Dear Dr. Love,I just can not seem to shake my insecurities with my husband. I never knew my father. I have watched my Mom go through several terrible relationships. One guy asked her to marry him, and when I expressed my dislike she blamed me for ruinning her life. I feel that my whole life is just one big accident. No matter what I do I just can not shake the idea that I am one huge screw up.I have two kids and a loving husband. He has said to me repeatedly that I overreact to things and my additude has pushed everyone away from me. Everytime we start to talk about something serious he says something to make me feel small and stupid. Then we just lay into each other. We have tried to warn ahead of time about what we are going to say and that it might offend each other, but it does not work. He says that he does not mean to but that does not make me feel any better.I am trying also to get over being molested when I was about 7. That has caused me to steer away from sex, but I yield to him anyway and cry myself to sleep afterwards. I have tried going to a counselor. It does not help. He will not go. Please HELP!!!!All out of answers
My heart breaks for you. You have had such bad luck– maternal and sexual abuse, abandonment, and now, an unhappy marriage. In order to heal this mess, we need to start at the beginning. From an early age, you were blamed by your mom, which trained you to beat yourself over the head. When you say, ‘I am an accident, a screw up, ‘you are suffering from what is called the toxic introject. This means that your mother still lives in your head, calling you names, poisoning you. Every person raised by an abusive parent suffers with this problem.So what can be done? You must realize that you are being held hostage by the person that abused you–in this case, it’s your mother. And, you need to tell yourself that these self-attacking thoughts are not your own. Next, you must consciously identify the voice that berates you (mom, dad, etc. ) And, each time you hear the voice, you must say. ‘Hi mom. You’re beating me up again. ‘Identifying the toxic introject is the first step to healing this problem. Next, you must tell the parent in your head that she is not permitted to torment you like that any more.As for your husband, you said that he makes you feel small and stupid and then you lay into each other. It sounds like your husband is following in your mother ‘s footsteps. He verbally puts you down, just like she did. Would you like to know why this is happening? The mind always recreates the familiar. Since you were used to an abusive mother, your mind has chosen a husband who treats you in the same way. Through this recreation, your mind is also hoping to heal the wounds of the past. What is the healing that your mind is after? When you were young and your mother abused you, you probably had to swallow a lot of your anger. Now, your mind wants to release this old anger.You said that whenever your husband puts you down, you lay into him. When you yell at your husband, you are unconsciously giving your mother hell for all those years of abuse. That’s the healing your mind is after. But, here’s the catch. When you yell at your husband, he feels angry and puts you down even more. So, instead of draining your anger toward your mother, you are constantly refueling it. In other words, instead of healing, you are stuck on an emotional treadmill.You have another repetition going on. You spoke about feeling insecure with your husband. I think you mean that you are afraid that he is going to leave you. Each time you fight, and feel upset that he might leave, your mind is trying to work out the earlier abandonment from your dad. Remember, repetition is how the mind heals old wounds. But, in your case, the repetition has gone beyond healing. . . You are being tortured by it.So, what can you do to break these cycles? When your husband hurts your feelings, instead of going into a rage reaction and laying into him. Stop and quietly tell him: ‘When I am spoken to that way, it hurts my feelings. ‘Warning each other ahead of time that you are about to offend is not the answer. You are not supposed to be offending each other. Period.From now on, before speaking to each other about what’s upsetting, ask yourselves, ‘Will what I am about to say be helpful?’ If your answer is ‘no, ‘then shut up. Neither of you have the right to offend each other. And, since you, and I suspect, your husband were raised in abusive families, you both learned that verbal abuse and insults are allowed. They aren’t. You both need to learn how to express your anger more constructively.Read my Ten Tips in this web site. Also, make sure to read my book Till Death Do Us Part (Unless I Kill You First), which comes out in the fall of ’97. It will show you how you can communicate your angry feelings and strengthen the love between you. I know you said therapy hasn’t helped. But, you only tried once, and I have a feeling that the therapist was not good for you. So, my advice is, don’t give up yet.You will need to resume therapy in order to heal the aftershocks of the sexual abuse and abandonment. Believe me, there is someone out there who can work with you. If you feel comfortable with me, contact me in my private counseling section, and I can work with you by phone. Or, e-mail me with your address and I’ll see if I can find you someone in your area.My heart goes out to. Please hang in there. I have helped many women resolve the problems you have written to me about. It can be done. So don’t give up. Keep in touch and let me know how you are.