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Finding Hope
By: Christy Mercer

Name: Rick Jakupco
Injury: injured C-3 vertebrae
Mechanism of injury: car accident
Date of injury: July 2002

Rick Jakupco and his family were on a vacation to Wisconsin in July 2002 when they got in a car accident that would change Rick's life forever. A driver in the opposite lane fell asleep at the wheel and crossed into Rick's lane, hitting his car and sending it spiraling out of control. Rick ended up with a C-3 vertebrae injury, which rendered him paralyzed from the shoulders down.

Slow start

"I was completely out of it for a while after the accident," says Rick, "I don't remember much of the first 4 or 5 months." What Rick did remember was a feeling of waiting until it was over. He says at first he just felt that he was in a waiting pattern until he could walk again; until he could get out and play golf again.

"It took me a while to realize that it wasn't going to happen. When I accepted that I probably wasn't going to be able to walk, I moved on to just wanting to use my hands again."


Overall, Rick spent about 9 months in treatment at various hospitals. He began in northern Indiana at a small hospital near the site of his accident, until he could be transferred to a larger facility in Indianapolis. After going to a couple of different hospital facilities in Indianapolis, his medical staff made plans to transfer him to Craig Hospital in Denver, Colorado - a facility that specializes in rehabilitation for people with spinal cord and brain injuries.

The trip to Colorado started out smoothly, but hit a snag part way there. Mid-flight in the air ambulance helicopter, Rick suddenly stopped breathing! The helicopter made a quick turn back to the hospital in Indianapolis so he could become stabilized again. Once he was stabilized, Rick was once-again loaded into the helicopter, and this time made it safely to Craig Hospital without incident.

During his 7 months at Craig, Rick underwent various surgeries and physical therapy sessions. He says he had so many surgeries he doesn't remember all of them, but he did remember having kidney stones taken out, as well as having an operation on his vocal cords.

"I couldn't speak because there was a bone wedged in between my vocal cords, causing one of them to be paralyzed. The doctors had to remove the bone, and now I can speak, but only using one of the cords," Rick says.

Lost, then found

Rick and his wife, Trish, turned to the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation's Paralysis Resource Center for help when they initially found out Rick was paralyzed. They were lost, didn't know much about spinal cord injuries, and had no clue how to handle this new situation; all they knew was that Christopher Reeve had a spinal cord injury, and founded an organization that helped people with similar injuries.

The resource center helped Rick and Trish with information about the injury, as well as gave them advice about where to go for surgeries and therapy.

"Before getting help from the Foundation, many of the initial doctors we spoke with told us that we didn't have much of a chance; that I would have to go into a nursing home," Rick remembers. "When we turned to the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, they really helped us with suggestions about where to seek treatment and what to do; we were getting a lot of bad advice before that."

Helping others

Today, Rick plans to keep helping those who have been or are in a similar situation as he is, and would like to be involved in helping with further research efforts about spinal cord injuries. He lives at home with his wife and sons (ages 12 and 14), and is happy that he can still participate in their lives.

"Although it takes a lot of effort," Rick says, "I am still able to attend my family's events and help out when I can."

Trish currently helps with the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation's online community as a moderator for people who are seeking advice about spinal cord injuries.

Rick says he hasn't given up on the hope he has of being able to use his hands again, and for now is happy that he can at least still be a part of his family and the community of others who have spinal cord injuries.

Get more information on CaregivingThe Impact of Paralysis and Living a Healthy Life.

source site: click here


Lyn Legere
My mother was an unwed mother back in 1953 when things were very different than they are now, which impacted our relationship a lot. Every time she looked at me it was sort of a reminder of what she had done. So there was always a tension there.

When I was eight she got married to a man who wasn’t always pleasant and she proceeded to have five kids very quickly. I was the built in babysitter. I was also molested as a child.

I tried to commit suicide for the first time at eight. I did not understand my feelings, but I knew that if I wasn’t around things would be better. Covertly I always got the message that it was all my fault. I turned to drugs and alcohol partly due to being the built in babysitter. Every afternoon I’d come home and I’d take them until dinnertime, and feed them dinner, give them their baths and pick up the playroom.  There was a lot of resentment around that and that all these kids were their kids, and I was sort of the hired help.

