I am a middle-class good girl who has worked for 25 years at a good paying job. I had an eating disorder in the past, as well as an alcoholic father.
I've been married to a man for over 10 years who I can only conclude is a moderate psychopath. He is a compulsive liar, cannot hold a job, extremely hyperactive, impulsive, impatient, dependant, physically abusive, a chronic drug addict and alcoholic. He says he loves me completely and insists he has no hope in life unless I am with him. If I'd never hear one word from him again, I would be fine, but he calls crying, saying that I'm his reason for living.
To describe what life has been like since I met him would be too lengthy. It basically involved a lot of lies, deceit, bankruptcy, evictions, jail terms, etc. There were a lot of new starts, but with pretty much the same endings. I've been in a domestic abuse shelter and I am now living with my sister. He insists the best he can do is when I am with him. We do talk, as he does ask me for money on a daily basis. He is currently homeless and jobless, with no car or income.
Can you please help me?
I am sorry to hear that this relationship has been so destructive and has been going on for so long. It is always hard when your heart and your head give you two different messages. It seems safe to say by your e-mail that your head is telling you to stay away from this relationship. However, historically your heart has taken him back and helped him every time.
Just the little bit of history you gave me about your early family life gives me a clue for why your heart is winning. When someone grows up with an alcoholic parent they are taught a host of very poor rules and a twisted idea of what relationships are supposed to look like.
When a parent acts like a child, and all alcoholics at times do, then the child becomes the parent. They then have to become strong at an inappropriately early age and begin to feel responsible first for the parent and then for the rest of the world in general. This is called co-dependence. It is the belief that no matter how bad we are treated we have to take responsibility for the other person and take care of them. The belief is we are the strong one and the rest of the world would fall apart without us.
This feeling of superiority of strength is grandiose. The flip side of grandiosity is shame. Shame is the feeling that we just aren't good enough unless we are perfect. Adult children of alcoholics tend to believe that they are both superior and inferior. Both of these beliefs make them more likely to get involved with someone that will not take responsibility for themselves.
It is always impossible to get other people to change. They change if and when they decide they want to. It is always possible to change ourselves and that is what I would suggest here. Find a therapist who has experience with Adult Children/Co-dependence issues and spend some time working on resolving these issues. It will make it much easier to follow your logical self and not feel so responsible for your husband.
Try reading "The Family" by John Bradshaw and "Co-dependent No More" by Melodie Beattie. You might also check out my website at www.asktheinternettherapist.com for information about both of these topics.
I wish you good luck.
This question was answered by Jef Gazley M.S. Jef has practiced psychotherapy for twenty-five years, specializing in Love Addiction, Hypnotherapy, Relationship Management, Dysfunctional Families, Co-Dependency, Professional Coaching, and Trauma Issues. He is a trained counselor in EMDR, NET, TFT, and Applied Kinesiology. He is dedicated to guiding individuals to achieving a life long commitment to mental health and relationship mastery. His private practice locations are Scottsdale and Tempe, Arizona. You can also visit Jef at the internettherapist, the first audiovisual mental health online counseling center on the net.For more information visit: http://www.asktheinternettherapist.com/