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Dr. Michael
Dr. Michael, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 2177
Experience:  Licensed Ph.D. Clinical Health Psychology with 30 years of experience in private practive and as a clinical psychology university professor.
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My husband and i separated ...i had to leave the house

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my husband and i separated ...i had to leave the house because i couldn't take his verbal and mental abuse I just found out he is seeing someone...and I feel so jealous...i loved him and gave him over 30 years of my life...and now because i left...he "writes me off"his words... and starts a new relationship...with the wife of a friend who passed away in Sept last year and was a friend of mine too. I don't know why i feel jealous..i told him i would never divorce him when he asked me to do an on-line divorce...he got angry and said he would spend every last penny he has in court with me...why do i keep looking for his affection? the love is long gone!
Hello. I believe I can be of help to you with this issue.

To answer why you are jealous and believe you keep looking for his affection, you need to understand that your husband has literally taught you to feel insecure about yourself; his verbal and mental abuse and manipulations over months and years have driven into your brain that you are not very worthwhile, not as smart or capable as he is, have countless flaws and because of this, you aren't worthy of his love. Now, over and over when these encounters with your husband have occurred, what do you do? Well, any woman in this situation would try lots of different things that actually make things worse and undermines her self-esteem and mental health. She will try to pacify her husband whenever he gets upset and turns passive-aggressive, rather than fight or argue. His passive-aggressive style is impossible to grapple with or 'solve' because he can deny he is angry, or 'meant anything' by something abusive or hurtful he did. She will be come sullen and not argue or fight back after awhile, because doing so just makes things worse; or it causes the episodes to end sooner if she 'shuts' up. When someone lives with a person who is passive aggressive, the end up feeling helpless---as if they can never do anything right or they feel 'damned if they do, damned if the don't'. Passive aggressive partners undermine womens' sense of self-esteem and self-confidence; they gradually make women feel helpless and hopelessly frustrated. She will find that HE REWARDS HER and acts a bit better toward her when, after a bad episode or conflict, she bends over backwards to be nice, kind, agreeable---for a time. But he will pick a fight with her or start the criticism or passive aggressive behavior patterns all over again when he feels she needs another dose of the abuse-manipulation game he is playing. This is all about basing a relationship on narcissistic power and control over another person.

What I'm getting at here is the fact that over time, your husband has seriously undermined your self-confidence, self esteem and his leaving and paying attention to another woman is actually the final 'outcome' of what you've feared----what he has unconsciously threatened you with many times over the years. I'm suggesting that in various ways, he has controlled you by reminding you that you aren't capable, terribly lovable, not very worthy, and that he might as well leave and find someone else who is 'better' than you. Now, you've internalized this message he has sent you over and over about yourself. Is it any wonder that now, when he finally does leave and goes to another woman, it sort of validates in your mind what he has 'told you all along' about yourself? That is, you feel jealous and unsure of your decision to leave him because he is announcing through his relationship with this other woman that he was 'right' all along about you.

So I'm really sorry he has brain-washed you this way into thinking you were not a lovable, worthwhile person, and that he has undermined your self-confidence and self-esteem. How long do you think it will be before this other woman starts experiencing his belittling, passive-aggressive attacks on her self esteem, as he tries to tie her into a dependent relationship and control her emotionally?

I'd better pause here and solicit your reaction to this post. I'm throwing a lot at you and I realize much of it is speculation because I don't know you or your circumstance. I've simply seen this situation hundreds of times and the pathological 'game' husbands play to gain power and control over their spouse by undermining their sense of self. What do you think? I may not be able to respond to your next post before tomorrow a.m., but I'll get back to you!
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
i wrote a reply late last night...did it go through? I know you said you might not be able to answer right away...
No, I didn't get your reply to my post. I'm sorry. Any way of checking your computer and copying/pasting it and trying to resend? Now, when you created the response, did you type it into the box at the bottom of my post, or did you send it in as you did your first post---perhaps as a 'new' question, when you thought you were just responding to me?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
OK...I retyped while I was waiting...and it got way too you don't have to read it all...but here it is;
Everything you have alluded to is true.

