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I am a 37 year old woman who has been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It is assumed that my PTSD originates from my early childhood experience of physical and sexual abuse by a step father. Then being taken from my mentally ill mother at age 5 and placed in foster care for 3 years.
My "dry drunk" father raised me from age 8 to adulthood (if you can call no parental guidance raising). Then I got involved with a troubled boy at 16 who exposed me to drugs, gangs, being a snitch, and murder. I finally got away from that relationship at the age of 19 and began college and got my life back on track.
At 25 I met my husband. Today we have 3 children and he is an ultra successful business man who is a wonderful provider. Throughout our marriage he had continually lied and deceived me in regards to his porn use. 4 years ago I had an intervention because I found him signing up for anonymous sex sites. Of course that intervention was met with false promises and more lies.
I became a recluse and unable to interact with the world because I was so obsessed with his life and lies instead of my own. One day while taking my children to a sporting event I started having a panic attack. It was at that point I sought counseling. I had been diagnosed with PTSD.
Approximately 3 months following my first Therapy appointment I discovered my husband had an affair with a 23 year old stripper. In response to my confrontation he proceeded to blame me for his affair. Of course the whole truth was dragged out of him piece by piece. It has been six months since his affair and we are in 4 therapy sessions a week, but I just can't bring myself to forgive him.
Why I feel justified in my anger:
It's now understood my reaction to his porn was the trigger for my PTSD. When I needed him most - he betrayed me. He blamed his affair on me, throwing me under the bus to co-workers and friends saying, I had an affair because my wife has issues and was abused as a child. Betrayed again--it is not his right to share my pain with other people.
Everyone raves about what a wonderful man he is, but I feel much of our relationship he has been neglectful and abusive. I want to see the good in him, I just can't when it comes to us. He is motivated, ambitious, outgoing, friendly but treats me like I am his controlling mother (who I highly suspect is a Narcissist though women usually aren't).
There has been a pattern of blame shifting and deceit in our 13 year marriage and I fear his "plea to change" is just more lies to keep me under control as to not destroy his reputation (he is well known in our community).
The bottom line is I don't trust my own instincts anymore and I am terrified of making the wrong decision when it comes to staying in or leaving this marriage. I feel like I want my therapist to give me answers as to why I feel the way I do, but I'm the one left to "figure it out". There are days when I just get so tired of trying to figure it out that I just want to stay in bed all day.
I am angry and resentful that this person who was supposed to love me ended up being an abuser. I'm angry that I let myself be a victim again and I wonder if anyone in this world is trustworthy or if they're just all out for themselves.
Response from Dr. DeFoore
Hello Jennifer, and thanks for telling your story here. It is very clear that you have good reason to be angry and resentful. Any healthy, sane person in your situation would feel that way. The question now is, how can you get to a place within yourself where you can trust your instincts again, and make a good decision regarding your marriage.
First, I want you to consider that you probably won't be able to resolve your feelings toward your husband until you have dealt with some of your childhood abuse issues. Certainly, your current PTSD symptoms have been triggered by the trauma you're facing in your marriage, but the underlying emotions related to past trauma will interfere with your current efforts toward resolution.
I know this is big, and I don't pretend that you will get all of the guidance you need from this response. However, I think you will find some healing benefit from following the recommendations on this page. You will find there a "trauma writing" journaling process. After doing that and reviewing your past trauma, use these imagery processes to resolve the emotional trauma that resulted from the abuse.
Hopefully, your therapist will also be able to help you with this, if you decide to take this approach. Some therapists do not do childhood abuse trauma healing, but in my opinion, that is what you need.
Once you have some healing from your childhood trauma, you will find some guidance for your marriage on the following page: how to deal with abusive relationships.
I hope you find some help in this information, Jennifer. You are worthy of healing and of a good life. Believe in yourself and the goodness in your heart.
My very best to you,
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