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Old 08-06-2011, 06:59 PM
DoctorBones DoctorBones is offline
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Default Codependence and drama

Hi, all - I could really use some help, if it's even possible to help me, in dealing with a very distressing situation in which I find myself. Advice, admonitions, criticism, words of support...anything is welcome, as I feel close to my wits' end right now.

I'm still very much "new poly" by my own reckoning -my wife of almost fourteen years (who I love very much) and I decided to transition to an open relationship almost a year ago. The road has been somewhat bumpy, largely due to what I now recognize as my own raging codependence, but in the last week it's become nearly intolerable and I'm having a hard time functioning day-to-day.

<WARNING - I'm about to describe a really ugly situation - stop reading now if you aren't prepared for that>

About three months ago I met a wonderful woman with whom I "clicked" immediately and we began dating. I'll call her "Jane" here. Jane was in a long-time open relationship and has been poly all her adult life. At first things were wonderful - we had SO much fun together, great chemistry, the whole deal, and we fell head over heels in love with each other. Despite, or even because of, everything I'm about to describe, I still love her powerfully.

About a week after Jane and I acknowledged our feelings to each other, she discovered her husband had been sexually abusing her teenage daughter from another marriage for several years. To make a long story short, she had him removed from their home by law enforcement and is now involved in a tooth-and-nail battle to keep him away from the victim. It is becoming clear that this guy is a sociopath and he will stop at practically nothing to regain access. This man is not going to be charged because the DA's office doesn't feel they can win. The really damning evidence is inadmissible in criminal court because our state has incredibly badly designed privacy laws. So he is free to walk the streets and make Jane's life a living hell. He has enlisted the help of his own parents, who are either of the same stripe themselves or have been skillfully manipulated, to assist him with what we believe, but cannot prove, was a kidnap attempt last week.

Jane's daughter isn't talking - she has very little sense of her own identity, due to being tampered with for so long during her formative years, and is incredibly angry. She is not cooperating with any of Jane's attempts to protect her, and in fact takes every opportunity to try to circumvent them. Jane is being harassed in every way her husband can come up with that doesn't violate the letter of the temporary protection order. Emotionally, financially, everything. She's also dealing with a potentially-life-threatening medical condition and is currently unemployed due to her previous contract having run out. She's barely holding together, and it's killing me to watch.

I'm becoming aware that I have a MASSIVE problem with codependency that is making this situation almost unbearable for me. Jane is just trying not to fall apart. I'm dealing with more anger than I have ever experienced in my life, and I can't figure out where the anger leaves off and the crushing depression begins. Watching this feels like it's going to literally kill me. I'm trying to learn how to detach and keep my head where it belongs, without losing my ability to care and to help where it's appropriate, but this situation is pressing every one of my codependent hotbuttons very hard, and holding them down.

At the same time, I'm having trouble here at home too. My wife has recently started dating a really nice guy who she really, really likes, and I'm finding that I'm experiencing far more jealousy and insecurity over this than I expected. I find it very hard to know that she has a sexual relationship with this man, despite the fact that this has taken absolutely nothing away from me and that it contributes to her being happy. Again, raging codependency.

I'm trying to work through those issues, but with these two things together I feel like I'm being pulled apart from within, and I don't know how long I can keep this up. Nothing I've ever experienced in my life has been this painful.

Help?
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  #2  
Old 08-07-2011, 09:32 AM
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redpepper redpepper is offline
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Crazy situation! I'm not sure what it is you are looking for. It sounds like really the nost appropriate course of action is to allow the woman you have been seeing a lot of space so that she can deal with what she needs to deal with regardless of your co-dependency. It seems to me there are bigger issues for her.
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Old 08-07-2011, 07:25 PM
DoctorBones DoctorBones is offline
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Well, I do believe that much is true. I know I am creating a lot of my own pain, and probably aggravating hers, by hovering too close. The only way I have historically known how to commiserate is by taking her pain into myself and trying to experience it along with her. I need to learn a new way to care, something that doesn't smother the people I'm trying to love or tear me apart from the inside. That's going to take some thinking, and learning, and letting go, and I'm not sure what all else.
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Old 08-07-2011, 07:36 PM
KGodc KGodc is offline
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Hey Doc,

I think you may understand what you need more than anyone else right now, but it seems you aren't taking care of yourself as you try to take care of everyone else. It is a wonderful and powerful gift to love so deeply, but you have to remember your own needs as well. Remember the power you do have, embrace it, and allow it to remind you of how great you can be on your own.

I am also incredibly codependent, mostly at times when I feel other people need me, but then I realize my desire to "help" is more selfish than it is selfless. My advice here is to be supportive, but take some time for yourself to think about what your needs are. Most of all, talk to your wife and to Jane about your difficulties. Communication is very important during stressful situations, but it isn't always easy.

I hope the best for your situation, and I hope Jane is able to overcome the travesty of our justice system in order to protect her child.

