his marriage. I met his wife when they first started dating. She struck me as quite immature. She was 21 at the time but seemed more like 11. All that this woman wanted out of life was to have as many babies as possible and to not have to work outside the home. Tom, who was in love with his wife and eager to start a family, agreed that she should stay home with the children but he did not know that he was also signing up to support her financially for the rest of her life.

The number of children seemed to be the first point of struggle. After three children, Tom wanted to stop but she insisted on more. Tom wanted a vasectomy stating that they could not afford more children because his wife was not working and he had a blue-collar profession. After the fourth child arrived, Tom again stated that he wanted no more children. At this time, they had three boys and one girl. His wife insisted that she “needed” another daughter and begged and pleaded. So their second daughter was born. After five children, Tom insisted on a vasectomy.

After the vasectomy there was very little and eventually no sex. Without the possibility of pregnancy, Tom’s wife only used sex as a reward/punishment system, sending him to sleep on the couch so often that he eventually moved to the couch.

In addition to wanting more children than they could afford, Tom’s wife also had expensive habits including wine, clothing, make up and going out to lunch with her friends. She still did not work outside the home. Tom went without to provide her  wants and he subsequently ignored his own needs. His wife had been brought up in a wealthy family and she did not seem to understand that her husband was a blue-collar worker with a limited earning potential. Credit card debts ensued, not for necessary items but for luxuries. At one point the finances were strained after Tom was laid off from a manufacturing firm which was moving overseas. Instead of offering to find work herself to help pay the bills (the youngest child at that time being 8), his wife pushed for them to take a second mortgage, which they did, mounting to the debt.

Early on in this marriage, Tom’s wife took the lead of being the boss, of being in charge. He referred to her as a bully. If she did not get her way, then she would punish him with sullen moods, outbursts of anger, and fits of crying. She inflicted her moods on the children, who also responded to her manipulations by acquiescing to their mother’s demands. The entire household revolved around the mother. Anything and everything was done to keep her calm. Tom pressed her to see a psychiatrist but she refused.

With the economic changes after 2008, Tom found that he was unable to make enough money in his career as an industrial tradesman without traveling to remote areas for weeks or months at a time and sending the money back home to his wife. He lived in squalid conditions including musty hotel rooms, shared housing and even campsites to keep his expenses as low as possible. He was incredibly unhappy and yet he felt that he must keep working to support his children, especially as his wife continued to not work outside the home.

As the years went by the type of work Tom had to perform, which involved climbing and lifting for ten to twelve hours a day, began to have a toll on his body. Having inherited a genetic form of arthritis, his limbs became twisted and as he took medications to control the swelling at such high levels that his liver levels were altered. It was at this point that I came into contact with him again, after an absence of several years. He was desperate to change careers and yet he could not afford to. When I suggested that his wife should get a job, he felt thankful to me for saying so. And yet she continued to not work and he continued to tax his body.

During the past couple of years, Tom remarked to me that lately, instead of working five ten to twelve-hour days per week, he needed to work six in order to make enough money to satisfy his wife’s spending habits. He referenced her credit card bills, expensive clothing, trips to the hairdressers, cases of wine, organic food, vitamins. At this point, I interjected, “Organic food! You’ve got five kids and a workingman’s salary! You can’t afford organic food!” He sadly agreed and yet he seemed powerless to stop her from buying it.

Finally, last fall, feeling his body becoming worn out and broken, and with every day of work more painful than the one before, Tom had enough. He decided to call it off. The youngest child was fifteen. He announced his intention for a divorce, and told her that although he would fully support the children and household until the youngest was eighteen, she would need to get a full-time job right away, as he intended to transition to a career which would not destroy his body further.

Tom’s resolve lasted a few months while his wife battered away at him daily. First, after having ignored him sexually for years, she began pursuing him against his will. He felt extremely uncomfortable about her advances and asked her to stop. She did not. Since he was working several hours away, and saw her only occasionally, at first this was not too difficult. But then she began calling him and texting him unceasingly. After having ignored him completely for years, she began a campaign of constant contact, which anyone outside of the situation would consider harassment. She agreed to go to counseling to address her poor behavior, then she missed the appointments. She yelled, screamed, cried, withdrew. She harangued him, argued with him and accused him repeatedly of neglecting his duty. She shamed him. She told him that his children were suffering because of his actions. She upset their teenage and young adult children, whom she drew into her confidence as she designated herself as the victim, suddenly thrown out and forced to get a job, as if doing so were an indignity she could not bear. Soon his young adult children began to call him at work asking, “Why are you making Mom get a job?”

