Couples Therapy

couples therapy

[Guest Post by Angela McNeil – I have had the privilege of getting together with her a few times. She’s taken our family portraits, headshots of mine, and of course her daily dose of sarcasm on her Facebook status’. What I appreciate most about my friend Angela, is she’s never afraid to be honest about her past. If you have ever been in an abusive relationship, I hope you will be encouraged by her story.]

You mean not all relationships are like this?

When I was in High School 1993-1994 my father worked for a software company that was on the Online community craze, like AOL chat rooms and IMing. This was when you used a phone line for internet connection. I met a ton of people through this software, being a teenage girl, which meant tons of boys.

It wasn’t long that I met a boy (for protection purposes I will refer to him as “Johnny”).

He was a guy that was so quick to promise me the world. I didn’t have that great of a home life and was ready to have someone to rescue me from my life. Through the chatroom, email, and phone conversations our love started to develop. Johnny lived in Washington while I lived in California. His mom came to California for a convention, and met me and my parents.

It was shortly after my parents agreed for me to go to Washington to meet Johnny. We were instantly “in love”.

It was about a year of a long distant relationship that we convinced my mom to let Johnny to move in to my parent’s house. We set up a room for him in the living room. He worked at a local pizza place and I went to college and worked a full time job. About six months later, we talked of getting married and decided to move into our own apartment.

Once we made our apartment our own, is when it all started.

I would come home later than expected either because of OT at work or a late study group for school and Johnny would be really angry. He would yell at me for not telling him that dinner wouldn’t be ready. Then the accusations started.

“You are cheating on me.”

“Were you out with your other boyfriend?”

I spent most of my time trying to convince Johnny how much I loved him and that I would never cheat on him.

Then the comments started, “You need to lose weight you are embarrassing to be with” this was when I was at my thinnest 5’5” and 150lbs I looked like a skeleton. Or if I ate something sweet Johnny would say “Are you sure you want to eat that? Its going to make you fat.”

He would make fun of me in front of our friends about my weight, intelligence, and very demeaning. He would take out the wedding rings that we purchased together and he would say,

“You will get this engagement ring when you earn it.”

Johnny worked in the same mall as me and one day I went upstairs to visit him on my lunch break and I saw him sitting with another girl. That night I confronted him about the girl and that is when he blew up. He twisted my words to make me think I was crazy.

I was never one to keep my thoughts to myself, so I would fight back.

Once I started to fight back is when things got even worst. He grabbed a candle holder and threw it at me. It became a nightly thing where Johnny would punch, kick, throw me against the walls of our apartment. I even went to a self-defense class to protect myself.

Most of the time I would try to convince myself that I was at fault, that I brought it upon myself. Most of all–Johnny manipulated me so much that I felt as though I deserved to be treated this way.

I thought this was a normal relationship.

That it was my fault that I wasn’t giving enough, saying the right things, or I didn’t love him enough.

By the end of our relationship, I had no friends and was distant from my family.

My mom offered to send me to therapy. I remember sitting in the therapists office asking for couples therapy. I still remember it so clearly–she looked me in the eye and asked me,

“Why do you feel like you deserve a jerk like Johnny? Don’t you think you deserve better?”

It was then I decided I deserved better. I knew Johnny and I knew that I would have to move out and break it off. I had to make him think it was HIS idea. He decided to move back to Idaho to live with his dad. In the last weeks of him moving and I back in with my parents, I found out that he was cheating on me multiple times. Thank God that he protected me from STDs and other things I could have gotten in that situation.

Through therapy I learned that I was deserving of a man that would treat me well.

A man who would be respectful of my independence.

A man to be strong by stepping back and allowing me to be strong as well.

God blessed me with a man like that–my husband Ray of almost 14 years. I would have never believed I deserved someone to treat me well otherwise. I don’t regret my relationship with Johnny, because I learned SO much.

God makes miracles out of messes, and he sure did that with me and this life experience.

angelamcneilAccountant, Photographer, Dachshund lover, health-nut, and woman of faith. Lives in San Diego, CA with her husband and her two wiener dogs. Here to share my life successes, struggles, and experiences with weight loss and the Lord at

[Photo: GummyPiglet, Flickr]