Nine Lives

by : Wayne and Tamara

Direct Answers - Column for the week of September 2, 2002

My husband of four years has been arrested for the fourth time for hurting me. This time he strangled me. I always go back with him. He is in jail now with no money to post for his own bail.

I thought I loved him, but lately I can't stand his behind. He is unemployed and so possessive it's hard for me to breathe sometimes. He follows me from room to room and, if I'm on the phone, mutes the television so he can listen.

A year ago we separated and I filed for divorce. We reconciled in November and I put the divorce on hold. Last week I called the clerk, and my divorce was put through. I am now divorced from a man who tried to kill me 10 days ago.

Great, right? I am so sad and lonely and feel so bad for him sitting in jail that I can't get my head cleared out. I feel like I have no life other than work. I have no family and few friends.

I feel he hurts me because I argue with him and put him in a corner like a scared animal. He has to strike out at me to defend his manhood. It's hard to explain. And yes, I have begun counseling. Forget him or love him, that is my question.


Tori, most of us get many chances to change our life, but we don't get an unlimited number of chances. This man may take your last chance away from you.

Like the people held hostage by gunmen in a Stockholm bank 30 years ago, you have begun to identify with your captor. You see the world from his point of view and deny what he is doing to you. Or at least, that is what part of you does.

Another part of you chose to divorce him. That part realizes you have freedom. That part recognizes love is about caring, respect, and admiration which flow back and forth. That part of you knows this man can never give you what you most deeply need.

Now you're like an addict struggling with addiction. Loneliness is weakening your resolve, but you've got to remember the reason for quitting. Stay in counseling. Seek emotional support. Formulate a protection plan.

You have work, not everyone has that. That is something to build on. You have friends, not everyone has that. That is something to build on. You have life, that is something other women in your situation have lost.

Wayne and Tamara

Happiness Is…

I was raised to believe that the secret to happiness is to be interested in other people, be a good listener, and spend your time helping others. However, the happiest people I know are completely self-absorbed.

Eagerly they bombard me with every thought that has passed through their mind, every excruciating detail of their mundane little weekends, every boring incident involving the computer at work. I am left grabbing for the Prozac, and wondering where I went wrong. In our modern world, is self-obsession the only way to go?


Chris, ignorance may be bliss, but it isn't happiness. Happiness doesn't come from living in a closet or only looking at two colors in the rainbow.

People who can only talk about the weather or movies she hasn't seen, drive Tamara crazy. One cure is to gradually withdrawing from those people. That opens space in one's life for people who are vitally alive and growing.

By filling yourself up and growing, you have much to offer lively people, and they will be attracted to you as well. Build on the relationships you find pleasure in, and start pulling back from the other ones. A friend of mine once explained how he lost the sense of joy in his life, and how he got it back. He told me, "I forgot to dream."