I remember the first day I took drugs. They were actually from my mother’s medicine cabinet. I went to school and it was like nirvana. Did I love that! I felt good about myself. Within about a year I was a full blown heroine addict and doing things that I was not proud of to get money for heroine.

Ironically I think that my early drug use sort of saved me.  I was always depressed but I think I got just enough relief from it that I wasn’t as desperate.  

I was living sort of in a crash pad and stole some drugs from a dealer who was also living in the same place and he figured out that I had stolen them. I heard stories he was after me with a gun and it terrified me so I agreed to go into a drug rehab, not necessarily because I wanted to get off drugs, but I really wanted to be somewhere where he couldn’t find me. I did get off drugs at the time, but I replaced that addiction with alcohol.

What I didn’t understand was that alcohol was just making my mental illness worse. I drank for another 10 years and and those 10 years I was in and out of hospital all the time, incredibly suicidal during all that time, a horrible existence. I actually did go to college which was amazing, and graduated. That sort of kept me going for a while and loved it. I got A’s. And it was external validation and helped me a lot.

The day that I graduated, I went into the hospital and that was it. From there on it was constantly in and out of the hospital.  I hit every hospital in Boston. Half of them kicked me out of because I was just so hell bent on destruction. I just could not tolerate living. It was not a good time.  

In the hospital that I was in, if you went to AA meetings, you got some special privileges. You stopped for ice cream on your way back from meetings or had popcorn when you got back.  I’d go to the meetings and I’d listen and I’d go home and say, “What a bunch of crap” and drink on my back porch as I thought about what how crappy this stuff all was.  Then I had a really bad weekend.  It was like I had this little AA guru sitting on my shoulder and I would try to not drink and this little voice would say, “Ah ha, you can’t stop.”  So I went to AA with a different mind set and began to love it. I found a community that I loved.  

Sadly I thought that this was going to cure my mental illness.  I did really well for a few years and then my mother died when I’d been sober for two years, of cancer.  I had to go through this horrible dying process with her. We had reconnected, because in the 90s, I ended up with a therapist for the first time who was extremely perfect for me.  I think probably for the first time I was appropriately diagnosed.
And then my brother, Frannie, was diagnosed with cancer. That just devastated me. I had always really blamed all the kids for a lot of what had happened to me and it wasn’t really their fault.  Frannie was one of the nicest kids in the world, he was just so wonderful. He was fair to everyone. He was kind. So to see him have cancer was just really devastating and he died pretty quickly. I lost it at that point.

But I was able to begin to really see the dynamics of the family. I was able to really see my mother for who she was, and to see the alcoholism and drug addiction and her inability to resolve her stuff, and how it really played out a lot on me. So I ended up in this long term forgiveness process of forgiving myself, forgiving the kids, and even forgiving her.  She made some lousy choices, but she still did the best she could do.  

In all those years in the system, I had never heard about rehab. The medical system just does not bring in the rehab. Which is so sad ‘cause they are so complimentary. It’s like the medical can work with symptoms and the medical part of it. And in rehab they talk about
“What do you want to do in your life and how can we help you do that?”
And I had never seen this. So taking the wonderful stuff that they’ve created here (at Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation at Boston University) with the understanding of what people with psychiatric disabilities need to be more successful, and to bring that to post-secondary students has just been a real gift in my life.

As a former paralegal working in insurance benefits, I’m now finding my expertise in demand in the implementation of the Medicare prescription drug plan that starts January 2006. I’m working as a consultant with UMASS Medical’s Center for Health and Public Policy with statewide agencies. At this point I feel very confident in my professional life.  

My main goal for the future is I plan to stay alive, which is a big thing. At one point I never gave myself a day over 30. In not too long, that figure will be doubled.  