None of Tom’s children seemed to be aware of the breakdown of their father’s body, or how hard he worked, or what that work did to him. All they heard was the deafening yells of this woman who was simply a large child not getting her way. Finally, after several months of harassment, Tom needed unexpected surgery and wound up unemployed and living under the same roof as his wife. Due to pressure from her and his oldest daughter, he finally gave up his intention to get a divorce and agreed to reconcile with his wife. Undoubtedly, he will work six or seven days a week until his body fails, which cannot be too many years from now. (He is currently 50 years old.)

As sad as this story is, I know of several men trapped in similar situations. Their female partners control them by withholding sex, and making them feel ashamed. They accuse them of neglecting their duties and being bad fathers if they consider leaving their wives. My friend Tom knew that it was possible to get divorced and still be a good father and he set out determined to do this and yet his intentions were undermined by his wife convincing him (and the children) that if he left her, he was also leaving the children. This case is particularly sad in that the wife used the children to such an extent that Tom began viewing them as if they were much younger and more helpless than they were. A secondary aspect of this family’s dysfunction is that the adult children were also growing dependent on Tom to be the person who not only made all the money but who solved all of the emotional squabbles in the household. Two of the adult children were still living at home and not contributing anything to the household in terms of either money or labor.

Control and manipulation are gender neutral. Anyone can play in these twisted games. My heart goes out to all persons trapped by controlling partners or family members; may you all find the courage to escape.

Namaste,

Ixchel

Two Great Blogs on Healing from Narcissism/ASPD Relationships


coming out of the fog

coming out of the fog (Photo credit: theloushe)

I spent the first year of this blog writing about my emotional response to my lover’s betrayal. During that year, I also realized that in addition to being a drug addict & dealer, my ex also has Antisocial personality disorder, along with Narcissistic personality disorder.

I’d spent twenty-five years blaming his drug and alcohol addictions for his behavior problems, lack of empathy, criminality, lack of familial responsibility, lack of a life plan, inability to handle finances, etc. In reality, his addiction issues were secondary to his personality disorder, which he was most likely born with (ASPD) and then became worse through childhood abuse (developing into NPD).

Ninety percent of the resources which have helped me through the process of learning about personality disorders and how they affect relationships have been on the internet.

The only good thing about healing from a relationship with a person with Antisocial personality disorder is realizing that I’m not alone, and gaining strength through reading about the experiences of other women. (There is a significantly higher percentage of men to women who have ASPD and/or NPD, so most of the material I have found has been written by women.)

I admire the selflessness of these writers who have gone public with their stories in order to help and to warn others about how dangerous these individuals with personalities can be. These men (and women) can destroy your life. They are often charming and outgoing and can gain your trust easily. Once your trust is gained, they will take and destroy anything they can from you including  sex, your self-esteem, your peace of mind, your ability to trust others, years of your life and often, large amounts of money. These individuals are con artists and swindlers.

If you are suffering from a relationship with one of these individuals, then I urge you to visit some of these exceptional blogs for more information. (My blog only offers the tip of the iceberg of information about relationships with individuals with NPD and/or ASPD).

The Narcissist Continuum (http://n-continuum.blogspot.com/)

“This website is intended to be a safe place for discussing pathological behavior with a general audience.

The Narcissist Continuum, written by a woman who survived a decades long relationship with a male narcissist, is an excellent resource which covers the topic of narcissism from A-Z. It’s encyclopedic breadth covers topics ranging the personal to the scientific aspects of surviving a narcissistic relationship while also covering such pertinent topics as infidelity, morality, healing and parenting. Scroll down to the bottom of the homepage and check out the links to dozens of blogs on topics related to healing from a narcissist.

