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He still controls me

Bernadette wrote:

I was married for 12 years to a wonderful man. I wanted to please him very much. So when he criticized the way I dressed, I dressed differently. When he didn't like my volunteer work I stopped it. When he disliked a friend our friendship usually didn't last.

After 10 years of trying to be the wife I thought he wanted, I realized it just wasn't possible because something I did or said was always wrong and I would get a verbal scolding. The 11th year I put all the blame for my feelings of being controlled on him. I asked (begged) him to go to counseling.

The answer was no. I started wishing I was dead (I'm not suicidal) then I wished he was dead. The 12th year I realized that if he was controlling me, it was my fault for allowing it. Told him I would leave if we didn't get counseling together, by this time I was already seeing one on my own. So we went to counseling, and he always found some fault in the counselor, and we got nowhere. So I left, not planning on filing for divorce.

[a lot more]

Now none of these hurtful things were said in front of the shrink but to me alone and when I would confront him in front of the counselor he would say that I had misunderstood, or he was hurt and didn't mean any of it and that he understood he was controlling and would work on it, but once we were alone it would always come back to being my fault.

[a lot more]

So I told you all this to ask you how can I learn to accept that there is never going to be an "us" with him and move on with my life. I'm 48, retired, doing volunteer work at the local Jr. high school, date occasionally (by choice, male attention is plentiful) and at unexpected times I feel my eyes fill with tears and I suddenly so very sad that it's hard to get through another second, minute, hour, day, week, month ... then I have to pull myself together and stop feeling sorry for myself ... but even though I know better... here I am all this time later just waiting ... not moving forward. So how do I move forward and really enjoy what's left of my life?

Dear Bernadette,
Thanks for the detail, which gives me context to give you a clear and straight reply. I've shown enough so that the many thousands of women in a similar situation will recognise it.

Bernadette: after all those years of control, it's become a habit. He's controlling you from inside, and he will as long as you give him permission.

First, you have to put physical distance between you. Every contact reinforces this Troll in your brain.

Second, You Must Take Control. Look yourself in the eye in the mirror and say "It's My Life". Then live it.

Of course it ain't easy - but you have a choice; take your life back, or leave it with him.

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