I’m not totally well. I still get symptoms. I still have times I go into depression but whoa, I’m so much better. Recovery is a process. I just got my master’s degree with a very high level of achievement in my department and I’ve started a program in disability services.  I’m a person who, if people heard my history, would never be able to put the two together. There’s like this person and there’s that person and never do the two meet. I guess the biggest thing I want to say to people is that they do meet.  Recovery happens and that we need to support recovery.  We need to support helping people to have enough hope and faith in themselves to go forward.

I look back during my last big crash in ’98. My therapist would try to support me to go forward. I would say to her, “You know, I know I can get up again. But I don’t know that I can live through another crash.  I just don’t know if I can do it again:  to set my heart on hope and then have it extinguished.” 
And she was able to hold the hope until I could begin the process and facilitate it by helping me make the connection here (Boston University). I want people to know that growth happens and recovery happens and it’s never too late, it’s just never too late, you know. There’s always hope out there.

source site: shadow voices


What is hope?

Hope happens when someone sees something, decides that it is desirable, realizes that they may not get it, but believes that there is still a chance of getting it.

To put it tersely, though perhaps in a complex way, hope is expectation moderated by probabilistic estimation of a desired event.

For hope to be a strong force for tension, the person's estimation that the desired event will occur must be both high enough for them to consider there to be a reasonable chance of it happening, yet not so high that they become complacent.

Charles Revson, founder of the famous Revlon cosmetics empire famously said that what he sold was 'hope'.


Fear is a form of negative hope. Both are forms of anticipation as we forecast the future and experience emotions in line with our predictions.

The sliding scale

Hope is not a single thing. It is more of a sliding scale that ranges across a scale from virtual certainty to utter desperation. It can range within a single conversation across this whole spectrum. You can raise a person's hope, dash it on the rocks of uncertainty, raise it out of the waters and toss it around until the other person will grasp at whatever straw you throw at them.

The hope curve

The actual hope that people feel does not necessarily match the real probability of success. Typically we feel optimistic or pessimistic at the extremes. 

At zero probability, we are realistically pessimistic, and we stay this way until there is sufficient probability to break out of the fear of loss. As the event becomes more likely, we become disproportionately optimistic. 


Types of hope

There are (at least) three types of hope:


Desperate hope is when a deep need is felt. Someone who is desperate will do almost anything to satisfy the hope (with 'almost anything' being in proportion to the level of desperation).


Whereas desperate hope often has a negative connotation, optimistic hope is often positive. In both cases, the probability of achieving the hoped-for thing can be very variable, often sitting at a very low probability of occurring.

Realistic hope

Realistic hope is based on a fair estimation of probabilities. Thus, if something is over (say) 50% likely, then I might realistically hope that it will happen.

Hope as a destination

Robert Louis Stevenson said 'It is better to travel hopefully than arrive', indicating how hope can be a pleasant in itself. In particular, hope is often tinged with the fear both that you will not get what you want, and also that even when you achieve your goal, it will not be as perfect as your fantasized eventualities.

As a result, many people are happy just to hope. All you need to do is offer them this, as all casinos do to their hapless customers. Many such punters will merrily gamble away until their money is all gone, then return time and again just to experience that temporary thrill of hope.

So what?

Use hope in persuasion through the non-linear relationship between perception and reality. Build optimism by showing how real the chances of success are. Move people away from things by highlighting the chances of failure.  

Beware, however, of betrayal effects. If the other person's hopes are dashed and you are perceived as the culprit, then you will become the target of their revenge.

Making up

Charles Revson, the founder of the Revlon cosmetics company, once famously commented that what they really sold was hope. (For some it is realistic hope, for others it is perhaps more like desperation.) Paradoxically make-up can also sow false seeds of hope in the other party. If I wear make-up, I am actually selling myself as more than I really am. There have been many cracks about the other person being beautiful the night before but not the morning after.

Gambling dens

As a very real example of managed hope in action, look no further than the nearest casino or gambling den. Casinos dangle large sums and glittering prizes whilst making the hoping as pleasant as possible with salubrious surroundings, free drinks, attractive members of the opposite sex and so on.