Psychopathyawareness (http://psychopathyawareness.wordpress.com/category/psychopathy-awareness/)

“To help other victims of psychopaths, both male and female, I have started the website Psychopathyawareness. This website explains clearly, for the general public, what psychopaths are, why they act the way they do, how they attract us and whom they tend to target. Above all, I hope that psychopathyawareness will help victims find the strength to end their toxic relationships with psychopaths and move on, stronger and wiser, with the rest of their lives.” Claudia Moscovici

Psychopathy awareness, written by survivor, Claudia Moscovici, is the Bible for those recovering from relationships with a psychopath. (For those of you who are new to these terms, “Antisocial Personality Disorder’ has replaced the term ‘Psychopathy’ in the DSM-IV).

If you are in a relationship with someone with ASPD (a psychopath), or you are recovering from a relationship, then you must immediately go to this blog and spend a minimum of two hours reading the enormous volume of information which Ms. Mocovici has written.

If you aren’t sure but suspect that your lover may have ASPD,  you should visit Psychopathyawareness to find out more information. This site is full of scientific information about how the brains of psychopaths differ from ours. (They do!) If you think that your psychopathic lover can change because there is some good inside of him, then you need to visit this site.

Namaste,

Ixchel

Life’s Too Short for Betrayal


nunhead cemetary

Image via Wikipedia

A family member died suddenly and recently. Before his death, we spent several days with him in the intensive care unit with the family. It was a harrowing time, and reminded me of how short this life is and how fragile.

Although I respect that there are some couples who have survived and moved past issues of betrayal, I would advise not giving second chances.

Life is too short and too precious to share your life with someone who has lied and cheated on you. There are so many wonderful people in the world who will not deceive or betray you. Share your life with them.

Integrity, honesty and thoughtfulness are their own rewards. A person who has betrayed you has violated these three virtues. Betrayal is an act. It is something which someone chooses to do, knowing that their actions will hurt the betrayed, eventually.

To be happy in this life, find people who will love you and treasure you and who would never betray you. Surround yourself with these beacons of light, these honest people who walk in integrity. These may be your family, your neighbors, your co-workers, your friends. Surround yourself with goodness and let no one enter your life whose heart does not glow with purity and truthfulness.

Namaste,

Emmeline

Betrayal is Universal


Judas Tree

Image by Vassilis Online via Flickr

Before betrayal happened to me, before I fell down its dark endless hole, I had never thought about what it meant to be betrayed. But I have learned that I am not the only betrayed person in the world; people are betrayed every minute.

Betrayal is universal. It is a component of the human experience.  On this planet, we experience birth, love, death, health, sickness, hope, enlightenment, betrayal and more. We trust people who are not worthy of our trust and then they betray us. It is as common as Spring following Winter. As long as selfish, irresponsible people live in the world, they will continue to betray others.

Being betrayed is a sickening experience. I never thought that my lover would stoop so low as to betray me with lies and deception the way he did. The horrific, sickening feeling of discovering betrayal is not one that I would recommend.

Avoid betrayal at all costs. Be very careful whom you trust. Be even more careful whom you date. If you are dating someone and you see warning signs indicating a lack of moral integrity, then break up! Don’t wait for the worst to happen. We have intuition for a reason. Use yours wisely. Does your significant other lie? Get out of the relationship.

The good news is that there are billions of wonderful people in the world who won’t betray you. Look for them and keep their company. You will notice them doing good deeds including volunteering for charity. You will notice how well they take care of their elderly parents. Watch their actions. Are they selfish, or do they put others’ feelings before their own? Are they loyal to their families or do they spend their time with the wrong crowd.

Beware the wrong crowd. It is full of betrayers and liars. It is full of the selfish and irresponsible who live for their pleasure in each moment. The wrong crowd is full of betrayers.

Learn from my lesson and save yourself pain; liars don’t stop lying. People who lie to others lie mostly to themselves. People who lie specializing in hiding things from you. They are skilled at it. If you are in doubt, then go to a professional therapist and ask about the liar’s behavior. Liars think nothing of hiding things from you.

Betrayal is a universal human experience but we must do what we can to protect ourselves from it. Betrayal is a dark, soul-extinguishing harm done by one human to another which is perilously difficult to recover from.

