(this is raw unedited text transcribed directly from the audio)
Dr. Kenner: Rachel, you’re dealing with an abusive situation?
Rachel: Yes ma’am.
Dr. Kenner: What’s going on?
Rachel: Me and my husband separated six months ago and the first couple of months we still talked and we’d even sleep together, but the past month – we live in separate houses – he’s been being very, very, very mean. Just calling me all kinds of names and talking about my looks. Always saying things like, “You’re a sociopath and you’re bipolar,” because I have a pretty bad temper and I’m a really emotional person. I’ve been to two therapists and my family doctor and for a little while there I thought that something really was wrong with me. Did all of these tests and evaluations and nothing is wrong.
Dr. Kenner: Nothing is wrong.
Rachel: They gave me antidepressants.
Dr. Kenner: What do they think is the trigger for your anger?
Rachel: Right now the stress of the divorce I guess.
Dr. Kenner: So you weren’t an angry person your whole life?
Rachel: No ma’am.
Dr. Kenner: So just in this period.
Rachel: Things started getting tough after our kids were born.
Dr. Kenner: How old are they now?
Rachel: Two and one. My son was two months old when we got pregnant with our daughter.
Dr. Kenner: So you had them real close together. The problem you’re dealing with now is you went ahead and separated – you’re planning to divorce, I assume, or no?
Dr. Kenner: And he’s just being very mean to you? You kept a connection after you separated?
Rachel: I’ve been trying to get him home. And he’s just, I guess I’m being too pushy and he’s pushed me away. I don’t know what to do anymore.
Dr. Kenner: What are the tears about?
Rachel: I just miss him. But he hates me.
Dr. Kenner: What do you think he hates about you?
Rachel: I don’t know. I mean, things got really hard after our kids were born. I was 18 and went from no responsibilities to being a stay-at-home mom of two under 2 and a wife. His mom always was against our relationship and once we separated, she’s been all over it. She’s been saying nasty things to me and telling me to leave Brody alone and she’s going to make sure he doesn’t come home. All these things. I just don’t know if I should let go or just keep trying to hold on.
Dr. Kenner: It sounds like it’s excruciatingly painful, like you’re going through too many stressors at once. You’re on super overload with the kids. How old are you?
Rachel: I’m 21.
Dr. Kenner: You’re 21 but you got married when you were 18, is that it? Or you had your first child?
Rachel: 19 is when we got married.
Dr. Kenner: So you’ve been going through many, many changes, and always the first year that a couple, first getting married is very traumatizing to people many times and you wouldn’t think that it is, but you’re changing your lifestyle so much and if the two of you haven’t lived together in advance and you are put together suddenly, there are so many things to iron out when you’re first together. Then throw on top of that a newborn baby, which you know is care, you have to care for that baby how many hours a day?
Dr. Kenner: 24 hours a day, round the clock, with no vacations. And it is very, very stressful, and then you got pregnant within that first year with your second child. Is there any way you can get some personal, you said you went to I’m assuming a psychiatrist who gave you some medication, or your medical doctor. Have you had any talk therapy?
Rachel: No ma’am.
Dr. Kenner: I would encourage that. Is it possible for you to get it? You may not be able to afford it, but maybe there is some sliding scales or some teaching universities near you where you could go to a clinic?
Rachel: I’ve been looking around. I think I might be able to get some help through my church.
Dr. Kenner: Try to get some support, some help. You can also go to a website, either link to it from mine, DrKenner.com, or you can go to the AcademyofCT.org. That’s the cognitive therapists. Meanwhile, here’s the problem that I hear. You’ve got many, many stressors and you’re saying that he’s emotionally abusive. He’s pushing you away. There’s actually a pattern called the distancer-pursuer pattern. Are you the distancer or are you the pursuer? You’re pursuing him, aren’t you? You’re reaching out trying to get him back and he’s pushing away. The more the pursuer tries to trap the other person or tries to guilt the other person into coming back r tries to even love, just tell them how much they love them and please come back, the more that a distancer will distance themselves. You’re in a pattern that you want to break. You want to respect yourself. Can you name for me right now two things that you like about yourself?
Rachel: I think I’m a good mom and a good friend.
Dr. Kenner: So you’ve got a good friend then, right? Can you lean on that friend a little bit during this time?
Rachel: Oh yeah.
Dr. Kenner: You’re doing that already. You want to remind yourself daily, or hourly, of the things that you’re doing that are good. I don’t mean just globally. Tell yourself, “I was sweet to my son right now or my daughter. I just read them a book,” or, “I needed to be firm with my child right now and I was appropriately.” There are wonderful parenting books, go to my website and look them up. They saved me. I would not have been a good parent without those books. The parenting books, by Faber and Mazlish. You want to remind yourself what’s good about you. Then when he attacks you, realize that he’s more reflecting himself than you. Because he doesn’t have good communication skills. He can’t tell you what’s really on his mind and instead he’s attacking your character. Your looks or you said a lot of put-downs, calling you a sociopath. Just know that – I’m assuming none of those labels apply otherwise you wouldn’t be calling me – and you can even write down the labels he calls you and rip them up in front of your friend or have a fun time ripping them up. Just don’t let those labels stick. If you want more information on whether or not he’s emotionally abusive, I think that was your initial question, there is an older book Men Who Hate Women and the Women Who Love Them, and it’s by Susan Forward and that may help you also, because she gives a list of questions if he’s devaluing you, is he threatening you, is he yelling at you and you can look at those. But it sounds like he’s distancing from you right now. I wish you a lot of success. I would get some therapy for yourself.
Rachel: Thank you.
Dr. Kenner: Thank you so much for your call.