Background of our relationship;

[I had a healthy, or so I thought, self-esteem. I put myself through college while working in a factory, became a CPA, started and ran my own educational retail store for 12 and a half years, while I continued to work in accounting for some clients, and for all of my husbands' businesses and my own. At one time I was doing taxes for 4 corporations that we owned - both federal and state, along with our partnership and personal tax returns. while I worked full-time! I always worked, he made me. He said I had too much income potential to stay home. I only was able to stay home for about 1 and a half years when my boys were little. I think he got jealous when he would come home and find out we had a good day at my sister’s or something. He never helped with any of the paperwork because he said he "couldn't", that I knew what i was doing, and he couldn’t help me. Because I was an accountant we couldn’t dare hire one to help me. These conversations occurred in the evening when I would start the paperwork after I put the kids to bed. At which point he would head to bed, and tell me he needs more sleep than me. Somewhere around 20 years with him, he finally brought someone home to help me do some bookwork. But I had to train them to use Quickbooks to help me first.
Nothing I did was ever good enough for him. He praised me at times, and would show genuine pride at what I accomplished, and then would flip and throw fits at who knows what...telling me I never should have left the factory...or why don"t you get a "real" job that pays benefits...etc. So eventually after hearing this so often, I went back to school to become a teacher, which he approved because teachers get benefits and a pension. All the time I had to continue doing the accounting for his/our businesses. I am in my 7th year teaching 7th grade math, and I love what I do. When I first became a teacher, he and my sons teased me that now I was a "lowly" teacher, and should start driving a "teacher car". Eventually my teenage sons didn’t like me being a teacher because it took up too much of my time. Eventually, I started to stay after school and work, because the climate at home didn’t help me get my work done. When I worked late at any of my jobs over the years, my husband would tell my sons I abandoned them again.
I have to admit, I do have ADD (and now OCD has gotten so bad at times - I can’t function). I need peace and quiet in order to concentrate. ]

All I feel I did was work, work, work for him. We hardly ever took vacations, maybe 10 max in 30+ years. We had accumulated property investments. And when I finally left, he made me sign a separation agreement, and we divided up the properties. We are not divorced. I never wanted too. Now I feel broken both mentally and emotionally. I can’t even finish a task anymore. I get sidetracked so easy and feel so dejected. Now, even though he was not always so nice to me when we lived together, (he could be very mean!) I at least had my family around me, as dysfunctional as it was. Now since I moved out (June, 2011), I am lonely for them! I don’t understand WHY I would want to be back there?!?

We married when I was 21 and he 20. We have 2 sons; 21 and 24. My eldest has recently moved to Germany to live with his girlfriend. I hardly see my sons. My husband has told them over and over that I left them….last week my younger son repeated to me that I said to my husband that I hated him...I despised him...which IS what I said AFTER he threw a hot pulled pork sandwich at me and hit me in the back of the head. I actually had a blister behind my ear from it.
All this crap I put up with over the years...and I don’t understand WHY my mind KNOWS it is no good...but I keep getting these yearnings in my heart that make no sense!

WHY the jealousy? I can only figure it is because he is being nice to her and his Dr. Jeckyl/Mr. Hyde personality could not always be nice to me.

And why do I melt when he does say something nice to me? He can be sooo sensitive when he wants to be...and so nasty mean at other times.
O.K., I got your message; after midnight and indeed, this is a long response and I'll need time tomorrow to read it---I do want to read it in its entirety before responding. Time to shut down the office for now. Thanks for your patience.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
i will be going out of town Sat to Tues for my CPE if I am not responding it may be because I am away.

thank you for being patient with me.
No problem. Get back to me when you return. Good luck with your CPE requirements!
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
i got back on Wed, but it has taken me so long to catch up on my school work (grading) that I couldn't take the time to go on the computer to respond to you. With the weekend here now, i have a little more time...
in the mean time; my husband admitted to seeing the women since her husband died (4 and a half months ago now), my son told me over the weekend that her husband approached him and asked if he minded that "after it is verified that your mom and dad are no longer together, would he (my son) mind if his dad saw his wife" --after his impending death... When my son told me that I got so sick to my stomach from being upset...then more depression set in...
i am a my principal at school has called me in to say my teaching is being affected, and students/parents are making comments to the guidance counselor....I haven't heard anything from either....
i don't know how to get out of this funk ...
i have an appointment with my therapist on Monday, but all he keeps telling me is I am a survivor...but i don't feel that way....i feel like a loser!
The depression you feel is very weighty because literally, you've had a bunch of tragic issues and outright insults dumped on you by your husband and "HER" husband. And he dragged your son into the snakes pit as well.

You are faced with having to struggle to function at work and somehow cope with all of the emotional insults you've been handed. In terms of work, I would ask to meet with your principal again and ask for more specific details about how your work is being affected exactly (as you seem to not be aware that it has slipped noticeably) and generate a list of things you need to work on. I don't know if it is best in your locale to have a teacher's union rep meet with you and the principal to gather the details on this and hear what the principal is thinking or planning. I don't know if things get so bad you might not want to take a short term medical leave. This is a coping option to relieve stress and perhaps, save your job (i.e., rather than be repeatedly warned that you are doing poorly, and you in fact, can't make the necessary improvements following the warnings).

You may also want to meet with your therapist, but also, set up an appointment with a new therapist---try a female clinical or counseling psychologist this time. Can't hurt, and you are still maintaining your current therapy---but with a possible option of switching therapists.