The gamblers are trapped in a cocoon of warmth as their money is steadily leeched away from them (note how the reality of money itself is hidden behind tokens and credit, preventing the unreality bubble from being burst).

source site: click here



What is hope?

Hope is the belief that a positive outcome lies ahead. Hope is a way of thinking, feeling and acting that may help you find ways to live with difficult situations. Many cancer survivors have faced difficult situations in the past and may continue to face challenges during post-treatment survivorship. This can make it tough to be hopeful.

Even if some things about your future seem discouraging, you can choose how you will face these challenges. You might find it easy to feel hopeful. You might never give hope much thought. Or you may think hope is important but aren’t sure how to create hope in your life after cancer.

Hoping is very personal and is different for every person.

Some people think hope and denial are the same thing, that to be hopeful, you have to pretend things are going well when they really aren’t. Experts who have studied hope claim that while hope may help ease you of overwhelming doubts and fears, it is not denial.

Hope is being honest with yourself about your situation in life while still looking forward to possible positive outcomes in your future. Survivors who are struggling with life after cancer may find that hope helps them remain positive during their survivorship.

What are different ways that survivors hope?

People hope for different things at different times in their lives. When you were first diagnosed with cancer, you probably hoped that your treatment would be successful and that your cancer would go into remission. You may have relied on hope to get you through the difficult days of treatment and the changes that came to your life.

Now that treatment is over, you have a new set of concerns about what life will be like after cancer and how you will deal with post-treatment changes. You can decide what role hope will play in helping you manage these changes and the uncertainty that can come with them. Hope can come to you in many ways.

You may find hope by talking with other people. You can work with your health care team to understand and make health care choices that will help you feel confident and hopeful about your future. Your family, friends, co-workers and others you know can also support you as you decide how to bring hope to your situation. Sharing your story with other survivors and learning about the challenges and joys they experience in their survivorship can be an important source of hope.

You may find hope by looking forward to planned events, like a child’s graduation from high school or a gathering with friends. You may have work projects or hobbies that capture your attention and help you look to the future when they will be completed.


You may find hope through your spirituality or religion. Survivors using a spiritual or religious basis for hope may believe that a higher power is helping them through the ups and downs of their survivorship. You may find great help and comfort in talking with a spiritual leader or your clergy or by attending spiritual support groups.

You may use a more scientific or factual basis for hope. You may spend a lot of time looking for information about post-treatment cancer topics, getting additional opinions and scanning the Web for information.

Survivors usually combine many of these approaches to find hope. There is no right or wrong way to hope.

Does hope change over time?

Hope is flexible, and hope changes as your life changes. Only you will know the best way for you to hope. Sometimes others may tell you that your situation is hopeless. That can be difficult to hear and can make it more difficult for you to manage your current situation.

At the same time, when others are telling you to be more honest about your situation, you might want to take some time to think about what is happening in your life. If you realize that something you hoped for will definitely not happen, you might need to re-examine and refocus on other, more realistic hopes.

You can’t always change the outcome of a situation, but you can decide what part hope will play in helping you deal with that situation. Hope may not be easy to find. The changes that come with cancer can sometimes be overwhelming and cause a great deal of uncertainty. Hope can help you move forward despite bad news and disappointments. Even if the challenges that you must deal with are large ones, hope can help you find the strength and courage to face them.

What are some suggestions for survivors who want to create more hope in their lives?

Below is a brief list. For more information, see Suggestions.

Share your hopes with other people

Write down your thoughts and feelings about hope in a journal

Talk to other survivors about finding hope

Talk to a therapist if trying to find hope causes depression, anxiety or overwhelms you in any way

source site: click here


In a Tense Economy, Tap into Hope

People are mobilizing energy by tapping into hope, writes Annie McKee. But what is hope, exactly?

By Annie McKee

The great financiers of our time, including George Soros on CNN today, are saying things like "today, the economy is falling off the cliff." They're telling us that we have entered a recession that will be steep (meaning, I assume, extremely painful for everyone).

