Advice By Kim

Advice

Kim Answers Questions About Life, Love, People and Problems.

Kim is a qualified, registered, practising psychologist who gives people answers to questions about their problems free of charge on Words By Kim.

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MP MP wrote on May 7, 2007 at 1:32 pm:
I hate my life. I have wanted to leave my husband for the last 30 years but have never done so. He is verbally and emotionally abusive. I have recently found out from my children what affects our tumultuous marriage and family life have done to them and I have been a miserable failure of a mother. I should have never married him and now I feel like I can never leave him....I am so low in my self-esteem and I have this weight from my upbringing that you never get divorced no matter what. You married for better or worse. I have totally screwed up my life....when I look back all I have are regrets. And when I look for the future all I see are regrets. If I kill myself then that affects others negatively and if I stay alive I affect everyone negatively. I am totally at a loss...I want to just disappear.
Admin Reply by: Kim
Hi MP. It sounds like you feel your life is over and it has been wasted yet you have done what you believed was right even though that was at great cost to yourself. All any of us can do is what we think is right and none of us know if that will turn out to be for the best in the long run. None of us CAN know what the future will bring!

Your children appear to have expressed the opinion that they would have been better off if you had left your husband but they are merely assuming that. Abusive people often make life a whole lot more tumultuous and nasty for their partner and children if the partner does leave them. It is very common for abusive people to use the children to try and control their partner if separation occurs and children are often very badly hurt when that happens. Your kids are only assuming life would have been better if you had left. They can't know what might have happened to them if you had broken up the family!

I'm guessing you considered leaving him many times but decided against it because of your belief the children would be better off with two parents. Your upbringing most likely made you feel it would be selfish to end the marriage just because you were not happy so you did what you thought was right.

My grandmother left her abusive husband and my mother once told me she felt her mother was extremely selfish for doing that. Your children might have felt the same way if you HAD left him!

It is very common for children to blame their parents for whatever goes wrong in their own lives. It is human nature for people in general to blame others whenever they can as I am sure you must have noticed and parents make a particularly good target.

The chances are your kids would have been just as unhappy with you if you HAD left your partner as they are because you didn't leave him. I'm assuming you love your kids and would not want to change them? Your partner was the only way to bring those unique individuals into this world so you had to be with him to get them!

You say you should never have married him but did you know that way back then?

You can't change the past but you can change the future if you choose to. You say you look into the future and see only more regrets but that is a future based solely on the present. If you change the present then you can change the future. You say you feel you can't change because you are weighed down with your upbringing and poor self-esteem and that is probably true but it doesn't have to stay that way.

You mentioned you have nobody to turn to and that is the first thing that needs to change!

One of the ways abusive people keep their partners from leaving them is to isolate them. Everyone needs support from others to be strong and courageous in their choices and decisions. Abusive people make sure their partner has nobody to turn to but them so they come between their partner and anyone they have who can provide support. Sometimes they move them so far away contact is all but impossible and sometimes they just behave so badly they drive everyone away or they force the partner to turn away from family and friends by making a scene whenever they try to see or contact them.

You can't expect to be able to change if all you have is your partner since he will do his level best to sabotage any attempt you make to grow stronger or happier but a therapist can provide you with the support you need to change in a positive direction.

Maybe those changes will lead to you leaving your husband but they don't have to. It is also possible to change your perception of yourself so you can be happier even in the midst of a lousy marriage. You say you went for marriage counselling and I take it that didn't work. Marriage counselling can only help couples when BOTH partners are willing to change. Abusive people often see no need to change and will only go to counselling to prevent their partner from leaving.

Try individual counselling. Tell the therapist you need help dealing with abuse but are not willing to end your marriage because of your beliefs. Work on your self-esteem and learning ways to manage the abuse so it doesn't continue to drag you down and see if life doesn't seem a whole lot better once you stop feeling so bad about yourself.

You never know. You might even reach a point where you start to believe you really do deserve better than what you have and you may gain the courage to reach out for it and get it!

I wish you all the best and I strongly urge you to get support somehow. If you don't, won't or can't get a therapist then try to make some friends, reconnect with family or old friends if you can but, failing that, seek out new sources of support as soon as you possibly can!

Cheers - Kim
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