I have been working as hard as I can, with family, friends and a skilled therapist to recover from the person who betrayed me. Please, if you are reading this, take good care of yourself. Protect yourself from those whom you should not trust. Be smart and keep your eyes open. People who lie and betray are everywhere, pretending to be good decent people. It is easy to be tricked and hurt the way that I was.

Namaste,

Emmeline

Three Good Reads about Betrayal


In the past few weeks, I’ve read three helpful books on the subject of healing from betrayal.

I just finished reading, When Your Lover is a Liar: Healing the Wounds of Deception and Betrayal by Susan Forward, PhD with Donna Frazier.

High school health teachers should add Ms. Forward’s book to their curriculum so that young women can be warned in advance about the charismatic side of liars and how to avoid them. This book helped me move through thinking that my betrayal was unique  to seeing the universality of betrayal. My boyfriend is  a life long liar. In the first few months of our reunion, I believed that he had changed, but as it turned out, he was still a liar. Had I read this book in advance I may have been able to bail out of the relationship by realizing that the lying was never going to stop. If I had left the relationship earlier, I would have been spared the heartbreak of his betrayal. Liars lie. They keep on lying.

I liked this book so much that I sent a copy to my daughter at college to give to a friend who was trying to escape from a relationship with a liar who was cheating on her. I also recommended it to a friend my age (44) who had just finished a nasty divorce from a liar. She  thanked me for the recommendation and said that she recognized many patterns from her own experience while reading the stories of the women in the book.

Not Just Friends: Rebuilding Trust and Recovering Your Sanity After Infidelity , by Shirley P. Glass, PhD, illuminates the phenomenon of friendships at work budding into extra marital affairs. Obviously, this is nothing new, but Ms. Glass believes that due to increased time spent in the workplace and the availability of secret communications systems such as texting and email, this trend is growing. This book focuses on how women and couples can repair marriages and other committed relationships after an affair between ‘just friends.’

Ms. Glass also clearly delineates how these friendships, unlike one night stands, focus on emotional intimacy and grow as the two people involved view their special friendship as a type of fantasy relationship, free from the troubles of their committed relationship.  Intimacy between the friends develops slowly over months or even years, so that it seems innocent and natural for them to finally embark upon a sexual relationship. This type of relationship is all about selfishness; the person sneaking around developing an intimate relationship with a friend is trying to avoid dealing with the real life problems in the committed relationship.

If I had read this book beforehand, I never would have trusted my boyfriend’s ‘friendship ‘with this other woman. I would have recognized certain warning signs early on. There was a point when they began spending more time together, and in retrospect it is clear that  she was pursuing him, and  that he probably turned to her to discuss problems he was having with me.  It was the perfect set up as they worked together, and so he created a parallel relationship with her with very little effort. Since I’d never experienced infidelity before, and trusted him completely, I was thinking, “Oh that’s nice, he has a good friend at work.” As he’d asked her out a year  before he and I had reunited and she had turned him down coldly, I had thought that this woman  was ‘safe.’ She just wanted to be friends with him. It never occurred to me that her feelings would change. I was doubly at risk because he and I lived a couple hours apart, so it was very easy for this ‘just friends’ relationship to bloom into sexual intimacy with him running very little risk of me finding out.

Finally, How Can I Forgive You? The Courage to Forgive, The Freedom Not To, by Janis Abrahms Spring, PhD, is a breath of fresh air. I have always been a proponent of forgiveness and have forgiven many things in my life. But I knew fairly quickly after discovering my boyfriend’s betrayal, that given my long history with him,I could never forgive his recent lying and web of deceit which he’d been spinning around me for eighteen months, with me never suspecting!

Ms. Abrahms Spring offers acceptance as an alternative to forgiveness. This concept has worked very well for me and helped me move forward with my healing process. I will write more about this excellent read in another post soon.

Namaste,

Emmeline

Betrayers Choose to Betray


So Wrong, It's Right

Image via Wikipedia

“Our visit to this planet is short, so we should use our time meaningfully, which we can do by helping others wherever possible. And if we cannot help others, at least we should try not to create pain and suffering for them.”

