"I just get this overwhelming sense that Marie is a victim to it [agoraphobia], and you are her enabler. I know this is something you touched on in the past.......it's just she's not going to get better by doing nothing."
....and it was odd how, at just that time, Marie and I were having a conversation about this.
We discussed how, in order to assist her to attend Collette's wedding, everyone pandered to her anxiety. We talked about how in the past she had been able to make progress by allowing herself to risk getting into a situation where having a panic attack was a distinct possibility. Recently she had even come through a small panic attack while driving in her car, and continued to make a 9 mile journey. And we both agreed that doing nothing would mean living this way, more or less, forever.
Knowing almost nothing about the consequences of my actions on Marie's agoraphobia when I first met her, I made many mistakes, some of which were major. The repercussions are still with us. With my acquiescence, Marie retreated from staying with almost anyone to staying with someone from small group of "safe" people. I got a mobile phone at her request and now it's essential that I carry it everywhere. I introduced a second car and now I cannot downsize. There are plenty more examples I could cite if required.
Now we both have eight years (long time!) of experience of living with agoraphobia, and it has been increasing in its severity. Simultaneously, we have been exploring possible "cures" and gathering as much information as possible about the efficacy of the available treatments. We have looked at the results of this long investigation. So now we know with absolute certainty that...
The way to eliminate agoraphobia is.....
Expose yourself to panic attacks, and gain strength from each one that you ride out.
Bit by bit agoraphobia will decrease in strength, and the fear of fear will reduce. Monophobia and OCD can be similarly dealt with. CBT, EFT, hypnotherapy and the like all rely, ultimately, on exposure to panic attacks.
In about a month, the children and I shall be going to Ireland for a break. Marie will have to stay behind. In August, the children and I shall be going to the island of Jersey for a holiday. It's very unlikely that Marie will be accompanying us. When I began a relationship with Marie, she already had agoraphobia, and I made the decision that even if it never went away, we could make a happy future together. Our children have created a different issue. We both agree that we should minimise the impact of Marie's agoraphobia on our children. If her anxiety condition remains undiminished, this would mean Marie sharing her children's lives less and less as time goes on.
Will this give her the strength to fight her anxiety? Only time will tell.