A Moment Of Truth

Part Of The Therapy Involves Sharing Grievances

Three weeks into her stay at Cottonwood, Tracy Glenn was joined by Jim, her husband.

Jim Glenn had arranged to leave their kids so he could join his wife at the center. On their first day together after 21 days apart, they had a stilted lunch.

Tracy Glenn said she still loved him and thought he still loved her.

Afterward, that love was tested in a face-to-face - sometimes brutal - session while the Glenns aired their innermost grievances and goals before family members and other patients. "It's about, 'Look, these are my perceptions,'" explained therapist Peter Biava of the process. "'I want you to honestly know how these things have affected me,'" he suggested. "It's real, real powerful."

Jim Glenn came prepared with a long list of his grievances. "These are all the things Tracy has done to me that hurt me a lot," he said.

His wife came with a list of her own, but the main thing she needed from her husband was an apology for secretly taping one of her outbursts and a promise to never to do so again. "He needs to know in front (of) a professional and my peers how much it hurt me," she said.

At the meeting - the moment of truth, so to speak - the grievances came first. Tracy Glenn led off. She had been told to be specific and describe her feelings exactly. Jim Glenn could only sit and listen.

"The time last week I called you from Cottonwood," she said, "You said, 'What do you need, Tracy?'"

"I just feel belittled and discounted. I feel very childish, and I feel very hurt," she declared.

Not before long, she resurrected the taping episode, charging that he provoked her, only to then secretly tape her in an angry state.

"You took it to my pastor and played it for several of your friends. And for that I felt shame; I felt violated," Tracy Glenn told her husband. "I felt so betrayed, and I can't seem to move on from it."

The session was not all confrontation, though. At one point, Tracy Glenn apologized for her anger. "I haven't been exactly good at managing my anger at all," she admitted.

"I see how just like an addiction, how it's gotten worse," she added. She shared that she had learned through therapy about causes of her anger. "It's not what you do; it's how I run my life."

She also had the opportunity to recall good times. Tracy Glenn recounted how once, before a trip, her husband filled her suitcase with sweet notes hidden in her clothes. "I felt loved, warm inside and proud to have you as a husband," she declared.

When Jim Glenn's turn came, it became clear his wife had no monopoly on anger.

"Tracy, when you get angry at me, like the many times you've thrown my things away, or thrown them in the car or into the closet, I felt anger, hurt and rage," he told her.

Jim Glenn recalled names she called him ("fat, lazy, worthless,") anunloved and lacking in friends. "I felt hurt, shamed and worthless," he continued. "Any ounce of manhood that I thought I had was crushed."

"And you don't stop. And you can't stop," he charged. "It has shut me down, made me into a cold person to this point. And it just snapped, like that. I said, 'It's enough. I can't do it anymore.'"

"I do love you, Tracy," he said. "I want this to work. But it has to be healthy."

After an hour, the intense session concluded.

How did Tracy Glenn characterize the session? "Tremendous progress," she enthused.

"There's a commitment to stay in the marriage," she added. "Jim also admitted that he has some work to do, too. And I was very pleased to hear that."

Her husband did not even mention the tape, though. "That's a hard one," she said. "I had really hoped that I would hear that 'I won't do that again' or 'I'm sorry.'"

But Jim Glenn had his own take on the incident.

"I'm sorry I did that. That was wrong," he said. "But in my heart of hearts, I still know why I did it. And it was because she was out of control with her anger."

Did he believe his wife's declaration she was doing everything she could to control her anger? "For there to be any hope, I have to believe her," he said.

But the couple's true test came the next week when Tracy Glenn left Cottonwood for San Antonio.

"It's easy here; it's safe. It's peaceful," Tracy Glenn said of Cottonwood. "But now, I got to go live it."

See how the Glenns fare in their new life together.

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