                                                                                                   – Dalai Lama

Reading about morality and spirituality has helped me during the process of healing from this betrayal, as I am reminded that there is right and wrong in this world. It is not right to simply do what one wants, or what one feels like, in order to gratify oneself, or to get what one desires. The needs and feelings of others must be considered. If one has commitments to other people, then those commitments cannot be discarded to pursue pleasure or diversion. These values of commitment, of integrity, of right and wrong should be developed in us during childhood, and then reinforced during our adolescence and early adulthood. When we spend our adolescence and early adulthood in the company of warped and wicked minded people, and, as adults, spend our lives devoted to immediate gratification instead of considering our responsibilities to other people in our lives, then our own values become crooked and twisted and it becomes acceptable to harm others if one is pursuing one’s hedonistic impulses.

Nineteenth century writers such as Eliot, Austen and Tolstoy focus character development largely on the question of individual morals and values. Individuals who pursue hedonistic impulses always ruin their lives and hurt others. Characters who stick to a moral code, and refer to that in times of temptation, end up living long and contented lives.

I’ve just finished Eliot’s The Mill on the Floss and was struck by the scene in which Maggie is arguing for morality with Stephen Guest, who has taken her, somewhat against her will, down the river to marry her. Their marriage will hurt a number of people in their hometown, as each Stephen and Maggie are close to being engaged to other lovers.

Risking her own reputation, (as it would be far better for Maggie to marry Stephen than to return unmarried, which she does) Maggie adheres to her morals, which tell her that there can be no happiness in a union  which arises from deception and hurting others.

Stephen urges Maggie to overcome her values and give in to feeling, “We have proved that the feeling that draws us towards each other is too strong to be overcome. The natural law surmounts every other, – we can’t help what it clashes with.”

Maggie responds, “It is not so, Stephen- I’m quite sure that is wrong. I have tried to think it again and again- but I see, if we judged in that way, there would be a warrant for all treachery and cruelty- we should justify breaking the most sacred ties that can ever be formed on earth. If the past is not to bind us, where can duty lie? We should have no law but the inclination of the moment.”

Each of us who has suffered the betrayal of a spouse, of a lover, has been the victim of a person whose unformed character development, whose justification of anything through satisfying their own impulses of the moment. We must ask ourselves hard questions about the integrity of this person who has betrayed us so that we are careful to never let another potential betrayer into our lives again.

Sexual betrayal does not just happen. Peoples’ clothing does not fall off them. No one holds a gun to anyone’s head and says, “You need to start spending a lot of time with this woman (or man) who you are attracted to/has been flirting with you/has invited you over for drinks without telling your partner.” No one is forced to move into a relationship with another person, or go to bed with them, without first letting his or her boyfriend/girlfriend/fiance/spouse/lover  off the hook by breaking up with them before jumping into bed with the next person.

It’s very simple. Betrayal does not ‘just happen.’ The betrayer makes choices to trick, lie to, and hurt the person being betrayed. There is right and wrong. If you are in a monogamous relationship, then you have the right to expect your partner to be monogamous. If he or she cheats on you, then a verbal agreement, as well as an agreement of your heart and soul, is being broken. And it is being broken by the cheater’s own free will, and because he or she does not have a fully developed set of values which places commitments and duty above self-gratification and pleasure.

Namaste,

Emmeline

The Extended Grief Cycle; Shock, Part 1


Electric-shock

Image via Wikipedia

Shock: I am sitting at my computer on a Tuesday morning. I have recently caught my lover lying to me about some substance abuse issues. On an intuitive hunch, I find myself trying to log in to his email account guessing his password. It works the first time. I have never tried to get into anyone’s email before. I am a staunch believer in personal privacy. At first, I feel guilty for invading his privacy; the only emails that I see are from myself and our daughter.

Then, I find the email which will forever divide my life into before I read it and after. It is from a former colleague, a woman, a friend of his. I don’t grasp what it means at first and have to read it a second and then a third time. It is like reading something in a foreign language because it doesn’t make sense. I don’t understand what I’m reading for a long space, probably less than twenty seconds but it seems like much longer. There is a long space where time is hanging and my brain simply will not accept what this email means. It is a short email, just a few lines long. I will never forget what it says. On my deathbed, I will remember what it says. It is the end of my life; it is the end of my happiness.

