I have been reading and following many threads on this forum and/or talking to several of you on the phone these past few days who, I feel are basically in the same boat.

I have to say that I have been saddened by your posts and phone calls. Let me explain why.

I know where you are and I know how much you want to be strong. I also know how much you want any little crumb that could signify that your S/O is the same as they once were. First of all, they are no longer that person and never will be again. Even if they come out of the MLC, they will be changed.

What I have been reading shows that each of you put ALL your time and energy into thinking about him. What he is doing, what he feels, how he will react. I don’t hear anything about YOU – or very little.

I do not mean this as a put down, but more as constructive criticism – but the way each of you talk, it’s like a high school girl hanging on one or two words and analyzing them for days and days. Its just a few words. Those few words perhaps mean a lot or absolutely nothing at all. It hurts me so much to hear you agonizing and driving yourself crazy.

I know what you are going through. I lived that life for way toooo many years. I believe I stayed with my spouse about three or four years to many. I lost myself somewhere in my marriage and to top it all off, I felt dead inside. I had resigned myself to living the way I was, for the rest of my life.

Prior to him, I lived with an alcoholic boyfriend that beat me regularly. I am co-dependant.

I want to give you advice based on what I lived through. Two points of caution:

  1. All situations are different, so just because it is what happened to me, is not necessarily going to be the outcome for you.
  2. It is easier for me to give this advice, now that I am out of the situation than it was when I was in it. Because truthfully, I wasn’t too good at keeping my boundaries and was easily swayed.

As an outsider, it is easy to see what is going on, but when you are living it, you WANT to believe. You want it to all work out. That is understandable.

But each of you have had your spouses do something most would not put up with. You then got angry and pushed back. They are not used to you pushing back. I’m sure it’s been awhile. They then come back and WOO you, because they are afraid they are going to lose you or you won’t be there for them. Sooooo, they go all out and try and woo you back. Let me tell you, they pull out all the stops.

I believe that each of you have seen this in the past few days. You each say, they say all the right things… yep they do. Just like they know which buttons to push to make you upset, they know which buttons to push to make you swoon. But, more than likely it is just the honeymoon period. They will only keep this façade up for so long.

I have probably been on more honeymoons than anyone, so I know what I’m talking about. Each time this happens, it takes another piece of you… another piece of your self esteem.

They will promise you:

  1. That they won’t drink again (if that is the situation you are in)
  2. That they will quit talking to OW
  3. That they won’t talk to you like that anymore (put you down or berate you)
  4. That they will go to counseling (then see how long they follow through with it)
  5. They NEED YOU (and that feels soooooooooo good – cause we all want to be needed)
  6. So many other things… that apply JUST TO YOU!!!!

Now if I would have known, what I know now… I would have done many things differently.

The first one is not to threaten to leave or divorce or separate unless I REALLY meant it and could stand behind my words. Otherwise it becomes like the boy who cried wolf. They know you are just bluffing and can’t go through with it. They actually lose respect for you because you aren’t strong enough to follow through.

The second thing I learned is that they would have to PROVE to me that what they are saying while they are trying to WOO me back – is for real. They would have to not only say it, but have the ACTIONS follow. However, the actions would not have to only be followed for a few days or a week or two. It would have to be actions that continue and continue. I can’t put a time frame on it, but believe me, it’s got to be more than a couple of day or a week.

So you see, my biggest regret is that I did not follow through with my words early on. Had I, I would have been in control of my destiny and not have it dictated by him.

I could have been out from underneath his control and gotten on with my life, sooooo much earlier. I wouldn’t have had to walk on eggshells for as many years as I did. I could have been feeling good about life and becoming the strong independent woman I once was… soooo much sooner.

Who knows… perhaps he would have started to work on himself earlier and would have become a better husband. I’ll never know – cause I didn’t push back – like I should have.

I know that we get frustrated on the forum because we can all see what is going on and the way you are being treated. We feel for you and don’t want you to have to hurt like you are. We want to give you the strength to break the cycle.

But what I know is that you won’t do that until you are READY too. I know people could have talked to me until they were blue in the face, but I wasn’t ready. I hope that one of these days, and sooner rather than later – someone’s words get through and you can be STRONG enough to put a stop to it. Make them PROVE they really mean this for a prolonged period of time.

But until that day happens, I will continue to support each of you. I will continue to give you my opinion and say what I feel needs to be said to help convince you that you don’t deserve to be treated like this, you are worth soooo much more and your life can be full and rich, once again.

So hang in there, keep posting, keep getting your feelings out and keep working on YOU!!! You can’t change them, you can only CHANGE YOU!!!

Posted to the Midlife Club Forum in 2003 by forum member TAB60. All rights reserved.