From: MonicaSent: Wednesday, October 06thSubject: I feel guilty for getting a restraining order. Help!!!
Dear Dr. Irene,I have been married to my husband for almost 6 years and things have gotten so bad between us, I asked him to move out in May.
He didn’t want to go and ranted for days saying everything was all my fault. He claimed that I was the only one with a problem and that if I would just “stop the bull*#*# ” everything would be fine. He seems to think he is my victim and he goes to great lengths to “prove” this. I am just too sensitive and I need to do …(fill in the blank)… to make him happy. Then and only then will he stop getting “a little too angry ” He has terrified me and our young son during these “little too angry moments” on countless occasions. He has punched walls, doors, broken furniture. Afterwards he has the nerve to tell me what I did wrong!!! This twisted paradox has me so angry. Good! You should be angry. You and your son don’t deserve this stuff.
How can he not see how horrible he has been to us? He can’t because he is too concerned with how HE feels; the injustice done to his feelings by YOU, since you are supposed to “know” what to do at all times and do it. Why is he incapable of feeling empathy for our terror? He most likely has empathy, but his needs and wants over-ride anybody else’s. Did I marry a person devoid of feeling sorry for the pain he inflicts on others? Only if it interferes with how he feels he has been treated. Why do I still long for him to realize how cruel and unreasonable he has been? Because his behavior is so unreasonable and senseless to you, you think if he saw what he was doing, he would change. Not true. The strength of his belief system overrides everything, by far! Two days ago he came over to pick up our 5-year old and he said his head hurt. The old me would have offered to rub his neck for him and canceled my plans for the evening so he could relax. Right. That’s the woman he fell in love with; the one that catered to his needs and wants. This by the way, was wonderful behavior on your part. It is not wonderful when there is no reciprocity, when the giving is in all one direction. A more normal partner would give back. The new me said nothing, just nodded to his comments. Sure. Unfortunately, what else can you do? He then asked me what I was up to tonight and I answered with “not much, studying, going out later for dinner” he then said “with who”. I replied ” with friends.” Well things got ugly in record breaking time. Sure. How dare you have a life outside of him – you are his wife! HIS wife. He said “it’s a guy isn’t it…….whore……..who is he…..I will rip out your throat….” This all happened within 3 minutes of him arriving!!! He and I have been separated for 6 months and he hasn’t even begun to let go. I have no interest in dating men, but he doesn’t believe me. It’s not his business and it doesn’t matter what he believes. Stop trying to explain. You are separated. You can date. You can do what you want with your life and you owe him no absolutely no explanations. Stop giving them and insist that he deal with that! After he left I was panicked. He has never been so vicious before and I was thinking ” this is it he might actually hit me this time” I decided to take legal action to protect myself and I obtained a restraining order. Good, good, good, good, good, good (get my drift?) I am confused about the guilt that I feel. On one hand I can see how scary this is. On the other hand I find myself reevaluating my behavior to see if there was another way. Please help, I feel so angry, guilty and confused. Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you for this wonderful site I am learning more every day! -Monica
Unless you are a sociopath, guilt is a useless & destructive emotion that is triggered by irrational thoughts & assumptions in the back of your mind. The thinking creates the guilty emotion. If the thinking is indeed irrational, you are feeling a painful emotion that may lead to self-destructive behavior on your part. You need to examine your thinking. Try this:
Each and every time you feel guilt, do not react . (When unsure, do nothing.) Instead, sit down and write each and every thought that creates guilt for you. When you calm down, evaluate your reasoning objectively. I bet you will find that your thinking is almost entirely irrational. (For example: “He is my husband; a good wife does not put a restraining order out on her husband and the father of her child”. “He doesn’t mean it; he just loves us so much he cannot see what he is doing.” “Two wrongs don’t make a right. I should be a loving wife and drop the order.” Etcetera. Wrong! Your husband is not behaving like a loving husband and father. A loving husband and father does not intimidate his family and scream and break things. A loving husband and father cares about the fact that he is hurting his family. A loving husband and father does not twist reality and blame his wife for his “tiny” temper. Etcetera.
Therefore, you have every right to protect yourself from an individual whom you fear may harm you and your family. In fact, you are obligated to yourself and to your child to protect yourselves. The reality is that you did what you had to do. The reality is that you did not want to have to go this far, but your husband, in his inability to accept life and in his insistence on bullying you, forced your hand. You did the rational thing. Don’t rescind the order. Get it?
If you do this exercise each time you can when you feel guilty, you will slowly build new, healthier & more realistic thinking patterns. In time, you will no longer have to impose the exercise, it will begin to “happen” and you will spontaneously experience less guilt. Try it. It works!
Good luck, -Dr. Irene