(this is raw unedited text transcribed directly from the audio)
Dr. Kenner: Shelia, you’re struggling with some jealousy of your husband?
Dr. Kenner: What’s going on?
Shelia: I’ve struggled with it all my life, to be honest with you. I’ve been married like five times because of it. It’s something that I can’t overcome, no matter what I’ve done, and my husband said this is demonic it’s so bad. I’ve never seen anything like it.
Dr. Kenner: Tell me what you do?
Shelia: I just accuse him of everything. It could be a television set, a girl on TV, anything. It’s just extreme jealousy. I know it’s stupid, and I know I shouldn’t be that way, but still I can’t control it and I don’t know what to do about it.
Dr. Kenner: So the great thing is you’re reaching out. You’re not just saying, “I know he’s cheating on me.”
Shelia: He’s not. In my heart I know he’s not, but in my mind, it just takes control over me. I’ve been like this for years.
Dr. Kenner: Since when?
Shelia: Well, since 1981.
Dr. Kenner: 1981. What happened back in 1981 that made you feel jealous?
Shelia: Well, I used to be on drugs and alcohol and drinking and all that stuff. I started going to church and everything and got straight. I overcame all that other stuff, but I got married and I married this guy because he was a Christian and everything but about three months after I was married to him, it just came up on me and has been on me ever since.
Dr. Kenner: What happened during that time? The three months? What’s the essence of what went through your mind? You had gone from being on drugs to making a good effort to clean up your life. You find someone who has a fairly clean, drug-free life. You marry him and three months into the marriage you start going ballistic. You start feeling very jealous that he’s not interested in you or he’s cheating on you and you start to get what you call a demonic jealousy. What happened? What went through your mind back then? The best that you can recall now.
Shelia: Everything since I was a little girl, I’ve always been abused. And then whenever I was 13, I was raped by some friends of mine. I thought they were my friends, I trusted them wit my life. I don’t understand why I can’t get over it. But then I got straight and my little niece, she got sick with cancer and she was 5 when she died, but about that time, that’s when she started being sick and I don’t know why my attention turned toward him. He would just do things and I would see him do something and he’d say, “I wasn’t doing that,” but I would see him do that. And it was just crazy stuff.
Dr. Kenner: What stuff? Give me one example?
Shelia: Like looking at somebody’s rear end or something.
Dr. Kenner: Let me tell you, that if any guy is healthy, guess what they’re going to do? When I’m on the beach with my husband, guess what I do?
Shelia: I know!
Dr. Kenner: I look at a few bodies and if I see a real hot woman I’ll say, “Oh my God, honey, look. You’re missing that woman. Look how hot she is.” Yes, I do.
Shelia: I wish I was like that.
Dr. Kenner: But that’s why I’m telling you that, because you want to give yourself some options. You don’t want to tell yourself you can’t overcome it, because obviously you are working in the direction of overcoming it, even by making the phone call. Even by saying, “I know it’s not true.” Having some incredible empathy for yourself, Shelia, that you have been through lifetime traumas. To be raped at such a young age, 13, by someone who is supposedly a “friend” and to be abused as a young girl, it’s very possible that you didn’t grow up feeling that people are trustworthy.
Shelia: Well I didn’t. And see, when I got in church, I thought I could trust a Christian man. And then Jimmy Swaggart, preached against it all this time and then he did it and I was like, “Every man is like that. Even my daddy cheated on my mother.” So every man is like that.
Dr. Kenner: That’s the thought that you need to get rid of. I am sitting next to a guy that’s not like that, at least I hope! No, it’s my hubby. He has never cheated on me. That is a gift. Not every guy cheats on his wife. Yes, my husband will look at sexy women and I will look at sexy men. I came home the other day and said, “Oh my God, I saw a movie and you should see the muscles on this guy, honey,” but it’s not a threat to either one of us. It’s just normal. If you see beauty. If you see someone ugly. You say, “Oh my God, they were really ugly.” You would say that about beauty too. If we go into a museum and we see an ugly painting, we say it. You don’t want to be afraid of naming a fact. But that doesn’t mean that I love this guy in the movies. I don’t even know him. Or that my husband is attracted to somebody else. He loves me. And I know that. So you want to build trust. You want to smash, pulverize, destroy, shred, burn that thought that all men are not trustworthy. It’s okay to have the thought, Shelia, that some men are not trustworthy. And I’ve had the bad luck – not me, but Shelia, as yourself – you can say to yourself, “I’ve had the bad luck of having a father who cheated on my mother, of having a history of people betraying me at a young age, the abuse and the rape, and I have therefore gotten into a defensive mode of protecting myself. That’s my coping strategy, kind of not trusting, being ever-vigilant that they’re going to cheat on me.”
Another approach you could take is to assume that they’re not going to cheat on you unless you see the lipstick on the collar and the perfume and love notes from ladies. Then you know it! They are innocent until proven guilty and you don’t have to spend your life proving them guilty. That’s just something to think about. You also could get some cognitive therapy for this. If you go to my website, DrKenner.com, you could look, there’s a link to cognitive therapists. They could help you think about it differently and get rid of that premise. That all men are untrustworthy. That will lighten your load a lot and help you have a better marriage. Thank you so much for the call.
Shelia: Thank you darling.
Male 1: Look, I told some guys I’d meet them down at Duke’s.
Male 2: You’re leaving?
Male 1: Yeah, whenever you’re ready, I’ll walk you out.
Male 2: Dad, I haven’t seen you in two years. I stop by here and you’re leaving in 10 minutes?
Male 1: Why don’t we stop kidding ourselves? You don’t really want to be here and we don’t really have anything to talk about.
Male 2: At least I’m making the effort.
Male 1: Oh, it’s an effort to talk to me? Well, I guess that’s why you only bother coming home once a year at Christmas. But what the hell, I didn’t go visit you in Boston either, did I? So why don’t we just drop this?
Dr. Kenner: That’s from Frasier, believe it or not. When you feel like you’re not valued by your son or your father, and it falls into the category of a duty, it feels awful to be the object of pity. You’re visiting me, son, only because you feel you have to and we have to make conversation, but let’s face it, we have nothing to talk about. But then, Frasier’s father has this insight, oh my gosh, I didn’t visit you in Boston either. And instead of feeling protective, instead of defending ourselves, wouldn’t it be better to just reach out and have those conversations with our loved ones? Maybe, “Dad, I always wish I could be a little closer to you and I’m glad to be here now. It feels a little awkward and I’d love to connect with you in a way that we never had in the past. That would be a very nice opportunity.”
So if any of you are having that thought, and you’re facing the choice of either going the route of “what’s the use, why bother, who cares?” when you think there is a chance that the person does care for you and that both of you were just being self protective, you might try to risk reaching out to a loved one. Whether it’s a parent or a sibling. I’m assuming the person wasn’t vicious to you, but a parent or a sibling or another lost friend maybe. Someone from the past you’d like to reconnect with.