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A Reader Comments...

Dear Melanie,

I'm not sure you remember me since this is only my third letter to you.  I really enjoyed the last letter you sent me.  You made me feel special knowing that someone like you cared.

I'm feeling extremely low and broken hearted.  Last Friday I had a difficult day at work and my fiancÚ took me out to dinner.  He had a little too much to drink and on the way home he became very angry and said that I didn't care about his needs and complained about how I would defend my former husband. 

When we got home he threw and broke a lamp, then he picked me up and slapped me.

I moved in with him in January only because he asked me to marry him and our relationship seems to have deteriorated since.  He doesn't seem to be as happy now, than before we moved in together.  He is extremely defensive about my ex-husband although they've never met each other.  My ex-husband was handsome and physically strong and athletically built.  That marriage ended because of his verbal abuse and physical abuse.  I spent many terrified nights at the battered women's shelter.  My fiancÚ, I believe, is jealous of him since he accuses me of defending him all the time.

Since our argument last Friday, my fiancÚ has not mentioned that night, nor has he apologized in any way.  Now I'm terribly frightened of his violent behavior and don't know what is going to set him off again.  Every time I try to talk about my feelings, he changes the subject to his feelings.  I feel helpless and confused.

I don't know whether or not to try to work things out, or run for my life.  I spend time alone crying...sometimes thinking about ending my being.  

A couple of days ago, he said something very strange to me.   He said that I was the most beautiful and attractive women he has ever been with, and that he felt that he didn't deserve me.  He also said that he didn't know how to act around someone so beautiful.  What did he mean by that?

My only saving grace is something I try to think about over and over, when I'm sad:

God is close to the broken hearted,
and saves those crushed in spirit...

Thank you for being there.  You don't have to write may not want to, but that's o.k.

Melanie Replies...

Sorry to hear about the ill turn of events. With issues that run so deep it is senseless to try and understand "why" someone feels as he does. In fact, the unpredictable nature of his responses clearly indicates that none of the things he complains about or negatively responds to is the real issue. Rather, he is not sure what the real issue is himself.  

He has a troubled soul and finds himself inexplicably triggered by unreasonable concerns. He is bothered by this, but can find no way to control it. The variety and intensity of his reactions indicates an extensive underlying foundational issue, rather than a specific "problem-oriented" issue. What is bothering him is the way the world looks. Part of that is the way the world IS and part is the way in which he sees it. The only way to improve a detrimental outlook is to change the environment or change one's point of view. Neither of those options is easy.  

There may be positive elements in this environment that attract him, blurring the issue and undermining his emotional strength to affect change. There may be subconscious biases or preconceived patterns which amplify or desensitize his awareness, so that his view of the "real" world does not reflect accurately what is there. If so, how can he possibly determine a proper course, or react in an appropriate manner?   

But you must also ask yourself how much of your emotional and physical reserves you are willing to deplete for his benefit. Clearly, that are things about him or what he represents or the environment he brings with him that attract you, or attracted you in the beginning. That you are still there is due to a combination of the attractive forces which still remain coupled with a sense of history and obligation which has grown and amplified by the fear of having nothing at all.  

You must look to the present, not the past nor the future. And you must not be deceived by apparent progress nor apparent LACK of progress, which may not stick and washes away back to square one in time.  

When a situation and/or relationship reaches the point where the costs threaten to outweigh the benefits - or, when one has paid the costs for so long that even though the benefits are still greater, the soul is raw so that even a tiny cost is almost too much to bear - THEN one must consider whether or not the pleasure is worth the pain, the security is worth the threat, the good times are worth the bad, and whether the reality we have is more attractive than the fantasy we do not know.  

Sometimes the costs pile up so that it is but a small step from where we are to a whole new world. Other times the attractions are so binding that a chasm yawns between us and any alternative life.  

You cannot solve what you cannot understand. Still, it may, in time, resolve itself. But our own anticipation sometimes works against us by giving us unreasonable hopes, just as it can work for us by giving us the inner strength to see something through. And our own experience can steer us well, or force us along the same course when the road has really changed.  

Fortunately, we don't have to work all this out. Our hearts do this for us. We know, if we have the courage to accept it, if we would rather be where we are or somewhere else at any given moment. Whatever the answer, the only valid reason for not following one's heart is if survival itself is at stake.  

For example, you do not walk into the enemy camp because your heart wanted to see a pretty flower close up. You do not tell off your boss when you have three starving children at home. But, you do not remain at home when your father gets drunk and shoots off his gun, or when the storm troopers are pounding on the door - no matter how much you love the place.  

Unless survival is an issue for you or your loved ones, you must follow your heart. Where is it leading? It is not a specific direction; it is not "here" or "there". It IS "here" or NOT "here". Your heart will tell you if you want to leave or stay. If you can't decide, it is saying "stay", because there is not enough motivation to go. But if you can't decide and YOUR survival is at stake, then you must always go with survival, even if it violates the wishes of the heart.  

So, ask yourself, if survival were not an issue, would my heart tell me to stick it out or take off for another world? And then, ask yourself, if I follow whichever course that is, does that jeopardize my survival? Would the other course jeopardize it more or less?  

Somewhere a balance will be struck. You will reach an equilibrium of spirit, both intellect and soul. At any given moment you will know what to do. And should you find that everything balances out evenly, then for that moment you can do nothing. Yet such a balance is so tenuous, it can not last for long. In just another moment something in your world or yourself will change and set the system back in motion. It will tilt in the direction you will go.  

Best wishes for happiness and an end of troubles,  



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