On the other hand, President Bush said recently that "People's attitudes are beginning to change from a period of intense concerns—and I would call it near panic—to being more relaxed."

How can people possibly be relaxed as we watch our savings disappear? One friend told me over the weekend that he's lost 40% of his wealth in the last few weeks. 40%! He's not a rich man—just a teacher who has saved all his life. And he is ready to retire soon. Who could be relaxed about that? Or what about the people whose companies are announcing thousands of job cuts? Or the small business owner whose orders are now stuck in a holding pattern? Or the men and women who are losing their homes? Not to mention the young people dropping out of college because they can't get loans, or who are stuck in dead-end jobs that they don't dare leave.

Mr. Bush, I don't believe anyone is "relaxed" about this economy.

But I can understand why one might come to that conclusion. In conversations with hundreds of people over the last few weeks—bankers, teachers, executives, doctors, carpenters, you name it—I have heard an amazingly consistent message. The message has an emotional tone that is authentically sad/fearful/angry and at the same time, is by marked by a rueful calm, by gentleness, and by courage.


What are people saying and feeling? It goes something like this:

1. We are in a big, big mess and yes, it's affecting me terribly.
2. We are all in this together, and we have to do something. Things have to change, and change radically, in our economy and how we live our lives.
3. I can do this. I, and we, will be better off when we get through this awful situation.

This stance isn't relaxed, not by a long shot. Just the opposite. People are mobilizing energy by tapping into hope. But what is hope, really? Is it just an idealistic, delusional view of the future? Not in the least. Hope is a realistic view of what is possible and a sense that I, or we, can make it happen.

The people I have been talking with are engaging hope by thinking through and then beginning to act on what actually needs to change in our economic systems, our organizations and our lifestyles. And this vision is not all about giving something up. No, we are looking toward more and better, but very different. The future that is beginning to glimmer on the horizon has better rules of engagement in our financial systems and a greater commitment to the common good. We are also seeing the need for adjusting our own lifestyles to take into consideration the good of the planet. And lots of people are saying to all of this: It's about time!

So, in extraordinary times, our extraordinary capacity to see light in darkness, hope in despair, is mobilizing us to join together to face fear with resolve, and anger with grace.

What can you do to tap into hope in your own life? What will this crisis cause you to change, that actually needed to change anyway? What opportunities for new life do you see? What can you do to help yourself, and others, through loss? Is there a way to reach out to someone even less fortunate than you?

You don't have to save the world—or even your 401K—to begin to feel that in fact you have some control over your life, and the life of your community. Reach out. Do something.

source site: click here

Are You Feeling Hopeless and Trapped?
March 11, 2009
by Jeff Nickles
Have you experienced a sense of hopelessness recently?

It seems that there are a lot of people out there that feel stuck in situations that are draining, depressing and going nowhere.

Don’t give up!  I want to offer you some hope.  I want to extend to you some suggestions on how to overcome your hopeless and trapped feelings.

Together let’s make the sun shine on you again!

A story of a woman feeling hopeless and trapped

This is a true story.  I know a woman, let’s call her Jane, that feels hopeless and trapped.

Jane has worked full-time the last 20 years for a large retail chain.  Her schedule often includes working evenings, weekends and holidays.  She hates her job because it keeps her from spending more time with her grandchildren and other loved ones.

Her employer demands more and more from Jane all the time.  They continually raise her sales quotas and put pressure on her to meet them.  This stresses Jane because she really wants to meet their expectations, but it is becoming increasingly difficult.

Jane lives paycheck to paycheck and doesn’t have any savings.  Retirement is just around the corner for her and fortunately she has already started to receive Social Security benefits, but she isn’t sure it will be enough to live on once she has to stop working.

Jane has arthritis in her knees and has to stand on her feet for most of her 8-hour shifts which is sometimes painful.  There are times she misses work because the pain is too much to bear.

Of course, Jane is also concerned about how to cover the high-cost of healthcare once she retires.  She knows she’ll need prescriptions and a doctor’s care to manage her arthritis, but she doesn’t know how she’ll afford these things.

