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Dr. Z
Dr. Z, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 10567
Experience:  Psy.D. in Clinical Forensic Psychology with a background in treating severe mental illnesses.
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Im 56 years old. Diagnosed avoidant/dependent. My husband

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I'm 56 years old. Diagnosed avoidant/dependent. My husband is a narcissistic workaholic. I am in therapy working on low self esteem and lack of identity, among other things. Our dysfunctional family produced a younger daughter (25) who is a high achiever and another, the oldest (32), who is a drug addict who has been clean for nine months. The oldest began using one substance or another when she was 13, shortly after her grandfather (my father), died after a 23 year battle with MS. I joke that I married my mother, but it is true. I married at 18 and have been married to an emotionally and physically absent man for 38 years. The problem I have on my mind today is the unhealthy, enabling and crippling relationship my husband has with my 32 year old daughter. He refuses to see how he keeps her sick. He likes to keep me the problem. He's killing my daughter. I did my share of enabling when she was younger, but through therapy and al-anon I have learned to let go and keep the focus on myself and my own issues. My recovery from co-dependency is not perfect, but I refuse to give up on myself in spite of the negative forces around me. My husband and I are now raising my oldest daughter's 12 year old son and 10 year old daughter. She has a 5 year old son that she lost to his father after she tested positive for drugs. My daughter learned in rehab that her father is her enabler and that his love is the kind that can kill her. But she is not capable of understanding all of this at this point since she is only 15 emotionally. She is terrified of her father dying. She wouldn't have anyone to take care of her then. All of the men in her life have used drugs and been abusive. She lives with a man who is abusive, a drug addict, a thief, a liar and manipulator a criminal and expects us to accept him. She was the scapegoat in our family when she was young and according to my therapist, I'm the scapegoat now. I don't want my husband to continue to hurting my daughter. Help!

Dr. Z :

Hello

Dr. Z :

I believe I can help you with your concern

Dr. Z :

Please give me a couple minutes to read over your question more carefully, so that I can better assist you

Dr. Z :

Sorry I had some technical difficulties there for a second, but I am back now

Dr. Z :

I am so sorry to hear about this destructive behavior that your husband has inflicted on your family, I can understand how distressing this is for you

Dr. Z :

You and your daughter are definitely in a predicament with your husband and even though you have tried counseling, it has not been very effective for you or your family. What you probably already know about individuals with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is that these individuals typically get progressively worse and bring everyone else down with them

Dr. Z :

Unfortunately what you have to do to escape this situation is that you and your daughter have to leave your husband and break off contact with him or he will keep having a controlling influence in your lives in the most negative way

Dr. Z :

I know this is difficult, but there is no other option. The only other option would be for your husband to go through intensive Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for 1-3 years to even remotely treat this disorder and even then the success rate is still love with treatment

Customer:

my husband is a highly respected professional in the field of law enforcement. He sees me as the problem.

Dr. Z :

And many individuals with NPD will take respected positions of authority and control to help foster their personality disorder. I am sure your therapist has described the destructive influence this man has on your life and how harmful it is as long as he is still in your life. I would like to recommend some books to help you understand this behavior better if you like and how to break free from an individual with NPD

Dr. Z :

You cannot make your husband stop hurting your daughter, only he can stop, which most likely he will not do, so that means your daughter and yourself have to escape and leave the situation where he has no more control over the both of you

Customer:

My therapist has told me he is not going to change. I'm not in a financial situation to leave and we are now raising my daughter's children together.

Dr. Z :

Yes but what kind of influence will he be having on your grand-children, that will just be more people for him to hurt. I understand that you may not be in a financial situation to leave, this is a part of his control to keep you forced to stay. You can try to hire an attorney to help find a reasonable financial settlement from a possible divorce to help you leave. But your therapist is right that he will not change what so ever and will get worse actually

Dr. Z :

The books can help you interact with him and help "disarm" him, but they will not be the ideal solution and may only be a temporary solution for you and your daughter.

Customer:

Can you explain how he will get worse. Right now he works 24-7 but justifies it to take care of our daughter's needs and those of the children. I have been depressed for a while now. Am on medication. I realize because of my avoidant dependency I stay. I'm afraid to leave.

Dr. Z :

I understand co-dependency is very common for individuals that are in a relationship with NPD. He can be more emotionally abusive, less empathetic, more controlling, more blaming of others, etc...

Dr. Z :

This is how they get worse because they will exhibit these symptoms to a greater degree in a gradual motion as a way to manipulate you and not notice until it is too late.

Customer:

Yes, my doctor said as I get stronger and stand up for myself now that I can see that I have taken his judgments and criticisms and projected them onto myself causing low self esteem, and the dynamics of the relationship change,he won't like it.

Dr. Z :

Individuals with NPD do not take rejection well, so as you stand up for yourself and get stronger, he may be more emotionally abusive unfortunately. But those books will help detail how to stop that, especially the "Disarming the Narcissist" book

Customer:

My therapist hasn't spoken on this level about getting out of the relationship. We are mostly working on me now. So this is hard to hear.

Dr. Z :

Well working on you is good to help improve your self-esteem, but I do feel that the longer you are in this situation with your husband the slower your progress therapeutically will be. As a forensic psychologist I see more patients with NPD than the average therapist, so I have an expert knowledge of how these individuals operate.

Dr. Z :

I am not trying to bring you down at all, I think you do have some options, but I want to be realistic with you and prepare you for what to expect from your husband in the future

Customer:

He has played mind games with me since I met him at 15. It was always suttle and has been hard to explain to others. I always thought there had to be something wrong with me. I've seen him more clearly in the past several months than I have ever seen him. My therapist has assured me there is nothing wrong with me but my thinking.

Dr. Z :

I agree with your therapist that there is nothing wrong with you at all, but that your husband has made you think there is something wrong with you (manipulation) and that you started to believe it unfortunately

Dr. Z :

It sounds like your therapist is very good and helping you a lot, so definitely continue working with this therapist so that you can break free from your husband's control

Customer:

Thank you for your validation. I have isolated myself over the years during my daughter's drug abuse. My husband and my mother have really been the only people I've had to relate to and they are very much alike. I need to step back out into the world.

Dr. Z :

I agree, and slowly you will build up the strength and the self-confidence to be the person that you want to be

Customer:

Yes, I don't want to get to the end of my life and be sorry that I wasn't brave enough or strong enough to be the person I was meant to be instead of being defined by others. Thank you for your help. I will get the books you recommended ASAP.

Dr. Z :

Anytime, I am always happy to help. And I wish you the best with your continued treatment and I wish the best for your daughter too. My goal is to provide you with excellent service, so if you ever have any further questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact me at anytime. Before you sign off though, I would very much appreciate if you could rate my performance in helping you so that I can get credit for this question. Thank you very much

Customer:

Excellent service. Thank you.

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