He is sleeping with her; my brain struggles not to understand or accept this. But the words are clear; he has been sleeping with her. They have a relationship. This has been going on for some time. But this isn’t possible, a small voice inside me cries out, he couldn’t have slept with her in the same bed this past Sunday when I spent the weekend with him in that bed the weekend before. And yet, it is not only possible; it is irrefutable. I see that there is a string of emails between them.  I don’t dare to look. Already the words from this one email are searing into my heart. I am damned. You don’t spend your entire life missing someone only to find them again only to lose them again and survive, emotionally, you just don’t. Part of me knows this and begins a swan dive down into the depths of loss. A functioning part of me picks up the phone and calls a co worker. It is Tuesday. wE have lunch on Tuesdays. It is only 10;15. I ask her if she can come down right away. She says yes. I hang up the phone.

I blank out and don’t remember what happens next.

When my coworker arrives I am standing up a few paces away from my desk. I don’t remember standing up or moving away from my desk, b ut I can sense the emails like poison emanating from the computer screen. I do not dare look any more. It will kill me. Already I don’t know if I will survive, but I know enough that I cannot look at her writing, at her light hearted cheerful verse, at the familiar terms of endearment; if I read any more of this I will die.

My coworker asks what is going on. I am standing in the middle of my office in one of those moments that will define my life. It is amoment of defeat and yet survival as I am already proud of myself for having moved away from the screen, from the emails. I point at the computer. She sits down. In single words I blurt out what has happened. I back further away from the computer and sit down on the couch in the rear of my office.

My rational mind says, “I need to know three things; what date did the sexual relationship start between them, is this casual sex or a love affair, and does she think that she’s the only woman or does she know about me.”

My coworker b egins going through the emails to ascertain these things. I am sitting on the couch, perched on the edge, just sitting. My brain comprehends nothing. Something terrible has happened. The unthinkable has happened. I knew he had problems; I knew he had lied to me but it was about his substance use. I never had any reason to suspect him of cheating on me. He’d been completely devoted for over two years. It made no sense. There had been no signs. I sat alert on the edge of the couch.

There is a knock at my office door. My coworker opens it. It is another coworker, whom I am close to. She is here because we had a meeting. I have forgotten about it. I am happy she is there. She sits next to me on the couch. I think this can’t be happening to me. This isn’t happening to me. There must be some mistake. I think I remember beginning to cry. Both these ladies ask me who they should call. I tell them to call my two best friends, one works there and one does not. I watch the second co worker call my friends; I hear her telling them what has happened. It is like being in a dream. It is like watching a movie. It is not my life. This is not my life.

My first coworker friend has the answers to my questions. They are terrible answers. First, the sexual relationship seems to have begun around April, 2009 (Eighteen months! My soul cries, so long!) Of course, that makes sense. That’s when he and I had that fight. It is a love affair and not a casual fling. Terms of endearment are used throughout all the emails by both of them. And it appears that she has no idea that he’s also sleeping with me, as there’s no mention of me, and her language indicates that she seems to think that she’s the only woman in his life. My brain cannot digest these facts. They float around and around. I ask my friend to log out of the email account.

My other friends arrive and everyone decides that I am in shock. I am still sitting on the edge of the couch. I am told that I will not be allowed to drive because I am in shock. My friend, B, drives me home. It is a beautiful October day, so warm and lovely, but none of it is real to me. None of it is real. This can’t be happening to me. He can’t be sleeping with her. How could he do that to me? But I was just there visiting him. And then he slept with her the next weekend in the same bed? These questions begin to spiral around my brain as my friend drives me home. There is numbness in my sensations. There is a layer of cotton wadding separating me from reality. None of this is actually happening to me. B is not driving me home. My car is not left in the parking lot at work, needing to be picked up later. I have not left work. I am still at work. But my body is in B’s car, driving me home because they have told me that I am in shock. Why? I keep remembering. I keep remembering the words of her email. I will remember them forever. They are not true. It is not true. She did not send him this email. He does not allow other women to talk to him like that because he is mine. We waited for each other for twenty years and we have a daughter together and nothing can separate us now after all we’ve been through. Who is this woman?