Jane lives alone in an apartment where the rent continues to rise.  She fears that eventually she’ll no longer be able to afford to renew her lease.  Of course, this presents a multitude of issues because Jane doesn’t have the money to pay moving expenses never mind finding a new place.

Adding to her troubles, Jane’s employer is suffering from the recession and closing stores.  She doesn’t think her store will be one of the ones to close, but since she is older and makes a higher salary, she wonders if they might lay her off.

Jane’s feelings about this downward spiraling situation leaves her negative, depressed and fearful.  Of course, this is a further strain on her health, relationships and happiness.

Jane feels hopeless and trapped.

Let’s examine Jane’s overwhelming situation

I won’t kid you.  Jane’s situation isn’t pretty.  It is a mess, but I don’t think it is as rare as we would like to believe nor do I believe it is completely hopeless.

I think there are a lot of people feeling stuck in a similar situation as Jane.  There are people dealing with seemingly crushing issues with their:

  • Jobs
  • Finances
  • Health
  • Marriage
  • Children

These are usually the big five that create the most anxiety in people’s lives. 

Jane is struggling in three of these areas.  She has trouble with her job, finances and health.

These three issues are intertwined which is what makes the whole situation seem so complicated and therefore hopeless.

We must take a pragmatic approach to help Jane sort out what to do.

The steps to overcoming the feelings of hopelessness

Feeling hopeless and trapped comes from the notion that there is nothing that can be done to resolve the situation.  We must exert control in order to regain hope.  Here’s how to do it:

1.  Write down the issues that leave you feeling hopeless and trapped

When problems swirl around in our heads, they often grow out of proportion.  They also become entangled with our emotions.  This quickly overwhelms us.

Writing down the problems helps us to organize them and to separate the emotion from the real, practical issues.  This simple step will start to give you a sense of power.

Be as specific and complete as possible.  Try not to leave out any factors influencing your decisions.

We’ve already completed this step for Jane.

2.  Determine the root issue that is causing all the other problems

Usually, there is one root cause that is leading to all the other issues occurring.  In Jane’s case, her lack of financial resources is largely responsible for most of her trouble.

If Jane wasn’t so financially strapped, she could look for another job that might initially pay a little less, but that would offer her a better schedule and maybe allow her to sit while she works.

Don’t fret too long about determining the root cause.  In fact, I would suggest going with your first inclination after writing things down.  Once you start to take some action, the situation will unfold and you’ll be able to adjust, if necessary.

3.  Decide where you are willing to make some sacrifices

People usually wind up feeling trapped and hopeless because they don’t see any flexibility.  In order to address the root cause of the problems, you have to make room for change in your life. 

This generally requires you to make some sacrifices in one area so you have the room to make changes in another.  Normally, these sacrifices are temporary so they shouldn’t cause too much panic.

For instance, in Jane’s case, she might decide to find a much cheaper apartment for a year or two so she can change jobs.  The cheaper apartment won’t likely be as nice as what she enjoys today, but what’s more important?

This temporary sacrifice in lifestyle might give Jane the flexibility she needs to find a job with a more stable employer offering her a better schedule that doesn’t require her to stand all the time on her arthritic knees.

Who knows?  Once Jane feels better about her situation, she might perform better in her new job which may lead to a promotion and even higher pay than she had before!

4.  Make a plan for change and take immediate action

Once you determine the root cause and decide where you might be willing to make some sacrifices, then you are ready to formulate a plan for change and take action.

Write out the steps toward change that you need to make to address your root cause.  A written plan will help you stay on track.

For Jane, she might have the following plan:

  1. Find a cheaper apartment.
  2. Move.
  3. Save some money.
  4. Find a better job.

Jane should immediately break this down to the smallest actionable steps possible.  For instance, she could breakdown Step 1 as follow:

  1. Buy newspaper.
  2. Look in newspaper for cheaper apartments.
  3. Call and set appointments to view 2 to 3 apartments.