You may be helped by antidepressants at this point as well. Again, you can at least look into this perhaps, and try it. You can try St. John's Wort---talk to your pharmacist and get this OTC.

But I think you may need qualitatively different therapy than you are receiving to get out of this funk. One thing that seems to be happening is that your husband's bad behavior is weighing on in a way that is damaging your self esteem, undermining your confidence and sense of self-efficacy. This is common, but really, you are actually quite like a pinata, that is just standing in one place, and getting hit from all sides right now, and it's not the pinata's fault and this is not your fault. It is your husband's doing.

I don't know if you have the time or energy to do any reading, but in addition to different therapy, you might find a bit of solace in these books:

These books are not primary sources of help but I think they will cause your thinking to shift from a position of helplessness and victimization that you surely feel right now, to a bit more of a powerful position to sort of counter attack, protect yourself and extract as much compensation as you can from this awful husband you have. I suspect you realize that the probability of divorce is high at this point and I would want to start talking to you about equipping yourself for this. You need social support too, someone who offers a bit of hand-holding, coaching, support, a warm hug as needed---someone to regularly sort this all out with. And then you can get through it. Telling you you're a survivor isn't quite enough. Any thoughts or reactions?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
your comments are very insightful to me. i never thought about askng for a medical leave, so I will keep that as an option to look into. I will speak further with my Principal, he seemed very willing to be helpful to me, which I am grateful for. I do take the antidepressant Cymbalta, 60 mg once a day. Without it, I get extremely depressed. I know, because once or twice I forgot to take it, and I couldn't stop crying. (its interesting because the entire time I lived with my husband, I could never cry...he stopped me from showing my emotions early on in our marraige., and now it seems that's all I myself - I still try not to let people see me cry..). I will ask the pharmacist if I can take the St. John's Wort along with my med. I looked it up, and it increases serotonin, same as the Cymbalta.

I often feel now that there is no use for me. I have no purpose. And when I get depressed that feeling gets extremely strong. I do wonder what difference do I make?, other than making life miserable for my family, because I "ruined" their sence of family. When living with my husband, I was useful to him because he needed me to take care of his books and taxes.
I think that may be part of my depression...because i couldn't live like that anymore, I made the choice to leave, and now I am no longer needed. He tells people, and my sons repeat it; that I left him, so people feel sorry for him because he professes to everyone that he loves me so much. And he tells me that too!...but then why did he treat me with contempt when I was there?..and continue to do so whenever he flips. So, in essence, if I am lonely, and I am, because my son lives with him, that is my fault too.
I know I have to get over these feelings, but 32 years is a long time! I am now 54, and I know I am NOT washed up and old as he liked to tell me so often. I know inside I am more than what he wanted me to believe. But now even at school, I am not as good anymore...

OK, I see I am pitying myself here. I have to get I used to be!??...

I will look into the books you recommended here. I appreciate you sending the makes it easier to do.

I did just make an appt. to see an attorney for an initial visit. I should be given all the opportunities I have available to me, with or without divorce, court or mediation. My husband made me sign a Separation Agreement when I left, and we divided up our properties into either his or my name. I didn't want to do that, but he said if I left him, I had too, so we did. I just needed to get away from him.

so I am trying to move on.

Thank you very much for what you have helped me with so far.
I think you are starting to realize that you actually are having your "life" as you knew it taken away from you and I think you really do believe that some sense of your identity and purpose goes away with it. So you feel empty, purposeless and lost. But your post suggests you also feel quite uncared for, unappreciated and unloved (?). Here is the BIG problem or challenge you face. You are only 54 years old and now you do have an opportunity to create just about any life you want for yourself. Your identity and sense of purpose has been derailed by your husband but it isn't really gone---you can fully recreate yourself. What do you WANT to do with your life and if you don't know, how can we help you figure out what possibilities are? You had fantasies about being happier or wishing you could do some things you couldn't do because of responsibilities to your husband. So you might discover what you want to transform your life into by looking back into your past and your fantasies. I really think this is the sort of thing you need to be able to bounce off someone---you need a sounding board so you can hear yourself just talk out loud about anything that comes to mind. You are quite capable of figuring this out and re-creating YOUR life for YOU, now that your husband is out of the picture. Honestly, you can be many, many things and live your daily life pretty much anyway you want, within your time and budget constraints.

I hope this information is helpful to you. Feel free to let me know how you are doing in a few weeks or months if you wish.

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Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thank you! Thank you so much Dr. Michael. You have really opened the windows for me. I feel like I can start to see a future for me!...and it can be anything I want it to be! I hadn't considered that before...
I will let you know how I do...
I wish you the best of luck with this second chance to re-create your life over again.