KGodc
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Old 08-07-2011, 09:34 PM
DoctorBones DoctorBones is offline
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You touched on something important there. I'm beginning to understand that the anger I feel here is partially righteous anger on behalf of my partner who has been betrayed, and her daughter who has been made into a toy for a sociopath, but an uncomfortably large chunk of it is selfish anger at him for depriving me of the flow of Jane's positive energy toward me. I've never learned to take good emotional care of myself and I feel abandoned despite the fact that she didn't, and never would, choose this. I have managed to take her crushing personal crisis and make it about me. That's pretty messed up and I'm slightly ashamed to admit it.

The most important thing I can do here, I think, is to learn to live for myself so that I can go without that validation and positive energy when they aren't available, and still be happy. I'm trying to figure out how to do that. I'm aware that there's a gaping hole where my sense of my own worth and sexual identity would be in a healthier person, and I have to figure out how to grow into that space.
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Old 08-07-2011, 11:04 PM
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Hi Doc,
My ex is a sociopath who molested my daughter's best friend 6 years ago (she was 17 at the time). So I can relate a bit. I can tell you what helped me get through. For one thing: the Al-anon program (for friends and families of alcoholics). It helped me cope, in so many ways. It has also helped me deal with my co-dependency, which is another area in which I can relate! I don't know if you have dealt with alcoholism in your lifetime, but it's pretty much epidemic these days. And it is not really all that different from other diseases of the mind and spirit -- including personality disorders.

I also wanted to comment that your compassion for others is a wonderful gift. Extend that same gift to yourself! It sounds like you have a very big heart. I'm glad you came to this forum -- you're in good company here .
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Old 08-08-2011, 02:06 AM
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This is an extremely difficult situation -- I wish nothing but the best for you and Jane.

You do bring up a very good point, though. This is something I've always considered/wondered about when it comes to polyamorous relationships: all relationships are interconnected. I truly believe they are. Any situation going on in one partner's life will undoubtedly have some affect on all other people in the relationship, no? Sadly the example in Doc's life really seems worst-case scenario but.... how do we help one partner through a difficult time - watch their pain, become affected ourselves - without our other partner[s] dealing with the repercussions. Seems impossible, doesn't it?

Anyway, as said by other posters, I think you do see what you can do in this situation even though it is VERY difficult. Maybe an open discussion with Jane in which you actually ask her what she'd like from you would be good. Let her tell you exactly what you can do and how involved she'd like you to be... that may help you feel better about stepping back if necessary, knowing that it's actually the most helpful thing.
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Old 08-08-2011, 06:58 AM
DoctorBones DoctorBones is offline
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So, let me ask the community a question. Is it fair, in all honesty, for me to burden Jane with my own pain? She's experiencing the worst personal crisis I've ever seen. My hurt and pain seem to pale by comparison, and I hate the thought of adding to her list of woes. Part of me wants desperately to talk to her, to acknowledge that what I'm feeling is irrational, but it still hurts. Another large part, maybe the codependent part, feels like this would be selfish in the extreme. Should I talk to her about it? Or should I wait until things have calmed down?
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Old 08-08-2011, 07:24 AM
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With an ex actively trying to destroy her life and a traumatized daughter, Jane is not going to be a helpful resource right now. I would strongly advise against talking to her abiut your hurt at this time. Consider how Jane might take that: your daughter's been abused, and your husband is trying to destroy you, but don't forget that you have wreck my emotions, too. Is that helpful?

If you really want to help, you need to change you modus operandi. Taking Jane's hurt onto yourself and wearing it like a camel hair shirt means that when she looks to you, she just sees more pain. Instead, you should trying being the strong, supportive, helpful partner who can listen to her pain but reflects only love and acceptance.

This means you need to regulate and then dispose of your pain. When Jane looks at you, you encourage her to share what she wants, give sympathy, and help her stay or track towards the goals she wants to meet. Hearing from you how angry the ex's threats make you is not nearly as useful as hearing from you ideas of how the two of you might best file with those threats. And that might not be as useful as her hearing from you how much you care and you think she is a good person and good mother even when the ex threatens.

As for your wife and the jealousy there, have you talked yi her openly and honestly about your feelings? Sometimes all it takes to feel better is a reminder from the wife that you're her husband. If you haven't addressed your feelings with the wife, you're failing at the poly ideal of open, honest, proactive communication.

Best of luck.
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Old 08-08-2011, 07:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sagency View Post
If you haven't addressed your feelings with the wife, you're failing at the poly ideal of open, honest, proactive communication.

Best of luck.
Just something to mention... we need to be aware of the language we use with one another. One of the things my partner is really struggling with is feeling like he's a "failure" at living a polyamorous lifestyle because he understands certain principles but still has a hard time doing certain things. That feeling of inadequacy or failure can overwhelm him sometimes and actually stops him from being the person we both know he can be. So, I'm trying to be really careful about the language I use and how I address certain issues with him.

We're here to help, encourage, and support one another... not drag each other down [though I'm sure it's unintentional].
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