Once Jane has such a list of action steps, she should act immediately.  Any delay will allow the small momentum gained through this process to evaporate.  It is imperative that action is taken with as little delay as possible!  Jane could go right now and buy a newspaper.

5.  Constantly review progress and re-evaluate the situation

Chances are that just getting started with this process will make you and Jane feel better because it restores a sense of some power and control.

It opens one’s mind to the possibilities.  It creates hope.

Refer often to the your original assessment of the issues, your root cause and your plan for change.  Has anything improved?  How are you feeling?  What else can you do to make positive changes?

This constant process of re-evaluating the situation will ensure you stay on track and will also give you the ability to make adjustments as necessary.

Warning: Read this before starting this process!

Taking some action in a positive direction is absolutely, positively necessary in order to overcome your feelings of desperation and hopelessness.

However, you should take small steps and go slowly.  You need to clear the fog from your head before making any rash choices. 

For instance, do not go in and quit a job you hate before you have another source of income.  This will only lead to more trouble!

Also, do not tell your spouse that you want a divorce unless your situation involves extreme abuse, drug use or other unlawful activity.  Instead, I encourage you to take positive action to fix your relationship.  Divorce will introduce all kinds of problems of its own.

Whatever your situation, go slow, be deliberate and be practical.  You might even enlist a trusted advisor to review your plan with you to reveal potential kinks before taking any big steps. 

Action is necessary, but it must be positive and prudent!

You can beat the trapped and hopeless feelings!

There is hope.  It is possible to dig yourself out of any hole.  It just takes some time and effort.  Do not continue wallowing in your misery.  Take action today to beat your hopelessness and to set yourself free!

What is your situation and what do you plan to do about it?

source site: click here

Carolyn Hax ADVICE

Carolyn Hax: Man feeling hopeless about the state of his marriage

DEAR CAROLYN: I am in my 30s, married five years and have been with my wife for almost 10. We have no kids. I am thinking of divorce.

My wife and I used to be so great, but in the last three years she has completely changed. It seems that she cares only about her career and money. We are not poor by any means.

In addition, her temper has worsened, and I get berated for any slipup I make. For instance, I was two minutes late leaving for work this morning, and I got yelled at for 10 minutes in the car (she blamed me for making her late). She even yells at me when she makes mistakes.

I have become callused, and I’m not sure I even love my wife anymore. When I look at her I can’t see the woman I married, and I have lost any attraction I ever had. When I’m around her, I feel my blood pressure rise; when I’m away from her, or when she is traveling for work, I feel much better, happier. — Hopeless in Minneapolis

“Hopeless” is when your spouse knows how much you’re hurting and doesn’t care.

“Grim” is when your spouse knows how much you’re hurting and does care, but either can’t or won’t change.

Hopeless is when you talk to your attorney. Grim is when you talk to a really good marriage counselor.

“Mentally and emotionally checked out” — what I see here — is when you talk to your wife.

Maybe I got the wrong impression, but you come across as the shut-down spouse, yelled into silence, into doing his own things and charting courses that are least likely to intersect with hers.

And while it may seem impossible — you live with her! you fight daily! — I wouldn’t be surprised if your wife had no idea how detached and resentful you’ve grown.

Certainly she should be able to grasp your suffering. But think anyway of the ways you’ve tried to tell her so far: defending yourself against specific charges, lobbing countercharges, slamming doors, closing yourself off, bonding with the TV?

I suspect many apply here. That’s because what’s missing from your letter is her defense of her behavior — in other words, the thing someone says when confronted with the following by a spouse:

You yell at me on a daily basis.

When I’m around you now, I feel my blood pressure rise.

We used to get along, you were so good to me.

And: I can’t see the woman I married anymore.

And then: What happened?

These are your words, and you need to say all of them to your wife (at a well-chosen moment). Be as calm and steadfast as you can.

Hope she’ll be disarmed, expect she’ll get defensive, know you won’t get your full answer immediately — but demand nothing except the truth. If she won’t grant you even that, then “hopeless” is probably right. But if you still miss the woman you married, give her a chance to come back.

2009 Washington Post Writers Group 4/8

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